Did Monsanto Write Malawi’s Seed Policy?

GR:  Monsanto did. The company’s unscrupulous efforts to increase profits are harmful to humans and nature. This story may raise your blood pressure a bit. Such stories of corporate and government greed and corruption have driven some environmentalists to begin predicting human extinction.

“In late July, a short article was published in a Malawian newspaper: Press Release on Organization of Seed Fairs. Issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation, and Water Development, in conjunction with the Seed Traders Association of Malawi, the short statement advised the public that “only quality certified seed suppliers registered with government to produce and/or market seed should be allowed to display seed at such events.” The release was signed by Bright Kumwembe for the Agriculture Ministry.

“I received this news in the U.S. as I prepared a research trip to Malawi, and I was shocked. Malawi is in the final stages of a multi-year effort to reform its seed policy and laws, and the largest point of contention at this point is the failure of the draft policy to recognize and protect so-called “farmers’ rights” to save, exchange and sell the seeds they grow on their farms.

“Remarkably, the policy seeks to define the word “seed” as applying only to certified seed from commercial companies. Farm-saved seed is referred to in the policy as just “grain,” unworthy even of the word seed.

“Some 80 percent of the crops grown in Malawi come from farm-saved seeds, and many of those seeds are displayed, exchanged and sold at local seed fairs. These are often community events organized by local non-governmental organizations or district agriculture offices to promote seed improvement. Farmers show their most successful varieties, sometimes alongside seed from commercial companies that have bred, patented and produced “improved” varieties that are then certified by the government for quality.

“What this press release implied, in no uncertain terms, was that henceforth farmers would not be allowed to display their seeds. The formal and informal seed sectors have coexisted for decades. Why was the Malawian government, embroiled in a controversy over a still-unfinished seed policy, threatening to ban farm-saved seed from the market?” –Food Tank (Continue: Did Monsanto Write Malawi’s Seed Policy?)

Ask your Governor to Stop Monsanto’s Deceptive Marketing

GR: Here’s an opportunity for you to oppose the spread of Monsanto’s dangerous herbicide RoundUp.

“Tell your Governor to stop Monsanto from making false and deceptive claims about glyphosate (Roundup) –a pesticide that hurts workers. Because of its wide use by workers in parks, along utility and railroad rights-of-way, and on farms, use of Monsanto’s glyphosate results in more exposure than any other pesticide. Monsanto has developed and continues to grow its market for this product with false claims of the safety of the toxic chemical. Glyphosate is listed as a probable carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (of the World Health Organization) and disrupts a pathway in humans necessary for healthy functioning of the gut microbiome. Meanwhile, Monsanto actively advertises and promotes its Roundup products as targeting an enzyme “found in plants but not in people or pets.”

“Although EPA considers glyphosate to be “of relatively low oral and dermal acute toxicity,” symptoms workers could experience following exposure to glyphosate formulations include: swollen eyes, face, and joints; facial numbness; burning and/or itching skin; blisters; rapid heart rate; elevated blood pressure; chest pains, congestion; coughing; headache; and nausea.

“The additional ingredients in Roundup can be more toxic than glyphosate alone, resulting in a number of chronic, developmental, and endocrine-disrupting effects. The “inert” (non-disclosed) ingredients in Roundup formulations kill human cells at very low concentrations. At least some glyphosate-based products are genotoxic.

“Because glyphosate disrupts the shikimate pathway, crucial for manufacturing aromatic amino acids in plants but not animals, Monsanto claims that it does not harm humans. However, many beneficial bacteria use the shikimate pathway, and glyphosate, in fact, is a patented antibiotic. Glyphosate destroys bacteria in the human gut and, therefore, is a major contributor to disease. Disturbing the microbiota can contribute to a whole host of “21st century diseases,” including diabetes, obesity, food allergies, heart disease, antibiotic-resistant infections, cancer, asthma, autism, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, and more. The rise in these same diseases is tightly correlated with the use of glyphosate herbicides, and glyphosate exposure can result in the inflammation that is at the root of these diseases. Glyphosate appears to have more negative impacts on beneficial bacteria, allowing pathogens to flourish and enhancing antibiotic resistance.

“Although consumers are at risk from Monsanto’s glyphosate products, the workers who apply it and work in fields and parks, and along rights-of-way where it is used are at greatest risk.

“There is precedent for states acting on false claims by manufacturers. Massachusetts sued Bayer for false and deceptive claims on the label for its neonicotinoid products that harm bees. Every state can seek to protect against a false and deceptive claim under consumer protection and truth-in-advertising law.

