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Monsanto

How the US Sold Africa to Multinationals Like Monsanto, Cargill, DuPont, PepsiCo and Others

by: Jill Richardson

Fri May 25, 2012 at 13:36:53 PM PDT

A week ago today, Obama announced a new scheme to "help" the hungry in Africa: the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. This is a $3.5 billion corporate effort. All the big guys are there - Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, DuPont, and BASF. The day-long symposium in which the New Alliance was announced included Obama, Hillary Clinton, Senators from both major US parties, several African heads of state, and no shortage of corporate bigwigs.

I was not the only one to criticize it - so did IATP and Eric Holt Gimenez of Food First. My critique is below, cross-posted from Alternet.

More info can be found here, including a list of participating corporations. My article is below.

There's More... :: (1 Comments, 1933 words in story)

What's your beef (and why's it coming from Tanzania?)

by: Marcia Ishii-Eiteman

Fri Nov 04, 2011 at 14:48:56 PM PDT

Originally posted on Pesticide Action Network's blog, Groundtruth.

What do an American businessman, Iowa State University and 162,000 refugees in Tanzania have in common?

Answer: they are all either directly involved in or soon-to-be impacted by a small group of U.S. investors' plans to acquire 800,000 acres (1,250 square miles) of land in Tanzania and transform it into large-scale industrial crop, beef and agrofuel production. They plan to use genetically engineered (GE) seed and other inputs supplied by Monsanto, Syngenta and other global agribusinesses.

As you might guess, not everyone is going to benefit from this mega-project! The deal, if it goes through, would force 162,000 former refugees from Burundi off land they have tended for the past 40 years, destroying their livelihoods and the communities they have built to give their children a future.

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Monsanto's superweeds & superbugs

by: Marcia Ishii-Eiteman

Fri Sep 09, 2011 at 11:19:37 AM PDT

Originally posted on Pesticide Action Network's blog, Groundtruth.

The ecological, economic and agronomic disaster accompanying herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops is by now well known: over 10 million acres of superweeds resistant to Monsanto's weedkiller, RoundUp; farm machinery breaking on RoundUp-resistant pigweed thick as a baseball bat; Monsanto paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors' herbicides; a new generation of transgenic crops in the pipeline engineered to withstand older even more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D.

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U.S. looks to Monsanto to feed the world

by: Marcia Ishii-Eiteman

Wed Feb 02, 2011 at 15:21:57 PM PST

( - promoted by Jill Richardson)

Originally posted on Pesticide Action Network's blog, Groundtruth.

At the annual World Economic Forum this past weekend in Davos, Switzerland, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Director Rajiv Shah stood beside CEOs from Monsanto and other infamous giant corporations, and announced U.S. support for a "New Vision for Agriculture."

Yes, you should be worried.

Claiming that "large-scale private sector partnerships [can] achieve significant impact on global hunger and nutrition," Shah introduced the initiative's 17 agribusiness "champions": Archer Daniels Midland, BASF, Bunge Limited, Cargill, Coca-Cola, DuPont, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Metro AG, Monsanto Company, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SABMiller, Syngenta, Unilever, Wal-Mart, and Yara International.

What!?! Are you kidding me? Most of these agribusiness giants could be listed in an edition of Who's Who in Environmental Destruction, Hunger and Human Rights Violations. A few minutes' of investigation on GRAIN, CorpWatch, Food & Water Watch or PAN's chemical cartel page will prove this point.

There's More... :: (17 Comments, 966 words in story)

Boycott Monsanto?

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Feb 01, 2011 at 23:40:15 PM PST

Last week, when the USDA announced its decision to deregulate (i.e. legalize) GE alfalfa, sustainable food advocates were - across the board - outraged. Even those who had been arguing within the organic community had been arguing over whether GE alfalfa should be entirely banned or whether we should concede to "co-existent" with it, which would have involved partially deregulating GE alfalfa while attempting to protect organic and non-GE alfalfa from contamination. Nobody in the sustainable ag movement wanted total deregulation.

One of the first responses was a call to boycott Monsanto. I saw the emails go back and forth, again and again, about this idea. Others have called for non-violent direct action, which I assume means destroying seeds or crops. Most of all, it seems that everyone wants to do something because the decision to deregulate GE alfalfa is simply too big of an outrage to take lying down.

