France, Sweden, Italy and the Netherlands Rebel Against Relicensing of Monsanto's Glyphosate
A number of European Union member countries are rebelling against the European Commission's plans to approve the relicensing of glyphosate.
.@WHO says #glyphosate probably causes cancer, Monsanto says it's safe. Whom will the EU trust? #YesYouCanBan https://t.co/vkSzWRmdRE— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace)1457361547.0
The Guardian reported that experts from the EU’s 28 member states are scheduled to vote on relicensing glyphosate on Monday and Tuesday in Brussels, however the vote may be postponed due to reservations that several EU countries have over glyphosate's health risks.
Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's top-selling weedkiller Roundup, was classified by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a "possible carcinogen" last March, whereas the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) put out their own report in November, concluding that that glyphosate is “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic hazard to humans.”
France, The Netherlands, Sweden and Italy have raised concerns about the herbicide and have pushed against relicensing.
French Minister of Ecology Ségolène Royal urges for an outright ban on glyphosate herbicides across the EU, basing the decision over the IARC's findings.
Similarly, The Guardian quoted Swedish environment minister Åsa Romson saying, “We won’t take risks with glyphosate and we don’t think that the analysis done so far is good enough. We will propose that no decision is taken until further analysis has been done and the EFSA scientists have been more transparent about their considerations.”
Bad news for #Monsanto as #Italy joins other EU countries opposing #glyphosate licensing renewal https://t.co/7OKuNxUPOI— Global Justice Now (@Global Justice Now)1457348076.0
"We are raising concerns because our citizens are raising concerns," Romson added. "They want to feel safe and secure with food and production in our society.”
The Netherlands also called for a postponement of the EU-wide decision with Marcel van Beusekom, a spokesman for the Netherlands agriculture ministry, commenting, “If there is no possibility to postpone the vote, then we will vote against the proposal.”
Commission officials told The Guardian that a vote would not go ahead if support for relicensing continued to erode.
“If we see that many states want to think it over or there is a growing [opposition], if there is not a qualified majority, I doubt that it will be put to a vote,” one official said. “The ball is in the member states’ court.”
Photos from today's action on #glyphosate Background: https://t.co/vE6LJ33Itj https://t.co/e1cpyjh5o4— CEO (@CEO)1457352209.0
Licensing for glyphosate ends in June and the European Commission is proposing to grant the herbicide a new 15-year lease.
This move by France and their EU partners is a major blow to Monsanto and other large pesticide companies "which rely on glyphosate-based herbicides for a large percentage of their global profits," Sustainable Pulse wrote.
Indeed, as EcoWatch reported last month, glyphosate is now the “most widely applied pesticide worldwide.” The paper, Trends in glyphosate herbicide use in the United States and globally, revealed that since 1974, when Roundup was first commercially sold, more than 1.6 billion kilograms (or 3.5 billion pounds) of glyphosate has been used in the U.S., making up 19 percent of the 8.6 billion kilograms (or 18.9 billion pounds) of glyphosate used around the world.
2.6 Billion Pounds of Monsanto’s Glyphosate Sprayed on U.S. Farmland in Past Two Decades http://t.co/VPEQFx6QTF @ewg http://t.co/OmHwIFWmnJ— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1444660363.0
The substance is so widely used that it is commonly found in British bread, German beer and the urine of people in 18 countries across Europe, The Guardian said, adding that the chemical is banned or restricted in large parts of Europe because of alleged links to health problems such as birth defects, kidney failure, celiac disease, colitis and autism.
The contradictory conclusions from THE IARC and EFSA regarding the potential carcinogenicity of glyphosate spurred 96 prominent scientists from 25 countries to write a letter in strong opposition to the EFSA report.
In addition, nearly 1.5 million people petitioning the EU’s health commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, for a ban on the substance, Sustainable Pulse reported.
According to The Guardian, "an EFSA panel based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe enough for a new lease of life on six industry-funded studies that have not been fully published."
This video from the Corporate Europe Observatory, a non-profit corporate lobbying research group, alleges that Big Food corporations and biotech companies, including Monsanto, might have intimate ties with EFSA:
Environmental group Greenpeace has spoken out against the potential relicensing of glyphosate in Europe.
“EU governments seem more concerned about maintaining today’s destructive agricultural practices than protecting the health of people and the environment," Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said in a statement. "For a long time, glyphosate was thought to be safe. Now more and more scientific evidence tells us that it's a serious threat to our health and the environment. Ignoring this evidence for another 15 years will cost us dearly. Europe needs an exit strategy from chemical pesticides and a move towards ecological farming."
Global food advocacy nonprofit Slow Food is also demanding European governments reject the re-approval of glyphosate.
