Thursday, February 11, 2016

ROUNDUP $80 MILLION IN MONSANTO FINES

Monsanto to pay $80 million civil penalty for Roundup-related accounting violations


Securities and Exchange Commission slapped Monsanto with penalty for violating accounting rules and misstating past earnings related to its weedkiller Roundup
1. Monsanto CEO returns $3 million in bonuses after accounting error
2. Monsanto to pay $80 million civil penalty for Roundup-related accounting violations

1. Monsanto CEO returns $3 million in bonuses after accounting error

by Ahiza Garcia
CNN, Feb 10 2016
http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=57fe342425&e=872a621ccb

* This CEO is giving back to his company in a big way

Monsanto (MON) CEO Hugh Grant voluntarily returned more than $3 million in bonuses and stock awards after an SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] investigation found Monsanto had misstated earnings from its Roundup herbicide.

Former CFO Carl Casale also returned over $700,000 that he received during the years in which earnings were misrepresented.

The SEC investigation didn't take issue with either Grant or Casale individually, or require them to return the money. But it did find that three accounting and sales executives were at fault, each of whom were forced to pay a penalty of between $30,000 and $55,000.

Monsanto didn't admit any wrongdoing, but it has been ordered to pay an $80 million fine.

The agency found that Monsanto failed to account for the operating costs of a rebate program that ran from 2009 to 2011. The program was intended to help boost sales that were being hurt by competition from cheaper, generic herbicides.

The program seemed to help sales get back on track, but that's because Monsanto wasn't taking into account how much the program cost.

"This type of conduct, which fails to recognize expenses associated with rebates for a flagship product in the period in which they occurred, is the latest page from a well-worn playbook of accounting misstatements," SEC Chair Mary Jo White said.

The St. Louis-based agriculture company has also been ordered to hire a compliance consultant to ensure future financial reporting is accurate.

2. Monsanto to pay $80 million civil penalty for Roundup-related accounting violations

Lisa Brown
St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 10 Feb 2016
http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=8a2934ccf7&e=872a621ccb

The Securities and Exchange Commission slapped Monsanto with an $80 million civil penalty for violating accounting rules and misstating past earnings related to rebates on its flagship weedkiller Roundup. Two accounting executives and a retired sales executive also agreed to pay penalties to settle the charges.

And while the SEC found no personal misconduct by Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, the biotech seed giant disclosed Tuesday that Grant already had reimbursed the company $3.2 million in pay due to the restatement of corporate earnings in fiscal years 2009 through 2011.

The penalty is another black eye for the Creve Coeur-based company, which has had a number of high-profile setbacks in the past year.

During fiscal years 2009 to 2011, Monsanto booked “substantial” amounts of revenue from Roundup sales that had been spurred by the rebate programs, but the company failed to recognize all of the related costs in the proper year, the SEC said Tuesday.

By pushing costs into another year, the company boosted its profitability — on paper.

Corporations must be truthful in their earnings releases to investors to prevent misleading statements, SEC Chair Mary Jo White said in a statement.

“This type of conduct, which fails to recognize expenses associated with rebates for a flagship product in the period in which they occurred, is the latest page from a well-worn playbook of accounting misstatements,” White said.

As part of the settlement, Monsanto also agreed to retain an independent compliance consultant. Though settling the charges, Monsanto did not admit or deny the SEC allegations that it broke the law, according to the regulator’s press release.

Monsanto began the accounting shenanigans in 2009, when Roundup was facing intense competition. In that year, a flood of inexpensive, generic, Chinese-made glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, hit the market.

Facing the prospect of a sharp decline in Roundup profits, Monsanto unleashed the rebate program to bolster sales.

Anthony Hartke developed and Sara Brunnquell approved talking points for the sales force to use when encouraging retailers to take advantage of the rebate program in the fourth quarter of fiscal 2009, the SEC said.

Both were accounting executives at the time, and the SEC said the two knew or should have known that the costs must be recorded that same year. But Monsanto delayed recognizing the costs until the following year, according to the regulator.

The company also offered rebates to distributors that hit agreed-upon volume targets that year, but then didn’t record those costs until 2010. Under one scheme, Monsanto sales executive Jonathan Nienas arranged payment of $44.5 million in rebates to two of its largest distributors.

Monsanto repeated the rebate program in 2010, and again improperly deferred the costs until 2011, the SEC said.

The SEC first began investigating the company for the accounting irregularities in 2011. Later that year, company restarted its earnings for the fiscal years 2009 and 2010, and the first three quarters of 2011.

“We have taken this matter very seriously and quickly moved in November 2011 to restate our financial statements … following an independent review of our accruals for customer incentive programs,” Monsanto said Tuesday in an emailed statement. “Today’s announced settlement does not require any changes to the company’s historical financial statements due to our proactive efforts.”

The company added that it fully cooperated with the SEC in its investigation.

