Thursday, August 28, 2014


Published on
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Federal Protection Sought for Iconic Pollinators 'In Deadly Free Fall'

Groups urge Endangered Species Act protection for monarchs suffering from assualt as a result of genetically engineered crops dominating Corn Belt
A monarch butterfly enjoys some milkweed.  (Photo: David Levinson)
The alarming decline of the monarch butterfly population necessitates federal action to save the iconic orange and black pollinators.
Such is the urging of the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, joined by the Xerces Society and monarch expert Dr. Lincoln Brower, who sent a petition (pdf) Tuesday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the butterflies.
Over the last two decades, the groups say, population has plummeted by more than 90 percent. To put that "staggering" figure in perspective, Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that "in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio.”
The request for federal protection follows stacking evidence against corporate agriculture for its role in these declining numbers.   A primary threat to the pollinators, the petition states, is widespread plantings in the Midwest of genetically modified crops and the herbicides used on them, which are wiping out the monarch's larval food, milkweed.
"In the Midwest, nearly ubiquitous adoption of, glyphosate-resistant 'Roundup Ready' corn and soybeans has caused a precipitous decline of common milkweed, and thus of monarchs, which lay their eggs only on milkweeds. The majority of the world’s monarchs originate in the Corn Belt region of the United States where milkweed loss has been severe, and the threat that this habitat loss poses to the resiliency, redundancy, and representation of the monarch cannot be overstated," the petition reads.
Brower, who has been studying monarchs for six decades, said we need to take action before it is too late.
“Monarchs are in a deadly free fall and the threats they face are now so large in scale that Endangered Species Act protection is needed sooner rather than later, while there is still time to reverse the severe decline in the heart of their range.”
“The monarch is the canary in the cornfield, a harbinger of environmental change that we’ve brought about on such a broad scale that many species of pollinators are now at risk if we don’t take action to protect them,” Brower warned.

Published on
Thursday, June 05, 2014
Common Dreams

Genetically Modified Crops Fueling Decline of Monarch Butterflies: Report

New study links loss of milkweed habitat as a result of herbicide resistant crops to monarchs' falling numbers
A monarch sits on milkweed. (Photo: George Bott/cc/flickr)
A monarch sits on milkweed. (Photo: George Bott/cc/flickr)
The monarch butterflies' numbers have been plummeting in recent years, and a new study has pointed to the likely main culprit: loss of its summer habitat as a result of genetically modified crops.
The findings from researchers with the University of Guelph were published Wednesday in the Journal of Animal Ecology.
A report issued earlier this year from the World Wildlife Fund and Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas pointed to three main factors threatening the pollinators: deforestation and forest degradation in monarch reserves that serve as their winter habitat in Mexico, habitat loss due to land use changes and the loss of its larval food plant—milkweed—as a result of the widespread use of the herbicide glyphosate, and weather extremes.
The new study, however, puts the main cause of the crisis squarely on its summer habitat loss in the United States.
The researchers' projection model showed that disturbances in their breeding grounds affected the butterflies' number to a greater degree than disturbances to their wintering grounds. Those breeding grounds need to have milkweed, the only host plant for the monarch caterpillars.
A monarch caterpillar on a milkweed leaf. (Photo: forevertrusting/cc/flickr)But the number of milkweed plants has been plummeting—21 percent between 1995 and 2013—especially in the Corn Belt, home to widespread planting of crops that have been genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. The region is also "monarch corridor," as Monarch Watch Director Chip Ward has described, because it serves as critical summer and spring breeding grounds for a large proportion of monarchs
“Our work provides the first evidence that monarch butterfly numbers in eastern North America are most sensitive to changes in the availability of milkweed on breeding grounds, particularly in the Corn Belt region of the United States,” stated Ryan Norris, a professor in Guelph’s Department of Integrative Biology and study co-author.
Efforts by the Mexican government to conserve winter monarch habitat have "no doubt gone a long way towards conserving monarchs that breed throughout eastern North America," stated lead author and current University of Guelph post-doctoral researcher Tyler Flockhart. "However, our results provide evidence that there is now another imminent threat."
Speaking with CBC News, Norris said that "likely the biggest cause of loss of milkweed is the adoption of genetically modified crops."
The study also predicts further declines in the population of 14 percent, and a 5 percent chance the species goes nearly extinct within a centruy.
So how do we stop the population free-fall?
“Reducing the negative effects of milkweed loss in the breeding grounds should be the top conservation priority to slow or halt future population declines of the monarch in North America,” Flockhart stated.
To do that, Norris added, “Planting milkweed in the south and central United States would provide the largest immediate benefit.”
Encouraging the planting of milkweed is something Ward's Monarch Watch has been encouraging for years, and in a monarch "recovery plan" he states:
The monarch migration can be saved if there is commitment to the two propositions outlined in the premise to 1) offset annual losses of habitat by planting milkweeds and nectar plants in areas from which they have been extirpated and 2) develop the capacity to plant milkweeds over large landscapes. Both projects require the development of greater capacity to restore milkweeds than exists at present.
But that capacity, though costly, could be implemented within a few years, he adds.
In addition to the efforts individuals can make in restoring the habitat, the study's findings point to a need for a fundamental shift away from current, herbicide-reliant agricultural practices and ethanol mandates that have incentivized corn monocultures and destroyed milkweed.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014


Seeds of Truth – A response to The New Yorker

Seeds of Truth
Dr. Vandana Shiva
(A response to the article ‘Seeds of Doubt’ by Michael Specter in The New Yorker)

I am glad that the future of food is being discussed, and thought about, on farms, in homes, on TV, online and in magazines, especially of The New Yorker’s caliber. The New Yorker has held its content and readership in high regard for so long. The challenge of feeding a growing population with the added obstacle of climate change is an important issue. Specter’s piece, however, is poor journalism. I wonder why a journalist who has been Bureau Chief in Moscow for The New York Times and Bureau Chief in New York for the Washington Post, and clearly is an experienced reporter, would submit such a misleading piece. Or why The New Yorker would allow it to be published as honest reporting, with so many fraudulent assertions and deliberate attempts to skew reality.