“There’s no room for compromise,” Carlo Petrini, Slow Food International president, said in a statement. “We have to decide whether the future of food is to be in the hands of the chemical industry with its promises to feed the planet—which, judging from the hundreds of thousands of tons of glyphosate sold every year, is a guise for evident economic interests—or of a policy that has the health of consumers and environmental welfare at heart.”
Monsanto is facing slumping profits and a slew of lawsuits alleging that exposure to glyphosate causes cancer. The St. Louis-based biotech giant maintains the safety of their flagship product and the chemical, and has demanded the World Health Organization retract their report.
Coffee Farmers Sue #Monsanto for Hiding Cancer-Causing Impact of #Glyphosate https://t.co/f5ai6JJ8ZW @nongmoreport https://t.co/H4ExHXB0NY— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1455049517.0
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After decades on the political periphery, the climate movement is entering the mainstream in 2020, with young leaders at the fore. The Sunrise Movement now includes more than 400 local groups educating and advocating for political action on climate change. Countless students around the world have clearly communicated what's at stake for their futures, notably Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who just finished her yearlong school strike for climate. Youth activists have been praised for their flexible, big-picture thinking and ability to harness social media to deliver political wins, as Sunrise recently did for U.S. Sen. Ed Markey's primary campaign. They necessarily challenge the status quo.
A Convergence of Issues<p>The unequal impacts of a changing climate have become extremely clear in 2020, so equity has come to the fore of climate conversations in every corner of the country. A global deadly pandemic continues to rage out of control in the U.S., heat waves are setting new temperature records, wildfires are scorching American Western states, and the hurricane season has already made it to the end of the alphabet for naming storms. In all cases, low-income, Black, Latinx, and Indigenous communities are bearing a disproportionate amount of the impacts.</p><p>"Today, the scab is off, the ugly reality of injustice is hitting us up close and personal, made more realistic by this COVID pandemic," Bullard says.</p><p>This year the decidedly youthful focus on intersectionality is a big part of what defines the transformation of the climate movement. Climate is not just an environmental issue, according to youth activists. It's also a racial justice issue, an economic issue, and an access-to-health care issue.</p><p>"Environmental justice is really seeing the intersection of these issues," says Alex Rodriguez, a community organizer with the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which aims to make environmental issues a priority for the state's elected leaders. The group is now focusing their efforts on the coming election and recently succeeded in persuading the state to allow absentee voting in November. "We want people to be safe when casting their vote," says Rodriguez, 26, whose fellow grassroots committee members range from age 16 to 60.</p><p>Rodriguez, who also serves on the equity and environmental justice working group for the Governor's Council on Climate Change, says, "We see our programmatic work as a way to help lawmakers see what they can do to improve the dignity of those suffering from environmental racism, systematic racism, and economic oppression."</p><p>Seeing the overlap and bringing these issues together is a strength that Bullard says was missing from the civil rights organizing he was involved with in the 1960s. He says 2020 is unique in many ways.</p><p>"The number of marchers is unprecedented, from different economic, ethnic, and racial groups—an awakening unlike any that I've seen on this Earth in over 70 years," Bullard says. "Today, the different movements are converging, and I think that convergence makes for greater potential for success."</p>
Young and Old<p>But young people are one essential demographic among many when it comes to climate action. With all that's on the line for climate in the coming elections, up and down the ballot, collaboration becomes key. Bullard says previous generations of climate activists can now play the critical role of mentoring, assisting, and supporting. Standing with, not in front of, youth.</p><p>"Youth are leading us and taking on frontline activity," says Jayce Chiblow, the community engagement lead for Indigenous Climate Action, a Canadian organization that works for Indigenous-led climate justice solutions. But in doing so, she says many young Indigenous activists are experiencing the trauma of violence, getting arrested, and being taken away from their land. "All of our older people are supporting those youth: Elders, mentors, people trained in nonviolent action," Chiblow says. "The youth aren't alone."</p><p>That support can go a long way. "There's a lot of anger and a lot of fear, and that's understandable," says Wazer of Sunrise Connecticut. "I definitely feel those things, too, just considering the ways that our future has been threatened and kind of trashed by older generations."</p><p>Under the Trump administration, the number of environmental rollbacks alone can be disheartening, not to mention new <a href="https://www.yesmagazine.org/video/arctic-national-wildlife-refuge/" target="_blank">drilling permits in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge going up for auction</a>.</p><p>Wazer is frank about the risks of burnout, depression, and anxiety from the stress of it all, but draws inspiration from the example of the late U.S. representative and lifelong civil rights activist John Lewis. "That forgiveness and that ability to keep fighting and stay motivated … I think that that is something really powerful to learn from older generations."</p><p>An intergenerational approach can leverage the individual strengths of youth and older people in all their diversity.</p><p>"The elders hold our stories," says Chiblow, who is Anishinaabe from Garden River First Nation, Ontario. Those stories include lived experiences, culture, history, and generations of adapting to changes in climate. Such collective experience continues to inform Indigenous knowledge and connections to the land, as well as how people manage and govern themselves in relation to it. This knowledge is passed on through relationship-building and storytelling.</p><p>"Every time you hear that story, you're at a different point in your life, and you'll pick up something else … something new," Chiblow says.</p><p>Changes in perspectives that come with time and experience are among the reasons why intergenerational learning and coalitions are critical to the climate movement. To combine that living and learning is to expand the reach and meaning of the message exponentially. As part of her research for her master's degree, Chiblow brought together youth, community leaders, and knowledge keepers in her community to workshop climate action. "Those relationships are vital to keep that movement going," Chiblow says.</p>