My personal hope is that the Center for Food Safety et al will be successful in court on this issue and others. That, to me, seems to be our best hope. My other thought is that perhaps the time is now ripe to advocate the labeling of food containing GMOs, knowing Obama's love of compromise, given the huge victory he has just given to Monsanto, the biotech industry, and Republicans. (Biotech is hardly a partisan issue but in this case, several senior Republicans weighed in calling for total deregulation of GE alfalfa, whereas some influential Democrats have come out against it.)

As for a boycott: How is anyone going to boycott Monsanto? I already avoid - to the extent that I can - genetically modified crops. That means avoiding all non-organic corn, soy, canola, and cotton. I am sure that I don't do a complete job of avoiding these, but I try. It also means avoiding Hawaiian papaya, and perhaps sugar from beets, although at this point I am not sure. That can be done by using evaporated cane juice or sucanat if you need actual sugar, or opting for sweeteners like honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup.

But avoiding genetically engineered products does not necessarily mean that you're avoiding Monsanto. Some GE seeds come from other companies, like DuPont. And Monsanto sells non-GE seeds as well. Avoiding Monsanto would mean avoiding a hefty percent of all food grown from seeds... and consumers have no way to know where the seeds used to grow their food came from anyway.

Asking farmers to avoid Monsanto products, on the other hand, is something we could do. However, the other large seed companies aren't exactly saints. Boycotting Monsanto and buying from DuPont instead is like boycotting BP and instead buying your gas from Exxon Mobil.

What CAN be done is growing our own food and saving our own seeds. I can't imagine that we would actually make a dent in Monsanto's market share by doing that, but there is certainly plenty of good that comes from growing your own food and learning how to save seeds. I can say after a year of trying to save seeds myself that certain crops are easier than others. Beans, for example, are very simple to save. Tomatoes are fairly easy too, although they require fermentation. For buying seeds, I'm rather a fan of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. But if you want to do something effective, I'd say the best hope is to toss a few bucks to the Center for Food Safety to support their efforts to challenge GMOs in court.

That said, I would ask everyone to think of other things that can be done about the GE alfalfa decision. Writing or calling Obama is certainly a good idea, as it seems the decision came from the White House. And I would discourage any idea that hurts farmers, such as destroying their fields of GE crops. The farmers aren't the bad guys in this, and I would hate to see them punished for it.

What do you think should be done?

Discuss :: (24 Comments)

The United States of Monsanto

by: Jill Richardson

Tue Dec 21, 2010 at 13:24:53 PM PST

I'm going to let the U.S. government speak for itself here:

Summary: Mission Paris recommends that that the USG reinforce our negotiating position with the EU on agricultural biotechnology by publishing a retaliation list when the extend "Reasonable Time Period" expires. In our view, Europe is moving backwards not forwards on this issue with France playing a leading role, along with Austria, Italy and even the Commission. In France, the "Grenelle" environment process is being implemented to circumvent science-based decisions in favor of an assessment of the "common interest." Combined with the precautionary principle, this is a precedent with implications far beyond MON-810 BT corn cultivation. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices. In fact, the pro-biotech side in France -- including within the farm union -- have told us retaliation is the only way to begin to begin to turn this issue in France. End Summary.

This cable was sent from the U.S. Embassy in Paris on December 14, 2007. More below.

There's More... :: (7 Comments, 598 words in story)

Vote for Your Favorite Villain of Food

by: Marcia Ishii-Eiteman

Mon Nov 01, 2010 at 09:50:47 AM PDT

Originally posted on Pesticide Action Network's blog, Groundtruth.

Have you voted? I just did. But not for someone who stands for peace, justice and ecological sanity. No, this time I voted for Monsanto. You can too! Check out Grist's Villains of Food poll. It was a tough choice-so many good candidates (Bayer! Smithfield! DeCoster!). After voting, I found that Monsanto leads the pack by 40 percentage points. Seems like people are noticing the effects of a century's worth of misdeeds.

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Monsanto's going down!

by: Marcia Ishii-Eiteman

Fri Oct 29, 2010 at 10:32:29 AM PDT

( - promoted by Jill Richardson)

Originally posted on Pesticide Action Network's blog, Groundtruth.