‘Seeds of Doubt’ contains many lies and inaccuracies that range from the mundane (we never met in a café but in the lobby of my hotel where I had just arrived from India to attend a High Level Round Table for the post 2015 SDGs of the UN) to grave fallacies that affect people’s lives. The piece has now become fodder for the social media supporting the Biotech Industry. Could it be that rather than serious journalism, the article was intended as a means to strengthen the biotechnology industry’s push to ‘engage consumers’? Although creative license is part of the art of writing, Michael Specter cleverly takes it to another level, by assuming a very clear position without spelling it out.

Specter’s piece starts with inaccurate information, by design.
“Early this spring, the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva led an unusual pilgrimage across southern Europe. Beginning in Greece, with the international Pan-Hellenic Exchange of Local Seed Varieties Festival, which celebrated the virtues of traditional agriculture, Shiva and an entourage of followers crossed the Adriatic and travelled by bus up the boot of Italy, to Florence, where she spoke at the Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival. After a short planning meeting in Genoa, the caravan rolled on to the South of France, ending in Le Mas d’Azil, just in time to celebrate International Days of the Seed.”
On April 26th, 2014, at the Deutsches Theater Berlin, one of Germany’s most renowned state theatres. I gave a keynote speech for a conference on the relation of democracy and war in times of scarce resources and climate change. From Berlin I flew into Florence for a Seed Festival organized by the Government of the Region of Tuscany, Italy, The Botanical garden of Florence (the oldest in Europe), Banca Etica and Navdanya.  I was joined by a caravan of seed savers, and we carried on to Le Mas d’Azil where we had a conference of all the European seed movements.
It would be convenient in the narrative that Specter attempts to weave, to make this exercise look like a joyride of ‘unscientific people on a “pilgrimage”’. Writing about the European governments, universities and movements accurately would not suit Specter’s intention because the strong resistance (including from governments) to GMOs in Europe is based on science.
My education doesn’t suit his narrative either: a Ph.D. on the ‘Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory’. Specter has reduced my M.Sc. Honors in Physics to a B.Sc. for convenience.  Mr. Specter and the Biotech Industry (and The New Yorker, by association) would like to identify the millions of people opposing GMOs as unscientific, romantic, outliers. My education is obviously a thorn in their side.
When I asked if she had ever worked as a physicist, she suggested that I search for the answer on Google. I found nothing, and she doesn’t list any such position in her biography.”
Specter has twisted my words, to make it seem like I was avoiding his question. I had directed him to my official website since for the past few months I have repeatedly been asked about my education. The Wikipedia page about me has been altered to make it look like I have never studied science. The Biotech Industry would like to erase my academic credentials. I have failed to see how it makes me more or less capable of the work I do on evolving and ecological paradigm of science. I consciously made a decision to dedicate my life to protect the Earth, its ecosystems and communities. Quantum theory taught me the four principles that have guided my work: everything is interconnected, everything is potential, everything is indeterminate, and there is no excluded middle. Every intellectual breakthrough I have made over the last 40 years has been to move from a mechanistic paradigm to an ecological one. I had the choice to continue my studies in the foundations of Quantum Theory at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) or to take up a research position in interdisciplinary studies on science policy at IIM, Bangalore. I chose the latter because I wanted a deeper understanding of the relationships between science and society.
This was my email response to Specter, copied to the editor of The New Yorker, David Remnick:
Specter Email for Response

