Since the film's completion in 2004, many developments have happened - some present more challenges, other present small victories - in the fight to protect the future of our food. Below please find some updates to the information presented in The Future of Food. For ongoing updates about food, farming, agriculture, the environment and other issues related to genetic engineering, please see The Future of Food blog.
Please note: These resources are available for people to further educate themselves about the issues dealt with in the film The Future of Food including genetically engineered foods, patenting, corporatization of agriculture, etc. We, the producers of The Future of Food, do not endorse every statement made by these websites. We hope readers will obtain more information and reach their own conclusions.
In an out of court settlement finalized on March 19, 2008, Percy Schmeiser has settled his lawsuit with Monsanto. Monsanto has agreed to pay all the clean-up costs of the Roundup Ready canola that contaminated Schmeiser's fields. Also part of the agreement was that there was no gag-order on the settlement and that Monsanto could be sued again if further contamination occurred. Schmeiser believes this precedent setting agreement ensures that farmers will be entitled to reimbursement when their fields become contaminated with unwanted Roundup Ready canola or any other unwanted GMO plants
ORGANIC FARMERS AND SEED SELLERS SUE MONSANTO TO PROTECT THEMSELVES FROM
PATENTS ON GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEED
On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit on March 29, 2011 against Monsanto Company to challenge the chemical giant's patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past.
NEBRASKA INITITATIVE 300 and LB 1174
Nebraska enacted a ban on corporate farming known as Initiative 300. In 2007, the Nebraskan Supreme Court ruled this ban as unconstitutional. In April 2008, a piece of legislature called LB 1174 trying to reinstate the ban was also voted down.
PATENTING BREAST CANCER GENE
Patents on genes associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are invalid, ruled a New York federal court. The precedent-setting ruling marks the first time a court has found patents on genes unlawful and calls into question the validity of patents now held on approximately 2,000 human genes. The ruling follows a lawsuit brought by a group of patients and scientists represented by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), a not-for-profit organization affiliated with Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. (March 29, 2010)
ROUND UP READY ALFAFA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that it will once again allow unlimited, nation-wide commercial planting of Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) Roundup Ready alfalfa, despite the many risks to organic and conventional farmers USDA acknowledged in its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). On a call with stakeholders, Secretary Vilsack reiterated the concerns surrounding purity and access to non-GE seed, yet the Agency’s decision still places the entire burden for preventing contamination on non-GE farmers, with no protections for food producers, consumers and exporters. (January 27, 2011)
ROUNDUP READY SUGAR BEETS(RRSB)
In February 2011, the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a new decision to allow the U.S. sugar beet industry to continue growing Monsanto's "Roundup Ready," genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets. The decision will be immediately challen ged in court by a coalition of farmers and conservation groups: the Center for Food Safety, organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club. This is the same coalition that in August of last year had APHIS's previous decision to allow planting thrown out becuase it violated environmental laws. The calition declared the new decision unlawful as well, and vowed to overturn it.
ROUND UP READY LAWN GRASS - and perhaps more?
In July 2011, The USDA announced their decision not to regulate a "Roundup Ready" strain of Kentucky bluegrass—that is, a strain genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate, Monsanto's widely used herbicide, which we know as Roundup. The maker of the novel grass seed, Scotts Miracle Gro, is now free to sell it far and wide.But even more worrisome is the way this particular product was approved. According to Doug Gurian-Sherman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists' Food and Environment Program, the documents released by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) along with the announcement portend a major change in how the feds will deal with genetically modified crops. Notably, given the already-lax regulatory regime governing GMOs, APHIS seems to be ramping down oversight to the point where it is essentially meaningless. The new regime corresponding with the bluegrass announcement would "drastically weaken USDA’s regulation," Gurian-Sherman told Tom Philpott for Mother Jones Magazine."This is perhaps the most serious change in US regs for [genetically modified] crops for many years."
Despite over 400,000 comments from individuals, fishers, organizations, and food companies opposing the introduction of GE salmon, FDA is expected to approve the GE AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon—the first genetically engineered animal meant for human consumption—any day now. Several Congress members are hard at work trying to stop this dangerous approval. The U.S. House of Representatives is debating amendments offered to the Continuing Resolution, a piece of legislation that will authorize funding for Federal programs of the U.S. Government through September 2011. Rep. Woolsey (D-CA) has introduced Amendment No. 491, which would bar the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from approving genetically engineered salmon in 2011.
GE BIOFUEL CORN
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said that it will approve the world’s first genetically engineered (GE) crop designed specifically for biofuel production. The Center for Food Safety maintains that this GE “biofuels corn” will contaminate food-grade corn, and has not been properly assessed for potential adverse effects on human health, the environment, or farmers’ livelihoods. (February 11, 2011)