It's been 115 years since the first of six dams began regulating flows on the Klamath River, which runs from the high desert of eastern Oregon to the northern California coast.
By 2020 most of them will be gone—and the river's once-abundant salmon runs hopefully on the rebound—if two new agreements between tribal, state and federal governments, the operator and other stakeholders work out as planned.
Dam removal on the @klamathriver will reopen 420 miles of historic fish habitat. #UnDamTheKlamath https://t.co/TdkrJYkDkS— Marc Yaggi (@Marc Yaggi)1459963827.0
On Wednesday, standing before the mouth of the Klamath River on the Yurok Reservation in California, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the federal departments of the interior and commerce, along with the states of Oregon and California and the Karuk and Yurok tribes, have signed a new agreement with electric power company PacifiCorp to decommission and remove four hydropower dams along the Klamath River.
The agreement creates a “path forward for the largest river restoration in the history of the United States," along with “the largest dam removal project in the history of our nation," Jewell said.
The new pact will allow PacifiCorp to take three dams in California—Copco 1, Copco 2 and the Iron Gate Dam—and the John C. Boyle Dam in Oregon out of service by using the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's established licensing process for hydropower.
PacifiCorp's license to operate the dams expired in 2006. An earlier agreement to authorize their removal, created in 2010, required Congressional approval and expired at the end of 2015 after Congress adjourned without enacting it.
“From the company's point of view, we have the same agreement [today] that we negotiated since 2008," said Bob Gravely, a spokesperson for PacifiCorp. “This is simply a way to continue pursuing it without needing involvement from Congress."
The second agreement commits the state and federal governments to assisting farmers and ranchers in the river's upper basin with the likely financial and regulatory impacts of returning fish runs, which will need to be protected from irrigation infrastructure.
While the Klamath River's runs of spring and fall Chinook salmon have not been formally declared endangered, they have been faltering for years. And since 1997, the Klamath River run of coho salmon has been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.
“By removing dams we're reopening hundreds of miles of spawning habitat and dramatically improving water quality," said Craig Tucker, natural resources policy advocate for the 4,000-member Karuk Tribe of California, which has signed on to the new agreement. “The Karuk, and the Yurok and other people in this basin are salmon people. Their cultures, their economies, their religion, all rely upon the return of the salmon."
The removal of the four dams will be the necessary first step in restoring the river's fish habitat, Tucker said, but much more will need to be done, including restoration of marshes and other wetlands in the upper basin.
Lack of salmon has led many Karuk to consume a more Western diet, Tucker said, leading to rates of heart disease, diabetes and obesity in the tribe that outpace national averages. “Historically, research shows that Karuk consumed 1.2 pounds of salmon per person per day. Now we're lucky if each person gets four pounds a year," he said.
The absence of the salmon has also harmed the tribe's religious practices, including one ceremony tied to the arrival of the first spring Chinook. “The spring salmon is probably the most at-risk run of salmon in the river," Tucker said. “You can't have that ceremony without salmon."
Hosts of other important ceremonies traditionally “feed everyone with salmon who comes and if there are no fish, they can't meet that obligation," Tucker added. “It would be like if the Pope didn't have enough wine and crackers for mass."
“We see removal of these dams as the single biggest act of restoration that can be carried out on the Klamath," Tucker said. “I would assert that it's the biggest salmon restoration project in U.S. history."
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.
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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced earlier this month it would block all imports of AquaBounty's recently approved genetically engineered (GE) salmon until the agency had determined how to label the novel product. The agency approved the salmon in October without any mandatory labeling indicating that the product is engineered with DNA from another species.
In December's congressional spending bill, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski succeeded in including a provision directing the agency to develop a label for the GE salmon. Now the agency must act on that directive in order to better inform consumers about the product they are buying.
“This GE salmon should not have been approved in the first place. But thanks to the efforts of Senator Murkowski, along with millions of Americans who have voiced their opposition, the FDA is finally addressing at least one of the primary concerns with this product," Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst at Center for Food Safety, said.
“In addition to fixing the labeling issue, FDA should use this time to re-evaluate its entire approval, which failed to fully assess the potential for environmental and economic damage to native salmon stocks and the communities who rely on them."
AquaBounty plans to produce the GE salmon eggs on Prince Edward Island, Canada and then grow them to market-size in a facility in Panama, where they would be processed into fillets, and then shipped to the U.S. for sale. Consumers concerned about their personal health or environmental impacts may not be able to avoid the fish. While 9,000 grocery stores and numerous restaurants have vowed not to sell the GE fish, lack of labeling laws mean that average consumers will not have a choice.
“In addition to imports in the U.S., FDA should also be sure to block shipments of eggs from the Prince Edward Island facility to Panama," Hanson added.
In approving the AquaBounty transgenic salmon, the FDA ignored millions of Americans and more than 40 members of Congress who have expressed vocal opposition. FDA also neglects the concerns of more than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs and restaurants.
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As more and more homeowners make the switch to solar power, you may be considering putting panels on your own roof. But before you purchase a home solar system, you should consider the major solar energy pros and cons.
Of course, using the sun as an energy source can reduce your household's monthly electric bills and minimize your carbon footprint. However, making the switch to renewable energy isn't always the best choice for all homeowners. Let's take a closer look at the pros and cons of solar energy.
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Pros and Cons of Solar Energy: What You Need to Know
By installing a home solar system, you can use solar panels to harness the sun's rays, convert them into electrical energy and use that energy to power your home. This can offset or even completely replace the energy you'd typically get from your utility company.
While the advantages of solar energy are plenty, there are also some drawbacks. Here are the top solar energy pros and cons to consider when deciding if solar panels are worth it for your home.
Benefits of Solar Energy
We'll begin with a summary of the main advantages of solar energy.
1) You can significantly reduce or even eliminate your household electric bills.
One of the most significant benefits of solar energy is also the most obvious: By harnessing energy from the sun, you can cut back your dependence on electric utility, which means you'll see a sharp drop off in your monthly electricity bills. In fact, the average solar system lasts for two to three decades, which means that your return on investment will pay for the system itself over time.