A tight schedule must have kept Specter from mentioning Africa in his piece, although he intended to, given that a considerable amount of the world’s poor are also in Africa and must be fed. But Africa might not have needed addressing, probably because the Biotech Industry is happy with the progress they are making in deploying GMO cotton and banana in Africa. In the US, six-week human trials of these bio-fortified bananas are happening as I write this. And what are these bananas? They are bananas into which they have put a gene found in another variety of banana that has elevated levels of Beta-Carotene. They could have just used the banana with higher Beta-Carotene if the intent was to alleviate Vitamin A Deficiency, but there’s no money in that.
Specter calls me a Brahmin, which is inaccurate and a deliberate castist aspersion, insinuating falsely, elitism.Shiva’ is not a Brahmin caste name. My parents consciously adopted a caste-less name as part of their involvement in the Indian Independence Movement that included a fight against the caste system. But this is inconvenient to Specter’s narrative.
Specter’s gift for half-truths is evidenced when he says:
“Shiva said last year that Bt-cotton-seed costs had risen by eight thousand per cent in India since 2002. In fact, the prices of modified seeds, which are regulated by the government, have fallen steadily.”
“Bt-cotton-seed costs had risen by eight thousand per cent in India since 2002” is incorrect. I did not say that. The cost of cotton seed after the 2002 approval of Bt-cotton, when compared to the price of cotton seed before Monsanto entered the market in 1998, has increased exponentially. The percentage was used in reference to this increase. I was a little conservative when I said “8000%”, since I didn’t maximize the number for effect. I’m not predisposed to hyperbole. I am grateful to Specter for pointing this out. I’ll redo the math now.
Monsanto entered the Indian market illegally in 1998, we sued them on 6th Jan in 1999. Before Monsanto’s entry to the market, local seeds cost farmers between ₨5 and ₨10 per kg. After Bt Cotton was allowed into the market Monsanto started to strengthen its monopoly through (i) ‘Seed Replacement’, in which Monsanto would swap out farmers seeds with their own, claiming superiority of their ‘product’, and (ii) ‘Licensing Agreements’ with the 60 companies that were providing seeds in the Indian market at the time. Monsanto ensured a monopoly on cotton seeds in India and priced the seeds at ₨1,600 for a package of 450 gms (₨3555.55 per kg, out of which the royalty component was ₨1,200). ₨3555.55 is approximately 711 times ₨5, the pre-Bt price. The correct percentage increase would be 71,111%. It is this dramatic price increase that I always talk about.
The reduction of prices that Specter mentions was because the State of Andhra Pradesh and I took the issue to the Monopoly and Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (India’s Anti-Trust Court) and Monsanto was ordered, by the MRTP Court and the Andhra Pradesh Government, to reduce the price of its seed. Monsanto did not willfully reduce its prices, nor was an “Invisible Hand” at work. He quotes the Farmers Rights Clause in Indian law from the Plant Variety Protection and Farmers Rights Act, deliberately misnaming a clause as an act, misleading anyone who might want to do some research of their own, as many readers of The New Yorker do.
“Shiva also says that Monsanto’s patents prevent poor people from saving seeds. That is not the case in India. The Farmers’ Rights Act of 2001 guarantees every person the right to “save, use, sow, resow, exchange, share, or sell” his seeds. Most farmers, though, even those with tiny fields, choose to buy newly bred seeds each year, whether genetically engineered or not, because they insure better yields and bigger profits.”
I do say Monsanto’s patents prevent poor people from saving seeds. They prevent anyone who is not ‘Monsanto’ from saving or having seeds including researchers and breeders. This is true in most parts of the world. Specter makes it appear as though Indian farmers are protected and have always been, merely by mentioning “The Farmers’ Rights Act of 2001”. I happen to have been a member of the expert group appointed by our Agriculture Ministry to draft that very act. We have worked very hard to make this happen and I am very proud of the fact that India has built Farmers Rights into its laws. But the farmers are not completely protected since Monsanto has found clever ways around the laws, including collecting Royalties renamed as ‘Technology Fees’. This issue has many pending cases in Indian courts.
This section in Specter’s piece is designed to deliberately break the established connections between GMOs, Seed Patents and IPRs, and mislead his readers to echo Monsanto’s attempt to hide the catastrophic implications of a seed monopoly and Bt-Cotton’s failure in India as it tries to enter new markets in Africa proclaiming it’s success in India. Indian farmers can’t choose to buy genetically modified or hybrid varieties. Choosing would require choice, an alternative. Monsanto has systematically dismantled all alternatives for the cotton farmer. Monsanto’s hold on corn, soya and canola is almost as strong as their monopoly on cotton. Approximately $10 billion is collected annually from U.S. farmers by Monsanto, as royalty payments. Monsanto has been sued for $ 2.2 billion by Brazilian farmers for collecting royalty on farm-saved seeds.  The seed market is no longer governed by market forces. The element of choice is missing altogether. The farmer can only choose if he has an option.
In its evidence to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture, the Monsanto representative admitted that half the price of Monsanto seeds is royalty. My work and the work of movements in India, has prevented Monsanto from having patents on living resources and biological processes. Article 3(J) of our patent clause was used by the Indian Patent Office to reject Monsanto’s broad claim patent application on climate resilient seeds. In other countries that do not share our history, Monsanto uses such patents to sue farmers, such as Percy Schmeiser in Canada (for $200,000) as well as 1,500 other farmers in the US. In the case of Monsanto vs Bowman, Monsanto sued a farmer who had not even purchased seeds from them.
If Specter had really listened, he would have heard what I was actually saying about seed monopolies, even if it was inconvenient to his story. I’m sure that during his research over the last 8 months, he would have come across at least some of these examples of oppression.
“Although India bans genetically modified food crops, Bt cotton, modified to resist the bollworm, is planted widely. Since the nineteen-nineties, Shiva has focused the world’s attention on Maharashtra by referring to the region as India’s “suicide belt,” and saying that Monsanto’s introduction of genetically modified cotton there has caused a “genocide.” There is no place where the battle over the value, safety, ecological impact, and economic implications of genetically engineered products has been fought more fiercely. Shiva says that two hundred and eighty-four thousand Indian farmers have killed themselves because they cannot afford to plant Bt cotton. Earlier this year, she said, “Farmers are dying because Monsanto is making profits—by owning life that it never created but it pretends to create. That is why we need to reclaim the seed. That is why we need to get rid of the G.M.O.s. That is why we need to stop the patenting of life.””
If Specter had actually travelled across the cotton belt in Maharashtra State (surely the Monsanto office could have easily directed him there), he would have heard from his trusted sources that there is a decline in Bt Cotton cultivation in favor of Soy Bean due to failed Bt crops. He would have heard of Datta Chauhan of Bhamb village who swallowed poison on November 5, 2013, because his Bt cotton crop did not survive the heavy rains in July that year. He would have heard of Shankar Raut and Tatyaji Varlu, from Varud village, both who committed suicide due to the failure of their Bt Cotton. Tatyaji Varlu was unable to repay the Rs. 50,000 credit through which he received seeds. Specter could have met and spoken to the family of 7 left behind by Ganesh, in Chikni village, following the repeated failure of his Bt Cotton crop. Ganesh had no option but to buy more Bt Cotton and try his luck multiple times because Bt Cotton was the only cotton seed in the market, brilliantly marketed under multiple brand names through Licensing Arrangements that

Monsanto has with Indian companies. Multiple packages, multiple promises but the contents of each of those expensive packets is the same: it’s all Bt. It’s vulnerable to failure because of too much or too little water, reliant on fertilizer, and susceptible to pests without pesticide, all additional costs. The farmer, with a field too small to impress Specter, does not choose Bt Cotton of his free will. That choice is dictated by the system Specter attempts to hail.

