“. . . new chemicals come from our laboratories in an endless stream; almost 500 annually find their way into actual use in the United States alone…500 new chemicals to which the bodies of men and animals are required somehow to adapt each year, chemicals totally outside the limits of biologic experience.” - Rachel Carson, “Silent Spring” (1962)
Two years after Rachel Carson sounded the above warning, she died of breast cancer.
Now 50 years later, the pesticide and chemical assault on our health that Carson exposed in her book, “Silent Spring,” has intensified. Newer toxic chemicals, like Monsanto’s Roundup and Syngenta’s atrazine, have taken over where DDT and arsenic left off. Despite massive scientific evidence that these chemicals are poisoning us, U.S. regulatory agencies have avoided or delayed taking action on thousands of deadly chemicals, including Monsanto’s Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) and Syngenta’s atrazine, the two most heavily sprayed poisons on GMO corn and soybeans, America’s top crops. The European Union, utilizing the “precautionary principle,” has banned several dozen agricultural pesticides and practices that still pollute U.S. food, food packaging, water, bodycare, cosmetic, and cleaning products.
The President’s Cancer Panel, in 2010, warned that up to 80 percent of U.S. cancer cases—currently striking 48 percent of men, 38 percent of women, and increasing numbers of children—are directly caused by poisons in our environment and food, by Big Food, pharmaceutical, chemical and genetic engineering corporations, aided and abetted by federal government bureaucrats.
Still, U.S. regulatory agencies repeat the same old refrain: “Don’t worry.” Read Ronnie’s essay
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is required to review every pesticide once every 15 years, promised a decision on glyphosate by the end of July 2015, only to later push the deadline to end of 2015.
Now, here we are near the end of 2016, and the EPA, apparently more concerned about protecting Monsanto’s profits than it is about protecting human health and the environment, refuses to act.
What, or rather, who, is holding up the agency's decision?
Monsanto and its minions, in this case the pesticide industry’s lobbying group, CropLife. On October 12, CropLife wrote a letter to the EPA that, as US Right to Know’s Carey Gillam reported, asked to exclude anyone who’s ever expressed a negative opinion of glyphosate from sitting on the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP)—the panel charged with advising the EPA on the reregistration of glyphosate.
Dr. Rosemary Mason, a medical professional and activist, made the same accusations—and more—in her “Open Letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency about Glyphosate and the International Monsanto Tribunal,” as reported by Countercurrents.org, which called the whole mess a "cesspool of corruption."
The EPA immediately bowed to CropLife’s request, setting in motion yet another delay.
Meanwhile, consumers are left to deal with the health risks, and environmental contamination, of the world’s most heavily sprayed herbicide. We don't think that's right. So we're going to the EPA's top dog, Gina McCarthy, with our demand that the EPA do its job.
TAKE ACTION: Tell EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy: Quit Stalling. Ban Glyphosate NOW!
Call the EPA at 202-564-4700
Tweet: @GinaEPA No more stalling! #BanGlyphosate now! http://orgcns.org/2eemucG
TAKE ACTION: Sign our original “Ban Glyphosate” petition.
Abdellah Boudhira, a third-generation farmer in Morocco, has experienced first-hand the downside of conventional farming. Boudhira watched his family farm suffer under the false promises of higher yields, combined with the high costs of chemical inputs like synthetic fertilizers and toxic pesticides.
To save his family farm, Boudhira made the transition to regenerative agriculture. It’s been a challenging journey, Boudhira told us, especially with extended and recurring drought conditions in his part of the world.
In this interview with our Regeneration International (RI) team, Boudhira explains why the decision to transition to organic was the right one—especially after witnessing the damage expensive hybrid seeds and toxic chemicals had inflicted on his most precious resource: soil.
Boudhira will also share his story on November 18, at an event RI helped organize for the upcoming COP22 Climate Summit in Marrakesh.
Read the interview
Support OCA's Regeneration International Project (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic, regenerative agriculture and climate change)
In the evidence from the Monsanto Tribunal, the truth is there for the world to see. The US EPA, the European Food Safety Authority, the European Commission, the UK Chemicals Regulation Directorate and the Republic of Ireland have been conspiring with Monsanto against civil society to destroy the environment with chemicals and poison their food. These countries have sustained over the years the largest loss of biodiversity, i.e. ecocide. – “Open Letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency about glyphosate and the International Monsanto Tribunal,” by Dr. Rosemary Mason
To the list of countries Dr. Rosemary Mason calls out in her “Open Letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency about glyphosate and the International Monsanto Tribunal,” we could add many—including Mexico, Argentina, Paraguay and a host of others.
As Mason says in her letter, the truth is there for the world to see. And so are the consequences.
Government agencies’ collusion with Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and others is rampant. But you already know that. The question is, how do we change it? How do we force the agencies we support, with our tax dollars, to protect us—instead of corporate profits?
The answer is, relentlessly. Using every tool in our under-funded-but-shiny toolbox. We keep the pressure on government agencies. We craft and push policies that support regenerative, not degenerative, agricultural practices. We seek out, and support, candidates who will advance those policies.
And we use our consumer power. Because, ultimately, food companies will produce what consumers want.
Case in point? Food giant Nestlé just announced that the company will start producing more non-GMO products, according to the headline, “due to the growing demand from consumers, in a shock to the Biotech Industry in the U.S.” We suspect Nestlé will still fall far short of providing consumers with what they really want—products derived from a genuinely regenerative food supply chain.
But it’s a positive sign that the #ConsumerRevolution is making headway.
With your help, we’ll keep pushing—on all fronts. Until government agencies hear us, politicians support us, and food companies start producing the products consumers want, and the world needs.