2) Going solar can reduce your carbon emissions.
Another one of the main advantages of solar energy is that it's a clean and renewable energy source. What this means is that you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and decrease your environmental impact. While energy from coal and other fossil fuels tend to create a lot of environmental pollutants, solar energy does not produce any direct pollution at all, which makes it far and away the most environmentally friendly way to power your home.
3) Investing in a solar power system can increase the value of your home.
Solar homes are becoming considerably more appealing, and installing the best solar panels can bump an estate's resale value by a decent amount. Note that this helps offset one of the primary cons of solar energy, which is the steep startup cost of solar panels — but more on that later.
4) Going solar can make you eligible for rebates and tax incentives.
Over the past couple of decades, the federal government has implemented numerous plans to incentivize solar energy, including tax credits and rebates. Many state governments have followed suit, particularly those where sun exposure is most consistent. (North Carolina has actually been one of the leaders in this space.) Thanks to this, there are some significant ways to recoup part of your solar investment almost immediately. Again, this can help offset the initial cost of your solar panel system, allowing you to generate some savings even before those utility reductions begin to stack up.
Disadvantages of Solar Energy
There are obviously some significant benefits of solar energy, but it's only fair to outline some of the drawbacks, too. A few of the most notable disadvantages include:
1) Not every roof can accommodate a solar system.
Solar panel installation requires you to have a certain kind of roof. If you have an older home, especially one with slate or cedar tiles on the roof, then you may not be able to buy solar panels for your personal use. Additionally, homes with skylights and other rooftop features may not have the surface area needed for solar panels. If you don't have a lot of space or you're unsure about your home's solar capability, contact a local solar installer for a consultation. Most top solar companies will send out a representative free of charge.
2) Solar energy can be very location-dependent.
You may have a roof that's ideal for solar panel installation and still not be a good candidate for solar energy. Why? Because to take full advantage of solar energy, you need to live in a place that gets consistent sun exposure from day to day. So, if you live in a part of the country that tends to be pretty cloudy or grey, solar may be a non-starter. And if your roof is partly shielded by trees or by neighboring homes, you may not get the best mileage from a solar energy system.
3) Solar savings tend to correspond with energy bills.
If you have high energy bills, then going solar will probably give you significant savings. But the inverse is also true: If you live somewhere with low utility costs, then the savings from switching to solar energy are going to be more modest. In other words, there are some parts of the country where the financial advantages of solar energy are going to be pronounced, and other places where those financial advantages are going to be fairly inconsequential. It all depends on the cost of electricity where you live.
4) The upfront cost of going solar can be quite expensive.
According to some estimates, the average cost of a solar system investment is around $13,000, and for some homeowners, may exceed $20,000. The specific number will vary according to the size of your home, your household energy needs and the type of solar panels you choose. For example, if you make your own DIY solar panels, you'll cut down on installation costs, or if you want to get the most efficient solar panels, they'll cost significantly more.
There are plenty of ways to offset the cost, including tax incentives, utility savings, increased home value and financing options. Still, there's no getting around it: Making the switch to solar energy is always going to prove costly.
Free Quote: How Much Can You Save on Solar?
Cost is a major factor to consider when weighing the pros and cons of solar energy. Fill out the 30-second form below to get a free, no-obligation quote from a top solar company in your area to help you decide if solar is right for you. You could save up to $2,500 each year on your electric bills and receive both federal and state tax rebates.
Weighing the Solar Energy Pros and Cons
So, do the advantages of solar energy outweigh the disadvantages? Unfortunately, there's no easy answer here, as different homeowners may experience different levels of savings when they make the jump to solar.
Before investing in a system, make sure you do your due diligence. Research local sun exposure, tax incentives and your own household energy expenses. And, get quotes from a few solar providers that can give you more details about how much a new system will cost you. By weighing the pros and cons of solar energy, you can make the most advantageous decision for your household.
France is banning glyphosate mixed with certain adjuvants (additives) due to its perceived risks to human health. The move comes less than two months after Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy, called for the ban.
Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing herbicides have been linked to cancer in humans. Photo credit: Flickr
ANSES—France’s food, environment and health agency—sent a letter this week to manufacturers informing them that it intends to withdraw the authorization on herbicides containing glyphosate mixed with the adjuvant tallow amine, ANSES' deputy director general Francoise Weber told Reuters.
According to Weber, ANES made the decision after the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) suggested greater potential risks compared to glyphosate alone.
Monsanto confirmed to Reuters they are one of the companies affected by the French ban, adding that the debate over glyphosate in Europe is "political." The agritech giant has long maintained the safety of their flagship product, which is also the world’s most popular herbicide.
In Europe, there has been a great deal of controversy over glyphosate in recent months. It all started in November when EFSA rejected the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) infamous classification of glyphosate as a possible carcinogen.
France, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands Rebel Against Relicensing of Monsanto's Glyphosate https://t.co/NaBcGr9YDr @PAN_UK @bpncamp— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1457388932.0
However, as EcoWatch mentioned, unlike the IARC the Italy-based EFSA examined glyphosate alone, not glyphosate formulations. The adverse health effects of the herbicide, therefore, could be related to reactions with “other constituents or ‘co-formulants,'” the EFSA report said.
Last month, a number of government officials in France, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands rebelled against the European Commission’s plans to approve the relicensing of glyphosate in the European Union over health and safety risks. Licensing for glyphosate ends in June and the European Commission is proposing to grant the herbicide a new 15-year lease.
France already banned the sale of Roundup from garden centers last June due to its link to cancer. Royal has since urged for an outright ban on glyphosate herbicides across the EU.
A la place du glyphosate (round up), pesticide cancérigène selon l'OMS, jardinez nature http://t.co/LNJ9w51Yb5 http://t.co/Gfr4pW8aO2— Ségolène Royal (@Ségolène Royal)1434292959.0
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Last week, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant sat down with Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson for a wide-ranging, two-part interview about everything Monsanto, from genetically modified crops and the future of agriculture, to the company's recent spate of PCB lawsuits.
