Friday, March 14, 2014


gmo alfalfa lawsuit 263x164 Huge: New Lawsuit Filed Against USDA over Missing Docs Showing GMO DangersHuge: New Lawsuit Filed

 Against USDA over

Missing Docs Showing

 GMO Dangers

by Christina Sarich  March 14, 2014

Like many Americans, you may be beating your head against the wall trying to figure out how governmental agencies could so blatantly ignore the facts concerning GMO dangers. A new lawsuit filed March 12, 2014 by Center for Food Safety (CFS) demands that federal documents be released which might incriminate the United States Department of Agriculture over findings that GMO were harmful, while shielding the public from this knowledge. The complaint is filed with the US District Court for the District of Columbia, and can be viewed in full, here.
The lawsuit attests that political pressure was asserted on the FDA to approve genetically engineered alfalfa. It seeks 1179 documents from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) which explain why the agency reversed its original decision to deny GMOs, specifically RoundUp Ready Alfalfa, being promoted by Monsanto. The Director of CFS, Andrew Kimbrell, states:
 “USDA determined Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa posed significant environmental and economics harms and initially proposed placing restrictions on it. Yet the agency went ahead and granted full unrestricted approval one month later. Did the White House intervene? Did Monsanto pressure the agency? The fact is we don’t know, and unless the court orders USDA to hand over these documents we may never know,”
Monsanto permission to sell their poison alfalfa under the name RoundUp Ready. The very next year, CFS, along with a coalition of farmers, challenged the approval. And even though Monsanto tried to intervene, courts sided with the Center for Food Safety. APHIS was ordered to complete a thorough analysis of the GMO crop’s impacts on farmers and the environment before making a decision.
Sadly, Monsanto got its way after appealing the decision at the Supreme Court level, even though the APHIS report showed significant damage to agronomics and the environment at large. The report recommended restrictions of this Monsanto crop.
In January of 2011, APHIS reversed its decision in favor of Monsanto, seemingly ignoring all the data they had uncovered showing that GMO alfalfa was not good for the environment, farmers, or consumers. They even stated that they ‘had no choice’ but to grant unrestricted approval. Alternative media then questioned the abrupt reversal, raising questions of undue influence.
 “APHIS’s sudden change of heart on the approval of Roundup Ready alfalfa has led to the contamination of organic and conventional alfalfa to the detriment of U.S. farmers, and threatens the health of our environment and the survival of sensitive species,” said Sylvia Wu, attorney for Center for Food Safety. “The public deserves an explanation from the agency. APHIS cannot be allowed to disregard the public’s right to access governmental records guaranteed by the Freedom of Information Act.” 
While it isn’t corn, wheat, or soy, alfalfa is the fourth most commonly grown GMO crop in the US. It is grown in every US state and asserts huge economic outcomes on farmers who grow it. Data now shows that 90% of all alfalfa grown in the US is covered in Round Up Ready chemicals.
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Thursday, March 13, 2014


Voices Blast Dow Chemical's 'Agent Orange' Seed Warfare

Pending approval of the GE Seeds, Dow prepares to roll out seed-herbicide combination package, spelling 'catastrophe' for farms and farmers

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer
(Image: Center for Food Safety)As the final public comment period wrapped up on Tuesday for the approval of Dow Agrosciences' new genetically engineered and herbicide-resistant seeds, hundreds of thousands of people are demanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture halt the "chemical arms race" that is poisoning our people and planet.
Dubbed "Enlist," the corn and soybean seeds are resistant to the toxic herbicide, 2,4-D—a known neurotoxin that was part of the cocktail of chemicals used in Agent Orange spray.
According to food safety group Food & Water Watch, over 387,000 people responded to the USDA's draft Environmental Impact Statement. Individuals who submitted comments voiced their personal concerns with the seeds as they urged the agency to reject their approval.
"This poison chemical company has the ruthless, malicious, heartless audacity to make such a request to have their poison, 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange to be applied to their so-called GMO food crops," wrote Lori Nakamura-Higa, the neice of a Vietnam veteran that suffered from Agent Orange poisoning, from Kaneohe, Hawaii. "I [am] reminded daily of the loss of quality of life trying to persevere with this plaguing struggle."
"This chemical arms race with weeds means more pesticidal pollution, environmental damage, and higher production costs," said Gary Rost, of Falon Heights, Minn. "[A]pproving this crop would take us backwards, seriously endangering human health and the environment."
"You have a duty to protect the health and safety of the public. Dow's applications are clear dangers and represent a violation of public policy," wrote Ken Mason, Wilmette, Ill.
"Why in the world would we want to approve 2,4-D resistant corn and soybeans when Roundup resistant corn and soybeans have failed to do anything except to increase the use of pesticides?" asked Jean Bixley, Cambridge, Minn. "Pesticides are not healthy for anyone, and the government should be looking at ways to reduce or eliminate their usage, not increase it."
"Big agriculture and chemical companies are not honest about the risks and someday we will all pay the price for their greed." —Kevin Peroni, Denver, Colo.
"For once, do what is best for the American people instead of what big corporations are paying you to do. This could be catastrophic to public health," said Rachel Wood, Hudsonville, Mich.
"We must stop poisoning our food with chemicals that are unsafe for our health and our environment," wrote Kevin Peroni, from Denver, Colo. "Big agriculture and chemical companies are not honest about the risks and someday we will all pay the price for their greed."
Though the public comment period has ended, the Center for Food Safety is sponsoring a petition calling on the White House to stop approval of the GE seeds.
As the USDA itself has conceded, approval of the GE seeds would lead to a "200 to 600 percent increase" in the agricultural use of 2,4-D by 2020. The chemical has been linked to Parkinson'sbirth defects, reproductive problems, and endocrine disruption.
"With all these risks, why are chemical companies like Dow and Monsanto formulating seeds to be resistant to this decades-old chemical with a terrible health track record?"asks Anna LappĂ©, author of Diet for a Hot Planet and co-founder of the The Small Planet Institute.
Answering her own question, LappĂ© explains how the introduction of herbicide-resistant seeds further boosts sales of those herbicides, and thus more profits. "The real motivation behind the introduction of those products is Monsanto’s and Dow’s bottom lines," she writes.
Earlier this week, Reuters published an in-depth piece on Dow's projected growth pending approval of these GE seeds. Dubbed their "most important release," according to Dan Kittle, Dow Agrosciences Vice President of Research and Design, the company anticipates they will double their roughly $7 billion in annual revenues over the next five to seven years.
The "key to Dow's rise in the agriculture seed and chemical kingdom," according to Reuters, is the joint packaging of their "new GMO seed and herbicide combination branded the 'Enlist Weed Control System.'"

