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August 22 2012

Paula Alvarado -- A landmark ruling against agrochemicals in Argentina receives mixed reactions

Argentine activist Sofia Gatica did not win the Goldman Environmental Prize this year for a small reason: for more than a decade, she has been leading a joint complaint with neighbors from her town Ituzaingo, in Cordoba province, against producers who were spraying agrochemicals too close to the community, making people sick. (The public attorney claimed 169 people from the 5,000 neighbors got cancer from pollution from 2002 until 2010.)

Argentina being the third largest exporter of soybeans and a consumer of over 50 million gallons of glyphosate and endosulfan, her efforts were not small. In fact, she became the voice for a problem nobody wants to talk about.

Since the government depends on soy exports to collect taxes and keep the economy alive, the subject is not one eagerly discussed politically. There was a call by president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to create a commission to investigate agrochemicals in 2009, but its final recommendation, as IPS notes, was, "Because there is not enough data in Argentina on the effects of glyphosate on human health, it is important to promote further research."

The media is not crazy about it either, and you can see why by flipping the pages of the Country supplements from the nation's major newspapers, filled with ads from Monsanto et al. In 2009, a local scientist presented a study with evidence of the impact of glyphosate on amphibious embryos and received death threats plus an aggressive discredit campaign.

But this afternoon, Gatica and other environmental movements pushing the issue were preparing to receive a pat in the back. A court in Cordoba Province was going to give its final ruling on whether two farmers and an aviator were guilty of causing environmental damage and potential health hazards to the people of Ituzaingo.

Five hours after the initial time of the announcement, the verdict was in: one farmer was absolved due to lack of evidence, but the other and the aviator were found guilty and sentenced to three years of jail. Well, actually, conditional jail. Which means they can very much get out of doing any time, although they will be obliged to do social work.

Read more.. http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/a-landmark-ruling-against-agrochemicals-in-argentina-receives-mixed-reactions.html

Paula Alvarado -- A landmark ruling against agrochemicals in Argentina receives mixed reactions

Argentine activist Sofia Gatica did not win the Goldman Environmental Prize this year for a small reason: for more than a decade, she has been leading a joint complaint with neighbors from her town Ituzaingo, in Cordoba province, against producers who were spraying agrochemicals too close to the community, making people sick. (The public attorney claimed 169 people from the 5,000 neighbors got cancer from pollution from 2002 until 2010.)

Argentina being the third largest exporter of soybeans and a consumer of over 50 million gallons of glyphosate and endosulfan, her efforts were not small. In fact, she became the voice for a problem nobody wants to talk about.

Since the government depends on soy exports to collect taxes and keep the economy alive, the subject is not one eagerly discussed politically. There was a call by president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner to create a commission to investigate agrochemicals in 2009, but its final recommendation, as IPS notes, was, "Because there is not enough data in Argentina on the effects of glyphosate on human health, it is important to promote further research."

The media is not crazy about it either, and you can see why by flipping the pages of the Country supplements from the nation's major newspapers, filled with ads from Monsanto et al. In 2009, a local scientist presented a study with evidence of the impact of glyphosate on amphibious embryos and received death threats plus an aggressive discredit campaign.

But this afternoon, Gatica and other environmental movements pushing the issue were preparing to receive a pat in the back. A court in Cordoba Province was going to give its final ruling on whether two farmers and an aviator were guilty of causing environmental damage and potential health hazards to the people of Ituzaingo.

Five hours after the initial time of the announcement, the verdict was in: one farmer was absolved due to lack of evidence, but the other and the aviator were found guilty and sentenced to three years of jail. Well, actually, conditional jail. Which means they can very much get out of doing any time, although they will be obliged to do social work.

Read more.. http://www.treehugger.com/environmental-policy/a-landmark-ruling-against-agrochemicals-in-argentina-receives-mixed-reactions.html

April 25 2012

2012 Senate Farm Bill Does More Harm Than Good

Statement of Craig Cox, Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Environmental Working Group, on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill.

