Industrial Agriculture

Prop 37: Monsanto’s Lies and the GMO Labeling Battle…


From JOHN ROBBINS
Beyond Chron

You may have never heard of Henry I. Miller, but right now he is attempting to determine the future of food in this country. And he has enormous financial backing.

Mr. Miller is the primary face and voice of the “No on Prop 37” campaign in California. At this very moment, Monsanto and other pesticide companies are spending more than $1 million a day to convince California voters that it’s not in their best interest to know whether the food they eat is genetically engineered. And Henry I. Miller is their guy.

If you live in California today, he’s hard to miss. You see him in TV ads, hear him in radio spots, and his face is all over the expensive fliers that keep showing up uninvited in your mail box. Initially, the ads presented Miller as a Stanford doctor. But he isn’t. He’s a research fellow at a conservative think tank (the Hoover Institute) that has offices on the Stanford campus. When this deceptive tactic came to light, the ads were pulled and then redone. But they still feature Miller trying to convince the public that Prop 37 “makes no sense,” and that it’s a “food-labeling scheme written by trial lawyers who hope for a windfall if it becomes law.”

Actually, Prop 37 makes all the sense in the world if you want to know what’s in the food you eat. It was written by public health advocates, and provides no economic incentives for filing lawsuits.

Who, then, is Henry I. Miller, and why should we believe him when he tells us that genetically engineered foods are perfectly safe?

Does it matter that this same Henry Miller is an ardent proponent of DDT and other toxic pesticides? Does it matter that the “No on Prop 37” ads are primarily funded by pesticide companies, the very same companies that told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe?

I find it hard to avoid the impression that Henry Miller is a premier corporate flack.

How to Feed the World’s Hungry: Ditch Corporate-Controlled Agriculture


From ALTERNET
Thanks to Janie Sheppard

A new report from the UN advises ditching corporate-controlled and chemically intensive farming in favor of agroecology

There are a billion hungry people in the world and that number could rise as food insecurity increases along with population growth, economic fallout and environmental crises. But a roadmap to defeating hunger exists, if we can follow the course — and that course involves ditching corporate-controlled, chemical-intensive farming.

“To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available. And today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production in regions where the hungry live,” says Olivier de Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Agroecology is more or less what many Americans would simply call “organic agriculture,” although important nuances separate the two terms.

Used successfully by peasant farmers worldwide, agroecology applies ecology to agriculture in order to optimize long-term food production, requiring few purchased inputs

The World Needs Genetically Modified Foods?


From GM Watch

10 reasons why we don’t need GM foods

If you want to print this article as an A4 leaflet, download a PDF.

With the cost of food recently skyrocketing – hitting not just shoppers but the poor and hungry in the developing world – genetically modified (GM) foods are once again being promoted as the way to feed the world. But this is little short of a confidence trick. Far from needing more GM foods, there are urgent reasons why we need to ban them altogether.

1. GM foods won’t solve the food crisis

A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production is the major cause of the increase in food prices.[1] GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels (crops grown for fuel rather than food) — while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as a PR opportunity to promote GM foods!

“The climate crisis was used to boost biofuels, helping to create the food crisis; and now the food crisis is being used to revive the fortunes of the GM industry.” — Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent of The Independent[2]

“The cynic in me thinks that they’re just using the current food crisis and the fuel crisis as a springboard to push GM crops back on to the public agenda. I understand why they’re doing it, but the danger is that if they’re making these claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world, that’s bullshit.” – Prof Denis Murphy, head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan in Wales[3]

Wendell Berry Says Large-Scale Farms Killing Land as Well as Towns


From TED STRONG
Common Dreams

A passive populace obsessed with easy answers has led to an economy that is destroying America’s land, author Wendell Berry told a packed-in crowd at the University of Virginia on Thursday evening.

“Simple solutions will always lead to complex problems, surprising simple minds,” he said.

In a lecture in the full auditorium of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, Berry outlined the need for small-scale landholders engaging in forestry and farming, as opposed to the industrial-scale operations now in place.

The talk was so popular that seats in the auditorium ran out long before the 5:30 speech began. Eventually, a pair of university police officers shooed away the overflow crowd waiting outside.

Even some of those who made it inside were left without seats, and Berry invited them to sit on the stage near him.

Large-scale and corporate operations cause long-term damage to the environment and to rural cultures, he told the crowd.

Farm and timber economies that simply export raw materials for processing elsewhere kill towns because they also export jobs, he said.

“And then you will be exporting your young people to take those jobs,” he said.

Why Sustainable Family Farms are Crucial to the Future of the World


From John Ikerd
Professor Emeritus,
University of Missouri,
Columbia, MO

Family farms have always been an important part of our “better history.” Historically, farmers were held in high esteem in the United States and around the world. Thomas Jefferson believed strongly that the yeoman farmer best exemplified the kind of independence and virtue that should be supported by the new democratic republic. He believed financiers, bankers, and industrialists could not be trusted and should not be encouraged by government. In light of our current economic situation, “Jeffersonian Democracy” still makes a lot of sense.

Adam Smith, in writing the Wealth of Nations, noted that no endeavor requires a greater variety of knowledge and experience than does farming, other than possibly the fine arts or liberal professions. He observed that farmers ranked among the highest social classes in China and India, and suggested it would be the same everywhere if the “corporate spirit” did not prevent it. Smith also suggested a role for government in ensuring that “they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of people, should have a share of the produce of their own labor as to themselves be tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged.”

Giant Hoax By Monsanto Continues – Genetically Modified Seeds Do Not Produce Higher Yields

From Union of Concerned Scientists

[As many of us have been saying for years, the only thing Monsanto has accomplished by genetically modifying seeds to withstand their poisons, is to increase the sales of those poisons, blanketing the earth and our bodies with their nasty, cancer-causing chemicals for profit. Their blatant bullshit about increasing higher yields is a con-job to force farmers to buy their seeds every year. Their executives and “scientists” should be pilloried in public humiliation in their own town’s public squares and tried for crimes against humanity. Mendocino County was first to ban their plants from our county. We will feed the world with small, local, organic farms. Thanks to Janie for link. –DS]

Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops (Union of Concerned Scientists)

For years the biotechnology industry has trumpeted that it will feed the world, promising that its genetically engineered crops will produce higher yields. That promise has proven to be empty, according to Failure to Yield, a report by UCS expert Doug Gurian-Sherman released in March 2009.

Despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase U.S. crop yields. Failure to Yield is the first report to closely evaluate the overall effect genetic engineering has had on crop yields in relation to other agricultural technologies. It reviewed two dozen academic studies of corn and soybeans, the two primary genetically engineered food and feed crops grown in the United States.