It’s that time of year again. Twice a year the global community — and the media — focus in on the perpetually devastating disease of malaria. World Malaria Day, marked in April, is one such time, and the other is this month, on Malaria Day in the Americas. Unfortunately, these events also provide an opportunity for the pro-DDT lobby to re-circulate disingenuous talking points about DDT, environmentalists and malaria. This handful of advocates work tirelessly to create a debate where there is none.
A few weeks ago, I blogged about the controversy surrounding the premier of Troubled Waters, a documentary about the dead zone in Gulf of Mexico. To recap: the University of Minnesota, one the film's main sponsors, cancelled its debut at the last minute, apparently out of concern that it might offend Big Ag interests in the state. You see, the deadzone forms each year when the Mississippi River delivers nutrient pollution from industrial farm fields in the Midwest to the Gulf. It's a problem that can't be solved without significant changes to our food system, and the film highlights innovative farmers on the cutting edge of that transformation.
For the past month, pink ribbons have been everywhere — along with bracelets, shoes, t-shirts, even pink KFC buckets.
Yet for all this colorful breast cancer awareness, somehow we're still not talking about one of the key things we can do to prevent the disease: stop eating, drinking and breathing cancer-causing chemicals.
25,000 villages in Pakistan are about to lose their fertile farmland to wealthy investors from oil-rich Gulf states. That’s villages, not villagers. In Tanzania, a Swedish agrofuels company is in the process of acquiring a lease on up to 500,000 hectares of land, in order to produce sugarcane ethanol on an industrial scale. That’s about 2,000 square miles of land. Lack of informed consent among villagers who reside on the land, and potentially enormous impacts on the communities’ food and water supply are at issue.
After sweeping across Canada, the movement to end the cosmetic use of pesticides is gaining a foothold in New England. Last week, the town council of Scarborough, Maine, held a public debate on a proposed ordinance that would restrict the use of pesticides on town property, including parks, sports fields, and school playgrounds. Homeowners would still be free to apply chemicals to their lawns and gardens, but the sponsors of the measure hope that many citizens would be inspired to follow the town's lead.
Farm families in India are working right now to save their land from a corporate push to replace their farms with coal-fired power plants. Last night, a petition in support of this Sompeta community came across my desk, and I was reminded again of the importance of the global PAN network. PAN International supports healthy farms and food sovereignty in the face of corporate control of agriculture. All around the world.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the inspirational high school students in Watsonville, California who are taking action to prevent themselves and their community from the proposed new strawberry pesticide, methyl iodide. Last night, they went to the Pajaro Valley United School District, and the district signed a resolution for further study on methyl iodide before it is released into the environment. What amazing young people we have in this state — I look forward to their leadership of our state as we grow older. Here's what happened.
Environmental Health Perspectives recently published an article directly linking consumption of conventionally-produced fruits and vegetables to pesticide residues in children’s bodies. Children are at particular risk when it comes to pesticides. For instance, consumption of organophosphate (OP) pesticide residues have recently been linked to increased rates of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children. In the EHP study, Forty-six children supplied 239 samples that were analyzed for (OP) and pyrethroid pesticides—both nervous system toxicants and suspected endocrine disruptors. About one fifth of the food samples contained residues. These findings replicate similar results published two years ago in the same journal.
Monsanto’s humiliations are all over the news these days. Last week we heard that Monsanto is actually paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors’ weedkillers. Monsanto’s latest press release announces it is offering RoundupReady cotton farmers up to $20/acre to pour on extra herbicides. In fact, The Organic Center reports that this bizarre practice—a reversal of Monsanto’s traditional exhortations to rely on its own chemical Roundup—has actually been going on for over a year now, a response to the Monsanto-induced epidemic of superweeds now ravaging the country. As Tom Philpott explains, it’s a desperate last-hour attempt by the giant seed and pesticide company to slow the wildfire spread of noxious weeds resistant to Roundup, an epidemic which essentially spells the demise of Monsanto’s entire RoundupReady “system of weed management.” Other last-ditch efforts by Monsanto to keep revenue coming in include genetically engineering its Roundup Ready seeds for “enhanced resistance,” that is the ability to withstand—at least temporarily—even heavier dousings of Roundup. Talk about trying to smother a fire with gasoline.
Last week, countries gathered in Japan hammered out a global agreement to hold corporations liable for genetically modified (GM) organism pollution of ecosystems.
According to the The Mainichi Daily News, a "biosafety protocol" was adopted to set "redress rules for damage caused to ecosystems by the movements of genetically modified crops."The move came at the end of the fifth meeting on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, kicking off international talks on the Convention on Biological Diversity. The new rules, which bolster mechanisms to hold agricultural biotech corporations like Monsanto liable, will be opened for ratification next spring.