Hawai‘i  CFS’s groundbreaking report “Pesticides in Paradise: Hawai‘i’s Health & Environment at Risk” sheds light on the agrochemical industry in Hawai‘i, and the direct threats GE crop and pesticide field tests pose to human health, natural resources and the local food system.

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Photo: CFS team in November 2019 in Portland, OR.

Working for a fairly small organization, it\'s easy for those of us who wear so many hats to get lost in the weeds of the daily "non-profit grind." One day, we\'re busy building a legal strategy; the next, we\'re sitting down with our supporters to get to know more about the issues you\'re facing in your communities. One week, we\'re talking to key elected officials; the next, we\'re shooting amazing video content about the future of agriculture. 

If I just stared at my task list all day long, ticking off item by item, maybe I\'d forget the larger force that all this "doing" makes me a part of.

But that\'s why I love this time of year… when we start to slow down, reflect, and connect with the people and things that matter to us the most.

As 2019 enters its final quarter, I\'m sitting here at my computer, in Hawaii, working "alongside" my colleague, Brenna, in Los Angeles, taking in all that Center for Food Safety (CFS)—from Portland to San Francisco, from LA to D.C.—has accomplished. We\'re a group of radical and passionate doers, collectively changing the landscapes and food-scapes of our communities, our country, and Mother Earth. Here are 17 of the groundbreaking victories we achieved together in 2019:

1. CFS is preventing the mass approval of GMO crops and foods! We\'re in court fighting some of our earth\'s biggest polluters: Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and the agency that gives a green light to these polluters—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—in an effort to stop the approval of a Monsanto weedkiller that\'s been engineered to work with several new generation GMO crops, as well as Dow Chemical\'s "Enlist Duo" pesticide cocktail, a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D (one of the active ingredients in "Agent Orange").

We should not be exposed to unsafe and carcinogenic chemicals in our food. Our team is here to stop the use of dangerous pesticides that threaten our health and the health of our planet. If we work together, we can stop the next generation of dangerous GMO crops!

2. The CFS legal team is on the frontlines of stopping GE salmon from making its way to store shelves. We have an active lawsuit right now against the largest GE salmon company—but it doesn\'t stop there!

Salmon was first, but at least 35 other genetically modified animal species are currently being developed!

If we don\'t win, it\'s just the start of a domino effect that could be the end of our natural, wild fisheries. That\'s why we\'re challenging every aspect of the FDA\'s approval, including their failure to evaluate the environmental impacts of GMO fish.

3. CFS is saving the bees! Our legal team scored a groundbreaking legal victory when a federal court concluded that the EPA approval of dozens neonicotinoid pesticides was illegal. As a result of our lawsuit, a dozen of these bee-killing pesticides will be taken off the market this year! EPA has also agreed to assess neonic impacts on other endangered pollinators and species by specific deadlines. Both of these announcements are the first time in U.S. history such steps have been required for addressing the impacts of neonic pesticides on pollinators. To complement this legal work, CFS created the Wild Bee ID website and phone app to help you identify bees in your own backyard and cultivate your own bee-friendly garden.

4. CFS is protecting our food! Our legal team just won a huge lawsuit that will force the FDA to identify and better protect us from the most high-risk foods! No more waiting in the dark for weeks or months when there\'s a foodborne illness outbreak, not knowing what\'s safe to feed your family. Now it\'ll be much easier to find the source of outbreaks and act fast to stop them!

5. CFS is protecting our waters and fishers. We\'re one of the only organizations fighting industrial aquaculture facilities, or the so-called "factory farms of the ocean." CFS won a major lawsuit protecting our oceans from massive contamination, as a federal court declared that raising fish in aquaculture facilities using toxic chemicals is illegal.

6. CFS is saving our children\'s brains! In a victory for our children, we wrote, lobbied, and passed a bill that banned the brain-damaging pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in Hawaii and also secured similar bans in California and New York. We\'re working hard to replicate these wins in other states as well as working with Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz to pass a bill at the federal level!

CFS is stopping atrocities committed by factory farms:

7. CFS and allies barred the state of Iowa from enforcing a controversial new "ag-gag" law which would have criminalized investigations at factory farms, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills! The state is prevented from enforcing its new ag-gag law while the lawsuit proceeds. CFS has historically defeated numerous laws designed to squash investigations at factory farms—these are victories for all those who support humane treatment of farm animals and safe food!

8. CFS and allies shut down a mega-CAFO dairy and stopped it from polluting local waterways and the environment with animal discharge in Hawaii! CFS and Hawaii community group Kupale Ookala sued Big Island Dairy, LLC, a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) located on Hawaii\'s Big Island. This year\'s settlement resulted in the closure of the offending dairy, and settlement funds for impacted communities, which is a huge win for the local groups and the environment.

9. We had a huge success with our national petition against Tillamook Creamery. The beloved Oregon company markets their products as sustainable and humane, but actually sources milk from polluting factory farms. We got 50,000 people to agree that they should #BeTheTruth and support local family farms instead. We also launched EndIndustrialMeat.org, a groundbreaking "go-to" resource on the impacts of industrial animal agriculture and alternatives to the system.

CFS is protecting water and pollinators in California:

10. CFS defeated the proposed Cadiz water project in court, a 43-mile-long pipeline through California\'s Mojave Trails National Monument. A favorite of the Trump Administration, this project was a for-profit privatization scam that would severely degrade Los Angeles\' water supply and take water from an essential desert ecosystem.

11. CFS and allied organizations successfully stopped the $17 billion Twin Tunnels water project. The project would have been one of the largest corporate water giveaways in California history, transferring water and control of the Delta ecosystem to some of California\'s most powerful and wasteful agricultural giants.

12. CFS is protecting bumblebees by filing a petition asking the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to list four species of bumblebees as endangered and eligible to receive protection under California\'s Endangered Species Act. This year, the Department responded to our petition and is now in the formal process of exploring protecting the four bumblebee species—we are on our way toward listing bees and insects as endangered for the first time in the State!

CFS helped protect the waters and wildlife of Washington State:

13. CFS won a case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop polluting commercial shellfish aquaculture operations in Washington State, a huge win for the environment and iconic species like salmon and orcas.

14. CFS stopped the shellfish industry from spraying oyster beds with a dangerous neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, protecting Washington\'s Willapa Bay from the use of this neurotoxin in the water.

CFS is protecting our precious land in Hawaii from pesticide conglomerates!

15. CFS worked with many organizations to secure the Board of Education\'s statewide policy banning herbicide use on all public school campuses in Hawaii.

16. CFS, in tandem with a robust coalition, protected Hawaii\'s public trust resources with an unprecedented defeat of a special interest "water theft bill."

17. CFS and allied organizations co-hosted a four-island speaking tour with historic Monsanto plaintiff Dewayne "Lee" Johnson in anticipation of upcoming Hawaii County-level herbicide ban.

All of this wouldn\'t be possible without the day-to-day support of our administrative team, our interns, our science team, and our donors!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making all this progress and many victories possible in 2019! Onward!

 

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Photo: CFS team in November 2019 in Portland, OR.

Working for a fairly small organization, it\'s easy for those of us who wear so many hats to get lost in the weeds of the daily "non-profit grind." One day, we\'re busy building a legal strategy; the next, we\'re sitting down with our supporters to get to know more about the issues you\'re facing in your communities. One week, we\'re talking to key elected officials; the next, we\'re shooting amazing video content about the future of agriculture. 

If I just stared at my task list all day long, ticking off item by item, maybe I\'d forget the larger force that all this "doing" makes me a part of.

But that\'s why I love this time of year… when we start to slow down, reflect, and connect with the people and things that matter to us the most.

As 2019 enters its final quarter, I\'m sitting here at my computer, in Hawaii, working "alongside" my colleague, Brenna, in Los Angeles, taking in all that Center for Food Safety (CFS)—from Portland to San Francisco, from LA to D.C.—has accomplished. We\'re a group of radical and passionate doers, collectively changing the landscapes and food-scapes of our communities, our country, and Mother Earth. Here are 17 of the groundbreaking victories we achieved together in 2019:

1. CFS is preventing the mass approval of GMO crops and foods! We\'re in court fighting some of our earth\'s biggest polluters: Monsanto, Dow Chemical, and the agency that gives a green light to these polluters—the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—in an effort to stop the approval of a Monsanto weedkiller that\'s been engineered to work with several new generation GMO crops, as well as Dow Chemical\'s "Enlist Duo" pesticide cocktail, a combination of glyphosate and 2,4-D (one of the active ingredients in "Agent Orange").

We should not be exposed to unsafe and carcinogenic chemicals in our food. Our team is here to stop the use of dangerous pesticides that threaten our health and the health of our planet. If we work together, we can stop the next generation of dangerous GMO crops!

2. The CFS legal team is on the frontlines of stopping GE salmon from making its way to store shelves. We have an active lawsuit right now against the largest GE salmon company—but it doesn\'t stop there!

Salmon was first, but at least 35 other genetically modified animal species are currently being developed!

If we don\'t win, it\'s just the start of a domino effect that could be the end of our natural, wild fisheries. That\'s why we\'re challenging every aspect of the FDA\'s approval, including their failure to evaluate the environmental impacts of GMO fish.

3. CFS is saving the bees! Our legal team scored a groundbreaking legal victory when a federal court concluded that the EPA approval of dozens neonicotinoid pesticides was illegal. As a result of our lawsuit, a dozen of these bee-killing pesticides will be taken off the market this year! EPA has also agreed to assess neonic impacts on other endangered pollinators and species by specific deadlines. Both of these announcements are the first time in U.S. history such steps have been required for addressing the impacts of neonic pesticides on pollinators. To complement this legal work, CFS created the Wild Bee ID website and phone app to help you identify bees in your own backyard and cultivate your own bee-friendly garden.

4. CFS is protecting our food! Our legal team just won a huge lawsuit that will force the FDA to identify and better protect us from the most high-risk foods! No more waiting in the dark for weeks or months when there\'s a foodborne illness outbreak, not knowing what\'s safe to feed your family. Now it\'ll be much easier to find the source of outbreaks and act fast to stop them!

5. CFS is protecting our waters and fishers. We\'re one of the only organizations fighting industrial aquaculture facilities, or the so-called "factory farms of the ocean." CFS won a major lawsuit protecting our oceans from massive contamination, as a federal court declared that raising fish in aquaculture facilities using toxic chemicals is illegal.

6. CFS is saving our children\'s brains! In a victory for our children, we wrote, lobbied, and passed a bill that banned the brain-damaging pesticide, chlorpyrifos, in Hawaii and also secured similar bans in California and New York. We\'re working hard to replicate these wins in other states as well as working with Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz to pass a bill at the federal level!

CFS is stopping atrocities committed by factory farms:

7. CFS and allies barred the state of Iowa from enforcing a controversial new "ag-gag" law which would have criminalized investigations at factory farms, slaughterhouses, and puppy mills! The state is prevented from enforcing its new ag-gag law while the lawsuit proceeds. CFS has historically defeated numerous laws designed to squash investigations at factory farms—these are victories for all those who support humane treatment of farm animals and safe food!

8. CFS and allies shut down a mega-CAFO dairy and stopped it from polluting local waterways and the environment with animal discharge in Hawaii! CFS and Hawaii community group Kupale Ookala sued Big Island Dairy, LLC, a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) located on Hawaii\'s Big Island. This year\'s settlement resulted in the closure of the offending dairy, and settlement funds for impacted communities, which is a huge win for the local groups and the environment.

9. We had a huge success with our national petition against Tillamook Creamery. The beloved Oregon company markets their products as sustainable and humane, but actually sources milk from polluting factory farms. We got 50,000 people to agree that they should #BeTheTruth and support local family farms instead. We also launched EndIndustrialMeat.org, a groundbreaking "go-to" resource on the impacts of industrial animal agriculture and alternatives to the system.

CFS is protecting water and pollinators in California:

10. CFS defeated the proposed Cadiz water project in court, a 43-mile-long pipeline through California\'s Mojave Trails National Monument. A favorite of the Trump Administration, this project was a for-profit privatization scam that would severely degrade Los Angeles\' water supply and take water from an essential desert ecosystem.

11. CFS and allied organizations successfully stopped the $17 billion Twin Tunnels water project. The project would have been one of the largest corporate water giveaways in California history, transferring water and control of the Delta ecosystem to some of California\'s most powerful and wasteful agricultural giants.

12. CFS is protecting bumblebees by filing a petition asking the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to list four species of bumblebees as endangered and eligible to receive protection under California\'s Endangered Species Act. This year, the Department responded to our petition and is now in the formal process of exploring protecting the four bumblebee species—we are on our way toward listing bees and insects as endangered for the first time in the State!

CFS helped protect the waters and wildlife of Washington State:

13. CFS won a case against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to stop polluting commercial shellfish aquaculture operations in Washington State, a huge win for the environment and iconic species like salmon and orcas.

14. CFS stopped the shellfish industry from spraying oyster beds with a dangerous neonicotinoid insecticide, imidacloprid, protecting Washington\'s Willapa Bay from the use of this neurotoxin in the water.

CFS is protecting our precious land in Hawaii from pesticide conglomerates!

15. CFS worked with many organizations to secure the Board of Education\'s statewide policy banning herbicide use on all public school campuses in Hawaii.

16. CFS, in tandem with a robust coalition, protected Hawaii\'s public trust resources with an unprecedented defeat of a special interest "water theft bill."

17. CFS and allied organizations co-hosted a four-island speaking tour with historic Monsanto plaintiff Dewayne "Lee" Johnson in anticipation of upcoming Hawaii County-level herbicide ban.

All of this wouldn\'t be possible without the day-to-day support of our administrative team, our interns, our science team, and our donors!

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making all this progress and many victories possible in 2019! Onward!

 

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Originally published on Alternet.

With the help of the federal government, Monsanto is set to make things worse.

Last year\'s farm season was the first year Monsanto’s newly approved XtendiMax pesticide was used. Crop damage was so bad that multiple states had to step in and take action to protect their farmers. Why? Because, as revealed below, U.S. agriculture has rarely if ever seen such a dramatic and disastrous season as 2017, the result of our government regulators failing to protect farmers and the environment—instead doing the bidding of chemical companies.

Dicamba and Monsanto’s XtendiMax

Monsanto\'s "new" pesticide is actually just an old pesticide with a new twist: dicamba, a pesticide more than 50 years old, intended for use on Monsanto\'s new genetically engineered dicamba-resistant corn and soybeans. Dicamba has been sold in various forms since 1967 and used primarily with cereal crops like corn and wheat, which can tolerate small doses of it. However, its notorious propensity to drift made it unpopular with most farmers, who switched to safer herbicides as they became available. Because dicamba is extremely toxic to traditional cotton and soybean, the pesticide previously could be used only before these plants sprouted, to clear a field of weeds early in the season, and few used it for that purpose.

Monsanto\'s genetically engineered varieties changed all that, allowing XtendiMax to be sprayed "over-the-top" of the dicamba-resistant crops, much later in the season. This is also when neighboring crops have leafed out and are susceptible to crop injury—and when higher temperatures increase vapor drift. Now, the agribusiness giant can conveniently market patented GE dicamba-resistant seeds (which are also resistant to Roundup herbicide) together with XtendiMax, as the "Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System."

Doubling down on the pesticide treadmill

This crop system is Monsanto\'s false solution to a problem of its own making. For 20 years, the company has sold Roundup and seeds genetically engineered to resist Roundup\'s active ingredient, glyphosate. This "Roundup Ready" crop system has dramatically and controversially increased the overall pesticide output into our environment, making Roundup the most used pesticide in the history of mankind, contaminating our watersheds, soils and harming biodiversity. However, it also caused a related agronomic problem: Monsanto told farmers they could rely entirely on Roundup without weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate, contrary to weed science experts\' warnings. But as with overusing antibiotics, Roundup overuse generated an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant "superweeds" infesting an estimated 100 million acres of U.S. cropland.

So now, Monsanto\'s new business model consists of GE soybean and cotton to resist both dicamba and Roundup so they can both to be sprayed freely without killing the crops. Although Monsanto presents the ability to kill glyphosate-resistant weeds with dicamba as a quick fix to the glyphosate-resistant weed epidemic, it will actually make things worse. The massively increased dicamba use spurred by Monsanto\'s crops—nearly a 100-fold increase on soybeans alone—will foster rapid evolution of still more intractable superweeds, now resistant to both pesticides. There are already initial signs of dicamba resistance arising in farmers\' most feared weed, Palmer amaranth, in Arkansas and Tennessee.

Disastrous 2017 Season

Just as critics had warned, dicamba sprayed on Monsanto\'s GE soybeans and cotton volatilized, forming vapor clouds that drifted to damage a host of crops and wild plants. By July, farmers officially reported dicamba drift damaged 2.5 million acres of soybeans alone, rising to over 3.5 million acres in 16 states by August. Many other crops were also damaged, including tomatoes, melons, fruit and nut trees, and vegetables. Because experts estimate only one in ten dicamba drift episodes were reported, the true impacts could be ten times greater. Dicamba also injured residential gardens, shrubs and trees. Flowering wild plants near cropland also suffered, with potential harms to pollinators robbed of nectar and pollen resources, as well as hundreds of endangered species. Agronomists reported the scale of damage was "uncharted territory," and they had never seen herbicide-related drift damage on anything approaching this scale before.

Dicamba drift threatens farmers\' livelihoods, by slowing soybean growth and reducing yields, costing them millions. Dicamba has drifted so rampantly that many farmers feel compelled to plant Monsanto’s seeds, which are considerably more expensive than others, to avoid crop injury—which many feel is a form of extortion. Farmers have banded together to file class action lawsuits against Monsanto, in an attempt to recoup their losses. Dicamba drift has torn apart rural communities, pitting farmer against farmer. One dicamba drift dispute resulted in the gunshot death of an Arkansas grower.

EPA and Monsanto\'s failure to protect farmers

The U.S. government was well aware of dicamba\'s dangers to the environment and farmers, but Monsanto pressured the EPA to approve its business\' future cash cow anyway. EPA relied on Monsanto\'s assurances that XtendiMax was significantly less volatile than other dicamba formulations, and ignored warnings and documented analysis from farmers, scientists, and groups like Center for Food Safety that approval would lead to precisely the devastating crop injury that in fact occurred during the 2017 crop season.

While the tragedy unfolded over the summer, university scientists were finally allowed to test XtendiMax’s drift properties themselves, something Monsanto had strictly prohibited until it gained EPA approval at the end of 2016. These scientists confirmed through independent research that volatility, or vapor drift, was in fact one of the major routes of the dicamba drift injury, despite Monsanto\'s disingenuous claims to the contrary. For months, they repeatedly shared this data with EPA. They showed that, for example, contrary to Monsanto’s claims, XtendiMax volatilized "for as many as 3 or 4 days following the application," and urged the agency to address the problem. Numerous state agricultural departments reported to EPA ongoing extensive damage. A dozen scientists expressed unanimous concern that XtendiMax and other new dicamba formulations were more volatile than manufacturers admitted.

