Saturday, January 4, 2014


Published on Friday, January 3, 2014 by Common Dreams

Coming to a Field Near You: 'Agent Orange Corn'?
'2,4-D corn and soybeans just keep us on the same old pesticide treadmill; it’s a terrible idea.'
- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Critics fear the USDA's assessment of 'Agent Orange' crops will increase the use of toxic pesticides. (Photo: jeffbalke/cc/flickr)Despite widespread opposition from food safety, environmental and watchdog groups, as well ashealth professionals and concerned consumers, the USDA has paved the way for the commercial use of genetically engineered crops dubbed "Agent Orange" corn and soybeans.

In its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) released Friday, the agency said that its "preferred" option for Dow AgroSciences' "Enlist" corn and soybean, genetically engineered (GE) to be resistant to the herbicide 2,4-D, is to deregulate them.

2,4-D, the third most widely used herbicide in the U.S., is made by Dow Chemical, and was a component of Agent Orange. The herbicide has been linked to Parkinson's, birth defects, reproductive problems, and endocrine disruption.

Critics say that green-lighting these two genetically engineered crops will expand the use of toxic herbicides at the expense of public and environmental health, while padding the coffers of he pesticide industry.

"'Agent Orange crops' are designed to survive a chemical assault with 2,4-D. They will increase the use of toxic pesticides in industrial agriculture while providing absolutely no benefit to consumers," said Center for Food Safety executive director Andrew Kimbrell.

Some see a cautionary tale from Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, which led to an increased use of glyphosate and the creation of "super weeds."

"USDA is propelling American agriculture further down a path of increased dependence on older, more toxic pesticides."
—Patty Lovera, Food and Water Watch"When Dow Chemical and Monsanto first brought out GE crops, they assured us their new, expensive seeds would clean up our environment and reduce pesticide use. That didn’t happen," said Iowa corn and soybean farmer George Naylor. "Today weeds are resistant to Roundup and many farmers are using older, more deadly pesticides to kill them. 2,4-D corn and soybeans just keep us on the same old pesticide treadmill; it’s a terrible idea."

This "pesticide treadmill" means profits for the industry.

"GE herbicide-resistant seeds are clearly the growth engine powering the pesticide industry," stated Pesticide Action Network senior scientist, Marcia Ishii-Eiteman. "These seeds are part of a technology package explicitly designed to drive up herbicide sales."

Critics also charge that the likely approval means the USDA is abdicating its duty to the American public.

"By continuing to rubber-stamp its approval of Dow and Monsanto’s latest products, USDA has abandoned its responsibility to safeguard American farmers’ crops, health and livelihoods," Ishii-Eiteman added.

The likely approval of the crops, said Food & Water Watch assistant director Patty Lovera, means the "USDA is propelling American agriculture further down a path of increased dependence on older, more toxic pesticides."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Friday, January 3, 2014


CALIFORNIA: Take Action on GMOs! 

Who: California State Grange, Label GMOs, Moms Across America, Occupy, Organic Sacramento, other coalition groups and you
What: Press conference and rally
When: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, 10 a.m. to noon                                    

Where: West Steps of the California State Capitol, Sacramento

Dear [First Name],

In 2012, all eyes were on California when the state came within a hair’s breadth of passing Prop 37, the ballot initiative to label foods made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Now, in the wake of another narrow loss at the polls (this time in Washington State), California’s anti-GMO activists are coming back strong. And they need your help!

Can you attend a Right to Know Rally on January 6, in Sacramento? If not, can you contact your state legislators on January 6 and ask them to support legislation to require mandatory labeling of GMOs?

2014 could be the year the California State Legislature passes legislation respecting our right to know about GMOs, but it’s an election year and elected officials won’t act unless we show them that our votes count more than Monsanto’s campaign contributions.

If you can attend the Right to Know Rally in Sacramento, please RSVP here:

Whether or not you can come to Sacramento on Jan. 6, we need you to contact your state legislators and ask them to stand up for our right to know about GMOs.

On Jan. 6, the first day of the legislative session, please call the California State Capitol switchboard at (916) 322-9900. Ask to be connected with your elected representatives. (If you’re not sure who your representatives are, click here.

