tagged w/ GMOs
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would let states require that any food or beverage containing genetically-engineered ingredients be clearly labeled.
The Vermont Legislature earlier this year considered a bill that would have required labels on foods that contain genetically-engineered ingredients. The House Agriculture Committee heard testimony from 111 citizens and hundreds more crowded the Statehouse to show their support. Despite passing by a lopsided 9-1 vote in committee, the bill languished after Monsanto threatened to sue the state.
Similar strong-arm tactics by one of the world's leading producers of genetically-engineered foods and herbicides have been employed elsewhere by Monsanto, the multi-national company that posted $1.6 billion in profits last year. "It's no mystery why Monsanto would fight people's right to know," Sanders said "Business is booming for the chemical company. Clearly, they have a lot to protect."
The Sanders Amendment, cosponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), acknowledges that states have the authority to require the labeling of foods produced through genetic engineering or derived from organisms that have been genetically engineered.
The measure also would require the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to report to Congress within two years on the percentage of food and beverages in the United States that contain genetically-engineered ingredients.
"All over this country, people are becoming more conscious about the foods they are eating and the foods they are serving to their kids, and this is certainly true for genetically-engineered foods," Sanders said. "I believe that when a mother goes to the store and purchases food for her child, she has the right to know what she is feeding her child."
In the United States, Sanders said, food labels already must list more than 3,000 ingredients ranging from gluten, aspartame, high-fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or MSG, but not genetically-altered ingredients. Around the world, by contrast, 49 countries require labels on foods that contain genetically-engineered ingredients.
In the 1990s, there was consensus among scientists and doctors at the FDA that genetically-altered foods could have new and different risks such as hidden allergens, increased plant-toxin levels and the potential to hasten the spread of antibiotic-resistant disease. Those concerns are mounting. In just three days, the American Medical Association will consider resolutions calling for new studies on the impact of genetically-altered foods. The American Public Health Association and the American Nurses Association already passed similar resolutions.
Sanders stressed that labeling genetically-altered foods will not increase costs to shoppers. He also disputed claims that genetically-engineered crops are better for the environment. Instead, he said, the use of Monsanto Roundup-ready soybeans engineered to withstand exposure to the herbicide Roundup has caused the spread of Roundup-resistant weeds, which now infest 10 million acres in 22 states with predictions of 40 million acres or more by mid-decade. Resistant weeds increase the use of herbicides and the use of older and more toxic herbicides.
The Sanders Amendment is about allowing states to honor the wishes of their residents and allowing consumers' to know what they're eating. "Monsanto and other major corporations should not get to decide this, the people and their elected representatives should," Sanders said.Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today proposed an amendment to the farm bill that would... more
Biotech giant Syngenta has been criminally charged with denying knowledge that its genetically modified (GM) Bt corn kills livestock during a civil court case that ended in 2007 .
Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn variety expresses an insecticidal Bt toxin (Cry1Ab) derived from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and a gene conferring resistance to glufosinate herbicides. EU cultivation of Bt 176 was discontinued in 2007. Similar varieties however, including Bt 11 sweet corn are currently cultivated for human and animal consumption in the EU.
The charges follow a long struggle for justice by a German farmer whose dairy cattle suffered mysterious illnesses and deaths after eating Bt 176. They were grown on his farm as part of authorised field tests during 1997 to 2002. By 2000, his cows were fed exclusively on Bt 176, and soon illnesses started to emerge. He was paid 40 000 euros by Syngenta as partial compensation for 5 dead cows, decreased milk yields, and vet costs (see  Cows ate GM Maize and Died, SiS 21). During a civil lawsuit brought against the company by the farmer however, Syngenta refused to admit that its GM corn was the cause, claiming no knowledge of harm. The case was dismissed and Gloeckner remained thousands of euros in debt.
Gloeckner continued to lose cows and many more had to be put down due to serious illnesses, compelling him to stop using GM feed from 2002. He approached the Robert Koch Institute and Syngenta to conduct a full investigation. However, only one cow was ever analysed and the data are still unavailable to the public. Unsurprisingly, no causal relationship between the GM feed and deaths was determined; and there is still no explanation for the deaths.
But in 2009, the farmer learned of a feeding study allegedly commissioned by Syngenta in 1996 that resulted in four cows dying in two days. The trial was abruptly terminated. Now Gloeckner, along with a German group called Bündnis Aktion Gen-Klage and another farmer turned activist Urs Hans, have brought Syngenta to the criminal court to face charges of withholding knowledge of the US trial, which makes the company liable for the destruction of the farmer’s 65 cows. Syngenta is also charged with the deaths of cattle in the US trial and on Gloeckner’s farm, which should have been registered as “unexpected occurrences”. Most seriously, the German head of Syngenta Hans-Theo Jahmann, is charged for withholding knowledge of the US study from the judge and from Gloecker in the original civil court case.
