Last week, hundreds of people poured into the Women’s Building here in San Francisco to take part in the Justice Begins with Seeds conference, organized by the California Biosafety Alliance and co-sponsored by PANNA and several other partner groups. Abuzz with activities from September 13-17, the conference provided a forum for Californians to engage in movement building that challenges the corporate food system, pushes back against genetically engineered food and seeds, and nourishes the roots of food democracy.
The ecological, economic and agronomic disaster accompanying herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops is by now well known: over 10 million acres of superweeds resistant to Monsanto’s weedkiller, RoundUp; farm machinery breaking on RoundUp-resistant pigweed thick as a baseball bat; Monsanto paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors’ herbicides; a new generation of transgenic crops in the pipeline engineered to withstand older even more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D.
Last week brought more bad news for Monsanto: the same phenomenon is also occurring in insect pest populations that are developing resistance to transgenic “Bt corn” in the Midwest.
Warning! Nina Federoff — former “Science and Technology Advisor” to the U.S. State Department and well-known genetic engineering apologist — is back on her soapbox. In an Op Ed published in the New York Times last week, Federoff strings together one blazing falsehood after another, extolling the virtues of a technology that much of the rest of the world has rightly rejected. What is behind her evangelical commitment to this particular technology? Let’s take a look.
My kids had a great baseball season playing in Little League this Spring. We've now moved on to other summery things like swim lessons in Berkeley's freezing fog. So I was caught off-guard by last week's surprise collision between my work and home worlds, namely the revelation that USDA has just given Scotts Miracle Gro (the lawn chemical company and much decried sponsor of Major League Baseball), the go-ahead for a new and once again totally unnecessary genetically engineered product: Roundup Ready lawn grass. And they may have pulled off a de facto deregulation of all future GE products in the process.
While there are hundreds of species of earthworms, anyone who makes compost knows the redworm, or Eisenia fetida. They make what's considered perhaps the richest form of natural fertilizer — a true friend to farmers and gardeners alike.
What you might not know is that very low levels of pesticides can kill these "black gold" producers. If they don't kill outright, pesticides can cause other serious harm, like reducing worms' ability to reproduce. Exposure to the neonicitinoid pesticide imidacloprid — well-known for its toxicity to honeybees — can also cause serious harm to worms, damaging DNA and deforming sperm. Bad news.
Genetically engineered (GE) foods and seeds remain a tough sell in parts of Europe, Asia and Latin America. Restrictions emerging across the globe stem from a range of concerns, from protecting biodiversity and public health to fostering economic independence and food sovereignty.
In April, Hungary became the first country to ensure its people’s “material and mental health” by guaranteeing “an agriculture free of genetically modified organisms” in its new Fundamental Law. All told, 7 European countries have rejected one or more GE crops.
This morning, while my boys are eating breakfast, I’m going to take a moment to mentally thank our local dairy farmers for the milk on our table and our chicken farmers for our eggs. Then I’m going to pick up the phone and call the President. It won’t take long, and it’s really important. Family farmers and ranchers' livelihoods are on the line.