Friday, January 28, 2011


Monsanto’s latest farmwashing ad campaign debuts 

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Now that the Supreme Court has declared that corporations are people, too (happy birthday, Citizens United!), Monsanto is apparently out to put a friendly, slightly weather-beaten, gently grizzled face on industrial agriculture. The above ad (the lefthand one) is part of a campaign currently appearing in bus shelters in D.C., including just outside USDA headquarters, among other places. The link,, forwards to a Monsanto page.
This guy looks an awful lot like Henry Fonda playing Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, which seems only fitting since Agribiz may be helping to create a 21st century Dust Bowl.
After decades of boasting about how fossil-fuel-intensive industrial agriculture has made it possible for far fewer farmers to produce way more food, Monsanto is now championing the power of farming to create jobs and preserve land. Does this attempt by a biotechnology behemoth to wrap itself in a populist plaid flannel shirt give you the warm and fuzzies, or just burn you up?
Marion NestleI checked in with Marion Nestle, NYU professor of nutrition and author of the good-food handbooks What to Eat and Food Politics, and most recently Safe Food: The Politics of Food Safety (University of California Press, 2010), for her take on the campaign.
Nestle: This is not a new strategy for Monsanto. Half of my book Safe Food is devoted to the politics of food biotechnology. I illustrated it with a Monsanto advertisement (Figure 17, page 182). The caption may amuse you:
In 2001, the biotechnology industry's public relations campaign featured the equivalent of the Marlboro Man. Rather than cigarettes, however, this advertisement promotes the industry's view of the ecological advantages of transgenic crops (reduced pesticide use, soil conservation), and consequent benefits to society (farm preservation). In 2002, a series of elegant photographs promoted the benefits of genetically modified corn, soybeans, cotton, and papaya.
Last year, Monsanto placed ads that took its "we're for farmers" stance to another level:
9 billion people to feed. A changing climate. NOW WHAT? Producing more. Conserving more. Improving farmers' lives. That's sustainable agriculture. And that's what Monsanto is all about.
That's sustainable agriculture? I'll bet you didn't know that. Now take a look at the Monsanto website -- really, you can't make this stuff up:
If there were one word to explain what Monsanto is about, it would have to be farmers. Billions of people depend upon what farmers do. And so will billions more. In the next few decades, farmers will have to grow as much food as they have in the past 10,000 years -- combined.
It is our purpose to work alongside farmers to do exactly that.
To produce more food.
To produce more with less, conserving resources like soil and water.
And to improve lives.
We do this by selling seeds, traits developed through biotechnology, and crop protection chemicals.
Face it. We have two agricultural systems in this country, both claiming to be good for farmers and both claiming to be sustainable. One focuses on local, seasonal, organic, and sustainable in the sense of replenishing what gets taken out of the soil. The other is Monsanto's, for which "sustainable" means selling seeds (and not letting farmers save them), patenting traits developed through biotechnology, and selling crop protection chemicals.
This is about who gets to control the food supply and who gets to choose. Too bad the Monsanto ads don't explain that.
A version of this appeared on Huffington Post


New Agricultural Agreement in Argentina: A Land Grabber’s 'Instruction Manual'

What are the implications when one of China's most powerful agribusiness firms starts acquiring thousands of hectares of land in the Province of Rio Negro, Argentina for the production of soyabeans, wheat, and oilseed rape to ship back to China? What are the consequences for the local communities that live in the region who were never consulted about these investments and commercial agreements? Why is the government paving the way for these deals, with all sorts of privileges promised to the Chinese investors, and not considering the implications for the region's food sovereignty?
[Once again we see the same situation as in the majority of land grabs: governments cave in to the demands of other countries or companies to occupy our land without fair compensation. No community consultation, no impact assessment: the people's interests are simply disregarded and trod upon.]Once again we see the same situation as in the majority of land grabs: governments cave in to the demands of other countries or companies to occupy our land without fair compensation. No community consultation, no impact assessment: the people's interests are simply disregarded and trod upon.
An instruction manual: That's the way Argentine civil society organisations such as Foro Permanente por una Vida Digna, a community organisation based in the city of Viedma in Río Negro province, are describing an agreement signed by the provincial governor during his recent trip to China. 1 The agreement hands over thousands of hectares to Beidahuang, a Chinese state-owned corporation, for production of soybeans, wheat, and oilseed rape, among other crops. The land will be leased so that the firm can install irrigation systems. Initially, Beidahuang will invest $20 million to irrigate and grow crops on 3000 ha. But the project aims to reach a total investment of $1.45 billion over twenty years and to cover 320,000 ha. Simply put, Beidahuang is trying to get its hands on a twenty-year food supply.
What is Beidahuang?
Beidahuang Group is a conglomerate of state-owned agribusinesses based in Harbin, province of Heilongjiang. It is one of China's largest rice millers and, through its subsidiary Jiusan Oil and Grain Group, one of the five largest soy processors.
According to the company's website, it owns nearly 5.5 million hectares (12% of the total area of Heilongjiang province), 418,094 head of beef cattle, 267,266 dairy cows, 1,315,000 breeding sows, 2,062,000 goats, and 6,352,000 head of poultry. It also owns 54 airports and 30 agricultural aircraft, 198 grain processing centres, 59 seed processing facilities, and 24,151 tractors.
Beidahuang is one of the few domestic soy processing companies in China that survived the country's entry into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001, when the government relinquished price controls on soybeans and imports. China became the world's largest soybean importer, and the country's domestic soy processing industry was taken over by the corporations that control world trade in soybeans: Wilmar, Cargill, ADM, Bunge, and Louis Dreyfus. Foreign companies now hold a stake in 64 of the 97 largest Chinese soy processors and control 80% of the country's total soy processing capacity.
The powerful Beidahuang Group has itself considered an alliance with foreign companies. However, the company's CEO, Tian Renli, made it clear that such an alliance would be premised on maintaining a Chinese controlling stake in the company, and that no "unfair additional terms" imposed by foreign enterprises would be accepted. In 2009 he told the Economic Observer (China) that if foreign companies disagree with him on this, he would rather build a global sales and purchasing network by himself, and complete the company's internationalisation process independently.
This appears to be the alternative for which the company has now opted. The agreement to produce soybeans in Argentina is not the only one of its kind. In 2008, Beidahuang reported that it had signed agreements with the Philippine government to develop 200,000 ha of rice, corn, and other crops in the province of Luzon. The current status of these agreements is unknown.

