Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) 101


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Food and Water Watch Genetically modified organism 101 presentation.

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  • - Herbicide-tolerant crops are designed to withstand specific herbicides. Co-branded herbicides designed to work with specific herbicide-tolerant seeds kill weeds without damaging GE crops. Most of these crops are resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (sold commercially as Roundup and produced by the agrichemical company Monsanto).-Insect-resistant crops contain genes that deter insects. The most common variety contains a Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) soil bacterium gene that is designed to repel the European corn borer and several cotton bollworms.- Some GE crops alter the nutritional quality of a food and are promoted by the biotech industry as solutions to malnutrition and disease. “Golden Rice” — rice enhanced with the organic compound beta-carotene — has been engineered to reduce the prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in the developing world.- Other GE crops contain genes that are useful for the energy and pharmaceutical industries. The USDA has approved amylase corn, which produces an enzyme that is suitable for producing ethanol, a key biofuel.Genetically engineered animals and biotechnology livestock treatments are designed either to boost production or to insert traits that may compensate for the negative impacts of factory-farmed livestock.rBGH in milk: In 1993, the FDA approved the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rBST), also known as recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), to increase milk production in cows.Cows injected with rBGH can have significant health problems, including higher rates of mastitis, an udder infection that requires antibiotic treatment.rBGH injections also increase the production of the pasteurization-resistant growth hormone called IGF-1. The European Commission found that consumption of milk from rBGH-treated cows increases human intake of IGF-1. IGF-1 has been linked to breast and prostate cancer.
  • Main point here is that these agencies were not designed to handle this type of technology and so have tried to work its regulation into existing frameworks that simply do not work. This leads to the green-lighting of nearly all crops submitted for agency approval. This occurs since the general consensus is that GE products are “substantially equivalent” to their natural counterparts, thus do not need separate evaluation once it is determined that they are reasonably similar to their analogs. And who is submitting the data to show that these crops pose no risks? The company with a profit motivation who designed the technology in the first place.USDA: The USDA is responsible for protecting crops and the environment from agricultural pests, diseases and weeds, including biotech and conventional crops. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) oversees the entire GE crop approval process, including allowing field testing, placing restrictions on imports and interstate shipping, approving commercial cultivation and monitoring approved GE crops. The USDA reviews permit applications and performs environmental assessments to decide whether GE plants will pose environmental risks before field trials may begin. The USDA has approved most of the applications for biotech field releases it has received, giving the green light to 92 percent of all submitted applications between 1987 and 2005. Once field trials are complete, the USDA can deregulate a crop, allowing it to be grown and sold without further oversight. By 2008, the USDA had approved nearly 65 percent of new GE crop deregulation petitions. EPA: The EPA regulates pesticides and herbicides, including GE crops that are designed to be insect resistant.The EPA also sets allowable levels of pesticide residues in food, including GE insect-resistant crops. Between 1995 and 2008, the EPA registered 29 GE pesticides engineered into corn, cotton and potatoes.The EPA must approve and register new GE insect-resistant crop traits, just as the agency does with conventional pesticides. Biotech companies must apply to field test new insect-resistant GE crop traits, establish permissible pesticide trait residue levels for food and register the pesticide trait for commercial production.FDA: The FDA is responsible for the safety of both conventional and GE food, animal feed and medicines. The agency regulates GE foods under the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act, which also gives the FDA authority over the genetic manipulation of animals or products intended to affect animals. GE foods, like non-GE foods, can pose risks to consumers from potential allergens and toxins. The FDA does not determine the safety of proposed GE foods; instead, it evaluates whether the GE product is similar to comparable non-GE products.NO GE LABELING: Because FDA views GE foods as indistinct from conventional foods, it does not require the labeling of GE food products as such. The FDA does permit voluntary GE labeling as long as the information is not false or misleading. Food manufacturers can either affirmatively label GE food or indicate that the food item does not contain GE ingredients (known as “absence labeling”). Virtually no companies disclose that they are using GE ingredients under this voluntary scheme. Consumer Demand for Labeling: For consumers to have the opportunity to make informed choices about their food, all GE foods should be labeled. A 2008 CBS/New York Times poll found that more than half of American consumers would choose not to buy GE foods, and 87 percent wanted all GE ingredients to be labeled. A 2010 Consumers Union poll found that 95 percent of U.S. consumers favor mandatory labeling of meat and milk from GE animals.
