Hungary Destroys Genetically Modified Corn Crops

LA WEEKLY– Hungary has destroyed almost 1,000 acres of corn found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, which are illegal in the country, International Business Times reports. The corn was plowed under so that pollen would not contaminate other crops.

The action came in response to a new regulation introduced in March that stipulates that seeds are supposed to be checked for GMO before they can be sold to farmers. But some of the GMO seeds, manufactured by U.S. seed giants Monsanto and Pioneer, made it onto the market anyway. The Hungarian government said it will continue to test seeds despite the fact that seed sellers are obliged to make sure their products are GMO-free.

Last week the Hungarian unit of Monsanto, the largest producer of GMO seeds, appealed to the Budapest Municipal Court to suspend the resolution by the Hungarian Agriculture Office to destroy the corn, but they were turned down, according to the Budapest Times.

With the growing season already underway, it’s too late to sow new seeds, so this year’s harvest is a total loss.

Monsanto released a statement saying it “respects Hungary’s efforts to prevent the production of genetically manipulated plants on Hungarian farms. Monsanto sells only traditional, not GMO seeds to Hungary. Our seeds can only enter Hungarian markets after they were tested for GMO and found clean, in accordance with national and international laws.”

Read more about Hungary Destroys Genetically Modified Corn Crops

© 2011 LA Weekly

Photo by Flickr user A.W.A.N.

US Ends Opposition to GM Labeling Guidelines

ECO WATCH PRESS RELEASE– Consumers International (CI) and its member organizations celebrated victory today as regulators from more than 100 countries agreed on long overdue guidance
on the labeling of genetically modified (GM) food.

The Codex Alimentarius Commissionii, made up of the world’s food safety regulatory agencies, has been labouring for two decades to come up with consensus guidance on this topic.

In a striking reversal of their previous position, on Tuesday, during the annual Codex summit in Geneva, the US delegation dropped its opposition to the GM labeling guidance document, allowing it to move forward and become an official Codex text.

The new Codex agreement means that any country wishing to adopt GM food labeling will no longer face the threat of a legal challenge from the World Trade Organization (WTO). This is because national measures based on Codex guidance or standards cannot be challenged as a barrier to trade.

This will have immediate implications for consumers. Edita Vilcapoma of the Peruvian consumer group ASPEC, representing Consumers International at the Codex meeting in Geneva, said:

“Peru’s recent introduction of GM food labeling faced the threat of a legal challenge from the WTO. This new Codex agreement now means that this threat has gone and the consumer right to be informed has been secured. This is major victory for the global consumer movement.”

The agreement also recognises the enormous health monitoring benefits of giving consumers transparent information about the presence of GM foods. Consumers International’s lead delegate at Codex, and a senior scientist at Consumers Union of the United States, Dr Michael Hansen, stated:

“We are particularly pleased that the new guidance recognizes that GM labelling is justified as a tool for post market monitoring. This is one of the key reasons we want all GM foods to be required to be labelled – so that if consumers eat modified foods, they will be able to know and report to regulators if they have an allergic or other adverse reaction.”

The labeling milestone is particularly welcomed by CI member organizations in Africa, who have been fighting on behalf of their consumers for the right to be informed about GM food. Samuel Ochieng, President Emeritus of Consumers International and CEO of the Kenyan Consumer Information Network said:

“While the agreement falls short of the consumer movement’s long-held demand for endorsement of mandatory GM food labeling, this is still a significant milestone for consumer rights. We congratulate Codex on agreeing on this guidance, which has been sought by consumers and regulators in African countries for nearly twenty years. This guidance is extremely good news for the worlds’ consumers who want to know what is in the foods on their plates”.   

***

Note to Editors

i Consumers International (CI) is the only independent global campaigning voice for consumers. With over 220 member organizations in 115 countries, we are building a powerful international consumer movement to help protect and empower consumers everywhere. For more information, visit www.consumersinternational.org

ii The Codex Alimentarius Commission was created in 1963 by FAO and WHO to develop food standards, guidelines and related texts such as codes of practice under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme: http://www.codexalimentarius.net/web/index_en.jsp

US Gov: Marijuana Has No Medical Use

LA TIMES– Marijuana has been approved by California, many other states and the nation’s capital to treat a range of illnesses, but in a decision announced Friday the federal government ruled that it has no accepted medical use and should remain classified as a dangerous drug like heroin.

