Tag Archives: gmos

EPA Reverses Approval of Controversial Herbicide

Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to reverse their approval of Dow Chemical’s Enlist Duo which contains the herbicides 2,4-D and glyphosate.

The EPA told the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco that they had discovered new information which suggests 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, known as 2,4-D, could be more toxic than the agency previously believed. The agency claimed it initially did not recognize that glyphosate and 2,4-D were possibly a toxic combination.

“E.P.A. can no longer be confident that Enlist Duo will not cause risks of concern to nontarget organisms, including those listed as endangered, when used according to the approved label,” the agency said in a court filing. The EPA also said they realized they “did not have all relevant information at the time it made its registration decision.”

The EPA’s decision is related to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of U.S. farmer and environmental groups represented by Earthjustice and Center for Food Safety who are seeking to overturn the approval of Enlist Duo.

Enlist Duo is part of a partnership between Monsanto and Dow known as the Enlist Weed Control system. The weed controls system is the latest effort to combat the growing problem of so-called “super weeds” that have resulted from the abundant use of glyphosate-based herbicides. In order to fight off the tougher weeds, Dow and Monsanto partnered together to produce Enlist Duo.

 Glyphosate is a probable carcinogen and is wiping out the monarch butterfly, 2,4-D also causes serious human health effects, and the combination also threatens endangered wildlife,” said Earthjustice’s Managing Attorney Paul Achitoff. “This must not, and will not, be how we grow our food.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that more than 200,000 people signed a petition they circulated which asked Dow to cancel its plans to sell Enlist Duo. Sylvia Fallon, Senior Scientist at the NRDC, said her organization was “delighted” by the news but also called on regulators do a proper job the first time. “EPA needs to do better in protecting human health and the health of the plants and animals in the ecosystem,” she said.

Dow has until December 7 to respond to the EPA’s decision and then the court will decide if 2,4-D should be removed from commercial products. If the court agrees with the EPA, it will likely delay the introduction of genetically engineered foods that were created to be resistant to 2,4-D.

The New York Times reports that in September the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the E.P.A.’s approval of another Dow pesticide known as sulfoxaflor because of concerns the chemical was insufficiently studied and possibly harmful to bee populations.

Earlier this year, Truth In Media reported that both 2,4-D and glyphosate had been linked to cancer in studies conducted by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The IARC found that Glyphosate “probably” causes cancer and found 2,4-D to be “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” a step below “probably carcinogenic”.

Stay tuned to Truth In Media for more details on this developing story.

EPA Proposes Ban on Common Pesticide

Last Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new proposal which would ban the use of chlorpyrifos on citrus fruits, almonds and other crops. Chlorpyrifos is a common insecticide which is used on a number of crops that also includes oranges, apples, cherries, grapes, broccoli and asparagus.

The Associated Press reports:

“The pesticide, in use since 1965, has sickened dozens of farmworkers in recent years. Traces have been found in waterways, threatening fish, and regulators say overuse could make targeted insects immune to the pesticide. U.S. farms use more than 6 million pounds of the chemical each year – about 25 percent of it in California.”

The EPA stated that a recent analysis did not show risks from exposure to chlorpyrifos in food, but combined with estimates for exposure from drinking water, the “EPA cannot conclude that the risk from aggregate exposure meets the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act safety standard.”

The agency will take public comments on the proposed ban for at least two months. A final ruling is expected in December 2016 with the rule going into effect in 2017.

In the early 2000’s the EPA banned home use of chlorpyrifos and in 2012 placed “no-spray” buffer zones around schools and other sensitive areas.

The AP reported the Natural Resources Defense Council filed a federal lawsuit asking for a national ban on chlorpyrifos, citing evidence the chemical interferes with brain development of fetuses, infants and children.

Veena Singla, a scientist with NRDC’s health and environment program, said that the proposal “is a huge step in the right direction, but we think there’s enough evidence to ban all its uses now.”