After you’ve been connected, you can say:

“In 2012, a ballot initiative to label genetically engineered food was narrowly defeated by a $46 million campaign of lies led by Monsanto and Pepsi. But polling done after the election found that 67% of California voters still want the right to know if their food has been genetically engineered. Would you support legislation to label genetically engineered food? If yes, would you be willing to introduce or cosponsor this legislation?”

Please take notes on what your legislator (or legislator’s staff) says, and send them to Pamm Larry at


Alexis, Melinda and the OCA team

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Food Industry Presses For National Voluntary 
GMO Labeling StandardsNews • January 1st, 2014

Crucial players in the American food industry are pressing for legislation that would institute a national voluntary labeling system for products that contain genetically engineered ingredients, according to documents obtained by The Hill.

The effort follows expensive battles in California and Washington over state ballot initiatives seeking to impose mandatory labeling regulations for foodstuffs containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Federal legislation imposing voluntary standards is needed to "guard against a costly, unnecessary and inefficient state-by-state system," according to a memo being circulated among food industry trade groups.

A coalition led by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) is behind the effort, industry officials said.

Supporters of mandatory GOP labeling worry federal legislation could pre-empt state laws that would require the labels.

Colin O'Neil, director of government affairs for the Center for Food Safety, which backs mandatory labeling, said a voluntary system would provide consumers with no new information, since the FDA has allowed firms to label their GMO products for over a decade, and none have.

He argued the industry is trying to divert attention way from growing support for mandatory labeling.

"They see the writing on the wall and they are now willing to do everything they can to keep consumers in the dark."

Reached Tuesday, Louis Finkel, the GMA's executive vice president for government affairs, said the group has been in discussions with lawmakers, "for quite some time," and have been increasingly focused on a federal solution in the last two years.

"We started looking at this issue in a more holistic way," Finkel said, arguing that it isn't in consumers' best interests, "to manage our labeling laws through political campaigns."

He said the group, while supportive of a voluntary labeling system overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), remains steadfastly opposed to mandatory labels for products that have been deemed perfectly safe to eat.

"There is no material difference between genetically engineered ingredients and their conventional counterparts," Finkel said.

Public safety and consumer interest groups that have long demanded mandatory GMO labels will oppose anything short of that goal, O'Neil said.

The memo being circulated does not include specific legislative language but rather lays out, in broad strokes, the contours of a bill that would impose new regulations on GMO products.

The industry proposal calls for mandatory labels for any products derived from genetically engineered plants ¯ but only if they are found to present any risks to health or safety.

To date, no GMO ingredients have been deemed unsafe.

In the absence of any such designation, legislation outlined in the memo would direct the FDA to develop a new voluntary labeling system under which products could be labeled as "GMO-free." The labeling system would also apply to any companies that wish to label products as containing GMOs.

The proposal would call for a formal definition of what constitutes a product that is "natural," and other provisions intended to prevent consumer confusion.

It would also require mandatory FDA safety review of all new technology involved in the production of genetically modified foods before they hit the market.

Farmers have, for years, planted herbicide resistant, or Roundup Ready, corn; cotton; and soybeans, which allow farmers to spray their fields for weeds. Proponents argue that genetic engineering reduces the use of chemicals and lowers the cost of food.

They contend it is perfectly safe and vital to providing a sufficient food supply for the world's ever-growing population. As much as 80 percent of the nation's food products contain GMOs, the industry estimates.

But critics of the innovations warn that they could pose threats to public health or damage the environment.

The concerns have spawned bills calling for mandatory labels on GMO products in 26 states.

Though none have become law, the legislation has been the subject of major political battles in California, Oregon and, most recently, Washington state.

The fights have proven costly for both sides, though industry groups have far outspent the backers of the laws, pouring millions of dollars into opposition campaigns.

Every initiative has been defeated thus far, though more are expected to crop up in the months to come.

Industry groups maintain they support transparency but say a tapestry of mandatory state laws would be overly complicated and would ultimately drive up costs to consumers.

Numerous industry organizations, including the Food Marketing Institute and the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), told The Hill on Tuesday that they favor a national approach.

"AFFI's members are supportive of a finding a workable federal solution," spokesman Corey Henry said.

It is unclear how soon a formal bill might emerge, or who in Congress would introduce the measure.

The Center for Food Safety in 2011 submitted a petition calling upon the FDA to issue regulations requiring mandatory labeling, arguing legislation is not needed to support a federal rule-making process.