Beyond vapor drift, which EPA did not address, farmers also found the byzantine usage restrictions (that EPA was forced to apply in a vain attempt to suppress dicamba drift) extremely difficult to follow in real-world farming conditions. These restrictions include a ban on spraying in still or in windy conditions, or when rain is forecast in the next 24 hours. According to weed scientists, the 16,000-word label instructions were "unlike anything that’s ever been seen before." A Missouri farmer said, "You have to be a meteorologist to get it exactly right."

In August 2017, EPA briefly considered state experts\' recommendations to prohibit dicamba applications after a spring to early summer "cutoff date" as the only sure means to mitigate vapor drift damage. But after Monsanto opposed it, EPA rejected this solution. Instead, when EPA finally took action to amend the label in October, the agency followed Monsanto’s lead. EPA made XtendiMax restricted use, imposed record-keeping requirements and more applicator training, and a dusk to dawn spray ban. However, EPA left the critical issue of vapor drift unaddressed. In contrast, four states understood the centrality of vapor drift to crop damage and instituted cut-off dates and temperature limits to mitigate it.

EPA did not provide any new rationale or analysis or data to suggest that the new amended label would do any more to protect farmers’ crops from dicamba drift damage than the original label. Worse, EPA admitted that it had done no new assessment, nor gathered any new data at all as to why the new label amendments would reduce dicamba drift damage in the 2018 crop seasons. Instead, EPA continued to rely unlawfully on its prior analyses and determinations, even though they were proven tragically flawed. Millions of acres of damaged crops, with tremendous costs to farmers, are the predictable result of EPA recklessly pushing to market a product well known to drift on to neighboring plants and damage them. All of this could have been avoided if EPA had followed the law.

The litigation

The government\'s decision to approve Monsanto\'s dicamba pesticide was not just irresponsible, it was unlawful. Farmers should be protected from this unprecedented damage, not made scapegoats in order for Monsanto to fatten its bottom line at their expense and the environment’s expense. That’s why a coalition of environmental and farmer nonprofits filed suit challenging the XtendiMax approval early last year, and this past Friday the challengers made their case, based on all of the evidence described above and produced in the litigation.

The government violated the federal pesticide law and the Endangered Species Act in approving XtendiMax without addressing volatility, failing to consider the significant costs of drift damage to U.S. farmers, failing to protect endangered species, and more. Should the farmers and environmentalists prevail, XtendiMax’s approval can be rescinded and the pesticide withdrawn from the market.


Photo Credit: Goran Jakus/Shutterstock

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

 

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The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as “new animal drugs.” Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government’s negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has reapproved and proposed a dramatic expansion of the use of the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo after only a cursory review of troubling data showing the two chemicals in the pesticide combine to have “synergistic” effects that are potentially harmful to endangered species and the environment. If approved the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy and cotton in 35 states — up from 16 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.

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Family farmers and other supporters of Jackson County’s precedent-setting ban on genetically engineered (GE) crop cultivation are celebrating a federal court ruling upholding the legality of Jackson County’s ordinance. The ruling released this afternoon by Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke was a resounding victory for Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC) and Center for Food Safety (CFS), which intervened in the case to defend the ban along with two local family farmers.  Lawyers with Center for Food Safety and the Earthrise Law Center based at Lewis and Clark Law School jointly represented the intervening parties.

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McDonald\'s, Wendy\'s, and Gerber have already indicated that they don\'t plan to use these GE apples. Burger King could be next.

Sign the petition: Tell Burger King to commit to keeping GE apples out of its meals.

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Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered? This is probably the most urgent question the public has about these novel foods. But despite overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients. The first of it\'s kind--available both in print and as a mibile app for iPhone and Android--the CFS True Food Shoppers Guide was designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.

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Originally published on Alternet.

With the help of the federal government, Monsanto is set to make things worse.

Last year\'s farm season was the first year Monsanto’s newly approved XtendiMax pesticide was used. Crop damage was so bad that multiple states had to step in and take action to protect their farmers. Why? Because, as revealed below, U.S. agriculture has rarely if ever seen such a dramatic and disastrous season as 2017, the result of our government regulators failing to protect farmers and the environment—instead doing the bidding of chemical companies.

Dicamba and Monsanto’s XtendiMax

Monsanto\'s "new" pesticide is actually just an old pesticide with a new twist: dicamba, a pesticide more than 50 years old, intended for use on Monsanto\'s new genetically engineered dicamba-resistant corn and soybeans. Dicamba has been sold in various forms since 1967 and used primarily with cereal crops like corn and wheat, which can tolerate small doses of it. However, its notorious propensity to drift made it unpopular with most farmers, who switched to safer herbicides as they became available. Because dicamba is extremely toxic to traditional cotton and soybean, the pesticide previously could be used only before these plants sprouted, to clear a field of weeds early in the season, and few used it for that purpose.

Monsanto\'s genetically engineered varieties changed all that, allowing XtendiMax to be sprayed "over-the-top" of the dicamba-resistant crops, much later in the season. This is also when neighboring crops have leafed out and are susceptible to crop injury—and when higher temperatures increase vapor drift. Now, the agribusiness giant can conveniently market patented GE dicamba-resistant seeds (which are also resistant to Roundup herbicide) together with XtendiMax, as the "Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System."

Doubling down on the pesticide treadmill

This crop system is Monsanto\'s false solution to a problem of its own making. For 20 years, the company has sold Roundup and seeds genetically engineered to resist Roundup\'s active ingredient, glyphosate. This "Roundup Ready" crop system has dramatically and controversially increased the overall pesticide output into our environment, making Roundup the most used pesticide in the history of mankind, contaminating our watersheds, soils and harming biodiversity. However, it also caused a related agronomic problem: Monsanto told farmers they could rely entirely on Roundup without weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate, contrary to weed science experts\' warnings. But as with overusing antibiotics, Roundup overuse generated an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant "superweeds" infesting an estimated 100 million acres of U.S. cropland.

So now, Monsanto\'s new business model consists of GE soybean and cotton to resist both dicamba and Roundup so they can both to be sprayed freely without killing the crops. Although Monsanto presents the ability to kill glyphosate-resistant weeds with dicamba as a quick fix to the glyphosate-resistant weed epidemic, it will actually make things worse. The massively increased dicamba use spurred by Monsanto\'s crops—nearly a 100-fold increase on soybeans alone—will foster rapid evolution of still more intractable superweeds, now resistant to both pesticides. There are already initial signs of dicamba resistance arising in farmers\' most feared weed, Palmer amaranth, in Arkansas and Tennessee.

Disastrous 2017 Season

Just as critics had warned, dicamba sprayed on Monsanto\'s GE soybeans and cotton volatilized, forming vapor clouds that drifted to damage a host of crops and wild plants. By July, farmers officially reported dicamba drift damaged 2.5 million acres of soybeans alone, rising to over 3.5 million acres in 16 states by August. Many other crops were also damaged, including tomatoes, melons, fruit and nut trees, and vegetables. Because experts estimate only one in ten dicamba drift episodes were reported, the true impacts could be ten times greater. Dicamba also injured residential gardens, shrubs and trees. Flowering wild plants near cropland also suffered, with potential harms to pollinators robbed of nectar and pollen resources, as well as hundreds of endangered species. Agronomists reported the scale of damage was "uncharted territory," and they had never seen herbicide-related drift damage on anything approaching this scale before.

Dicamba drift threatens farmers\' livelihoods, by slowing soybean growth and reducing yields, costing them millions. Dicamba has drifted so rampantly that many farmers feel compelled to plant Monsanto’s seeds, which are considerably more expensive than others, to avoid crop injury—which many feel is a form of extortion. Farmers have banded together to file class action lawsuits against Monsanto, in an attempt to recoup their losses. Dicamba drift has torn apart rural communities, pitting farmer against farmer. One dicamba drift dispute resulted in the gunshot death of an Arkansas grower.

EPA and Monsanto\'s failure to protect farmers

The U.S. government was well aware of dicamba\'s dangers to the environment and farmers, but Monsanto pressured the EPA to approve its business\' future cash cow anyway. EPA relied on Monsanto\'s assurances that XtendiMax was significantly less volatile than other dicamba formulations, and ignored warnings and documented analysis from farmers, scientists, and groups like Center for Food Safety that approval would lead to precisely the devastating crop injury that in fact occurred during the 2017 crop season.

While the tragedy unfolded over the summer, university scientists were finally allowed to test XtendiMax’s drift properties themselves, something Monsanto had strictly prohibited until it gained EPA approval at the end of 2016. These scientists confirmed through independent research that volatility, or vapor drift, was in fact one of the major routes of the dicamba drift injury, despite Monsanto\'s disingenuous claims to the contrary. For months, they repeatedly shared this data with EPA. They showed that, for example, contrary to Monsanto’s claims, XtendiMax volatilized "for as many as 3 or 4 days following the application," and urged the agency to address the problem. Numerous state agricultural departments reported to EPA ongoing extensive damage. A dozen scientists expressed unanimous concern that XtendiMax and other new dicamba formulations were more volatile than manufacturers admitted.

Beyond vapor drift, which EPA did not address, farmers also found the byzantine usage restrictions (that EPA was forced to apply in a vain attempt to suppress dicamba drift) extremely difficult to follow in real-world farming conditions. These restrictions include a ban on spraying in still or in windy conditions, or when rain is forecast in the next 24 hours. According to weed scientists, the 16,000-word label instructions were "unlike anything that’s ever been seen before." A Missouri farmer said, "You have to be a meteorologist to get it exactly right."

In August 2017, EPA briefly considered state experts\' recommendations to prohibit dicamba applications after a spring to early summer "cutoff date" as the only sure means to mitigate vapor drift damage. But after Monsanto opposed it, EPA rejected this solution. Instead, when EPA finally took action to amend the label in October, the agency followed Monsanto’s lead. EPA made XtendiMax restricted use, imposed record-keeping requirements and more applicator training, and a dusk to dawn spray ban. However, EPA left the critical issue of vapor drift unaddressed. In contrast, four states understood the centrality of vapor drift to crop damage and instituted cut-off dates and temperature limits to mitigate it.

EPA did not provide any new rationale or analysis or data to suggest that the new amended label would do any more to protect farmers’ crops from dicamba drift damage than the original label. Worse, EPA admitted that it had done no new assessment, nor gathered any new data at all as to why the new label amendments would reduce dicamba drift damage in the 2018 crop seasons. Instead, EPA continued to rely unlawfully on its prior analyses and determinations, even though they were proven tragically flawed. Millions of acres of damaged crops, with tremendous costs to farmers, are the predictable result of EPA recklessly pushing to market a product well known to drift on to neighboring plants and damage them. All of this could have been avoided if EPA had followed the law.

The litigation

The government\'s decision to approve Monsanto\'s dicamba pesticide was not just irresponsible, it was unlawful. Farmers should be protected from this unprecedented damage, not made scapegoats in order for Monsanto to fatten its bottom line at their expense and the environment’s expense. That’s why a coalition of environmental and farmer nonprofits filed suit challenging the XtendiMax approval early last year, and this past Friday the challengers made their case, based on all of the evidence described above and produced in the litigation.

The government violated the federal pesticide law and the Endangered Species Act in approving XtendiMax without addressing volatility, failing to consider the significant costs of drift damage to U.S. farmers, failing to protect endangered species, and more. Should the farmers and environmentalists prevail, XtendiMax’s approval can be rescinded and the pesticide withdrawn from the market.


Photo Credit: Goran Jakus/Shutterstock

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

 

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Originally published on Alternet.

With the help of the federal government, Monsanto is set to make things worse.

Last year\'s farm season was the first year Monsanto’s newly approved XtendiMax pesticide was used. Crop damage was so bad that multiple states had to step in and take action to protect their farmers. Why? Because, as revealed below, U.S. agriculture has rarely if ever seen such a dramatic and disastrous season as 2017, the result of our government regulators failing to protect farmers and the environment—instead doing the bidding of chemical companies.

Dicamba and Monsanto’s XtendiMax

Monsanto\'s "new" pesticide is actually just an old pesticide with a new twist: dicamba, a pesticide more than 50 years old, intended for use on Monsanto\'s new genetically engineered dicamba-resistant corn and soybeans. Dicamba has been sold in various forms since 1967 and used primarily with cereal crops like corn and wheat, which can tolerate small doses of it. However, its notorious propensity to drift made it unpopular with most farmers, who switched to safer herbicides as they became available. Because dicamba is extremely toxic to traditional cotton and soybean, the pesticide previously could be used only before these plants sprouted, to clear a field of weeds early in the season, and few used it for that purpose.

Monsanto\'s genetically engineered varieties changed all that, allowing XtendiMax to be sprayed "over-the-top" of the dicamba-resistant crops, much later in the season. This is also when neighboring crops have leafed out and are susceptible to crop injury—and when higher temperatures increase vapor drift. Now, the agribusiness giant can conveniently market patented GE dicamba-resistant seeds (which are also resistant to Roundup herbicide) together with XtendiMax, as the "Roundup Ready Xtend Crop System."

Doubling down on the pesticide treadmill

This crop system is Monsanto\'s false solution to a problem of its own making. For 20 years, the company has sold Roundup and seeds genetically engineered to resist Roundup\'s active ingredient, glyphosate. This "Roundup Ready" crop system has dramatically and controversially increased the overall pesticide output into our environment, making Roundup the most used pesticide in the history of mankind, contaminating our watersheds, soils and harming biodiversity. However, it also caused a related agronomic problem: Monsanto told farmers they could rely entirely on Roundup without weeds becoming resistant to glyphosate, contrary to weed science experts\' warnings. But as with overusing antibiotics, Roundup overuse generated an epidemic of glyphosate-resistant "superweeds" infesting an estimated 100 million acres of U.S. cropland.

So now, Monsanto\'s new business model consists of GE soybean and cotton to resist both dicamba and Roundup so they can both to be sprayed freely without killing the crops. Although Monsanto presents the ability to kill glyphosate-resistant weeds with dicamba as a quick fix to the glyphosate-resistant weed epidemic, it will actually make things worse. The massively increased dicamba use spurred by Monsanto\'s crops—nearly a 100-fold increase on soybeans alone—will foster rapid evolution of still more intractable superweeds, now resistant to both pesticides. There are already initial signs of dicamba resistance arising in farmers\' most feared weed, Palmer amaranth, in Arkansas and Tennessee.

Disastrous 2017 Season

Just as critics had warned, dicamba sprayed on Monsanto\'s GE soybeans and cotton volatilized, forming vapor clouds that drifted to damage a host of crops and wild plants. By July, farmers officially reported dicamba drift damaged 2.5 million acres of soybeans alone, rising to over 3.5 million acres in 16 states by August. Many other crops were also damaged, including tomatoes, melons, fruit and nut trees, and vegetables. Because experts estimate only one in ten dicamba drift episodes were reported, the true impacts could be ten times greater. Dicamba also injured residential gardens, shrubs and trees. Flowering wild plants near cropland also suffered, with potential harms to pollinators robbed of nectar and pollen resources, as well as hundreds of endangered species. Agronomists reported the scale of damage was "uncharted territory," and they had never seen herbicide-related drift damage on anything approaching this scale before.

Dicamba drift threatens farmers\' livelihoods, by slowing soybean growth and reducing yields, costing them millions. Dicamba has drifted so rampantly that many farmers feel compelled to plant Monsanto’s seeds, which are considerably more expensive than others, to avoid crop injury—which many feel is a form of extortion. Farmers have banded together to file class action lawsuits against Monsanto, in an attempt to recoup their losses. Dicamba drift has torn apart rural communities, pitting farmer against farmer. One dicamba drift dispute resulted in the gunshot death of an Arkansas grower.

EPA and Monsanto\'s failure to protect farmers

The U.S. government was well aware of dicamba\'s dangers to the environment and farmers, but Monsanto pressured the EPA to approve its business\' future cash cow anyway. EPA relied on Monsanto\'s assurances that XtendiMax was significantly less volatile than other dicamba formulations, and ignored warnings and documented analysis from farmers, scientists, and groups like Center for Food Safety that approval would lead to precisely the devastating crop injury that in fact occurred during the 2017 crop season.

While the tragedy unfolded over the summer, university scientists were finally allowed to test XtendiMax’s drift properties themselves, something Monsanto had strictly prohibited until it gained EPA approval at the end of 2016. These scientists confirmed through independent research that volatility, or vapor drift, was in fact one of the major routes of the dicamba drift injury, despite Monsanto\'s disingenuous claims to the contrary. For months, they repeatedly shared this data with EPA. They showed that, for example, contrary to Monsanto’s claims, XtendiMax volatilized "for as many as 3 or 4 days following the application," and urged the agency to address the problem. Numerous state agricultural departments reported to EPA ongoing extensive damage. A dozen scientists expressed unanimous concern that XtendiMax and other new dicamba formulations were more volatile than manufacturers admitted.

Beyond vapor drift, which EPA did not address, farmers also found the byzantine usage restrictions (that EPA was forced to apply in a vain attempt to suppress dicamba drift) extremely difficult to follow in real-world farming conditions. These restrictions include a ban on spraying in still or in windy conditions, or when rain is forecast in the next 24 hours. According to weed scientists, the 16,000-word label instructions were "unlike anything that’s ever been seen before." A Missouri farmer said, "You have to be a meteorologist to get it exactly right."

In August 2017, EPA briefly considered state experts\' recommendations to prohibit dicamba applications after a spring to early summer "cutoff date" as the only sure means to mitigate vapor drift damage. But after Monsanto opposed it, EPA rejected this solution. Instead, when EPA finally took action to amend the label in October, the agency followed Monsanto’s lead. EPA made XtendiMax restricted use, imposed record-keeping requirements and more applicator training, and a dusk to dawn spray ban. However, EPA left the critical issue of vapor drift unaddressed. In contrast, four states understood the centrality of vapor drift to crop damage and instituted cut-off dates and temperature limits to mitigate it.

EPA did not provide any new rationale or analysis or data to suggest that the new amended label would do any more to protect farmers’ crops from dicamba drift damage than the original label. Worse, EPA admitted that it had done no new assessment, nor gathered any new data at all as to why the new label amendments would reduce dicamba drift damage in the 2018 crop seasons. Instead, EPA continued to rely unlawfully on its prior analyses and determinations, even though they were proven tragically flawed. Millions of acres of damaged crops, with tremendous costs to farmers, are the predictable result of EPA recklessly pushing to market a product well known to drift on to neighboring plants and damage them. All of this could have been avoided if EPA had followed the law.

The litigation

The government\'s decision to approve Monsanto\'s dicamba pesticide was not just irresponsible, it was unlawful. Farmers should be protected from this unprecedented damage, not made scapegoats in order for Monsanto to fatten its bottom line at their expense and the environment’s expense. That’s why a coalition of environmental and farmer nonprofits filed suit challenging the XtendiMax approval early last year, and this past Friday the challengers made their case, based on all of the evidence described above and produced in the litigation.

The government violated the federal pesticide law and the Endangered Species Act in approving XtendiMax without addressing volatility, failing to consider the significant costs of drift damage to U.S. farmers, failing to protect endangered species, and more. Should the farmers and environmentalists prevail, XtendiMax’s approval can be rescinded and the pesticide withdrawn from the market.