Glyphosate, the main ingredient in the Monsanto’s flagship product Roundup, the most widely applied pesticide worldwide. Photo credit: Flickr
Both sections of the interview are definitely worth the listen for anyone interested in what the agrotech chief has to say about Monsanto's ongoing string of controversies—or as Hobson puts it—how "Monsanto has become the face of corporate evil in this country."
One of the most interesting takeaways was Grant's insistence on the safety of glyphosate, the world's most popular herbicide and the main ingredient in the Monsanto's flagship product, Roundup.
Last year, the controversial chemical was infamously declared a possible carcinogen by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a point that Monsanto has vehemently denied and has demanded a retraction.
Here's what Grant had to say to Hobson's question on this issue:
Hobson: People think your Roundup pesticide could be linked with cancer and other health problems. How do you respond to that?
Grant: Roundup is not a carcinogen. It’s 40 years old, it’s been studied; virtually every year of its life it’s been under a review somewhere in the world by regulatory authorities. So Canada and Europe just finished. Europe finished their review last year and came back with glowing colors. The Canadians were the same and now we are going through a similar process in the U.S., so I’ve absolutely no concerns about the safety of the product.
As Grant said in the interview, both Health Canada and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have rejected the IARC's findings. However, just last month, 94 scientists from around the world came out in defense of the IARC’s original findings, as Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman pointed out on Civil Eats.
Monsanto CEO: ‘Roundup Is Not A Carcinogen’ https://t.co/0Iwe8t8G6H But a lot of scientists say it probably is: https://t.co/UDAg2iT4DY— Civil Eats (@Civil Eats)1459517347.0
The scientists published their findings in an article for the peer-reviewed Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. The paper argues that the authors of the EFSA's Renewal Assessment Report (RAR) dismissed incidences of glyphosate-induced cancer in lab animals as chance occurrences and also ignored important laboratory and human mechanistic evidence of genotoxicity. They also argue that the EFSA's Renewal Assessment Report overly relied on "non-publicly available industry-provided studies" to come up with its conclusion.
Gurian-Sherman, who is the Center for Food Safety’s director of sustainable agriculture and senior scientist, wrote on Civil Eats:
"The article makes a complex but compelling argument in IARC’s defense. For example, the authors explain how EFSA unfairly discounted several good long-running epidemiology studies that showed higher-than-average levels of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma in farmers or farmworkers. They also argue that EFSA did not adequately account for the long latency period before cancer develops. In other words, lack of cancer in some studies is not compelling because they may have not been conducted for a long enough period of time."
He also noted that "the most dramatic increases in glyphosate use have occurred only in the past five to 10 years—not long enough for most cancers to develop."
The authors of the paper concluded:
"Owing to the potential public health impact of glyphosate, which is an extensively used pesticide, it is essential that all scientific evidence relating to its possible carcinogenicity is publicly accessible and reviewed transparently in accordance with established scientific criteria."
The conflicting conclusions of the IARC and the EFSA have especially raised concerns about the use of glyphosate in parts of Europe. Government officials in France, The Netherlands, Sweden and Italy are pushing firmly against the herbicide's relicensing in the European Union over health and safety risks.
France, Sweden, Italy & Netherlands Rebel Against Relicensing of #Monsanto's #Glyphosate https://t.co/xc4X1FTVTC https://t.co/p0Trt0nrIU— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1457366697.0
Washington appears to be responding to calls from advocacy groups and farmers to study the environmental and human health impact of rampant pesticide use.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency internal watchdog group, the Office of Inspector General, announced late last month that it is opening an investigation into "herbicide resistance," or the spread of superweeds, as well as the human health impacts of chemicals that are used to fight superweeds.
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A new report released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) largely unchanged from two years ago, at one in 68 children. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health contributed to the study, which showed boys were 4.5 times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls. The rate is one in 42 among boys and one in 189 among girls.
This is the sixth report by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM), which has used the same surveillance methods for more than a decade, a tracking system that provides estimates of the prevalence and characteristics of autism among 8-year-old children in 11 communities.
Here are the estimated prevalence rates of ASD in the U.S. reported by previous data:
- one in 68 children in the 2014 report that looked at 2010 data
- one in 88 children in the 2012 report that looked at 2008 data
- one in 110 children in the 2009 report that looked at 2006 data
- one in 150 children in the 2007 report that looked at 2000 and 2002 data
According to John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers say it is too early to tell if the overall prevalence rate has stabilized because the numbers vary widely across ADDM communities. The school goes on to say that "the causes of autism are not completely understood; studies show that both environment and genetics may play a role. There is no known cure, and no treatment or intervention has been proven to reduce the prevalence of ASD."
Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation and mother of a daughter with autism, told CNN that this new report is not a sign everything is fine. "It points to the need for more research to understand nuances in data to be able to better serve all children diagnosed with autism," she said. The report suggests there are delays in acting on early concerns, said Rice.
Rice attributed the lack of early identification to a "capacity crisis." "There are not enough quality providers out there to provide those therapy services that are needed," she said. "I think a huge thing we need to do at the early age and across the life span of people with autism is ... identify and support individuals with autism."
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., environmental lawyer and founder of The Mercury Project, finds the leveling off of the prevalence of autism to coincide with the decline of thimerosal in three childhood vaccines.
"Interestingly, this represents the first group of children that were not exposed to thimerosal through the HepB, HiB and DTaP infant vaccines," Kennedy said. "Also, uptake of the maternal flu vaccine was below 50 percent. This is the first time essentially on record that autism rates haven't gone up since 1989."
