Taxpayers care how federal money is spent on agriculture. We want the government to spend more to help farmers conserve natural resources, produce safe food and develop their communities — and less on direct commodity payments and price supports. This according to a study out of Oklahoma State University just released by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC).
On January 27, Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack announced the USDA's decision to de-regulate Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, allowing it to be grown anywhere and placing both organic and conventional farmers at risk. “We in the farm sector are dissatisfied but not surprised at the lack of courage from USDA to stop Roundup Ready alfalfa and defend family farmers,” said Pat Trask, a conventional alfalfa grower and plaintiff in litigation to prevent planting of GE alfalfa.
Last week the UK-based Independent reported that the clothianidin controversy has sparked a proposal to suspend the use of neonicotinoid pesticides in the UK. This story, which first broke in early December thanks to efforts by PAN, Beyond Pesticides and beekeeper Tom Theobald, has led to grave concerns in the British House of Commons.
Several deaths and decades after it should have, Bayer CropScience announced last week that it will stop making pesticides using methyl isocyante (MIC) in the U.S. MIC is the gas that exploded in 1984 in Bhopal, India, killing more than three thousand within weeks and leaving hundreds of thousands injured survivors struggling for justice even today.
Conservation and food safety groups won an important victory this week as a Delaware federal court ruled against the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops in all Northeastern wildlife refuges.
Responding to a lawsuit spearheaded by the Audubon Society, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Center for Food Safety (CFS), the Delaware judge found that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service had illegally allowed GE crops to be planted on refuge land without the environmental review required under federal law.
Last month farmers in India demonstrated their frustration and anger at the failed model of industrial agriculture that benefits corporations, not farmers. Over a period of 71 days, farmers across the country participated in a Farmer Freedom March, or Kisan Swaraj Yatra, that traversed 20 Indian states and involved thousands of people.
The media paid serious attention to pesticides last year. Three of PAN’s leading issues — atrazine in the Midwest, methyl iodide in California, and endosulfan everywhere — were among the “Top 10 Environmental Health Stories for 2010.” Editors of Environmental Health News selected the top stories from 68,000 newspaper and magazine articles, radio and TV broadcasts and online media coverage.
Avoiding soil erosion is essential to maintain crop productivity, protect waterways and avoid or slow desertification. In the U.S. and around the world government-sponsored programs have made great progress in mitigating topsoil loss: U.S. soil conservation practices reduced topsoil loss from 3.1 billion tons to 1.9 billion tons between 1982 and 1997, for instance. But the majority of this mitigation has come at a cost. To avoid soil distrubance and the erosion that goes with it, conventional U.S. farmers have relied on herbicide-intensive no-till, polluting waterways and destroying soil microbial life in the process.
Monsanto is making news again, and this time the chemical and seed giant has a partner in crime: our own USDA. And PAN partner, Center for Food Safety, chalked up a win when GM sugar beets were ordered torn out of the ground.
On December 8, Pesticide Action Network and Beyond Pesticides joined beekeepers from around the country in calling on EPA to pull a neonicotinoid pesticide linked with Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) off the market immediately. Our call is based on a leaked EPA memo that discloses a critically flawed scientific study, thus suggesting there may be imminent hazards to honeybees posed by continued use of clothianidin, the pesticide in question.
CCD is the name given to the mysterious decline of honeybee populations across the world beginning around 2006. Each winter since, one-third of the U.S. honeybee population has died off or disappeared. CCD is likely caused by a combination of pathogens, the stresses of industrial beekeeping, loss of habitat and more. But many scientists believe that sublethal pesticide exposures are a critical co-factor potentiating this mix. In the U.S., agencies are focused on research, trying to quantify these risks. In Germany, Italy and France, they decided they knew enough to take action years ago, banning suspect neonicotinoid pesticides. Bee colonies there are recovering and beekeepers here are outraged.