AuthorTopic: Occupy Monsanto: Official GMO Foods MUST DIE Thread  (Read 44277 times)

Online Eddie

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Now if the rest of us could only collect on what Monsanto has done to us.

When the chickens finally come home to roost for Monsanto, the company will fold up like Union Carbide and leave John Q. Public holding the bag.
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Offline knarf

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Monsanto Chemical-Resistant Weed Strikes Cotton Fields and Threatens Midwest
« Reply #76 on: August 13, 2014, 12:23:23 PM »
Monsanto Chemical-Resistant Weed Strikes Southern Cotton Fields and Threatens Midwest

In the 1970s, Monsanto introduced a new chemical to kill weeds. Known commonly as Roundup, it was capable of killing whatever weed got in its way. Seed companies later developed varieties of plants that were immune to Roundup’s killing power, enabling farmers to use one herbicide—Roundup—for all their crops.

Now, to put the problem in a nutshell: “You’ve heard of this guy called Chuck Darwin and evolution?” as Iowa State University agronomy professor Mike Owen put it to The Des Moines Register.

The herbicide, also known as glyphosate, became so ubiquitous in American agriculture that eventually Mother Nature started producing new weeds—16 so far—immune to the chemical. There are now enough glyphosate-resistant weeds in America to nearly cover the state of Oregon, Michael Wines reported at The New York Times.


Palmer amaranth in a cotton field (photo: Ohio State University Extension)

Take the weed Palmer amaranth. It started showing up in cotton fields in the South, and before farmers knew it, it was everywhere. It can grow higher than six feet tall and spread a million seeds from each plant. Roundup was useless against it, leaving farmers the choice of pulling the weed by hand or using more powerful herbicides that could kill crops as well.

Now, it’s showing up in the Midwest.

“[Palmer amaranth’s] oval leaves and spindly seed heads blanket roadsides and jut above orderly soybean rows like skyscrapers poking through cloud banks,” Wines wrote. “It shrugs off extreme drought and heat. At up to six inches in diameter, its stalk is thick enough to damage farm equipment.”

Some of the blame for the spread of Roundup-resistant weeds goes to farmers, who have ignored traditional methods of crop diversification. “Even though we warned them, you understand the economics behind it,” Robert Hartzler, another ISU professor of agronomy, told The Register.

Some farmers are now growing different crops and making sure their tractors and combines are free of Palmer amaranth debris and seeds before moving them from one field to another.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley

To Learn More:

Invader Batters Rural America, Shrugging Off Herbicides (by Michael Wines, New York Times)

On Front Lines, Farmers Struggle Against Chemical-Resistant Weeds (by Amy Mayer, Harvest Public Media)

Resistant Palmer Amaranth Spreading Rapidly in Kansas (by Dallas Peterson and Curtis Thompson, Farm Talk Newspaper)

'Superweeds' Choke Farms (by Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register)

Pesticide Companies Use Clever Loophole to Avoid Regulation of Genetically Modified Grass(by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

EPA Approves Rise in Glyphosate Residue for Monsanto’s Herbicide (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)



Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline JRM

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Here's another headline (which I just made up):

Biologists everywhere are exclaiming, "I told you so".
My "avatar" graphic is Japanese calligraphy (shodō) forming the word shoshin, meaning "beginner's mind". --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin -- It is with shoshin that I am now and always "meeting my breath" for the first time. Try it!

Online Eddie

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Permaculturists too.

This problem was discussed at length by Mark Shephard in Restoration Agriculture.
« Last Edit: August 13, 2014, 03:31:49 PM by Eddie »
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Offline WHD

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Palmer amaranth is my new favorite plant. From wiki:

The leaves, stems and seeds of Palmer amaranth, like those of other amaranths, are edible and highly nutritious.[1][2] Palmer amaranth was once widely cultivated and eaten by Native Americans across North America, both for its abundant seeds and as a cooked or dried green vegetable.[2] Other related Amaranthus species have been grown as crops for their greens and seeds for thousands of years in Mexico, South America, the Caribbean, Africa, India, and China.

Various amaranth grow in my garden, though the spiny one is the only one that persists, the more attractive red Hopi variety having been mostly edged out by more resilient natives. I don't see amaranth growing wild, though, here in Minnesota.

(BTW - shouldn't Monsanto and the others who have sold glyphosate, be liable for agricultural losses due to glyphosate resistant weeds?)

WHD

Offline jdwheeler42

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Palmer amaranth is my new favorite plant.

