Alliance Newsletter – March 2008
News: Vatican Calls Genetic Engineering a “Deadly Sin”
Fox News, March 11, 2008
After 1,500 years the Vatican has brought the seven deadly sins up to date by adding seven new ones for the age of globalization. The list, published yesterday in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, came as the Pope deplored the “decreasing sense of sin” in today’s “secularized world” and the falling numbers of Roman Catholics going to confession.
The new deadly sins include polluting, genetic engineering, being obscenely rich, drug dealing, abortion, pedophilia and causing social injustice.
Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Vatican body which oversees confessions and plenary indulgences, said “You offend God not only by stealing, blaspheming or coveting your neighbor’s wife, but also by ruining the environment, carrying out morally debatable scientific experiments, or allowing genetic manipulations which alter DNA or compromise embryos.”
News: Report Released on Worldwide GE Contamination
Biotech companies are acting with impunity as cases of genetic engineering contamination continue globally, a new report launched today reveals. “GM Contamination Register 2007,” by Greenpeace International and GeneWatch UK, reveals 39 new instances of crop contamination in 23 countries. The report also finds that just over 50% of the contamination cases are the result of GE crops originating in the U.S.
Contamination involved such staple crops as rice and corn, but also included soy, cotton, canola, papaya and fish, and were the result of products engineered by such companies as Monsanto, Bayer, Dupont and Dow AgroSciences. Since 2005, the annual report has recorded 216 contamination events in 57 countries.
News: Germany gives green light to label designating 'GM free' foods
The Sydney Morning Herald, February 16, 2008
Germany's upper house of parliament approved a new label on Friday that will declare foods that contain no genetically modified organisms "GM Free."
Genetically modified foods are a sensitive topic in Germany, where environmental groups contend that many such crops are unsafe for humans and the environment.
Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, already approved the law, which is now expected to go into effect in March.
Under the law, milk, meat, eggs and cheese will earn the "GM free" badge only if animals did not feed upon any genetically modified products. Animal products can still bear the label, however, even if the livestock was exposed to genetically altered vitamins, amino acids and other additives, as long as there were no available alternatives.
EU law already requires that foods containing genetically modified organisms be labeled as such, which has been cause for protest from the U.S. food industry.
The new law also stipulates that genetically modified corn be cultivated at a distance of about 500 feet from unmodified corn and about 1,000 feet from organic corn.
Already, farmers who cultivate genetically modified corn in Germany are legally responsible for preventing cross-fertilization with other corn fields. German farmers already have plans to cultivate nearly 2,500 acres of the genetically modified corn variety MON810, which is resistant to the "corn borer" pest.
Comment: Safety of Cloned Animal Products
When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in January that food from cloned farm animals was safe to eat, the agency said the science was clear. Officials said meat and milk from cloned cows, pigs, and goats are exactly the same as conventional food.
In her office outside Paris, one of the world’s leading cloning researchers, Pascale Chavatte-Palmer, didn’t think the research was clear at all. Working out of the French government’s National Institute for Agricultural Research, she helps supervise one of only two or three noncorporate research facilities worldwide studying the long-term health of—and food products from—large numbers of cloned animals.
Chavatte-Palmer, a group research leader at the INRA, has found milk and meat from cloned cows are, indeed, different. “The full maturation of muscle is delayed in clones,” she said over the phone from her office 25 kilometres southwest of Paris. “This probably will affect the quality [of the meat]. It will certainly be a bit different.”
And those aren’t the only differences she’s found between clones and normal animals. In a series of papers she has coauthored in leading scientific journals, Chavatte-Palmer has reported that clones of cows reached puberty 62 days later, on average, than normal animals and they were 56 kilograms heavier when they did so. And then there were the huge numbers of clones that didn’t make it that far.
Straus Family Creamery
Straus Family Creamery is a family-owned creamery committed to providing super-premium, organic, sustainably produced dairy products. We make our products the old-fashioned way, in small batches, preserving the unique regional flavors of milk from western Marin and Sonoma Counties. Straus cows graze on certified organic lands that are free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. None of our cows are treated with antibiotics or hormones of any kind, including Bovine Growth Hormone.
Straus Family Creamery began bottling milk in 1994 and was the first certified organic dairy and creamery west of the Mississippi River. The dairy was started in 1941, when Bill Straus moved to Marshall, California, along the shores of Tomales Bay and purchased 23 cows. Over the years, the farm grew and so did the Straus family’s commitment to environmental sustainability. Bill’s son, Albert opened Straus Family Creamery in order to offer certified organic milk in glass bottles to the public. The creamery now produces milk, European Style yogurts, European Style butter, and ice cream.
Straus Family Creamery believes that genetic engineering of plants and animals poses a serious danger to the environment and the world’s food supply. In order to ensure that Straus Family Creamery is providing consumers with completely GMO-free products, we and our suppliers test all the ingredients in our products, including the feeds for our cows and the seeds we use to grow our forage crops. Straus family Creamery has teamed up with community organizations such as the GE Policy Alliance in order to create partnerships that can influence societal change.
California Farmers Union
Comprised of more than 1,500 farmer, rancher and fishermen members, California Farmers Union (CFU) advocates policies to lawmakers at the state and national levels on behalf of its membership throughout California. CFU is a member organization of National Farmers Union (NFU), which represents more than 250,000 members nationwide. NFU works to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers, fishermen and their communities. Farmers Union also serves its membership by assisting with education and by providing stimulus and know-how for farmers-owned cooperatives.
CFU joined the GE Policy Alliance because its membership is increasingly concerned about the impact of GE technology on their farming and ranching operations. CFU members believe that genetically modified organisms have created a series of ethical, environmental, food safety, legal, market and structural issues that impact everyone in the food chain. CFU joined the GE Policy Alliance to ensure both consumer and producer concerns about GE crops are addressed.