California adds Monsantos glyphosate to list of chemicals known to cause cancer

June 28, 2017 by  
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Ever since the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed Monsanto’s glyphosate — a key ingredient in its Roundup weed killer — to be “ probably carcinogenic ,” the agrochemical giant has fought back with a vengeance. After California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) attempted to add glyphosate to its list of cancer-causing chemicals last year, the corporation sued the organization . Now, after rounds of legal battle, the branch of California’s Environmental Protection Agency says it will add glyphosate to a list of chemicals “ known to the state to cause cancer “ Proposition 65 , covered by California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, requires state officials to publish a list of chemicals which pose harm to human health by means of causing birth defects, cancer or other reproductive harm. It is updated at least once a year and typically includes more than 800 chemicals . As USA Today reports, businesses that sell products with banned ingredients are required to inform California consumers of the risk. As per Proposition 65, state officials were just doing their job by adding a chemical proven to cause birth defects, cancer, autism, ADHD, gluten intolerance , and a host of other ailments to the list. Fortunately, Monsanto lost its lawsuit against the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment last year. The company did file an appeal soon after, however – and this appeal’s ruling is still pending. If the company wins the appeal, Monsanto products that contain glyphosate will not require labels saying they cause cancer . Listing the ingredient as a known carcinogen under California’s Proposition 65, however, would require companies that sell the chemical in California to add warning labels to all packaging. Related: EPA official accused of killing investigation into Monsanto weedkiller Environmental groups cheered OEHHA’s decision to list glyphosate as cancer-causing. Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said: “California’s decision makes it the national leader in protecting people from cancer-causing pesticides .” + California Proposition 65 Via Reuters , USAToday Images via Chafer Machinery , Shutterstock

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California adds Monsantos glyphosate to list of chemicals known to cause cancer

EPA official accused of killing investigation into Monsanto weedkiller

March 21, 2017 by  
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An EPA official who was in charge of evaluating the cancer risk of Monsanto’s popular Roundup weedkiller has been accused of conspiring with the company to “kill” the study. Jess Rowland, the former manager of the agency’s pesticide division, is rapidly becoming an important figure in the more than 20 lawsuits that have piled up accusing the company of burying evidence that its herbicide can cause non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, has come under fire in recent years for its potential links to cancer. After the World Health Organization declared glyphosate likely to be a carcinogen , a number of people who’ve been exposed to the weedkiller have stepped up and attempted to sue the company. As public pressure has grown, activists have begun calling on the US Environmental Protection Agency to ban the herbicide altogether. The agency, however, has been slow to act despite the public pressure that’s been steadily building – and a recent court case may have revealed exactly why. Last week, Federal Judge Vince Chhabria released a number of court documents detailing Monsanto’s internal communications and the company’s correspondence with the EPA. Related: Activists call on the EPA to ban glyphosate The records reveal that not only did Rowland go out of his way to try to bury research into the cancer-causing potential of glyphosate , but that Monsanto’s own employees had ghostwritten several papers on Roundup’s safety. These are the same reports, later attributed to various academic researchers, which the EPA used to declare Roundup safe for public use. While it’s possible the EPA wasn’t aware of Monsanto’s collaboration on the original studies, it does call into question the accuracy of the agency’s assessment. Monsanto is, naturally, denying the allegations, and claiming that the company’s internal communications have been taken out of context. On the other hand, it’s hard to see how else statements like “we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and [the scientists] would just edit & sign their names so to speak” could be construed to mean anything else. The company has testified in court that this is merely a reference to minor edits made to the paper, rather than ghostwriting. If it’s true that academics publishing research on glyphosate’s safety are in bed with the company, and that EPA officials like Rowland are working off this biased data, the agency’s decision should be revisited as soon as possible. The WHO isn’t the only organization that’s found evidence of this herbicide’s risks – the International Journal of Cancer and the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine have both recently published research on the link between pesticide exposures and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as well. Roundup has already been banned in several countries following the burst of recent studies, and the US would be wise to follow suit. Via Bloomberg Markets Images via   Chafer Machinery ,   Mike Mozart

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EPA official accused of killing investigation into Monsanto weedkiller

Are ‘open source’ seeds necessary for a resilient food system?

