(Thanks, Teonan.)

Pesticide manufacturers' own tests reveal serious harm to honeybees

Bayer and Syngenta criticised for secrecy after unpublished research obtained under freedom of information law linked high doses of their products to damage to the health of bee colonies.


Monsanto Sued Over Alleged CEO, Board Bayer Merger Conflicts

An investor alleges Monsanto Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant stands to collect $18 million in cash and benefits, and that directors would similarly benefit from the merger. Grant and board members suffer conflicts of interest and have withheld information from investors in a bid to pursue the deal, according to the complaint.


Clover Stornetta to convert its conventional milk products to be Non-GMO Project Verified

Leading California dairy producer will convert all its dairies to Non-GMO Project Verified feed in the next two years to meet consumer demand for non-GMO conventional milk options.


US farmers in retreat from “all-GMO”

The yield of crops in the US is no better than in Europe and the drop in grain prices makes expensive GM seeds less attractive

Below is an analysis of US farmers’ disillusionment with GM crops, from the French daily business paper, Les Echos.


EPA greenlights two controversial pesticides

EPA put Dow's "Enlist Duo" cocktail of glyphosate and 2,4-D back on the market, after pulling it off just a year ago due to widespread concern. The agency also gave a green light to Monsanto's new formulation of dicamba, intended for use with the corporation's latest line of GE soy and cotton crops. Both approvals mean a dramatic increase in the use of health-harming herbicides on farmland across the country.


What's in a GMO (I) - Herbicide Tolerant Crops - Jonathan Latham PhD

Week 6 of our breakthrough GMO course @ Cornell University! Jonathan Latham does it again, with an in-depth look at the widespread impacts of GM herbicide tolerant traits - on the environment, human health, socio-economic impacts, and increasingly complex interactions.

This is the first in a two-part series by Jonathan, the second being an equally in-depth treatment of insecticidal-trait GMOs. Jonathan is a geneticist, virologist, and editor of http://www.independentsciencenews.org/


Vital soil fungi damaged by GMO Bt cotton

A study of GMO cotton varieties shows they disrupt an important beneficial soil fungus, writes Eva Sirinathsinghji, apparently due to the Bt insecticide they are engineered to express. Disruption caused by the transgenic cotton to mycorrhizal fungi, and the wider soil ecosystem, may underlie the low yields and poor pest resistance now endemic among Bt GM crops.


Synthetic Biology and Gene Editing Aren’t Organic, Says NOSB

The organic label’s prohibition of genetically modified foods will include next-generation engineering techniques like synthetic biology and gene editing, after the National Organic Standards Board voted unanimously to update United States Organic Standards on Friday.


Before the Holiday Feast: New Data on Pesticides in Food Raises Safety Questions

Data released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows varying levels of pesticide residues in everything from mushrooms to potatoes and grapes to green beans. One sample of strawberries contained residues of 20 pesticides, according to the “Pesticide Data Program” (PDP) report issued this month by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service. The report is the 25th annual such compilation of residue data for the agency, and covered sampling the USDA did in 2015

Notably, the agency said only 15 percent of the 10,187 samples tested were free from any detectable pesticide residues. That’s a marked difference from 2014, when the USDA found that over 41 percent of samples were “clean” or showed no detectable pesticide residues. Prior years also showed roughly 40-50 percent of samples as free of detectable residues, according to USDA data. The USDA said it is not “statistically valid” to compare one year to others, however, because the mix of food sampled changes each year. Still the data shows that 2015 was similar to the years prior in that fresh and processed fruits and vegetables made up the bulk of the foods tested.


European Court of Justice: Pesticide Safety Studies Must Be Disclosed

Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “The ruling says that regulators must release all research used to evaluate the dangers of pesticides, and cannot keep it secret to protect industry interests. Based on the ruling, national and EU authorities should release these studies automatically, and not only following freedom of information requests. Transparency in pesticide assessments is vital, as public health and our environment are at risk.”

Hans Muilerman, Pesticide Action Network Europe chemical officer, said: “Safety tests done by industry on their own products constitute a clear conflict of interest. Disclosure of the full tests will show if the summaries presented by industry to governments agree with the outcomes of the original tests conducted.”


Sweden withdraws 11 herbicides combining glyphosate and POE-tallowamine

The Swedish chemicals agency Kemi has decided to end the sale of herbicides containing both glyphosate and POE-tallowamine in line with the ban on combined use adopted by the European Commission over the summer


Key West group fires back at Oxitec


Moms Speak Out on GMOs


Anresco Laboratories Reveal Details of Glyphosate Testing in Food

Following the release last week of a report by Food Democracy Now! and The Detox Project on alarming levels of glyphosate contamination found in popular American foods, Anresco Laboratories (San Francisco) has released a statement on the testing methods it is using for what it calls the ”new era of glyphosate testing in food”.


Expertise for sale: How an expert with close links to industry has been influencing policy for decades

In 2015 toxicologist Helmut Greim told the German Parliament that glyphosate herbicide doesn’t pose a cancer risk. But he has a history of defending toxic products that dates back to 1994 – and has been less than transparent about his industry links.


US Court of Appeals Allows Local Governments to Ban GM Crops

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its decisions Friday on whether federal and Hawai‘i state laws preempt Hawai‘i counties’ authority to regulate genetically modified (GM) crops and pesticide use. Of significance to state and local communities throughout the United States, the Ninth Circuit ruled that federal law—specifically, the Plant Protection Act—does not prohibit states and counties from passing local laws to regulate and ban commercially-grown GM crops.