The proposal from the EPA came just days after a researcher with the United States Department of Agriculture filed a whistleblower complaint alleging his supervisors suspended him in retaliation for his research on pesticides. The complaint follows calls for investigation of both the USDA and the EPA.

The Anti Media reported that Jonathan Lundgren, an entomologist and 11-year veteran of the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, filed the complaint with the federal Merit Systems Protection Board after his supervisors allegedly began to “impede or deter his research and resultant publications.” Lundgren is well-known in the scientific community for previously alleging that the USDA attempted to prevent him from speaking about his research for political reasons.

Lundgren previously published a study that found soybean seeds pre-treated with neonicotinoid pesticides “offer little benefit to soybean producers.” He also served as a peer reviewer in a report published by the Center for Food Safety. That study found further evidence that neonicotinoids adversely affect bees.

Although Lundgren’s work is examining a different class of pesticides, his story highlights a dangerous trend around the science of pesticides: the suppression of research and retaliation against those who challenge the safety of pesticides.

In early May of this year, Truth In Media reported that 25 organizations representing farm workers, food safety organizations, and the environment issued a letter to officials with the USDA and EPA. They called for an investigation into claims that scientists are facing pressure and retaliation for research that presents the controversial neonicotinoid insecticide in a negative light.

A number of pesticides, insecticides, and herbicides have now been linked to health problems in animals and humans, as well as environmental degradation.

In March of this year it was reported that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a report on the herbicide glyphosate which concluded that there was “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.”  The researchers found “convincing evidence that glyphosate can also cause cancer in laboratory animals.” The report points out that the EPA had originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans in 1985.

The IARC Working Group evaluated the original EPA findings and more recent reports before concluding “there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.” Despite the WHO’s findings, the EPA approved Monsanto’s use of glyphosate as recently as 2013.

Since the IARC’s rulings, Monsanto has faced a wave of lawsuits as personal injury lawyers are now looking for plaintiffs who have been harmed by the corporations products. 

The rise in the use of pesticides and herbicides comes with the increased use of genetically engineered or genetically modified crops. In September 2014, I wrote about the USDA’s decision to approve GE corn and soy and how this decision would lead to an increase in pesticide use.

This happens because the food products being approved by the government are engineered to resist widely-used chemicals such as glyphosate. This has led to an increase in “super-weeds” which are immune to the effects of glyphosate. This leads to an increase in spraying of these chemicals, as well as newer, stronger chemicals to fight the super weeds.

This cycle of spraying, and nature responding and adapting, will likely continue as the USDA recently approved another GE corn from Monsanto. Fellow bio-tech giant Syngenta is also applying for approval of a glyphosate-resistant GE corn. The USDA’s preliminary findings stated the risk of herbicide-resistant weeds will be an ongoing problem as long as herbicides are used.

The EPA’s latest proposal to ban the use of chlorpyrifos may indicate a shift towards more nuanced policies on herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides.

New Bill Could Ban Genetically Engineered Labeling Laws

Recently the House Agriculture Committee approved a controversial bill that would ban states from enacting mandatory labeling laws  as well as regulations on genetically engineered foods.

House Resolution 1599, known as the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act to supporters and the DARK act by critics, would overturn current state laws requiring labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods, as well as prevent future labeling laws from being passed on the state or local level.

Now that the Committee has approved the bill it moves towards a full vote in the House before moving on to the Senate where it will likely face opposition from Democrats. The bill currently has 106 cosponsors, 91 Republicans and 15 Democrats.

After the committee approved the measure Pamela Bailey, CEO of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), released a statement claiming that the legislation will ensure that Americans have accurate, consistent information about their food rather than a 50 state patchwork of labeling laws that will only prove costly and confusing for consumers, farmers and food manufacturers.”

The GMA is calling on the House to approve the measure before the coming August recess.

Scott Faber, executive director of Just Label It, said the fight has just begun. “The real fight will be in the Senate. This is from over.”

