tagged w/ collusion
Farmers talk about the effects of GMO contamination and patents in North America.
Another glaring omission from our corporate politicians in the pockets of multinationals. This pervasive greed and cronyism for profit has now ruined the lives of many farmers in this country. The USDA and FDA through their collusion with Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, Dupont, Cargill, and other big ag companies to patent life and declare war on nature is killing agriculture and our way of life.
No adequate testing, no regulation, no accountability. Superweeds, pests, toxins polluting our waterways, transgenic contamination, decreasing yields all at a time when climate change as well is putting even greater strain on farmers and our planet. A crime of immense proportions has been perpetrated by our own government against us and still they stand with those fighting to even label these organisms in our food by using the "substantial equivalence" myth. Agent Orange in our seeds is not equivalent to natural seeds!
We in the US need to stand with American farmers fighting this toxic takeover of our lives and we can do that. We have the power of the purse and we need to use it as well as our voices and modems. If we let this continue there will be an economic crash in this country to compliment the environmental crash because no other country will take our genetically modified toxic crops. Sustainable agriculture should also be one of the central platforms of any candidate running in this country who cares about our economy, our health, our climate and our biodiversity and we need to support them as well to sweep our government clean of these vipers no matter what side of the aisle they hide on.Farmers talk about the effects of GMO contamination and patents in North America.... more
ST. LOUIS - An expanding network of concerned individuals known as Occupy Monsanto has emerged over the past 8 months staging numerous protests at companies connected to the global trade of genetically engineered foods, also known as GMOs. The network announced today that on September 17, 2012 protests will begin for an entire week in St. Louis, home of the Monsanto Corporation, and across the US including California where voters will decide if they will label GMOs this election and worldwide in Argentina, Canada, Germany, India, Philippines, and other countries where concern over GMO impact on the environment and human health is growing.
The protests will vary in size and nature but are unified in pushing back GMO food into the lab from which it came. An interactive map with times, dates and locations of the 60+ protests can be found at http://occupy-monsanto.com/genetic-crimes-unit/.
Occupy Monsanto means to confront the industrial agriculture system head-on. Some protests could result in widespread arrests of people who choose to engage in non-violent civil disobedience. Despite the peaceful nature of these planned protests, organizers are concerned about surveillance of Occupy-Monsanto.com by the US Department of Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies worldwide. Nevertheless Occupy Monsanto protests will feature costumes made of bio-hazmat protective gear that can also protect against pepper spray from police who have routinely attacked occupy protests in the past year.
"There is something wrong when a chemical manufacturer, the same company who made Agent Orange, controls the US food supply," says Jaye Crawford, a member of the Genetic Crimes Unit in Atlanta, Georgia that has planned a week of events. Info: http://occupy-monsanto.com/atlanta-gcu-schedule-of-events/.
"Wall Street and the American political elite have underestimated and even ignored our potential to effect rational policy change on GMOs which would include labeling for GMOs and restrictions on GMO cultivation," says Gene Etic, an anti-GMO campaigner based in Washington, DC. "If Occupy Monsanto's anti-GMO actions are successful, after September 17 the media and increasingly more voters will ask tough questions about these experimental GMO crops especially within the context of the Presidential election, as that office holds the power to determine American food policy," says Etic.
"People are stirred by the evidence that GMO foods compromise human health," says Rica Madrid, a member of the Genetic Crime Unit of Occupy Monsanto. "Politicians and their sponsoring corporations ignore public outcry over GMOs to protect huge profits over health. Since GMOs' introduction to the food supply in the mid 1990s, food allergies have expanded according to Center for Disease Control data," says Madrid.
"By purchasing influence via massive campaign donations, Monsanto ensures the essential duties of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are neglected. One example of this corporate coup is President Obama's appointment of Michael Taylor, former Monsanto Vice-President and legal council for the chemical company, to head the FDA's food safety efforts despite his obvious conflict of interest," says Ariel Vegosen, a member of the Genetic Crimes Unit. She adds, "Monsanto is the biggest maker of genetically engineered crops so it must be stopped before it is too late to shift to healthy organic agriculture practices as a result of widespread genetic contamination by GMOs. 'Coexistence' as defined by the USDA of Organic and GMO crops is a myth."
"At the US State Department it's apparent Monsanto has duped leaders in Africa to ask the US for foreign aid in the form of GMO technology and equipment," says Monsanto shareholder Adam Eidinger who last year walked from New York to the White House in Washington, DC with hundreds of other food activists to demand labeling of GMO foods.
"The generous use of US tax dollars, endorsed by the likes of rock-star Bono and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a former legal council for Monsanto, is actually another taxpayer funded subsidy for Monsanto's pesticide and herbicide hungry crops."
Occupy Monsanto will be heard at the offices and facilities linked in the GMO food system.
In St. Louis a major anti-GMO conference will take place in the same location as the "12th International Symposium on GMO Safety." A lead organizer of the conference is Barbara Chicherio who believes, "'Monsanto's push to control agriculture and what people are eating poses a great threat not only to consumers in the US, but to farmers and communities throughout Latin America, Africa and Asia." Info on the conference is at http://gmofreemidwest.org/.ST. LOUIS - An expanding network of concerned individuals known as Occupy Monsanto has... more
Evidence now implicates top BP executives as well as its partners Chevron and Exxon and the Bush Administration in the deadly cover-up—which included falsifying a report to the Securities Exchange Commission.
Yesterday, Ecowatch.org revealed that, in September 2008, nearly two years before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, another BP rig had blown out in the Caspian Sea—which BP concealed from U.S. regulators and Congress.
Had BP, Chevron, Exxon or the Bush State Department revealed the facts of the earlier blow-out, it is likely that the Deepwater Horizon disaster would have been prevented.
Days after the Deepwater Horizon blow-out, a message came in to our offices in New York from an industry insider floating on a ship in the Caspian Sea. He stated there had been a blow-out, just like the one in the Gulf, and BP had covered it up.
To confirm this shocking accusation, I flew with my team to the Islamic republic of Azerbaijan. Outside the capital, Baku, near the giant BP terminal, we found workers, though too frightened to give their names, who did confirm that they were evacuated from the BP offshore platform as it filled with explosive methane gas.
Before we could get them on camera, my crew and I were arrested and the witnesses disappeared.
Expelled from Azerbaijan, we still obtained the ultimate corroboration: a secret cable from the U.S. Embassy to the State Department in Washington laying out the whole story of the 2008 Caspian blow-out.
The source of the cable, classified “SECRET,” was a disaffected U.S. soldier, Private Bradley Manning who, through WikiLeaks.org, provided hot smoking guns to The Guardian.
The information found in the U.S. embassy cables is a block-buster.
The cables confirmed what BP will not admit to this day: there was a serious blow-out and its cause was the same as in the Gulf disaster two years later—the cement (“mud”) used to cap the well had failed.
Bill Schrader, President of BP-Azerbaijan, revealed the truth to our embassy about the Caspian disaster:
“Schrader said that the September 17shutdown of the Central Azeri (CA) platform…was the largest such emergency evacuation in BP’s history. Given the explosive potential, BP was quite fortunate to have been able to evacuate everyone safely and to prevent any gas ignition. … Due to the blowout of a gas-injection well there was ‘a lot of mud’ on the platform.”
