24 Hours to Take Action: Monsanto Pushes USDA to Approve GMO Drought Corn

August 11, 2011

Below is a call to action by Food Democracy Now! regarding the approval of another Monsanto GMO product.  More research is pointing to the fact that GMO products do impact our health, can affect fertility, and cause pesticide residue to linger in the blood. Until the due diligence is done on the long term health consequences of GMO products, let’s hold off on introducing more GMO products into the environment.

In health,

-Dr. G

Monsanto pushes USDA to approve GMO drought corn – Tell the USDA what you think!

As if genetically engineered alfalfa, corn for ethanol, sugar beets, and most recently Kentucky bluegrass for lawns weren’t enough, the Obama USDA is now poised to approve another unnecessary GMO crop, in lieu of independent scientific data and practice of precautionary principles.

Currently, Monsanto is seeking approval from the USDA of a drought resistant corn known as MON 87460, which Monsanto claims achieves better results under low-water conditions compared to other varieties. Even the USDA’s own assessment shows that MON 87460 is no more “drought-tolerant” than current corn varieties nor does it have the true long-term potential benefits to meet drought conditions that farming with organic corn can bring to farmers.

Unfortunately, like all GMO approval processes in the U.S., the USDA has relied heavily on Monsanto’s own corporate science and failed to get adequate independent, peer reviewed data regarding the safety of this new GMO drought corn or of Monsanto’s claims.

It would appear that the “science” used to rationalize the approval for yet another GMO crop is biased to the benefit of Monsanto, ignoring the needs of farmers, the environment and the health of the population. The USDA public comment for approval of MON ends tomorrow

Let your voice be heard – Tell the USDA today to reject Monsanto’s GMO drought-resistant corn.


British Scientists Find GMO Horizontal Gene Transfer

In what can only be a glaring scientific oversight, the USDA assessment readily admits that “horizontal gene transfer” of DNA is a common event in nature, but somehow diminishes the potential for the novel genetic components found in Monsanto’s GMO drought corn to be capable of such leaps. Current ag biotechnology relies on a crude insertion of GMO genes done in scattershot fashion, which are by their very creation designed to cross previously untraversable genetic barriers imposed by nature.

More alarming is the fact that scientists in England have found that “horizontal gene transfer” of one of the main GMO genetic components found in MON 87460 has already occurred. Just last year scientists at University of Bristol “identified a natural process they say that would allow synthetic genes to move across GM organisms and out into the wild.”

According to the USDA’s own assessment, Monsanto’s GMO drought corn “was developed through a plant pathogenic bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens mediated transformation”. It is the same Agrobacterium tumefaciens that British researchers found that “‘transforms’ plant tissue at ‘plant wound’ sites and ‘clearly demonstrates that when placed together on damaged plant tissue, Agrobacterium readily transforms associated fungi’”.

It is hard to understand how scientists at the main U.S. government oversight agency could miss these facts in their own assessment of a new GMO crop, but like previous administrations, officials in the Obama administration appear more interested in fast-tracking Monsanto’s GMO technology.

Tell the USDA that they need to reject Monsanto’s studies of their own products and demand more independent peer reviewed data before it can approve any more GMO crops.

Monsanto’s Missing GMO Genes: Where did they GO?

On top of this, the current USDA assessment for Monsanto’s GMO drought corn readily admits that multiple GMO genetic components “did not get incorporated into the transformed plant”. Even as Monsanto attempts to diminish this alarming finding, the USDA also admits “a 22 base pair length of genomic DNA got deleted at the insert-to-plant DNA junction in MON 87460.”

Despite these disturbing scientific anomalies, which the USDA calls “minor genetic sequence modifications” the agency concludes there is no “biologically meaningful difference between MON 87460 and conventional corn.”

Do you believe them?

Bt toxin from GMO Corn Found in Pregnant Mothers

This past spring, further punctuating the point of gene trasference from plants to humans, Canadian scientists alarmingly discovered traces of the Bt toxin from GMO corn – engineered to release an insecticide – in 93% of blood samples taken from pregnant women and 80% umbilical cords tested.

