Tag Archives | Agriculture

Gates Foundation’s Seed Agenda in Africa ‘Another Form of Colonialism,’ Warns Protesters

Calling out a scheme to privatize Africa's seed resources, protesters in London picketed outside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday, March 23, 2015. (Photo: Global Justice Now/cc/flickr)

Calling out a scheme to privatize Africa’s seed resources, protesters in London picketed outside the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Monday, March 23, 2015. (Photo: Global Justice Now/cc/flickr)

Originally Published on Common Dreams.

‘This neoliberal agenda of deregulation and privatization poses a serious threat to food sovereignty and the ability of food producers and consumers to define their own food systems and policies,’ says campaigners

Food sovereignty activists are shining a light on a closed-door meeting between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which are meeting in London on Monday with representatives of the biotechnology industry to discuss how to privatize the seed and agricultural markets of Africa.

Early Monday, protesters picketed outside the Gates Foundation’s London offices holding signs that called on the foundation to “free the seeds.” Some demonstrators handed out packets of open-pollinated seeds, which served as symbol of the “alternative to the corporate model promoted by USAID and BMGF.” Others smashed a piñata, which they said represented the “commercial control of seed systems;” thousands of the seeds which filled the pinata spilled across the office steps.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Failure of Modern Industrial Agriculture

Matthias Ripp (CC By 2.0)

Matthias Ripp (CC By 2.0)

John Ikerd writes at Dollars & Sense:

Americans are being subjected to an ongoing multimillion-dollar propaganda campaign designed to “increase confidence and trust in today’s agriculture.” Food Dialogues, just one example of this broader trend, is a campaign sponsored by the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance—an industry organization whose funders and board members include Monsanto, DuPont, and John Deere. The campaign features the “faces of farming and ranching”—articulate, attractive young farmers, obviously chosen to put the best possible face on the increasingly ugly business of industrial agriculture, which dominates our food- production system.

Genetically engineered crops, inhumane treatment of farm animals, and routine feeding of antibiotics to confined animals—among many other problems—have eroded public trust in American agriculture. In response, the defenders of so-called modern agriculture have employed top public relations firms to try to clean up their tarnished public image. Their campaigns emphasize such issues as water quality, food safety, animal welfare, and “food prices and choices.”

Mounting public concerns in each of these areas are supported by a growing body of scientific evidence.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Consumer Self-Defense: 12 Ways to Drive GMOs and Roundup off the Market

'Although Monsanto, industry scientists and corporate agribusiness claim that GMO crops and foods, and the chemicals that accompany them, are perfectly safe and therefore need no labeling or independent safety-testing, hundreds of independent scientists, that is, those not on the payroll of Monsanto or its minions, cite literally hundreds of studies showing that GMOs and their companion chemicals, such as Roundup, are extremely toxic. ' (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

‘Although Monsanto, industry scientists and corporate agribusiness claim that GMO crops and foods, and the chemicals that accompany them, are perfectly safe and therefore need no labeling or independent safety-testing, hundreds of independent scientists, that is, those not on the payroll of Monsanto or its minions, cite literally hundreds of studies showing that GMOs and their companion chemicals, such as Roundup, are extremely toxic.’ (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

Ronnie Cummins writes at Common Dreams:

“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food,” said Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications. “Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” – New York Times, Oct. 25, 1998

“[GMO] Labeling advocates say the issue is about transparency, not safety. Scott Faber, head of the national Just Label It campaign, testified that consumers want to know what they are buying and how the food was produced.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How the People Can Outwit the Global Domination Plans of Agribusiness

In Texas, large fields are prepared for the next year's corn crop. (Photo: Daniel James/flickr/cc)

In Texas, large fields are prepared for the next year’s corn crop. (Photo: Daniel James/flickr/cc)

Jonathan Latham writes at Common Dreams:

The strategic centerpiece of Monsanto PR is to focus on the promotion of one single compelling idea. The idea that they want you to believe in is that only they can produce enough for the future population. They wish you to therefore believe that non-industrial systems of farming, such as all those which use agroecological methods, or SRI, or are localised and family-oriented, or which use organic methods, or non-GMO seeds, cannot feed the world. This same PR strategy is followed by every major commercial participant in the industrial food system.

To be sure, agribusiness has a few other PR strategies. Agribusiness is “pro-science”, its opponents are “anti-science”, and so on. But the main plank has for decades been to create a cast-iron moral framing around the need to produce more.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Want to Change the World? Read This First

260px-The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17Richard Heinberg writes at Common Dreams:

History is often made by strong personalities wielding bold new political, economic, or religious doctrines. Yet any serious effort to understand how and why societies change requires examination not just of leaders and ideas, but also of environmental circumstances. The ecological context (climate, weather, and the presence or absence of water, good soil, and other resources) may either present or foreclose opportunities for those wanting to shake up the social world. This suggests that if you want to change society—or are interested in aiding or evaluating the efforts of others to do so—some understanding of exactly how environmental circumstances affect such efforts could be extremely helpful.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

The First GMO Field Tests

Tulelake welcome signBrooke Borel explains what we fight about when we fight about GMOs at Modern Farmer:

In the spring of 1987 in Tulelake, a tiny California farming town four miles from the Oregon border, a small band of scientists wearing yellow Tyvek suits and respirators paced across a field spraying potato plants from handheld dispensers. Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency perched on ladders above and checked air monitors to make sure the contents of the dispensers weren’t spreading beyond the field’s boundaries. Dressed in billowy white safety jumpers and peaked caps, the EPA agents looked like apocalyptic bakers.