The global land grab took off as a new phenomenon in 2007-08 when food-importing governments and profit-seeking companies began to buy up or lease vast areas of farmland in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This new land grab differs from historical examples of the phenomenon in terms of its broader scope and stampede-like pace; its use of the land to grow staples rather than luxury crops; the fact that it is led by the private sector (though governments have a supporting role), and, most important, the fact that it has nothing to do with development. It is a matter of expanding and consolidating agribusiness control, nothing more.
The Río Negro provincial government has touted this project as a "food production agreement" and as an investment in irrigation for the province's lower valley. It says this is a necessity given the national government's refusal to fund irrigation infrastructure. 2 But in reality, the agreement is just a land giveaway for industrial soy production. The Chinese state-owned company gets a long list of unconditional benefits for free.
It's important to realize that when the agreement was finally made public at the end of 2010, it had already been signed. The substance of the talks with the Chinese government was kept secret for over a year after the opening of the talks were announced.
The cooperation agreement is composed of two sub-agreements: one for the agrifood investment project, and one covering the submission of an investment proposal to build a new terminal in the port area of San Antonio Oeste. There is also a schedule to the agreement whose purpose is to expedite the "cooperation timeline."
The "instruction manual" contains a set of clauses entrenching a business model that maximises the company's profits and leaves it free of liability. Some of the detailed aspects of the deal are:
  • Investment guarantees: The Río Negro government offers "the best investment policy, including legislated guarantees."
  • Establishment in Río Negro: The provincial government undertakes to provide office space at no cost whatsoever as well as housing in "the domicile of the provincial government." It also offers transportation and office equipment.
  • Free "viability studies": The Río Negro government undertakes to defray all costs related to "investment viability" studies. These comprise "the investment environment, available resources, investment policy, and economic benefits."
  • Free land: To begin, the government will provide 3000 ha "at no charge" for experimental high-yield cropping. Also to be made available immediately are 20,000 ha of "idle land equipped with irrigation channels in the region under the governance of Idevi [Instituto de Desarrollo del Valle Inferior del Rio Negro, a government agency responsible for development of the lower valley]." The great giveaway continues with the provision of information on 234,000 ha in various valleys of the province (Colonia Josefa, Negro Muerto, Guardia Mitre, Margen Norte, and La Japonesa on the Río Colorado) for future exploitation.
  • Tax exemptions: The Río Negro government will make all the necessary arrangements so that it can apply rules "exempting [the company] from all provincial income taxes and other taxes or charges, such as on gross revenues, stamps, patent fees, etc." At the same time, the government undertakes to apply to the national government for the company's investments to be exempted from "reserve requirements."
  • Technical support: The Río Negro government assures Beidahuang the cooperation of all the technicians working for its water authority, and will make available all previous engineering studies and other preliminary work done on developing the port project.
  • Use of the port: Until such time as the future port covered by the agreement is built, the Río Negro government offers part of the San Antonio Este port zone free of charge, and will allot 5 ha for the company's use. Here the wording is unclear, and the obligation to build the new port itself appears to rest with the company.
It is important to remember that Beidahuang is not even registered in the province, and, until that situation changes, "Strong Energy," an unknown firm, will act as its representative. 3
Once again we see the same situation as in the majority of land grabs: governments cave in to the demands of other countries or companies to occupy our land without fair compensation. No community consultation, no impact assessment: the people's interests are simply disregarded and trod upon.
And of course, when the company departs after twenty years (the term of the concession, although the port is being given away for fifty years, automatically renewable for another fifty), the land to be inherited by future generations will be degraded and depopulated. Such is the provincial government's unequivocal commitment to our descendants.
The lower Río Negro valley
The Río Negro is an Argentinean watercourse flowing southeast to the Argentine Sea. The watershed is divided into upper, middle, and lower portions, this last being the one located closest to the mouth of the river. At that point the river enters a flat plain where it meanders, creating a maze of channels (some of them now dry) before reaching the ocean.
All this land was under the control of the original peoples (the Mapuche) until 1879, when the genocide known as the "Conquest of the Desert" entered its final phase. That was when this land began to be occupied by an export-oriented model of agriculture under the impetus of the governing elite of Argentina, known from that time on as the "Generation of ‘80."
One factor that changed the entire agricultural profile of the valley was the construction of irrigation systems. The first channels were built in 1884, allowing for eventual conversion of the upper valley into an export-oriented fruit and vegetable production zone (apples, pears, and grapes are some of the main crops). This infrastructure was not built in the lower valley, and that is the provincial government's official excuse for the current agreement with China.
In the face of such a provocation, the people of Río Negro are not sitting quietly. Students, environmental organisations, unions, church groups, and others are joining in what has now become a worldwide clamour: NO to land grabs! YES to land for peasants, native peoples, workers, and small farmers! YES to food sovereignty!
Environmental experts in the province have denounced the project as a form of "ecocide". They have raised the alarm in regard to the high environmental and health impacts that can be expected in an area characterised by low natural precipitation (200 mm annually) and extremely limited water availability. They also point to irregularities in the Province's zoning of native forests (National Forests Law no. 26.331), which make it possible for the project to go ahead. 4 
Prior to the signing of the agreement, the environmental organisation Piuke de Bariloche stated that "decisions over what will be produced on our lands will be subject to the needs of the country making the infrastructure investment. No alternative to the foreign take-over ("extranjerización") of our agricultural production is being contemplated. China needs soybeans? Then soybeans will be planted. This policy flies in the face of our food sovereignty. It's not even so much the market that's deciding what we will produce: it's China, a powerful and growing global actor."
China's role in the land grab
