Monsanto’s Monopolistic Greed

The Growing Global Challenge to Monsanto’s Monopolistic Greed

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

May 25, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The common problem we face is the power of concentrated wealth and monopolistic corporate interests. This has created a crony capitalist economy that uses government to further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the people, often threatening our basic necessities for life. A clear example of this is found in the behavior of the chemical and seed corporation, Monsanto.Monsanto threatens the world’s food supply; this is a major challenge of our era. This struggle is central to the global ecosystem, economy and energy crises. Monsanto also pushes poisonous chemicals into the environment and promotes agricultural practices that exacerbate climate change.

Monsanto’s actions truly affect each of us. They put their profits over the need for healthy foods, diverse seed supplies and the stability of the agricultural economy. They employ a variety of tools to control access to seeds and aggressively push genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and toxic chemicals despite serious safety concerns about them. And they accomplish this with great help from the US government.

When President Obama appointed a Monsanto lobbyist, Michael Taylor, as the “food czar” (officially the deputy commissioner for foods) – avoiding the Senate confirmation process, which would have brought public attention to the appointment – it was one more example of how corrupted both parties have become by corporate influence.

A global grassroots movement is building to challenge Monsanto as more people realize that we are in a struggle for our survival. May 25 is a global day of action against Monsanto taking place in hundreds of cities and 41 countries. Monsanto must be stopped before its unfettered greed destroys our health and environment. We urge you to join the effort to stop Monsanto.

Monsanto: A Threat to Public Health and the Environment

Monsanto’s products increase the use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, water and energy. At a time when the world needs to be making a transition away from the destructive impacts of energy and chemical-intensive agriculture toward local and organic food and farming, Monsanto is pulling the world in the opposite direction.

Monsanto began as a chemical company in 1901. In the 1930s, it was responsible for some of the most damaging chemicals in our history – polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCB’s, and dioxin. According to a Food & Water Watch corporate profile, a single Monsanto plant in Sauget, Illinois, produced 99 percent of PCB’s until they were banned in 1976. PCBs are carcinogenic and harmful to multiple organs and systems. They are still illegally dumped into waterways, where they accumulate in plants and food crops, as well as fish and other aquatic organisms, which enter the human food supply. The Sauget plant is now the home of two Superfund sites.

Dioxin is the defoliant used in Vietnam known as Agent Orange. It is one of the most dangerous chemicals known, a highly toxic carcinogen linked to 50 illnesses and 20 birth defects. Between 1962 and 1971, 19 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Vietnam. A class action lawsuit filed by Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange was settled for $180 million. And a Monsanto plant that made dioxin in Times Beach, Missouri, poisoned the area so greatly that the town has been wiped from the map. Thousands of people had to be relocated and it is now also a superfund site. Consistent with their method of operation, Monsanto has denied responsibility for the harm these chemicals have caused.

Their biggest selling chemical worldwide is the herbicide glyphosate, sold under the name RoundUp. Monsanto markets it as a safe herbicide and has made a fortune from it. Sales of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides accounted for 27 percent of Monsanto’s total 2011 net sales. Monsanto engineers genetically modified seeds, branded as “Roundup Ready,” to resist Roundup so that the herbicide is absolutely necessary for those who buy these seeds. Roundup Ready seeds have been Monsanto’s most successful genetically modified product line and have made Roundup the most widely used herbicide in the history of the world.

Roundup is toxic, known to cause cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, birth defects and infertility. A 2012 European Report found that the, “Industry has known from its own studies since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses” and that industry has known “since 1993 that these effects also occur at lower and mid doses.” This information was not made public, and both Monsanto and the European government misled people by telling them glyphosate was safe – as did the US government.

In response to Monsanto’s denial of this toxicity, Earth Open Source explicitly pointed to studies, including some funded by Monsanto, that showed “glyphosate causes birth defects in experimental animals” and also causes “cancer, genetic damage, endocrine disruption and other serious health effects. Many of these effects are found at very low, physiologically relevant doses.”

Before the use of glyphosate-resistant seeds, farmers used lower quantities of Roundup for fear of killing their own plants (since the herbicide kills anything green). But, a 2012 report found that with resistant seeds, “the herbicide can be sprayed in massive amounts, often from planes, near homes, schools and villages, resulting in massive increases in cancer and birth defects.”

In addition, farmers are discovering Roundup resistant “super weeds” that are not killed by the herbicide. An Arkansas farmer tells US News “This is not a science fiction thing, this is happening right now. We’re creating super weeds.” Indeed, there are now 24 Roundup resistant weeds that have been reported. In response to the appearance of these weeds, a report found: “farmers … use progressively more glyphosate as well as mixtures of other even more toxic herbicides.” In fact, farmers who grow genetically modified crops use about 25 percent more herbicides than farmers who use traditional seeds.

Monsanto produces a variety of pesticides that are less well known. Author Jill Richardson reports that these include “a number of chemicals named as Bad Actors by Pesticide Action Network.” They include known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other toxins such as Alachlor, Acetochlor, Atrazine, Clopyralid, Dicamba and Thiodicarb.

Not only does Monsanto never take responsibility for the impact of its poisonous chemicals, but they do their best to prevent research showing toxic effects. For example, in 2011, Monsanto acquired Beeologics, a company dedicated to restoring the health of the bee population, amid scientific and media speculation that an overuse of pesticides was to blame for dwindling bee populations.

Monsanto also threatens the sustainability of agriculture because its products require the use of larger quantities of water and fossil fuels in farming. While genetically engineered crops are supposed to be more drought resistant, the opposite turns out to be true. Don Huber, a science expert, notes “It takes twice as much water to produce a pound of a Roundup-ready crop soybean plant treated with glyphosate, as it does with soybean plant that’s not treated with glyphosate.”

Monsanto is a major threat to climate change due to its energy-intensive agricultural model and promotion of ethanol as a fuel source. The Organic Consumers Association adds it all up: “All told, the production and processing of Monsanto’s GMO crops, from deforestation to fossil-fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, polluting factory farms, and fuel-intensive food processing and distribution, is estimated to produce up to 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

As a result of Monsanto’s marketing, there are a lot of myths about GMOs. The truth is that GMO foods are different from traditional foods and are neither more nutritious – nor have they been proven to be safe to eat. Limited studies so far indicate that GMO foods may cause kidney and liver damage. GMO crops do not produce larger crop yields or make farmers’ lives easier, nor are they a key to feeding the world. The use of GMO seeds does environmental damage by increasing the use of pesticides, fossil fuels and water. And they make the world’s biggest environmental problem, climate change, worse.

Monsanto: A Threat to Biodiversity and Independent Agriculture

One of the keys to sustainability and durability in times of environmental stress is biodiversity. This means the existence of many varieties of plants and the insects, fungi and bacteria they require for survival so that food can be produced under different conditions. With climate change upon us, the environment is in a state of great stress: more extreme weather, new varieties of insects moving from south to north and new weeds are becoming common. This is a time when biodiversity is more important than ever.

Yet years of chemical-based agriculture have poisoned the air, water, soil and food supplies, which has killed many living things and decreased biodiversity. In addition to causing disease in humans, the use of herbicides and pesticides is contributing to a rapid species extinction of beneficial plants, insects and animals.

Monsanto is pushing agriculture toward less biodiversity by concentrating the world’s seed supply under its control. Through promotion of their genetically altered crops, contamination of traditional seeds and the practice of monopolization, Monsanto is rapidly dominating our global food system.

Monsanto’s genes are currently found in 40 percent of the crops grown in the United States. A March 2013 report found 86 percent of corn, 88 percent of cotton and 93 percent of soybeans farmed in the US are now genetically engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult. As GE crops spread and infect or mix with traditional crops, it is becoming harder to preserve traditional seeds. This creates a great problem because, as we discussed above, GE crops are unsustainable for a variety of reasons.

Monsanto’s efforts to dominate the market began with buying up the competition as early as 1982. In the decade after the mid-90s, Monsanto spent more than $12 billion to buy at least 30 businesses contributing to the decline of independent seed companies. One of the big purchases that consolidated the market was a 1997 purchase of Holden Foundation Seeds and two Holden seed distributors for $1.02 billion. Holden was the country’s last big independent producer of foundation seed. The company was in the Holden family for three generations. They produced seed that was planted on about 35 percent of the acreage set aside for corn and were the biggest American producer of foundation corn, the parent seed from which hybrids are made.

Jill Richardson describes how aggressively Monsanto uses their market power “to get seed dealers to not stock many of their competitors’ products … they restrict the seed companies’ ability to combine Monsanto’s traits with those of their competitors. And, famously, farmers who plant Monsanto’s patented seeds sign contracts prohibiting them from saving and replanting their seeds.” They promised rebates to farmers who ensured that Monsanto products made up at least 70 percent of their inventory to keep competitors out of the market. As a result of this, through either purchases or forcing competitors into bankruptcy, the number of independent seed producers has dropped from 300 to under 100 since the mid-90s. Monsanto also required that their Roundup Ready seeds be used only with Roundup, thereby keeping generic, less expensive competitors out of the market.

The result has been increased prices for farmers and consumers. Since 2001, Monsanto has more than doubled the price of soybean and corn seeds and farmers have been told to expect prices to keep increasing. According to a March 2013 report, from 1995 to 2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent; cotton prices spiked 516 percent and corn seed prices are up by 259 percent. The rising cost has had a deadly effect in India, where more than 270,000 farmers who grew Monsanto’s Bt Cotton committed suicide, many by drinking pesticides, because of endless growing debt. Nonetheless, the greatest threat from the loss of biodiversity in the seed markets is the ability to adapt to increasingly unpredictable climate changes. As Salon reports: “Many of the seed breeders and retailers Monsanto purchased were regional experts, familiar with the soil and adept at breeding crops suited to the vagaries of local pests and climate. That sprawling network of local knowledge and experimentation has been severely thinned.” Richardson adds, when crops are “too genetically homogenous, then they are vulnerable to a single disease or pest that can wipe them out.”

A March 2013 report, Seed Giants vs. US Farmers, found that Monsanto’s seed dominance is also shrinking the number of independent farmers. According to the report, as of January 2013, Monsanto, alleging seed patent infringement, had filed 144 lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 different states. Some of these farmers are sued because pollen brings Monsanto products onto their farms. There are so many cases it is impossible to summarize them in this article, but the Organic Consumers Association has an excellent web site for more information on this and other Monsanto controversies.