Donate to the Organic Consumers Association (tax-deductible, helps support our work on behalf of organic standards, fair trade and public education)
Donate to the Organic Consumers Fund (non-tax-deductible, but necessary for our GMO labeling legislative efforts)
It takes people to get food from the fields to your table. And often those people work under difficult and dangerous conditions, for low pay.
Farmworkers are often excluded from laws that protect other workers. And even when they are included, the laws are often not well enforced. Labor unions can provide the function of negotiating better pay and conditions on behalf of workers they represent. But truth be told, union membership on farms is low, in part because of anti-union organizing.
How do you know which brands source their agricultural products from producers who treat, and pay, their workers fairly?
A new report from the Fair World Project (FWP), a project of OCA, evaluates seven certification programs that provide consumers with at least some level of transparency around how a particular brand’s supply chain treats agricultural workers. FWP evaluated the certification programs based on the criteria farms must meet, how these standards are enforced and what role farmworkers and their representatives play in both program development and on-farm enforcement.
Out of the seven programs FWP evaluated, the group recommends two: Agricultural Justice Project’s Food Justice Certified, and Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program. FWP recommended two others, but with qualifications: Equitable Food Initiative’s Responsible Grown, Farmworker Assured, and Fairtrade International’s Fairtrade Certified.
Read the report
TAKE ACTION: Tell Major Food Retailers to be Leaders in Farmworker Justice!
Do you live in a food desert? Meaning you need to travel a mile or more to buy fresh food?
Or maybe you live in a food swamp? A neighborhood full of fast-food joints and liquor stores—with access to little, if any, healthy, fresh food.
In this Perennial Plate video, you’ll learn how, in a neighborhood consisting of block after block of houses, if just three people per block grew food, the neighborhood could quickly morph into a food oasis. All it takes is educating people about the possibilities—then building a bridge to the possibility.
"Game Changer" is especially relevant in light of the recent statement by the U.N.'s special representative on the right to food, who suggested that the proliferation of junk food is a human rights issue. From an Association Press report:
Hilal Elver, the U.N.'s special representative on the right to food, said Tuesday the rise of industrial food production combined with trade liberalization has allowed large corporations to flood the global market with cheap, nutrient-poor foods that force poor people to choose between economic viability and nutrition, effectively violating their right to adequate food.
PoliticoPro pointed out that Elver's statement followed the recent recommendation by the World Health Organization (WHO) that countries use soda taxes as a way to rein in sugar consumption.
Watch the video
In July 2013, Sin Maíz, No hay País, a coalition of 53 individuals and 20 civil society organizations—including OCA’s Mexico team—filed a lawsuit challenging the Mexican government’s process for granting permits to Monsanto and other biotech firms for planting GMO corn. The lawsuit aims to prevent the damage that will be caused to future generations of Mexicans by the commercial planting of genetically modified corn in Mexico. (See our previous article for more details).
As we near the end of 2016, the lawsuit has been subjected to 102 appeals/contests of the federal government businesses on trial, 26 writ of amparos, 16 appeals, 15 complaints and seven objections.
Could it be that the Mexican governmental agencies such as SAGARPA (Mexico’s Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food Products) and SEMARNAT (Natural Resources Secretariat)—agencies responsible for protecting Mexico’s environment and the public health—are following the lead of U.S. regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)? By doing their best to wear down the coalition and its supporters? Rather than protect the public’s interests?
Support for this trial has come from many sectors of civil society who have joined the defense of native corn, including the community of the most famous chefs in the country (Enrique Olvera among them); singer Lila Downs; master Francisco Toledo, renowned painter who has spoken out against GM corn through various works of art, and of musical artists, filmmakers and theater producers.
The case has received tremendous support from various flagship organizations in Mexico, Latin America and other countries including, Greenpeace, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Yo no quiero transgénicos, Chile, Organic Consumers Association, and the group Environmental Biodiversity of Costa Rica, have all campaigned in defense of traditional corn.
But support from the Mexican government's regulatory agencies? Not so much.
Learn more and join the movement
Visit OCA in Mexico’s website
Support OCA in Mexico’s work
Like a broken record, Monsanto and its many minions recycle the lie that without GMO chemical agriculture, the world will starve. It’s a myth that’s been busted over and over again, by credible sources, including the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development 2013 report.
The latest group to take on Big Biotech’s Big Lie? The Environmental Working Group (EWG) in its new report: “Feeding the World: Think U.S. Agriculture Will End World Hunger? Think Again.”
EWG analyzed U.S. food exports, and found that less than 1 percent go the 19 countries with the highest levels of undernourishment. From the report’s conclusion:
Today, most agricultural exports from the United States go to countries whose citizens can afford to pay for them. Meat and dairy products, along with animal feed, accounted for 50 percent of all U.S. agriculture exports to the top 20 destinations in 2015. Most of the top importers of U.S. exports had very high or high human development scores, and low levels of hunger. Agricultural exports from the U.S. chiefly meet the demand for more meat and more diverse diets from already affluent countries, or those with growing personal wealth.
So much for feeding the world.
Read the full report
Crying Over Spilled MilkNestlé Shocks Monsanto with Non-GMO Product Push over Consumer DemandTom Hayden's Legend Started with the Prescient and Still Relevant Port Huron StatementHow the FDA Manipulates the MediaCuba's Sustainable Agro-Ecological Model Could Save the WorldAfter Bernie: Will ‘Our Revolution’ Deliver on Its Promise of ‘Political Revolution’?This Year’s Mammogram Month Launched With Devastating Report on Harms and Lack of Effectiveness