Since 2008, Brazil has held the dubious distinction of spending more on pesticides than anyplace else on earth. But what has the country's farmers, public health professionals and environmental advocates even more worried is Brazil's corresponding rise in planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops, engineered to tolerate mega-doses of herbicides like glyphosate (Roundup). And these crops are driving emergence of herbicide-tolerant "superweeds".
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shocked the American public with its hasty approval of three highly controversial GE crops in a row (alfalfa, sugar beets and ethanol corn). In doing so, the agency effectively thumbed its nose at U.S. federal courts and spit in the face of consumers and farmers alike. Now, USDA has apparently decided that getting sued for ignoring U.S. environmental laws is getting to be too much of a hassle. So they've come up with a new plan: why not let Monsanto evaluate the potential harms of its new transgenic products? It’ll be so much quicker this way. And save USDA a lot of money.
Two weeks ago, I wrote about the American public’s nearly unified demand for labeling of GMOs. Now, across the country, people are preparing to take to the streets to express their views.
The Millions Against Monsanto campaign is organizing a Rally for the Right to Know in front of the White House on Saturday, March 26. And plans for local rallies are popping up everywhere, including — last I checked — in California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, Oregon, Tennesee and Wisconsin.
I spent much of last week in the sub-freezing cold of northern Minnesota, attending the 8th Annnual Great Lakes Indigenous Farming Conference. Every year, Winona LaDuke and the White Earth Land Recovery Project bring a couple hundred farmers, activists, and tribal leaders together on the White Earth Reservation to discuss the intersections of farming and culture from an indigenous perspective. One of the goals of this year's conference was to lay the groundwork for an Anishinaabeg/Great Lakes seed library.
Do you want to know if the food you eat and feed your family has been genetically engineered? If you do, you’re not alone. Over 95% of people responding to an MSNBC poll this week on labeling of GE foods have said loudly and clearly, “OF COURSE we want to know!” Over 40,000 people have voted (you can too, here). This follows on an earlier CBS poll finding that 87% people want to know if genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are in their food. Evidently, this is something that people feel strongly about.
Britain’s Chief Scientist has come out trumpeting the need for genetically engineered (GE) crops to feed the world, and the UK media is falling all over itself with blaring headlines that echo this badly misinformed sentiment (see Guardian, Telegraph coverage).
The source of all the hullabaloo is the UK’s release this week of its mammoth Foresight report, Global Food and Farming Futures. Using the occasion to espouse what seems to be his personal opinion, Sir John Beddington —the Chief Scientist in question — argues that “It is very hard to see how it would be remotely sensible to justify not using new technologies such as GM. Just look at the problems that the world faces: water shortages and salination of existing water supplies, for example. GM crops should be able to deal with that.” “Should?” Is that the best you can do, Sir John?