Monsanto's humiliations are all over the news these days. Last week we heard that Monsanto is actually paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors' weedkillers. Monsanto's latest press release announces it is offering RoundupReady cotton farmers up to $20/acre to pour on extra herbicides. In fact, The Organic Center reports that this bizarre practice-a reversal of Monsanto's traditional exhortations to rely on its own chemical Roundup-has actually been going on for over a year now, a response to the Monsanto-induced epidemic of superweeds now ravaging the country.

The Ship is Sinking

By now even Forbes has recanted, acknowledging it got it all wrong last year when it named Monsanto "company of the year." After a century of bad deeds, this corporation is finally taking its karmic hit.

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Food Democracy on the ground in New Orleans

by: Marcia Ishii-Eiteman

Thu Oct 28, 2010 at 11:29:16 AM PDT

(Thanks for the update from New Orleans Marcia. I usually attend this conference but missed it this year due to my trip to Bolivia. - promoted by Jill Richardson)

Originally posted on Pesticide Action Network's blog, Groundtruth.

I'm writing from warm, sunny New Orleans, where 900 food justice activists attending the Community Food Security Coalition conference have just wrapped up five days of workshops, conversations and field trips to the region's innovative and indomitable farmers, fisherfolk, urban gardeners, food workers and local organizers. These brave souls are-against all odds-reinventing healthy and sustainable food systems in their communities.

Meanwhile, 1,000 miles away in Des Moines, Iowa, Rajiv Shah-the head of USAID-was also talking about food and agriculture, but with a very different message.  

There's More... :: (3 Comments, 673 words in story)

Gates Foundation Puts Its Money Where Its Mouth Is

by: Jill Richardson

Thu Aug 26, 2010 at 15:31:27 PM PDT

Well, well, well. It's about time. Kind of like when Fox News gave $1 million in campaign contributions to Republicans. It wasn't exactly a secret before, but now it's official. The Gates Foundation just bought a whopping 500,000 shares of Monsanto stock.

Now, there's nothing wrong with buying stock. My parents hold lots of BP stock, and they are hardly guilty of dumping the 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf. But this is one more step in a long line of actions by the Gates Foundation in which it is advocating policies and agricultural technologies that will directly benefit and profit Monsanto while screwing over the most vulnerable people on earth: hungry subsistence farmers in developing countries.

I wrote a piece recently about what happens when American industrial agriculture collides with poor, uneducated subsistence farmers in the developing world and it ain't pretty. In fact, it's tragic. It's criminal. For a corporation to prey upon such a vulnerable population for its own gain, when the result is the starvation, continued impoverishment, or loss of land and lifestyle of the poor.

Perhaps Gates thinks he is doing something good for the world with his advocacy of biotechnology and industrial agriculture. No doubt all of the executives from Monsanto and other biotech and chemical companies tell him that every day. He should instead listen to the 400 scientists who spent 3 years performing the most comprehensive study of agricultural knowledge, science, and technology in the history of the world, the IAASTD report. The report recommends agroecology - what many in the U.S. would refer to as "organics" (even though the term is more nuanced than that).

See the press release from AGRA Watch below.

There's More... :: (6 Comments, 1122 words in story)

Mexico Diaries: Day 4 - Panthers and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

by: Jill Richardson

Sun Jul 25, 2010 at 20:24:45 PM PDT

This diary series covers my trip to the Mexican state of Jalisco to study the effects of NAFTA and the Green Revolution on subsistence farmers in rural areas. The trip began with a few days in Guadalajara, the largest city in the state. On the fourth day of the trip, we traveled through the countryside to the small town of Cuquio, where we would spend the rest of our trip.

Day 1: Guadalajara
Day 2 Part 1: Breakfast and the EcoStore
Day 2 Part 2: Jalisco Ecological Collective
Day 3: The Flea Market

There's More... :: (11 Comments, 1609 words in story)

The Supreme Court Decision on Monsanto's GE Alfalfa: Who Won?

by: Jill Richardson

Mon Jun 21, 2010 at 11:09:00 AM PDT

It depends on who you listen to. According to the New York Times, this was a clear win for Monsanto. And, worse, it was a 7 to 1 vote. But the Center for Food Safety says otherwise. In the decision, it is STILL illegal to plant Roundup Ready Alfalfa until the USDA deregulates it (again). And, if they want to deregulate it (and they do), they must complete an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The lower court decision that the Supreme Court overturned was a two-part move against Monsanto. There was the vacatur, which nullified the USDA's decision to deregulate GE alfalfa, and there was an injunction, which banned most planting of GE alfalfa until the USDA did a proper EIS. The court removed the injunction BUT said that the vacatur alone (which stands) was enough to keep GE alfalfa illegal for now, until the USDA does its EIS. The EIS is a year away from completion.