Brian Hooker, associate professor of biology at Simpson University, agrees. He told EcoWatch:
"I'm not surprised that the autism numbers started to stabilize between birth years 2002 and 2004. By 2004, all of the back stock of thimerosal containing HepB, DTaP and HiB vaccines (which were no longer manufactured after 2001) would have been removed from the shelves and these infants (reflected in the latest CDC numbers) did not receive thimerosal in any of their vaccines, with the exception of the flu shot which was administered maternally and at 6 and 7 months of age. Flu shot uptake maternally and in infants was fairly low at this time but has increased since 2004.
"In Denmark, when thimerosal was phased out of infant vaccines in 1992, rates of autism spectrum disorder prevalence slowly dropped over 33 percent over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, because of the thimerosal-containing maternal flu shot, I don't think we'll see this profound of a drop in the U.S."
Regardless of the reason why the results of the new CDC study show the rate of autism unchanged, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all kids are screened for autism at ages 18 and 24 months.
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Americans still drink a lot of soda: Sales in the U.S. were more than $70 billion in 2014, according to Euromonitor International, well ahead of China, the runner-up market, with $28.4 billion. The way we think about, talk about and legislate soda has changed rather drastically—and we drink relatively less of it too, with consumption dropping 25 percent between 1998 and 2014. So with the threat of soda taxes and warning labels and an increased popular understanding of the links between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity, companies like Coca-Cola and Pepsi are looking to sell more of their products elsewhere—especially in developing markets.
The increased focus on countries such as India, Brazil and others is the subject of a new report released Tuesday by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer-advocacy group that has frequently critiqued the beverage industry for its role in the obesity crisis. “These are countries with growing populations, growing incomes and with governments less likely to pursue aggressive strategies to deter consumption," Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI's president and a coauthor of the report, said. And as the report argues, those unfettered new markets will soon suffer from more of the diet-related public health ills that the U.S. is grappling with, from obesity to type 2 diabetes.
Coke and Pepsi, which together account for $870 billion in annual soda sales, are by no means newcomers to the global market. But the sales trends are shifting: Emerging and developed markets have gone from representing about 55 percent of overall soda sales in 2008, according to the report, to nearly 70 percent projected for 2018. Soda sale forecasts for the next three years are flat for North America and declining slightly in Western Europe; sales in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa are all set to rise.
As Ahmet Bozer, executive vice president and president of Coca-Cola International, said in 2014, “There's 600 million teenagers who have not had a Coke in the last week" and many of them live in these emerging markets. Latin America, for example, is soda's largest market and Mexico infamously has the highest per-capita consumption in the world.
While Coke will funnel huge amounts of money into these markets in the coming years—investing, according to CSPI, $12.4 billion in Mexico between 2010 and 2020 and another $17 billion in African markets—governments are showing signs of moving more quickly on public health policies to combat obesity and the like by limiting soda consumption.
Mexico, after all, passed a national soda tax in 2013, and research shows that it is working to reduce the amount of sugar-sweetened beverages residents drink. A local ordinance in Berkeley, California, now taxes soda and while a similar measure was voted down in San Francisco, the city will soon require health-warning labels on sugary drinks. As India, the Philippines, Indonesia and Great Britain all consider national soda taxes, Reuters said on Monday, “2016 could be the year of the sugar tax."
Whether a soda tax in a country like India—which is already a major market and will see a total of $5 billion in investment from Coke alone between 2012 and 2020—will slow soda sales there and create a protracted battle between government and industry (or both) remains to be seen. But with Indian officials considering a tax as high as 40 percent—much more than Mexico's peso-per-liter tax—it would seem that the political realities are shifting against soda.
But with soda companies blanketing developing countries with billboards, TV ads, sports-team sponsorships and plenty of icy-cold cola, the likes of Coke and Pepsi still hold the popular imagination.
“In regions where poverty prevails and most people do not participate in the world of hyper-consumption, drinking a Coke or other extremely sugary and intensely marketed drink is the result of an aspirational act—the desire to belong to a world from which they are excluded," Alejandro Calvillo Unna, a Mexican consumer advocate, wrote in his preface to the CSPI report.
“Companies take advantage of the vulnerability of those communities to market their products," he continued. “The result: racially and culturally discriminatory marketing practices that worsen the poor health conditions and marginalization these groups already experience."
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate TakePart.
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Ségolène Royal, France’s minister of ecology, sustainable development and energy, has called for a ban on glyphosate mixed with certain adjuvants (additives) due to its perceived risks to human health.
French minister Ségolène Royal is demanding the removal of products containing glyphosate and additives in the tallow amines family. Photo credit: Flickr
On Feb. 12, Royal called for ANSES—France's food, environment and health agency—to withdraw authorizations on herbicides containing glyphosate mixed with the adjuvant tallow amine, according to French newspaper Le Monde (via Google translate).
Although it wasn't explicitly said, one can only conclude that this measure was directly targeted at Monsanto and other herbicide makers.
Tallow amine, or polyethoxylated tallow amine, aids the effectiveness of herbicides such as glyphosate. The chemical is contained in Monsanto’s widely popular weedkiller Roundup, according to the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, which published a letter from Monsanto listing the ingredients. Roundup's ingredients are as follows:
- Isopropylamine salt of glyphosate (active ingredient)
- The ethoxylated tallow amine surfactant
- Related organic acids of glyphosate
- Excess isopropylamine
In Europe, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding glyphosate since November when the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) rejected the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) infamous classification of the chemical as a possible carcinogen in March 2015.
Does Monsanto's Glyphosate Cause Cancer? https://t.co/odmtqMxBm1 @food_democracy @NonGMOProject— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1447459325.0
EFSA declared that the chemical itself was is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans” but unlike the IARC, EFSA examined glyphosate alone, not glyphosate formulations. The adverse health effects of the herbicide, therefore, could be related to reactions with “other constituents or ‘co-formulants,'” EFSA said.
The Italy-based agency's stark contradiction from the IARC sparked criticism from environmental organizations such as Greenpeace and more than 90 scientists from around the world. In an open letter, scientists urged European health and food safety commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, to "disregard the flawed EFSA finding on glyphosate" in policy-making for Europe.
