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10 Celebrities Advocating for a Sustainable Food System

By Alanna Wittet

Star status can bring the opportunity for celebrities to wear many hats and draw attention to environmental and health issues. Whether they are producing or performing music for fair trade campaigns, designing ethically sourced products or growing food for the hungry, these 10 stars are using their fame and dollars to advocate for a more sustainable food future for all:

Jessica Alba: After becoming a mother and struggling to find chemical-free personal care and baby products with transparent disclosures, Jessica Alba co-founded The Honest Company alongside environmental scientist Christopher Gavigan. The company creates a variety of personal care, cleaning and baby care and nutrition products that are sustainable, transparent, ethically sourced.

Jason Brown: After leaving his NFL football career in 2012, Brown took up farming to help feed North Carolina's hungry. His 1,000-acre farm, First Fruits Farm, donates its first fruits of the harvest to local food pantries. A self-taught farmer, Brown donated more than 46,000 pounds of sweet potatoes and 10,000 pounds of cucumbers to food pantries in 2014.

50 Cent: In addition to being a member of Feeding America's Entertainment Council, 50 Cent also aids in the fight against hunger through his Street King initiative. With every bottle of his Street King energy shot sold, he funds one meal for a child in need through the World Hunger Programme. Having funded 3.5 million meals so far, he aims to provide 1 billion meals. To combat hunger in America, 50 Cent has also partnered his SMS Audio brand with Feeding America to additionally fund 250 meals with every headphone set purchased in the U.S.

Coldplay: As a global ambassador for Oxfam International, Coldplay has vocally supported and furthered the reach of the organization's mission to end global poverty, injustice and hunger. Promoting Oxfam's GROW and Make Fair Trade campaigns while on tour, Coldplay helped disseminate the message to more than 100 million people. Lead singer Chris Martin has also traveled to Ghana and Haiti to observe the effects of unfair trade on farmers.

Michael Kors: Michael Kors is a Global Ambassador Against Hunger for the U.N. World Food Programme. Since 2013, Kors' Watch Hunger Stop Campaign has helped to provide more than 10 million meals to children through the WFP's School Meals Programme, while also engaging other celebrities on the issue of world hunger through their involvement in the campaign.

Kate Hudson: Joining Michael Kors and his campaign to alleviate hunger worldwide, Katie Hudson serves an ambassador and spokesperson to Watch Hunger Stop. In helping to launch his latest watch style for the campaign, every watch sold will provide 100 children a nutritious meal.

Jamie Oliver: In addition to being a celebrity chef, Jamie Oliver further works towards building a stronger and healthier food system through his foundation, the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. By providing food education programs and global campaigns to influence international food policy, the Foundation works to transform people's lives by both improving access to good, fresh and real foods and equipping people with cooking skills. He is also active in lobbying the U.K. government to establish a multi-sectorial Child Obesity Strategy to improve children's nutrition and reduce obesity. In 2016, Oliver's Foundation has been present at key global events including the World Health Assembly, The Nutrition Growth Summit and the U.N. General Assembly, championing policy to combat childhood obesity.

Neil Young, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson: In 1985, Young, Mellencamp, and Nelson hosted the first Farm Aid concert to draw attention to the loss of family farms and to raise money to keep farming families on their land. To date, Farm Aid has raised more than US$50 million to support family farms in America by promoting food produced by family farms, supporting fair farm policies and providing resources that help farmers thrive.

The women's silent peace march on Nov. 27 at Standing Rock. Photo credit: Judy Wicks

Standing Rock: Where Love Prevails

A thousand-year-old Lakota prophecy tells of a Black Snake that would one day rise from the deep and move across the land bringing destruction and great sorrow. The Sioux believe that the Black Snake has arrived in the form of the Dakota Access Pipeline and the most powerful economic and political force in the world—the fossil fuel industry.

Not long after our group of travelers arrived at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota for a weeklong stay at the native-owned casino hotel, we began to meet Water Protectors, who were suffering from a police attack a few days before our arrival.

From home I had watched the horrifying scene on live stream. Blocked from escape, hundreds of unarmed Water Protectors on the bridge across the Cannonball River were blasted with water cannons for six hours in sub-freezing temperatures. I could see clouds of tear gas and hear people screaming and calling for a medic as the cameraman expressed disbelief that this was happening to unarmed civilians. Later we got the full report that exploding percussion grenades had severely damaged a native woman's eye and blown off most of the arm of a 21-year-old woman from New York. Several hundred were hospitalized for hyperthermia and injuries. In earlier confrontations, non-violent Water Protectors defending sacred sites from bulldozers were beaten with batons, bitten by vicious dogs, arrested, stripped searched and locked up for days in jail cells or held in dehumanizing dog kennels.