From other sources, we discovered the cement which failed had been mixed with nitrogen as a way to speed up drying, a risky process that was repeated on the Deepwater Horizon.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance and senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council, calls the concealment of this information, “criminal. We have laws that make it illegal to hide this.”
The cables also reveal that BP’s oil-company partners knew about the blow-out but they too concealed the information from Congress, regulators and the Securities Exchange Commission. BP’s major U.S. partners in the Caspian Sea drilling operation were Chevron and Exxon.
The State Department got involved in the matter because BP’s U.S. partners and the Azerbaijani government were losing more than $50 million per day due to the platform’s shutdown. The Embassy cabled Washington:
“BP’s ACG partners are similarly upset with BP’s performance in this episode, as they claim BP has sought to limit information flow about this event even to its ACG partners.”
Kennedy is concerned about the silent collusion of Chevron, Exxon and the Azerbaijani government. “The only reason the public doesn’t know about it is because the Azerbaijani government conspired with them to disappear the people who saw it happen and then to act in concert, in collusion, in cahoots with BP, with Exxon, with Chevron to conceal this event from the American public.”
Kennedy’s particular concern goes to the connivance of the State Department, then headed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in the cover-up and deception. Chevron, noted Kennedy, named an oil tanker after Rice who had served on the oil company’s board of directors. “BP felt comfortable—and Chevron and Exxon—in informing the Bush State Department, which was run by Condoleezza Rice,” he said, “and they felt comfortable that that wasn’t going to come out.”
The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission requires companies to report “material” events. BP filed a “20-F” report in 2009 stating, “a subsurface gas release occurred below the Central Azeri platform,” suggesting a naturally occurring crack in the seafloor, not a blow-out. This contradicted the statements of three eyewitnesses and the secret statement of BP’s Azerbaijan President in then WikiLeaks cable.
“The three big actors, Chevron, Exxon and BP all concealed this from the American public,” concludes Kennedy. “This is a criminal activity.”
And why would the Azerbaijan government cover up a disaster costing it $40 million to $50 million a day? According to another insider, Les Abrahams, it has to do with at least $75 million in bribes that he paid to Azeri officials in Baku.
By Greg Palast/ecowatch
More at the linkEvidence now implicates top BP executives as well as its partners Chevron and Exxon... more
Mozilla, the maker of Firefox, has unveiled a new add-on for the popular web browser that gives web users an instant view of which companies are 'watching' them as they browse.
The Collusion add-on will allow users to 'pull back the curtain' on web advertising firms and other third parties that track people's online movements, says Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs.
Google's business is built on advertising - the company earned $28 billion from its AdWords service in 2010.
Mozilla's Firefox is the world's second most popular web browser, a position under threat from Google's own Chrome browser.
The Collusion add-on is an official Mozilla product, and was unveiled at the Technology, Entertainment and Design conference this week by Mozilla CEO Gary Kovacs.
It creates a 'web' showing web users exactly which advertising firms are watching as they browse.
'Collusion is an experimental add-on for Firefox and allows you to see all the third parties that are tracking your movements across the Web,' Mozilla said. 'It will show, in real time, how that data creates a spider-web of interaction between companies and other trackers.'
'Collusion will allow us to pull back the curtain and provide users with more information about the growing role of third parties, how data drives most Web experiences, and ultimately how little control we have over that experience and our loss of data,' said Kovacs.
Mozilla aims to build up a database of the worst offenders - and make the data available to privacy campaigners.
'When we launch the full version of Collusion, it will allow you to opt-in to sharing your anonymous data in a global database of web tracker data,' says the company. 'We’ll combine all that information and make it available to help researchers, journalists, and others analyze and explain how data is tracked on the web.
Vivian Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship said, 'Any company which wants to utilise the European market of 500 million citizens - which we've made borderless, a golden opportunity - then the European rules apply.'
'Citizens should have the possibility of buying into more extensive use of their data - but that should be their freedom to choose, not done by a sneaking way of taking the freedom away from the citizens,' said Reding in an interview with The Guardian.
CNIL, the French privacy agency in charge of the investigation, said Google’s explanation of how it will use the data was too vague and difficult to understand ‘even for trained privacy professionals.’
A coalition of 50 consumer groups in Europe and the U.S. also sent a letter to Mr Page in a last ditch attempt to make the search giant rethink saying the controversial new policy is 'unfair and unwise'.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2109223/Google-privacy-policy-Mozilla-add-Collusion-reveals-spying-internet-users.html#ixzz1oBEL1yCzMozilla, the maker of Firefox, has unveiled a new add-on for the popular web browser... more
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Thursday its decision to deregulate two Monsanto genetically engineered (GE) seed varieties: a corn variety engineered to resist drought conditions and an herbicide-resistant soybean engineered to produce more fatty acids than regular soybeans.
Regulators legalized the seeds after reviewing risk assessments, public comments and data provided by Monsanto.
Monsanto is planning "on-farm trials" of drought-tolerant corn, known as MON 87460, during the upcoming planting season "to give farmers experience with the product" and generate commercial data, according to a statement from the company.
The corn contains a protein gene from a bacterium that reportedly limits yield loss when corn plants are stressed by drought conditions.
Earlier this year, Truthout exposed a controversial program in five African countries that involves putting Monsanto drought-tolerant corn in the hands of farmers facing drought conditions. The program is part of an effort funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is working to establish a "Second Green Revolution" in Africa.
Critics say such efforts could replace traditional and sustainable farming methods with American-style industrial agriculture and prevent African governments from effectively regulating GE crops.
Last week, Truthout revealed that the USDA is taking steps to speed up the approval process for GE crops after industry groups put mounting pressure on top officials in recent years.
The USDA also announced a public comment period for two additional GE crop seeds, including another Monsanto soybean that is engineered to provide omega-3 fatty acids. Regulators have submitted favorable assessments of the seeds and are expected to approve them sometime next year. The public comment period on both products runs until February 27, 2012.
More at the linkThe United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on Thursday its decision... more
Republicans launched an unprecedented frontal assault against environmental protections and regulations this year, prompting Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) to call his chamber “the most anti-environment House in history.” Here are the 10 most powerful and outspoken opponents of clean air, clean water, conservation and climate action.
That’s the Los Angeles Times editorial board opening its “Year in Review: Congress’ 10 biggest enemies of the Earth,” what they call “Observations and provocations from The Times’ Opinion staff.”
Here are the opponents 10 to 8:
10. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas. Thought to be the biggest lifetime recipient of oil-industry contributions in the Senate, Cornyn has rewarded Exxon-Mobil’s largesse by supporting the industry’s position on pretty much every energy or environmental issue that has ever appeared before him. That’s why he, like everyone on this list, has a “0″ on the League of Conservation Voters’ scorecard for pro-environment votes.
9. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. A tireless advocate for opening Alaska’s pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, Young was involved in one of the more entertaining name-calling spats in Congress this year when he got into a tiff over the refuge with author and professor Doug Brinkley. You can be the judge of who won by watching the video replay.
8. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Vista [CA]. There may have been a time when the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee lived up to its name, investigating and bringing to light incidents of government waste, fraud and abuse. But I can’t remember back that far. In recent decades it has served as a tool for the majority party in the House to bash and embarrass the presidential administration, at least during times such as now when the House isn’t controlled by the president’s party. Issa, the committee’s current chairman, has turned such political gamesmanship into an art form, and has been particularly keen to attack environmental regulators and policymakers. In so doing he has turned up precious little waste or fraud, but provided plenty of political theater for those who want to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency or end subsidies for clean energy.
