Friday, June 24, 2016

USPIRG: ROBERT/STABENOW SELLOUT ON #GMO LABELS UNACCEPTABLE


NEWS RELEASE  


Contact

Bill Wenzel,
U.S. PIRG

STATEMENT ON STABENOW-ROBERTS COMPROMISE ON LABELING OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS

STATEMENT OF U.S. PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP (U.S. PIRG)
STABENOW-ROBERTS COMPROMISE on LABELING OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FOODS
Contact: Bill Wenzel, Agriculture Policy Program DirectorT: (202) 461-2451 | C: (608) 444-0292
Background: Legislation providing citizens with the basic right to know whether the food they are feeding to their families contain genetically engineered (GE) ingredients has been introduced in more than 30 states with Vermont, Connecticut and Maine enacting GE labeling laws. These legislative proposals have been met with fierce opposition from the biotechnology, farm and grocery manufacturers lobbies that have spent millions to defeat legislation in the states. With the Vermont law set to become effective on July 1, 2016, those powerful special interests have turned to Congress for relief.
On March 16, 2016, the Senate refused to consider legislation introduced by Sen. Roberts (R-KS), Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, to preempt state GE legislation and impose a voluntary GE labeling standard (S.2609). The strong bi-partisan vote to defeat the Roberts’ bill, labeled the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know), was in response to the demand of millions of consumers nationwide. Subsequent to the vote, Kellogg’s, PepsiCo, General Mills, Mars, ConAgra and other large food companies joined Campbell’s Soups in announcing plans to label products containing GE ingredients.
Statement: “The message from consumers to Congress regarding the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) products and ingredients has been crystal clear from Day One – only a mandatory national standard requiring prominent, on-package labeling is acceptable in legislation preempting state GE labeling laws. QR codes, smart labels and other off-package labeling are unacceptable alternatives. Consumers who do not want GE products or ingredients should not need to have smart phones, download apps, or spend time searching the web for information that should be readily available on the product that’s in their hand when they are grocery shopping.
The compromise reached by Senators Stabenow and Roberts allows companies the option of using off-packaging labeling, which makes it harder, if not impossible, for all consumers to know whether products contain GE products and ingredients, and falls far short of our expectations for a national mandatory GE labeling standard. We oppose the Stabenow-Roberts GE labeling compromise, and urge all Senators to once again hear the voices of the 90 percent of Americans who demand nothing short of mandatory, on-package labeling of all GE products and ingredients, and vote “no” on the compromise.”

NO "DEAL", ROBERTS/STABENOW! MANDATORY #GMO LABELS ONLY!

Subject: MESSAGE I SENT TO SENATORS TODAY on the DARK ACT from Howard Vlieger
I writing to ask you to OPPOSE the Stabenow/Roberts compromise on GMO labeling. This is a TOTAL denial of our constitutional rights. What right could be more fundamental than knowing what is in our food?

GMOs have NEVER been proven safe and there is a growing body of independent scientific studies showing many reasons for concern for the health of those consuming GMOs.

Couple this with the fact that more than 80% of GMO crops are resistant to glyphosate based herbicides and glyphosate residues are showing up everywhere (grains, bread, breast milk, baby food, cereal, water systems and much more). Glyphosate is a potent antibiotic and broad spectrum chelator and is wreaking havoc in the health of animals and people around the world. Just this AM it was announced that glyphosate herbicides will NOT be registered in the EU.

We deserve to know if GMOs are in our food. More than 90% of the citizens in our country want "ON LABEL" wording if food contains ingredients of GMO crops. Do what is right for the consuming citizens of this country, NOT corporate contributors. PLEASE vote NO on the Stabenow/Roberts legislation.



Thank you!


HOWARD VLIEGER
4947 US 75 Avenue
MAURICE, IOWA 51036
712-567-4151 OFFICE
712-441-3911 CELL
studentofthesoil@gmail.com

Thursday, June 23, 2016

CONSUMERS UNION TO SENS ROBERTS & STABENOW: NO, QR CODES ON #GMO FOOD IS NOT EVEN CLOSE!