Photo Credit: Goran Jakus/Shutterstock

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

 

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For further documentation, see ¬Center for Food Safety’s comments to the Arkansas Plant Board on the State’s dicamba restrictions and Monsanto’s petition to rescind them

What is XtendiMax?
XtendiMax is Monsanto’s formulation of dicamba, a weed-killing pesticide first introduced in the 1960s, and long notorious for its propensity to drift and damage neighboring crops. The EPA approved XtendiMax for “over-the-top” application to Monsanto’s genetically engineered, dicamba- and glyphosate-resistant soybeans and cotton in November 2016.

Hasn’t there always been herbicide drift? What’s the big deal with dicamba?
There has never been anywhere close to so much herbicide drift injury as was caused by dicamba alone in 2017. There have been roughly 3,000 official complaints of dicamba damage to soybeans covering an astounding 3.6 million acres (Figures 1 & 2). Because experts estimate only one in 10 dicamba drift episodes were reported, the true impacts could be 10 times greater. According to North Dakota pesticide specialist Andrew Thostenson: "We are in unprecedented, uncharted territory. We\'ve never observed anything on this scale in this country since we\'ve been using pesticides in the modern era."

 

Figure 1: Official dicamba-related injury investigations as reported by state departments of agriculture as of October 15, 2017. South Dakota updated from 114 to 221 complaints. North Dakota updated from 40 to 207 complaints. The additional 274 complaints in ND and SD raise the original total of 2,708 complaints to a new total of 2,982.

Figure 1: Official dicamba-related injury investigations as reported by state departments of agriculture as of October 15, 2017. South Dakota updated from 114 to 221 complaints. North Dakota updated from 40 to 207 complaints. The additional 274 complaints in ND and SD raise the original total of 2,708 complaints to a new total of 2,982.

 

Why has XtendiMax caused such devastating crop injury?
First, while any pesticide can drift in the wind while it is being sprayed, dicamba poses a second threat. It volatilizes (vaporizes) from soil and plant surfaces hours to days after application, forming vapor clouds that can drift long distances to injure sensitive crops. Second, while dicamba has traditionally been sprayed around planting time, when most crops have not yet sprouted, XtendiMax is applied later in the season when crops have leafed out and are susceptible to injury; this is also when higher temperatures increase volatilization. Finally, dicamba is so potent that even extremely low vapor concentrations can harm flowering crops and other plants.

 

Figure 2: Estimates of dicamba-injured soybean acreage as reported by state extension weed scientists (as of October 15, 2017). Total of roughly 3.6 million acres. “k” stands for “thousands”
Figure 2: Estimates of dicamba-injured soybean acreage as reported by state extension weed scientists (as of October 15, 2017). Total of roughly 3.6 million acres. “k” stands for “thousands”

 

Is it only soybeans that have been injured by dicamba drift?
No. Dicamba drift has caused widespread injury to vegetables, melons, orchards, grapes, pumpkins, peas and tobacco, not to mention residential gardens and trees, and wild plants. We hear more about soybean injury because soybeans are among the most widely planted crops in America and are incredibly sensitive to dicamba. A beekeeper operating in Arkansas and several other states reports that honey production is down sharply in areas where dicamba was heavily sprayed, a possible sign that dicamba drift is killing off the flowering plants that bees depend upon for nectar and pollen.

Isn’t crop damage also from illegal use of older dicamba formulations?
Investigations have found that most farmers have used XtendiMax or other formulations (Engenia, FeXapan) approved for use on dicamba-resistant crops (new dicamba), and complied with extremely complex and restrictive usage (label) instructions – and still injured their neighbors’ crops via drift. There is also no evidence the label directions actually prevent drift in real world farming conditions. Independent field trials show that over time, XtendiMax is at best only slightly less volatile than other versions of dicamba, directly contradicting Monsanto’s claims. While some farmers have likely made illegal use of old dicamba, there is abundant evidence that drift injury occurs even with label-compliant use of new dicamba.

Isn’t XtendiMax “low-volatility”?
This is what Monsanto claims. Yet scores of independent studies demonstrate that XtendiMax is at best only slightly less volatile than Clarity and other dicamba formulations (see last question).

Why did Monsanto prohibit independent testing of XtendiMax for drift?
Monsanto prohibited independent scientists from testing the drift properties of XtendiMax until 2017, following its approval by EPA. This extraordinary prohibition was at odds with the universal practice of pesticide companies permitting agronomists to test their products before commercial release. Monsanto’s explanation for the prohibition – to avoid any delay in EPA approval – rings true. Had the independent tests that prove XtendiMax’s volatility been allowed prior to EPA approval, they might well have delayed or even stopped EPA’s registration of this defective product for use on dicamba-resistant crops, an outcome that Monsanto  avoided with its ban.

Will the new XtendiMax label, revised in October 2017, prevent dicamba drift injury?
None of the recent changes to the XtendiMax label – restricted use status, record-keeping requirements for applicators, more training, and a dusk to dawn spraying ban – address volatility, which experts regard as a “major route” of dicamba drift injury. The disappointing label changes appear to have been drafted by Monsanto, not EPA, which ignored calls from independent scientists to establish a spring cut-off date to prevent most dicamba drift injury.

How did states respond to dicamba drift?
Because EPA failed to address risks from volatility, at least four states have established cut-off dates – or dates after which dicamba may not be sprayed – in order to reduce the risk of crop injury in 2018: Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota and Minnesota. Others states, such as Indiana and Tennessee, have enacted other requirements.

Does dicamba injury lead to reduced yield?
In many cases, yes. Conditions that make yield loss more likely occurred frequently in the 2017 crop season. These include dicamba drift exposure during the crop’s sensitive reproductive phase; exposure to drift two or more times; and unfavorable weather conditions after the exposure(s), such as drought. For instance, Missouri peach grower Bill Bader lost at least 30,000 trees to dicamba drift, while Missouri soybean farmer Chris Crosskno anticipated an 8-10 bushel/acre yield reduction, for a loss of about $180,000. Arkansas agronomist Jason Norsworthy predicted less than 5 bushel/acre harvests (pp. 142-143) for some dicamba-injured soybeans in his state (roughly 90% yield reduction), while Minnesota farmers report that dicamba drift is costing them millions of dollars in lost soybean yield. Dicamba drift also retards growth, which gives weeds the upper hand. This in turn can lead to more herbicide spraying.

Did average soybean yields decline due to dicamba drift?
While there is extensive evidence that dicamba drift caused yield losses for many individual farmers (see last response), at state and national scales it is impossible to disentangle its influence from that of many other factors. Weather conditions always exert a substantial influence on yield, and can either ameliorate or exacerbate dicamba’s effects. Tennessee and North Dakota – both hard hit by dicamba drift (Figures 1 & 2) – are good examples. Tennessee had good growing conditions, which helped uninjured soybeans reach near their full yield potential and dicamba-damaged soybeans recover somewhat. Average Tennessee yield rose 10% from 2016 (Figure 3). In contrast, heat stress and severe drought conditions in North Dakota suppressed soybean yields generally, and exacerbated the impacts of dicamba injury. The average North Dakota yield fell 22% from 2016 (Figure 3).

 

Figure 3: Average soybean yields in the U.S. and selected states. Source: USDA National  Agricultural Statistics Service, Quik Stats.

Figure 3: Average soybean yields in the U.S. and selected states. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Quik Stats.

 

If dicamba drift reduced yield, why did soybean production rise in 2017?
Because American farmers planted far more soybeans than ever before in 2017 – 90.1 million acres – 8% more acres than in 2016, the previous record. Average national soybean yield, however, fell by 6% (Figure 3).

Why are farmers growing dicamba-resistant crops?
Some farmers with serious infestations of glyphosate- and multiple herbicide-resistant weeds see the ability to spray XtendiMax “over-the-top” of dicamba-resistant crops as a convenient way to control them. Other farmers have switched to dicamba-resistant soybeans to avoid the crop injury they fear (and which many have experienced) growing non-dicamba-resistant varieties. Some farmers regard this as “tantamount to extortion,” given the high cost of Monsanto’s seeds, and class action lawsuits charge Monsanto with illegal monopolistic behavior on these same grounds.

Why aren’t dicamba-resistant crops a solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds?
Herbicide-resistant (HR) crops are developed and marketed to farmers as weed control systems that rely entirely on the HR crop-associated herbicide(s). Total reliance on dicamba and glyphosate with the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System is certain to promote rapid evolution of dicamba resistance, resulting in glyphosate-resistant weeds acquiring additional resistance to dicamba.

Are there any dicamba-resistant weeds?
2017 is the first year dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton have been widely planted, yet scientists are already finding initial signs of dicamba-resistance in Palmer amaranth, farmers’ most feared weed, in Arkansas and Tennessee. Other likely candidates for dicamba resistance are kochia, waterhemp and horseweed – all of which have large populations already resistant to glyphosate, with dual resistance to both herbicides highly likely.

Why did Monsanto develop dicamba-resistant crops?
Monsanto acquired the rights to dicamba-resistance technology from its developers at the University of Nebraska in 2005. Monsanto understood even then that the glyphosate-resistant weed epidemic it was helping to create (see next question) would eventually open a profitable market for a second-generation of crops resistant to dicamba, sold to farmers as a means to control glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Is Monsanto really to blame for glyphosate-resistant weeds?
In the early to mid-2000s, Monsanto ran “advertorials” in farm press publications that misled farmers into thinking they could rely entirely on glyphosate and Roundup Ready crops, every year, without risk of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Agronomists took Monsanto to task for this self-serving, profit-seeking advice, which helped set the stage for a massive epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds that infest up to 100 million acres of cropland.

Are there other dicamba-resistant crops coming?
Yes, Monsanto already has dicamba-resistant corn approved, while it has experimented with dicamba-resistant versions of wheat, canola and sugar beets.

Where does the dicamba-resistance gene come from?
The dicamba resistance gene in Monsanto’s crops was derived from bacteria that had evolved dicamba resistance in storm water retention ponds at a dicamba production plant in Texas. This dicamba-degrading gene was initially viewed as a means to break down and hence “bioremediate” soil and water polluted with dicamba (then viewed as a hazardous pesticide, even by EPA). Ironically, University of Nebraska and Monsanto repurposed the gene to dramatically increase pollution of the environment with dicamba.

Does dicamba pose human health risks?
Because Monsanto’s GMOs are also engineered to withstand applications of Monsanto’s Roundup, the overuse of Roundup (containing the active ingredient glyphosate) will continue at current high levels. Dicamba use is projected to increase 20-fold with Monsanto’s GMOs, increasing exposure. Dicamba is linked to increased rates of cancer in farmers and birth defects, while glyphosate was recently classified as a “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization. Both dicamba and glyphosate are associated with increased rates of the same immune system cancer – non-Hodgkin lymphoma – in farmers. EPA dismissed pesticide industry studies providing evidence of dicamba’s carcinogenicity in rodents and potential neurotoxicity.

 

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The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as “new animal drugs.” Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government’s negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.

', ), 'lead_img' => 'airplane-465619_1920_33778_51645.jpg', 'gallery' => array ( 0 => array ( 0 => 'airplane-465619_1920_33778_51645.jpg', 1 => 'After Cursory Review, EPA Proposes Dramatic Expansion of Toxic Pesticide Blend Enlist Duo', 2 => '

The Environmental Protection Agency has reapproved and proposed a dramatic expansion of the use of the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo after only a cursory review of troubling data showing the two chemicals in the pesticide combine to have “synergistic” effects that are potentially harmful to endangered species and the environment. If approved the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy and cotton in 35 states — up from 16 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4559/after-cursory-review-epa-proposes-dramatic-expansionof-toxic-pesticide-blend-enlist-duo', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'jacksonvictory_59877.jpg', 1 => 'Victory! Judge Upholds Jackson County’s Ban on Genetically Engineered Crops', 2 => '

Family farmers and other supporters of Jackson County’s precedent-setting ban on genetically engineered (GE) crop cultivation are celebrating a federal court ruling upholding the legality of Jackson County’s ordinance. The ruling released this afternoon by Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke was a resounding victory for Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC) and Center for Food Safety (CFS), which intervened in the case to defend the ban along with two local family farmers.  Lawyers with Center for Food Safety and the Earthrise Law Center based at Lewis and Clark Law School jointly represented the intervening parties.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/3953/judge-upholds-jackson-countys-ban-on-genetically-engineered-crops', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 2 => array ( 0 => 'gefujiapple_twandfblink2_notextfw_91639.png', 1 => 'Tell Burger King to Reject GE Apples', 2 => '

McDonald\'s, Wendy\'s, and Gerber have already indicated that they don\'t plan to use these GE apples. Burger King could be next.

Sign the petition: Tell Burger King to commit to keeping GE apples out of its meals.

', 3 => 'http://salsa3.salsalabs.com/o/1881/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=19365', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 3 => array ( 0 => 'shoppersguide_mobile2_53822.jpg', 1 => 'Get your free CFS Shoppers Guide to Avoiding GE Foods!', 2 => '

Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered? This is probably the most urgent question the public has about these novel foods. But despite overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients. The first of it\'s kind--available both in print and as a mibile app for iPhone and Android--the CFS True Food Shoppers Guide was designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.

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For further documentation, see ¬Center for Food Safety’s comments to the Arkansas Plant Board on the State’s dicamba restrictions and Monsanto’s petition to rescind them

What is XtendiMax?
XtendiMax is Monsanto’s formulation of dicamba, a weed-killing pesticide first introduced in the 1960s, and long notorious for its propensity to drift and damage neighboring crops. The EPA approved XtendiMax for “over-the-top” application to Monsanto’s genetically engineered, dicamba- and glyphosate-resistant soybeans and cotton in November 2016.

Hasn’t there always been herbicide drift? What’s the big deal with dicamba?
There has never been anywhere close to so much herbicide drift injury as was caused by dicamba alone in 2017. There have been roughly 3,000 official complaints of dicamba damage to soybeans covering an astounding 3.6 million acres (Figures 1 & 2). Because experts estimate only one in 10 dicamba drift episodes were reported, the true impacts could be 10 times greater. According to North Dakota pesticide specialist Andrew Thostenson: "We are in unprecedented, uncharted territory. We\'ve never observed anything on this scale in this country since we\'ve been using pesticides in the modern era."

 

Figure 1: Official dicamba-related injury investigations as reported by state departments of agriculture as of October 15, 2017. South Dakota updated from 114 to 221 complaints. North Dakota updated from 40 to 207 complaints. The additional 274 complaints in ND and SD raise the original total of 2,708 complaints to a new total of 2,982.

Figure 1: Official dicamba-related injury investigations as reported by state departments of agriculture as of October 15, 2017. South Dakota updated from 114 to 221 complaints. North Dakota updated from 40 to 207 complaints. The additional 274 complaints in ND and SD raise the original total of 2,708 complaints to a new total of 2,982.

 

Why has XtendiMax caused such devastating crop injury?
First, while any pesticide can drift in the wind while it is being sprayed, dicamba poses a second threat. It volatilizes (vaporizes) from soil and plant surfaces hours to days after application, forming vapor clouds that can drift long distances to injure sensitive crops. Second, while dicamba has traditionally been sprayed around planting time, when most crops have not yet sprouted, XtendiMax is applied later in the season when crops have leafed out and are susceptible to injury; this is also when higher temperatures increase volatilization. Finally, dicamba is so potent that even extremely low vapor concentrations can harm flowering crops and other plants.

 

Figure 2: Estimates of dicamba-injured soybean acreage as reported by state extension weed scientists (as of October 15, 2017). Total of roughly 3.6 million acres. “k” stands for “thousands”
Figure 2: Estimates of dicamba-injured soybean acreage as reported by state extension weed scientists (as of October 15, 2017). Total of roughly 3.6 million acres. “k” stands for “thousands”

 

Is it only soybeans that have been injured by dicamba drift?
No. Dicamba drift has caused widespread injury to vegetables, melons, orchards, grapes, pumpkins, peas and tobacco, not to mention residential gardens and trees, and wild plants. We hear more about soybean injury because soybeans are among the most widely planted crops in America and are incredibly sensitive to dicamba. A beekeeper operating in Arkansas and several other states reports that honey production is down sharply in areas where dicamba was heavily sprayed, a possible sign that dicamba drift is killing off the flowering plants that bees depend upon for nectar and pollen.

Isn’t crop damage also from illegal use of older dicamba formulations?
Investigations have found that most farmers have used XtendiMax or other formulations (Engenia, FeXapan) approved for use on dicamba-resistant crops (new dicamba), and complied with extremely complex and restrictive usage (label) instructions – and still injured their neighbors’ crops via drift. There is also no evidence the label directions actually prevent drift in real world farming conditions. Independent field trials show that over time, XtendiMax is at best only slightly less volatile than other versions of dicamba, directly contradicting Monsanto’s claims. While some farmers have likely made illegal use of old dicamba, there is abundant evidence that drift injury occurs even with label-compliant use of new dicamba.

Isn’t XtendiMax “low-volatility”?
This is what Monsanto claims. Yet scores of independent studies demonstrate that XtendiMax is at best only slightly less volatile than Clarity and other dicamba formulations (see last question).

Why did Monsanto prohibit independent testing of XtendiMax for drift?
Monsanto prohibited independent scientists from testing the drift properties of XtendiMax until 2017, following its approval by EPA. This extraordinary prohibition was at odds with the universal practice of pesticide companies permitting agronomists to test their products before commercial release. Monsanto’s explanation for the prohibition – to avoid any delay in EPA approval – rings true. Had the independent tests that prove XtendiMax’s volatility been allowed prior to EPA approval, they might well have delayed or even stopped EPA’s registration of this defective product for use on dicamba-resistant crops, an outcome that Monsanto  avoided with its ban.

Will the new XtendiMax label, revised in October 2017, prevent dicamba drift injury?
None of the recent changes to the XtendiMax label – restricted use status, record-keeping requirements for applicators, more training, and a dusk to dawn spraying ban – address volatility, which experts regard as a “major route” of dicamba drift injury. The disappointing label changes appear to have been drafted by Monsanto, not EPA, which ignored calls from independent scientists to establish a spring cut-off date to prevent most dicamba drift injury.

How did states respond to dicamba drift?
Because EPA failed to address risks from volatility, at least four states have established cut-off dates – or dates after which dicamba may not be sprayed – in order to reduce the risk of crop injury in 2018: Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota and Minnesota. Others states, such as Indiana and Tennessee, have enacted other requirements.

Does dicamba injury lead to reduced yield?
In many cases, yes. Conditions that make yield loss more likely occurred frequently in the 2017 crop season. These include dicamba drift exposure during the crop’s sensitive reproductive phase; exposure to drift two or more times; and unfavorable weather conditions after the exposure(s), such as drought. For instance, Missouri peach grower Bill Bader lost at least 30,000 trees to dicamba drift, while Missouri soybean farmer Chris Crosskno anticipated an 8-10 bushel/acre yield reduction, for a loss of about $180,000. Arkansas agronomist Jason Norsworthy predicted less than 5 bushel/acre harvests (pp. 142-143) for some dicamba-injured soybeans in his state (roughly 90% yield reduction), while Minnesota farmers report that dicamba drift is costing them millions of dollars in lost soybean yield. Dicamba drift also retards growth, which gives weeds the upper hand. This in turn can lead to more herbicide spraying.