Now we were meeting victims first hand. The native-led Water Protectors, as they call themselves, rather than protestors, are living in nearby encampments to defend the land, water and sacred sites of the Sioux. There is no running water in the camps, so as other hotel guests were doing, we offered our rooms for hot showers. A young native man still covered with tear gas residue sprayed on him three days earlier, was suffering from a deep cough. Another had a broken hand. A native woman who worked on camp security fell asleep from exhaustion on one of our beds. Before taking his shower, a non-native ally who served as a medic showed us a blue colored rubber bullet about the size of a golf ball, one of many that had lacerated heads, broken bones and knocked people unconscious, including an elder. The medic had been thrown backward when he was hit squarely in the chest. He thought that surely, the large red cross he wore on the front of his jacket had been used as a target.

Judy Wicks

When I first caught sight of the law enforcement officers a few days later, I felt a chill. Dozens of helmeted policeman stood in a row along the high ridge of Turtle Island, a place of ancient burial sites sacred to the Sioux. Dark figures silhouetted against the sky loomed menacingly above the peaceful protestors gathered at the base of the hill holding a large banner reading Indigenous Sovereignty Protects Water. Behind them along the banks of the Cannonball River sprawled an encampment of teepees, tents, yurts, trailers, horse corrals and old school buses. Guarding the bridge where the recent attack had taken place, another row of police officers in riot gear wearing black helmets with face guards held bully sticks across their bullet proof vests as they stood behind shining coils of razor wire and concrete barriers flanked by armored vehicles.

These armed forces were protecting what lay out of view behind them—the construction of the oil pipeline headed toward the nearby Missouri River. The original route of the pipeline had run to the north near the city of Bismarck, a largely white community that had insisted the pipeline be rerouted down stream to cross the river next to the Sioux reservation. If successful the $3.8 billion Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) would bore under the river, threatening the source of drinking water for the reservation and millions downstream in its mission to carry 20 million gallons a day of crude oil fracked from the Bakken oil fields. With the frequency of oil spills increasing, including two major recent spills in North Dakota, the danger is real. If the pipeline does succeed in bringing the oil to market, it will produce the carbons equivalent to 30 coal power plants every year for 20 years or more.

Mni Wiconi—Water is Life— is the call from Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires), the largest of several camps at Standing Rock, named for the seven tribes of the Sioux nation, which include the Lakota. Located next to the reservation and preserved for indigenous use under the 1851 Treaty of Laramie, this land was never ceded by the Sioux. Oceti Sakowin and the first camp called Sacred Stone were started in the spring of 2016, and joined by several other encampments, all run by volunteers. Non-violent and spiritually centered, the Standing Rock movement honors the sacredness of the natural world. Throughout the camps Defend the Sacred is printed on banners and on t-shirts proudly worn by native teenagers. All seven tribes of the great Sioux Nation, some former enemies, have joined together at Oceti Sakowin for the first time since Little Big Horn. Along the camp's main road wave the colorful flags of some 300 tribes who have journeyed across the Americas, from Argentina to Alaska, bringing traditional dress, ceremonial pipes and drums to join the Sioux in the largest gathering of Native Americans in recorded history.

In support of this native-led movement tens of thousands of non-native allies have joined the camps swelling them at one point to as many as 10,000. Many more have visited to bring supplies and resources to support Standing Rock. Our group of 35 traveled to North Dakota to cook and serve 2,000 dinners on Thanksgiving to express our gratitude to Native Americans for protecting Mother Earth, as they have throughout history. The Wopila (thank you) Brigade, as we called ourselves, spent two days at the Standing Rock Community High School kitchen, preparing the dinner, which we served in the school gymnasium, as well as distributed in the camps. Our brigade worked hand-in-hand with the school staff, who brushed away tears when they thanked us for coming, explaining that for so long the native community had felt unseen and forgotten.

Our dinner began with a prayer by elder Jesse Taken Alive who had given a Lakota name to the event that translates Because We Believe Them, We Are Feeding Them. In continuous loops from the camps, the Water Protectors arrived in school buses and were offered hot showers in the locker rooms before heading to the buffet. Jane Fonda appeared and asked me how she could help. "How about dishing out the mashed potatoes," I suggested, which she happily did. With their plates heaping with turkey, potatoes and gravy, and an array of vegetable dishes, our guests made their way to the gymnasium to take seats at long banquet tables we had covered in the Sioux colors of the four directions - red, yellow, black and white. Displayed on the tables and along one wall were colorful thank you cards made by Philadelphia area school children drawn in crayon with messages such as, "thank you First Nation People for helping the air and water and earth. Ethan, third grader."