Consumers Union Opposes New Senate GMO Labeling Proposal

Experts

Director, Food Policy Initiatives​
Senior Staff Scientist


For Immediate Release: Thursday, June 23, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) announced a deal on legislation related to genetically engineered ingredients, or GMOs. The new bill would nullify state laws requiring clear, on-package labeling of food with GMOs and replace them with an ineffective national standard to be set two years from now by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Jean Halloran, director of food policy initiatives for Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, issued this statement in response:


“This deal is unacceptable to the nine out of ten Americans who support mandatory GMO labeling. Consumers deserve to know what’s in their food and to be able to make informed decisions. They have been clear that they want straightforward GMO labels that they can read and understand at a quick glance when shopping. This law would instead allow GMO disclosure to be done through scannable codes, phone numbers, or websites – making it difficult, if not impossible for the average consumer to find out what they want to know as they try to decide which kind of cereal or snack to buy.

“While we appreciate efforts by Senator Stabenow and others to seek a better bill than the one passed by the House last summer, this deal does not meet consumer needs. QR codes, 1-800 numbers, or websites aren’t a solution. The new Senate bill is just another way to allow companies to keep consumers in the dark – especially the one-third of Americans who don’t own a smartphone and those in rural areas without reliable broadband service.

Michael Hansen, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at Consumers Union, added: “The bill’s requirements, limited though they may be, do not even apply to many forms of genetically engineered food. The bill is designed to cover only food produced with traditional forms of genetic engineering, and leaves out emerging techniques like ‘gene editing,’ which was recently used to create a mushroom that doesn’t get brown. The bill also completely exempts any food where meat is the main ingredient, even if there are other ingredients that are genetically engineered.”

Halloran also said: “The Senate shouldn’t fall for food and biotech industry scare tactics. They claim that Vermont’s law will cause ‘chaos’ and lead to higher food prices. But the fact is that food companies have already started labeling – we’ve received photos of labeled GMO products from consumers across the country. The sky has not fallen, and in general, prices have not risen on GMO foods.

“If this bill is passed by the Senate, it would be a clear case of Congress acting on behalf of industry interests, rather than on those of their constituents. We urge all senators to stand up for consumers – and real disclosure – and oppose this bill.”

Consumers Union is urging consumers to call on their lawmakers to oppose congressional action that would undermine state GMO labeling laws, and to support meaningful, mandatory on-package labeling for GMO foods, including engineered animals like salmon and engineered produce and processed food. To learn more, visit ConsumersUnion.org.

***

Contact: David Butler, dbutler@consumer.org

William Wallace, william.wallace@consumer.org, 202-462-6262

COURT STANDS FOR PROTECTION OF ORGANIC FARMS FROM PESTICIDE TOXICITY

Federal Court Finds USDA Process for Allowing Pesticide-Contaminated Compost Improper and Stops Use

Washington, DC, June 21, 2016 – In a ruling that organic advocates say is critical to the integrity of the USDA organic label, a U.S. District Court judge found yesterday that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) violated public process when it decreed that pesticide-contaminated compost is allowed in organic production. Three groups that bridge environmental, consumer, and farmer interests sued USDA for ruling that green waste compost, which comes from lawn clippings and plants, may contain levels of the insecticide bifenthrin and other pesticides that have not been approved for use in organic systems through proper public hearing and comment procedures.

The case focused principally on whether USDA, in failing to conduct a formal public review, was operating “at its whim.” The court found that is exactly what USDA did and ordered the agency to stop allowing the use of contaminated compost by August 22, 2016. U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley of the Northern District of California found that USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) operated without the required notice and comment. She explained that “the reach of the Agency’s new rule stretches beyond bifenthrin and instead allows green waste or green waste compost used in organic production to contain any synthetic pesticide of which bifenthrin is just one example.” The plaintiffs in the case are Center for Environmental Health (CEH), Center for Food Safety (CFS), and Beyond Pesticides.

“The court decision upholds an organic industry that has been built on a foundation of consumer and farmer investment in ecologically sound practices, principles, and values to protect health and the environment,” said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. “USDA has violated a basic requirement of public accountability in the standard setting process, which is fundamental to public trust in the organic label and continued growth of the organic sector,” he added.

“The decision is a vital victory for organic integrity, on behalf of organic consumers, organic farmers, and the environment,” said senior CFS attorney George Kimbrell, counsel for the plaintiffs.

In 2009, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) found compost contaminated with the insecticide bifenthrin and stopped the use of three compost products.

Bifenthrin is a possible cancer causing agent, endocrine disruptor, and neurotoxic chemical. After the UDSA contamination allowance in 2010, the California prohibition was lifted.