Here are the worst 7:
7. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio. Latta has the distinction of sponsoring the most far-reaching and destructive amendment to the most egregious anti-environment bill passed by the House this year. The TRAIN Act, approved by the House in September but not expected to get through the Senate, is a breathtaking (literally) gift to polluters that creates a committee to study the costs but ignore the benefits of environmental regulation, while also blocking EPA efforts to crack down on deadly emissions from power plants. Latta’s contribution is an amendment that undermines a cornerstone of the Clean Air Act, requiring the EPA to take industry costs into account when setting health-based standards. This would allow corporate polluters to overrule scientists and strikes at the heart of the polluter-pays principle that has guided environmental policy for 40 years.
6. Rep. Edward Whitfield, R-Ky. Another architect of the TRAIN wreck, Whitfield offered an amendment that would block the EPA from regulating mercury and other toxics from power plants, and from coming up with a rule on smog and soot that crosses state lines. Together, these two regulations would save an estimated 51,000 lives per year. But what are a few thousand lives when utility profits are at stake?
5. Sen. James M. Inhofe, R-Okla. One of the most outspoken climate-change deniers in the Senate (he’s renowned for calling global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people”), Inhofe is also one of the most influential Republicans in the country when it comes to environmental policy. As ranking member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, he uses his position to push for expanded oil drilling and reduce environmental regulation. Inhofe sometimes even finds himself to the right of the polluter-packed U.S. Chamber of Commerce; this summer he placed a hold on President Obama’s nominee John Bryson as Commerce secretary, even though Bryson had the blessing of the Chamber, because Inhofe felt Bryson was too pro-environment.
4. Rep. Michael Simpson, R-Idaho. Simpson has stepped to the front lines of his party’s war on Mother Nature by adding dozens of anti-environment riders to must-pass budget legislation. Among other things, Simpson aims to let mountaintop coal-mining operations continue to pollute streams, prevent the EPA from regulating coal-ash disposal, and exempt pesticide sprayers from complying with the Clean Water Act.
3. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. The enforcer of Republican Party discipline, Senate Minority Leader McConnell is among the key architects of his party’s stance on environmental issues. In 2009, when Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was among the few Republicans willing to discuss a bipartisan climate bill with Democrats, it was McConnell who reportedly convinced him to back away. This spring he led a failed effort to block the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions and overrule its finding that climate change threatens public health — tantamount to a statement that politicians know more about the dangers of climate change than scientists.
2. Rep. Eric Cantor, R-Va. The House Majority Leader released a memo in late August listing the top 10 “job-destroying regulations” his party would battle in the remainder of the congressional session. Seven were environmental rules opposed by the fossil fuel industry, including restrictions on emissions from industrial boilers and cement plants, and proposed rulemaking on smog, farm soot and greenhouse gases. None of these rules really threaten jobs, but failing to approve them would certainly threaten lives.
1. Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich. As chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Upton is the gatekeeper for many of the disastrous anti-environment bills that have been approved or proposed in the House this year. Ironically, he was once known among his state’s conservatives as “Red Fred” because of a somewhat pro-environment voting record, but a recent electoral challenge from his right changed all that. Because of his powerful position and newfound disdain for green regulation, he represents one of the biggest threats to planet Earth on planet Earth.
More at the linkRepublicans launched an unprecedented frontal assault against environmental... more
Phillip Geertson has spent the last 30 years farming and raising many diversified crops, and has been a partner in alfalfa breeding programs for 25 years. Alfalfa is a perennial plant, which makes it extremely vulnerable to contamination.
When Roundup Ready (hereafter "RR") alfalfa was first suggested I did not think that it would be developed and introduced because most alfalfa fields are never sprayed for weed control. And, if a chemical weed control was needed, there is a long list of off-patent low-cost herbicides that are effective if used properly.
Alfalfa hay is usually cut on a schedule of 24 to 30 days for each crop harvest. The entire plant above ground is removed along with any weeds. This frequent cutting and removal suppresses weed growth and will control, and sometimes even eliminate, persistent perennials and noxious weeds that Roundup will not control.
When alfalfa is properly fertilized and growing in appropriate soil conditions (correct Ph, well drained, etc.), alfalfa will outgrow and choke out most weeds. When alfalfa stands become weedy, non-thrifty, and otherwise poor performing it is usually because of poor fertility, insects, water logging, or winter damage. Weeds in an alfalfa forage field are a symptom of problems and simply spraying with Roundup to kill the weeds will not correct the underlying problem that is causing poor performance. A weedy alfalfa field should be plowed out, the soil conditions corrected, and then rotated to another crop that is not a host for alfalfa diseases, insects, or nematodes so that they die away. Afterwards, a new stand of alfalfa can be replanted.
Alfalfa is often planted with a companion crop of oats or other grasses in a spring seeding. The cover crop suppresses weeds and gives some protection to young alfalfa plants. An early summer cutting of the oats and new alfalfa plants produces valuable forage for horses, feeder cattle, and young dairy cattle. This practice, however, cannot be used with the RR technology because the Roundup will kill the oats or grass cover crop.
Forage fields of alfalfa are often planted with a companion perennial grass to produce forage that is an alfalfa-grass mix that is a superior feed for all classes of livestock. The grass component in the forage helps to balance the digestive process and gives a better balance of nutrients, so fewer supplements are required in high performance livestock. A grass mix forage is the best feed for horses and the grass in a dairy cow ration is very helpful in reducing laminitis in dairy cattle. Spraying an RR alfalfa field with Roundup will kill any companion grass.
The need for RR alfalfa is very limited; it only adds one more chemical to a long list of herbicides available.
From the standpoint of a conventional (non RR) alfalfa seed grower, the main problem with the introduction of RR alfalfa is the contamination of all alfalfa with the RR gene.
Alfalfa, a long-lived perennial, is cross pollinated by bees and other insects that fly long distances. Honey bees are known to fly ten miles, and wind gusts can pick up insects that have been pollinating alfalfa blossoms and gathering pollen and move them long distances.
Alfalfa sets and produces seed best if it is cross pollinated from another plant. If the pollen from an RR alfalfa plant fertilizes the flowers on a non-RR alfalfa plant, the seed on that non RR plant will contain the RR gene, and plants that grow from that seed will be roundup resistant. The RR gene will spread throughout the entire alfalfa population and would eventually make it impossible to raise conventional seed without some RR contamination and make it nearly impossible to breed and develop new varieties of alfalfa. This is not a good thing.
Conventional alfalfa contaminated with the RR gene will become a weed in the RR soybean, cotton, and sugar beet fields that cannot be removed.
Farmers that feel the RR technology is a valuable tool should and will avoid the introduction of any plant that is RR resistant . . . including alfalfa. The demand or acceptance of any conventional seed that has even a trace of RR contamination would be compromised, because a farmer who is growing other RR crops would not want his field contaminated with RR alfalfa.
Alfalfa is a native plant of Eurasia and grows as a feral plant throughout Europe. I have pictures of it growing along the Danube River in Austria, the Alps in Switzerland, and even in the median strip in front of the Nazi rally center in Nuremburg. It was introduced into North and South America, New Zealand, and Australia and other areas of the world where it now grows as a wild feral plant.
