Category Archives: Industrial agriculture

Study links Monsanto’s Roundup to increased cancer rates

Glyphosate, the star player in Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup, has been linked to lymphoma, according to a study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. While we certainly know that Roundup is used in fields and front yards across the world, the toxic effects of this use can be found in one of the most unassuming places – our children’s playgrounds. In her article “Study: New Yorkers Face Cancer Spike From Monsanto’s Roundup in City Parks,” Christina Sarich explains how cancer rates are rising, but the city maintains that its use of Roundup is perfectly safe.

How exactly does this sign convey that this use is safe? Photo: Natural Society

How exactly does this sign convey safety? Photo: Natural Society

Let’s take a moment here to digest – NYC claims that its use of a toxic chemical in and near parks and playgrounds where children play is completely safe. Scientists and environmentalists have argued from day one that the use of Monsanto’s aggressive toxins could be dangerous. We don’t know to what extent, but that should be cause for alarm, not justification for its use. This is the very argument that Monsanto uses to support its continued production of Roundup, which has lately been engineered even stronger in order to combat plants that are building up a resistance (Go Nature!). Not knowing the long-term effects is exactly why these toxins should be banned and especially not used near playgrounds. Like usual, however, officials are only convinced with dollar signs, so instead of listening to scientific evidence, they put children’s lives at serious risk for developing cancer.

Study: New Yorkers Face Cancer Spike From Monsanto’s Roundup in City Parks
by Christina Sarich, Natural Society, August 22, 2014

The Parks Department in New York, which was responsible for spraying pesticides on greenspaces more than 1,300 times last year, is likely leading to more prevalent cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and breast cancer, according to the findings of recent studies. The pesticide they use most often (even where children are at play) in order to eliminate weeds that house rats in New York is Monsanto’s Roundup – full of glyphosate carcinogens.

Even though the city posts warning signs 24-hours prior to spraying, the toxic chemicals in RoundUp linger, and no one really knows for how long. They say they spray in ‘little-used’ areas in the park – but we all know that with a little rain, pesticide runoff travels into the park’s lakes and soil, contaminating larger areas.

Read the full article on Natural Society.

 

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Filed under Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Youth

Environmentalists up-in-arms: New herbicide for GMOs could cause “superweeds”

When will Big Ag learn? If you have to keep genetically engineering plants to withstand the herbicides you’ve put on the market, then your product is fundamentally flawed. In the article “Environmentalists Rally Against New Herbicide For GE Crops” in Mint Press News, Phil Zahodiakin explains how weeds and other plants are building up a tolerance to many herbicides, but instead of changing the ethics of their farming philosophies, these companies are just creating stronger, more potent and more toxic chemical combinations.

From antibiotics to antibacterial hand soap, Mother Nature has proven time and time again that she can resist the interferences of mankind. Nature always adapts, always evolves. How much more toxic will pesticides and GE crops have to get before Big Ag will listen?

Photo: AP/Audrey McAvoy

Photo: AP/Audrey McAvoy

Environmentalists Rally Against New Herbicide For GE Crops

Citing the inevitability of “superweeds” and calling the product a “life preserver” for fatally flawed technology, environmentalists urge the EPA not to register a new Dow AgroSciences herbicide for GE corn and soybeans.

By Phil Zahodiakin, Mint Press News, August 22, 2014

Environmentalists warn that an herbicide designed to work with new varieties of genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans should not be registered by the Environmental Protection Agency because, like other widely-used herbicides for GE crops, it will gradually promote the emergence of “superweeds” resistant to the new herbicide.

The herbicide at issue is Dow AgroSciences’ Enlist Duo, whose active ingredients are two “old” chemicals: glyphosate (best known by the trade name “Roundup”) and 2,4-D. The herbicide would be applied in fields planted with Enlist Corn and Enlist Soybeans – which Dow has engineered to tolerate the product.

The first commercial applications of 2,4-D date back to the mid-1940s, but the chemical gained notoriety due to its use in a Vietnam War-era defoliant: Agent Orange. Although 2,4-D was not the only herbicide in Agent Orange, the product was contaminated with dioxin — a potent carcinogen — as a byproduct of the production process.

Read the full article on Mint Press News.

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Filed under Campaign to STOP GE Trees, False Solutions to Climate Change, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture

From Ferguson to Africa: The Tentacles of Institutional Racism

It is not only in Ferguson, MO where state-sanctioned and institutional racism is being exposed.  This new report demonstrates how the majority white UK is trying to convince Africans to grow and eat dangerous genetically engineered crops that have been rejected in Britain and the European Union.

British think tank tells Africans to grow and eat GMOs

by Claire Robinson,

Chatham House, GM and Africa

Chatham House report misleads about GMO risks and promises, writes Claire Robinson

report from the British foreign policy think tank Chatham House on agricultural biotechnology in Africa claims that GM “offers advantages over conventional plant-breeding approaches”.