Did average soybean yields decline due to dicamba drift?
While there is extensive evidence that dicamba drift caused yield losses for many individual farmers (see last response), at state and national scales it is impossible to disentangle its influence from that of many other factors. Weather conditions always exert a substantial influence on yield, and can either ameliorate or exacerbate dicamba’s effects. Tennessee and North Dakota – both hard hit by dicamba drift (Figures 1 & 2) – are good examples. Tennessee had good growing conditions, which helped uninjured soybeans reach near their full yield potential and dicamba-damaged soybeans recover somewhat. Average Tennessee yield rose 10% from 2016 (Figure 3). In contrast, heat stress and severe drought conditions in North Dakota suppressed soybean yields generally, and exacerbated the impacts of dicamba injury. The average North Dakota yield fell 22% from 2016 (Figure 3).

 

Figure 3: Average soybean yields in the U.S. and selected states. Source: USDA National  Agricultural Statistics Service, Quik Stats.

Figure 3: Average soybean yields in the U.S. and selected states. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Quik Stats.

 

If dicamba drift reduced yield, why did soybean production rise in 2017?
Because American farmers planted far more soybeans than ever before in 2017 – 90.1 million acres – 8% more acres than in 2016, the previous record. Average national soybean yield, however, fell by 6% (Figure 3).

Why are farmers growing dicamba-resistant crops?
Some farmers with serious infestations of glyphosate- and multiple herbicide-resistant weeds see the ability to spray XtendiMax “over-the-top” of dicamba-resistant crops as a convenient way to control them. Other farmers have switched to dicamba-resistant soybeans to avoid the crop injury they fear (and which many have experienced) growing non-dicamba-resistant varieties. Some farmers regard this as “tantamount to extortion,” given the high cost of Monsanto’s seeds, and class action lawsuits charge Monsanto with illegal monopolistic behavior on these same grounds.

Why aren’t dicamba-resistant crops a solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds?
Herbicide-resistant (HR) crops are developed and marketed to farmers as weed control systems that rely entirely on the HR crop-associated herbicide(s). Total reliance on dicamba and glyphosate with the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System is certain to promote rapid evolution of dicamba resistance, resulting in glyphosate-resistant weeds acquiring additional resistance to dicamba.

Are there any dicamba-resistant weeds?
2017 is the first year dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton have been widely planted, yet scientists are already finding initial signs of dicamba-resistance in Palmer amaranth, farmers’ most feared weed, in Arkansas and Tennessee. Other likely candidates for dicamba resistance are kochia, waterhemp and horseweed – all of which have large populations already resistant to glyphosate, with dual resistance to both herbicides highly likely.

Why did Monsanto develop dicamba-resistant crops?
Monsanto acquired the rights to dicamba-resistance technology from its developers at the University of Nebraska in 2005. Monsanto understood even then that the glyphosate-resistant weed epidemic it was helping to create (see next question) would eventually open a profitable market for a second-generation of crops resistant to dicamba, sold to farmers as a means to control glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Is Monsanto really to blame for glyphosate-resistant weeds?
In the early to mid-2000s, Monsanto ran “advertorials” in farm press publications that misled farmers into thinking they could rely entirely on glyphosate and Roundup Ready crops, every year, without risk of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Agronomists took Monsanto to task for this self-serving, profit-seeking advice, which helped set the stage for a massive epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds that infest up to 100 million acres of cropland.

Are there other dicamba-resistant crops coming?
Yes, Monsanto already has dicamba-resistant corn approved, while it has experimented with dicamba-resistant versions of wheat, canola and sugar beets.

Where does the dicamba-resistance gene come from?
The dicamba resistance gene in Monsanto’s crops was derived from bacteria that had evolved dicamba resistance in storm water retention ponds at a dicamba production plant in Texas. This dicamba-degrading gene was initially viewed as a means to break down and hence “bioremediate” soil and water polluted with dicamba (then viewed as a hazardous pesticide, even by EPA). Ironically, University of Nebraska and Monsanto repurposed the gene to dramatically increase pollution of the environment with dicamba.

Does dicamba pose human health risks?
Because Monsanto’s GMOs are also engineered to withstand applications of Monsanto’s Roundup, the overuse of Roundup (containing the active ingredient glyphosate) will continue at current high levels. Dicamba use is projected to increase 20-fold with Monsanto’s GMOs, increasing exposure. Dicamba is linked to increased rates of cancer in farmers and birth defects, while glyphosate was recently classified as a “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization. Both dicamba and glyphosate are associated with increased rates of the same immune system cancer – non-Hodgkin lymphoma – in farmers. EPA dismissed pesticide industry studies providing evidence of dicamba’s carcinogenicity in rodents and potential neurotoxicity.

 

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For further documentation, see ¬Center for Food Safety’s comments to the Arkansas Plant Board on the State’s dicamba restrictions and Monsanto’s petition to rescind them

What is XtendiMax?
XtendiMax is Monsanto’s formulation of dicamba, a weed-killing pesticide first introduced in the 1960s, and long notorious for its propensity to drift and damage neighboring crops. The EPA approved XtendiMax for “over-the-top” application to Monsanto’s genetically engineered, dicamba- and glyphosate-resistant soybeans and cotton in November 2016.

Hasn’t there always been herbicide drift? What’s the big deal with dicamba?
There has never been anywhere close to so much herbicide drift injury as was caused by dicamba alone in 2017. There have been roughly 3,000 official complaints of dicamba damage to soybeans covering an astounding 3.6 million acres (Figures 1 & 2). Because experts estimate only one in 10 dicamba drift episodes were reported, the true impacts could be 10 times greater. According to North Dakota pesticide specialist Andrew Thostenson: "We are in unprecedented, uncharted territory. We\'ve never observed anything on this scale in this country since we\'ve been using pesticides in the modern era."

 

Figure 1: Official dicamba-related injury investigations as reported by state departments of agriculture as of October 15, 2017. South Dakota updated from 114 to 221 complaints. North Dakota updated from 40 to 207 complaints. The additional 274 complaints in ND and SD raise the original total of 2,708 complaints to a new total of 2,982.

Figure 1: Official dicamba-related injury investigations as reported by state departments of agriculture as of October 15, 2017. South Dakota updated from 114 to 221 complaints. North Dakota updated from 40 to 207 complaints. The additional 274 complaints in ND and SD raise the original total of 2,708 complaints to a new total of 2,982.

 

Why has XtendiMax caused such devastating crop injury?
First, while any pesticide can drift in the wind while it is being sprayed, dicamba poses a second threat. It volatilizes (vaporizes) from soil and plant surfaces hours to days after application, forming vapor clouds that can drift long distances to injure sensitive crops. Second, while dicamba has traditionally been sprayed around planting time, when most crops have not yet sprouted, XtendiMax is applied later in the season when crops have leafed out and are susceptible to injury; this is also when higher temperatures increase volatilization. Finally, dicamba is so potent that even extremely low vapor concentrations can harm flowering crops and other plants.

 

Figure 2: Estimates of dicamba-injured soybean acreage as reported by state extension weed scientists (as of October 15, 2017). Total of roughly 3.6 million acres. “k” stands for “thousands”
Figure 2: Estimates of dicamba-injured soybean acreage as reported by state extension weed scientists (as of October 15, 2017). Total of roughly 3.6 million acres. “k” stands for “thousands”

 

Is it only soybeans that have been injured by dicamba drift?
No. Dicamba drift has caused widespread injury to vegetables, melons, orchards, grapes, pumpkins, peas and tobacco, not to mention residential gardens and trees, and wild plants. We hear more about soybean injury because soybeans are among the most widely planted crops in America and are incredibly sensitive to dicamba. A beekeeper operating in Arkansas and several other states reports that honey production is down sharply in areas where dicamba was heavily sprayed, a possible sign that dicamba drift is killing off the flowering plants that bees depend upon for nectar and pollen.

Isn’t crop damage also from illegal use of older dicamba formulations?
Investigations have found that most farmers have used XtendiMax or other formulations (Engenia, FeXapan) approved for use on dicamba-resistant crops (new dicamba), and complied with extremely complex and restrictive usage (label) instructions – and still injured their neighbors’ crops via drift. There is also no evidence the label directions actually prevent drift in real world farming conditions. Independent field trials show that over time, XtendiMax is at best only slightly less volatile than other versions of dicamba, directly contradicting Monsanto’s claims. While some farmers have likely made illegal use of old dicamba, there is abundant evidence that drift injury occurs even with label-compliant use of new dicamba.

Isn’t XtendiMax “low-volatility”?
This is what Monsanto claims. Yet scores of independent studies demonstrate that XtendiMax is at best only slightly less volatile than Clarity and other dicamba formulations (see last question).

Why did Monsanto prohibit independent testing of XtendiMax for drift?
Monsanto prohibited independent scientists from testing the drift properties of XtendiMax until 2017, following its approval by EPA. This extraordinary prohibition was at odds with the universal practice of pesticide companies permitting agronomists to test their products before commercial release. Monsanto’s explanation for the prohibition – to avoid any delay in EPA approval – rings true. Had the independent tests that prove XtendiMax’s volatility been allowed prior to EPA approval, they might well have delayed or even stopped EPA’s registration of this defective product for use on dicamba-resistant crops, an outcome that Monsanto  avoided with its ban.

Will the new XtendiMax label, revised in October 2017, prevent dicamba drift injury?
None of the recent changes to the XtendiMax label – restricted use status, record-keeping requirements for applicators, more training, and a dusk to dawn spraying ban – address volatility, which experts regard as a “major route” of dicamba drift injury. The disappointing label changes appear to have been drafted by Monsanto, not EPA, which ignored calls from independent scientists to establish a spring cut-off date to prevent most dicamba drift injury.

How did states respond to dicamba drift?
Because EPA failed to address risks from volatility, at least four states have established cut-off dates – or dates after which dicamba may not be sprayed – in order to reduce the risk of crop injury in 2018: Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota and Minnesota. Others states, such as Indiana and Tennessee, have enacted other requirements.

Does dicamba injury lead to reduced yield?
In many cases, yes. Conditions that make yield loss more likely occurred frequently in the 2017 crop season. These include dicamba drift exposure during the crop’s sensitive reproductive phase; exposure to drift two or more times; and unfavorable weather conditions after the exposure(s), such as drought. For instance, Missouri peach grower Bill Bader lost at least 30,000 trees to dicamba drift, while Missouri soybean farmer Chris Crosskno anticipated an 8-10 bushel/acre yield reduction, for a loss of about $180,000. Arkansas agronomist Jason Norsworthy predicted less than 5 bushel/acre harvests (pp. 142-143) for some dicamba-injured soybeans in his state (roughly 90% yield reduction), while Minnesota farmers report that dicamba drift is costing them millions of dollars in lost soybean yield. Dicamba drift also retards growth, which gives weeds the upper hand. This in turn can lead to more herbicide spraying.

Did average soybean yields decline due to dicamba drift?
While there is extensive evidence that dicamba drift caused yield losses for many individual farmers (see last response), at state and national scales it is impossible to disentangle its influence from that of many other factors. Weather conditions always exert a substantial influence on yield, and can either ameliorate or exacerbate dicamba’s effects. Tennessee and North Dakota – both hard hit by dicamba drift (Figures 1 & 2) – are good examples. Tennessee had good growing conditions, which helped uninjured soybeans reach near their full yield potential and dicamba-damaged soybeans recover somewhat. Average Tennessee yield rose 10% from 2016 (Figure 3). In contrast, heat stress and severe drought conditions in North Dakota suppressed soybean yields generally, and exacerbated the impacts of dicamba injury. The average North Dakota yield fell 22% from 2016 (Figure 3).

 

Figure 3: Average soybean yields in the U.S. and selected states. Source: USDA National  Agricultural Statistics Service, Quik Stats.

Figure 3: Average soybean yields in the U.S. and selected states. Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, Quik Stats.

 

If dicamba drift reduced yield, why did soybean production rise in 2017?
Because American farmers planted far more soybeans than ever before in 2017 – 90.1 million acres – 8% more acres than in 2016, the previous record. Average national soybean yield, however, fell by 6% (Figure 3).

Why are farmers growing dicamba-resistant crops?
Some farmers with serious infestations of glyphosate- and multiple herbicide-resistant weeds see the ability to spray XtendiMax “over-the-top” of dicamba-resistant crops as a convenient way to control them. Other farmers have switched to dicamba-resistant soybeans to avoid the crop injury they fear (and which many have experienced) growing non-dicamba-resistant varieties. Some farmers regard this as “tantamount to extortion,” given the high cost of Monsanto’s seeds, and class action lawsuits charge Monsanto with illegal monopolistic behavior on these same grounds.

Why aren’t dicamba-resistant crops a solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds?
Herbicide-resistant (HR) crops are developed and marketed to farmers as weed control systems that rely entirely on the HR crop-associated herbicide(s). Total reliance on dicamba and glyphosate with the Roundup Ready® Xtend Crop System is certain to promote rapid evolution of dicamba resistance, resulting in glyphosate-resistant weeds acquiring additional resistance to dicamba.

Are there any dicamba-resistant weeds?
2017 is the first year dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton have been widely planted, yet scientists are already finding initial signs of dicamba-resistance in Palmer amaranth, farmers’ most feared weed, in Arkansas and Tennessee. Other likely candidates for dicamba resistance are kochia, waterhemp and horseweed – all of which have large populations already resistant to glyphosate, with dual resistance to both herbicides highly likely.

Why did Monsanto develop dicamba-resistant crops?
Monsanto acquired the rights to dicamba-resistance technology from its developers at the University of Nebraska in 2005. Monsanto understood even then that the glyphosate-resistant weed epidemic it was helping to create (see next question) would eventually open a profitable market for a second-generation of crops resistant to dicamba, sold to farmers as a means to control glyphosate-resistant weeds.

Is Monsanto really to blame for glyphosate-resistant weeds?
In the early to mid-2000s, Monsanto ran “advertorials” in farm press publications that misled farmers into thinking they could rely entirely on glyphosate and Roundup Ready crops, every year, without risk of glyphosate-resistant weeds. Agronomists took Monsanto to task for this self-serving, profit-seeking advice, which helped set the stage for a massive epidemic of glyphosate-resistant weeds that infest up to 100 million acres of cropland.

Are there other dicamba-resistant crops coming?
Yes, Monsanto already has dicamba-resistant corn approved, while it has experimented with dicamba-resistant versions of wheat, canola and sugar beets.

Where does the dicamba-resistance gene come from?
The dicamba resistance gene in Monsanto’s crops was derived from bacteria that had evolved dicamba resistance in storm water retention ponds at a dicamba production plant in Texas. This dicamba-degrading gene was initially viewed as a means to break down and hence “bioremediate” soil and water polluted with dicamba (then viewed as a hazardous pesticide, even by EPA). Ironically, University of Nebraska and Monsanto repurposed the gene to dramatically increase pollution of the environment with dicamba.

Does dicamba pose human health risks?
Because Monsanto’s GMOs are also engineered to withstand applications of Monsanto’s Roundup, the overuse of Roundup (containing the active ingredient glyphosate) will continue at current high levels. Dicamba use is projected to increase 20-fold with Monsanto’s GMOs, increasing exposure. Dicamba is linked to increased rates of cancer in farmers and birth defects, while glyphosate was recently classified as a “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organization. Both dicamba and glyphosate are associated with increased rates of the same immune system cancer – non-Hodgkin lymphoma – in farmers. EPA dismissed pesticide industry studies providing evidence of dicamba’s carcinogenicity in rodents and potential neurotoxicity.

 

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Trump has gutted regulations meant to protect our food and ecosystems.

Read this on Alternet.

One year down, three to go. Trump and his enablers are hell bent on destroying or selling to the highest bidder the federal agencies they are charged with running in the public interest. In the past year, they have been unrelenting in their attacks on food safety, environmental protections, climate change, government transparency, and so many other values we hold dear. We are in the midst of the most significant environmental and public health challenges imaginable. We’re no longer dreading the harm the Trump Administration could do to our health and environment—we’re living it.

If you watched the State of the Union address this week, you may have picked out a common thread: gutting regulations—many of them crucial to protecting our food and environment—for the sake of higher corporate profits. Trump’s boast that “we have cut more regulations in our first year than any other administration in history”, may be good if you’re Monsanto or Exxon, but it’s dangerous for you and me and our families.

Let’s take a look back at Trump’s first year in office. What is the State of the Food and Environment Union? Here are just a few (of the many) ways the Administration is undermining the food system, public health and the environment.

1. Trump and GMOs

At the wishes of Big Ag and their deep pockets, the Trump Administration is keen on approving new GMO plants, fish, insects, and animals as fast as possible, with as little oversight as possible. These actions will result in new risks to our food system and environment, not to mention millions more pounds of cancer-causing pesticides poured onto our crops and sprayed near schools, the extinction of native salmon species, the disastrous collapse of pollinators, harm to children, and much more.

In two current lawsuits, Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force it to rescind approvals allowing dangerous pesticides to be used in new ways, over-the-top of genetically engineered (GE) crops resistant to them. Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready crops have become obsolete because of “superweeds” resistant to its main ingredient, glyphosate. In response, the chemical companies are peddling new GE crops that can tolerate older, even more toxic herbicides, namely dicamba (produced by Monsanto) and 2,4-D (a chemical compound in “Agent Orange”). The approval and release of these GE crop systems—pesticides and GE seeds resistant to them—will result in hundreds of millions of more pounds of toxic pesticides being sprayed on our food.

Meanwhile, Trump is delaying long-overdue disclosure of all GMO ingredients in foods, required by federal law starting July 2018. Last August, CFS sued and won a case against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) when missed the first labeling deadline. (The administration immediately relented and complied with the law 12 days later).

The Trump administration also has delayed new rules for the regulation of GMOs, withdrawing proposed updated regulations late last year, despite being long overdue and urgently needed. This was not an accident: Recently, in a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation, President Trump declared that he is "streamlining regulations that have blocked cutting-edge biotechnology—setting free our farmers to innovate, thrive, and grow. “Oh, are you happy you voted for me. You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege."

Tell the Trump Administration that GMO labeling must be clear and on the package >>

2. Trump and Pesticides

In March, President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reneged on a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that’s known to harm kids’ brain development, and chose instead to protect the profits of Dow Chemical, the maker of the pesticide. And in November, a hidden bill being pushed by the pesticide industry was obtained by CFS that would dismantle Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections against deadly pesticides.

Two of Trump’s cabinet nominees—Michael Dourson and Sam Clovis—were so toxic that they were forced to withdraw their nominations instead of being rejected in Congress. At his committee hearing, Dourson’s questionable track record and refusal to commit to recusing himself from working on chemicals he’s been paid by industry to “study” in the past led Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to tell Dourson, “You’re not just an outlier on this science, you’re outrageous in how far from the mainstream of science you actually are. It’s pretty clear you have never met a chemical you didn’t like.”