This discovery comes in spite of promises by ag biotech companies such as Monsanto that this was not possible.

For any mother or parent such findings should bring about a sobering awakening that U.S. governmental regulatory agencies are not adequately doing their jobs and that more independent peer reviewed studies must be conducted before any more GMO crops are approved by the USDA or the Obama administration.

Click here to send in your public comment to tell the USDA that they need to reject Monsanto’s studies of their own products and demand more independent peer reviewed data before they can approve any more GMO crops.


Thanks for participating in food democracy,

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team


1. “PLANT PEST RISK ASSESSMENT FOR MON 87460 CORN” U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.


2. “Scientists Discover New Route for GM Contamination”, November 4, 2010 Farmers Guardian. http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/401?akid=362.169161.6a0G4f&t=16

3. “GM food toxins found in the blood of 93% of unborn babies”, May 20, 2011, UK Daily Mail.


Please Tell Congress to Pass the Child Nutrition Bill TODAY!

September 29, 2010

Tell congress to pass the child nutrition bill today!

In the next 36 hours, the House is set to vote on the much anticipated Child Nutrition Re-authorization Act (CNR). Tomorrow, on September 30th, the bill will expire if Congress does not act. If that happens, our kids will lose out on the best shot they’ve got at improving the quality of their school lunches.

Click here to take action now.

Below is more information, provided by the good folks at Food Democracy Now!

Please consider a donation as well to support their continued and focused efforts to protect our food supply. It is a powerful way to say “Thank You!” for working on our behalf.

In health,

Dr. Gina (Nick) Cushman

Urgent: Can you take a moment today for children?

In the next 36 hours, the House is set to vote on the much anticipated Child Nutrition Re-authorization Act (CNR). For over a year now, America’s children have been waiting on this vote, and tomorrow, on September 30th, the bill will expire if Congress does not act. If that happens, our children will lose out on the best shot they’ve got at improving the quality of their school lunches, and along with it, their health.

Although this bill has been at the heart of much criticism, it is our last best hope to address childhood hunger, set limits on junk food in the schools and provide mandatory funding for farm to school programs this year. [1]

It is so urgent that we are asking you to not only sign a letter to your Representative in congress, but also to make a call today urging them not to ignore this important bipartisan piece of legislation. Can you take a moment for America’s children right now?

Click here to send an urgent email to your U.S. Representative.


What does Child Nutrition Act provide?

  • Mandatory funding for grants to assist in establishing Farm to School programs. ($40 million over 8 years)
  • Establishes national nutrition standards for all foods sold on school campuses (including vending machines)
  • Improves access for low income and poverty level students to school nutrition programs
  • Expands the after school meal program, including authorizing Summer Food Grant Support
  • A 6 cent increase per school meal
  • $10 million for an Organic Food Pilot Program that authorizes competitive grants for lower income school districts to purchase organic food for their menus

The Child Nutrition Act is important legislation that we can no longer afford to deny our children. First Lady Michelle Obama has recognized this from the beginning of her husband’s presidency, working as a powerful advocate to end childhood obesity within this generation. [2] It’s no wonder. According to The Centers for Disease Control, one-third of all children born in the year 2000 will be overweight, obese or contract diabetes. Even worse, these children will be the first in our nation’s history to die at a younger age than their parents, if we don’t reverse this disturbing trend. [3]

There’s no better reason than that to advocate for better school lunch programs, which not only build children’s health and address hunger, but also create opportunities for new and beginning farmers through Farm to School programs.

Farm to School

Farm to School programs provide children the opportunity to eat seasonal and local fruits and vegetables, creating the potential to enhance children’s overall health and lifelong dietary habits. With current Farm to School programs in place, giving access to farm fresh food, schools have reported a 3 to 16% increase in school meal participation among students, giving them a connection to where their food comes from and improving academic performance.

In addition, Farm to School programs keep local dollars in the community, provide jobs, and market opportunity for small and midsized farmers; something Food Democracy Now! advocated for in February 2009 when we were the first organization in the sustainable food community to sit down with Secretary Vilsack in his office at the USDA in Washington DC.

Now is the time to enact this important measure, which builds healthy kids and healthy rural communities.