Nearby, journalists eagerly took notes and snapped photos of this eerie scene, which would become national news — this was the world’s first field experiment of a controversial new technology: genetically modified organisms.

Benign Beginnings
The organism in the Tulelake test was a modified version of the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae, or ice-minus. In its natural state, P.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Your Food Is Poisoning You

Crop Spraying - geograph.org.uk - 445532Is there anything left that’s safe to eat? Devon Jackson writes for Outside that “[f]or years, an underground movement has claimed that the very food we eat—by virtue of the pesticides and herbicides we so commonly use—is poisoning us. Until now, they’ve been (at best) ignored and (more often than not) mocked. Suddenly though, it looks like the joke has been on us all along”:

There’s a scene in Close Encounters of the Third Kind where the Air Force subjects Richard Dreyfus and his fellow Third Encounterers to the media. The press conference is actually going pretty well, the media seem to be on the verge of believing these people—until one of them, a bearded old hermit type (Roberts Blossom) launches into a speech about how he once saw Bigfoot. Credibility: shot.

Such is the case, too, with people who’ve been trying to link celiac disease (and other ills) with the use of the herbicide glyphosate.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Five Dangerous Substances Big Ag Pumps Into Your Meat

Chicken Farm 034Buy your meat direct from your local farmer or go vegetarian! Here’s why, via EcoWatch:

It is no secret that in the war against meat pathogens in commercial U.S. meat production, the pathogens are winning. The logical result of the tons of antibiotics Big Meat gives livestock (not because they are sick, but to fatten them up) is clear: antibiotics that no longer work against antibiotic-resistant diseases like staph (MRSA), enterococci (VRE) and C.difficile. Antibiotic-resistant infections, once limited to hospitals and nursing homes, can now be acquired in the community, Florida public beaches and on the highway behind a poultry truck.

Big Meat has found some novel ways to retard the growth of salmonella, E.coli and listeria on commercially grown meat, but it does not necessarily want people to know about them and these substances are conspicuously absent from labels.

1. Chlorine Baths

If you want to know the most problematic ingredients in our food supply, just look at the items the European Union boycotts, starting with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), hormone beef and chicken dipped in chlorine baths.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Landscape-Scarring, Energy-Sucking, Wildlife-Killing Reality of Pot Farming

six riversJosh Harkinson writes about the ugly side of marijuana as a cash crop for Mother Jones via Medium:

STARTING ABOUT 90 MILES northwest of Sacramento, an unbroken swath of national forestland follows the spine of California’s rugged coastal mountains all the way to the Oregon border. Near the center of this vast wilderness, along the grassy banks of the Trinity River’s south fork, lies the remote enclave of Hyampom (pop. 241), where, on a crisp November morning, I climb into a four-wheel-drive government pickup and bounce up a dirt logging road deep into the Six Rivers National Forest. I’ve come to visit what’s known in cannabis country as a “trespass grow.”

“This one probably has the most plants I’ve seen,” says my driver, a young Forest Service cop who spends his summers lugging an AR-15 through the backcountry of the Emerald Triangle—the triad of Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties that is to pot what the Central Valley is to almonds and tomatoes.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

The Fiefdom Will Soon Be Complete: Wall Street Buying Up Farmland

PIC: LOC (PD)

PIC: LOC (PD)

Not merely satisfied with purchasing our foreclosed homes en masse and charging us to rent them back (thanks to a crisis they created), Wall Street has set their sights on America’s fertile soils. Sing it with me! This land is their land, this land is their land…

Via Tom Philpott at Mother Jones:

In a couple of posts last fall, I showed that corporations don’t do much actual farming in the United States. True, agrichemical companies like Monsanto and Syngenta mint fortunes by selling seeds and chemicals to farmers, and grain processors like Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill reap billions from buying crops cheap and turning them into pricey stuff like livestock feed, sweetener, cooking oil, and ethanol. But the great bulk of US farms—enterprises that generally have razor-thin profit margins—are run by independent operators.

That may be on the verge of changing. A recent report by the Oakland Institute documents a fledgling, little-studied trend: Corporations are starting to buy up US farmland, especially in areas dominated by industrial-scale agriculture, like Iowa and California’s Central Valley.

Read the rest
Continue Reading