In a natural environment, the RR gene in alfalfa doesn't give it any survival advantage. In fact, early yield trials show that alfalfas with the RR gene are poor performers. In the environment created by human activity, however, we have given RR alfalfa a survival advantage. The worldwide use of glysosphate (the active ingredient in Roundup and other generic herbicides) will give alfalfa plants with the RR gene a survival advantage over conventional alfalfa. There is no wonder that the rest of the world does not want RR alfalfa seed and have prohibited the import of any alfalfa seed contaminated with even a trace of the RR gene.
The U.S. Alfalfa seed industry was the world's major producer of alfalfa seed. Historically, the U.S. alfalfa seed industry exported more than half of the alfalfa seed produced in the United States, but 2007 was the last time the USDA reported the size of the U.S. alfalfa seed exports. Why? Export data would be very useful in determining the amount of damage that was done to the U.S. alfalfa seed industry by the release of RR alfalfa into U.S. agriculture.
Alfalfa is the first important perennial plant to be genetically engineered and introduced into the environment that is cross pollinated by insects and that grows as a wild feral plant throughout the world. Putting a foreign gene that cannot be recalled into such an important crop without thoroughly analyzing its potential negative effects is, in my opinion, criminal. If Monsanto and/or other genetic engineering companies can get away with this introduction, then you can be sure that others will follow. Hundreds of other important plants will be subject to genetic mutation and if released into the environment could change the species forever. How does the Endangered Species Act come into play here?
Why was Monsanto given the right to introduce a gene into alfalfa plants without any published studies that prove beyond any doubt that it is safe, useful, and would not cause harm?
more at the linkPhillip Geertson has spent the last 30 years farming and raising many diversified... more
The Solyndra bankruptcy and emails are the royal wedding of energy stories for many in TV media. Just from August 31 to September 23, there were 190 mentions and 10 hours of coverage — 8 on Murdoch’s Fox News. But, as Media Matters reports, TV news outlets have entirely ignored the scandalous emails showing bias for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline within the State Department.
The environmental group Friends of the Earth released e-mails this week revealing a cozy and collaborative relationship between TransCanada Corporation lobbyist Paul Elliott and an employee at the U.S. State Department, the agency currently weighing approval of TransCanada’s permit application for the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.
A New York Times report notes that the emails show the State Department official providing “subtle coaching and cheerleading” for TransCanada:
A State Department official provided Fourth of July party invitations, subtle coaching and cheerleading, and inside information about Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton’s meetings to a Washington lobbyist for a Canadian company seeking permission from the department to build a pipeline that would carry crude from the oil sands of Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
The emails also suggest the State Department understood that after securing approval of the pipeline, TransCanada would reverse the concessions it made in respose to safety concerns. From the Times report:
TransCanada lobbyists exchanged e-mails with State Department officials in July about their intention to drop their request to operate the Keystone XL pipeline at higher pressures than normally allowed in the United States to win political support, but then suggested they would reapply for the exception once the project had been cleared.
So far, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, ABC, CBS and NBC have ignored the story.
Environmental groups say the e-mails fit into a pattern of behavior indicating that the State Department is not objectively or rigorously evaluating the project. Almost a year before the Environmental Impact Statement was completed, Secretary Clinton said that her office was “inclined” to sign off on the pipeline. The State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement was prepared with the help of Cardno ENTRIX, a consulting firm that works for TransCanada. The draft EIS, which said the pipeline would have “limited adverse environmental impacts,” was deemed “inadequate” by EPA reviewers. Cardno ENTRIX is also running the public hearings on the pipeline and maintaining the State Department’s website about the Keystone XL project.
In an earlier batch of e-mails released by Friends of the Earth, TransCanada’s Elliott said then-energy envoy for the State Department David Goldwyn had provided “insight on what he’d like to see by way of on the record comment during this public comment period of this Keystone KXL draft environmental impact statement.” Elliot added: “We are working with our stakeholders, shippers and vendors to deliver on the insight David shared with us and to do so by the June 15 deadline.” In another e-mail, Elliott, who previously worked on Secretary Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, again wrote that State Department officials had advised TransCanada on how to respond to environmental arguments against the pipeline.
An October 2009 cable obtained by Wikileaks previously showed that Goldwyn had instructed Canadian officials on how to improve “messaging” about tar sands by “increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories.” Goldwyn left the State Department in 2011 and testified this year in support of Keystone XL.
Friends of the Earth concludes that “the State Department no longer has credibility on the Keystone XL question” and calls for authority over the pipeline to be taken away from the agency.
More at the linkThe Solyndra bankruptcy and emails are the royal wedding of energy stories for many in... more
Today in the United States, by the simple act of feeding ourselves, we unwittingly participate in the largest experiment ever conducted on human beings. Massive agro-chemical companies like Monsanto (Agent Orange) and Dow (Napalm) are feeding us genetically-modified food, GMO's, that have never been fully tested and aren't labeled. This small handful of corporations are tightening their grip on the world's food supply—buying, modifying, and patenting seeds to ensure total control over everything we eat.
The GMO Film Project (Untitled) tells the story of a father's discovery of GMO's through the symbolic act of poor Haitian farmers burning seeds in defiance of Monsanto's gift of 475 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti shortly after the devastating earthquake. After a journey to Haiti to learn why hungry farmers would burn seeds, the real awakening of what has happened to our food, what we are feeding our families, and what is at stake for the global food supply unfolds in a trip across the United States in search of answers.
Are we at a tipping point? Is it time to take back our food? The encroaching darkness of unknown health and environmental risks, seed take over, chemical toxins, and food monopoly meets with the light of a growing resistance of organic farmers, concerned citizens, and a burgeoning movement to take back what we have lost.
We still have time to heal the planet, feed the world, and live sustainably. But we have to start now.
A film by Compeller Pictures
Directed by Jeremy Seifert
Produced by Joshua Kunau
Co-Producer, Elizabeth Kucinich
Associate Producer, Timothy Vatterott
Cinematographer, Rod HasslerToday in the United States, by the simple act of feeding ourselves, we unwittingly... more
PBS Frontline details FBI Special Agent John O'Neill's efforts to sound the alarms about al Qaeda's growing reach and threat to the U.S., only to be branded a maverick and roundly ignored. O'Neill left the FBI in the summer of 2001 and took a new job as head of security at the World Trade Center, where he died on September 11th.
The 9/11 Commission's investigation revealed that America's $30 billion intelligence community, spread over more than a dozen agencies, was disorganized, fractured and impaired by organizational and legal restrictions on the sharing of information.
These disclosures directly relate to John O'Neill's story. He came tantalizingly close to possibly uncovering the 9/11 plot. But his investigations into the USS Cole terrorist attack and into Al Qaeda's presence in the United States were both undermined by the CIA and FBI's failure to share information with each other.
