November 04, 2014: Two Wins, One Loss, and One Cliffhanger

Still a chanceelection thank you

The slimmest of chances that Oregon’s Prop. 92 might still pass raises the pulse even though the probabilities are such that obtaining another 6900 YES votes from the remaining uncounted ballots portend otherwise.  Huffington Post live results as of 7 am EST, 11-11, show the current standing at a difference of 1 percentage point with 95% reporting:  50.5% NO; 49.5% YES

Prop. 92 was the most expensive state ballot measure campaign in Oregon’s history.  $21 million was spent by the labeling opponents, furnished primarily by biotech seed companies, Monsanto and DuPont Pioneer.  Another $15 million was spent in Colorado in a repetition of the same pattern followed in California in 2012, and Washington in 2013.  To date, opponents of labeling have spent an outrageous $106 million total in California, Washington, Colorado, and Oregon to squash consumers’ demand for transparency.

Clearly, the biotech industry has reason to worry.  In Humboldt County, California, voters approved an outright ban on GMOs, and in Maui County, Hawaii, residents passed a moratorium that could close out Monsanto’s extensive Maui County operations which they had one time bragged was the source of 80% of all their Bt corn seed for the world.  Monsanto has already announced their intention to file a lawsuit challenging the legality of the initiative.

Alika #2Click HERE to watch the video of IRT Executive Director, Jeffrey Smith’s interview with Alika Atay and leaders of the SHAKA (Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the ‘Aina) Movement about their victory.  Inspirational and touching as well as filled with practical advice for other activists who may wish to launch their own local efforts, the SHAKA story is one of great triumph of family values and love of the land over Big Ag and corporate farming.



WIN – Maui County, Hawaii.  The Maui GMO initiative placing a moratorium on the cultivation of genetically engineered organisms and their associated pesticide use, was passed:  50.2% YES; 47.9% NO.  The initiative calls for environmental and public health impact studies, public hearings, and a two-thirds vote and a determination by the Maui County Council that operations meet standards.  The initiative also calls for the establishment of criminal and civil penalties to be adopted and established for the County of Maui.

WIN – Humboldt County, California.  Genetic Contamination Prevention Ordinance, GMO Ban Initiative, Measure P, which will “prohibit the propagation, cultivation, raising, or growing of genetically modified organisms in Humboldt County,” was passed:  59.43% YES; 40.57% NO.

LOSS – State of Colorado.  The Colorado Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative, Proposition 105, which would have required  any “prepackaged, processed food or raw agricultural commodity that has been produced using genetic modification” to include the label: “Produced with genetic engineering.” was defeated:  66.33% NO; 33.67% YES.

Too close to call – State of Oregon.  The Oregon Mandatory Labeling of GMOs Initiative, Measure 92 would mandate labeling of certain foodstuffs that were produced with or contain genetically modified organisms.  Returns continue to narrow with 95% of the ballots counted as of Tuesday, 11 November and currently stands at a difference of 1 percentage point:  50.5% NO; 49.5% YES.

More highly toxic compound superweed-killers on the way!

cotton-with-textMonsanto’s new GMO cotton will unleash a triple whammy of toxic herbicides

If you are still reeling from the news of the latest round of approvals for “Agent Orange” corn and soy, please sit down. More hopped up toxic combinations are on the way. Monsanto has a new “triple stack” GMO cotton up for deregulation with tolerance to dicamba, glyphosate, and glufosinate herbicides. They call it another “tool” for fighting superweeds. These glyphosate-resistant weeds have more than doubled since 2009 and are currently spread over 70 million acres.

Dicamba is a strong herbicide that has been associated with a number of health and environmental effects including reproductive effects, neurotoxicity, kidney/liver damage, not to mention that dicamba, like 2,4-D, is toxic to fish, toxic to birds, and harmful to pets.

People are becoming increasingly alarmed about the escalation to greater and greater amounts of toxic chemicals, and what appears to be an extraordinary insensitivity to public opinion. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), and other members of Congress are speaking up. “Right now we are witnessing agribusiness attempt to wield its powerful influence over federal regulators. They want EPA and USDA to rubberstamp another set of genetically engineered crops rather than listen to the scientific community,” says Rep. Peter DeFazio, (D-Oregon).

EPA Approves Dow’s new Super Toxic Superweed Cocktail over Protests from 50 Federal Lawmakers

Oct 15 – In spite of an outpouring of public concern including a strongly worded letter signed by 50 members of Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency gave final approval to Dow Agrosciences’ new Enlist Duo herbicide, a double whammy combination of glyphosate plus 2,4-D aimed at knocking down the onslaught of superweeds that have grown resistant to glyphosate alone, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. The approvals of Dow’s “Agent Orange” crop system with resistance to 2,4,-D escalates the “war” on superweeds to a new level of chemical warfare.