More at the linkBiotech giant Syngenta has been criminally charged with denying knowledge that its... more
Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system.The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on the enormous agro -biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture.
Seeds of Freedom seeks to challenge the mantra that large-scale, industrial agriculture is the only means by which we can feed the world, promoted by the pro-GM lobby. In tracking the story of seed it becomes clear how corporate agenda has driven the take over of seed in order to make vast profit and control of the food global system.
Through interviews with leading international experts such as Dr Vandana Shiva and Henk Hobbelink, and through the voices of a number of African farmers, the film highlights how the loss of indigenous seed goes hand in hand with loss of biodiversity and related knowledge; the loss of cultural traditions and practices; the loss of livelihoods; and the loss of food sovereignty. The pressure is growing to replace the diverse, nutritional, locally adapted and resilient seed crops which have been bred by small-scale farmers for millenia, by monocultures of GM seed.
Alongside speakers from indigenous farming communities, the film features global experts and activists Dr Vandana Shiva of Navdanya, Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, Zac Goldsmith MP (UK Conservative party), Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International, Gathuru Mburu of the African Biodiversity Network, Liz Hosken of The Gaia Foundation and Caroline Lucas MP (UK Green party).
This film is co-produced by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network. In collaboration with GRAIN, Navdanya International and MELCA Ethiopia .
Narrated by Jeremy Irons
You can watch the thirty minute film at the link.Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional,... more
A 2010 Rockefeller Foundation document entitled “Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development” outlines a scenario which results in the death of 13,000 during the 2012 Olympics.
The first worrying prediction begins in 2012 when ‘the pandemic the world had been anticipating for years’, finally hits, infecting nearly 20 percent of world population and claiming 8 million lives. Due to this pandemic, the Rockefeller Foundation outlines how the public will welcome a more authoritative government and a tighter control across all aspects of life, including Biometric IDs for all citizens.
The 2012 London Olympics Bombing
In the document, the Rockefeller Foundation ‘predicts’ that the decade of 2010-2020 will be named “The Doom Decade”, because of a wave of terrorist attacks, natural disasters as well as civil uprisings and financial collapses.
" The years 2010 to 2020 were dubbed the “doom decade” for good reason: the 2012 Olympic bombing, which killed 13,000, was followed closely by an earthquake in Indonesia killing 40,000, a tsunami that almost wiped out Nicaragua, and the onset of the West China Famine, caused by a once-in-a-millennium drought linked to climate change."
Mirroring events in real life, the document also predicts that by 2015 a large share of the US’ armed forces are recalled from countries such as Afghanistan to be stationed domestically, apparently posse comitatus no longer being a concern.
In 2015, the U.S. reallocated a large share of its defense spending to domestic concerns, pulling out of Afghanistan—where the resurgent Taliban seized power once again.
As is happening right now, the document outlines how nations will lose power over their own finances due to massive debt, apparently handing over financial sovereignty to the banking technocrats....
...Technology becomes an increasing theater of battle in the Doom Decade, with cyber terrorism and hacking mafia organizations becoming more and more widespread. A worrying prediction outlined in the document covers “Bio-Hacking” where GMO and DoItYourself-Biotech push the Globalist’s love for Transhumanism forward....
http://www.infowars.com/rockefeller-foundation-predicts-13000-dead-at-london-2012-olympics/A 2010 Rockefeller Foundation document entitled “Scenarios for the Future of... more
12 months ago
Progressive small farmer organizations in Mexico scored a victory over transnational corporations that seek to monopolize seed and food patents. When the corporations pushed their bill to modify the Federal Law on Plant Varieties through the Committee on Agriculture and Livestock of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies on March 14, organizations of farmers from across the country sounded the alarm. By organizing quickly, they joined together to pressure legislators and achieved an agreement with the legislative committee to remove the bill from the floor.
What’s at stake is free and open access to plant biodiversity in agriculture. The proposed modifications promote a privatizing model that uses patents and “Plant Breeders’ Rights” (PBR) to deprive farmers of the labor of centuries in developing seed. The small farmers who worked to create this foundation of modern agriculture never charged royalties for its use.
Although the current law, in effect since 1996, pays little heed to the rights of small farmers, the new law would be far worse. Present law tends to benefit private-sector plant breeders, allowing monopolies to obtain exclusive profits from the sale of seeds and other plant material for up to 15 years, or 18 in the case of perennial ornamental, forest, or orchard plants–even when the plants they used to develop the new varieties are in the public domain.
The legislative reform would extend exclusive rights from the sale of reproductive material to 25 years. Further, it seeks to restrict the rights of farmers to store or use for their own consumption any part of the harvest obtained from seeds or breeding material purchased from holders of PBRs.
