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Archive for the ‘Herbicides’ Category

“Paul Hawken: The High Cost of Che…” from blip.tv: Excerpted from the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s, Cooking For Solutions 2010 media conference, Paul Hawken eloquently explains how the price of food is divorced from its true costs, and what this really means for society at large.

See the video.

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In a precedent-setting final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the planting of Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) acknowledges for the first time that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem in the U.S.  Yet, the document falls woefully short of proving that GE alfalfa is safe for the environment or that it will afford all farmers their fair share of the US agricultural economy.  In fact, the EIS sorely lacks the type of rigorous scientific data and analysis that the public expects from the Agency to justify going forward with any type of deregulation of GE alfalfa.

That is why we are calling on our supporters to urge USDA to adopt a moratorium on the planting of GE alfalfa.

Read more and sign petition.

 

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In the 1990s, Monsanto found an ingenious way to sell large quantities of its broad-spectrum toxic herbicide RoundUp to farmers. The company’s scientists gene-spliced corn, soy, cotton, and canola with foreign DNA, enabling these “Frankencrops” to survive massive doses of RoundUp. Farmers could now repeatedly spray their fields with RoundUp, killing weeds but not the crop. Unfortunately, the collateral damage of heavy RoundUp spraying includes groundwater pollution, toxic residues in crops, and destruction of essential soil microorganisms. The Genetically Modified (GM) crops themselves create herbicide-resistant Superweeds and spread genetic pollution to organic and non-GMO crops as well as plant relatives. Last but certainly not least, Monsanto’s GM foods have been linked to serious health damage – not only for animals, but humans as well.

Today, a major portion of cropland in the US is sown with Monsanto’s “RoundUp Ready” corn, soy, cotton, canola, and sugar beets. Eighty percent of these GM crops are then sold as animal feed to the nation’s 125,000 factory farms or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) that produce most of the non-organic meat, dairy, or eggs sold in grocery stores or served in restaurants, schools, and hospitals. The other 20% of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Organisms are laced into non-organic processed foods (soy lecithin, corn or sugar beet sweeteners, cooking oils, etc.) that are found in every grocery store aisle.

There is a direct correlation between our genetically engineered food supply and the $2 trillion the US spends annually on medical care, namely an epidemic of diet-related chronic diseases. Instead of healthy fruits, vegetables, grains, and grass-fed animal products, US factory farms and food processors produce a glut of genetically engineered junk foods that generate heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Low fruit and vegetable consumption is directly costing the United States $56 billion a year in diet-related chronic diseases.

Monsanto’s GM crops are highly profitable for the food industry, turning cheap, federally subsidized, genetically engineered crops and GE-fed animals into cheap, ubiquitous, junky foods. But from the standpoint of public health and environmental sustainability, Monsanto and their factory farm collaborators are nothing less than merchants of disease and death.

A critical mass of consumers would turn away from GMOs and Factory Farmed meat, dairy, and eggs – if they knew what they were eating. Please join and support OCA in our new Truth-in-Labeling campaign.

 

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From:   THE SCOOP – January 2011 Organic Center Newsletter

 

The long-awaited Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Roundup Ready (RR) alfalfa was released by USDA on Thursday, December 16, 2010. The 2,300 page document identifies and analyzes three options – disapproval, approval without restrictions, and approval with restrictions to prevent gene flow from RR alfalfa to non-GM seed production fields. The first option was ruled out as unacceptable.

Potential impacts on the organic farming sector, and especially seed producers and organic dairy farmers, are evaluated in some detail in the EIS and its technical appendices, and were found to be modest and/or manageable.

In discussing the RR alfalfa EIS in a press call on December 16th, Secretary Vilsack said that “we don’t want to have judges say who can farm and who cannot…” In other press comments, the Secretary has emphasized the need to address and resolve the issues leading to litigation over emerging GE crops.

Earlier in the week, USDA officials invited a number of leaders in the organic community, including the CEOs of Organic Valley, Whole Foods, Stonyfield, UNFI, and OTA, to attend an “important” meeting December 20th in Washington, D.C. with representatives of the alfalfa and biotechnology industries.

The purpose of the meeting, attended by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan, and several other senior USDA officials, was to explore “common ground” on how to provide for the peaceful co-existence of farmers planting GE alfalfa seeds, farmers growing conventional alfalfa, and organic farmers and food companies.

Coming just four days after the release of the RR alfalfa EIS, there was intense interest, and a degree of concern over this meeting among all stakeholder groups.

About 45 individuals attended the three-hour meeting. Secretary Vilsack explained that the USDA needed help from the alfalfa, biotech, and organic communities in identifying practical ways to achieve and sustain peaceful co-existence after approval of RR alfalfa. He said that in the absence of concrete ideas regarding how to move forward, all constituencies would have to accept what the Department decides upon when USDA issues its final decision later this winter.

The meeting included many remarkable comments and exchanges. Secretary Vilsack stated that the science case in support of RR alfalfa was not as strong and clear-cut as the biotech industry believes. He also stated that the legal foundation for USDA approval was not as solid as proponents claim, given the scope and nature of the possible adverse impacts and outcomes documented in the EIS.

