GroundTruth Blog

is PAN's Organizing and Media Director. Follow @PaulAtPan

Paul Towers's blog

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

This is NOT what democracy looks like. In a replay of California’s narrowly defeated labeling initiative last fall, a handful of corporations effectively bought Washington state’s election to label genetically engineered (GE) foods.

In the face of impressive grassroots support and fundraising, pesticide and Big Food corporations spent $22 million to defeat I-522 — more than any campaign in the state’s history and the equivalent of $30 per voter. As the largest single contributor, Monsanto led the charge. Yet despite being heavily outspent, the initiative was defeated by a small margin.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

Last week I sat through a long hearing in the California legislature, all about bee declines. By the end, I was both excited and frustrated. As I noted in my closing comments at the hearing, California can and must take action to address the dramatic declines.

This is an important opportunity for the state to be a driver of good public policy nationally. And addressing the issue here in California will be good for our business — the benefits of bees to our agricultural economy are tremendous. While it was encouraging to see legislators taking the issue up at the hearing, it was frustrating to see the room filled with pesticide corporations and their allies trying to confuse the discussion and delay action.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

10 million dollars. That’s what Monsanto and other pesticide corporations have spent so far to defeat a ballot initiative in Washington State to label genetically engineered (GE) food. In a replay of what took place in California last year, a handful of companies is trying to confuse the issue so people vote against our right to know. But the money trail — and corporate spin tactics — are very clear.

To date, more than half of the funds spent to defeat I-522 have come from pesticide and biotech corporations, with Monsanto making the largest contribution of $4.8 million. Why are these corporations so invested in defeating GE labeling initiatives? Likely because they fear losing marketshare for their GE, pesticide-resistant corn and soy.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

“We are a united Kaua’i.” That’s what over 4,000 Hawaiians chanted as they marched across the Garden Island last week in the sweltering sun. The broad Pass the Bill coalition of physicians, teachers, hotel workers and farmers has continued to press for greater information around pesticide use. The issue is being hotly debated before the Kaua’i County Council, and the world’s largest pesticide-seed corporations are clearly not happy about it.

Despite repeated statements about the desire for compromise and unity, this handful of pesticide corporations and their front groups (e.g. the misleadingly named “Save Kauai Farms”) have rejected any proposals that meet community concerns. They’ve refused to provide information about the pesticides they use on the island's test fields, or to consider no-spray zones around sensitive locations like schools.

Paul Towers's blog
By Paul Towers,

In a letter submitted yesterday, scientists called out California officials for downplaying evidence of health hazards — including cancer — posed by a widely used fumigant pesticide.

Often applied to the state's strawberry fields, new rules may pave the way for even more use of chloropicrin unless policymakers follow recommendations from both state and independent scientists. This story is all too familiar.