The proposed law would also include genetically modified organisms (GMOs) among the plant varieties covered, converging with the so-called Monsanto Law (Law of Biosecurity and Genetically Modified Organisms). This is an absurd inclusion, since GMOs are created by introducing genetic material from non-plant species.
GMOs cannot be considered a distinct variety, because they do not result from the genetic variability that underlies natural selection. They are the result of manipulation through biotechnology that crosses the boundaries between species and realms. Another absurdity is the private appropriation of genetic information from live organisms, even those altered with genes of other species.
The proposed law would create a “Monsanto Police,” by giving the National Service for the Inspection and Certification of Seeds the authority to order and conduct inspection visits, demand information, investigate suspected administrative infractions, order and carry out measures to prevent or stop violations of PBR, and impose administrative sanctions, which are increased by the proposal. It would have a government agency promote PBRs held by individuals or corporations.
Holders of PBRs already gain exclusive rights to exploit plant varieties and material for their propagation. The bill under consideration would extend those rights over the products resulting from use of monopolized plant varieties so that, for example, a special license would have to be obtained to use the variety in foods for human consumption or industrial uses.
Farmers Win a Battle, but the Offensive Continues
Now that the regular session has been concluded and the bill wasn’t presented, it will have to wait for a new session. Withdrawal of the bill was a victory for the social organizations over the transnational beneficiaries of the bill, particularly Monsanto.
The battle was won, but the bill is still pending as Monsanto and other large corporations wait for a better time. With Mexican elections just months away, they’re waiting for a time when the political cost of these measures that harm producers’ rights won’t have immediate electoral repercussions.
Source: http://www.occupymonsanto360.org (http://s.tt/1d0mY)
More at the linkProgressive small farmer organizations in Mexico scored a victory over transnational... more
What do a former mouthpiece for tobacco and big oil, a corporate-interest PR flack, and the regional director of a Monsanto-funded tort reform group have in common?
They’re all part of the anti-labeling PR team that will soon unleash a massive advertising and PR campaign in California, designed to scare voters into rejecting the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.
In November, California voters will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a law to require mandatory labeling of all GMO ingredients in processed foods, and ban the routine industry practice of mislabeling foods containing GMO ingredients as ‘natural.’
Polls show that nearly 90% of the state’s voters plan to vote ‘yes.’ But when November rolls around, will voter support still be strong? Not if the biotech, agribusiness, and food manufacturers industries can help it.
It’s estimated that the opposition will spend $60 million - $100 million to convince voters that GMOs are perfectly safe. They’ll try to scare voters into believing that labeling will make food more expensive, that it will spark hundreds of lawsuits against small farmers and small businesses, and that it will contribute to world hunger. None of this is true. On the contrary, studies suggest just the opposite.
Here’s what is true: The opposition has lined up some heavy-hitters and industry-funded front groups -- masquerading as “grassroots” organizations -- to help spin their anti-labeling propaganda machine.
You have the right to know what’s in your food. You also have the right to know who is working tirelessly to prevent you from ever having that right – and who is signing their paychecks. Here’s a partial lineup of hired guns and organizations behind the anti-labeling advertising blitz soon to hit the California airwaves:
Tom Hiltachk: Monsanto’s Man in California
Tom Hiltachk is the PR gunslinger behind the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition (CACFLP), an anti-labeling front group. A partner at the Sacramento-based lobbying firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, Hiltachk is no stranger to front groups. With a little help from his friends at Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, he helped organize the Californians for Smokers’ Rights group to fight anti-smoking initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s. He also helped form the Californians for Fair Business Policy – a so-called “grassroots” organization, but actually a front group to mobilize business opposition to anti-smoking initiatives. That organization was funded by an “academic” front group – the Claremont Institute – which was in turn funded by tobacco companies.
Hitachk also has ties to Big Oil, including a colorful history with California’s Proposition 23, a conservative-backed ballot initiative launched – and defeated – in 2010. The initiative, supported by Big Oil, would have repealed California’s clean energy and climate laws. Hiltachk was initially an ally of Ted Costa, a veteran right-wing activist behind many conservative initiatives, including Prop 23, and head of the group People’s Advocate. But that relationship soured, according to ThinkProgress.org, when Costa realized that Hiltachk’s main motivation was to funnel the $50 million that he hoped would be raised from oil companies and the Chamber of Commerce to himself and his friends.