“Today’s decision to allow states and counties to ban or regulate GM crops is an important victory for GM-free seed sanctuaries and small communities and farmers around the country,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety.

In granting its decision the Court recognized potential harm to farmers and environment from the widespread planting of GE crops, asserting, “the cultivation and testing of GM plants raise several well-documented concerns.” Notably, the Court affirmed, “transgenic contamination has previously caused significant economic impacts on farmers of conventional, non-GM crops.” The Court acknowledged as well that “the cultivation of GM crops also may raise environmental concerns, such as harm to beneficial plants and animals caused by the increased use of pesticides sometimes associated with testing and growing GM crops, the proliferation of ‘superweeds’ and other pests resistant to pesticides, and the reduction of biodiversity.” The Court went on to declare: “The regulation of commercialized crops, both of GM and traditional varieties, remains within the authority of state and local governments.”

At the same time, however, the Court ruled that under Hawai‘i law, counties and municipalities do not have the authority to regulate GM crops (as some in other states do), and that Hawai‘i state law places such authority in the hands of the State alone.

Earthjustice attorney Paul Achitoff commented: “We’re disappointed that the Court misinterpreted Hawai‘i law and concluded the Hawai‘i legislature decided Hawai‘i counties lack any such authority. The legislature did not, and the decision leaves Hawai‘i unprotected from the harms the Ninth Circuit acknowledged. We believe that when Hawai‘i’s state courts have an opportunity, they will reject the Ninth Circuit’s conclusion on this point and allow Hawai‘i’s people to protect themselves, since the State certainly hasn’t protected them.”

The Court also ruled that the USDA alone has the authority to regulate field trials and experimental GM crops; neither states nor local governments can ban or approve. This is particularly troubling to communities in Hawai‘i, since the many field trials and associated pesticide use in Hawai‘i poses significant risks to local citizens and the environment.

“We are extremely disappointed with the ruling that some experimental GM field trials can only be regulated by USDA, and are considering all legal options. Most importantly, we continue to stand and fight with the people of Hawaiʻi against these chemical companies,” said Kimbrell.

“As a mother and a resident of Kekaha, Kauaʻi, I will continue to stand up and protect my family and my community,” says Malia Kahale‘ina Chun, a mother, educator and Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner. “It is our responsibility to insure that our keiki have access to clean air, clean water and to ‘āina that sustains them.”

Attorneys with Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, who represented local residents, conservation groups, and Hawai‘i County in the proceedings, are analyzing the full scope of the court’s decisions and will be considering options that would protect Hawai‘i’s people, farms and the environment.


Field trial of genetically modified mosquitoes gets approval in Florida

Several steps remain before the trial can commence. First, officials need to find a new site after two-thirds of voters in the proposed location — a community called Key Haven — opposed the trial when asked on a nonbinding ballot measure earlier this month if it should move forward or not.


Dirty language sullies soil debate at National Organic Standards Board

At the November, 2016, meeting of organic farmers in St. Louis, the National Organic Standards Board considered, again, whether the soil-free growing exception should continue. The board heard two days of public testimony on this and other topics. Not surprisingly, farmers with farms, who created the real organic movement, stood in defense of their principles. Then, a dirty war broke out.


Holistic Weed Management Benefits Farmers and the Environment

(Beyond Pesticides, November 21, 2016) The potential benefits of “weeds” have long been ignored, but a new study attempts to quantify the benefits of all species within an agricultural system, including the undesirable ones. The study, Integrating Insect, Resistance, and Floral Resource Management in Weed Control Decision-Making, by Cornell University scientists, assesses and updates holistic integrated pest management practices. In a discussion with the Cornell Chronicle, lead author of the study, Antonio DiTommaso, Ph.D., states, “Managing crop pests without fully understanding the impacts of tactics –related to resistance and nontarget plants or insects– costs producers money.” The authors introduced a weed management decision framework that accounts for weed benefits and illustrates that by allowing low levels of weeds in a cropping system, a farmer can increase crop yields and provide numerous ecosystem services.


Genome Engineering with CRISPR-Cas9


Health Canada proposes ban of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticide


New Anniston study shows possible link between PCBs and liver disease


Glyphosate restrictions around the world

Concerns over the environmental and health impacts of the herbicide glyphosate have prompted many authorities (local and national) to introduce restrictions (including bans) on its use.

In this document, we list the restrictions on glyphosate (legal and voluntary) of which we are aware, as of December 2015. The list also includes some pesticide restrictions that, while not specific to glyphosate, effectively restrict its use.

This list has been compiled from information in the public domain and we provide links to the source where possible, but please note that the information may be out of date and the list could contain errors. We will update the list regularly and would welcome any corrections or additions. Please email pesticide-free@pan-uk.org to contact us.


Corporate Organic Brands

Many organic brands were originally founded by individuals and families for all the right reasons, but at some point in their history, they were bought out by a major manufacturer like Kelloggs or Nestlé or Dean Foods.

Sometimes standards were maintained after the purchase; sometimes subtle shifts began to take place–in the ingredients, sources, quality, or business practices (e.g., when Dean Foods quietly rebranded “organic” Silk soymilk as “natural” to enable them to source non-organic soybeans).

Other organic brands were simply founded by a major food manufacturing corporation in an attempt to “get a piece of the organic consumer pie.”

Arty turns 11 this summer.