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Bayer Bee Killer January 31, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Environment.
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Bayer, the global chemical company, is manufacturing a chemical that new evidence shows is killing off bees. The global die-off of bees represents an enormous danger to the planet. 30% of our crops — and 90% of wild plants — rely on bees to thrive. Without bees, our entire global food supply is in serious trouble.

Bayer has paid for biased research that “proves” its chemical isn’t a problem. But now independent scientists in Europe has discovered that Bayer’s chemical is a high risk to bees.

The chances are high that most of us reading this email have bought a Bayer product at least once. It makes everything from Alka-Seltzer to Berocca to flea treatments for pets. Bayer knows that it needs to keep its customers happy. If Bayer realises that its customers are up in the arms about the European research findings that show their chemical is killing bees, it will have to put its chemical from the market.

Tell Bayer it needs to pull its bee-poisoning pesticide off the market now.

The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid. Neonicotonoids are soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping for a snack. These pesticides can easily be replaced by different chemicals which don’t soak so deeply into our crops. But companies like Bayer make a fortune from selling neonicotinoids — so they’ll do everything they can to protect their profit.

It’s not just bees that are hurt by these chemicals. Research on rats found that neonicotinoids may also hurt human health, especially the developing brain. But as with the bees, we don’t know as much as we should about the health hazards, because companies like Bayer spend millions on research which muddies the water with biased studies. For Bayer, people’s health plays a distant second to the company’s huge profits.

Members of the European Parliament are calling for an outright ban on these toxic chemicals. But we don’t know when or if they’ll pass the ban, and Bayer’s global reach threatens bees across the planet. That’s why we need to use our power as citizen-consumers to push Bayer to pull the poison now.

Bayer: Take your bee-poisoning pesticide off the market, before it’s too late.

Thank you,

Claiborne and the rest of us

 

*************************

Further reading:

Public Service Europe: Crop pesticides are ‘killing our bees’ says MEP, 25 January, 2012

Natural News: Deception causes honey bees to disappear and threatens crops, 07 January, 2011

EFSA Journal: RSS Conclusion on the peer review of the pesticide risk assessment for bees for the active substance clothianidin 16 January, 2013

http://www.sumofus.org/ SumOfUs is a world-wide movement of people like you, working together to hold corporations accountable for their actions and forge a new, sustainable path for our global economy. You can follow us on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.

Care about Your Food? Then Care about Your Farmworkers Too January 31, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Food, Human Rights, Labor.
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Published on Thursday, January 31, 2013 by YES! Magazine

It’s organic. It’s local. But did the workers who picked it have health insurance?

 

by Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern

These days, most people involved in buying and advocating for local and organic food say they want to support their farmers. They imagine (Photo: MRader)

the people that grow their vegetables as sweating in the fields, cheerfully smiling as they pull carrots from their own land, which they till until the sun goes down.

The image of the independent and industrious farmer is upheld in places where “alternative” or sustainable food is sold and promoted, such as farmers markets and food stores, which often encourage consumers to “get to know their farmer.” Grocery stores that carry natural, local, and organic foods, such as Whole Foods and food purchasing cooperatives, commonly post large, glossy photographs of local growers.

But who, exactly, is a farmer? Is it the person who owns a farm? The person who sells food at a farmers’ market? Or could a farmer be the immigrant who follows the work from place to place and picks the fruit of the season?

Almost all farms, even small and organic ones, require hired help. In most cases, that consists of immigrant farmworkers who are paid less than a living wage.

People need to ask not only, where does my food come from, but also, who performs the labor to grow this food? For a food system to be truly sustainable, we must prioritize the well-being of workers as well as consumers.

For a food system to be truly sustainable, we must prioritize the well-being of workers as well as consumers.

Who’s behind your food?

Farm labor is one of only a few occupations exempt from most federal and state minimum wages and work-hour limitations. Of the farmworkers who responded to the most recent National Agricultural Workers’ Survey (NAWS), about one-third earned less than $7.25 an hour and only a quarter reported working more than nine months per calendar year. The California Institute for Rural Studies found that one-fourth of farmworkers live below the federal poverty line, and 55 percent are food insecure on average. (An individual or family is considered food insecure when members of a household lack access to enough food for an active, healthy life at all times, according to the USDA.)

In reality, however, farmworker conditions are even worse than those numbers suggest. Much of the research concerning farm labor is based on information gained from formal systems of employment, such as labor contractors. That leaves the majority of farm laborers who work informally, such as daily workers, unaccounted for.

Are conditions better on organic farms? Not as much as you’d think. Entry-level workers on organic farms in California make only 29 cents an hour more than their counterparts on non-organic farms do. That’s still less than a living wage.

And those workers on organic farms are actually less likely to have paid time off, health insurance for themselves and their families, and retirement or pension funds. Certified organic farmers have proven resistant to including labor standards in organic certification, according to a study published in 2006 in the journal Agriculture and Human Values.

Looking beyond the city

Some in the sustainable food movement work with the goal of directly addressing human rights issues in the food system. These groups and individuals make up what many call the “food justice movement.” Yet even in these circles, some organizations seem to have trouble focusing on the rights of farmworkers.

The Student/Farmworker Alliance has worked to bring farmworker injustice into the picture on college campuses.

Why are these workers so hard to see? Maybe it’s because most of our organizations are located in cities and staffed by young people attracted by urban life. Consider a group like Planting Justice, an organization in Oakland, Calif., which describes its work as “democratizing access to affordable, nutritious food.” It does this by “empowering disenfranchised urban residents with the skills, resources, and inspiration to maximize food production, economic opportunities, and environmental sustainability in our neighborhoods.”

Groups such as Planting Justice often work on initiatives to encourage and popularize urban gardening and to increase the availability of fresh food in poor urban neighborhoods. Although these are important efforts to improve the health of often underserved urban residents, they tend to limit the conversation to the urban core. Issues that affect rural places—including the plight of farmworkers—are left out of the discussion.

