The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

eyesdriftskyward:

Japan and South Korea suspended some imports of American wheat, and the European Union urged its 27 nations to increase testing, after the United States government disclosed this week that a strain of genetically engineered wheat that was never approved for sale was found growing in an Oregon field.

Although none of the wheat, developed by Monsanto Company, was found in any grain shipments — and the Department of Agriculture said there would be no health risk if any was shipped — governments in Asia and Europe acted quickly to limit their risk.

South Korea, which last year purchased roughly half of its total wheat imports of five million tons from the United States, said Friday it would suspend purchases until tests were performed on arriving shipments. Results of the tests, by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, were expected in the first week of June, according to local media.

Seoul also raised quarantine measures on wheat for livestock feed, while Thailand put ports on alert.

The European Union, which has a “zero tolerance” approach to genetically modified crops, said through its consumer protection office Friday that if any shipments tested positive, they would not be sold.

It also said it was seeking “further information and reassurance” from Washington and had asked Monsanto for help in developing a reliable test for the genetically modified strain.

The New York Times, “Japan and South Korea Bar Imports of U.S. Wheat” (via inothernews)

Supreme Court won’t let farmer dodge Monsanto’s seed patents | Ars Technica

A long-lasting court fight over patented soybeans is over, and agribusiness giant Monsanto has won.

In a decision issued today, the US Supreme Court ruled 9-0 that Monsanto must be allowed to patent its seeds—and it must be able to punish farmers who try to dodge the patents.

Farmers are compelled to sign a patent agreement when they buy Monsanto’s Roundup Ready herbicide-resistant soybeans, promising that they won’t use the seeds to produce additional crops. A small-time Indiana farmer, Vernon Bowman, tried to avoid signing that agreement by simply buying a batch of undifferentiated “bin grain” from a grain elevator. Bowman went ahead and sprayed his crops with glyphosate, knowing that because Monsanto’s genetically altered seed has become ubiquitous in the food supply, around 90 percent of soybeans would have the Roundup Ready trait that provides resistance to that herbicide.

Because there was no agriculture or horticulture or cultivation before the patent system | Corrente

John Roberts* during oral arguments in Bowman v. Monsanto:

Chief Justice Roberts: Why in the world would anybody spend any money to try to improve the seed if as soon as they sold the first one anybody could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?

And there you have it.

What we’re up against. It’s all about the rents, baby!

Honduras: War on the Peasants | Upside Down World

Two more peasants were assassinated by paramilitary units on Feb. 2 in Honduras. This brings the murder of subsistence farmers and indigenous leaders to over 60 since the Honduran coup d’etat in 2009.

Juan Peres and Williams Alvarado were members of the Peasant Movement for the Recovery of the Aguán (MOCRA), an organization that seeks to protect peasant cooperatives from the rash of land grabs being carried out in Honduras.

In a country where a quarter of the arable land—the best land—is already monopolized by less than 1% of the farmers, the Honduran “agro-oligarchs” want to acquire the 10% of Honduran land still owned by its peasantry (who make up 70% of the country’s farmers).

It is easy to understand their voracity. The global demand for palm oil has tripled from two million to over eight million tons over the last decade. Thanks to renewable fuel targets in the U.S. and Europe (that neither can fill with their own stock) lucrative markets are opening for agrofuels. Financial investors view agricultural land as an $8.4 trillion market. The planet’s land rush is heating up and Honduran elites are not going to be left behind in their own backyard. The Aguán Valley—where the two peasant activists were murdered—is the theater for relentless grabs of peasant land. [continue]

thepeoplesrecord:

Peru’s Congress approves 10-year GMO ban
November 13, 2012

Peru’s Congress announced Friday it overwhelmingly approved a 10-year moratorium on imports of genetically modified organisms in order to safeguard the country’s biodiversity.

The measure bars GMOs — including seeds, livestock, and fish — from being imported for cultivation or to be raised locally.

Exceptions include the use of GMO products for research purposes in a closed environment, but those will be closely monitored, the legislature’s official news service said.

The bill, approved late Thursday, now goes to President Ollanta Humala to be signed into law. Humala, who has been in power since late July, has repeatedly said he opposes GM programs.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, Peru is one of the world’s leading exporters of organic food, including coffee and cocoa, with $3 billion a year in revenues and 40,000 certified producers.

Congress approved a similar 10-year moratorium in June, but outgoing president Alan Garcia, who was seen as being favorable to GM, did not ratify the ban.

There was friction over GM in the previous government’s ministries of agriculture and environment.