The securities regulator also announced Tuesday that Hartke and Brunnquell were suspended from appearing and practicing before the SEC as accountants. Hartke also was fined $30,000, while Brunnquell was fined $55,000. Nienas was fined $50,000.

Hartke and Brunnquell “have been reassigned to different roles within the company,” while Nienas retired years ago, Monsanto told the Post-Dispatch.

The restatement led Grant and former CFO Carl Casale to reimburse the company for cash bonuses and certain stock awards they received during the restated periods.

Grant paid back $3.2 million and Casale returned $728,843. The company declined to say when the money was paid back.

During that three-year period, Grant earned $33.4 million in executive compensation, according to regulatory filings.

If the two executives hadn’t paid back the money, the SEC said it could have sued to invoke a “clawback” provision under Sarbanes-Oxley that requires executives to pay back compensation during periods when accounting misstatements occurred, even if the executives didn’t engage in misconduct.

Edward Jones equity analyst Matt Arnold said civil penalties by the SEC for accounting violations aren’t uncommon.

“It happens surprisingly often,” Arnold said. “It reflects the flexibility that exists with accounting rules — it’s as much a science as art, and it’s subject to interpretation when it comes to reporting these items.”

Wall Street appeared indifferent to the news. Monday’s stock edged up following the SEC’s announcement, closing Tuesday at $91.70 a share, up 0.5 percent from Monday’s closing price of $91.25.

“There will be no financial implications for shareholders to worry about,” Arnold said.

The company already had recorded the $80 million cost in its 2015 fiscal year.

Still, the penalty comes when Monsanto already hit a rough patch in the past 12 months.

In March, the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization declared glyphosate, Roundup’s key ingredient, as a probable carcinogen, a finding that the company is fighting. Five months later, Monsanto gave up on its efforts to take over Swiss rival Syngenta.

And as agricultural prices continue to tumble, the company announced the start of an aggressive cost-cutting program that will eventually slash 16 percent of its workforce over the next two years.
__________________________________________________________
Website: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=76a91df576&e=872a621ccb
Profiles: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=21e7e025b2&e=872a621ccb
Twitter: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=d4e9c83f62&e=872a621ccb
Facebook: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=6eeb749ffa&e=872a621ccb

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SHAKA MOVEMENT GMO MORATORIUM APPEAL WILL BE HEARD

GREAT NEWS! Appeals Court To Hear Maui GMO Moratorium Case
submitted by Kate Griffiths 

In November 2014 more than 23,000 Maui residents voted for a GMO moratorium, to put a temporary halt on the open-air chemical experiments conducted by Monsanto in Maui County, until practices were concluded safe for the environment and human exposure.
Concerns about chemicals used and their combinations http://mauimamazine.com/big-ags-chemicals-101/.
Concerns about Pesticide exposure in childrenhttp://mauimamazine.com/pesticide-exposure-in-children/ .
Concerns about the rise in Hawaii birth defects http://mauimamazine.com/kauai-mama-shares-her-story/….
All led to Maui mamas coming out in force; speaking up, knocking on doors, holding Town Hall style meetings, organizing and raising money for the Shaka Movement, (so ads could counteract the over eight million spent by the group trying to kill the measure called the “Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban”), waving banners and posters on roadsides, marching in organized marches, handing out bumper stickers and hats and much more.
People watching from the outside were surprised when our county voted, and besides all the money spent by the agro-chemical propaganda ads, put the ‘aina and keiki first. However, none of us on the ground were surprised that Monsanto and Dow responded to the vote, with a legal challenge filed against the county to prevent implementation of the law.
One year later the GMO moratorium was still being held up in the courts http://mauimamazine.com/maui-gmo-moratorium-update/ after Judge Susan Mollway ruled against the GMO Moratorium last summer, stating the moratorium was “invalid and unenforceable” because it is preempted by state and federal law.
Well, this week was a good week!
The 9th Circuit Court accepted the SHAKA Movement Appeal!
Now SHAKA Movement can explain in the court why the injunction is (i) contrary to the public interest (as expressed in a general election), (ii) potentially causing continued irreparable harm to the environment, and (iii) invalidating legal rights explicitly affirmed under the State’s Constitution.
And the Chemical Industry’s Motion ( which was unopposed by the Maui County Public Officials) to Dismiss the GMO moratorium was DENIED!
The 9th Court also GRANTED a motion submitted by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) to file an additional brief as Amicus (or Friend of The Court). This brief, supported and encouraged by SHAKA will allow additional legal arguments as to why the decision by Judge Mollway should be overturned and the Moratorium Ordinance certified, implemented, and enforced. You can click here for a copy of the court’s order.
This is GREAT NEWS for the ‘aina, the keiki and Hawaii!

