Last week, the National Academies of Science (NAS) attracted much media attention with the release of its new report, "Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects." The report assessed a range of health, environmental, social and economic impacts of GE crops.
Long before legislators filed back to the Minnesota Capitol this spring, political analysts were predicting that not much progress would be made in this year’s legislative session. With split control of the legislature and a short eleven weeks to get their work done, folks across the political spectrum anticipated gridlock. So as the dust settles after the end of session this week, how did things shake out for food and pesticide policy here in Minnesota?
No surprise, the session had its share of ups and downs overall.
A batch of encouraging news emerged in the world of healthy farming this week. First off, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) reported that U.S. sales of organics continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Then there's the new study showing that organics bring significant economic benefits to rural communities. And in France, the Minister of Agriculture launched a national celebration of agroecological farming. Well then!
On Mother's Day, while eating strawberries out of the garden with my daughter Elia, I was reflecting on all the mamas — fierce, passionate, powerful — who are working to create a healthy food system.
The phrase “justice delayed is justice denied” has real meaning for children living near California farm fields. Since the first lawsuit was filed seventeen years ago, Latino schoolkids are still being disproportionately impacted by agricultural pesticides — many linked to cancer and neurodevelopmental harms. And now parents are taking on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remedy violations of the Civil Rights Act.
The science is in. Our food system's continued reliance on pesticides is putting children's health at risk. Kids across the country are exposed in various ways, but those who grow up in agricultural areas often face a "double dose" of pesticides from nearby fields. Rural children are — quite literally — on the frontlines of pesticide exposure.
We've been hearing rumours about possible mergers between pesticide/biotech corporations for a while now. Will Monsanto buy Syngenta? Or Bayer? Will the "Big 6" become the "Big 4" or "Big 3" — or perhaps one corporation to rule us all?
As the growth in some markets becomes less dependable and skepticism of genetically engineered (GE) crops grows, the next option to maintain market control is to merge into even bigger corporations. Now, it seems, there are real deals on the move — and our food system is about to become even more consolidated than it already is.
Earlier this month, France's health and safety agency announced plans to withdraw authorization of herbicides containing both glyphosate and the additive tallowamine. As reported by Reuters, a spokesperson for the agency said:
"It is not possible to guarantee that compositions containing glyphosate and tallowamine do not entail negative effects on human health."
Yesterday, the "Pollinator Protection Act" took a big step forward in the California legislature, moving closer to becoming state law. This is just one of many positive developments for bees in recent weeks.
What’s being applied on the strawberry field next door? For many Californians, the answer is a big question mark. And the issue has taken on added significance as state officials consider how best to answer that question — and then inform parents about the health-harming pesticides being applied near homes and schools.