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Update on Bayer-Monsanto Merger

Bloomberg News takes a stab at what the likelihood is outraged citizens in Europe and the USA can stop this disastrous deal from going through. Jim

“Two giants of the farming and chemical industries agreed to merge Wednesday in a $66 billion deal: the U.S.’s Monsanto and Germany’s Bayer, the original maker of aspirin. It’s the year’s biggest deal and will create the world’s largest supplier of seeds and farm chemicals, with $26 billion in combined annual revenue from agriculture. If the merger goes through, it will combine two companies with a long and storied history that shaped what we eat, the drugs we take and how we grow our food.

“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…

“The deal would be the biggest ever in agriculture, but it’s not a sure thing. There could be antitrust hurdles. A combined Bayer-Monsanto would be the biggest player in an industry with only three megacompanies left standing. Plus, the deal could face a backlash in Germany, where the majority of citizens question the safety of eating and growing modified food. The mistrust is so deep, it’s illegal to grow GMO crops for food there. Monsanto is considered a poster child for evil American corporations in Germany…”

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-14/the-heroin-laced-history-behind-the-year-s-biggest-deal

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ETC Grove Analysis of Bayer-Monsanto Merger

Unless regulators step in and do their jobs at restraining monopolies, the face of world agriculture will radically shift and consolidate control thereby causing an unprecedented threat to world food security. This article from highly crediblPat Mooney and ‘ETC Group’ is MUST READ. Please share widely. Thanks! Jim

“Wednesday’s confirmation that Monsanto and Bayer have agreed to a $66 billion merger is just the latest of four M&A announcements, but at least three more game-changing mergers are in play (and flying under the radar). The acquisition activity is no longer just about seeds and pesticides but about global control of agricultural inputs and world food security. Anti-competition regulators should block these mergers everywhere, and particularly in the emerging markets of the Global South, as the new mega companies will greatly expand their power and outcompete national enterprises. Four of the world’s top 10 agrochemical purchasing countries are in the global South and account for 28% of the world market.[1] If some of these throw up barriers, shareholders will rebel against the deals regardless of decisions in Washington or Brussels.

“‘These deals are not just about seeds and pesticides, but also about who will control Big Data in agriculture,’ says Pat Mooney of ETC Group, an International Civil Society Organization headquartered in Canada that monitors agribusiness and agricultural technologies. ‘The company that can dominate seed, soil and weather data and crunch new genomics information will inevitably gain control of global agricultural inputs – seeds, pesticides, fertilizers and farm machinery.'”

http://www.etcgroup.org/content/monsanto-bayer-tie-just-one-seven-mega-mergers-and-big-data-domination-threaten-seeds-food

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MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair Celebrates 40th Year

Annually, the Common Ground Fair – put on by Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn – is North America’s largest organic event and 60,000 people attend it’s three-day-run. The Fair was established to celebrate rural life.
The Fair is always the first Friday, Saturday, Sunday following the Autumnal Equinox. That means this year’s 40th anniversary fair will be tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday.
If you are able to go this year you will be rewarded by a great event. If you can’t make it this year, do make your plans now to attend next year – we guarantee you won’t be sorry.
This interesting piece by Mary Pols takes a look back at forty years worth of Common Ground Fairs. Jim & Megan

“Bridgewater is a long way from Unity, and potatoes get harvested in September, so farmer and anti-GMO activist Jim Gerritsen doesn’t make it to the fair every year. If it’s raining in Aroostook County but not in Unity, that’s ideal; he can put the chores aside for a day and make the drive. One of his most memorable fairs was in 1978, when author Wendell Berry was the keynote speaker. There was a special breakfast with Berry, just for farmers.

“‘This was back when I was still a bachelor and had a cow that I had to milk,” Gerritsen said. “Everybody wanted to get into this breakfast, and MOFGA decided to let in two people from every county. They gave us four though because Aroostook County was so big. I got up at 2 a.m, milked the cow, met my friend in Houlton at 3 a.m., drove to Litchfield, had a nice breakfast with all this good Maine food, and then Wendell Berry started talking to us for about 45 minutes.

“‘Wendell Berry in a small setting with a roomful of farmers is something that I have never seen repeated again. I think he was really energized. It was one of the great opportunities in my life and it was all because of MOFGA,’ Gerritsen said. ‘I think everybody in that room, probably most of us, had read ‘The Unsettling of America’ and we recognized that this guy was prophetic… I would say it was a beautiful wedding of common interests.'”

http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/18/remembering-40-years-at-the-common-ground-country-fair/

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The Long-Lasting Influence of the Good Food Movement

Consider this new piece by Dr. Latham MUST READ material. It offers a scientist’s view into the major impact for good – worldwide – the food movement is having on social and political institutions. Jim

“Over the long run of history, the most effective opponents of excessive wealth and privilege have not normally been city dwellers, workers or unions. Instead, they have usually been those with close links to food and the land, what we would now identify as the food movement.