And if I may add to that by Mr. O'Neill's own admission, the thwarting of him doing anymore work on this in pursuing Bin Laden by the Bush administration. The Millennium Plot that was thwarted by the work of O'Neill led to the total ignoring of this threat under Bush. I suspect due to their ties to the Saudis. I wonder exactly how much Mr. O'Neill may well have uncovered about the money behind this and how far it actually went up the ladder in his own government. There is so much more to this that we may never know, but one thing we do know is that there was at least one man with the tenacity to do what was necessary to pursue the truth, and he paid for it ironically in the WTC with his life today ten years ago.PBS Frontline details FBI Special Agent John O'Neill's efforts to sound the... more
Fonterra, the New Zealand based dairy giant is slashing its support for [already token support of] organic farming and moving further towards GE dairy farming [GE rye grass].
Meanwhile, Scion and Arborgen push ahead with their GE tree trials in Rotorua planting 336 GE pine trees.–Gary Cranston
Fonterra has taken its next step towards genetically engineered pastures, with its announced scaling back of organic production by half, according to the Soil Health Association of NZ.
Fonterra’s announcement yesterday of a 50% drop in support for organic dairy production, shows the dairy giant’s lack of support for good environmental practice or consumer health, and marks the next step to genetically engineered (GE) farmlands, according to the Soil Health Association of NZ.
“Fonterra has never really been committed to organic production, although aiming for 200 farms and a 140% increase in production from 2005. Just 200 farms was a very limited vision. Organic production across all New Zealand’s dairy herd should have been in any long term vision for clean green 100% Pure NZ,” said Soil Health – Organic NZ spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Organic production has been identified as the main obstacle to introducing GE grasses and crops into New Zealand in a Ministry of Research Science and Technology (MoRST, now Science and Innovation) report written by Terri Dunahay, an international biotechnology policy specialist with the United States Department of Agriculture.”
“Government also stopped real support for the organic sector following a briefing to the Agriculture Minister by Dunahay in 2009, yet Dunahay was duplicitous in every presentation I observed her. The misrepresentation of GE internationally, was appalling when Dunahay presented to Dairy NZ and the Institute of Public Administration New Zealand,” said Mr Browning.
“Dunahay and other United States lobbyists, along with New Zealand based pro-GE scientists fail to mention the significant GE contamination of non-GE farms, the loss of markets, the massive increase in herbicide use, the new resistant weeds and disease problems, higher seed and production costs, loss of biodiversity, or the human and animal health problems associated with genetic engineering (GE).”
Yesterday’s shock presentation to organic farmers in Taranaki and the Manawatu that their organically certified milk wasn’t wanted by Fonterra, because of reduced international demand, also included comment that organics caused “conventional” dairy production to be questioned as to its quality.
Best practice organics has improved soil structure and climate resilience, 43% more earthworm counts, 28% higher soil carbon sequestration, improved animal welfare, 33% less energy use, and a massive 58% reduction of nitrate leaching, yet is not valued well by Fonterra, because Fonterra’s conventional farming’s dirty environmental footprint, might be questioned more.
“The KPMG Agribusiness Agenda 2011 released in June, highlighted the potential lost opportunity of high net worth customers globally by New Zealand if support for organic market and production research is allowed to languish.” (4,5)
Organic dairy exports from New Zealand grew 400% between 2005-2009. Organic product sales in the USA grew 7.7% compared with total food sales increase of less than 1% in 2010, yet the New Zealand government is allowed funding for Organics Aotearoa New Zealand (OANZ) to stop this June, and had already long stopped support for the Green Party initiated Organics Advisory Service that had assisted significant growth in organic certification.
“Fonterra missed retailing organic butter in New Zealand, and has failed to market its organic products well. Where was the Fonterra brands organic butter in New Zealand super market shelves? It wasn’t to be found. Blaming reduced markets when there has been continued growth in organic consumption internationally shows a lack of organic marketing commitment by Fonterra, not a lack of customers.”
“Fonterra and the government have spent millions of dollars on GE rye grass development, (6) while support has been stalled for the organic sector.”
“Most of Europe and Scandinavia and many other countries have targets for farm production conversion to organics, because the environmental and social benefits are well recognised, but in New Zealand there appears to be a blind adherence to short term economic benefit including GE, even when non-GE alternatives are proven.”
“When I asked on Friday, why the government had spent tens of millions on GE grasses, but had effectively stopped spending money on organics, Environment Minister Nick Smith told me, “We didn’t think there was any money in it,” “said Mr Browning.
“The planting of 336 GE pine trees by Scion and ArborGen at their Rotorua field trial site last week adds to the sadness of spirit New Zealand is suffering through short term financial aims by giant agribusiness, while it ignores the environmental and social health of Aotearoa New Zealand.”
More at the linkFonterra, the New Zealand based dairy giant is slashing its support for [already token... more
As suburbs engulfed the rural landscape in the boom following World War II, many family farmers found themselves with new neighbors who were annoyed by the sound of crowing roosters, the smell of animal manure, or the rumble of farming equipment. In defense of family farming, Massachusetts passed the first "Right to Farm" law in 1979, to protect these farmers against their new suburban neighbors filing illegitimate nuisance lawsuits against them when, in fact, the farms were there first. Since then, every state has passed some kind of protection for family farms, which are pillars of our communities and the backbone of a sensible system of sustainable agriculture.
However, in the past few decades, intensive corporatization of farming has threatened both the future of family farming and the ability of neighbors to regulate the development of industrial agricultural operations that have transmogrified many farms into factories. Small-scale farms that resembled Old MacDonald's farm (with an oink oink here and a moo moo there) have increasingly disappeared or been turned into enormous livestock confinements with literal lagoons of liquified manure and urine, super-concentrated smells that could make a skunk faint, or vast fields of monoculture crops grown with a myriad of chemicals and pesticides and sometimes even sewage sludge. For example, the decade before the first right to farm law was passed, it took one million family farms to raise nearly 60 million pigs but by 2001, less than ten percent (80,000 farms) were growing the same number of pigs.
Capitalizing on the sentiment of protecting traditional farming, giant agribusiness interests have convinced some states to revise their Right to Farm laws to stealthily protect the most egregious of industrial farming practices from legitimate nuisance suits. The Center for Media & Democracy has recently exposed and analyzed a cache of bills voted on by corporations and politicians behind closed doors and then introduced in state legislatures without any notice to the public of the role of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) bill factory in the production of the legislation and no disclosure of the fact that corporations pre-voted on the bills, let alone disclosures of the names of those companies. In 1996, ALEC suddenly took an interest in expanding right to farm laws. ALEC's corporate backers, unsurprisingly, hale from the factory farm side of the equation.
ALEC's Corporate Backers
ALEC's corporate members and funders have included a number of agriculture interests, including Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), Cargill, and DuPont, as well as industry organizations like the National Pork Producers Council, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, and the Illinois Soybean Association. Cargill is the nation's second largest beef processor, third largest turkey processor, and fourth largest pork processor. In three other areas, flour milling, soybean crushing, and production of animal feed, ADM joins Cargill as the biggest in the industry. Chemical giant DuPont is one of the world's largest makers of numerous pesticides, and in 1999, it purchased seed giant Pioneer Hi-Bred, the world's top seller of corn seeds, including genetically engineered seeds.
Unlike the corporations, the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is actually led by farmers ... and lobbyists for multinational pork processors, like Don Butler, past president of NPPC and lobbyist for Smithfield Foods, the largest pork processor in the world. The farmers who lead NPPC tend to own farms similar to that of NPPC president Doug Wolf. Wolf's farm produces 24,000 hogs per year - and it also has a beef feedlot and 1,200 acres of corn, soy, and alfalfa.