Various amaranth grow in my garden, though the spiny one is the only one that persists, the more attractive red Hopi variety having been mostly edged out by more resilient natives. I don't see amaranth growing wild, though, here in Minnesota.
Joseph's Coat, Amaranthus tricolor, is my favorite:


However, in this neck of the woods, redroot pigweed, Amaranthus retroflexus, is the one to know for its forage value, growing quite abundantly wherever there is a disturbance:
Making pigs fly is easy... that is, of course, after you have built the catapult....

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Autism Bomb: Bayer Herbicide Causes Autism, Even at Trace Levels
« Reply #81 on: December 05, 2014, 11:00:43 PM »
This is the first time I have seen a DIRECT LINKAGE between glycophosphate/glufosinate herbicides and Autism. According to this article, there are other studies, but I haven't seen them. Anybody with an Autistic child should get in on a Class Action lawsuit against Monsanto and Bayer.

RE

Autism Bomb: Bayer Herbicide Causes Autism, Even at Trace Levels

By Christina Sarich
Global Research, December 04, 2014
Natural Society 3 December 2014
Theme: Biotechnology and GMO

Bayer’s Liberty Link GMO crops made to withstand glufosinate ammonium (GLA) herbicide are linked directly to autism-like symptoms, according to a new study. Even in low doses, both pre and post-natal exposure to GLA caused symptoms in laboratory mice.

Published in Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience, the study outlines how GLA, one of the most widely used herbicides in agriculture is harming neurological health.

Pointing to the findings of previous research linking herbicides and autism, as well as with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, the study explains that pesticide and herbicide exposure weakens the basic structure of the brain.

The developmental impact of GLA was examined by exposing female mice to low dose GLA during both pre- and postnatal periods and analyzed potential developmental and behavioral changes of the offspring during infancy and adulthood.

A host of neurobehavioral tests revealed some unsettling results:

    “. . .significant effects of GLA maternal exposure on early reflex development, pup communication, affiliative behaviors, and preference for social olfactory cues, but emotional reactivity and emotional memory remained unaltered. These behavioral alterations showed a striking resemblance to changes seen in animal models of Autistic Spectrum Disorders. At the brain level, GLA maternal exposure caused some increase in relative brain weight of the offspring. In addition, reduced expression of Pten and Peg3 – two genes implicated in autism-like deficits – was observed in the brain of GLA-exposed pups at postnatal day 15.

    Our work thus provides new data on the link between pre- and postnatal exposure to the herbicide GLA and the onset of autism-like symptoms later in life. It also raises fundamental concerns about the ability of current safety testing to assess risks of pesticide exposure during critical developmental periods.”

Bayer Crop Science will tell you:

    “High-performance LibertyLink traits are widely available across crops – canola, cotton, corn and soybeans – including leading brands such as FiberMax® and Stoneville® cotton, InVigor®canola and more than 100 brands of corn and soybeans, including HBK soybeans.”

Related: Cannabis Shows Promise in Treating Autism

This means that GLA is in use on thousands of acres of crops across the United States and in Canada.

The Institute for Responsible Technology has stated that:

    “Twice the number of chickens died when fed Liberty Link corn. The death rate for chickens fed Chardon LL GM corn for 42 days was 7%, compared to 3.5% for controls. GM-fed chickens also had more erratic body weight and food intake, and less weight gain overall. But these results were dismissed without follow-up.”

Were the results of this study ignored like so many other GMO tests because the makers were already well aware that GLA was toxic and deathly?

Bayer is working to defeat GMO labeling as well.

How convenient for Bayer, since it makes pharmaceuticals which also ‘treat’ neurological impairment like Alzheimer’s disease. It’s also convenient for Titan pharmaceuticals, which makes drugs to treat Parkinson’s. A new appointee to the board at Titan includes one former Bayer executive. And of course, Bayer makes drugs like selective seratonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) that ‘treat’ autism as well.

It’s a tangled web.
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Offline RE

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Arguments Against GMOs
« Reply #82 on: May 23, 2015, 01:54:22 AM »

Arguments against GMOs

I recently decided to take an epidemiology course to fill in gaps in my knowledge base. The entire online graduate certificate in Environmental Health looked interesting, so I applied for the entire certificate. Environmental Health was the first course that I took online at this flagship Florida university. The online experience would be a separate post in itself — the online course was mechanically flawless but grossly deficient in interactions and building critical thinking skills.

One of my class assignments was to argue in a paper against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Since the course and the textbook were too reductionist for my tastes, I argued using macroscopic arguments. I doubt the teaching assistants read it–like all other assignments in this MOOC, it received a grade with no comments. Various friends are asking me what I think of GMOs, and most students in the class and most of my friends think that GMOs are a great solution for our food problems, so I am reposting the paper here.