Maharashtra Suicides
Specter and the BioTech twitter brigade have found resonance and are harping on my “confusing a correlation with causation”. Allow me to explain the cause to these scientific and rational people and hopefully help them pull their heads out of the sand.
By destroying the alternative sources of seed, as I explained earlier, a monopoly was established. Promises were made of higher yield and a reduction of pesticide costs to initially woo farmers. With a monopoly, Monsanto increased the price of seeds since it didn’t have to compete in the market. In India, the agents that sell Monsanto seeds also sell the pesticides and fertilizer, on credit. A Bt Cotton farmer starts the cultivation season with debt and completes the cycle with the sale of the crop after multiple applications of fertilizer and pesticide acquired on more credit. As the Bt-toxin was rendered useless, the crop was infested by new pests and yields of Bt Cotton started to decline, more fertilizer and pesticide were purchased and used by the farmers in the hope of a better yield next time around, destroying soil health. Degraded soil led to lower yields and further financial losses to the farmers. Many farmers would plant seed from another brand, not knowing it was the same exact Monsanto seed Bollguard, and that it would not fare any better and would require more fertilizer and pesticide than before, going deeper and deeper into debt. This cycle of high cost seeds and rising chemical requirements is the debt trap, from which the farmers see no escape, and which drives these farmers of the cotton belt to suicide. There is a cause for each and every farmer taking his own life, he is not driven to it by correlation. And the cause is a high cost monopoly system with no alternative. If it were any other product, Monsanto would be liable for false advertising, and a product liability claim due to intentional misrepresentation regarding Bt Cotton. Specter promotes a system of agriculture that fails to deliver on its promises of higher yield and lower costs and propagates exploitation.
Not only does Specter support a system which leaves no alternatives for farmers, he also promotes the force feeding of consumers, with GMOs, including victims of disasters.
In 1999, ten thousand people were killed and millions were left homeless when a cyclone hit India’s eastern coastal state of Orissa. When the U.S. government dispatched grain and soy to help feed the desperate victims, Shiva held a news conference in New Delhi and said that the donation was proof that “the United States has been using the Orissa victims as guinea pigs” for genetically engineered products. She also wrote to the international relief agency Oxfam to say that she hoped it wasn’t planning to send genetically modified foods to feed the starving survivors. When neither the U.S. nor Oxfam altered its plans, she condemned the Indian government for accepting the provisions.
Specter is ill informed about the cyclone in Orissa, or he copied this information from another inaccurate report accusing me of making the cyclone victims starve. The US aid was a blend of corn and soy, not grain. The agency distributing it was C.A.R.E. After the cyclone in 1999 that devastated the east coast of India, Navdanya was involved in the rehabilitation of the victims on the ground in Orissa and has been involved in such efforts each time there has been a calamity in that region. The shipment Specter mentions, under a humanitarian guise, was an attempt to circumvent India’s ban on the import of GMOs.

The farmers who received the tainted shipment called it inedible. A nondescript mixture of soy and corn is not food for rice eating peoples. We tested this mixture and found it to be genetically engineered corn and soya. The results were sent to the Health Ministry and the Government ordered an immediate stop to the illegal import of GMOs. The hybrid rice available in the market would not grow in the saline soil left behind by the cyclone. Navdanya provided the farmers with salt-tolerant varieties to allow them to rebuild their livelihoods and for them to have food. The Orissa farmers, later, shared their salt-tolerant seeds with the victims of the tsunami that hit Tamil Nadu in 2004. Monsanto, through its influence in USAID, has used every natural and climate disaster to push its GMO seeds on devastated communities, including Haiti after the earthquake, where farmers protested against this imposition. Monsanto has also taken thousands of patents on climate resilience in traditional seeds and has acquired climate research corporations to exploit the vulnerability of communities in the future. This is not humanitarian from any perspective.

