EPA Turnaround on Toxic Herbicide ‘Huge Victory for Future of Food’

by Deirdre Fulton – Citing “new information” on the herbicide’s environmental toxicity, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Wednesday announced it will revoke its controversial approval of Dow’s Enlist Duo after determining that its combination of chemicals may be significantly more harmful than initially believed. “With this action, EPA confirms the toxic nature of this lethal cocktail of chemicals, and has stepped back from the brink,” said Paul Achitoff, managing attorney for Earthjustice, one of several groups that sued the EPA for its failure to consider the impacts of Enlist Duo on threatened and endangered plants and animals protected under the Endangered Species Act. As Common Dreams has reported, Dow AgroScience’s herbicide combines glyphosate, found in Monsanto’s Roundup, and 2,4-D, the key ingredient in Agent Orange. The EPA had approved its use in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma and North Dakota,...

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‘Corporate Influence Has Won’: House Passes Anti-GMO Labeling Bill

by Andrea Germanos – Legislation dubbed the DARK Act had backing of powerful groups which poured money into defeating state-level GMO-labeling efforts The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday passed legislation that would block states from requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods, or GMOs—a move that consumer rights groups decried as corporate power defeating Americans’ right to know what’s in their food. The bill, H.R. 1599—dubbed the “DARK Act” (Deny Americans the Right to Know) by its critics—passed 275-150. It was backed by the food industry, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association and Monsanto Company, which have poured money into defeating GMO labeling initiatives. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, a group that opposed the bill, explains: “The bill that passed includes provisions that would preempt states from labeling GMOs or enforce already passed GMO labeling provisions (like Vermont’s Act 120), and would prohibit states from having any oversight...

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‘The Bees Can’t Wait’: White House Plan to Save Pollinators Falls Short, Say Experts

by Lauren McCauley – Pollinator Health Strategy fails to address pesticides as key driver of bee deaths Faced with the growing crisis of declining bee populations, the White House on Tuesday released its strategy for improving pollinator health. Almost immediately, experts decried the plan, saying it “misses the mark” by refusing to acknowledge the overwhelming role that pesticides play in driving bee deaths. Under the strategy (pdf) put forth by the Pollinator Health Task Force, which falls under the leadership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the federal government aims to: Reduce honey bee colony losses to no more than 15% within 10 years, deemed “economically sustainable levels.” Increase the Eastern population of the monarch butterfly to 225 million butterflies and protect its annual North American migration. “Restore or enhance 7 million acres of land” of pollinator habitat over the next 5 years through...

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WTO Ruling on Meat Labels Exemplifies Corporate Profits Trumping Democracy

‘Country of origin labels’ ruled as having a negative impact on large North American meat-packing companies By Jon Queally, Common Dreams – In a decision food safety and consumer advocates are calling a blow to animal welfare, environmental standards, and democracy, the World Trade Organization on Monday ruled that U.S. labels on packaged meat indicating where cows, chicken or other animals were born, raised and slaughtered are in violation of international trade pacts because they place foreign imports at an economic disadvantage. The WTO ruling — which is final and not subject to further appeal — is a seen as victory for the U.S. meat-packing industry, which has characterized the “country of origin labels” (COOL) as burdensome and repeatedly challenged them in court. But the decision was decried by critics who say it highlights the far-reaching implications of so-called “free trade” deals which allow multinational corporations and business interests to challenge...

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‘This Is Only the Beginning’: Oregon GMO Labeling Measure Heads to Recount

By Andrea Germanos,, Common Dreams – Advocates of labeling genetically modified foods are cheering that an Oregon measure that would require such labeling is headed to an automatic recount. Measure 92, as Common Dreams reported earlier this month, would mandate that beginning January 2016, certain food items that were produced with or contain GMOs, also referred to as genetically engineered (GE) food, would be labeled as such. Despite the Yes on 92 campaign being greatly outspent, the final tally showed Monday that the effort was defeated by only 0.06 percentage point, less than the threshold needed to trigger a recount. The Oregonian reports that the recount will take place by December 12. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of on the ground organizers, and despite an aggressive and expensive opposition campaign, GE food labeling is still alive in Oregon,” stated Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety, an organization that...

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USDA to Approve MORE Pesticide-Laden GE Crops

by Christina Sarich – What a surprise – the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to make a decision to fully deregulate Dow Chemical’s Enlist corn and soybeans, genetically engineered to be repeatedly sprayed with the herbicide 2,4-D and glyphosate. When does this agency ever choose to protect our food supply? Now, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) is condemning this action, though it isn’t much different from all the other ridiculous actions the USDA and FDA usually make. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of CFS, says: “2,4-D resistant crops pose a monumental threat to our nation’s agricultural, environmental and human health. With this approval comes millions of more pounds of toxic herbicides dumped onto our land; it’s an unacceptable outcome. . .Center for Food Safety will pursue all available legal options to stop the commercialization of these dangerous crops.” 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid), produced by Dow Chemical, was once a chemical combination used in Agent...

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Federal Protection Sought for Iconic Pollinators ‘In Deadly Free Fall’

Groups urge Endangered Species Act protection for monarchs suffering from assualt as a result of genetically engineered crops dominating Corn Belt by Andrea Germanos – The alarming decline of the monarch butterfly population necessitates federal action to save the iconic orange and black pollinators. Such is the urging of the Center for Biological Diversity and Center for Food Safety, joined by the Xerces Society and monarch expert Dr. Lincoln Brower, who sent a petition (pdf) Tuesday to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeking Endangered Species Act protection for the butterflies. Over the last two decades, the groups say, population has plummeted by more than 90 percent. To put that “staggering” figure in perspective, Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity, said that “in human-population terms it would be like losing every living person in the United States except those in Florida and Ohio.” The request...

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Feeding GMOs to Wildlife and Spraying Bee-Killing Pesticides at National Refuges to End

By Nicole D’Alessandro, EcoWatch – For nearly 10 years, two nonprofits filed lawsuits, and used legal petitions and countless administrative actions to stop the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) in its tracks. The issue that Center for Food Safety and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) took with the FWS? The regular use of genetically engineered (GE) crops and bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides in national refuge farming programs — which ultimately interfere with the very plants and animals the refuge system is designed to protect. Today, the FWS announced in an internal memorandum that the agency will ban neonic pesticides and phase out GE feed for wildlife by January 2016. “GE crops and toxic pesticides violate the basic purposes of our protected national lands,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety. “We applaud the Fish and Wildlife Service for recognizing what our legal challenges have repeatedly stated and courts have repeatedly held: that they must...

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Win! U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to Ban Use of Bee, Bird and Butterfly-Killing Neonicotinoids

by Christina Sarich, Natural Society – Due in part to a petition submitted by the Center for Food Safety (CFS), one government agency has come to its senses, agreeing to eliminate bee and butterfly-toxic neonicotinoids in the Pacific Region of the NW Wildlife Refuges. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) very quietly announced that it will phase out neonicotinoid insecticides (neonics) in wildlife refuges in the Pacific Region, including Hawaii and other Pacific Islands, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Within the new policy, all refuge managers will be asked to exhaust all alternatives before allowing the use of neonics within the lands of the National Wildlife Refuge System. This will be the first US government agency to actually move toward a complete ban that is needed to protect our pollinating insects and birds from possible extinction due to pesticide use. This monumental step has happened due to a February, 2014 petition filed by...

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