by Jake Johnson
Despite India's law barring genetically modified (GM) foods from being produced or sold in the country without government approval, a study by the New Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) found that thanks to lax enforcement, a deeply flawed labeling system and corporate deception, Indian supermarkets are inundated with GM foods.
After conducting tests on "domestically produced and imported edible oils, processed and packaged foods, and infant foods," CSE researchers found that 32 percent of the samples tested contained genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and 80 percent of the GMO-positive foods were imported from the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
"Most GM foods in the study did not disclose GM on their labels and 15 percent made false claims saying they were GM-free," CSE Director General Sunita Narain said in a statement.
CSE's results expose "large-scale illegal presence and sale of genetically modified (GM) processed foods in the country," researchers wrote in a summary of their findings.
GM contamination was found in infant food, sold for children with medical ailments, including allergies. Two products by Abbott Laboratories, the American healthcare company, were found to be GM-positive—one was for lactose-intolerant infants and the other was a hypoallergenic (for minimizing the possibility of an allergic reaction). Neither product has any label warning parents that this food has GM ingredients.
"We had been hearing about the presence of illegal GM food in India, and decided to do a reality check by testing processed foods," CSE deputy director general Chandra Bhushan said. "We were shocked to know the scale in which GM foods have penetrated the Indian market. The regulatory authorities are to blame here."
As noted author and food sovereignty activist Vandana Shiva observed in a recent column, the labeling system established by the Food Safety and Standards Authority's (FSSAI)—the body responsible for food regulation and safety in India—was flawed from the start.
"The FSSAI rules are undemocratic because the FSSAI is advised by the same corporations that have spread unhealthy food across the industrial world, and now want to impose it on India—Coke, Pepsi and Nestle," Shiva said. "This translates into corporate food fascism."
"Indians deserve to grow, produce, distribute good food for all, instead of bad food and fake food imposed by the unscientific, undemocratic, anti-national labeling rules for the profits of the GMO and junk food industry at the cost of people's health and our national food and health sovereignty," she said.
In an another legal blow to Monsanto, India's Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Delhi High Court's ruling that the seed giant cannot claim patents for Bollgard and Bollgard II, its genetically modified cotton seeds, in the country.
Monsanto's chief technology officer Robert Fraley, who just announced that he and other top executives are stepping down from the company after Bayer AG's multi-billion dollar takeover closes, lamented the news.
Fraley tweeted, "Having personally helped to launch Bollgard cotton in India & knowing how it has benefited farmers ... it's sad to see the country go down an anti-science/anti-IP/anti-innovation path..."
Having personally helped to launch Bollgard cotton in India & knowing how it has benefited farmers...it’s sad to se… https://t.co/ouM498b8gu— Robb Fraley (@Robb Fraley)1525707504.0
Monsanto first introduced its GM-technology in India in 1995. Today, more than 90 percent of the country's cotton crop is genetically modified. These crops have been inserted with a pest-resistant toxin called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.
Citing India's Patents Act of 1970, the Delhi High Court ruled last month that plant varieties and seeds cannot be patented, thereby rejecting Monsanto's attempt to block its Indian licensee, Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd., from selling the seeds.
Because of the ruling, Monsanto's claims against Nuziveedu for unpaid royalties have been waived, as its patents are now invalid under Indian law. Royalties will now be decided by the government.
Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva, who is known for her fierce activism against corporate patents on seeds, called the top court's move a "major victory" that opens the door "to make Monsanto pay for trapping farmers in debt by extracting illegal royalties on BT cotton."
She also said in a video Monday in front of the Supreme Court, "Our sovereignty is protected, our laws are protected. Our ability to write laws in the public interest [and] for the rights of farmers through the constitution are protected."
"The Earth will win. Seed will win. Monsanto will lose," Shiva added.
A Monsanto India spokesman told Reuters the case will be submitted for an expedited preliminary hearing on July 18.
"We remain confident on the merits of the case. India has been issuing patents on man-made biotech products for more than 15 years, as is done widely across the globe," the spokesman said.
Report: Monsanto May Leave India After Losing GMO Cotton Patent https://t.co/3hFyCv2n9X #Monsanto @GMWatch… https://t.co/QiuhspBXVQ— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1523640362.0
Each product featured here has been independently selected by the writer. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
The bright patterns and recognizable designs of Waterlust's activewear aren't just for show. In fact, they're meant to promote the conversation around sustainability and give back to the ocean science and conservation community.
Each design is paired with a research lab, nonprofit, or education organization that has high intellectual merit and the potential to move the needle in its respective field. For each product sold, Waterlust donates 10% of profits to these conservation partners.
Eye-Catching Designs Made from Recycled Plastic Bottles
waterlust.com / @abamabam
The company sells a range of eco-friendly items like leggings, rash guards, and board shorts that are made using recycled post-consumer plastic bottles. There are currently 16 causes represented by distinct marine-life patterns, from whale shark research and invasive lionfish removal to sockeye salmon monitoring and abalone restoration.
One such organization is Get Inspired, a nonprofit that specializes in ocean restoration and environmental education. Get Inspired founder, marine biologist Nancy Caruso, says supporting on-the-ground efforts is one thing that sets Waterlust apart, like their apparel line that supports Get Inspired abalone restoration programs.
"All of us [conservation partners] are doing something," Caruso said. "We're not putting up exhibits and talking about it — although that is important — we're in the field."
Waterlust not only helps its conservation partners financially so they can continue their important work. It also helps them get the word out about what they're doing, whether that's through social media spotlights, photo and video projects, or the informative note card that comes with each piece of apparel.
"They're doing their part for sure, pushing the information out across all of their channels, and I think that's what makes them so interesting," Caruso said.
And then there are the clothes, which speak for themselves.
Advocate Apparel to Start Conversations About Conservation
waterlust.com / @oceanraysphotography
Waterlust's concept of "advocate apparel" encourages people to see getting dressed every day as an opportunity to not only express their individuality and style, but also to advance the conversation around marine science. By infusing science into clothing, people can visually represent species and ecosystems in need of advocacy — something that, more often than not, leads to a teaching moment.
"When people wear Waterlust gear, it's just a matter of time before somebody asks them about the bright, funky designs," said Waterlust's CEO, Patrick Rynne. "That moment is incredibly special, because it creates an intimate opportunity for the wearer to share what they've learned with another."
The idea for the company came to Rynne when he was a Ph.D. student in marine science.
"I was surrounded by incredible people that were discovering fascinating things but noticed that often their work wasn't reaching the general public in creative and engaging ways," he said. "That seemed like a missed opportunity with big implications."
Waterlust initially focused on conventional media, like film and photography, to promote ocean science, but the team quickly realized engagement on social media didn't translate to action or even knowledge sharing offscreen.
Rynne also saw the "in one ear, out the other" issue in the classroom — if students didn't repeatedly engage with the topics they learned, they'd quickly forget them.
"We decided that if we truly wanted to achieve our goal of bringing science into people's lives and have it stick, it would need to be through a process that is frequently repeated, fun, and functional," Rynne said. "That's when we thought about clothing."
Support Marine Research and Sustainability in Style
To date, Waterlust has sold tens of thousands of pieces of apparel in over 100 countries, and the interactions its products have sparked have had clear implications for furthering science communication.
For Caruso alone, it's led to opportunities to share her abalone restoration methods with communities far and wide.
"It moves my small little world of what I'm doing here in Orange County, California, across the entire globe," she said. "That's one of the beautiful things about our partnership."
Check out all of the different eco-conscious apparel options available from Waterlust to help promote ocean conservation.
Melissa Smith is an avid writer, scuba diver, backpacker, and all-around outdoor enthusiast. She graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in journalism and sustainable studies. Before joining EcoWatch, Melissa worked as the managing editor of Scuba Diving magazine and the communications manager of The Ocean Agency, a non-profit that's featured in the Emmy award-winning documentary Chasing Coral.
By Elliott Brennan
Food Tank has collected 20 of the best new books in food and agriculture to celebrate spring. Our favorite reads this season cover critical topics including the paradox of obesity and malnutrition, building strong communities through socially-conscious food systems and the essential link between food and health.
Travel from Italy to Puerto Rico and Australia and learn how people all over the world grow, harvest, sell and eat food—and why it's important to the future of this planet. Then, bring your new knowledge about food to the kitchen with various cookbooks and guides that will inspire environmentally-conscious, healthy and creative cooking.
The days are getting longer and the air is getting warmer, so take advantage of the weather for reading outside and dig into the season's best reads.