The Organic Trade Association, California Certified Organic Farmers (a certifying agency), and Western Growers Association intervened in the case, claiming that a decision that vacates the contamination rule would cause “profound disruptions to the organic industry” and require an “astronomical. . .testing regime.” The judge responded with, “Amici’s testing argument makes no sense.” As the Judge points out, testing previous to the USDA allowance had been done “when there is reason to believe that the agricultural input or product has come into contact with a prohibited substance or has been produced using excluded methods.” Testing performed by the Washington State Department of Agriculture (which tests for pesticide contamination to comply with Canadian organic certification) found that of the 13 tested composts, five had pesticide residues, according to court records. The Judge cited testimony that other compost was found during the prohibition of contaminated compost in California and the contamination is avoidable.

Advocates argue that when registering pesticides like bifenthrin, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must be required to protect against contamination of the green waste stream because of pesticides’ adverse environmental and public health effects, as well as the adverse economic impact that contamination may have on the now $40 billion organic industry.

"We applaud the court's decision to protect the integrity of the organic program," said Caroline Cox, Research Director of CEH. "We will continue to watchdog the USDA to insure that the program meets consumers' expectations for meaningful organic standards."


Ed Maltby
NODPA Executive Director
30 Keets Road
Deerfield, MA 01342

The other side to the organic check-off: www.noorganiccheckoff.com
Please support NODPA's efforts! http://www.nodpa.com/donate.shtml

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

VERMONT COURT: SHOW US YOUR GMO "SAFETY" STUDIES! DUPONT, SYNGENTA, MONSANTO REFUSE

Vermont's GMO labelling law: DuPont, Syngenta fight disclosure of internal studies

 
The Vermont Attorney General's Office is asking a federal judge to force Syngenta and Dupont to turn over internal studies relating to GMO safety
Disclosure of the GMO industry’s safety studies might reveal some interesting findings. In any case, full disclosure should be a prerequisite of GMO approvals anywhere in the world.

Vermont's GMO labeling law: DuPont, Syngenta fight disclosure of internal studies

By Robert Audette
Brattleboro Reformer, 21 June 2016
http://www.reformer.com/latestnews/ci_30040998/vermonts-gmo-labeling-law-dupont-syngenta-fight-disclosure

The Vermont Attorney General's Office is asking a federal judge to force Syngenta Corporation and Dupont to turn over internal studies relating to the safety of genetically modified organisms.

The state is asking the manufacturers of genetically engineered seeds — such as DuPont, Syngenta, Dow, Monsanto and Bayer — to turn over any studies conducted into the health and environmental impacts of those products and the producers of foods containing GE ingredients — such as Frito-Lay, Kellog's and ConAgra — to release consumer surveys to see if these companies know what their consumers think when they see the word "natural."

In May 2014, the Vermont Legislature enacted Act 120, which requires the labeling of foods produced or partially produced with genetic engineering or containing genetically modified ingredients and prohibits the labeling of such foods as "natural."

In response to the state's request for the documents, Syngenta and Dupont claim the state's motions are untimely; the documents sought are irrelevant to the underlying litigation; and it is too burdensome to look for the documents.

"All three of these arguments are meritless," states the motion to compel. "The State served Subpoenas upon Syngenta and DuPont well before the fact discovery deadline. The Subpoenas called for the production of documents well before the fact discovery deadline. It is undisputed that the parties engaged in many written and oral negotiations regarding the proper scope of the Subpoenas, as is typical and ordinarily occurs during the fact discovery process."

One month after the approval of Act 120, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Snack Food Association, International Dairy Foods Association and National Association of Manufacturers filed suit in Vermont federal district court to prevent the enforcement of the legislation. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs contend Act 120 violates their First Amendment right to free speech, is unconstitutionally vague, violates the Dormant Commerce Clause, and is preempted by federal labeling statutes.

The industry groups are seeking an injunction to prevent Act 120 from going into effect on July 1. A hearing on the motions to compel is scheduled in Burlington today. Since the start of discovery, notes the state, the plaintiff organizations have turned over thousands of documents and additional documents have now been provided by four of the subpoenaed parties.