China is ostensibly self-sufficient in food, but its population is gigantic, its farmland is disappearing under the encroachment of industry, its water supply is under intense pressure, and the Communist Party has a long-term future to think about. With 40% of the world's farmers but only 9% of its farmland, China has understandably made food security one of the main points on its agenda. And with over $1.8 trillion in currency reserves, China has enough money to invest in its own food security overseas. As numerous Southeast Asian peasant leaders and activists are well aware, Beijing has been gradually offshoring its food production since before the eruption of the world food crisis in 2007. China's new geopolitical diplomacy and its aggressive foreign investment strategy have led, in recent years, to some thirty agricultural cooperation treaties giving Chinese companies access to farmland in "friendly countries" in exchange for technology, training, and infrastructure funding. This is happening not only in Asia but all over Africa, with a number of highly diverse and complex projects. From Kazakhstan to Queensland and from Mozambique to the Philippines, a systematic and well-described process is taking place whereby Chinese companies lease or purchase land, set up large agricultural establishments, and send their farmers, scientists, and extension workers there to produce crops. The largest part of Chinese offshore agriculture is dedicated to producing rice, soybeans, and corn along with agrofuel crops such as sugarcane, manioc (cassava), and sorghum.
In essence, the Chinese land grab strategy is conservative: the government is using financial mechanisms to protect its investments and maximize its domestic food supply options in the long term. The pressures caused by the loss of farmland and fresh water supplies in China are so great that "China has no option but to go abroad," says one member of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Food, side by side with energy and minerals, is occupying an increasingly prominent place in China's overall foreign investment strategy. 5  
Rural Grupo de Reflexión Rural, an Argentine civil society group that analyzes agricultural policy and proposes alternatives, also denounced the agreement, stating that "unconditional set-asides of land for China to produce Roundup Ready soy represent an immeasurably greater risk than the impacts of large-scale chemical agriculture itself. If this project goes ahead, an enclave would be formed in Patagonia on a scale similar to what China and several European countries are doing in Africa; namely, they are buying up and taking vast areas of land out of circulation to meet their own food and forage production demands." 6
Students have reacted with equal vehemence. Asociación Biológica del Comahue, a member group of the Argentine Federation of Biology Students, along with more than 450 students from the 12 provinces in attendance at the Ninth National Biology and Environmental Science Students Fair in the city of Bariloche (8-12 October 2010), unconditionally rejected the agreement on the grounds that it furthers the invasion of Argentina by transgenic soybeans, as well as causing grave environmental and health impacts for the local communities as a result of massive glyphosate spraying. 7 Likewise, high school students in the cities of Viedma and Patagones stated, "The high school students of our cities oppose the ‘soy megaproject' slated to be carried out in the middle and lower Río Negro valleys. This project unscrupulously hands over 320,000 ha of our provincial and national heritage to foreign invaders, threatening to destroy its productive value." 8
A group of residents consisting of members of community organisations, teachers, students, and ex-students of Escuela Secundaria de Formación Agraria, an agricultural high school, along with members of the Foro Permanente por una Vida Digna, the Consejo Asesor Indígena (CAI) Viedma, the Centro Universitario Regional Zona Atlántica (CURZA), and various political parties met in the month of December 2010 and issued the following statement: 9
"We firmly reject the ‘Framework Agreement' recently signed by the current executive of the province of Río Negro with Chinese companies and/or the Chinese government, which allows for the use of vast areas of the lower and middle Río Negro valley by Chinese companies to grow transgenic soybeans. The agreement was not even made public in Spanish."
The Mapuche people, too, publicly rejected the agreement and are contemplating legal action: "The idea is to start by filing an amparo [constitutional relief] action in court to try to stop this, since in none of these cases were any of the rights of the original peoples taken into account, much less the right to free prior informed consent. This right is enshrined in ILO Convention 169, which Argentina has ratified (Law 24.071). So the idea is to begin by asserting this right since, though it has not yet been given full legal protection, we think that it's already possible to start filing amparos." 10
Another voice speaking up is that of the provincial Pastoral Care Ministry of the Catholic Church, which expressed disapproval of the "leasing of public or private lands, whether to large organisers of contract agriculture (pools de siembra), be they Argentine or foreign, or to provinces of a country like China." The Ministry added that "soy and other industrial crops will not be welcomed under the conditions created by this agreement, which clearly jeopardises the future of Río Negro residents." 11
Foro Permanente por una Vida Digna has launched a campaign under the banner "NO SOYA, NO CHINA: land and food sovereignty for Argentina." The organisation states, "We oppose the agricultural export megaproject being carried out by the national and provincial governments, which jeopardises 320,000 ha of land and nature in our province by handing it over to the Republic of China to do with it as it sees fit. This violates our sovereign laws, posits a future of farming without farmers, and contaminates us with pesticides. It is a project that does great harm to this generation and the ones to come." (To join this campaign, write to Foro Permanente por una Vida Digna at
Governor Saiz has turned a deaf ear to all these objections: he signed the agreement and is proceeding to put it into action. But organised opponents of the agreement are saying clearly and publicly that the last word has yet to be spoken.
11          Soja: China y Río Negro hacen acuerdo ilegal, 15-10-2010
2          Accatino confirma el plan, molesto con los críticos, 13-10-2010
3           Se vienen los Chinos , 31-1-2010
4        Ecocidio en la Provincia de Río Negro. En el año internacional de la biodiversidad.
5        Seized: The 2008 Landgrab for Food and Financial Security. GRAIN, October 2008,
6        ¡Se Colonias del Siglo XXI: alimentos, especulación y arrebato territorial
7        Río Negro: profesionales y estudiantes de Biología rechazan la producción de soja en la provincia
8        Manifiesto de estudiantes secundarios del Viedma y Patagones, 20-11-2010,
9        Argentina: declaración en contra del cultivo de soja transgénica y del modelo herbicida de glifosato, diciembre 2010, Contenido/Documentos/ Argentina_declaracion_en_contra_del_cultivo_de_soja_ transgenica_y_del_modelo_ herbicida_de_glifosato
11       Argentina: La iglesia rionegrina planteó sus críticas al proyecto de sojización con China,  25-12-.2010,