Sam Clovis withdrew from consideration for Chief Scientist at USDA after being roundly criticized by Congress and the public for being an admitted climate change “skeptic”, saying that climate science is “junk science” and “not proven.” To make matters worse, Clovis has a history of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

3. Trump and Food Safety

In March, Trump announced billions in dollars of cuts to USDA and FDA, undermining their ability to keep our food safe. In November, the Trump administration proposed a delay in enforcement of urgently needed rules aimed at keeping produce free from fecal contamination. Contaminated irrigation water is a major cause of foodborne illness outbreaks. In 2006, a major outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to Dole baby spinach was eventually traced back to water contaminated with cattle and wild pig feces. Foodborne illness had become a full-blown epidemic, affecting 1 in 6 Americans.

In response to that and many other foodborne illness outbreaks connected to food such as peanuts, fruit, and vegetables, Congress passed the landmark 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which includes requirements that the Food and Drug Administration develop rules governing produce safety, including the water quality used to grow, harvest, and pack produce. From 2012-2014, CFS previously challenged FDA’s unlawful delay in drafting and completion of all of FSMA’s six major rule-makings, including the produce rule, succeeding in having all the rules completed by court-ordered deadlines.

The rule allowed growers to phase in water quality and testing requirements between 2018 and 2022, depending in part on the size of the farm. However, now under the new proposed Trump administration delay, growers would not have to test water for E. coli contamination until between 2022 and 2024—11 to 13 years after FSMA’s passage, endangering food safety.

4. Trump and Factory Farms

Many of today’s farms are actually large industrial facilities, not family farms with green pastures and red barns that most Americans imagine. The operation of these factory farms has little to no regard for the environment, animal welfare, or food safety, and they often put the health of consumers and rural communities at risk for the sake of profit. Yet, the EPA, the agency charged with protecting our environment and public health, made a third attempt to further delay the hazardous substance release reporting requirements for industrial-scale livestock operations (concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs).

In November, CFS joined other groups to oppose this egregious action that would allow these facilities to keep operating in a way that sees health-harming pollution as status quo. We asked the court to make it clear that EPA’s “preliminary guidance” is illegal because it represents the agency’s third attempt to hide information from the public about CAFO releases of dangerous pollution, particularly ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.

Sonny Perdue, Trump’s pick to head the USDA, is also no stranger to putting people’s health and animal welfare at risk. Earlier this year, inspectors detected bird flu outbreaks in a Tennessee-based poultry breeding operation contracted by Tyson Foods, Inc., the largest chicken meat producer in the United States. This event demonstrates that confining birds indoors for their entire lives in no way safeguards against disease. The pathogen responsible for bird flu becomes more lethal in large, over-crowded, confined, indoor farming operations like those contracted by food giant Tyson.

Preventing these deadly outbreaks requires reforming how chickens are raised. Strategies implemented by many organic chicken producers, for example--such as access to the outdoors, low densities, and adequate lighting--are necessary to raise chickens and other food animals in the most healthy, safe, and sustainable manner.

USDA also is charged with overseeing the National Organic Standards, for labeling organically grown food. Yet rather than taking steps to prevent future outbreaks and ensure higher animal welfare standards for organic, USDA gave in to Big “Organic” Poultry and in December announced plans to withdraw previously finalized organic animal welfare rules that had been the culmination of almost fifteen years. Rather than listen to the public who have concerns about public health and animal welfare, USDA sided with large-scale producers who fear the new rules will expose their less-than-organic practices.

5. Trump and Oceans

Livestock and poultry are not the only animals living in factory farm conditions. Our oceans are the new frontier. Commercial fishing and industrial aquaculture are polluting waterways as well as leading some species toward distinction. Despite a 97 percent decline in population, in August the Trump Administration denied endangered species status of Pacific Bluefin tuna. It’s not enough for people to stop eating Bluefin tuna; it needs a protected status to prevent it from being fished. The Trump Administration would rather side with large-scale fisheries than protect our natural world.

The Gulf of Mexico sees its fair share of pollution resulting in growing annual dead zones from industrial agriculture runoff down the Mississippi River as well as oil spills. Yet, The Trump Administration wants to pile on the pollution by allowing factory fish farms in the Gulf, which would be the first time ever for aquaculture in U.S. federal waters, anywhere. Industrial aquaculture will harm Gulf fishing communities and ocean ecosystems.

Last year, CFS filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration for violating our core fisheries and environmental laws in attempting to set up this unprecedented industrial activity in our ocean waters. This is not just happening in the Gulf, but also in the Pacific Northwest. CFS is also in court, in another case filed last year, to stop a commercial shellfish aquaculture permit approved in Washington State by Trump’s US Army Corps of Engineers (the same Army Corps that approved the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline). This irresponsible permit approval would allow a massive expansion of this already large industry, with no protections for wildlife, water quality, ecosystems, or people.

Oh, and remember Trump’s GMO “streamlining”? It’s not just plants: the first ever GE animal for food, a genetically engineered salmon is currently under court review. However, that case provided a major win for those of us fighting for transparency and accountability within the Trump Administration just last week.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the FDA’s attempt to hide thousands of pages of key government documents revealing how the agency arrived at its controversial approval. The court order rejected the Trump Administration’s position that it can unilaterally decide which documents to provide and which to withhold from public and court review.

A broad coalition of commercial and recreational fisheries interests, environmentalists, and tribes, led by CFS, challenged the GE salmon approval in 2016. Although FDA considered the application for the GE salmon for nearly two decades, the agency’s record for court review was paltry, including mostly documents already publicly available on their website and only four agency emails. FDA refused to provide thousands of critical documents about how and why it approved the GE salmon.

6. Trump and Climate

One of Trump’s first acts in office was to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. President Trump’s decision to pull out from the 2015 Paris climate agreement was a major setback for the treaty, and for our ability to combat the climate crisis. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest carbon polluter after China.

In March, President Trump signed an Executive Order that drastically rolls back progress made by the Obama administration to tackle the environmental, economic and public health impacts of global climate change. The order specifically set into motion the unravelling of the Clean Power Plan, which was intended to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants and create new jobs in the renewable energy sector. Trump’s coal-focused energy program as outlined in the order will also make it nearly impossible for the U.S. to meet climate solution commitments set by the 2105 Paris Agreement.

The Executive Order also revoked the requirement that federal agencies analyze climate change impacts in all their decision-making. If President’s Trump exclamation in his State of the Union address, “we have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on fuel, clean coal” are only the latest signal that his administration’s attacks on our climate and environmental laws are far from over.

Your Voice Has Power

If the first year of the Trump Administration is any indication, we clearly have our work cut out for us. The public interest, which should be government’s highest duty, is in exile. Government agencies are being unduly influenced by Big Ag’s lobbying and money, if not simply controlled directly by those doing their bidding, the foxes in the henhouse. Now is when nonprofit organizations are needed more than ever. CFS will continue to watchdog the Trump Administration and challenge the agencies that are supposed to oversee our food system. But you are the most important voice for Congress and the Trump Administration to hear.

Here are a few important actions you can take right now:

1. Tell the Trump Administration that GMO labeling must be clear and on the package

Make sure the Trump Administration issues GMO labeling regulations that requires the labeling of ALL GMOs, and does so on food packages, for all Americans, not only through discriminatory and secondary “QR code” smart phone disclosure.

2. Protect Endangered Species from Pesticides

The pesticide industry is pushing a bill that threatens the survival of endangered species. Tell Congress to oppose any legislative attempt to weaken ESA protections for species affected by pesticides!

3. Tell the Senate: Ban chlorpyrifos

While Trump’s EPA put corporate profits over public health, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico (D) has introduced a bill that would outlaw chlorpyrifos. The bill is called the Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017 (S. 1624). Tell your senators to protect our kids and ban this toxic pesticide once and for all.


This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as “new animal drugs.” Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government’s negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has reapproved and proposed a dramatic expansion of the use of the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo after only a cursory review of troubling data showing the two chemicals in the pesticide combine to have “synergistic” effects that are potentially harmful to endangered species and the environment. If approved the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy and cotton in 35 states — up from 16 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.

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Family farmers and other supporters of Jackson County’s precedent-setting ban on genetically engineered (GE) crop cultivation are celebrating a federal court ruling upholding the legality of Jackson County’s ordinance. The ruling released this afternoon by Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke was a resounding victory for Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC) and Center for Food Safety (CFS), which intervened in the case to defend the ban along with two local family farmers.  Lawyers with Center for Food Safety and the Earthrise Law Center based at Lewis and Clark Law School jointly represented the intervening parties.

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McDonald\'s, Wendy\'s, and Gerber have already indicated that they don\'t plan to use these GE apples. Burger King could be next.

Sign the petition: Tell Burger King to commit to keeping GE apples out of its meals.

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Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered? This is probably the most urgent question the public has about these novel foods. But despite overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients. The first of it\'s kind--available both in print and as a mibile app for iPhone and Android--the CFS True Food Shoppers Guide was designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.

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Genetically engineered fish pose irreparable risks to wild populations of fish and our marine environment.  Each year, millions of farmed fish escape from open-water net pens, outcompeting wild populations for resources, reducing genetic diversity through interbreeding, and straining ecosystems.

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Coalition of Fishing, Consumer, and Environmental Groups Say First-ever Approval of Laboratory-Created Food Animal Violated Laws and Ignored Risks to Wild Salmon and Fishing Communities.

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In the last few decades, consolidation of food production has concentrated power in the hands of fewer and fewer corporations.  Many of today’s farms are actually large industrial facilities, not family farms with green pastures and red barns that most Americans imagine.  The operation of these consolidated operations have little to no regard for the environment, animal welfare or food safety, and they often put the health of consumers and rural communities at risk for the sake of profit.

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Trump has gutted regulations meant to protect our food and ecosystems.

Read this on Alternet.

One year down, three to go. Trump and his enablers are hell bent on destroying or selling to the highest bidder the federal agencies they are charged with running in the public interest. In the past year, they have been unrelenting in their attacks on food safety, environmental protections, climate change, government transparency, and so many other values we hold dear. We are in the midst of the most significant environmental and public health challenges imaginable. We’re no longer dreading the harm the Trump Administration could do to our health and environment—we’re living it.

If you watched the State of the Union address this week, you may have picked out a common thread: gutting regulations—many of them crucial to protecting our food and environment—for the sake of higher corporate profits. Trump’s boast that “we have cut more regulations in our first year than any other administration in history”, may be good if you’re Monsanto or Exxon, but it’s dangerous for you and me and our families.

Let’s take a look back at Trump’s first year in office. What is the State of the Food and Environment Union? Here are just a few (of the many) ways the Administration is undermining the food system, public health and the environment.

1. Trump and GMOs

At the wishes of Big Ag and their deep pockets, the Trump Administration is keen on approving new GMO plants, fish, insects, and animals as fast as possible, with as little oversight as possible. These actions will result in new risks to our food system and environment, not to mention millions more pounds of cancer-causing pesticides poured onto our crops and sprayed near schools, the extinction of native salmon species, the disastrous collapse of pollinators, harm to children, and much more.

In two current lawsuits, Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force it to rescind approvals allowing dangerous pesticides to be used in new ways, over-the-top of genetically engineered (GE) crops resistant to them. Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready crops have become obsolete because of “superweeds” resistant to its main ingredient, glyphosate. In response, the chemical companies are peddling new GE crops that can tolerate older, even more toxic herbicides, namely dicamba (produced by Monsanto) and 2,4-D (a chemical compound in “Agent Orange”). The approval and release of these GE crop systems—pesticides and GE seeds resistant to them—will result in hundreds of millions of more pounds of toxic pesticides being sprayed on our food.

Meanwhile, Trump is delaying long-overdue disclosure of all GMO ingredients in foods, required by federal law starting July 2018. Last August, CFS sued and won a case against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) when missed the first labeling deadline. (The administration immediately relented and complied with the law 12 days later).

The Trump administration also has delayed new rules for the regulation of GMOs, withdrawing proposed updated regulations late last year, despite being long overdue and urgently needed. This was not an accident: Recently, in a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation, President Trump declared that he is "streamlining regulations that have blocked cutting-edge biotechnology—setting free our farmers to innovate, thrive, and grow. “Oh, are you happy you voted for me. You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege."

Tell the Trump Administration that GMO labeling must be clear and on the package >>

2. Trump and Pesticides

In March, President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reneged on a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that’s known to harm kids’ brain development, and chose instead to protect the profits of Dow Chemical, the maker of the pesticide. And in November, a hidden bill being pushed by the pesticide industry was obtained by CFS that would dismantle Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections against deadly pesticides.

Two of Trump’s cabinet nominees—Michael Dourson and Sam Clovis—were so toxic that they were forced to withdraw their nominations instead of being rejected in Congress. At his committee hearing, Dourson’s questionable track record and refusal to commit to recusing himself from working on chemicals he’s been paid by industry to “study” in the past led Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to tell Dourson, “You’re not just an outlier on this science, you’re outrageous in how far from the mainstream of science you actually are. It’s pretty clear you have never met a chemical you didn’t like.”

Sam Clovis withdrew from consideration for Chief Scientist at USDA after being roundly criticized by Congress and the public for being an admitted climate change “skeptic”, saying that climate science is “junk science” and “not proven.” To make matters worse, Clovis has a history of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

3. Trump and Food Safety

In March, Trump announced billions in dollars of cuts to USDA and FDA, undermining their ability to keep our food safe. In November, the Trump administration proposed a delay in enforcement of urgently needed rules aimed at keeping produce free from fecal contamination. Contaminated irrigation water is a major cause of foodborne illness outbreaks. In 2006, a major outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to Dole baby spinach was eventually traced back to water contaminated with cattle and wild pig feces. Foodborne illness had become a full-blown epidemic, affecting 1 in 6 Americans.

In response to that and many other foodborne illness outbreaks connected to food such as peanuts, fruit, and vegetables, Congress passed the landmark 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which includes requirements that the Food and Drug Administration develop rules governing produce safety, including the water quality used to grow, harvest, and pack produce. From 2012-2014, CFS previously challenged FDA’s unlawful delay in drafting and completion of all of FSMA’s six major rule-makings, including the produce rule, succeeding in having all the rules completed by court-ordered deadlines.

The rule allowed growers to phase in water quality and testing requirements between 2018 and 2022, depending in part on the size of the farm. However, now under the new proposed Trump administration delay, growers would not have to test water for E. coli contamination until between 2022 and 2024—11 to 13 years after FSMA’s passage, endangering food safety.

4. Trump and Factory Farms

Many of today’s farms are actually large industrial facilities, not family farms with green pastures and red barns that most Americans imagine. The operation of these factory farms has little to no regard for the environment, animal welfare, or food safety, and they often put the health of consumers and rural communities at risk for the sake of profit. Yet, the EPA, the agency charged with protecting our environment and public health, made a third attempt to further delay the hazardous substance release reporting requirements for industrial-scale livestock operations (concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs).

In November, CFS joined other groups to oppose this egregious action that would allow these facilities to keep operating in a way that sees health-harming pollution as status quo. We asked the court to make it clear that EPA’s “preliminary guidance” is illegal because it represents the agency’s third attempt to hide information from the public about CAFO releases of dangerous pollution, particularly ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.

Sonny Perdue, Trump’s pick to head the USDA, is also no stranger to putting people’s health and animal welfare at risk. Earlier this year, inspectors detected bird flu outbreaks in a Tennessee-based poultry breeding operation contracted by Tyson Foods, Inc., the largest chicken meat producer in the United States. This event demonstrates that confining birds indoors for their entire lives in no way safeguards against disease. The pathogen responsible for bird flu becomes more lethal in large, over-crowded, confined, indoor farming operations like those contracted by food giant Tyson.

Preventing these deadly outbreaks requires reforming how chickens are raised. Strategies implemented by many organic chicken producers, for example--such as access to the outdoors, low densities, and adequate lighting--are necessary to raise chickens and other food animals in the most healthy, safe, and sustainable manner.

USDA also is charged with overseeing the National Organic Standards, for labeling organically grown food. Yet rather than taking steps to prevent future outbreaks and ensure higher animal welfare standards for organic, USDA gave in to Big “Organic” Poultry and in December announced plans to withdraw previously finalized organic animal welfare rules that had been the culmination of almost fifteen years. Rather than listen to the public who have concerns about public health and animal welfare, USDA sided with large-scale producers who fear the new rules will expose their less-than-organic practices.

5. Trump and Oceans

Livestock and poultry are not the only animals living in factory farm conditions. Our oceans are the new frontier. Commercial fishing and industrial aquaculture are polluting waterways as well as leading some species toward distinction. Despite a 97 percent decline in population, in August the Trump Administration denied endangered species status of Pacific Bluefin tuna. It’s not enough for people to stop eating Bluefin tuna; it needs a protected status to prevent it from being fished. The Trump Administration would rather side with large-scale fisheries than protect our natural world.

The Gulf of Mexico sees its fair share of pollution resulting in growing annual dead zones from industrial agriculture runoff down the Mississippi River as well as oil spills. Yet, The Trump Administration wants to pile on the pollution by allowing factory fish farms in the Gulf, which would be the first time ever for aquaculture in U.S. federal waters, anywhere. Industrial aquaculture will harm Gulf fishing communities and ocean ecosystems.

Last year, CFS filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration for violating our core fisheries and environmental laws in attempting to set up this unprecedented industrial activity in our ocean waters. This is not just happening in the Gulf, but also in the Pacific Northwest. CFS is also in court, in another case filed last year, to stop a commercial shellfish aquaculture permit approved in Washington State by Trump’s US Army Corps of Engineers (the same Army Corps that approved the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline). This irresponsible permit approval would allow a massive expansion of this already large industry, with no protections for wildlife, water quality, ecosystems, or people.

Oh, and remember Trump’s GMO “streamlining”? It’s not just plants: the first ever GE animal for food, a genetically engineered salmon is currently under court review. However, that case provided a major win for those of us fighting for transparency and accountability within the Trump Administration just last week.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the FDA’s attempt to hide thousands of pages of key government documents revealing how the agency arrived at its controversial approval. The court order rejected the Trump Administration’s position that it can unilaterally decide which documents to provide and which to withhold from public and court review.

A broad coalition of commercial and recreational fisheries interests, environmentalists, and tribes, led by CFS, challenged the GE salmon approval in 2016. Although FDA considered the application for the GE salmon for nearly two decades, the agency’s record for court review was paltry, including mostly documents already publicly available on their website and only four agency emails. FDA refused to provide thousands of critical documents about how and why it approved the GE salmon.

6. Trump and Climate

One of Trump’s first acts in office was to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. President Trump’s decision to pull out from the 2015 Paris climate agreement was a major setback for the treaty, and for our ability to combat the climate crisis. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest carbon polluter after China.

