Police say Julie Burchill’s trans article was hate, won’t take action

From Gay Star UK:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/police-say-julie-burchill%E2%80%99s-trans-article-was-hate-won%E2%80%99t-take-action240413

British columnist caused controversy by calling trans people ‘dicks in chicks’ clothing’ and ‘shemales’

By Joe Morgan
24 April 2013

British police have recorded a transphobic columnist’s article as a hate incident, but have decided to not take further action.

In January, Julie Burchill caused controversy by writing a comment piece in The Observer referring to trans people as ‘shemales’, ‘shims’ and ‘bedwetters in bad wigs’.

Observer editor John Mulholland decided to withdraw the piece from the website, saying he had made an error in judgment. It later appeared in full in The Telegraph.

Speaking to Gay Star News, a Met police spokesman said: ‘We received a number of allegations in regards to an article published in January 2013.

‘The matter was investigated, and has now been closed.’

Jennie Kermode, the Chair of Trans Media Watch, said she was not surprised by the MET’s decision.

Speaking to Gay Star News, she said: ‘Although many people feel strongly that hate speech in a newspaper should be treated the same way it is when it happens in the street, existing laws make it very difficult for that to happen.

‘We welcome the fact that the law in this area is under review and at the request of the Law Commission we have contributed evidence which we hope will make a different.

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/police-say-julie-burchill%E2%80%99s-trans-article-was-hate-won%E2%80%99t-take-action240413

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From Humiliation to Appreciation

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/fashion/from-humiliation-to-appreciation-modern-love.html?ref=fashion&_r=1&

Published: April 18, 2013

When I go home to Ohio for the holidays, I spend my time as many 20-somethings do: I sleep like a teenager, wander around my bedroom in my prom dress slightly tipsy, thumb through old yearbooks, and laugh, eat and occasionally bicker with my parents. The only not-typical aspect of my visit is that my parents are two women who are no longer together, one of whom used to be a man.

When I was 4, my father decided he wanted to become a woman. Decades earlier he realized he wanted to be a woman, but now he actually made the decision to become one, to the great shock of my mother and to the utter bewilderment of my Appalachian farming grandparents.

I was too young to remember what must have been the most difficult time of this process: the initial conversations between my parents, the phone calls made to friends and family, the first doctor consultations, the first time my father wore a skirt in public.

My mother could probably tell you the date, time and emotions that went along with each of these “firsts,” but when I try to remember my father as a man, he appears as an unformed vision, almost a mythological creature, half-man, half-woman.

I have faint recollections of a hard chest and deep voice, stocky shoulders and tight arm muscles underneath silk button-down blouses. I remember that one Sunday he was singing in the men’s tenor section of our Episcopal choir and a month later he joined the altos with the women. To 4-year-old me, who approached the world with wonder and without judgment, this was an organic change. In retrospect, it seems bizarre.

My mother, a hippie rebelling from a family of old Southern wealth, briefly thought she could stay married to my father and make it work. Having been an adolescent during the women’s movement, she asked herself, “What is gender, really?” And maybe she hoped that love trumped all.

But as my father showed more of his truth, the truth of the person he wanted to be and become, my mother realized that in many ways she had fallen in love with the image he had constructed to appease the world.

As it became clear that their romantic relationship was more a part of his confusion and the facade he had lived behind than the genuine self he was beginning to unearth, they fought more about the little things and agreed less on the big things until deciding to dissolve their marriage.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/21/fashion/from-humiliation-to-appreciation-modern-love.html?ref=fashion&_r=1&

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Idaho Amends Policy for Changing Gender Marker on Driver’s Licenses

From The ACLU:  http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/idaho-amends-policy-changing-gender-marker-drivers-licenses

New Policy Allows Transgender Persons to Correct Gender Markers Without Showing Proof of Surgery

April 23, 2013

CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; media@aclu.org

BOISE, Idaho – The Idaho Transportation Department has amended its policy regarding changes to driver’s licenses to allow transgender individuals to correct the gender markers on their licenses without showing proof they have undergone surgery.

“We’re glad that the state has recognized the important and legitimate needs of transgender Idahoans,” said Monica Hopkins, executive director of the ACLU of Idaho. “All Idahoans should be able to get a driver’s license that correctly reflects who they are without disclosing sensitive personal information completely unrelated to their ability to drive. The state did the right thing in updating its policy.”

The Idaho Transportation Department agreed to change its policy after the ACLU of Idaho expressed concern on behalf of two transgender Idahoans who previously updated their driver’s licenses to match their gender identity, but whose licenses the Transportation Department cancelled upon realizing later that they had not submitted proof of surgery.

