By John Deike, February 27, 2014. Source: EcoWatch
In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
A new U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides can be found in, well, just about anything.
Roundup herbicide, Monsanto’s flagship weed killer, was present in 75 percent of air and rainfall test samples, according to the study, which focused on Mississippi’s highly fertile Delta agricultural region.
GreenMedInfo reports new research, soon to be published by Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry journal, discovered the traces over a 12-year span from 1995-2007.
In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide. Moreover, Roundup’s overuse has enabled weeds and insects to build an immunity to its harsh toxins. Continue reading
Dr. Devon G. Peña, March 4, 2014. Source: Environmental and Food Justice
Huichol yarn weaving of a sacred ceremony for maize. Source: Environmental and Food Justice
I am submitting this statement to express opposition to the proposed USDA co- existence policy. As a plant breeder, seed saver, traditional acequia farmer, and agro-ecologist familiar with the scientific evidence on gene flow I am unequivocally opposed to this policy. Asking for co-existence with GMO crops means seed-savers and plant breeders like myself have to accept the inevitability of severe business losses due to damage to our native seed stocks and active plant breeding programs. I ask that you consider the fact that farmers like myself are the keepers of the nation’s diverse bioregional ‘arks’ of native seeds and these are the ultimate basis of all agriculture in this country. As vulnerable traditional seed savers, we cannot accept co-existence. The scientific fact of gene flow makes it so. Let’s not pretend the scientific fact of gene flow is unsettled, like an agricultural crisis version of climate change denial.
Working with friends, family, and neighbors, I produce local heirloom varieties of the ‘Three Sisters’ (corn-bean-squash/pumpkin) for a land race seed library grown and stored on a farm in Colorado’s Rio Grande Headwaters bioregion. The preservation of multiple native gene streams is necessary to the business of plant breeding and seed saving which is a central focus of my agroecological enterprise and productive activity. The introgression of transgenes from genetically engineered corn is a direct threat to my livelihood because the open- pollinated nature of maize makes for frequent cross-contamination events. Corn pollen can travel quite far – with some studies showing distances of up to 30 miles or more depending on the nature of regional wind patterns. The San Luis Valley is a high altitude intermountain park known for strong winds and corn pollen can travel very far under these conditions. The valley has an average elevation of 8000 feet and is surrounded by a circle of mountains at 14,000 ft. and higher. We do our plant breeding and seed stock production in this valley on a historic farm that is organized and collectively run to serve as a grassroots agricultural extension research station and farm school for acequiero growers of Colorado and New Mexico. Continue reading
February 28, 2014. Source: ETC Group
Brazilian civil society organizations warned yesterday that a 2007 bill to end Brazil’s ban on Terminator seeds could soon be on the move (again) in the Brazilian Congress. While two bills have been on the congressional agenda for several years, a 2007 bill (PL 268/2007, filed by Rep. Eduardo Sciarra – PSD party) began moving through the Congress last July and came to a head last October. The legalizing of Terminator in Brazil would have global implications, including as a violation of the United Nations moratorium on Terminator technologies, in place since 2000 at the Convention on Biological Diversity.
A campaign mounted by Brazilian social movements stirred a global protest – including a petition signed by over 19,000 people – and temporarily derailed the Bill’s passage in October 2013.[i] In response, Décio Lima (PT party), then-President of the Congress’s all-important Judiciary Commission (the gatekeeper body that allows bills to proceed to a full congressional vote), vowed not to allow the Bill’s passage while he chaired the Commission.
But, just before Christmas, the Bill began to move again at the request of more than 30 deputies. A massive write-in campaign, on behalf of concerned organizations, set up by Action Aid (an international advocacy organization with roots in Brazil) again thwarted the move. More than 30,000 people and organizations around the world signed a protest letter calling on the Brazilian government to uphold the UN moratorium on the commercialization of Terminator.[ii] (“Terminator” refers to genetically engineered seed that dies at harvest, obliging farmers to purchase new seed every growing season.) Continue reading
February 27, 2014. Source: RT
A farmer tills a rice paddy field on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka (Reuters / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
A heretofore inexplicable fatal, chronic kidney disease that has affected poor farming regions around the globe may be linked to the use of biochemical giant Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide in areas with hard water, a new study has found.
The new study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Researchers suggest that Roundup, or glyphosate, becomes highly toxic to the kidney once mixed with“hard” water or metals like arsenic and cadmium that often exist naturally in the soil or are added via fertilizer. Hard water contains metals like calcium, magnesium, strontium, and iron, among others. On its own, glyphosate is toxic, but not detrimental enough to eradicate kidney tissue.
The glyphosate molecule was patented as a herbicide by Monsanto in the early 1970s. The company soon brought glyphosate to market under the name “Roundup,” which is now the most commonly used herbicide in the world. Continue reading
By Kevin Woods, March 3, 2014. Source: Myanmar Times
A farmer spreads fertiliser in a paddy field in Demoso township in Kayah State in 2013. Photo: Kaung Htet/The Myanmar Times
The phrase “land grab” has become common in Myanmar, often making front page news. This reflects the more open political space available to talk about injustices, as well as the escalating severity and degree of land dispossession under the new government.
But this seemingly simple two-word phrase is in fact very complex and opaque. It thus deserves greater clarity in order to better understand the deep layers of meaning to farmers in the historical political context of Myanmar.
Understanding the deeper significance and meaning that farmers attach to the words “land grab” entails frank discussions of formerly taboo subjects related to the country’s history of armed conflict, illicit drugs, cronyism and racism.
