Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

The Biotech Bullies Will Rule the New FDA and EPA

In the tumultuous week following the 2016 elections, Monsanto and its minions are moving fast to tighten their control over our food and farming system. Emboldened by the prospect of another pro-industrial-agriculture administration, they’re plowing ahead—with total disregard for public health, and blanket dismissal of the warnings pouring in from independent scientists.

Politico, which obtained a list of Trump’s talking points on agriculture, said it includes a “sweeping promise” to "defend American agriculture against its critics, particularly those who have never grown or produced anything beyond a backyard tomato plant." From Politico:

The document . . . offers a host of policy pledges—from suggesting a shift back to conventional agriculture, to promises for the Trump White House to be an "active participant" in writing the next Farm Bill, to fighting the so-called good food movement and undoing Obama-era agricultural and environmental policies.

Pair that news with Trump’s EPA transition team pick, climate-denier Myron Ebell who says “pesticides aren’t bad for you,” and the future for organic regenerative agriculture—and your health—looks bleak.

One day after the election, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the highly controversial, dangerously toxic herbicide dicamba, allowing it to be sprayed directly on cotton and soybean crops. The Obama Administration had delayed commercialization of both 2, 4-D-resistant and dicamba-resistant crops for several years due to public concern over their extreme toxicity. Beyond Pesticides reports that Dicamba, which is linked to kidney and liver damage, neurotoxicity, and developmental impacts, has a “strong propensity to volatilize small particles of the herbicide into the air and drift far off-site. Sensitive crop species can be damaged by dicamba at levels in the parts per million.”  

According to Sustainable Pulse, the EPA’s November 9 decision opens the door “for dicamba use to jump from less than 1 million pounds to more than 25 million annually on these two crops,” and follows “on the heels of the agency’s recent decision to expand approval for a new pesticide called Enlist Duo, made for use on GM corn, cotton and soybeans.”

A few days after the EPA issued the disastrous dicamba decision, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) declared it will stop testing foods for glyphosate residue. Never mind that a panel of 17 World Health Organization scientists unanimously agreed that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.” Or that this “probable carcinogen” has already contaminated an alarmingly wide range of best-selling foods in the U.S.

The EPA’s decision to stop testing foods for glyphosate came less than three weeks after OCA and Beyond Pesticides sued the Sioux Bee corporation for fraudulently labeling its glyphosate-tainted Sue Bee and Aunt Sue’s honey brands as “100% Natural.” How did we know the honey contained glyphosate? Because the EPA tested it, and US Right to Know used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain the results.

We don’t need to guess or wonder. The incoming Trump administration will not be a friend to those of us committed to a healthy, pollution-free, climate-friendly future. 

Where does that leave us? Working at the state and local level to elect candidates and to pass public health and climate policies in line with the obvious truth, which is that we can’t go on poisoning ourselves and our ecosystem—and still go on.

It also will require that we expand food testing, and expose the long list of the dangerous chemicals in our food so we can put our consumer power to good use. Once a critical mass of consumers knows exactly what kinds of—and how much—poison we’re being fed, we will force Big Food to clean up its act, or go broke. At which point, it won’t much matter what Monsanto’s minions are up to in Congress. Because the market for their products will shrivel up faster than a glyphosate-drenched weed.

Support OCA’s work to get pesticides out of our food (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education) 

Ronnie Cummins is international director of the Organic Consumers Association and a member of the steering committee of Regeneration International

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