Currently three states have passed GE labeling bills, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut. Maine and Connecticut’s laws do not go into effect unless their surrounding neighbor states also pass similar legislation.

Supporters of labeling say that consumers have a right to know if their food is genetically engineered. Some critics also fear the increasing use of herbicides and pesticides resulting from the proliferation of genetic engineering. The crowds are split between blanket opposition to genetically engineered foods and those who are calling for more studies to trace the effect on human consumption. Others oppose the GMO industry for limiting research and questionable business practices.

Supporters of the bill say that the labels will cause food prices to rise and cause confusion about the safety of GE food. At the committee hearing, Gregory Jaffe, Biotechnology Project Director with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, stated that since there were no known nutritional or safety issues connected to GE food, there should be no need for labels.

What are your thoughts? Are GMOs safe? Should they be labeled? Should the government ban labeling?


Activists Prepare for 4th Global March Against Monsanto

For the fourth time since 2013, the March Against Monsanto will take place in cities around the world. On May 23, 2015, concerned activists, urban farmers, and environmental activists will hit the streets of 428 cities spread across 38 countries.

The MAM movement was started in late 2012 in an effort to raise awareness to the potential dangers surrounding Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds, as well as the carcinogens present in the company’s top herbicide, Round-Up.

Within the decentralized protests there are a range of solutions offered. Some activists are taking part in campaigns calling for labeling of all food products that have been genetically engineered. Others are marching in support of community gardens and urban farms as a strategy to defeat Monsanto. There are even marchers that are in support of the technology but weary of the collusion between biotech companies and the government.

In September 2013 Ben Swann reported on Monsanto and Crony Capitalism:

Also, Truth In Media recently reported on a group of scientists blowing the whistle on corruption at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“On May 5, 25 organizations representing farm workers, environment, and food safety organizations sent a letter to officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Agency calling for an investigation into claims that scientists are facing pressure and retaliation for research that presents the controversial neonicotinoid insecticide in a negative light.

The groups say they are concerned with a report from Reuters detailing threats to scientists who speak out about the dangers of the pesticide. These threats included suspension without pay, and threats of damage to careers. The scientists filed a petition in March asking for more protection:

Jeff Ruch, executive director with the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, told Common Dreams that the petition was “based on the experiences of 10 USDA scientists” who allegedly faced backlash for research on neonicotinoid insecticides and glyphosate, an ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide, as well as other topics, including genetically modified crops.”

The letter highlights two issues with Monsanto. First, the increase in Genetically Engineered crops from Monsanto and other biotech companies has led to an increase in the use of pesticides and herbicides. Second, one of these herbicides is Monsanto’s Round-Up, which contains glyphosate.

Earlier this year the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published a report in The Lancet Oncology detailing evaluations of organophosphate pesticides and herbicides. The report concluded that there was “limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.” The evidence for this conclusion was pulled from studies of exposure to the chemical in the US, Canada and Sweden published since 2001.

The researchers found “convincing evidence that glyphosate can also cause cancer in laboratory animals.” The report points out that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) had originally classified glyphosate as possibly carcinogenic to humans in 1985. The IARC Working Group evaluated the original EPA findings and more recent reports before concluding “there is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals.” Despite the WHO’s findings, the EPA approved Monsanto’s use of glyphosate as recently as 2013.

Monsanto Co. said the study was based on “junk science” and at odds with the global consensus on glyphosate. The scientists are standing by the work. Aaron Blair, a scientist emeritus at the National Cancer Institute and lead author of the study, told Reuters, “There was sufficient evidence in animals, limited evidence in humans and strong supporting evidence showing DNA mutations and damaged chromosomes.”

In 2014 Anti-Media reported on a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health which claims to have found a link between glyphosate and the fatal Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown origin (CKDu), which largely affects rice farmers in Sri Lanka and other nations. In response Sri Lanka has banned glyphosate and Brazil is considering doing the same.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Special Projects S.M. Chandrasena stated that President Mahinda Rajapaksa issued a directive to ban glyphosate sales in the country. “An investigation carried out by medical specialists and scientists have revealed that kidney disease was mainly caused by glyphosate. President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered the immediate removal of glyphosate from the local market soon after he was told of the contents of the report.”