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The Standing Rock Protests Are a Symbolic Moment

This past Thursday was Thanksgiving. A time when we remember a feast, the first Thanksgiving, on Plymouth plantation in the autumn of 1621. The tales of pilgrims from the Mayflower who celebrated the harvest, shared and broke bread with the first Americans, are still used as inspiration and shared with children, teaching them the beauty of gratitude.

Standing Rock.©Lori Panico

But it is now widely understood this Thanksgiving story is a fictional history. It was invented to whitewash the vicious genocide wrought upon the native inhabitants of this magnificent continent. Not only did the Europeans try to eradicate native populations, but they made every effort to eviscerate their culture, their language and eliminate them from these coveted lands.

From Plymouth Rock to Standing Rock, this lie has made our Thanksgiving Day a day of mourning for the First Nations, all the tribes big and small, those who came before us.

A few weeks ago we traveled to visit the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota. We arrived at this unprecedented historical gathering of more than 500 tribes and thousands of others standing on the frontlines to protect water, to state the most basic human truth, to say water is life. Despite the painful history, today they fight peacefully for us all.

The camp grows as winter comes. Standing in protection of our most vital life support systems, but also for the rightful preservation of Native American cultural ways and their sovereignty. Everyone we talk with is committed to peaceful resistance. Weapons, alcohol and drugs are forbidden there.

Standing together in prayer to protect water displays a deeply rooted awareness of life's interconnected nature, and of the intrinsic value and import of traditional ways. This growing movement stems from love, it is the most human instinct to protect that which we love. An eager and engaged youth are at the core of this pipeline route resistance, learning from a population of elders who pass down unforgotten knowledge.

It is an awakening. All here together, with their non-native relatives, standing strong in the face of outrageous, unnecessary and violent aggression, on the part of militarized local and state law enforcement agencies and national guard, who are seemingly acting to protect the interests of the Dakota Access pipeline profiteers, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, above all other expressed concerns. They stand against corporate security forces, the county sheriff and the national guard. Standing while being hit with water cannons, mace, teargas, rubber bullets. Standing without weapons and praying, the water protectors endure human rights abuses in freezing temperatures. Supplies arrive from all over as the social media universe shares the heartbreaking news to the world, that an American corporate media is not free to report. Thus, it is the ugliness of corporate America, seen around the world.

But they stand, their hair frozen from water cannons. They stand for all that is good and they stay strong.

We are calling upon you, President Barack Obama, to step in and end the violence against the peaceful water protectors at Standing Rock immediately.

We will be going back to support the water protectors again.

Let us all stand with them in thanks, in appreciation for the ancient wisdom they carry, in thanks for this opportunity for true gratitude. For giving us a path forward. For trying to show us a road to survival.

We offer our support and our respect. We hear the call to protect the water protectors to listen, learn and get engaged. They are brave. We thank them. And we can give thanks for the bounty.

Like water on the garden of activism, America's surprise president brings a bounty of opportunity. The great issues of our time are now brightly illuminated and people are becoming more aware of them than ever, from sea to shining sea, from Standing Rock to Wall Street.

The surprise president-elect was not the winner of the popular vote, does not have a mandate for the change of ideals envisioned. Keep in mind, close to over two million more people voted for another candidate. Nor is the surprise president the leader of the free world. Two hundred of the world's nations believe in science, above the profits of the oil, gas and coal industries, and are committed to working together to protect the future from an unchecked climate crisis. The surprise president claims he does not believe in climate science nor the threats it presents and his actions and words reflect that claim in tangible and dangerous ways.

Do not be intimidated by the surprise president's cabinet appointees as they descend the golden escalator. Those who behave in racist ways are not your leaders. The golden tower is not yours. The White House is your house.Your growing activism in support of freedom over repression, addressing climate change, swiftly replacing a destructive old industries with safe, regenerative energy, encouraging holistic thinking in balance with the future of our planet; that activism will strengthen and shed continued light on us all. These worthy goals must be met for all the world's children and theirs after them.

This is our moment for truth.

Unintimidated, stand, speak up and show up. Be counted. Be like our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. Be there if you can. The progress we have made over 240 years as a nation, has always come first from the people.