“Even today, in more than a few countries, food is the organizing principle behind the main challengers of existing power structures. In El Salvador, the national coordinator of its Organic Agriculture Movement (MAOES) is Miguel Ramirez who recently explained:

“‘We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square meter. We see it as a tool to transform farmers’ social and economic conditions. We see it as a tool of liberation from the unsustainable capitalist agricultural model that oppresses farmers.’

“According to Ramirez, the Salvadoran organic agriculture movement wants much more than improved farming. It is seeking enhanced political rights, long-term ecological sustainability, social equity and popular health. Ramirez calls it ‘this titanic but beautiful struggle, to reclaim the lives of all Salvadorans.'”

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/37564-food-liberation-why-the-food-movement-is-unstoppable

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Leaders Reject ‘Gene Drive’ Technology

LEADERS TAKE AN IMPORTANT PRINCIPLED STAND AGAINST “GENE DRIVES” AT WORLD GATHERING IN HAWAII. We’re grateful these scientists and dedicated leaders are working to protect the public interest from Biotech’s latest flawed technology known as mutagenic chain reaction or “Gene Drive.” Jim & Megan

“Scientists and environmental experts and organizations from around the globe have advocated for a halt to proposals for the use of gene drive technologies in conservation. Announced today, a long list of environmental leaders, including Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, genetics professor and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. Fritjof Capra, entomologist Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, Indian environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva and organic pioneer and biologist Nell Newman, have lent their support to the open letter: ‘A Call for Conservation with a Conscience: No Place for Gene Drives in Conservation.’ The letter states, in part: ‘Gene drives, which have not been tested for unintended consequences, nor fully evaluated for ethical and social impacts, should not be promoted as conservation tools’.

“‘Gene drives are basically a technology that aims for a targeted species to go extinct,’ explains ecologist and entomologist Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, President of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER). ‘While this may appear to some conservationist professionals to be a ‘good’ thing and a ‘silver bullet’ to handle complicated problems, there are high risks of unintended consequences that could be worse than the problems they are trying to fix’…

“‘Gene drives, also known as ‘mutagenic chain reactions,’ aim to alter DNA so an organism always passes down a desired trait, hoping to change over time the genetic makeup of an entire species,’ explains Dr Vandana Shiva of Navdanya. ‘This technology would give biotech developers an unprecedented ability to directly intervene in evolution, to dramatically modify ecosystems, or even crash a targeted species to extinction.'”

http://www.etcgroup.org/content/30-environmental-leaders-say-no-gene-drives-conservation

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The Monsanto Doctrine Aims to Extinguish Citizen Rights

GROWING OPPOSITION TO HALT ‘THE MONSANTO DOCTRINE’ WHICH SEEKS TO EXTINGUISH CITIZEN RIGHTS. Make no mistake, Monsanto and its biotech bully allies are totalitarian in nature and relentlessly seek to obliterate the rights of citizens to protect themselves and their families. No thanks, Monsanto, we’re not buying. Jim

“During the past decade, five counties in California and three in Hawaii have passed common-sense public-safety laws to protect public health, organic agriculture, and clean water by regulating farms that grow pesticide-soaked genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Now, San Francisco’s Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will determine whether the federal government can invalidate these laws in order to protect the profits of the world’s largest agrochemical companies…

“If the Ninth Circuit upholds these powers, then the popular laws and ballot initiatives passed during the last decade to create a GMO-free agricultural zone in Santa Cruz, Marin, Mendocino, Humboldt, and Trinity counties could be instantly nullified.

“‘These federal agencies have been corrupted by agrochemical companies that have literally hijacked and now control the agencies that are supposed to regulate them,’ says David Cobb, outreach director of Move to Amend, a nonprofit that pushes to eliminate the idea of corporate personhood. ‘These companies are literally controlling the public process.'”

http://www.sfweekly.com/news/news-news/toxic-shock-monsanto-doctrine-gmo-free-farming/

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FANTASTIC FLOODS IN LOUISIANA LEAVE DEVASTATING IMPACT ON FAMILY FARMERS.

Last month’s flooding – from a storm which left up to 31″ of rain – in flat Louisiana has really clobbered local farmers. The farm of the generous Gotreaux family was severely impacted. WE CAN HELP THEM TODAY by donating to a ‘GoFundMe Project’ set up on their behalf. Jim & Megan https://www.gofundme.com/2fzqz3es

“‘We lost 99 percent of our crops,’ says Brian Gotreaux of Gotreaux Family Farms, who raises fruit, vegetables, tilapia, and a medley of livestock on 30 acres just outside Lafayette. The water was thigh-deep over much of his land for more than 24 hours, long enough to drown any vegetable crop. Where a week before was a lush patchwork of tomatoes, peppers, beans, and zucchini—all the summer crops in the full glory of the harvest season—he now looks out on bare fields”

A few years ago Jim spoke at the Southern Sustainable Ag Working Group (SSAWG) Conference in Little Rock AR. Jim’s friend, Jean Mills, SSAWG Conf Coordinator, had this to say about the Gotreaux family: “By hosting field days and presenting at the Southern SAWG conference, Brian and Dawn Gotreaux have generously shared valuable farming experiences and lessons with the Southern SAWG community over the years. Their incredibly diverse farming operation is truly remarkable. I hope the Southern SAWG family can give back to the Gotreauxs in this time of need and we can help sustain this important family farm.”

http://modernfarmer.com/2016/08/louisiana-floods/

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Monsanto – Bayer Merger?

