Tag Archives: USDA

Judge Allows USDA Whistleblower’s Claim to Move Forward

A judge with the federal Merit Systems Protection Board has ruled that an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service can pursue his complaint against the USDA regarding allegations of suppression of research which found that certain pesticides may be affecting bee and butterfly populations.

The USDA sought to dismiss Lungren’s complaint as “frivolous” and based on “speculative and unsupported” allegations but judge Patricia M. Miller denied the request. The judge ordered both parties to meet again on January 6 to discuss reaching a possible settlement.

“We were very pleased to receive Judge Miller’s ruling, as we feel Dr. Jonathan Lundgren has a very strong case,” said Laura Dumais, an attorney at Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), who is representing Lundgren.

Lundgren originally filed an internal complaint in September 2014 accusing the USDA of retaliating against him because of his research. The complaint was dismissed by the USDA and Lundgren was suspended in October 2014. The West Field Times reports that the USDA said Lungren was suspended for three days after USDA investigators found emails among his research staff which included indecent jokes.

On October 28 2015, Lundgren filed a complaint with the federal Merit Systems Protection Board after his supervisors allegedly began to “impede or deter his research and resultant publications.” Lundgren’s complaint alleges that his supervisors suspended him in retaliation for his research on neonicotinoid pesticides and also calls for an investigation of both the USDA and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The “neonics” are a class of pesticide that has previously been linked to declines in bee populations. Neonics were developed in 1991 and commercial use began in the mid-1990s. Around 2006, commercial beekeepers began reporting what is now known as colony collapse disorder — where entire colonies of bees die off with no obvious cause. The disorder has been reported in commercial colonies all over the world. Several studies have implicated neonics, which are used to kill insects harmful to crops.

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.

In October The Post reported:

“The trouble began after he published research and gave interviews about the impact that certain common pesticides were having on pollinators, according to a statement by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which filed the complaint on his behalf. The whistleblower complaint says Lundgren’s work showed the adverse effects of certain widely used pesticides, findings which have drawn national attention as well as the ire of the agricultural industry.’”

Building a Sustainable Future

In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio Lundgren discusses his plan to fund independent research into the dangers of pesticides.

“I’m still currently a USDA [Agricultural Research Service] scientist, but we’ve purchased a research, education and demonstration farm and are starting an initiative to complement some of the research that we’re doing within USDA,” he said.

The researcher says that he wants to focus on sustainable agriculture and helping farmers reduce pesticide use through farming practices that restore biological diversity.

“We’re not practicing sustainable agriculture because we’ve degraded a lot of the resources on our farms to the point where we really need to be thinking about strategizing,” he said. “How can we rebuild soil? How can we rebuild biological communities on our farms while producing food?”

Lundgren’s plan is to build a sustainable farm in eastern South Dakota to showcase his theories and generate an income which can fund more research. He also emphasized that he is not anti-science but rather focused on sustainable technologies for farming and food production.

“I’m not anti-pesticides, and I’m not anti-genetically modified crops, but what we’re finding is that those costs aren’t necessary once you’re doing things a little bit differently.”

A History of Corruption

This is the not the first time the USDA has been called out for putting politics before science. In early May of this year, Truth In Media reported that 25 organizations representing farm workers, food safety organizations, and the environment sent a letter to officials with the USDA and Environmental Protection Agency. 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.

The groups said they were concerned about a report from Reuters that detailed 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.

PEER executive director Jeff Ruch told Common Dreams the petition was “based on the experiences of 10 USDA scientists.” The scientists allegedly faced backlash for research on neonicotinoid insecticides and glyphosate — an ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup Herbicide — as well as their investigation of other topics, including genetically modified crops.

What can the people of the United States do when government agencies prove incapable of keeping the people safe, or corrupted beyond repair? How can we set a new, sustainable, healthy course for the people, animals, and the land?

Why Is the USDA Attempting To Buy Sub-Machine Guns?

Washington, D.C.- In an ongoing trend of militarization of federal agencies, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it was looking to procure on the General Services Administration website .40 caliber Smith & Wesson submachine guns.