The motion to compel filed on June 20 against Syngenta and DuPont notes that counsel for the two companies led the state to believe the documents would be produced, but then produced nothing. While the close of discovery was Nov. 24, 2015, the state "in active negotiations with Syngenta and DuPont," worked on narrowing the scope of the document request into mid-December. "Only after that date had passed did Syngenta and DuPont take the position that they could avoid all of their legal obligations to respond to timely served Subpoenas simply by running out the clock, and that the State would then be forever barred from moving to compel," notes the motion to compel. This is an incorrect assumption, contends the state, as a motion to compel filed after the deadline for discovery is timely so long as "it seeks to compel answers and documents that were demanded during the discovery period. ... Syngenta and DuPont also fail to recognize that after the Subpoenas were issued, any alleged delays are attributable to the State engaging, as the rules of discovery require, in ongoing attempts to resolve matters without court intervention. ... The State was attempting to avoid unnecessarily burdening the courts with numerous motions to compel by first trying to resolve its disputes with the Subpoena recipients."

The subpoenas were originally served in the District of Delaware, where the companies' headquarters are located. The cases were then transferred to Vermont, where the actual lawsuit has been filed. Before the cases were transferred, Syngenta and DuPont told the Delaware court that the all the documents the state is asking for are available to the public but when challenged by the judge, admitted that only summaries are available.

Of utmost importance, contends the state, is the safety of crops that have been modified to withstand the application of herbicides and pesticides.

"Plaintiffs have put forward an expert witness who has signed a declaration claiming that 'not one credible study has found any risk from GE not already present in traditional or conventional breeding.' ... If Plaintiffs' own members have studies showing risks from GE crops, it directly undermines the primary claim that Plaintiffs are making in this lawsuit." GE-related pesticides like Roundup are used on crops genetically engineered to be "Roundup Ready," "and the safety of GE crops — including environmental impacts — is thus directly connected to the safety and environmental impacts of pesticides and herbicides for which GE crops are specifically modified."

The claim by Syngenta and DuPont that the discovery sought creates an undue burden that is not proportional to the needs of the case, is incorrect, contends the state.
"The State's motions seek only 'the results' of studies or research since 1995 on the potential health or environmental impacts of GE crops, GE food products, or herbicide and pesticide usage on commercially available GE crops. Notably, Syngenta and DuPont implicitly concede that they keep track of precisely those results, since, as Syngenta puts it, federal law imposes 'ongoing reporting obligation to (federal) agencies that would apply to any later obtained adverse data.'"

Further, the minor burden on Syngenta and DuPont is far outweighed by the importance of the issues at stake in the action and the importance of the discovery in resolving the issues.

"First, the underlying litigation involves a constitutional challenge to the first-in-the-nation GE food labeling law. This case is precedent-setting, and the stakes are high both for consumers and for manufacturers. ... Second, the specific information the State seeks will be highly relevant if it undermines the central theory of Plaintiffs' case — that there is no scientific basis for labeling GE food. Plaintiffs should not be allowed to put forward such a thesis, and, more importantly, to ask this Court to make a holding to that effect, without the State having an opportunity to test it by viewing the documents that Plaintiffs' members have thus far refused to produce."

Dupont is also asking the Federal District Court for the District of Vermont to pay its attorney's fees but, notes the motion to compel, "DuPont does not cite a single case in support of its claim that attorney's fees would be appropriate here. Nor does DuPont even bother citing the applicable standard, which states that so long as the State is "substantially justified" in filing a motion to compel, DuPont cannot obtain fees. If anything, DuPont should be paying the State's fees for having to file a motion to compel documents that DuPont should have turned over months ago."

Most recently, a motion to compel filed against Frito-Lay was dismissed after the two parties reached an agreement. In that case, the state contended attorneys for Frito-Lay also delayed in responding to discovery requests and then told the court the state's requests were untimely.

Earlier this year, Mars, Kellogg's and General Mills announced they would be joining Campbell's in labeling products made with GMO ingredients.

"Each of the companies noted that the production costs associated with crafting a label specific to the Vermont market would be prohibitive; rather than absorb these costs, the companies made the calculated decision to label their products," wrote Chris Campbell, for the Food Institute.
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

BIG AG AIN'T FEEDING THE WORLD: DIVERSE "SMALL-HOLDER" FARMS YIELD MORE, USE LESS INPUTS

Pathways of Transition to Agroecological Food Systems

A new report by leading sustainability experts has reaffirmed the case for a paradigm shift from industrial agriculture to diversified agroecological systems – fundamental to which is a call for redistributing power back into the hands of those who feed the world.  