Specter is also supporting the Biotech Industry attack on Governments passing GMO labelling laws in the U.S. Coincidentally, following The New Yorker piece, Michael Specter just wrote another piece questioning GMO labeling in America. The Biotech Industry is now suing the state of Vermont for its labeling laws. The grounds of Monsanto’s suit is that labeling their product would infringe on Monsanto’s first amendment right. Specter’s two articles work very well together.  An obvious question is whether Specter set out to do a profile on me at all or whether this was a calculated attempt to attack the burgeoning anti-GMO movement within the US?Both articles were conveniently timed to mislead consumers in the US about legislation in their own country by using fallacies about the situation in India.
“Between 1996, when genetically engineered crops were first planted, and last year, the area they cover has increased a hundredfold—from 1.7 million hectares to a hundred and seventy million. Nearly half of the world’s soybeans and a third of its corn are products of biotechnology. Cotton that has been engineered to repel the devastating bollworm dominates the Indian market, as it does almost everywhere it has been introduced.”
Being the only seed in the market through monopoly would, of course, be domination. The Bt-cotton seed is not dominating markets because it is effective. Bt-cotton has led to the emergence of resistance to Bt in the Bollworm and the emergence of pests that never affected cotton earlier, forcing the increased use of pesticides accompanied by lower yields. Specter quotes acreage but fails to mention that in the US, Round-Up Ready corn and soya are plagued by super-weeds. The only new ‘technologies’ being touted by the Biotech Industry are Bt and Ht (Herbicide Tolerant). Both these ‘technologies’ have failed to deliver on what they promised- the control of pests and weeds. This is because they got the science wrong, the ecological science that allows us to understand pests and weed control, and the evolution of resistance in pests and weeds.
Almost a century and a quarter after The Jungle Book, Specter is stuck in Kipling’s India. He uses imagery of elephants and natives to subtly invoke a fetishized idea of eastern cultures that resonates with a western perspective, a truly romantic one.
“The majority of local farmers travel to the market by bullock cart. Some walk, and a few drive. A week earlier, a local agricultural inspector told me, he had seen a cotton farmer on an elephant and waved to him. The man did not respond, however, because he was too busy talking on his cell phone.”
The third person account of a farmer on an elephant with a mobile phone makes for a lovely visual. What is Specter trying to achieve with this? There is an implication of contradictions here, an idea that milestones in ‘development’, like the cell phone, symbols of modernity, have no place in the same frame as an elephant. If Specter looked around, listened and understood, he would have noticed that the cell phone is a necessity of life in the 21st century, even in India. In fact, India has more mobile phone subscribers than the US. We also have elephants and they do exist together. Elephants cost more than a midsize car, to buy and to keep, especially in a semi-arid area like Aurangabad.
Invoking imagery of a quaint India reveals an ethnographic prejudice that fits right into the strategy of seemingly ‘helping’ India while extracting, like colonizers, capital and natural resources from the colonies. In ways other than the obvious, Specter sounds like an Angrez Sahib (English Sahib) describing the ‘natives’ in 1943, when he notes
“skin the color of burnt molasses and the texture of a well- worn saddle”
One can only hope that he may overcome his disdain of non-white, non-industrial populations, Indian farmers, and farmers in general, because he seems to view them as inferior and incapable of feeding themselves and their growing population even though the Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 70% of global food comes from small farms. It shows the sort of narrow minded thinking that is paraded as reason in a bid to justify the imposition of GMOs to create new sources of royalties. A system of food production that accounts for only 30% of the food people eat cannot be presented as a solution to hunger.
Specter attempts to use the 100-degree heat and dusty roads to distract from the elephant in the room, which incidentally has a farmer riding it, no cell phone, just crippling debt. How are second-hand stories from one village, during a fleeting visit “a scientific study” about the situation across the 3,500,000 hectares of cotton cultivation in Maharashtra State. I have been going to Vidarbha in Maharashtra since 1982 when we launched Samvardhan, the national organic movement, from Gandhi’s ashram in Seva Gram. I have seen, first-hand, a proud region of hard working, productive farmers, growing diverse and multiple crops, reduced to indebtedness and a complete desperation. And Navdanya has been working in this devastated region for the past two decades to create hope and alternatives for the farmers and the widows of those who were driven to suicide. The crisis we witness today is like the crisis created by colonialism. Specter mentions the Great Bengal Famine but only provides partial information.
“In 1943 alone, during the final years of the British Raj, more than two million people died in the Bengal Famine. “By the time we became free of colonial rule, the country was sucked dry,” Suman Sahai told me recently.” 
The Bengal Famine was caused by the ongoing war as well as a tax in which the British took 50% of every farmer’s crop. This sort of taxation, in today’s India has taken the form of royalties, especially in cotton. Even before a seed has been planted, money has left the farm and made its way to St. Louis. It can’t be difficult to see the similarity between seed monopolies and colonialism.
The real reason for the Bengal Famine was speculation–as evidenced by Amartya Sen’s extensive work–that drove the prices of food so high that most people could not afford it. It was mostly a man-made famine. The same system of speculation that caused famines, like that of 1943, exists today. It’s now more organized, more lethal and captained by Wall Street. Large Agri-business, armed with near-monopoly power, increase prices beyond market determined increases in costs.
Although, Specter writes about India becoming an exporting nation, he hides the fact that as a result of ‘Free Trade’ India has now become heavily dependent on imports of oil-seeds and pulses—staples for millions of Indians.  In the nineties, because of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), prices of tortillas in Mexico City rose sharply while the price of corn, sold by Mexican farmers, went down. Free trade does not imply free-market, and more often than not it means the poor go hungry while profits of corporations, especially in agriculture, increase.
International financial speculation has played a major role in food price increases since the summer of 2007. Specter quotes import and export data many times in his piece. Most of this trade is mandated by trade agreements written by these very corporations. Due to the financial collapse in America, speculators moved from financial products to land and food, which explains the increasing speculation on food and land-grab. This directly affects prices in domestic markets. Many countries are becoming increasingly dependent on food imports. Speculators bet on artificially created scarcity, even while production levels remain high.  Based on these predictions, Big Agriculture has been manipulating the markets. Traders keep stocks away from the market in order to stimulate price increases and generate huge profits afterwards.
In Indonesia, in the midst of the soya price hike in January 2008, the company PT Cargill Indonesia was still keeping 13,000 tons of soybeans in its warehouse in Surabaya, waiting for prices to reach record highs. This artificial inflation of prices is a result of profits to be made from financial speculation, and creates hunger when there is actually enough food to feed everyone on the planet. Frederick Kaufman, in his Harpers Magazine article entitled, “How Wall Street starved millions and got away with it”, writes that “imaginary wheat bought anywhere affects real wheat bought everywhere.
Specter would have served The New Yorker and himself well by doing a little more research before narrating the stories from his trip to India. His one-day trip speaking with one farmer and a nameless agricultural inspector is hardly part of scientific reasoning. Specter’s piece is ripe with fabrication. He says he went and met cotton farmers near Aurangabad in:
“late spring, after most of the season’s cotton had been picked.”
For the record, in the Maharashtra state, cotton is a Kharif crop, sown in June or July depending on the monsoon and harvested between the months of November and February. It is unlikely that the farmers would have waited for Mr. Michael Specter to show up this May so that he could catch the tail end of the harvest.  As curiously, Specter chose not go to the Vidarbha region with the most Bt-Cotton related farmer suicides.
We work with the farmers and the widows in Vidarbha to rebuild their lives and give them hope. Farmers that have escaped the debt-trap created by Bt Cotton and it’s ancillary requirements of chemical fertilizers and pesticides have done so through the use of seeds made available through organic farming and community seed banks set up by Navdanya. Through the availability of these seeds and not having to buy pesticides and fertilizers, the net income of these farmers has increased.
Nilesh, a Bt cotton farmer in Chikni village in Yavatmal District, for an acre in 2013-14, spent ₨1,860 for seeds, ₨1,000 for pesticides, ₨1,500 for fertilizer, ₨500 for irrigation. Without adding any other expenses he might have had his expenses amount to ₨4,860 per acre. His yield per acre of 1 quintal (100 kg) that sold for ₨4600 left him with a loss of ₨260 per acre. In contrast, Marotirao Deheka who farms organically in Pimpri village in Yavatmal District spent ₨400 on seeds, ₨750 on irrigation, ₨3,000 on all other costs to a lower total of ₨4,150 per acre. Yet, his yield of 3 quintals, which sold for ₨15000, earned him a net profit of ₨10,850.
The role of  “journalist-turned-activist”, or more accurately “pundit,” we now see across the pro-GMO lobby. Take the case of the British “activist”, Mark Lynas, who touts himself as an anti-GMO turned pro-GMO activist. Following his conversion, he has subsequently written extensively in favor of GM crops. But no one in the UK’s anti-GMO movement had ever heard of Mark Lynas – until his much publicized talk in Oxford. Like Specter, Lynas has become one of the strongest, most articulate voices for the GMO movement. The question remains – are these journalists “sponsored” by the GMO movement? Or are they simply writers who believe that GMO crops are good for the world (despite information to the contrary)?
Whatever is the case, it’s undeniable that the pro-GMO lobby is adopting a more sophisticated approach to its propaganda machine. It has turned its story of debt, hunger and suicide into the articulate voices of storytellers, of communicators, of respectable media houses.
Has The New Yorker been influenced by loyalty to its benefactors? Marion Nestle, a dear friend, and Francis Lappe’s (another dear friend) daughter, Anna Lappe, received invitations from Condé Nast to participate in an image clean up for Monsanto.  They obviously refused. Please refer to the recent article (August 7, 2014) entitled:  Read the Emails in the Hilarious Monsanto/Mo Rocca/Condé Nast Meltdown
For the record, ever since I sued Monsanto in 1999 for its illegal Bt cotton trials in India, I have received death threats, my websites have been hacked and turned into porn sites, the chairman of a girls’ college founded by my grandfather, has been harassed. Actions have been taken to impede Navdanya’s work by attempting to bribe my colleagues to leave – and they have failed. None of these systemic attacks over the last two decades have deterred me from doing my research and activism with responsibility, integrity, and compassion. The concerted PR assault on me for the last two years from Lynas, Specter and an equally vocal Twitter group is a sign that the global outrage against the control over our seed and food, by Monsanto through GMOs, is making the biotech industry panic.