If the growing food justice movement is to truly confront injustice in the food system, it must address the rural poor as well as the urban poor. The fact that the workers who actually grow and harvest the food we’re talking about are also poor provides a natural opportunity for solidarity and makes this even more important to the movement.

Good news and next steps

Some in the food justice community are starting to work more broadly on issues of farm and food system labor, coordinating with farm, food processing, and restaurant worker unions. These new coalitions include The Food Chain Workers Alliance, The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance, The Rural Coalition, and the Student/Farmworker Alliance.

Working together, many groups are finding more power to motivate policy change and raise working standards, increasing the visibility of food worker issues in the mainstream food movement.

The Student/Farmworker Alliance, for example, has played a major role in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Campaign for Fair Food, bringing farmworker injustice into the picture on college campuses. In addition, The Food Chain Workers Alliance is working directly with rural as well as urban food justice groups, bringing labor issues into the conversations of foodies who may previously have thought only about whether their carrots were local and not about whether the people who picked them had health insurance.

By working in coalition, people who are used to advocating for healthier food in urban centers are beginning to learn from rural activists, as well as the other way around. If we are to truly see the creation of a more just food system, then organizations, individuals, and communities that claim sustainable and food justice ideals must start to expand their vision for a food system that is just in both environmental and social terms. That may mean pushing for revised agricultural trade and immigration policy, including stricter labor regulations and higher minimum wages.

Both sustainable food proponents and food justice organizers have shown interest in addressing labor-related injustice. But to truly make that change, those that care about our food system must broaden their views of food sustainability to include the rights and health of all producers and consumers of food.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License

Laura-Anne Minkoff-Zern has spent many years working on farms and with agriculture and food organizations in Guatemala, New York State, and California. She holds a doctorate in geography from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Goucher College in Maryland.

Can Healthy Food Eaters Stomach the Uncomfortable Truth About Quinoa? January 19, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Bolivia, Food, Latin America, Peru.
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Roger’s note: this article illustrates clearly the notions of “use value” versus “exchange value.”  These are categories used by Karl Marx to explain how under capitalism what gets produced depends upon its capacity to generate surplus value (profit) for the owners of capital.  Third world countries wallow in poverty while giant agribusiness use the land to produce single crops (monoculture) for exportation.  In a word, capitalist economic relations are incompatible with human needs and values.
The Guardian / By Joanna Blythman

The people who first cultivated the grain can’t afford to eat it.
January 18, 2013  |
 Not long ago, quinoa was just an obscure Peruvian grain you could only buy in wholefood shops. We struggled to pronounce it (it’s keen-wa, not qui-no-a), yet it was feted by food lovers as a novel addition to the familiar ranks of couscous and rice. Dieticians clucked over quinoa approvingly because it ticked the low-fat box and fit in with government healthy eating advice to “base your meals on starchy foods”.

Adventurous eaters liked its slightly bitter taste and the little white curls that formed around the grains. Vegans embraced quinoa as a credibly nutritious substitute for meat. Unusual among grains, quinoa has a high protein content (between 14%-18%), and it contains all those pesky, yet essential, amino acids needed for good health that can prove so elusive to vegetarians who prefer not to pop food supplements.

Sales took off. Quinoa was, in marketing speak, the “miracle grain of the Andes”, a healthy, right-on, ethical addition to the meat avoider’s larder (no dead animals, just a crop that doesn’t feel pain). Consequently, the price shot up – it has tripled since 2006 – with more rarified black, red and “royal” types commanding particularly handsome premiums.

But there is an unpalatable truth to face for those of us with a bag of quinoa in the larder. The appetite of countries such as ours for this grain has pushed up prices to such an extent that poorer people in Peru and Bolivia, for whom it was once a nourishing staple food, can no longer afford to eat it. Imported junk food is cheaper. In Lima, quinoa now costs more than chicken. Outside the cities, and fuelled by overseas demand, the pressure is on to turn land that once produced a portfolio of diverse crops into quinoa monoculture.

In fact, the quinoa trade is yet another troubling example of a damaging north-south exchange, with well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here unwittingly driving poverty there. It’s beginning to look like a cautionary tale of how a focus on exporting premium foods can damage the producer country’s food security. Feeding our apparently insatiable 365-day-a-year hunger for this luxury vegetable, Peru has also cornered the world market in asparagus. Result? In the arid Ica region where Peruvian asparagus production is concentrated, this thirsty export vegetable has depleted the water resources on which local people depend. NGOs report that asparagus labourers toil in sub-standard conditions and cannot afford to feed their children while fat cat exporters and foreign supermarkets cream off the profits. That’s the pedigree of all those bunches of pricy spears on supermarket shelves.

Soya, a foodstuff beloved of the vegan lobby as an alternative to dairy products, is another problematic import, one that drives environmental destruction [see footnote]. Embarrassingly, for those who portray it as a progressive alternative to planet-destroying meat, soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America, along with cattle ranching, where vast expanses of forest and grassland have been felled to make way for huge plantations.

Three years ago, the pioneering Fife Diet, Europe’s biggest local food-eating project, sowed an experimental crop of quinoa. It failed, and the experiment has not been repeated. But the attempt at least recognised the need to strengthen our own food security by lessening our reliance on imported foods, and looking first and foremost to what can be grown, or reared, on our doorstep.

In this respect, omnivores have it easy. Britain excels in producing meat and dairy foods for them to enjoy. However, a rummage through the shopping baskets of vegetarians and vegans swiftly clocks up the food miles, a consequence of their higher dependency on products imported from faraway places. From tofu and tamari to carob and chickpeas, the axis of the vegetarian shopping list is heavily skewed to global.

