Friday, October 24, 2014


Published on

'Stop the Toxic Treadmill': EPA Sued for Approving Controversial Herbicide

Green groups slam the agency for green-lighting Dow Chemical's Enlist Duo, whose key ingredient 2,4-D is also found in Agent Orange

A field of soybeans. (Photo:  Tom Erickson/flickr/cc)
Green groups on Wednesday sued the Environmental Protection Agency over its recent approval of Dow AgroSciences' herbicide Enlist Duo, which farmers and scientists warn threatens human and environmental health.

"The toxic treadmill has to stop," said Jay Feldman, executive director of Beyond Pesticides. "EPA and USDA cannot continue to ignore the history, science, and public opinion surrounding these dangerous chemicals so that a failed and unnecessary system of chemically-dependent agriculture can continue to destroy our health and environment."
The EPA last week approved Enlist Duo for use on corn and soybean crops that are genetically engineered to survive exposure to the herbicide. Wednesday's suit charges the approval was unlawful because the agency failed to adequately consider the human impacts and did not consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Enlist Duo's key ingredient, known as 2,4-D, was also used in Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used as a weapon by the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Studies find 2,4-D interferes with hormonal and reproductive function and is linked to cancer, liver disease, Parkinson's disease, and other health problems. Scientists warn that 2,4-D builds up in the environment and spreads from one field to another, posing a risk to animals as well as people.

"EPA’s unfortunate decision to approve Enlist Duo for use on genetically engineered crops will more than triple the amount of 2,4-D sprayed in the U.S. by the end of this decade," said Environmental Working Group’s senior policy analyst Mary Ellen Kustin. "Such an increase of a known toxic defoliant linked to Parkinson’s disease, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and reproductive problems is unconscionable."

While the EPA moved to limit Enlist Duo to six Midwestern states, it is expected that the approval will spread to other states. "This case will determine to a large extent the direction of U.S. agriculture in the coming years," said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of Center for Food Safety.

"Rural communities rely on EPA to take its job seriously—to fully consider potential health impacts before introducing new products or allowing a dramatic increase in use of a hazardous and volatile chemical like 2,4-D," said Pesticide Action Network North America’s senior scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD.

The lawsuit was levied by Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Beyond Pesticides, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Food Safety, Environmental Working Group, the National Family Farm Coalition, and Pesticide Action Network North America.

Monday, October 20, 2014


Chewing through Measure 92 — GMO labeling

Herald and News - ‎10 hours ago‎
Measure 92, sponsored by the group Oregon GMO Right to Know, if passed, would mandate the labeling of food items produced with or containing genetically modified organisms. The measure would require that retailers of genetically engineered raw food to ...

Concerns rise as GMO debate shifts from field to dinner table

Chinadaily USA - ‎1 hour ago‎
Zhou, the owner of a recycling business in the northeast coastal city of Weihai, said one source of her concern was an anonymous article shared online by her friends that alleges genetically modified crops cause infertility in Asians, part of a United ...

Ask the Mayor: GMO Ballot Question Interpretation

Maui Now - ‎16 hours ago‎
Q: I've been hearing so many different things about the GMO ballot initiative, but I'm more confused than ever. I'd like to be better educated on the facts before I head to the polls on election day.



According to Consumer Reports, "virtually all of the samples we tested of products that made only a 'Natural' claim did have a substantial amount of GMOs." (Photo: Nicholas Eckhart/flickr/cc)Published on

GMOs are Everywhere and Should be Labeled, Study Finds

"Natural" label is virtually meaningless and should be banned, Consumer Reports declares
According to Consumer Reports, "virtually all of the samples we tested of products that made only a 'Natural' claim did have a substantial amount of GMOs." (Photo: Nicholas Eckhart/flickr/cc)
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are present in many common products including breakfast cereals, chips, and infant formula—including some that carry misleading labels like "natural," according to a study released Tuesday by the nonprofit Consumer Reports.
Based on its findings, combined with the results of a survey (pdf) by the Consumer Reports National Research Center showing nearly three-quarters of all Americans seek to avoid GMOs when they shop, Consumer Reports is calling for mandatory labeling of GMOs in food and a ban on the meaningless "natural" label.

"Federal law already requires labeling that lets consumers know whether foods have been previously frozen, made from concentrate, pasteurized, or irradiated, and we believe the label should also say if food is genetically engineered," said Jean Halloran, director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports.

The nonprofit, which is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization, tested more than 80 different processed foods containing corn or soy—the two most widely grown GMO crops in the U.S.—between April and July 2014. It found that nearly all of the samples of products that did not make any non-GMO-related claim on the package did, in fact, contain substantial amounts of genetically modified corn or soy.