1. Bread is Gold by Massimo Bottura
Michelin-Star Chef Massimo Bottura's new cookbook takes a holistic look at food waste, focused on creating extraordinary meals from ordinary and sometimes overlooked ingredients. Committed to helping others eat and live well, Bottura's cookbook presents over 150 recipes from 45 of the world's top chefs creating inspiring dishes from everyday ingredients, encouraging readers to reduce home food waste.
2. Eat a Little Better: Great Flavor, Good Health, Better World by Sam Kass
In his new book, Sam Kass, the former White House Chef for the Obamas and the senior white house policy advisor for nutrition, shares his philosophy on food as well as practical solutions for making decisions in the kitchen that are good for nutritional health and the health of the environment. From shopping and organizing your kitchen, to cooking and reducing waste, Kass' book provides a wealth of knowledge for the dedicated home cook and 90 simple recipes from his time cooking for the president.
3. The Faces of Local Food: Celebrating the People Who Feed Us, by Charlotte Caldwell
In her latest book, Charlotte Caldwell provides readers with an intimate look into the lives of local producers supporting the food system. Through a collection of personal vignettes, readers can step out of the grocery store and into the shoes of the fishers, farmers, ranchers, chefs and many other food system contributors, and hear their stories. The Faces of Local Food paints a vivid picture of the meaningful contributors to the food system, and is a powerful reminder of the power of food to inform, transform and bring people together.
4. Food from the Radical Center: Healing Our Land and Communities by Gary Paul Nabhan, Forthcoming September 2018
Food from the Radical Center is a message of hope in the face of very challenging political and economic realities in the U.S. Nabhan presents food production as a unique opportunity to unite estranged communities divided by political ideologies. Through stories from around the country, Nabhan illustrates his belief that "the restoration of land and rare species has provided—dollar for dollar—one of the best returns on investment of any conservation initiative."
5. Food Is the Solution: What to Eat to Save the World by Matthew Prescott
Prescott's cookbook features an eclectic collection of infographics, photographs, essays and over 80 recipes that help protect the planet. Featuring original essays from James Cameron, Jesse Eisenberg, Chef José Andrés and many more, this book is full of recipes and ideas that are good to eat and good for the earth.
6. The Fruit Forager's Companion by Sara Bir, Forthcoming May 25, 2018
The Fruit Forager's Companion is a how-to-guide covering foraging, gathering and preservation techniques. Seasoned chef, forager and gardener Sarah Bir believes foraging is a "small act of civil disobedience" and encourages readers to look outside their front door to find unexpected ingredients for over 100 recipes, spanning from familiar fruits to less known treasures.
7. Fruitful Labor: Deep Ecology of a Small Farm by Mike Madison
Dive into the life of Mike Madison on his small farm in the Sacramento Valley of California. Experienced farmers and eaters alike will relate to Madison's story as he describes the ecology of his land, the agroecological challenges he faces and his personal understanding of sustainability. This book is a wonderful glimpse at local food production within the complexity of the larger food system.
8. How to Feed the World by Jessica Eise (editor) and Ken Foster (editor)
Eise and Foster tackle the pressing question of how to feed the 10 billion people projected to be living on the earth by 2050. Bringing together experts from various sectors of the global food system, How to Feed the World provides a foundational look at the modern food system, diving deep into the issues surrounding food and agriculture and presenting information in these complex questions in a way accessible for all readers. The book includes chapters on land use, climate change, trade policy, food loss and waste, nutritional health and social equity.
9. Knowing Where It Comes From: Labeling Traditional Foods to Compete in a Global Market by Fabio Parasecoli
Parasecoli's book tells the story behind the labels on food products from around the world. Knowing Where It Comes From provides a comparative analysis of food labeling systems giving a unique look at food production in different countries, including Italy, France, Costa Rica and Thailand. Parasecoli discusses how these systems affect consumers and producers and how cultural heritage and indigenous knowledge are integrated into food systems through regulatory and judicial processes as well as through activism.interventions by activists.
10. The Lost Crops Of Africa by National Research Council (National Academies Press)
The Lost Crops of Africa is composed of three volumes focused on grains, vegetables and fruits. Each volume explores African indigenous crops seemingly forgotten in today's modern era such fonio, tef, amaranth and carissa. Commonly overlooked by scientist, politicians and policymakers, this set delves into the potential of forgotten foods as cash crops and a way to build climate resilience and food security for communities in Africa.
11. The New Farm: Our Ten Years on the Front Lines of the Good Food Revolution by Brent Preston
In this personal memoir of farming and contemporary living, Preston tells his family's story of leaving behind their city life and careers as human rights activists to start an organic farm in rural Ontario. The book covers their decade-long journey, describing their path to living on a small sustainable farm that is healing the land, supporting their family and nourishing their community. As an active member in the Good Food Revolution, Preston demonstrates what it takes to change the food system through hard work and perseverance.
12. A New Global Agenda: Priorities, Practices, & Pathways of the International Community by Diana Ayton-Shenker (editor)
A continuation of the annual series A Global Agenda: Issues Before the U.N., this book provides a detailed overview of the cross-sectoral ideas and multi-stakeholder partnerships connected to the mission of the UN. Readers gain a deeper understanding of the evolution of international policy, academia, businesses and civil societies as a result of United Nation's work.
13. No One Eats Alone: Food as a Social Enterprise by Michael S. Carolan
In a society increasingly dining alone, whether at work or in the car, the connections and community ties inherent in breaking bread together are eroding. Carolan dives into the importance of being food citizens and caring about the welfare of the people growing, harvesting and producing food. He also explores the impact of food on global health, regardless of economic class or race. No One Eats Alone teaches the importance of community and affirms that "real change only happens when we start acting like citizens first and consumers second."
14. Nourished Planet: Sustainability in the Global Food System by Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition and Danielle Nierenberg (editor) Forthcoming in June 2018.
Drawing on the diverse experiences and knowledge of renowned international experts, Nourished Planet charters a map for growing and consuming food sustainably now and in the future. Featuring essays and interviews from global food sustainability leaders such as Hans Herren, Vandana Shiva, Alexander Mueller and Pavan Suhkdev, among many others, Nourished Planet offers a global plan for food for sustainable growth, health, culture and most importantly, for all.
Going beyond honey production, Embry's book takes a look at the diverse variety of bee species native to North America. Our Native Bees offers a offers a wide-ranging, entertaining survey of various bee species that function at the center of the food system, and play a fundamental role in the natural ecosystem through their contribution as pollinators. Embry presents a wealth of stories and a cast of characters to bring his story to life.
16. A Precautionary Tale: How One Small Town Banned Pesticides, Preserved Its Food Heritage, and Inspired a Movement by Philip Ackerman-Liest
A Precautionary Tale tells the story of the people of Mals, Italy, in their quest to protect their lands and agricultural heritage against the influx of pesticide use by big agriculture. Ackerman-Liest highlights the power of citizen science and community action in this town's dedication to food, health and culture; which allowed them to ban pesticides through a referendum vote—the first community in the world to do so—providing a road map for others to follow.
Gabriel's book puts forward the argument for a transformative system of agriculture based on an old idea: the integration of forest, cattle and grazing land in one space. By combining these separate operations together, the silvopasture system promises benefits for the farmer and society through ecological regeneration. Silvopasture provides a comprehensive background on this systems approach to farming as well as engaging examples of its use across the U.S.
We Fed an Island takes readers along with a group of chefs who fed hundreds of thousands of Puerto Rican people in the devastating wake of Hurricane Maria. Andrés' story highlights his efforts to address the humanitarian crisis through the power of food, and emphasizes the impact of community kitchens to activate change and rebuild hope in the midst of disasters. A portion of the profits from the book will be donated to the Chef Relief Network of World Central Kitchen.
19. What's Making Our Children Sick?: How Industrial Food Is Causing an Epidemic of Chronic Illness, and What Parents (and Doctors) Can Do About It by Michelle Perro and Vincanne Adams
Veteran pediatrician Dr. Michelle Perro and medical anthropologist Dr. Vincanne Adamstake a hard look at the links between genetically modified foods, glyphosate, gut health and the increasing number of children suffering from chronic health disorders such as gastrointestinal dysfunction and Autism Spectrum Disorder. What's Making Our Children Sick? explores the ability to improving children's health through food and offers insight to the current medical resources available to help heal affected children.
Wild-plant expert and forager, Pascal Baudar, guides fermentation fans, home brewers and adventurous eaters interested in concocting unique drinks from herbs, wild plants and other natural materials. Going beyond the typical ingredients of barley, hops and yeast, this book offers an expert look at using local terroir to create country wines, natural sodas, meads and regional drinks like Russian kvass. This guide not only covers the practical aspects of wildcraft brewing, but digs down into the history and philosophy of these traditional drinks, leaving readers with the knowledge to create their own brews using their local ingredients.