Earlier this week, France's ANSES released an opinion that reviewed the IARC's and EFSA's conflicting results and concluded that glyphosate is indeed a suspected carcinogen.
"Therefore," the agency believes, "the classification of glyphosate should be rapidly reviewed" on the European level.
"Besides the active substance, the co-formulants found in glyphosate preparations, tallow amine in particular, raise concerns," ANSES added.
ANSES notes that glyphosate is used prevalently in Europe and France, where annual tonnage varies between 5,157-7,421 tonnes from 2008 to 2014 for professional gardeners and 1,264-2,055 tonnes from 2008 to 2014 for amateur gardeners.
The conclusions were based on a group of experts in toxicology and epidemiology, according to a press release (via Google translate).
According to the release, Royal has acknowledged the conclusions of ANSES and has asked the agency to immediately re-examine all glyphosate formulations containing these co-formulants and invites the agency to withdraw marketing authorizations for these formulations by the end of March.
Amidst the contradictory reports, regulators in the European Union as a whole have until June 30 to make a decision on the marketing authorization of glyphosate herbicides.
Monsanto maintains the safety of its products and vehemently denied glyphosate’s link to cancer. The company has demanded a retraction of the IARC’s report.
Glyphosate is now the “most widely applied pesticide worldwide,” according to a report published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe this month. The paper revealed that since 1974, when Roundup was first commercially sold, more than 1.6 billion kilograms (or 3.5 billion pounds) of glyphosate has been used in the U.S., making up 19 percent of the 8.6 billion kilograms (or 18.9 billion pounds) of glyphosate used around the world.
“Genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant crops now account for about 56 percent of global glyphosate use,” agricultural economist Charles M. Benbrook, PhD, and author of the study wrote in his paper. “In the U.S., no pesticide has come remotely close to such intensive and widespread use.”
The embattled multinational biotech firm is staring down mounting lawsuits alleging that exposure to the controversial chemical causes cancer.
Coffee Farmers Sue #Monsanto for Hiding Cancer-Causing Impact of #Glyphosate https://t.co/f5ai6JJ8ZW @nongmoreport https://t.co/H4ExHXB0NY— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1455049517.0
In the U.S., tallow amine can be found in several household products, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). The agency considers polyethoxylated tallow amine (POEA) to have known toxic effects on aquatic organisms. POEA was added to the original formulation of the herbicide glyphosate and the additive is still common in several newer agricultural and household glyphosate formulations, the USGS said.
"Since glyphosate is one of the most widely used pesticides in the United States, the findings could indicate that POEA may be widely available for transport into surface water and groundwater," the USGS said.
In June 2015, France restricted the sale of glyphosate weedkillers in garden centers.
“France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides,” Royal said then. “I have asked garden centers to stop putting Monsanto’s Roundup on sale.”
France also has a ban on aerial spraying of pesticides and prohibits pesticides in parks and green spaces.
A la place du glyphosate (round up), pesticide cancérigène selon l'OMS, jardinez nature http://t.co/LNJ9w51Yb5 http://t.co/Gfr4pW8aO2— Ségolène Royal (@Ségolène Royal)1434292959.0
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The Yurok Tribal Council unanimously voted on Dec. 10 to enact the Yurok Tribe Genetically Engineered Organism (GEO) Ordinance:
The Tribal GEO Ordinance prohibits the propagation, raising, growing, spawning, incubating or releasing genetically engineered organisms (such as growing GMO crops or releasing genetically engineered salmon) within the Tribe’s territory and declares the Yurok Reservation to be a GMO-free zone. While other Tribes, such as the Dine’ (Navajo) Nation, have declared GMO-free zones by resolution, this ordinance appears to be the first of its kind in the nation.
Yurok Tribe Bans GMOs https://t.co/r1mNkaNSW8 Necessary to ensure food sovereignty and protect health & wellbeing https://t.co/BNtbRsl6Nb— GMWatch (@GMWatch)1450973174.0
The announcement, as the release notes, came on the heels of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of genetically engineered AquAdvantage salmon in November. The controversial fish—dubbed "Frankenfish" by opponents—is genetically altered to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon.
The 56,585-acre Yurok Reservation is located in Humboldt and Del Norte counties in the far northwest of California along a 44-mile stretch of the Klamath River. For thousands of years, the river has been a crucial source for fishing, mostly for salmon.
"The Yurok People have managed and relied upon the abundance of salmon on the Klamath River since time immemorial," a press release from the Yurok Tribe says. "The tribe has a vital interest in the viability and survival of the wild, native Klamath River salmon species and all other traditional food resources."
Yurok Tribe Facebook
In recent years, however, the area's fish populations have been devastated due to the region's ongoing drought and low snowpack. NPR reported that as water levels dip dangerously low and become increasingly warm, the river has become a breeding ground for deadly fish diseases. Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (or "ick"), for instance, killed more than 35,000 adult Chinook salmon and steelhead in the Klamath River in 2002 and at least a thousand more fish last year.
The Yurok Tribe decided on the GMO ban in order protect its ancestral lands. The press release states: "GMO farms, whether they are cultivating fish or for fresh produce, have a huge, negative impact on watersheds the world over. The Yurok Tribe’s homeland is on the Klamath River, where massive algal blooms, exacerbated by agricultural runoff and antiquated hydroelectric dams, turn the river toxic each summer."
James Dunlap, chairman of the Yurok Tribe, said that "the Yurok People have the responsibility to care for our natural world, including the plants and animals we use for our foods and medicines."
"This Ordinance is a necessary step to protect our food sovereignty and to ensure the spiritual, cultural and physical health of the Yurok People," he added. "GMO food production systems, which are inherently dependent on the overuse of herbicides, pesticides and antibiotics, are not our best interest.”
Are you eating Frankenfish? https://t.co/HhYAYymSmk @tomcolicchio @nytimes https://t.co/dK5Xx6Jk53— Danielle Nierenberg (@Danielle Nierenberg)1450281845.0
The ordinance means that violations can be enforced through the Yurok Tribal Court.