Monsanto: Leading Example of Corrupted Government Unable to Operate in the Public Interest

You would think this concentration of industry would lead to antitrust litigation. In fact, shortly after taking office, the Obama administration began an antitrust investigation, taking over from several states that were looking into the market practices of Monsanto. The investigation was announced with much fanfare, but last November, without even a press release, the Department of Justice closed the investigation, leaving us to conclude that it may have been a tactic to thwart state efforts.

At the beginning of the antitrust investigation, there was hope that a marketplace with more diverse seed sources and competition could exist in the future, but with the Obama administration’s decision to drop the investigation, Monsanto domination of the market has been given the imprimatur of legality and the abusive practices Monsanto uses to buy or destroy competition have been ratified.

Monsanto exemplifies political connections, the revolving door, bought-and-paid-for corporatist governance and so much that is wrong with the way the US government operates. Open Secrets reports Monsanto is one of the biggest spenders in Washington. It spent $6 million lobbying in DC in 2012, the biggest agribusiness spender. The next was Archer Daniel Midlands, spending just over $1 million.

Monsanto epitomizes the revolving door between industry and government. At least seven Monsanto officials have served in government positions. Michael Taylor left the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1984 to join King & Spalding, a law firm that lobbies for Monsanto. He returned to the FDA in 1991 and then left again to return to Monsanto in 1994 as their vice president for public policy, only to return to the FDA again as the current “food czar,” where he has led major advances for genetically modified foods. Taylor played the lead role in introducing rBGH (bovine growth hormone), which was used to increase cows’ milk production, into the US market in the early 90s along with two other Monsanto-FDA door revolvers, Dr. Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen, both from the Office of New Animal Drugs.

Other door revolvers include high level officials: Arthur Hayes, commissioner of the FDA from 1981 to 1983 and consultant to Searle’s public relations firm, which later merged with Monsanto; Michael A. Friedman, former acting commissioner of the FDA, who later went on to become senior vice president for clinical affairs at Searle; and Virginia Weldon, a member of the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee, after retiring as vice president for public policy at Monsanto.

It is not only the FDA where the Monsanto revolving door has influence. On the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas used to be a lawyer for Monsanto. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled against a farmer who was sued by Monsanto, ordering the farmer to pay $84,000 in damages.

But it is not only the revolving door that is the problem. It is also that some top government officials “work” for Monsanto while they are in office. One example took place during the Clinton administration when the French government was reluctant to allow Monsanto’s seeds on French soil. First the US Trade Representative Charlene Barschefsky urged the French government to allow the seeds. When that did not work, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright lobbied for Monsanto in France. When that failed, President Clinton himself took up the task of giving Prime Minister Lionel Jospin “an earful” about Monsanto. Even that did not work. Finally, Vice President Gore pushed Jospin – who finally gave in.

This is just one example of many in which the US government foreign policy apparatus operated on behalf of Monsanto. Five years of WikiLeaks diplomatic cables during the Bush and Obama administrations reveal that the State Department lobbied for Monsanto products worldwide and pushed genetically modified foods wherever it could. It is almost like the US government is a marketing arm for Monsanto and genetically modified foods. Indeed, in August 2011, WikiLeaks exposed that American diplomats requested funding to send lobbyists for the biotech industry to hold talks with politicians and agricultural officials in “target countries” in areas like Africa and Latin America.

There is no doubt that in the new massive trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the trade agreement being negotiated with Europe, the United States will seek to include protections for Monsanto and GMOs. Europeans involved in every aspect of agriculture or food safety are very concerned that lowered trade barriers will allow GMOs into Europe. In Europe, GMOs are currently grown on less than 1 percent of farmland.

When people try to use democratic tools to change Monsanto’s behavior, Monsanto and its allies spend millions to confuse voters and create fear. That was clear in the California initiative in November 2012 in which tens of millions were spent to prevent the requirement that foods be labeled so consumers would know whether they contained GMOs or not. Consumer groups continue to push for labeling. Another vote will be held in 2013 in Washington State, and Vermont may become the first state to pass a law requiring labeling.

Although labeling of foods that contain GMOs is required in Europe and US corporations such as Walmart and McDonald’s comply with these rules in Europe, Monsanto and its allies are taking the fight to prevent labeling in the United States to new levels. As more state-level battles and an energized grass roots develop, Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association reports Monsanto and allies are trying to subvert these efforts by getting the corrupt federal government to pass a law forbidding states to pass labeling laws.

Impossible, you think? Well, Monsanto has done the seemingly impossible before. Most recently, one legislative victory that enraged people was the Monsanto Protection Act (actually misleadingly named the Farmer Assurance Provision) which was buried in a spending bill earlier this year and which protects Monsanto from the courts. For example, under the new law, federal courts are not allowed to stop the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. There are now efforts to add a rider to the farm bill to repeal this measure.

Stopping Monsanto and Moving to Sensible Agricultural Policy

The first step to stopping the entrenchment of genetically modified foods in our food supply is labeling. As noted above, states are moving forward on that front, despite the efforts of Monsanto to stop them. This is the big battle because when foods are labeled, consumers have the power of knowledge and can choose not to buy them. Cummins reports that in Europe, the labeling of foods was the key to stopping the development of genetically modified foods.

One of the tools we must use is the boycott. Large food and beverage corporations that sell billions of dollars of organic and natural foods bankrolled the industry opposition to GMO labeling in California. Brand names like Kashi, Cascadian Farms, Bear Naked, Honest Tea, Odwalla, Naked Juice and others need to be told that we will not buy their products if they continue to fund ignorance by blocking GMO labeling.

To protect our food and health, the United States needs to adopt the precautionary principle, which means products must be proven to be safe before they are allowed on the market. The US applies a sham standard of “substantial equivalence” which avoids the need to test for safety. Applying the precautionary principle to Monsanto’s products would mean a moratorium on them until their safety can be demonstrated by independent (non-corporate-funded), long-term tests for food safety as well as safety for agriculture. Our health should come before Monsanto’s profits.

People need to be empowered not just with credible information about genetically modified foods and how to avoid them – that is, buy organic and non-processed foods – but also with access to courts to sue if agriculture, the environment or their health is damaged by GMOs. The repeal of the “Monsanto Protection Act” is a first step in that direction, but people also need to have a greater ability to sue corporations that harm them.

We advocate a two-path approach – protest what you do not like and build what you want. That means that while we encourage community-supported agriculture, organic and local gardening, preparing your own non-processed foods and working to change laws, we also urge protest. This May 25, nearly 300 protests are being held all over the world against Monsanto in the March Against Monsanto organized by Occupy Monsanto. Join these protests.

As it is with many other issues, the future of the world’s food supply boils down to the people vs. concentrated wealth and corporate power. It highlights the corruption of government and the need for a real democracy in which people are allowed to make choices for themselves on basic issues like what kind of food they eat and what kind of plants they want to grow. Popular resistance to concentrated wealth is growing as more people demand the right to control their own lives.

You can learn more and hear our interview with Ronnie Cummins, Patty Lovera and Adam Eidinger, “Reasons to Protest Monsanto” at Clearing The FOG

This article was first published on Truthout.

 Source

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35070.htm

300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide due to Monsanto crop failure, Debt etc.

March Against Monsanto.

For Details and locations of each March

http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/p/blog-page.html

Published in: on May 25, 2013 at 12:44 pm  Comments Off on Monsanto’s Monopolistic Greed  
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Farm Groups Want Action On Monsanto

A coalition of family farmers, consumers and other critics of corporate agriculture are calling on the U.S. government to crack down on what they see as unfair consolidation of the nation’s food system into the hands of a few multinationals –particularly Monsanto.

From Reuters

Farm groups call on U.S. to “bust up big ag”

98 Organizations Oppose Obama’s Monsanto Man, Islam Siddiqui, for US Agricultural Trade Representative.

* By Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, Senior Scientist, Pesticide Action Network, and Katherine Ozer, Executive Director, National Family Farm Coalition

February 22, 2010 Straight to the Source

A large coalition of groups – including the Organic Consumers Association – has been fighting since the fall to block Obama’s nomination of CropLife/biotech industry rep and former pesticide lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, to the position of Chief Ag Negotiator at the US Office of the Trade Rep. The nomination was approved by the Senate Finance Committee, but is stalled in the Senate. It could go to a Senate floor vote any day now. The coalition sent the following letter to the Senate on February 22, 2010. If you would like to send a letter to your Senator, please click here.

Dear Senator:

The following 98 organizations are writing you to express our opposition to the nomination of Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator at the office of the United States Trade Representative. Our organizations— representing family farmers, farmworkers, fishers and sustainable agriculture, environmental, consumer, anti-hunger and other advocacy groups—urge you to reject Dr. Siddiqui’s appointment when it comes up for a floor vote, despite the Senate Finance Committee’s favorable report of his nomination on December 23, 2009.

Siddiqui’s record at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and his role as a former registered lobbyist for CropLife America (whose members include Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Dow), has revealed him to consistently favor agribusinesses’ interests over the interests of consumers, the environment and public health (see attached fact sheet). We believe Siddiqui’s nomination severely weakens the Obama Administration’s credibility in promoting healthier and more sustainable local food systems here at home. His appointment would also send an unfortunate signal to the rest of the world that the United States plans to continue down the failed path of high-input and energy-intensive industrial agriculture by promoting toxic pesticides, inappropriate seed biotechnologies and unfair trade agreements on nations that do not want and can least afford them.

The United States urgently needs a trade negotiator who understands that current trade agreements work neither for farmers nor the world’s hungry. With farmers here and abroad struggling to respond to water scarcity and increasingly volatile growing conditions, we need a resilient and restorative model of agriculture that adapts to and mitigates climate change and that moves us towards energy-efficient farming.

The most comprehensive analysis of global agriculture to date, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) states unequivocally that “business as usual is not an option.” We need a new, sustainable model of biodiverse, ecologically-based agriculture that regenerates soil health, sequesters carbon, feeds communities, protects farmworkers and puts profits back in the hands of family farmers and rural communities. Siddiqui’s track record shows that he favors none of these solutions.

We call on the Senate to reject Islam Siddiqui’s nomination and reorient trade policy to serve the interests of family farmers, farmworkers, consumers and the planet.