“The 2012 farm bill should do more to support family farmers, protect the environment, promote healthy diets and support working families. Unfortunately, the bill produced today by the Senate Agriculture Committee will do more harm than good. It needlessly sacrifices conservation and feeding assistance programs to finance unlimited insurance subsidies and a new entitlement program for highly profitable farm businesses. Rather than simply ending the widely discredited direct payment program, the Senate Agriculture Committee has created an expensive new entitlement program that guarantees most of the income of farm businesses already enjoying record profits. Replacing direct payments with a revenue guarantee program is a cynical game of bait-and-switch that should be rejected by Congress.

“The proposed legislation doubles down on unlimited subsidies to buy and deliver farm insurance – at a cost of $90 billion over the next ten years. Modest reforms to these heavily subsidized insurance programs, such as means-testing and capping premium subsidies, would save enough money to spare conservation and anti-hunger programs from the proposed cuts. Crop insurance has not only become an expensive new subsidy for large farm businesses, it has also become an entitlement program for insurance agents and insurers, including companies based in tax havens such as Bermuda and Switzerland.

Read More:

http://www.ewg.org/release/2012-senate-farm-bill-does-more-harm-good

2012 Senate Farm Bill Does More Harm Than Good

Statement of Craig Cox, Senior Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Environmental Working Group, on the Senate Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill.

“The 2012 farm bill should do more to support family farmers, protect the environment, promote healthy diets and support working families. Unfortunately, the bill produced today by the Senate Agriculture Committee will do more harm than good. It needlessly sacrifices conservation and feeding assistance programs to finance unlimited insurance subsidies and a new entitlement program for highly profitable farm businesses. Rather than simply ending the widely discredited direct payment program, the Senate Agriculture Committee has created an expensive new entitlement program that guarantees most of the income of farm businesses already enjoying record profits. Replacing direct payments with a revenue guarantee program is a cynical game of bait-and-switch that should be rejected by Congress.

“The proposed legislation doubles down on unlimited subsidies to buy and deliver farm insurance – at a cost of $90 billion over the next ten years. Modest reforms to these heavily subsidized insurance programs, such as means-testing and capping premium subsidies, would save enough money to spare conservation and anti-hunger programs from the proposed cuts. Crop insurance has not only become an expensive new subsidy for large farm businesses, it has also become an entitlement program for insurance agents and insurers, including companies based in tax havens such as Bermuda and Switzerland.

Read More:

http://www.ewg.org/release/2012-senate-farm-bill-does-more-harm-good

April 11 2012

Michael Blanding - Who Sways the USDA on GMO Approvals?

Government agencies can be "captured" by the very companies or industries they regulate. Looking at how genetically altered food products are approved, Assistant Professor Shon R. Hiatt finds unexpected influencers on the US Department of Agriculture. Key concepts include:

"Regulatory capture" describes the phenomenon whereby regulatory agencies tasked with serving the public instead end up advancing the interests of the companies they regulate.

Traditional theories of capture such as lobbying and campaign contributions had little effect on whether the US Department of Agriculture approved any particular genetically altered agriculture product.

What did seem to affect the approval process was the influence of third-party groups such as associations and even related regulatory agencies.

Read More:

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6959.html

Michael Blanding - Who Sways the USDA on GMO Approvals?

Government agencies can be "captured" by the very companies or industries they regulate. Looking at how genetically altered food products are approved, Assistant Professor Shon R. Hiatt finds unexpected influencers on the US Department of Agriculture. Key concepts include:

"Regulatory capture" describes the phenomenon whereby regulatory agencies tasked with serving the public instead end up advancing the interests of the companies they regulate.

Traditional theories of capture such as lobbying and campaign contributions had little effect on whether the US Department of Agriculture approved any particular genetically altered agriculture product.

What did seem to affect the approval process was the influence of third-party groups such as associations and even related regulatory agencies.

Read More:

http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/6959.html

Tom Philpott - The Worst Farm Bill Ever?

The farm bill—that vast, byzantine, twice-a-decade plan for federal food, ag, and hunger policy—expires on Sept. 30, just weeks before what promises to be an epically contested presidential election.

Under normal circumstances, getting Congress to agree on such complex and expensive legislation at a politically charged juncture would be daunting. This year, with both parties touting fiscal austerity and with the GOP-dominated House having recently approved a draconian budget proposal [1], getting a farm bill through the legislative process will be nearly impossible.

