Washington sues Monsanto over 'significant harm' caused by toxic chemicals

"It is time to hold the sole U.S. manufacturer of PCBs accountable for the significant harm they have caused to our state," Ferguson said, noting that the chemicals continue to imperil the health of protected salmon and orcas despite the tens of millions of dollars Washington has spent to clean up the pollution. "Monsanto produced PCBs for decades while hiding what they knew about the toxic chemicals' harm to human health and the environment."

The suit arrives just days before Monsanto shareholders vote whether to accept a $57 billion buyout offer from Germany's Bayer. The extraordinary meeting of shareholders takes place just outside of St. Louis on Tuesday.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, were used in many industrial and commercial applications, including in paint, coolants, sealants and hydraulic fluids. Monsanto, based in St. Louis, produced them from 1935 until Congress banned them in 1979.


GMO-free: Yucatan, Campeche and QR to sign pact this week at COP13 in Cancun

CANCUN — The state governments of Yucatan, Quintana Roo and Campeche have pledged to make the Yucatan Peninsula a GMO-free region through the signing of a cooperative pact during the COP13 Global Biodiversity Summit, taking place in Cancun this week.


Wyden, Merkley Call on Government Accountability Office to Study Impacts of Genetically Modified Foods on Hunger, Pesticide Use

Following New York Times Investigation into GMO Foods, Senators Ask if They are Adequately Addressing Food Needs


Superweeds: It’s game over for GM herbicide-tolerant crops

As farmers try to control glyphosate-resistant weeds with other herbicides, a new peer-reviewed paper sees the end of the road for “chemical and transgenic treadmills.”


Commission tries to revive GMO opt-out for food and feed


Commercial Approval of Engineered Bentgrass Given Despite Failed Efforts to Stop Its Spread From Old Experiment Plots

PORTLAND, Ore.— The Environmental Protection Agency released a final environmental impact statement today giving the green light to genetically engineered creeping bentgrass, a highly invasive grass genetically engineered by Monsanto and Scotts to withstand what would normally be a fatal dose of the herbicide glyphosate.

Decades-old outdoor experiments have proven the novel grass impossible to control, as it escaped from “controlled” plots and invaded irrigation ditches, river banks and the Crooked River National Grassland, crowding out native plants and the wildlife that depends on them. Despite more than a decade of efforts and millions of dollars, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Scotts and Monsanto have been unable to exterminate the escapes. Now USDA has granted the industry’s request that it relinquish any authority over the GE grass.

“USDA's approval of this genetically engineered grass is as dangerous as it is unlawful,” said George Kimbrell, a senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety. “The agency is giving Monsanto and Scotts a free pass for the harm their product has already caused farmers and the environment, and is irresponsibly gambling future harm on nothing more than their empty promises.”


Victory! GE mosquitoes will not be let loose on Florida community

“FDA knew it was reckless to approve the release of a novel species without first assessing the potential impacts. The agency didn’t do its homework so the local community spoke up and they had the law on their side,” said Jaydee Hanson, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Food Safety.


Cultivation of GM maize in the EU must be suspended – legal dossier


USDA Gives Monsanto and Scotts' Glyphosate-Resistant Grass Green Light


Missouri's largest peach farmer sues Monsanto over alleged damage from illegal herbicide use

The suit alleges that illegal spraying was a predictable consequence of the Xtend seed being released without intended complement of low-volatility dicamba. “The issue here is one of ‘foreseeability,’” said Randles. “It was entirely foreseeable that if Monsanto released the Xtend products onto the market that farmers would seek a way to protect those Xtend seeds from damage and they would do that by spraying dicamba.”



Local Pesticide Policy Reform Mapping Tool Launched; Sign Petition and Join the Campaign

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2016) Two national non-profit advocacy groups, Beyond Pesticides and Organic Consumers Association (OCA), today launched the Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a resource for communities and activists that documents pesticide policies adopted by local communities to protect people, pollinators and the environment. The map spotlights over 115 communities in 21 states that have taken local action to protect their communities from the adverse effects of pesticides by substituting a range of alternative tactics, from eliminating highly toxic chemicals to the adoption of organic practices. Beyond Pesticides are inviting people across the country to sign a national petition in support of the transition to organic land management.