The posting announced:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, located in Washington, DC, pursuant to the authority of FAR Part 13, has a requirement for the commerical acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot burts trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsilbe or folding, magazine – 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.  NO SOLICITATION DOCUMENT EXISTS.  All responsible and/or interested sources may submit their company name, point of contact, and telephone.  If received timely, shall be considered by the agency for contact to determine weapon suitability.

According to a report by Politico the USDA provided the justification that “more than 100 agents employed by the law enforcement division of the department’s Office of the Inspector General who carry such weapons because they are involved in the investigation of criminal activities, including fraud, theft of government property, bribery, extortion, smuggling and assaults on employees. From fiscal 2012 through March 2014, OIG investigations pertaining to USDA operations have netted more than 2,000 indictments, 1,350 convictions and over $460 million in monetary results.”

The militarization of executive agencies seems to be a ongoing trend as we previously reported here at BenSwann.com.

In addition to the postal service attempting to procure weapons and ammunition on the GSA website, many other federal agencies have recently bought billions of dollars worth of firearms and ammunition. These agencies include the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Education, the IRS, the Social Security Administration.

This seems to be a troubling trend that has left many Americans asking why these federal agencies, that wouldn’t seem as though they need large supplies of weaponry and ammo, are looking for such heavy firepower.


Follow Jay on Facebook and on Twitter @SirMetropolis

Is Monsanto America’s Best Example of Crony Capitalism?


It is a name that Americans are hearing more and more, Monsanto.

An agriculture company that has become connected to the term GMO’s. So what is Monsanto? What exactly are GMO’s? and why are people so up in arms about a company that grows food?

And the big question, is Monsanto one of the best examples of America’s crony capitalist system?

The first step toward truth is to inform.

If the name Monsanto is not familiar to you, lets get you caught up.

According to Monsanto’s website,

“Monsanto is a sustainable agriculture company. We deliver agricultural products that support farmers all around the world. We are focused on empowering farmers—large and small—to produce more from their land while conserving more of our world’s natural resources such as water and energy. We do this with our leading seed brands in crops like corn, cotton, oilseeds and fruits and vegetables.”

Sounds pretty good.

In short, Monsanto is company that among other things, produces the herbicide roundup. But the controversy surrounding Monsanto begins with their development of genetically modified seeds or GMOs that are called “round up ready”. Round up ready crops are reportedly more resistant to weed killer and insects.

According to Natural News, a growing body of evidence does connect GMOs with health problems, environmental damage and violation of farmers’ and consumers’ rights.

According to professor John Fagan, an award winning geneticist:

“The process of genetic engineering always involves the risk of altering the genetics and cellular functioning of a food organism in unanticipated ways. These unanticipated alterations can result in (GMO) foods being allergenic, toxic, or reduced in nutritional value”. – Professor John Fagan, Maharishi University of Management, Iowa

Concerns like those have pushed millions worldwide into the streets to protest Monsanto and their GMOs. In May 2013, two million people in over 50 countries expressed outrage over a number of issues surrounding Monsanto.

The first issue with Monsanto is the safety of those GMOs. But there is more.
While there is growing concern over the safety of GMOs, the United States for all of the requirements placed on the food industry, requires no GMO food labeling.

Whether you agree or disagree on whether or not GMO’s are dangerous, 64 other countries require GMO labeling. Again, the United states does not. Could it be that most Americans just don’t care? Actually no. Despite the lack of political will on this issue, a poll, conducted earlier this year by The New York Times found that three-quarters of Americans are concerned about the number of genetically modified or engineered foods. What’s more, a staggering 93% support mandatory labeling of GMO foods.

So to recap, first, there is the concern over GMOs. Second the concerns over labeling and third, there is the issue of Monsanto holding a patent on all of its seeds.