There are promising initiatives: one enterprising Norfolk company, for instance, has just started marketing UK-grown fava beans (the sort used to make falafel) as a protein-rich alternative to meat. But in the case of quinoa, there’s a ghastly irony when the Andean peasant’s staple grain becomes too expensive at home because it has acquired hero product status among affluent foreigners preoccupied with personal health, animal welfare and reducing their carbon “foodprint”. Viewed through a lens of food security, our current enthusiasm for quinoa looks increasingly misplaced.

• This footnote was appended on 17 January 2013. To clarify: while soya is found in a variety of health products, the majority of production – 97% according to the UN report of 2006 – is used for animal feed.

Farmers Rally at White House to Protest Monsanto’s GMO Empire January 11, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Food.
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Roger’s note: this is not a very high-profile issue, but it affects each and every one of us.  We all eat food!  Under capitalist economic relations, huge amounts of wealth (capital) accumulates, and this creates a kind of unstoppable power that has the capacity to smother small and independent enterprise.  The result is that the interests of those who own and control capital trump the interests of the general public.  The destruction of our environment and the material destruction caused by endless war are far more dramatic than the contamination of our food supply, but, as we used to say, “we are what we eat.”

 

Published on Friday, January 11, 2013 by Common Dreams

As court hears pivotal case for small farmers and organic seed growers, opponents to industrial agriculture speak out

  – Jon Queally, staff writer

Hundreds of small farmers and advocates for organic seed growers gathered outside the White House Thursday, calling on President Obama and other lawmakers to come to their aid as they continue their fight against Monsanto, one of the world’s largest, most powerful—and to them sinister—industrial agriculture corporations.

 (Image: Ecowatch.org) The farmers and citizens assembled demanded the end of Monsanto’s “campaign of intimidation against America’s family farmers” and their relentless push for GMO (or genetically engineered-GE) crops. The rally followed a court hearing earlier in the day in the ongoing and landmark Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al. v. Monsanto case, in which OSGATA and other plaintiffs sued the biotech firm for its continual and aggressive harassment of organic farmers and independent seed growers.

“Family farmers need and deserve the right to farm. We have a right to grow good food and good seed for our families and our communities without the threat of trespass and intimidation,” Jim Gerritsen, an organic potato farmer from Maine and President of OSGATA, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, told the enthusiastic crowd.

Since 1997, Monsanto has sued, or brought to court, more than 844 family farms over “patent infringement” after their GMO seeds spread to nearby farms. The legal battles are more than most small farmers can battle, and Monsanto’s size and financial muscle make it nearly impossible for individual farmers to fight back. Many are forced to settle and submit to Monsanto sanctions.

“We need Court protection so that our families will be able to carry on our farming tradition and help keep America strong,” said Gerritsen.

Those that gathered called for President Obama to fulfill his promise to support the labeling of all GMO products, and also halt pending approval of GE salmon until independent long-term safety tests can be conducted.

“America’s farmers deserve to be protected from unwanted contamination of their crops and the continued harassment by biotech seed giant Monsanto,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots farmer advocacy group and plaintiff in the case.

Additionally, he said, “our current regulatory structure here in the U.S. has failed America’s farmers and consumers. The Obama administration needs to do the right thing to protect our farmers and make sure that new GE crops go through rigorous safety tests,” said Murphy. “It’s time that President Obama live up to his campaign promise to Iowa farmers in 2007 and label genetically engineered foods. It’s the least that he could do.”
And the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:

The protest suggested an uptick in efforts to demand labeling, which was defeated in a California ballot initiative in November. Creve Coeur-based Monsanto spent at least $8 million in an industry-wide effort to sink the California proposition.

Vermont state Sen. David Zuckerman said at the rally that he is leading an effort in his state seeking legislation requiring labeling of genetically modified food.

Organic farmers, who are pressing a lawsuit against Monsanto, often complain that their products are threatened by wind-blown pollen from genetically altered crops.

“We want and demand the right of clean seed not contaminated by a massive biotech company that’s in it for the profit,” Carol Koury, who operates Sow True Seeds in Asheville, N.C., said at the rally.

Complete background on the OSGATA et al v. Monsanto lawsuit is available here.

Dow and Monsanto Join Forces to Poison America’s Heartland February 24, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Environment, Health.
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Thursday 23 February 2012
by: Richard Schiffman, Truthout         | News Analysis

(Photo: tpmartins)

In a match that some would say was made in hell, the nation’s two leading producers of agrochemicals have joined forces in a partnership to reintroduce the use of the herbicide 2,4-D, one half of the infamous defoliant Agent Orange, which was used by American forces to clear jungle during the Vietnam War. These two biotech giants have developed a weed management program that, if successful, would go a long way toward a predicted doubling of harmful herbicide use in America’s corn belt during the next decade.

The problem for corn farmers is that “superweeds” have been developing resistance to America’s best-selling herbicide Roundup, which is being sprayed on millions of acres in the Midwest and elsewhere. Dow Agrosciences has developed a strain of corn that it says will solve the problem. The new genetically modified variety can tolerate 2,4-D, which will kill off the Roundup-resistant weeds, but leave the corn standing. Farmers who opt into this system will be required to double-dose their fields with a deadly cocktail of Roundup plus 2,4-D, both of which are manufactured by Monsanto.

But this plan has alarmed environmentalists and also many farmers, who are reluctant to reintroduce a chemical whose toxicity has been well established. The use of 2,4-D is banned in several European countries and provinces of Canada. The substance is a suspected carcinogen, which has been shown to double the incidence of birth defects in the children of pesticide applicators in a study conducted by University of Minnesota pathologist Vincent Garry.

Researchers say that the effect of 2,4-D on human health is still not fully understood. But it may be a risk factor for conditions like Hodgkin’s lymphoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and certain leukemias, which were often found in Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stated that the chemical could have “endocrine disruption potential” and interfere with the human hormonal system. It may prove toxic to honeybees, birds and fish, according to research conducted by the US Forest Service and others. In 2004, a coalition of groups spearheaded by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pesticide Action Network, wrote a letter to the EPA taking it to task for underestimating the health and environmental impacts of 2,4-D.