The study also revealed that while the independently certified "Organic" and "Non-GMO Project Verified" labels are reliable, "no-GMO" or "non-GMO" claims made by a manufacturer have no standard definition, don’t require independent verification, and are therefore less trustworthy. In a letter (pdf) to the Federal Trade Commission on Monday, Consumer Reports asked the agency to investigate the non-GMO claims on packages of Xochitl Totopos de Maiz corn chips after finding several instances of genetically engineered corn in the product.
Most notably, although more than 60 percent of people in the Consumer Reports national survey said they believed that "natural" means that a product does not contain controversial ingredients, testing did not bear out that correlation. According to Consumer Reports, "virtually all of the samples we tested of products that made only a 'natural' claim did have a substantial amount of GMOs" (though some have since removed the claim or have become Non-GMO Project Verified).

"The confusing nature of this claim is just one reason we are asking the government to ban the use of 'natural' labels on food," says Urvashi Rangan, director of the safety and sustainability center at Consumer Reports. 

GMO food labeling requirements are on the ballot this fall in Oregon and Colorado; Consumer Reports is supporting both campaigns.


Published on

EPA Analysis Evidence Notorious Neonics Should be Suspended, Watchdog Groups Say

Analysis 'has confirmed what farmers, beekeepers and scientists have been saying all along: neonicotinoids do more harm than good'
A field of soybeans.  (Photo:  Tom Erickson/flickr/cc)
A new U.S Environmental Protection Agency analysis of neonicotinoid pesticides on soybean production offers further proof that they should be suspended, environmental watchdog groups say.

This class of pesticides, often referred to as neonics, has been linked to the decline of bees and other environmental harm.

The agency's analysis, released Thursday, found that there was little to no benefit to using neonicotinoid seed treatments on soybean yields. Such neonic-treated seeds, first registered for use in soybeans in 2004, were applied on an average of 30% of soybean acres between 2008 and 2012, EPA states. The analysis notes that some growers report having difficulties in obtaining non-treated seed.

It also states that "much of the observed use is preventative and may not be currently providing any actual pest management benefits."

"In our analysis of the economic benefits of this use we concluded that, on a national scale, U.S. soybean farmers see little or no benefit from neonicotinoid seed treatments,"a Jim Jones, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, said in a media statement.

Environmental groups welcomed the analysis, and said it provided more proof that the agency should take the ecological-protective approach and suspend the use of neonics.
"Neonicotinoid pesticides are one of the leading drivers of global bee declines," stated Friends of the Earth food futures campaigner Tiffany Finck-Haynes. "By confirming that they offer no benefit to U.S. soybean production, the Environmental Protection Agency has no course of action except to suspend all agricultural uses—including seed treatments—to protect pollinators and the planet."

Emily Marquez, PhD, staff scientist for Pesticide Action Network, adds that the analysis "has confirmed what farmers, beekeepers and scientists have been saying all along: neonicotinoids do more harm than good."

"EPA’s findings are further evidence that the Agency should follow Europe’s lead by restricting and suspending the use of neonicotinoids," whose use poses "serious threats to bees and other pollinators that support the food system," Marquez stated.

The analysis, howerver, was no ringing endorsement of organic agriculture, as it compared neonic-treated seeds with other chemical-dependent methods, including the use of foliar spraying of neonics on soybean plants.

Larissa Walker, pollinator campaign director at Center for Food Safety, told Common Dreams that it's a shame that the analysis goes back to foliar sprays, and that the agency appears to be looking not at systemic contamination from neonics but at best management of them.

"That's not enough," she said, adding that her organization has long said that neonics should not be used at all in agricultural or ornamental applications, as their harm to pollinators and ecosystems is "beyond overwhelming."

In June, for example, an international team of scientists published an analysis based on 800 peer-reviewed reports that found that neonics pose a threat to global biodiversity, while a study by the U.S. Geological Survey published in July found widespread contamination in Midwest waterways from neonics.

As that global analysis and Walker point out, neonics' "mode of action is systemic. They're going to build up in soil and water." Whether it's through seed coating, foliar sprays or soil drenching, it's the same chemicals, she said.
"It's still persistent, still poses environmental problems, harm to pollinators, ecosystems, and potentally human health."
We know that there are better approaches, like using agro-ecological methods that don't rely on systemic pesticides, Walker said.
"The bottom line is we've been asking the EPA to suspend all use of neonics," Walker said. The new analysis is a small step, but there's much more to do, she said.


A sign at a 2013 rally in Connecticut. (photo: CT Senate Democrats/flickr /cc)Published on

Monsanto Spends Millions in Bid to Defeat Local GMO Labeling Initiative

This is not the first time the biotech giant has funneled millions into efforts to defeat labeling laws by   Sarah Lazare, staff writer
A sign at a 2013 rally in Connecticut. (photo: CT Senate Democrats/flickr /cc)
Monsanto, the largest genetically-modified seed corporation in the world, has so far spent over $4 million in a bid to crush an Oregon initiative, up for vote in November, to mandate the labeling of genetically engineered food.
Records from the Oregon Secretary of State's office show that the company, on October 8, made a contribution of $2.5 million to opponents of the bill, bringing the company's total contributions to $4,085,150.
The initiative—ballot measure 92—would require manufacturers and retailers to label "genetically engineered raw and packaged food." Backers of the provision say that Oregonians "have the right to know" what is in their food.
This is not the first time Monsanto has poured its funds into efforts to crush such measures. Earlier this month, it was revealed that the company has spent $4.7 million to defeat a similar initiative in Colorado, also up for vote in November.