The decision comes almost nine years after medical marijuana supporters asked the government to reclassify cannabis to take into account a growing body of worldwide research that shows its effectiveness in treating certain diseases, such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.

Advocates for the medical use of the drug criticized the ruling but were elated that the Obama administration had finally acted, which allows them to appeal to the federal courts, where they believe they can get a fairer hearing. The decision to deny the request was made by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and comes less than two months after advocates asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to force the administration to respond to their petition.

Read full article about US Gov: Marijuana Has No Medical Use.

© 2011 LA Times

Photo by Flickr user Neeta Lind

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply

Food Companies That Serve You ‘Wood’

THE STREET– The recent class-action lawsuit brought against Taco Bell raised questions about the quality of food many Americans eat each day.

Chief among those concerns is the use of cellulose (read: wood pulp), an extender whose use in a roster of food products, from crackers and ice creams to puddings and baked goods, is now being exposed. What you’re actually paying for — and consuming — may be surprising.

Cellulose is virgin wood pulp that has been processed and manufactured to different lengths for functionality, though use of it and its variant forms (cellulose gum, powdered cellulose, microcrystalline cellulose, etc.) is deemed safe for human consumption, according to the FDA, which regulates most food industry products. The government agency sets no limit on the amount of cellulose that can be used in food products meant for human consumption. The USDA, which regulates meats, has set a limit of 3.5% on the use of cellulose, since fiber in meat products cannot be recognized nutritionally.

Jump directly to the slideshow of companies whose food contains cellulose.

“As commodity prices continue to rally and the cost of imported materials impacts earnings, we expect to see increasing use of surrogate products within food items. Cellulose is certainly in higher demand and we expect this to continue,” Michael A. Yoshikami, chief investment strategist at YCMNet Advisors, told TheStreet.

Manufacturers use cellulose in food as an extender, providing structure and reducing breakage, said Dan Inman, director of research and development at J. Rettenmaier USA, a company that supplies “organic” cellulose fibers for use in a variety of processed foods and meats meant for human and pet consumption, as well as for plastics, cleaning detergents, welding electrodes, pet litter, automotive brake pads, glue and reinforcing compounds, construction materials, roof coating, asphalt and even emulsion paints, among many other products.

“Cellulose adds fiber to the food, which is good for people who do not get the recommended daily intake of fiber in their diets,” Inman said. “It also extends the shelf life of processed foods. Plus, cellulose’s water-absorbing properties can mimic fat,” he said, allowing consumers to reduce their fat intake.

Read the full article about 15 Food Companies That Serve You ‘Wood’.

© 2011 The Street

Photo by Flickr user freya_gefn

Painkillers Could be a Gateway to Heroin

CNN– This past winter, I found myself following a drug dealer and his crew up the dark stairway of a triple-decker apartment building on the outskirts of Boston. Reaching a unit on the top floor, the young man pulled a gun from his waistband and set it on a coffee table next to a digital scale and a pile of drugs.

Entering a drug den, you might expect to find cocaine or heroin. But side by side with this pile of “hard stuff” were prescription pills, lots of them.

The little green tablets the men were dealing — known as “Perc 30s,” “Percs” or simply “30s” on the streets — were 30-milligram oxycodone. In medicine, oxycodone is known as an opioid analgesic, a powerful painkiller prescribed to patients with acute or chronic pain. On the streets, it’s known as heroin in a pill, and to borrow some Boston slang, it will get you “completely jammed.”

When Gil Kerlikowske, President Barack Obama’s national drug policy director, recently described today’s prescription drug abuse in the U.S. as worse than the crack epidemic of the 1980s, he was simply echoing what these drug dealers have long known.

“Pills are what it is now,” as one of them put it to us that night.

In the U.S., more people are abusing prescription drugs than cocaine, heroin and Ecstasy combined, but the most destructive have been prescription pain drugs such as oxycodone, best known by the brand name OxyContin.

The Centers for Disease Control data show overdose deaths from prescription painkillers more than doubled from 2000 to 2007, and in 17 states, painkiller overdoses are now the number one cause of accidental death.

Read full article on how Painkillers Are a Gateway to Heroin.

© 2011 CNN

Photo by Flickr user EMagineArt

Page 4 of 18<<...23456...>>