Thursday, January 27, 2011


The 'Organised Irresponsibility' of GM corporations and a new generation of GM activism

Corporate Watch, January 19 2011
Genetically Modified (GM) crops are on the rise within the EU. In the UK, the coalition government have declared an intention to be the most pro-GM government this country has ever seen. Corporate Watch reported on the implications of these EU level changes in 2010. Here we present Organised Irresponsibility a new pamphlet on GM in Germany, and some information on past and present anti-GM organising in the UK.

In July 2010 the European commission (EC) approved changes to GM cultivation regulations by allowing national governments to decide whether or not to permit GM cultivation within their borders. For the last 12 years there has been a virtual freeze on GM farming throughout the EU. The changes are being justified with the argument that it will make it easier for states to ban GM crops on their own soil, even if this will happen in exchange for less power over what other states decide to do, meaning easier authorisation for GM at the EU level overall. GM crops can now in theory be banned in individual states on the grounds of prevention of contamination, but it may take up to two years for prevention on non-scientific grounds to be implemented due to legislative processes.

There is a history of successful resistance to GM in the UK, which Corporate Watch was heavily involved with. Activists are now preparing for the next phase of corporate and governmental attempts to enforce GM.

A brief history of resistance to GM in the UK

Since the mid 1990s, Britain has seen effective and sustained campaigns of non-violent direct action against GM crops. This has ranged from crop pulling to office occupations to supermarket blockades, and involved a remarkably wide range of people. With widespread public support, campaigners succeeded in significantly holding up the introduction of GM crops and GM foods into Britain.

In 1996 a handful of multinational corporations planned to flood the UK with GM crops. The corporations did not expect any opposition, and it seemed like they would be successful in introducing unlabelled GM soya and maize products into supermarkets, increasing GM crop trials, and initiating the commercial growing of GM crops. However, by 1998 the GM industry was suffering due to general public outrage and widespread rejection of GM crops. Protests, letter-writing, supermarket actions, lobbying, and information events erupted all over the country, but GM products were still being imported into the country and openly grown in fields. At this point, people decided to take non-violent direct action (NVDA) to remove GM crops from fields by physically pulling them up.

The first 'crop-pulling' direct actions took place in 1998, and in the years from 1999-2000 37 different GM trials were damaged or destroyed. The GM industry wanted to avoid bad PR, which meant the majority of cases never came to court. A combination of widespread public opposition and direct action has meant that over the last decade the GM industry has remained on the backfoot in the UK. However, with the recent changes at EU level, it may once again become possible for a corporate onslaught.

A more detailed history and further information is available at Stop GM.

A GM case study in Germany: organised irresponsibility

Germany has also seen a successful anti-GM movement. However, recent repression reveals that the EU has well-founded concerns about widespread opposition to GM. The authors of a recent pamphlet - Organised Irresponsibility about the revolving doors between the GM industry and the German government - are being taken to court and the distribution of the pamphlet has been banned by the German state. Inge Broer, a GM researcher and manager of the organisation FINAB, which arranges GM experiments in Germany, labelled Organised Irresponsibility a "booklet full of fabrications".

Corporate Watch and others have translated Organised Irresponsibility, which can be downloaded from the Corporate Watch website.

The Organised Irresponsibility pamphlet explains the complex inter-relationships between GM corporations, government departments and other institutions and networks of people in Germany. Manifestations of corruption, revolving doors and 'old boys networks' can be seen to be occurring on a massive scale, but there are also many other mechanisms employed to ensure that the GM industry is maintained and able to expand. Fake pro-GM demonstrations have been staged with paid 'protesters', and front organisations with pro-environment sounding names set up for particular functions of industrial expansion, such as pushing a particular GMO through the legal framework. These organisations then serve to entrench the inter-connections between all the groups: lobbyists, corporations, government departments, and powerful individuals who fund scientific research.

The Organised Irresponsibility pamphlet details many individual instances of institutional power dynamics and profiles key individuals active in Germany. Yet, the case of the German state and GM in recent years sheds light on similar situations unfolding in other European countries as the GM 'debate' returns following changes at the EU level. This is especially useful at the moment, because it is likely that the methods by which new technologies will be introduced and by which older technologies will be re-introduced will be more complex than when GM was first attempted in Europe. Understanding how these processes work means people will be better equipped to respond to so-called technological 'advances' on a structural level.

GM resistance in 2011

Activists are responding to the renewed threat of GM in the UK. A gathering has been organised for Saturday 22nd January in London to update on the situation in the UK, and to plan strategy and actions. Here is the event call out:

You are warmly invited to join other activists and researchers for an anti-GM update and strategy session in London on Saturday 22nd January 2011. This day long national gathering will bring together a wide range of people campaigning on GM related issues, from climate activists to NGO representatives, community food growers to beekeepers.

This is the perfect opportunity to get up to speed with the latest in GM developments, and explore how you and your organisation can be part of the UK’s emerging radical land and food movement. The day starts off with briefing sessions designed to give you clear data and an authoritative context on issues that are likely to be stories in 2011. UN experts on agro ecology will also be presenting research into alternatives.

The afternoon will focus on sharing and developing campaign ideas and networking. This will include a strategic discussion on how we can effectively counter misinformation and lobbying, as well evolving new and existing campaigns.

GM: Gathering Momentum is organised by Stop GM in conjunction with the Genetic Engineering Network. The free event will be hosted in London from 10 - 6pm, and lunch will be provided.

Please contact us for a detailed programme and registration form:

For more information see:


The Organic Elite Surrenders to Monsanto: What Now?

"The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well. True coexistence is a must."   -  Whole Foods Market, Jan. 21, 2011

In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto's Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation's 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America's organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, and Stonyfield Farm, has decided it's time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto's controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for "coexistence" with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.

In a cleverly worded, but profoundly misleading email sent to its customers last week, Whole Foods Market, while proclaiming their support for organics and "seed purity," gave the green light to USDA bureaucrats to approve the "conditional deregulation" of Monsanto's genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant alfalfa.  Beyond the regulatory euphemism of "conditional deregulation," this means that WFM and their colleagues are willing to go along with the massive planting of a chemical and energy-intensive GE perennial crop, alfalfa; guaranteed to spread its mutant genes and seeds across the nation; guaranteed to contaminate the alfalfa fed to organic animals; guaranteed to lead to massive poisoning of farm workers and destruction of the essential soil food web by the toxic herbicide, Roundup; and guaranteed to produce Roundup-resistant superweeds that will require even more deadly herbicides such as 2,4 D to be sprayed on millions of acres of alfalfa across the U.S.

In exchange for allowing Monsanto's premeditated pollution of the alfalfa gene pool, WFM wants "compensation." In exchange for a new assault on farmworkers and rural communities (a recent large-scale Swedish study found that spraying Roundup doubles farm workers' and rural residents' risk of getting cancer), WFM expects the pro-biotech USDA to begin to regulate rather than cheerlead for Monsanto. In payment for a new broad spectrum attack on the soil's crucial ability to provide nutrition for food crops and to sequester dangerous greenhouse gases (recent studies show that Roundup devastates essential soil microorganisms that provide plant nutrition and sequester climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases), WFM wants the Biotech Bully of St. Louis to agree to pay "compensation" (i.e. hush money) to farmers "for any losses related to the contamination of his crop."

In its email of Jan. 21, 2011 WFM calls for "public oversight by the USDA rather than reliance on the biotechnology industry," even though WFM knows full well that federal regulations on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) do not require pre-market safety testing, nor labeling; and that even federal judges have repeatedly ruled that so-called government "oversight" of Frankencrops such as Monsanto's sugar beets and alfalfa is basically a farce. At the end of its email, WFM admits that its surrender to Monsanto is permanent: "The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well  True coexistence is a must."