Elliott Brennan is a farmer and a Research & Writing Fellow at Food Tank. His research interests include global food security and the role of agriculture in economic development. He has a B.A. in English from Yale University.
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By Eva Perroni
Film is an incredible tool for effecting change in the food system with its unique ability to educate, inspire and grow the movement for sustainable food and farming. Film can transport viewers to unseen territories, from Colombian coffee-growing regions to the bottom of the ocean, and unveil the stories, struggles and triumphs of those working in the hidden fabric of the food system.
Powerful films can help spark worldwide awareness and debate on some of the most pressing food and agriculture issues, as well as reinforce and reenergize environmental and sustainability activism efforts. Food Tank has curated a list of 18 recent food films that inspire, outrage and mobilize.
1. A Place at the Table
A Place at the Table investigates the issue of hunger in the U.S. and how it affects nearly 50 million American lives. The film follows the stories of three people suffering from food insecurity: Barbie, a single Philadelphia mother, Rosie, a Colorado fifth-grader and Tremonica, a Mississippi second-grader with several health problems. With appearances by Jeff Bridges, Raj Patel, chef Tom Colicchio and many other food activists, the film demonstrates how the problem of hunger can be solved once and for all if the American public and government mobilize to make healthy food available and affordable for all citizens.
A film two years in the making, Blue travels across Indonesia, the Philippines, Hawaii and Australia to capture stand-out ocean and marine life stories. Featuring passionate advocates for ocean preservation, Blue explores subjects such as industrial-scale fishing, marine habitat destruction and species loss, and the world's plastic pollution problem, diving deep into the issues that are driving mass ocean change around the globe. A combination of investigative journalism, underwater cinematography and public awareness campaign, Blue both documents and encourages a global movement to save the world's oceans.
Bugs follows chefs and researchers Josh Evans, Ben Reade and Roberto Flore from the Nordic Food Lab around the world as they explore how to forage, farm, cook and taste insects. Film director Andreas Johnsen traces their journey across Europe, Australia, Mexico, Kenya, Japan and beyond to learn from some of the two billion people who eat insects worldwide. Throughout their experiences and conversations in the field, the lab, at farm visits and international conferences, the team explore the possibilities and challenges for scaling-up insect production.
Focusing on the social and cultural components of the coffee supply chain, Caffeinated takes viewers on a journey from the farmers responsible for growing a perfect bean to the roasters and baristas responsible for brewing a perfect cup. Working with one of the foremost green coffee buyers in the world, Geoff Watts, filmmakers Hanh Nguyen and Vishal Solanki travel to leading coffee producing countries and America's most populous coffee-drinking cities, interviewing farmers, researchers and connoisseurs alike. Caffeinated reveals that farmers are the lynchpin to the more than 1 billion cups of coffee enjoyed each day and affirms the necessity for sustainably produced coffee beans.
Dolores tells the story of lifetime activist Dolores Huerta, who worked alongside Cesar Chavez for better working conditions for Latino farmworkers and women's rights. Directed by Peter Bratt, the documentary chronicles Huerta's time with the United Farm Workers union—which she co-founded with Chavez in the 1960s—and the racial and economic injustices she experienced in California's agricultural Central Valley. It also captures Huerta's key achievements, including her central involvement in a national grape boycott and the historic farmworkers march to Sacramento in 1966, as well as receiving The Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama in 2012.
Farmland takes an intimate look at the lives of six young American farmers and ranchers, all of whom are under the age of 30 and responsible for running their farming business. Director James Moll travels across the U.S. to profile those who have not only carried on their family's profession for generations but are also at the forefront of a new era in American agriculture. The documentary, made with the support of the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, aims to tell the farmers' side of the agriculture production story, detailing the high-risks and high-rewards inherent in getting food from farm to fork.
7. Fed Up
Narrated by Katie Couric, Fed Up is an American documentary film focusing on the causes of obesity in the U.S., and the government's role in both its prevention and spread. The film traces the history of processed foods, the dangerous and increasing levels of sugar and sweeteners that have been added to them over time, and their contribution to childhood obesity and diet-related disease. It also follows the rise of the major companies and players in the sugar industry, pointing to the lobbying power of Big Sugar in blocking and influencing policies and regulations for sweetened food and drinks.
8. Home Flavored
Written and performed by young poet Monica Mendoza, this short film is a powerful and poignant portrait of how soda and snack food companies impact the lives of Latino families in the U.S. A fusion of slam poetry, cultural anthropology and advocacy, Home Flavored hopes to spark a conversation about the epidemic of obesity and diet-related disease. The film won Real Food Media's 2016 Food and Farming Short Film Competition.
9. In Our Hands
From Black Bark Films and the United Kingdom's Landworkers Alliance, In Our Hands documents the growing movement of farmers and food workers who are creating alternate, sustainable and healthy models for food production and distribution in the UK. The documentary explores the quiet revolution of farmers working to build a food system that will bring health back to the soil, a fair wage to the farmer and more nutritious food for all. Designed to be an open source tool and resource for farmers and activists, In Our Hands aims to inspire and educate about the movement for a fair and sustainable food system.
10. Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent
Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent explores the life and career of Jeremiah Tower, one of America's first celebrity chef-restaurateurs. The film follows Tower's career from its start at the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1972, to the launch of his own Stars Restaurant in San Francisco, one of America's top-grossing U.S. restaurants. Featuring interviews by Anthony Bourdain, Ruth Reichl and Martha Stewart, this documentary highlights the controversy, influence, and rise and fall of one of the leading figures in American gastronomy.
11. Kale vs. Cow: The Case for Better Meat
In Kale vs. Cow (forthcoming), podcast and blog author of Sustainable Dish, Diana Rodgers, questions whether a healthy, sustainable and conscientious food system can exist without animals. Focusing specifically on beef production and consumption, this documentary probes the fundamental moral, environmental and nutritional quandaries humans face in raising and eating animals. Kale vs. Cow focuses on personal stories of people who are involved in better meat production while demonstrating that naturally produced meat can be part of a healthy, sustainable and ethical diet.
12. Kiss the Ground
Kiss the Ground (forthcoming 2018) delves into the lives and work of passionate scientists, farmers, ranchers, chefs, activists and policymakers working to save the world's soils and drive a global movement towards a regenerative agriculture. The documentary explores how soil, when properly cared for, has the potential to sequester carbon dioxide and help mitigate against climate change. Kiss the Ground empowers people to choose a diet that not only delivers better health and wellness but also helps rebuild one of the world's most precious resources—soil.
13. Life in Syntropy
Made especially to be presented at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, this short film highlights the benefits of a regenerative farming system called Syntropic Agriculture. Developed by farmer and researcher, Ernst Gotsch, Syntropic Agriculture mimics the natural regeneration of forests, integrating food production with soil recovery techniques. Life in Syntropy documents the range of ecological and agricultural possibilities of syntropic farming, showcasing successful examples from Brazil.
14. Peter and the Farm
A portrait of 68-year-old Vermont organic farmer, Peter Dunning, Peter and the Farm reveals the trials and tribulations of devoting one's life to farming. Showcasing Dunning's picturesque hilltop farm in Vermont, the film quickly captures Dunning's external and internal struggles of running a 187-acre farm on his own. Documenting Dunning's battle with alcoholism, depression and the loss of most of his family and friends, Peter and the Farm presents the lived-in reality of organic farming from a darker, yet insightful angle.
15. Plant This Movie
Narrated by Daryl Hannah, Plant This Movie explores the evolution and growing impact of urban farming around the world, including the success in Havana, Cuba to projects in Shanghai, Calcutta, Addis Ababa, London and Lima. In the U.S., the film features innovative projects in New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Berkeley and Portland, including the largest rooftop garden in the world and other local efforts such as student-run CSAs. Featuring leading urban farming advocates, Plant This Movie affirms that healthier, locally grown food, can be produced almost anywhere.
16. SEED: The Untold Story
SEED: The Untold Story follows passionate seed savers and activists protecting the world's 12,000 year-old agricultural legacy. The film charts a David and Goliath battle as seed libraries, community gardens and a new generation of young farmers come up against the large, corporate chemical companies that now control the majority of the world's seeds. Featuring a wide range of interviews with prominent environmentalists and researchers, such as Vandana Shiva, Jane Goodall and Raj Patel, as well small-scale farmers indigenous communities from across the globe, SEED educates audiences about the importance of seed biodiversity for the future of the world's food supply.
