Brazilian Research Provides Clue to Jump in Leukemia Rates at Huazhong Agricultural University in Central China?

Is genetically modified rice linked to a sudden rise in the leukemia incidence rate among students at Huazhong Agricultural University (HUA) in central China, in one of the country’s three top rice-producing regions?

spraying rice in China“When we entered the University, the school required all students to promote genetic modification (GM), upon entering the University, our teacher told us that the rice used by our canteen is GM rice from the university’s experimental base,” students stated(Chen I-wan, 2014). The leukemia incidence rate of the students at the Huazhong University is now estimated to be about three times the normal incidence rate.

Last year, a Brazilian study, “Hematotoxicity of Bacillus thuringiensis as spore-crystal strains Cry1Aa, Cry1Ab, Cry1Ac, or Cry2Aa in Swiss albino mice” (Mezzomo, 2013), published in the Journal of Hematology & Thromboembolic Diseases, showed that Bt toxins are toxic to the blood of mice and cause red blood cells to rupture, as well as a significant reduction in bone marrow cell proliferation. Some think there may be a connection.

While it is not clear that health problems among the HUA students or others who may have been eating the insect resistant genetically modified rice (IRGM) were actually a consideration, China’s Ministry of Agriculture has decided not to renew biosafety certificates that allowed research groups to grow genetically modified rice and corn. The certificates expired August 17th. Wang Jing, a Greenpeace official based in Beijing, wrote in an email to ScienceInsider, “We believe that loopholes in assessing and monitoring [GM] research, as well as the public concern around safety issues are the most important reasons that the certifications have not been renewed” (Normile, 2014).


About IRT. The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) is a non-profit organization that researches and reports news and information about the health risks of genetically engineered food. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are present in processed foods and many food products.IRT-Web-Logo-Short-150



USDA Gives Monsanto the Green Light

USDA+MonsantoOnce again, the USDA gives the nod to the biotech seed and agrochemical industry over protests from organic farmers and other specialty crop growers.  This latest “technology” from Monsanto—that’s what they call their patented seeds—is genetically engineered to survive new and more potent weed killer combinations.

January 15.  The USDA has given final approval for the commercial release of two new herbicide tolerant varieties of soybeans and cotton from Monsanto.  Non-regulated status was granted for Roundup Ready 2 Xtend soybeans, the industry’s first biotech-stacked trait with both dicamba and glyphosate herbicide tolerance, and Bollgard II XtendFlex cotton which will allow farmers to apply multiple combinations of three herbicides:  dicamba, glyphosate, and glufosinate.  Dicamba is noted for a tendency to drift.

Food & Water Watch Executive Director, Wenonah Hauter, calls this “simply the latest example of USDA’s allegiance to the biotechnology industry and dependence upon chemical solutions.”

Biotech seed and agrochemical companies like Monsanto and Dow, who received approval for its new Enlist Duo 2,4-D+glyphosate resistant corn and soy last fall, have developed these new generations of GMO seeds and their companion herbicides to “combat” the spread of the glyphosate-resistant Superweeds that are now estimated to infest over 70 million acres of American farm land.

“Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant crops are the latest fruits of a pesticide industry strategy to increase sales of their toxic herbicides,” said Bill Freese, Center for Food Safety science policy analyst. “Genetic engineering is making American agriculture more chemical-dependent and less sustainable than ever before.”

This escalation of the chemical war on weeds cannot end well.  By definition, sustainable agriculture incorporates practices that will protect biodiversity and remain productive in the long term.  Despite industry claims, their products do not contribute to development of sustainable food systems recommended by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

About IRT.  The Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) is a non-profit organization that researches and reports news and information about the health risks of genetically engineered food.  GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are present in processed foods and many food products.

Major commodity crops raised from GMO seed include:  corn (90%), soybeans (93%), canola (93%), cotton (90%), and sugar beets (98%).*  GMO sweet corn, papaya, zucchini, and yellow summer squash are also for sale in grocery stores, but in lesser amounts.  Genetically modified alfalfa is grown for use as hay and forage for animals.   For more information about avoiding GMOs in food, go to

*percentages are based on U.S. acreage as of 2013 (USDA)



November 04, 2014: Two Wins, One Loss, and One Cliffhanger

Still a chanceelection thank you

The slimmest of chances that Oregon’s Prop. 92 might still pass raises the pulse even though the probabilities are such that obtaining another 6900 YES votes from the remaining uncounted ballots portend otherwise.  Huffington Post live results as of 7 am EST, 11-11, show the current standing at a difference of 1 percentage point with 95% reporting:  50.5% NO; 49.5% YES

Prop. 92 was the most expensive state ballot measure campaign in Oregon’s history.  $21 million was spent by the labeling opponents, furnished primarily by biotech seed companies, Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer.  Another $15 million was spent in Colorado in a repetition of the same pattern followed in California in 2012, and Washington in 2013.  To date, opponents of labeling have spent an outrageous $106 million total in California, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon to squash consumers’ demand for transparency.