Neil Young, Daryl Hannah to Obama: 'Step In and End the Violence' at Standing Rock

Neil Young and Daryl Hannah are standing with the water protectors at Standing Rock and urging President Barack Obama to step in and end the violence over the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).

Environmental activist and rocker Neil Young asks President Obama to stop the violence at Dakota pipeline protest.Flickr

"The camp grows as winter comes," Young and Hannah wrote in a lengthy open letter posted onto their respective Facebook pages. "Standing in protection of our most vital life support systems, but also for the rightful preservation of Native American cultural ways and their sovereignty."

The couple explain how the DAPL demonstrators are "standing strong in the face of outrageous, unnecessary and violent aggression, on the part of militarized local and state law enforcement agencies and National Guard, who are seemingly acting to protect the interests of the Dakota Access Pipeline profiteers, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of tax-payer dollars, above all other expressed concerns."

Watch footage of Young playing guitar at the DAPL protest site:

The protest, ongoing since April, has been marked by the presence of heavily militarized law enforcement who have used tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets and water cannons to blast away pipeline protestors in freezing temperatures. Last week, the Standing Rock Medic & Healer Council reported 300 injuries and more than 20 people sent to the hospital, with many patients needing treatment for hypothermia.

One water protector, 21-year-old Sophia Wilansky, might lose her arm following the police standoff.

The environmentally conscious musician and actress are urging President Obama to immediately take action in light of the recent eviction notice issued by the Army Corps as well as the presidential election of Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton.

"The surprise president elect was not the winner of the popular vote [and] does not have a mandate for the change of ideals envisioned. Keep in mind, close to over two million more people voted for another candidate," Young and Hannah wrote. "Nor is the surprise president the leader of the free world. Two hundred of the world's nations believe in science, above the profits of the oil, gas and coal industries, and are committed to working together to protect the future from an unchecked climate crisis."

They highlight how Trump, whose personal investments ride on the completion of the pipeline, is appointing fellow climate deniers to his cabinet.

"The surprise president claims he does not believe in climate science nor the threats it presents and his actions and words reflect that claim in tangible and dangerous ways," the letter states. "Do not be intimidated by the surprise presidents' cabinet appointees as they descend the golden escalator. Those who behave in racist ways are not your leaders. The golden tower is not yours. The White House is your house."

Young and Hannah promise in their letter, "We will be going back to support the water protectors again."

The two traveled to the protest site earlier this month to celebrate Young's 71st birthday on Nov. 12.

"Got my birthday wish today, my girl took me to #StandWithStandingRock #WaterIsLife," Young wrote on social media. "Those who damage Mother Earth, damage us all, forgive them, they don't yet see."

Young, a passionate environmentalist who has spoken against fossil fuels and pipelines before, released a protest song and video in September called "Indian Givers" which features footage of the DAPL protests.

"There's a battle raging on the sacred land / Our brothers and sisters have to take a stand," Young sings. "Against us now for what we all been doing / On the sacred land there's a battle brewing."

Young and Hannah call on on President Obama to protect his environmental legacy as well as future generations.

"Your growing activism in support of freedom over repression, addressing climate change, swiftly replacing a destructive old industries with safe, regenerative energy, encouraging wholistic thinking in balance with the future of our planet; that activism will strengthen and shed continued light on us all. These worthy goals must be met for the all the world's children and theirs after them," they stated. "This is our moment for truth."

"Unintimidated, stand, speak up and show up. Be counted. Be like our brothers and sisters at Standing Rock. Be there if you can. The progress we have made over two hundred and forty years as a nation, has always come first from the people," they concluded.

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Outrageous! Felony Charges Given to Journalist Filming Anti-Pipeline Protest

Many of you may have read my post on EcoWatch this morning, and already know that Deia Schlosberg, the producer of my new climate change documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change, was arrested Tuesday in Walhalla, North Dakota, for filming a protest against a pipeline bringing Canadian tar sands oil into the U.S.

But, what you probably don't know is that she was escorted to the courthouse this afternoon and was charged with Class A and C felony charges that carry 45 years maximum sentences combined. The charges include, two Class A felony charges and one Class C felony charge, and conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service.

I am outraged and need your help. Please watch my Facebook video below, read the letter I'm asking you to sign and then click here to sign it. Thank you!

Here's my Facebook live video from just one hour ago:

Here's the letter I'm spreading around in hopes to get more people to sign on:

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I regret to inform you that documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg, producer of How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change was arrested while filming a protest action in North Dakota. She was held for 48 hours in Pembina County Jail without access to her attorney.

