Friday, December 14, 2012





Published on Friday, December 14, 2012 by The Progressive

Monsanto Gets Its Way in Ag Bill
by Jim Goodman

“The Farmers Assurance Provision” is the title of a rider, Section 733, inserted into the House of Representatives 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Somehow, as a farmer, I don't feel the least bit assured.

The only assurance it provides is that Monsanto and the rest of the agriculture biotech industry will have carte blanche to force the government to allow the planting of their biotech seeds.

In addition, the House Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill draft includes three riders – Sections 1011, 10013 and 10014. These amendments would essentially destroy any oversight of new Genetically Engineered (GE) crops by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

If these riders had been in place during the review of GE alfalfa, Monsanto could have requested – no they could have compelled – the Secretary of Agriculture to allow continued planting of GE alfalfa even though a federal court had ruled commercialization was illegal pending completion of an environmental impact study.

Essentially, the riders would prevent the federal courts from restricting, in any way, the planting of a GE crop, regardless of environmental, health or economic concerns. USDA's mandated review process would be, like court-ordered restrictions, meaningless. A request to USDA to allow planting of a GE crop awaiting approval would have to be granted.

Wow, who's next to get in on a deal like this, the drug companies?

Not only will the riders eviscerate the power of USDA and the authority of the courts, but it will also permanently dismiss any input from other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Fish and Wildlife Service or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Does Congress really believe it has the right to remove the court's power of Congressional oversight? Doesn't that violate the separation of powers guaranteed in the Constitution?

The trade group behind the riders, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), insists that the riders do not, in any way, reduce regulatory requirements for new GE crops. What? They only eliminate any oversight from the judicial branch – that’s sort of a big thing.

The approval process for new GE crops is not without its perceived delays. As limited as it may be, review takes time but getting new GE crops approved is a cakewalk.

The new GE crops are basically the old GE crops, just redesigned to resist different, more toxic herbicides while having become less effective at killing insect pests.

StarLink corn and Liberty Link rice slipped through the approval process only to have major contamination and health issues after commercialization. Once a crop is in the USDA pipeline, approval is a near certainty.

BIO insists the riders are necessary to avoid delays in approval. Of course, delays cost them MONEY, which is obviously all they are concerned about. If they were concerned about environmental impacts, or food safety, wouldn't they request input from EPA and FDA?

So, the “Farmer Assurance“ thing – using farmers as their poster children — is quite disingenuous. The biotech industry cares about farmers because farmers are their meal ticket.

Farmers are not stupid; we've learned that the promises of biotech were short lived at best and to various degrees, simply false. The new GE crops are basically the old GE crops, just redesigned to resist different, more toxic herbicides while having become less effective at killing insect pests.

No, the Farmer Assurance Provision and the Farm Bill riders – are not about farmers, nor are they about speeding needed crops to the waiting public. They’re about getting fast rubber stamp approval for new, profitable GE crops.

These riders are an effort to end run Congress, the Courts and the Constitution.

Corporate collusion with government is not new, but this takes it to a new level. By allowing corporations to subvert the Constitution, Congress is saying that corporate influence and profits are more important than the best interests of the people.

Corporations are not people, my friends, despite the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.
© 2012 The Progressive

Jim Goodman and his wife Rebecca run a 45-cow organic dairy and direct market beef farm in southwest Wisconsin. His farming roots trace back to his great-grandfather's immigration from Ireland during the famine and the farm's original purchase in 1848. A farm activist, Jim credits more than 150 years of failed farm and social policy as his motivation to advocate for a farmer-controlled consumer-oriented food system. Jim currently serves on the policy advisory boards for the Center for Food Safety and the Organic Consumers Association, and is a board member of Midwest Environmental Advocates and of the Family Farm Defenders.

Thursday, December 13, 2012


How the Food Movement Is Gaining Strength
Posted: 12/12/2012 7:28 pm

Ocean Robbins

Author, Speaker,

How the Food Movement Is Gaining Strength
Posted: 12/12/2012 7:28 pm

More and more people are realizing that our food chain is in crisis. Agribusiness has made profits more important than your health -- more important than the environment -- and more important than your right to know how your food is produced.

The United States now spends nearly 20 percent of GDP on health care, but levels of obesity, diabetes and chronic illness are higher than ever.