More at the linkWhat do a former mouthpiece for tobacco and big oil, a corporate-interest PR flack,... more
It's no secret that corporate conglomerates basically run consumer goods, swallowing up smaller businesses like voracious monsters in order to maximize their bottom lines. The top ten, which control everything from food to make-up to soap: Kraft, Nestle, P&G, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Foods, Kellogg's, Mars, UniLever, and Johnson and Johnson. And their vast reach might feel pretty unfathomable, like some kind of shadow government, but for an illustration that shows exactly how far their tentacles reach, via Occupy Together. It's pretty astonishing how inevitable it seems that consumers feed into these companies whether they know it or not, particularly because the mega-corporations enable lower price points on junk foods and crap with no nutritional value. It's a good case for going local and small-business, if you can afford it.
More at the linkIt's no secret that corporate conglomerates basically run consumer goods,... more
Following years of intense pressure from the agribusiness sector, Brazil's parliament has approved destructive reforms to the country's forest protection. President Dilma has just 9 remaining days to veto this hatchet job before it becomes law. With the world watching, which side of history will she choose to be on? Will her legacy be Amazon ruin? Or, will she demonstrate courage and act on behalf of future generations?
This article appeared in the New York Times today.
YOU can urge President Dilma to do the right thing for Brazil, the Amazon and the planet.
Take action now by signing this petition, tell her to veto the new Forest Code!
More at the linkFollowing years of intense pressure from the agribusiness sector, Brazil's... more
MINNETONKA, Minn. and INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - May 17, 2012
Syngenta and Dow AgroSciences LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: Dow), announced today a joint agreement to offer two reduced refuge trait stacks to independent seed companies through Syngenta-owned GreenLeaf Genetics LLC. This agreement will make high-performing trait stacks, beginning with the Agrisure Viptera® 3220 and Agrisure 3122 trait stacks, more widely available to U.S. and Canadian corn growers. Inbreds for hybrid combinations will be offered for sale immediately for production this winter.
"With this opportunity, we further demonstrate our dedication to independent seed companies and commitment to providing them advances in trait technologies," said David Morgan, president of Syngenta Seeds, Inc. "Growers will enjoy greater productivity through reduced refuge and the convenience of purchasing this technology through their local independent seed supplier."
Great, because I really trust my local seed supplier now.
http://iowagirlonthego.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/img_6737.jpgMINNETONKA, Minn. and INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - May 17, 2012
Syngenta and Dow... more
I made a career of sorts writing about the "big six" agrichemical companies—Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, DuPont, Syngenta, and BASF—that produce the great bulk of the world's pesticides and, increasingly, seeds. But last week, I did something different. Rather than investigate and critique these companies in print, I broke bread with some of their executives. And then, in a public forum live-cast on the internet from DC's Newseum, I told them bluntly what I thought of their industry.
They seemed a bit stunned by the spectacle, rapt in attention but increasingly silent as my critique went on. From my perspective, I was looking into a sea of dark suits, red ties, and wide eyes, with only the stray vigorous shake of the head to register open dissent from my critique.
The event was the annual policy summit held in Washington, DC, by CropLife America, the trade group representing Big Agrichem/Biotech and the suppliers and retailers that sell their goods throughout farm country. The group had invited me to speak at the behest of my friend, green-business journalist Marc Gunther, who has an annual gig moderating the event.
My foray into agrichem-exec shoulder-rubbing began the night before the conference, when I attended the pre-event speakers' dinner in a private dining hall of a DC hotel.
The CropLife event planners greeted me warmly when I arrived—to my delight, as one of them handed me a goodie bag, she joked, "And it's not pesticides!" What was in there delighted me, too—a coffee mug and a baseball jersey emblazoned with CropLife's slogan: "Modern Agriculture."
As I pulled down my name tag and made my way into the dining hall, I quickly spied the bearded, stout figure of Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, which calls itself the "voice of agriculture" but is more accurately described as the "voice of industrial agriculture." He is a zealous evangelist of chemical-intensive farming, preaching the virtues of GMOs, biofuels, factory-scale animal farms, and minimal regulation. I walked right up to him and shook his hand, declaring that it was great to finally meet someone whom I had been reading about for years. He accepted my greeting cordially—and seemed genuinely nonplussed as to who I was: a deflating experience.
Soon I was shuffled to a table featuring some Dow and DuPont execs and a man who owned an input supply company in the Midwest. It was a small gathering—maybe eight tables, each with around five people. The dress code was strictly business—I was one of the few men not in a dark suit and tie. Again, none of them seemed to have the foggiest idea as to who I was. The input guy and I sparred cordially through dinner about the viability of organic ag—he was open to my ideas and listened to me; I returned the favor.
