GroundTruth Blog

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog

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As reported in this week's UK Guardian, Nina Federoff spoke about threats to science at a meeting of 8,000 professional scientists. The former Bush Administration official and GMO proponent described her "profound depression" at how difficult it is to “get a realistic conversation started on issues such as climate change or genetically modified organisms.” I too have agonized over our inability to talk seriously about climate change.

However — and this is no small matter — by conflating fringe climate-deniers with established scientists raising valid concerns about the effects of GMOs, Federoff undermines the scientific integrity that she purports to uphold. The hypocrisy is astonishing.

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On Tuesday, one of the world’s largest pesticide and biotech companies — Monsanto Corporation — held its annual general meeting in St. Louis. While protestors outside Monsanto headquarters highlighted growing public disenchantment with the industry giant and its genetically engineered products, investors in the meeting were voting on a shareholder resolution from PAN and Harrington Investments.

If passed, the resolution would require Monsanto to report on all financial risks and impacts, including contamination of neighboring crops, associated with its GE/pesticide seed package.

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As frost silvers the still-green grass outside, and I take advantage of the mild Berkeley winter to sow a small cover crop in my garden, I’m reminded that winter is a precious time of renewal and regeneration: not only in the soil and on our farms, but also within our communities and our minds.

Along those lines, I’ve been enjoying the very mind-enriching experience of reading a fascinating new book from the UK-based International Institute for Environmental Development. The forward-thinking authors of Virtuous Circles: Values, Systems and Sustainability (Michel Pimbert, Janice Jiggins and Andy Jones) take a fresh look at what we need to do to survive and thrive in the coming century.

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Last week the giant German pesticide and biotech company (and largest chemical company in the world), BASF, announced its decision to pack up and flee Europe.

Why? For 13 years, ordinary Europeans have stood firm in challenging the right of biotech companies to dump their risky genetically engineered (GE) seeds onto their fields and have steadfastly rejected the intrusion of GE foods onto their plates. They built up an informed and powerful citizens’ movement that has made itself heard, even over the din of the monied GE lobby. For this, hearty congratulations are due to our cousins across the Atlantic!

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You’ve all heard the news: farmers across the country are losing their fields to superweeds so formidable and fast-spreading that they break farm machinery and render millions of acres of farmland useless. These superweeds have evolved as a direct consequence of Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready pesticide-seed package. Now superbugs are emerging, resistant to Monsanto’s transgenic insecticidal crops. Ecologists predicted this ecological disaster 15 years ago.