Sincerely,

98 organizations who signed on to the letter to the Senate:

Alaska Community Action on Toxics (AK)
AllergyKids (CO)
American Raw Milk Producers Pricing Association (WI)
Beyond Pesticides (DC)
Breast Cancer Action (CA)
California Food and Justice Coalition (CA)
Californians for GE-Free Agriculture (CA)
Californians for Pesticide Reform (CA)
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation (CA)
Center for Environmental Health (CA)
Center for Food Safety (DC)
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment (CA)
Central Florida Jobs with Justice Project (FL)
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach (NE)
Community Farm Alliance (KY)
Concerned Citizens for Clean Air (OR)
Cornucopia Institute (WI)
Earth Justice (CA)
Equal Exchange (MA)
Fair Trade Coalition (MN)
Family Farm Defenders (WI)
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance (TX)
Farm Worker Pesticide Project (WA)
Farmworker Association of Florida (FL)
Farmworker Justice (DC)
Farmworkers Self-Help (FL)
Food & Water Watch (DC)
Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy (CA)
Food for Maine’s Future (ME)
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FL)
Food Democracy Now! (IA)
Food Systems Integrity (MA)
Florida Organic Growers (FL)
Fresno Metro Ministry (CA)
Friends of the Earth (DC, CA)
Greenpeace US (DC, CA)
Grassroots International (MA)
Growing Power Inc. (WI)
Indigenous Environmental Network (MN) Indiana Toxics Action (IN) Innovative Farmers of Ohio (OH) Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (MN)
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (IA)
Kids for Saving Earth (MN)
Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KY)
Land Stewardship Project (MN)
Lideres Campesinas (CA)
Maine Fair Trade Campaign (ME)
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners (ME)
Maryland Pesticide Network (MD)
Mississippi Association of Cooperatives (MS)
Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MO)
Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative (OK)
National Family Farm Coalition (DC)
National Farm Worker Ministry (MO)
National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association (DC)
New York Environmental Law & Justice (NY)
Northeast Organic Farming Association Interstate Council (CT)
Northern Plains Resource Council (MT)
Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (ME)
Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (OR)
Oakland Institute (CA)
Ohio Conference on Fair Trade (OH)
Oklahoma Black Historical Research Project (OK)
Oregon Fair Trade Campaign (OR)
Oregon Toxics Alliance (OR)
Organic Consumers Association (MN)
Partners for the Land & Agricultural Needs of Traditional Peoples (WV)
Pesticide Action Network North America (CA)
Pesticide Free Zone (CA)
Pesticide Watch (CA)
Physicians for Social Responsibility/Los Angeles (CA)
Public Citizen (DC)
Rochesterians Against the Misuse of Pesticides (NY)
Rural Advancement Foundation International USA (NC)
Rural Coalition/ Coalición Rural
Safe Alternatives for our Forest Environment (CA)
Science and Environmental Health Network (IA)
Sciencecorps (MA)
Search for the Cause (CA)
Sierra Club (CA, DC)
Small Holders Alliance of Massachusetts (MA)
Student Action with Farmworkers (NC)
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (CO)
The Safe Lawns Foundation (ME)
The Second Chance Foundation Washington (WA)
Washington Fair Trade Coalition (WA)
Western Organization of Resource Councils (MT)
World Hunger Year (NY)

Siddiqui and CropLife: Statements and Positions

Islam Siddiqui was nominated by US President Barack Obama to the position of Chief Agricultural Negotiator at the office of the US Trade Representative. He is currently Vice President of Science and Regulatory Affairs at CropLife America. CropLife is an agricultural industry trade group that lobbies on behalf of Monsanto, DuPont, Syngenta and other pesticide and agricultural biotech corporations.

Siddiqui’s statements and positions—both as a public official and as an industry executive— coupled with CropLife America’s consistent record on public policy issues demonstrate a narrow and short-sighted view of American agriculture and trade interests. This viewpoint consistently places the special interests of large agribusiness above the health and welfare interests the broader public, the international community and the environment.

WHAT DOES SIDDIQUI’S POSITION ENTAIL?

Enforcing Trade Agreements

According to the Progressive Government Institute, the Chief Agricultural Negotiator “conducts critical trade negotiations and enforces trade agreements… This includes multilaterally in the World Trade Organization (WTO), regionally in the Free Trade Area of the Americas, and bilaterally with various countries and groups of countries. The ambassador also resolves agricultural trade disputes and enforces trade agreements, including issues related to new technologies, subsidies, and tariff and non-tariff barriers and meets regularly with domestic agricultural industry groups to assure their interest are represented in trade.” The industry groups’ interests will be more than adequately represented, as the WTO’s Doha Round will be a perfect opportunity for the agrochemical industry to push for trade agreements that maintain US subsidies, lower tariffs on chemicals, promote GM crops, and unfairly benefit the agrochemical companies that Siddiqui represents.

Source: http://www.progressivegovernment.org/appointee_data4.php?…

Legislative Influence and Defining ‘Sound Science’

Another part of the job description is that “He or she also coordinates closely with the US government regulatory agencies to assure that rules and policies in international trade are based on sound science.” Siddiqui’s background has always favored “sound science” to mean high-cost, high-input (and high profit, for CropLife’s members) agricultural practices being imposed on developing countries, despite their preferences. Many countries have chosen to ban GMOs on the precautionary principle, including the EU, but Siddiqui will be able to use the trade talks as leverage so that CropLife’s member companies can force their way around those precautions. Siddiqui will also be able to influence the results of the Casey-Lugar Global Food Security Act Bill (which mandates government funding for biotechnology research).

SIDDIQUI AN APOLOGIST FOR AGRICHEMICAL AND BIOTECH INDUSTRIES

Siddiqui Claimed EU Rejection of GMOs was “Denying Food to Starving People”

In 2003, Siddiqui applauded the Bush Administration’s decision to seek an end to the EU’s moratorium on approval of imports of genetically modified crops. Croplife America said the EU’s position had “no scientific foundation” and Siddiqui said, “EU’s illegal moratorium has had a negative ripple effect of creeping regulations and non-science-based decisions, which have resulted in denying food to starving people. The WTO requires that international trade rules be based on sound science, and today’s decision will send that strong message to the EU and other countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.” [Delta Farm Press, 5/23/03]

Siddiqui Compared GMO Acceptance to Accepting “Microwave Ovens”

In 2002, Siddiqui claimed biotech foods have been proven to be as safe as traditionally grown foods. He cited a similar distrust of a new technology many people had when microwave ovens were first introduced; eventually, consumer acceptance of the technology became widespread. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]

Siddiqui Criticized EU for Insisting On “Precautionary Principle” On GMOs

In 2002, Siddiqui criticized the European Union’s precautionary principle rationale for rejecting the import of GMOs. Widely recognized in the international community, the precautionary principle allows societies to protect people and the planet when there are uncertainties or unknown risks associated with the introduction or use of a product. Siddiqui said the principle didn’t offer any more real protection to citizens than U.S.- “science-based” regulations and was being used by politicians as a non-tariff trade barrier. [State Department Washington File, 11/25/02]

Siddiqui Called for New Biotech Green Revolution

Statement by Siddiqui this year on new Green Revolution: “What we need now in the 21st century is another revolution, which some people are calling the second green revolution… You need to have use of 21st century technologies, including biotechnology, genetic technology, and all the other technologies, which are being (inaudible), in terms of achieving that.”

Source: “Green Innovation: Can Patents Help Make the World a Bett… April 22, 2009

Siddiqui Rejected Consumer Labeling of GMOs While Working at USDA

As a special assistant for trade at USDA, Siddiqui in 1999 warned Japan that if they implemented mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) it could mislead consumers about food safety and disrupt trade. Siddiqui said, “We do not believe that obligatory GMO labeling is necessary, because it would suggest a health risk where there is none.” He added, “Mandatory labeling could mislead consumers about the safety of these products and require segregation of GMO and non-GMO foods. I fear major trade disruptions and increases in food costs to consumers if Japan requires mandatory labeling.” Siddiqui also said Japan, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), is obligated to find the least trade-restrictive way of achieving its objectives. There are a number of ways other than labeling, such as educational materials and public forums, to provide consumers with information on genetic engineering, he said. [Reuters, 7/27/1999]

Siddiqui is a Former Registered Lobbyist

From 2001- 2003, Islam Siddiqui was a registered lobbyist with CropLife America, which spent just over $2 million on lobbying the federal government in 2008, and just under $1.9 million in 2007 on issues like registering pesticides for use in schools, limiting the Endangered Species Act so that it doesn’t inhibit agricultural pesticide use, revision of EPA pesticide registration fees, and fighting the EPA on restrictions to the use of fumigants.

CROPLIFE AMERICA REGIONAL PARTNER TARGETED MICHELLE OBAMA ORGANIC GARDEN

CropLife America’s Regional Partner Targeted Michelle Obama Organic Garden

CropLife America’s regional partner had notoriously “shuddered” at Michelle Obama’s organic White House garden for failing to use chemical pesticides and launched a letter petition drive defending chemical intensive agriculture and urging Michelle Obama to consider using pesticidies and herbicides. Mid America CropLife Association is listed as a regional partner on CropLife America’s website.

Letter: http://susty.com/michelle-obama-letter-mid-america-cropli…

SIDDIQUI OVERSAW FIASCO OVER USDA’s FIRST PROPOSED ORGANIC STANDARDS

Siddiqui Instrumental in Drafting First Proposed Organic Standards that Would Have Allowed Toxic Sludge, GMOs and Irradiated Food to be Labeled “Organic”

As Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs at USDA, Siddiqui oversaw the release of the first-ever proposed federal standards for organics, an accomplishment the White House has cited in support of his nomination. However, these rules created an uproar when USDA overruled recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and permitted the use of GMOs, irradiation and toxic sludge under the organic label. Only after 230,000 comments flooded into USDA were these standards strengthened. It remains one of the highest outpourings of public sentiment on any government regulation in U.S. history. [Mother Jones]

Siddiqui Admitted USDA Overruled Organics Board Recommendations

Siddiqui justified allowing for possible allowance of GMOs, irradiated foods and toxic sludge under the organics by saying, “we know that [the] Organics Board had recommended against those two items in the organic agriculture. There’s a considerable debate on these issues; it’s a public debate issue. So essentially, the department has felt that we want to open it up, we want to seek comments. And it could be any one of the three choices; either it could be allowed, it could be prohibited, or it could be allowed on a case-by-case basis, especially dealing with GMOs. [Federal News Service, 12/15/07]

Siddiqui Admitted Allowing no GMOs in Organics Would Possibly be “Inconsistent” with Forcing GMOs on EU

Siddiqui explained one of the reasons GMOs were not banned under organic label was because ” … some of the agencies within the U.S. government felt that we will be inconsistent in going to the EU and telling them to not require GMO contents being spelt out in ingredients.” [Food and Drink Weekly, 1/19/98]