Large-scale industrial farming has grown dependent on ever-increasing applications of agrochemicals. Some have compared this to a drug addict who requires larger and larger fixes to stay high. Herbicide use has increased steadily over time as weeds develop resistance and need to be doused with more and deadlier chemicals to kill them. This, in turn. requires more aggressive genetic engineering of crops that can withstand the escalating chemical assault.

Many agricultural scientists warn that this growing addiction to agrochemicals is unsustainable in the long run. The fertility of the soil decreases as earthworms and vital microorganisms are killed off by pesticides and herbicides. They also pollute the groundwater and compromise the health of farm animals that are fed with the chemical-infused grain.

These impacts are poised to grow. US Department of Agriculture (USDA) figures reveal that herbicide use rose by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008. Significantly, nearly half of this increase (46 percent) took place between 2007 and 2008 as a result of the hawking of new herbicide-resistant crops like the new corn hybrid developed by Dow.

Nobody knows what effect introducing this hybrid would have on the health of American consumers. Corn laced with high levels of 2,4-D could taint everything from breakfast cereals to the beef of cattle, which concentrate the toxin in their flesh. Given that corn and high-fructose corn syrup are key elements in so many processed foods, some public health experts warn that all Americans will soon be guinea pigs in an ill-conceived mass experiment with one of the staples of our food supply. America’s agriculture department, the USDA is considering deregulating Monsanto’s new genetically modified corn variety (the one which will be used in conjunction with the 2,4-D) and is accepting final public comments on the matter until the 27th of this month.

Until recently, herbicide-resistant crops were popular with farmers who benefited from higher yields and nearly effortless management of weeds. But now that the weed problem is coming back with a vengeance, some are reconsidering the wisdom of this chemical-intensive mode of farming. Dow biotech corn costs nearly three times more than conventional seed. And the projected doubling of pesticide use in the years ahead will be expensive, as well as destructive to farmland and ecosystems.

There are viable alternatives to chemical-intensive farming, time-tested methods like crop rotation, use of cover crops, and other practices which allow farmers to compete naturally with weeds. The time has come for farmers to revive the knowledge of their ancestors in this regard.

Some agricultural scientists advocate developing a system of integrated weed management to replace the unsustainable use of chemicals. But the big agrochemical companies have no interest in supporting the sustainable agriculture that would put them out of business. So long as there are billions of dollars to be made in selling herbicide and herbicide-resistant genetically modified seed, there won’t be much research money available to explore the natural alternatives to the destruction of our nation’s heartland.

The First Lady and The Monsanto-Washington Unification Process Vs. Our Human Rights July 25, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Environment, Human Rights, Science and Technology.
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Roger’s note:  the tone of this ariticle is sarcastic; this may offend some reader, and, if so, I am sorry; but what is a thousand times more offensive is what the article reveals.

Lenore Daniels, www.opednews.com,  July 24, 2008

The effect is again a magical and hypnotic one–the projection of images which convey irresistible unity, harmony of contradictions. Thus the loved and fear Father, the spender of life, generates the H-bomb for the annihilation of life; “science-military’ joins the efforts to reduce anxiety and suffering with the job of creating anxiety and suffering.

Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man

 

 

Monsanto has great respect for all of us, little people, and for Mother Earth, the source of all its (Monsanto’s) material wealth. But Monsanto would like to remind the world that however much those activists transgressors in Brazil condemn its connection to the use of dioxin in a current project to defoliate the rain forest or however much those Vietnam Vets agitators shout about the long-term harmful effects of Agent Orange, Monsanto is a new humanitarian enterprise, working with struggling farmers on behalf of the poor and starving children of the world. Monsanto, along with the cooperative government of the U.S. and other Western nations, envisions a future filled with healthy and happy humans.

 

Chuckle. Chuckle.

 

We have great respect for the U.S. soldiers sent to war and all those affected by the Vietnam conflict. All sides share in the pain from this difficult time in our history. One of the legacies of that war is Agent Orange, where questions remain nearly 40 years later.

 

By way of background, the U.S. military used Agent Orange from 1961 to 1971 to save the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers by defoliating dense vegetation in the Vietnamese jungles and therefore reducing the chances of ambush.

 

As the war began and intensified, the U.S. government used its authority under the Defense Production Act to issue contracts to seven major chemical companies to obtain Agent Orange and other herbicides for use by U.S. and allied troops in Vietnam. The government specified the chemical composition of Agent Orange and when, where and how the material was to be used in the field, including application rates. Agent Orange was one of 15 herbicides used for military purposes during the Vietnam War and the most commonly applied. It received its name because of the orange band around containers of the material”

 

There have been a number of lawsuits. Monsanto and the six other chemical manufacturers reached agreement with U.S. veterans in a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York in 1984 that involved millions of U.S. veterans and their families. There was not a finding of fault. It was settled by the parties rather than undertake a lengthy and complicated trial. The $180 million in funds that were part of the agreement were distributed according to a plan developed in part by U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein”

 

[There have been other lawsuits since 2009 but]“

 

Monsanto is now primarily a seed and agricultural products company.

 

We believe that the adverse consequences alleged to have arisen out of the Vietnam War, including the use of Agent Orange, should be resolved by the governments that were involved. (Monsanto.com)

 

((“The Agent Orange produced by Monsanto had dioxin levels many times higher than that produced by Dow Chemicals, the other major supplier of Agent Orange to Vietnam,”   “The Legacy of Agent Orange” at Corp Watch.com.))

 

(((Monsanto produced “some of the most toxic substances ever created,” according to an investigative report entitled, “Harvest of Fear,” published at Vanity Fair, May 2008.)))

