Let Them Eat (genetically engineered) Cake

About the food industry, not in a nice way

Archive for May, 2010

trying to patent basic foods

Posted by jeanne on May 31, 2010

it seems that monsanto is claiming rights to animals that eat its patented food.  this is obscene.

Meat claimed as invention by multinational company of Monsanto

Multinational seed corporations are following a consequent strategy to gain control over basic resources for food production. As recent research shows not only genetically engineered plants, but more and more the conventional breeding of plants gets into the focus of patent monopolies: International patent applications in this sector are skyrocking, having doubled since 2007 till end of 2009. Further on the multinationals expand their claims over the whole chain of food production from feed to animals and food products such as meat. In a pending patent application from Monsanto even bacon and steaks are claimed: Patent application WO2009097403 is claiming meat stemming from pigs being fed with the patented genetically engineered plants of Monsanto. A similar patent is applied for fish from aquaculture in March 2010 (WO201027788). Far reaching patents on food are even already granted: Monsanto received a European patent (EP 1356033) in 2009, which the chain of food production from seeds of genetically engineered plants up to food products such as meal and oil are covered.

“There is a process going on, multinationals are trying to gain increasing control of the whole chain of food production. Consumers, farmers and food producers are all caught by the same trap. This has to be regarded as an immoral attempt to abuse patent law. The company is heading for maximising its profits by filing patents on food while at the same time one billion people is suffering from hunger,” says Francois Meienberg from the Berne Declaration.

As experience from the US shows, patents on seeds and increasing market concentration are leading to drastic increase in seed prices, reduced choice in seeds and soaring dependencies for farmers. Meanwhile the Department of Justice and state attorneys general in several US states are investigating whether Monsanto Company has abused its market power to lock out competitors and raise prices in seeds. The coalition of ‘No Patents on Seeds is warning that market concentration will even increase if the abuse of patent law is not stopped. The coalition is supported globally by more than 200 organisations. The organisations are demanding a clear change in policy and practise of patent offices. Governments are urged to to revise the patent laws in order to exclude patents on seeds, animals and parts thereof.

Download Monsanto’s patent: pdf wo2009097403a1 1.89 Mb

Click to access wo2009097403a1.pdf

Go to Alert against Monsantosizing
Overview: International patent applications in genetic engineering of plants and conventional breeding; 1978 – 2009.

No Patents on Seeds, Press release, 27 April 2010
*Stop patenting the food chain!

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msg hidden in food

Posted by jeanne on May 18, 2010

Meet MSG’s little-known brother

Saturday, Mar 13, 2010 07:01 ET

Recent massive snack recalls are turning attention to HVP, a “substitute” for MSG that’s basically the same thing.

This week has seen a rash of foods recalled due to possible contamination with Salmonella Tennessee, ranging from selected flavors of Pringles to Herb-Ox bouillon to Quaker brand snack mix (see the complete list here). The common ingredient in all these products is hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or HVP, manufactured by Basic Food Flavors, in Nevada, where Salmonella bacteria were found on the processing equipment.

As the story unfolds, however, possible Salmonella contamination is not the only thing raising eyebrows about HVP, a flavor enhancer commonly used in processed foods. It turns out that the amino acid in HVP that is responsible for “enhancing” the taste of foods is glutamic acid. In its crystalline form, glutamic acid is more commonly known as monosodium glutamate, or MSG. Using HVP is a way for manufacturers to use glutamic acid to add flavor without using MSG — and having to put those oft-avoided letters on the label.

Glutamic acid occurs naturally in many foods that are aged or fermented, like soy sauce and cheese. In 1908, a researcher named Kikunae Ikeda at Tokyo Imperial University discovered glutamic acid in a search to isolate the savory flavor of dashi, or kombu seaweed broth, a traditional and fundamental ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Ikeda named the taste of the isolated acid umami, and it’s now recognized as one of the five basic tastes, along with sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. American chefs typically refer to the ineffable taste by its Japanese name, but it’s sometimes described as being “savory” and “meaty,” and is often most recognized as the aftertaste of mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, and, well, meat.

Ikeda’s isolation of the delicious umami taste led to the mass production of monosodium glutamate. MSG came under public scrutiny in 1968, when a Chinese-American physician wrote to the New England Journal of Medicine and described the symptoms of what he called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome — including sweating, weakness, heart palpitations and headaches — after eating Chinese food. The physician assumed that the symptoms were caused by MSG, and his theory became so well known that the additive was blamed for symptoms as far-ranging as numbness and chest pain, although studies have never shown a statistically relevant link.

In 1969, scientist John Olney coined the term “excitotoxin” for substances, chiefly glutamic acid, that overstimulated and destroyed brain cells in mice. In 1996, Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon, published “Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills,” a book that discussed a possible relationship between excitotoxins to neurological diseases in humans. Large-scale FDA, World Health Organization and United Nations studies have shown that normal consumption of glutamic acid is safe, but MSG continues to be shunned by many consumers. Of those, though, few recognize that HVP and MSG share the ingredient that Blaylock alleges is dangerous to health.

The FDA considers it misleading to put a “No MSG” label on foods containing glutamic acid, but the substance appears without calling attention to itself in food additives such as hydrolyzed plant protein, sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, yeast extract, textured protein, autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed oat flour.

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