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


UN Report Calls for Radical, Democratic Food System

Complete reversal, not reform, of global food system needed in favor of sustainable food sovereignty

- Jacob Chamberlain, staff writer
Photo via Flickr / desfilhesjm / Creative Commons LicenseThe current global food system needs to be "radically" and "democratically" changed in order to alleviate global hunger and serve human rights over the profits of major agribusiness corporations, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food.
“At the local, national and international levels, the policy environment must urgently accommodate alternative, democratically-mandated visions” which go beyond the goal of profit maximization and instead rebuild local and sustainable food models, said Rapporteur Olivier De Schutter, while presenting his final report (pdf) to the UN Human Rights Council, finalizing his six-year term.
“Food democracy must start from the bottom-up, at the level of villages, regions, cities, and municipalities,” the rights expert said.
“Food security must be built around securing the ability of smallholder farmers to thrive,” he emphasized. “Respect for their access to productive resources is key in this regard."
The current system, says De Schutter, has instead created a world monopolized by the big-agro "green revolution" of mono-cropping, industrialization and pesticide-heavy techniques, which has boosted agricultural production over the past 50 years but has "hardly reduced the number of hungry people," the report states.
This system of large-scale export-based agriculture is most often "based on the exploitation of a largely dis-empowered workforce," the report states, "operated at the expense of family farms producing food crops for local consumption" that cannot keep up with corporate competitors.
This has resulted in a "paradoxical situation in which many low-income countries, though they are typically agriculture-based, raw commodity-exporting economies, are highly dependent on food imports," the report states, "sometimes supplemented by food aid, because they have neglected to invest in local production and food processing to feed their own communities."
This industrialized system has also led to a major loss in biodiversity, soil erosion, mass pollution, and a rise in man-made greenhouse gas emissions—"the most potentially devastating impacts of industrial modes of agricultural production," the report states.
Under these conditions, and particularly with the onset of climate change, agricultural productivity will only decrease sharply over time, De Schutter warns.
According to De Schutter, an "eradication of hunger and malnutrition" is an achievable goal only if we completely reverse the current logic of our food system to a system which depends on democratic decision-making led by the people—or as food justice campaigners put it: Food Sovereignty.
“National right to food strategies should be co-designed by relevant stakeholders, in particular the groups most affected by hunger and malnutrition, and they should be supported by independent monitoring," stated De Schutter.
De Schutter continued:
Objectives such as supplying diverse, culturally-acceptable foods to communities, supporting smallholders, sustaining soil and water resources, and raising food security within particularly vulnerable areas, must not be crowded out by the one-dimensional quest to produce more food. [...]
The greatest deficit in the food economy is the democratic one. By harnessing people’s knowledge and building their needs and preferences into the design of ambitious food policies at every level, we would arrive at food systems that are built to endure.
The report offers as an alternative a system which enables local, autonomous food production alongside international trade that would incorporate "agroecological" modes of production. Agroecology includes techniques such as "intercropping, the recycling of manure and food scraps into fertilizers, and agroforestry...that reduce the use of external inputs and maximize resource efficiency."
The report explains:
Because agroecology reduces the cost of farming by minimizing the use of expensive inputs, it improves the livelihoods of farming households, particularly the poorest households. And it supports rural development: because it is knowledge-intensive and generally more labor-intensive, it creates employment opportunities in rural areas.
Though easier to implement on smaller-sized farms, agroecological techniques can be disseminated on a large scale and should also inspire reforms in how large production units operate.
Other objectives include reducing meat production in favor of crops grown for human consumption and a reduction in biofuel use—both of which have "represented a major source of price volatility on agricultural markets" over the years.
In response to the report, Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth Food Sovereignty Program Co-coordinator, stated, “This report is the only recipe for the eradication of hunger. Its recommendations are bold and simple: our current food systems must be reversed, not just reformed.”
“The report's recommendations clearly state that Food Sovereignty is needed to eradicate hunger as well as to democratize our food systems," said Drago. "The report also recognizes Food Sovereignty as an essential condition to be fulfilled in order to fully realize the right to food."