Published on
by
"The call for sharing is central to this alternative vision of a new paradigm in global agriculture that is designed in the interests of people and the environment, rather than the profit-making imperatives of multinational corporations," the author writes. 
An alternative vision of farming and food systems has long been upheld by civil society groups and small-scale producers around the world, based on the science of agroecology and the broader framework of food sovereignty. But while many reports and studies have shown how less intensive, diversified and sustainable farming methods can have far better outcomes than today’s corporate-dominated model of industrial agriculture, the question remains as to how we can make the shift towards agroecological systems on a global scale.
new report by The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) has therefore attempted to fill a gap in these research findings, mapping out the common leverage points for unleashing such a radical transition. Led by the former UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, a group of 20 leading agronomists and sustainability experts conclude that modern agriculture is failing to sustain the people and resources on which it relies, and has “come to represent an existential threat to itself”.
The first section of the report cites the overwhelming evidence in favour of a major transformation of our food systems, from the environmental and socio-economic issues to the question of global food supplies, which the authors crucially argue will not be greatly affected by moving away from industrial agriculture. The report strongly contends that what’s needed is not a “tweaking” of monocultural production systems or “incremental shifts” towards more sustainable farming practices, but a fundamental paradigm shift that addresses the underlying dynamics and power relations that are at the root of the agricultural crisis.
However, the scale of the challenge is clear in the report’s second section, which outlines the vicious circles and “lock-ins” that keep industrial agriculture in place, regardless of its negative outcomes. Some of these factors relate to the political structures governing food systems, such as the web of interlocking market and political incentives that are tailored to large-scale farming, and the increasing orientation of agriculture to international trade. The report also looks at other conceptual barriers and framing issues that serve to lock in the technology-oriented, highly specialised model of farming that is based on “compartmentalised” and short-term thinking within the political and business communities.
Feeding the world?
Of particular significance is what the authors term “feed the world” narratives that continue to inform public policy, based on a narrow vision of food security understood in terms of delivering sufficient net calories at the global level. These productivity-focused narratives tend to ignore the fact that hunger is fundamentally a distributional question tied to poverty, social exclusion and other factors that prevent sufficient access to food, as emphasised by statistics from the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organisation. Impressive productivity gains in industrial systems have clearly not translated into global food security by any measure, with 795 million estimated to be suffering from hunger in 2015, and 2 billion people afflicted by the “hidden hunger” of micronutrient deficiencies.
Furthermore, narratives about “feeding the world” through increased net production levels also serve to deflect attention away from the failings of industrial agriculture, thus reinforcing the dominant paradigm. In this light, the report cites the initiative called the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa” (NAFSN) that was launched by G8 countries in 2012 with the noble aim of improving the lives of smallholder farmers and lifting 50 million out of poverty by 2050. By focusing on integrating smallholders into agribusiness-led global supply chains through outgrower schemes, the NAFSN initiative ignores the power imbalances and livelihood stresses that are often exacerbated in these types of arrangements. It also overlooks the severe environmental impacts of industrial agriculture, and the unrealised potential of diversified agroecological systems to deliver a sustainable pathway to global food security.
The underlying problem is the concentration of power in food systems, which the report describes as a “lock-in of a different nature” that reinforces all of the other lock-ins. A small number of dominant agribusiness firms control the majority of chemical fertilizer supplies, pesticides and input-responsive seeds, for example, while power is highly concentrated at every node of the commercial food chain – in commodity export circuits, the global trade in grain, and through supermarkets and other large-scale retailers. These dominant actors are able to use their power to reinforce the prevailing dynamics that favour food systems geared to uniform crop commodities and massive export-oriented trade. Through lobbying policymakers, influencing research and development focuses, and even by co-opting alternatives - such as organic agriculture - these vested interests are able to perpetuate the self-reinforcing power imbalances in industrial food systems.
Resistance to change
Herein lies the crux of the issue for putting agroecology at the forefront of the global political agenda: the mismatch between its potential to improve food system outcomes, and its potential to generate profits for agribusiness:
“A wholesale transition to diversified agroecological food and farming systems does not hold obvious economic interest for the actors to whom power and influence have previously accrued. The alternative model requires fewer external inputs, most of which are locally and/or self-produced. Furthermore, in order to deliver the resilience so central to diversified systems, a wide variety of highly locally-adapted seeds is needed, alongside the ability to reproduce, share and access that base of genetic resources over time. This suggests a much-reduced role for input-responsive varieties of major cereal crops, and therefore few incentives for commercial providers of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. The global trade and processing industry is also a major potential source of resistance to change, given that alternative models tend to favour local production and short value chains that reduce the number of intermediaries.”
Questioning whether the balance can be shifted in favour of diversified agroecological systems, the report goes on to identify several opportunities for change that are emerging through the cracks of the existing models of industrial agriculture. This includes the policy incentives enacted by some governments to shift their food systems towards more ecologically sustainable means of farming, such as the oft-cited example of Cuba that has been compelled to shift away from chemical input-intensive commodity monocropping since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Alongside the marked rise in public and academic awareness in favour of agroecology over recent years, as well as a surge in many grassroots schemes and initiatives that embody agroecological principles (i.e. farmers markets, community supported agriculture, direct sales shops and other new market relationships that bypass conventional retail circuits), also of note is the positive developments in the global governance agenda. There are now many examples of new intergovernmental processes and assessments that are responding to the case for a wholesale food systems transition. In particular, the first International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition was held in 2014, with a further symposium to be held in China in August this year, followed by a regional meeting in Hungary towards the end of 2016. In 2009, the findings of theInternational Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) also gave the strongest support to the development of agroecological science and practice, presenting policymakers with an effective blueprint to confront today’s global food crisis.
But as the IPES-Food report concludes, these new opportunities are not developing nearly fast enough. Farming systems now stand at a crossroads, and there is a great danger that the current reinvestment in agriculture in the global South will replicate the pathways of industrialisation followed in wealthy countries. However, the author’s recommended “pathways of transition” are not overly inspiring given the convincing case for change presented in the earlier evidence sections of the report. There may also be nothing new for progressive scholars or food justice campaigners in the outline of new political priorities that must be urgently established by governments, no matter how important these policy shifts remain – such as the promotion of shorter supply chains and alternatives to mass retail outlets, and the ultimate relinquishing of all public support from monocultural production systems.
Redistributing power downwards
More compelling is the report’s acknowledgement that the distribution of power is crucial to the transition towards diversified agricultural systems, and hence the key to change is the establishment of new political priorities that can, over time, redistribute power in the global food system away from the dominant actors. That is, of course, an immense challenge that cannot succeed without the strengthening of social movements, from the many indigenous and community-based organisations that advocate for agroecological practices, to the diverse coalitions and civil society groups from the global North and South that embrace the food sovereignty paradigm. The fact that the report acknowledges the importance of these grassroots, bottom-up, farmer- and consumer-led initiatives makes it a potential tool for activists to use in the ongoing struggle for a just and sustainable food system.
From STWR’s perspective, the call for sharing is central to this alternative vision of a new paradigm in global agriculture that is designed in the interests of people and the environment, rather than the profit-making imperatives of multinational corporations. For example, as the historic Nyéléni Declaration on Agroecologyasserts in its statement of common principles from February last year, collective rights and the sharing of access to the commons is a fundamental pillar of agroecology, which is as much a political movement as a science of sustainable farming. It is fundamentally about challenging and transforming structures of power in society, and placing the control of the food supply – the seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons – back into the hands of the peoples who feed the world, the vast majority of whom are small-scale producers.
If governments are to finally accept their responsibility to guarantee access to safe, nutritious food for all the world’s people, there is now a clearly established roadmap of the policies needed to democratise and localise food economies in line with the principles of sharing and cooperation. The IPES-Food report has provided another valuable assessment and set of recommendations that strengthens the case for a global transition towards food systems that diversify production and nurture the environment in holistic ways, rebuilding biodiversity and rehabilitating degraded land. The core of the challenge is not a lack of evidence, as the report authors have again made clear; it is the ideological support for an outmoded model of agriculture that continues to generate huge profits for the few, at the expense of long-term healthy agro-ecosystems and secure livelihoods.
Adam Parsons
Adam Parsons is the editor at Share The World's Resources, (STWR), a London-based civil society organization campaigning for a fairer sharing of wealth, power and resources within and between nations. He can be contacted atadam@sharing.org