Various state and non-state armed actors have been responsible for land grabs in Myanmar during the past several decades, mirroring recent historical periods.
Through the Great Depression under British colonial rule, the Japanese occupation during WWII and eventual freedom from foreign domination, rice production in the Ayeyarwady Delta, propped up by British colonial capitalism, collapsed under heavy debt burdens, with farmers losing their land and livelihoods. Continue reading
Source: Radio Free Asia
Residents look on as Uyghur homes in the Yamalik area of Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi are demolished in mid-2013. Photo: Radio Free Asia
Rising tension over land seizures is emerging as a critical issue in Asia. Well-connected business, military and government interests often prey on the poor and uneducated to reap big profits in Asia’s booming real estate markets.
But, increasingly, emboldened citizens across the continent are fighting back. This special RFA report examines the changing dynamic of Asia’s Great Land Grab.
Click here for videos and stories from Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Tibet, and Vietnam
By Rachel Aviv, February 10, 2014. Source: The New Yorker
Hayes has devoted the past fifteen years to studying atrazine, a widely used herbicide made by Syngenta. The company’s notes reveal that it struggled to make sense of him, and plotted ways to discredit him. Photograph by Dan Winters.
In 2001, seven years after joining the biology faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, Tyrone Hayes stopped talking about his research with people he didn’t trust. He instructed the students in his lab, where he was raising three thousand frogs, to hang up the phone if they heard a click, a signal that a third party might be on the line. Other scientists seemed to remember events differently, he noticed, so he started carrying an audio recorder to meetings. “The secret to a happy, successful life of paranoia,” he liked to say, “is to keep careful track of your persecutors.”
Three years earlier, Syngenta, one of the largest agribusinesses in the world, had asked Hayes to conduct experiments on the herbicide atrazine, which is applied to more than half the corn in the United States. Hayes was thirty-one, and he had already published twenty papers on the endocrinology of amphibians. David Wake, a professor in Hayes’s department, said that Hayes “may have had the greatest potential of anyone in the field.” But, when Hayes discovered that atrazine might impede the sexual development of frogs, his dealings with Syngenta became strained, and, in November, 2000, he ended his relationship with the company. Continue reading
By Lunae Parracho and Caroline Stauffer, February 17, 2014. Source: Reuters
Munduruku Indian warriors stand guard over an illegal gold miner who was detained by a group of warriors searching out illegal gold mines and miners in their territory near the Caburua river, a tributary of the Tapajos and Amazon rivers in western Para state January 20, 2014. Photo: CREDIT: REUTERS/LUNAE PARRACHO
As Brazil struggles to solve land disputes between Indians and farmers on the expanding frontier of its agricultural heartland, more tensions over forest and mineral resources are brewing in the remote Amazon.
The government of President Dilma Rousseff gave eviction notices to hundreds of non-Indian families in the Awá-Guajá reserve in Maranhão state in January and plans to relocate them by April, with the help of the army if necessary, Indian affairs agency Funai says.
The court order to clear the Awá territory follows the forced removal of some 7,000 soy farmers and cattle ranchers from the Marãiwatsédé Xavante reservation last year, a process profiled by Reuters that resulted in violent clashes.
Anthropologists say evictions from Awá territory could be even more complicated. It is thought to be a base for criminal logging operations and is also home to some indigenous families who have never had contact with outsiders, a combination that worries human rights groups lobbying for the evictions. Continue reading
By Jacob Chamberlain, February 13, 2014. Source: Common Dreams
Military Police creates barrier in from of presidential palace during MST March, Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014. Photo: Eraldo Peres / Associated Press
Thousands of farmers marched on Brazil’s capital Wednesday in the face of riot police, tear gas and rubber bullets, demanding justice for the millions of landless farmers they say have suffered for years under the country’s agricultural policies.
The farmers, organized by the Landless Workers Movement (MST), numbered around 16,000 in the streets of Brasília where they were confronted by riot police in the city center as they headed towards the presidential palace.
Many of the MST protesters today are angry that President Dilma Rousseff is backtracking from the policies of the past two administrations and allowing “agro-business to undercut chances of land reform.”
“Dilma’s government has been the worst in terms of land reform,” said Alexandre Conceicao, a member of MST’s national coordination committee. “She’s done nothing to help Brazil shirk off being a country with one of the most unequal distributions of land in the world.” Continue reading
Note: This report came to us through Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN), and a member of the Steering Committee for the international Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees. Click here to learn more about the risks of Genetically Engineered trees.
-The GJEP Team
January, 2014. Source: Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
“Golden Rice” is the name of a rice that has been genetically modified (GM, or genetically engineered) to produce beta-carotene, which the body can convert into vitamin A. This beta-carotene gives the rice grains the yellowish colour that has inspired its name. Its’ developers claim that it is needed to address vitamin-A deficiency, or VAD. However, Golden Rice does not address the real problem. VAD is not an isolated issue; it is a symptom of malnutrition, which is caused by food insecurity and poverty.
Golden Rice has not yet been tested for safety, and has not been adequately tested for its ability to make vitamin A available to the human body. For example, vitamin A can only be absorbed by the body when eaten with fat, but fat is rarely present in the diets of people who suffer from malnutrition.
Golden Rice is still being field-tested and despite several years and millions of dollars, it is still not ready for commercial release anywhere in the world. The resources spent to develop Golden Rice could have been used to expand existing, proven approaches to addressing VAD – such as supplementation, food fortification, breastfeeding programs and diet diversification – and implementing them for communities around the world that urgently need them. Continue reading