Image Credit: SHAKA Movement

Sunday, January 17, 2016

DEADLY POISON BY ANY OTHER NAME IS STILL DESTROYING EARTH

Monsanto is dead, long live Monsanto

Journalist Carmelo Ruiz explains why Monsanto is desperately seeking a merger
The much-detested Monsanto biotechnology corporation will likely change its name this year following its imminent merger with its European counterpart Syngenta. Such a merger would beget an unprecedented behemoth that would control 45% of the world commercial seed market and 30% of the global agrochemical sector.(1)

The US-based Monsanto, which began in 1901 as a chemical company, is currently the world’s largest seed company, with some 26% of the world market. In the 1970s Monsanto invented the systemic herbicide glyphosate. Sold by the company under the brand name Roundup, it is the most lucrative agricultural poison in history. This company dominates the world market for genetically modified (GM) seed, trouncing its competitors by a broad margin. The majority of its GM seeds have been modified to tolerate being sprayed with glyphosate, and are thus called Roundup Ready seeds. This particular use of GM technology allows Monsanto to sell the seed and the herbicide as one integrated package.

Glyphosate’s patent expired in 2000, which means that now any chemical company can make its own generic glyphosate and compete with Monsanto’s Roundup. So how does the company keep profiting off its herbicide? By requiring farmers who buy Roundup Ready seed to buy only Roundup and refrain from using generic glyphosate products.

Monsanto’s GMO seed venture

Monsanto started buying big into the biotech and seed businesses in the waning years of the 20th century, conducting its first open air GM crop field tests in Puerto Rico and other locations in 1987. It then went on a binge, buying out companies like Agracetus, Asgrow, Calgene, Dekalb and Holden Seeds, and reorganizing into a “life sciences” company in 2000.(2) It became the world’s number one seed company in 2005 when it purchased Mexico’s Seminis for $1.4 billion.(3)

Syngenta, with 28,000 employees in over 90 countries, describes itself as “a leading agriculture company helping to improve global food security by enabling millions of farmers to make better use of available resources”.(4) Founded in 2000, it was the product of a merger of the agricultural businesses of Novartis and AstraZeneca. Novartis was in turn the product of a 1996 merger between Ciba Geigy and Sandoz, back then one of the largest corporate mergers in history, while AstraZeneca came into existence in a 1999 merger.(5)

Glyphosate is becoming a liability

Monsanto desperately needs to marry a partner for a number of reasons. The first is that glyphosate is becoming a liability. On April 2015 the World Health Organization identified it as a probable human carcinogen. Furthermore, the science that led to its approval does not seem to hold up. According to a November 2015 GM Watch report:

“Monsanto has known for almost four decades that glyphosate causes cancer, according to a new paper by researchers Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff. Samsel is the first independent researcher to examine Monsanto’s secret toxicology studies on glyphosate. He obtained the studies, which have been denied to other inquirers, via a request to his senator. With his co-researcher Dr Stephanie Seneff of MIT, he reviewed Monsanto’s data. Samsel and Seneff concluded that ‘significant evidence of tumours was found during these investigations’.”(6)

That same month, another peer-reviewed paper exposed the dubious science used in Monsanto-sponsored glyphosate safety studies at the time that the company was seeking US government approval:

“Dr Marek Cuhra has conducted a careful study of all of the assessments made of the toxicity of glyphosate to aquatic organisms – and in particular the water-flea Daphnia magna. He discovered that the industry sponsored study conducted by McAllister and Forbis in 1978 for ABC laboratories (which was never published) purported to show that glyphosate was about 300 times less toxic than was revealed in later studies. And yet that deeply flawed study was used for the assessment of glyphosate toxicity by the American EPA and by other regulators worldwide, on the assumption that it was completely reliable. The study purported to show that glyphosate was effectively harmless, and that was accepted as a scientific ‘fact’.”(7)

And that’s just two news items in one month. There is further information on the toxicity of glyphosate herbicides in studies carried out by Argentina’s late crusading scientist Andrés Carrasco(8) and the French team led by Gilles-Eric Séralini(9).

Superweeds make glyphosate redundant

Those unmoved by hazards to human health will perhaps be moved by this: glyphosate is fast becoming useless, thanks to the predictable rise of resistant weeds. There are currently 100 million acres in 36 US states invaded by herbicide-resistant weeds, and at least 24 resistant weed species worldwide. According to a June 2014 Nature editorial:

“Palmer pigweed (Amaranthus palmeri) is not a weed to trifle with. It can reach more than 2.5 metres tall, grow more than 6 centimetres a day, produce 600,000 seeds and has a tough, woody stem that can wreck farm equipment that tries to uproot it. It is also becoming more and more resistant to the popular herbicide glyphosate. The first such resistant population was confirmed in 2005 in a cotton field in Georgia, and the plant now plagues farmers in at least 23 US states. There is broad agreement that the spread of these resistant plants has its roots in the widespread adoption of crops engineered to be resistant to glyphosate.

