Reclaiming the future of food and farming


Emily Marquez's picture

What's the deal with glyphosate?

Glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto's RoundUp, is the most commonly used pesticide active ingredient in the U.S. From the product's beginnings back in the 1970s, it's been touted as a relatively safe, non-toxic chemical.

But the use of glyphosate has surged dramatically since the 1990s, when genetically engineered (GE) "RoundUp Ready" corn and soybean crops were introduced. This intensive usage raises an important and increasingly urgent question: have the human health and environmental impacts of glyphosate been carefully and exhaustively evaluated? What do we know and what don't we?

Emily Marquez
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Monsanto's new GE crops already in the ground?

Early in July, Monsanto rolled out the red carpet for farm media in North Dakota, promoting its new, yet highly controversial, herbicide-resistant genetically engineered (GE) seeds. Touted at an industry field day in Cass County, these new soybean seeds are designed to be used with the volatile herbicide, dicamba — a close cousin of 2,4-D.

Dicamba-resistant soy is still awaiting USDA approval, as are 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy. And after receiving hundreds of thousands of comments opposing the approval of these crops, the agency recently extended its decision-making timeline. Despite the outcry, however, Monsanto has plowed full speed ahead, planting and spraying these crops in large, field-sized “Ground-Breaker” demonstration plots in North and South Dakota and in research plots in undisclosed locations.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Whose World Food Prize?

Last month, the 2013 World Food Prize was bestowed on Monsanto and Syngenta in recognition of their development of genetically engineered seed technologies. The news shocked the sustainable food and farming community — driving farmers, people’s movement leaders, reknowned scientists and development experts the world over to express their outrage and dismay.

Many excellent responses blasting the decision have been published (here, here and here). Perhaps the most powerful rebuke came from 81 laureates of the Right Livelihood Award and members of the prestigious World Food Council, who shredded the Prize organizers’ argument that GE seeds are feeding the world.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Pesticide Action Network's picture

More of Monsanto's RoundUp?

The little herbicide that could. That's what comes to mind as EPA proposes to up the residue levels of RoundUp allowed on food — despite a fresh round of studies pointing to possible human health effects from exposure.

The latest science examines links between Monsanto's flagship product and endocrine disruption, including a laboratory study that suggests an effect on cells similar to that of estrogen — a hormone that plays a role in stimulating breast cancer. PAN scientists are taking a careful look at these findings; given the widespread use of RoundUp (more than 180 million pounds every year) the public health implications could be dramatic.

Pesticide Actio...
Paul Towers's picture

Buzz off, Monsanto


Last week, the term “bee-washing” emerged in public conversation. It doesn’t refer to some new bee cleaning service, but to the insidious efforts of Monsanto and other pesticide corporations to discredit science about the impacts of pesticides on bees — especially neonicotinoids — by creating public relations tours, new research centers and new marketing strategies.

This week, pesticide makers are showcasing these tactics during National Pollinator Week with offers of free seed packets to people who take their poorly named “pollinator pledge.” The “bee-washing” term has gained traction as scientists and groups like PAN continue to cut through the misinformation and point to the emerging body of science that points to pesticides as a critical factor in bee declines.

Paul Towers
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

You can't put the GE genie back in the bottle

The surprise appearance of Monsanto’s unapproved GE wheat in an Oregon field last month dominated the “bad GE news” cycle of the day, stoking worries among farmers, millers, bakers and eaters about the extent of the contamination. 

Public outcry and demands to end open-air field testing of experimental GE crops are growing louder. And the discovery of rogue GE wheat in Oregon has driven key trading partners — like Japan and Korea — to suspend some wheat imports. All this exploded just days after millions of people around the world marched against Monsanto, denouncing its control, corruption and contamination of our food systems.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Millions against Monsanto

Two million people, over 400 cities, more than 50 countries. These numbers from organizers of the May 25th global “March against Monsanto” tell the story of a tide that is turning fast and hard against one of the greatest corporate villains of our time. From Tokyo to Turku, from Tallahassee to Tasmania, people spanning six continents came out to declare “Enough!”

The global response witnessed this past weekend is a powerful rebuke not only to Monsanto, but also to the U.S. State Department which has aggressively pushed a self-described “active biotech agenda” in over 100 countries. And the lengths to which the State Department has gone to promote Monsanto’s interests have been charted in a new Food & Water Watch exposé.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Pesticide Action Network's picture

Insecticide use (& Big 6 profits) surge as Bt corn fails

This week the Wall Street Journal took note of a trend farmers have understood for years: Monsanto's Bt corn, genetically modified to protect the plants from rootworm, is no longer working. And as a result, many farmers are now rapidly ramping up use of insecticides to protect their crops.

This is not unexpected. When Bt corn was introduced back in 1995, PAN joined organic growers in raising the alarm about the long term impacts of the technology. Widespread and continuous use of Bt meant the development of resistance was inevitable, and organic farmers knew this meant one of their most effective pest control tools would be rendered useless.

Pesticide Actio...
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Monsanto, Dow & Co. team up on GE

When arch-competitors Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences make a GE seed deal and both come out looking very smug, you have to wonder. When, five days later, Monsanto and Bayer CropScience announce a deal to cross-license their competing GE seed technologies with each other, you should probably start to worry.

What are all these deals about and why should you care? Because these agreements are the latest, most visible way that the Big 6 pesticide/biotech companies are speeding up the consolidation —and their control — of the world’s seed markets.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Pesticide Action Network's picture

Supreme Court battle: Farmer v. Monsanto

Today, 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer Hugh Vernon Bowman will face off with Monsanto in front of the Supreme Court. Five years ago, Monsanto sued Bowman for seed patent infringement and won. Now the high court will hear the farmer's appeal.

Monsanto's aggressive pursuit of patent infringement lawsuits like Bowman v. Monsanto is well documented in a recent report by the Center for Food Safety and Save Our Seeds. As of January 2013, the corporation had filed 144 suits against 410 farmers in 27 states. Corn and soybean growers across the country will be watching the outcome of today's case very closely.

Pesticide Actio...