Sustainable investigates the social, economic and environmental issues of America's food and agriculture system and what must be done to sustain it for future generations. Spanning the country, the film draws on recommendations from farmers, restaurateurs and policymakers detailing how to move away from industrial and factory farming and find better, more sustainable ways to produce and source food. "Sustainable" was awarded the 2016 Accolade Global Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Achievement and has screened at more than 20 film festivals around the world.
18. WASTED! The Story of Food Waste
From chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain, WASTED! The Story of Food Waste explores both the problem of food waste in the U.S. and possible solutions from around the globe. The documentary features renowned chefs and food leaders, including Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura and Dr. Judith Rodin, who demonstrate potential ways to help solve the food waste problem, as well as policy approaches from countries such as France, Italy and South Korea, that aim to curb food waste. Through telling the story behind food waste, "WASTED!" aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle and eat food.
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By Paul Brown
The food industry and big agricultural concerns are driving climate change and at the same time threatening to undermine efforts to feed the world's growing population, according to GRAIN, an organization that supports small farmers.
Particularly singled out for criticism are the large chemical fertilizer producers that have gained access to the United Nations talks on climate change. GRAIN accuses them of behaving like the fossil fuel companies did in the 1990s, pushing false information in the hope of delaying real action on climate change.
The evidence is detailed in a book, The Great Climate Robbery: How the food system drives climate change and what we can do about it, published by GRAIN. It is a comprehensive account of the unrelenting and largely successful campaign by big companies to take over the world's food supply and exploit it for profit.
The writers say small farms have been squeezed into less than one quarter of the world's agricultural lands, but they continue to produce most of the world's food.
Unless small farmers are protected and more land is returned to the kind of sustainable practice employed by small farmers, then there is no hope of feeding the world's population in the future, they say.
On climate change, the book details how the march of industrial agriculture has created a food chain that is now a heavy emitter of greenhouse gases. The rise of palm oil plantations for processed food, the overuse of fertilizers and the long distances produce travels to reach our plates altogether produce about 50 percent of all human greenhouse gas emissions.
This is a bold claim, but not without a remarkable body of evidence. Every chapter has a long list of footnotes citing scientific papers and UN reports.
The book is endorsed by some high-profile campaigners, including Naomi Klein, who said, "It explains why the fight to stop the industrial food juggernaut is the same as the fight for a habitable, just planet."
Another campaigner for small farmers, Dr. Vandana Shiva, said the book shows "that industrial corporate agriculture is a major part of the climate crisis, and small-scale ecological farming is a significant solution. It also alerts us to the false solutions of those who created the problem—the Exxons of agriculture."
Although industrial farming methods produce only 11 to 15 percent of emissions, the book examines the entire food business—from deforestation to convert land to farmland, to transport, food-processing factories, the freezing and retail industries and discarded food waste.
Over the past 50 years, 140 million hectares, the size of almost all the farms in India, has been taken over by four crops grown on large industrial plantations. These are soybean, palm oil, rapeseed and sugar cane.
According to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, small farmers produce 80 percent of food in non-industrial countries. Their great advantage, apart from producing more food from a smaller area, is that they supply local markets with fresh rather than processed products, and less is wasted.
The book describes how the expansion of unsustainable agricultural practices over the past century has led to vast quantities of organic matter being lost from soils. This loss is responsible for between 25 percent and 40 percent of the current carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
By restoring small farmers' sustainable practices, this organic matter could be put back into the soil, offsetting up to 30 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions, the authors say.
Instead, in order to counter the loss of this carbon from soils, more and more chemical fertilizer is used. Insecticides and herbicides are poured on the land, impoverishing biodiversity.
Cutting food miles and concentrating on fresh produce at local markets, rather than processing food and providing it frozen to supermarkets, would also directly cut emissions.
The book is a call to wrest control from the industrial agricultural giant whose job it is to make profits for shareholders—not to feed the world—and to hand the land back to farmers.
The authors complain that there has been zero political will to challenge the dominant model of industrial food production and distribution. Peasants are getting the blame for cutting down trees when in fact deforestation is being driven by big companies growing industrial crops, they say.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Climate News Network.
From authors to chefs, business owners to activists, this list is a collection of change makers in every industry working to fix inequalities and problems in the food system all over the world. Their examples have inspired movements and changed minds. We hope their stories and work will inspire you as much as it has inspired us here at Food Tank.
Jane Goodall: How Can We Believe It Is a Good Idea to Grow Our Food With Poisons? https://t.co/PNhk0eKvif @OrganicConsumer @JaneGoodallInst— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1489098262.0
1. Vandana Shiva
Scientist and activist Dr. Vandana Shiva is at the forefront of the sustainable food movement. Fighting against the spread of industrial agriculture, she believes high-yield production is hurting more than helping problems of nutrition and hunger in the world. Her non-governmental organization, Navdanya, has been a proponent of biodiversity since 1991 and is currently fighting the development of Golden Rice, a Vitamin A-rich variety, claiming it's not as beneficial as it seems and could have a heavy impact on the environment.
2. Frances Moore Lappe
The revolutionary Diet for a Small Planet was just the beginning of Moore Lappe's contributions to changing the food system. Her contributions to building a sustainable food system since the book's release in 1985 are numerous, including more books, academic positions and the founding of several organizations. Her most recent endeavor is the Small Planet Institute, an organization that hopes to inspire people around the world through its research on democracy, power, culture and food.
3. Doug Rauch
Rauch is connected to one of the most popular health foods stores in the U.S.—Trader Joe's. After 31 years with the company, including 14 as President, Rauch left in 2008 and in 2012 he founded Daily Table. The not-for-profit store offers fresh produce, as well as healthy, to-go meals at affordable prices for a diverse and economically disadvantaged Boston neighborhood.
4. Christopher Bradshaw
Bradshaw is the founder of Dreaming Out Loud and an advocate for an equitable food system. In DC's most marginalized neighborhoods, Bradshaw introduced new concepts of healthy eating through West African cultural values and symbols. By instilling a sense of cultural belonging, the group hopes to empower communities to make more conscious decisions about health and provide more economic opportunities.
5. Leah Lizarondo
New solutions to food waste are popping up everywhere. Lizarondo's 412 Food Rescue is a go-between for food retailers and community organizations in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. They aren't a food bank; instead, they deliver fresh food that would otherwise be wasted to organizations that work with food-insecure populations. They fill a vital gap in the food production system. Lizarondo also writes about food and food policy at The Brazen Kitchen and for Pittsburgh Magazine.
6. Amber Stott
Fresh garden produce was an important part of Stott's childhood and with the Food Literacy Center, she is fighting childhood obesity with her enduring love of veggies. To bring healthy eating habits to low-income neighborhoods, Stott and the literacy center teach nutrition and cooking classes where they aim to change the negative attitudes children have toward vegetables. Bringing them closer to the growing and cooking process is the first step.
7. Emile Frison
Frison is plant pathologist at the cutting edge of research in agricultural biodiversity and its contribution to nutrition and the work of smallholder farmers. He is currently the chair of the International Scientific Committee of the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation and is a member of the International Advisory Board for the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
8. Ruth Richardson
With Richardson at the fore, the Global Alliance for the Future of Food strives for equity, sustainability and security in the food system. The alliance, where Richardson is executive director, focuses on the economics of food—how much do we really spend as a society on food—and advocates for solutions to our lopsided system. "I cannot stress enough how important it will be to our future well-being to fix the economic distortions in the food system," Richardson told Food Tank.
9. Nikiko Masumoto
Masumoto recently assumed the responsibility of her family's 80-acre organic peach farm in California. But she's more than just a farmer. She calls herself an "agrarian artist" and last year she published her second book, Changing Season: A Father, A Daughter, A Family Farm, in which she shares her story and experiences as a queer, mixed-race woman in the industry. A gifted speaker, she offers a new vision for a radically changed and more open farming landscape through her work as farmer, woman, artist and activist.
10. Edie Mukiibi
Mukiibi is an agronomist from Uganda and vice president of Slow Food International since 2014. He learned early on that something wasn't working for the farming communities he worked with in his country. As a student in Kampala, he found the modern agronomy practices ignored many of the traditional methods and crops with which small-scale farmers were familiar. He eventually discovered the Slow Food movement and started a convivium to connect people and share information about crop diversity and traditional farming knowledge. His current project is to create 10,000 food gardens in Africa.
11. Lindsey Shute
Touted as a "Champion for Change" by the White House, Shute is a farming revolutionary. Her family farm, Hearty Roots, is part of a Community Supported Agriculture program. Members support the work of the farm in growing organic produce and in return receive access to its freshest products as well as other benefits of its work and location. She is a proponent of young farmers' influence on the future of farming and as such, she started the National Young Farmers Coalition.