Also important is this (from the Center for Food Safety):

The Court further recognized that the threat of transgenic contamination is harmful and onerous to organic and conventional farmers and that the injury allows them to challenge future biotech crop commercializations in court.

That's huge.  

Discuss :: (1 Comments)

Congresscritters Come Out Against GE Alfalfa

by: Jill Richardson

Mon May 24, 2010 at 14:20:14 PM PDT

The wonderful Rep. Peter DeFazio and Sen. Pat Leahy are circulating a letter to Tom Vilsack opposing the USDA's decision regarding GE alfalfa. The issue is currently before the Supreme Court, so even though the USDA deregulated GE alfalfa some years ago, a lower court halted the planting of most GE alfalfa until the proper environmental impact study could be performed. DeFazio and Leahy are currently looking for more members of Congress to sign their letter before they submit it to Tom Vilsack.

Below, see the letter they are circulating to members of Congress asking for sign ons as well as the letter to Vilsack himself. If you want your representatives to sign on, give them a call about this or email them and ask them to please sign on.

There's More... :: (0 Comments, 1684 words in story)

Haitian Farmers Will Burn Monsanto Seeds

by: Jill Richardson

Wed May 19, 2010 at 10:38:32 AM PDT

In the past few days since I've returned from the Land of No Internet, there's been much buzz about Monsanto's "generous" donation of hybrid seeds to Haitian farmers. I have just witnessed agricultural success in Haiti's nearest neighbor - Cuba - and I saw firsthand that in most cases, farmers use open-pollinated (not hybrid) seeds, and they save their own seeds from one season to the next. I'd imagine it may be different on large sugarcane or tobacco operations, but those places would be growing crops for export. The places I saw grew food to feed their communities, which will be of the utmost importance in Haiti.

I must admit I'm quite pleased to see this headline: "Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Hybrid Seeds. Hybrid seeds cannot be saved, and saved seeds have a limited shelflife, particularly in a humid, tropical environment. Thus, a donation of hybrid seeds can be like a donation of an addictive drug from a drug dealer. You get your first bit for free, and then you're hooked. You need to buy the next batch yourself. Of course, Haitians can accept the donation and then buy open-pollinated seeds the next year, but that doesn't negate the fact that hybrid seeds are a very short term gift because they don't produce seeds you can save.

Here's the key paragraph from the HuffPo piece, which tells of Haiti's rejection of genetically engineered seeds but acceptance of hybrid seeds treated with rather potent pesticides:

Haitian social movements' concern is not just about the dangers of the chemicals and the possibility of future GMO imports. They claim that the future of Haiti depends on local production with local food for local consumption, in what is called food sovereignty. Monsanto's arrival in Haiti, they say, is a further threat to this.

"People in the U.S. need to help us produce, not give us food and seeds. They're ruining our chance to support ourselves," said farmer Jonas Deronzil of a peasant cooperative in the rural region of Verrettes.

Thus, Haiti's Peasant Movement of Papay has called on Haitian farmers to burn Monsanto's seeds and march in opposition to Monsanto on June 4, World Environment Day. All I can say (besides hallelujah!) is that I hope Haiti's next door neighbor Cuba comes through with agricultural help, both open pollinated seeds adapted to the local climate and technical expertise. Haiti is truly lucky to be located next door to one of the world's best example of food sovereignty in the making.

Discuss :: (11 Comments)

Evolution Wars - Roundup Resistant Plants

by: Something The Dog Said

Tue May 04, 2010 at 06:45:11 AM PDT

(Utterly predictable to everyone except Monsanto execs and the USDA. - promoted by Jill Richardson)

Biological life is amazing stuff. Over the last billion years or so it has tenaciously held through a wide variety of ecological conditions. From multiple glaciations to impacts of huge meteors, life goes on. Some species die; while others change and adapt to the new conditions no matter how bizarre or harsh. Where there are open niches existing life mutates and finds a way to move into the niche. This is the greatest trick of DNA, the ability to throw out changes or express old genes in new ways to address new challenges.

"Originally posted at Squarestate.net"

There's More... :: (12 Comments, 657 words in story)
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