How was the food? That was a major point of curiosity for me when I accepted the gig. What does the agrichemical industry eat at its feasts? Not surprisingly, fancy—and generally passable—hotel fare. The night's menu included a reasonably fresh salad, some competently cooked mixed vegetables, and a filet mignon cooked medium. Normally I don't eat meat whose origin is mysterious to me, but that night I was famished from travel and work. As I laid into the filet mignon, I thought of the specter of meat glue and how it's commonly used to fabricate filet-mignon-like beef cuts in institutional settings. I remembered the vow, in my recent piece on meat glue, to "eat around" filet mignon if I'm ever—"God forbid"—served it "at some cursed banquet." Shaking off my vow, I ate about half of it. As with all filet mignon dishes, it was tender but didn't taste like much.
At the next day's conference, I appeared on a panel of food bloggers, along with Danielle Gould of Food + Tech Connect and Hemi Weingarten of Fooducate.
The mood darkened considerably at other points in my remarks. Gunther asked me what role I thought I played as a blogger. I said, to explain, that we had to back up a bit. The agrichemical industry had become extremely consolidated, which meant that a vast amount of profits had become concentrated into the coffers of a handful of companies. That effect gave these companies the resources to invest millions of dollars in research and marketing. I noted a report that I had seen that very week showing Monsanto has already spent $1.4 million on lobbying in the first three months of 2012 alone.
In that context, I said, I see my work as a counterweight. I'm a journalist on the ground digging into the industry's claims, looking critically at how its technologies play out for people and ecosystems. I pointed to the example of ubiquitous neonicotinoid pesticides and the growing weight of science linking them to declining honeybee health, as well as to the failure of Monsanto's Roundup Ready technology and the gusher of toxic herbicides now hitting US farmland as a result. These were the kind of stories I fixate on on from my modest perch at a nonprofit publication while a steady blitz of marketing and lobbying held those very products in place.
And so it went on for a while, the room feeling both highly charged and dead silent as I spoke bluntly and from the heart.
The tension reached a dramatic crescendo during the Q&A period. A distinguished older gentleman took the mic, declared his name was Charlie Stenholm and had been a US representative from Texas for many years and was now a lobbyist—though his wife prefer he call himself an educator.(Stenholm serves as senior policy adviser to Olsson, Frank & Weeda, the powerhouse lobbying firm). How, he demanded to know in his slow and charming Texas drawl, looking me in the eye, could I possibly question GMO technology when it was so clearly needed to feed the world?
That gave me the opportunity to deliver my critique of GMOs. After 25 years of R&D and 16 years in the field, the industry has so far delivered precisely two widely used traits: herbicide resistance (Roundup Ready) and pesticide expression (Bt). The first has already failed, and the second is showing signs of coming undone. Meanwhile, the so-called complex traits—crops that use less water or nitrogen—clearly aren't working. Moreover, despite all the "feed the world" rhetoric, GMOs have so far succeeded in boosting crop yields only marginally. GMOs have been a magnificent success in the marketplace, I declared, but what had they succeeded at? Mainly, I charged, at generating profits for a few big companies in the form of licensing fees and herbicide sales.
I have to say, it felt cathartic to face down a man who had unapologetically barreled through the revolving door between government and agribusiness.
When the panel ended, I was greeted immediately by reps from Syngenta and Dow.
More at the linkI made a career of sorts writing about the "big six" agrichemical... more
Well well, President Obama is rubbing elbows with Hugh Grant CEO of Monsanto today at this symposium as well as other chemical polluters like Syngenta. If you read the list of sponsors it reads like a who's who of biotech/pesticide pushers (including Dupont, Syngenta and Walmart.) And of course, sponsored by the Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation as well, which like their counterparts are salivating to push these poison seeds onto the people of Africa against their will for profit. Now, what distracting bit of news is the media concentrating on today to hide this? This administration is in bed fully with these corporations intent on a contaminated monoculture world where nature itself is patented and farmers are indebted to them for LIFE. I can only hope resistance to this gets even stronger.Well well, President Obama is rubbing elbows with Hugh Grant CEO of Monsanto today at... more
Here’s what happens when corporations begin to control education.
"When I approached professors to discuss research projects addressing organic agriculture in farmer's markets, the first one told me that 'no one cares about people selling food in parking lots on the other side of the train tracks,’” said a PhD student at a large land-grant university who did not wish to be identified. “My academic adviser told me my best bet was to write a grant for Monsanto or the Department of Homeland Security to fund my research on why farmer's markets were stocked with 'black market vegetables' that 'are a bioterrorism threat waiting to happen.' It was communicated to me on more than one occasion throughout my education that I should just study something Monsanto would fund rather than ideas to which I was deeply committed. I ended up studying what I wanted, but received no financial support, and paid for my education out of pocket."
Unfortunately, she's not alone. Conducting research requires funding, and today's research follows the golden rule: The one with the gold makes the rules.