12. Pedro Diniz
It might seem difficult to find a straight line between Diniz's former career as a Formula 1 racing driver and his current role as an organic farmer and agroforester. But the link is in the land of his family, on which he currently operates a 2,300 hectare organic produce and dairy farm, Fazenda da Toca, alongside his wife Tatiana Diniz. The operation is a major influence on the environmental stage in São Paulo state and in Brazil. The farm shares its mission to revolutionize agriculture through sustainable cultivation at its on-site learning center, Instituto Toca.
13. Pavan Sukhdev
Environmental economist Sukhdev sees a green future, green in its health and wealth. He was the special adviser and head of United Nation's Environment Program's Green Economy Initiative and study leader for the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity study from G8+5, which looked to place a financial value on what we gain from nature and more specifically, its biodiversity. "I began my life as a markets professional and continued to take an interest, but most of my recent effort has been looking at the value of what comes to human beings from nature and which doesn't get priced by the markets," he said in his TED talk from 2011.
14. Miraci Pereira Silva
Miraci Pereira Silva is an organic farmer from the Roseli Nunes settlement in western Brazil. For years, members of her community have grown crops, such as lettuce, beans and papaya to sell locally. But their land is increasingly threatened by encroaching biofuel-linked sugarcane farms and their use of pesticides.
15. Miriam Miranda
Miranda assumed the role of feminist leader as a student in Tegucigalpa, where she also worked with women in poverty. She is of the Garifuna, an indigenous community in Honduras who have been forced off land by land grabs and resort development. The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, of which Miranda is coordinator, are fighting legal battles against the state for protection of their land and rights. Despite threats on her life and even being kidnapped once, she strides forward in the fight for her people.
16. Geum-Soon Yoon
Geum-Soon is a farmer in South Korea and president of the Korean Women's Peasant Association, which seeks to empower South Korean women farmers. She is an unwavering advocate for thousands of women in communities with high rates of domestic abuse and a lack of female control over the land despite their contributions to cultivation. The association seeks to improve agricultural policies, bring back seed diversity and provide gender equality education programs.
17. Ben Burkett
Southern-Mississippi farmer Ben Burkett knows what it takes to keep a farm afloat in the deep south. While managing his family's four-generation old vegetable farm, he also serves as an advocate for several communities in the region. As president of the National Family Farm Coalition and director of the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives, he supports underserved black farmers, family farms and cooperative farming, a necessity for small-scale farmers in the south, he said. In 2014, he was awarded the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award.
By Watcharapol Daengsubha
Last weekend, farmers, scientists and activists from all over the world gathered at the Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, to present the case against destruction caused by one of the corporate giants that promotes industrial farming.
Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague on Oct. 15.Greenpeace
The symbolic Monsanto Tribunal aimed to hold Monsanto—the giant agrochemical company—to account for its alleged atrocities against humanity and the environment. This event is far from over. It will echo back through the food system as the tribunal's participants bring home lessons, solutions and renewed hope for change.
First day of the tribunal, judges Tulkens (left) and Dior Fall Sow.Greenpeace
Five internationally renowned judges heard 30 witnesses. Experts gave their accounts of the environmental damage wrought by Monsanto. One testimony described how monoculture has caused a great loss to seed variety. They compared the patenting of seeds to a new form of colonization.
Seng Channeang, Cambodian small-scale farmer.Greenpeace
These testimonies will give people all over the world a well-documented legal brief to be used in lawsuits against other similar corporations.
"Although this is not legally binding, it is legally sound," said Arnaud Apoteker, member of the steering committee of the tribunal. "The witnesses were presenting real cases to real judges. The lessons from this event can be used in ensuing local battles."
One of the 30 witnesses, Feliciano Ucam Poot, a Mayan farmer from Mexico, submitted evidence to support his allegations that glyphosate and other chemicals are linked to children's sickness.
"Before the introduction of glyphosate and other agrochemicals, I did not see our people suffer from sickness like this," he said. "A lot of people are suffering like us and this tribunal will ensure that our stories will be heard around the world."
Scene from the Monsanto Tribunal Press Conference on Oct. 15.Greenpeace
Do we need these agrochemicals to feed the world? A question asked of Hans Herren, a renowned scientist and president of the Millennium Institute at the Monsanto Tribunal. "By producing less waste we can feed 10 million people. We need to make more health per acre, not calories per acre," he said.
Running parallel to the tribunal hearings was a People's Assembly, where people from around the world discussed solutions to the impacts caused by industrial agriculture. As many of the witnesses pointed out, one of the greatest challenges they face is to make their voices heard. This assembly provided a much needed forum for communities to come together and find sustainable solutions to common problems.
The People's Assembly, The Hague.Greenpeace
"We should fight for ourselves. Nobody is free from danger if our food is toxic," said Farida Akhter of UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternatives), Bangladesh.
The stories of people like Feliciano and the concerns of Farida are echoed by millions of voices from across the world; from beekeepers in Mexico to small scale producers in France and farmers in India.
The judges of the tribunal will assess these allegations, examine all evidence put forth and publish their findings in December.
Judges at the Monsanto Tribunal.Greenpeace
These issues aren't limited to farmers and environmentalists—they concern us all. We all have a choice: As citizens and consumers, we can all make decisions to shape the future we want.
Here are 12 things you can do to start the eco-food revolution.
Watcharapol Daengsubha is a food and ecological agriculture campaigner with Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Starting tomorrow, 30 witnesses and legal experts from five different continents will testify before five international judges at the three-day Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands. Their testimonies will attempt to hold the agrochemical giant accountable for their alleged "crimes against humanity" and destruction of the environment, or "ecocide."
This symbolic trial, which will be live streamed from Oct. 15, 8:30 a.m. GMT+2 on the tribunal website, will follow guidelines of the United Nations's international court of justice and will have no legal standing. Rather, its purpose is to gather legal counsel from the judges as well as legal grounds for future litigation.
"The aim of the tribunal is to give a legal opinion on the environmental and health damage caused by the multinational Monsanto," the tribunal organizers state on their website. "This will add to the international debate to include the crime of Ecocide into international criminal law. It will also give people all over the world a well documented legal file to be used in lawsuits against Monsanto and similar chemical companies."
Monsanto, which is inching closer to a $66 billion takeover from German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer, has faced a never-ending slew of health and environmental controversies over its products since, well, the beginning of the twentieth century.
Monsanto's historical line-up of products includes banned and highly toxic chemicals such as 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid (a dioxin-containing component of the defoliant Agent Orange); PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyl); and Lasso, a herbicide banned in Europe. Glyphosate, the controversial main ingredient in Monsanto's best-selling weedkiller RoundUp, is the most widely used pesticide in the world. Monsanto is also the world's largest genetically modified (GMO) seed maker, giving them a major hand over the world food supply.
6 Questions for Monsanto https://t.co/gK8OkFfqpg @Green_Europe @ClientEarth @OhioEnviro— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1465161312.0
The trial, which will proceed on the same weekend as World Food Day, is organized by Organic Consumers Association, International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM) Organics International, Navdanya, Regeneration International, Millions Against Monsanto as well as dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups.
Tribunal organizer Vandana Shiva is an outspoken critic of Monsanto. "Monsanto has come to be seen as one of the most dangerous corporations on the planet," the physicist, author, activist and founder of Navdanya said in a statement.
"It has earned this reputation through a history of producing products toxic to humans and the environment, as well as well-documented manipulation of scientific evidence, disingenuous PR efforts and applying relentless political pressure worldwide to promote its products. Life, society and democracy are under threat. We refuse to allow this future to unfold."
Andre Leu, president of IFOAM, said, "Monsanto is able to ignore the human and environmental damage caused by its products, and maintain its devastating activities through a strategy of systemic concealment: by lobbying regulatory agencies and governments, by resorting to lying and corruption, by financing fraudulent scientific studies, by pressuring independent scientists, and by manipulating the press and media. Monsanto's history reads like a text-book case of impunity, benefiting transnational corporations and their executives, whose activities contribute to climate and biosphere crises and threaten the safety of the planet."
Monsanto will not be present at the trial, calling it a "staged" event organized by the organic food industry "where the outcome is pre-determined."
"As this is a stunt staged and supported by the International Foundation for Organic Agriculture (IFOAM)—an umbrella organization of organic agriculture organizations, and their associates such as Navdanya and others who are fundamentally opposed to modern agriculture—we will not participate," states an open letter signed by the company's Human Rights Steering Committee.