Perhaps because so many people are suffering, beneath the surface, a revolution has been building.

From rural farms to urban dinner plates, from grocery store shelves to state ballot boxes, ever more people are finding their voices and taking action. If you believe in taking responsibility for your health, if you believe there is an important link between the quality of the food you eat and the quality of your life, you are part of this movement.

In the seven years after my dad and colleague, John Robbins, released the first edition of his landmark bestseller Diet for a New America in 1987, beef consumption in the United States dropped by 19 percent. The National Cattlemen's Association, not pleased, pointedly blamed Diet For A New America. Since then, beef consumption has continued to slowly drop, while organic food sales have increased over 26-fold, to now exceed four percent of market share.

This month marks the release of the 25th anniversary edition of Diet For A New America, and it couldn't come at a more opportune time. People are taking an increasing interest in the way that the animals raised for food are treated. In fact, a poll conducted by Lake Research partners found that 94 percent of Americans agree that animals raised for food on farms deserve to be free from cruelty. Nine U.S. states have now joined the entire European Union in banning gestational crates for pigs, and Australia's two largest supermarket chains now sell only cage-free eggs in their house brands.

The demand is growing for food that is organic, sustainable, fair trade, GMO-free, humane, and healthy. In cities around the world, we're seeing more and more farmer's markets (a nearly three-fold increase in the last decade), and more young people getting back into farming. Grocery stores (even big national chains) are displaying local, natural and organic foods with pride. The movements for healthy food are growing fast, and starting to become a political force.

Earlier this year, California voters put an initiative on the ballot that called would have mandated the labeling of food containing GMOs. Monsanto and their buddies in the pesticide and junk food business were forced to spend $46 million burying California's voters under an avalanche of deception in order to narrowly defeat California's Proposition 37 in the November election. Although they won the battle, more than six million California voters had come out in favor of the "right to know." It was clear that the natural foods movement was becoming a political force to be reckoned with.

Now organizers in 30 other states have begun building GMO labeling campaigns, and efforts to improve treatment of animals, to make factory farms pay for the pollution they produce, and to reform the food offered in school lunches are all gaining strength.

What You Can Do
Go to the movies. Eric Schlosser's Food, Inc., Drs. Caldwell Esslestyn and T. Colin Campbell'sForks Over Knives, and Jeffrey Smith's Genetic Roulette are some of the most popular and insightful films currently on the market.

Boycott the bad guys. Many people are choosing to boycott companies that oppose labeling of GMOs, that treat farm animals cruelly, or that profit from the sale of junk food. Other consumers are choosing to buy from the good guys. For example, the non-profit Non-GMO Project, which offers a third party certification program, has now verified 764 products, and had a record-shattering 189 new enrollment inquiries in October. You can also check out the farmer's marketnearest you.

Sign petitions for GMO labeling. Want to work for policy change? A team of organizations, led by Care2 and the Food Revolution Network, have launched a petition demanding that Congress label GMOs, and it has already generated more than 65,000 signatures. And last year's JustLabelIt petition to the FDA, which generated more than 1.3 million signatures, is being revived in hopes that the FDA might eventually dig itself out of Monsanto's back pocket.

Get politically engaged. For the passionate activist, there's always more you can do, like lobbying your member of Congress, your mayor, your governor, your local media outlets, or your relatives. You can also join the Humane Society's campaign for farm animal protection, or Farm Sanctuary's work for animal welfare legislation.

Get engaged and informed. For a directory of organizations working for healthy, sustainable and humane food, as well as free access to dozens of cutting edge articles and tools to help you make a difference, you can join the Food Revolution Network. Or check out the newly released 25th anniversary edition of Diet for a New America, the book that helped to launch the modern food movement.

Big agribusiness would probably like us all to sit alone in the dark, munching on highly processed, genetically engineered, chemical-laden, pesticide-contaminated pseudo-foods. But the tide of history is turning, and regardless of how much they spend attempting to maintain their hold on our food systems, more and more people are saying No to foods that lead to illness, and YES to foods that help us heal.

Ocean Robbins is founder and co-host (with best-selling author John Robbins) of the 80,000 member Food Revolution Network, an initiative to help you heal your body, and your world... with food. Find out more and sign up here.