There is a growing resistance to Monsanto. Following the revelations from the WHO, a union of 30,000 doctors and health professionals announced efforts to eliminate the use of glyphosate-based herbicides.

“There’s no question that March Against Monsanto is the most powerful grassroots initiative we have in the fight to reclaim our food supply from the GMO seed juggernaut known as the Monsanto Company,” said Anthony Gucciardi, March Against Monsanto speaker and founder of the natural health website NaturalSociety.com.

“With the new admission by the World Health Organization that Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide Roundup is causing cancer worldwide, now is the most important time to join the movement and take a stand.”

What are your thoughts on Genetically Engineered foods? What do you think about Monsanto? Leave your thoughts below.

March Against Monsanto protests will begin May 23rd with extensive physical protests and related online coverage throughout the day on news media platforms as well as www.March-Against-Monsanto.com.

Tyson to Eliminate Human Antibiotic Use in Chickens

SPRINGDALE, Ark. – April 28, 2015 – Tyson Foods, Inc. (NYSE: TSN) said today it is striving to eliminate the use of human antibiotics from its U.S. broiler chicken flocks by the end of September 2017. The company will report annually on its progress, beginning with its fiscal 2015 Sustainability Report. Tyson Foods has already stopped using all antibiotics in its 35 broiler hatcheries, requires a veterinary prescription for antibiotics used on broiler farms and has reduced human antibiotics used to treat broiler chickens by more than 80 percent since 2011.

“Antibiotic resistant infections are a global health concern,” said Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods. “We’re confident our meat and poultry products are safe, but want to do our part to responsibly reduce human antibiotics on the farm so these medicines can continue working when they’re needed to treat illness.”

“Given the progress we’ve already made reducing antibiotics in our broilers, we believe it’s realistic to shoot for zero by the end of our 2017 fiscal year. But we won’t jeopardize animal well-being just to get there. We’ll use the best available treatments to keep our chickens healthy, under veterinary supervision,” Smith said.

Tyson Foods is also forming working groups with independent farmers and others in the company’s beef, pork and turkey supply chains to discuss ways to reduce the use of human antibiotics on cattle, hog and turkey farms. Those groups will begin meeting this summer.

Tyson Foods’ international business is committed to taking similar measures on antibiotic use in its global chicken operations but has not set a timeframe.

Tyson Foods plans to work with food industry, government, veterinary, public health and academic communities, and provide funding, to accelerate research into disease prevention and antibiotic alternatives on the farm. The company is also getting input from its Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel, which is made up of independent advisors.

“One of our core values is to serve as responsible stewards of animals – we will not let sick animals suffer,” Smith said. “We believe it’s our responsibility to help drive action towards sustainable solutions to this challenge by working with our chicken, turkey, beef and pork supply chains.”

Smith said today’s announcement will not materially affect the company’s financial performance.

From Marijuana to GMOs to Fracking – Results of the Midterm Elections

The 2014 Midterm Elections led to the approval of measures such as marijuana legalization in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C., a ban on hydraulic fracturing in Denton, Texas, and a shift in the way California defines offenses, such as drug possession.

Oregon became the third state to legalize the “possession, use and sale of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over,” according to the Huffington Post.

The Alaska Dispatch reported that voters in Alaska approved legalizing recreational use of marijuana “by about 52 percent in favor to 48 percent opposed, with 100 percent of the state’s precincts reporting.”

According to USA Today, the measure to legalize marijuana in Washington D.C. was “overwhelmingly approved” by voters, and will apply to sections of the district that are not considered “federal land.”

Although the measure to legalize medical marijuana in Florida received 57% approval, it did not receive the necessary 60%, in order to pass.