One of those individuals, transgender woman and Boise State University student Erika Falls, said, “I’m very happy that the agency agreed to change its policy, and grateful that I and other transgender people in Idaho will be able to get and use accurate identification going forward.”

Many transgender persons are diagnosed with a condition called gender dysphoria or Gender Identity Disorder. Although gender-confirming surgery is medically necessary treatment for some individuals with these conditions, the American Medical Association and other experts have affirmed it is not required for all transgender individuals. Surgery is beyond the means of many people because of exclusions from health insurance coverage and, like many medical decisions, treatment for gender dysphoria varies from individual to individual making it unnecessary for the state to confirm if an individual has had surgery before correcting a license.

The U.S. State Department no longer requires transgender people to have surgery before it will correct the gender marker on passports, and the majority of states do not require surgery for changing the gender marker on a driver’s license.

“Requiring proof of surgery to change a driver’s license went against accepted medical standards and showed a fundamental lack of understanding of transgender people’s needs,” said Amanda Goad, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “The state has no business dictating anyone’s medical care, and we appreciate the Idaho Department of Transportation agreeing to stop requiring major and potentially unnecessary surgery as a prerequisite for obtaining accurate identification.”

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White House asserts ENDA support, but some want more

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/04/23/carney-cant-name-one-action-from-obama-on-behalf-of-enda/

By April 23, 2013

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday couldn’t identify any actions President Obama has undertaken in the past year on behalf of the Employment Non-Discrimation Act, but reiterated he’ll work to build support for the bill.

Asked by the Washington Blade what Obama has done in the past year to build support for ENDA, Carney touted the president’s commitment to LGBT rights and support for the legislation — without naming any specific initiative to build support for it.

“The fact is, as you noted, we have long supported — the president has long supported an inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and now it’s being introduced, and that is a good thing,” Carney said. “The administration will continue to work to build support for this important legislation because we believe that this is the right way, the right approach to take, because it is inclusive and that’s why we supported it then, that’s why we’re glad to see it being reintroduced.”

Pressed to identify specific actions Obama has undertaken on behalf of ENDA, Carney reiterated Obama’s support for the bill — which is set for introduction this week — and talked about the future.

“His support for this specific legislation, I think, is reflected in the fact that it’s being introduced, as you said, in the House and the Senate,” Carney said. “And he will work with like-minded lawmakers who support movement on this legislation to see it pass and ultimately signed into law. That’s how this process works. This is the approach the president thought was the right one to take and he’s encouraged by the progress being made.”

That’s more or less been the message since one year ago when LGBT advocates were informed by senior adviser Valerie Jarrett at a high-level White House meeting that President Obama wouldn’t issue at this time an executive order barring LGBT workplace discrimination among federal contractors. Instead, White House officials said they would work to build support for ENDA.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/04/23/carney-cant-name-one-action-from-obama-on-behalf-of-enda/

See Also:

Metro Weekly: Latest ENDA effort greeted with both optimism and skepticism

Queerty: ENDA To Be Reintroduced In Congress, Where It Will Probably Die Again

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Same-sex marriage in France: a victory against the right

From The Socialist Alternative:  http://sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7720%3Asame-sex-marriage-in-france-a-victory-against-the-right&Itemid=544

Eric Le Roy
24 Apr 2013

The passage of same-sex marriage in France on 23 April is a blow against the right, and something the left internationally should be celebrating. Hot on the heels of the important victory in New Zealand, same-sex marriage in France will add to the momentum for equal rights around the world.

The context of this victory gives it particular importance. In recent months a powerful right-wing movement against gay marriage arose in France. The conservative party, the UMP, has been using opposition to it as a way of galvanising its forces following the embarrassing 2012 defeat of then President Nicolas Sarkozy after a single term in office. The far-right Front National (FN) has also been mobilising its members, and FN deputies have been marching on demonstrations attended by hundreds of thousands.

When the (then opposition) French Socialist Party (SP) offered its electoral platform at last year’s presidential and legislative elections, same-sex marriage was one of its promised reforms. Francois Hollande and the SP won the elections fairly convincingly, ousting the arch-conservative and viciously racist Sarkozy. Same-sex marriage was an issue that the SP thought would give it a progressive veneer, while simultaneously offering no major change in the neoliberal policies of Sarkozy’s conservatives. What the SP and the left underestimated was the extent to which the right would be able to use the issue to regroup.

