the irresistible fleet of bicycles


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bill nye the science guy now supports monsanto?

“I went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there, and I have revised my outlook. And I’m very excited about telling the world. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world.”   -Bill Nye

In his book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation, published just last November, Nye reiterated these points. His concern about GMOs centered mainly on unintended consequences of growing them over large expanses—he cited the example of crops engineered to resist herbicides, which have been linked pretty decisively to the decline of monarch butterflies, which rely on abundant milkweeds, which in turn have been largely wiped out in the Midwest by GMO-enabled herbicide use. Nye praised certain GMOs, such as corn engineered to repel certain insects, but concluded that “if you’re asking me, we should stop introducing genes from one species into another,” because “we just can’t know what will happen to other species in that modified species’ ecosystem.”

Now, Nye’s doubts have evidently fallen away like milkweeds under a fine mist of herbicide. In a February interview filmed backstage on Bill Maher’s HBO show (starting about 3:40 in the below video), Nye volunteered that he was working on a revision of the GMO section of Undeniable. He gave no details, just that he “went to Monsanto and I spent a lot of time with the scientists there.” As a result, he added with a grin, “I have revised my outlook, and am very excited about telling the world. When you’re in love, you want to tell the world!” Click HERE to read more!


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health effects of industrial agriculture: glyphosate, monsanto, cancer, and birth defects

Argentina: The Country that Monsanto Poisoned?

Photo Essay

by Syddue

via Overgrow the System

BASAVILBASO, Argentina (AP) — Argentine farmworker Fabian Tomasi was never trained to handle pesticides. His job was to keep the crop-dusters flying by filling their tanks as quickly as possible, although it often meant getting drenched in poison.

Now, at 47, he’s a living skeleton, so weak he can hardly swallow or go to the bathroom on his own.

Schoolteacher Andrea Druetta lives in Santa Fe Province, the heart of Argentina’s soy country, where agrochemical spraying is banned within 500 meters (550 yards) of populated areas. But soy is planted just 30 meters (33 yards) from her back door. Her boys were showered in chemicals recently while swimming in the backyard pool.

After Sofia Gatica lost her newborn to kidney failure, she filed a complaint that led to Argentina’s first criminal convictions for illegal spraying. But last year’s verdict came too late for many of her 5,300 neighbors in Ituzaingo Annex. A government study there found alarming levels of agrochemical contamination in the soil and drinking water, and 80 percent of the children surveyed carried traces of pesticide in their blood.

American biotechnology has turned Argentina into the world’s third-largest soybean producer, but the chemicals powering the boom aren’t confined to soy and cotton and corn fields.

The Associated Press documented dozens of cases around the country where poisons are applied in ways unanticipated by regulatory science or specifically banned by existing law. The spray drifts into schools and homes and settles over water sources; farmworkers mix poisons with no protective gear; villagers store water in pesticide containers that should have been destroyed.

Now doctors are warning that uncontrolled pesticide applications could be the cause of growing health problems among the 12 million people who live in the South American nation’s vast farm belt.

In Santa Fe, cancer rates are two times to four times higher than the national average. In Chaco, birth defects quadrupled in the decade after biotechnology dramatically expanded farming in Argentina.

“The change in how agriculture is produced has brought, frankly, a change in the profile of diseases,” says Dr. Medardo Avila Vazquez, a pediatrician and neonatologist who co-founded Doctors of Fumigated Towns, part of a growing movement demanding enforcement of agricultural safety rules. “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects, and illnesses seldom seen before.”

A nation once known for its grass-fed beef has undergone a remarkable transformation since 1996, when the St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. promised that adopting its patented seeds and chemicals would increase crop yields and lower pesticide use. Today, Argentina’s entire soy crop and nearly all its corn and cotton are genetically modified, with soy cultivation alone tripling to 47 million acres (19 million hectares).

Agrochemical use did decline at first, then it bounced back, increasing ninefold from 9 million gallons (34 million liters) in 1990 to more than 84 million gallons (317 million liters) today as farmers squeezed in more harvests and pests became resistant to the poisons. Overall, Argentine farmers apply an estimated 4.3 pounds of agrochemical concentrate per acre, more than twice what U.S. farmers use, according to an AP analysis of government and pesticide industry data.

CONTINUE READING


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monsanto shareholder meeting gets heated!