Click here to send an urgent email to your U.S. Representative.


The Tale of Two Bills

A great deal of concern has been raised over the incremental but crucial differences between the House and Senate bills for the re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act. One hotly contested difference is that the Senate version takes $2.2 billion in funding away from the SNAP or Supplemental Nutritional Access Program (formerly known as food stamps). [4] While this is an area of deep concern, leaving one to question the integrity of every U.S. Senator, it is, at this point, a politically unavoidable reality.

Those in favor of the House bill are also extremely discouraged at the cut in funding for the breakfast program from the Senate version, not to mention the dramatic reduction in funds budgeted for the Farm to School program. The House version grants $10 million per year for Farm to School programs over 5 years, while the Senate version of the bill only allows $5 million per year over 8 years. Also, notably absent from the Senate version is the expansion of food safety requirements. Worth noting is the appallingly low figure that both the House and Senate granted in the bill at a mere 6 cents per meal for America’s school children. [5]
With 12 percent of children ages 2 to 5 already obese, not to mention the fact that food insecurity is at it’s highest rate since the USDA starting keeping stats in 1995, certainly, we could do better. [6]

The Child Nutrition Act has held much promise for our nation’s children, let’s not fail them any longer. Our kids deserve better than the status quo that has brought them obesity and malnutrition.

We know that we can no longer afford to wait to give our children the nutrition they deserve. For many, this is the main meal of their day and it’s time that Congress treat America’s children like the precious national resource for our future that they are.

Even though this bill enjoys broad support from NGO’s, the First Lady, military generals and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack [7], it could go down in flames alongside other vital pieces of legislation this year, such as the climate change bill, if you don’t take action today.

Today, we need to say, “Not on our watch!”

Don’t fail kids today. Please take a moment and join us!

Be a Hero today to our kids by clicking here to send a letter to your Representative in Congress, then make a quick call.


The next generation thanks you for participating in food democracy  –

We need your help to keep the pressure on! Please donate to Food Democracy Now today – as little as $7 can make a big difference. Every bit helps!


We rely on folks like you to keep us going. Thanks again for your support.


1. Senate bill S. 3307 – 111th Congress, The Library of Congress.


2. “Healthy, and Safe, School Lunches”, Michelle Obama; Editorial New York Times; April 4, 2010.


3. P”revalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008″ The Journal of the American Medical Association, January 20, 2010.


4. “Critics call child nutrition bill counterproductive”, NPR, September 29, 2010.


5. “A modest proposal for congress: Ditch the extra spending for school lunch, Ed Bruske, Grist, September 28, 2010.


6. “Food insecurity rising in America”, Newsweek, August 8, 2010.


7.”100 Retired Generals and Admirals, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Urge Congress to Pass Child Nutrition Bill As Matter of National Security”, Mission Readiness, September 21, 2010.


Take Action to Prevent Widespread Use of GMO Salmon

September 14, 2010

Please support Food Democracy Now! in their grassroots efforts to educate the public on genetically modified foods and the risks to your health. Below is a plea from them to sign a petition to stop GMO salmon from landing on your plate. A worthy effort!!!

In health,

Dr. G

Massive mutant GMO salmon, genetically engineered to grow twice as fast as wild salmon, are coming to a table near you if you don’t act today.

On September 3rd, a panel of three Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials declared that genetically modified salmon were “safe” for human consumption. [1] Somehow, the elite FDA panel arrived at this “decision” based on “scientific research” provided by AquaBounty Technologies, the same company that stands to profit from introducing its patented genes onto our plates.

With the potential approval of GMO salmon, Americans are now entering an alarming new era of genetic experimentation with food animals, nature and the human population. Already the scientific community is warning against the real risk that these unnaturally engineered fish pose to wild species, the environment and human health.

Act today to stop the FDA from allowing this disaster to happen! Click here to automatically sign your name to the petition demanding that the FDA halt approval of GMO salmon.