Same-sex marriage has since become one of the top political issues in France. The right have supported regular and steadily growing demonstrations against the reforms. These climaxed on 24 March with a huge rally in central Paris that attracted more than 300,000 people.

Continue reading at:  http://sa.org.au/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=7720%3Asame-sex-marriage-in-france-a-victory-against-the-right&Itemid=544

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Topless FEMEN Protesters Drench Belgian Archbishop André-Jozef Léonard, Protest Homophobia In Catholic Church

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/24/topless-femen-protest-andre-jozef-leonard_n_3146609.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices


Topless activists of the protest movement FEMEN took aim at the Catholic Church on Tuesday, drenching Belgian archbishop André-Jozef Léonard during a lecture in Brussels, Belgium

Four FEMEN members entered an auditorium at the ULB university in the Belgian capital, holding signs that said “Stop Homophobia” and “Anus Dei Is Coming.” Flemish newspaper De Standaard reports that Léonard was giving a lecture on blasphemy and freedom of speech when the bare-chested protesters poured water over his head.

“This was aimed against Mr. Léonard’s homophobia, but we also don’t agree with other positions, like the one on abortion,” one of the activists told news agency BELGA.

In an interview with Le Soir at the end of March, Léonard had said that gays should spend their lives celibate. The archbishop defined homosexuality as “a given that people find in themselves and whose origins remain somewhat mysterious.”

On its French Facebook page, FEMEN said “if André Léonard has decided to inflict the punishment of abstinence and celibacy upon himself, Femen does not tolerate that he wants to impose that chastity on the gay community as the only remedy to what he defines as a disease.”

The Belgian confederation of bishops strongly condemned FEMEN’s actions, but said it will not press charges against the group.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/24/topless-femen-protest-andre-jozef-leonard_n_3146609.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices

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The rightwing donors who fuel America’s culture wars

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/23/rightwing-donors-fuel-america-culture-wars

In general, US public opinion is trending liberal. Not that you’d know it from state legislatures bought by conservative dollars

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 23 April 2013

The laws and bills emerging from many of America’s statehouses are farther to the right than they’ve ever been. But the population overall continues to trend moderately leftward. How to explain this growing divergence between the government and the people?

Mostly, it’s about the money.

Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota, and Mississippi are among the latest to impose unprecedented restrictions on women’s access to abortion services. All told, in the first three months of this year, 694 provisions related to reproductive health have come before state legislatures, more than half of them involving abortion restrictions.

We are seeing a similar surge of opposition to science education: in Missouri, Montana, Colorado, and Oklahoma, legislators have introduced bills intended to smuggle creationism and religious dogma into public school classrooms. And the Virginia attorney general is seeking to revive anti-sodomy laws: the way the law is written, that also means no oral sex in the Old Dominion, not even for married straight couples.

But public opinion polls do not suggest that Americans as a whole are trending toward support of this type of legislation. On abortion, the most noticeable feature of the survey data is how flat the trend lines are over the past decade. If anything, they show a very modest drift away from the hardline criminalization position on abortion and a shoring-up of support for Roe v Wade (now at around 70%, per Gallup and Pew). Studies also indicate that support for school-sponsored prayer is on the decline. The fairly dramatic, leftward shift in attitudes toward gay rights is well-established. And the re-election of President Obama – portrayed by the hard right as the epitome of everything wrong with America – should count for something.

Consider North Carolina. On the national stage, the state is as purple as it gets, with nearly 50-50 results in 2008 and 2012. So what brought on the red tide in the state capitol? A few years ago, Art Pope, a wealthy businessman with a far right political vision, decided to, in effect, buy the the state government. He invested millions of dollars in political campaigns, established thinktanks, and funded fellowships. Now, it’s payday: North Carolina presently has an extremely conservative legislature and an extremely conservative governor, whose agenda includes the privatization of schools, an end to early education, and elimination of the state’s income and corporate tax rates.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/23/rightwing-donors-fuel-america-culture-wars

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Christo-Nazi Hate Monger Bryan Fischer: “Gays Should Face Job Discrimination”

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The Xenophobe Party

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/48640198120

By Robert Reich
Monday, April 22, 2013

The xenophobia has already begun.

Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today urged him to reconsider immigration legislation because of the bombings in Boston. “The facts emerging in the Boston Marathon bombing have exposed a weakness in our current system,” Paul writes. “If we don’t use this debate as an opportunity to fix flaws in our current system, flaws made even more evident last week, then we will not be doing our jobs.”

Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), senior Republican senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is responsible for an immigration reform bill, is using much the same language – suggesting that the investigation of two alleged Boston attackers will “help shed light on the weaknesses of our system.”