“It is the inherent sovereign right of the Yurok People to grow plants from natural traditional seeds and to sustainably harvest plants, salmon and other fish, animals, and other life-giving foods and medicines, in order to sustain our families and communities as we have successfully done since time immemorial; our Court will enforce any violations of these inherent, and now codified, rights,” Yurok Chief Judge Abby Abinanti stated.
The Yurok Tribe's GMO ban came before the federal omnibus spending bill passed in Congress earlier this month, which requires the FDA to develop guidelines for mandatory labeling of GE salmon and prevent its sale until such labeling is in effect.
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Center for Food Safety today praised Congress for not including a policy rider in the must-pass federal omnibus spending bill that would have blocked states from implementing mandatory genetically engineered (GE) food labeling laws. Three states—Connecticut, Maine and Vermont—have passed such laws, with Vermont’s slated be to be the first to go into effect in July 2016. All three democratically passed laws would have been nullified, while any future state GE labeling legislation would have been preempted. More than 30 states have introduced bills to labeling GE foods in just the past few years.
BREAKING - Public pressure & allies in Congress succeed in keeping #GE labels safe! https://t.co/vnYZftX8H1 #DARKAct https://t.co/NQAecqrCtE— Center 4 Food Safety (@Center 4 Food Safety)1450279539.0
“We are very pleased that Congress has apparently decided not to undermine Americans’ right to know about the food they purchase and feed their families,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “Adding a rider to the budget bill that would nullify state laws requiring labeling and even forbidden federal agencies from mandating labeling would have been profoundly undemocratic and nothing short of legislative malfeasance. We will remain vigilant over the coming days and into the next legislative session to ensure our right to know is protected.”
The omnibus spending bill does include language previously agreed to by the Senate Appropriations Committee requiring that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) develop guidelines for mandatory labeling of GE salmon and prevent its sale until such labeling is in effect.
In July, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1599, dubbed by opponents the “Denying Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act,” which preempts state and local authority to label and regulate GE foods. Instead, the bill sought to codify a voluntary labeling system approach, block FDA from ever implementing mandatory GE food labeling and allow food companies to continue to make misleading “natural” claims for foods that contain GE ingredients. The Senate chose not to take up that bill, despite heavy pressure from the food and biotechnology industries.
Anti-labeling interests then began pushing for the inclusion of the preemption rider in the must pass spending bill. Numerous Senators vocally opposed the inclusion of the preemption rider, successfully keeping it out of the bill. In particular, Senators Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Markey (D-Mass.), Sanders (D-Vt.), Leahy (D-Vt.), Reed (D-R.I.), Heinrich (D-N.M.), Warren (D-Mass.), Tester (D-Mont.), Merkley (D-Ore.), Boxer (D-Calif.) and Booker (D-N.J.) led a Dear Colleague letter opposing the rider. Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairperson Mikulski (D-Md.) also worked to keep the rider out.
“In the absence of federal leadership, states have led the way by passing legislation intended to prevent consumer deception and give consumers the right to know,” said Kimbrell. “We thank those Members of Congress, as well as the thousands of Americans who contacted their Senators recently, for preventing this grossly unethical rider from seeing daylight.”
By an overwhelming margin, American voters say consumers should have the right to know if their food is genetically modified, with 89 percent in support of mandatory GE labeling, according to a new national poll. Nearly the same number of consumers would like to see the labels in an easy to read format.
Center for Food Safety supports bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Boxer and Rep. DeFazio called the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, which would require that food manufacturers label foods that contain genetically modified ingredients. This common sense bill would guarantee all Americans the right to know what is in their foods while respecting the need by companies for a uniform, federal standard.
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The new movie Consumed tackles the controversial world of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in unprecedented fashion, offering insight into their risks. Its message could not be more timely in the wake of the recent news that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first genetically engineered salmon for human consumption. The fish, like all genetically engineered ingredients in this country, will not be labeled, leaving American consumers in the dark. Like many food and environmental safety activists around the world, I’m outraged.
American legal clerk and environmental activist, Erin Brockovich poses during a photo shoot at the Stamford Hotel in Brisbane, Australia, on Feb. 17, 2015. Photo credit: Jamie Hanson—Newspix / Getty Images
The biotech industry and the FDA have hijacked not only our basic rights as consumers, but also our fundamental human rights in the face of corporate monopolization of our food supply. They are jeopardizing our health and the environment more than ever before. When will the government agencies put in place to protect us stop servicing the bottom line of corporations?
The Center for Food Safety, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, has announced that it is going to sue the FDA over this unethical decision, citing opposition from more than 40 members of Congress, more than 300 environmental, consumer, health and animal welfare organizations, salmon and fishing groups and associations, food companies, chefs and restaurants and about 2 million people who filed public comments, the most the FDA has ever received on a decision.
In detailed comments submitted to the FDA, Michael Hansen, senior scientist at Consumers Union, argues the FDA review process was based on “sloppy science” and the genetically engineered salmon could pose many risks. “Because FDA’s assessment is inadequate, we are particularly concerned that this salmon may pose an increased risk of severe, even life-threatening allergic reactions to sensitive individuals,” he writes.
Hansen also notes that “this analysis does not conform to FDA standard for assessment of a New Animal Drug.” That’s right, the genetically engineered salmon is being regulated as an “animal drug"—not a food, an “animal drug.” Here lies the inherent hypocrisy plaguing our regulatory agencies. The FDA does not label genetically engineered foods, including the newly approved salmon, because they have deemed them “substantially equivalent” to their non-genetically engineered counterparts. In essence, they are not different enough to be labeled. Yet they are so different that they are the first organisms in history to be patented. The logic is confounding.
The FDA, whose mission is “protecting and promoting your health,” has failed consumers by approving the commercialization of genetically engineered salmon. Not only has it used inadequate science, but it has also turned its backs on the majority of Americans who believe they have a fundamental right to know what is in their food. A 2013 New York Times poll found that 93 percent of Americans want GMOs to be labeled. More than 60 countries label GMOs and in some cases even ban them, but the U.S. still does not.