Known as “macro-mutants”, AquaBounty’s GMO salmon are designed to ignore natural cycles of food sources and wild fish mating patterns that have existed for eons. [2]

While AquaBounty’s GMO salmon are only days away from being approved, the FDA has only seen scientific studies provided by the company that stands to profit from these patented genes. Since AquaBounty’s GMO salmon are being regulated under the FDA’s new animal drug provision, real independent scientific studies were not required. [3]

If history and the law of unintended consequences has taught us anything, the FDA’s approval of transgenic GMO mutant fish will be a disaster. For years independent scientists have been warning us about the dangers posed by these GMO salmon.

Once again, corporations and our government are trying to place profits over people. Act today to stop the FDA from allowing this disaster to happen!

Click here to automatically sign your name to the petition demanding that the FDA halt approval of GMO salmon.


What will these GMO salmon do to the environment?

One key problem with AquaBounty’s current business model is that they intend to sell the patented GMO salmon eggs to giant aquatic fish “farms” and not raise the fish themselves. [4] By becoming the Monsanto of aquaculture in simply selling the seed stock, AquaBounty solves a key infrastructure problem, but opens the door to mismanagement of its product and potential extinction of wild species. While the FDA states that the patented GMO salmon will be raised on inland fish farm facilities, there is no guarantee that the sold eggs might not accidentally end up in open-water ocean net pens or accidentally be spilled during transport.

If this happens, it could spell disaster. Even more alarming is the fact that, according to the Environmental Assessment that AquaBounty submitted to the FDA, these GMO salmon eggs are to be hatched in a facility on Prince Edward Island in Canada and raised at an inland facility in Panama! [5] That’s right, designed in Canada, raised in Panama, and ready for your plate here in America. Something smells fishy about this arrangement.

If GMO salmon escape into the wild, scientists warn that just 60 GMO salmon released into a population of 60,000 could lead to the extinction of the wild population in just 40 fish generations. [6] With wild Atlantic salmon already on the list of endangered species, the approval of AquaBounty’s patented GMO mutant fish may very well be a death sentence for wild salmon. One has to ask, what profit could possibly be worth such an outcome?

How will GMO salmon impact human health?

Because independent scientific studies of AquaBounty’s patented salmon have not been allowed, the human health impacts of GMO salmon are not currently known. Shockingly, the FDA is relying on scant scientific documents provided by AquaBounty itself. In fact, the FDA’s own assessment AquaBounty’s studies to determine whether GMO salmon are safe for human consumption states that the studies contain “technical flaws” and provide “insufficient data”.

For two of the studies submitted, AquaBounty used sample sizes so small that they have no scientific credibility, with only 12 fish tested for one study, while the study on possible allergic reactions in humans involved only “6 fertile fish and 6 infertile fish.” [7] Despite this scant evidence, the FDA is currently on the verge of approving the companies GMO salmon.

Serious questions remain about eating fish engineered to grow faster and how that genetically manipulated trait can impact human health, especially that of our most vulnerable populations such as pregnant mothers and children.

Act today to stand up for human health, food safety and the environment. Click here to automatically sign your name to a letter that tells the FDA that there are consequences to meddling with nature.


Thank you for participating in food democracy!

– Dave, Lisa and The Food Democracy Now Team

Please consider donating to Food Democracy Now! today – whether it’s $10, $25 or $50. http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/donate/133?akid=202.63486.cnGt_Y&t=18

We rely on folks like you to keep us going and couldn’t do it without you! Thanks again for your support.


1. “Aqua Bounty Biotech Salmon OK to Eat-FDA Staff,” Lisa Richwine, Reuters, September 3, 2010.


2. “Methods to Assess Ecological Risks of Transgenic Fish Releases”, William M Muir and Richard D Howard, Genetically Engineered Organisms, Chapter 13, CRC Press 2002.


3. “GE Animals Regulated Under New Animal Drug Provisions”, FDA.gov website, FDA Releases Final Guidance on Genetically Engineered Animals, January 15, 2009.