Article from the Wall Street Journal

Monsanto Co. has long been a lightning rod for debate, but at its annual shareholder meeting Friday, the biotech-seed company was tagged with blame or credit for an even larger number of issues than usual.

The sometimes emotional, nearly two-hour meeting sounded at times like a daytime talk show, minus thrown chairs and shouting. Critics charged Monsanto with responsibility for spikes in diabetes and autism, among other human and environmental problems. Springing to Monsanto’s defense were farmers, its own employees, and a nun who praised its efforts to reduce water use.

The meeting at Monsanto’s St. Louis headquarters tested CEO Hugh Grant’s stated determination to more directly engage critics of large-scale agriculture and genetically modified crops.

For some environmentalists and advocates of organic farming, Monsanto has become the poster child for a kind of industrialized farming reliant on synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, including the company’s trademark Roundup.

Advocacy groups that had purchased Monsanto shares and submitted shareholder resolutions focused on corporate governance used some of their time at the microphone to lambast Monsanto over human health problems, particularly in children, which they attributed to widespread use of Roundup, a formulation of the chemical glyphosate.

“I’m imploring you to choose a new direction,” said Zen Honeycutt, founder of Moms Across America, who spoke at length. “Stop poisoning our children.”

Monsanto’s Mr. Grant, who noted that he was the father of three children as well, responded that myriad studies had shown “no linkage” between Roundup and the maladies described by Ms. Honeycutt.

To read more about this meeting, click HERE.


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study shows air and rain samples in the mississippi delta region contained >75% glyphosate in 2007

Screen Shot 2015-01-02 at 8.58.14 AMThe US Geological Survey concluded a study in which samples of a variety of chemicals were traced in the air and rain around the Mississippi Delta agricultural region. Glyphosate and its degradation product, aminomethyl-phosphonic acid (AMPA), were detected in ≥75% of air and rain samples in 2007.

Read the abstract of this study HERE and for your viewing pleasure, watch this Jeckyll meets Hyde (it’s mostly scary information, but in a heroic food production light) video by the USGS below!


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greenhorns report on the national ffa convention

 Greenhorns, in partnership with Organic Consumers Association were in attendance last month at the national gathering of the FFA. The FFA National Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, saw a sea of 60,000 students representing every nook and cranny of America (and its territories) gathered together for fellowship, belonging, education and scholarly competition. Between the ages of 13 and 18, many of these students are next-in-line to the family farm and occupy a strategically powerful position in the future of American Agriculture; they are kids with land. With a self-confidence rarely seen in teenagers and impeccable public speaking skills, these students in their blue corduroy jackets cut quite the impressive figure, particularly in a stadium context.

They are team-spirited, motivated and articulate, and most of them credit these qualities to the organization that brought them together, the FFA. The FFA is turning these next-in-line farmers, agriscientists, ag teachers and farm sympathizers into successful leaders, fierce entrepreneurs, and good Samaritans…for Big Ag.

This polished youth constituency at the FFA sing the praises, almost exclusively, of Big Ag. How did this happen? Lets start with the obvious place; let’s follow the money.

Continue reading


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big data concedes: farmers should own their own data

corniculture(Photo courtesy of Pete Walton, taken at the National FFA Conference)

From NPR: Top agribusiness companies, including Monsanto, DuPont, John Deere and Dow, have moved into the information business, offering to help farmers collect that data and analyze it — for a price.

But some farmers are starting to worry about how that data will be used; whether, for instance, details of their operations will be open for all to see. Others wonder how the data companies will exploit their new-found ability to monitor what’s happening on vast tracts of farmland.

Those concerns led to the new “Privacy and Security Principles for Farm Data,” which were released this week. Click HERE to read more about this issue reported by NPR.


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new study: huge increase in us chronic diseases linked to glyphosate herbicides

A huge increase in the incidence and prevalence of chronic diseases has been reported in the United States (US) over the last 20 years. Similar increases have been seen globally. The herbicide glyphosate was introduced in 1974 and its use is accelerating with the advent of herbicide-tolerant genetically engineered (GE) crops. Evidence is mounting that glyphosate interferes with many metabolic processes in plants and animals and glyphosate residues have been detected in both. Glyphosate disrupts the endocrine system and the balance of gut bacteria, it damages DNA and is a driver of mutations that lead to cancer.

Read the full paper HERE.

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