Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog

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Message to farmers: "Fend for yourselves."

Organic and conventional farmers are feeling rooked. And for good reason. A USDA-appointed advisory group known as the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture (AC21) has just concluded over a year’s worth of deliberation on how to address the thorny problem of transgenic contamination of organic and non-genetically engineered (GE) crops— a major threat to farmers’ businesses and livelihoods.

The result? A report recommending that farmers and taxpayers bear the heavy costs of dealing with genetic contamination, while leaving the Big 6 pesticide and GE seed manufacturers free from any responsibility for the harm caused by their products. 

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
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Syngenta's shopping spree not limited to Black Friday

Over last week’s Thanksgiving holiday, many Americans will have paused to savor the blessings of health, family and community. Some of us will have binged on too much turkey and consumption-crazed Black Friday sales. But for the world’s biggest pesticide and seed biotech companies, the entire year has been one long feeding frenzy. This frenzy culminated in recent months in a multi-billion dollar spending spree in which, reports Bloomberg, three of the "Big 6" pesticide companies (Syngenta, Bayer and BASF) together shelled out over two billion dollars to acquire biopesticide and other “green product” companies.  

Concerns over corporate "greenwashing" notwithstanding, the larger issue here is a new frontier of market-making and corporate consolidation from the people who brought us "DDT is good for me" commercials. 

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
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GE labeling: The world wants it

What do over 60 countries in the world, representing over half the world’s population — including member nations of the European Union, Russia, China, Brazil, Australia, Turkey, Saudia Arabia, Indonesia and Japan — have in common? A national requirement for mandatory GE food labeling.

And the global movement continues to grow, with India’s GE labeling laws coming into full force in 2013. Last week, I heard more good news: one of our partners in South Africa, the African Centre for Biosafety, reports that GE labeling laws there are getting stronger.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
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GE’s dirty little secret

As a scientist at Pesticide Action Network, I am frequently asked these days to explain what genetically engineered (GE) crops have to do with pesticides. When I answer that GE crops both contain and drive up pesticide use, I am often met with earnest incredulity. We seem to need to believe that GE technology is the best thing since sliced bread.

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First ever long-term study on GE food health effects

Very big news exploding across the papers yesterday. Eating genetically engineered (GE) corn has been strongly linked to serious health effects — including mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage. A team of European scientists yesterday released the first independent long-term animal feeding study of its kind on the health effects of eating GE foods in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology. 

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Why GE labeling is Monsanto's worst nightmare

Recent media coverage of Prop 37, the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, which would permit companies to label foods made with genetically engineered (GE) crops, highlights the gulf between citizens demanding the right to know what's in our food and corporations desperate to keep the public in the dark.

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Flood Advisory! GE seeds clog pipeline

Two weeks ago, while many Americans were focused on early July barbeques and fireworks, the pipeline of genetically engineered crops awaiting USDA approval suddenly swelled to bursting.

With public opposition to GE foods and crops growing by leaps and bounds (and Prop 37 — CA’s ballot initiative to label GE foods — garnering unprecedented popular support), the Big 6 pesticide corporations are rushing to quickly ram a dozen new GE crops through the pipeline. Nine of them are engineered for use with toxic herbicides.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
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Occupy Rio+20

Governments are gathering in Brazil, twenty years after the historic 1992 Earth Summit where nations around the world pledged to devote themselves to ending hunger and conserving the planet’s resources for future generations.

This week, governments gather once again, and food and agriculture are high on the agenda of “Rio+20.” Global leaders will be discussing which way forward to feed the world amidst growing food, climate and water crises. Monsanto & Co. have geared up with slick websites and sound bytes — to the point where some have dubbed the official meeting “Greenwash +20.” But the good news is that people around the world are mobilizing like never before for a new food system.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
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Will resistance to 2,4-D corn help weed scientists see past corporate cash?

I’ve been hearing through the grapevine that the U.S. Department of Agriculture was startled by the public uproar over Dow AgroScience’s application for approval of its controversial new GE corn, designed to be used with the infamous and highly hazardous weedkiller, 2,4-D.

By quietly opening the public comment period on December 21, 2011, the agency had apparently hoped to slide this one by without attracting public attention. Instead, a vocal and growing movement of people from all walks of life has emerged to challenge the Big 6 pesticide/biotech companies’ introduction of this new generation of toxic pesticide-seed combinations.

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