CROPLIFE AMERICA SPENT HALF-MILLION TO DEFEAT COUNTY-LEVEL ANTI-GMO INITIATIVE

CropLife Spent $500,000 to Defeat County Ballot Banning GMOs

“In March 2004, CropLife poured funding into a campaign to defeat a Mendocino County ballot initiative – known as Measure H – that would make the country the first to ban genetically engineered crops. In the lead up to the vote, CropLife contributed over $500,000 – more than seven times that of the initiative supporters – to defeat the proposal. [1] Despite the massive campaign against the initiative, the bio-tech industry suffered a humiliating defeat. The measure passed by a margin of 56% to 43%. [2]”

Siddiqui Said “Pleased” by Defeat of Ballot Measures

Siddiqui, on behalf of CropLife America, said he was pleased that voters in three California counties had rejected proposed bans on biotech crop cultivation. “I think you’ll see more counties in California try[proposing a ban]the next time they can get it on the ballot,” he said, adding that similar initiatives are unlikely in other states. [Food Chemical News, 1/3/05]

CROPLIFE AMERICA CONSISTENTLY FAVORS AGRIBUSINESS INTERESTS OVER PUBLIC INTEREST

CropLife Lobbied to Allow Children to be Used for Pesticide Experiments

In August 2005, CropLife America met with Bush Administration officials at the Office of Managment and Budget and EPA to allow for children to participate in pesticide experiments. CropLife America urged certain allowances to be made for chemical testing on children.  Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility criticized the meeting for excluding the perspectives of ethicists, child advocates and scientists. EPA one month later adopted a human testing rule in line with CropLife America’s suggestions. Environmental groups sued the EPA for failing to adequately protect women and children. [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]

PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruck commented on the backdoor meeting, “These meeting notes make it clear that the pesticide industry’s top objective is access to children for experiments. After reading these ghoulish notes one has the urge to take a shower. For an administration which trumpets its concern for the ‘value and dignity of life,’ it is disconcerting that no ethicists, children advocates or scientists were invited to this meeting to counterbalance the pesticide pushers.” [Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 5/30/06]

Supported Use of Human Test Subjects

In 2003, CropLife America expressed pleasure that the U.S. Court of Appeals overturned EPA’s moratorium on using human clinical test data in pesticide risk assessment. The court ruled that EPA’s “previous practice of considering third- party human studies on a case-by-case basis, applying statutory requirements, the Common Rule, and high ethical standards as a guide, is reinstated and remains in effect unless and until it is replaced by a lawfully promulgated regulation.” “We are pleased that the court recognized that EPA’s moratorium constituted a binding regulation issued without notice and the opportunity to comment,” said Jay J. Vroom, head of CropLife America. [U.S. Newswire, 6/3/03]

CropLife America Secured Continued Use Of Banned Ozone-Depleting Pesticide, Methyl Bromide

CropLife America supported the continued use of methyl bromide by farmers in the U.S. despite its supposed ban under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Protocol) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). The Bush administration secured an exemption of the highly controversial chemical in 2006. “By no means is there one product that will fit all the critical uses of methyl bromide today,” CropLife CEO Jay Vroom said. The continued exemptions are needed while research continues on the alternative pesticides, he said, adding, “We’re not there yet, and the American farmer needs to have these tools so we can continue to be have viable exports.” Source: Associated Press, Nov 4, 2006. For more information see the website for the UN Environmental Programme Ozone Secretariat. The PANNA website contains extensive resources and fact sheets on methyl bromide’s use for soil fumigation.

·       Methyl bromide, a powerful ozone depleter used on strawberries, tomatoes, grapes and other crops. The EPA has classified methyl bromide as a Toxicity Category I compound, the most deadly category of substances due to causing neurological damage and reproductive harm. Farmworkers in particular have experienced death, birth defects, blurred vision, nausea, and dizziness as a result of direct exposure to methyl bromide. Methyl Bromide has also been listed as a Class I Ozone Depleter under the Clean Air Act. Methyl bromide is a highly toxic pesticide.

·       From 1982 to 1990, at least 18 people in California died from exposure to methyl bromide. The state Department of Pesticide Regulation also reports at least 148 systemic illnesses, 52 eye injuries and 60 cases of skin damage from methyl bromide. Methyl bromide has also caused birth defects in studies required by U.S. EPA and submitted by the manufacturer.

·       Methyl bromide is toxic to the central nervous system and can damage lungs and kidneys and possibly cause cancer. Direct exposure can lead to headaches, blurred vision, nausea and dizziness. Many farmworkers and residents near fumigated fields have experienced these symptoms. [Pesticide Action Network]

Croplife America Resistant to International Regulations Over Toxic Chemicals

Croplife America has been a driving force to weaken the U.S. position on the Stockholm Convention, a critical effort to regulate the use of toxic “persistent organic pollutants (POPs).” These include the well known chemicals DDT, PCBs and dioxins that have been linked to a host of serious human health problems and environmental concerns. Even at very low levels of exposure, POPs can cause reproductive and developmental disorders, damage to the immune and nervous systems, and a range of cancers. CropLife America has argued that “American sovereignty” concerns should override the treaty if the chemical regulations are stronger than U.S. law. CropLife America explicitly calls for the U.S. to “protect export markets for American produce and farm commodities,” even if they use chemicals that may be outlawed by the POP treaties. [CropLife America Website]

CropLife America Argues for Allowing Usage of Toxic Endosulfans

Croplife America and its international counterpart CropLife International, whom Siddiqui has represented in international negotiations, have continuously argued for a legitimate role for the dangerous POP endosulfan.  However in October 2009, scientists declared that: “endosulfan is likely, as a result of its long-range environmental transport, to lead to significant adverse human health and environmental effects, such that global action is warranted.” The finding sets the stage for a global ban under the Stockholm Convention. Endosulfan is an endocrine disruptor, and low dose exposure while in the womb is linked to male reproductive harm, autism, and birth defects. High dose exposures are acutely toxic, resulting in headaches, nausea and vomiting, seizures, and in extreme cases, unconsciousness and death. [Manila Bulletin, 10/20/09]

CropLife America Withdrew from Landmark UN/World Bank Study on Ag Research (IAASTD) that Highlighted Agroecological Science as Promising Way to “Feed the World”

CropLife Upset Industry Viewpoint Not Allowed to Dictate Findings

CropLife International participated in the UN/World Bank-sponsored International Assessment for Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) for 4 years, before withdrawing in the final days of the process. The IAASTD reports—authored by over 400 scientists and development experts from more than 80 countries, and subjected to two open public review processes—remains the most authoritative study to date on agriculture research and technology. CropLife objected to the measured but lukewarm findings of the IAASTD on “modern biotechnology” and genetic engineering. According to the spokesman for CropLife, their decision to withdraw in the final days was prompted by “the inability of its members to get industry perspectives reflected in the draft reports” —a complaint belied by the fact that IAASTD editors repeatedly offered CropLife a “blank page” to present the industry’s viewpoints. Ultimately, industry authors failed to submit text in time for publication.

The IAASTD concluded that an increase in investments in agroecological practices would be necessary to meet 21st century needs, noting that agroecological, organic, biodiverse and regenerative practices represented highly promising and scientifically robust approaches to feeding the world while also meeting social equity and sustainability goals, particularly under increasing stresses of climate change, water scarcity and fossil-fuel based energy limitations. In contrast, the IAASTD observed that chemical intensive and GMO-based practices were unlikely to meet these goals, had in many cases undermined public health and/or contaminated the environment, and posed severe social equity concerns due to industry concentration, IPR and patent rules. [Bioscience Resource, New Scientist, PANNA]

Prepared by Lindsey Schneider and Vera Glavova, PANNA, with contributions from National Family Farm Coalition. For further information on CropLife: http://www.panna.org/resources/popshttp://www.panna.org/resources/treaties

Pesticide Action Network has worked to replace pesticides with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives since 1982. PANNA is one of five regional facilitating organizations serving a global network of more than 600 civil society groups in over 90 countries who share these goals. For more information, see http://www.panna.org.

Source

Millions Against Monsanto Campaign

Join OCA’s Campaign to Mobilize One Million Consumers to End Monsanto’s Global Corporate Terrorism

Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology

Monsanto sues and sues and sues and…

(Monday, July 14, 2003 — CropChoice guest commentary) — Monsanto and President George Bush have one thing in common. Both have a liking for the “walk softly and carry a big stick” form of public relations. Bush uses his big economic stick to gain the support of various nations in his quest to make the world safe for American corporations. Monsanto also uses a big economic stick – the big stick of the courtroom, to beat up those who fall afoul of its litigious nature. And, like George Bush, Monsanto has been pretty successful with these tactics. After all, the effect of a cluster bomb dropping on the home quarter would not be much more devastating than the effect of being sued by a huge corporation that is willing and able to spend millions to gain its ends.

Monsanto is very determined to defend its position that farmers must buy new seed of its patented genetically modified crops each year. Monsanto has built a whole department to enforce its seed patents and licensing agreements. It has 75 employees and an annual budget of $10 million.

An estimated 400 farmers have received threats of legal action from Monsanto over alleged patent infringement. While Canadian farmers will be familiar with the trials and tribulations of Percy Schmeiser, names like Homan McFarling and Nelson Farms should resonate with American producers. Few of these cases ever get to court because most farmers look at the odds of outlasting Monsanto and simply give in. A clause in Monsanto’s licensing agreement allows Monsanto to take such cases in the U.S. before courts in Missouri. This can add a huge amount to the legal bills of farmers who might be thousands of miles away.

Several of the cases that have gone to court are enough to scare farmers into meek submission to Monsanto’s demands. Homan McFarling was fined $780,000 for growing Roundup Ready soybeans without paying Monsanto’s licensing fee. Tennessee farmer Kem Ralph was fined $1.7 million and sentenced to eight months in jail for a variety of offenses that began with a Monsanto lawsuit.

Monsanto must be pleased with the results of its aggressive legal campaign. So pleased, in fact, it has decided to branch out. Monsanto’s latest foray into the courtroom has it suing a dairy in Maine, alleging that Oakhurst Dairy’s marketing campaign that touts its milk as being free of artificial growth hormones is misleading. Monsanto further claims Oakhurst’s ads and labels are deceptive and disparage Monsanto’s products by implying that milk from untreated cows is better than milk from hormone-treated cows.

Monsanto is the world’s only producer of artificial bovine growth hormone (BGH). This product is banned in Canada and elsewhere because of concerns about its impact on humans and the cows that are injected with it. In the U.S., where BGH is legal, some dairy farmers have captured a niche market by declaring that they do not use it on their cows. The Oakhurst Dairy label is simple enough: “Our Farmers’ Pledge: No Artificial Growth Hormones.” Who would have thought that a simple statement of the truth could have such dire consequences?