Corporations promote GMOs as the solution to world hunger through expanded global food sources. That hopeful argument is not based on evidence, and there are many arguments against widespread GMO use. Most science and policy arguments are reductionist. But Einstein said that we cannot solve problems from the same consciousness that created the problems. We must learn to see the world anew, from a larger scale to see a complete picture of the processes involved. Reductionist science is not the answer to the problems engendered by a finite biosphere with a human population in overshoot. Therefore, the arguments presented here address macroscopic arguments against GMOS, including the impact of peak oil production on the current developed countries’ system of industrial agriculture, the rapidly expanding pesticide treadmill that accompanies GMOs, replacement of natural biodiversity, water and soil loss or degradation, and expanding corporate domination, with increasing social inequity, loss of small farmers, monopolization and unsustainability of our food system, and the potential link between gut health and inadequately studied GMOs.

Feed the hungry or “cows and cars?”

gmo-cartoon1Cassidy (2015) critiques the argument that GMOs can feed a rapidly growing global population this month in an Environmental Working Group paper. The author contrasts the reported need for a doubling in food supply in the next 50 years with the progress up to now in GMO crops, which primarily feeds “cows and cars” while expanding social inequity through monopolization and profit-making by large corporations. The expanding social inequity and loss of small farmers contributes to more poverty, which is the real source of hunger. Feeding cows and cars instead of people also puts added pressure on water use and soil degradation, while expanding nitrate pollution in our waters and nitrous oxide pollution in our air. Cassidy also argues that crop yields with GMOs are no better and are sometimes worse than yields of traditional crops. Holt-Giménez et al. (2012) add a different argument against the claim that GMOs can feed the world. We already grow enough food for a global population of 10 billion people, but because of social inequity and poverty, that food is not distributed evenly. Even if we expand food production faster than population growth, GMOs are not the answer.

High transformity agriculture

The most systemic argument against GMOs is the energy-intensive nature of high-tech agriculture that requires the extraction of profit, not letting Nature do the work through traditional diversity and seeds. Energy/emergy intensity of agriculture has increased many fold during the past century of agricultural industrialization (Rydberg and Hayden, 2006). Global energy production has plateaued and is forecast to decline, with a large discrepancy in available fossil fuels to support our current developed society (US-EIA, 2013). The Middle East retains about 2/3 of all proven reserves of oil, while the United States oil production peaked in 1970 (BP Statistical Review, 2014). These facts do not bode well for the sustainability of industrial agriculture, which has evolved to rely heavily on natural gas and fossil fuel subsidies for fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, over-sized tillers and harvesters, and now tech-intensive GMOs that are necessary to stay ahead of plant blights that impact monoculture farms. The research, marketing, law, and other complex necessities of high-tech agriculture each demand more emergy from society, which takes resources from other needed societal supports. Renewable energy sources have less net energy, so renewables are unable to sustain industrial society in the place of non-renewable liquid fuels (Day et al., 2009). GMOs make us less sustainable, as they make our food system increasingly dependent on fossil fuel inputs and increasingly centralized and high-tech.

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/adoption-of-genetically-engineered-crops-in-the-us/recent-trends-in-ge-adoption.aspx

The pesticide treadmill

Tilman et al., 2002

Tilman et al., 2002

The second controversial argument against GMOs relates to environmental health and the accumulation of increasing volumes of pesticides in the environment as a result of the pesticides treadmill. Annual proprietary seeds that demand concurrent use of changing, untested and expanding mixes of both fertilizer and proprietary pesticides leads to a pesticide treadmill (Tilman, 2002). The evidence on how much pesticide use is increasing globally varies greatly by report, ranging from a sympathetic meta-analysis report of a reduction in pesticide use by 37% over the past 20 years (Klumper & Qaim, 2014), to an increase of 7% over that same general period (Benbrook, 2012).

superweeds

The information on global pesticide production is proprietary and not widely touted, but the evidence is visible in healthy, growing corporate profits. Corporate pressure may influence scientific reports through funding and publication bias. Pesticide-resistant super weeds develop, old patents expire, and new GMO seeds are repeatedly developed for new crop categories in hopes of expanding corporate markets and profits, leading to increased costs for farmers and increasing damage to the environment. What is the relevant endpoint if corporate survival mandates ever-increasing growth of herbicides, which kill plants, insects, and birds in the environment? The loss of creatures who eat crop-eating insects leads to the need for more pesticides, and around we go again.