Members on the Title VII Farm Bill Committee, the section that contains subsidies and the Monsanto Rider (HR 733 that allows Monsanto immunity from Federal law).

Go down the list and CALL THEM ALL and Facebook  them too!!


Subcommittee Chairman Bob Casey, (215) 405-9660, (717) 231-7540

Patrick Leahy, (802) 863-2525, (202) 224-4242

Tom Harkin (319) 365-4504, (563) 322-1338, (202) 224-3254

Sherrod Brown (216) 522-7272, (202) 224-2315

Michael Bennet, 303-455-7600, 202-224-5852

Kirsten Gillibrand
(518) 431-0120, (202) 224-4451

Ranking Member - Dick Lugar, (317) 226-5555, (202) 224-4814

Thad Cochran, (601) 965-4459, (202) 224-5054

Mitch McConnell, (502) 582-6304, (202) 224-2541

Mike Johanns, (402) 758-8981, (402) 476-1400, (202) 224-4224

John Hoeven, 701-250-4618, 202-224-2551

Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
Please remember: In order to follow federal law, this page has two rules for comments. Please dSenator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
Please remember: In order to follow federal law, this page has two rules for comments. Please do not use obscenities. Do not talk about elections. Thank You.
Page: 4,228 like thiso not use obscenities. Do not talk about elections. Than


Deadly Risk to Bees Ignored, Say British MPs  
Regulators ignored "data on the danger that one of the world's biggest selling pesticides could pose to bees and other pollinators," says committee chair

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer
Published on Thursday, December 13, 2012 by Common Dreams
(Photo: Beatrice Murch via flickr)

Regulators are ignoring evidence that the world's most used pesticide is killing bees and other insects, Members of Parliament in the UK say.

The Guardian's Damian Carrington reported Wednesday on findings from an inquiry by the Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) that scrutinized the pesticide, and wrote that MPs are "accusing regulators of 'turning a blind eye' to the risk for bees."

The questions surround the Bayer-made imidacloprid, a systemic insecticide and neonicotinoid, a kind of pesticide that has been implicated in many studies to a decline in bees and other pollinators.

Carrington reports:

"European regulators seem to have turned a blind eye to data on the danger that one of the world's biggest selling pesticides could pose to bees and other pollinators," said Joan Walley MP, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC). "Evidence seen by the committee raises serious questions about the integrity, transparency and effectiveness of EU pesticides regulation. Data available in the regulators' own assessment report shows it could be 10 times more persistent in soils than the European safety limit." [...]

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which assesses the risks of pesticides accepted earlier in 2012 that current "simplistic" regulations contain "major weaknesses". But the UK government has failed to follow countries including France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia in suspending the use of some neonicotinoids, although it has accelerated its research on the issue. [...]

Even the National Farmers Union (NFU), which argues that there is no need for a change of approach to neonicitinoids, told MPs: "It is very well known that the current pesticide risk assessment systems for bees were not developed to assess systemic pesticides."

Soil Association, a UK group that campaigns for healthy food and farm systems and whoseKeep Britain Buzzing campaign is working to ban neonicitinoids, presented evidence to MPs at the inquiry in November. The group told the inquiry:
The UK Government is ignoring the strong and quickly growing body of scientific evidence which points to the damaging impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on pollinating insects, including bumblebees and honey bees.
Defra [Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs] has made commitments to put in place new research to explore further the impacts of neonicotinoids on bumblebees, and have acknowledged that the risks of pesticides to bees needs to be updated, but these plans ignore the weight of existing evidence, and will delay the action that the Government should take now.
Scientists have established that very, very small doses of neonicotinoids, well below what European governments consider a ‘safe’ level of toxic chemical, can disrupt bee behaviour in ways likely to contribute to the collapse in numbers of honeybees, bumble bees and other pollinating insects.
The European Food Standards Agency has admitted that neonicotinoid and other systemic insecticides have not been properly evaluated ever since their introduction and use of some neonicotinoids has been either banned or suspended in the USA, Germany and France. Italy banned neonicotinoid insecticide use on maize and this led to a halving of winter honey bees deaths over three years.
Banning neonicotinoid pesticides need not adversely affect farmers’ profits as Italian government research showed.
UK and EU pesticide safety testing is not of an acceptable standard. First, it relies not on science but on industry data, which is not subject to scientific peer-review and publication. Second, there is no requirement for companies to publish all the research they conduct, with the risk that cherry-picked, favourable studies are used to obtain regulatory approval. Third, no safety testing which looks at the impact of repeated, very low doses (below accepted ‘safe’ levels) of pesticide are required. Fourth, little or no research is done on the impact of likely combinations of pesticides (the cocktail effect) that insects like honey bees and other insects will actually encounter on farms.