Oddly enough, it would not be unexpected if Monsanto were to name the state of Maine as a co-defendant. Maine has a program, the Quality Trademark Seal, which can only be carried on dairy products that are guaranteed free of artificial growth hormones.

Monsanto’s latest legal moves have angered farmers and consumers alike. Oakhurst Dairy defends the right of consumers to know what is in the milk they drink. Farmers who currently produce this milk would lose the ability to differentiate their product if Monsanto’s suit is successful. Other dairies, which make similar claims, will be watching.

Monsanto treads on thin ice with its aggressive litigation. However, it need not fear the same consumer backlash that other companies might face. Monsanto does not sell directly to the average consumer. Rather, its customers are farmers who often have no other place to go if they want to grow certain products. Because of this dependency relationship, farmers cannot afford to stay angry at Monsanto forever. Monsanto, on the other hand, can enjoy the exercise of its brute power with little fear of repercussions. It is a situation that could easily get worse. Source

This type of thing is what destroys farmers and farms. This is not protecting Farming Communities.  Monsanto sues anyone they can.

They even sued a Dairy Monsanto didn’t like their label. Turns out however Hormones in milk does cause health problems.

Monsanto seed contaminated a Canadian farmers field and Monsanto sued him, like it was his fault the wind blew seed into his field. That is how low Monsanto will go.

This also happens in the US as well.

Farmers even have been sued after their fields were contaminated by pollen or seed from a previous year’s crop has sprouted, or “volunteered,” in fields planted with non-genetically engineered varieties the following year; and when they never signed Monsanto’s Technology Agreement but still planted the patented crop seed. In all of these cases, because of the way patent law has been applied, farmers are technically liable. It does not appear to matter if the use was unwitting or if a contract was never signed. Source

Monsanto destroys Farmers. The GM foods may not be safe to consume either. Monsanto has a history of creating things that kill you.

Monsanto Roundup is it safe

Probably as safe as Agent Orange., Another Monsanto product.

Thee are tons of stories out there about Monsanto and it’s unethical practices.

Monsanto’s Roundup Pesticide Killing Wheat

Monsanto also produces the most commonly used broadleaf pesticide in the world, glyphosate–or Roundup. In addition to its inherent toxicity as a chemical pesticide, Roundup has now been found to aid the spread of fusarium head blight in wheat. This disease creates a toxin in the infected wheat, making the crop unsuitable for human or animal consumption. Canada’s wheat industry is currently being ravaged by this disease. At the same time, the widespread use of Roundup has resulted in the formation of “super weeds” — unwanted plants that have developed an immunity to these pesticides. Read study linking Monsanto’s Roundup to Cancer.

Monsanto’s Lobbying in 2009

Conflict of Interest: Ex Monsanto Lawyer Clarence Thomas to Hear Major Monsanto Case  March 9 2010

Related

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

They have Lied about the Safety of our Food And Still Do

Vietnamese Agent Orange Victims Demand Accountability from US, Chemical Companies in Suit

December 4 2008

The Second National Congress of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange just concluded in Hanoi Wednesday. Vietnamese victims continue to demand accountability and compensation from the US government as well as the largest makers of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical and Monsanto. Earlier this year, a delegation of women victims of Agent Orange toured the United States. We speak with two of them: 71-year old Dang Hong Nhut, who has had several miscarriages and now has cancer, and 21-year-old Tran Thi Hoan, a second-generation victim of Agent Orange who was born without two legs and with one hand seriously atrophied.

Dang Hong Nhut, 71-year-old victim of Agent Orange. She was a part of the Vietnamese resistance for five years between 1961 and 1966 and was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange during that time. Since then, she has had several miscarriages and now has cancer. Her husband, who was also sprayed with Agent Orange, died of cancer in 1999.

Tran Thi Hoan, a 21-year-old university student from Vietnam and a second-generation victim of Agent Orange. Her mother was sprayed during the war.

AMY GOODMAN: We continue on this lawsuit that has just been filed against the former Halliburton subsidiary, now its own company, KBR. It’s based in Houston. Michael Doyle joins us from Houston, lead counsel for the Indiana Guardsmen who have filed the lawsuit. Jody Aistrop is one of those Indiana National Guard who are suing KBR.

The lawsuit, Michael Doyle, talks about KBR seeking to conceal the contamination and, once discovered, limiting exposed individuals’ knowledge about the level of poisoning they suffered. First of all, how did the chemical get there? And how do you know all of this?

MICHAEL DOYLE: Well, we know the chemical was there, because the Iraqis apparently were using it. It was being used as an anti-corrosive. This is a huge water plant that’s used to pump water down into oil wells so the oil keeps coming up. And this is basically—was used. It had been banned pretty much everywhere in the world for a number of years, but they were using it to keep the pipes clean. And it contained an extremely high amount, almost pure hexavalent chromium.

There are some indications, and it’s really just speculation, but there are some indications from the Iraqis that they gave to some of the civilian workers on site, that as part of the sabotage by the Baathist Party, Saddam Hussein’s folks, before the Americans got there, they had spread it around even more than it had been before. And that’s why, as a result, it was all over the place, not just in one limited area in this very large industrial site where these people were doing all this work and the Guardsmen were providing security on a daily basis.

The reason why we know a lot of this stuff is, a number—ten of the American civilian workers out there filed an arbitration claim, which is one of the things that Halliburton required all their employees, including of these Cayman Island subsidiaries of KBR, to sign an arbitration agreement to go work over there. Ten of these folks, including the medic on site, who is a fellow named Ed Black, who I think you could call him almost a whistleblower here, filed a claim. It’s pending in arbitration, and there has been testimony taken and documents produced in that arbitration that have kind of shed a lot of light about what the managers at the KBR level and the safety folks and the other managers involved knew about it.

And one of the important issues that came out in that was that as it became more and more clear—in other words, they kept getting reports of sodium dichromate out there, deadly carcinogen—their plant workers were getting sick, those people out there. The Cayman Island subsidiary folks were actually experiencing these blood clots, which unfortunately is the most acute sign of poisoning from hexavalent chromium. And that’s kind of the characteristic. They actually call it “chrome nose.” Even as they’re getting these reports, they put off doing any testing until after the windy season had ended. The very first—at least what they’ve owned up to—testing was done not when they were hired to do it, when they were supposed to do it back in April and May, but not until August, after these folks had been out there for three to four months.

And not only was the testing inadequate, they basically were very selective about how they did it, and it didn’t line up—the air testing didn’t line up with the soil testing. But when they actually did some blood testing on the civilian workers there, and almost all of them had elevated chromium, which just basically measures all the chromium in your blood, but when you’ve got these guys exposed, that’s a big red flag. There was actually a meeting here with the medical director of Halliburton/KBR and a number of the managers, where they discussed the need—or if you’re really going to test and see whether or not hexavalent chromium is in these guys, the incredibly dangerous substance, there’s a test you’re supposed to do, and they decided not to do that test. And unfortunately, not just for the civilians but also for the National Guardsmen, if that test isn’t done fairly shortly after the exposure—and they knew that—there’s no real way to document the level of exposure, so tracking these guys health-wise forward is going to be that much more difficult.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, Michael Doyle, we asked KBR to join us today, but they declined our request. And we did receive a statement from their director of corporate communications, Heather Browne. She said the company intends to vigorously defend—and I want—defend against the suit, and I want to read to you part of the statement. It says, quote, “We deny the assertion that KBR harmed troops and was responsible for an unsafe condition. KBR appropriately notified the Army Corps of Engineers upon discovery of the existence of the substance on the site and the Corps of Engineers concluded that KBR’s efforts to remediate the situation were effective. Further the company in no way condones any action that would compromise the safety of those we serve or employ.” I’d like to ask you to respond to that and also to what the military did, if they were informed by KBR, of the existence of this problem.

MICHAEL DOYLE: Well, thanks, Juan. I think that there’s really two things in there. One of them is that their indication that they informed the military in a timely manner—one of the things that has been provided to these soldiers by the National Guard was a timeline that was actually—we were able to attach to the complaint—that was apparently provided based on information the Army got from KBR. And one of the most glaring kind of issues in there is that when you look at it, it claims KBR didn’t know about this sodium dichromate on site until almost the end of July and then immediately notified the military. We know that’s not true.

Likewise, the issue about their remediation, they finally admitted that this was a problem. The actual top manager of KBR in Iraq did a site inspection in the middle of August in full protective gear. It still took him about three weeks before they finally said, “OK, we’ve got these blood tests now. Let’s go ahead and shut down the plant.” And they did eventually seal off the entire plant, seal off the sodium dichromate, more or less encase it all, and ensure that folks finally were given protective equipment that they should have had three months earlier and told about what was out there. But that’s a little bit late for the folks that had been working there for three to four months.

AMY GOODMAN: Jody Aistrop, what about the KBR workers inside? You were guarding outside, and you got sick. What happened to them?

JODY AISTROP: From the beginning, we were guarding inside. We didn’t actually pull outside until they deemed the site unsafe. So from the beginning of going into the plant for KBR to work on it, we were inside right with them. We would follow them around like we were attached to them.

AMY GOODMAN: And do you know what happened to any of them? Any of them suffering like you did the nose bleed, for example?

JODY AISTROP: The only thing that I know is I did some research on the net, and that’s where I found out about the lawsuit from Mr. Ed Black. I actually know Mr. Black. I protected him over there.

AMY GOODMAN: The medic?

JODY AISTROP: Yes, yes. And that’s how I know KBR, they were suffering the same symptoms that we were. And then, you know, I received a letter about the town hall meeting, and then the Guard informed us what was going on.

AMY GOODMAN: And when you all got these nosebleeds, again, what KBR told you, how they explained those nosebleeds away?

JODY AISTROP: We were basically told that it was due to dry air, the sand blowing, you know, it’s not that big a deal.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Michael Doyle, you filed the lawsuit now. In what court will it be heard? And when do you expect to begin taking—having discovery or depositions?

MICHAEL DOYLE: Well, it’s filed in federal court in Evansville, Indiana in the southern division—or Southern District of Indiana. The hope is, as soon as possible. We’ve been told by the folks we’re working with in Indiana that normal timetable is a year, year and a half for trial. We obviously intend to try and get to the bottom of it as soon as we can, as soon as the court will let us.

AMY GOODMAN: And the secret KBR memos that you got a hold of, can you talk about them?