The group is also backing legislation introduced by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) that would direct the FDA to enact regulations imposing mandatory labeling.

"You have to tell people the truth about your product," Boxer said.

She argued that voluntary standards wouldn't rein in "bad actors" who refuse to say whether food contains GMO ingredients. Still, she called the industry's support for legislation a positive development, considering that she has been calling for labels for 14 years.

"I think it shows they are coming around," she said. "I don't read anything nefarious into it."

Copyright 2013 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.All Rights Reserved



Published on Thursday, January 2, 2014 by Common Dreams

GMO and ‘Natural’ Food Fight: Treacherous Terrain
by Ronnie Cummins
(Photo: Martin Argles / the Guardian)
2014 is shaping up to be a decisive year for the future of food and farming. Grassroots activists are gearing up for new legislative battles, including state GMO labeling laws and county bans on growing genetically engineered crops. Meanwhile the multinational food corporations last month raised the stakes in the ongoing David vs. Goliath battle by petitioning the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to allow companies to continue to label or market products that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) as "natural." And all signs point to efforts by industry and the FDA to float either voluntary, or watered-down mandatory GMO labeling laws that would take away states’ rights to impose strict GMO labeling laws, and also exempt a large percentage of GMO ingredients from labeling.

For more than two decades, Monsanto and Big Food have poisoned and profited with impunity, thanks to the FDA’s reckless 1992 dictate that pesticide-drenched (Roundup-resistant) or insecticide-impregnated (Bt-spliced) crops and foods are “safe and substantially equivalent” to non-GE foods. Now, the Biotech Bullies and Junk Food Giants are under siege by a well-informed and passionate grassroots food movement that is determined to drastically reduce or eliminate the market share of genetically engineered and chemically-intensive foods and crops.

Since natural health and food activists discovered the “Achilles Heel” of the GMA and processed junk food industries—mandatory labeling—there has been no stopping this movement. Over the past several years, this movement has painstakingly built a broad national coalition to demand laws requiring mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients, the same types of laws that have been passed in the European Union and scores of other nations. Food activists, bolstered by a growing number of successful class action lawsuits, are also demanding that food manufacturers and retailers put an end to the routine industry practice of fraudulently labeling or marketing products contaminated with GMOs and other chemicals as “natural” or “all natural.”

In the past two years, citizen activists in 30 states have pressured legislators to pass mandatory GMO labeling laws, with partial success in three states: Vermont, Connecticut and Maine. Anti-GMO campaigners boldly challenged the mega-billion-dollar biotech and Big Food establishment in 2012 in California (Proposition 37) and 2013 in Washington State (I-522) by launching state GMO labeling initiatives. Pro-organic and natural health activists raised a multi-million dollar war chest and mobilized millions of voters in two hard-fought and highly publicized campaigns that industry barely won (51%-49%). Both initiatives garnered national attention. Combined, they forced the biotech and food elite to spend $70 million ($12 million of which was illegally launderedin Washington state through their front group, the Grocery Manufacturers Association) and wage a blatantly dishonest campaign that ultimately divided the industry and damaged the reputations and sales of a number of national brands, including Coca-Cola (Honest Tea and Odwalla); Pepsico (Naked Juice); General Mills (Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen); Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s); Dean Foods (Horizon, Silk, White Wave); Heinz (Heinz Organic), Nestle’s, and Kellogg’s (Kashi, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger).

Meanwhile, inspired in part by this anti-GMO grassroots upsurge, over 100 class action lawsuitshave been filed across the U.S., charging major food corporations with labeling fraud for labeling or marketing GMO-tainted or chemically processed foods and cooking oils as “natural” or “all natural.” Rather than admit that much of their product lines are junk foods filled with synthetic chemicals and GMOs, and that nearly the entire $70-billion “natural” products industry is based on fraud and deception (i.e. misleading health minded consumers into believing that unregulated, non-certified “natural” products are “nearly organic,”), large companies such as Pepsi, General Mills, Kellogg’s and Con-Agra, and specialty brands such as Chabani and Barbara’s will likely pay out millions of dollars in out-of-court settlements this year while quietly removing “natural” and “all natural” labels from their non-organic products.