  • RR=Roundup Ready (Monsanto)- Tolerant to the herbicide, glyphosate.Bt (bacillus thuringiensis): Is a naturally occuring soil bacteria that has been historically applied to crops as an insecticide but is now being engineered into crops so that they are able to produce the pesticide on their own.2,4-D and Dicamba tolerant soybeans: Ubiquitous application of Roundup has spawned glyphosate-resistant weeds, a problem that is driving farmers to apply more toxic herbicides (2,4-D was one of the components of Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War). Now biotech companies are engineering plants to be stacked (have multiple traits) with resistance to a variety of insects and herbicides to allow for more broad chemical treatments.High Oleic Acid Soybean: Soybean oils are manipulated to have lower polyunsaturated fatty acid levels and higher monounsaturated fatty acid (oleic acid) content. In 2010, the USDA approved a Pioneer-brand soybean that is modified to produce more oleic acid. Because soybean oil is the most commonly consumed vegetable oil in the United States, the industry maintains that the reduced-fat oil could provide significant health benefits.**In 2011 alone, USDA approved 9 GE crops and issued 2,500 field trial permits.**Herbicide-tolerant or insect-resistant commodities — corn, canola, cotton and soybeans — make up the overwhelming majority of GE crops. Other GE crops that have been approved for field trials but are not commercially available include rice, sugar beet, melon, potato, apple, petunia, millet, switchgrass and tobacco. GE papaya, flax, tomatoes, potatoes and squash have made it through the field trial approval process, although they are not necessarily currently commercially available.
  • THE CORN:-In August, Monsanto announced that its Seminis Performance Series Sweet Corn would be available for planting in spring 2012.-The three traits engineered onto this corn are: corn borer resistance, rootworm resistance, and glyphosate-tolerance (Roundup Ready).-Monsanto hopes to grow its sweet corn on 250,000 acres (roughly 40 percent of the sweet corn market).-Like all other GE crops, will be unlabeled in grocery stores.THE CAMPAIGN:-FWW campaign is asking Walmart (biggest food retailer- selling $129 billion worth of food a year) to refuse to sell Monsanto’s GE sweet corn by April 1,2012 which is near the beginning of the planting season. We hope that if they do refuse to stock the sweet corn, other retailers will follow suit and farmers won’t feel the need to plant the GE seeds.-Trader Joes, General Mills and Whole Foods have already agreed not to sell GE sweet corn.-Although this is not the first GE vegetable or even the first GE sweet corn to be planted, this new product is Monsanto’s way of trying to take over another department in our grocery stores.
  • Regulation: Since there was no clear pathway for the regulation of GE animals, The FDA decided to regulate them as veterinary medicines. In 2009, the agency decided that the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act definition of veterinary drugs as substances “intended to affect the structure of any function of the body of man or other animals” includes genetically altered animals. As of the beginning of 2012, only GE salmonand Enviropig have been considered for commercial approval, but no transgenic animals have been approved to enter the food supply.GE Salmon:combines genes from the ocean pout (a member of the eel family) and the chinook salmon to create an Atlantic salmon which the company claims reaches market size in twice the time. In its submission to the FDA, Aquabounty acknowledges that it cannot guarantee that its transgenic fish will not escape from salmon farms.Although the biotech salmon purportedly would be sterile, the large, voracious GE salmon could out-compete wild fish for food, habitat and mates but then fail to successfully reproduce, effectively driving wild salmon to extinction. Moreover, carnivorous farmed fish eat pellets made from wild fish, among other ingredients. GE salmon would require more wild-caught fishmeal feed than non-GE fish, putting more strain on ocean fish populations to provide feed. Enviropig:As an attempt to mitigate the problems of manure pollution from factory farms, hogs were engineered to produce the phosphorus-absorbing enzyme phytase as a way to decrease the phosphorus levels from manure that commonly pollutes waterways. Yet changing the chemical content of the Enviropig’s manure would not reduce total manure discharges from factory farms. An alternative solution to achieve the same phosphorus reduction in manure would be to use phytase as a feed supplement. In reality, the only beneficiaries of Enviropigswould be factory farms. **Engineering livestock to fit the factory farm model fails to address the systemic problem of overcrowded, poorly regulated livestock operations that overwhelm the land’s ability to utilize manure for crop production**Mosquito:Males engineered to carry a lethal gene so that when mated with wild females, the offspring will die before reaching adulthood. This is an effort to control Dengue fever in certain parts of the world, releases have occurred in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil and Oxitec plans to release their mosquitoes in the Florida Keys, regulatory approval pending. Obviously not a food animal, but an interesting case study in the release of transgenic organisms into the wild without a specific regulatory framework.