The report notes, “Accordingly there are a various projects under way to develop new GM varieties for African farmers, ranging from drought-resistant maize to varieties of cassava, banana, sorghum, cowpea and sweet potato with resistance to pests and disease.”

Mercifully the report’s release has been low-key in the UK, where the long-suffering public must be tired of hearing rich white Brits telling Africans that they should grow and eat experimental GM crops on the basis of no evidence that they will be beneficial.

It is, however, being publicised in Africa.

For the entire article, click here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Racism

Genetically engineering perennial grasses for biofuels: the USDA’s next dumb idea

Oh brother.  Where to start with this mess.  First off, genetically engineering perennial grasses is a disaster waiting to happen.  As with genetically engineering trees, there is no way to stop GE perennial grasses from genetically contaminating other grasses once they are released into the environment.  In fact, contamination has been caused simply by conducting outdoor field trials of GE grasses.  GE perennials are an even worse idea than GE annual crop plants because they cannot be contained.

Then there is the problem of trying to create fuel from plant material of any kind, which is leading to massive land grabs around the world, destroying biodiversity and displacing food crops, since there is simply not enough land on Planet Earth to come close to replacing the fossil fuels currently being devoured on a daily basis.

How about instead of these fake techno-fixes, we try reducing the amount of fuel we consume–especially in the U.S.–by, oh, around 90% or so.  Now there’s a real solution.

USDA Funds Genetic Engineering Research for Switchgrass Biofuels

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-  July 24, 2014, Farmers’ Advance

Michigan State University (MSU) plant biologist C. Robin Buell has been awarded $1 million from a joint U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to accelerate genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstock for the production of biofuels, bio-power and bio-based products.

Specifically, the MSU College of Natural Science researcher will work to identify the genetic factors that regulate cold hardiness in switchgrass, a plant native to North America that holds high potential as a biofuel source.

“This project will explore the genetic basis for cold tolerance that will permit the breeding of improved switchgrass cultivars that can yield higher biomass in northern climates,” said Buell, also an MSU AgBioResearch scientist. “It’s part of an ongoing collaboration with scientists in the USDA Agricultural Research Service to explore diversity in native switchgrass as a way to improve its yield and quality as a biofuel feedstock.”

For the full article, click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Uncategorized

The Need for Clear Connections at the People’s Climate March

Global Justice Ecology Project  Executive Director Anne Petermann posted this entry at Daily Kos yesterday regarding the September 21 Climate March and associated events in New York City.

In this update from her previous piece about the march, Petermann points out that many climate action contexts promote strategies and actions on climate change that  “include many ‘solutions’ debunked as false by the global climate justice movement, including carbon capture and storage, and other technologies that allow business as usual to bounce happily along while the planet slowly burns.”

If you agree with Anne, support her by adding a comment to the extensive discussion developing on Daily Kos!

Photo by Orin Langelle

Photo by Orin Langelle

 

Climate Action vs. Climate Justice: the Need for Clear Demands at the Peoples’ Climate March in New York City

by Anne Peterman/Daily Kos

In New York City on September 21st, a major climate march is planned. It will take place two days before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s UN Climate Summit–a one-day closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conference (COP20) in Lima Peru.

350.org and Avaaz originally called for the march, but environmental and climate justice organizations and alliances based in the New York/New Jersey region and across the US demanded (and won) a seat at the organizing table to attempt to ensure that the voices of front line and impacted communities are heard.

So, what are the demands of the march? There are none. That’s right. The march will simply bring together an estimated 200,000 people to march through the streets of New York and then…

There will be no rally, no speakers, and no strong political demands. Just people showing up with the overarching message that the world’s leaders should take action on climate change. Why no solid demands? I’ve been informed by organizers that the reason this march is being held with no actual demands is because we need a big tent.

But this tent is so big that it even includes organizations that support fracking and the tar sands gigaproject. Yup, they’re in the tent, too. Call me crazy, but I think that tent is too damn big.

According to some of the organizers, as long as everyone agrees that climate action is needed, then it’s all good. But are all climate actions created equal? No.

Read the Full Article Here 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Fracking, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Media, Occupy Wall Street, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, Uncategorized

Agent Orange Crops Poised for Commercial Use

Dow, Monsanto, Dupont.  Who ever thought it would be a good idea to put huge chemical companies in charge of our food supply?  Oh yeah, the US Department of Agriculture.  Time to end this industrial agriculture nightmare of poisoned air, water, land and food and get back to organics–better for the climate, for our health, for pollinators and for the planet.  For more on why industry now needs more toxic pesticides, see yesterday’s blog post: The Predicted Impacts of Monsanto’s Chemical Warfare.