4. “Modified Salmon is Safe, FDA Says”, Andrew Pollack, The New York Times, September 3, 2010


5. “Enviornmental Assessment for AquAdvantage Salmon”, provided to FDA by Aqua Bounty Technologies Inc., FDA.gov website


6. “Mutant Salmon Coming to a Kitchen Table Near You”, Ariel Schwartz, Fast Company, July 12, 2010


7. “Would You Eat Genetically Altered Salmon?”, Deniza Gertsberg, AlterNet.com, September 11, 2010 http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/246?akid=202.63486.cnGt_Y&t=32

Protect Local Farmers…Your Health May Depend on It

March 22, 2010

Below is a reprint from Food Democracy Now with a call to action to let the USDA and Department of Justice know that our local farmers must be protected.  Watch out for corporate control of your food! And, please consider a contribution to Food Democracy Now! They offer a balanced perspective on the agriculture industry and work diligently on our behalf to keep the US food supply safe and healthy.  The quality of the food we eat is one of the most important components to health and well-being.

In health,

-Dr. G

The evidence is in: America’s food system is broken. Every week we read about record-breaking food safety recalls, a spiraling childhood obesity epidemic, and the continued loss of independent family farmers.

All of these problems can be traced back to one thing: excessive consolidation by Big, corporate food. But change may be on the way.

Recently, the Departments of Justice and Agriculture held their first joint workshop here in Iowa to gather evidence of antitrust violations in food and agriculture.(1) We were encouraged by the workshop, the first of five to be held this year,(2) but also concerned that the same companies that have caused these problems were well represented on the panels, while the family farmers most negatively impacted by corporate food monopolies were only given the opportunity to speak after public officials had left the building.

Even though these workshops are an important first step, real family farmers must have a seat at the table. It will take all our voices to ensure that the Justice department holds giant agribusiness accountable.

Please join us and tell the Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack that it’s time to break up America’s corporate food monopolies before they do more harm.


The aisles of most American grocery stores give an overwhelming illusion of choice when it comes to our food. A closer look, however, quickly reveals that most of the meat, grain, milk — and even the grocery stores themselves — are all owned and controlled by just a few corporations.

The figures are startling:
• A single company (Monsanto) controls the seeds of 93% of soybeans and 80% of the corn grown in the U.S.(3)

• 4 companies (Tyson, Cargill, Swift & National Beef Packing Co.) control 83% of the beef packing industry(4)

• 4 companies (Smithfield, Tyson, Swift & Cargill) control 66% of the pork packing industry

For too long now, food and agricultural production has been consolidated into the hands of a few agribusiness giants. These companies dictate to us how our food is produced, how much farmers are paid for their crops and livestock and how much consumers pay for food.

Food Democracy Now! participated in last week’s workshop. We heard Attorney General Eric Holder talk about the “reckless deregulation that has restricted competition in agriculture” and promise that the Department of Justice, under his watch, was committed to “vigorous enforcement” of U.S. antitrust laws.

But given the power of the companies on the other side, we know that the change we need will not come easily. We must stand together and make our voices heard in favor of a fair and democratic food system!

Please support Secretary Vilsack and Attorney General Holder as they move forward. Join them today in pushing for real enforcement of U.S. antitrust laws and an end to America’s food monopolies. It only takes a moment. And after you’ve signed the petition, please ask your friends and family to do the same.


P.S. The next hearing will be in Normal, Alabama on May 21st 2010, and will focus on the poultry industry, followed by a hearing on the notoriously concentrated dairy industry in Madison, Wisconsin on June 7th. We’ll be sure to keep you informed.

1. US pledges to probe, bust agribusiness monopolies, Reuters, March 12, 2010

2. Department of Justice, Antitrust Division, Public Workshops, Agriculture and Antitrust Enforcement Issues in Our 21st Century Economy

3. Monsanto’s dominance draws antitrust inquiry, Patented seeds are go-to for farmers, who decry their fast-growing price, The Washington Post, November 29, 2009

4. 2007 Concentration of Agricultural Markets report, compiled by Mary Hendrickson and William Heffernan of University of Missouri Department of Rural Sociology.

Help Bring Integrity Back to the Agricultural Industry

October 29, 2009
It appears that the USDA is appointing key executives with questionable backgrounds, and an apparent bias towards
Perfect tomato.