Stephanie McMillan Code Green http://www.stephaniemcmillan.org/codegreen/

http://www.stephaniemcmillan.org/codegreen/

Monocultures replacing natural biodiversity

Stephanie McMillan Code Green http://www.stephaniemcmillan.org/codegreen/

http://www.stephaniemcmillan.org/codegreen/

How much is too much pesticide for the planet as a whole, given the additive toxicity of many pesticides and non-food uses? The third large-scale argument against GMOs is the loss of biodiversity, water, and soil nutrients/erosion, through expansion of pesticides, replacement of natural systems with industrial-scale agriculture, and over-fertilization and irrigation. Replacing natural biodiversity and insects with insect-free monocultures hastens the demise of our environmental support systems that we cannot live without—witness dead zones in the ocean, depleting and nitrate-polluted aquifers, and so on. Rockstrom et al. (2009) name biodiversity loss as our greatest problem, and Rhodes’ excellent recent article describing the linkages between the problems of biodiversity and soil loss with bee declines and other problems illustrates this. Additionally, chemical and GMO-based agriculture is fertilizer and water-intensive, adding to ocean dead zones and water shortages, which some claim as the biggest problem of the 21st century. In essence, the idea that we can outsmart Mother Nature and replace her biodiversity with a genetically new agricultural system is arrogant.

Unsustainable corporatization and centralization

Bradford, J. Dec. 21, 2007. Does less energy mean more farmers? The Oil Drum

Bradford, J. Dec. 21, 2007. Does less energy mean more farmers? The Oil Drum

Stephanie McMillan Code Green http://www.stephaniemcmillan.org/codegreen/

http://www.stephaniemcmillan.org/codegreen/

The fourth large-scale argument addresses expanding corporate domination of seed patents, farm ownership, research, marketing, and so on. Fossil-fuel-based industrial agriculture winnows small farmers and creates a trend towards large-scale production with an inverse correlation between per capital farmers and energy intensity (Bradford, 2007). Since we are now beginning energetic descent, we will need more small farmers, less intensive methods such as agroecology, and less reliance on technology to become sustainable and avoid collapse of societies. The loss of small farmers adds to social stratification and inequality within the farming industry, but also in society at large, as regulatory capture by corporations leads to weakened regulations, more GMOS, more pesticides, and so on, in an autocatalytic merry-go-round. Feedback loops for policies favorable to corporations beget more large corporations, which expands unsustainable trends into overshoot.

Poorly studied GMOs and health

Benbrook, 2012, Environmental Sciences Europe  (Bt Corn in Acres planted and CDC data)

Benbrook, 2012, Environmental Sciences Europe
 (Bt Corn in Acres planted and CDC data)

The fifth argument is the question of human health and poorly studied GMOs. The United States in particular places the burden of proof for regulation of hazardous chemicals on the Environmental Protection Agency and citizens to defend environmental health based on the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act. Laws in the last decade in the European Union assume a more precautionary approach by ruling that the proponent of an activity must bear the burden of proof in showing safety. One must wonder whether there is a correlation between the new “disease” of gluten intolerance and the recent rapidly expanding production of GMO foods. We do not know the human health or environmental results of gene manipulation of our food are. A quick search of the literature suggests that there is much research on genetic treatment of diseases, but very little study of the questioned link between human health and GMO-based diets. The only studies so far consist of 90-day rat-feeding trials. A small, longer-term study in 2012 of rat health by Seralini et al. (2014) received great criticism and the journal editors retracted the article. Large corporations can pay for biased research, and can control publication and news media. Who will fund neutral research on GMOs and human health?

What is the energy basis of GMOs?

The claim that GMOs exist to feed the world is a false one, derived from corporations’ desire for profit. This post has raised energetic, ecological, social, and health arguments against GMOs. Other arguments include the unknown, unintended consequences of intentional mutation of the gene pool of our food, and the biased funding and publication of research.

In an era of population overshoot and resource scarcity, being able to fall back on our biosphere’s ecosystem services will be critical for a society that prospers. An industrialized, high-tech food system that requires increasingly complex research, laws, profit-making corporations, and annexation of natural systems into massive fields sowed with machinery, sprayed with poisons, fertilized with fossil fuels, and irrigated with our children’s aquifers while being supported by massive research labs to stave off the next pesticide-resistant insect is not a sustainable model. In my opinion, the only way to avoid collapse of our food system is to return to agroecological systems which show four systemic properties: productivity, stability, sustainability, and equitability.

The land company—that’s the bank when it has land—wants tractors, not families on the land. Is a tractor bad? Is the power that turns the long furrows wrong? If this tractor were ours, it would be good – not mine, but ours. We could love that tractor then as we have loved this land when it was ours. But this tractor does two things – it turns the land and turns us off the land. There is little difference between this tractor and a tank. The people were driven, intimidated, hurt by both. We must think about this (Steinbeck, 1939, Chapter 14).