“By 2012, glyphosate-resistant weeds had infested 25 million hectares of US cropland. They have also appeared in other countries that have embraced glyphosate-tolerant crops, including Australia, Brazil and Argentina. Blanketing crops year after year in the same herbicide is the perfect way to foster resistant weeds.”(10)

Monsanto’s response to this crisis has been to acquire from other corporations new toxic agrochemicals and GM crops engineered to resist them. Given that Syngenta is the world’s number one pesticide company, with 20% of the market, it is the most obvious target of Monsanto’s advances. In 2015 Monsanto made two buyout offers to Syngenta, the second one of $45 billion, but Syngenta declined.

Now Monsanto is more hard-pressed than ever to close a deal with Syngenta, given that Germany’s BASF and Chinese state-owned corporate giant ChemChina are courting the company with buyout offers of their own. What’s worse, in November, Dow and Dupont, Monsanto’s only two real competitors in the US, agreed to merge. Dow Agrosciences, Dow’s agricultural division, has 10% of the world agrochemical market and 4% of the commercial seed market. And Dupont has, through its Pioneer subsidiary, 21% of the world commercial seed market and 6% of the agrochemical market. Monsanto is likely to fear being crushed to oblivion by the offspring of such a merger.

Pioneer has an unusual history. It was founded in the 1920’s by plant breeder, business maverick and progressive politician Henry A. Wallace, who would go on to become US president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary of agriculture, later the country’s vice president, and in 1948 the presidential candidate of the left-of-center Progressive Party.(11) In 1941, just as he was starting his vice presidency, Wallace collaborated with Rockefeller Foundation president Raymond Fosdick in founding an agricultural programme in Mexico that would become the model for the green revolution.

In 1999 Dupont bought Pioneer for $7.7 billion, a sum it obtained by issuing the biggest initial public offering (IPO) of shares in history. Dupont thus became the world’s largest seed company until it was surpassed by Monsanto in 2005.

Tax avoidance

What else is in a merger for Monsanto? Tax avoidance, for one. The corporation resulting from a Syngenta merger will most likely be incorporated outside the United States. “Monsanto is one of many US-based corporations eager to switch its incorporation to a country with a lower corporate tax rate, a strategy known as ‘tax inversion’”, according to the ETC Group.  A merger with Syngenta would allow Monsanto to move overseas and thus reduce its tax burden by more than $500 million.

What’s in a name?

And then there’s the company’s problematic name, which has become synonymous with opprobium and outrage. A major merger would be a good time to shed the name Monsanto. Why keep the name anyway? Monsanto nowadays seems to have little if anything to do with the Monsanto family, which company founder John Francis Queeny married into at the end of the 19th century. A name change would not be an outlandish move; other corporations have done so, like Andersen Consulting, Blackwater, Kentucky Fried Chicken, KPMG, Philip Morris, and Vivendi. The ETC Group predicts that “No matter which mergers/acquisitions ultimately materialize, there’s little doubt that the infamous Monsanto name will soon be history.”


Carmelo Ruiz is a Puerto Rican author and journalist. He runs the Biosafety Blog and a blog on journalism and current affairs, and is a research associateat the Institute for Social Ecology. His latest book, El Gran Juego de Ajedrez Botánico, is available on Amazon. His Twitter account is @carmeloruiz.

Read this article online here.

Notes

1) ETC Group. “Breaking Bad: Big Ag Mega Mergers in Play” December 15 2015. http://www.etcgroup.org/content/breaking-bad-big-ag-mega-mergers-play
2) Monsanto company history http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/monsanto-history.aspx
3) http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/features/2005/0205/seminisbuy/index.shtml
[It is estimated that at the time of the Monsanto buyout, Seminis had] 40 percent of the U.S. vegetable seed market and 20 percent of the world market—supplying the genetics for 55 percent of the lettuce on U.S. supermarket shelves, 75 percent of the tomatoes, and 85 percent of the peppers, with strong holdings in beans, cucumbers, squash, melons, broccoli, cabbage, spinach and peas. The company’s biggest revenue source comes from tomato and peppers seeds, followed by cucumbers and beans.
In large part, these numbers reflect usage of Seminis varieties within large industrial production geared towards supermarkets, but Seminis seeds are also widely used by regional conventional and organic farmers as well as market and home gardeners. Johnny’s, Territorial, Fedco, Nichol’s, Rupp, Osborne, Snow, and Stokes are among the dozens of commercial and garden seed catalogs that carry the more than 3,500 varieties that comprise Seminis’ offerings. This includes dozens of All-American Selections and an increasing number of varieties licensed to third parties for certified organic seed production.
4) http://www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/en/investor-relations/company-profile/Pages/key-facts.aspx
5) Syngenta company history. http://www.syngenta.com/global/corporate/en/about-syngenta/Pages/company-history.aspx
6) GM Watch. “Monsanto’s secret studies reveal glyphosate link to cancer” November 6 2015. http://www.gmwatch.org/news/latest-news/16515-monsanto-s-secret-studies-reveal-glyphosate-link-to-cancer
7) GM-Free Cymru. “More Monsanto scientific fraud in early glyphosate ‘safety studies’” http://www.gmfreecymru.org/news/Press_Notice07Nov2015.html; For more information: http://bioseguridad.blogspot.com/search/label/Glyphosate,http://bioseguridad.blogspot.com/search/label/Roundup
8) http://bioseguridad.blogspot.com/search/label/Carrasco
9) http://www.enveurope.com/content/26/1/14/abstracthttp://bioseguridad.blogspot.com/search/label/Seralini
10) Nature. “A growing problem”. June 11 2014.http://www.nature.com/news/a-growing-problem-1.15382?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20140612, For more information: http://bioseguridad.blogspot.com/search/label/Weeds
11) Carmelo Ruiz. “The Life and Passion of Henry A. Wallace” Counterpunch, March 27 2012. http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/03/27/the-life-and-passion-of-henry-a-wallace/
__________________________________________________________
Website: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=c43d9143b6&e=872a621ccb
Profiles: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=faec40fe48&e=872a621ccb
Twitter: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=56053e044e&e=872a621ccb
Facebook: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=5c5b5f6796&e=872a621ccb

