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Mexico Continues to Nix GE Corn

Congratulations to Mexico which is exercising its prerogative to prevent the growing of GE corn crops.
GE corn, in particular, is a losing proposition which endangers Mexico, the birthplace of corn. More generally, GE crops disadvantge the public interest and promotes seed consolidation and corporate control since unlike traditional seeds, contractual restraints prevent farmers from replanting their own seed. Additionally, the documented increase in chemical usage associated with GE crops has negative impacts on both people and the environment. Jim

“A ban on planting genetically modified corn in Mexico is likely to continue for years as a slow-moving legal battle grinds on, said a top executive of U.S.-based seed and agrochemical company Monsanto Co.

“Last week, a Mexican court upheld a late 2013 ruling that temporarily halted even pilot plots of GMO corn following a legal challenge over its effects on the environment.

“‘It’s going to take a long while for all the evidence to be presented,’ Monsanto regional corporate director Laura Tamayo said in an interview. ‘I think we’re talking years’…

“Mexico is the birthplace of modern corn, domesticated about 8,000 years ago and today the planet’s most-produced grain…

“Critics say genetically modified corn plantings will contaminate age-old native varieties…”

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GMO Arctic Apples to Hit Shelves Next Month Without Clear Labeling

Consider this bad news a warning to your family: plan to switch over to Organic Apples right away. The first of the illegimate GE apples will be yellow, but a green and red GE version will soon follow.
Are GE Apples safe? Because of insufficient study, no one knows. ‘Regulator’ USDA and the manufacturer are hoping you and your family won’t mind being guinea pigs.
Switching to Organic Apples will protect your family and will be an effective response to that guinea-pig-request. Letting your local grocery store Produce Manager know of your opposition will also be helpful. Jim

“The company will also be selling GMO Granny Smith and Fuji in the future after gaining USDA approval. The USDA deregulated the GMO Fuji apple in September despite receiving more than 620 comments from individuals and consumer groups who were opposed to the variety, GMO food in general, as well as concerns over a lack of clear GMO labeling.

“‘It’s not only an unnecessary product, but the risks have not been fully examined,’ said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch.”

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Worthless GE Apples to be in Stores Soon

Now that Glyphosate-centric herbicide-tolerant (HT) GE crops are failing and being abandoned by farmers, a new generation of GE crops, HT to problematic and flawed ‘Dicamba’ herbicide, is being pushed by Monsanto and others. One problem is Monsanto is selling the Dicamba HT GE seed despite Dicamba NOT been approved for use.
ANOTHER HUGE PROBLEM being encountered with this illegal Dicamba use is its EXTREME VOLATILITY. When sprayed to control weeds in GE crops, there is a strong and unreasonable tendency for Dicamba to drift off-target and cause severe destruction to neighboring non-GE crops. Hundreds of thousands of innocent acres have been damaged by Dicamba spray drift.
Spray-drift injured farmers are demanding government action. States like Arkansas and Missouri are clamping down. Jim

“Rone last week introduced two bills that would amend the approval process for herbicides and herbicide-resistant seed in Missouri. One of them, House Bill 605, would require the Missouri Department of Agriculture to determine whether herbicides sold in the state are “inherently volatile” and develop usage restrictions for those meeting certain criteria. The other, HB 606, would prohibit the sale of herbicide-resistant seed if the corresponding herbicide has not also garnered approval.

“But Rone described the legislation introduced Thursday as the biggest of the three. He said that bill, HB 662, would raise existing fines for illegal herbicide use from $1,000 per field to $1,000 per acre.

“‘The farmers down there have asked me to build something with teeth in it,’ he said. ‘That’s what I’ve done.'”

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More New Monsanto-EPA Collusion Exposed

Excellent article by Carey Gillam which exposes collusion between malevolent Monsanto and taxpayer-funded EPA. EPA has long lost its way from its founding-era when it actually successfully worked to protect the environment and was committed to fight for and uphold the public interest.
Now all too often EPA is the tool of industry. Sadly, the corporate buy-out accelerates. However, we’re thankful for good journalism such as this article, which strips away the attempted dishonorable cloak-of-secrecy. Jim & Megan

“Monsanto Co. and officials within the Environmental Protection Agency are fighting legal efforts aimed at exploring Monsanto’s influence over regulatory assessments of the key chemical in the company’s Roundup herbicide, new federal court filings show…

“Monsanto has so far turned over six million pages of documents through the court-ordered discovery process, but has designated roughly 85 percent of the information as ‘confidential,’ meaning plaintiffs’ attorneys must black out information from those documents in any court filings that could be accessed by reporters or other members of the public. That designation is improper for many of the documents, especially ones dealing with the company’s interactions with, and influence attempts over, EPA officials, plaintiffs’ lawyers argue.