To my dismay, genetically modified seeds have not undergone any long-term safety testing by the FDA on animals or humans and the scientific community remains divided on their safety. I’m shocked by those who think that to question GMOs is “anti-science.” This gross mischaracterization must be put into question if we are to ensure food democracy.
Some of the most respected scientific bodies in the world including Codex Alimentarius (jointly run by the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural organization of the U.N.), The American Medical Association, The British Medical Association and the American Public Health Association, have stated that, through pre-market safety assessments, more research needs to be done on GMOs before we can truthfully determine their safety.
In addition, since genetically modified crops are married to the chemicals sprayed on them, their consumption poses an overwhelming array of potential risks. According to a 2012 study published in Environmental Sciences Europe, GMO herbicide-tolerant crops have led to a 527 million pound increase in herbicide use in the U.S. between 1996 and 2011. The World Health Organization recently concluded that glyphosate, the main ingredient in the most-used herbicide on GMOs, is “probably carcinogenic to humans.” One study found glyphosate in 60 percent to 100 percent of the rain water in some agricultural areas. More than 3,200 elementary schools are within 1,000 feet of genetically modified corn or soybean fields—what will be the effects of these toxic chemicals on children?
With the FDA’s approval of the first genetically engineered animal now a reality, we have set a dangerous precedent for what is to come. As citizens, we must demand our voices to be heard at this crucial moment in our nation’s history. Tell your congressional representatives to stand up for your rights, spread the message on social media and help spark a larger conversation about the food we are eating in this country.
Erin Brockovich is a consumer advocate.
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The Center for Food Safety, an nonprofit organization, announced plans to sue the federal agency. Grocery store chains around the country have also made commitments to not sell the controversial fish.
We are suing the FDA! HELP CFS FIGHT THE APPROVAL OF #GESALMON IN COURT! Help out here: https://t.co/nQFTUXGKhv https://t.co/Fn9KeiIH60— Center 4 Food Safety (@Center 4 Food Safety)1447977650.0
“The fallout from this decision will have enormous impact on the environment. Center for Food Safety has no choice but to file suit to stop the introduction of this dangerous contaminant,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “FDA has neglected its responsibility to protect the public.”
Kimbrell, on behalf of the environmental organization, submitted a citizen petition to the FDA requiring "foods that are genetically engineered organisms, or contain ingredients derived from genetically engineered organisms" be labeled under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic (FD&C) Act.
The FDA has since repsonded to the petition with a 35-page document that denies the Center for Food Safety's request. It states:
Under the FD&C Act [the] FDA cannot require that all foods derived from genetically engineered plants, as a class, be labeled as having been genetically engineered.
Further, while we appreciate consumer interest in the labeling of food derived from genetically engineered plants, consumer interest alone does not provide a sufficient basis to require labeling disclosing whether a food has been produced with or without the use of such genetic engineering.
AquaBounty's salmon is genetically altered to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon. According to Reuters, "the fish is essentially Atlantic salmon with a Pacific salmon gene for faster growth and a gene from the eel-like ocean pout that promotes year-round growth."
It will take about two more years to reach the market as distribution is being worked out, the Massachusetts-based company says.
Nearly 2 million people filed public comments opposing the approval of GMO salmon by the FDA, the largest number of comments the FDA has ever received on an action.
A Pew Research Poll last year also revealed that 57 percent of U.S. adults believe that GMO-foods are “generally unsafe” to eat.
Some people might be wondering whether this fish will make it onto plates since "more than 60 grocery store chains representing more than 9,000 stores across the U.S. have made commitments to not sell the GMO salmon, including Safeway, Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Aldi and many others," according to the environmental nonprofit, Friends of the Earth.
However, many Big Food grocers are absent from this list. Costco, one of the largest retailers of salmon and seafood in the U.S., remains open to selling GMO salmon despite vehement opposition from activists. Similarly, Walmart, the country's largest supermarket chain (which accounts for 15 percent of fresh food sales in the U.S.), has not announced whether or not it will sell GMO salmon.
Additionally, a lack of GMO labeling laws might mean that consumers will not have a choice over the matter. AquAdvantage Salmon, the trade name for the genetically modified Atlantic salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies, will not require a GMO label under FDA guidelines.
Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, wrote after yesterday's announcement from the FDA:
"To add insult to injury, this product will be hitting store shelves without labeling, making it impossible for concerned consumers to distinguish GMO from non-GMO salmon. Not only does this ignore consumers’ fundamental right to know how our food is produced, it is simply bad for business, since many consumers will avoid purchasing any salmon for fear it is genetically engineered."
Hauter also says that the "FDA’s decision also disregards AquaBounty’s disastrous environmental record, which greatly raises the stakes for an environmentally damaging escape of GMO salmon."
Critics of GMO salmon have called it "frankenfish" and have made their feelings about it very clear, as seen in this video:
“Despite FDA’s flawed and irresponsible approval of the first genetically engineered animal for human consumption, it’s clear that there is no place in the U.S. market for genetically engineered salmon,” said Lisa Archer, food and technology program director at Friends of the Earth. “People don’t want to eat it and grocery stores are refusing to sell it.”
Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It, said that the decision to approve GMO salmon without a mandatory disclosure is "yet another example of how FDA’s outdated policy keeps consumers in the dark."
The FDA as well as many major food companies maintain that GMO foods are safe for consumption and for the environment and that mandatory GMO labels would be misleading. As EcoWatch reported in October, Big Food has spent millions of dollars and extensively lobbied lawmakers for a national ban on GMO labels ... and it might actually happen.
The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599 in July, which bans states from requiring GMO labels on food. It also blocks the FDA from ever implementing mandatory GMO food labeling and allows food companies to continue to make “natural” claims for foods containing GMO ingredients. The bill has been dubbed the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” Act or DARK Act by opponents. A Senate version of the bill could hit the floor in the coming weeks.