Sunday, October 19, 2014


Westword (blog) - ‎21 hours ago‎

In response to opponents of the initiative who claim that requiring GMO labeling would raise food prices in Colorado, Chipotle sites a recent study by Consumers Union (the public policy arm of Consumer Reports) indicating that a similar ballot proposal ...
Progress Illinois - ‎11 hours ago‎

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A group has "studied the studies" about what it could cost consumers to label the genetically-engineered (GE) ingredients in foods sold for retail sale and says the answer is, "not much." Increased food cost is a major argument of ...
Capital Press - ‎22 hours ago‎

If adopted, the initiative by Oregon GMO Right to Know would require manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to label raw and packaged foods produced entirely or partially by genetic engineering.
Capital Press - ‎20 hours ago‎

The state Legislature passed the GMO labeling law earlier this year, which the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other groups quickly opposed in federal court.
The Oregonian - - ‎14 hours ago‎

A car decorated in support of GMO food labeling cruised through downtown Portland recently. A large national restaurant chain came out Tuesday in favor of Measure 92, which would require labeling of GMO food products in Oregon. (The Oregonian/Erik ... (press release) - ‎14 hours ago‎

Control over seed is control over the entire food chain,” she explains. Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini, has courageously gained worldwide attention after publishing his laboratory research on animals fed GE foods and associated pesticides.

Santa Rosa Press Democrat - ‎Oct 14, 2014‎

SB 1040: Originally dealing with wine labels, bill was amended to require food labels to disclose whether any contents are genetically modified.

National Catholic Reporter (blog) - ‎Oct 14, 2014‎

Would she donate the rest of her copies to GMO corporations for their edification? Would CEOs opt to read the book, and have collective changes of heart, or at least terrible pangs of conscience keeping them awake at night?

RT - ‎3 hours ago‎

Biotech giant Monsanto announced major losses for their fourth quarter last week well below analysts' expectations after spending millions settling an environmental suit.
St. Louis Business Journal (blog) - ‎18 hours ago‎

Gonçalves will replace José Manuel Madero as president of Monsanto Europe's row crops unit. Madero recently left the post to become lead of Monsanto's international business development unit. Gonçalves will be part of the international business ...

Seeking Alpha (registration) - ‎Oct 14, 2014‎

But Monsanto recently told investors it hopes to double its earnings per share by 2019. How can the company reconcile its operational slowdown with its ambitious profit growth plan?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


WLS-TV - ‎3 hours ago‎

The controversy is growing over whether foods should be labeled if they contain GMOs, "genetically modified organisms." Vermont recently passed legislation requiring GMO labeling. Dozens of other states are considering similar actions. And labeling ...
Billings Gazette - ‎8 hours ago‎

Another variety of unapproved, genetically engineered wheat has been discovered in the U.S., this time here in Montana. The finding underscores, once again, the weak regulations governing experimental trials of GE crops, as well as the vulnerability of ...
Truth-Out - ‎Oct 6, 2014‎

Monsanto makes seeds for soy, corn, canola, cotton, alfalfa and sugar beets that are genetically engineered to be tolerant to Roundup.

The Oregonian - - ‎22 minutes ago‎

In the meantime, you can track the millions of dollars pouring into the Yes and No campaigns with our new GMO interactive map and searchable database, designed by The Oregonian's Mark Friesen.
RT - ‎18 hours ago‎

At issue is Syngenta's 2009 release and distribution of its MIR162 genetically-modified corn known as Agrisure Viptera, which is engineered to fend off certain insects known to decimate corn crops.
Rock Hill Herald (press release) - ‎1 hour ago‎

MARLBOROUGH, Mass. - Barbara's, known for making delicious cereals and snacks from simple, wholesome ingredients, today announced its continued commitment to supporting the non-GMO movement via a partnership with the Non-GMO Project.
Honolulu Civil Beat - ‎4 hours ago‎

New Anti-GMO PAC Forms After Biotech Group Spends $820,000 on TV Ads. The Center for Food Safety has formed the Coalition for a Safer, Healthier Maui to support a temporary moratorium on genetically engineered farming in Hawaii.
Statesman Journal - ‎5 hours ago‎

Award-winning documentary "GMO, OMG" will be shown at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Historic Grand Theatre, 191 High St. NE, as part of the Salem Progressive Film Series.