THE BEST OF 2007
GM Watch's global roundup of resistance
The Bush-driven ethanol boom made 2007 a very profitable year for Monsanto. But its success was dependent on just one commodity - corn seed, which accounted for over a third of Monsanto’s sales and nearly 60% of its gross profits. And once you move beyond the unsustainable and environmentally devastating agrofuel boom, plus the recent decision of two Australian states to relax their bans on GM canola despite huge opposition, then 2007 was a year in which the biotech industry continued to face increasing global resistance on just about every other front right around the world. Most alarming of all for the industry were the signs of growing resistance within its US heartland.
Unsurprisingly, given the powerful aftershocks of the GM rice scandal - now estimated to have cost the grains industry over $1 billion, 2007 saw US rice producers calling not just for a ban on commercial GM rice growing but on all experimental outdoor plantings of GM rice. After all, it had been GM crop trials that had triggered the industry wide crisis - a lesson not lost on rice farmers and exporters in other countries.
And it wasn't only US rice farmers who were on the warpath. 2007 was a very bad year for the industry with the US judiciary. There were also worrying signs for the industry of growing consumer awareness and resistance with the biotech industry’s plans to introduce food from cloned animals into the food supply looking set to face major domestic opposition. And while surveys showed a majority of US consumers are still unaware that more than 70% of their processed foods contain GM ingredients, the call for labeling is growing - with even the likes of Hilary Clinton now backing it.
And Americans are increasingly aware of one GM product in their food. And they don't like it…
Around the world...
+ US TURNS AGAINST GM HORMONE
Surveys show over 80% of consumers would prefer to purchase dairy products produced without the GM hormone rBGH (aka rBST). And rising consumer demand prompted Starbucks to commit to making 100% of the milk supply free of the GM hormone by the end of the year in its 6,793 company-operated cafes. Grocery retailer Krogers followed suit. Safeway announced milk suppliers for its Northwest U.S. processing plants have stopped using rBGH. And a series of major dairies started requiring all their farmers to supply milk without using Monsanto's GM hormone. Meanwhile, Chipotle became the first national restaurant chain to eliminate rBGH entirely from the items on its menu.
+ 89% OF AMERICANS WANT GM LABELS
A number of leading US presidential candidates, including Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, have gone on record as favouring mandatory labeling of GM foods as part of their election campaigns. A report funded by the USDA found 89% of Americans want mandatory labeling. And even a poll commissioned by the biotech industry showed only a minority of Americans view GM foods in a positive light, while a majority of American women find GMOs troubling.
+ CONSUMERS FLOOD FDA WITH CLONED FOOD OBJECTIONS
Consumers submitted over 130,000 comments to the Food and Drug Administration opposing the Agency's plan to introduce food from cloned animals into the US food supply. A poll found that nearly two-thirds of US consumers were unhappy with animal cloning and it looks set to become a major issue if the FDA and biotech industry push ahead.
+ NINE MASSACHUSETTS TOWNS VOTE AGAINST GM
+ US STATES INTRODUCE NUMEROUS BILLS TO REGULATE GM FOODS
US state capitols were filled with bills aimed at protecting small family farming systems and consumers from GM foods.
+ US COURT DECISIONS DAMN REGULATORY SYSTEM
The US promotes itself around the world as the model for GM crop regulation, but the judgments of its own judiciary tell a different story. It all started in late 2006 when a federal district judge ruled that the US Dept of Agriculture (USDA) broke the law by not conducting preliminary environmental reviews before permitting the cultivation of drug-producing GM pharma crops throughout Hawaii. US District Judge Michael Seabright also called USDA's regulatory heedlessness 'arbitrary and capricious' and 'an unequivocal violation of a clear congressional mandate.'.
+ US FEDERAL COURT ORDERS HALT TO NEW GM FIELD TRIALS
In 2007 a U.S. federal district judge ruled that the USDA must halt approval of all new GM field trials until more rigorous environmental reviews are conducted. Citing potential threats to the environment, Judge Harold Kennedy found the USDA's past approvals of field trials of herbicide tolerant GM bentgrass were illegal.
+ LANDMARK US FEDERAL RULING
In a separate ruling, another US federal judge ruled that the USDA violated the law by failing to adequately assess possible environmental impacts before approving Monsanto's GM alfalfa. Judge Charles R. Breyer said the agency had been 'cavalier' in deciding that a f
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