Florida Today reported that voters “narrowly rejected” the legalization of medical marijuana, “after a surge of ads saying the ballot initiative was riddled with holes,” which cost $6.2 million, and had the backing of a Las Vegas casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson.

Following the elections, Denton became the first city in the state of Texas to ban hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The Fort Worth Star Telegram reported that 58.6 percent of voters approved an ordinance that “will drastically restrict drillers’ attempts to tap the rich natural gas reserves within the city limits.”

A measure to label foods containing genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), appeared on the ballots in Colorado and Oregon. It was rejected in Colorado, and is still “too close to call” in Oregon. The Oregonian reported that the measure to label GMOs  “trailed 49 percent to 51 percent,” with nearly 80 percent of votes counted.

According to Reuters, this outcome came after corporate food and agriculture interests, such as Monsanto and DuPont, “poured more than $36 million into anti-labeling campaigns in the two states.

Voters in California approved a measure that redefines certain offenses that were considered felonies, such as shoplifting, fraud, and possession of small amounts of drugs, including heroin and cocaine, as misdemeanor.

The Huffington Post reported that as a result of the measure, as many as 10,000 people “could be eligible for early release from state prisons,” and the expectation is that courts “will annually dispense around 40,000 fewer felony convictions.”

Ben Swann joins correspondents Erin Ade, Edward Harrison, Abby Martin, and Tyrel Ventura, from RT News, to discuss the ballot measures:

Oregon passes the “Monsanto Protection Act”

This week, Oregon passed SB 633, known by many as the Monsanto Protection Act, in a special legislative session.

The act would prevent local governments from enacting or enforcing any measures which regulate agricultural, flower, nursery and vegetable seeds or their products.  Essentially, it would prevent counties and municipalities from banning GMO crops.  The Oregon Farm Bureau claims that this is because it does not want local governments to be able to elevate some farming practices over others.

The effect of the bill, however, is the elevation of GMO farming over regular farming and organic farming.  Cross pollination of GMO crops to organic crops can lead to contamination of both produce and seeds, leading to massive monetary losses for organic companies and family farms, as well as unreliable organic produce for consumers.  Oregon is the country’s fifth highest organic producer, and is home to some of the country’s main organic seed companies.


Local governments should be able to protect their constituents from this economic impact, product contamination and, as many believe, health risk.  The Monsanto Protection Act would infringe on the rights of local governments and their constituents.  GMO crops shouldn’t be banned nationally, or even on the state level, but food activists believe that an organic community seeking to prevent Monsanto or another biotech company from moving in and damaging their crops should have this right.

This is made even more important in light of an appeals court ruling last June.  Monsanto had filed 144 patent infringement lawsuits against organic farmers between 1997 and 2010.  It claimed that the farmers had used its seed without paying the required royalties, while the farmers said that their fields were inadvertently contaminated without their knowledge.  Monsanto should probably have paid damages to those farmers, but instead, it sued them for patent infringement and won.

The farmers appealed their case to the Supreme Court in September.  Also in September, the federal “Farmer Assurance Provision,” also referred to as a “Monsanto Protection Act,” expired and was not renewed.  The provision – attached to the March 28 emergency spending bill – prevented the government from halting the sale and planting of GMO seeds while the USDA was in the process of reviewing their safety.  It also, however, offered Monsanto immunity from federal courts with regards to those very experimental crops.

Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act is not only the latest example of government protection of biotech corporations at the expense of small-scale farmers and individuals.  It also connects with other legal issues and legislation to take away the ability of organic farmers to oppose the company.

The issue of Monsanto is not an illustration of the problems with free markets, it’s an illustration of the problems which arise when corporations and government are too closely connected.

Ben Swann questioned this close connection last week stating, “Monsanto’s influence over food supply is troubling. Their ability to seemingly prevent GMO labeling is also troubling. Their connections with people like Mike Taylor who have the ability to control what does and does not show up on our families tables, sure smells like crony capitalism.” See article here.