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Consumer Safety Groups Sue Food and Drug Administration Over Lax Nanotechnology Review

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

(Beyond Pesticides, January 3, 2012) A coalition of six consumer safety groups filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on December 21, 2011, citing the FDA’s chronic failure to regulate materials derived from nanotechnology (nanomaterials) used in sunscreens, cosmetics and drugs. The lawsuit demands that FDA respond to a May 2006 petition the coalition filed calling for regulatory actions, including nano-specific product labeling, health and safety testing, and an analysis of the environmental impacts of nanomaterials in products regulated by FDA. The lawsuit cites numerous studies and reports published since 2006 that establish significant data gaps concerning nanomaterials’ potential effects on human health and the environment. Led by the International Center for Technology Assessment (ICTA), the coalition is calling for FDA to take immediate action to assess the actual risks from nanomaterials and implement appropriate protective measures for consumers. While receiving minimal regulatory scrutiny or public attention, nanotechnology is becoming an increasingly prevalent practice for developing the next generation of ingredients in a wide range of consumer products. Generally defined, nanotechnology is the practice of manipulating matter on an atomic or molecular level to produce materials between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm) in size. A nanometer is […]


Six Largest Pesticide Manufacturers Stand Trial at International People’s Court

Monday, December 5th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, December 5, 2011) On December 3, the 27th anniversary of the Bhopal pesticide plant disaster in Bhopal, India, a trial began in an international people’s court in India involving the world’s six largest pesticide companies: Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow and Dupont. These companies, collectively known as the “Big 6,” are cited by prosecutors for their human rights violations, including internationally recognized rights to life, livelihood and health. Beyond Pesticides joined Pesticide Action Network (PAN) and others in signing a joint statement demanding that these companies be held accountable for their human rights violations, which was presented at the trial. The trial, hosted by PAN International, is facilitated by the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PTT), an international opinion tribunal independent from State authorities. The prosecution’s 230-page indictment outlines the global threats to human rights. It begins: The victims and survivors of [pesticide industry] aggression are the poor peasants, small-scale farmers, agricultural workers, rural women, children, and indigenous and agricultural communities around the world. They are at the mercy of the expanding power of the agrochemical [corporations] and are losing their control over their seeds and knowledge, and suffering debilitating physical and chronic effects due to pesticide poisoning, including coping […]


Genetically Engineered Crops to Boost Use of 2, 4-D and Dicamba

Monday, November 7th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, November 7) Once heralded as a breakthrough for reducing the rates and toxicity of the pesticides applied by farmers, genetically engineered (GE) crops are perversely leading to renewed dependency on the very herbicides they were claimed to make obsolete. Growing recognition that pervasive planting of “Round-Up Ready” corn, soybeans and cotton is accelerating weed resistance is prompting GE seed companies to rush to market ‘stacked’ varieties that are resistant to additional herbicides, including 2, 4-D and dicamba. Farmers planting the stacked varieties will be spraying these older herbicides in addition to glyphosate, which most commodity crops have already been engineered to tolerate. Professor David A. Mortensen of Pennsylvania State University has estimated that adoption of Round-Up Ready and 2, 4-D or dicamba resistant stacked varieties in soybeans could result in a 70% increase in herbicide use in a relatively short time. The St. Louis Pots-Dispatch reported on progress that multinational chemical corporations Dow AgroSciences, BASF, and Monsanto are making to bring multi-herbicide resistant varieties to market. Under separate arrangements with each company, Monsanto adds glyphosate resistance to seeds that are simultaneously engineered to resist other herbicides. In October, Dow AgroSciences obtained a global patent on its Enlist Duo […]


Bayer To Withdraw Most Acutely Toxic Pesticides, Leave Other Hazardous Products on Market