‘Outrage’ Follows USDA’s Advancement Of New Genetically Engineered Crops

By Andrea Germanos | August 8, 2014 Source: Mintpressnews.com

‘We need to get off the pesticide treadmill,’ said George Naylor, farmer and Center for Food Safety Board Member

GMO corn in Yellow Springs, Ohio. (Photo/Lindsay Eyink via Wikimedia Commons)

Watchdog groups are denouncing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendation on Wednesday to approve new varieties of genetically engineered corn and soybeans as a path towards more toxic pesticides that threaten the environment and public health.

“We are outraged,” stated Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist with Pesticide Action Network, adding that the “USDA has turned its back on America’s farmers and rural communities.”

The new crops are Dow AgroScience’s 2,4-D- and glyphosate-tolerant corn and soybeans. They are made to be used with Dow’s Enlist Duo herbicide, which contains 2,4-D and glyphosate and is also under review by the USDA.

The decision to advance the crops towards full deregulation flies in face of warnings by food and environmental groups, doctors, scientists, 50 members of Congress, as well as thousands of public comments to the USDA.

For the entire article, click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Pollution, Uncategorized, Vietnam War

The Predicted Impacts of Monsanto’s Chemical Warfare

Here we see what many non-GMO activists predicted years ago.  Creating herbicide resistant GMO crops will create herbicide resistant weeds–and the “need” for increasingly toxic chemicals.  Thanks Monsanto.  Job well done.

Invader Batters Rural America, Shrugging Off Herbicides

Mr. Harper uprooted a palmer by hand, the last resort in fighting the weed. Each plant can produce up to 200,000 seeds in an average field. Photo credit: Daniel Acker for The New York Times

WHEATFIELD, Ind. — The Terminator — that relentless, seemingly indestructible villain of the 1980s action movie — is back. And he is living amid the soybeans at Harper Brothers Farms.

About 100 miles northwest of Indianapolis, amid 8,000 lush acres farmed by Dave Harper, his brother Mike and their sons, the Arnold Schwarzenegger of weeds refuses to die. Three growing seasons after surfacing in a single field, it is a daily presence in a quarter of the Harper spread and has a foothold in a third more. Its oval leaves and spindly seed heads blanket roadsides and jut above orderly soybean rows like skyscrapers poking through cloud banks. It shrugs off extreme drought and heat. At up to six inches in diameter, its stalk is thick enough to damage farm equipment.

“You swear that you killed it,” said Scott Harper, Dave Harper’s son and the farm’s 28-year-old resident weed expert. “And then it gets a little green on it, and it comes right back.”

For the full article, click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Pollution, Uncategorized

Great Bad PR News for Monsanto and Climate Change Deniers

Header from the Gawker story. Mo Rocca off the hook, for now.

Header from the Gawker story. Mo Rocca off the hook, for now.

Just in case anyone missed these great stories that developed over this week.

First, Gawker spent the week covering leaked emails from Conde Nast trying to round up reputable speakers for a food documentary series sponsored by Monsanto. Gawker also posted the plan for the program sent with the invitation to speak. Here’s a snippet (italics for emphasis):

Guests from all walks of life (two guests and one Monsanto expert per episode will be encouraged to engage in a spirited conversation while, of course, respecting each other’s individual perspectives. Each episode will be stylishly arranged in a controlled environment, to create an authoritative and journalistic forum.

The big Gawker hook was the host named for it: Mo Rocca (?).

In a response to Gawker, Mo Rocca claims that he was asked, but didn’t have time to respond before his name was attached to it as a lure to get others involved. It’s not clear what he would’ve said, but he’s not doing it now.

Mother Jones then published this story about the planned Monsanto food series, including interviews with some of the people approached, including Marion Nestle, who declined after she asked where the large amount of money offered to her was coming from.

Next, Suzanne Goldenberg has been covering the growing stance by PR firms to no longer engage in campaigns to deny climate change since such campaigns are lies. The firms were pushed to take a stance by surveys done by The Guardian and the Climate Investigations Centre, a watchdog group on climate disinformation. While many PR firms refused to respond or take a stance, Goldenberg and the CIC has helped develop a list of better and worse firms, allowing for public pressure.

According to Goldenberg and Nishad Karim:

Public relations firms have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions – as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives.

Now a number of the top 25 global PR firms have told the Guardian they will not represent clients who deny man-made climate change, or take campaigns seeking to block regulations limiting carbon pollution. Companies include WPP, Waggener Edstrom (WE) Worldwide, Weber Shandwick, Text100, and Finn Partners.

Based on her coverage, the PR firm Edelman was pressed to make a decision about its work on climate change denial campaigns. Of course, the only answer can be the following: PR standards technically do not allow for outright misleading information (disinformation) + climate change denial is disinformation = PR firms can’t do it.

While we can’t put too much faith in PR industry standards, this is a great example of pushing an institution by using its own rhetoric.

Maybe the PR firms saw and were finally embarrassed by the John Oliver take down of climate change denying PR campaigns that pretend there’s a debate on the issue.

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Filed under Climate Change, Industrial agriculture