Wednesday, January 25, 2012


January 25, 2012
10:51 AM
CONTACT: Food & Water Watch
Darcey Rakestraw, 202-683-2467;

State of Our Food and Water: President Obama’s Energy Plan Trades Water for Energy

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

WASHINGTON - January 25 - “The president’s energy vision is troubling for our water resources. His speech touted the development of so-called ‘clean energy,’ but it may as well have been written by the oil and gas industry. His plan to open up more than 75 percent of our potential offshore oil and gas resources and to support shale gas development trades clean water for energy.

“President Obama should not confuse offshore oil and onshore shale gas development for clean energy. Although gas companies should absolutely be made to disclose the chemicals they use simply disclosing chemicals does not prevent shale gas development from harming our essential water resources. To keep water safe and rural communities strong, we should ban fracking.

“Furthermore, the oil and gas industry’s job claims for shale gas development are grossly overestimated due to methodological flaws and reliance on economic modeling, rather than looking at the actual number of jobs created in communities with fracking. The only certainty about the expansion of the destructive oil and gas fracking is that it will bring profits to the multinational oil and gas companies. President Obama should look at the facts on how many jobs the oil and gas industry creates rather than writing federal energy policy based on the claims of the industry.

“When it comes to food, the President claimed he will not back down from making sure that our food is safe. But recent actions by his Administration make that claim hard to believe. Just last week, the USDA announced its plan to deregulate the poultry industry by eliminating government inspectors and shifting to privatized inspection in many poultry plants. This is the opposite of making sure consumers are protected from unsafe food.”
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.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Monsanto shareholders reject study on crop risks
(AP)  ST. LOUIS — Shareholders of Monsanto Co. on Tuesday voted down a proposed study of how the company's genetically engineered crops, or GMOs, may pose financial and legal risks to the seed giant. They also reelected four of the company's directors and approved compensation packages during the annual meeting.

Napa, Calif.-based Harrington Investments had put up for shareholder vote a request to study "material financial risks or operational impacts" of the chemicals and genetically modified crops that Monsanto sells.

Monsanto's seeds are engineered to withstand the weed killer Roundup, allowing farmers to reduce the use of other chemicals and limit the practice of tilling fields to kill weeds. The company's seeds dominate corn, soybean and sugar beet production in the U.S.

Harrington Investments CEO John Harrington said in a statement that he is concerned about the possible environmental and economic impacts of Monsanto's engineered crops. The plants have patented genes inside them, and some countries, particularly in Europe, block U.S. crop exports if traces of those genes are present.

Harrington said he is concerned that "genetic drift" from engineered crops could contaminate farmers' organic crops and prohibit those crops from being sold to markets in Europe, China and Japan.

"The potential legal implications for Monsanto are staggering," Harrington said.

St. Louis-based Monsanto had recommended shareholders defeat the proposal. The company said an additional report on that topic would "be redundant and provide no meaningful additional information" because Monsanto has already studied the issue extensively. Most shareholders present at the meeting voted against the proposal, with only a small percentage voting in favor, according to a regulatory filing Tuesday.

Lawsuits have been filed on the issue. In August, three environmental groups filed in West Virginia seeking to have the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service halt the planting of genetically-modified crops on 44,000 acres of federal land in the South. The Center for Food Safety, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Beyond Pesticides pursued two similar lawsuits in Delaware, which resulted in the agency ending the practice in its 12-state northeast region.

The groups maintain that the use of genetically-engineered crops such as those modified to resist the herbicide glyphosate — marketed by Monsanto as RoundUp — promotes growth of different feeds that wildlife would not normally be eating. In 2010, a California judge ruled that GMO beet seeds developed by Monsanto would not be able to be planted until the U.S. Department of Agriculture reviewed the effect those crops could have on other food.

Separately, shareholders voted to keep Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant and directors Janice Fields, C. Steven McMillan and Robert J. Stevens on the board until 2015. Shareholders also approved executive pay and bonus plans.

The company earlier this month reported a surge in fiscal first-quarter earnings on strong seed sales and lifted its 2012 forecast to the high end of previous estimates. Monsanto has said it's seen a very strong start to the year, with real growth in Latin America and early orders in the United States.

Shares of Monsanto rose 22 cents to close at $80.11, near its 52-week high of $81.43.

Scientific American:

Monday, January 23, 2012


January 20, 2012
5:30 PM
CONTACT: Environmental Working Group (EWG)
EWG Public Affairs 510-444-0973 x305,

Human Carcinogen Found in Drinking Water Near Gas Drilling Ops

WASHINGTON - January 20 - The federal Environmental Protection Agency's detection of arsenic, a known human carcinogen, barium and other contaminants in the well water of homes near natural gas drilling operations in Dimock Township, Pennsylvania, should prompt a nationwide investigation of drilling-linked water pollution.
"EPA and other officials must move quickly to ensure these families have an adequate source of clean water," said Dusty Horwitt, senior counsel with Environmental Working Group. "This finding confirms what Dimock residents have said for months -- that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should have never allowed Cabot to end deliveries of clean water."
Last month, EWG published a report called “Gas Drilling Doublespeak” that found that Dimock residents, among other people in gas-rich areas, were not warned of risks to their water supplies when they were approached to lease their land for drilling.
EPA officials in Philadelphia announced yesterday they would deliver clean water to the four affected households and conduct broader testing at about 60 more homes in south-central area Susquehanna County. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., the Houston-based company that began drilling for gas in the area in 2008, delivered water to the households under a 2010 consent agreement but stopped Nov. 30 after state regulators determined that Cabot had met its obligations.
According to an EPA action memo released yesterday, agency scientists found the four households’ well water contaminated with arsenic and other hazardous substances “at levels that present a public health concern.” Some of these “are not naturally found in the environment,” EPA officials said, and may have been released by drilling activities. Among the toxic substances found in the well water, according to the EPA:
• Arsenic, classified by the US government and World Health Organization as a known human carcinogen, an element sometimes found in “elevated concentrations” in groundwater because of drilling;
• Barium, a common constituent of drilling fluids; long-term ingestion at high levels can cause kidney damage;
• Phthalates, a synthetic plastic chemical and probable human carcinogen, according to EPA;
• Glycol compounds common in drilling fluids and associated with damage to kidneys, the nervous system, lungs, heart, testicular damage and anemia;
• Manganese, an naturally occurring element that can damage the nervous system at high levels;
• Phenol, found in some drilling fluids; at high levels can cause irregular heartbeat, liver damage and skin burns;
• Sodium, compounds found in some drilling fluids, at high levels can cause high blood pressure.
Federal officials said that although the investigation has not been completed, they have concluded, based on samplings to date, that a “chronic health risk exists” for the wells in question.
"These results also show that the families ultimately need a permanent source of healthy water, which the state has so far failed to deliver," Horwitt said. "Cabot should bear the cost of providing this, not the taxpayers."
The mission of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) is to use the power of public information to protect public health and the environment. EWG is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded in 1993 by Ken Cook and Richard Wiles.