The head of Peru’s Consumer Agency, Jaime Delgado, said the moratorium is long enough to learn from scientific studies that will emerge on the effects of GMO products.

The country’s leading group representing farmers and ranchers, the National Agrarian Convention, said that by this measure Peru “defends its biodiversity, its agriculture, its gastronomy and its health.”

Source

Meanwhile in the US, GMO labeling alone has not even been enacted at the national, state or local levels.

In a controversial move seen by many as proof that Monsanto meddled in Paraguay’s domestic affairs, the Franco government has approved the cultivation of genetically modified corn and cotton. On August 6, Paraguay’s Health and Social Welfare Ministry’s sanctioned the genetically modified (GM) corn VT Triple Pro, produced by the U.S.-based transnational corporation Monsanto. Peasant organizations oppose the decision as ‘a direct attack against peasant culture and food sovereignty.’

Monsanto corn and cotton, an ‘attack to sovereignty’ in Paraguay

Well of course it meddled in their affairs!!! That is one of the things Monsanto does, the corporation is brilliant at that. And our government is even more brilliant at supporting their efforts! Too bad it is the ”peasants” who are the only ones smart enough to know this is an attack on their food sovereignty.

(via stopkillingourworld)

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

New report: Monsanto pesticides do more damage than good, costing tax payers billions

climateadaptation:

Solid reporting on this one.

Superweeds, Superpests: The Legacy of Pesticides

“The rapid adoption of a single weed-killer for the vast majority of crops harvested in the United States has given rise to superweeds and greater pesticide use, a new study suggests. And while crops engineered to manufacture an insect-killing toxin have reduced the use of pesticides in those fields, the emergence of newly resistant insects now threatens to reverse that trend.

Farmers spray the herbicide glyphosate, widely sold under the Monsanto brand Roundup, on fields planted with seeds that are genetically engineered to tolerate the chemical. Found in 1.37 billion acres of corn, soybeans, and cotton planted from 1996 through 2011, this “Roundup Ready” gene was supposed to reduce or eliminate the need to till fields or apply harsher chemicals, making weed control simple, flexible, cheap, and less environmentally taxing.

In fact, this system has led farmers to use a greater number of herbicides in higher volumes, according to the study, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe.”

NYTimes

(via randomactsofchaos)

Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer, and Cargill donate nearly $25 million to defeat California GMO labeling initiative

sinidentidades:

The nation’s largest agribusiness and biotech companies are pouring millions of dollars into California to stop the first-ever initiative to require special labels on foods made with genetically modified ingredients, a sign of their determination to keep the measure from sparking a nationwide movement.

So far, farming giants such as Monsanto, Dupont Pioneer, and Cargill have contributed nearly $25 million to defeat the proposal, with much of that cash coming in the past few days. It’s nearly 10 times the amount raised by backers of the ballot measure who say California’s health-conscious shoppers want more information about the food they eat.

With nearly three months to go before the November election, the measure’s opponents appear to be following the previous blueprint developed by major industries to defeat ballot initiatives in the nation’s largest consumer market: Raise large sums of money to swamp the airwaves with negative advertising.

The tactic previously worked for the pharmaceutical industry. And in California’s June primary, the tobacco industry helped defeat an initiative supported by cycling legend Lance Armstrong that would have raised cigarette taxes to fund cancer research.

The food initiative, known as Proposition 37, is one of 11 statewide measures to go before California voters in November. It would require most processed foods to bear a label by 2014 letting shoppers know if the items contain ingredients derived from plants with DNA altered with genes from other plants, animals, viruses or bacteria.

(via questionall)

In addition to Franco’s work with RTA, his administration has also allowed Monsanto an expanded presence in Paraguay. Such a move will worsen the existing crisis in the countryside, an area ravaged by soy plantations and pesticides, and where just 2% of landowners control 80% of the land. In the lead-up to the coup, Lugo and his administration resisted the use of Monsanto’s GMO cotton seeds in the country. Yet just after taking power, the Franco administration threw government critics of the plan out of office, and moved ahead to approve the use of the controversial seeds in the country. Paraguay’s Bitter Harvest: Monsanto and Rio Tinto Reap Benefits From Coup Government

So, I’ll ask the question, did they also invest in the coup? 

(via stopkillingourworld)

All signs point to yes.

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

5 Million Brazilian farmers win $2 billion judgment against Monsanto

Five million Brazilian farmers have taken on US based biotech company Monsanto through a lawsuit demanding return of about 6.2 billion euros taken as royalties from them.

