A Killing Season

By Boyce Upholt, The New Republic, December 10, 2018. [Short version: Monsanto destroys the environment and non-target plants, making the money while impelling farmers to ruin or murder. A true horror story.]

Monsanto’s new herbicide was supposed to save U.S. farmers from financial ruin. Instead, it upended the agriculture industry, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a struggle for survival.

Mike Wallace sat in his pickup truck on a dusty back road near his farm outside Leachville, Arkansas, typing impatiently into his cell phone. “I’m waiting on you,” he wrote. “You coming?” It was hot for late October. The rows of soybeans, cotton, and corn, which just days ago had spread across much of the region, were largely gone, replaced by dry, flat dirt. The 2016 harvesting season was nearly over. A minute passed, and Wallace typed another message, sounding slightly triumphant. “Looks like you don’t have much to say now.

Wallace, 55, was a prominent figure in the Arkansas Delta farming community. His 5,000-acre farm was large, although the yield on that year’s soybean crop hadn’t been as successful as he had expected. Wallace believed he knew why his crops had failed, and it had nothing to do with the sun or the rain or the decisions he had made about when to put his seeds in the ground. Instead, he blamed a 26-year-old farmhand named Curtis Jones for illegally spraying dicamba, a controversial weed killer, on a neighboring farm. Wallace believed the dicamba had drifted onto his fields and damaged almost half of his soybean crop, costing him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

It wasn’t the first time this had occurred. The previous year, dicamba from another farm had also drifted onto Wallace’s fields, causing the leaves of his soybeans to pucker into ugly cups fringed with white fuzz. He complained to the Arkansas State Plant Board, which oversees such disputes. The agency fined Wallace’s neighbor, but Wallace was never compensated for the lost revenue. …

read more at The New Republic

Advertisements

One more poison to fight!

“The EPA Says Farmers Can Keep Using Weedkiller Blamed For Vast Crop Damage, by Dan Charles, NPR, November 1, 2018

For months, farmers from Mississippi to Minnesota have been waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to make up its mind about a controversial weedkiller called dicamba. Some farmers love the chemical; other farmers, along with some environmentalists, consider it a menace, because it’s prone to drifting in the wind, damaging nearby crops and wild vegetation.

This week, on Halloween evening, the EPA finally announced its decision. Calling dicamba “a valuable pest control tool,” it gave farmers a green light to keep spraying the chemical on new varieties of soybeans and cotton that have been genetically modified to tolerate dicamba.

A coalition of environmental groups that had filed a lawsuit against the EPA’s original approval of dicamba blasted the decision to keep it on the market. Paul Achitoff from Earthjustice said in a statement that “EPA’s disregard of both the law and the welfare of … species at risk of extinction is unconscionable.”…

read more at NPR

New Study Shows Roundup Kills Bees

Sierra, 10/3/18

Glyphosate targets undesired weeds—as well as honeybees

The most widely sprayed herbicide in the world kills honeybees, according to a new report.

Glyphosate, an herbicide and active ingredient in Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) Roundup weed killer, targets enzymes long assumed to be found only in plants. The product is advertised as being innocuous to wildlife. But some bacteria also use this enzyme, including a microbiome found in the intestines of most bees. When pollinators come in contact with glyphosate, the chemical reduces this gut bacteria, leaving bees vulnerable to pathogens and premature death.

“The bee itself has no molecular targets from glyphosate,” Nancy Moran, a biologist at the University of Texas at Austin and a coauthor of the study, told Environmental Health News. “But its gut bacteria do have targets.”

Moran and other scientists liken glyphosate exposure to taking too many antibiotics—and upsetting the balance of good bacteria that supports immunity and digestion….

read more at Sierra

Tell the USDA: Test our food for Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate NOW

from Friends of the Earth, 10/4/18

The USDA tests our food for pesticides to make sure it’s safe for us to eat. But it’s not testing for glyphosate — a.k.a. Monsanto’s Roundup®.

The California Supreme Court recently affirmed that glyphosate is dangerous to humans. The World Health Organization named it as a probable carcinogen. And the EU and Canada are already testing for it in food.

The USDA is dragging its feet on protecting us from this toxic pesticide. We need your help to change that!

Tell the USDA: Test our food for Monsanto’s toxic glyphosate.

The science is clear. Roundup® is terrible for people and the planet. It’s used to douse our food, including common crops like soy and wheat. This toxic pesticide is ending up on our plates and in our bodies.

The amount of Roundup® being used each year has increased significantly. Use jumped from only 11 million pounds in 1987 to nearly 300 million pounds in 2016.

That means Roundup® is sneaking into our food in increasingly dangerous ways. This summer, new tests revealed glyphosate in cereal and granola bars commonly eaten by kids….

read more details and sign here.

One man’s suffering exposed Monsanto’s secrets to the world

by Carey Gillam, The Guardian, 8/11/18

It was a verdict heard around the world. In a stunning blow to one of the world’s largest seed and chemical companies, jurors in San Francisco have told Monsanto it must pay $289m in damages to a man dying of cancer which he claims was caused by exposure to its herbicides.