“The Map of Local Pesticide Reform Policies, a continuously updated resource, reflects the wave of change occurring nationwide as local and state policymakers take steps to provide protections to people and the environment that are not provided by federal policy,” said Drew Toher, public education associate for Beyond Pesticides. “The policies adopted so far reveal a strong desire by local governments to advance practices that promote nontoxic alternatives to the toxic weed- and pest-management practices increasingly seen as destructive to the health of humans and their environment.”


Detailed study of the glyphosate market in China illuminated by new report

Glyphosate witnessed the market downturn once again, with the price much lower than that in 2013 and 2014. Many Chinese companies temporally or completely stopped glyphosate production because of the low price as well as stricter environmental protection requirements.


Big food faces annihilation unless it moves with millennials on health

The food industry in the US and around the world is scrambling to adapt to a younger generation’s appetite for fresher, healthier foods

“There used to be a slow change in how consumers behaved, but there’s a disruptive change among millennials,” according to Stanton. “Digital natives are nothing like their grandparents and not much like their own parents.”

A big factor is their unlimited access to huge amounts of information by way of the internet, he says. Millennials are exposed online to issues such as sustainable sourcing and the health effects of certain foods, and they are influenced by what their friends and public figures say on social media.

“They demand much more information about products, the cost and the materials involved,” says Stanton.

According to a survey from food and beverage market research firm Hartman Group, 30% of millennials said organic ingredients were “extremely important” compared with 22% of the older, baby boomer generation. They also favour healthy convenience foods, such as prepared grocery store meals and meal kit services, which send customers pre-cut and measured ingredients to make dishes at home.


Pesticide Exposure Alters Bacterial Diversity in the Mouth

(Beyond Pesticides, December 6, 2016) A new study released by researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle finds that exposure to organophosphate insecticides is associated with changes in oral bacterial diversity, particularly for exposed farmworkers. The study provides insight into the far-reaching changes pesticide exposure can cause to the human body, which are not captured by current risk assessment models used by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Although past research has investigated the impact of pesticide exposure on the gut microbiome, this is one of the first studies to look at oral bacterial diversity.

The impact of pesticides on the human microbiome is an area of growing research. In Beyond Pesticides’ recent issue of Pesticides and You, the book 10% Human was reviewed, highlighting the fact that only 10% of human cells are genetically human, and 90% microbial in origin. Reviewer Terry Shistar, PhD, writes, “Disturbing the microbiota can contribute to a whole host of ‘21st century diseases,’ including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more.”

Previous research on rats has found the widely used organophosphate insecticide chlorpyrifos caused significant disruptions in the microbiome. When exposed to chronic, low doses of the chemical, certain microbial populations flourish, while others decreas. A scientific review of glyphosate by a team of fourteen renown scientists finds that the action of glyphosate as an antibiotic could alter gut diversity, “which could favor the proliferation of pathogenic microbes in humans, farm animals, pets and other exposed vertebrates,” the authors state.

While AZM use stopped in 2013, there is still significant concern over the ability of a range of pesticides to alter the human microbiome. In addition to glyphosate, researchers have recently found that several other common herbicides have been linked to antibiotic resistance. It is critical that more research is conducted to understand the link between environmental exposure to pesticides and other toxicants, changes in the human microbiome, and the onset of disease.


American Society for Microbiology



Pesticides in agriculture; there is another way


Pesticides and You


Profits soar in organic soybeans, corn: economist


US: Mid-South cotton growers are spraying Bt cotton with pesticides more and more every year

Mid-South cotton growers are overspraying Bt cotton more and more every year, says Arkansas Extension Cotton Specialist Bill Robertson, and “some technology traits are holding up better than others — but we’re having to overspray all technologies more now than we have in the past.


160 global groups call for moratorium on new genetic extinction technology at UN convention

This week, international conservation and environmental leaders are calling on governments at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity to establish a moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology called gene drives.