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, October 4, 2011) In September, Bayer CropScience announced that it plans to phase-out its most acutely toxic pesticides, all remaining World Health Organization (WHO) class I products, by the end of 2012. While this is a positive development, Beyond Pesticides points out that other Bayer pesticides, such as its bee-killing insecticides imidacloprid and clothianidin, will remain on the market. Activists around the globe have mixed reactions to Bayer’s announcement, which comes over 15 years after Bayer first promised to phase-out its WHO Class I products. Philipp Mimkes of the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers based in Germany said, “This is an important success for environmental organizations from all over the world who have fought against these deadly pesticides for decades. But we must not forget that Bayer broke their original promise to withdraw all class I products by the year 2000. Many lives could have been saved. It is embarrassing that the company only stopped sales because the profit margins of these chemical time bombs have fallen so much.” Acutely toxic pesticides with a WHO Class I rating are extremely toxic and present an immediate hazard to farmworkers and others in the vicinity of pesticide applications. The WHO estimates […]


USDA Survey Shows Continued Honeybee Losses Across the Country

Friday, June 10th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, June 10, 2011) A report released jointly by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA) shows that losses of honeybee populations over the 2010/2011 winter remained abnormally high, reflecting continuing damages attributed to colony collapse disorder (CCD). CCD, linked to a range of factors and agricultural chemicals, including systemic pesticides, has devastated bees and beekeepers around the country in recent years. According to the survey, 30% of managed honeybee colonies across the country were lost over the winter. Over the past five years, since the discovery of CCD, annual winter colony losses have hovered near the 30% mark. Similar loss percentages for the previous four years reflect this trend: 34% for the 2009/2010 winter, 29% for 2008/2009, 36% for 2007/2008, and 32% for 2006/2007. ARS entomologist Jeffrey Pettis, PhD, who helped to conduct the survey and has been the agency’s lead researcher on CCD heading up the USDA Bee Research Laboratory, said, “The lack of increase in losses is marginally encouraging in the sense that the problem does not appear to be getting worse for honey bees and beekeepers. But continued losses of this size put tremendous pressure […]


Groups Join Lawsuit to Protect Against Monsanto’s GE Patents

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, June 2, 2011) New threats by Monsanto have led to the filing of an amended complaint by the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) in its suit on behalf of family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations challenging Monsanto’s patents on genetically modified seed. Twenty-three new plaintiffs, including Beyond Pesticides, have joined with the original 60 in the amended complaint, bringing the total number represented in the case to 83. The plaintiffs in the suit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), et al. v. Monsanto and pending in the Southern District of New York, now include 36 family farmer, food, agricultural research, food safety, and environmental organizations representing hundreds of thousands of members including several thousand certified organic, biodynamic, or otherwise non-transgenic family farmers. “Our clients don’t want a fight with Monsanto, they just want to be protected from the threat they will be contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically modified seed and then be accused of patent infringement,” said PUBPAT Executive Director Daniel B. Ravicher. “We asked Monsanto to give our clients reassurance they wouldn’t do such a thing, and in response they chose instead to reiterate the same implicit threat to organic agriculture made in the past.” Soon […]


Monsanto Renews Efforts for Genetically Engineered Wheat

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, May 11, 2011) In what seems like a quest to control much of the world’s food supply, industry giant Monsanto is renewing its efforts to develop genetically modified wheat. Over the past two years, the agricultural biotechnology giant has renewed its interest in wheat, committing more resources to creating new traits and seed varieties. Genetically modified (GM) varieties of soy, corn and alfalfa have already been developed. Recent efforts by the company to have GM crops deregulated by the U.S. government -so that they can be widely grown without restriction- have been successful. In the past two years, Monsanto has renewed its efforts into research for GM wheat. The company has built a ‘seed chipper” for wheat -a proprietary and prohibitively expensive machine that speeds the process of identifying beneficial crop traits. In 2009, the company paid $45 million to buy WestBred, a Montana-based wheat seed company. Monsanto says its efforts will focus on biotechnology and traditional breeding to achieve a drought-tolerant trait and increased yield. Genetic research and modification has been slower for wheat compared to soy and corn because of the grain’s genetic complexity and lower potential monetary returns to commercial seed companies, which discourage investment […]