As Steinbeck suggests in The Grapes of Wrath, there may be a point at which technology owns us, and takes us to a place from which we cannot return without revolution of the system. We’re going to need a lot more farmers and less technology in a future with less fossil fuel, and more sustainable and ecologically based agricultural practices. GMOs only move us further towards an unsustainable goal of continued growth for a global economy in overshoot.

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Online Eddie

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Re: Occupy Monsanto
« Reply #83 on: May 23, 2015, 08:14:36 AM »
the online course was mechanically flawless but grossly deficient in interactions and building critical thinking skills.

Then it would have been better than most, which are neither flawless nor interactive.

 While the internet is a godsend for autodidacts, it is hardly a replacement for the classroom, which is itself no replacement for excellent mentorship. I've decided that the main problem with most schools, including expensive colleges, is that we don't teach anyone much of anything.

Online courses are the biggest scam since mail-order diplomas.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2015, 03:22:06 PM by Eddie »
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Offline MKing

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Re: Occupy Monsanto
« Reply #84 on: May 23, 2015, 01:58:04 PM »
I've decided that the main problem with most schools, including expensive colleges, is that we don't teach anyone much of anything.

It is worse than that. Because in addition to not teaching anyone much of anything, they are filled with confidence about the value of what they have learned. Schooled in self esteem building exercises, rote memorization, blogosphere levels of knowledge, and the fine art of warming a seat, they have zero understanding of generating results. They don't understand competition, they don't understand decision making under pressure,  they equate time pretending to learn something as equal value to having actually learned it, expect rapid advancement and recognition of their "skills" regardless of any real world demonstration of them. Fascinating to watch, and demoralizing as to what happens when these are what run the country in the near future.


Sometimes one creates a dynamic impression by saying something, and sometimes one creates as significant an impression by remaining silent.
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Offline knarf

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City of San Diego Sues Monsanto Over PCB Pollution
« Reply #85 on: August 23, 2015, 03:22:10 PM »


http://www.nbcsandiego.com/investigations/City-of-San-Diego-Sues-Monsanto-Over-PCB-Pollution-322446342.html#ixzz3jSRdVc37
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline RE

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California Just Announced It Will Label Monsanto’s Roundup as Cancer Causing
« Reply #86 on: September 13, 2015, 11:57:03 PM »
California Just Announced It Will Label Monsanto’s Roundup as Cancer Causing


Claire Bernish
September 12, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Sacramento, CA — California just dealt Monsanto a blow as the state’s Environmental Protection Agency will now list glyphosate — the toxic main ingredient in the U.S.’ best-selling weedkiller, Roundup — as known to cause cancer.

Under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 — usually referred to as Proposition 65, its original name — chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm are required to be listed and published by the state. Chemicals also end up on the list if found to be carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) — a branch of the World Health Organization.

In March, the IARC released a report that found glyphosate to be a “probable carcinogen.”

Besides the “convincing evidence” the herbicide can cause cancer in lab animals, the report also found:

“Case-control studies of occupational exposure in the U.S.A., Canada, and Sweden reported increased risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma that persisted after adjustments to other pesticides.”

California’s decision to place glyphosate on the toxic chemicals list is the first of its kind. As Dr. Nathan Donley of the Center for Biological Diversity said in an email to Ecowatch, “As far as I’m aware, this is the first regulatory agency within the U.S. to determine that glyphosate is a carcinogen. So this is a very big deal.”

Now that California EPA’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has filed its “notice of intent to list” glyphosate as a known cancer agent, the public will have until October 5th to comment. There are no restrictions on sale or use associated with the listing.

Monsanto was seemingly baffled by the decision to place cancer-causing glyphosate on the state’s list of nearly 800 toxic chemicals. Spokesperson for the massive company, Charla Lord, told Agri-Pulse that “glyphosate is an effective and valuable tool for farmers and other users, including many in the state of California. During the upcoming comment period, we will provide detailed scientific information to OEHHA about the safety of glyphosate and work to ensure that any potential listing will not affect glyphosate use or sales in California.”

Roundup is sprayed on crops around the world, particularly with Monsanto’s Roundup-Ready varieties — genetically engineered to tolerate large doses of the herbicide to facilitate blanket application without harming crops. Controversy has surrounded this practice for years — especially since it was found farmers increased use of Roundup, rather than lessened it, as Monsanto had claimed.

Less than a week after the WHO issued its report naming glyphosate carcinogenic, Monsanto called for a retraction — and still maintains that Roundup is safe when used as directed.

On Thursday, an appeals court in Lyon, France, upheld a 2012 ruling in favor of farmer Paul Francois, who claimed he had been chemically poisoned and suffered neurological damage after inhaling Monsanto’s weedkiller, Lasso. Not surprisingly, the agrichemical giant plans to take its appeal to the highest court in France.