MICHAEL DOYLE: No. I mean, there is some documents. Ed Black was actually able to obtain when he was there in Iraq, in Kuwait, some documents that, when he saw these, that made it real clear who knew and how long they knew it. Those documents aren’t protected. But as part of this arbitration deal, at least at this point, KBR has taken the position that every single document related to this is secret and can’t be released. So I really can’t talk about the documents. I can talk about the testimony, but the documents at this point are subject to a protective order.

AMY GOODMAN: The KBR memo from 2003 that shows the KBR managers talking about, acknowledging the presence of sodium dichromate?

MICHAEL DOYLE: Well, there is one that Ed Black actually obtained back in 2003 that we were able to file with the papers of the Guardsmen suit. But the great mass of documents, the really documentation of the timeline and all that stuff, I really am not at liberty to talk about, at least at this point.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both very much for being with us, Jody Aistrop, former member of the Indiana National Guard—they were based in Tell City—one of sixteen soldiers who are suing KBR, which was owned by Halliburton, which was headed by Dick Cheney before he was Vice President; and Michael Doyle, lead counsel for the National Guardsmen. He is based in Houston, where KBR is based.

AMY GOODMAN: In our last segment, we’re going to go back to the Persian Gulf War, as we continue this special on poisons of war. But now we’ll go back even further. Juan?

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yes, to another US war, the Vietnam War. And we hear from the victims of the chemical poisoning caused by the deadly dioxin known as Agent Orange.

Between 1962 and 1971, US warplanes dumped about 18 million gallons of the poisonous dioxin over Vietnam. The Vietnamese government says this has left more than three million people disabled. Today, more than three decades after the end of the war, the effects of Agent Orange remain.

The Second National Congress of the Vietnam Association for Victims of Agent Orange just concluded in Hanoi Wednesday. Vietnamese victims continue to demand accountability and compensation from the US government as well as the largest makers of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical and Monsanto.

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this year, a delegation of women victims of Agent Orange toured the United States. Dang Hong Nhut is seventy-one years old, a victim of Agent Orange, part of the Vietnamese resistance for five years between ’61 and 1966. She was heavily sprayed with Agent Orange during that time. Since then, she has had several miscarriages, now has cancer. Her husband, who was also sprayed with Agent Orange, died of cancer in 1999.

    DANG HONG NHUT: [translated] In 1965, I visited my husband in Tay Ninh, Cu Chi. And when I was there, one day I heard the airplanes flying over there, and I hid in an underground shelter. And after the airplane flew away, I went out of the shelter, and I saw that the sky looked like very foggy, and I could see the white dust on the leaves of the trees over there. And I smelled something very irritating, and I felt very sick after that. I lived there for more than one month.

    After that, I suffer from skin problems and diarrhea. And then, after that, each time I was pregnant, I had a miscarriage. So, continuously, I had five pregnancies and five miscarriages. And at one time, I was pregnant, and it was found out that it was a deformed fetus. In 2002, that was thirty-seven years after that, I had a tumor in my intestine, and I had to have an operation to have it taken out. And in 2003, I had another problem in my thyroid, and I had an operation in my thyroid.

    I could not imagine how serious, how harmful and how poisonous this Agent Orange was. It is going with all my life. And that is why I am together with other Vietnamese plaintiffs. We filed our lawsuit in the US courts, and we would like to ask the US government as well as the US chemical companies to do something for us. Even though our lawsuit was turned down, was dismissed twice by the US courts, we continued to present our petition. We want to ask for justice for us. We want to ask for compensation for us, all the victims of Agent Orange. Agent Orange does not avoid anyone. We Vietnamese are victims. And also, there are victims from the US allied countries. And we all are victims, so we want to ask for justice, for compensation for us all, the victims.

    AMY GOODMAN: Mrs. Dang Hong Nhut, do you know that one of our presidential candidates, John McCain, was a Vietnam vet? Do you have anything you would like to say to him?

    DANG HONG NHUT: [translated] Who ever would be the president of the United States would have to pay attention to solve the consequences left behind by the war. Also, he should do something to help the victims, and he should be responsible and accountable for what the American troops caused in Vietnam. And he must have moral and legal responsibility to make compensations for the victims.

    AMY GOODMAN: What message do you have for Monsanto, Dow, the other chemical companies who produced Agent Orange?

    DANG HONG NHUT: [translated] Dow and Monsanto chemical companies, they are the ones that manufactured the Agent Orange that caused sufferings to the human beings and environment in Vietnam. They must be held accountable for what they did, and they must be accountable to make compensation for the victims and to clean up all the environment in Vietnam.

    AMY GOODMAN: And what would you say to those who would say you were fighting a war with the United States, this is the cost of war?

    DANG HONG NHUT: [translated] The war ends long time ago. However, still the Vietnamese victims, they are still suffering. This is something unacceptable, because during the war, someone might get killed. That’s understandable. When the war is over for a long time, but the Vietnamese victims, they are suffering, and nobody here makes any—has any responsibility towards them.

AMY GOODMAN: Dang Hong Nhut, a victim of Agent Orange poisoning. I also spoke to Tran Thi Hoan, a twenty-one-year-old university student from Vietnam. She had just come to the United States as part of this tour. She’s a second-generation victim of Agent Orange. Her mother was sprayed during the Vietnam War.

    TRAN THI HOAN: I was born without two legs and one hand. Now I live in Peace Village in Tu Du Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City. Peace Village is the place to take care of the victim of Agent Orange very well. And now my Peace Village have sixty children. All of them are victims of Agent Orange.

    AMY GOODMAN: Peace Village has sixty children?

    TRAN THI HOAN: Yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: What has it meant to you, Tran Thi Hoan, to be with other victims of Agent Orange?

    TRAN THI HOAN: First time, I was scared, because I saw many defects. For example, they have a big head, and they cannot walk, they cannot see, and they only lie in the bed. Some of them can walk and can do something. You know, before when I come to Tu Du Hospital, I couldn’t go to school, because everybody thinks I will make their children will be sick and children scare me. So when I come to Peace Village, I can go to school, and I can do something, and I feel I am lucky.

    AMY GOODMAN: You’re now a college student studying computers?

    TRAN THI HOAN: Yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: Why have you come to America, to the United States?

    TRAN THI HOAN: I come here. I want to tell everybody about my story and the suffering of victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam. And I hope the US government will not make the war in other countries, because if they make the war, maybe have many, many children and many, many people will be look like me. And I hope when everybody can understand the suffering of victims of Agent Orange. And after that, many people, all people, will come with us to ask the US government and the chemical companies, will we have justice for us?

AMY GOODMAN: Tran Thi Hoan, twenty-one years old, university student from Vietnam, a second-generation victim of Agent Orange. I spoke to her several months ago, when she was here in the United States as part of this tour.

Last year, we also spoke to those who came to this country as part of the tour to let people know about the lawsuit against over three dozen chemical companies that manufactured the toxin, Nguyen Van Quy and Nguyen Thi Hong. Unfortunately, one of them has died since that time.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, the War and Peace Report. Before we go to break, Juan, you’ve been looking at Agent Orange. We haven’t even talked about the tens of thousands of US soldiers who were affected, not to mention the millions of Vietnamese, effects of Agent Orange. You were looking at this decades ago.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yeah. Well, you know, this is one of the great war crimes in American history that the media in this country, unfortunately, and our government continue to ignore. I remember almost thirty years ago, as a young reporter in Philadelphia, in about 1979, 1980, just after the war, I was covering the returning veterans from that war who were complaining about their exposures and their illnesses, and they thought it was related to Agent Orange. At the time, the government was denying it. Now the government gives compensation to some American soldiers for rashes or chloracne related to Agent Orange exposure.

But at the time, I noticed that there had been—there was a report—I think it was in Time magazine—that the Minister of Health of North Vietnam was conducting their own study of the effects of Agent Orange on these soldiers who had fought, the Vietnamese soldiers who had fought, and their families. So, by chance, I wrote a letter to the minister of North Vietnam and asked him, “When you finish your study, could you send me a copy?” I never expected to get an answer.

About four or five months later, I get a letter at the Philadelphia Daily News from the Minister of Health of North Vietnam, and it is in French, a typewritten—there were typewriters still in those days—a typewritten report, where the government had compared North Vietnamese soldiers who had gone into the south to fight and who had been exposed to Agent Orange and North Vietnamese soldiers who had stayed in the north and had never been exposed to Agent Orange. And they traced what was happening to their families. And they found enormous—much higher degrees of birth defects, miscarriages and sterility problems with the wives and also in the children, the birth defects in the children, of those who had gone south.

So, I go to my editor at the time at the paper, and I say, “Look, this study just came out, and nobody knows about it. And it’s clear proof that Agent Orange is causing major, major problems in the Vietnamese population.” My editor looked at it and said, “This is communist propaganda. It’s coming from an enemy of the United States. We’re not going to run it.” And they never published the article that I started to write on it. And here we are, thirty years later now, when you see these horrific pictures of what the impact has been on the Vietnamese population, and it’s amazing that the media in this country is still not providing sufficient coverage to the issue.

AMY GOODMAN: And just to clarify, this delegation that has come to the United States, well, this year and last year, last year two members of the delegation, this in 2007, Nguyen Van Quy and Nguyen Thi Hong, weeks after they left the United States after visiting, they died. We had interviewed Nguyen Thi Hong. And you can go to our website, democracynow.org, to see and watch and read that interview.

Source

U.S. warplanes dumped about 18 million gallons of the poisonous dioxin during the Vietnam War.  This has left more than three million people disabled.

Agent Orange Health Effects

During the Vietnam War Agent Orange, a chemical used to kill acres of jungle foliage to make it easier for U.S. troops to have visibility, was used. Between 1962 and 1971, an estimated 20 million gallons of herbicides like Agent Orange were used in Vietnam. A recent study stated two million more gallons of Agent Orange and other defoliants were sprayed over Vietnam than earlier estimates. Despite reports of serious Agent Orange health effects, the government continued to insist the chemical was not problematic.

Since the 1970s, veterans suffering Agent Orange health effects have been trying to recover damages. According to documents, U.S. leaders knew the dangers of Agent Orange health effects since at least 1972, or even earlier. Officials continued to insist Agent Orange was not harmful and the herbicide continued to be used.

Some dioxins are highly toxic, and the most hazardous dioxin is tetrachlorodibenzoparadioxin, an ingredient of Agent Orange. Even today, adverse Agent Orange health effects continue to be suffered. Third generation of grandchildren of the war and its victims are still being born with birth defects because of Agent Orange exposure.