In March, President Trump signed an Executive Order that drastically rolls back progress made by the Obama administration to tackle the environmental, economic and public health impacts of global climate change. The order specifically set into motion the unravelling of the Clean Power Plan, which was intended to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants and create new jobs in the renewable energy sector. Trump’s coal-focused energy program as outlined in the order will also make it nearly impossible for the U.S. to meet climate solution commitments set by the 2105 Paris Agreement.

The Executive Order also revoked the requirement that federal agencies analyze climate change impacts in all their decision-making. If President’s Trump exclamation in his State of the Union address, “we have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on fuel, clean coal” are only the latest signal that his administration’s attacks on our climate and environmental laws are far from over.

Your Voice Has Power

If the first year of the Trump Administration is any indication, we clearly have our work cut out for us. The public interest, which should be government’s highest duty, is in exile. Government agencies are being unduly influenced by Big Ag’s lobbying and money, if not simply controlled directly by those doing their bidding, the foxes in the henhouse. Now is when nonprofit organizations are needed more than ever. CFS will continue to watchdog the Trump Administration and challenge the agencies that are supposed to oversee our food system. But you are the most important voice for Congress and the Trump Administration to hear.

Here are a few important actions you can take right now:

1. Tell the Trump Administration that GMO labeling must be clear and on the package

Make sure the Trump Administration issues GMO labeling regulations that requires the labeling of ALL GMOs, and does so on food packages, for all Americans, not only through discriminatory and secondary “QR code” smart phone disclosure.

2. Protect Endangered Species from Pesticides

The pesticide industry is pushing a bill that threatens the survival of endangered species. Tell Congress to oppose any legislative attempt to weaken ESA protections for species affected by pesticides!

3. Tell the Senate: Ban chlorpyrifos

While Trump’s EPA put corporate profits over public health, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico (D) has introduced a bill that would outlaw chlorpyrifos. The bill is called the Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017 (S. 1624). Tell your senators to protect our kids and ban this toxic pesticide once and for all.


This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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Trump has gutted regulations meant to protect our food and ecosystems.

Read this on Alternet.

One year down, three to go. Trump and his enablers are hell bent on destroying or selling to the highest bidder the federal agencies they are charged with running in the public interest. In the past year, they have been unrelenting in their attacks on food safety, environmental protections, climate change, government transparency, and so many other values we hold dear. We are in the midst of the most significant environmental and public health challenges imaginable. We’re no longer dreading the harm the Trump Administration could do to our health and environment—we’re living it.

If you watched the State of the Union address this week, you may have picked out a common thread: gutting regulations—many of them crucial to protecting our food and environment—for the sake of higher corporate profits. Trump’s boast that “we have cut more regulations in our first year than any other administration in history”, may be good if you’re Monsanto or Exxon, but it’s dangerous for you and me and our families.

Let’s take a look back at Trump’s first year in office. What is the State of the Food and Environment Union? Here are just a few (of the many) ways the Administration is undermining the food system, public health and the environment.

1. Trump and GMOs

At the wishes of Big Ag and their deep pockets, the Trump Administration is keen on approving new GMO plants, fish, insects, and animals as fast as possible, with as little oversight as possible. These actions will result in new risks to our food system and environment, not to mention millions more pounds of cancer-causing pesticides poured onto our crops and sprayed near schools, the extinction of native salmon species, the disastrous collapse of pollinators, harm to children, and much more.

In two current lawsuits, Center for Food Safety (CFS) sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to force it to rescind approvals allowing dangerous pesticides to be used in new ways, over-the-top of genetically engineered (GE) crops resistant to them. Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready crops have become obsolete because of “superweeds” resistant to its main ingredient, glyphosate. In response, the chemical companies are peddling new GE crops that can tolerate older, even more toxic herbicides, namely dicamba (produced by Monsanto) and 2,4-D (a chemical compound in “Agent Orange”). The approval and release of these GE crop systems—pesticides and GE seeds resistant to them—will result in hundreds of millions of more pounds of toxic pesticides being sprayed on our food.

Meanwhile, Trump is delaying long-overdue disclosure of all GMO ingredients in foods, required by federal law starting July 2018. Last August, CFS sued and won a case against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) when missed the first labeling deadline. (The administration immediately relented and complied with the law 12 days later).

The Trump administration also has delayed new rules for the regulation of GMOs, withdrawing proposed updated regulations late last year, despite being long overdue and urgently needed. This was not an accident: Recently, in a speech at the American Farm Bureau Federation, President Trump declared that he is "streamlining regulations that have blocked cutting-edge biotechnology—setting free our farmers to innovate, thrive, and grow. “Oh, are you happy you voted for me. You are so lucky that I gave you that privilege."

Tell the Trump Administration that GMO labeling must be clear and on the package >>

2. Trump and Pesticides

In March, President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reneged on a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that’s known to harm kids’ brain development, and chose instead to protect the profits of Dow Chemical, the maker of the pesticide. And in November, a hidden bill being pushed by the pesticide industry was obtained by CFS that would dismantle Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections against deadly pesticides.

Two of Trump’s cabinet nominees—Michael Dourson and Sam Clovis—were so toxic that they were forced to withdraw their nominations instead of being rejected in Congress. At his committee hearing, Dourson’s questionable track record and refusal to commit to recusing himself from working on chemicals he’s been paid by industry to “study” in the past led Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) to tell Dourson, “You’re not just an outlier on this science, you’re outrageous in how far from the mainstream of science you actually are. It’s pretty clear you have never met a chemical you didn’t like.”

Sam Clovis withdrew from consideration for Chief Scientist at USDA after being roundly criticized by Congress and the public for being an admitted climate change “skeptic”, saying that climate science is “junk science” and “not proven.” To make matters worse, Clovis has a history of racism, sexism, and homophobia.

3. Trump and Food Safety

In March, Trump announced billions in dollars of cuts to USDA and FDA, undermining their ability to keep our food safe. In November, the Trump administration proposed a delay in enforcement of urgently needed rules aimed at keeping produce free from fecal contamination. Contaminated irrigation water is a major cause of foodborne illness outbreaks. In 2006, a major outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 linked to Dole baby spinach was eventually traced back to water contaminated with cattle and wild pig feces. Foodborne illness had become a full-blown epidemic, affecting 1 in 6 Americans.

In response to that and many other foodborne illness outbreaks connected to food such as peanuts, fruit, and vegetables, Congress passed the landmark 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which includes requirements that the Food and Drug Administration develop rules governing produce safety, including the water quality used to grow, harvest, and pack produce. From 2012-2014, CFS previously challenged FDA’s unlawful delay in drafting and completion of all of FSMA’s six major rule-makings, including the produce rule, succeeding in having all the rules completed by court-ordered deadlines.

The rule allowed growers to phase in water quality and testing requirements between 2018 and 2022, depending in part on the size of the farm. However, now under the new proposed Trump administration delay, growers would not have to test water for E. coli contamination until between 2022 and 2024—11 to 13 years after FSMA’s passage, endangering food safety.

4. Trump and Factory Farms

Many of today’s farms are actually large industrial facilities, not family farms with green pastures and red barns that most Americans imagine. The operation of these factory farms has little to no regard for the environment, animal welfare, or food safety, and they often put the health of consumers and rural communities at risk for the sake of profit. Yet, the EPA, the agency charged with protecting our environment and public health, made a third attempt to further delay the hazardous substance release reporting requirements for industrial-scale livestock operations (concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs).

In November, CFS joined other groups to oppose this egregious action that would allow these facilities to keep operating in a way that sees health-harming pollution as status quo. We asked the court to make it clear that EPA’s “preliminary guidance” is illegal because it represents the agency’s third attempt to hide information from the public about CAFO releases of dangerous pollution, particularly ammonia and hydrogen sulfide.

Sonny Perdue, Trump’s pick to head the USDA, is also no stranger to putting people’s health and animal welfare at risk. Earlier this year, inspectors detected bird flu outbreaks in a Tennessee-based poultry breeding operation contracted by Tyson Foods, Inc., the largest chicken meat producer in the United States. This event demonstrates that confining birds indoors for their entire lives in no way safeguards against disease. The pathogen responsible for bird flu becomes more lethal in large, over-crowded, confined, indoor farming operations like those contracted by food giant Tyson.

Preventing these deadly outbreaks requires reforming how chickens are raised. Strategies implemented by many organic chicken producers, for example--such as access to the outdoors, low densities, and adequate lighting--are necessary to raise chickens and other food animals in the most healthy, safe, and sustainable manner.

USDA also is charged with overseeing the National Organic Standards, for labeling organically grown food. Yet rather than taking steps to prevent future outbreaks and ensure higher animal welfare standards for organic, USDA gave in to Big “Organic” Poultry and in December announced plans to withdraw previously finalized organic animal welfare rules that had been the culmination of almost fifteen years. Rather than listen to the public who have concerns about public health and animal welfare, USDA sided with large-scale producers who fear the new rules will expose their less-than-organic practices.

5. Trump and Oceans

Livestock and poultry are not the only animals living in factory farm conditions. Our oceans are the new frontier. Commercial fishing and industrial aquaculture are polluting waterways as well as leading some species toward distinction. Despite a 97 percent decline in population, in August the Trump Administration denied endangered species status of Pacific Bluefin tuna. It’s not enough for people to stop eating Bluefin tuna; it needs a protected status to prevent it from being fished. The Trump Administration would rather side with large-scale fisheries than protect our natural world.

The Gulf of Mexico sees its fair share of pollution resulting in growing annual dead zones from industrial agriculture runoff down the Mississippi River as well as oil spills. Yet, The Trump Administration wants to pile on the pollution by allowing factory fish farms in the Gulf, which would be the first time ever for aquaculture in U.S. federal waters, anywhere. Industrial aquaculture will harm Gulf fishing communities and ocean ecosystems.

Last year, CFS filed a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration for violating our core fisheries and environmental laws in attempting to set up this unprecedented industrial activity in our ocean waters. This is not just happening in the Gulf, but also in the Pacific Northwest. CFS is also in court, in another case filed last year, to stop a commercial shellfish aquaculture permit approved in Washington State by Trump’s US Army Corps of Engineers (the same Army Corps that approved the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline). This irresponsible permit approval would allow a massive expansion of this already large industry, with no protections for wildlife, water quality, ecosystems, or people.

Oh, and remember Trump’s GMO “streamlining”? It’s not just plants: the first ever GE animal for food, a genetically engineered salmon is currently under court review. However, that case provided a major win for those of us fighting for transparency and accountability within the Trump Administration just last week.  The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the FDA’s attempt to hide thousands of pages of key government documents revealing how the agency arrived at its controversial approval. The court order rejected the Trump Administration’s position that it can unilaterally decide which documents to provide and which to withhold from public and court review.

A broad coalition of commercial and recreational fisheries interests, environmentalists, and tribes, led by CFS, challenged the GE salmon approval in 2016. Although FDA considered the application for the GE salmon for nearly two decades, the agency’s record for court review was paltry, including mostly documents already publicly available on their website and only four agency emails. FDA refused to provide thousands of critical documents about how and why it approved the GE salmon.

6. Trump and Climate

One of Trump’s first acts in office was to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement. President Trump’s decision to pull out from the 2015 Paris climate agreement was a major setback for the treaty, and for our ability to combat the climate crisis. The U.S. is the world’s second-largest carbon polluter after China.

In March, President Trump signed an Executive Order that drastically rolls back progress made by the Obama administration to tackle the environmental, economic and public health impacts of global climate change. The order specifically set into motion the unravelling of the Clean Power Plan, which was intended to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants and create new jobs in the renewable energy sector. Trump’s coal-focused energy program as outlined in the order will also make it nearly impossible for the U.S. to meet climate solution commitments set by the 2105 Paris Agreement.

The Executive Order also revoked the requirement that federal agencies analyze climate change impacts in all their decision-making. If President’s Trump exclamation in his State of the Union address, “we have ended the war on American energy, and we have ended the war on fuel, clean coal” are only the latest signal that his administration’s attacks on our climate and environmental laws are far from over.

Your Voice Has Power

If the first year of the Trump Administration is any indication, we clearly have our work cut out for us. The public interest, which should be government’s highest duty, is in exile. Government agencies are being unduly influenced by Big Ag’s lobbying and money, if not simply controlled directly by those doing their bidding, the foxes in the henhouse. Now is when nonprofit organizations are needed more than ever. CFS will continue to watchdog the Trump Administration and challenge the agencies that are supposed to oversee our food system. But you are the most important voice for Congress and the Trump Administration to hear.

Here are a few important actions you can take right now:

1. Tell the Trump Administration that GMO labeling must be clear and on the package

Make sure the Trump Administration issues GMO labeling regulations that requires the labeling of ALL GMOs, and does so on food packages, for all Americans, not only through discriminatory and secondary “QR code” smart phone disclosure.

2. Protect Endangered Species from Pesticides

The pesticide industry is pushing a bill that threatens the survival of endangered species. Tell Congress to oppose any legislative attempt to weaken ESA protections for species affected by pesticides!

3. Tell the Senate: Ban chlorpyrifos

While Trump’s EPA put corporate profits over public health, Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico (D) has introduced a bill that would outlaw chlorpyrifos. The bill is called the Protect Children, Farmers and Farmworkers from Nerve Agent Pesticides Act of 2017 (S. 1624). Tell your senators to protect our kids and ban this toxic pesticide once and for all.


This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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On November 14th, Center for Food Safety (CFS) testified at a public meeting held by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in San Francisco on the agency’s new Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. Our purpose was to warn FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) against recycling long-discredited claims about genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods (aka GMOs), and presenting them to the public as fact. 

These warnings are essential since the pesticide-seed industry has spent tens of millions of dollars on PR to mislead the public about GE crops and defeat mandatory labeling of GMOs. We’re referring here to the “Big Five” biotech companies – Monsanto, DowDuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF – that have developed the great majority of commercially grown GE crops. The result has been widespread misconceptions regarding GMOs, some of which have infiltrated supposedly objective information purveyed by government agencies.

One of the hoariest myths we urged FDA to avoid is the notion that genetic engineering creates “biofortified” crops – foods with vitamins or minerals they don’t possess naturally. While there have been many experimental attempts to genetically engineer such crops over the past three decades, to our knowledge “there are currently no commercialized GMOs that increase vitamin or mineral content,” as we told FDA. So-called “golden rice” – rice genetically engineered to express beta-carotene, which is broken down by the body into Vitamin A – has been the biotechnology industry’s poster child for over two decades. But it has still not been introduced, and likely never will be. Numerous attempts to breed golden rice into rice varieties Asian farmers actually grow have been foiled by low yield and what one scientist recently referred to as “metabolic meltdown.” Golden rice has thus not saved a single child from Vitamin A deficiency.

In this context, it is interesting to note that Karl Haro von Mogel, the head of an outfit whose website’s name is “biofortified,” saw fit to misrepresent and mistakenly criticize our comments to the FDA. This organization regularly attacks individuals and groups like CFS that dare to criticize biotechnology. The group’s name gives away its PR-centric mission: to disguise a technology used chiefly to promote greater pesticide use as one that instead produces non-existent crops “biofortified” with vitamins and minerals to alleviate malnutrition

The organization’s Board of Directors includes Kevin Folta, a University of Florida scientist who was paid by Monsanto to travel the country spouting the biotech industry’s talking points, assuring his benefactor “a solid return on investment” in him, even as he presented himself as independent, denying any funding by or ties to Monsanto. Former board member Pam Ronald, who has long been a tireless obfuscator of GMOs and their supposed benefits, was several years ago embroiled in a scientific scandal that forced her to retract two major articles in Science and PLoS One. Biofortified blogger Steve Savage has defended chlorpyrifos, the infamous neurotoxic insecticide that damages kids’ brains, comparing its toxicity to that of caffeine! Savage is perfectly aligned here with chlorpyrifos manufacturer Dow, and the anti-science Trump Administration, which reversed a preliminary decision by Obama’s EPA to ban the neurotoxin. Savage’s defense of an insecticide condemned by the American Academy of Pediatrics is perhaps not surprising, given his employment history with chemical giant DuPont (now DowDuPont), and his association with biofortified.org.

As we informed FDA in our comments, roughly 90% of GMO acreage in the U.S. is planted to crops engineered to survive the direct application of weed-killing pesticides. These herbicide-resistant GE crop systems have led to dramatically increased weed-killer use in U.S. agriculture, which in turn has triggered an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds, and fostered unprecedented levels of herbicide drift, injuring sensitive crops growing on millions of acres. The folks at biofortified appear blissfully ignorant of this real-world biotechnology. A search of their website for “dicamba,” the herbicide that when sprayed on Monsanto’s GE dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton caused the crop injury debacle noted above, turns up nothing at all, even though this was undoubtedly the biggest story in agriculture this year. 

We also urged FDA to avoid parroting biotech industry PR to the effect that genetic engineering helps make crops better adapted to climate change, for instance, more drought-tolerant. We pointed to the development of 153 new varieties of drought-tolerant maize for Africa, via conventional breeding, as just one of many signs of how superior conventional breeding is to biotechnology in this regard. Especially in light of the fact that genetic engineering has produced just one such crop, whose drought tolerance is no better than that of many conventionally bred cultivars. Von Mogel again misrepresents our clear and uncontroversial statements on this topic and appears to be unaware that traditional breeding has generated drought-tolerant cultivars of many crops in addition to maize (corn).

Another industry talking point we recommended that FDA and USDA avoid repeating in their outreach initiatives is the myth that GMOs are higher-yielding and necessary to “feed the world.” Contrary to von Mogel, who once again misrepresents our views, we correctly cite a 2016 report by the National Academy of Sciences, which found that a steady increase in crop yields that spans both the pre-biotech and biotech eras strongly suggest[s] that non-GE factors such as advances in conventional breeding methods have played a critical role in increasing crop productivity. In the context of our brief comments, we did not have space to discuss most GMO-related yield studies. Thus, we neglected to describe the substantial 5% yield drag (i.e. 5% lower yield) associated with first-generation Roundup Ready soybeans, one of the world’s most widely-grown GMOs.

We also did not mention the report Failure to Yield, by former CFS scientist Doug Gurian-Sherman. Von Mogel cites Failure to Yield as proof that GMOs have higher yields, when in fact Dr. Gurian-Sherman’s conclusion was that “traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down” for increasing crop yields. Finally, we urged FDA to recognize that poverty is the chief cause of hunger, something that yield improvements do not cure, and which biotech boosters regularly ignore.

Center for Food Safety will continue to advocate that media outlets and government agencies accurately report the facts about real-world GMOs, and avoid the myths about biotechnology promoted by the pesticide industry and its supporters.

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The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as “new animal drugs.” Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government’s negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has reapproved and proposed a dramatic expansion of the use of the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo after only a cursory review of troubling data showing the two chemicals in the pesticide combine to have “synergistic” effects that are potentially harmful to endangered species and the environment. If approved the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy and cotton in 35 states — up from 16 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.