 

You are now ordered to forget those images of children with skin burned and bloodied; babies with two heads and one eye, deformed and missing limbs–forget them! Whatever happened in the past was unintentional.   We were ordered by your government to do it! If harm was done when Monsanto was the Monsanto we are not now, sorry! Contact your government and scream until you pass out! We are “dedicated to a better place for future generations.”

In the “imagined future,” one in which we have “foreknowledge” and “mystically share in,” that “dark place” of the Orwellian realm (1984), Monsanto assures us that information is available, accessible, and understandable,” (Monsanto.com).

Infringe on Monsanto’s patents of genetically modified food or transgress its seed laws and its “shadowy army” of private investigators and agents–“secretly” videotaping and photographing wrong doers, and infiltrating “community meetings”–will   to “get you” (“Harvest of Fear”). Farmers know Monsanto as the “seed police,” the “Gestapo” of the Heartland.

 

We are witnessing the criminalization of producing and consuming healthy food.

 

Here is what the telescreen preaches to us: the U.S. Empire has detected a problem. The results of studies are in and obesity is that problem. Citizens of the U.S. of A. are obese! The littlest of the little people, the children, are “too fat.” They indulge in “fatty foods.” The children along with their parents are irresponsible.

 

The first Black First Lady enters the picture. The mother of two well-feed children, except for the occasional treat of French fries, is in search of obese children. In a timely manner, Michelle Obama launches her “Let’s Move” program, later in that same year (2010), she announces that she “wants to take her campaign to reduce childhood obesity to a bigger audience: the global one.”

 

Everyone applauds! Cameras follow the First Lady as she flies from one end of the country to the other, promoting the consumption of greens, carrots, apples, and strawberries, (and indulging occasionally in a side dish of French fries).

 

Monsanto has the future of our children on its horizon–and it would seem Mrs. Obama does too!

 

The International Journal of Biological Science issued its findings, too, and it found a problem, too, with 3 genetically modified corn varieties produced by the new, supposedly non-lethal Monsanto. In fact, this study found the problem to be with the giant Monsanto! “80 percent of all corn grown in the U.S. had been genetically modified by Monsanto.” Three strains of corn tested caused serious problems in the liver (organichealthadvisor.com) and this is just one example of the risk Monsanto’s food products pose for the current and future generations of children. Agriculture Society reports that the Institute for Responsible Technology found the following health issues arising from consuming GMO foods:

 

Infertility

Immune system problems

Accelerated aging

Faulty insulin regulation

Development of pathogenic bacteria in the digestive tract

Changes in other major organs

 

The International Journal of Biological Science report concludes: This is a “huge problem.” (And let us not forget–health insurance is another problem in the heartland of the U.S. Empire!).

 

Any word from the First Lady about Monsanto, GMOs, health risks for eating just about anything, including veggies and fruits?

 

Do not look to Monsanto to give up either!

 

Monsanto is a master shape-shifter like so many we can think of today operating at the headquarters imperial power in Washington D.C. In fact, you might find more Monsanto shape-shifters in Washington than anywhere else.   That is because the First Lady’s husband, President Barrack Obama and Monsanto want to ensure the longevity of the corporation.

 

Here is President Barrack Obama shuffling Monsanto food executives and research scientists from the boardroom and labs to the global reaches of the U.S. Empire faster than his wife, the First Lady, can fly to her next lecture on “obesity.”. Former Monsanto executives occupy leadership positions in the Department of Agriculture.

 

 

In “Farming–Why Obama’s Government is George Wallace, Monsanto is the KKK, and We Are All Black Children” (Opednews.com),   Linn Cohen Cole writes about Monsanto’s “rural cleansing” campaign.   Oh, Monsanto is everywhere! The First Lady should not miss omnipotent beings in the halls of the White House, in Congress, certainly not at the Department of Agriculture and not at the Supreme Court where Justice Clarence Thomas, another former Monsanto employee, loves his Monsanto more than he does our current and future generation of children.

 

Since Thomas’ appointment, writes Cole, the court has ruled in favor of genetically altered organisms and, in addition, has upheld laws protecting Monsanto’s “intellectual property rights.” As a result, Monsanto’s “rural cleansing” campaign is chasing farmers off their lands, from one end of the country to the other, while contaminating nature with its genetically engineered products. This is all good, for Clarence, and apparently the White House and the First Lady, too, flying, to and from, above it all!

 

Cole argues that these rulings are in “violation of our civil rights.” Here is a “”justice,'” Cole continues, destroying “previously taken for granted and thus undefined civil and human rights around nature.” We can generalize about “agriculture” and “commodities” or “profits””but “the profound truth that this is about life or death and our civil rights to live” is left out of the argument.

 

And you would think Thomas, Mr. Obama, and Mrs. Obama should know all about the civil right to live! But here is the 21st Century is Thomas, loyal corporate man, Barrack Obama, organizer of the Monsanto-Washington unification process, and Mrs. Obama saving our children’s lives from the ravages of obesity!

 

Mrs. Obama giving us images of Black obese children and then Brown obese children and then obese white children careful not to give us images of parents working 2 or 3 jobs, if they are working at all, and children, then, who are left to eat potato chips and candy, genetically engineered corn-based products for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes even dinner while watching television commercials featuring genetically fattened chicken. Where are the urban, migrant poor and the working class children to establish a garden like the one Mrs. Obama tenders at the White House? (Ah, “urban cleansing”! They have done that already!).

 

Unintentional, you think? Corporate and government indifference is deadly!

 

Monsanto’s food products not only contribute to “obesity” in children (and adults as well), but also contributes to the rise in diabetes, cancer, and heart disease (Cole).

 

Talk about insanity–on a grand level!

 

But let me reiterate! The installation of Clarence Thomas as an administer of justice and Barrack Obama as a Commander-in-Chief (or is that Chef?) at the helm of the U.S. Empire represents strategic steps, salvos, intended to kill anything human or natural! (So much for the end of the Agent Orange era!). Rights are rendered to corporations these dark days. You can only imagine the light in our future,

 

Returning to Cole–the author, like so many of us non-important, little people, recognizes from here below, that Monsanto is practicing a form of “discrimination,” where “one group is using corrupt means to discriminate against a defined segment of the population–all of us who wish to live.”

