Reclaiming the future of food and farming

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Controversial "Ag Gag" bill considered in Iowa

The Iowa Senate is considering a state law that would criminalize the reporting of abusive conditions at animal or crop operations.

Several citizen and food transparency groups in Iowa have opposed the law, which they have dubbed the "Whistle Blower Suppression Bill" and the "Ag Gag Bill." Strong support for the measure is coming from multinational corporations like Monsanto and Dupont, as well as statewide organizations like the Iowa Poultry Association. 

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Genetically engineered bourbon?! No joke.

More than 80% of the non-organic products in our pantries include genetically engineered (GE) ingredients. Turns out, that even includes bourbon.

As Grist reported last week, GE corn  — also known as genetically modified, or GMO — has made its way into our liquor cabinets: "Bourbon gives us an interesting window into GMO grain because the spirit must by definition be made with at least 51 percent corn." Since about 85% of the corn in the U.S. is grown from genetically engineered seed, most bourbon is now made from GE corn.

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Industry front group says: Don't worry, be happy!

As the 50th anniversary of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring approaches, the purveyors of Monsanto & Co’s falsehoods are out in full force.

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)  — a front group for the pesticide industry — held a briefing last week, announcing a new report extolling the virtues of pesticides to federal legislators. If this is where our decisionmakers are getting their information, we're in trouble.

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Movement mounts against corporate personhood

Two years ago, on January 21, 2010, a Supreme Court panel that included ex-Monsanto lawyer Clarence Thomas made a decision that has since changed the face of election campaigning. The landmark ruling in Citizens United v. FEC declared corporations to be people and, under the guise of the First Amendment, permitted the pumping of unlimited amounts of corporate money into politics, opening the floodgates for a corporate buyout of democracy. The decision, which undid over a century of campaign finance reform, passed 5-4. Monsanto’s Clarence Thomas provided the critical vote.

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Banner week in bee science: Zombie flies & poisonous 'planter exhaust'

Issues: 

The online journal PLoS One released two bee studies last week: one on an old parasite newly found in honey bees, the other confirming that bees are being poisoned by the controversial pesticide clothianidin in and around the 88 million acres of U.S. countryside planted with treated corn seeds. 

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The struggle against methyl iodide: A year in review

Opposition to cancer-causing methyl iodide is at a fever pitch in California, a year after the Schwarzenegger Administration approved the chemical for use in the state.

As Gov. Jerry Brown considers action on methyl iodide in 2012, as well as the appointment of a new chief pesticide regulator, it’s worth reflecting on PAN's efforts to ensure safe strawberries over the past year.

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Pesticides are not heart healthy

Researchers in Sweden have confirmed that exposure to pesticides classified as persistent organic pollutants (POPs) increases the incidence of atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries.

Known to be a “major risk factor” for heart attacks and strokes, atherosclerosis is one of many health threats posed by POPs pesticides, which can persist in the environment for years or decades after use. In fact, this study comes on the heels of several others in recent years that show a correlation between POPs and health harms associated with poor heart health, such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes.

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Dow logo sacked; is sponsorship of Olympic games next?

"There will definitely not be any Dow Chemical branding on the [stadium] wrap before, during or after the Olympic Games," announced a spokeswomen for the London 2012 organizing committee.

The October 18 development marks progress in a global campaign to shame Dow into admitting accountability to victims of the Union Carbide pesticide plant explosion in Bhopal in 1984. Dow merged with UC in 1999, yet has denied liability for the ongoing suffering of tens of thousands.

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Almond joy! - Victory for bees

With little fanfare, pesticide manufacturer Bayer has asked California regulators to limit the use of one of their most profitable products, imidacloprid.

Rather than undergo the public scrutiny and cost involved in a state-mandated re-evaluation of the pesticide's impact on bees, emerging reports say the company has requested imidacloprid be restricted from use on almond crops, which honey bees are trucked in from around the country to pollinate each February.

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Genetically engineered Thanksgiving? No thanks.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, a day to celebrate all that sustains us and brings us together, wouldn't it be nice to know whether the ingredients we're chopping, mixing and roasting have been genetically engineered?

Up to 80% of non-organic food on our shelves contains a GE ingredient. We don't know which of our foods are engineered though, because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t require labeling. Pushed onto the market by big agribusiness corporations like Monsanto, GE products are hidden in plain sight.

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