In making this point, the Secretary was acknowledging USDA’s view that a decision to approve RR alfalfa, even with conditions, would likely be challenged in a new round of litigation, and that it would be a mistake to assume that the Department would win on the merits.

One representative of the biotech industry asked what the co-existence problem was and expressed the view that biotech, conventional, and organic farmers were getting along just fine now. He asked for evidence of real harm. Fred Kirschenmann participated in the meeting via speaker phone, and replied with a concrete example.

His farm in Windsor, North Dakota had made about $60,000 in net returns from the sale of organic canola annually for many years. When Roundup Ready canola was first introduced in North Dakota in the mid-1990s, Fred consulted with extension specialists, who said a two-mile buffer area should be sufficient to prevent gene flow from RR canola into his certified organic canola fields. He worked successfully with neighbours for a few years, and maintained such separation distances, but as RR canola became more popular, it became impossible to sustain such separation distances.

About the same time, buyers of Kirschenmann’s crop started asking for annual assurances that his canola crop was not contaminated with the RR gene. Without resorting to costly testing, the only way that a farmer can provide such assurance is to get a certificate or affidavit from his or her seed supplier stating that the company’s organic seed is free from GE contamination.

Once RR canola had gained significant market share and was widely grown in all parts of North America where canola is raised and seed produced, Kirschenmann was no longer able to find a seed dealer willing or able to make such a claim. And so, this market was lost.

The last part of the meeting focused on setting up a series of task forces to address the core issues – alfalfa hay and organic dairy, assuring purity of the organic alfalfa seed supply, and the true “hot potato,” how to cover the costs of ongoing monitoring and contamination episodes, i.e. a compensation mechanism.

Representatives of the organic community pledged to work with the Secretary in getting these task forces up and running, and expressed hope that some progress could be made.

A few of the alfalfa industry represents agreed to participate in the task forces, although no biotech industry participants did so during the meeting. After the meeting, one representative of the biotech industry said that he was “stunned” by what he had just heard and experienced. While most biotech industry representatives had little to say during the meeting, many were observed taking copious notes.

 

 

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From:

THE SCOOP – January 2011 Organic Center Newsletter

A team of U.S. and Brazilian scientist have determined that applications of glyphosate herbicide on an early maturing variety of Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans dramatically reduces rates of photosynthesis and also decreases water use efficiency (WUE).

The paper explains that farmers have been reporting unexpected drought stress in some RR soybean fields, and that visual signs of plant stress are often observed following glyphosate applications. In additional, applications of glyphosate significantly impair plant nutritional status, because certain minerals in the soil become less bioavailable to root systems.

The research was carried out in the summer of 2008 at the State University of Maringa, Brazil.

Depending on the growth stage and rate of glyphosate application, rates of photosynthesis in glyphosate-resistant (GR) soybeans were reduced by 10% to 100%. A single, high-dose application reduced photosynthesis more so than the same amount of glyphosate applied over two applications.

According to the research team, “the volume of water that non-treated GR soybean plants required to produce 1 g of dry biomass is 204% and 152% less than required when the plant is exposed to 2400 g a.e. per hectare.”

Placing this remarkable finding into perspective, the scientists concluded that –

“GR soybean plants receiving a single application of the currently recommended rates of glyphosate (600-1200 g a.e. per hectare) needed 13-20% more water to produce the same amount of dry biomass than non-glyphosate treated plants.”

“Effects of glyphosate or its metabolites on WUE explains why GR soybean plants treated with glyphosate are more sensitive to drought and less efficient in converting water into biomass compared to GR plants that do not receive glyphosate.”

Source: Zobiole, L.H.S., et al., “Water use efficiency and photosynthesis of glyphosate-resistant soybean as affected by glyphosate,” Pesticide Biochemistry and Physiology, Vol. 97, 2010: pages 182-193

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A study of food bought from a French supermarket, to form part of a balanced diet, showed an alarming number of chemical residues. Photograph: PAIn a single day, a 10-year-old child in Europe may be exposed throughfood to 128 chemical residues of 81 different substances. Forty-two of these substances are classified as “possibly or probably carcinogens“, and five as “certainly carcinogens”. No fewer than 37 substances areendocrine disruptors (ED).

This is the conclusion of a study published this month by a partnership of environmental groups based in France and Belgium: Générations Futures, the Health and Environment Alliance (Heal), Réseau Environnement Santé (RES) and WWF-France. The authors of the study bought food in supermarkets in Oise, north of Paris, and in the French capital, sufficient to give a typical 10-year-old three meals a day and a snack. The food was not organic but was consistent with a balanced diet.

The authors then asked independent laboratories to analyse the food, checking for possible residues of pesticides, dioxins, heavy metals,plasticisers (phthalates, bisphenol A or perfluorinated compounds [PFC]) and for food additives.

Read the rest of this article.

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Herbicide-loving alfalfa and sugar beets, Monsanto’s new GMOs (genetically modified organisms), have been blocked by the courts because Bush’s USDA failed to consider their environmental impacts, including whether they would contaminate organic crops. Obama’s USDA has a plan to get Monsanto’s new GMOs out of the courts and into the fields. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, former biotech governor of the year, calls the plan “coexistence.” The Organic Consumers Association calls it “contamination” and we say, “Hell no! No new GMOs!”

 

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