Why Is Organic Inc. Surrendering?

According to informed sources, the CEOs of WFM and Stonyfield are personal friends of former Iowa governor, now USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and in fact made financial contributions to Vilsack's previous electoral campaigns. Vilsack was hailed as "Governor of the Year" in 2001 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and traveled in a Monsanto corporate jet on the campaign trail. Perhaps even more fundamental to Organic Inc.'s abject surrender is the fact that the organic elite has become more and more isolated from the concerns and passions of organic consumers and locavores. The Organic Inc. CEOs are tired of activist pressure, boycotts, and petitions. Several of them have told me this to my face. They apparently believe that the battle against GMOs has been lost, and that it's time to reach for the consolation prize.  The consolation prize they seek is a so-called "coexistence" between the biotech Behemoth and the organic community that will lull the public to sleep and greenwash the unpleasant fact that Monsanto's unlabeled and unregulated genetically engineered crops are now spreading their toxic genes on 1/3 of U.S. (and 1/10 of global) crop land.

WFM and most of the largest organic companies have deliberately separated themselves from anti-GMO efforts and cut off all funding to campaigns working to label or ban GMOs. The so-called Non-GMO Project, funded by Whole Foods and giant wholesaler United Natural Foods (UNFI) is basically a greenwashing effort (although the 100% organic companies involved in this project seem to be operating in good faith) to show that certified organic foods are basically free from GMOs (we already know this since GMOs are banned in organic production), while failing to focus on so-called "natural" foods, which constitute most of WFM and UNFI's sales and are routinely contaminated with GMOs.

From their "business as usual" perspective, successful lawsuits against GMOs filed by public interest groups such as the Center for Food Safety; or noisy attacks on Monsanto by groups like the Organic Consumers Association, create bad publicity, rattle their big customers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, Costco, Supervalu, Publix and Safeway; and remind consumers that organic crops and foods such as corn, soybeans, and canola are slowly but surely becoming contaminated by Monsanto's GMOs.

Whole Food's Dirty Little Secret: Most of the So-Called "Natural" Processed Foods and Animal Products They Sell Are Contaminated with GMOs

The main reason, however, why Whole Foods is pleading for coexistence with Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF and the rest of the biotech bullies, is that they desperately want the controversy surrounding genetically engineered foods and crops to go away. Why? Because they know, just as we do, that 2/3 of WFM's $9 billion annual sales is derived from so-called "natural" processed foods and animal products that are contaminated with GMOs. We and our allies have tested their so-called "natural" products (no doubt WFM's lab has too) containing non-organic corn and soy, and guess what: they're all contaminated with GMOs, in contrast to their certified organic products, which are basically free of GMOs, or else contain barely detectable trace amounts.

Approximately 2/3 of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods (UNFI) are not certified organic, but rather are conventional (chemical-intensive and GMO-tainted) foods and products disguised as "natural."

Unprecedented wholesale and retail control of the organic marketplace by UNFI and Whole Foods, employing a business model of selling twice as much so-called "natural" food as certified organic food, coupled with the takeover of many organic companies by multinational food corporations such as Dean Foods, threatens the growth of the organic movement.

Covering Up GMO Contamination: Perpetrating "Natural" Fraud

Many well-meaning consumers are confused about the difference between conventional products marketed as "natural," and those nutritionally/environmentally superior and climate-friendly products that are "certified organic."

Retail stores like WFM and wholesale distributors like UNFI have failed to educate their customers about the qualitative difference between natural and certified organic, conveniently glossing over the fact that nearly all of the processed "natural" foods and products they sell contain GMOs, or else come from a "natural" supply chain where animals are force-fed GMO grains in factory farms or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

A troubling trend in organics today is the calculated shift on the part of certain large formerly organic brands from certified organic ingredients and products to so-called "natural" ingredients. With the exception of the "grass-fed and grass-finished" meat sector, most "natural" meat, dairy, and eggs are coming from animals reared on GMO grains and drugs, and confined, entirely, or for a good portion of their lives, in CAFOs.

Whole Foods and UNFI are maximizing their profits by selling quasi-natural products at premium organic prices. Organic consumers are increasingly left without certified organic choices while genuine organic farmers and ranchers continue to lose market share to "natural" imposters. It's no wonder that less than 1% of American farmland is certified organic, while well-intentioned but misled consumers have boosted organic and "natural" purchases to $80 billion annually-approximately 12% of all grocery store sales.

The Solution: Truth-in-Labeling Will Enable Consumers to Drive So-Called "Natural" GMO and CAFO-Tainted Foods Off the Market

There can be no such thing as "coexistence" with a reckless industry that undermines public health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world's 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers.  There is no such thing as coexistence between GMOs and organics in the European Union. Why? Because in the EU there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, nor GM consumer food products on supermarket shelves. And why is this? Because under EU law, all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. Consumers have the freedom to choose or not to choose GMOs; while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as they are safety-tested and labeled. Of course the EU food industry understands that consumers, for the most part, do not want to purchase or consume GE foods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald's and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the concept expressed by a Monsanto executive when GMOs first came on the market: "If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it."

The biotech industry and Organic Inc. are supremely conscious of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don't want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by out-of-control chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont - the same people who brought you toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and now global warming. Industry leaders are acutely aware of the fact that every single industry or government poll over the last 16 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on GMO foods. Why? So that we can avoid buying them. GMO foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from getting a public discussion in Congress.

Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) recently introduced a bill in Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs, don't hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling and consumers' right to know what's in their food. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called "Citizens United" case gave big corporations and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy media coverage and elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent. Perfectly dramatizing the "Revolving Door" between Monsanto and the Federal Government, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, formerly chief counsel for Monsanto, delivered one of the decisive votes in the Citizens United case, in effect giving Monsanto and other biotech bullies the right to buy the votes it needs in the U.S. Congress.

With big money controlling Congress and the media, we have little choice but to shift our focus and go local. We've got to concentrate our forces where our leverage and power lie, in the marketplace, at the retail level; pressuring retail food stores to voluntarily label their products; while on the legislative front we must organize a broad coalition to pass mandatory GMO (and CAFO) labeling laws, at the city, county, and state levels.

The Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, has just launched a nationwide Truth-in-Labeling campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans.

Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure giant supermarket chains (Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, Safeway, Supervalu, and Publix) and natural food retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe's to voluntarily implement "truth-in-labeling" practices for GMOs and CAFO products; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances - similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens. If local and state government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we must attempt to gather sufficient petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. If you're interesting in helping organize or coordinate a Millions Against Monsanto and Factory Farms Truth-in-Labeling campaign in your local community, sign up here:

To pressure Whole Foods Market and the nation's largest supermarket chains to voluntarily adopt truth-in-labeling practices sign here, and circulate this petition widely:

And please stay tuned to Organic Bytes for the latest developments in our campaigns.

Power to the People! Not the Corporations!

Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association


 Agriculture Agency Approves Planting of Modified Alfalfa

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday that he would authorize the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa, setting aside a controversial compromise that had generated stiff opposition.

In making the decision, Mr. Vilsack pulled back from a novel proposal that would have restricted the growing of genetically engineered alfalfa to protect organic farmers from so-called biotech contamination. That proposal had drawn criticism at a recent Congressional hearing and in public forums where Mr. Vilsack had outlined the option.
Mr. Vilsack said Thursday that his department would take other measures, such as conducting research and promoting dialogue, to make sure that pure non-engineered alfalfa seed would remain available.
“We want to expand and preserve choice for farmers,” he told reporters. “We think the decision reached today is a reflection of our commitment to choice and trust.
Mr. Vilsack in recent months has been calling for “co-existence” between growers of genetically engineered crops, organic farmers and non-organic farmers growing crops that have not been genetically altered.
Organic farmers can lose sales if genetic engineering is detected in their crops, which occurs either through cross-pollination from a nearby field or from intermingling of seeds. And exports of non-organic but non-engineered crops to certain countries can be jeopardized if genetically engineered material is detected in significant amounts.
The genetically modified crop, developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics, an alfalfa breeder that is owned by the Land O’Lakes dairy cooperative, contains a gene that makes the plant resistant to the herbicide Roundup. That allows farmers to spray the chemical to kill weeds without hurting the crop.
Alfalfa is grown mostly to make hay that is fed to dairy cows and horses. More than 20 million acres are grown in the United States, making it the nation’s fourth-largest crop by acreage behind corn, soybeans and wheat.
In deciding whether to approve the genetically engineered alfalfa, the Agriculture Department was considering restricting areas where the crop could be planted. That, Mr. Vilsack argued, would help prevent litigation, like the lawsuits that have already delayed the approval of genetically altered alfalfa and sugar beets.
“The rapid adoption of G.E. crops has clashed with the rapid expansion of demand for organic and other non-G.E. products,” Mr. Vilsack wrote in an open letter issued by his department in January. “This clash led to litigation and uncertainty. Such litigation will potentially lead to the courts deciding who gets to farm their way and who will be prevented from doing so.”
But the proposal ran into considerable opposition in Congress and from farm groups and biotechnology companies.
They argued that since the Agriculture Department’s environmental impact statement had concluded that growing the alfalfa would be safe, the government was obligated to allow it to be grown without restrictions.
Introducing restrictions based on economic consequences of pollen drift or consumer preferences would be unscientific, they said.
The proposal “politicizes the regulatory process and goes beyond your statutory authority,” Representative Frank Lucas, an Oklahoma Republican who is the new chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, wrote to Mr. Vilsack on Jan. 19, before holding a hearing on the proposals the next day. The letter was written by Republican Senators Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Pat Roberts of Kansas.
In the news conference Thursday, Mr. Vilsack at one point said the department did have the authority to restrict planting. But at another point he said of the decision to allow unrestricted planting: “We are working within the statutory and regulatory system we have available to us.” Critics of planting restrictions said they were concerned that the approach used in alfalfa would eventually be extended to other crops causing restrictions on growing of corn, soybeans and cotton, the vast majority of which are already genetically engineered.
“It’s like a Pandora’s box,” said Keith Menchey, director of science and environmental issues for the National Cotton Council of America. “If you open that up, then everybody who’s got a particular preference one way or another, you have to make accommodations.”
Critics also said that the growing of alfalfa based on pollen drift concerns would undermine Washington’s efforts to get other countries to accept genetically modified crops. The government has long argued that if the crops are determined to be safe, then prohibiting their cultivation or import just because consumers do not want them violates international trading rules.
Organic growers and food companies generally supported restrictions on planting of the biotech crop. But they also wanted a mechanism set up to compensate organic growers who lose sales because of contamination from biotech crops.
The Agriculture Department first approved the commercial planting of the genetically engineered alfalfa in 2005. But various groups representing alfalfa seed producers and environmental groups opposed to biotech crops sued. In 2007 a federal judge vacated the approval, saying the Agriculture Department had not adequately assessed the environmental impacts of the biotech crop, including the possible effect on organic and conventional farmers. The judge ordered the department to do a full environmental impact statement.
The draft environmental impact statement was released in December, 2009. The final version, more than 2,300 pages long, was released this past December. It said the Department would decide between two options — allowing unrestricted commercial growing or partially restricted growing.
That latter option, which the department said it had added based on public input, would have prohibited growing the biotech alfalfa on about 20 percent of current alfalfa acreage nationwide, and more in Western states, where most alfalfa seed is produced.
Although genetic engineering cannot be used in organic agriculture, an organic farmer would not lose certification under federal rules just because some genetically engineered pollen accidentally drifted onto his field, just as he would not lose certification if pesticide drifted in from a nearby field.
But some organic growers say their customers are stricter than the federal government and will reject shipments if even trace amounts of genetically modified material are detected.


January 26, 2011
5:30 PM
CONTACT: Food & Water Watch
Anna Ghosh, aghosh(at)fwwatch(dot)org, 415-293-9905

How Food System Consolidation Factors into USDA’s Forecasted Food Price Increases for 2011

Statement by Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director, Food & Water Watch

WASHINGTON - January 26 - "This week's release of the USDA 2011 Consumer Price Index analysis demonstrates that a more industrialized, consolidated food supply does not translate to lower grocery bills for consumers. I encourage the news media to look beyond the routine justifications of rising feed and fuel costs and take a critical look at the role consolidation of our food system plays in consumers' rising food bills. "Although all food prices are expected to increase in the coming year, inflation for beef, pork, eggs and dairy is anticipated to be sharpest. Not coincidentally, these are the same industries that have experienced the most consolidation over the past two decades and are controlled by the fewest number of large agribusinesses. 
"While these largest companies claim that mergers and acquisitions allow for efficiencies of scale that create cost savings for consumers, the reality is consumers rarely see a decrease in what they pay for food. And, as the USDA's latest CPI indicates, consumers are about to experience even higher prices that could increase inflation overall.
"The bottom line is clear: consumers are paying more for their food, farmers are receiving less, and the companies in the middle are soaking up the profits.
"The USDA has the power to restore some fairness in our food system. The USDA should not be bullied by the agribusiness lobby standing in the way of enforcing antitrust laws that have been on the books for almost a century, but never enforced. It's time for the agency to finish its proposed livestock marketing rule and put it into effect immediately before it becomes impossible for average Americans to feed their families."
For more information consolidation in the meat industry and the impacts of corporate power on the food supply, visit:
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Ekorural and partners win grant to advance sustainable food production and nutrition in the Andes