 

Cole is not alone in condemning not only Monsanto but also the system that is out to destroy life, human and nature, on this planet.   Cole’s observation is one voiced by those few of us Black commentators who were critical of that mechanizing and criminalizing system and the selection of Obama (the first “Black” president) chosen by Wall Street and the corporate rulers to oversee the further progress of a One World order. But the foot soldiers of “progress,” the liberal-progressive-alternative-left media thanked the Daley Machine on LaSalle Street and obliged the Democratic Party by bracketing our warnings in double, triple parenthesis–with a warning of their own: shut up!

 

“Progress” is buying the double talk and eating the crap!   And we are where we are today!

 

Cole writes: Obama “is a black man [the George Wallace of this generation] overseeing a government that is discriminating and abusing a marginalized group.” But it is not one racial or ethnic group, or one class, or only women marginalized today. Here is a George Wallace in controlling and selling humans and the land to the Monsantos of the world, the KKK, Cole argues. All of us are the little Black children of yesterday.

 

All of us are the little people subject to whims of the state police and the “food” police, and labels of “terrorists” or “food” terrorists.

 

Cole continues:

 

This is not just an agricultural issue. It is a civil rights and a human rights issue–the most profound in human history since it is about the right to (normal) nature and survival itself. The totalitarian and corrupt parties discriminating against us all can only be dealt with once we see this as a single issue and come together in a civil rights movement on behalf of us all.

 

But do not turn your eyes away from the First Lady who, for fear of losing life as she knows it, is the savior of children one minute and is campaign cheerleader the next.   All in a day’s work–for the Big People!

 

For husband’s re-election, for the corporatist Party, and for corporate rulers, the First Lady reads Monsanto’s letter to transgressors and agitators, salutes and says, “I do, too.”

 

Catch that smile and those wonderful gowns!

 

No wonder Monsanto exchanged its dusty fatigues for a more formal, more “global” one of skull and bones.

 

Published at The Black Commentator.com, July 21, 2011

Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan Goes to Bat for Monsanto, Sides With Conservative Justices May 13, 2010

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture, Criminal Justice, Environment, Health.
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(Roger’ note: Suprme Court Justice Nominee ElenaKagan is known for her penchant for hiring white males at Harvard, her support for violating the constitution and international law with respect to torture, habeas corpus and executive power; and now we see how friendly she can be to huge corporate interests when they are challenged by environmentalists and health advocates.  Thank you, President Obama.)

Thursday 13 May 2010

by: Joshua Frank, t r u t h o u t | Report

photo
(Photo: Harvard Law Record)

Alfalfa is the fourth largest crop grown in the United States and Monsanto wants to control it. On April 27, the Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could well write the future of alfalfa production in our country.

Fortunately, for those who are concerned about the potential environmental and health impacts of genetically engineered (GE) crops, Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan is not yet residing on the bench.

For the past four years, the Center for Food Safety (CFS), a Washington DC-based consumer protection group, and others have litigated against Monsanto and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding the company’s Roundup Ready alfalfa. The coalition has focused their fight against Monsanto’s GE alfalfa, based on concerns that the plants could negatively impact biodiversity as well as other non-GE food crops.

In 2007, a California US District Court ruled in a landmark case that the USDA had illegally approved Monsanto’s GE alfalfa without carrying out a proper and full Environmental Impact Statement. The plaintiffs argued that GE alfalfa could contaminate nearby crops with its genetically manipulated pollen. Geertson Seed Farm, with the help of CFS, claimed that the farm’s non-GE crops could be damaged beyond repair by Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.

Monsanto’s well-paid legal team appealed the court’s decision, but, in June 2009, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the previous ruling and placed a nationwide ban on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa.

“USDA should start over and truly evaluate the contamination of non-GM alfalfa and the potential affects on seed growers, organic and natural meat producers, dairy producers, and conventional and organic honey producers,” said farmer and anti-GE advocate Todd Leake shortly after the ruling.

Monsanto, however, didn’t back down and appealed the Ninth Circuit’s decision to the US Supreme Court. In stepped Elena Kagan, whose role as solicitor general is to look out for the welfare of American citizens in all matters that come before the high court.

Unfortunately, Kagan opted to ditch her duty and instead side with Monsanto. In March 2010, a month before the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case, the solicitor general’s office released a legal brief despite the fact that the US government was not a defendant in the case.

As Kagan’s office argued, “The judgment of the court of appeals should be reversed, and the case should be remanded with instructions to vacate the permanent injunction entered by the district court.”

Despite numerous examples of cross-pollination of GE crops, Monsanto argued during the April 27 court proceedings that this was highly unlikely to occur. CFS and other plaintiffs are concerned that a federal law could be affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling. Courts in Oregon and California have already argued in previous cases that GE seeds must also be studied as to the potential impact on other conventional and organic crops.

Surprisingly, it seems that Kagan does not support a thorough study of GE seeds and their potential impact on environmental and human health. In doing so, Kagan has sided with conservative justices on the court who appeared skeptical that the lower courts had made the right decision in banning GE alfalfa.

During the Supreme Court hearings, Chief Justice John Roberts questioned whether the Ninth Circuit had the authority to issue a ban on GE alfalfa. Roberts contented that the court ought to have instead remanded the issue back to the USDA. Conservative Justice Antonin Scalia took his defense of Monsanto even further, stating, “This isn’t the contamination of the New York City water supply,” he said. “This isn’t the end of the world, it really isn’t.”

Apparently Scalia and Roberts aren’t up on the latest scientific analysis that Monsanto’s GE crops have, in fact, bred new voracious super-weeds, which have forced farmers to “spray fields with more toxic herbicides, pull weeds by hand, and return to more labor-intensive methods like regular plowing.”

