How One GMO Nearly Took Down The Planet…

On Friday, President Barack Obama signed bill S.764 into law, dealing a major blow to the movement to require GMO labeling.

The new law, called the "Deny Americans the Right to Know" (DARK) Act by food safety groups, has at least three key parts in it that undermine Vermont's popular GMO labeling bill and make it nearly impossible for you and me to know what's in our food.

The law claims to set a federal labeling standard by requiring food producers to include either a QR barcode that can be scanned with a phone, or a 1-800 number that consumers can call to find out whether a product contains genetically modified ingredients.

But according to the Institute for Responsible Technology, this bill doesn't require most processed foods to have a label, the bill defines genetic engineering so narrowly that most GMOs on the market don't qualify, and the bill gives the USDA two more years to come up with "additional criteria", also known as "more loopholes"

This is disappointing for American consumers who honestly just want to know what their food contains, but the issue surrounding GMOs isn't just about what these companies are putting into our food and stocking our stores with.

What's potentially more devastating for the planet, is that genetically modified organisms developed by companies like Monsanto and DuPont can escape into our ecosystems and potentially wreak havoc before they are even tested or approved as safe.

That's not wild-eyed conspiracy theory or speculation, it's a matter of fact.

On Friday, the same day that Barack Obama signed the DARK Act, the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed that a farmer found 22 experimental and unapproved wheat plants in one of his fields that had been genetically modified by Monsanto.

The reactions to the finding have been swift, despite being ignored by the mainstream media.

Federal and state investigators announced that they are looking into the matter of how the unapproved mutant wheat found its way to a field that hasn't been planted since 2015.

South Korea, the fifth largest market for U.S. wheat, announced in response that it will be stepping up quarantine measures for milling and feed wheat shipments from the U.S. in response.

Monsanto told the Associated Press that these wheat plants are a type that was evaluated in limited field trials in the Pacific Northwest from 1998 to 2001, but the variety was never approved.

Nonetheless, this is the third time in as many years that varieties of Monsanto's GMO Roundup-ready wheat has cropped up in the area.

In two of those cases, federal officials have no idea how the wheat got into the field or where else it might have spread to.

All we do know is that the USDA is testing the farmer's other fields to see if the wheat is growing anywhere else, and that the FDA has stated that there is no evidence that the wheat has entered the market.

Beyond that, we really don't know how this Round-up ready wheat will impact local ecosystems, whether it will wipe out non-GMO wheat, or whether it could bioaccumulate in the food chain and eventually have an impact on top predators, like humans.

That should set off some alarm bells, because we've dodged a similar bullet before with Klebsiella planticola, a soil bacteria that aggressively grows on plants' roots.

In the early 1990s, a European genetic engineering company was preparing to field test its genetically modified version of Klebsiella planticola, which it had tested in the lab and presumed to be safe.

But if it weren't for the work of a team of independent scientists lead by Dr. Elaine Ingham, that company could have literally killed every terrestrial plant on the planet.

The company's genetic engineers were trying to solve a simple problem faced by farmers all over the world, how to deal with crop residues like leftover corn and wheat stalks after harvest without burning fields and creating thick and dangerous smoke.

They figured that they could take a gene that leads to alcohol production from yeast and insert it into the bacteria Klebsiella planticola.

In the end, the scientists hoped that this simple modification could do three things at once: decompose the plant material without burning it, produce alcohol that could be used for gasoline or cooking, and create a sludge byproduct that would be rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, sulfur, magnesium, and calcium to be used as fertilizer.

As Dr. Elaine Ingham described it, it would be a win-win-win situation.

But when Dr. Ingham and her team tested the impact that the sludge would have on the ecological balance and the agricultural soil when they applied it as fertilizer, they found that wheat grown in the sludge died after about week.

And as Dr. Ingham pointed out in a presentation in 1998, by modifying the Klebsiella planticola, they fundamentally changed what it does in the soil: "The parent bacterium makes a slime layer that helps it stick to the plant's roots. The engineered bacterium makes about 17 parts per million alcohol. What is the level of alcohol that is toxic to roots? About one part per million. The engineered bacterium makes the plants drunk, and kills them."

Klebsiella planticola is found in the root systems of every terrestrial plant on Earth, so if the modified bacterium were released into the wild, it would threaten every single terrestrial plant on the planet.

The story of Klebsiella planticola is a cautionary tale: part of why there is such staunch opposition to GMO products is that we really don't know what the long-lasting impacts on our planet's ecological balance could be.

Meanwhile, the companies that are developing GMOs care more about making money by getting their products to market, and lobbying Congress to help them hide their products in plain sight, than they do about the safety of consumers, or the planet.

We need to overturn the DARK Act and implement clear nationwide GMO labeling standards that follow Vermont's, which were struck down by the DARK Act.