Can we just get a grip? Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is a naturalized American citizen. He came to the United States when he was nine years old. He attended the public schools of Cambridge, Massachusetts, not far from where I lived.

Immigration reform is not about national security, in any event. It’s about doing what’s right, and giving the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in America — many of them here for years, working at jobs and paying withholding taxes, and many of them children — a path to citizenship.

It’s about making sure they aren’t exploited by employers and others who know they won’t complain to authorities. And giving their families the security of knowing that they can live peacefully and securely without fearing deportation.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/48640198120

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Do Racism, Conservatism, and Low I.Q. Go Hand in Hand?

From Psychology Today:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/millennial-media/201304/do-racism-conservatism-and-low-iq-go-hand-in-hand

Lower cognitive abilities predict greater prejudice through ring-wing ideology.

This morning as I logged onto Facebook, I came upon this image. Having followed the Boston marathon and MIT shooting coverage initially, I lost some interest when it came down to the “hunt.” As much as justice matters to me, so does tact and class, and the sensationalism of manhunts always leaves me uncomfortable. I also knew it would be a matter of time before the political rhetoric would change from the victims and wounded to the demographic factors of the suspects—namely race and religion. And alas, it has.

However, what struck me most about this image posted above was the Facebook page it came from, “Too Informed to Vote Republican.” I wondered about this, recalling an old journal article I’d come across when studying anti-Islamic attitudes post 9/11. The paper referenced a correlation between conservatism and low intelligence. Uncertain of its origin, I located a thought-provoking article published in one of psychology’s top journals, Psychological Science, which in essence confirms this.

Hodson and Busseri (2012) found in a correlational study that lower intelligence in childhood is predictive of greater racism in adulthood, with this effect being mediated (partially explained) through conservative ideology. They also found poor abstract reasoning skills were related to homophobic attitudes which was mediated through authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact.

What this study and those before it suggest is not necessarily that all liberals are geniuses and all conservatives are ignorant. Rather, it makes conclusions based off of averages of groups. The idea is that for those who lack a cognitive ability to grasp complexities of our world, strict-right wing ideologies may be more appealing. Dr. Brian Nosek explained it for the Huffington Post as follows, “ideologies get rid of the messiness and impose a simple solution. So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies.” For an excellent continuation of this discussion and past studies, please see this article from LiveScience.

Further, studies have indicated an automatic association between aggression, America, and the news. A study conducted by researchers at Cornell and The Hebrew University (Ferguson & Hassin, 2007) indicated, “American news watchers who were subtly or non-consciously primed with American cues exhibited greater accessibility of aggression and war constructs in memory, judged an ambiguously aggressive person in a more aggressive and negative manner, and acted in a relatively more aggressive manner toward an experimenter following a mild provocation, compared with news watchers who were not primed” (p. 1642). American “cues” refers to factors such as images of the American flag or words such as “patriot.” Interestingly, this study showed this effect to be independent of political affiliation, but suggested a disturbing notion that America is implicitly associated with aggression for news watchers.

Continue reading at:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/millennial-media/201304/do-racism-conservatism-and-low-iq-go-hand-in-hand

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‘Free Market’ Ayn Rand Ideology Was a Root Cause of the Horrific Explosion in Texas

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/free-market-ayn-rand-ideology-was-root-cause-horrific-explosion-texas

The tragedy in Waco is part of a larger story about the deregulation of business in the name of pocketing massive profits.

By Jim White
April 23, 2013

On Thursday, I wrote about the central role that absolute free market libertarianism, as personified by the fictional John Galt, played in the horrific explosion in West, Texas that took the lives of fourteen people, most of whom were volunteer firefighters fighting a fire at an unregulated fertilizer facility. We have now learned that the facility had a checkered history of ignoring regulations and had 1350 times more ammonium nitrate on hand than the amount that triggers a legal requirement to report the facility to Department of Homeland Security. Of course, the facility’s owner chose to ignore that regulation along with the many other regulations he chose to ignore. Sadly, some press accounts of the owner chose to focus more on his role as a church elder (Update: he was even at Bible study when the fire broke out!) than on how his choice to flout regulations and good sense led directly to this tragedy. Whatever the cause of the original fire that eventually triggered the explosion, the plant owner’s decision to maintain such a large and unreported amount of highly explosive ammonium nitrate so close to so many people played a huge role in how this tragedy played out.

Those deaths, and their roots in blatant disregard for government regulation in the belief that it harms business, are sadly just a small part of the larger picture of how free marketeers have corrupted the public marketplace of ideas to sow widespread death and destruction so that the “job creators” can go about their usual business of pocketing massive profits while refusing to make microscopic investments in small steps that would save many lives.