Scientists involved in Operation Ranch Hand, the unit responsible for the aerial spraying of herbicides, as well as in the findings of documents uncovered, indicate military officials were aware of the potential long-term Agent Orange health effects of spraying the herbicide. An Air Force scientist in Vietnam, Dr. James Clary, said the Air Force knew Agent Orange was much more hazardous to the health of humans than anyone would admit at the time.

In a 1988 letter to a member of Congress investigating Agent Orange health effects, Clary wrote, “When we (military scientists) initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide.” In January 2004, military researchers reported Air Force veterans exposed to Agent Orange had a higher than average risk of prostate and melanoma cancer, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Earlier studies have found increased risk for Agent Orange health effects include prostate cancer, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and diabetes.

The January 2004 study included Ranch Hand veterans that were being regularly examined because medical experts say they got the highest exposure to Agent Orange. Veterans continue to suffer Agent Orange health effects because dioxin builds up in the body. Many of the diseases that have been associated to Agent Orange exposure can take years to develop, so veterans today are still being diagnosed with illnesses.

Agent Orange health effects suffered have included multiple myeloma, prostate cancer, respiratory cancer, type II diabetes, Hodgkin”s disease, non-Hodgkin”s lymphoma, chlorance, porphyria cutanea tarda, soft tissue sarcoma, peripheral neuropathy, as well as other illnesses. The government started to investigate Agent Orange health effects systematically in the 1970s after veterans continued to complain for years about a variety of illnesses.

Source

Agent Orange continues to contaminate food supplies and local people in Vietnam, over 30 years after it was dropped, a new study has found.

From

August 15 2003
The finding, published in the Journal of Occupation and Environmental Medicine, found that six out of sixteen food samples had levels of the TCDD-dioxin (1) from Agent Orange as high as those during the Vietnam war. It concludes that food is the main source of intake for the dioxin, and, consequently, the reason that approximately 95% of blood samples taken in the area were found to have elevated TCDD levels.

Typical blood TCDD levels are 2 parts per trillion (ppt) in Vietnamese people, but levels as high as 413ppt were found in some. This is the highest level ever recorded. Elevated levels of the dioxin were found even in those born many years after the spraying ended.

Agent Orange was sprayed from US aircraft during the Vietnam War, between 1962 and 1972, primarily for use as a defoliant, destroying both tree cover and crops.

Dr Arnold Schecter, lead researcher of the study, said: “This study is one of many that shows Agent Orange is not history. Dioxin contamination is still found in high levels in some Vietnamese, as high as when spraying was going on.”

The study was conducted in Bien Hoa City, near Ho Chi Minh City, an area heavily sprayed with Agent Orange during the war. It was also the site of a substantial leak of over 5,000 gallons of Agent Orange approximately 30 years before the study took place.

Sixteen food samples were collected of chicken, duck, pork, beef, fish, and a toad. Duck meat had the highest levels of the dioxin, followed by the Channa Striata, or snakehead, fish and the toad.

In addition, soil and sediment samples from the Bien Hung Lake also contained elevated TCDD levels.

Dr Schecter told edie that dioxins are only soluble in fat, so only meat samples were chosen. He said that public health measures should now include not eating food from contaminated areas and removing fat from food before cooking. He also urged further studies of the potential health effects of dioxins and other toxic chemicals among veterans of the Vietnam War.

Exposure to Agent Orange has been linked to birth defects and a variety of illnesses, including cancer, diabetes and spina bifida.

Dr Schecter stressed that most of Vietnam’s food supply was not affected as only a relatively small area in the south was sprayed during the war. (1) TCDD = 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin

World Bank Promotes Fossil Fuel Pollution

One thing leads to another and yet another. One story can lead to some valuable information.

Anyone who has been reading “Did You Know” has noticed there are many things on the IMF and the World Bank. Their policies have contributed to Social problems and Corporations being allowed to go into countries and do some rather devastating damage, to countries who receive the loans.

Monsanto has devastated Indian cotton farmers for example. Of course they have also been involved in many other  problems as well.

There are other corporations that are equally as bad but, for the moment I will just use them as an example.

The World Bank and IMF in many cases, as a part of the agreement to get a loan,  stipulate the markets in the recipient country must open their markets up to some of these not so wonderful corporations, among other stipulations which can vary from one recipient country to another.

In Iceland they had to raise their interest rates to 18%. Of course this I found rather odd, considering during the Financial Crisis of late every other country is lowering them.

After reading the story below I of course went for a wander and found a few things.

So I am sharing my findings with you.

I love to share especially when it comes our planet and our environment.
Time to see green in the red
By James Blunt
November 17, 2008

This year, I have visited more than 180 cities on my world tour, and wherever I went — from Aberdeen to Auckland — one thing never failed to amaze me: air conditioning. It was blasting at sub-arctic levels in nearly every hotel I stayed, when most times it would have been just as easy — and better for the environment — to open a window.

To me, hotel air conditioning is a small but telling reminder of the luxuries we have grown so accustomed to in an age of prosperity but could often do without. They are things — like SUVs, or fish caught half a world away or even disposable hand wipes — that barely improve our daily lives but, altogether, are taking a terrible toll on our planet.

So, as we read  in newspapers like Metro about the economic slowdown, I wonder if there might be a silver lining in such grim news: The possibility that after a period of so much consumption, we might cut back a bit on extravagances we don’t need, and give our over-worked planet a bit of a breather?

I realize that many people roll their eyes when a celebrity preaches about the environment — or rescuing baby seals, or any other worthy cause. (I don’t like preaching, either, and — contrary to what you might have read in the tabloids — I don’t think of myself as a celebrity).
As an army officer and a musician, I have had the privilege of seeing some of the planet’s natural treasures. Sadly, I have also seen the way that we abuse it by dropping bombs and building shopping malls.

I don’t pretend to be an environmental expert, but I am learning. Before my concerts, we screen a preview of An Inconvenient Truth, the remarkable documentary by former U.S. vice-president Al Gore

I am installing solar panels at home, and for every ticket to one of my concerts sold online, we plant a tree.

I’m a supporter of The Big Ask.

It is a campaign by Friends of the Earth to get govern­ments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions — the main cause of global warming. Thanks to them, the European Union is now debating laws that would force members to cut emissions by 20 per cent by 2020. If approved, it would be the most ambitious plan in the world, and just might convince the U.S., China and others to come aboard.

Unfortunately, some politicians are pointing to the economy and saying that now is not the time to fight global warming. I think they have it backwards: We cannot afford to wait any longer. Global warming is a problem that is only going to get worse, and more costly to fix, the longer we delay. By joining The Big Ask, you can remind our leaders that the environment should not depend on the stock market.

And one more thing: next time you switch on the air conditioning, think about cracking a window open instead.

Source


Well I had to go and see what the “The Big Ask” was all about. Curiosity you know.

Seems the Friends of the Earth do numerous things.
Fuel Poverty being one of them.
November 13

Friends of the Earth and Help the Aged have lodged an appeal today (13 November 2008) against last month’s High Court ruling that the Government has not broken the law over its failure to tackle fuel poverty.

The High Court gave Friends of the Earth and Help the Aged permission to appeal because the case raised difficult and novel legal questions.  The organisations have asked the Court of Appeal to reconsider the issues and order that the Government release previously secret fuel poverty documents.
Friends of the Earth’s executive director, Andy Atkins, said:

“We believe the Government has acted unlawfully by failing in its legal commitment to end the suffering of fuel poverty. The Government must introduce a massive programme to cut energy waste, slash fuel bills and ensure that people heat their homes and not the planet.”

Mervyn Kohler, Special Adviser for Help the Aged, said:

“The intention of Parliament to end fuel poverty was very clear in legislation – it must happen.  The Government has to come up with a fresh fuel poverty strategy immediately to end the suffering of millions of vulnerable people.  Low income households need crisis payments simply to get through the coming winter, but in the longer term, the energy efficiency of our homes must be improved.”

Although the Government is legally bound to do all that is reasonably possible to eradicate fuel poverty for vulnerable households by 2010 and for all households by 2016, five million households in the United Kingdom will struggle to heat and power their homes this winter. The number of households in fuel poverty has now reached the highest level in ten years.
Help the Aged and Friends of the Earth and are calling on the Government to develop a far more effective and comprehensive programme of domestic energy efficiency to simultaneously end suffering from fuel poverty and tackle climate change.

Unfortunately this problem is not limited to just the UK.  It is a problem in many other countries as well.

This I found to very interesting.

Brown urged to U-turn on $1.6bn contribution to disastrous climate funds

April 11 2008

Civil society groups from around the world are today (Friday 11 April 2008) calling on the World Bank to withdraw its proposal to establish climate investment funds ahead of this weekend’s spring meetings in Washington, due to concerns the fund will be used for carbon offsetting schemes including industrial-scale tree plantations, coal projects and other polluting, energy-intensive industries and could undermine international efforts to tackle climate change.

The World Bank this week detailed its plans for the funds, which are being set up outside the United Nations Frame Convention on Climate Change [1] and into which the UK will channel its $1.6 billion Environmental Transformation Fund.

Friends of the Earth International climate campaigner Joseph Zacune said: “Gordon Brown’s decision to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money on the World Bank’s disastrous climate funds is set to do much more harm than good by undermining UN, developing country and community-based efforts to address climate change.

“The World Bank is responsible for major emissions through its financing of dirty fuel projects around the world – putting it in charge of multi-billion dollar climate funds is like putting a mafia don in charge of law and order.”

The World Bank Group is the largest multilateral lender for fossil fuel projects, spending around $1 billion per year in financing for the oil and gas industry. This week the Bank approved a $450 million loan for the 4,000 megawatt Tata Mundra coal project in Gujarat, India which is expected to emit 23 million tons of carbon dioxide per year.

The World Bank’s climate investment funds are expected to be worth between $7 and $12 billion. The US, UK, and Japan originally proposed the funds with a view toward their approval at the G8 summit in Japan in July 2008.

The Bank’s funds are also earmarked for tropical rainforest countries taking part in the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. This global offsetting scheme would allow rich countries and their corporations to buy up carbon locked in developing country forests in order to pollute as usual at home. The proposals have been opposed by Indigenous Peoples who would have their land rights undermined.

The Group of 77 and China criticised the proposed funds at UN climate talks in Bangkok last week.

The World Bank’s own Extractive Industries Review (EIR) in 2004 recommended that the Bank “phase out investments in oil production by 2008”.

Notes

[1] Details on these new climate funds became available this week on the World’s Bank website

[2] Bernaditas Muller, chief negotiator for the Group of 77 and China, stated, “The governance of these funds is also donor-driven. There is clearly money for climate actions, which is the good news, but the bad news is it is in the hands of institutions that do not necessarily serve the objectives of the Convention.”

