Food & Agriculture | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Food & Agriculture

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
Margaret Reeves's picture

Pesticide drifts miles from Florida fields

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released compelling findings from a study on the air-borne movement (aka "drift") of the pesticide endosulfan in Florida.

Researchers found that this soon-to-be-banned persistent pesticide traveled miles from tomato fields where it was applied, and that drift levels jumped significantly during spray season. More details on the study are outlined below, but first consider this: with USDA stepping into the ring to document pesticide drift, is it possible that EPA and USDA might actually look at pesticide use and regulations together? Now that would be interesting news indeed.

Margaret Reeves
Marcia Ishii's picture

"Golden Rice" not so golden

Last month, a few news outlets carried a story about Filipino farmers trampling a test plot of genetically engineered (GE) “Golden Rice.” The news triggered a swift avalanche of more stories and opinion pieces, with ample space devoted to Golden Rice proponents’ harsh accusation that skeptics and critics are holding back a desperately needed, promising technology and, in so doing, are causing children’s deaths around the world.

We’ve seen all this before: both the promises that ultimately fail to deliver, and the attempts to silence those asking important questions. Why, after 30 years of research and millions of dollars poured into development of this supposed miracle seed, are we still talking about Golden Rice?

Marcia Ishii
Marcia Ishii'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
Visitor's picture

Guest blog: Women farmers in Asia speak out

Every day, rural women in Asia face mounting challenges caused by an increasingly broken system of food and agriculture. High food prices, low income, land grabbing, climate change and decreasing control over seeds mark the experiences of the women farmers who grow much of the region's food.

Our Stories, One Journey: Empowering Rural Women in Asia is a traveling journal, recording the thoughts of eight rural women for 10 days in eight different countries. The women write, draw and compose poetry and songs. Their message is simple: help transform agriculture into a more equitable, fair and sustainable system.

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Marcia Ishii'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'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
Margaret Reeves's picture

Healthy food & farms: How will Congress vote?

I am neither a farmer nor an octogenarian, yet images of the disastrous U.S. dust bowl of the 1930s are forever etched in my memory. What I am is a mom, who is well aware of how children's health is linked to the food our kids eat — in all kinds of ways. And these two things are are inextricably linked through our food system, and the policies that shape it.

How farmers treat the soil and how they grow and market our food determines, in the big picture, the health of our children. The choices farmers have and the decisions they make are strongly influenced by government policies — policies that are being crafted this week as the Farm Bill moves forward on Capitol Hill. 

Margaret Reeves
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Marcia Ishii's picture

Don't worry, GE labeling will not cause world hunger

The U.S. movement to label genetically engineered (GE) foods is gaining ground. More states introduced GE labeling bills this year than ever before. And word from D.C. is that a federal labeling bill will be announced in the next week or so. Whether or not these initiatives pass in 2013, this much seems clear: we will win labeling of GE foods. It’s just a matter of time.

Naturally, the pesticide and biotech industry players have come out swinging with a host of dire but false predictions that food prices will rise and the sky will fall if people are allowed to know what’s in our food. The latest evidence of desperation comes from a long-time GE apologist, who now claims that labeling GE foods in the U.S. will exacerbate world hunger and poverty. Seriously?

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