Clearly, the biotech industry has reason to worry.  In Humboldt County, California, voters approved an outright ban on GMOs, and in Maui County, Hawaii, residents passed a moratorium that could close out Monsanto’s extensive Maui County operations which they had one time bragged was the source of 80% of all their Bt corn seed for the world.  Monsanto has already announced their intention to file a lawsuit challenging the legality of the initiative.

Alika #2Click HERE to watch the video of IRT Executive Director, Jeffrey Smith’s interview with Alika Atay and leaders of the SHAKA (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina) Movement about their victory.  Inspirational and touching as well as filled with practical advice for other activists who may wish to launch their own local efforts, the SHAKA story is one of great triumph of family values and love of the land over Big Ag and corporate farming.



WIN – Maui County, Hawaii.  The Maui GMO initiative placing a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered organisms and their associated pesticide use, was passed:  50.2% YES; 47.9% NO.  The initiative calls for environmental and public health impact studies, public hearings, and a two-thirds vote and a determination by the Maui County Council that operations meet standards.  The initiative also calls for the establishment of criminal and civil penalties to be adopted and established for the County of Maui.

WIN – Humboldt County, California.  Genetic Contamination Prevention Ordinance, GMO Ban Initiative, Measure P, which will “prohibit the propagation, cultivation, raising, or growing of genetically modified organisms in Humboldt County,” was passed:  59.43% YES; 40.57% NO.

LOSS – State of Colorado.  The Colorado Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative, Proposition 105, which would have required  any “prepackaged, processed food or raw agricultural commodity that has been produced using genetic modification” to include the label: “Produced with genetic engineering.” was defeated:  66.33% NO; 33.67% YES.

Too close to call – State of Oregon.  The Oregon Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative, Measure 92 would mandate labeling of certain foodstuffs that were produced with or contain genetically modified organisms.  Returns continue to narrow with 95% of the ballots counted as of Tuesday, 11 November and currently stands at a difference of 1 percentage point:  50.5% NO; 49.5% YES.

More highly toxic compound superweed-killers on the way!

cotton-with-textMonsanto’s new GMO cotton will unleash a triple whammy of toxic herbicides

If you are still reeling from the news of the latest round of approvals for “Agent Orange” corn and soy, please sit down. More hopped up toxic combinations are on the way. Monsanto has a new “triple stack” GMO cotton up for deregulation with tolerance to dicamba, glyphosate, and glufosinate herbicides. They call it another “tool” for fighting superweeds. These glyphosate-resistant weeds have more than doubled since 2009 and are currently spread over 70 million acres.

Dicamba is a strong herbicide that has been associated with a number of health and environmental effects including reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage, not to mention that dicamba, like 2,4-D, is toxic to fish, toxic to birds, and harmful to pets.

People are becoming increasingly alarmed about the escalation to greater and greater amounts of toxic chemicals, and what appears to be an extraordinary insensitivity to public opinion. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), and other members of Congress are speaking up. “Right now we are witnessing agribusiness attempt to wield its powerful influence over federal regulators. They want EPA and USDA to rubberstamp another set of genetically engineered crops rather than listen to the scientific community,” says Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D-Oregon).

EPA Approves Dow’s new Super Toxic Superweed Cocktail over Protests from 50 Federal Lawmakers

Oct 15 – In spite of an outpouring of public concern including a strongly worded letter signed by 50 members of Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency gave final approval to Dow Agrosciences’ new Enlist Duo herbicide, a double whammy combination of glyphosate plus 2,4-D aimed at knocking down the onslaught of superweeds that have grown resistant to glyphosate alone, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. The approvals of Dow’s “Agent Orange” crop system with resistance to 2,4,-D escalates the “war” on superweeds to a new level of chemical warfare.

50 congressional members – led by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine – expressed a chilling concern:

“We are also concerned that EPA failed to thoroughly examine all of the significant health and environmental risks of 2,4-D including that of inhalation and aggregate exposure; the risks of 2,4-D exposure to threatened and endangered species; and the risks posed by shifts in use patterns of 2,4-D as a result of the GE cropping systems. Most alarming is EPA’s failure to apply the additional safety factor of 10x, as mandated under the Food Quality Protection Act, to protect children, who are especially susceptible to harm from pesticide exposure. The 10-fold safety factor is required by law to safeguard against the potential health risks for young children and infants that would result from the widespread use of 2,4-D on GE crops.” The 10-fold safety factor refers specifically to cumulative risk assessments which may be required to take into account potential pre- and postnatal exposure. Detailed information is available from the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs.

Reach out to these legislators if you know them and thank them, or send a letter to your representative if not a part of this group and urge their further investigation.

Download pdf of the full letter to EPA and USDA

Did your representative sign the letter?  Send a thank you note.  Click HERE for a draft copy you can edit with your information.

Uh oh, your representative wasn’t one of the 50 to sign the letter?  Send a letter urging him or her to consider your point of view.  Click HERE for a draft copy you can edit with your information.