British Government to Investigate Pesticides Linked to Bee Decline

Friday, April 1st, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, April 1, 2011) A British government scientist on Wednesday announced that he has ordered a review of a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, to determine what effects they may have on bee and pollinator health. Neonicotinoids, such as clothianidin and imidacloprid, have come under intense scrutiny recently due to concerns regarding their toxicity to honeybees, which are essential for a secure food supply in their role as crop pollinators. This has led some to suggest that chemicals such as these could be contributors to honeybee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). According to the London Daily Mail, the chief scientist at the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Professor Robert Watson, has directed DEFRA scientists to reexamine findings on neonicotinoids and their effects on bees. The Mail suggests that Watson may have been partly motivated by a recent study done by Dr. Jeffrey Pettis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service. This study was the first to show that neonicotinoids impact the survival of bees at levels below the level of detection, meaning that field studies would not have considered the role of the pesticide, because they would not have detected it. Although a […]


Lawsuit Seeks Protection Against Monsanto’s GE Seed Patents

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, March 31, 2011) In an effort to protect them from patent infringement in the event of drift contamination by Monsanto’s genetically engineered (GE) seed, 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations preemptively filed suit against the agribusiness giant. The case, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan on behalf of Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) on Tuesday, March 29, 2011. Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers. This year has seen a series of decisions by USDA to allow the unrestricted cultivation of genetically engineered crops. In January, USDA announced plans to fully deregulate GE alfalfa seed, despite contamination risks it poses to both organic and conventional farmers. Then, in February, a federal appeals court decided to reverse a federal order to destroy GE sugar beet seedlings. Most GE crops are engineered to be immune to the herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto […]


Groups Sue To Stop USDA’s Deregulation of Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, March 22, 2011) Last Friday, attorneys for the Center for Food Safety (CFS), Beyond Pesticides, Earthjustice, and farm and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), arguing that the agency’s recent unrestricted approval of genetically engineered (GE), “Roundup Ready” alfalfa is unlawful. In January, USDA announced plans to fully deregulate GE alfalfa seed, despite contamination risks it poses to both organic and conventional farmers. With the full deregulation of GE alfalfa underway, USDA estimates that up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides will be released into the environment each year. This year has seen a series of decisions by USDA to allow the unrestricted cultivation of genetically engineered crops, and just last month a federal appeals court decided to reverse a federal order to destroy GE sugar beet seedlings. Most GE crops are engineered to be immune to the herbicide glyphosate, which Monsanto markets as Roundup. Currently, USDA data show that 93% of all the alfalfa planted by farmers in the U.S. is grown without the use of any herbicides. The decision to fully deregulate GE alfalfa fails to take several scientifically-validated environmental concerns, such as the indiscriminate nature of GE […]


EPA Rejects Immediate Action On Pesticide Toxic To Bees

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, February 23, 2011) In response to a request by beekeepers and environmentalists to remove a pesticide linked to Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a letter, defended the pesticide clothianidin and the scientific study in question which was identified by beekeepers as a critically flawed study. EPA states that it does not intend to suspend or cancel clothianidin, even though independent studies have linked this chemical and others in its class to bee decline. Beyond Pesticides, as a part of a group of environmentalists and beekeepers, broke the news last December that a core study underpinning the registration of the insecticide clothianidin was unsound, citing leaked EPA memos which discloses the critically flawed scientific study and its reclassification as a “core” study on which clothianidin’s conditional registration was contingent on, to a “supplemental” study. Bayer CropSceicne, manufacturer of clothianidin designed and submitted to study to EPA as part of clothianidin’s registration requirement. Beekeepers claim that the initial field study guidelines, which the Bayer study failed to satisfy, were insufficiently rigorous to test whether or not clothianidin contributes to CCD in a real-world scenario: the field test evaluated the wrong crop, over an insufficient […]