Remember the other, larger Massachusetts tragedy that killed at least 50 and injured 722? No?  It was discovered last fall that New England Compounding Center in Framingham, Massachusetts had been flaunting the rules on drug manufacturing and in their haste to reap maximum profits shipped out vials of steroids contaminated with fungus. Thousands of patients around the country were injected with contaminated material and deaths and injuries followed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/free-market-ayn-rand-ideology-was-root-cause-horrific-explosion-texas

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Confront Corporate Personhood: Take Back our Planet

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/24-6

by Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap and Heather Buckner

With the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day this week, we have to wonder why the health of the planet is at an all time low.

How many people do you know who would aspire for a world without clean water to drink? How many are in favor of acid rain, food poisoning, or natural disaster? What about asthma? Higher cancer rates? Starvation? Do many of your friends dream of a United States without our glorious mountain-scapes, deciduous forests, or glistening lakes? Would any rational person want these things for their country, their children, themselves? The answer, obviously, is no, they wouldn’t.

Numerous surveys and polls reinforce the reality that Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of environmental protections. In fact, when asked to choose between environmental regulation and energy production, a whopping 94% of Americans believe in prioritizing protection of clean water and air over all else.

The American people don’t want to destroy our environment, contaminate our water, poison our bodies, and clog our skies. To the contrary, we would overwhelmingly prefer increased regulation in order to protect our resources and sustain our earth. If this is so clearly the case, why then is the natural world literally being destroyed before our eyes? Why are there are no adequate laws controlling oil, food, water, land, and air, and why are the meager regulations we do have being blatantly ignored and repeatedly overturned?

The answers to these disconcerting questions are rooted in a history of concentrated power, corruption, and specifically, some very questionable Supreme Court decisions regarding the U.S Constitution. In January 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in the case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that “corporations are persons” under the first amendment, essentially entitling them to spend unlimited, unchecked money on political expenditures.

This ruling doesn’t come out of nowhere. Indeed, it is merely the latest in a series of decisions dating back to the late 1800s which have granted corporations rights as human beings, allowing them to avoid regulation, and resulting in uncontrollable corporate influence over politics.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/24-6

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Houston’s Most Polluted Neighborhood Draws the Line at Alberta Tar Sands

From Yes Magazine:  http://www.yesmagazine.org/peace-justice/houston-s-most-polluted-neighborhood-draws-line-keystone-tar-sands

If the Keystone XL pipeline is approved, 90 percent of the tar sands crude that flows through it will be processed near an embattled Houston neighborhood called Manchester. Residents are joining up to demand a healthier future.

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GM salmon’s global HQ – 1,500m high in the Panamanian rainforest

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/24/genetically-modified-salmon-aquabounty-panama-united-states

Supersized genetically modified salmon grown fast and fat and after years of wrangling, are ready for market – but is the market ready for them? And why is the firm hidden away in Panama?

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 24 April 2013

It is hard to think of a more unlikely setting for genetic experimentation or for raising salmon: a rundown shed at a secretive location in the Panamanian rainforest miles inland and 1,500m above sea level.

But the facility, which is owned by an American company AquaBounty Technologies, stands on the verge of delivering the first genetically modified food animal – a fast-growing salmon – to supermarkets and dinner tables.

The US government this week enters the final stages of its deliberations on whether to allow commercial production of the GM fish, with a public consultation on the issue ending on Friday. Separately, a committee in Congress on Monday took up a bill that would outlaw GE salmon entirely – essentially destroying AquaBounty’s commercial prospects in America.

If approved, the salmon could be the first of some 30 other species of GM fish under development, including tilapia and trout. Researchers are also working to bring GM cows, chickens and pigs to market.

In Panama City, government officials are upbeat about AquaBounty’s prospects of getting its fish to market.

“From what we know it is very close to being approved. There have been tests for many years and the last thing we heard from the FDA is that there is a very good probability that it is going to be approved in the near future,” said Giovanni Lauri, the director of the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama, Arap.

AquaBounty must still overcome formidable opposition from supermarkets and consumer organisations, environmental groups and commercial fishermen to sell its fish, however.

The prospect of introducing GM fish into the food supply has generated enormous passions, with the FDA receiving 36,000 comments on the fish so far– most of them opposing the move.

But after 20 years, AquaBounty’s efforts to bring GM animals to the table are getting closer to reality.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/24/genetically-modified-salmon-aquabounty-panama-united-states

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