Agribusiness in question

the use of Genetically Modified crops and pesticides.  I am reprinting below a call for action from Food Democracy Now! which outlines the current concerns and offers an easy action step for you to take to help bring integrity back to the US agricultural industry.  Please let your voice be heard and also please join me in donating money to Food Democracy Now! so they can continue with the good work they are doing on our behalf.
President Obama has found himself with some strange bedfellows lately.

While on the campaign trail in Iowa, Barack Obama boasted, “We’ll tell ConAgra that it’s not the Department of Agribusiness. We’re going to put the people’s interests ahead of the special interests.”1 Despite that promise, it seems that ConAgra’s friends at Monsanto and CropLife are still finding their way into the USDA.

Last month, President Obama nominated two “Big Ag” power brokers–Roger Beachy and Islam Siddiqui–to key agency positions, putting agribusiness executives in charge of our country’s agricultural research and trade policy. Please join us in telling the President that this isn’t the change we voted for. We don’t want Big Ag running the show any more.  

Siddiqui’s confirmation hearing is set for next week. Please help us reach our goal of 50,000 signatures to make a real impact.


Obama’s first agribusiness selection is Roger Beachy, to be head of the USDA’s newly created National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Beachy is the founding president of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis, MO. It may sound innocuous, but the Danforth Center is essentially the non-profit arm of GMO seed giant Monsanto; Monsanto’s CEO sits on its board, and the company provides considerable funding for the Center’s operations.2

As the head of the USDA’s new research arm, formerly known as the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CREES), Beachy is responsible for deciding how U.S. research dollars will be spent in agriculture.3 Translation: more research on biotech, less research on how to scale sustainable and organic agriculture.

Unfortunately, Beachy has already started work at the USDA, but the next nominee—Islam Siddiqui—still must be confirmed by the U.S.Senate. Siddiqui, the Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America, was recently nominated to be the Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the Office of the US Trade Representative.4 Amazingly, when Michele Obama planted her “organic” garden on the White House lawn, Siddiqui’s CropLife MidAmerica sent the First Lady a letter saying that it made them “shudder”.5

During his career, Siddiqui spent over 3 years as a pesticide lobbyist, an Undersecretary at the USDA and a VP at CropLife. In defending Siddiqui, the White House has stated that he played a key role in helping establish the country’s first organic standards.6 What they neglect to mention, though, is that those original organic standards would have allowed irradiation, sewage sludge and GMOs to undermine organic integrity! The standards were so watered down that 230,000 people signed a petition for them to be changed, which they eventually were.7

Fortunately, the organic community stopped Siddiqui and his cronies then, and we need your help now to do it again. If Siddiqui’s nomination is allowed to go through, then agribusiness will continue to control the seeds, the science, and the distribution of global food and agriculture.

Please join Food Democracy Now! and a broad coalition of other groups, in calling on President Obama to keep his campaign promise of closing the revolving door between agribusiness and his administration.  

Please click here to add your voice.  


Thanks for standing with us and our coalition partners from across the country, including: The Pesticide Action Network (PAN), National Family Farm Coalition, Food & Water Watch, Farmworker’s Association of Florida, Institute of Agriculture & Trade Policy, Greenpeace and the Center for Food Safety in calling for President Obama to live up to his promises to put people’s interests ahead of special interests

Sustainably Yours,

Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! Team.

If you’d like to see Food Democracy Now!’s grassroots work continue, please consider donating. Your donation of $5 or more will help us continue our work. We appreciate your support! http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/25?akid=35.63486.sfhQtX&t=1


1. Obama slams corporate agriculture, two Illinois firms, The Chicago Tribune, November 10, 2007

2. Another Monsanto man in a key USDA post?, Grist, September 24, 2009

3. A New Direction on Research at the USDA? The Experts Weigh In, The Huffington Post, October 15, 2009

4. Obama’s attempt to tap an agrichemical-industry flack runs into trouble, Grist, October 10, 2009

5. Michelle’s green garden upsets pesticide makers, The First Post, April 23, 2009

6. Agriculture nomination steams greens, Politico, October 10, 2009

7. USDA Enters Debate on Organic Label Law, The New York Times, February 23, 2003 http://fdn.actionkit.com/go/72?akid=35.63486.sfhQtX&t=1

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