Jeffrey’s Take: Recent GMO News in Less Than 8 Minutes
The following are important links Jeffrey talks about in the video above:
- France fines Monsanto for illegally acquiring data on journalists, activists
- Bayer confirms end of sale of glyphosate-based herbicides for US lawn and garden market
- Breakthrough in non-GMO malaria control
- Non-GM breeding produces salt- and drought-tolerant soybeans
- Gene editing-free seed, plant and food labelling launched in Japan
- GMO purple tomato takes centre stage in deregulation push
- Learning to Love GMOs
Transcription: Jeffrey’s Take: Recent GMO News in Less Than 8 Minutes
This transcript has been edited slightly for clarity
Hi everyone. It’s Jeffrey Smith, with the Institute for Responsible Technology. Here’s some insight into the news over these last couple of weeks. Great news. A start. Bayer/Monsanto will no longer sell Roundup as of 2023 to US consumers for the lawn and garden market. We of course would like that extended to a ban completely on all customers and all around the world. But this is a good start. And it’s because they fear lawsuits because of the loss of three consecutive trials, where plaintiffs with non-Hodgkin lymphoma sued successfully and won against Bayer/Monsanto. Glyphosate, which is part of the herbicide Roundup, is also in the news, along with glufosinate and Dicamba. These three herbicides are all used in conjunction with GMO crops. You have glyphosate resistant, glufosinate resistant and Dicamba resistant crops. They all, according to this research, promote antibiotic resistant genes in the soil, which could contribute to antibiotic resistant pathogens, which means that that can cause death and amputation.
There’s already tens of thousands of people who die from pathogens that are not killable with antibiotics. And these herbicides are contributing to that. Here’s another piece of news: France fined Monsanto 400,000 euros. That’s about $473,000 for acquiring data on journalists and activists. Now it’s okay to create a list of public figures, but for those that are not in a public figure category, they need to be contacted and they need permission and that’s not what Monsanto did. They rated people one to five as part of their campaign to convince. And he was violating a law in France. It became hot news in Europe, and now they’re having to pay a pittance according to what they can pay, but they have been slapped on the wrist. Now for a long time, we have been talking about the fact that genetic engineering is not particularly a good solution for problems that very often non-GMO solutions are better and less expensive.
We now have one for non-GMO malaria control. Instead of putting out risky gene drives and other genetically engineered versions of the mosquito, which could backfire and cause disasters. They now have a microbe that if you infect the mosquito, you don’t reduce their numbers, which could destroy the environment and the ecosystem and those animals that eat the mosquitoes, etc., it just makes the mosquito unable to carry the malaria infection or to transmit it. So it’s an amazing, amazing discovery, and it doesn’t involve GMOs. It’s from the brilliance of microbes. Another non-GMO breeding breakthrough was a salt and drought tolerant soybean. Now they did not use genetic engineering to change the soybeans, but they did use marker assisted selection, which is something we have been promoting and talking about for years. You see, when they’re trying to create a particular set of traits, they’ll cross a bunch of different parent lines that have the traits and hope that they can combine them.
But with marker assisted selection, you figure out which genes carry those traits. So you use natural reproduction to create offspring. And instead of growing out all the offspring and then testing it to see if it’s salt tolerant, or drought tolerant, by putting it in real-world conditions, you just take a piece of a leaf and you do a little study to see, does this leaf have the genes you’re looking for? And if not, you throw that one away and you just keep working with the ones that end up with the genes you’re looking for. So it speeds up the process of natural selection. And the end result in this case, salt and drought tolerance, soybeans that are not themselves genetically engineered, but they do have the genes and the traits you’re looking for. Now, in spite of the fact that non-GMO technology is way better at creating all sorts of things, that hasn’t stopped the biotech industry from trying to push it’s GMO agenda, where they can patent and make money.
And their biggest push right now is to deregulate gene editing. That means things that are gene edited, they’re claiming are non-GMO and natural. And they’ve convinced governments like Japan, that it just does things that could actually happen naturally, that is false. The Japan government has fallen for the false rhetoric by the biotech industry and allows gene edited crops onto the market, like a particular tomato. So citizens have now put together a voluntary label system, the Okay Seed Mark, that says this seed or this food is not gene edited. The government’s not doing it. It’s being done by citizens, which is great because it will provide economic incentives for companies to not use gene editing, where when the government falls and fails, citizens have to step up. Now, part of this effort to deregulate gene editing has made the biotech industry spend a fortune, millions of dollars.
And one of the things that they do is that they’re getting articles placed in major magazines and newspapers that are complete myths. They’re complete false stories, but they support this narrative. And the one that they’re taking great credit for is the one that appeared in the New York Times magazine. As one group described it, “It’s false and misleading statements in a pro-GMO fairytale”. It’s called Learning to Love GMOs, with the subhead ‘Overblown fears have turned the public against genetically modified food, but the potential benefits have never been greater’. And there is such misinformation, disinformation, lies that are repeated over and over again. I don’t want to get started here but it’s simply ridiculous. It is absolutely bad reporting in a major newspaper and it’s something we’ve seen over and over again. Others have written about this explaining how the article is a complete fairytale. I’ll let you read what others have said. I didn’t bother wasting my time on that, we have work to do in protecting the global microbiome. So that is my commentary for the news over these last two weeks. Safe eating everyone.