"To address these ever increasing challenges collaboratively and advance our commitment to human rights, we welcome a genuine constructive conversation with diverse ideas and perspectives about food and agriculture production," the letter also states. "These conversations are much needed to help find sustainable solutions to those challenges."
This weekend, the people are taking on Monsanto. Join them: https://t.co/p8xC38qr0m #MonsantoTribunal https://t.co/srRS3kXI1i— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace)1476360906.0
Tribunal organizers have responded to Monsanto's allegations of a mock court. "Other similar tribunals have found both for and against corporations," Damien Short, director of the Human Rights Consortium at London University, told The Guardian. "This is a test of international law. It has moral force and the tribunal's decision will be evidence-based. Peoples' tribunals are testing the law."
"Under existing [international] law, it is impossible to bring criminal charges against a company like Monsanto or its management, for possible crimes against human health and the integrity of the environment," Lucy Rees, speaking on behalf of End Ecocide on Earth, also told the publication.
Greenpeace has been a vocal supporter of the tribunal. "The industrial scale of agriculture today has broken our food system," the environmental group said. "Giant agri-businesses fail to take into account the health of the environment and the communities who depend on it. Monoculture and dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides are taking its toll on the planet, animals and us."
According to a tribunal newsletter, witnesses and experts who will be present at the trial includes health experts, "victims" and representatives from communities affected by the spraying of pesticides in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, France, India, Sri Lanka and Paraguay; farmers and seed savers from Australia, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Canada, France; beekeepers from Yucatan, Mexico; and scientists from Brazil, Germany, France, the UK and the U.S. Former UN special rapporteur on the right to food Olivier De Schutter will also testify.
By Katherine Paul
It's been about a week since Monsanto and Bayer confirmed their intention to say "I do"—ample time for media, lawmakers, consumer and farmer advocacy groups, and of course the happy couple themselves, to weigh in on the pros and cons.
Reactions poured in from all the usual suspects.
Groups like the Farmers Union, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth and others didn't mince words when it came to condemning the deal. (Organic Consumers Association tagged it a "Marriage Made in Hell" back in May, pre-announcement, when the two mega-corporations were still doing their mating dance.)
Predictably, the corporate heads of state last week promoted the proposed $66 billion deal as an altruistic plan to improve "the lives of growers and people around the world." Last week, they told Senate Judiciary Committee members that the merger "is needed to meet a rising food demand."
Is anyone out there still buying the line that Monsanto and Bayer are in the business of feeding the world? When the evidence says otherwise?
Even if that claim weren't ludicrous, who thinks it's a good idea to entrust the job of "feeding the world" to the likes of Bayer, a company that—as part of the I.G. Farben cartel in the 1940s—produced the poison gas for the Nazi concentration camps, and more recently sold HIV-infected drugs to parents of haemophiliacs in foreign countries, causing thousands of children to die of AIDS?
[email protected]: #Monsanto and the Poisonous Cartel of #GMOs in #India https://t.co/4Mahmqj9cr @NonGMOProject @GMWatch @GMOTruth— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1473445039.0
The sordid, unethical, greedy, monopolizing and downright criminal histories of both Monsanto and Bayer have been well documented. Does allowing them to merge into the world's largest seed and pesticide company pose what two former Justice Department officials call "a five-alarm threat to our food supply and to farmers around the world?"
In a press release, Pesticide Action Network senior scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman said:
Just six corporations already dominate worldwide seed and pesticide markets. Additional consolidation will increase prices and further limit choices for farmers, while allowing Monsanto and friends to continue pushing a model of agriculture that has given us superweeds, superbugs and health-harming pesticides. Instead, we need to invest in agroecological, resilient and productive farming.
Without question, this deal, which strengthens the ties between Big Pharma, Big Food and Big Biotech, will hurt farmers and consumers—not to mention an ecosystem already on the brink.
But for those of us committed to ridding the world of toxic pesticides and hideous factory farms, to restoring biodiversity, to cleaning up our waterways, to revitalizing local economies, to helping small farmers thrive, to reclaiming and regenerating the world's soils so they can do their job—produce nutrient-dense food while drawing down and sequestering carbon—the marriage of Bayer and Monsanto doesn't change much.
As we wrote when the deal was announced, Monsanto will probably pack up its headquarters and head overseas. The much-maligned Monsanto name will be retired.
But a corporate criminal by any other name—or size—is still a corporate criminal.
Merger or no merger, our job remains the same: to expose the crimes and end the toxic tyranny of a failed agricultural experiment. #MillionsAgainstMonsanto will simply morph into #BillionsAgainstBayer.
a katz / Shutterstock.com
Feed the world? Or feed the lobbyists?
Bayer and Monsanto had plenty of time to perfect their spin on the merger before the big announcement. Yet even some of the most conservative media outlets saw through it.
A Bloomberg headline read: "Heroin, Nazis, and Agent Orange: Inside the $66 Billion Merger of the Year."
From the article:
Two friends making dyes from coal-tar started Bayer in 1863, and it developed into a chemical and drug company famous for introducing heroin as a cough remedy in 1896, then aspirin in 1899. The company was a Nazi contractor during World War II and used forced labor. Today, the firm based in Leverkusen, Germany, makes drugs and has a crop science unit, which makes weed and bug killers. Its goal is to dominate the chemical and drug markets for people, plants and animals.
Monsanto, founded in 1901, originally made food additives like saccharin before expanding into industrial chemicals, pharmaceuticals and agriculture products. It's famous for making some controversial and highly toxic chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls, now banned and commonly known as PCBs, and the herbicide Agent Orange, which was used by the U.S. military in Vietnam. It commercialized Roundup herbicide in the 1970s and began developing genetically modified corn and soybean seeds in the 1980s. In 2000, a new Monsanto emerged from a series of corporate mergers.
A skeptical Wall Street Journal reporter suggested that the merger, one of three in the works in the agricultural industry, is a sign of trouble. "The dominance of genetically modified crops is under threat," wrote Jacob Bunge on Sept. 14.
Bunge interviewed Ohio farmer Joe Logan who told him, "The price we are paying for biotech seed now, we're not able to capture the returns."
This spring, Mr. Logan loaded up his planter with soybean seeds costing $85 a bag, nearly five times what he paid two decades ago. Next spring, he says, he plans to sow many of his corn and soybean fields with non-biotech seeds to save money.
Nasdaq took the merger announcement as an opportunity to highlight numbers published by OpenSecrets.org showing that Monsanto and Bayer are not only the two largest agrichemical corporations in the world, they're also two of the biggest spenders when it comes to lobbying.
Together, according to OpenSecrets, Bayer and Monsanto have spent about $120 million on lobbying in the last decade. Monsanto's spending has been largely focused on the agricultural industry, while Bayer has spent heavily in the pharmaceutical arena.
Both Monsanto and Bayer forked over millions to keep labels off of foods that contain GMOs, according to OpenSecrets.
A big issue for both companies has been labeling of genetically modified foods, which both companies oppose. That put them in support of the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act (H.R. 1599), which was signed into law this summer. The law permits corporations to identify products made with genetically modified organisms in ways that critics argue will be hard for consumers to interpret, while superseding state laws that are sometimes tougher, like the one in Vermont.
To be clear, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act was just an intentionally misleading description of a bill intended to protect corporations from having to reveal the GMO ingredients in their products.
A criminal by any other name
Last week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague made a big announcement of its own. For the first time in history, the ICC will "prioritize crimes that result in the 'destruction of the environment,' 'exploitation of natural resources' and the 'illegal dispossession' of land," according to a report in The Guardian.
The announcement came within the same two-week period as three new reports on the sad state of our ecosystem, all of which implicate industrial agriculture:
- Researchers at the University of Virginia University of Virginia reported that widespread adoption of GMO crops has decreased the use of insecticides, but increased the use of weed-killing herbicides as weeds become more resistant, leading to "serious environmental damage."
- Mother Jones magazine reported that "A Massive Sinkhole Just Dumped Radioactive Waste Into Florida Water. The cause? A fertilizer company deep in the heart of phosphate country."
- NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that when it comes to global warming, "even the records themselves are breaking records now" after reporting that Earth just experienced its hottest August on record. What's that got to do with Bayer and Monsanto? Industrial, chemical, degenerative agriculture is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Organic regenerative agriculture, by contrast, holds the greatest promise for drawing down and sequestering excess carbon from the atmosphere.
It's Official: August Was the 16th Consecutive Record-Breaking Hottest Month https://t.co/qfedIwojYw @Climate_Rescue @EUClimateAction— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1474535715.0
Whether or not regulators approve the Bayer-Monsanto merger, these companies will continue their rampage against nature. Governments and courts have a lousy track record when it comes to holding these, and other, corporations accountable for the damage they've inflicted, over decades, on human health and the environment.