Perhaps the most surprising "agribusiness" donor to ALEC is the most powerful of all: Koch Industries. It turns out that an early part of the Koch empire was the Matador Cattle Company, founded in 1952. To this day, Koch Agriculture Company retains Matador Cattle Company, which has about 15,000 cattle. However, in the 1990's, Koch Beef Company was the nation's 10th largest cattle feeder, with feedlots that held up to 165,000 cattle. Koch bought a new feedlot in 1996 and, among other things, decided to expand its capacity by adding 20,000 more cows. The neighbors did not think that was a good idea:
Some businesses and farm owners expressed concerns over the health of their employees, some of whom would be housed within 300 feet of Koch's cattle pens. Other neighbors cited concerns over the potential for groundwater pollution, the amount of dirt, insects, and odors added to the area contributing to health problems, a decrease in the quality of life for nearby residents, and the possible devaluation of land.
Koch overcame their objections with the ruling of a friendly regulator in Texas, winning the right to expand. With all these corporate interests in limiting regulation of factory farming, thank goodness their pals at ALEC approved a model version of a Right to Farm bill in 1996!
Why Corporations Care About Laws For Farmers
While nearly all farms in the United States are technically "family farms" (a tiny fraction are owned directly by corporations), multinational agribusiness corporations have a major stake in how these farms are operated. Often family farms take the form of Wolf L & G Farms LLC, the farm owned by the family of Doug Wolf (mentioned above). Particularly for chickens and hogs, individual farmers often contract with meatpackers like Cargill, Smithfield, or Tyson. In contract farming arrangements, the corporations provide the animals, medications, and feed to the farmers; the farmer is responsible for the animals' housing, manure, and the bodies of animals that die prematurely. When the animals are fully grown, they are picked up by the corporation, which slaughters, processes, and markets the animal and plays the farmer for the weight the animal gained in his or her care. The farmers have most of the debt and risk and the corporation has most of the power and profit.
More at the linkAs suburbs engulfed the rural landscape in the boom following World War II, many... more
This year, we are eating from the first harvest of Monsanto’s eight-trait “SmartStax” genetically modified (GM) corn. Approved in 2009 and grown for the first time in North America last year, the new GM corn appears as processed food ingredients and feed for dairy and meat animals.
Canada’s approval of SmartStax corn exposed just how little Health Canada cares to investigate the potential risks of GM crops and foods – in the case of SmartStax, not at all. Now the process to approve SmartStax in Europe has identified many of the risk issues being ignored on both sides of the ocean. Confidential industry summaries of data as well as critiques by European experts show more studies must be done to determine any potential health and environmental risks.
No risk assessment in Canada
In July 2009, Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences announced they had received approval in Canada and the US to introduce their new eight-trait GM corn SmartStax (it combines technologies from both companies). However, Health Canada did not actually assess SmartStax for human health safety. Because the individual eight GM traits were previously approved in separate crops, Canadian regulators decided there was nothing new in combining the eight together. Health Canada assumed the corn was a harmless amalgam of GM traits and did not even issue any paperwork to rubberstamp its approval.
In September 2010, the GMO Panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded SmartStax “is unlikely to have adverse effects on human and animal health and the environment, in the context of its intended uses.” Unlike in Canada, the European Authority actually looked at some industry documents (summarizes of studies). The German non-governmental group Testbiotech published a report in June that examined these documents as well as critiques from regulators in European countries. Its report points to many safety questions still not being addressed in Europe – questions Health Canada should have asked but never did (Testbiotech, June 2011, “How industry and EFSA have been systematically undermining the risk assessment of ‘SmartStax” www.testbiotech.de/node/515)
More GM traits, more risks?
SmartStax corn is the first GM crop that has more than three GM traits “stacked” together. SmartStax produces six different insecticidal toxins (Bt toxins) and is tolerant to two herbicides. SmartStax is also known as MON 89034 x 1507 x MON 88017 x 59122, which represents the four GM events or parental lines bred together to make SmartStax. The possible implications of such complexity were entirely overlooked by Health Canada.
Canadian regulation is essentially based on the view that moving genes around is not inherently risky. Instead of examining the process of genetic engineering, Canada evaluates the end product using, in part, the widely discredited concept of “substantial equivalence.” Substantial equivalence allows for a comparison of a GM organism with its “equivalent” already out in the environment with a “history of safe use.” Health Canada’s approval of SmartStax is an extreme application of substantial equivalence. The European Food Safety Authority chose a similar approach. As Christoph Then of Testbiotech explains, “EFSA based its approval of SmartStax to a large extent on data derived from the parental plants. But this approach is highly complicated since SmartStax has many insecticidal toxins, thus more interactions can to be expected. These interactions remain unstudied.” (June 28, 2011, CBAN press release: “Report Exposes Unstudied Risks of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified “SmartStax” Corn: EU Member State Critiques and Leaked Industry Documents Uncover Safety Questions.”)
While insect resistant crops are engineered using genes from the naturally occurring soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), the risks posed by Bt toxins cannot be assessed by comparing them with the Bt toxins that occur naturally. As the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health states, “concerning all Bt toxins, a history of safe use cannot be argued on the basis of the safety of Bt sprays applied in organic farming. The inserted genes are truncated and arranged with expression modulating DNA parts originating from different organisms and permanently expressed compared to a tight timely Bt spraying schedule.”
Additionally, the Bt toxin Cry1A.105 in SmartStax was artificially synthesized and as stated by Austria, “There is no safe use of the new recombinant protein expressed by an artificially arranged insert such as Cry1A.105.”
In their comments on the EFSA SmartStax decision, regulators from Austria summarized: “A stacked organism has to be regarded as a new event, even if no new modifications are introduced.” This view is consistent with EU regulations and with United Nations Codex guidelines that Canada helped negotiate. Austrian experts take this view because “The gene-cassette combination is new and only minor conclusions could be drawn from the assessment of the parental lines, since unexpected effects (e.g. synergistic effects of the newly introduced proteins) cannot automatically be excluded.”
More at the link.This year, we are eating from the first harvest of Monsanto’s eight-trait... more
With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill with 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation.
One would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation. Another would severely restrict the Department of Interior’s ability to police mountaintop-removal mining. And then there is the call to allow new uranium prospecting near Grand Canyon National Park.
There is little chance that all the 39 proposals identified by Democrats will be approved by the Senate, which they control, or that a substantial number could elude a presidential veto. In fact, one measure — to forbid the Fish and Wildlife Service to list any new plants or animals as endangered — was so extreme that 37 Republicans broke ranks Wednesday and voted to strip it from the bill.
Although inserting policy changes into appropriations bills is a common strategy when government is divided as it is now, no one can remember such an aggressive use of the tactic against natural resources. Environmental groups and their Democratic allies in Congress worry that more than a few of these so-called riders could stick when both sides negotiate and leverage budget concessions in the fall.
“You have a fatal political momentum,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. “They are going to load up this bill in an unprecedented fashion.”
Republicans frame their proposals — which are being debated and voted on this week on the House floor — as the best way to counter overreaching regulatory agencies.
The unusual breadth of the attack, explained Representative Mike Simpson, a Republican from Idaho, is a measure of his party’s intense frustration over cumbersome environmental rules.