Environmental group Buglife, which works for the conservation of all invertebrates, also offered testimony highlighting the dangers of inaction on neonicitinoids

"The use of these indiscriminate pesticides must be suspended before it is too late to halt the alarming decline in wild pollinators," said Buglife CEO Matt Shardlow. "Italy, Germany, France and Serbia are among the nations to have already suspended the use of these killers. It is time the Government realised that the public have no wish for the UK to be considered the dirty old man of Europe."

Despite the statements and studies outlining the risks of the accumulation of the pesticide in the soil to pollinators, environment minister Lord De Mauley's comments on Wednesday to the EAC offer little hope of change.

"The advice to government has been and remains that there are no unacceptable effects. If new work gives rise to a change in advice, we will take it," the Guardian reports De Mauley as saying. "At the moment, I am satisfied that [European regulatory system] is working properly."


Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Groups challenge Monsanto attack on farmer for seed saving                        

Tuesday, 11 December 2012 22:03

Center for Food Safety, Save Our Seeds file Supreme Court brief testing Monsanto attack on farmer for seed saving

Case pitting corporations against farmers set to impact the future of seed patents

Center for Food Safety
10 Dec 2012

WASHINGTON, DC--Today, Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Save our Seeds (SOS) -- two organizations dedicated to promoting safe, sustainable food and farming systems -- challenged the agrochemical giant Monsanto and its restrictive "seed saving" policies via a "friend of the court" brief filed in the forthcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, Bowman v. Monsanto.

The case involves Monsanto's prosecution of 75-year-old Indiana farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman for alleged patent infringement because he saved and replanted his soybean seeds rather than purchasing new seeds for planting.

Today's filing lays out a legal framework for why the Supreme Court should safeguard seeds as a public good, confirming the right of Bowman and all farmers to save seeds.

"Mr. Bowman's case represents a systemic crisis in U.S. agriculture," said CFS Executive Director, Andrew Kimbrell. "Through a patenting system that favors the rights of corporations over the rights of farmers and citizens, our food and farming system is being held hostage by a handful of companies. Nothing less than the future of food is at stake."

As the brief notes, farmers have saved their seed for millennia. However, comprehensive seed patent rights granted to a few large agrochemical corporations over the last few decades are destructive to farmers, agriculture as an industry, food security and consumer health and safety. The Bowman case represents the mounting trend of seed and agrochemical companies investigating and prosecuting farmers for alleged patent infringement.

The practice will be detailed in an upcoming CFS and SOS report slated for release in early 2013.

Reports by both groups show that today's patent and intellectual property (IP) rights systems have allowed for unprecedented consolidation of global seed supply. At present, four agrochemical companies own a full 43 percent of the world's commercial seed supply.

Further research shows even broader socio-economic consequences due to the IP regimes that have developed over the past few decades. These include skyrocketing seed prices, decreasing seed varieties and availability of seeds, and a constriction of seed research and development.

"What was formerly a free, renewable resource has now become a privatized commodity," said Debbie Barker, SOS program director. "Current patent regimes impact not only the historical fundamental right to save seeds, but, ultimately, the right and access to food."

The Supreme Court case Bowman v. Monsanto is slated to be heard sometime in early spring 2013.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Published on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 by Common Dreams

Watchdog Sues FDA For Information on Antibiotic Abuse in Cattle  -Physicians, scientists say practice leads to drug-resistant infections
- Beth Brogan, staff writer

The whistle-blower protection group Government Accountability Project on Wednesday sued the Federal Drug Administration to force the release of data on the long-documented use of antibiotics in food animals, which physicians, scientists and a long list of watchdog agencies argue is leading to antibiotic-resistant infections in humans.