The ICC has signaled that this may change. In the meantime, frustrated with the lack of action and fed up with paying the price for making corporations like Bayer and Monsanto filthy rich, the grassroots are fighting back.
On Oct. 15-16, a panel of distinguished international judges will hear testimony from 30 witnesses and scientific and legal experts from five continents who have been injured by Monsanto's products. This grassroots-led international citizens' tribunal and People's Assembly (Oct. 14-16) will culminate in November with the release of advisory opinions prepared by the judges. The tribunal's work, which includes making the case for corporations to be prosecuted for ecocide, is made all the more relevant by the ICC's announcement.
The International Monsanto Tribunal is named for Monsanto, the perfect poster child. But the advisory opinions, which will form the basis for future legal action, will be applicable to all agrichemical companies—including Bayer.
In the meantime, we encourage citizens around the world who cannot participate in the official tribunal and People's Assembly, to show solidarity by organizing their own World Food Day "March Against Monsanto."
Monsanto. Bayer. The name doesn't matter, and though size does matter when it comes to throwing weight around, the crimes perpetrated by the companies remain the same. It's time to stop them.
Monsanto has finally agreed to be purchased by Bayer AG in a historic $66 billion all-cash takeover. The agreement, which both corporations have confirmed, will form the largest seed and pesticide company in the world.
Today we reached an agreement w/ @MonsantoCo to create an industry leader #AdvancingTogether https://t.co/zFRZrCDvU7 https://t.co/SIq6iwDPFn— Bayer AG (@Bayer AG)1473852089.0
The German pharmaceuticals and chemicals giant had been courting the St. Louis-based seed maker for roughly four months, with the aspirin-maker sweetening the pot with
ever-growing sums of money. Bayer finally plans to pay $128 a share for Monsanto, up from its initial May offer of $122 a share.
Not only is this the largest foreign corporate takeover ever by a German firm, it's the largest cash bid on record, as Reuters reported. A successful merger would create the world's largest agrichemical firm, which will control more than one-fourth of the combined global market for seeds and pesticides.
According to Bloomberg, "The deal gives Bayer more than 2,000 varieties of seeds for crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat. Adding that portfolio to its own vegetable, rice, cotton and oilseed offerings give Bayer a virtually unassailable position at the head of the market."
The Monsanto-Bayer combination is yet another example of the rapidly consolidating agricultural industry, with only a handful of companies controlling the sector. Alongside slumping crop prices, DuPont Co. and Dow Chemical Co. have agreed to merge, as did China National Chemical Corp. and Syngenta AG.
Together, Monsanto and @Bayer will build on our shared values and respective track records of innovation: https://t.co/eMRWGFWa0x— Monsanto Company (@Monsanto Company)1473862768.0
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann and Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant, appeared in a joint announcement of the proposed combination on their "Advancing Together" website. In their statements, both chiefs echoed Big Ag's oft-repeated sentiment that biotechnology helps increases crop yields in an environmentally friendly way and is one solution to feeding a growing global population.
"We are fully committed to helping solve one of the biggest challenges of society, and that is how to feed a massively growing world population in an environmentally sustainable manner," Baumann said. "What we do is good for consumers. We help produce efficient, safe, healthy and affordable food. It is also good for our growers because they have better choices to increase yields in a sustainable way."
Dave Murphy, the executive director of Food Democracy Now!, refutes this belief. "Agricultural biotechnology has never been about 'feeding the world,' but enriching the bottom line of toxic chemical corporations that have had a long history of producing chemicals that are deadly to human populations and the environment," he told EcoWatch.
Monsanto, the world's largest producer of genetically modified (GMO) crops and maker of the glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, has faced mounting controversy and numerous lawsuits in recent years over the health and environmental impacts of its products.
Bayer has also been subject to criticism over its widely used insecticide, imidacloprid, which belongs to a controversial class of chemicals called neonicotinoids that's linked to widespread deaths of pollinators.
On today's landmark news, Murphy said: "Now the most evil company in Europe has absorbed the most evil company in America. Monsanto and Bayer's new corporate motto should be 'Killing bees and butterflies for fun and profit.'"
10 States Report Crop Damage From Illegal Dicamba Use on Monsanto's GMO Seeds https://t.co/KcqhwWoSq3 @GMOTruth @GMWatch— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1472867707.0
The Monsanto takeover is an interesting move for the German company. Although GMOs are widely grown in the U.S. and in other countries, the topic is fraught with contention in Europe. Many European Union countries have strict laws against GMOs due to public health and environmental concerns. Germany itself discourages the cultivation of GMO crops.
The BBC reported that farming groups are concerned that the deal could lead to fewer choices and higher prices for farmers.
"Bayer's acquisition of 'Frankenstein' crop producer Monsanto could be a horror story for both Bayer and its customers: the farmers," professor John Colley of Warwick Business School in England told the publication. "The farmers will lose out as product ranges are rationalized and attempts are made to increase prices."
Several consumer advocates and environmental organizations have denounced the acquisition for similar reasons.
"Today, Bayer announced it has agreed to buy Monsanto, another devastating merger that's bad for farmers, the environment and consumers," Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch, said. "Consolidation in the agrochemical industry means that farmers get paid less for their crops, more pesticides are used and there are fewer options for consumers at the grocery store. It's past time for the Department of Justice to do its job and enforce anti-trust measures to support healthy competition in the ag industry."
"With this deal Big Biotech gets bigger; it means monopoly power for Bayer-Monsanto, just like the previous mergers of Dow and DuPont and Syngenta and ChemChina," Ken Roseboro, the editor and publisher of The Organic & Non-GMO Report, told EcoWatch. "These three companies will dominate the global seed and pesticide markets and will likely drive up costs for farmers. The Justice Department should stop these mergers because they are bad farmers, bad for agriculture, and bad for consumers."
Critics of the tie-up have noted that Monsanto's poor image was a factor in its decision to be bought.
"The merger of Bayer and Monsanto should make the connection between Big Pharma, Big Biotech and Big Food all the more apparent to consumers," Ronnie Cummins, the international director of the Organic Consumers Association, told EcoWatch. "This may be a move to take pressure off the manufacturer of glyphosate, the most profitable pesticide in the world. But it really doesn't matter who manufactures or sells glyphosate, or any other dangerous chemical. The damage to human health and the environment remains the same, as does our commitment to getting these chemicals out of our food system."
"MoBay supplied ingredients for Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Around 20 million gallons of MoBay defoliants and herbicides were sprayed over South Vietnam. Children are still being born with birth defects, adults have chronic illnesses and cancers, due to their exposure to MoBay's chemicals," she wrote. "Monsanto and Bayer's cross-licensed Agent Orange resistance has also been cross-developed for decades. Wars were fought, lives lost, nations carved into holy lands — with artificial boundaries that suit colonization and resource grab—while Bayer and Monsanto sold chemicals as bombs and poisons and their brothers provided the loans to buy those bombs."
Monsanto and the Poisonous Cartel of GMOs in India https://t.co/TVafdAlArx @justlabelit @NonGMOProject— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1473457206.0
"More recently, Bayer CropScience AG and Monsanto are believed to have entered into a long-term business relationship," Shiva continued. "This gives Monsanto and Bayer free access to each other's herbicide and paired herbicide resistance technology. Through cross-licensing agreements, mergers and acquisitions, the biotech industry has become the I.G. Farben of today, with Monsanto in the cockpit."
Monsanto and Bayer intend to file relevant materials with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Analysts are now turning their attention to the legality of the purchase and whether or not it could escape regulatory hurdles. Bayer, which expects to close the deal by the end of 2017, will pay Monsanto a break-up fee of $2 billion if the deal is not completed.
According to Reuters, Bernstein Research analysts believe that the merger has only a 50 percent chance of securing regulatory clearance. However, they cited a survey among investors that pushed the likelihood to roughly 70 percent.
"We believe political pushback to this deal, ranging from farmer dissatisfaction with all their suppliers consolidating in the face of low farm net incomes to dissatisfaction with Monsanto leaving the United States, could provide significant delays and complications," they wrote in a research note.
Meanwhile, Monsanto's tribunal at The Hague next month is still on deck. The Organic Consumers Association, IFOAM International Organics, Navdanya, Regeneration International and Millions Against Monsanto, joined by dozens of global food, farming and environmental justice groups are putting the transnational corporation on trial for crimes against nature and humanity and ecocide.