“Please use the Beyond Pesticides links and letter to urge your Governor to act on false claims by Monsanto” –Beyond Pesticides (Sign me up! — Beyond Pesticides)

Weed killer designed to save farms is devastating them

GR: With the chemical industry in control of Congress and government regulators, every plant and animal of every country on Earth is in danger. Toxic chemicals added to the land, air, and water cause death, disease, and disruption of natural ecosystems. They poison the insects and spread through the food chain weakening and killing wildlife. As biodiversity declines, natural flood control and soil protection is lost and air and water filtering declines. The result is a great loss productivity and ever-increasing toxicity of the environment.

BLYTHEVILLE, ARK. — “Clay Mayes slams on the brakes of his Chevy Silverado and jumps out with the engine running, yelling at a dogwood by the side of the dirt road as if it had said something insulting.

“Its leaves curl downward and in on themselves like tiny, broken umbrellas. It’s the telltale mark of inadvertent exposure to a controversial herbicide called dicamba.

“This is crazy. Crazy!” shouts Mayes, a farm manager, gesticulating toward the shriveled canopy off Highway 61. “I just think if this keeps going on . . .”

“Everything’ll be dead,” says Brian Smith, his passenger.

“The damage here in northeast Arkansas and across the Midwest — sickly soybeans, trees and other crops — has become emblematic of a deepening crisis in American agriculture.

“Farmers are locked in an arms race between ever-stronger weeds and ever-stronger weed killers.

“The dicamba system, approved for use for the first time this spring, was supposed to break the cycle and guarantee weed control in soybeans and cotton. The herbicide — used in combination with a genetically modified dicamba-resistant soybean — promises better control of unwanted plants such as pigweed, which has become resistant to common weed killers.

“The problem, farmers and weed scientists say, is that dicamba has drifted from the fields where it was sprayed, damaging millions of acres of unprotected soybeans and other crops in what some are calling a man-made disaster. Critics say that the herbicide was approved by federal officials without enough data, particularly on the critical question of whether it could drift off target.

“Government officials and manufacturers Monsanto and BASF deny the charge, saying the system worked as Congress designed it.” –Caitlin Dewey (Continue: Weed killer designed to save farms is devastating them).

Thanks to Bob Vella the Secular Jurist for finding this story.

Tell Congress: Vote No on Clovis for USDA Chief Scientist

Sam Clovis, Trump’s choice for USDA chief scientist.

GR: The USDA Chief Scientist must be a scientist. The USDA evaluates the safety of outdoor activities including farming, logging, ecosystem protection, herbicide use for weed control, and many more. The person in charge of the evaluations must understand the methods used for measurement and analysis and must understand the certainty or lack of certainty of the results. Sam Clovis has no experience in scientific methods. Trump selected his other appointees based on political connections and not qualifications. Clovis may be the worst of the worst. The Union of Concerned Scientists has given us some information to use in protest of Clovis’ appointment.

“President Trump has nominated Sam Clovis—a vocal climate change denier with no training in science—for the role of chief scientist at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). Clovis’ nomination represents an abandonment of America’s farmers, ranchers, and consumers who depend on the USDA to provide sound scientific guidance on the pressing challenges facing our nation’s food system. Moreover, Clovis’ history of denying climate change and peddling racist and homophobic conspiracy theories calls into question his capacity to make informed, objective, and sound investments for the future of American agriculture.

“Scientists and experts around the country are signing this letter to demand that the USDA chief scientist have a strong scientific background in order to fulfill the demands of this crucial position.

“Add your name to this letter urging the Senate Agriculture Committee to stand by its commitment to scientifically informed governance by voting no on Sam Clovis for USDA chief scientist.

“Learn more about the case against Clovis, and read the nine questions the Senate should ask of Clovis. Check out our Sidelining Science Since Day One report.” Union of Concerned Scientists.


GR:  Contact your Senators and ask them to reject the Clovis appointment. You could also contact Senator Pat Roberts, chairman and Senator Debbie Stabenow, ranking member of the US Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry.

Tell your Senators that Sam Clovis falls far short of the standards of chief scientist. While he holds a Doctorate of Public Administration, his professional background is completely devoid of relevant scientific experience. The USDA chief scientist must have a strong scientific background to administer scientific programs and make crucial decisions on food safety, agricultural productivity, and emerging threats to public health. Dr. Clovis lacks grounding in the scientific process and is not equipped to make informed, objective, and strategic investments for the future of American agriculture.

There are some excellent smart phone apps that simplify contacting congress. I’m trying out “Congress” by Eric Mill my phone. Seems pretty good so far.