This should send a chill down the spine of every documentary filmmaker and journalist. In my view, the North Dakota police are in violation of the First Amendment, charging a documentary filmmaker with conspiracy rather than viewing her as a reporter/journalist exercising her First Amendment right is unfair, unjust and illegal. We need a show of support right now for Deia's immense courage and for the First Amendment.‎

Now here is the really bad news and this is why we need you to act right now. This afternoon she was escorted to the courthouse where she was charged with Class A and C felony charges that carry 45 years maximum sentences combined. She has been charged with: two Class A felony charges and one Class C felony charge, and conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service.

These charges are a threat to our freedom of expression on the most basic level and especially to documentary filmmaking. If we cannot film events as they're happening, especially protest events or events that the establishment and the police might consider crime, we will never work or live in the same way again.

How many times have you been in a situation where people were being arrested and your camera was the only witness to the event that could truly portray what was happening?

Imagine now that simply by filming the actions of others you could face felony charges with maximum sentences of 45 years. That's why we have a First Amendment. The Constitution protects the freedom of the press and our right to document events.

We need an outcry from all documentary filmmakers, journalists and artists immediately.

I'm asking you to sign onto a very simple letter that states this:

Dear members of the media, governor of North Dakota Jack Dalrymple, U.S. Attorney General Chris Myers and President Obama:

Deia Schlosberg was exercising her First Amendment right as a journalist. The state of North Dakota's criminal complaint filed against her on Oct. 13 should be dropped immediately. Journalism, especially documentary filmmaking, is not a crime, it's a responsibility. The freedom of the press is a fundamental right in our free society. The charges filed against her are an injustice that must be dropped immediately.

Here's who has signed on to the letter so far:

  • Josh Fox, Oscar Nominated director, documentarian and filmmaker
  • Daryl Hannah, actress/activist
  • Neil Young, musician
  • Frances Fisher, Activist, Treasurer - EMA, Actress
  • LEE CAMP, Host, Redacted Tonight
  • Christopher Ryan, writer
  • Bill McKibben, Writer, Co-Founder 350.org
  • Mark Ruffalo, Actor, Director, Activist
  • Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
  • David Braun, Director, Writer, Producer
  • Alex Ebert (AKA Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) golden globe winner
  • Steven Tabakin, Peabody Award-winning film producer
  • Chloe Maxmin, Founder First Here, Then Everywhere
  • Alexis Krauss, musician
  • Jon Bowermaster, author, filmmaker, journalist
  • Alexander Zaitchik, author/journalist
  • Francesca Fiorentini, Journalist
  • Paul Bassis, Producer
  • Tim DeChristopher, Founder of Climate Disobedience The Action Center for Education & Community Development, Inc.
  • Nathan Truesdell Documentary Filmmaker
  • Bethany Yarrow, singer/activist
  • Chris Paine, director "who killed the electric car"
  • Vallejo Gantner, curator, arts executive
  • Jane Kleeb, Our Revolution Board Member, Nebraska Democratic Party Chair-Elect
  • Tanya Rivero Warren, journalist
  • Maggie Surovell, Professor of voice and speech
  • Seven McDonald Award Winning Columnist (LA Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, Nylon)
  • Henry Lai, director of product design, Echo360
  • Councilman Robert Eklund, Town of New Lisbon NY
  • Julia Pacetti President of JMP Verdant Communications
  • Deborah Parker, Tulalip Tribal Citizen, Board Member, Our Revolution
  • Greg King, Editor, Filmmaker
  • Alex Tyson, Filmmaker
  • Alison Klayman, Sundance-winning, Emmy-nominated documentarian and filmmaker
  • Stefanie Spear, Founder/CEO EcoWatch

Neil Young Teams Up With TIDAL to Bring 'Earth Train' to NYC Subway

Neil Young and TIDAL have partnered to give New York City subway riders a unique experience.

From July 15 - 31, the "S" shuttle train will have an eco-centric installation called the Earth Train. The train is wrapped in various Earth images—trees, water, clouds, etc.—and filled with facts that Young wants to share with riders.

Photo credit: TIDAL X Earth

Earth Train was inspired by Young's album, Earth, which features songs about living on the planet together. The 98-minute uninterrupted album features 11 songs from his 2015 tour with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real mixed with sounds of the Earth, Rolling Stone reported.

"Our animal kingdom is well represented in the audience," Young said. "And the animals, insects, birds and mammals actually take over the performances of the songs at times."