And beyond that, we need to implement the precautionary principle here in the United States, so that companies like Monsanto and Dupont have to prove that their products are safe BEFORE they expose consumers and our natural ecosystems to their potentially highly toxic products.


CharlesN 6 years 33 weeks ago

Of equal concern, I think, is the impact to living organisms of the persistent chemicals that make up the Roundup product. Current research, not at hand, shows we need to be concerned with more than just the principal active ingredient glyphosate. Due to the persistence of of these chemicals, besides direct food consumption it is being shown that there are many indirect vectors for these chemicals to our bodies as well, such the flesh foods we eat fattened on GMO corn.

Due to how glyphosate works against targeted plants, which is by attacking the soil bacterial ecology it is suggested that it can upset the human gut microbiome as well.

cccccttttt 6 years 33 weeks ago

Special LED lamps for indoor gardens are getting cheaper.

By all means support a mass movement against hiding GMO ingrediants.

But in the decades till you achieve that goal, learn to grow your own.


Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 6 years 33 weeks ago

GMO products should be banned until they are proven safe for human consumption


Lloyd Lutterman's picture
Lloyd Lutterman 6 years 33 weeks ago

Think I read the "obamaphone" is Tracfone owned by the Bush heir that lives in Florida

Arrgy's picture
Arrgy 6 years 33 weeks ago

How could a Constitutional scholor be so unconstitutional?

Robertcd's picture
Robertcd 6 years 33 weeks ago

Why is President Obama doing this? He sides with the TPP, signs an agreement alowing Shell Oil to drill in the artic once the sea ice is gone. Alows the murderer and torturer Bush to away with that. I could go on. And what of Hillary. Is all her talk about being "progressive" a ruse? After all she very strongly supported Bush with his illegal war. It seems the mulitnationl corps do have controll and will probably never let go of that controll.

Arrgy's picture
Arrgy 6 years 33 weeks ago

I often wonder if Presidents that don't go along with our rogue egencies (CIA/MIC) are made offers they can't refuse. Mabus (gwbush) would have signed the DARK act!

Rick Loll's picture
Rick Loll 6 years 33 weeks ago

We need a new constitution that protects us from the olicarchies like monsanto and that is The 7 Concepts Constitution Based on Love And Altruism, linked to

http ://

We need extanded human rights far beyond even Bernie. Thom, Please read this constitution, review it, and please don't shove it aside. I've been trying for 24 years to get this out and help the people. I'm not quiting and I'm even expanding it based on many things you say, Thom. Everyone, Please come up with solutions and rights to add to The 7 Concepts Constitution so we can all benefit. We need backup because I don't think America has much time to exist where we can all be free.

Beth in Royal Oak's picture
Beth in Royal Oak 6 years 33 weeks ago

I live in Michigan and emailed Senator Stabenow expressing my strong disagreement of her coauthoring and support for the DARK Act. The reply I got back from her is just astounding to me:
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Dear Beth,

Thank you for contacting me about labeling genetically modified food. Your views on this topic are incredibly important to me as we debate this very serious issue.

I share your strong opposition to the DARK Act, which is why I led the fight three times in the Senate to block it. Most recently, we voted the DARK Act down by a vote of 49-48 on the Senate floor.

From the beginning of this debate, I have been clear that we must have a national system for labeling food that contains genetically modified ingredients. We also must prevent a confusing patchwork of different laws regulating these products in each of the 50 states. I support sound, scientific research to ensure the safety of genetically modified foods. I also support the ability of consumers to make the most informed choices about what they buy.

That’s why I worked so hard to craft an alternative that creates, for the first time, a mandatory, nationwide labeling requirement for GMO foods. The bill gives companies three options, all of which will be clearly regulated: on-package words that explain a product contains GMOs, an on-package symbol, or an accessible on-package electronic label. For electronic labels, there will be additional safeguards to make sure consumers can easily access the information.

This will be a mandatory label even in states where efforts to label these products at the state-level have failed. This label will cover tens of thousands more products than the Vermont labeling system, which excludes any foods that contained meat.

Under the Vermont law, for example, a frozen cheese pizza would be subject to labeling, but a pepperoni pizza would be exempt. Under our bill, both products will be required to carry a label if they contain a GMO ingredient.

I also made sure this bill includes big wins for organic foods, which have always been non-GMO. It is extremely important to me that consumers have options and information at the supermarket to make the best choices for their families.

Thank you again for contacting me. Please continue to keep me informed about issues of concern to you and your family.

Sincerely, Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
The United States Senate •Washington, DC 20510

douglas m 6 years 33 weeks ago

Which country owns which corporation???

So your saying that country other than the US which might not have our best interest at hand, has free reign to genetically engineer our fields before a ten year proven safe time allowance. Ahh, whats the worst that could happen?

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