The farmers are claiming that the powerful company has unfairly extracted these royalties from poor farmers because they were using seeds produced from crops grown from Monsanto’s genetically engineered seeds, reports Merco Press.

In April this year, a judge in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, ruled in favor of the farmers and ordered Monsanto to return royalties paid since 2004 or a minimum of $2 billion. The ruling said that the business practices of seed multinational Monsanto violate the rules of the Brazilian Cultivars Act (No. 9.456/97).

Monsanto has appealed against the order and a federal court ruling on the case is now expected by 2014.

About 85% of Brazil’s massive soyabean crop output is produced from genetically engineered seeds. Brazil exports about $24.1 billion worth of soyabeans annually, more than a quarter of its total agri-exports.

Farmers say that they are using seeds produced many generations after the initial crops from the genetically modified Monsanto seeds were grown. Farmers claim that Monsanto unfairly collects exorbitant profits every year worldwide on royalties from “renewal” seed harvests. Renewal crops are those that have been planted using seed from the previous year’s harvest. Monsanto disagrees, demanding royalties from any crop generation produced from its genetically-engineered seed. Because the engineered seed is patented, Monsanto not only charges an initial royalty on the sale of the crop produced, but a continuing two per cent royalty on every subsequent crop, even if the farmer is using a later generation of seed.

The first transgenic soy seeds were illegally smuggled into Brazil from neighboring Argentina in 1998 and their use was banned and subject to prosecution until the last decade, according to the state-owned Brazilian Enterprise for Agricultural Research (EMBRAPA). The ban has since been lifted and now 85 percent of the country’s soybean crop (25 million hectares or 62 million acres) is genetically modified, Alexandre Cattelan, an EMBRAPA researcher told Merco Press. Brazil is the world’s second largest producer and exporter of soyabean. China is one of its biggest buyers.

“Monsanto gets paid when it sell the seeds. The law gives producers the right to multiply the seeds they buy and nowhere in the world is there a requirement to pay (again). Producers are in effect paying a private tax on production,” Jane Berwanger, lawyer for the farmers told the media agencies.

(Source: pulsarae, via queerencia-deactivated20130103)

Biofuel's Big Bean | Utne

Neoliberalism unleashed:

Rural eastern Paraguay was once flush with jungles, small farms, schools, and wildlife. Now it is a sea of soybeans. The families, trees, and birds are gone. The schools are empty. The air is filled with the toxic stench of pesticides.

We drive through this sea of green on a red dirt road. Meriton Ramírez is taking us to the former community of Minga Porá, to the farm where his family used to live. Ramírez is a member of the Asociación de Agricultores de Alto Paraná (ASAGRAPA), a farmers union spearheading the fight against the expansion of the soy industry.

“I didn’t want to leave. I built my farm and raised my children here. I planted fruit trees. For the first time in my life I had good land,” Ramírez says, motioning to the vacant space that used to be his home. “Then the soy farmers arrived and we couldn’t stand the fumigation. We had terrible headaches, nausea and skin rashes, problems seeing, respiratory infections. The chickens died. The cows aborted their calves and their milk dried up.” In 2001, his crops destroyed, the neighborhood reduced to a swath of soy fields, Ramírez and his family left the land. Now Minga Porá, once a community of several thousand farmers, is home to just 30 families.

Paraguay has the most unequal land distribution in Latin America, with 95 percent of the country privately owned by large estates. Incomplete and corrupt agrarian reforms have left most small farmers, called campesinos, without property, occupying unused land for small-scale subsistence farming. In the mid-’90s, if the pesticides didn’t drive the campesinos away from this land, the soy industry tried to buy them off. ASAGRAPA members say that when farmers refused to convert or sell, thugs showed up to convince them to grow soy or leave. “If you tried to resist, they’d kill you,” Angélica Ramírez, Meriton’s daughter, says.

In recent years soy production has increased exponentially due to worldwide demand for animal feed and the rise of an insatiable biodiesel industry. Biodiesel made from soy oil is touted as good for the environment, even more efficient than ethanol. In 1999, 44 million acres of soy were grown in South America; by 2004 there were 94 million acres. In the past six years, annual expansion of land cultivated for soy in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay has exceeded 10 percent, mainly at the expense of rainforest and savanna. If current trends continue, by 2020 global demands will require 370 million acres of cultivated land worldwide, and in Latin America an additional 54 million acres of forests and savanna will be destroyed.

