Big Ag is on the defensive, and women are coming to the rescue. Citing Michael Pollan and Food, Inc. as two particularly large blemishes to overcome, large-scale agriculture commodity and marketing associations hired the PR firm Osborn & Barr (a regular for Monsanto) in search of a better image. They unveiled their approach in November: a woman-to-woman marketing campaign targeting urban and suburban women. Knowing that women control most household spending, Osborn & Barr is betting on farm women as messengers that offer a more palatable face for industrial agriculture, and who offer a relationship that is difficult to turn down. Amy Nuccio of Osborn & Barr commented, "Consumers don't want a slogan, they don't want an ad campaign. They want a real relationship, which led us to this strategy of woman-to-woman." They’ll have to be careful, though, because it turns out women oft dig past the hype when it comes to the health of our children. Witness a recent attempt to woo moms, Corn Syrup Lobby Courts Mommybloggers, Gets Spanked.
On Dec. 6, three days after the anniversary of the 1984 Bhopal pesticide plant explosion, India’s Attorney General asked the country’s supreme court to force Dow Chemical to pay $1.1 billion in compensation to victims, reports the Wall Street Journal. The move follows on persistent advocacy and recent trials in India and around the world to hold Dow accountable for the liabilities of Union Carbide, acquired by Dow in 2001. The tragedy is now estimated to have caused 20,000 deaths and some 500,000 injuries.
The winter Patagonia clothing catalog in North American mailboxes this week features more than nifty outdoor adventure duds. For 15 years, all of the cotton products for sale have been made from 100% organic fiber. And Pesticide Action Network is among a handful non-profit organizations profiled. Patagonia is a long-term supporter of PAN’s campaign for sustainable agriculture and against the use of toxic pesticides like endosulfan that are used in cotton production around the world (including in the U.S. until the phaseout won this year is completed). Cotton covers 2.5% of the world's cultivated land yet uses 16% of the world's insecticides, more than any other crop.
Today, PAN joined a diverse coalition of farmworker, children’s health, farm, and environmental groups to release our priorities for the incoming Brown administration. Healthy Children & Green Jobs: A Platform for Pesticide Reform lays out scientifically-grounded priorities for protecting children’s health and supporting healthy, safe and climate-friendly agriculture and pest management in California.
DDT ceased being the "go to" tool in the malaria fighter's tool box more than 50 years ago when mosquito populations started developing resistance and when better, safer tools began to come online. It's still available today, but the chemical's usefulness is extremely limited. Now, new research shows that in some circumstances spraying DDT is not only ineffective, but it may actually increase malaria transmission.
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.