MONOPOLY MANIA: WILL MONSANTO NOW GET SWALLOWED UP BY GERMANY’S BAYER? It’s way past time for the Anti-Trust Division in the U.S. Department of Justice to wake up and prevent further anti-competitive consolidation in the ag industry. There’s no way a Bayer-Monsanto monopoly would be anything but a disaster for consumers and farmers.
Other intended ag mergers already in the pipeline are Syngenta by ChemChina; Dow and Dupont; and Potash Corp and Agrium. The Fed MUST insure true competition. First and foremost that means nixing monopolistic mergers now in play like this one between Bayer and Monsanto. Jim

“German pharmaceutical and crop chemicals manufacturer Bayer AG says talks with Monsanto Co have advanced and it is now willing to offer more than $65 billion, a 2 percent increase on its previous offer for the world’s largest seeds company.

“‘Both sides are gradually nearing consensus,’ one person familiar with the matter said.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-monsanto-m-a-bayer-idUSKCN11B2G9

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Organic Research Funding Lagging

REPORT: CONTINUED GROWTH OF ORGANIC FARMING REQUIRES EXPANDED INVESTMENTS IN RESEARCH. The VAST majority of research efforts completely ignores the organic farming sector. This is not only unfair but restrains the growth of organic farming which demonstratively is good for consumers, good for the environment as well as being good for farmers.
This new report shines a spotlight on where improvements are needed. Jim

“The systematic ignoring of the need for publicly funded research in our country’s fastest growing agricultural sector prompted the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), an NSAC member organization, to take a closer look at the role public investments have played in the organic industry to date. OFRF recently released their findings in the report, Taking Stock: Analyzing and Reporting Organic Research Investments, which offers an unprecedented assessment of the impact investments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) have made in addressing critical research needs of organic farmers. The report also provides recommendations for key areas in which future research investments should be targeted…

“…Because federal investments have failed to keep public research and seed breeding institutions viable, farmers now lack access to seed stocks uniquely tailored to their climate and growing needs. This is particularly problematic for organic farmers, who, according to a recent report from the Organic Seed Alliance, use 75 percent organic seed on average for operations under 10 acres, but only 20 percent organic seed on average for operations over 480 acres…

“Ensuring that farmers have access to plant varieties specifically adapted to organic production systems remains a top research concern in the organic community. This was clearly reflected in the report, which found that this priority was addressed by dozens of funded research projects, resulting in impressive findings and new and improved seed and plant varieties.”

http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/orei-org-evaluation-report/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SustainableAgricultureCoalition+%28National+Sustainable+Agriculture+Coalition+%28NSAC%29%29

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Caitlin Shetterly’s Book “Modified To Be Released this Month”

You’ll want to read this good article by Mary Pols in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
One might say Caitlin is Biotech’s worst nightmare: an articulate and intelligent young mother and author who discovers GE corn is making her family sick. Caitlin decides to do a radical makeover of her family’s diet, experiences recovery – after eating organic and avoiding GMOs – and, as writers are wont to do, writes up her experience in a landmark 2013 first-person article in “Elle” (http://www.elle.com/…/a12574/allergy-to-genetically-modifi…/). Industry response is swift and predictable. Caitlin is savagely attacked by Biotech’s hired guns – including notorious propagandist Jon Entine (http://www.truthwiki.org/jon_entine/).
So now comes her new book. Two weeks from today will be the Launch Party for Caitlin’s long-awaited book, “Modified” (G.P. Putnam Sons) at Stacy & Jon’s organic Broad Turn Farm near Portland, Maine.
We expect “Modified” will have a major impact in the growing societal discussion over whether GE crops truly serve the people or merely serve their corporate owners striving for greed and power. Jim & Megan

“’Off the bat, I fell in love with Caitlin’s writing and was drawn to the fact that she was able to take a topic like this that is so very complex and write about it with easy and beautiful prose,’ Kolen wrote in an email. ‘Readers and consumers of food desperately need more unfiltered and practical information about this topic and I do think that ultimately, that becomes our collective agenda in writing and publishing this book – to not only provide a framework for the basic and underlying information but to underscore the need for transparency when it comes to gathering that information.'”

http://www.pressherald.com/2016/09/04/mainer-caitlin-shetterly-takes-on-the-topic-of-gmos-in-new-book-modified/