The 50 biggest biotech and agrochemical trade groups spent over $572 million from 1999 to 2010 on lobbying. That’s more than half a billion dollars! According to a new report from Food & Water Watch, the annual rate was a steady $30-$40 million per year until about 2006, when this industry apparently began courting Congress in earnest — as the annual figure nearly doubles between 2006 and 2010. And as Business Week reports, the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) — the world's largest biotech lobby group — spent over $2 million in the third quarter of 2010 alone, lobbying Congress as well as the National Institute of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Agriculture Department, Health and Human Services Department, Food and Drug Administration and other agencies, to keep genetically engineered (GE) crops and animals unregulated and on the market.
In my family Thanksgiving means cranberries, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. So I decided to check these foods out on WhatsOnMyFood.org. The results weren’t exactly appetizing. Here’s what the USDA found, after washing:
Green beans: 44 different pesticides with the most commonly detected being acephate, a highly neurotoxic organophosphate insecticide. One sample had 200 micrograms of it per 100 gram serving (slightly more than one cup). That may not sound like a lot, but it's twice the EPA's level of concern for children.
The New York Times is reporting that Stephen Johnson, head of the Environmental Protection Agency under Bush, has joined the board of directors of Scotts Miracle-Gro. The company is the world's largest producer of chemicals for the lawn care and garden sectors.
Not that this should come as a shock — we've long noted the cozy relationships between agencies like EPA and the companies they're supposed to regulate. And the EPA under Johnson was particularly friendly to the pesticide industry. Some examples:
On Capitol Hill today, the chemical industry squashed a bi-partisan effort to ban the controversial chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) from baby bottles and children's drinking cups. Really guys?
Protecting kids from toxic chemicals should be a no-brainer, right? Especially when the science is so strong, the scientists themselves are calling for action.
Farmworkers, farmers and eaters have joined together to change the face of U.S. agriculture. The Fair Food Project focuses on both the serious need for change as well innovations leading that change—bringing wholesome food and farming back home, to our tables, one family farm at a time.
There’s no better time to celebrate and recognize these innovators than Thanksgiving, and this one in particular.
"Stop raising doubt where there is consensus." "Take an online course in epidemiology!" These were but two of the admonitions scientists and malariologists directed at Africa Fighting Malaria's representative at a Geneva symposium on malaria last week.
Richard Tren, who spoke at the meeting for Africa Fighting Malaria (AFM), is an economist by training whose public career has included manufacturing doubt about climate change as well as spreading misinformation about the effectiveness of DDT in controlling malaria.
Washington DC is a funny place.
On the one hand, the energy and excitement of power is palpable: decisions are made here that affect people across the country and around the world. Smart people of all stripes dedicate themselves to creating, influencing, critiquing or reporting on policies that shape our society.
Several of my friends have just returned from The Hague, Netherlands, where they joined nearly 1,000 people from 80 countries in a Global Conference on Climate, Agriculture and Food Security. With the planet on the precipice of climate chaos and nearly a billion people hungry, the stakes in finding genuine solutions could not be higher. And with only three weeks left til the UN Conference on Climate in Cancun, the Hague meeting had the potential to do something really useful. Like champion a global transition to climate-resilient ecological agriculture, with enough financial and policy support to enable farmers around the world to adapt to and survive the stresses of climate change. Alas, it did not.
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.