Friday, June 10, 2016

EU SAY NO TO GLYPHOSATE ROUNDUP RENEWA: NOW ON TO THE US

Glyphosate -- Crushed it!!



(06 June, 2016) 

Europe just took an extraordinary vote, refusing to grant Monsanto a license for its main product and cornerstone of its empire - the cancer-linked weed killer glyphosate. 

Monsanto thought renewal of glyphosate was a done deal. But now, after over 2 million of us joined the biggest global petition against glyphosate ever and massive targeted public pressure, the future of the Monsanto model is more in question than ever before. 

Together we forced this from a formality for a new 15-year license into a heated political debate that ended up as a vote on an 18-month emergency extension. This week, European nations rejected even that. 

Leading EU parliamentarian Pavel Poc just said: “Avaaz is indisputably the driving force of the fight for glyphosate discontinuance."Here’s what we have done together to make what seemed impossible, possible: 

Creating the Opportunity

  • Avaaz staff met with the office of the Commissioner for Health and Food Safety last year and secured a crucial promise that the UN study, that found glyphosate probably causes cancer, would be included in Europe’s decision-making. Last week the Commissioner's top advisor said our push had played an important part in the debate.
  • Over a hundred thousand European Avaazers sent messages or made calls to their governments. We showed up every time it’s been debated in Brussels, ensuring that support collapsed, and the vote was suspended twice!
  • Throughout the last year we’ve been all over European media showing massive public rejection of glyphosate. Check out the media hits in The Guardian and Reuters!

Going National - Winning Champions One by One

  • Avaazers bolstered the champion, France, with massive public support. Avaaz staff delivered our petition and positive voices to the Environment Minister's staff and restored their hope that a different future is possible.
  • Avaazers flooded German Ministries with calls and messages for months. Staff in the German Chancellery said that there were so many that Chancellor Merkel was being kept in the loop.
  • After a huge push by Avaazers and 44 other major Italian NGOs, Italy flipped from supporting the plan to voting for precaution. The Agriculture Minister’s Head of Cabinet even called Avaaz staff at night to say they’ve never been under this kind of pressure before, and were hearing our calls.
  • Avaazers from Austria, Greece, Portugal, and Sweden rallied in massive numbers to influence decision-makers, forcing them to stand strong. And in the last week messages from across the planet have shown them this is of global concern.

Winning the Vote

  • Avaaz staff addressed members of the European Parliament delivering our voices before they voted to end non-professional glyphosate use and to cut the licensing period from 15 to 7 years.
  • Then Avaazers came together for a public action before the May vote in Brussels and our action was covered in key media. Afterwards, the proposal was reduced to 18 months.
  • Avaaz staff spoke with government ministers and top advisors to deliver all of our messages to key European countries. Six of the seven key countries we lobbied abstained in the final vote!


Avaaz action in Brussels on the day of the Standing Committee meeting.


When it came down to the final vote, all our work paid off - leaders representing half the EU population refused to authorise glyphosate, even for the trimmed down 18-month proposal we had helped reduce the license to! 

All of this effort was funded by over 86,000 Avaazers worldwide who donated generously to make this campaign mega. 

Throughout this fight, Avaaz was joined by great allies and partners who played invaluable roles. Our view is only partial, but here’s our top list to express gratitude to: 
  • The Socialists and Democrats, and Green parties in the EU Parliament were crucial in this fight. Particularly Bart Staes and Pavel Poc who were instrumental.
  • French Environment Minister Ségolène Royal, who was a central leader in this fight.
  • Pesticide Action Network, a great coalition of national action networks that has long campaigned on glyphosate and provided great advice and insight to Avaaz.
  • Greenpeace, always a wonderful force on these issues, which did a lot of lobbying and media work on glyphosate.
  • Campact ran a brilliant campaign in Germany, and matched massive open letters, polling and bird-dogging to play a key role in flipping the German government on glyphosate.
  • And many others! Like HEAL, WeMove.eu, Global 2000, and a great coalition of Italian NGOs on this.


Avaaz petition delivered at EU Parliament


When we launched this campaign a year ago we were told there was no way we could win. This week’s vote is a key victory for our community’s tenacity, for the people of Europe, for independent science, and it is a crucial step towards our whole world's food future! 

Without the support of EU governments, the Commission should act with precaution. Even if it renews glyphosate's license for 18 months pending further science, we will keep fighting to ensure the review is independent. 

While the battle to get glyphosate out of our parks, playgrounds and fields is far from over, this powerful step takes us closer, and our movement has played a key role in it. For the sake of our health and our planet, let’s keep up the fight until we win.