But none of that will likely stop Big Agribusiness from getting what it wants, which is programs that underwrite environmentally ruinous, nutritionally vapid corn/soy agriculture. Take Big Ag's lobbying power and add a big pinch of fiscal hysteria and what you get is thin gruel for everything else in the farm bill, which could could choke off the USDA's progressive-ag programs and even result in sharp cuts to hunger programs at a time of high un- and underemployment.

Read More:

http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/04/worst-farm-bill-ever

Tom Philpott - The Worst Farm Bill Ever?

The farm bill—that vast, byzantine, twice-a-decade plan for federal food, ag, and hunger policy—expires on Sept. 30, just weeks before what promises to be an epically contested presidential election.

Under normal circumstances, getting Congress to agree on such complex and expensive legislation at a politically charged juncture would be daunting. This year, with both parties touting fiscal austerity and with the GOP-dominated House having recently approved a draconian budget proposal [1], getting a farm bill through the legislative process will be nearly impossible.

But none of that will likely stop Big Agribusiness from getting what it wants, which is programs that underwrite environmentally ruinous, nutritionally vapid corn/soy agriculture. Take Big Ag's lobbying power and add a big pinch of fiscal hysteria and what you get is thin gruel for everything else in the farm bill, which could could choke off the USDA's progressive-ag programs and even result in sharp cuts to hunger programs at a time of high un- and underemployment.

Read More:

http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/04/worst-farm-bill-ever

April 05 2012

Jill Richardson - Forget the Farm Bill: Where We Should Set Our Sights This Year For Real Change

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but I don't care about the 2012 farm bill. Here's why.

The sustainable food and agriculture movement has a lot of momentum and a lot of opportunities right now, but only limited resources in terms of lobbying power. The movement has a large amount of people who care, but a relatively small amount of money compared to entrenched agriculture interests. It has a few strategically placed sympathetic appointees and elected representatives in the government. But, unfortunately, Dennis Kucinich alone cannot pass the vastly revamped farm bill we need.

But outside of Washington, the ranks of those who care about localizing our food supply and making agriculture more sustainable are growing every day. After all, delicious food is a powerful recruiting tool. The sustainable food movement is not powerless. Not nearly. But the movement can make far more progress if it focuses its energy on more winnable issues. Focusing on the farm bill for the whole of 2012 will use up endless resources and result in relatively little gain.

Read More:

http://www.alternet.org/story/154718/forget_the_farm_bill%3A_where_we_should_set_our_sights_this_year_for_real_change

Jill Richardson - Forget the Farm Bill: Where We Should Set Our Sights This Year For Real Change

I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but I don't care about the 2012 farm bill. Here's why.

The sustainable food and agriculture movement has a lot of momentum and a lot of opportunities right now, but only limited resources in terms of lobbying power. The movement has a large amount of people who care, but a relatively small amount of money compared to entrenched agriculture interests. It has a few strategically placed sympathetic appointees and elected representatives in the government. But, unfortunately, Dennis Kucinich alone cannot pass the vastly revamped farm bill we need.

But outside of Washington, the ranks of those who care about localizing our food supply and making agriculture more sustainable are growing every day. After all, delicious food is a powerful recruiting tool. The sustainable food movement is not powerless. Not nearly. But the movement can make far more progress if it focuses its energy on more winnable issues. Focusing on the farm bill for the whole of 2012 will use up endless resources and result in relatively little gain.

Read More:

http://www.alternet.org/story/154718/forget_the_farm_bill%3A_where_we_should_set_our_sights_this_year_for_real_change

January 05 2012

Will Potter - Factory Farms Can Be Prosecuted as Terrorists

The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force has kept files on activists who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms and recommended prosecuting them as terrorists, according to a new document uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act.

This new information comes as the Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a lawsuit challenging the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) as unconstitutional because its vague wording has had a chilling effect on political activism. This document adds to the evidence demonstrating that the AETA goes far beyond property destruction, as its supporters claim.

The 2003 FBI file details the work of several animal rights activists who used undercover investigation to document repeated animal welfare violations. The FBI special agent who authored the report said they “illegally entered buildings owned by [redacted] Farm… and videotaped conditions of animals.”

Read More:

http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/fbi-undercover-investigators-animal-enterprise-terrorism-act/5440/

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