Monsanto, which became a unit of Bayer AG in June, has spent decades convincing consumers, farmers, politicians and regulators to ignore mounting evidence linking its glyphosate-based herbicides to cancer and other health problems. The company has employed a range of tactics – some drawn from the same playbook used by the tobacco industry in defending the safety of cigarettes – to suppress and manipulate scientific literature, harass journalists and scientists who did not parrot the company’s propaganda, and arm-twist and collude with regulators. Indeed, one of Monsanto’s lead defense attorneys in the San Francisco case was George Lombardi, whose resumé boasts of his work defending big tobacco.

Now, in this one case, through the suffering of one man, Monsanto’s secretive strategies have been laid bare for the world to see. Monsanto was undone by the words of its own scientists, the damning truth illuminated through the company’s emails, internal strategy reports and other communications.

The jury’s verdict found not only that Monsanto’s Roundup and related glyphosate-based brands presented a substantial danger to people using them, but that there was “clear and convincing evidence” that Monsanto’s officials acted with “malice or oppression” in failing to adequately warn of the risks….

read more at The Guardian

Tell the National School Boards Association: No More Monsanto Roundup Weedkiller!

Petition from MoveOn

To be delivered to Frank C. Pugh, President, National School Boards Association, All National School Boards Association Board Members

As the organization representing the top decision-makers at U.S. school districts, you have a responsibility to millions of parents and school children to protect children from harm.

In light of the latest evidence that Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller causes cancer, the National School Board Association must do these two things:

One, issue a formal policy statement advising all school districts to end the use of Roundup and all toxic agro-chemicals on school grounds.

Two, issue a formal policy statement advising all school districts to revamp their school lunch programs by transitioning to certified organic foods, in order to avoid serving foods contaminated with glyphosate and other pesticides.

On August 10, 2018, a jury awarded $289.2 million to Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a former school groundskeeper whose job required him to spray Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller on school properties.

Mr. Johnson is terminally ill with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer linked to the use of Monsanto’s Roundup and other glyphosate-based weedkillers.

In the case of Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co, Johnson’s lawyers argued that Monsanto’s flagship weedkiller caused Mr. Johnson’s cancer. They also presented evidence that Monsanto had known for decades that Roundup could cause cancer, but that company officials intentionally failed to warn consumers about that risk.

In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency on Cancer Research classified glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, as a “probable” human carcinogen.

On August 15, five days after the verdict in Dewayne Johnson v. Monsanto Co., California’s Supreme Court rejected Monsanto’s challenge to the state’s decision to list glyphosate as a potential carcinogen under the California’s Proposition 65, a law requiring the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects.

In the U.S., more than 26 million pounds of Roundup are sprayed every year on school grounds, public playgrounds and gardens.

Recent testing reveals that glyphosate is present in a multitude of common conventionally grown foods, including those served in school cafeterias.

Toxic poisons have no place in U.S. schools, either on playgrounds or in cafeteria food. Please act immediately to rid schools of Roundup and other toxic chemicals.

Tell the Environmental Protection Agency: Ban Roundup Now

Petition from Environmental Action

Since their peak in the mid-90s, monarch populations have decreased by 90 percent, in part due to the widespread use of Roundup and other toxic pesticides. Tell the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ban Roundup, so we can save this incredible insect before it’s too late.

The monarch butterfly is an iconic species that migrates through the heart of the United States each year. Unfortunately, the number of monarchs has decreased by 90 percent since their peak in the mid-90s.

Pollution-driven climate change is part of the problem. But we’re also allowing the destruction of milkweed — the monarchs’ main habitat and food source — through the rapid acceleration in use of Monsanto’s toxic Roundup and Roundup Ready crops.

Please stand with the millions of wildlife enthusiasts across the country in protecting this iconic species by banning Roundup.

Save the pollinators!

email from Friends of the Earth, 3/9/18. [N.b. Bayer also manufactures permanone, one of today’s mosquito sprays of choice. And, believe it or not, “In 1898, the Bayer pharmaceutical company began an aggressive marketing campaign to sell its commercial preparation of Heroin” (Narcanon; and search other sources). Who would trust such a company with our health and environment?]

Bayer the Bee-Slayer and Monsanto the Butterfly Killer are trying to merge into one giant pesticide corporation.

This would be a disaster for pollinators, people and the environment. Farmers overwhelmingly think this mega-merger is a bad idea — a new poll found 93 percent of farmers surveyed oppose it. Over 1 million Americans have called on the Justice Department to stop it. And there are investigations in both the EU and the U.S.

We need to make sure the Department of Justice doesn’t let this merger move forward. But we need your help to urge it to act.

Tell the Department of Justice to stop the Bayer-Monsanto merger!

If this merger goes through, the new company would be the world’s largest vegetable seed company. It would control seeds for many of the crops we eat regularly — including broccoli, carrots and onions.

It would also be the largest manufacturer and seller of herbicides. It would double down on making toxic chemicals like glyphosate (a.k.a. Roundup®) — which is a key culprit in monarch butterfly declines and is a probable human carcinogen.

What’s more, this merger threatens the development of a sustainable and just food system. It will hurt independent family farmers and rural economies and will encourage farmers to ramp up the chemically intensive agricultural system that Bayer and Monsanto promote.

In short, we’d be giving a single corporation unprecedented control of our food supply. We can’t let the future of our food system be handed over to Bayer and Monsanto.

The Department of Justice has the power to stop the proposed merger — but it won’t act unless you speak up.

sign the petition here