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Family farmers and other supporters of Jackson County’s precedent-setting ban on genetically engineered (GE) crop cultivation are celebrating a federal court ruling upholding the legality of Jackson County’s ordinance. The ruling released this afternoon by Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke was a resounding victory for Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC) and Center for Food Safety (CFS), which intervened in the case to defend the ban along with two local family farmers.  Lawyers with Center for Food Safety and the Earthrise Law Center based at Lewis and Clark Law School jointly represented the intervening parties.

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McDonald\'s, Wendy\'s, and Gerber have already indicated that they don\'t plan to use these GE apples. Burger King could be next.

Sign the petition: Tell Burger King to commit to keeping GE apples out of its meals.

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Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered? This is probably the most urgent question the public has about these novel foods. But despite overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients. The first of it\'s kind--available both in print and as a mibile app for iPhone and Android--the CFS True Food Shoppers Guide was designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.

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If you want to know if your food contains gluten, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or MSG, you simply read the label.  But if you want to know if it contains genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, you’re not going to find any information on the package. 

Why? Because unlike most other developed countries—such as the 15 nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China—the U.S. has no laws requiring labeling of GE foods.  Yet polls have repeatedly shown that the overwhelming majority of Americans—over 90% in most polls—believe GE foods should be labeled.

Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled GE foods, despite the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does no independent testing of their safety.  In fact, documents uncovered in prior litigation show that scientists within FDA indicated that the foods could pose serious risks.  Nonetheless, FDA only holds a voluntary (and confidential) meeting with industry before allowing commercialization of these foods and relies entirely on the data the industry chooses to show them.

So why has the FDA not acted to require labeling?

Almost 20 years ago, FDA determined that GE foods did not need to be labeled because they were not “materially” different from other foods. While the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires the FDA to prevent consumer deception by clarifying that a food label is misleading if it omits significant, “material” information, the FDA issued a policy statement in 1992 that limited what it considered “material” to only changes in food that could be noted by taste, smell or other senses. Since GE foods can’t be “sensed” in this way, FDA declared them to be “substantially equivalent” to conventionally produced foods, and no labeling was required. It was, and remains, a political decision, not a scientific one. Two decades later, this outdated policy of the 19th century is still in effect. Yet the 21st century has brought fundamental changes to food that cannot be sensed; first through genetic engineering and, soon, through nanotechnology and synthetic biology.

In the spring of 2000, the FDA announced that labeling of GE foods would remain voluntary, even though there was no indication that any company would voluntarily label GE foods.  And in the 12 years since, none have.  Companies who have eliminated GE ingredients to add “NON-GE” labels to their products have faced tight regulations and litigation challenges from industry, while the FDA allows other companies continue to use GE ingredients in secret.

Center for Food Safety stands for a clear and unqualified consumer right to know what is in our food. The FDA must move into the new century and give consumers the information they overwhelmingly believe to be important for a host of health, environmental, ethical and religious reasons.

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If you want to know if your food contains gluten, aspartame, high fructose corn syrup, trans-fats or MSG, you simply read the label.  But if you want to know if it contains genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, you’re not going to find any information on the package. Why? Because unlike most other developed countries—such as the nations in the European Union, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Russia and China—the U.S. has no laws requiring labeling of GE foods.

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Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered? This is probably the most urgent question the public has about these novel foods. But despite overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients. The first of it\'s kind--available both in print and as a mibile app for iPhone and Android--the CFS True Food Shoppers Guide was designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.

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Did you know that more than 60 countries around the world have mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods? Check out our new map to find out more about these laws

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On November 14th, Center for Food Safety (CFS) testified at a public meeting held by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in San Francisco on the agency’s new Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. Our purpose was to warn FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) against recycling long-discredited claims about genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods (aka GMOs), and presenting them to the public as fact. 

These warnings are essential since the pesticide-seed industry has spent tens of millions of dollars on PR to mislead the public about GE crops and defeat mandatory labeling of GMOs. We’re referring here to the “Big Five” biotech companies – Monsanto, DowDuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF – that have developed the great majority of commercially grown GE crops. The result has been widespread misconceptions regarding GMOs, some of which have infiltrated supposedly objective information purveyed by government agencies.

One of the hoariest myths we urged FDA to avoid is the notion that genetic engineering creates “biofortified” crops – foods with vitamins or minerals they don’t possess naturally. While there have been many experimental attempts to genetically engineer such crops over the past three decades, to our knowledge “there are currently no commercialized GMOs that increase vitamin or mineral content,” as we told FDA. So-called “golden rice” – rice genetically engineered to express beta-carotene, which is broken down by the body into Vitamin A – has been the biotechnology industry’s poster child for over two decades. But it has still not been introduced, and likely never will be. Numerous attempts to breed golden rice into rice varieties Asian farmers actually grow have been foiled by low yield and what one scientist recently referred to as “metabolic meltdown.” Golden rice has thus not saved a single child from Vitamin A deficiency.

In this context, it is interesting to note that Karl Haro von Mogel, the head of an outfit whose website’s name is “biofortified,” saw fit to misrepresent and mistakenly criticize our comments to the FDA. This organization regularly attacks individuals and groups like CFS that dare to criticize biotechnology. The group’s name gives away its PR-centric mission: to disguise a technology used chiefly to promote greater pesticide use as one that instead produces non-existent crops “biofortified” with vitamins and minerals to alleviate malnutrition

The organization’s Board of Directors includes Kevin Folta, a University of Florida scientist who was paid by Monsanto to travel the country spouting the biotech industry’s talking points, assuring his benefactor “a solid return on investment” in him, even as he presented himself as independent, denying any funding by or ties to Monsanto. Former board member Pam Ronald, who has long been a tireless obfuscator of GMOs and their supposed benefits, was several years ago embroiled in a scientific scandal that forced her to retract two major articles in Science and PLoS One. Biofortified blogger Steve Savage has defended chlorpyrifos, the infamous neurotoxic insecticide that damages kids’ brains, comparing its toxicity to that of caffeine! Savage is perfectly aligned here with chlorpyrifos manufacturer Dow, and the anti-science Trump Administration, which reversed a preliminary decision by Obama’s EPA to ban the neurotoxin. Savage’s defense of an insecticide condemned by the American Academy of Pediatrics is perhaps not surprising, given his employment history with chemical giant DuPont (now DowDuPont), and his association with biofortified.org.

As we informed FDA in our comments, roughly 90% of GMO acreage in the U.S. is planted to crops engineered to survive the direct application of weed-killing pesticides. These herbicide-resistant GE crop systems have led to dramatically increased weed-killer use in U.S. agriculture, which in turn has triggered an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds, and fostered unprecedented levels of herbicide drift, injuring sensitive crops growing on millions of acres. The folks at biofortified appear blissfully ignorant of this real-world biotechnology. A search of their website for “dicamba,” the herbicide that when sprayed on Monsanto’s GE dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton caused the crop injury debacle noted above, turns up nothing at all, even though this was undoubtedly the biggest story in agriculture this year. 

We also urged FDA to avoid parroting biotech industry PR to the effect that genetic engineering helps make crops better adapted to climate change, for instance, more drought-tolerant. We pointed to the development of 153 new varieties of drought-tolerant maize for Africa, via conventional breeding, as just one of many signs of how superior conventional breeding is to biotechnology in this regard. Especially in light of the fact that genetic engineering has produced just one such crop, whose drought tolerance is no better than that of many conventionally bred cultivars. Von Mogel again misrepresents our clear and uncontroversial statements on this topic and appears to be unaware that traditional breeding has generated drought-tolerant cultivars of many crops in addition to maize (corn).

Another industry talking point we recommended that FDA and USDA avoid repeating in their outreach initiatives is the myth that GMOs are higher-yielding and necessary to “feed the world.” Contrary to von Mogel, who once again misrepresents our views, we correctly cite a 2016 report by the National Academy of Sciences, which found that a steady increase in crop yields that spans both the pre-biotech and biotech eras strongly suggest[s] that non-GE factors such as advances in conventional breeding methods have played a critical role in increasing crop productivity. In the context of our brief comments, we did not have space to discuss most GMO-related yield studies. Thus, we neglected to describe the substantial 5% yield drag (i.e. 5% lower yield) associated with first-generation Roundup Ready soybeans, one of the world’s most widely-grown GMOs.

We also did not mention the report Failure to Yield, by former CFS scientist Doug Gurian-Sherman. Von Mogel cites Failure to Yield as proof that GMOs have higher yields, when in fact Dr. Gurian-Sherman’s conclusion was that “traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down” for increasing crop yields. Finally, we urged FDA to recognize that poverty is the chief cause of hunger, something that yield improvements do not cure, and which biotech boosters regularly ignore.

Center for Food Safety will continue to advocate that media outlets and government agencies accurately report the facts about real-world GMOs, and avoid the myths about biotechnology promoted by the pesticide industry and its supporters.

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On November 14th, Center for Food Safety (CFS) testified at a public meeting held by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in San Francisco on the agency’s new Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. Our purpose was to warn FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) against recycling long-discredited claims about genetically engineered (GE) crops and foods (aka GMOs), and presenting them to the public as fact. 

These warnings are essential since the pesticide-seed industry has spent tens of millions of dollars on PR to mislead the public about GE crops and defeat mandatory labeling of GMOs. We’re referring here to the “Big Five” biotech companies – Monsanto, DowDuPont, Syngenta, Bayer and BASF – that have developed the great majority of commercially grown GE crops. The result has been widespread misconceptions regarding GMOs, some of which have infiltrated supposedly objective information purveyed by government agencies.

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In this context, it is interesting to note that Karl Haro von Mogel, the head of an outfit whose website’s name is “biofortified,” saw fit to misrepresent and mistakenly criticize our comments to the FDA. This organization regularly attacks individuals and groups like CFS that dare to criticize biotechnology. The group’s name gives away its PR-centric mission: to disguise a technology used chiefly to promote greater pesticide use as one that instead produces non-existent crops “biofortified” with vitamins and minerals to alleviate malnutrition

The organization’s Board of Directors includes Kevin Folta, a University of Florida scientist who was paid by Monsanto to travel the country spouting the biotech industry’s talking points, assuring his benefactor “a solid return on investment” in him, even as he presented himself as independent, denying any funding by or ties to Monsanto. Former board member Pam Ronald, who has long been a tireless obfuscator of GMOs and their supposed benefits, was several years ago embroiled in a scientific scandal that forced her to retract two major articles in Science and PLoS One. Biofortified blogger Steve Savage has defended chlorpyrifos, the infamous neurotoxic insecticide that damages kids’ brains, comparing its toxicity to that of caffeine! Savage is perfectly aligned here with chlorpyrifos manufacturer Dow, and the anti-science Trump Administration, which reversed a preliminary decision by Obama’s EPA to ban the neurotoxin. Savage’s defense of an insecticide condemned by the American Academy of Pediatrics is perhaps not surprising, given his employment history with chemical giant DuPont (now DowDuPont), and his association with biofortified.org.

As we informed FDA in our comments, roughly 90% of GMO acreage in the U.S. is planted to crops engineered to survive the direct application of weed-killing pesticides. These herbicide-resistant GE crop systems have led to dramatically increased weed-killer use in U.S. agriculture, which in turn has triggered an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds, and fostered unprecedented levels of herbicide drift, injuring sensitive crops growing on millions of acres. The folks at biofortified appear blissfully ignorant of this real-world biotechnology. A search of their website for “dicamba,” the herbicide that when sprayed on Monsanto’s GE dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton caused the crop injury debacle noted above, turns up nothing at all, even though this was undoubtedly the biggest story in agriculture this year. 

We also urged FDA to avoid parroting biotech industry PR to the effect that genetic engineering helps make crops better adapted to climate change, for instance, more drought-tolerant. We pointed to the development of 153 new varieties of drought-tolerant maize for Africa, via conventional breeding, as just one of many signs of how superior conventional breeding is to biotechnology in this regard. Especially in light of the fact that genetic engineering has produced just one such crop, whose drought tolerance is no better than that of many conventionally bred cultivars. Von Mogel again misrepresents our clear and uncontroversial statements on this topic and appears to be unaware that traditional breeding has generated drought-tolerant cultivars of many crops in addition to maize (corn).

Another industry talking point we recommended that FDA and USDA avoid repeating in their outreach initiatives is the myth that GMOs are higher-yielding and necessary to “feed the world.” Contrary to von Mogel, who once again misrepresents our views, we correctly cite a 2016 report by the National Academy of Sciences, which found that a steady increase in crop yields that spans both the pre-biotech and biotech eras strongly suggest[s] that non-GE factors such as advances in conventional breeding methods have played a critical role in increasing crop productivity. In the context of our brief comments, we did not have space to discuss most GMO-related yield studies. Thus, we neglected to describe the substantial 5% yield drag (i.e. 5% lower yield) associated with first-generation Roundup Ready soybeans, one of the world’s most widely-grown GMOs.

We also did not mention the report Failure to Yield, by former CFS scientist Doug Gurian-Sherman. Von Mogel cites Failure to Yield as proof that GMOs have higher yields, when in fact Dr. Gurian-Sherman’s conclusion was that “traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down” for increasing crop yields. Finally, we urged FDA to recognize that poverty is the chief cause of hunger, something that yield improvements do not cure, and which biotech boosters regularly ignore.

Center for Food Safety will continue to advocate that media outlets and government agencies accurately report the facts about real-world GMOs, and avoid the myths about biotechnology promoted by the pesticide industry and its supporters.

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In just a few days, kids and adults alike will slip into fantastical costumes, adorn their homes with fake spider webs and plump pumpkins, and gobble down sugary candy from dawn to dusk. This Halloween, you can avoid stomach-churning tricks in your treats by opting for Organic and non-GMO candy.

What’s in my candy?

By choosing Organic and non-GMO candy, you can prevent exposure to genetically engineered crops and their associated pesticides, for which children are particularly at risk. Here are the ingredients to look out for:

When you see “sugar” on the ingredients list, unless specified, it is usually genetically engineered sugar beets…and may contain residues of the toxic weed killer glyphosate. Glyphosate-sprayed GE beet sugar can be avoided by opting for products made with 100% cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, or organic sugar. Choose ethically sourced and organic sugar options whenever possible.

What are some alternatives?

When you make your Halloween grocery run, outsmart brands producing GMO-ridden treats by looking for products with certified organic and non-GMO labels. Watch out for Halloween candy and chocolates produced by Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle, which are likely to contain GMO ingredients. Instead try treats from Newman’s Own, Jelly Belly, Chocolove, YummyEarth Organic Lollipops, Endangered Species Chocolate Bug Bites, or Amy’s Organic Candy Bites, which all avoid GMOs in their products. Making your own candy, chocolates, or snacks for your Halloween party is another fun, easy way to avoid frightening hidden ingredients. Check out our Halloween Organic and non-GMO candy guide for more tips on what to get for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

What else can you do?

Sign our petition to make sure all GMOs are labeled on the package, and be sure to have a spooktacular Halloween!

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The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as “new animal drugs.” Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government’s negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has reapproved and proposed a dramatic expansion of the use of the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo after only a cursory review of troubling data showing the two chemicals in the pesticide combine to have “synergistic” effects that are potentially harmful to endangered species and the environment. If approved the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy and cotton in 35 states — up from 16 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.

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Family farmers and other supporters of Jackson County’s precedent-setting ban on genetically engineered (GE) crop cultivation are celebrating a federal court ruling upholding the legality of Jackson County’s ordinance. The ruling released this afternoon by Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke was a resounding victory for Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC) and Center for Food Safety (CFS), which intervened in the case to defend the ban along with two local family farmers.  Lawyers with Center for Food Safety and the Earthrise Law Center based at Lewis and Clark Law School jointly represented the intervening parties.

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McDonald\'s, Wendy\'s, and Gerber have already indicated that they don\'t plan to use these GE apples. Burger King could be next.

Sign the petition: Tell Burger King to commit to keeping GE apples out of its meals.

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Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered? This is probably the most urgent question the public has about these novel foods. But despite overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients. The first of it\'s kind--available both in print and as a mibile app for iPhone and Android--the CFS True Food Shoppers Guide was designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.

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More and more people are beginning to understand that what we put on our food, land and water ends up in our bodies.  Foods bearing the organic label are grown, processed, inspected and certified “organic” in accordance with the strict legal requirements of the Organic Foods Production Act.  Organically grown food is the only food legally-mandated to safeguard human health, animal welfare and the environment.

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In advance of USDA’s publication of regulations to govern organic aquaculture, CFS’s report, Like Water and Oil:  Ocean-Based Fish Farming and Organic Don’t Mix, warns that permitting “organic” aquaculture at sea would put the entire U.S. organic industry in jeopardy by weakening the integrity of the USDA organic label.

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Organic is the healthiest system of food production and the most beneficial for the environment, wildlife, climate, and biodiversity, and organic keeps getting better all the time. So when you\'re debating between organic and conventional food, the choice is simple: choose organic.

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Today the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) rejected a petition to extend the expiration date for the use of oxytetracycline to treat fire blight in apple and pear production beyond October 21, 2014. The decision is a victory for the organic standard and advances efforts to preserve the effectiveness of antibiotics.

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In just a few days, kids and adults alike will slip into fantastical costumes, adorn their homes with fake spider webs and plump pumpkins, and gobble down sugary candy from dawn to dusk. This Halloween, you can avoid stomach-churning tricks in your treats by opting for Organic and non-GMO candy.

What’s in my candy?

By choosing Organic and non-GMO candy, you can prevent exposure to genetically engineered crops and their associated pesticides, for which children are particularly at risk. Here are the ingredients to look out for:

When you see “sugar” on the ingredients list, unless specified, it is usually genetically engineered sugar beets…and may contain residues of the toxic weed killer glyphosate. Glyphosate-sprayed GE beet sugar can be avoided by opting for products made with 100% cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, or organic sugar. Choose ethically sourced and organic sugar options whenever possible.

What are some alternatives?

When you make your Halloween grocery run, outsmart brands producing GMO-ridden treats by looking for products with certified organic and non-GMO labels. Watch out for Halloween candy and chocolates produced by Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle, which are likely to contain GMO ingredients. Instead try treats from Newman’s Own, Jelly Belly, Chocolove, YummyEarth Organic Lollipops, Endangered Species Chocolate Bug Bites, or Amy’s Organic Candy Bites, which all avoid GMOs in their products. Making your own candy, chocolates, or snacks for your Halloween party is another fun, easy way to avoid frightening hidden ingredients. Check out our Halloween Organic and non-GMO candy guide for more tips on what to get for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

What else can you do?

Sign our petition to make sure all GMOs are labeled on the package, and be sure to have a spooktacular Halloween!

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The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering .', ), ), ), 'bid_3610' => array ( 'block_name' => 'Related Issue 2', 'block_type' => 'Relation', 'block_alias' => 'rel2', 'post_id' => '46656', 'content' => array ( 0 => array ( 'custom_title' => '', 'page_id' => '306', 'name1' => 'Organic & Beyond', 'section_name1' => 'Issues', 'page_link' => '/issues/306/organic-and-beyond', 'lead_img' => 'istock_000016218181large_07294.jpg', 'rich_snippet' => '

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In just a few days, kids and adults alike will slip into fantastical costumes, adorn their homes with fake spider webs and plump pumpkins, and gobble down sugary candy from dawn to dusk. This Halloween, you can avoid stomach-churning tricks in your treats by opting for Organic and non-GMO candy.

