Mother Nature Doesn’t Quit

So much of Monsanto’s poison was spread in the past decade that weeds naturally developed a resistance to it.

By Jim Hightower

Jim Hightower

Rather than find ways to cooperate with the natural world, America’s agribusiness giants reach for the next quick fix in a futile effort to overpower nature. Their attitude is that if brute force isn’t working, they’re probably not using enough of it.

Monsanto, for example, has banked a fortune by selling a corn seed that it genetically manipulated to produce corn plants that won’t die when sprayed with the Roundup toxic weedkiller. Not coincidentally, Monsanto also happens to manufacture Roundup. It profits from the seed and from the huge jump in Roundup sales that the seed generates. Slick.

But Mother Nature, darn it, has rebelled. So much of Monsanto’s poison was spread in the past decade that weeds naturally began to resist it. As a Dow Chemical agronomist explained, "The real need here is to diversify our weed management systems."

Exactly right! We need non-chemical, sustainable systems that work with nature and without genetically altered crops.

But, no, the Dow man didn’t mean that at all. He was calling for more brute force in the form of Dow’s new genetically altered corn seed that can absorb Dow’s super-potent 2,4-D weedkiller, which it markets under the "Enlist" brand name. Use this stuff, he says, and nature will be defeated.

Wrong. Nature doesn’t quit. The weeds will keep evolving and will adapt to Dow’s high-tech fix, too. By pushing the same old thing relentlessly, says an independent crop scientist, agribusiness interests "ratchet up [America’s] dependence on the use of herbicides, which is very much a treadmill."

It’s time to start listening to the weeds — and cooperating with Mother Nature. To advance this common sense approach, a national coalition is backing a California "Right to Know" initiative requiring the labeling of genetically altered foods. To help, go to the Organic Consumers Association at http://www.OrganicConsumers.org.


Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter,The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

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A Last (Chemical) Gasp for Bees?

Colony collapse disorder threatens food crops valued at $15 billion a year. New research says farm chemicals put our food system at risk.

by Shannan Stoll

Bee photo by Brian Wolfe

Photo by Brian Wolfe.

Newly published scientific evidence is bolstering calls for greater regulation of some of the world’s most widely used pesticides and genetically modified crops.

Earlier this year, three independent studies linked agricultural insecticides to colony collapse disorder, a phenomenon that leads honeybees to abandon their hives.

Beekeepers have reported alarming losses in their hives over the last six years. The USDA reports the loss in the United States was about 30 percent in the winter of 2010-2011.

Bees are crucial pollinators in the ecosystem. Their loss also impacts the estimated $15 billion worth of fruit and vegetable crops that are pollinated by bees in the United States.

The studies, conducted in the United States, France, and the United Kingdom, all pointed to neonicotinoids, a class of chemicals used widely in U.S. corn production, as likely contributors to colony collapse disorder. The findings challenged the EPA’s position—based on studies by Bayer CropScience, a major producer of the neonicotinoid clothianidin—that bees are only exposed to small, benign amounts of these insecticides.

The new studies found that bees are exposed to potentially lethal amounts of neonicotinoids in pollen and in dust churned up by farm equipment. They also found that exposure to neonicotinoids can reduce the number of queen bees and disorient worker bees.

An alliance of beekeepers and environmental groups filed a petition on March 21 asking the EPA to block the use of clothianidin in agricultural fields until the EPA conducts a sound scientific review of the chemicals.

Meanwhile, farm chemicals and the biotech industry have come under fire for the problem of pest resistance. Some weeds and bugs have become less susceptible or immune to the chemicals or biotechnology used to control them.

In March, national experts on corn pests published a letter to the EPA describing how rapidly rootworms are becoming resistant to the larvae-killing gene in Monsanto’s genetically engineered “Bt” corn. The letter warns that the EPA should move to regulate Bt corn—by requiring, for example, non-GM buffer zones—with “some sense of urgency.”

In a similarly alarming trend, Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soy and corn, which are genetically modified to tolerate the active ingredient in Roundup, are associated with the creation of “super weeds.” The widespread use of these crops has led farmers to vastly increased use of the herbicide, leading to the development of resistant weeds.

The agriculture industry has responded to Roundup’s failure by developing new crop varieties resistant to another pesticide/herbicide, 2,4-D. An ingredient of Agent Orange, 2,4-D is linked to birth defects, hormone disruption, and cancer. Last December, Dow AgroSciences LLC asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve the new varieties for cultivation.

In response, the Pesticide Action Network, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Food Safety, and Food and Water Watch are gathering public comments for a petition to the USDA against Dow AgroSciences’ request.


Shannan Stoll wrote this article for Making it Home, the Summer 2012 issue of YES! Magazine. Shannan is an intern at YES!

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With the Anti-Occupy Law Now in Play, How Will This Protest End for Protesters?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 15, 2012

GCU Media Liaison: Adam Eidinger 202-744-2671
GMO@occupy-monsanto.com

Occupy-Monsanto to Wear Bio-Hazmat Suits as they
Protest a Genetically Modified Congress

WASHINGTON DC – On Friday, March 16, 2012, Occupy Monsanto’s agents of change with the Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU), a group designed to protect America from genetically modified foods, will wear bio-hazmat suits when they visit Congress. The group will gather at Capitol South Metro station at noon on March 16 to highlight how chemical company Monsanto is contaminating our political process. The GCU opposes Monsanto’s bid to increase spraying of food with toxic weed killers like 2,4 D (the main ingredient in Agent Orange), genetic contamination of the organic food supply, and other risks associated with genetically modified food (GMOs).

The GCU will arrive at the metro station wearing bio-hazmat suits to assess whether Members of Congress and their staff have been victims of genetic crimes. The GCU will hold a banner that reads, “Congress is Genetically Modified,” as they circulate on Capitol Hill sidewalks. This day of action is part of a larger international call to ‘Occupy Monsanto’ taking place all over the globe including Spain, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and at least 28 cities throughout the US.

“In the name of Wall Street profits, chemical corporations such as Monsanto genetically engineer crops to withstand high doses of their toxic weed killers that contaminate our food and water, and have not been proven safe. We deserve to know what we are eating. Virtually every major country requires labeling of GMOs in foods so their citizens can make informed choices, including all of Europe, Japan and even China,” said GCU’s Ariel Vegosen. “Monsanto’s lobbying dollars are pouring into politicians so its clear we have a GMO contaminated US Congress that threatens our health and the health of the planet,” says Vegosen.

WHO: Occupy Monsanto’s Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU)
WHAT: ID’ing Victims of Monsanto’s Genetic Crimes by GCU Agents in Bio-Hazmat Suits
WHEN: Friday, March 16, Noon
WHERE: Cannon Building: Independence Ave. SE, Washington, DC, 20540, corner NJ Ave

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced three bills addressing concerns with GMOs. In addition, more than 900,000 people have signed onto the JustLabelit.org citizens’ petition to the Food and Drug Administration for GMO labeling (the most to sign an FDA petition ever). Last fall about 100 people marched in the Right2Know March from New York to the White House to demand President Obama keep his campaign promise to label GMO foods. Video of the promise can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqaaB6NE1TI In California Monsanto faces a 2012 ballot proposition on GMO labeling. Finally, on September 17, 2012 Occupy Monsanto is calling for hundreds of actions internationally, www.occupy-monsanto.com