Tag Archives | Agribusiness

These Awful Food Practices Are Banned In Europe But Normal In The United States

toxic_atrazineJust great, ruin my lunch. Alternet has a sampling of some of the poisons prominent in the American food supply:

Atrazine. A “potent endocrine disruptor,” Syngenta’s popular corn herbicide has been linked to a range of reproductive problems at extremely low doses in both amphibians and humans, and it commonly leaches out of farm fields and into people’s drinking water. Europe banned it in 2013.

Arsenic in chicken, turkey, and pig feed. Arsenic is beloved of industrial-scale livestock producers because it makes animals grow faster and turns their meat a rosy pink. Arsenic-based compounds “were never approved as safe for animal feed in the European Union, Japan, and many other countries.”

Ractopomine and other pharmaceutical growth enhancers. Fed to an estimated 60 to 80 percent of US hogs, ractopomine makes animals grow fast while also staying lean. Unfortunately, it does so by mimicking stress hormones, making animals miserable. Pigs treated with it suffer from ailments ranging from hyperactivity and trembling to broken limbs and the inability to walk.

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Bee Colony Collapse Rapidly Accelerates – Pesticides Blamed

The alarm has been sounded by great documentary films like The Vanishing of the Bees, but governments around the world are still failing to protect our bees and therefore our food supply from the ravages of agrochemicals. Today’s New York Times claims that as many as half of the United States’ beehives have collapsed:

A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables.

A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment, colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.

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The Fox (Monsanto) Buys the Chicken Coop (Beeologics)

Merovingian BeeA couple of years ago disinformation‘s sister video label True Mind released the colony collapse disorder documentary Vanishing of the Bees. It was fairly obvious that the biggest (if not only) cause of the mysterious disappearing colonies of bees was widespread pesticide use in monoculture farming. Everyone’s favorite corporate criminal Monsanto is now causing conspiracy theorists to go into overdrive with their acquistition of a company specializing in bee medicine. Richard Schiffman sounds the alarm at Huffington Post:

Why would one of the largest purveyors of pesticides, genetically engineered seeds and agrochemicals want to buy a company which has been seeking solutions to the escalating threats to the world bee population?

Monsanto spokeswomen Kelly Powers says it is to give the fledgling company a helping hand. Beeologics has developed a product called Remembee, an anti-viral agent which its boosters claim will help stem the tide of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious plague which has led to the disappearance of the bees in up to a third of the commercial colonies located in the U.S.

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Walmart To Sell Unlabeled GMO Corn From Monsanto

At prices this low, how could you expect the food not to be laced with insecticide? Russia Today reports:

America’s largest bio-agriculture company and the biggest retailer in the country are joining forces. Walmart will soon be stocking their shelves with GMO corn made by Monsanto.

The retail giant says they won’t advertise which of their products are made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, which could become a big problem very soon. Zack Kaldveer explains in an editorial published by the California Progress Report this month that Walmart will soon sell a special factory-made corn manufactured by Monsanto, which while it will allow most of Americans more easy access to affordable food, will also fill them with unknown insecticides: the very GMO crop Walmart will be selling has been genetically engineered to include chemicals right inside the corn.

Voters in California will decide later this year if retailers on the West Coast will be legally bound to correctly label all foodstuffs sold in shopping centers that are made from genetically modified foods.

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Biotech Giants Are Bankrolling a GMO Free-for-All

Tom Philpott brings the bad news to Mother Jones:

The so-called “Big Six” agrichemical companies—Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, Bayer, and Pioneer (DuPont)—are sitting pretty. Together, they control nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market, and essentially the entire market for genetically modified seeds. Prices of the crops they focus on—corn, soy, cotton, etc.—are soaring, pushed up by severe drought in key growing regions. Higher crop prices typically translate to increased pesticide sales as farmers have more money to spend on agrichemicals and more incentive to maximize yield.

The companies operate globally—and have gained a stronghold in that emerging center of industrial agriculture, Brazil—but the biotech-friendly US is their profit center. They’ve got a big chunk of US agriculture pretty well sewn up—their GMO seeds dominate our corn, soy and cotton crops, which account for more than 53 percent of US farmland, and have won approval for GMO alfalfa (hay), which accounts for another 19 percent.

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Big Food Companies Corrupting Organic Standards

Texarkana Roadtrip (CC)

The organic food movement in the United States has become a victim of its own success, with corporate food giants buying up most of the successful organic brands and dominating the standards board, writes Stephanie Strom in the New York Times:

Michael J. Potter is one of the last little big men left in organic food.

More than 40 years ago, Mr. Potter bought into a hippie cafe and “whole earth” grocery here that has since morphed into a major organic foods producer and wholesaler, Eden Foods.

But one morning last May, he hopped on his motorcycle and took off across the Plains to challenge what organic food — or as he might have it, so-called organic food — has become since his tie-dye days in the Haight district of San Francisco.

The fact is, organic food has become a wildly lucrative business for Big Food and a premium-price-means-premium-profit section of the grocery store.

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Guerrilla Labeling Of GMO Foods

NoGMOWhen your government is so beholden to agribusiness that it won’t listen to overwhelming consumer demand for foods to be labeled if they contain genetically modified organisms, what do you do? Create your own labels and hit the supermarket! Amy Harmon and Andrew Pollack report for the New York Times:

Great Barrington, Mass. — On a recent sunny morning at the Big Y grocery here, Cynthia LaPier parked her cart in the cereal aisle. With a glance over her shoulder and a quick check of the ingredients, she plastered several boxes with hand-designed stickers from a roll in her purse. “Warning,” they read. “May Contain GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms).”

For more than a decade, almost all processed foods in the United States — cereals, snack foods, salad dressings — have contained ingredients from plants whose DNA was manipulated in a laboratory. Regulators and many scientists say these pose no danger.

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The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement.

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