  • GE crops were first commercially approved in 1996. In 1996, 7 percent of soybeans and 1 percent of corn acres were GE, now 94 percent of soybeans, 88 percent of corn and 90 percent of cotton acres are GE.The U.S. has the most acreage dedicated to GE crops in the world with 165 acres, half of 2010’smore than 365 million acres of GE crops cultivated in 29 countries. 2nd is brazil. 3rd is argentina.Few companies have patents for these crops (Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF), Monsanto is the leader. By 2009, nearly all (93 percent) of the soybeans and four-fifths (80 percent) of the corn cultivated in the United States were grown from seeds covered by Monsanto patents.
  • The swift spread of GE crops can be attributed, in part, to the propaganda and false promises of the biggest biotechnology companies. They claim that the technology will help farmers yield more for less money, in an environmentally-friendly way to help feed the world. Yet these promises have remained illusory.The power of these companies, both through marketing and lobbying is enormous. Between 1999 and 2009, the top agricultural biotechnology firms spent more than $547 million on lobbying and campaign contributions to ease GE regulatory oversight, push for GE approvals and prevent GE labeling.
  • Although biotechnology companies claim that their products strengthen farm productivity, since the introduction of GE crops in 1996, the gains in long-term yield trends in corn and soybean have been limited.A 2009 Union of Concerned Scientists survey found that herbicide-tolerant corn and soybeans showed no yield increase over non-GE crops, and insect-resistant corn had only a slight advantage over conventional corn.A 2007 Kansas State University study found that non-GE soybeans had 10 percent higher yields than biotech soybeans.
  • GE Technology doesn’t work=more inputs=more cost for farmers!As more crops are engineered to have Roundup tolerance, farmers are using more and more of an increasingly expensive herbicide. And with more use of the same herbicide, rampant weed resistance has become a problem in the United States, adding an additional cost of weed control for farmers. - At least eight weed species in the United States (and 15 worldwide) have been confirmed to be resistant to glyphosate, including aggressive crop weeds such as ragweed, mare’s tail and waterhemp. - A 2009 Purdue University study found that glyphosate-tolerant mare’s tail could “reach staggering levels of infestation in about two years after it is first detected.” - Even biotech company Syngenta predicts that glyphosate-resistant weeds will infest one-fourth of U.S. cropland by 2013. - Research shows that higher densities of glyphosate-resistant weeds reduce crop yields. - Purdue University scientists found that Roundup-resistant ragweed can cause 100 percent corn-crop losses.
  • The cost of GE seeds can be prohibitive due to the cost of using a patented seed. Farmers pay licensing fees and sign contracts for limited permission to plant GE seeds. The licenses typically prohibit farmers from saving the seeds from harvested crops to plant the next season. Farmers must buy new seeds every year because they face patent infringement suits if they run afoul of GE seed-licensing agreements by saving seed.Farmers depend on the few firms that sell seeds, and these companies have raised the prices of seed and affiliated agrochemicals as the market has become increasingly concentrated. High levels of concentration can raise seed prices for farmers. Biotech corn seed prices increased 9 percent annually between 2002 and 2008, and soybean seed prices rose 7 percent annually. Between 1996 and 2007, Monsanto acquired more than a dozen seed companies. The two largest firms sold 58 percent of corn seeds in 2007 and 60 percent of soybean seeds in 2005.**As seen in this chart, in 2008, GE corn seed cost nearly 60 percent more than non-GE seed**
  • Although biotech companies claim that glyphosate-tolerant crops ensure that farmers can invest in no-till or conservation tillage systems, weed resistance has resulted in more intensive tillage practices being utilized by farmers. These practices involve: using more (quantity and types of) herbicides and pesticides, abandoning conservation tillage and going back to more intense tillage which can lead to erosion and runoff into surrounding soil and waterways, more intense use of fertilizers to boost lost production which can be environmentally degrading.
  • Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) 101

    1. 1. Genetically Engineered Foods 101 Presenter, Food & Water Watch Event Location
    2. 2. What is “GE”?• Genetically engineered (GE) plants and animals (also called genetically modified organisms (GMOs)) are altered with inserted genetic material to exhibit a desired trait.• Examples: herbicide-tolerant corn, insect-resistant cotton, Golden Rice, rBGH in milk, GE salmon.