Character assassination has always been a tool used by those who cannot successfully defend their message. Although they think such slander will destroy my career, they don’t understand that I consciously gave up a ‘career’ in 1982 for a life of service. The spirit of service inspired by the truth, conscience and compassion cannot be stopped by threats or media attacks. For me, science has always been about service, not servitude.

My life of science is about creativity and seeing connections, not about mechanistic thought and manipulated facts.
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” 
- Albert Einstein


Tuesday, August 26, 2014


August 25, 2014                                                                        HAPA-logo-sansserif email sig.jpg


Kauaʻi residents and community leaders respond to federal court ruling 
in lawsuit by chemical companies: “This Battle is Far From Over”

(LIHUE) - Kaua‘i residents are outraged by a magistrate judge’s ruling today in the lawsuit brought by four chemical companies against the County of Kauaʻi to block implementation of Ordinance 960 (previously Bill 2491). The magistrate judge, Barry M. Kurren ruled that Ordinance 960 is pre-empted by the state.  An appeal of the ruling is likely.  

Residents see the ruling as a symptom of a broken system: “It’s discouraging to witness the injustices and inadequacies of the American legal system, which in this case has valued and protected corporate profit and trade secrets over people’s simple, basic human right to know what toxic chemicals they are being exposed to in excessive amounts almost daily,” said West Kaua‘i resident Malia Chun. 

Recent revelations that pesticide use by the chemical companies is some of the highest in the nation, and has transformed parts of Kauai into “one of the most toxic chemical environments in all of American agriculture,” (see article) further reinforced the critical need for disclosure laws and buffer zones. The failures of the State to protect health and environment were made abundantly clear in deliberations over Kauai’s Bill 2491 (partly summarized in this article), and residents are infuriated by the blatancy of injustice. Since the passage of Ordinance 960 last November, several groundbreaking studies by respected scientists and health institutions have revealed the links between disease and pesticides applied on Kaua'i.

“The chemical companies must be held accountable to our people and our land,” said Andrea Brower. “Movements for social justice, the environment and democracy are never straightforward and never easy, especially when they confront such powerful interests. But people on Kauai are determined in their love for the ‘aina and one another, and committed to what is pono. That cannot be exterminated by a lawsuit.”

Earthjustice, the public interest legal nonprofit in Honolulu, along with the Center for Food Safety, are representing a group of Kauaʻi individuals and nonprofits that have a stake in protecting Ordinance 960 

from legal attack.  Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff said, “This battle to protect Kaua‘i and its residents from the effects of toxic pesticides is only just the beginning.  We do not accept that people 

Other community leaders agreed. “This issue is not going away.  Wherever the battle is, The People will be there,” said Gary Hooser, President of H.A.P.A and a Kaua‘i Councilmemer.  “If it’s at the state legislature, we will be there.  If it’s in a court of appeal, we will be there.  The people of Hawai‘i have learned too much to go backwards.  We’ve learned about the high levels of pesticides these companies are using. We’ve seen the lengths they are willing to go to for the ability to spray pesticides near our homes and schools.  We know that truth and fairness are on our side.  We will not go away until we win and until our families and natural resources are protected.”

The lawsuit has cost the County only a small fraction of what is spent in defense from personal suits, and is considered by many to be a highest priority. Isobel Storch, a farmer on Kaua‘i and former municipal attorneysaid, “The health and safety of Kauai’s people should be our primary concern.  If the County isn't willing to respond to industry lawsuits then we will have only laws that are acceptable to the chemical industry.  That is clearly unacceptable.”

The judge Kurren also ruled that Ordinance 960 is NOT pre-empted by federal law.

Ordinance 960 creates buffer zones around sensitive areas such as homes, schools, hospitals and streams, and requires disclosure of pesticide spraying.


Contact:  Elif Beall

The Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) is a public non-profit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. HAPA’s mission is to catalyze community empowerment and systemic change towards valuing ʻaina (environment) and people ahead of corporate profit.

Elif C. Beall
Executive Director

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Published on

What's Holding Back the Organic Food and Farming Revolution?

It’s not just the impact of organic foods on personal health that concerns consumers. Organic consumers express rising concern over the destructive impacts of industrial agriculture and factory farms on the environment, climate, animal welfare, farm workers and rural communities. Increasingly, consumers are coming to understand that industrial agriculture and factory farms are the leading cause of water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, wetlands destruction, desertification, reduced biodiversity and, most important of all, climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas emissions.  (Photo:
There is growing alarm among conscious consumers and activists that our 21st Century food and farming system, and the government-corporate cabal that that props it up, is spiraling out-of-control. Chemical-intensive, energy-intensive, climate-destabilizing factory-farmed and genetically engineered food and farming are destroying not only our health and our environment, but also the soil fertility, biodiversity, and climate stability that make civilization possible.

U.S. sales of certified organic products hit $35 billion in 2013. Given that the organic products industry has seen four decades of steady growth, at a rate of 10-15 percent, sales will likely hit $40 billion in 2014. This amounts to approximately 5 percent of all grocery store purchases, 10 percent of retail fruits and vegetables, and over 20 percent of baby food. Organic sales are increasing 10-15 percent annually, more than five times the anemic 2 percent growth rate of conventional (i.e. chemical) foods.

The latest poll shows that nearly half of U.S. households now prefer organics; that most consumers buy organic foods and products at least on an occasional basis; and that most would buy even more if they felt they could afford to do so.

When asked why they prefer organics, health conscious Americans consistently state that they want to avoid toxic pesticides, synthetic hormones, antibiotic residues, and GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms).

Health-conscious consumers increasingly understand that the chemical and genetically engineered junk food (so-called “conventional” food) that typically makes up 80-90 percent of the U.S. diet is the primary cause of deteriorating public health and childhood disease. These foods have spawned an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, cancer, antibiotic-resistant infections, behavioral disorders, learning disabilities, autism, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.