A report just released by Food and Water Watch examines the role of corporate funding of agricultural research at land grant universities, of which there are more than 100. “You hear again and again Congress and regulators clamoring for science-based rules, policies, regulations,” says Food and Water Watch researcher Tim
Schwab, explaining why he began investigating corporate influence in agricultural research. “So if the rules and regulations and policies are based on science that is industry-biased, then the fallout goes beyond academic articles. It really trickles down to farmer livelihoods and consumer choice.”
The report found that nearly one quarter of research funding at land grant universities now comes from corporations, compared to less than 15 percent from the USDA. Although corporate funding of research surpassed USDA funding at these universities in the mid-1990s, the gap is now larger than ever. What's more, a broader look at all corporate agricultural research, $7.4 billion in 2006, dwarfs the mere $5.7 billion in all public funding of agricultural research spent the same year.
Influence does not end with research funding, however. In 2005, nearly one third of agricultural scientists reported consulting for private industry. Corporations endow professorships and donate money to universities in return for having buildings, labs and wings named for them. Purdue University's Department of Nutrition Science blatantly offers corporate affiliates “corporate visibility with students and faculty” and “commitment by faculty and administration to address [corporate] members' needs,” in return for the $6,000 each corporate affiliate pays annually.
In perhaps the most egregious cases, corporate boards and college leadership overlap. In 2009, South Dakota State's president, for example, joined the board of directors of Monsanto, where he earns six figures each year. Bruce Rastetter is simultaneously the co-founder and managing director of a company called AgriSol Energy and a member of the Iowa Board of Regents. Under his influence, Iowa State joined AgriSol in a venture in Tanzania that would have forcefully removed 162,000 people from their land, but the university later pulled out of the project after public outcry.
What is the impact of the flood of corporate cash? “We know from a number of meta-analyses, that corporate funding leads to results that are favorable to the corporate funder,” says Schwab.
More at the linkHere’s what happens when corporations begin to control education.
In the mid 1980s, scientists unlocked the genetic keys to manipulating our world. Suddenly everything seemed possible! There would be no more hunger or malnutrition; diseases would be vanquished and poverty wiped out. But twenty (now 30) years on the situation looks very different. From the loss of biodiversity to health scares about GM food, the effects of genetic technology are prompting more and more debate. Our documentary this week is an intelligent look at both sides of the issue. Made for ARTE.
Across the world, multinationals like Monsanto are meeting with unexpected resistance to their genetically modified products. But are these concerns justified? Or are activists battling the forces of progress? Renowned filmmakers Bertram Verhaag and Gabriele Krober sets out on a global journey to explore the development of genetic technology. Spanning three continents and beautifully filmed, this high quality doc hears from the scientists, farmers and activists at the heart of the debate.
Follow link to watch the full documentary now.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2af6-YOUMQ&feature=relatedIn the mid 1980s, scientists unlocked the genetic keys to manipulating our world.... more
When home-front battles over GMO labeling, beekeeping, and the Farm Bill get heated, we can sometimes lose sight of the fact that Big Ag’s influence extends far beyond our own borders. Micha Peled’s documentary Bitter Seeds is a stark reminder of that fact. The final film in Peled’s “globalization trilogy,” Bitter Seeds exposes the havoc Monsanto has wreaked on rural farming communities in India, and serves as a fierce rebuttal to the claim that genetically modified seeds can save the developing world.
The film follows a plucky 18-year-old girl named Manjusha, whose father was one of the quarter-million farmers who have committed suicide in India in the last 16 years. As Grist and others have reported, the motivations for these suicides follow a familiar pattern: Farmers become trapped in a cycle of debt trying to make a living growing Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt cotton. They always live close to the edge, but one season’s ruined crop can dash hopes of ever paying back their loans, much less enabling their families to get ahead. Manjusha’s father, like many other suicide victims, killed himself by drinking the pesticide he spreads on his crops.
Why is Monsanto seen as responsible for these farmers’ desperation? The company began selling Bt cotton in India in 2004, after a U.S. challenge at the WTO forced India to adopt seed patenting, effectively allowing Monsanto to monopolize the market. Bt cotton seeds were — and still are — advertised heavily to illiterate Indian farmers, who have bought the company’s promises of high yields and the material wealth they bring. What the farmers didn’t know until it was too late is those seeds require an expensive regimen of pesticides, and must be fertilized and watered according to precise timetables. And since these farmers lack irrigation systems, and must instead depend on not-always-predictable rainfall, it’s incredibly difficult to control the success or failure of any year’s crops. As farmers bought the Bt cotton in droves, the conventional seed they’d been using — which needed only cow dung as fertilizer — disappeared in as little as one season.