What’s in my candy?

By choosing Organic and non-GMO candy, you can prevent exposure to genetically engineered crops and their associated pesticides, for which children are particularly at risk. Here are the ingredients to look out for:

When you see “sugar” on the ingredients list, unless specified, it is usually genetically engineered sugar beets…and may contain residues of the toxic weed killer glyphosate. Glyphosate-sprayed GE beet sugar can be avoided by opting for products made with 100% cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, or organic sugar. Choose ethically sourced and organic sugar options whenever possible.

What are some alternatives?

When you make your Halloween grocery run, outsmart brands producing GMO-ridden treats by looking for products with certified organic and non-GMO labels. Watch out for Halloween candy and chocolates produced by Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestle, which are likely to contain GMO ingredients. Instead try treats from Newman’s Own, Jelly Belly, Chocolove, YummyEarth Organic Lollipops, Endangered Species Chocolate Bug Bites, or Amy’s Organic Candy Bites, which all avoid GMOs in their products. Making your own candy, chocolates, or snacks for your Halloween party is another fun, easy way to avoid frightening hidden ingredients. Check out our Halloween Organic and non-GMO candy guide for more tips on what to get for your neighborhood trick-or-treaters.

What else can you do?

Sign our petition to make sure all GMOs are labeled on the package, and be sure to have a spooktacular Halloween!

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Monsanto\'s GE cotton and soybeans were made to be resistant to an herbicide that drifts to nearby crops.

Bill Bader is Missouri’s largest peach grower, supplying produce to retailers throughout the mid-South. But the last two years have found him struggling to save his farm. Thousands of his trees have defoliated limbs and walnut-size peaches not worth the picking, with 30,000 trees irreparably damaged.

Bader is not alone. Over 2,200 other farmers growing soybeans, tomatoes, melons, grapes and other crops across 20 states have reported crop damage on more than three million acres, slashing harvests by a third or more. Losses are estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  

What’s responsible for this devastation? The agricultural community points to Monsanto’s introduction of cotton and soybeans genetically engineered to withstand dicamba, an old herbicide long notorious for its propensity to drift and damage nearby crops. These new GMOs have led to dramatically increased dicamba use and associated crop damage.

Many farmers have embraced dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton because they see no alternative for controlling yield-robbing weeds that have evolved resistance to glyphosate (i.e. Roundup) and other herbicides. These resistant weeds infest over 60 million acres of U.S. cropland thanks to massive use of glyphosate on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMOs, which are genetically engineered to survive direct application of the herbicide.

Dicamba devastation should come as no surprise. Farmers and agronomists warned precisely of this outcome years ago. My organization and others urged USDA and EPA to deny approval of Monsanto’s GMOs and the use of dicamba on them. Instead, the government listened to Monsanto and BASF, which claimed that their new “low-volatility” dicamba formulations were unlikely to cause drift injury.

These assurances have been proven false, as dicamba drift injury complaints continue to flood in even with label-compliant use of the newer versions, first made available this year. It remains to be seen if extraordinary state-level dicamba restrictions will mitigate the problem, or if farmers will make good their huge losses through class-action lawsuits against Monsanto.

However, the problems extend well beyond dicamba. The pesticide-seed industry is developing scores of GMOs resistant to other (and multiple) herbicides, long its top R&D priority. By shifting herbicide use from planting time to later in the season—when neighboring crops have leafed out and are more susceptible to injury—herbicide-resistant crop systems pose a greater risk of crop damage than early season use of the same weed-killers with traditional crops. This helps explain why glyphosate became a leading cause of drift injury only in the Roundup Ready crop era.

And the issues extend well beyond crop damage. Herbicide-resistant crop systems are potent promoters of resistant weeds, promising a future of still more intensive herbicide use, with attendant risks to human health and the environment. Indeed, dicamba resistance is already beginning to emerge in Palmer amaranth, the most feared weed plaguing farmers, and ironically the one they most depend on dicamba to kill.  

Moreover, herbicide drift pits farmer against farmer, "tearing at the fabric of rural America," as epitomized by a dicamba dispute that ended in a tragic gunshot death last October. Finally, many soybean and cotton farmers who have no interest in Monsanto’s new GMOs feel compelled to grow them anyway, purely to safeguard their own crops against drift.

Of course, this option is not available to Bill Bader, as he strives to save his peach farm, nor to many other threatened growers of fruits, vegetables, organic and non-GM crops. In an agricultural landscape dominated by GMO monocultures of corn, soybeans and cotton, increasing herbicide drift threatens to ruin many small family farmers, and eliminate what little agricultural diversity remains in the heartland.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Organic growers manage weeds entirely without the use of synthetic herbicides, and reap substantial premiums for their harvests. Low-input systems involving a greater diversity of crops help suppress weeds while slashing herbicide use by 80 percent, with no loss of revenue.

It’s long past time for USDA and EPA to stop approving these hazardous herbicide-resistant GMOs and use of their companion herbicides, and instead promote sustainable farming practices to help farmers meet the growing demand for healthier foods.

Originally published on AlterNet. This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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The genetic engineering of plants and animals is looming as one of the greatest and most intractable environmental challenges of the 21st Century. Already, this novel technology has invaded our grocery stores and our kitchen pantries by fundamentally altering some of our most important staple food crops.

By being able to take the genetic material from one organism and insert it into the permanent genetic code of another, biotechnologists have engineered numerous novel creations, such as potatoes with bacteria genes, “super” pigs with human growth genes, fish with cattle growth genes, tomatoes with flounder genes, and thousands of other plants, animals and insects. At an alarming rate, these creations are now being patented and released into the environment.

Currently, up to 85 percent of U.S. corn is genetically engineered as are 91 percent of soybeans and 88 percent of cotton (cottonseed oil is often used in food products). According to industry, up to 95% of sugar beets are now GE. It has been estimated that upwards of 70 percent of processed foods on supermarket shelves–from soda to soup, crackers to condiments–contain genetically engineered ingredients.

A number of studies over the past decade have revealed that genetically engineered foods can pose serious risks to humans, domesticated animals, wildlife and the environment. Human health effects can include higher risks of toxicity, allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, immune-suppression and cancer. As for environmental impacts, the use of genetic engineering in agriculture will lead to uncontrolled biological pollution, threatening numerous microbial, plant and animal species with extinction, and the potential contamination of all non-genetically engineered life forms with novel and possibly hazardous genetic material.

Despite these long-term and wide-ranging risks, Congress has yet to pass a single law intended to manage them responsibly. This despite the fact that our regulatory agencies have failed to adequately address the human health or environmental impacts of genetic engineering. On the federal level, eight agencies attempt to regulate biotechnology using 12 different statutes or laws that were written long before genetically engineered food, animals and insects became a reality. The result has been a regulatory tangle, where any regulation even exists, as existing laws are grossly manipulated to manage threats they were never intended to regulate. Among many bizarre examples of these regulatory anomalies is the current attempt by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate genetically engineered fish as “new animal drugs.” Yet, at the same time, the FDA claims it has no jurisdiction over genetically engineered pet fish like the Glofish.

The haphazard and negligent agency regulation of biotechnology has been a disaster for consumers and the environment. Unsuspecting consumers by the tens of millions are being allowed to purchase and consume unlabeled genetically engineered foods, despite a finding by FDA scientists that these foods could pose serious risks. And new genetically engineered crops are being approved by federal agencies despite admissions that they will contaminate native and conventional plants and pose other significant new environmental threats. In short, there has been a complete abdication of any responsible legislative or regulatory oversight of genetically engineered foods. Clearly, now is a critical time to challenge the government’s negligence in managing the human health and environmental threats from biotechnology.

CFS seeks to halt the approval, commercialization or release of any new genetically engineered crops until they have been thoroughly tested and found safe for human health and the environment. CFS maintains that any foods that already contain genetically engineered ingredients must be clearly labeled. Additionally, CFS advocates the containment and reduction of existing genetically engineered crops.

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The Environmental Protection Agency has reapproved and proposed a dramatic expansion of the use of the toxic pesticide Enlist Duo after only a cursory review of troubling data showing the two chemicals in the pesticide combine to have “synergistic” effects that are potentially harmful to endangered species and the environment. If approved the pesticide cocktail could be used on corn, soy and cotton in 35 states — up from 16 states where the product was previously approved for just corn and soy.

', 3 => 'http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4559/after-cursory-review-epa-proposes-dramatic-expansionof-toxic-pesticide-blend-enlist-duo', 4 => '', 5 => '', 6 => '', ), 1 => array ( 0 => 'jacksonvictory_59877.jpg', 1 => 'Victory! Judge Upholds Jackson County’s Ban on Genetically Engineered Crops', 2 => '

Family farmers and other supporters of Jackson County’s precedent-setting ban on genetically engineered (GE) crop cultivation are celebrating a federal court ruling upholding the legality of Jackson County’s ordinance. The ruling released this afternoon by Federal District Court Magistrate Judge Mark Clarke was a resounding victory for Our Family Farms Coalition (OFFC) and Center for Food Safety (CFS), which intervened in the case to defend the ban along with two local family farmers.  Lawyers with Center for Food Safety and the Earthrise Law Center based at Lewis and Clark Law School jointly represented the intervening parties.

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McDonald\'s, Wendy\'s, and Gerber have already indicated that they don\'t plan to use these GE apples. Burger King could be next.

Sign the petition: Tell Burger King to commit to keeping GE apples out of its meals.

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Which supermarket foods are genetically engineered? This is probably the most urgent question the public has about these novel foods. But despite overwhelming demand, almost no foods on U.S. grocery shelves reveal their secret, genetically engineered ingredients. The first of it\'s kind--available both in print and as a mibile app for iPhone and Android--the CFS True Food Shoppers Guide was designed to help reclaim your right to know about the foods you are buying, and help you find and avoid GMO foods and ingredients.

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Despite the misleading claims of companies selling them, Genetically engineered (GE) crops will not alleviate traditional environmental concerns, such as the chemical contamination of water, air or soil. Far from eliminating pesticides, GE crops have actually increased this chemical pollution. Plants engineered to tolerate herbicides closely tie crop production to increased chemical usage. Crops engineered with Bt genetic material to protect against specific insect pests may decrease the efficacy of this important nonchemical pesticide by increasing resistance to it. This could mean the widespread conversion of this sustainable method of farming to chemical-intensive methods.

Meanwhile, genetic engineering has brought an entirely new slate of environmental concerns. Altered genes engineered into commercial plants are escaping into populations of weeds and unaltered crops. Genetically enhanced “superweeds” may well become a severe environmental problem in coming years. Even now, GE corn, canola and, to a lesser extent, soybeans and cotton are contaminating their non-GE counterparts. This is causing major economic concerns among farmers and is resulting in the loss of U.S. agricultural exports. The biological pollution brought by GE crops and other organisms will not dilute or degrade over time. It will reproduce and disseminate, profoundly altering ecosystems and threatening the existence of natural plant varieties and wildlife.

Despite these troubling and unprecedented environmental concerns, the U.S. government has allowed companies to grow and sell numerous gene- altered crops. Yet no government agency has thoroughly tested the impact of these crops on biodiversity or farmland and natural ecosystems. No regulatory structure even exists to ensure that these crops are not causing irreparable environmental harm. The FDA, our leading agency on food safety, requires no mandatory environmental or human safety testing of these crops whatsoever. Nonetheless, officials at the FDA, EPA, and USDA have allowed, and even promoted, GE crop plantings for years.

The lack of government oversight is troubling. Each decision to introduce these biological contaminants into our environment is a dangerous game of ecological roulette. The extent of irreversible environmental damage grows greater with every new acre of GE cropland and every new GE variety.

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Monsanto\'s GE cotton and soybeans were made to be resistant to an herbicide that drifts to nearby crops.

Bill Bader is Missouri’s largest peach grower, supplying produce to retailers throughout the mid-South. But the last two years have found him struggling to save his farm. Thousands of his trees have defoliated limbs and walnut-size peaches not worth the picking, with 30,000 trees irreparably damaged.

Bader is not alone. Over 2,200 other farmers growing soybeans, tomatoes, melons, grapes and other crops across 20 states have reported crop damage on more than three million acres, slashing harvests by a third or more. Losses are estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  

What’s responsible for this devastation? The agricultural community points to Monsanto’s introduction of cotton and soybeans genetically engineered to withstand dicamba, an old herbicide long notorious for its propensity to drift and damage nearby crops. These new GMOs have led to dramatically increased dicamba use and associated crop damage.

Many farmers have embraced dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton because they see no alternative for controlling yield-robbing weeds that have evolved resistance to glyphosate (i.e. Roundup) and other herbicides. These resistant weeds infest over 60 million acres of U.S. cropland thanks to massive use of glyphosate on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMOs, which are genetically engineered to survive direct application of the herbicide.

Dicamba devastation should come as no surprise. Farmers and agronomists warned precisely of this outcome years ago. My organization and others urged USDA and EPA to deny approval of Monsanto’s GMOs and the use of dicamba on them. Instead, the government listened to Monsanto and BASF, which claimed that their new “low-volatility” dicamba formulations were unlikely to cause drift injury.

These assurances have been proven false, as dicamba drift injury complaints continue to flood in even with label-compliant use of the newer versions, first made available this year. It remains to be seen if extraordinary state-level dicamba restrictions will mitigate the problem, or if farmers will make good their huge losses through class-action lawsuits against Monsanto.

However, the problems extend well beyond dicamba. The pesticide-seed industry is developing scores of GMOs resistant to other (and multiple) herbicides, long its top R&D priority. By shifting herbicide use from planting time to later in the season—when neighboring crops have leafed out and are more susceptible to injury—herbicide-resistant crop systems pose a greater risk of crop damage than early season use of the same weed-killers with traditional crops. This helps explain why glyphosate became a leading cause of drift injury only in the Roundup Ready crop era.

And the issues extend well beyond crop damage. Herbicide-resistant crop systems are potent promoters of resistant weeds, promising a future of still more intensive herbicide use, with attendant risks to human health and the environment. Indeed, dicamba resistance is already beginning to emerge in Palmer amaranth, the most feared weed plaguing farmers, and ironically the one they most depend on dicamba to kill.  

Moreover, herbicide drift pits farmer against farmer, "tearing at the fabric of rural America," as epitomized by a dicamba dispute that ended in a tragic gunshot death last October. Finally, many soybean and cotton farmers who have no interest in Monsanto’s new GMOs feel compelled to grow them anyway, purely to safeguard their own crops against drift.

Of course, this option is not available to Bill Bader, as he strives to save his peach farm, nor to many other threatened growers of fruits, vegetables, organic and non-GM crops. In an agricultural landscape dominated by GMO monocultures of corn, soybeans and cotton, increasing herbicide drift threatens to ruin many small family farmers, and eliminate what little agricultural diversity remains in the heartland.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Organic growers manage weeds entirely without the use of synthetic herbicides, and reap substantial premiums for their harvests. Low-input systems involving a greater diversity of crops help suppress weeds while slashing herbicide use by 80 percent, with no loss of revenue.

It’s long past time for USDA and EPA to stop approving these hazardous herbicide-resistant GMOs and use of their companion herbicides, and instead promote sustainable farming practices to help farmers meet the growing demand for healthier foods.

Originally published on AlterNet. This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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Monsanto\'s GE cotton and soybeans were made to be resistant to an herbicide that drifts to nearby crops.

Bill Bader is Missouri’s largest peach grower, supplying produce to retailers throughout the mid-South. But the last two years have found him struggling to save his farm. Thousands of his trees have defoliated limbs and walnut-size peaches not worth the picking, with 30,000 trees irreparably damaged.

Bader is not alone. Over 2,200 other farmers growing soybeans, tomatoes, melons, grapes and other crops across 20 states have reported crop damage on more than three million acres, slashing harvests by a third or more. Losses are estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  

What’s responsible for this devastation? The agricultural community points to Monsanto’s introduction of cotton and soybeans genetically engineered to withstand dicamba, an old herbicide long notorious for its propensity to drift and damage nearby crops. These new GMOs have led to dramatically increased dicamba use and associated crop damage.

Many farmers have embraced dicamba-resistant soybeans and cotton because they see no alternative for controlling yield-robbing weeds that have evolved resistance to glyphosate (i.e. Roundup) and other herbicides. These resistant weeds infest over 60 million acres of U.S. cropland thanks to massive use of glyphosate on Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMOs, which are genetically engineered to survive direct application of the herbicide.

Dicamba devastation should come as no surprise. Farmers and agronomists warned precisely of this outcome years ago. My organization and others urged USDA and EPA to deny approval of Monsanto’s GMOs and the use of dicamba on them. Instead, the government listened to Monsanto and BASF, which claimed that their new “low-volatility” dicamba formulations were unlikely to cause drift injury.

These assurances have been proven false, as dicamba drift injury complaints continue to flood in even with label-compliant use of the newer versions, first made available this year. It remains to be seen if extraordinary state-level dicamba restrictions will mitigate the problem, or if farmers will make good their huge losses through class-action lawsuits against Monsanto.

However, the problems extend well beyond dicamba. The pesticide-seed industry is developing scores of GMOs resistant to other (and multiple) herbicides, long its top R&D priority. By shifting herbicide use from planting time to later in the season—when neighboring crops have leafed out and are more susceptible to injury—herbicide-resistant crop systems pose a greater risk of crop damage than early season use of the same weed-killers with traditional crops. This helps explain why glyphosate became a leading cause of drift injury only in the Roundup Ready crop era.

And the issues extend well beyond crop damage. Herbicide-resistant crop systems are potent promoters of resistant weeds, promising a future of still more intensive herbicide use, with attendant risks to human health and the environment. Indeed, dicamba resistance is already beginning to emerge in Palmer amaranth, the most feared weed plaguing farmers, and ironically the one they most depend on dicamba to kill.  

Moreover, herbicide drift pits farmer against farmer, "tearing at the fabric of rural America," as epitomized by a dicamba dispute that ended in a tragic gunshot death last October. Finally, many soybean and cotton farmers who have no interest in Monsanto’s new GMOs feel compelled to grow them anyway, purely to safeguard their own crops against drift.

Of course, this option is not available to Bill Bader, as he strives to save his peach farm, nor to many other threatened growers of fruits, vegetables, organic and non-GM crops. In an agricultural landscape dominated by GMO monocultures of corn, soybeans and cotton, increasing herbicide drift threatens to ruin many small family farmers, and eliminate what little agricultural diversity remains in the heartland.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Organic growers manage weeds entirely without the use of synthetic herbicides, and reap substantial premiums for their harvests. Low-input systems involving a greater diversity of crops help suppress weeds while slashing herbicide use by 80 percent, with no loss of revenue.

It’s long past time for USDA and EPA to stop approving these hazardous herbicide-resistant GMOs and use of their companion herbicides, and instead promote sustainable farming practices to help farmers meet the growing demand for healthier foods.

Originally published on AlterNet. This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.

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