USDA Research Links Neonicotinoid Pesticides to Bee Deaths

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, January 25, 2011) Research by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Bee Research Laboratory and Penn State University shows that the neonicotinoid insecticide imidacloprid contribute —at extremely low levels— to bee deaths and possibly colony collapse disorder (CCD), the widespread disappearance of honey bees that has killed off more than a third of commercial honey bees in the U.S. While the study has not been published yet, the UK’s The Independent newspaper reports that honeybees exposed to imidacloprid are more susceptible to the fungal pathogen Nosema. This is the first study to show that neonicotinoids impact the survival of bees at levels below the level of detection, meaning that field studies would not have considered the role of the pesticide, because they would not have detected it. USDA researcher Jeffrey Pettis, PhD and Penn State University researcher Dennis Van Engelsdorp, PhD explained their research in the 2010 documentary, The Strange Disappearance of the Honeybees (transcript courtesy of Grist.org): [Pettis] I’ve done a recent study actually in collaboration with Dennis van Engelsdorp and some other researchers, where we exposed whole colonies to very low levels of neo-nicotinoids in this case, and then ”˜challenged’ bees from those colonies, with Nosema […]


Take Action – Tell the President and USDA: Do Not Approve GE Alfalfa

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

(Beyond Pesticides, January 20, 2011) Beyond Pesticides and the National Organic Coalition (NOC) are encouraging their members to contact President Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and tell them not to approve (or not deregulate) Monsanto’s “RoundUp Ready,” genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa, which contributes to genetic drift, superweeds, and the use of a hazardous herbicide glyphosate. In December, USDA completed its environmental impact statement (EIS) of GE alfalfa. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has rejected the option to prohibit the planting (and continuing to regulate) GE Alfalfa, despite the clear recognition in the EIS that that GE contamination of organic and conventionally grown crops presents a huge problem. USDA released its 2,400 page EIS as required by a 2007 Federal District Court decision and upheld by both 2009 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and June 2010 U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The litigation was led by the Center for Food Safety, and joined by Beyond Pesticides, and other groups, including conventional and organic seed companies and producers. Three alternatives are considered during the preparation of the final EIS: 1) to maintain the RR alfalfa’s status as a regulated article; 2) to deregulate RR alfalfa; or 3) to deregulate RR […]


Judge Orders Destruction of GE Sugar Beets

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, December 7, 2010) Last week, Federal District Judge Jeffrey S. White issued a preliminary injunction ordering the immediate destruction of hundreds of acres of genetically engineered (GE) sugar beet seedlings planted in September after finding the seedlings had been planted in violation of federal law. The ruling comes in a lawsuit filed by Earthjustice and CFS on behalf of a coalition of farmers and conservation groups. The lawsuit was filed on September 9, shortly after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed it had allowed the seedlings to be planted. The court outlined the many ways in which GE sugar beets could harm the environment and consumers, noting that containment efforts were insufficient and past contamination incidents were “too numerous” to allow the illegal crop to remain in the ground. In his court order, Judge White noted, “Farmers and consumers would likely suffer harm from cross-contamination” between GE sugar beets and non-GE crops. He continued, “The legality of Defendants’ conduct does not even appear to be a close question,” noting that the government and Monsanto had tried to circumvent his prior ruling which made GE sugar beets illegal. Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, said, […]


Fortunes May be Changing for Monsanto

Monday, October 18th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, October 18, 2010) Despite condemnation from environmentalists and human rights advocates, the business practices employed by biotech giant Monsanto seemed to be serving the St. Louis-based company well, until this year where disappointing sales, increased competition and even a federal investigation have sent stock prices into a downward spiral. Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn, soy, and other crops have been engineered to resist the broad spectrum herbicide glyphosate, sold by Monsanto under the trade name Roundup. Monsanto holds the patent for its Roundup Ready seeds, meaning farmers must sign a contract with the company in order to purchase seeds, and are not allowed to save seeds to plant the following season. As seen in the recent documentary Food Inc., Monsanto has been ruthless in collecting royalties from growers. Despite Monsanto’s safety claims, glyphosate is actually very dangerous to human health and the environment. Glyphosate has been linked to cancers including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Acute exposure can lead to swelling of the eyes, face and joints; burning or itching, blisters rapid heart rate, chest pains and other symptoms. The California Department of Pesticide Regulation has found glyphosate to be the most common cause of pesticide-induced illness or injury. Glyphosate is also […]