Groundswell International | January 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Tags: 

Ekorural, a Groundswell partner organization based in Ecuador, along with Wageningen University's Communication and Innovation Studies Group, and the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences recently won a grant from WOTRO, a division of The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research that supports scientific research on development issues, in particular poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
The project partners will explore how scientific insights can strengthen and complement the most promising positive deviance (i.e., uncommon but successful behaviors or strategies of farmers that enable them to find better solutions to a problem than their peers, despite having no special resources or knowledge) in ways that address both people’s immediate and long term needs. Among other things, the work will seek to develop and test methodologies to identify and strengthen positive deviance in resource poor households that effectively respond to food security priorities. Building on earlier studies and recent stakeholder consultations, the project will focus on positive deviance in two strategic areas for enabling farming families to defeat poverty and hunger:
  • Creative utilization of water for food production in the context of growing climate variability; and
  • Strategic utilization of food production for family nutrition, in particular for assuring the health and well-being of vulnerable mothers and infants.
The re-positioning of agricultural science around endogenous potential in Ecuador holds global implications. The food crisis and growing international interest in local food as a means to addressing resource constraints and climate change guarantee that this project will be closely followed by serious foodies.
agro ecology, agro-ecological farming, climate change, climate variability, community led development, Ecuador, Ekorural, local food systems, positive deviance, water harvesting | Categories: Cooling the Planet (Climate Change), Ecuador, Healthy Women & Children, People-Centered Food Systems (Food Security), Sustainable Development, Uncategorized | URL:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?

A group of international scientists has released a report detailing health and environmental hazards from the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) Roundup Ready soy and the use of glyphosate (Roundup®) herbicide.
The report, GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?,[1] highlights new research by Argentine government scientist, Professor Andrés Carrasco,[2] which found that glyphosate causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying.
“The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy,” said Carrasco.
Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, University of Buenos Aires Medical School and lead researcher of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), Argentina, is a co-author of the new report. The report is released with testimonies of Argentine villagers whose lives have been radically disrupted by the cultivation of GM soy.[3]
In Argentina and Paraguay, doctors and residents living in GM soy producing areas have reported serious health effects from glyphosate spraying, including high rates of birth defects as well as infertility, stillbirths, miscarriages, and cancers. Scientific studies collected in the new report confirm links between exposure to glyphosate and premature births, miscarriages, cancer, and damage to DNA and reproductive organ cells.
Carrasco said people living in soy-producing areas of Argentina began reporting problems in 2002, two years after the first big harvests of GM Roundup Ready soy. He said, "I suspect the toxicity classification of glyphosate is too low ... in some cases this can be a powerful poison."
Residents have also reported environmental damage from glyphosate, including damage to food crops and streams strewn with dead fish. These accounts are backed by studies in the report that show glyphosate is toxic to the environment.
Scientists and others who speak out against Argentina’s GM soy agricultural model report censorship and harassment. In August 2010 Amnesty International called for an investigation into a violent attack by an organized mob on an audience assembled to hear Carrasco talk about his research in the agricultural town of La Leonesa.
“Responsible” soy?
GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible? challenges commercial claims that GM soy cultivation is sustainable and that the glyphosate herbicide it is sprayed with is safe. In 2011 the Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS), a multi-stakeholder forum on sustainable soy production, will launch a voluntary label for “responsible” soy that will reassure ethically minded traders and consumers that the soy was produced with consideration for people and the environment.[4] It will label GM soy sprayed with glyphosate as responsible.[5]
RTRS members include multinational companies such as ADM, Bunge, Cargill, Monsanto, Syngenta, Shell, and BP, and NGOs such as WWF and Solidaridad.

Claire Robinson of GMWatch, a group that campaigns against GM foods and crops, said, “It is a cruel farce to call the GM soy with glyphosate farming model sustainable and responsible.

“The RTRS criteria are so weak that they don’t protect people from the known health hazards of GM soy and glyphosate shown in the new report.[6][7]
“The RTRS also ignores serious social problems caused by GM soy monocultures. Livelihoods and food security have been lost as land that used to grow food for people to eat is given over to toxic GM soy monocultures.

Over 200 civil society organizations have condemned the RTRS criteria as corporate greenwash.[8] It’s time for responsible members of the RTRS to abandon this discredited body.”
Europe imports around 38 million tons of soy per year, which mostly goes into animal feed.[9] Food products from GM-fed animals do not have to carry a GM label.
The maximum glyphosate residue limit allowed in soy in the EU is 20 mg/kg. Carrasco found malformations in embryos injected with 2.03 mg/kg glyphosate, nearly 10 times lower.[10] Soybeans have been found to contain glyphosate residues at levels up to 17mg/kg.[11]
1. Antoniou, M., Brack, P., Carrasco, A., Fagan, J., Habib, M., Kageyama, P., Leifert, C., Nodari, R., Pengue, W. 2010. GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible? GLS Gemeinschaftsbank and ARGE Gentechnik-frei. Download from:
2. Paganelli, A., Gnazzo, V., Acosta, H., López, S.L., Carrasco, A.E. 2010. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signalling. Chem. Res. Toxicol., August 9.
3. Interviews in English and Spanish and photographs available here:
4. Marks & Spencer. Tackling deforestation.
5. The RTRS Standard can be downloaded from the RTRS website, GM soy is treated the same as non-GM – see p.i.
6. La Soja Mata (Soy Kills). Against “Responsible” GM soy: reply to Solidaridad, WWF. 
7. GM Freeze. Thirteen Reasons Why the Roundtable On Responsible Soy Will Not Provide Responsible or Sustainable Soya Bean Production. May 2010.
8. La Soja Mata (Soy Kills). Statements against the 3rd RoundTable on Responsible Soy.
9. Cert ID. Cert ID Certified ‘Non-GMO’ Soy Meal and Other Soy Products: Volumes Available from South America. Porto Alegre, Brazil, July 14, 2008.
10. FAO. Pesticide residues in food – 1997: Report. Report of the Joint Meeting of the FAO Panel of Experts on Pesticide Residues in Food and the Environment and the WHO Core Assessment Group on Pesticide Residues. Lyons, France, 22 September – 1 October 1997.
11. FAO. 2005. Pesticide residues in food – 2005. Report of the Joint Meeting of the FAO Panel of Experts on Pesticide Residues in Food and the Environment and the WHO Core Assessment Group on Pesticide Residues, Geneva, Switzerland, 20–29 September. FAO Plant Production and Protection Paper 183, 7.