GMO labeling laws are the cornerstone of the anti-GMO movement. But consumers are also expanding the fight by demanding outright bans on the growing of GMO crops. A number of counties in California, Washington and Hawaii have already passed bans, while a half dozen others, including counties in Oregon and California, will vote to create GMO-free zones in 2014.

Beyond “Exemptions:” Comprehensive Labeling

In a bizarre but effective propaganda move, polls reveal that Monsanto and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) bamboozled millions of voters into voting “no” on mandatory GMO food labeling initiatives in California and Washington by pretending to take the side of consumers. How? By pointing out that these ballot initiatives failed to require GMO labels on restaurant, cafeteria and take-out food, and on meat and animal products. During the California and Washington campaigns, industry hammered home its message that the proposed initiatives were “incomplete,” “confusing,” “expensive” and riddled with “loopholes” that somehow benefitted nefarious “special interests.” In fact, consumers would have preferred a more comprehensive law, with no exemptions. But state laws mandate single-subject or limited provision language, and federal law preempts mandatory state labels on meat packages (though not on grocery store shelves, or on meat and dairy cases).

In the wake of Monsanto and the GMA successfully sowing confusion over GMO labeling “exemptions,” a growing number of activists have decided to call industry’s bluff by upping the ante. Future plans include pushing not only for GMO food labeling laws, but for all-inclusive food labeling legislation that will require restaurants, schools and grocery stores to label not just foods that contain GMO ingredients, but also foods from factory farms where animals are feed GMO-contaminated feed.

As Alexis Baden-Meyer, Political Director of the Organic Consumers Association puts it:

Tens of millions of Americans want to know if the food they buy contains genetically engineered ingredients. They want to know whether the meat, fish and animal products they consume come from animals reared on factory farms or CAFO’s (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), where the animals are inhumanely confined, routinely fed genetically engineered grain, injected with synthetic hormones, engorged with growth promoters and dosed with antibiotics. Concerned consumers want and need this information whether they are shopping in a grocery store, sitting down in a restaurant or worrying about what their kids are eating in the school cafeteria. After we win the upcoming strategic battles over GMO food labeling in Vermont and Oregon, organic consumers and our allies will push for comprehensive factory farm labels as well.

Industry’s Next Move: Co-Opting the Right-to-Know Movement

Industry sees the writing on the wall. As the head of the GMA admitted last year “we can’t keep fighting these labeling battles in every state.” Monsanto, Bayer and their allies such as General Mills, Coca-Cola and Pepsi know that in 2014, several states including Vermont and Oregon will likely pass mandatory GMO food labeling laws, while a flood of successful class action lawsuits will highlight the fact that major brands are fraudulently labeling their GMO and chemically-tainted junk foods and beverages as “natural” or all natural.

Once a greater degree of labeling transparency is required by law, even if in just a handful of states, leading food manufacturers will find themselves in a terrible bind. Will Kellogg’s or Coke admit that their products contain GMOs in Vermont or Oregon, while refusing to divulge this fact in the other 48 states, Canada and Mexico? Or will they be forced to do what they’ve already done in the EU, take these GMOs out of their products? Similarly if they can’t label their junk foods as “natural” or “all natural,” how will they successfully compete in the marketplace?

Backed into a corner by the anti-GMO movement, industry has come out fighting. The GMA has called on the Obama Administration and the FDA to bail out Big Food. If grassroots-powered state laws and class action judges will no longer permit the biotech and food industry to secretly tamper with non-organic food and then fraudulently label these products as “natural,” then industry wants the federal government to take away states’ power to require GMO labeling, and at the same time, take away the judiciary’s power to rule on fraudulently labeled “natural” products.

Leaked documents obtained by the New York Times reveal that the GMA is lobbying the FDA to allow the use of “natural” on food labels even if the products contain GMOs. As Times writer Stephanie Strom reported on Dec. 19:

Use of the term "natural" is now generating battles similar to previous fights over terms like organic, amid initiatives in several states that seek to label foods in a more transparent way. Last summer, Connecticut passed legislation on labeling that would make it illegal to use the word "natural" on the packaging of any food product containing biotech ingredients, and the governor signed it on Dec. 11.