Organic foods on the other hand, especially raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy oils, and grass-fed, pastured meat and animal products, are recognized as safer, healthier and more sustainable

But it’s not just the impact of organic foods on personal health that concerns consumers. Organic consumers express rising concern over the destructive impacts of industrial agriculture and factory farms on the environment, climate, animal welfare, farm workers and rural communities. Increasingly, consumers are coming to understand that industrial agriculture and factory farms are the leading cause of water pollution, soil erosion, deforestation, wetlands destruction, desertification, reduced biodiversity and, most important of all, climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Good news: Organic farming and ranching can regenerate soils and reverse global warming

The heretofore unrecognized “Good News” on the soil and climate front is that regenerative organic farming and ranching can save us from the catastrophe of runaway global warming.  The solution to our climate (soil and public health) crisis literally lies under our feet, and at the end of our forks.

According to a growing body of science, the qualitatively higher levels of photosynthesis and natural carbon sequestration on regenerative organic farms, ranches, rangelands, forests, and wetlands have the potential to move enough excess CO2 from the atmosphere, into the soil, to restore climate stability. By transitioning from industrial, chemical agriculture to organic, regenerative farming and ranching, we could reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere to a safe 350 ppm (particles per million). At the same time, we would qualitatively improve soil fertility, water retention, plant health, animal health and overall food production.

Bad news: Organic and climate-friendly food and farming are still a relatively small niche market

While organic advocates can perhaps pat ourselves on the back for finally crossing the 5-percent threshold in terms of grocery store sales, most people are still buying highly processed, chemical-contaminated and factory farmed food. Farmers continue planting GMO crops and spraying their fields and crops with toxic chemicals. Hapless, junk-food addicted Americans spend almost half of their food dollars “supersizing” themselves on GMO and factory-farmed fare in fast food outlets and chain restaurants.

Although there are a growing number of non-chain, “farm-to- table” restaurants where “cooked-from-scratch” organic foods and grass-fed meats and animal products are featured on the menu, most restaurant ( as well as school and institutional) food is still unhealthy, non-sustainable and expensive. Organic and climate-friendly food today represent no more than 3 percent of combined U.S. grocery and restaurant sales.

The life or death question is this: If the overwhelming majority of U.S. consumers say they prefer organics and would like to buy and consume healthier and more sustainable food, then why aren’t they doing so?

There appear to be several systemic, deeply embedded reasons why most Americans are still buying and consuming junk foods rather than “going organic.” These include the addictive nature and omnipresence of “chemically engineered” processed foods; lack of money and time; rampant nutrition and cooking illiteracy; and labeling fraud.

Let’s take a closer look at these problems.

Chemically engineered foods and consumers. According to recent studies, including the best-selling book by New York Times columnist Michael Moss, Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, the bulk of the nation’s processed foods, beverages and restaurant fare have been deliberately “chemically engineered” (i.e. laced with addictive, unhealthy combinations of sugar, salts and fats) by a network of food technologists employed by large food corporations determined to turn us into food addicts.

As Moss explained to a CBC reporter:

I spent time with the top scientists at the largest companies in this country and it's amazing how much math and science and regression analysis and energy they put into finding the very perfect amount of salt, sugar and fat in their products that will send us over the moon, and will send their products flying off the shelves and have us buy more, eat more and …make more money for them.

These modern day alchemists, aided and abetted by an army of advertising wizards and lobbyists, have perfected the art of turning children and adults into junk food addicts. How? By changing our taste buds, altering physiological brain circuits, and engineering our appetites so as to reduce ingredient costs, maximize profits and keep a growing, bulging army of food addicts, especially children, adolescents and low-income Americans, coming back for more.

The nutritional bottom line is that even though most Americans are overweight and suffering from diet-related health problems, millions feel powerless and helpless, (much like tobacco addicts) to change their eating habits and sedentary lifestyles. The junk food addict (especially children), brainwashed by thousands of commercials and ad images, and whose sense of taste has been chemically mutated by constant exposure to junk food, truly believes that Coca-Cola tastes better than any beverage made from real, organic ingredients, and that a large order of fries or soda or sweetened breakfast cereal is necessary to satisfy their appetite.

Lack of money and time. The majority of Americans are victimized not only by a powerful, shadowy network of food technologists, chemical companies and mass media propagandists, but also by a corporatized and inequitable economy. Even if you want to feed yourself or your children organic food, and serve up healthy home-cooked meals, in today’s “Fast Food Nation” consumers face a host of major obstacles, including the high cost of living, lack of free time, lack of cooking skills, cultural distractions and sub-standard wages.

If you ask the majority of people why they aren’t buying more organic food and grass fed meat, their answer is certainly not that they prefer chemically engineered, GMO and unhealthy foods. What they complain about is “the high price” of organics or that they don’t have enough free time (and if you press them, adequate cooking skills) to cook meals at home from scratch.

What American consumers and workers really want and need in order to “go organic” is more money in their pockets, more free time, better nutrition information, and cooking/home economics skills.

But in fact U.S. organic and grass fed foods (especially non-processed organic foods) would not be that “expensive” if we lived in a society where there were meaningful and sustainable jobs for everyone willing to work; where the minimum wage was $15 an hour, rather than $7.25 (federal); where healthcare costs were not double what they are in other industrialized nations; and where rent, mortgage, educational and transportation costs were more affordable.

The solution to the relative “high costs” of organics in comparison to so-called conventional food is not to pay organic farmers, ranchers or food chain workers less money, but rather to raise the standard of living of everyone, so that Americans can afford to go organic and take control of their health.

Organic food prices are not that expensive (especially non-processed organic foods, cooked from scratch), relative to what the average American households used to pay for their food. A full 34 percent of U.S. household income in the 1950s and 1960s was spent on food, compared to 13 percent now. U.S. households spend far less on food than most European or industrialized nations. Compared to the cost of eating out in restaurants—even junk food restaurants—organic home-cooked food is not more expensive.