Now, in communities like Manjusha’s, it’s virtually impossible to buy anything but Monsanto’s seed.Manjusha, the film’s protagonist, goes looking for answers after her father commits suicide.To pay for seeds, pesticides, and fertilizer, farmers must take out loans, but most banks refuse to deal with them, so instead they turn to moneylenders, who charge exorbitant interest rates. Many farmers have nothing to offer as collateral besides their land. If a crop fails and they can’t pay back the loans, they lose everything.
The film offers a glimmer of hope in Manjusha, an aspiring journalist in a world where farmers’ daughters aren’t exactly encouraged to pursue independent careers. Scenes of her first earnest attempts at reporting are intimate and touching (“I had other questions to ask, but I forgot”), and her commitment to telling the story of her family’s and her community’s struggle always shines through her nervousness. This appealing heroine makes a story of global manipulation more personal, and thus more devastating.
Piece by piece, Bitter Seeds lays out the bleak situation in India, using interviews with all players, from condescending seed sales reps and callous Monsanto execs, to activist Vandana Shiva, to farmers, their families, and village old-timers who remember when life as an Indian cotton farmer was not so bitter.
More at the linkWhen home-front battles over GMO labeling, beekeeping, and the Farm Bill get heated,... more
This is one of the most moving and inspiring videos on Ted Talks. "Out of the mouth of babes," is the age old proverb, of course Birke is not a babe anymore, he is 11 but OMG...he is brilliant and witty and his talk will move you.
11-year-old Birke Baehr presents his take on a major source of our food -- far-away and less-than-picturesque industrial farms. Keeping farms out of sight promotes a rosy, unreal picture of big-box agriculture, he argues, as he outlines the case to green and localize food production.
Birke Baehr wants us to know how our food is made, where it comes from, and what's in it. At age 11, he's planning a career as an organic farmer.
Please watch the video and then comment on the story below...This is one of the most moving and inspiring videos on Ted Talks. "Out of the... more
1 year ago
NOTE: Monsanto could be ordered to pay back an estimated 6.2 billion Euros to Brazil's 5 million soya farmers. A judge in the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has already ordered the suspension of the payment of royalties on Monsanto's GM seeds this year. And the verdict envisages backdating the reimbursement of royalties to the 2003/2004 season. If Monsanto ignores this judgement, the firm will incur a daily penalty of 400,000 Euros. Monsanto will appeal but an appeal brings the risk that this decision by a state tribunal could be extended nationwide.
Court decision concerning Monsanto in Brazil: Grower associations win legal action against biotech giant … more
Daniel Coelho Barbosa
TraceConsult, April 2012
[Daniel Coelho Barbosa is an agribusiness analyst
working in Germany and Brazil]
(1) Brazil, Monsanto and a dispute over royalties worth 6.2 billion euros
On 4 April 2012, the courts of Brazil's southern‐most state of Rio Grande do Sul, in the
way of a preliminary injunction, suspended the collection of royalties on GMO soy seeds by Monsanto.
The ruling by Judge Giovanni Conti also provides for the reimbursement of license fees paid (so‐called royalties) since the harvest campaign 2003/2004, as the business practices of seed multinationals Monsanto violate the rules of the Brazilian Cultivars Act (No. 9.456/97).
According to Neri Perin, the attorney of the farmers associations of Passo Fundo, Santiago and Sertão, who filed a class action suit in 2009, the claim lodged may lead to an advantage for up to five million farmers in Brazil and could mean for them a reimbursement of about 6.2 billion euros.
The Brazilian soybean farmers question the regulations prohibiting them from withholding seed for a renewed planting (after a first planting for which they have paid royalties) and from giving or exchanging seed under public programs.
Monsanto has been accused of unlawful and abusive collection of royalties on seed and soybeans of the Roundup Ready (RR) cultivar. Until the ruling, royalties were required not only for the entire soybean crop, but also for soybean seed, that was retained from the previous harvest.
The farmers recognize that Monsanto is entitled to royalties when they buy soybean seed, but they demand the right to plant again the GM soybean seed they purchased and to sell this production, as food or feed, without another payment of license fees.
Subsequent joint plaintiffs have arisen: FETAG, the organization of farm workers from Rio Grande do Sul, and the farmers associations of the towns of Giruá and Arvorezinha...
Daniel Coelho Barbosa
Agribusiness AnalystNOTE: Monsanto could be ordered to pay back an estimated 6.2 billion Euros to... more
WHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?
This video and beautiful powerful song made by Makana was done as a result of a vote in Hawaii that refused to give people the right to know about GMO. Powerful lobbyists in Washington DC representing the purveyors of monoculture and environmental contamination for their own profit used that money to corrupt those who put the interests of the few above the many. But this is not the end. We have voices. We have passion. And we have the truth on our side.