In June 2006, the chief executive of Cargill told the New York Times that the biofuel industry is a “gold rush.” Transnational seed and agrochemical companies such as Monsanto, Pioneer, Syngenta, DuPont, Archer Daniels Midland, and Bunge manage the industry. International financial institutions and development banks promote and bankroll the export of monoculture crops. The World Trade Organization grants increased subsidies to these agribusinesses and tax credits to refiners involved in biofuel production.

And all the usual suspects, too.

Keep reading

Hungary Destroys All Monsanto GMO Corn Fields

Hungary has taken a bold stand against biotech giant Monsanto and genetic modification by destroying 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, according to Hungary deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar.

Unlike many European Union countries, Hungary is a nation where genetically modified (GM) seeds are banned. In a similar stance against GM ingredients, Peru has also passed a 10 year ban on GM foods.

Planetsave reports:

Almost 1000 acres of maize found to have been ground with genetically modified seeds have been destroyed throughout Hungary, deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development Lajos Bognar said. The GMO maize has been ploughed under, said Lajos Bognar, but pollen has not spread from the maize, he added.

Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. The checks will continue despite the fact that seek traders are obliged to make sure that their products are GMO free, Bognar said.

During the invesigation, controllers have found Pioneer Monsanto products among the seeds planted.

The free movement of goods within the EU means that authorities will not investigate how the seeds arrived in Hungary, but they will check where the goods can be found, Bognar said. Regional public radio reported that the two biggest international seed producing companies are affected in the matter and GMO seeds could have been sown on up to the thousands of hectares in the country. Most of the local farmers have complained since they just discovered they were using GMO seeds.

With season already under way, it is too late to sow new seeds, so this year’s harvest has been lost.

And to make things even worse for the farmers, the company that distributed the seeds in Baranya county is under liquidation. Therefore, if any compensation is paid by the international seed producers, the money will be paid primarily to that company’s creditors, rather than the farmers.

(Source: ecosavvyrebel, via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)

Scientists Warn EPA Over Monsanto’s GMO Crop Failures, Dangers

humanformat:

A group of scientists is calling for major federal action in order to deal with the threat posed by Monsanto’s GMO crops, now petitioning the EPA to address the issue head on.

The group of 22 academic corn experts are drawing attention to the immense failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified corn, which is developing mutated and resistant insects as a result of its widespread usage. Corn is critical not only as a food staple, but is heavily used in ethanol production, animal feed, and much more. As GM corn becomes the norm, currently taking over 94 percent of the supply, these scientists are seriously concerned about the future of corn production.

Joseph Spencer is one outspoken member of the group, a corn entomologist with the Illinois Natural History Survey, part of the University of Illinois. Spencer states that what is happening is no surprise, instead it is something that needs to be addressed. Warning the EPA over the dangers, the experts sent a letter on March 5th to the agency explaining their worries regarding long-term corn production prospects in light of GMO crops failures. Specifically, the experts are worried about the lack of protection presented by GMO crops against rootworms.

The EPA has already acknowledged that Monsanto’s GMO crops are creating resistant rootworms, which are now ravaging the GMO crops as they mutate to the biopesticide used known as Bacillus thuringiensis (BT). The EPA found that the resistant rootworms, which are evolving to resist the insecticide,  are currently found Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska. After the EPA evaluated documented cases of severe crop damage as well as reports from entomologists, the EPA stated “Monsanto’s program for monitoring suspected cases of resistance is ‘inadequate’”.

Essentially, the GMO crops are doing the opposite of their supposed purpose — leading to more damage from rootworms as they become mutated to resist the defense of the crops. And Monsanto has answered by simply further genetically modifying the Bt, which research shows is extremely ineffective.

“When insecticides overlay transgenic technology, the economic and environmental advantages of rootworm-protected corn quickly disappear,” the scientists wrote.

It’s time for the EPA and other agencies to address the serious threats to nature and human health presented by Monsanto’s genetically modified creations.

_______________

Explore More:

  1. Monsanto’s GMO Crops Ravage US, USDA Ignores Dangers
  2. EPA Finds Monsanto’s GMO Corn Ineffective, Creating Resistant Rootworms
  3. Monsanto Shareholder Meeting Infiltrated by Activist (Video)
  4. Monsanto’s GMO Corn Contributing to Weight Gain, Disrupts Organs
  5. Toxic Genetically Modified Crop Pesticides Found in Unborn Babies
  6. Monsanto GMO Sugarbeets to be Destroyed | Court Concludes USDA Illegally Approved Biotech Crop

(via queerencia-deactivated20130103)