Songs include After the Goldrush, Love & Only Love, Vampire Blues, Hippie Dream, Mother Earth and Western Hero, Rolling Stone said. Four tracks from Young's 2015 LP The Monsanto Years are included as well as I Won't Quit, a track he debuted on his last tour.

Between Noon and 3 p.m. Friday, TIDAL members that stop by the "S" train platform at Grand Central can pick up a complementary round-trip MetroCard. All attendees will also receive a 3-month membership voucher courtesy of TIDAL and Young.

Check out these incredible images of the Earth Train:

Photo credit: TIDAL X Earth

Photo credit: TIDAL X Earth

Photo credit: TIDAL X Earth

Photo credit: TIDAL X Earth

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Neil Young: Say No to GMOs on ‘Behalf of All Living Things’

As he travels Europe on his sold-out two-month tour, Neil Young is warning his audiences to not be fooled into thinking genetically modified crops are the answer to food security problems.

Young—whose tour is promoting his anti-corporate album The Monsanto Years—along with other celebrities and organizations signed the Letter from America, an open letter to the citizens, politicians and regulators in the UK and EU. Based on American experience, the signees testify the potential harmful effects of the UK and EU adopting genetically modified crops.

The letter reads:

We are writing as concerned American citizens to share with you our experience of genetically modified (GM) crops and the resulting damage to our agricultural system and adulteration of our food supply.
In our country, GM crops account for about half of harvested cropland. Around 94% of the soy, 93% of corn (maize) and 96% of cotton grown is GM.

The UK and the rest of the EU have yet to adopt GM crops in the way that we have, but you are currently under tremendous pressure from governments, biotech lobbyists, and large corporations to adopt what we now regard as a failing agricultural technology.

Polls consistently show that 72% of Americans do not want to eat GM foods and over 90% of Americans believe GM foods should be labeled. In spite of this massive public mandate, efforts to get our federal and state governments to better regulate, or simply label, GMOs are being undermined by large biotech and food corporations with unlimited budgets and undue influence.

As you consider your options, we'd like to share with you what nearly two decades of GM crops in the United States has brought us. We believe our experience serves as a warning for what will happen in your countries should you follow us down this road.

"I support the Letter from America because it speaks truth to power, showing the harm GMOs have caused American farms and farmers, our environment, our health and even science and democracy," Young said. "Please take this seriously on behalf of all living things."

The letter is a product of Beyond GM, which aims "to raise the level of the debate on genetically modified organisms in the UK and elsewhere," according to the organization's website.

Glyphosate—the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup—and the continuation of its use in the EU is a hotly debated subject. The European Commission approved an 18-month extension the day before its license was scheduled to end.

Extension was approved even without majority approval from the EU's member states, as reported by EcoWatch.

"This decision by the commission to extend the approval of glyphosate in spite of last week's vote shows a disdain for the opposition by the public and EU governments to this controversial toxic herbicide," Green Party MEP Bart Staes said.

Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis noted that the 18-month extension will allow the European Chemicals Agency to further assess the product's safety.

"As the reckless decision by the EU Commission to overrule all objections and relicense the hazardous chemical glyphosate shows, they and the UK government put corporate profits before the health of citizens and the environment," Lawrence Woodward, Beyond GM's co-director, said. "Only citizens taking action will redress this balance and we are proud to have Neil Young standing with on this."

Glyphosate is the "most widely applied pesticide worldwide," according to a February 2016 report published in Environmental Science Europe. To date, 18.9 billion pounds of glyphosate have been used globally, according to the report. The chemical's use has risen almost 15-fold since "Roundup Ready" genetically engineered crops were introduced in 1996.

Because of its wide use, glyphosate has been a subject of many studies into whether it causes cancer or not. Two major studies, in March 2015 and May 2016, have found contradictory results.

The first study, conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO)'s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), concluded that glyphosate "probably" causes cancer in humans. But the second study, conducted by WHO's Meeting on Pesticide Residues and the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, concluded the chemical was "unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet."

Greenpeace EU has questioned whether the second report was influenced by industry ties. The organization alleges that Alan Boobis and Angelo Moretto, experts involved in the second study, have ties to the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) in Europe, which receiving a majority of its funding from private companies, including Monsanto.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Monsanto's Glyphosate Most Heavily Used Weed Killer in History

Results of Glyphosate Pee Test Are in 'And It's Not Good News'

Glyphosate Given Last-Minute Approval Despite Failure to Secure Majority Support

France, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands Rebel Against Relicensing of Monsanto's Glyphosate

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