Of course if you are poor, like the bottom 20 percent of U.S. households, organic food, or any food for that matter, is indeed expensive, since you are already spending 30 percent or more of your household income for food. And if you’re a single parent, or working two jobs, or if both parents are working long hours and commuting to and from work, it often seems as if there is no time to cook healthy family meals at home.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it seems affordable to eat out at McDonald’s, or heat up convenience food in the microwave at home. But here’s the catch. In the long run, paying less for food often means paying much more in medical bills associated with poor health—which increasingly is being linked to poor diet.

Nutrition and culinary illiteracy. Most Americans say they’d like to eat healthier foods, and cook more at home, but typically have learned little or nothing about proper nutrition, the superiority of organic foods and grass fed or pastured meats and animal products, or how to affordably purchase healthy ingredients and cook tasty and nutritious meals at home.

Among the most destructive nutrition myths holding consumers back are the following.

•    Organic is no better than conventional/chemical/GMO food

Big Food and Big Ag bombard the public with the dangerous message that organic food is no healthier than chemical and GMO food. Although the majority of consumers may at least partially see through this propaganda, it undermines their incentive to pay a premium for organic foods, especially when cheaper so-called “natural” foods flood the marketplace.

Meanwhile hundreds of studies indicate that organic food and dairy, and grass fed/pastured meat and animal products are higher in vitamins, important trace minerals, essential Omega-3 fats, and cancer-fighting antioxidants than “conventional” chemical food. Organic food also contains very few or no antibiotics, pesticides, GMOs, pathogens or drug residues.

•    All fats are dangerous

Another destructive myth is that all saturated fat (whether it comes from organic or industrial/factory-farmed production) causes heart disease. The majority of U.S. consumers still don’t understand that the elevated proportion of Omega-3 fats in organic and grass-fed meat, dairy, eggs, coconut, avocados and cooking oils are good for you, whereas the saturated fat in non-organic and factory-farmed foods (many of which are deceptively labeled as “low-fat”) and cooking oils clog up your arteries, make you fat, and set you up for cancer and heart disease. While industry claims that low-fat foods prevent obesity and heart disease, foods labeled as “low-fat” are typically loaded with sugar and sugar substitutes.

•    Artificial sweeteners and low-calorie sodas are safe

Big Food companies tell us that artificial sweeteners are safe sugar replacements for diabetics, and help promote weight loss. In fact artificial sweeteners, whether chemical in nature such as Aspartame, or derived from GMO corn and sugar beets, are worse than sugar. The truth is that even an organic diet should limit sugar intake.

The more we eat like our ancestors, the better—fresh organic whole foods, locally and sustainably raised, and foods that are minimally processed or not processed at all. These are the types of foods that your genes and biochemistry are adapted to and will provide you with the ability to reverse and prevent most diseases. You can find these organic foods at your local farmer's market, food co-op, or in your own backyard garden. Be wary of nutritional advice from mainstream "experts" as this information may not be based on science, or may be based on information that is several decades outdated. Truthful, accurate information is your number one weapon in taking control of your health.

Fraudulent marketing, advertising, and greenwashing in the marketplace. Americans seeking healthier food are wasting several hundred million dollars a day buying products in grocery stores, or choosing menu items in chain restaurants, that are labeled or marketed as “natural” or “all natural,” under the mistaken belief that “natural” means organic or “almost organic.” When in fact it does not.

Organic foods are produced under strict organic standards, monitored by third-party certifiers, enforceable by law. “Natural” foods are typically nothing more than a marketing gimmick to trick you into paying more for conventional chemical foods. Most so-called “natural” foods have been produced with toxic pesticides, fertilizers and animal drugs. Most contain GMOs and synthetic ingredients, and are no healthier than any other junk fare or pesticide-laden foods.

Other scams include labeling non-organic fruits and vegetables or non-organic/non-grass fed or pastured meat and animal products as “local;” and the latest, labeling conventional foods produced using pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers as “Non-GMO.”

Organic standards prohibit the use of GMOs, toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, sewage sludge, nuclear irradiation and animal drugs. Organic by definition means Non-GMO. If you want to stay healthy and build up a sustainable and local system of food and farming, then search out produce and whole foods that are both organic and locally produced, and meat and animal products that are both organic and 100-percent grass fed (in the case of beef), or else organic and pasture-raised in the case of dairy, poultry and eggs. In addition, stay away from factory-farmed salmon.

Another major factor holding back organics is the federal government's failure to support transition to organic and organic programs for farmers and ranchers while meanwhile handing out billions of dollars in annual subsidies to chemical and GMO farmers. These subsidies, totaling tens of billions of dollars ever year, are delivered in the form of direct payments to (non-organic) farmers (for example cotton); multi-billion dollar subsidies to produce ethanol (derived primarily from GMO corn); or highly subsidized crop insurance programs utilized by GMO commodity farmers (soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets). If there were a level playing field, whereby organics got the same level of support as chemical and GMO farmers, organic production and sales would no doubt surge.

How do we move from ‘Fast Food Nation’ to ‘Organic Nation’?

We start by raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, as San Francisco is proposing, and implementing a local-to-national “Green New Deal,” whereby we provide socially beneficial sustainable jobs (both rural and urban) for everyone willing to work, just as we did during the economic Depression of the 1930s. This Green New Deal must not only retrofit and repair the nation’s energy, residential and transportation infrastructure, but also regenerate soil fertility, biodiversity, and natural carbon sequestration.

Along with a living wage and a Green New Deal we need a moratorium on student loans and home foreclosures and a “Medicare for All” healthcare system that emphasizes natural health practices, disease prevention, proper nutrition, exercise and stress reduction.

We need to continue educating the public, especially children and parents, about the dangers of chemically engineered junk food. We need to expose and stop, just as we’ve done with tobacco, the 24/7 propaganda barrage that has turned the majority of the population into junk food addicts.

We need transparent labeling of GMOs, factory-farmed products, nutritional content, and pesticide and drug residues, both in grocery stores and in chain restaurants. We need to ban junk food advertising to kids and roll out a national program of healthy school lunches, nutrition education, cooking, gardening and home economics classes.

On the personal and household level we need to stop eating out in chain restaurants. We need to boycott factory-farmed food and chemically engineered junk food and sodas, improve our cooking skills, prepare home cooked meals, and take back control of our health.

Our health, climate stability, and future survival are at stake. Long live the organic revolution! Bon appétit!
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.;