Monsanto explains on their website the need for that patents saying,

“Monsanto patents many of the seed varieties we develop. Patents are necessary to ensure that we are paid for our products and for all the investments we put into developing these products. This is one of the basic reasons for patents. … Monsanto invests more than $2.6 million per day in research and development that ultimately benefits farmers and consumers. Without the protection of patents, this would not be possible.”
You see, when a farmer purchases these genetically modified seeds from Monsanto, they sign a signed a licensing agreement promising to use all the seed and not to use any regenerated seed for future.

So to recap… the issues with Monsanto, questions about the safety of GMOs are out there though we should be clear. there are those who argue that GMO’s are perfectly safe and no issues with consuming them. There are questions about labeling. Regardless of whether GMOs are good or bad shouldn’t the public have the right to know what they are putting in their bodies and have the right to consume or walk away? And questions about the ability of a corporation to be able to patent seeds, preventing farmers from replanting crops without paying a fee?

Ben Swann Monsanto Reality Check

What you need to know, is that all those questions may actually be secondary to this one, is the biggest problem with a company like Monsanto its relationship with government?

In the early 1990’s the FDA took a look at these genetically modified foods. There were a lot of concerns including tests that showed rats were developing stomach lesions from the Genetically modified tomatoes they were fed. According to Jeffery Smith at the Huffington Post, in memo after memo, these experts “described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens,”

So what changed? In 1994 the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service hired a new administrator, Mike Taylor.

Taylor had worked for the FDA in the 1970’s and then in the 1980’s he became a private sector lawyer for a firm that represented Monsanto.

In 1994 Taylor takes over the FSIS and remains in that post until 1996.
1996, GMO foods began showing up on plates in American homes.

After 1996 Mike Taylor goes back into the private sector and goes to work for Monsanto itself.

For the next 16 months he works directly for the company.

In 2009 returns to the public sector now leading the food side of the FDA.

In fairness, Mike Taylor says he is not Monsanto’s man. That claims that he is bought and paid for could not be further from the truth.

In fairness, I don’t know if that is true or not. What I do know is that regardless of whether or not its true the revolving door of government and private sector and the advantages big corporations have in the system is undeniable.

Monsanto’s influence over food supply is troubling. Their ability to seemingly prevent GMO labeling 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

and that is Reality Check.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/037678_michael_taylor_monsanto_fda.html#ixzz2bymPGQf3


Government Wants To Spend Even More Tax Dollars On Food Stamps

Despite spending $80 billion on food stamps last year, the Obama administration is now pushing to spend more. A new government study argues that the ballooned welfare program needs increased tax dollar funding to help “food insecure” homes.

But where does it all end?

The food stamp program, or as the USDA likes to call it, the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),”  grows significantly each year. In 2007, food stamp spending was at $35 billion — by 2012, it had increased to $80 billion.

Amazingly, almost one out of six Americans are now on food stamps, and this number continues to grow. Over 13 million more people rely on the program now than when Obama took office in 2009. There is also no time limit for most food stamp recipients. Those who have children, are elderly, or are disabled never have a time limit. Over two thirds of SNAP’s recipients fall into this category.

Although food stamp spending continues to increase, the number of “food insecure” households essentially remains the same.

But the government keeps encouraging more people to sign up.

Judicial Watch reports, “the Obama administration insists on expanding the rolls even offering the benefit to illegal immigrants. Earlier this year Judicial Watch obtained documents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency that distributes food stamps, detailing its work with the Mexican government to promote participation by illegal aliens.”

The welfare program is also ridden with fraud. Some recipients trade their food stamp benefits for cash. Others use the subsidies to buy drugs and weapons. This abuse cost us, the taxpayers, $200 million.

Government spending is not the sole answer to poverty. If it were, America would have the lowest poverty rate in the world. Instead of making poverty more comfortable with government handouts, incentives should be created to encourage hard work and self-sufficiently. Welfare programs like food stamps should also be means tested more aggressively to focus on the truly needy.

Anyone who has taken an intro economics course knows that people respond to incentives. When you subsidize a benefit, there will always be more people seeking out that benefit. Why are Washington bureaucrats oblivious to that?