An even more worrisome form of concentration, according to Bill Heffernan, a rural sociologist at the University of Missouri, is the emergence of several clusters of firms that-through mergers, takeovers, and alliances with other links in the food chain-now possess "a seamless and fully vertically integrated control of the food system from gene to supermarket shelf." (See diagram, page 20.) Consider the recent partnership between Monsanto and Cargill, which controls seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, farm finance, grain collection, grain processing, livestock feed processing, livestock production, and slaughtering, as well as some well-known processed food brands. From the standpoint of a company like Cargill, such alliances yield tremendous control over costs and can therefore be extremely profitable.
But suppose you're the farmer. Want to buy seed to grow corn? If Cargill is the only buyer of corn in a hundred mile radius, and Cargill is only buying a particular Monsanto corn variety for its mills or elevators or feedlots, then if you don't plant Monsanto's seed you won't have a market for your corn. Need a loan to buy the seed? Go to Cargill-owned Bank of Ellsworth, but be sure to let them know which seed you'll be buying. Also mention that you'll be buying Cargill's Saskferco brand fertilizer. OK, but once the corn is grown, you don't like the idea of having to sell to Cargill at the prices it dictates? Well, maybe you'll feed the corn to your pigs, then, and sell them to the highest bidder. No problem-Cargill's Excel Corporation buys pigs, too. OK, you're moving to the city, and renouncing the farm life! No more home-made grits for breakfast, you're buying corn flakes. Well, good news: Cargill Foods supplies corn flour to the top cereal makers. You'll notice, though, that all the big brands of corn flakes seem to have pretty much the same hefty price per ounce. After all, they're all made by the agricultural oligopoly.
"As the circle of interested parties is drawn wider, the alliance ultimately shortens the distance between farmer and consumer," observes Mark Ritchie, president of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, a research and advocacy group often at the center of these partnerships. This closer proximity may prove critical to the ultimate sustainability of our food supply, since socially and ecologically sound buying habits are not just the passive result of changes in the way food is produced, but can actually be the most powerful drivers of these changes. The explosion of farmers' markets, community-supported agriculture, and other direct buying arrangements between farmers and consumers points to the growing numbers of nonfarmers who have already shifted their role in the food chain from that of choosing from the tens of thousands of food brands offered by a few dozen companies to bypassing such brands altogether. And, since many of the additives and processing steps that take up the bulk of the food dollar are simply the inevitable consequence of the ever-increasing time commercial food now spends in global transit and storage, this shortening of distance between grower and consumer will not only benefit the culture and ecology of farm communities. It will also give us access to much fresher, more flavorful, and more nutritious food. Luckily, as any food marketer can tell you, these characteristics aren't a hard sell.
Monsanto are also buying trademarks so that no matter where you buy certain seeds, they get money from it. Here is a LINK to the trademarks and seed companies Monsanto supply and ones that they do not supply in the USA.
Non Profits Sue General Mills for False and Misleading Use of ‘Natural’
Washington, DC - Today, three non profit organizations filed a lawsuit against General Mills for misleading the public by labeling their Nature Valley brand granola bars “Made with 100% NATURAL whole grain OATS.” It was recently discovered that the herbicide chemical glyphosate, an ingredient in Roundup and hundreds of other glyphosate-based herbicides, is present in the Nature Valley granola bars, which consumers expect to be natural and free of toxins.
Moms Across America, Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association with The Richman Law Group filed jointly on behalf of the non profit members in Washington DC under the District of Columbia’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act.
A study published earlier this week has found that the increasing use of neonicotinoid (neonic) insecticides is correlated with a steep decline in butterfly health and reproductive success – as more neonics are used, butterflies are struggling to survive. This study adds to previous evidence that demonstrates, in addition to bees, neonics can cause serious harm to other important pollinators.
Decrease Found in Retail Sales of Plants Treated with Bee-Toxic Pesticides
Large retailers, including Home Depot and Lowe’s, have made commitments to phase out use of neonicotinoids. The new data demonstrates that these two companies are making progress toward that goal. Ace Hardware, True Value and Walmart have not yet made similar commitments to eliminate neonics in their stores.