January 4, 2017 by  
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As the global agriculture industry consolidates with the recent merger between Monsanto and Bayer, the question is raised: What does it mean for the rest of us?

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93 percent of the worlds seed diversity has vanished the last century

November 9, 2016 by  
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Take a look at modern agriculture , and you’ll find very little of it represents how farms looked in the early 1900s. Not only has technology changed significantly, but today’s seeds are only a fraction as diverse as those we planted many years ago. In fact, when you compare today to 1983 you’ll find that 93 percent of seed varieties from the early 20th century have disappeared. Today’s patenting and sale of genetically modified seeds isn’t helping the cause much, either. If you were a farmer living in 1903, you had a choice between planting 500 different kinds of cabbage, 400 varieties of tomatoes and peas, and at least 285 types of cucumber. A survey conducted by the Rural Advancement Foundation International found how these numbers were slashed by 93 percent in almost as many years. For example, in 1983 you could only pick from 28 kinds of cabbage, 25 types of peas, 79 kinds of tomatoes, and a pitiful 16 variations of cucumber. A phenomenon known as “seed consolidation” has carried us into the modern era, with companies like Monsanto patenting genetically modified seeds and selling them to farmers. Because saving the seeds to plant later could be considered patent infringement, a system of routinely purchasing seeds each year was created – a long leap from how farmers would prepare their crops from year to year just a century ago. The Organic Consumers Association estimates that, as of late 2013, Monsanto owns patents for 1,676 different seeds and plants. And they, along with other large corporations, can be found at the top of the hierarchy for many companies selling seeds. The Worldwatch Institute says, “With the profitability of seed increasing over the last 15 years, largely because of patents and contracts, the money and incentive for public institutions to develop new varieties are declining. Farmers also are saving less seed.” A new documentary on this state of affairs, Seed: The Untold Story , is showing in theaters now. Via Health Impact News Images via Pixabay , Flickr

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93 percent of the worlds seed diversity has vanished the last century

New Delhi has the worst air pollution of any city on earth

November 9, 2016 by  
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New Delhi’s toxic smog is literally off the charts – and according to its Air Quality Index rating, it’s the most polluted city on earth. Measurements recorded at the United States Embassy in Delhi reveal that the city’s AQI is a staggering 999 – but the AQI standard chart ends at 500. Particle counts in some areas of the city are 16 times the level considered safe by the Indian government. What’s causing the smog in New Delhi ? Some blame fireworks during the Hindu celebration Diwali, but NASA satellite images show crop burning has a role to play in the pollution too, as farmers burn leftover straw. Construction and vehicles are probably also contributing to the poor air quality . Related: Mexico City bans over one million cars as air pollution skyrockets PM 2.5 particles – the most unhealthy type of particles – spiked to levels of 700 micrograms per cubic meter this week. Exposure to this level of pollution is as bad as smoking over two cigarette packs daily, according to experts cited by The New York Times . Over the weekend, people protested outside Parliament and the chief minister of Delhi tried to take some action to curb the dramatic pollution. Construction will cease for five days, around 1,800 schools will close for three days, and a power plant will be closed for 10 days. The government suggested people cleanse their eyes with water and go to the hospital if they experienced “breathlessness, giddiness, chest pain, and chest constriction.” Centre for Environmental Health at the Public Health Foundation of India manager Bhargav Krishna told The New York Times, “These are all decent emergency measures, but they’re not solving the long-term problem.” While some hope for a reprieve as weather changes, during the winter some people in Delhi have to burn trash to stay warm, and as such trash often includes rubber and plastic, the practice will likely contribute to continued pollution. Via The New York Times and CNN Images via Ville Miettinen on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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WHO cancer arm told experts to withhold glyphosate review documents

October 28, 2016 by  
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New evidence has come to light that illustrates the cancer agency of the World Health Organization advised experts to withhold documents pertaining to the dangerous pesticide glyphosate rather than release them, as they were asked to do under United States freedom of information laws. WHO made a splash last year when it denounced the widely used pesticide glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic,” kicking off a fierce backlash from Monsanto (whose best-selling product, RoundUp, contains glyphosate) and other companies and industry groups aiming to profit from toxic chemicals. Reuters broke the news in an exclusive report, citing a letter and email in which officials from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) urged scientists who worked on 2015 review of glyphosate not to release the documents in question.

