ALERT OF THE WEEK- Stop Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered Wheat

wheatMonsanto and the biotech bullies are once again moving to tighten their grip on the world’s food supply. Genetically engineered (GE) varieties now account for 70-90% of all conventional (non-organic) corn, soybeans, cotton, and canola grown in the U.S. Joining the growing menu of unlabeled and untested gene-spliced Frankenfoods, genetically engineered sugar (derived from GE sugar beets) hit store shelves in 2008. Now it appears that the most controversial crop of them all, Monsanto’s GE wheat, is not far behind, at least if industry gets its way. Given that wheat is such a major global crop and essential ingredient in bread, breakfast cereals, pasta and other everyday foods, the force-feeding of unlabeled GE wheat on the public would represent a major conquest for Monsanto and the biotech industry.

Although Monsanto withdrew their applications to the U.S. and Canadian governments for approval of genetically engineered wheat in 2004 because of tremendous pressure from the OCA and hundreds of our allied public interest groups and farmers (as well as pressure from large food companies such as General Mills), it looks like we’re in for another round of battle.

Wheat industry groups in the United States, Canada and Australia announced on May 14, 2009, they would work toward the objective of “synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in the wheat crop.” For the sake of the Earth and public health, we must stop them.


Gulf of Mexico Fishery Shut Down for Sea Turtles

loggerheadseaturtle_noaaResponding to an April suit by the Center for Biological Diversity and allies, last week the National Marine Fisheries Service ordered a six-month emergency closure of the Gulf of Mexico’s bottom longline fishery to halt sea-turtle slaughter. When sea turtles get tangled among the hundreds (or even thousands) of baited hooks used by longline fishing vessels, they sustain life-threatening injuries. If they don’t drown while caught in the hooks, turtles are often unable to snap out of the extreme psychological stress of capture and die immediately after release. According to the Service’s data, fishery vessels in the Gulf caught nearly 1,000 sea turtles — including about 800 federally protected loggerheads — between July 2006 and December 2008, nearly eight times the number the agency itself deemed permissible. Now the fishery will be closed for 180 days, starting on May 16, to allow for a new evaluation of the fishery’s impacts and ensure it’s not likely to jeopardize the existence of sea turtle species.

“This temporary closure gives sea turtles a much-needed reprieve and gives the agency time to make scientifically sound decisions regarding the long-term operation of the fishery,” said Center attorney Andrea Treece. “More sea turtles will now have a chance to make it back to their nesting beaches — and even just look for food — without getting caught up in longlines.”

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Daily Mail – Tuna will be wiped out by 2012 unless overfishing is stopped, environmental groups have warned. If current quotas are maintained, the breeding population of Atlantic bluefin tuna will have disappeared in three years, it is claimed. The population can only be saved by a complete halt to fishing in May and June, when the fish swim to the Mediterranean to spawn, the World Wildlife Fund says.

World Wildlife Fund – The population of tunas that are capable of reproducing – fish aged 4 years or over and weighing more than 35kg – is being wiped out. In 2007 the proportion of breeding tuna was only a quarter of the levels of 50 years ago, with most of the decline happening in recent years.

Meanwhile, the size of mature tunas has more than halved since the 1990s. The average size of tuna caught off the coast of Libya, for example, has dropped from 124kg in 2001 to only 65kg last year. Data gathered by WWF show that this pattern has been observed across the entire Mediterranean.

Before the age of large-scale industrial fishing, individual tunas could even weigh in at 900kg. The loss of these giant tunas – able to produce many more offspring than medium-sized individuals – has a disproportionately high impact on the reproduction of the species.

The huge overcapacity of fishing fleets, catches that far exceed legal quotas, pirate fishing, the use of illegal spotting planes to chase the tunas, under-reporting of catch, fishing during the closed season, management measures disregarding scientific advice – and the insatiable appetite of the world’s luxury seafood market – have all contributed to this dramatic decline.

WWF is calling for the immediate closure of the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery to give the species a chance to recover, while continuing to encourage consumers, retailers, restaurants and chefs to join the global movement to avoid the consumption of the imperilled fish.