Friday, January 15, 2016

PULL BACK THE CURTAIN ON EU EFSA's SECRET GLYPHOSATE SAFTEY "EXPERTS"

EU review of weedkiller glyphosate adds secrecy to controversy


More than 80% of the national experts involved in the EU assessment of glyphosate refused to disclosed their names to the public and almost 95% did not agree to have their interests published
The secretive approach to glyphosate assessment of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the German risk assessment institute BfR (which both concluded glyphosate was not carcinogenic) contrasts strongly with that of the open approach of the WHO's International Agency for Research Against Cancer (which concluded glyphosate is probably carcinogenic).

We’ve often said that pesticide approvals would not survive a transparent scientific research and assessment process. The glyphosate saga appears to be a good example.

EU review of weedkiller glyphosate adds secrecy to controversy

Corporate Europe Observatory, January 14 2016
http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=d65190665d&e=872a621ccb

More than 80 per cent of the national experts involved in the EU's official assessment of glyphosate refused to have their names disclosed to the public. Their review concluded, in contrast to the WHO's International Agency for Research Against Cancer, that the most used herbicide in the world was “unlikely” to cause cancer to humans. Almost 95 per cent did not accept to have their interests published. National food safety organisations involved are listed, with the number of experts representing them. A consequence is that, for the moment, the only public authors of this EU's review are governmental agencies, not individual scientists. The European Commission and Member States need to decide whether or not to re-authorise glyphosate on the EU market before June 2016.

A conflict has erupted between, on the one hand, the International Agency for Research against Cancer (IARC) and, on the other hand, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and Germany's Federal Risk Assessment Institute (BfR) over their opposite assessments of the risks of glyphosate. Soon after EFSA and BfR published their conclusion in November 2015, several members of the IARC working group and dozens of scientists sending a very critical open letter to the European Commission to complain about the way the two agencies had treated their work.

The two agencies replied early January 2016, insisting that IARC's work was only a “first screening” and that their work was “a more comprehensive hazard assessment”. And so did the European Commissioner for Public Health, V. Andriukaitis, acknowledging that “diverging scientific opinions on such a widely used product is indeed disconcerting” and urging the two camps to work together to “resolve or at least clarify the contentious scientific issues”. A meeting seems scheduled between EFSA and IARC in February 2016 to discuss further.

Finding out who is right and who isn't in this conflict is difficult for non-toxicologists but the differences in the two processes, however, are interesting. Our analysis showed that IARC only used publicly available data, with meetings accessible to observers (including industry) and a panel filled with top specialists while excluding all conflicts of interest. On the other hand, BfR and EFSA also relied on industry-sponsored studies to which they attributed much importance in explaining their difference with IARC, but that only them and industry could see[1]… The work was carried out by officials from their own respective pesticides units, as well as from several national agencies, and most of the work was done in teleconferences without external witnesses.

Were these officials independent from the pesticides industry and political pressures from their governments? EFSA's independence policy is far from perfect but at least bans obvious conflicts of interest with industry for its staff during their employment, and the agency is meant to be independent from both Member States and the European Commission - whether it actually is independent from the Commission would be a long story. Evaluating the independence of the national experts involved in the work is even more difficult.

An access to documents request at EFSA by CEO delivered the following results: among the 73 national experts who participated in EFSA's peer review on glyphosate, only 14 agreed for their names to be disclosed as their country's representative in the process. At least, EFSA detailed the name of the national organisations these experts belonged to. See the table provided by EFSA, and our own with links to DOIs. Among the 14 who accepted the publication of their name, only five filled a declaration of interest (DOI) and only four accepted that their DOI is published. That is, 5.5% of the experts involved in the review.