“Bowing to pressure from Monsanto and the other biotech companies, our federal agencies approved [GE] corn and cotton without requiring any mandatory testing for environmental impacts,” Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the CFS recently wrote. “And the expected happened: a few years later, independent university researchers – again not the government – discovered that this [GE] pesticide was potentially fatal to Monarch butterflies and other pollinators … Without mandatory government testing, we’re clueless about the universe of keystone pollinators and other species that are being decimated as the [GE] plants continue to proliferate in our fields.”

The Supreme Court’s decision on Monsanto’s alfalfa ban will likely come early this summer. Justice Stephen Breyer recused himself from the case because his brother Charles Breyer oversaw the lower court’s decision against the company. Unsurprisingly, Justice Clarence Thomas, who once worked in the legal department for Monsanto, did not recuse himself from the matter.

While Elena Kagan has no experience on the bench and has provided the public with little to no information about where she stands on some of the most important issues of the day, the fact that she came to bat for Monsanto two months, at a time when the company is reeling from negative press, may shed some light on how she could rule in future GE cases if she’s confirmed as the next Supreme Court justice.

NAIS: This is your government working against YOU March 4, 2009

Posted by rogerhollander in Agriculture.
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by Marti Oakley

www.opednews.com, March 4, 2009

Oakley’s work.  I doubt anyone could read this piece without feeling that something has been terribly wrong with the USDA and the FDA in terms of their actions towards farmers – and all that comes before the significant magnification in power the “fake food safety” bills will give them. Those bills must be stopped. -Linn Cohen-Cole

 
NAIS: This is your government at work: This is your government working against YOU.
Bills currently in committee in both houses of congress would make mandatory the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).  This system is nothing less than an adherence to international policies and agreements which will usurp US laws and standards, replacing them with reduced standards.  This is being done to not only acquiesce to the CAFTA [trade illegal] provisions, but also to reduce the standards by which bio-piracy corporations operate. 
 
CAFTA reduces the standards of growing, harvesting and processing of all food types to allow multi-national bio-pirates to increase their profits at everyone else’s expense.  This is done by lowering standards across the board in all countries involved; lowering food quality and safety rather than increasing the standards which would have benefited consumers. 
 
Even though numerous bills have been submitted, none have been passed; none are even out of committee.  Knowing this, I find it strange that the sponsors of these bills have already submitted a request for funding authorization for this assault on independent farming and ranching operations.  I believe this indicates a pre-approved deal and the submitting of bills is only a formality to make it appear these actions are legitimate when in fact those promoting this scam have already enabled and encouraged the USDA and FDA to begin forced compliance using military style enforcements methods.
 
Assembling what appears to be SWAT teams both agencies are storming private farms and ranches, organic producers and anyone else refusing to comply with the supposed [voluntary] NAIS and Premises ID.
 
The funding requested includes increasing the amounts allotted to USDA and the FDA.  USDA has already reduced the number of inspectors, and the number of inspections.  So we know the money isn’t going to this area of operation.  And we can also observe there is no threat as described in NAIS as would be evidenced by the reduction in inspections and the reassignment of staff to SWAT type operations.
 
Both the USDA and the FDA now appear to emulating in-country militaristic organizations.
 
Both agencies are now fully engaged in activities that are not only, not within their administrative procedural mission, but are instead more as mercenary agents of big AG. 
Both agencies are now also co-opting local law enforcement to perform their raids on privately owned farms and ranches.  With a complaint arising only form the USDA or the FDA, with no evidence of wrong-doing, no charges being filed, no substantiation of cause, local law enforcement agencies gladly participate in these raids.  This is your government at work:  This is your government working against YOU.
 
Where are our representatives and senators while this is going on?  Where is our Justice Department?  Where is this new AG secretary, Tom Vilsack?  (Well, he’s probably having lunch with Monsanto or some other bio-pirate.)
 
The bills now in congress would increase the power of both the USDA and FDA, even though it is commonly known and accepted neither agency is efficient or engaged in its original mission.  Both agencies, but particularly FDA have become so corrupted with corporate money and influence, neither can or does, exist to protect the public. 
 
Having lost sight of their original reason for existence, and incapable of performing even at a minimal level, both agencies should be shut down.  We would be far better served if these kinds of agencies existed only on the state level where accountability, responsibility and pubic interest is far better served.

Starving for a change November 25, 2008

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Economic Crisis.
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Posted on Nov 24, 2008

www.truthdig.com

AP photo / Kiichiro Sato, file

Leah Poare visits a food pantry in Columbus, Ohio. Even with the help of free groceries, Poare and her husband limit themselves to one full meal a day, usually in the evening, so that their three children, ages 6, 7 and 17, can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner.

By Chris Hedges

Elba Figueroa worked as a nurse’s aide until she got Parkinson’s disease. She lost her job. She lost her health care. She receives $703 a month in government assistance. Her rent alone costs $750. And so she borrows money from friends and neighbors every month to stay in her apartment. She laboriously negotiates her wheelchair up and down steps and along the frigid sidewalks of Trenton, N.J., to get to soup kitchens and food pantries to eat.

“Food prices have gone up,” the 47-year-old Figueroa said, waiting to get inside the food pantry run by the Crisis Ministry of Princeton and Trenton. “I don’t have any money. I run out of things to eat. I worked until I physically could not work anymore. Now I live like this.”

The pantry, which occupies a dilapidated three-story art deco building in Old Trenton, one of the poorest sections of the city, is one of about two dozen charities that struggle to provide shelter and food to the poor. Those who quality for assistance are permitted to come once a month and push a shopping cart in a U shape around the first floor where, clutching a piece of paper with allotted points, they can stock up on items using the pantry’s point system according to the number of people in a household. The shelves of the pantry hold bags of rice, jars of peanut butter, macaroni and cheese and cans of beets, corn and peas. Two refrigerated cases hold eggs, chickens, fresh carrots and beef hot dogs. “All Fresh Produce 2 pounds = 1 point,” a sign on the glass door of the refrigerated unit reads. Another reads: “1 Dozen EGGS equal 3 protein points. Limit of 1 dozen per household.”