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Are we headed for a green revolution in food and water?

July 9, 2016 by  
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Companies such as John Deere, Monsanto and Trimble illustrate a wave of incumbents going to great lengths to re-calibrate their businesses.

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Are we headed for a green revolution in food and water?

Pesticide industry spending ‘hundreds of thousands of dollars’ to slow U.S. bee protection

June 17, 2016 by  
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Would it surprise you to hear that the pesticide industry is actively working to halt measures that would protect bees from dying in record numbers across the continent? A new report published by Friends of the Earth (FOE) this week lists the tactics the industry is using to get in the way of much needed federal and state legislation and, spoiler alert, there are a lot of them. Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 44 percent of honeybee colonies nationwide died off last year, marking a sharp increase in the destruction that has a devastating trickle-down effect on American food crops. Yet, the pesticide industry still works to block protective legislation and it’s all because they stand to make a profit on the death of our important pollinators. For years, chemical researchers and entomologists have been building a case against pesticides, composed of overwhelming evidence that widespread use of the chemicals—primarily in agriculture but also in public parks and residential areas— threatens bee populations in a very real way. Without wild honeybees, the nation’s crops and food supplies are in danger , so many agencies at the federal and state level have considered programs to protect bees, ranging from pesticide bans to protected “honeybee corridors” to “pro-bee-iotics” that may protect the buzzing beauties from dangerous chemicals. Related: 44 percent of U.S. honeybee colonies died off last year FOE’s 29-page report ( PDF ) comes with an ominous title: “Buzz Kill: How the Pesticide Industry is Clipping the Wings of Bee Protection Efforts Across the U.S.” But, the severity of the language seems appropriate, given the report’s findings. Following an in-depth evaluation of continued efforts by the pesticide industry to interfere with or block protective programs for bee populations. The report says the industry is spending “hundreds of thousands of dollars” at the federal and state level to lobby against measures that would reduce or ban pesticide use, leading to weak legislation that does more to protect pesticide companies than bees. The FOE report also claims the pesticide industry has “infiltrated federal regulatory agencies” through employees of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency who previously worked for different regulatory agencies and companies including Bayer, Syngenta, and Monsanto , which all profit from pesticide use. FOE also charges the pesticide industry with creating misinformation campaigns against bee-protecting legislation, by “directly funded or influenced science by donating to education initiatives and building strategic alliances with academics.” Despite the industry’s efforts, some states are making forward progress to protect bees. Earlier this spring, Maryland became the first state in the country to ban neonicotinoids, the class of pesticides with strong links to the decline in bee populations. Other types of pesticides harm bees , too, which means reducing pesticide use or restricting certain varieties is only one part of the puzzle when it comes to protecting bee populations. Federal and state lawmakers must be free to evaluate their options without the tainted influence of the industry that seeks only to profit from the destruction of our delicate ecosystem. + Friends of the Earth Images via Shutterstock ( 1 , 2 ) and Friends of the Earth

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Monsanto files suit to keep California from declaring Roundup carcinogenic

January 25, 2016 by  
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Business has been tough for Monsanto in the past year: first, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer declared the herbicide glyphosate (sold under the brand name “Roundup”) a probable human carcinogen . The company has been dogged by lawsuits by people alleging that its products caused their cancer. And the government of France even went so far as to completely ban sales of Roundup. Now, the state of California is trying to force the company to warn consumers of the potential health risks of using Roundup before they buy. Read the rest of Monsanto files suit to keep California from declaring Roundup carcinogenic

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Mark Ruffalo confronts Monsanto chief: “You are poisoning people.”

December 8, 2015 by  
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Mark Ruffalo is perhaps best known for his role as the Hulk, but in real life, Ruffalo is a different kind of superhero. The actor has spoken and written extensively on the horrors of environmental destruction, as well as the guilt assigned to corporations carrying out those atrocities. Recently, a chance meeting with Monsanto  CEO Hugh Grant gave Ruffalo the opportunity to tell the GMO boss exactly what he thinks of the company and its practices: “You are wrong.” Read the rest of Mark Ruffalo confronts Monsanto chief: “You are poisoning people.”

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