The most striking outcome of this access to documents request was perhaps that not a single expert from the rapporteur state, Germany, was named. This is all the more problematic given that BfR has a policy allowing industry employees on its panels (its current pesticides panel for instance includes employees of chemical giants Bayer and BASF). BfR refused to comment on the identity of the five officials contributing to EFSA's peer review (an anonymous source had sent five names to CEO, all BfR officials), stating that “BfR assessments in general are made by BfR staff” and that “external experts from the BfR Committees merely advise BfR [...] and were not involved at any stage in the re-assessment of the active substance glyphosate”.

Why such a secrecy? No reason was provided. As far as other countries were concerned, EFSA said that since these individuals were not EFSA staff, the agency could not impose to them to fill a DOI. EFSA would not disclose the name of its own staff involved, claiming institutional authorship and the need to protect its employees against undue influence. That last argument can have some merit during the process (less so afterwards), but secrecy precisely allows undue influence to remain unnoticed...

The European Commission and the Member State (whose representatives at the Standing Committee are likely to resemble some of our unknown experts) need to decide whether or not to re-authorise glyphosate on the EU market before June 2016.

Notes

1. Summaries have now been published by EFSA. CEO made an access to documents request for the complete studies which is ongoing.
__________________________________________________________
Website: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=58669919a6&e=872a621ccb
Profiles: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=3e5079c303&e=872a621ccb
Twitter: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=c12984ef78&e=872a621ccb
Facebook: http://gmwatch.us6.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=29cbc7e6c21e0a8fd2a82aeb8&id=ca183bec43&e=872a621ccb

Sunday, January 10, 2016

ANIMAL DRUGS, GMO LABELS, FOOD WASTE ACTIONS

Tweet | Pinterest  Share on Facebook

BLOG POST OF THE WEEK

ENOUGH Already

ENOUGH Already
We’ve all grown accustomed to the steady parade of television ads—$3 billion year worth, by some estimates—urging us to “ask our doctors” about the latest miracle drug. Pharmaceutical ads have been commonplace since the 1990s, after the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)cleared the way for prescription drug companies to aggressively market their wares directly to consumers.

Wisdom and ethics aside, it’s easy to see why Big Pharma would push pills to humans, to treat human ailments. It’s big money.

But a drug company that makes animal drugs, purchased not by consumers but by factory farms, advertising direct to consumers who will never actually purchase those drugs? How does that make sense?

If you’re Elanco, the $2.3-billion animal drug division of Eli Lilly, you make it seem sensible by spinning the message. In Elanco’s case, the message is this: Without our animal drugs, the world will starve.

It’s a message that paints the drug maker as an altruistic savior, instead of the profit-motivated animal abuser and public health threat it actually is.

Read the blog post

ACTION ALERT

Invitation Only

Invitation Only
As the calendar flips over to 2016, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Monsanto and the rest of the GMO junk food industry are growing ever more desperate to prevent Vermont’s GMO labeling law (Act 120) from taking effect onJuly 1, 2016.
Their next move? A closed-door, invitation only meeting with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and GMO labeling advocates in the hope of striking a compromise, one that would no doubt preempt Vermont’s law.
Should the GMO labeling movement, which has fought so long and so hard to require food manufacturers to disclose this basic information about their products, settle for anything less than a mandatory labeling law like Vermont’s?
We don’t think so. Vermont’s GMO labeling law must be allowed to take effect July 1, 2016, as scheduled. Then we can talk about potential next steps, including federal regulations or legislation.
We don’t yet know the date of this upcoming meeting, other than that Vilsack has publicly said it would happen in January. OCA hasn't received an invitation.
But we do know this: Vilsack needs to hear from you, from all of us, now!
URGENT! TAKE ACTION: Tell USDA Sec. Tom Vilsack to back off and let Vermont’s GMO Labeling Law take effect!
Text "Back off" to 97779 to join OCA's mobile network and take action!

ACTION ALERT

Waste Not

Waste Not
People go to bed hungry every night in nearly 7 million households in the U.S., according to a report published last month by the National Commission on Hunger.

And yet, Americans throw away 40 percent of our food—the equivalent of $165 billion each year—according to the National Resources Defense Council.
It doesn’t make sense. That’s why U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, (D-Maine) has introduced H.R. 4184, the Food Recovery Act—a bill to address food waste.
H.R. 4148 proposes comprehensive legislation to address food waste in four areas: at the consumer level; at the retail (grocery stores and restaurants) level; at the institutional (schools, hospitals and other institutions); and on the farm.
For consumers, that means better information about expiration dates. For the hungry, it means redistributing perfectly good food to those who need it. For farmers, it means tax incentives to waste less. For the environment, it means less planet-warming methane spewed into the atmosphere.
Heck, this bill could even help protect endangered species. What’s not to love?
TAKE ACTION! Tell Congress to support H.R. 4184 the Food Recovery Act!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY - MONSANTO TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE AT THE HAGUE 2016