The swelling numbers waiting outside homeless shelters and food pantries around the country, many of them elderly or single women with children, have grown by at least 30 percent since the summer. General welfare recipients receive $140 a month in cash and another $140 in food stamps. This is all many in Trenton and other impoverished areas have to live on.

Trenton, a former manufacturing center that has a 20 percent unemployment rate and a median income of $33,000, is a window into our current unraveling. The financial meltdown is plunging the working class and the poor into levels of destitution unseen since the Depression. And as the government squanders taxpayer money in fruitless schemes to prop up insolvent banks and investment houses, citizens are callously thrown onto the street without work, a place to live or enough food. 

The statistics are already grim. Our banking and investment system, holding perhaps $2 trillion in worthless assets, cannot be saved, even with the $700 billion of taxpayer money recklessly thrown into its financial black hole. Our decline is irrevocable.  The number of private sector jobs has dropped for the past 10 months and at least a quarter of all businesses say they plan to cut more jobs over the next year. The nation’s largest banks, including Citigroup, face collapse. Retail sales fell in October by the largest monthly drop on record. Auto companies are on the edge of bankruptcy. The official unemployment figures, which duplicitously mask real unemployment that is probably now at least 10 percent nationwide, are up to 6.1 percent and headed higher. We have lost 1.2 million jobs since January. Young men of color have 50 percent unemployment rates in cities such as Trenton. Twelve million houses are worth less than their mortgages and a million people will lose their homes this year in foreclosures. The current trends, if not swiftly reversed, mean that one in 33 home owners will face foreclosure.

There are now 36.2 million Americans who cope daily with hunger, up by more than 3 million since 2000, according to the Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C.  The number of people in the worst-off category—the hungriest—rose by 40 percent since 2000, to nearly 12 million people.

“We are seeing people we have not seen for a long time,” said the Rev. Jarret Kerbel, director of the Crisis Ministry’s food pantry, which supplies food to 1,400 households in Trenton each month. “We are seeing people who haven’t crossed that threshold for five, six or seven years coming back. We are seeing people whose unemployment has run out and they are struggling in that gap while they reapply and, of course, we are seeing the usual unemployed. This will be the first real test of [Bill] Clinton’s so-called welfare reform.”

The Crisis Ministry, like many hard-pressed charities, is over budget and food stocks are precariously low. Donations are on the decline. There are days when soup kitchens in Trenton are shut down because they have no food.

“We collected 170 bags of groceries from a church in Princeton and it was gone in two days,” Kerbel said. “We collected 288 bags from a Jewish center in Princeton and it was gone in three days. What you see on the shelves is pretty much what we have.”

The largess of Congress to Wall Street bankers and investors does not extend to the growing ranks of the poor. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Emergency Food Assistance Program donated $240 million in surplus food in 2003 to food banks and other programs. Those donations fell last year to $59 million.

States, facing dramatic budget shortfalls, are slashing social assistance programs, including Medicaid, social services and education. New Jersey’s shortfall has tripled to $1.2 billion and could soar to $5 billion for the next fiscal year. Tax revenue has fallen to $211 million less than projected. States are imposing hiring freezes, canceling raises and cutting back on services big and small, from salting and plowing streets in winter to heating assistance programs. Unemployment insurance funds, especially with the proposed extension of benefits, are running out of money. Governors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger in California and David A. Paterson in New York have called special legislative sessions to deal with the crisis.

If Barack Obama continues to turn to the elites who created the mess, if he does not radically redirect the nation’s resources to assist the working class and the poor, we will become a third-world country. We will waste gargantuan amounts of money we cannot afford on our military, our national security state and bloated corporations while we damn the middle and working class to the whims, idiocy and greed of an entrenched, corporate oligarchy. Obama’s appointments of Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary and Lawrence Summers as director of the National Economic Council are ominous signals that these elites remain entrenched.

Dolores Williams, 57, sat in the cramped waiting room at the Crisis Ministry clutching a numbered card, waiting for it to be called. She has lived in a low-income apartment block known as The Kingsbury for a year. Two residents, she said, recently jumped to their deaths from the 19th floor. She had a job at Sam’s Club but lost it. No one, she says, is hiring. She is desperate.

She handed me a copy of The Trentonian, a local paper. The headline on the front page read: “Gangster Slammed for Bicycle Drive-By.” It was the story of the conviction of a man for a fatal drive-by shooting from a bicycle. The paper, as I flipped through it, was filled with stories like these, the result of social, economic and moral collapse. Poverty breeds more than hunger. It destroys communities. There was a report about a 56-year-old woman who was robbed and pistol-whipped in the middle of the afternoon. There was an article about the plight of four children whose two parents had been shot and seriously wounded. “Libraries OK Now, but Future Is Murky” a headline read. Another announced: “Still No Arrests in Hooker Slayings.”

“It is like this every day,” Williams said. 

So while our nation crumbles, physically and morally, while our empire implodes, while our economy tanks, the bankrupt elites who got us here play the merry-go-round game of power in Washington. They will continue to oversee our demise, including the obscene drain of our military and security budget, which now accounts for half of all discretionary spending. Pentagon officials have reportedly asked the Obama transition team for $581 billion, an increase of $67 billion. This increase does not, of course, include the $3 trillion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We will pay these loans later.

Banks, automotive companies and investment firms, all sinking under the weight of their own incompetence and greed, head to Washington, usually in private jets, to engage in the largest looting of the treasury in American history. And Congress doles out our money without oversight in the greatest transference of wealth upwards in modern times.

As this pitiful march of folly rolls forward, children in Trenton and across America go to bed hungry. 

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