Occupying our food system now in any way we can do so be it on a street, in a garden or on a modem is essential and crucial now. There is no more time left for petty distractions. Monsanto, DOW Chemical, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta, et al have drawn the battle lines. Their goal is clear: control your seeds in order to control your life. And make no mistake, this is a war they are waging against nature itself. So please watch this video and contact those mentioned who came down once again on the side of those who care nothing about your planet, your food, or your health. Let them know they will no longer get away with putting their own interests ahead of the biodiversity of this planet. WE ARE THE MANY, THEY ARE THE FEW.
Thank you, Hawaii. MahaloWHAT IS IT GOING TO TAKE?
This video and beautiful powerful song made by Makana was... more
Every five years, the federal farm bill sets our nation's food policies -- it's the single biggest factor in determining what ends up on your plate.
Right now Congress is only providing minimal support for healthy, local and organic foods while expanding wasteful subsidies and giveaways that support the wealthiest agribusinesses -- at the expense of family farmers. This year's bill could be even worse.
The Senate Agriculture Committee just released a draft version of the 2012 Farm Bill which preserves these handouts while cutting vital conservation programs. The House version of the bill be even worse.2
It's incredibly important that Congress get this right -- so CREDO Action is teaming up with Environmental Working Group to stop the giveaway to Big Ag and support food and farm policies that protect our environment and expand access to healthy food.
Tell the Senate: Stop the giveaway to Big Ag. Pass a Farm Bill that supports local, healthy and organic food.
The Farm Bill affects everything from the food you eat to conservation and nutrition programs. And right now, vital nutrition programs that help feed low-income children and decades-old conservation programs that protect wetlands, grasslands and soil health could be on the chopping block.2
Meanwhile, Big Ag is working hard to keep open the spigot that sends billions of dollars a year in subsidies to growers of commodity crops like corn, soy and cotton. More than 74 percent of that money goes to wealthy agribusinesses, not to small-scale family farmers who need them.
The bill that emerges from the Senate Agriculture Committee will likely be the best version we can hope for right now -- as it will only get more unbalanced in negotiations with the House. It's vital that the committee members hear from you now.
Tell the Senate: Stop the giveaway to Big Ag. Pass a Farm Bill that supports local, healthy and organic food.
Thanks for supporting a healthy food system.Every five years, the federal farm bill sets our nation's food policies --... more
In the United States - nearly 75 percent of all supermarket foods are genetically engineered or modified in some way. And while this fact alone is enough to make you think twice about what you buy at your local foodstore - it gets worse. The United States doesn't require labeling of genetically modified foods - so you really have no idea whether you're buying something natural or vegetables filled with fish genes - and that's how biotech and agribusiness companies want it. But - a new grassroots campaign is underway - with hopes of toppling the big biotech bullies - and outing genetically modified foods. So - if you think that you can't control whether or not you eat genetically modified foods - than everything you know is wrong! Joining Thom Hartmann now is Alexis Baden-Mayer - Political Director of the Organic Consumers Association.In the United States - nearly 75 percent of all supermarket foods are genetically... more
Genetically modified foods and crops pose serious threats to human and animal health, but Big Ag doesn’t want you to know that.
Glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient, has been linked to birth defects in birds and amphibians, as well as to cancer, endocrine disruption, damage to DNA, and reproductive and developmental damage in mammals. Roundup-Ready crops are genetically modified to withstand drenching with this weedkiller.
(you may see genetically modified plants and animals referred to as gmo's, for “genetically modified organisms,” or ge, for “genetically engineered.” the terms are essentially interchangeable. We use gmo as a noun and gm as an adjective. — mother earth news)
“Genetic modification” refers to the manipulation of DNA by humans to change the essential makeup of plants and animals. The technology inserts genetic material from one species into another to give a crop or animal a new quality, such as the ability to produce a pesticide. These DNA transfers could never occur in nature and are not as precise as proponents make them sound.
Some genetically modified crops have been engineered to include genetic material from BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a natural bacterium found in soil. Inserting the Bt genes makes the plant itself produce bacterial toxins, thereby killing the insects that could destroy it. The first GM crop carrying Bt genes, potatoes, were approved in the United States in 1995. Today there are Bt versions of corn, potatoes and cotton.
Roundup-Ready crops — soybeans, corn, canola, sugar beets, cotton, alfalfa and Kentucky bluegrass — have been manipulated to be resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s broadleaf weedkiller Roundup.
These two GM traits — herbicide resistance and pesticide production — are now pervasive in American agriculture. The Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service says that, in 2010, as much as 86 percent of corn, up to 90 percent of all soybeans and nearly 93 percent of cotton were GM varieties.
Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/sustainable-farming/genetically-modified-foods-zm0z12amzmat.aspx#ixzz1sudqEG3QGenetically modified foods and crops pose serious threats to human and animal health,... more