Food Revolution Network

Monsanto to be held accountable for crimes against human health and the environment

Monsanto Crimes Against Humanity and Environment
Originally published by the Organic Consumers Association
Global Food, Farming, and Environmental Justice Groups to hold Monsanto Accountable for Crimes Against Human Health and the  Environment by Conducting an International Citizens Tribunal in The Hague
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International (RI), and Millions Against Monsanto, joined by dozens of global food, farming, and environmental justice groups announced December 3, 2015, that they will organize a citizens tribunal to hold Monsanto MON (NYSE), a US-based transnational corporation, accountable for crimes against nature and humanity, and ecocide, in The Hague, Netherlands, next year on World Food Day, October 16, 2016.
The announcement was made at a press conference held in conjunction with the COP21 United Nations Conference on Climate Change, November 30 – December 11, in Paris.
Speaking at the press conference, Ronnie Cummins, international director of the OCA (US) and Via Organica (Mexico), and member of the RI Steering Committee, said: “The time is long overdue for a global citizens’ tribunal to put Monsanto on trial for crimes against humanity and the environment. We are in Paris this month to address the most serious threat that humans have ever faced in our 100-200,000 year evolution—global warming and climate disruption. Why is there so much carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere and not enough carbon organic matter in the soil? Corporate agribusiness, industrial forestry, the garbage and sewage industry and agricultural biotechnology have literally killed the climate-stabilizing, carbon-sink capacity of the Earth’s living soil.”
Vandana Shiva, physicist, author, activist and founder of Navdanya, and member of the RI Steering Committee said: “Monsanto has pushed GMOs in order to collect royalties from poor farmers, trapping them in unpayable debt, and pushing them to suicide. Monsanto promotes an agro-industrial model that contributes at least 50 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions. Monsanto is also largely responsible for the depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining biodiversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide.”
Andre Leu, president of IFOAM and a member of the RI Steering Committee, said: “Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products, and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment: by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, and by manipulating the press and media. Monsanto’s history reads like a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet.”
Marie-Monique Robin, journalist and author of the best-selling documentary (and book by the same name), “The World According Monsanto,” said:
“This International Citizens’ Tribunal is necessary because the defense of the safety of the planet and the conditions of life on Earth is everyone’s concern. Only through a collective resurgence of all living forces will we stop the engine of destruction. That’s why today I am calling on all citizens of the world to participate in this exemplary tribunal.”
Also speaking at the conference were Valerie Cabanes, lawyer and spokesperson for End Ecocide on Earth; Hans Rudolf Herren, president and CEO of the Millennium Institute, president and founder of Biovision, and member of the RI Steering Committee; Arnaud Apoteker, creator of the anti-GMO campaign in France, which became one of the priority campaigns of Greenpeace France, and author of “Fish in Our Strawberries: Our Manipulated Food;” and Olivier De Schutter, co-chair of the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPESFood) and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, Monsanto has developed a steady stream of highly toxic products which have permanently damaged the environment and caused illness or death for thousands of people. These products include:
• PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl), one of the 12 Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP) that affect human and animal fertility;
• 2,4,5 T (2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid), a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant, Agent Orange, which was used by the US Army during the Vietnam War and continues to cause birth defects and cancer;
• Lasso, an herbicide that is now banned in Europe;
• and RoundUp, the most widely used herbicide in the world, and the source of the greatest health and environmental scandal in modern history. This toxic herbicide, designated a probable human carcinogen by the World Health Organization, is used in combination with genetically modified (GM) RoundUp Ready seeds in large-scale monocultures, primarily to produce soybeans, maize and rapeseed for animal feed and biofuels. Please ask the U.S. EPA to ban all uses of glyphosate in the U.S.
Relying on the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” adopted by the UN in 2011, an international court of lawyers and judges will assess the potential criminal liability of Monsanto for damages inflicted on human health and the environment. The court will also rely on the Rome Statute that created the International Criminal Court in The Hague in 2002, and it will consider whether to reform international criminal law to include crimes against the environment, or ecocide, as a prosecutable criminal offense. The International Criminal Court, established in 2002 in The Hague, has determined that prosecuting ecocide as a criminal offense is the only way to guarantee the rights of humans to a healthy environment and the right of nature to be protected.
Full list of founding organizations (so far) here.
Full list of Monsanto Tribunal Foundation organizing members here.
More information on the tribunal, click here.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is an online and grassroots non-profit 501(c)3 public interest organization campaigning for health, justice, and sustainability. The Organic Consumers Fund is a 501(c)4 allied organization of the Organic Consumers Association, focused on grassroots lobbying and legislative action.
Regeneration International is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to building a global network of farmers, scientists, businesses, activists, educators, journalists, governments and consumers who will promote and put into practice regenerative agriculture and land-use practices that: provide abundant, nutritious food; revive local economies; rebuild soil fertility and biodiversity; and restore climate stability by returning carbon to the soil, through the natural process of photosynthesis.