The Senate is back! The #DARKAct bill now heads to Senate for consideration. http://t.co/EZLAwQmdTG #StoptheDARKAct http://t.co/CFGS4k7HXo— Center 4 Food Safety (@Center 4 Food Safety)1441988173.0
“Consumers will have no way of knowing whether the salmon they are buying comes from nature or comes from a lab," Faber added. "It makes sense to give consumers the right to know and to choose whether this fish, or any other food that contains GMO ingredients, is right for their dinner table.
“A non-judgmental, factual disclosure of the presence of GMOs is all we are asking for. FDA’s continued reliance on voluntary labeling schemes will only further consumer confusion. It’s time the federal government trusted American consumers enough to make their own decisions about this novel technology."
The debate over the FDA's approval of GMOs raises questions about the future of our food. As Ecowatch reported earlier this month, in addition to GMO salmon, there are two different varieties of GMO pork that are currently in development: a pig that is “edited” with a warthog gene to resist African swine fever; and a “double-muscled” designed to have leaner meat and have a higher yield of meat per animal.
Genetically engineered cows are also in development: one that produces B-lactoglobulin-free milk (which causes allergies and digestive and respiratory reactions in infants), and another type of cow that has been genetically modified to be born without horns to reduce the risk of injury to farmers and other animals.
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A coalition including Community Alliance for Global Justice, fishermen, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 21 and concerned Costco customers rallied in front of the Costco next door to store headquarters and presented more than 300,000 petition signatures demanding that Costco Wholesale publicly commit to not sell genetically modified (GMO) salmon.
Earlier this year, on March 7, the coalition attempted to deliver more than 50,000 petitions to the Costco store in Downtown Seattle, to no avail. In response to the store manager’s refusal to accept the petitions, allied groups across the nation, including Friends of the Earth, Food & Water Watch, Center for Food Safety, Food Democracy Now!, Sum of Us, Community Alliance for Global Justice, Campaign for Safe Food and Organic Consumers Association, collected more than six times the amount of signatures and local allies attempted to deliver them directly to Costco’s headquarters early this morning.
In response to this campaign led by Friends of the Earth and allies, more than 60 retailers, including Target, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Safeway and Kroger, representing more than 9,000 grocery stores across the country, have made commitments to not sell this genetically modified fish, should it be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although Costco is one of the largest retailers of salmon and seafood in the U.S., and headquartered in the Northwest region, home to Pacific wild salmon, it has yet to make a similar public commitment.
“More than 300,000 people from across the country are asking Costco not to sell genetically modified salmon. Costco, a seemingly progressive company, is located in our backyard. By delivering these signatures directly to Costco’s front door, it is our hope that they will no longer be able to ignore the risks posed by genetically modified salmon and make the pledge,” says Danielle Friedman, organizing director of the Community Alliance for Global Justice.
Nearly 2 million people—including scientists, fishermen, business owners and consumers—have written to the FDA in opposition to the approval of genetically engineered salmon due to the risks it poses to human health, the environment and wild salmon populations. Recently, a never-before-seen Canadian government report raised new environmental and health concerns not being considered by the FDA. Despite this outcry and new sustainability and safety concerns, the FDA is still considering GMO salmon's approval. If approved, this would be the first genetically engineered animal allowed by regulators to enter the U.S. food supply, and it will likely not be labeled.
“Genetically engineered salmon are a threat to the Pacific Northwest,” said Dylan Knutson, general manager at local Loki Fish Company. “On top of the documented issues associated with farmed salmon—escapement, pollution and a net loss of protein per pound of fish produced—introducing a frankenfish opens Pandora's box of probable environmental catastrophe. We need to be restoring native habitat and nurturing a properly managed wild fishery, not perpetuating the problems of the farmed salmon industry with genetically engineered salmon.”
At least 35 other species of genetically engineered fish are currently under development, and the FDA’s decision on this genetically engineered salmon application will set a precedent for other genetically engineered fish and animals (including cows, chickens and pigs) to enter the global food market.
Three quarters of Americans surveyed in a New York Times poll said they would not eat genetically engineered fish, and 93 percent wanted GMO foods to be labeled. Polls show that 80 percent of Americans who regularly eat fish say sustainable practices are "important" or "very important" to them.
“Genetically engineered salmon is risky and Costco should pledge to keep it out of their stores,” said Todd Crosby, secretary and treasurer for Seattle’s UFCW 21 union. “The 25,000 Grocery store workers at UFCW 21 take pride in nourishing their communities with healthy food. While we don't always have control over the products we handle, we do have a union voice to speak up for ourselves and our customers. Costco workers do not have that voice so we are standing together with them and their customers to call on Costco to make the right choice.”
The national debate about GMO labeling has been heating up over the past several months with several bills in Congress gaining momentum. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) and Rep. Peter DeFazio’s (D-OR) Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act would make GMO food labeling mandatory across the country, while U.S. Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield’s (D-NC) bill, dubbed the “Deny Americans the Right to Know (DARK) Act,” would make GMO labels voluntary. If passed, the DARK Act would allow retailers like Costco to sell GMO salmon unlabeled and would block states like Washington from passing GMO labeling laws.
The supermarket rejection of genetically engineered salmon is part of a growing trend of food companies distancing themselves from GMO foods. Chipotle is removing GMOs and Whole Foods will require GMO foods in its stores to be labeled by 2018. Cereal giant General Mills removed GMO ingredients from Cheerios and Post quickly followed suit, removing GMOs from Grape Nuts. McDonald's and Gerber have said they have no plans to sell the GMO apple that was recently approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
To find more information on health and environmental risks of genetically engineered salmon; a full list of stores that have made commitments to not sell genetically engineered seafood and salmon; letters sent to companies by Friends of the Earth and allies; and a list of coalition partners, check out our campaign for GMO-free seafood. Grocery stores, restaurants and chefs can also communicate their commitment to not sell GMO salmon by signing up on this page.
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