    3. 3. Who’s Regulating It?• The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) share regulatory oversight of GE plants and animals.• The agencies do not conduct safety testing of their own. Biotechnology companies, like Monsanto, submit safety data and the agencies review it prior to making an approval.• There is no labeling requirement of foods containing GE
    4. 4. Approved Genetically Engineered Crops Source: USDASince GE corn was first commercialized in 1996, 89 GE crops have beenapproved for commercialization. Herbicide- Tolerant Insect-Tolerant Other In the Pipeline RR Corn Bt Corn Amylase Corn Golden Rice 2 High Oleic Acid Freeze-tolerant RR Soybean Bt Cotton Soybean Eucalyptus Virus-resistant RR Alfalfa Bt Soybean Papaya Non-browning Apple Virus-resistant 2,4-D tolerant RR Canola Squash Soybean Virus-resistant Dicamba-tolerant RR Sugarbeet Potato Soybean Delayed-ripening RR Cotton Tomato LibertyLink Corn Drought-resistant *Data from the USDA Petitions for Non-regulated Status Granted or Pending by APHIS as of January 10, LibertyLink Rice 2012; Golden Rice Humanitarian Board
    5. 5. GE Sweet Corn• Monsantos sweet corn, expected to be planted in 2012, combines genetically engineered traits that were approved in 2005 and 2008.• The "stacked" combination of these traits for herbicide tolerance and pesticide production has never been through a safety evaluation of any kind. Why is this issue so important?• These traits have never been engineered into a food that 1. This is the first GE crop will be consumed directly by people — most of the GE that Monsanto is marketing corn that is currently grown is eaten by animals or for direct human processed into corn ingredients that show up in processed consumption. food. 2. It will not be labeled. 3. It hasnt been tested for human safety.
    6. 6. GE Animals Source: USDA GE Animal Pipeline Includes: GE Salmon (Aquabounty) Enviropig (University of GE Mosquito (Oxitec) Guelph, Canada)• As of the beginning of 2012, no GE animals have been approved for human consumption in the United States.
    7. 7. Biotech Share of U.S. Cultivation Source: USDA 100 90 80Percent Biotech 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Corn Cotton
    8. 8. GE Myths Debunked  GE crops do not yield more than non- GE
    9. 9. Long-Term Yield Trends Unchanged Source: USDA180160140120100 80 GE introduced 60 40 20 0 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 Corn (bu./acre)
    10. 10. GE Myths Debunked (cont.)  GE crops do not yield more than non- GE crops.  GE crops do not reduce costs for
    11. 11. Roundup Herbicide Costs ($/gallon) Source: USDAMonsanto recommends applying 2 gallons ofRoundup an acre, or $40,000 for a 500 acre farm $40.50 $33.80 $29.30 $28.90 2005 2006 2007 2008
    12. 12. Biotech Corn Seed More Expensive ($ per 80,000 kernels) Source: USDA $184 $154 $137 $131 $122 $113 $115 $115 $95 $100 $91 $91 $93 $86 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 GE Corn seed Non-GE Corn
    13. 13. GE Myths Debunked (cont.)  GE crops do not yield more than non- GE crops.  GE crops do not reduce costs for farmers.  GE crops are not more sustainable and often require even more herbicide
    14. 14. GE Myths Debunked (cont.) • Glyphosate use on Roundup Ready crops has grown steadily. Between 2001 and 2007, annual U.S. glyphosate use doubled to 185 million pounds. • Ubiquitous Roundup application has spawned glyphosate-resistant weeds, driving farmers to apply even more toxic herbicides and more intensive management practices. • Farmers may resort to other herbicides to combat superweeds, including 2,4-D (an Agent Orange component) and atrazine, which have been associated with health risks including endocrine disruption and developmental
    15. 15. Fighting Back - First stop: WalmartWe’re calling on U.S. consumers andgrocery stores to reject Monsanto’s GEsweet corn – starting with Walmart.  Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and General Mills have already agreed not to sell GE sweet corn.  Whether you shop at Walmart or not, they are the largest U.S. food retailer, and if they won’t sell GE sweet corn, it’s likely that farmers won’t plant it.
    16. 16. Goal:• Get Walmart to commit to not sell GE Sweet Corn by April 1st • (this is when sweet corn would start to be planted)
    17. 17. Tactics:What does Walmart care most about? Their image. We’regoing to make them feel the pressure with targeted, publicactions to they’ll reject Monsanto’s GE corn.• Petition deliveries to Walmart stores• Call-in days to customer service• Parking lot/ in-store actions• Media/social media campaigns to raise