50 congressional members – led by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Oregon, and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine – expressed a chilling concern:

“We are also concerned that EPA failed to thoroughly examine all of the significant health and environmental risks of 2,4-D including that of inhalation and aggregate exposure; the risks of 2,4-D exposure to threatened and endangered species; and the risks posed by shifts in use patterns of 2,4-D as a result of the GE cropping systems. Most alarming is EPA’s failure to apply the additional safety factor of 10x, as mandated under the Food Quality Protection Act, to protect children, who are especially susceptible to harm from pesticide exposure. The 10-fold safety factor is required by law to safeguard against the potential health risks for young children and infants that would result from the widespread use of 2,4-D on GE crops.” The 10-fold safety factor refers specifically to cumulative risk assessments which may be required to take into account potential pre- and postnatal exposure. Detailed information is available from the EPA Office of Pesticide Programs.

Reach out to these legislators if you know them and thank them, or send a letter to your representative if not a part of this group and urge their further investigation.

Download pdf of the full letter to EPA and USDA

Did your representative sign the letter?  Send a thank you note.  Click HERE for a draft copy you can edit with your information.

Uh oh, your representative wasn’t one of the 50 to sign the letter?  Send a letter urging him or her to consider your point of view.  Click HERE for a draft copy you can edit with your information.

The Color Orange: Monarch butterfly threatened with extinction

monarchOrange is beautiful on pumpkins and butterflies.  Every summer, the familiar beauty of the Monarch butterfly with its striking orange color graces lawns and gardens and fields across the U.S.  But this iconic butterfly now faces possible extinction due to severely shrinking areas of natural habitat that have been converted to fields of GMO corn and soybeans.

Last winter the cluster of Monarchs wintering in Mexico shrunk to the smallest area in 20 years of record-keeping, from nearly 45 acres in their peak in 1996, to 1.65 acres–approximately the size of one and a quarter football fields.  The yearly migration widely noted as one of the world’s great natural spectacles, is dwindling in numbers so fast that efforts are now underway to declare the Monarch an endangered species.

The Monarch’s fate is directly tied to the eradication of natural habitat, specifically the milkweed plant that once was common to fence rows throughout Midwestern farm country.  “Productivity increases from modern farm technology” as so often spoken of, includes the conversion of thousands and thousands of acres to planting row crops, predominantly genetically modified herbicide-tolerant corn and soybeans.  Using GMO seed allows for blanket spraying of broad-spectrum herbicides for weed control over very large areas. corn acresadoption of GM crops The founder of Monarch Watch at the University of Kansas, Orley “Chip” Taylor, calculates that since 1996, the introduction of herbicide-tolerant soy and corn removed 150 million acres of land that could have borne milkweed.  A 2013 mapping analysis performed by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) showed that more than 36,000 square miles of wetlands and prairie—an area larger than Indiana—has been converted to cropland since 2008. The Monarchs are the most visible victims of the accelerated loss of natural habitat throughout the Midwest but not the only ones.  A wide variety of pollinators and other insects, as well as the birds that feed on them are disappearing.


The Color Orange: the color of nightmares

dioxin killsAnother orange, Agent Orange, conjuring images of horrific death and suffering, is also in the news again as farming takes on more and more the appearance of chemical warfare.

Wednesday, September 17th was a very black day for consumers and environmentalists as the USDA plowed ahead with a highly controversial decision to deregulate new seed varieties of “Agent Orange” corn and soybeans, so-called for its ability to withstand the weed killer 2,4-D, a major component in the infamous dioxin-laden defoliant used in Vietnam.  The USDA environmental impact study predicted that approval of the crops would lead to a 200 to 600 percent increase in the use of 2,4-D nationally by 2020, but deferred to the EPA for analysis of the effects of the increase.

The seeds will be sold as part of Dow Agrosciences’ branded EnlistTM Weed Control System.  Though trailing far behind Monsanto in market share, Dow Agrosciences is one of the Big Six multinational companies dominating the biotech seed and agrochemical industry.  With annual global sales of $7.1 billion in 2013, Dow Agrosciences, based in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Dow Chemical Company.  2,4-D is a weed killer presently manufactured by The Dow Chemical Company.  Dow is still awaiting approval from the EPA for the Enlist DuoTM herbicide in order to launch sales of the complete seed plus herbicide package for the 2015 planting season.