HAWAIIAN PARADISE POISONED FOR OBSCENE PROFIT


Paradise is being poisoned


7521
Hawaii is ground zero for GMOs. Having visited there recently, I felt for the residents as I drove down the streets. I saw a children’s center across the street from some chemically sprayed fields. I stopped and spoke to the moms whose children are sick and saw the struggle in their eyes. Paradise is being poisoned.
New reports show toxic chemicals are actually being found inside of homes in Maui. Hawaii is home to more than a thousand GMO test plots. In comparison, California, the largest agricultural state in America, has a little over one hundred. We would like to think the chemicals stay outside of our homes, but this is not the case.
Three houses in Paia were found to be contaminated inside with herbicides, according to local sources. 
The Hawaii Department of Agriculture itself tested a home in Paia after a resident complained that nearby fields were over being sprayed. Their test results came back positive for 6 different kinds of herbicides in the bedrooms, the kitchen and on the trees in the yard. Dicamba, Diruron, 2,4-D, Pendimethanlin, Ametryn, and Hexazinone were all found inside of the home. Once again, the Department of Agriculture has failed to complete its investigation even though they have had more than 4 years to do so. They also decided not to warn nearby residents that their homes may have also been contaminated.
The Department of Agriculture is failing to evaluate the public health risks to Paia residents who were likely exposed to these harmful herbicides. The agricultural industry continues to say that these chemicals are safe for limited, one-time acute exposures at certain levels. However, there have been no scientific studies that have evaluated the health impacts on humans when combining these chemicals together. In addition, people who are living in homes that have been contaminated are being constantly exposed over time, as the residues are found on the walls, cabinets, furniture, and carpets. HC&S continues to spray near Paia Elementary School and this area still needs to be tested. A local group called Maui’s Dirty Little Secrets group revealed five different samples taken from one house, each from a different location in the home.
Leaders have joined with the locals in urging Paia residents to immediately call the Paia Elementary School principal as well as state Sens. Kalani and Baker to protect Hawaii residents from further health threats caused by overspraying.”
This statement is horrifying. The presence of these chemicals is a warning of almost imminent danger. Evangelos Valliantos, a former EPA employee of 29 years, recently wrote an article on the EPA’s failed tactics to manage toxic chemicals. 
Valliantos shows how 2,4-D, one of the chemicals found in these Paia homes is  a known toxin and the safety studies for many chemicals are completely fraudulent and falsified. 
In Valliantos’ book Poison Spring, he says "the EPA should know better. In many instances, EPA couldn't trust the data of the chemical industry. For example, pesticide companies funded fraudulent testing of their chemicals for decades. A scientist of the Federal Drug Administration, Adrian Gross, discovered that fraud in 1976.”
Over a long period of time, many of these chemicals have been proven harmful in a multitude of ways like destroying gut bacteria and weakening the immune system. They also cause sex hormone changes, birth defects, miscarriages, DNA mutation, liver and kidney damage, reproductive organ mutations and more.
This is why Monsanto spent more than 8 million dollars on one county of Maui, to prevent an initiative to require a moratorium on GMO open air test plots until tests proved these chemical safe. They knew they couldn't or their GMO farming industry in Hawaii would be over.
The residents exposed to the 90 chemicals in 63 combinations that are sprayed up to 19 times a day, impact citizens, especially children, which could be permanently altered by the presence of these chemicals.
We all could be.
The fact is that these chemicals are not just in these resident's living room window sills in Hawaii. Many of these chemicals are on our food and in our homes in other parts of the country because we’ve allowed GMO chemical farming.
The uncomfortable reality is that the reason why these pesticides are being reported in Maui neighborhoods is because the GMO chemical companies want to spray them on our food all over the world. 
They don’t wash off, dry off, or cook off. 
We eat them, and our children eat them. These GMO test plots are where the chemical companies test and plan the chemical combinations to be sprayed on new GMOs. Many of these same chemical combinations are already being sprayed on our current GMOs, which make up 85-100% of crops like corn, soy, sugar, cottonseed oil, canola oil and smaller percentages of apples, potatoes, squash and bananas. 
So this horrifying evidence of Hawaiians being poisoned in their own homes from pesticide residue is not only impactful because we feel for them and want justice for them. It’s also horrifying because what is happening to them is a glimpse of what is happening to all of us in North America and in many other parts around the world. 
We are ALL consuming toxic chemicals on our food. Even those of us who are eating organic foods, because of drift and pollution in the air, water, soil and fertilizers. We are being poisoned by GMO chemical farming. Now is the time to stand up, speak up, and say no, in Hawaii and around the world. 
It has to stop now.
Zen Honeycutt is founder of Moms Across America

Source:  
http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/264690-paradise-is-being-poisoned