EPA Fines Monsanto for Distributing Misbranded GE Cotton

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

(Beyond Pesticides, July 14, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Monsanto Company Inc. has agreed to pay a $2.5 million penalty to resolve misbranding violations related to the sale and distribution of cotton seed products containing genetically engineered (GE) pesticides. This is the largest civil administrative penalty settlement ever received under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). “This agreement shows that when a company violates the law by distributing misbranded pesticides, EPA will take action,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “The regulated community should understand that we take these violations seriously, and the public will accept nothing less than compliance.” “People who manufacture and distribute pesticide products must follow the federal registration requirements,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “These requirements are critical to preventing the development and spread of insect resistance.” Monsanto Bollgard and Bollgard II cotton seed products contain genetically engineered pesticides known as plant incorporated protectants (PIPs), which are registered as a pesticidal product under FIFRA. As a condition of the registrations, EPA included planting restrictions on Bollgard and Bollgard II, which contain the PIP Bacillus […]


Food Inc. Urges Consumers to Use Food Dollars for Safe and Fair Food Production System

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, June 30, 2009) How much do we know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets and serve to our families? In Food, Inc., producer-director Robert Kenner and investigative authors Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) lift the veil on the U.S. food industry — an industry that has often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihoods of American farmers, the safety of workers, and our own environment. The movie reveals how a handful of corporations control our nation’s food supply. Though the companies try to maintain the myth that our food still comes from farms with red barns and white picket fences, our food is actually raised on massive “factory farms” and processed in mega industrial plants. The animals grow fatter faster and are designed to fit the machines that slaughter them. Tomatoes are bred to be shipped without bruising and to stay edible for months. The system is highly productive, and Americans are spending less on food than ever before. But, the film asks, at what cost? Cattle are given feed that their bodies are not biologically designed to digest, resulting in new strains of E. coli bacteria, which […]


International Groups Pledge to Block GE Wheat

Friday, June 5th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, June 5, 2009) Farmers, consumers and civil society organizations in Australia, Canada and the U.S. released a joint statement confirming their collective commitment to stop commercialization of genetically engineered (GE) wheat. In 2004, global pressure prevented biotechnology company Monsanto from pushing GE wheat onto an unwilling market. The statement, “Definitive Global Rejection of Genetically Engineered Wheat,” was released to counter the May 14 “Wheat Commercialization Statement,” released by industry lobby groups in the three countries. The industry pledged to “work toward the goal of synchronized commercialization of biotech traits in our wheat crops.” The joint statement was released by 15 groups in Australia, Canada and the U.S., including the National Farmers Union, the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, the National Family Farm Coalition in the U.S. and the Network of Concerned Farmers in Australia, and counters the six stated industry arguments in favour of GE wheat. “GE wheat is a potential disaster of huge proportions,” said Terry Bohem, Vice President of the National Farmers Union in Canada. “We refuse to allow Monsanto and industry groups to restart any campaign to commercialize GE wheat.” The group statement centers on the pledge: “In light of our existing experience with genetic engineering, […]


Scientists Say Companies Interfere with Independent Biotech Research

Friday, February 27th, 2009

(Beyond Pesticides, February 27, 2009) Twenty-six leading corn insect scientists at public research institutions submitted a comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which charges that patent-holding companies, including Monsanto, Syngenta, and others, interfere with their genetic engineering (GE) research on crops. The statement says, “Technology/stewardship agreements required for the purchase of genetically modified seed explicitly prohibit research. These agreements inhibit public scientists from pursuing their mandated role on behalf of the public good unless the research is approved by industry. As a result of restricted access, no truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology, its performance, its management implications, IRM, and its interactions with insect biology. Consequently, data flowing to an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel from the public sector is unduly limited.” The names of the 26 scientists were withheld from the public docket “because virtually all of us require cooperation from industry at some level to conduct our research.” The stewardship agreements, which are intended to ensure that farmers honor the companies’ patent rights, do not allow planting GE crops for research. These have been in place for years, but according to the New York Times, scientists have now spoken out […]