It’s still too early to tell whether other states will follow California’s lead.

This article (California Just Announced It Will Label Monsanto’s Roundup as Cancer Causing) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Claire Bernish and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email edits@theantimedia.org.
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Offline RE

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Re: Occupy Monsanto: Official GMO Foods MUST DIE Thread
« Reply #87 on: September 14, 2015, 12:36:19 AM »
I consolidated several Monsanto and GMO threads sprinkled around the Diner and made this topic a Sticky in Environment for EZ relocating.

Drop all your GMO  articles in this thread!

Consolidation is a pain in the ass!

RE
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Offline RE

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Occupy Monsanto on r/collapse
« Reply #88 on: September 14, 2015, 03:31:53 PM »
hahahahahahaha

This is good.

I dropped the latest Monsanto link onto r/collapse last night.  It was ranked #1 for a while, and accumulated over 100 Link Points.

It also had a  nice stream going in the commentariat, with the main argument whether this was "collapse related" enough for the r/collapse website.

A few minutes ago, after my last response that the view this is not collapse related is ridiculously narrow, the whole thread got whacked from r/collapse listings.  It's still up, just Eleitl de-listed it.

https://www.reddit.com/r/collapse/comments/3kvox2/monsanto_stunned_california_confirms_roundup_will/

I'm gonna keep pushing this until they ban me.   :icon_sunny:

RE
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Monsanto’s ‘Hand of God’: Planned Obsolescence of the Indian Farmer
« Reply #89 on: September 17, 2015, 09:05:08 PM »
Monsanto’s ‘Hand of God’: Planned Obsolescence of the Indian Farmer

The mantra of global agribusiness companies is that they care about farmers. They also really care about humanity and want to help to feed a growing world population, preferably by using genetically modified (GM) crops. They say that they want to assist poor farmers by helping them to grow enough to earn a decent income. It seems like a win-win situation for everyone.

To listen to the PR, however, you could be forgiven for believing that these companies are driven by altruistic tendencies and humanitarian goals rather than by massive profit margins and delivering on shareholder dividends.

To promote itself and its products, the US multinational company Union Carbide came out with a series of brochures in the nineteen fifties and sixties with powerful images depicting a large ‘hand of god’ in the sky, which hovered over a series of landscapes and scenarios in need of ‘fixing’ by the brave new world of science and the type of agricultural technology to be found in a pesticide canister. One such image is of a giant hand pouring chemicals from a lab flask upon Indian soil, with a pesticide manufacturing factory in the distance and Mumbai’s Gateway of India opposite.


It was a scene where science met tradition, where the helping hand of god, in this case Union Carbide, assisted the ignorant, backward Indian farmer who is shown toiling in the fields. The people at Union Carbide didn’t do subtlety back then.

We can now look back and see where Union Carbide’s helping hand got the people of Bhopal and the deaths caused by that pesticide factory depicted in the image. And we can also see the utter contempt its top people in the US displayed by dodging justice and failing the victims of Bhopal. There’s humanitarianism for you: playing god with people’s lives and denying responsibility.

The supposed humanitarian motives of global agribusiness are often little more than a sham. If these companies, their supporters and media shills and PR mouthpieces really want to feed the world and assist poor farmers in low income countries, as they say they do, they would do better by addressing the political, economic and structural issues laid out here which fuel poverty and hunger. And that includes the role of agribusiness itself in determining unfair world trade rules and trade agreements, such as the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which help grant it access to agriculture across the globe and recast it for its own ends. (In fact, US agribusiness and the transformation of food-sufficient countries into food-deficit ones has long been bound up with the projection of Washington’s global power – see this.)

They would also do better by acting on the recommendations of various reports that conclude agro-ecological approaches are more suitable for these countries and that GM and chemical-dependent practices are not required and are inappropriate (see this, this and this).

Many of the people these companies supply their inputs to and make a profit from are smallholder farmers who live on a financial knife edge in low income countries Monsanto has appropriated around $900 million from India’s farmers over the last decade or so – illegally according to this . By way of contrast, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant brought in $13.4 million in 2014 alone, according to Bloomberg.

Writing in India’s Statesman newspaper recently, Bharat Dogra illustrates the knife-edge existence of the people that rich agribusiness profits from by discussing the case of Babu Lal and his wife Mirdi Bai who have been traditionally cultivating wheat, maize, and bajra (millet) on their farmland in Rajasthan. Their crops provided food for several months a year to the 10-member family as well as fodder for farm and dairy animals which are integral to the mixed farming system employed.