Gene drives, developed through new gene-editing techniques, are designed to force a particular genetically engineered trait to spread through an entire wild population – potentially changing entire species or even causing deliberate extinctions. The statement urges governments to put in place an urgent, global moratorium on the development and release of the new technology, which poses serious and potentially irreversible threats to biodiversity, as well as national sovereignty, peace, and food security.


Is there a loophole for industry in court ruling in favour of pesticide data disclosure?

One reassuring sign about the ruling as a whole is that we have heard from a knowledgeable source in the EU that the industry is seriously worried by it.


New Zealand: Auckland suburbs spend $50K on alternative to weedkiller glyphosate

Five of Auckland's 21 local boards will spend funds from their own budget to use mechanical gardening equipment instead


Activists Erupt Over Monsanto Plan to Build GMO Lab on Nation’s Most Sacred Native Farmland


Arkansas Plant Board Advances Measures to Restrict Herbicide Dicamba, Linked to Crop Damage

(Beyond Pesticides, December 2, 2016) Last week, the Arkansas Plant Board voted 12-0 to push measures that would ban or limit the use of certain forms of the toxic herbicide dicamba in the state. The hearing was called to address proposals that the board released for public comment on September 30, such as banning certain formulations of dicamba outright, creating restrictions on the time of year that other formulations of the herbicide can be used, and creating buffer zones in certain situations. This decision comes on the heels of a newly registered formulation of dicamba by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and widespread reports of crop damage across the Midwest and Southeast due to the illegal use of dicamba before it was registered.


Pesticides in agriculture; there is another way


Vital soil fungi damaged by GMO Bt cotton


Circle of Poison

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvxpwGz0Ywk

Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sA7034PywqQ

Remember Montana Jones?


Court Fails to Provide Redress for Beekeeper Damages Caused by Regulatory Gaps

(Beyond Pesticides, November 28, 2016) Last week, a federal judge effectively rubber stamped U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) policies that allow seeds to be coated with bee-toxic pesticides known as neonicotinoids. These pesticides, persistent in water and soil, are associated with acute bee kills, widespread pollinator declines and environmental damage. The Judge’s Order was issued on Nov. 21 in the case of Anderson et al. v. McCarthy, No. 3:16-cv-00068-WHA (N.D. Cal.).

“It is astounding that a judge, EPA or anyone with any common sense would not regulate this type of toxic pesticide use, especially when the seed-coatings are so broadly applied and there is so much at risk. Study after study has shown that seeds coated with these chemicals are a major culprit in catastrophic bee-kills. Now more than ever our country’s beekeepers, environment and food system deserve protection from agrichemical interests, and it is EPA’s job to deliver it,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Director of Center for Food Safety.


Health Canada Proposes to Ban Most Uses of the Toxic Insecticide Imidacloprid

(Beyond Pesticides, November 29, 2016) Last week, Health Canada announced its intent to cancel nearly all uses of the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid after determining that the chemical poses unacceptable risks to the environment. Although imidacloprid and other pesticides in the neonicotinoid chemical class are notorious for their harmful impact to pollinators, Health Canada’s decision to eliminate most uses of the chemical is based primarily on the danger it poses to aquatic insects. Environmental groups throughout the world are praising the proposal, but cautioning against the long, three to five year phase out period proposed by the agency. There is concern that the phase out will permit continued environmental damage, and provide time for other toxic insecticides with similar systemic properties to replace imidacloprid. Advocates are urging U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to complete its full assessment of imidacloprid and follow Canada’s lead in eliminating this toxic chemical.


Why "Bioengineering" is really Biohacking - Steven Druker

Steven Druker's second lecture was presented on September 21st, 2016 at Cornell University, titled "Why 'Bioengineering' is really Biohacking".

This talk was dedicated to comparing two distinct fields: genetic engineering and computer software engineering.

Steven asserts that, when compared to the rigorous standards applied to life-critical software engineering, genetic engineering is essentially a "hack-job".


Veterans Homestead Project Helps Vets Dealing With PTSD


GMO-Free Child: A Parent's Guide to Dietary Cleanup of Genetically Modified Organisms

Arty turns 10 this summer.