We close Food Week with a shout out in celebration of the millions of food workers around the world upon whose hard work the food system depends — from picking to packing, serving to selling. Sadly, these workers share one thing in common around the globe: they are among the worst paid workers in an industry that creates some of the largest corporate profits.
Today is World Food Day and around the world communities are taking a stand against hunger. But the solutions put forward differ dramatically depending on what one understands the “food problem” to be. For many, every day is World Food Day and presents both the necessity and opportunity to fight for farm and food justice; for them it is a matter of integrity and survival.
As I strolled through downtown Ashland, Oregon, last week, I was struck by how many “Yes on 92” signs and stickers I saw. There is clear, visible support from businesses and individuals for the measure to label genetically engineered (GE) foods.
And as the measure heads for a vote on November 4, industrial agriculture groups are pulling out all the stops to keep this ballot initiative from winning. Even so, there is an incredible groundswell of support for labeling GE food in Oregon and beyond. Things are looking hopeful!
Two weeks ago today, I was heading south for the inaugural "ShiftCon" gathering in Los Angeles. It was a fascinating event, attracting hundreds of women (and a handful of men) committed to "Shifting the Conversation" about health, wellness and the environment through social media activism.
My top two takeaways left me feeling optimistic. The first relates directly to our campaign work here at PAN: the pesticide problem is now front and center in the conversation about GE crops, and the link between the two is crystal clear. This is hugely encouraging. And the second? It may be obvious, but at ShiftCon it was palpable: the social media world is an astonishingly active and powerful place.
It's official. EPA and USDA have both evaluated Dow Chemical's new line of 2,4-D-resistant seeds, Enlist, and have approved both the seeds and the accompanying pesticide formulation for market.
This is a turning point, not just for grain production, but for food production in the U.S. and internationally. The introduction of Enlist corn and soybeans, and the widespread adoption of this new seed line, will have pervasive impacts on farmer livelihoods, public health and control of our food system.
Pesticide corporation Syngenta is pushing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow even more use of one of its bee-harming neonicotinoids, thiamethoxam. But with science clearly showing that neonics harm bees and other pollinators — contributing to dramatic die-offs in recent years — allowing increased use of this chemical would be a striking move in the wrong direction.
If EPA grants the request, more thiamethoxam will be applied to common crops — including corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa — that cover over 250 million acres of U.S. farmland, much of it in the Midwest. The proposed residue level increases vary by crop, but some would go up by as much as 400 times what is currently allowed.
Last week, California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) released new data from its statewide Air Monitoring Network (AMN). As you've heard from us before, pesticide drift can seriously impact the health and well being of people living in rural communities.
And it is happening. Even with DPR's flawed sampling plan, this latest round of data confirms health-harming drift at monitoring sites across the state. Of the 32 pesticides and five breakdown products assessed, 24 were detected at least once. At one site, the neurotoxic insecticide chlorpyrifos was found in 75% of the air samples taken.
PAN and our partners are back to court to stand up for the law passed by the County of Kaua'i last year. The groups are appealing a judge’s disappointing decision last month that struck down Kauai’s landmark law to ensure some of the world’s largest pesticide and biotech corporations are more transparent about their operations.
The law was intended to lift the veil on which pesticides are being used, and where, on the island. Many of these pesticides travel on wind and water to neighboring schools, neighborhoods and farm land. Despite corporate PR efforts, it’s clear that more information about agricultural practices is essential to building a fair, green and healthy food and farming system on Kaua'i.
Walking past the ancient Roman Coliseum on my way to the recent International Symposium on Agroecology, the surprising twists of history were on my mind. Even a few years ago, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization — host of the symposium — would never have organized such a meeting. “Agroecology” was considered far too radical and dangerous a concept to many in FAO who had dedicated long careers to exporting the chemical-intensive “Green Revolution” model of agriculture around the world.
Yet there I was, along with 400 other scientists, agri-food system researchers, farmers and social movement leaders, commencing an intensive two-day exchange of agroecological knowledge, science and practice in the heart of Rome.
Very disappointing news came out of the U.S. Department of Agriculture yesterday. The agency announced it is greenlighting Dow Agroscience's new genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans that are designed to withstand repeated applications of 2,4-D — an antiquated, dangerous herbicide.