Genetically Engineered Sugarcane Next Step for Monsanto

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, November 6, 2008) Agricultural biotech seed and chemical giant Monsanto will acquire Aly Participacoes Ltda., a Brazilian company involved in breeding sugar cane, and has already begun work to develop genetically engineered (GE) Roundup Ready (herbicide resistant) sugarcane. The deal for $290 million comes at the same time grain giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) is set to invest $375 million in a joint venture with a Brazilian firm to produce sugarcane-based ethanol. Amidst numerous other concerns with the widespread adoption of GE crops and the proliferation of crops grown for biofuels around the world is the threat of increased pesticide use. Roundup Ready crops, which are genetically engineered to be resistant to Monsanto’s best selling herbicide Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate http://www.beyondpesticides.org/gateway/pesticide/glyphosate.htm) have been a boon to Monsanto’s profits, but not without environmental costs. Currently grown Roundup Ready crops include soy, corn, canola, cotton, and sugar beets. The crops’ resistance to glyphosate enables the use of the herbicide during the growing season without harming the crop itself. Glyphosate is now the number one herbicide in the United States. This has serious implications for public health and the environment, as glyphosate has been linked to cancer, reproductive effects, kidney and […]


New CA Law Protects Farmers from GE Contamination of Crops

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, October 7, 2008) After months of grassroots pressure by the Genetic Engineering Policy Project, Center for Food Safety and others, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 541, The Food and Farm Protection Act, on September 27, 2008. Under this law, farmers that are unknowingly contaminated by genetically engineered (GE) crops in California are now protected from liability. Monsanto, which has aggressively litigated to protect its seed patents, must now use a protocol to investigate farmers and sample their crops under legal standards that require notification. “We’re pleased to see that this bill will give farmers new protections from legal implications related to GE crops,” said Rebecca Spector, West Coast Director for Center for Food Safety. “While it is a compromise, it’s still an important step in the right direction.” AB 541 protects California farmers who have not been able to prevent the inevitable – the drift of GE pollen or seed onto their land and the subsequent contamination of non-GE crops. Farmers with crops that become contaminated by patented seeds or pollen have been the target of lawsuits brought by biotech patent holders, most notably Monsanto. Further, if their contaminated crops cause harm to other farmers, the environment or consumers, […]


USDA Study Finds Weeds Flourish with Climate Change

Friday, July 18th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, July 18, 2008) A recent New York Times report on current U.S. Department of Agriculture research shows weeds flourishing from increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Lewis Ziska, PhD, and his team of researchers, have found “noxious” weeds to be more adaptable to changing conditions than crops, predicting further growth of their productivity and range in urban and rural areas. Dr. Ziska’s latest research focuses on weeds uniformly grown at three sites in Maryland: an organic farm in the western side of the state, a park in a Baltimore suburb, and a reclaimed industrial area in Baltimore’s inner harbor. The last was chosen because the city acts as a “heat island,” with temperatures averaging three or four degrees above those outside the city. Dr. Ziska’s team took soil from the organic farm, which already contained seeds from 35 weed species, and transplanted them into identical plots at the three locations, beginning the experiment in 2002. The resulting plants tended to grow much larger closer to the city. Lambs-quarters grew six to eight feet on the farm and ten to 12 feet in Baltimore. Ailanthus grew five feet tall on the farm, compared to one in the […]


Maine Passes GE Crop Bill to Protect Farmers

Monday, April 14th, 2008

(Beyond Pesticides, April 14, 2008) After almost a year and a half of debate on genetically engineered (GE) crops, the Maine Legislature passed a bill last week to protect farmers from genetic trespass. According to Protect Maine Farmers, the bill prevents lawsuits for patent infringement against farmers who unintentionally end up with GE material in their crops; ensures lawsuits that do occur will be held in the state of Maine; and, directs the Department of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources to develop and implement specific practices, or Best Management Practices, for growing GE crops. One component of the bill that was supported by many Maine farmers but failed would have required all businesses selling GE seeds in Maine to report their annual sales data to the Maine Commissioner of Agriculture. “Maine’s farmers now have some substantial assurance that if they save seed that has been contaminated by [GE] varieties, they are not at risk for a lawsuit,” states Logan Perkins, the lead organizer for Protect Maine Farmers. “Hopefully, the development of these Best Management Practices will give farmers the information they need to make good decisions about how to protect themselves, their livelihoods and their neighbors when using [GE] crops.” […]