“The lawyers say that the documents obtained through discovery show that ‘Monsanto has been confident all along that EPA would continue to support glyphosate, whatever happened and no matter who held otherwise.’ According to the court filings by plaintiffs’ attorneys, the documents show ‘it is clear that Monsanto enjoyed considerable influence within the EPA’s OPP, and was close with Mr. Rowland… The documentary evidence strongly suggests that Mr. Rowland’s primary goal was to serve the interests of Monsanto.’

“The EPA is a taxpayer-funded, public agency and its dealings with Monsanto should be subject to public scrutiny, particularly given the widespread use of glyphosate herbicide products and the ongoing international debate over the safety of the chemical, they claim.

“‘The health and safety of millions of U.S. citizens is at stake,’ states a Jan. 16 plaintiffs’ filing. ‘Decisions affecting the public health should not be based on secret conversations between Monsanto and EPA officials. If Monsanto wants to advocate on behalf of glyphosate to EPA employees, they should have to do it publicly, so that concerned citizens have equal opportunity to advocate for their health and the health of their families. This issue is too important to allow Monsanto to improperly influence the EPA, and then hide such communication behind an improper ‘confidential’ designation.'”

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‘Open Source Seed’ Grows Amidst Corporate Consolidation

Seed is the foundation of crop agriculture and represents the primary source of food for the earth’s nearly 7.5 billion residents (
Seed has been a part of the Commons for virtually all of our 10,000-year agricultural history. So, who controls seed is tremendously important. Only in recent decades has corporate ownership pirated seed ownership away from the people.
A growing movement is offering a different vision and placing seed back into the Commons. Jim

“For Carol Deppe, an Oregon plant breeder and OSSI board member, there’s another component to breeding that’s important. ‘When you breed a variety, you breed your own values right into the variety,’ she says. ‘If you believe in huge agribusiness farms with monocultures that are managed with massive doses of herbicides, then you breed your concept of what agriculture should be like into that variety. I do exactly the opposite.’

“While a handful of medium-sized companies (those with international markets but smaller than, say, Monsanto) hold patents, most smaller seed companies are able to survive without patenting — they either are opposed to the practice, have decided the process is too costly to be worthwhile, or both.”

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Bridging the Rural Urban Gap

Good interview with Oregonian Gabe Rowe in ‘Daily Yonder.’ Gabe has lived in two worlds and as a clear thinker articulates a path forward on common ground. The “we” thinking is much more respectful and productive at solving our problems than the old “us and them” divisiveness. Jim

“Tim: Do you feel that there’s a cultural divide between rural and urban communities?

“Gabe: I do believe that there are fundamental American values that transcend urban, rural, cultural divides and I think that America is a place that is made up of many cultures and many subcultures. That fundamentally, that’s what makes us strong. I don’t think that having different cultural values and customs and beliefs is something that fundamentally divides us. I think that that diversity is something that actually … That’s what America is. I think we need it all. I think we need to preserve rural culture. I think that we need to have urban culture and I think though that what has happened is that people don’t feel like they can go back and forth. That’s really what we need to be able to do is go experience these places and these people and feel welcome wherever we are.”

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Wendell Berry Speaks of John’s Hopkins University

We’ve learned this valuable lesson over the past 40 years: when Wendell Berry talks, it pays to listen. Last month Wendell spoke at Johns Hopkins University and here’s a report. Jim & Megan

“Wendell Berry’s response to the recent election? ‘I’m still on the losing side and that’s where I’ve taken up my residence … If Hillary Clinton had won, I would still be on the losing side. And I would just have to go to work.’

“When the celebrated writer, farmer, and elder statesman of the local food movement sat down in front of a sold-out audience at Johns Hopkins University last week, the crowd seemed even more eager than usual to soak in Berry’s wisdom in this particularly fraught national moment…

“Wendell Berry isn’t a pessimist. But implied within his worldview is a deep skepticism about American and Western beliefs in the inevitability of progress and in the power of science and industry to solve every problem. And, as he pointed out that night, that skepticism can give one the freedom to focus on more important work, to find hope and solace in more genuine places. It can put into perspective something even as truly upsetting as this year’s election.