At the same time former USDA officials Dan Glickman and Kathleen Merrigan are floating the idea that certain members of the organic elite might be persuaded to back off on the demand for strict GMO labeling if certified organic products are allowed to state on their labels that they are “GMO-free.” As Glickman and Merrigan told the LA Times:

Mandatory GMO labeling of all food will continue to arouse passions on both sides of the issue. Though it may not satisfy all GMO-labeling advocates nor be welcomed by all leaders in the biotechnology industry, allowing a GMO-free organic label provides more choice in the marketplace and responds to the demands of millions of American consumers in a practical and common sense way.

Meanwhile informed sources in the organic industry are warning that the FDA might be preparing to propose a watered-down federal GMO labeling law designed to co-opt the organic and anti-GMO Movement and take away states’ rights to pass stricter labeling laws covering all genetically engineered ingredients basically nullifying laws now under consideration in Vermont, Oregon and several dozen other states.

This strategy would involve the FDA allowing foods made from highly processed GE ingredients, such as cooking oils, high fructose corn syrup and sugar beets, that contain no easily detectable GE proteins down to a specified level to be labeled "natural”; certified organic foods to be labeled as “GMO-free.” Under this strategy, labels would be required on only those foods that contain readily detectable GMO proteins, as determined by standardized tests. In other words a large percentage of GMO-tainted foods would still not have to be labeled.

So as we near victory on the GMO labeling front in Vermont and Oregon, and in class-action lawsuits this year, we must beware FDA treachery and the willingness of some in the organic and so-called “natural” industry to sell us out. If the FDA proposes a watered-down federal GMO labeling bill, or a rubber-stamp for the fraudulent industry practice of labeling GMO-tainted foods as “natural” or “all natural,” we must raise holy hell, and mobilize as never before.

Either way 2014 is shaping up to be a make or break year for citizen activism on the food and farming front, part of a larger battle that will determine whether we, the grassroots majority, take back our democracy, or surrender to the corporatocracy and their indentured media, scientists and politicians.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Ronnie Cummins is a veteran activist, author, and organizer. He is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate, Via Organica.;

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 1, 2014   1:00 AM              

Maine Voices: Farmers support honesty, right to know regarding GMO food
Growers know that labeling will allow the free market to operate and let consumers make informed decisions.

BRIDGEWATER — The one fact most abundantly clear in the genetically modified organisms labeling debate is the unprecedented and nearly unanimous support of American citizens who favor the right to know if they are eating food containing GMOs. This fact stands in stark contrast to the fiction invented by Monsanto and furthered by Gordon Colby in his recent misleading op-ed piece (“Maine Voices: Consider scientific facts, not emotional campaigns, when checking GMOs,” Dec. 11).


Jim Gerritsen grows Maine-certified seed potatoes in Bridgewater, where his family has been farming for 37 years.

As a potato farmer in Aroostook County, I would like to add another important point of clarity to this discussion: American farmers, just like their non-farmer counterparts, fully support the consumer’s right to know about GMO food. Right-to-know labeling offers basic transparency, and it does not offer a value judgment as to whether GMOs are good or bad.

Farmers understand that transparency is vital for a thriving economy and democracy. GMO labeling will inform and allow the free market to operate, enabling citizens to make responsible purchasing decisions.

Last spring, the Aroostook County Farm Bureau board of directors endorsed Maine’s GMO labeling bill, L.D. 718. Farmers understand that L.D. 718 is a consumer right-to-know bill aimed at labeling processed food and has virtually no impact on farmers.

In October, at the annual meeting of the Aroostook County Farm Bureau, members voted unanimously to ratify the decision of their board to endorse L.D. 718. Furthermore, these Aroostook County farmers directed their leadership to support endorsement of L.D. 718 at the Maine State Farm Bureau annual meeting in Bar Harbor in November. There, after vigorous debate, a vote was cast by delegates who represented farmers from the entire state. The delegates voted overwhelmingly to endorse L.D. 718.

The Maine Farm Bureau isn’t the only farmers organization supporting GMO labeling. Other highly respected farm organizations also understand that GMO labeling offers reasonable transparency and has won their endorsement.

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has been a leader and strong supporter of L.D. 718. In fact, GMO labeling transparency was long a goal of MOFGA Executive Director Russell Libby, prior to his passing, and was established as one of MOFGA’s top priorities for 2013.