Frozen blocks of beef. (Photograph: Keith Myers/Kansas City Star/MCT)The suit was reported by Mike McGraw ofThe Kansas City Star following a year-long investigation into the "multimillion-dollar-a-year pharmaceutical arms race in the beef industry [that] is not just about curing sick cows."

McGraw continues:

It’s also about fattening cattle cheaply and quickly, driven in part by efforts to maximize profits, according to food safety advocates. In fact, the same number of cattle today are producing twice as much meat as they did in the 1950s because of genetics, drugs and more efficient processing.

Despite decades of warnings, the federal government has failed to pass meaningful regulation of animal drug use, failed to adequately monitor the harmful residues they leave behind, and failed to stop the consumption of meat contaminated with such substances.

Leading up to to the suit, nearly 25,000 Americans sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg concerning the abuse of antibiotics in pigs, chicken, turkeys and cattle, "urging her to do a better job in helping to keep our precious antibiotics effective by asking for this critical information from Big Pharma, and making it public," the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy reports.

“How can we truly know the extent to which these drugs are causing harm if we can’t even access the information,” Amanda Hitt, director of the food integrity campaign at the Government Accountability Project, told the Star.

According a study (pdf) published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, following the May 2011 tornado in Joplin, Mo., 13 of 900 people suffered fungal and other infections from dirt and debris blown into wounds. Two children had highly antibiotic-resistant infections that drugs couldn't cure, and doctors said the overuse of antibiotics in livestock is to blame.

The Star reports:

According to the Pediatric Journal article, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria found in both children were linked to “agricultural antibiotic use, release of heavy metals, organic pollutants and spillage of fecal and pathogenic microorganisms.”

Since the 1950s, larger numbers of cattle have been confined to smaller plots of land to save money, breeding more disease. In an effort to stave off these effects, farmers regularly opt for a quick-fix by inundating their animals with high levels of antibiotics.

The animals' waste contaminates the soil with the drugs and, thus, the soil is overrun with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Each year, about 29 million pounds of antimicrobial drugs are used on cattle, pigs and poultry, The Star reports. It's "an intensive antibiotic regimen, even though the USDA reports that such practices contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria in humans."

According to Food and Water Watch:

Antibiotic resistance has become a global problem. People get sicker from these infections, as it takes multiple rounds of increasingly stronger antibiotics to stop the infection, allowing the infection to progress further than it might otherwise. Fewer drug options can make it harder for doctors to treat patients with allergies and make it more likely for patients to require stronger drugs given intravenously.

But because the government won't reveal exactly how much of those drugs are used in cattle or other meat animals—it's a "trade secret," the Star reports—the Government Accountability Project sued for that information.

Opposition to antibiotic use in cattle has poured in from sources ranging from veterinarians to physicians, scientists and the World Health Organization. Even other cattle ranchers have stopped using antibiotics for growth promotion because, as rancher Bill Haw told The Star, "Given the problems, it's crazy to do so."

One legislator, Rep. Louise Slaughter, (D-NY), has advocated for legislation that would limit agricultural uses of seven antibiotics considered critical in humans, including penicillin. But the bill has never passed, because influential pharmaceutical and trade groups oppose it, arguing it “would ultimately harm animal welfare, animal health, food safety, and food security.”

Scientist Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "They kick butt on (Capitol) Hill and they have blocked every single effort at oversight ... They would prefer that the public not know the quantities of antibiotics they are using and for what purposes, which is why they also oppose more data collection by the government."

Finally, in April, the FDA asked the beef industry for "voluntary" reductions in antibiotic use, and in August a court ordered the FDA to "stop dillydallying" and hold regulatory hearings about the use of drugs in livestock. The agency appealed the rulings.

Allen Williams, a former feedlot owner and cattle specialist at Mississippi State University, told The Star that the use of antibiotics is about the money.

“It’s pressure from pharmaceutical companies," he said. "They are making money . . . and they don’t want it to stop."

"Who’re the losers of FDA turning a blind eye?," asks Dr. David Wallinga at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. "You, me—virtually anyone who stands to suffer from ineffective antibiotics when they really need them. The winners, until now, have of course been Big Pharma. So long as no one questions how and where antibiotics get used in food production, they keep profiting from selling more of these precious drugs than they ought to."