Italian Health Ministry Puts Strict Restrictions on Glyphosate Herbicides
NGOs across Europe have enthusiastically applauded the decision by Italy’s Ministry of Health on Friday to place a number of restrictions on the use of the probable carcinogen Glyphosate, one of the world’s most ubiquitous pesticides.
Victory In Mexico: Indigenous Activists Win Major Court Rulings Against Monsanto
Monsanto must now consult with indigenous communities throughout the Yucatán peninsula before they will be granted any future permits for GMO soy farming, as of a court decision in early November 2015. Monsanto planned to farm genetically modified soybean in over 250,000 hectares of the Yucatán region, yet a Mexican court has suspended the Biotech giant’s permit. The judgement was based on constitutional law that requires the consideration of indigenous communities affected by development projects.
Bumble Bee Joins Anti-GMO Movement with Certified Tuna
The San Diego-based company announced Wednesday that its canned Solid White Albacore Tuna in Water and in Oil is now Non-GMO Project Verified. Bumble Bee plans to certify the balance of its canned and pouch tuna products by the end of the year.
What Are Toxic Algal Blooms? Stony Brook University's Christopher Gobler Explains
How does our food system factor into this national and global problem?
The largest source of nitrogen to coastal ecosystems globally is farm fertilizer primarily due to the inefficient use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer. In other regions, concentrated animal feeding operations [CAFOs, or factory farms] represent a strong local source of nitrogen that has been shown to promote and stimulate HABs.
What role is there for policymakers to play in tackling nitrogen pollution from the agricultural sector? Are there practical solutions in place that reduce the problem of nitrogen pollution and algal blooms?
When it comes to HABs, solutions are often site-specific. That being said, the most intense blue-green algae blooms across the US in Florida, the Great Lakes, Utah, California and elsewhere are associated with agricultural fertilizers. In each of these cases, it makes sense for policy makers to carefully examine agricultural practices in these regions and nationally to protect surface waters and human health against toxic HABs. In other, more urbanized regions, wastewater is the major source of nitrogen to coastal waters. Technological advances are making it possible to sharply reduce nitrogen from these sources.
Glyphosate Task Force opens reading room for secret industry studies
Those who wish to view the studies in the reading room must submit to a stringent set of conditions, including being forbidden from making copies of the data. Thus internet access is banned and “Any device, such as mobile phones or other handheld/mobile wireless devices, laptops, PDAs, voice recorders, cameras, CDs, DVDs, USB sticks and the like, will be locked away and returned upon exit from the reading room.”
Part 2: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. discusses the transcripts of a secret meeting between the CDC and 75 representatives of the vaccine industry in which they admitted there was a clear link between adjuvants in vaccines and neurological disorders and the ensuing corruption that was perpetrated to cover this up.
The Monsanto Tribunal is a citizens’ tribunal that will take place on October 15-16 in The Hague, Netherlands. It is being organized by the people, for the people, to draw attention to Monsanto’s crimes against human health and the environment. Click below to see how you can support and participate in the Monsanto Tribunal:
But why would such an erstwhile supporter of the sort of free trade deals which have given globalisation such a bad name be willing to admit defeat so publicly? The answer is that he is trying to smuggle through the much more advanced Canada-EU deal known as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), without anyone noticing.
Yet at the same time, the hesitation to approve genetically modified food production suggests the road to commercialisation is a rocky one. Sections of China’s middle class are increasingly looking towards more “natural” organically produced food, and recent food scares have not helped to boost public confidence.
Reckless Driving: Gene drives and the end of nature
Gene drives can entirely re-engineer ecosystems, create fast spreading extinctions, and intervene in living systems at a scale far beyond anything ever imagined. When gene drives are engineered into a fast-reproducing species they could alter their populations within short timeframes, from months to a few years, and rapidly cause extinction. This radical new technology, also called a “mutagenic chain reaction,”  is unlike anything seen before. It combines the extreme genetic engineering of synthetic biolog y and new gene editing techniques with the idea that humans can and should use such powerful unlimited tools to control nature. Gene drives will change the fundamental relationship between humanity and the natural world forever.