Reclaiming the future of food and farming

corporate control

Kristin Schafer's picture

Seeds of (policy) change

Before we move fully into the busy end-of-year season, it seems useful to take a moment to step back, take a breath and take stock of where we landed after the mid-term elections. Some surprisingly heartening lessons emerge.

We're all familiar with the high-level analysis by now — the very big impact of big money, ascension of climate-deniers to Senate leadership, polarization of politics, etc. But as you dig a bit deeper, a more optimistic picture comes into focus. From community pushback of corporate control to a rekindled conversation about national food policy, some very real, very hopeful shifts are in motion.

Kristin Schafer
Paul Towers's picture

A narrow loss, but GE labeling is on its way

Two. That’s the number of votes a bill to label genetically engineered (GE) foods recently fell short of in the California Senate. And not for lack of trying, or lack of public support. A powerful coalition of moms, farmers, businesses and public interest groups joined together to push the bill forward; they filled the Capitol halls, offices and phone lines of State Senators for days leading up to the vote.

After several attempts to bring SB 1381 to a vote on the Senate floor, including convincing several Senators to abstain from voting, it narrowly failed to pass. Still, the movement to label GE food in California and beyond shows no sign of slowing or backing down.

Paul Towers
Medha Chandra's picture

Company thwarts rat poison rules — again!

A while ago I blogged about a new EPA rule banning a specific set of super-toxic rat poisons for retail sale to homeowners. The ban was put in place to protect children and pets from the dangers of these rodenticide products. The company that makes them, Reckitt Benckiser, challenged the rule in court.

Well, history repeats itself. When California's Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) recently restricted the retail sale of these same super-toxic rat poisons, Reckitt Benckiser, sued DPR as well. This means that while the legal petition winds its slow way through the judicial system, the toxic rodenticides will continue being sold in California.

Medha Chandra
Paul Towers's picture

Don't mess with... Kaua'i

Residents of Kaua’i are holding their ground against pesticide corporations. And, as we’ve learned time and time again, they won’t be bullied by the likes of BASF, Dow, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta.

Late yesterday, a group of island residents, PAN and Surfrider — represented by the legal muscle of Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety — joined efforts to defend Kaua'i from a lawsuit brought by four of the world’s largest pesticide corporations.

Paul Towers
Linda Wells's picture

What's up with the TPP?

If you're like me, you've known for awhile that the U.S. is negotiating a new trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but you haven't taken the time to figure out exactly why it matters. Hey, I don't blame us — there's a reason it's hard to understand: the corporations and governments negotiating the deal don't want our opinions slowing down their shiny new free-trade agreement.

In fact, if everything goes as planned, very few of us — not reporters, only a handful of legislators, and certainly not you and me — will get to read the deal before it is signed into law. But this past week there have been some big hiccups in that plan, making me think it is actually possible to stop this thing if we all start paying attention right now.

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


As we honor Martin Luther King's legacy this month, we also mark the third anniversary of Citizens United v FEC. This landmark Supreme Court decision essentially declared corporations to be people, opening the floodgates for unlimited political corporate contributions, and changing the face of election campaigns.

Citizen's United v. FEC undid over a century of campaign finance reforms, and the effects of the decision were clearly evident in the November elections. One clear example was the opposition to California's Proposition 37 — an initiative to label genetically engineered (GE) food in the state — which was almost entirely funded by corporations. Contributions totaled 46 million dollars.

Pesticide Actio...
Linda Wells's picture

DuPont hires ex-police to patrol soybean farms

Seed and chemical giant DuPont just hired a fleet of ex-police officers to patrol the farmlands of North America.

The second-largest seed company used to rely on their partner/competitor Monsanto to play the industry ‘bad cop’ when it came to seed policing. But now DuPont executives have made it clear that they are not afraid to make some enemies as they protect the company's intellectual property interests in genetically engineered seeds. And they've hired an "agro-protection" company staffed by former police officers to do it.

Linda Wells
Heather Pilatic's picture

What would Rachel write: The top 4 untold pesticide stories

Silent Spring turns 50 next week, giving occasion for all manner of reflection on Rachel Carson's legacy as the author who catalyzed the U.S. environmental movement. The small, but vocal rightwing fringe continues in its campaign to paint Carson as the devil "responsible for more deaths than Hitler." But most mainstream reflections thus far have sought to contemporize Carson by drawing links between the issues she outlined in Silent Spring and the concerns we still face today. 

Claiming no special insight other than working daily in Carson's wake, I speculate that she'd be reporting in her way on one of these still-untold and/or under-reported pesticide stories: 

Heather Pilatic
Pesticide Action Network's picture

Docs say corporate power threatens public health

For those who relegate the issue of corporate control to the sidelines of public debate, a new article published in the international, peer-reviewed British Medical Journal last month issued a surprising invitation to think again.

Professor Gerard Hastings at the University of Stirling points out the devastating impact on public health of the deceptive and virtually unregulated marketing campaigns of multinational corporations, connecting the dots between corporate takeover of the public mic and public health crises such as cancer, obesity and heart disease.

Pesticide Actio...