About the authors and publishers of GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?

This report was compiled by an international coalition of scientists who hold the view that the complete body of evidence on GM soy and glyphosate herbicide should be made accessible to everyone – government, industry, the media, and the public. The scientists and their contact details are as follows:

  • Michael Antoniou Michael Antoniou is reader in molecular genetics and head, Nuclear Biology Group, King’s College London School of Medicine, London, UK. Mobile +44 7852 979 548. +44 20 7188 3708. Skype: michaelantoniou. Email: e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Paulo Brack is professor, Institute of Biosciences, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Brazil; and member, CTNBio (National Technical Commission on Biosafety), Brazil. +55 51 9142 3220. Email: paulo.brack@ufrgs.brThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Andrés Carrasco is professor and director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology, University of Buenos Aires Medical School, Argentina; and lead researcher of the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET), Argentina. Mobile +54 9 11 6826 2788. +54 11 5950 9500 ext 2216. Email: acarrasco@fmed.uba.arThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • John Fagan founded one of the first GMO testing and certification companies. He co-founded Earth Open Source, which uses open source collaboration to advance environmentally sustainable food production. Earlier, he conducted cancer research at the US National Institutes of Health. He holds a PhD in biochemistry and molecular and cell biology from Cornell University. Mobile +1 312 351 2001. +44 20 3286 7156. Email: jfagan@earthopensource.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Mohamed Ezz El-Din Mostafa Habib is professor and former director, Institute of Biology, UNICAMP, São Paulo, Brazil, and provost for extension and community affairs, UNICAMP. He is an internationally recognized expert on ecology, entomology, agricultural pests, environmental education, sustainability, biological control, and agroecology. +55 19 3521 4712. Email: habib@unicamp.brThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Paulo Yoshio Kageyama is professor, department of forest sciences, University of São Paulo, Brazil; a Fellow of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) of the ministry of science and technology, Brazil; and former director, National Programme for Biodiversity Conservation, ministry of the environment, Brazil. +55 19 2105 8642. Email: kageyama@esalq.usp.brThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Carlo Leifert is professor of ecological agriculture at the School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development (AFRD), Newcastle University, UK; and director of the Stockbridge Technology Centre Ltd (STC), UK, a non-profit company providing R&D support for the UK horticultural industry. +44 1661 830222. Email: e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Rubens Onofre Nodari is professor, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil; former manager of plant genetic resources, ministry of environment, Brazil; and a Fellow of the National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) of the ministry of science and technology, Brazil. +55 48 3721 5332. Skype: rnodari. Email: nodari@cca.ufsc.brThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
  • Walter A. Pengue is professor of agriculture and ecology, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina; and scientific member, IPSRM International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management, UNEP, United Nations. Mobile +54 911 3688 2549. +54 11 4469 7500 ext 7235. Skype: wapengue. Email: e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
The publishers and copyright owners of the report are GLS Gemeinschaftsbank eG, Germany and the Austrian industry association ARGE Gentechnik-frei (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Gentechnik-frei erzeugte Lebensmittel or the Consortium for Food Produced without Genetic Engineering). The publishers were inspired by the scientists’ work on this issue to support its release to the public. The full report and summary of key findings can be downloaded from the publishers’ websites:
The copyright owners hereby grant permission to individuals and organizations to place the full report and summary of key findings in unchanged form on their websites and to distribute it freely through other channels, contingent on disclosure of authorship and publishers.
Note: The views expressed in the report, “GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?” are those of the individuals who co-authored the report. There is no implication or claim that they reflect or represent the views of the institutions with which these individuals are or have been affiliated.


The Hidden Costs of Factory Farming
Pig Business : Time for Change

Screening and Debate
European Parliament, Brussels
 February, 2011

José Bové MEP (Greens), Dan Jorgensen
MEP (S&D) and Janusz Wojciechowski MEP (ECR)
invite you to attend and support the above event
which is lobbying for changes in EU agricultural policy.

Please invite your MEPs (Click here  for instructions)
and contacts in the European Commission etc to attend
and, if appropriate, recommend that your members write
to their regional MEPs asking them to attend
(Click here for an example).

The event will ask MEPs to:

  1. Recognise that the profitability of factory farming depends on
    externalising its true costs onto the broader community.
  2. Amend the Common Agricultural Policy post 2013 to move
    European agriculture away from industrial livestock production
    to sustainable, humane and autonomous forms of animal husbandry.
  3. Better enforce and strengthen the existing EU Directive on the
    welfare of pigs.  
We are inviting MEPs, including those on the agriculture and environment
committees, commissioners, political advisors, industry, press and NGOs.


  • Date: 9 February, 2011
  • Time: 15:00 - Pig Business film screening 
               16:00 - 18:00 Presentations and debate
  • Location: Paul-Henri Spaak building, Room P1A002
  • Introduction: Tracy Worcester, director and producer of
    the film Pig Business
  • Screening of Pig Business: 15:00 – 16:00
  • Presentations and debates: 16:00 – 18:00

(it is essential that you register by the 2nd of February 2011)

The film Pig Business is available to watch on our website
in the following languages:

Chinese (Cantonese); Danish; Dutch; French; German; Italian;
; Portuguese; Romanian; Slovenian; Spanish; Ukrainian
& English. US & Canadian versions of the film also

Online Resources:

Celebrity trailer of the film Pig Business: Click here
Act as a consumer, buy local and sustainable: Click here
Screening toolkit and other resources: Click here.
20 facts on the true cost of factory farming: Click here
The latest expose on the cruelty inside Smithfield's 
sow factories in America: Click hereThe latest libel threat
from industry to
silence objections to new pig factory: Click hereHelp the
Soil Association's 'Not in my Banger' Campaign: Click here
Contact Us:

Please share your thoughts with us after watching Pig Business.

To order a DVD or find out more about how to embed
Pig Business into your consumer education campaign,
please contact a member of the team at

For more information about the film visit