The Unique Value Proposition of Elders<p>Older activists bring unique strengths to the table, according to gerontologist Mick Smyer, who designs strategies to move people from anxiety to action on climate. He calls himself "the aging whisperer to climate groups" and "the climate whisperer to aging groups." He is quick to point out that the learning can go in both directions.</p><p>"I think older adults are untapped resources," Smyer says. "Older adults bring several resources, one of which is their circles of influence. Just by virtue of having lived longer, older adults are going to have denser and richer networks," Smyer says. "The second is, when it comes to voting and civic engagement, older adults, as an age group, outperform all other age groups."</p><p>He uses the 2016 presidential election to illustrate his point: "The older age groups, 70% of them voted. Nobody [else] came close." He is cautious about making sweeping statements about older people broadly, but he says that ageism is alive and well. And that can deter the kind of collaboration that would beget necessary progress on climate action.</p><p>As the twin global patterns of an aging population and a changing climate continue arm in arm, Smyer says a good place for starting this work is within one's family.</p><p>"We each have that power to use in our circles of influence, particularly in our families, and we don't realize it," Smyer says. Whether it's via Zoom or FaceTime or a phone call or a chat in the living room, Smyer says, family members have a superpower: They will listen to each other, and they'll at least start the conversation.</p><p> "Intergenerational collaboration around climate issues, particularly in this election season, starts at home, and then goes to the polling booth," he says.</p>
Speaking the Same Language<p>As an individual's network of family, friends, and connections becomes wider and more diverse, the more work will need to be done to have them all working toward the same goals. That is equally true for the climate movement at large.</p><p>In bridging the gaps among baby boomers, Gen Xers, and millennials, Bullard says, "Each generation will have some idiosyncrasy and uniqueness about it that another generation will not understand or comprehend."</p><p>If everybody in a group or institution is similar, then there's no need to explain a lot, Bullard says. There's usually a fair amount of shared knowledge and values. But the more diverse that group gets, in age, race, gender, or culture, he says, the greater the potential for making mistakes, stepping on people's culture, and causing pain. But the potential for learning also increases exponentially.</p><p>Chiblow says successful collaboration comes down to being able to speak in shared concepts. The term "justice," for example, is an English word that's hard to translate into the Anishinaabe language. Chiblow says that because her community sees itself as belonging to the land, and being part of the land, the Anishinaabe worldview, and therefore their understanding of justice, is necessarily more holistic than the mainstream.</p><p>"Indigenous people have been feeling [the effects of climate change] for so long," Chiblow says. Today, as wildfires rage across the West, the mantra of "I can't breathe" is being driven home on a grand scale. For better and worse, climate justice is finally a front-page story.</p><p>"It's affecting the broader society," Chiblow says. "We're finally at the turning point where we could start to make real change because … people are really starting to feel that urgency."</p><p>The urgency will be tantamount in the coming election. A lot is at stake, says Chiblow: "Incentives, funding, all-around agreement, and also the way we're able to manage our lands and ourselves as people."</p><p>Bullard, too, is insistent on urgency. "This election is one of the most important elections of a generation, because there's so many things at stake," he says. "We can't wait another 40 years on climate. We don't have that much time. We don't have 40 years to get justice."</p><p>Issues of climate justice will be on the ballot in state and local elections this fall, such as Nevada's proposed renewable energy standards and Louisiana's proposed disaster funding. And the topic has finally made it onto the national stage. Joe Biden called Trump a "climate arsonist" for not acting on or even admitting that the wildfires in California are clearly climate-related. The frequency and intensity of such disasters is indisputable.</p><p>"Hurricanes don't swerve to avoid red states or blue states. Wildfires don't skip towns that voted a certain way," Biden <a href="https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/biden-address-west-coast-fires-confront-growing-threat/story?id=73000218" target="_blank">said in a speech on Sept. 14</a>. "The impacts of climate change don't pick and choose. That's because it's not a partisan phenomenon."</p><p>In many ways, the results of the upcoming elections will reflect the ways youth activists and older activists are able come to a common understanding of what climate justice means and what they want the future world to look like. </p><p>"There's a lot of knowledge built up in experience, and there's a lot of energy that's stored in young people," Bullard says. "When you put those two together, you have … an excellent recipe for potential success."</p>
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