“‘I wasn’t surprised. The conditions for this election and the Trump triumph have been building up in rural America ever since VJ Day in 1945,’ Berry explained. ‘These people out there in the country [who] have been dismissed as dispensable, unneeded, redundant—the economy has told them that there’s no need for them, and so a certain resentment has understandably built up’…

“Berry called for ‘a broad-fronted movement,’ adding that ‘it would be economic, to protect everything that’s worth protecting, to stop permanent damage to everything that’s worth keeping. This is not something that I think can be enacted very soon, but that’s what I’m for.’

“‘A whole program of that kind has to be carried on by whole people,’ he went on to say. ‘People who are not ashamed to say that they love something, or that they have reverence, who are not ashamed of the upper branches of our language.'”

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African Nation Benefits from Dumping Monsanto GE Cotton

Here we go again: yet another instance of Monsanto over-promising and under-delivering. Plus Monsanto’s characteristic broken-record response: ‘all we know for sure is it’s not our fault.’
The repetitive pattern of disappointments-and-denials GOES BACK 20 YEARS to when Monsanto’s GE crops were first introduced. Back then, Monsanto’s GE ‘New Leaf’ transgenic-Bt Potatoes quickly earned the disgust of local Maine potato-farmers who found Monsanto’s GE potato clonal selections displayed runty plants and noticeable yield drag.
All of Monsanto’s upbeat company propaganda is not up to the task of masking GE production failures observed by skilled and smart farmers. Jim

“Burkina Faso estimates its production of raw cotton for the 2016-17 harvest will rise by 25 percent compared to the previous harvest as favorable rainfall boosts output, the country’s agriculture minister said on Monday.

“The west African country’s growers had reverted entirely to conventional cotton for the new crop, after blaming a genetically modified (GM) variety supplied by U.S. seed maker Monsanto for a decline in cotton quality.

“The 2016-17 harvest, which is expected to total 750,000 tonnes, was showing improved quality as well as production, minister Jacob Ouedraogo told reporters in Paris.

“Burkina Faso’s cotton producers had complained that increased levels of short fibers in their GM cotton had impacted its market value, and last April announced they were seeking 48.3 billion CFA francs ($78 million) in compensation from Monsanto.”

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NY Times Fooled by Biotech

WHY IS THE NY TIMES SO NAIVE? When a Biotech employee manipulates genetic material at the sub-cellular level, in a laboratory, that PROCESS IS ABSOLUTELY, UNMISTAKABLY GENETIC ENGINEERING.
So why is the NY Times so naive as to believe the self-serving lie put forward by Biotech that ‘gene-editing’ is something other than GE or genetic modification? Is the NY Times so foolish as to imagine orchestrated laissez-faire kid-glove-treatment of ‘gene-editing’ by revolving-door-industry-friendly ‘regulators’ is anything but a carefully hatched Biotech plan to evade regulation and keep consumers in the dark about a barely-tested technology?
We should not forget dangerous ‘gene drive technology’ is a form of ‘gene-editing.’ Last month, 160 world organizations submitted to the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity a letter urging a moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology called ‘gene drives.’ Gene drives are “designed to force a particular genetically engineered trait to spread through an entire wild population – potentially changing entire species or even causing deliberate extinctions.” Here are the details on this huge threat: Jim

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Bringing a Mobile Food Bus to Urban Food Deserts

A pioneering, out-of-the-box program in St. Louis is utilizing a retrofitted bus as a mobile grocery store to bring food accessibility to urban food deserts. Adhering to a regular schedule, the food-bus shows up at locations in residential neighborhoods which lack retail food stores.
With many lessons under their belt from first year trials, hopes are high for future success. Jim

“St. Louis Metro Market, the mobile grocery store created to bring fresh food to neighborhoods with limited access, is adjusting to lessons learned during its first year in operation.

“While the nonprofit ended the year in the red, co-founder Colin Dowling said there are lots of positive signs that it will soon be sustainable.

“‘There’s been a lot of growing pains and a lot of good lessons learned that we’re hoping to take into next year and really utilize to deepen our impact,’ Dowling said. ‘Running a grocery store — specifically a grocery store on wheels — there’s a lot of moving parts, no pun intended, that we didn’t anticipate.'”