Dogra notes that company (unspecified – but Monsanto and its subsidiaries dominate the GM cotton industry in India) agents approached the family with the promise of a lump-sum payment to plant and produce Bt (GM) cotton seeds in two of their fields. Babu Lal purchased pesticides to help grow the seeds in the hope of receiving the payment, which never materialised because the company agent said the seeds produced had “failed” in tests.

The family faced economic ruin, not least because the food harvest was much lower than normal as the best fields and most labour and resources had been devoted to Bt cotton. There was hardly any fodder too. It all resulted in Babu Lal borrowing from private moneylenders at a high interest rate to meet the needs of food and fodder.

Things were to get much worse though as the company’s agent allegedly started harassing Babu Lal for a payment of about 10,000 rupees in lieu of the fertilisers and pesticides provided to him. Several other tribal farmers in the area also fell into this trap, and reports say that the soil of fields in which Bt cotton was grown has been badly damaged.

The promise of a lump-sum cash payment can be very enticing to poor farmers, and when companies use influential villagers to get new farmers to agree to plant GM cotton, tribal farmers are reluctant to decline the offer. When production is declared as having failed, solely at the company’s discretion it seems, a family becomes indebted.

According to Dogra’s piece, there is growing evidence that the trend in tribal areas to experiment with Bt cotton has disrupted food security and has introduced various health hazards and ecological threats due to the use of poisonous chemical inputs.

What seed companies are doing is experimenting with farmers’ livelihoods and lives. ‘Success’, regardless of the impact on the farmer, is measured in terms of company profits. However, failure for the farmer is a matter of life and death. Look no further than the spike in suicides across the cotton belt since 1997. Even ‘success’ for the farmer may not amount to much when the costs of the seeds and associated chemical inputs are factored into any possible increase in yield or income.

Despite constant denials by Monsanto and its supporters in the media that Bt cotton in India has nothing or little to do with farmer suicides in India, a new study directly links the crisis of suicides among Indian farmers to Bt cotton adoption in rain-fed areas, where most of India’s cotton is grown. As outlined in the case of Babu Lal above, many fall into a cycle of debt from the purchase of expensive, commercialised GM seeds and chemical inputs that then often fail to yield enough to sustain farmers’ livelihoods.

Dogra’s story is about one family’s plight, but it is a microcosm of all that is wrong with modern agriculture and that could be retold a million times over in India and across the world: the imposition of cash monocrops and the subsequent undermining of local food security (leading to food-deficit regions and to a reliance on imports); the introduction of costly and hazardous (to health and environment) chemical inputs and company seeds; crop failure (or, in many cases, the inability to secure decent prices on a commercial market dominated by commodity speculators in the US or rigged in favour of Western countries); and spiralling debt.

The situation for India’s farmers is dire across the board. Consider that 670 million people in India’s the rural areas live on less than 33 rupees a day (around 50 US cents) a day. And consider that than 32 million quit agriculture between 2007 and 2012. Where did they go? Into the cities to look for work. Work that does not exist.

Between 2005 and 2015, only 15 million jobs were created nationally. To keep up with a growing workforce, around 12 million new jobs are required each year. Therefore, if you are going to place the likes of Babu Lal and millions like him at the mercy of the ‘helping hand’ of giant agribusiness companies or the whims of the market, you may well be consigning him and millions like him to the dustbin of history given the lack of options for making a living out there.

In fact, that is exactly what the Indian government is doing by leaving farmers like him to deal with agribusiness and the vagaries of the market and having to compete with heavily subsidised Western agriculture/agribusiness, whose handmaidens at the WTO demand India reduces import restrictions. Little wonder then that 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide since 1997.

While the West tries to impose its neoliberal agenda of cutting subsidies to agriculture and dismantling price support mechanisms and the public distribution system that if effectively run would allow Indian farmers to receive a decent stable income, farmers are unsurprisingly leaving the sector in droves as agriculture becomes economically non-viable. Forcing farmers to leave the land is a deliberate strategy. Just like it is a deliberate strategy to give massive handouts to industry and corporate concerns who are not delivering on jobs. It’s all about priorities. And farmers are not a priority. They are being driven from farming, while all the advantages are being given to a failing corporate-industrial sector.

With 300,000 having killed themselves in the last 18 years and many more heavily indebted or existing on a pittance, what we are witnessing is the destruction of the Indian farmer. Structural violence doesn’t require guns or knives – economic policies and political choices will do just fine.

This type of violence involves the uprooting of indigenous agriculture and replacing it with a chemical-intensive Western model based of agriculture, whereby those farmers left on the land are to be recipients of the inputs and knowledge of agribusiness companies. This began with the ‘green revolution’ and is continuing apace today courtesy of GM cotton seeds and possibly GM food given that open field trials of GM food crops now taking place (GM is a fraudulent enterprise and is surrounded by various myths that are deconstructedhere).

