Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Progress in paradise

Whew, three islands in four days. I recently returned from a whirlwind speaking tour in Hawai'i with Dr. Tyrone Hayes covering issues of pesticides, corporate control in agriculture and genetically engineered (GE) seeds.

Addressing the topic in high school auditoriums and community health clinics, it’s increasingly clear that people across the state want to build a food system that feeds them, protects community health and fragile ecosystems, and offers fair employment — including pushing back against corporate takeover of the islands' farming land. And they're making real headway.

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Syngenta’s next target: Jackson County, Oregon

Last week, Swiss-based pesticide corporation Syngenta dumped tens of thousands of dollars into a county election in Southern Oregon. Sound familiar? It should. Still reeling from their recent defeat in Kaua'i, Syngenta and the rest of the "Big 6" don’t want to lose any more fights around pesticides and GMOs.

But Oregononians are holding their ground. Led by a group of farmers dubbed Our Family Farms Coalition, these residents put an initiative on the ballot that would restrict the planting of genetically engineered crops. The vote will be on May 20.

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EPA gets it wrong on kids & drift

On Cesar Chavez Day, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) delivered a slap in the face to that day’s namesake. Five years after PAN and partners challenged the agency’s lack of protections for children from drifting pesticides — and eight years after Congress passed a law requiring it — the agency yet again failed to take any substantive action.

Frustrated yet? I am. EPA is suggesting it's better to keep pesticides on the market without any new protections, even after acknowledging potentially serious impacts on children. In Monday’s response, EPA stated that “young children may have unique exposures that adults do not have.” And still, the agency has chosen to do next to nothing.

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Don't mess with... Kaua'i

Residents of Kaua’i are holding their ground against pesticide corporations. And, as we’ve learned time and time again, they won’t be bullied by the likes of BASF, Dow, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta.

Late yesterday, a group of island residents, PAN and Surfrider — represented by the legal muscle of Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety — joined efforts to defend Kaua'i from a lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest pesticide corporations.

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Hawaii's "Monsanto Protection Act"

The Hawai'i State Capitol in Honolulu is currently swarming with pesticide industry lobbyists. Upset that several counties are taking steps to curb corporate control of island farm land and pesticide use, Monsanto & Co. are attempting to strip authority away from local governments.

Two bills, one in the House and one in the Senate — quickly dubbed the “Hawai'i Monsanto Protection Acts” — have pesticide industry fingerprints all over them. They were introduced last week in an apparent attempt to undermine legislation recently passed (or in progress) on several islands. In response, thousands of residents marched in Honolulu yesterday. Their message? Protecting pesticide industry interests over the health and well-being of communities is unacceptable.

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Pesticide corporations bully Kaua'i

Last Friday, three global pesticide corporations threw the legal equivalent of the kitchen sink at the island of Kaua’i. The suit filed in federal court is the latest in a long stream of corporate bullying that has become commonplace on the island and around the world.

For years, the Hawaiian islands have been a global epicenter of testing genetically engineered (GE) seeds. This means big money for pesticide and biotech corporations. And as momentum grows to restrict GE testing and pesticide use thoughout the islands, corporate bully tactics are becoming increasingly agressive. And desperate. 

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Bad for bees, bad for kids

Issues: 

Like many, I was lucky enough to spend the holidays surrounded by family and food. So I was especially unnerved by new evidence, released just before the holidays, that bee-harming pesticides have been linked to impaired brain development and function in children.

The science showing that neonicotinoid pesticides (or neonics) harm bees is clear. New evidence highlighting impacts on children's health is also disturbing, especially as a father. And while other countries are stepping up to protect bees and kids from neonics, policymakers here in the U.S. are still seemingly stuck. My New Year’s resolution: This year we keep high heat on EPA and insist regulators take meaningful action on pesticides that harm bees and kids.

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Above the fold: EPA, protect bees!

Inaction? Intransigence? Negligence? Whatever the right word, we’re reminded that the U.S. is behind the curve when it comes to protecting bees. Yesterday, Europe’s restrictions on bee-harming pesticides went into effect.

Today, in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and six other major papers, PAN and over 60 food, farm, faith and investor groups are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action. Quickly.

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Kaua'i triumphs over pesticide corporations — again!

On Saturday, the small island of Kaua’i prevailed over the world’s largest pesticide and genetically engineered (GE) seed corporations.

In the face of fierce industry opposition and political drama — including a mayoral veto, secret text messages, intimidation from the State and switched votes — the people demanding better protection from pesticides prevailed. The County Council voted once to pass Bill 2491, and then — to overide the mayor's veto — they did it again. Kudos to all who made this victory possible!

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