“Many of us think that the overregulation from E.P.A. is at the heart of our stalled economy,” Mr. Simpson said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “I hear it from Democratic members as well.”
But Democrats argue that the policy prescriptions are proof that Republicans are determined to undo clean air and water protections established 40 years ago.
Many of these new restrictions, they point out, were proposed in the budget debate earlier this year and failed. They are back, the Democrats say, because Republicans are doing the bidding of industry and oil companies.
“The new Republican majority seems intent on restoring the robber-baron era where there were no controls on pollution from power plants, oil refineries and factories,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat, excoriating the proposal on the floor.
Environmental regulations and the E.P.A. have been the bane of Tea Party Republicans almost from the start. Although particularly outraged by efforts to monitor carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas linked to the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere, freshmen Republicans have tried to rein in the E.P.A. across the board — including proposals to take away its ability to decide if coal ash can be designated as a toxic material and to prevent it from clarifying rules enforcing the Clean Water Act.
The appropriations bill in question covers the Department of Interior, the Forest Service and the E.P.A., and it was voted out of committee and onto the House floor strictly along party lines — with the Republicans prevailing 28 to 18. The bill cuts annual combined funding for agencies by 7 percent — and by nearly 18 percent for the E.P.A. alone — but it is controversial mostly because of the onslaught of policy changes.
Representative Norm Dicks, Democrat of Washington and ranking minority member on the appropriations committee, said Republicans were adding provisions unchecked to the law and getting away with very little scrutiny. He expected even more regulatory rollbacks to be added to the bill this week. The bill is under open debate on the House floor, and policy changes requested by members but not included by the appropriations committee can now be added one by one to the bill, in addition to the 39 riders that came out of the committee.
“It is already like a wish list for polluters,” Mr. Dicks said, “and it is going to get worse on the floor.”
Conservatives have been adding amendments at a furious pace. Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group, counted more than 70 anti-environmental amendments filed as of Wednesday morning and was monitoring for more.
Dave Conover, a senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington analysis and advocacy group, and a former Republican staff member with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said the large number of provisions was less about policy and more a way for the conservatives in the House to signal the depths of their discontent with a broken political process.
“It is clear that the Senate is not going to pass all these appropriations,” said Mr. Conover, adding, “And the message is that in a down economy excessive environmental regulations are a bad move.”
But Mr. Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council said that although most of the policy attachments would never become law, the Republican appropriations flurry was still unnerving — and could pose more reason for concern in coming months. ”We are then going to be in a situation again where the Senate and president face the question of whether they are willing to shut down the government or appease a motley group in the House over a spending bill,” he said. “No one knows how that plays out.”With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling,... more
Now that Monsanto/Forage Genetics' new genetically modified alfalfa has been approved by the USDA, where will all that GMO alfalfa end up? Feed for factory farmed dairy cows. The number one dairy processor in the US is Dean Foods, so the best way to boycott GMO alfalfa is to boycott Dean Foods.
As the new documentary by Organic Spies explains, that means boycotting most of the biggest conventional milk brands, but it also means boycotting Dean Foods' WhiteWave brands.
Is it fair to boycott WhiteWave, known for its natural/organic Horizon and Silk products? If you look into the information Organic Spies has uncovered, the answer is resounding YES! It turns out that WhiteWave has a licensing agreement with Land O' Lakes. Land O' Lakes is the owner of GMO alfalfa co-creator Forage Genetics and a distributor of Monsanto's GMO corn, soy and RoundUp herbicide.
Another reason Organic Spies gives us to boycott all of Dean Foods brands, including Horizon and Silk, is that theres no separation between the lobbying and polical campaign contributions of the parent and its subsidiaries. Dean Foods has a single Political Action Committee that WhiteWave employees, including Kelly Shea, an Organic Trade Association board member, contribute to.
All of Dean Foods' conventional milk products are produced with genetically engineered feed, so they had an interest in seeing GMO alfalfa approved without restrictions, but they sent the same lobbyist who advocates for their conventional milk products to talk to the USDA about organic milk and the idea of "coexistence" between organic and GMOs. There's no way the lobbyist for Dean Foods' the largest conventioanl milk processor could have made a sincere argument that organic needs to be protected from contamination. It's little wonder, with industry lobbyists like this in the mix, that the USDA chose to approve GMO alfalfa, even though the inevitability of contamination means disaster for organic.Now that Monsanto/Forage Genetics' new genetically modified alfalfa has been... more
I'll state straight away, I hate/loathe/despise/abhor Monsanto. They are evil, not metaphorically evil, but actually evil. And as for our politicians who should have protected us from Monsanto; well, there’s a special circle of Hell reserved just for them.
I came across this video in the twitterverse and wanted to share it because it gives you a good idea of what is involved in actually using GM seed and the (hoocoodanode!?) consequences. Farmer to Farmer.
I ask you: What do we do to extricate ourselves from this politico-corporate nightmare?I'll state straight away, I hate/loathe/despise/abhor Monsanto. They are evil,... more
The Argentine government has hitherto been an enthusiastic supporter of the the soy economy (most of which is GM soy), because it has levied export taxes on soybeans that reached a massive 35 per cent in 2010.
But now the Argentine government says it isn't seeing those taxes. It has accused the big four soy traders in Argentina of tax evasion. So perhaps its love affair with GM soy is coming to an end.
Note that all four of the grain traders accused of tax evasion by the Argentine government are members of the corporate greenwash program, the Round Table on Responsible Soy, which certifies GM soy as "responsible".
Argentina accuses world's largest grain traders of huge tax evasion
Grain traders ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus deny charges by Argentine government of substantial tax evasion
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 1 June 2011
The world's four largest grain traders, responsible for the vast majority of global corn, soya and wheat trading and processing, have been accused of large-scale tax evasion in a landmark series of cases being brought against them by the Argentinian government.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ricardo Echegaray, the head of Afip, the country's revenue and customs service, has given a detailed account of the charges his department is bringing against ADM, Bunge, Cargill and Dreyfus.
"These companies have gone into criminality," Echegaray said. "2008 was when agricultural commodities prices spiked and was the best year for them in prices, yet we could see that the companies with the biggest sales showed very little profit in this country."
The Guardian has learned from separate sources that Afip is seeking to claim $476m (£290m) for what it says are unpaid tax and duties from Bunge, $252m from Cargill and $140m from Dreyfus. The companies have all denied all the allegations and have said they will defend themselves vigorously.
With the global food system and who controls it under intense scrutiny in recent weeks, thanks to record prices, the legal battle between Afip and the "ABCD four", as they are known, has taken on heightened significance.
Oxfam, in a report earlier this week, warned of spiralling prices and a huge increase in global hunger over the next two decades, and said that corporate concentration in the global food trade was a structural flaw in the system.
Echegaray said he had begun investigating Argentina's large business taxpayers towards the end of 2008, cross-checking information given to his authorities with that from other countries where their exports were destined, by making use of tax information exchange treaties – some of which have been newly signed. He also cross-checked declarations made to Argentinian customs with corporate income tax returns.
He said he had evidence from his detailed inquiry that all four traders had submitted false declarations of sales and routed profits through tax havens or their headquarters, in contravention of Argentinian tax law.
He also alleged they had on occasion used phantom firms to buy grain. He further alleged that they had inflated costs in Argentina to reduce taxable profits or claim tax credits there.