Furthermore, the national trade organization, the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, based in the Maine town of Washington, supports L.D. 718 and dozens of other GMO labeling efforts at both the state and federal level. Farmers across the border in the New Hampshire Grange, at their fall annual meeting, also endorsed the labeling of GMO food.

The National Farmers Union, as well as its local chapter, the New England Farmers Union, has established clear, intelligent policies addressing consumer concerns. Their positions mirror one another, and both farmers groups support mandatory labeling of GMO food.

Responsible farmers and their organizations support GMO labeling. Mr. Colby’s hostility to consumer interests identifies him as a clear outlier. Importantly, he does not represent the views of his own blueberry industry. The fact is, the Wild Blueberry Commission decided to remain neutral on L.D. 718.

In fact, GMO labeling is remarkably popular. Last spring, a scientific Pan-Atlantic poll showed that 91 percent of Maine voters favored legislation enshrining their right to know about GMOs.

Similarly, just a few weeks ago, a scientific Mellman poll indicated that 90 percent of New Hampshire voters support GMO labeling. These two New England polls document broad, nearly unanimous support for GMO labeling among Republicans, independents and Democrats.

Time and again, national polls have shown similarly phenomenal support for GMO labeling: 93 percent in a July 2013 New York Times poll; 96 percent in a February 2011 MSNBC poll, and 93 percent in an October 2010 Reuters/NPR poll.

Last spring, Maine’s two leading daily newspapers, the Portland Press Herald and the Bangor Daily News, both endorsed Maine’s GMO labeling bill. L.D. 718 enjoyed the support of 123 legislative co-sponsors. When the measure came up for floor votes in the Legislature, it passed by huge margins: 141-4 in the House and 35-0 in the Senate.

Internationally, 64 countries in the world, representing more than half the world’s population – including Europe, Asia, South Africa, Russia and China – have GMO labeling.

Mainers uniformly support GMO labeling. The Maine Legislature has acted responsively and responsibly. Mainers now expect Gov. LePage to make good on his promise to sign L.D. 718 into law in January.

Farmers stand alongside their fellow citizens: All of us want our right to know.

— Special to the Press Herald  

Monday, December 30, 2013


From the Sky to the Land, Pollution's Toxic Toll on China

Roughly 8 million acres of the country's farmland is too polluted to grow crops, government official says

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer
The thick smog that has blanketed major cities is not the only menace pollution has unleashed on China.
Roughly 8 million acres of the country's farmland is too polluted with heavy metals and pesticides to grow food, a government official said Monday.
Speaking at a news conference, Wang Shiyuan, a deputy minister of the Ministry of Land and Resources, stated that "moderate to severe pollution" affecting 8.3 million acres meant that those "areas cannot continue farming."  That acreage represents roughly two percent of the country's acres of arable land.
According to the Associated Press, some scientists have speculated that the affected area may be closer to 60 million acres.
In February, China refused to publicly disclose the results of a national soil pollution study, saying it was a "state secret." The findings outlined Monday represent the first publicly disclosed report on land conditions since 996.
In May, public outcry followed the discovery of cadmium in rice samples above the national limits. The New York Times reported at the time:
Chinese citizens have become increasingly irate about food and beverages tainted with pesticides, illegal preservatives and additives, as well as industrial waste and heavy metals from polluted land and air. The news that this mainstay of the kitchen may also be toxic drew a vehement outcry.
“Now before every meal must we all first wonder: Does this rice have too much cadmium? Are the vegetables laced with pesticide?” one Chinese Internet user wrote on the popular Tencent microblog service. Another wondered whether he was expected to quit rice the same way he quit smoking.
As China deals with food security for its expanding population, some say that the possibility of feeding the country through organic growing methods is not only possible but can be more productive than conventional, pesticide-reliant farming.
"There is no problem to feed the Chinese through organic farming," said Xiangming Wu, General Manager of Zhikun Agricultural Development Company.
Last week China announced revised production standards in an effort to curb pollution, as Reutersreported:
China will raise standards for the production of cement, batteries, leather and heavy metals as part of its efforts to cut air, water and soil pollution, the environment ministry said on Friday. [...]
According to a notice issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (, China produced 2.21 billion tons of cement in 2012, 56 percent of the global total. Beijing aims to close around 370 million tons of outdated capacity by 2015.