October 2 was the deadline for EU member states to opt-out of allowing cultivation of GMO crops, and 21 of 28 countries selected that option.
Governments banning GMO crops are: Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium’s Wallonia region, Italy, Cyprus, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Malta. England plans to allow planting, despite strong citizen opposition.
Unfortunately, countries can’t ban products that contain GMOs. 70 products have been approved in the EU, in foods for humans and livestock, and cut flowers. But negotiations are underway to allow members to implement complete bans.
Russia also banned GMOs completely – from the entire food chain. "If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food," says Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
We now know where this talking point comes from – that people against GMOs are "anti-science" (because science shows they are safe).
Nature and then the NY Times broke the story that Monsanto (and the biotech industry) has been enlisting university scientists willing to whitewash studies that show GMO crops cause harm. Then they hire PR firms to get the word out that GMOs and its main product, Roundup, are safe.
This is exactly what the tobacco industry did to prove smoking safe.
Dozens of articles have been published under the names of prominent academics, that in some cases were drafted by industry consultants, reports the NY Times. And scientists receive "special grants" for "outreach," where they travel around the country – testifying to states and Congress, talking with farmers – defending GMO foods.
"The efforts have helped produce important payoffs, including the approval by federal regulators of new genetically modified seeds after academic experts intervened with the US Department of Agriculture on the industry’s behalf," reports the NY Times.
The article points out that GMO opponents also spend on research, lobbying and public relations, but that’s tiny compared to Monsanto et al. Over the past 3 years, they spent about $110 million to kill GMO labels on four state ballot initiatives, according to Food Democracy Now.
California Bans Glyphosate
In early September, California’s Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is listing glyphosate – the main ingredient in Roundup – as a carcinogen, following a similar announcement from the World Health Organization.
Use of glyphosate has never been higher, growing 20-fold around the world from 1990, when 10 million pounds were sprayed, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Now, Monsanto is being sued in two cases by agricultural workers (one in California, the other in NY) that claim Roundup caused their cancers.
"Monsanto assured the public that Roundup was harmless. In order to prove this, Monsanto championed falsified data and attacked legitimate studies that revealed its dangers. Monsanto led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup was safe," says the NY state filing.
The DARK Act easily passed in the House and a Senate committee and could soon be voted on.