Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Guest Blog: Pollinators & the rigged neonic seed market

Farmers are no different from any buyer – they want to know what they’re buying, how much it costs and its expected performance. But in the brave new world of agricultural seeds, where multiple traits and technology are stacked like Microsoft’s operating system, it’s becoming more and more difficult for farmers to separate out what is really needed and discover how much each piece is costing them.

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New GE rules in the works — finally!

We've been saying it for years: the rules governing genetically engineered (GE) crops, and how they get on the market, are broken. There are significant loopholes, insufficient transparency, and outdated practices that fail to account for today's on-the-ground farming realities.

The White House agrees, at least in part. In a memorandum released July 2, the President called on the three agencies involved — U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) — to fully review and update GE regulations. It's about time.

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Guest Blog: The story McDonald's didn't get to hear

Last Friday, I was sitting at a coffee shop thinking about the previous 24 hours — and feeling uncertain about my next steps. I’d just gotten back from the McDonald’s annual shareholder meeting in Chicago, where I had planned to share my concerns about pesticides used to grow potatoes that become McDonald’s french fries.

Though I had mustered up the courage to speak before hundreds of people at the high-profile meeting, the corporation's security people turned us away.

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Swing & a miss on bee-harming pesticides

Once again, it looks like federal decisionmakers are sidestepping the issue of bee-harming pesticides. The Pollinator Health Task Force, launched almost a year ago by President Obama, released its strategy for addressing pollinator declines last week — without tackling the pesticide problem.

While the plan sets an ambitious goal for reining in honey bee losses, and calls for state plans to increase habitat for pollinators, it fails to directly address the impact of neonicotinoids and other insecticides, despite crystal clear science that these chemicals are impacting pollinators. 

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Pesticides in your food? Watch your sperm count.

In the first study of its kind, researchers have linked pesticide residues on food with poor semen quality. The new study adds to a growing body of evidence tying very low-level chemical exposures with reproductive and other health harms.

Scientists from Harvard University's School of Public Health found that men who ate fruits and vegetables with higher levels of pesticide residues had fewer normal sperm and a lower sperm count than men who ate produce with lower residue levels.

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Bayer regrets neonic harms to bees

Today, Bayer AG apologized for the damage to pollinators caused by years of aggressive marketing and sales of bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides; now the most widely used class of insecticides in the world.

To help restore and revitalize the bee populations harmed by their products — and in a good faith gesture to beekeepers whose livelihoods have been threatened by declining honey bee populations — the German-based corporation formally announced the unveiling of the world’s first bee spa.

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Honoring farmworkers on Cesar Chavez day

Each year at the end of March we join partners across the country celebrating National Farmworker Awareness Week, a nationwide event honoring farmworkers and their families. The celebration culminates today, on Cesar Chavez Day.

A week set aside to raise awareness about the more than two million workers who plant, tend and harvest our food is a wonderful opportunity. This year, we invite you to explore — and share — the great resources below as National Farmworker Awareness Week (#NFAW) wraps up.

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Iowa lawmakers tackle pesticide drift

Issues: 

In Iowa, two proposed laws would have provided support to farmers facing crop damage from drifting herbicides, and improved reporting and regulations around drift. While the laws were introduced this session, they will not be moving forward but the Iowa Farmers Union (IFU), PAN and other coalition partners have put the drift issue front and center on the legislative agenda in Des Moines.

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Ahem. We said "No fast track"

Here they go again. Congress is once again considering “fast track” approval of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement. Fast track means no public hearings, no floor debate, no amendments — no civic engagement whatsoever.

The stakes are high. The TPP would be the largest trade deal in history, covering 792 million people and about 40% of the world’s economy. If fast track is approved, rules affecting food and farming — among many other sectors — will be negotiated completely behind closed doors.

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