It begs the question: are traditional skills and knowledge gained over thousands of years to be cast aside in favour of a model that stresses agribusiness inputs and the ‘knowledge’ required to make them work? Very often, these inputs (or products) result in a continuous process of crisis management (under the banner of ‘research and development’) and short-termism: new products – that are ultimately destined to fail – to replace the older products that have already failed. This scenario is only good for one thing – the profit sheets of the agribusiness cartel as it pushes its never-ending stream of ‘innovations’ onto the hapless farmer.

For example, going back a couple of years, a report in Business Standard (BS) stated that Bt cotton yields in India had dropped to a five-year low. India approved Bt cotton in 2002 and within a few years yields increased dramatically. However, most of the rise in productivity seemingly had nothing to do with Bt cotton itself.

What’s more, since Bt has taken over, yields have been steadily worsening. According to BS, bollworms are developing resistance. Contrary to what farmers were originally told, the Monsanto spokesperson quoted by BS says that such resistance is to be expected. However, when Bt cotton arrived in India, farmers were told that they wouldn’t have to spray any more. All that farmers had to do was plant the seeds and water them regularly. They were told that, as GM seeds are insect resistant, there was no need to use huge amounts of pesticides.

But, according to Monsanto’s spokesperson, the bollworm problem is all the Indian farmers’ fault because ‘limited refuge planting’ is one of the factors that may have contributed to pink bollworm resistance. Using the ‘wrong’ biotech seed is another. The answer from the biotech sector to combat falling yields is continuous R&D to develop new technologies and new strains of GM seeds to try to stay ahead of insect resistance or falling yields.

Agribusiness corporations are engaged in managing and thus profiting from the crises they themselves have conspired to produce with their destruction of traditional agriculture and local economies and their chemical inputs and genetic engineering. By its very nature – by tampering with nature – US agribusiness is designed to stumble from one crisis to the next. And it will do so by hiding behind the banners of ‘innovation’ or ‘research and development’. But, it’s all good business. And that’s all that really matters. There’s always money to be made from blaming the victims for the mess created and from a continuous state of crisis management.

Ultimately, this is what capitalism is all about: planned obsolescence – planned obsolescence of its products, in order that profits can be made from a stream of new ‘wonder’ products and, as far as India is concerned, planned obsolescence of its farmers as agribusiness sets out to uproot tradition and shape farming in its own corporate image. And part of the great con-trick is that it attempts to pass off its endless crises and failures as brilliant successes.

If anything highlights how this traditional knowledge and practices are being cast aside, it is the recent case of Bt cotton and whitefly. In the cotton belt of Punjab and Haryana, the tiny whitefly has caused extensive damage. They sprayed this way and that way with pesticides. The agritech companies blamed farmers for not spraying correctly. The companies blamed each other for selling the wrong chemicals to farmers. It’s a repeat of the bollworm blame game. In any case, the pesticide use failed to kill the whitefly that ravaged cotton crops.

Writing on his blog, food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma says that the only time whitefly did not destroy crops was when pesticides were not used. Instead, farmers used ‘insect equilibrium’ and their knowledge of which insects kill crop-predator pests. Knowledge built over centuries of trial and error and which did not come courtesy of a white-coated figure in a lab. Knowledge that is in danger of being wiped out as farmers are being turned into consumers of agritech products.

Sharma notes in that the areas where extensive pesticide use failed to defeat the whitefly, they “stand like an oasis in a heavily polluted chemical desert.” In the areas that were not ravaged, pesticides have not been used for several years. Benign insects are used to control harmful pests. They allowed the natural predators of whitefly to proliferate, which in turn killed the whitefly. Sharma says he has met women who can identify 110 non-vegetarian insects and also as many as 60 vegetarian insects (a few years back, he also reported how insect equilibrium was managing a mealy bug problem too).

For agribusiness, though, it is more profitable to hijack agriculture and recast it in its own ‘hand of god’ image. It can then serve up its industrial poisons and GMOs to farmers courtesy of politicians who handed agriculture to it on a plate.

Fast forward 50 years from that Union Carbide image and global agribusiness is today a bit more subtle in its approach. But the underlying messages and attitudes remain: that backward, ignorant farmers are in need of a giant ‘helping hand’, these companies know best and debt, economic distress and farmer suicides are not of its making or concern.

Global agribusiness is playing fast and loose with poor people’s lives and is profiting handsomely.
Copyright © Colin Todhunter, Global Research, 2015
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