"The proposed buyout of Monsanto by Bayer does nothing to alter or weaken the upcoming Monsanto Tribunal, which will take place Oct. 15-16 in The Hague," Cummins said. "The buyout won't be completed by then. More important, the advisory opinions that will be issued by the five international judges will be applicable to all agribusiness companies, including Bayer."
India is steeped in a synthesized controversy created by Monsanto on the first GMO crop supposedly approved for commercialization. Engaged in litigation on many fronts, Monsanto is trying to subvert India's patent laws: Protection of Plant Variety and Farmers Right Act, Essential Commodities Act and Competition Act. It is behaving as if there is no Parliament, no democracy, no sovereign laws in India to which it is subject. Or it simply doesn't have any regard for them.
Light Brigading / Flickr
In another theatre, Monsanto and Bayer are merging. They were one as MoBay (MonsantoBayer), part of the poison cartel of I.G. Farben. The controlling stakes of both corporations lie with the same private equity firms. The expertise of these firms is in war. I.G. Farben, Adolf Hitler's economic powerhouse and pre-war Germany's highest foreign exchange earner, was also a foreign intelligence operation. Hermann Schmitz was president of I.G. Farben, Schmitz's nephew Max Ilgner was a director of I.G. Farben, while Max's brother Rudolph Ilgner ran the New York arm as vice-president of Chemnyco.
Paul Warburg, brother of Max Warburg (board of directors, Farben Aufsichtsrat), founded the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Max Warburg and Hermann Schmitz played a central role in the Farben empire. Other "guiding hands" of Farben Vorstand included Carl Bosch, Fritz ter Meer, Kurt Oppenheim and George von Schnitzler. Each of them was adjudged a "war criminal" after World War II, except Paul Warburg.
Monsanto and Bayer have a long history. They made explosives and lethally poisonous gases using shared technologies and sold them to both sides in the two world wars. The same war chemicals were bought by the Allied and Axis powers, from the same manufacturers, with money borrowed from the same bank.
MoBay supplied ingredients for Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Around 20 million gallons of MoBay defoliants and herbicides were sprayed over South Vietnam. Children are still being born with birth defects, adults have chronic illnesses and cancers, due to their exposure to MoBay's chemicals. Monsanto and Bayer's cross-licensed Agent Orange resistance has also been cross-developed for decades. Wars were fought, lives lost, nations carved into holy lands — with artificial boundaries that suit colonization and resource grab — while Bayer and Monsanto sold chemicals as bombs and poisons and their brothers provided the loans to buy those bombs.
More recently, Bayer CropScience AG and Monsanto are believed to have entered into a long-term business relationship. This gives Monsanto and Bayer free access to each other's herbicide and paired herbicide resistance technology. Through cross-licensing agreements, mergers and acquisitions, the biotech industry has become the I.G. Farben of today, with Monsanto in the cockpit.
The global chemical and GMO industry—Bayer, Dow Agro, DuPont Pioneer, Mahyco, Monsanto and Syngenta—have come together to form the Federation of Seed Industry of India (FSII) to try and become bigger bullies in this assault on India's farmers, environment and democratically-framed laws that protect the public and the national interest. This is in addition to Association of Biotechnology-Led Enterprises (ABLE), which tried to challenge India's seed price control order issued under the Essential Commodities Act in the Karnataka high court. The case was dismissed.
The new group is not "seed industry;" they produce no seeds. They try to stretch patents on chemicals to claim ownership on seeds, even in countries where patents on seeds and plants are not allowed. This is the case in India, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and many other countries.
All Monsanto cases in India are related to Monsanto un-scientifically, illegally and illegitimately claiming patents on seed, in contempt of India's laws, and trying to collect royalties from the Indian seed industry and farmers. The FSII is an "I.G. Farben 100-Year Family Reunion," a coming together of independent and autonomous entities.
The Farben family chemical cartel was responsible for exterminating people in concentration camps. It embodies a century of ecocide and genocide, carried out in the name of scientific experimentation and innovation. Today, the poison cartel is wearing G-Engineering clothes and citing the mantra of "innovation" ad nauseam. Hitler's concentration camps were an "innovation" in killing; and almost a century later, the Farben family is carrying out the same extermination—silently, globally and efficiently.
Monsanto's "innovation" of collecting illegal royalties and pushing Indian farmers to suicide is also an innovation in killing without liability, indirectly. Just because there is a new way to kill doesn't make killing right. "Innovation," like every human activity, has limits—set by ethics, justice, democracy, the rights of people and of nature.
[email protected]: There Is No Reason Why India Should Face Hunger & #Farmers Commit #Suicide http://t.co/nXJDEugLaP http://t.co/Jef9K9TkAt— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1439574016.0
I.G. Farben was tried in Nuremberg. We have national laws to protect people, their right to life and public health, and the environment. India's biosafety and patent laws and the Plant Variety Act are designed to regulate greedy owners of corporations with a history of crimes against nature and humanity.
Industry is getting ready to push its next "gene," the GMO mustard (DMH-11). The GMO mustard, being promoted as a public sector "innovation," is based on barnase/barstar/gene system to create male-sterile plants and a bar gene for glufosinate resistance. In 2002, Pro-Agro's (Bayer) application for approval of commercial planting of GM mustard based on the same system was turned down.
Although banned in India, Bayer finds ways to sell glufosinate illegally to Assam's tea gardens and the apple orchards of Himachal Pradesh. Sales agents show the sale of glufosinate under the "others" category to avoid regulation. These chemicals are finding their way into the bodies of our children without government approval. Essentially, all key patents related to the bar gene are held by Bayer Crop Science, which acquired Aventis Cropscience, which itself was created out of the genetic engineering divisions of Schering, Rhone Poulenc and Hoechst. Then Bayer acquired Plant Genetic Systems and entered into cooperation agreement with Evogene, which has patents on genome mapping.
Before any approval is granted to genetically-engineered mustard, the issue of limits to patentability needs to be resolved on the basis of Indian laws and patents on plants and seeds and methods of agriculture must not be allowed. Deepak Pental, a retired professor and GMO-Operative, will not commercialize GMO mustard seed. His officers at Bayer/Monsanto/MoBay will.
Given our experience with GMO cotton, The Ministry of Environment & Forests is considering the option of putting in place guidelines for socio-economic assessment to judge proposed GMO varieties on the basis of factors such as the economy, health, environment, society and culture.
At the core of socio-economic assessment is the issue of monopolies and cartels, and their impact on small farmers. Even though patents on seeds are not allowed, for more than a decade and a half, Monsanto has extracted illegal royalties from Indian farmers, trapping them in debt and triggering an epidemic of farmers' suicides. Monsanto's war on India's foot soldiers—farmers—is a war being waged by the Farben family, on our Earth family.
By Alexandra Rosenmann
Did you know that American companies are legally permitted to manufacture dangerous pesticides for export—even after the chemicals have been banned in the U.S.? There are policies that create a "circle of poison"; toxic chemicals traveling around the world, ironically imported back to the U.S. through foodstuffs we eat.
Circle of Poison, a groundbreaking documentary by Nick Capezzera, Evan Mascagni and Shannon Post, unveils the unrelenting corruption of this cycle. The film features interviews with Jimmy Carter, Vandana Shiva, Noam Chomsky, Patrick Leahy and the Dalai Lama, as well as footage from India, Mexico, Argentina, Bhutan and the U.S., in order to illustrate the global impact of the pesticide trade and how communities are fighting back.
"A standard argument against a healthy environment and other regulations in the country or for export is that it's harmful to business, which of course it is," Noam Chomsky said in the film. "If business can kill people freely, it's a lot more profitable than if you have to pay attention to what you're producing and look at the effects on people and so on."
Watch: Exclusive clip from Circle of Poison:
"Major industries in this country ... lead, asbestos, tobacco, have often succeeded for decades poisoning people quite consciously. They knew perfectly well that children are going to die of lead poisoning, but 'you gotta make profit,'" Chomsky continued.
"And they're right. It's a system where you're supposed to make profit ... Like a CEO of a corporation is actually required by law to increase profit so they're doing exactly what they have to do and, well, if the population suffers, that's the cost of doing business. Although, by the time you get to export ... the domestic population has become organized enough and active enough so they're saying 'you can't kill us,'" Chomsky said.
"We sought out to take on a political issue that people from all walks of life, regardless of political affiliation, could agree was an important one and that needs to be addressed," Director Evan Mascagni told AlterNet. "I was blown away by the fact that we would allow companies to continue to manufacture and export products that those companies could not safely and legally sell to customers within the United States."
Circle of Poison will be available for streaming and download this fall.
This article was reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.