The Afip inquiry has focused on the traders' sales to Uruguay, among other low-tax jurisdictions.
Echegaray said Bunge had set up an office in the tax-free zone of Montevideo through which it began routing its exports after 2007, from which point it declared no gains in Argentina. He alleged his checks had revealed that Bunge employed only a handful of people in Uruguay's capital, and that it had no real imports or exports from that office other than small items for those staff. Bunge was expelled from the Argentine exporters' register last week.
Bunge denied the allegations absolutely and was adamant it had broken no laws or tax rules. "We believe that we have done nothing wrong and that our past tax payments are complete. This is an issue that is not unique to Bunge, or even our industry. We will continue to take the appropriate legal steps to defend ourselves," it said in a statement.
Echegaray alleged that Cargill had also used Uruguay and Swiss subsidiaries to evade taxes in Argentina. Cargill, ADM and Dreyfus were suspended from the exporters' register by the government earlier this year as a result of the investigation.
cont.The Argentine government has hitherto been an enthusiastic supporter of the the soy... more
EXTRACTS: U.S. agricultural regulators on Friday said despite a court ban, they would allow commercial planting of genetically modified sugar beets... The move marks the second-such boost by the United States for contested biotech crops in a week, and underscores U.S. determination to expand the use of GMO crops... ---
Farmers And Conservationists Challenge Latest Federal Approval Of Genetically Engineered Sugar Beets
Center for Food Safety, February 4 2011
San Francisco, CA - In defiance of earlier court ruling, USDA allows continued growing of controversial, illegally planted crop
Today the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) issued a new decision to allow the U.S. sugar beet industry to continue growing Monsanto's Roundup Ready, genetically engineered (GE) sugar beets. The decision will be immediately challenged in court by a coalition of farmers and conservation groups: the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club. This is the same coalition that in August of last year had APHIS’s previous decision to allow planting thrown out because it violated environmental laws. The coalition declared the new decision unlawful as well, and vowed to overturn it.
The sugar beets are genetically engineered by Monsanto to tolerate repeated applications of that company’s weed killer Roundup, or glyphosate. Judge Jeffrey White of the federal district court for the Northern District of California found in earlier rulings that growing the GE sugar beets is likely to cause irreparable harm to the groups’ members and the environment, and "may cross-pollinate with non-genetically engineered sugar beets and related Swiss chard and table beets," and ordered the federal government to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by the National Environmental Policy Act before allowing the GE sugar beets to be grown. The USDA is continuing to work on the court-ordered EIS, but considers today's documents sufficient to allow growers to continue growing the controversial crop illegally planted in defiance of the earlier court ruling.
"There is clear evidence of harm to the environment from GE sugar beets," said Paige Tomaselli, Staff Attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “Because USDA continues to bow to industry pressure and permits further commercial production of Roundup Ready sugar beets, without first preparing an EIS or protecting the public, the Center for Food Safety will once again seek to halt the planting in court."
In spite of that court order, the federal agency today issued a far less comprehensive Environmental Assessment, claiming it adequately considers the damage the GE sugar beets are likely to cause. According to APHIS, Roundup Ready sugar beets can be partially deregulated without having a significant effect on the environment. This conclusion is at sharp odds with earlier court rulings and the views of growers of organic and non-GE crops, who will likely see their crops contaminated by the GE sugar beets, threatening their livelihoods and the ability of farmers and consumers to choose non-GE foods.
Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff commented: "The lax conditions on growing the GE sugar beets in today's approval are not materially different from those earlier rejected by the federal court as inadequate to protect other farmers, the public, and the environment. USDA has yet again violated the law requiring preparation of an EIS before unleashing this genetically engineered crop."
cont.EXTRACTS: U.S. agricultural regulators on Friday said despite a court ban, they would... more
The choice of healthy food and to grow food as you see fit is a human right. Access to food is a human right. I am a firm believer in food sovereignty and the right to farm sustainably and am appalled to see how it is slipping away in America, a land that claims to be about freedom. FOOD RAIDS? When we have bankers and government agencies robbing us blind daily in collusion with companies like Monsanto that toxify this planet with disease and death going scott free?
As you celebrate your Thanksgiving this year in whatever way you do, not only be thankful for your food, but aware that the freedom to grow, process, distribute, and eat what you want is being sacrificed to industrial agriculture and factory farms in collusion with food chains looking to make big money from eroding the very principles that made this country what it once was.
Farmageddon is hopefully going to be released next year. It is a 90 minute documentary on the dwindling food sovereignty we see in America and the extreme measures being implemented to attack farmers who are growing healthy food. All I can say about this is: What the hell happened to our country?The choice of healthy food and to grow food as you see fit is a human right. Access to... more
Today, the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and the Sierra Club, filed a lawsuit in federal district court for the Northern District of California in San Francisco, challenging the issuance by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of permits purporting to allow the immediate planting of a genetically engineered (GE) sugar beet seed crop. The coalition of organic seed growers and conservationists is represented by Earthjustice and attorneys from the Center for Food Safety.
Less than one month ago, on August 13, 2010, Judge Jeffrey White vacated APHIS’s deregulation of the GE sugar beet variety, making it illegal to plant, and required APHIS to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, after finding that APHIS had ignored the requirements for assessing the crop’s environmental impacts. The patented sugar beet variety, known as "Roundup Ready" because it has been engineered by Monsanto to tolerate applications of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, allows farmers to douse their fields with the chemical without concern for the crop itself, leading to greater use of the herbicide. Constant application of the herbicide also accelerates development of Roundup-resistant "super weeds," now found on millions of acres of U.S. farmlands, leading to further increased use of the chemical and of other, even more toxic herbicides.
"The Court has already found that the approval of this engineered crop was illegal," said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety. "Rather than complying with the court's order, the USDA is once again acting as a rogue agency in illegally allowing these crops to be planted without the required hard look at their environmental and economic dangers."
The sugar beet seed crop will be grown in and around Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where farmers also grow seed for other crops. Judge White had found that the GE sugar beets, which can cross-pollinate table beets and Swiss chard, may contaminate organic and conventional crops and threaten these farmers’ livelihoods, and deprive farmers and consumers of the choice to grow and consume non-genetically engineered food.
Unwilling to await preparation of the court-ordered EIS and a new, public process on whether to again deregulate and allow for commercialization, APHIS responded to the urgings of the sugar beet industry by issuing permits purporting to allow the industry to plant their Roundup Ready sugar beet seed crop this fall, without any environmental review or public notice and comment, to create seed for a future Roundup Ready sugar beet crop that is still illegal. The unprecedented permitting process for a commercially grown genetically engineered crop violates, among other laws, the National Environmental Policy Act. Although APHIS claims the permits do not allow the crop to flower and spread pollen, the seed crop is expressly intended to flower and create seed next summer. NEPA requires APHIS to first examine the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of the seed crop together with the impacts of the rest of the sugar beet production cycle the seed crop is intended to facilitate.
The plaintiffs have asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction enjoining the issuance of the permits and any planting pursuant to them.
Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff commented: "APHIS's issuance of these permits blatantly violates well established law and flouts the Court's recent rulings. It has become Monsanto’s puppet.”Today, the Center for Food Safety, Organic Seed Alliance, High Mowing Organic Seeds,... more