[3] A new report “World Bank: Climate Profiteer” from the Institute for Policy Studies, shows how the World Bank’s growing engagement in carbon markets is dangerously counter-productive. The Bank’s $2 billion, and growing, carbon finance portfolio is forging a path through the $60 billion international carbon market toward a dirty energy future. While the World Bank continues to fund greenhouse gas-emitting coal, oil and gas projects, it skims an average 13% off the top of carbon deals. The report is available on the IPS website

(There are a number of reports at the IPS website , about the World bank worth reading. ( Challenging Corporate Investor Rule ) is one of them. There are about 5 or 6  reports on the World Bank . They do help pollution increase. There are other reports on pollution like (Radiation) as well.

Do be sure to check it out. There is a wealth of information there.

[4] More information is available including Third World Network’s critique on these funds.

See also Bretton Woods Project “World Bank climate funds: a huge leap backwards” .

Source

The Environment belongs to all of us and we must protect it.

Then we also have this type of pollution as well. War “Pollution” Equals Millions of Deaths

The GM genocide: Thousands of Indian farmers are committing suicide after using genetically modified crops

By Andrew Malone
November 3 2008

When Prince Charles claimed thousands of Indian farmers were killing themselves after using GM crops, he was branded a scaremonger. In fact, as this chilling dispatch reveals, it’s even WORSE than he feared.

The children were inconsolable. Mute with shock and fighting back tears, they huddled beside their mother as friends and neighbours prepared their father’s body for cremation on a blazing bonfire built on the cracked, barren fields near their home.

As flames consumed the corpse, Ganjanan, 12, and Kalpana, 14, faced a grim future. While Shankara Mandaukar had hoped his son and daughter would have a better life under India’s economic boom, they now face working as slave labour for a few pence a day. Landless and homeless, they will be the lowest of the low.

Indian farmer

Human tragedy: A farmer and child in India’s ‘suicide belt’

Shankara, respected farmer, loving husband and father, had taken his own life. Less than 24 hours earlier, facing the loss of his land due to debt, he drank a cupful of chemical insecticide.

Unable to pay back the equivalent of two years’ earnings, he was in despair. He could see no way out.

There were still marks in the dust where he had writhed in agony. Other villagers looked on – they knew from experience that any intervention was pointless – as he lay doubled up on the ground, crying out in pain and vomiting.

Moaning, he crawled on to a bench outside his simple home 100 miles from Nagpur in central India. An hour later, he stopped making any noise. Then he stopped breathing. At 5pm on Sunday, the life of Shankara Mandaukar came to an end.

As neighbours gathered to pray outside the family home, Nirmala Mandaukar, 50, told how she rushed back from the fields to find her husband dead. ‘He was a loving and caring man,’ she said, weeping quietly.

‘But he couldn’t take any more. The mental anguish was too much. We have lost everything.’

Shankara’s crop had failed – twice. Of course, famine and pestilence are part of India’s ancient story.

But the death of this respected farmer has been blamed on something far more modern and sinister: genetically modified crops.

Shankara, like millions of other Indian farmers, had been promised previously unheard of harvests and income if he switched from farming with traditional seeds to planting GM seeds instead.

Prince Charles

Distressed: Prince Charles has set up charity Bhumi Vardaan Foundation to address the plight of suicide farmers

Beguiled by the promise of future riches, he borrowed money in order to buy the GM seeds. But when the harvests failed, he was left with spiralling debts – and no income.

So Shankara became one of an estimated 125,000 farmers to take their own life as a result of the ruthless drive to use India as a testing ground for genetically modified crops.

The crisis, branded the ‘GM Genocide’ by campaigners, was highlighted recently when Prince Charles claimed that the issue of GM had become a ‘global moral question’ – and the time had come to end its unstoppable march.

Speaking by video link to a conference in the Indian capital, Delhi, he infuriated bio-tech leaders and some politicians by condemning ‘the truly appalling and tragic rate of small farmer suicides in India, stemming… from the failure of many GM crop varieties’.

Ranged against the Prince are powerful GM lobbyists and prominent politicians, who claim that genetically modified crops have transformed Indian agriculture, providing greater yields than ever before.

The rest of the world, they insist, should embrace ‘the future’ and follow suit.

So who is telling the truth? To find out, I travelled to the ‘suicide belt’ in Maharashtra state.

What I found was deeply disturbing – and has profound implications for countries, including Britain, debating whether to allow the planting of seeds manipulated by scientists to circumvent the laws of nature.

For official figures from the Indian Ministry of Agriculture do indeed confirm that in a huge humanitarian crisis, more than 1,000 farmers kill themselves here each month.

Simple, rural people, they are dying slow, agonising deaths. Most swallow insecticide – a pricey substance they were promised they would not need when they were coerced into growing expensive GM crops.

It seems that many are massively in debt to local money-lenders, having over-borrowed to purchase GM seed.

Pro-GM experts claim that it is rural poverty, alcoholism, drought and ‘agrarian distress’ that is the real reason for the horrific toll.

But, as I discovered during a four-day journey through the epicentre of the disaster, that is not the full story.

Monsanto

Death seeds: A Greenpeace protester sprays milk-based paint on a Monsanto research soybean field near Atlantic, Iowa

In one small village I visited, 18 farmers had committed suicide after being sucked into GM debts. In some cases, women have taken over farms from their dead husbands – only to kill themselves as well.

Latta Ramesh, 38, drank insecticide after her crops failed – two years after her husband disappeared when the GM debts became too much.

She left her ten-year-old son, Rashan, in the care of relatives. ‘He cries when he thinks of his mother,’ said the dead woman’s aunt, sitting listlessly in shade near the fields.

Village after village, families told how they had fallen into debt after being persuaded to buy GM seeds instead of traditional cotton seeds.

The price difference is staggering: £10 for 100 grams of GM seed, compared with less than £10 for 1,000 times more traditional seeds.

But GM salesmen and government officials had promised farmers that these were ‘magic seeds’ – with better crops that would be free from parasites and insects.

Indeed, in a bid to promote the uptake of GM seeds, traditional varieties were banned from many government seed banks.

The authorities had a vested interest in promoting this new biotechnology. Desperate to escape the grinding poverty of the post-independence years, the Indian government had agreed to allow new bio-tech giants, such as the U.S. market-leader Monsanto, to sell their new seed creations.

In return for allowing western companies access to the second most populated country in the world, with more than one billion people, India was granted International Monetary Fund loans in the Eighties and Nineties, helping to launch an economic revolution.

But while cities such as Mumbai and Delhi have boomed, the farmers’ lives have slid back into the dark ages.

Though areas of India planted with GM seeds have doubled in two years – up to 17 million acres – many famers have found there is a terrible price to be paid.

Far from being ‘magic seeds’, GM pest-proof ‘breeds’ of cotton have been devastated by bollworms, a voracious parasite.

Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death.

With rains failing for the past two years, many GM crops have simply withered and died, leaving the farmers with crippling debts and no means of paying them off.

Having taken loans from traditional money lenders at extortionate rates, hundreds of thousands of small farmers have faced losing their land as the expensive seeds fail, while those who could struggle on faced a fresh crisis.

When crops failed in the past, farmers could still save seeds and replant them the following year.

But with GM seeds they cannot do this. That’s because GM seeds contain so- called ‘terminator technology’, meaning that they have been genetically modified so that the resulting crops do not produce viable seeds of their own.

As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds each year at the same punitive prices. For some, that means the difference between life and death.

Take the case of Suresh Bhalasa, another farmer who was cremated this week, leaving a wife and two children.

As night fell after the ceremony, and neighbours squatted outside while sacred cows were brought in from the fields, his family had no doubt that their troubles stemmed from the moment they were encouraged to buy BT Cotton, a genetically modified plant created by Monsanto.

‘We are ruined now,’ said the dead man’s 38-year-old wife. ‘We bought 100 grams of BT Cotton. Our crop failed twice. My husband had become depressed. He went out to his field, lay down in the cotton and swallowed insecticide.’

Villagers bundled him into a rickshaw and headed to hospital along rutted farm roads. ‘He cried out that he had taken the insecticide and he was sorry,’ she said, as her family and neighbours crowded into her home to pay their respects. ‘He was dead by the time they got to hospital.’

Asked if the dead man was a ‘drunkard’ or suffered from other ‘social problems’, as alleged by pro-GM officials, the quiet, dignified gathering erupted in anger. ‘No! No!’ one of the dead man’s brothers exclaimed. ‘Suresh was a good man. He sent his children to school and paid his taxes.

‘He was strangled by these magic seeds. They sell us the seeds, saying they will not need expensive pesticides but they do. We have to buy the same seeds from the same company every year. It is killing us. Please tell the world what is happening here.’

Monsanto has admitted that soaring debt was a ‘factor in this tragedy’. But pointing out that cotton production had doubled in the past seven years, a spokesman added that there are other reasons for the recent crisis, such as ‘untimely rain’ or drought, and pointed out that suicides have always been part of rural Indian life.

Officials also point to surveys saying the majority of Indian farmers want GM seeds  –  no doubt encouraged to do so by aggressive marketing tactics.

During the course of my inquiries in Maharastra, I encountered three ‘independent’ surveyors scouring villages for information about suicides. They insisted that GM seeds were only 50 per cent more expensive – and then later admitted the difference was 1,000 per cent.

(A Monsanto spokesman later insisted their seed is ‘only double’ the price of ‘official’ non-GM seed – but admitted that the difference can be vast if cheaper traditional seeds are sold by ‘unscrupulous’ merchants, who often also sell ‘fake’ GM seeds which are prone to disease.)

With rumours of imminent government compensation to stem the wave of deaths, many farmers said they were desperate for any form of assistance. ‘We just want to escape from our problems,’ one said. ‘We just want help to stop any more of us dying.’

Prince Charles is so distressed by the plight of the suicide farmers that he is setting up a charity, the Bhumi Vardaan Foundation, to help those affected and promote organic Indian crops instead of GM.

India’s farmers are also starting to fight back. As well as taking GM seed distributors hostage and staging mass protests, one state government is taking legal action against Monsanto for the exorbitant costs of GM seeds.

This came too late for Shankara Mandauker, who was 80,000 rupees (about £1,000) in debt when he took his own life. ‘I told him that we can survive,’ his widow said, her children still by her side as darkness fell. ‘I told him we could find a way out. He just said it was better to die.’

But the debt does not die with her husband: unless she can find a way of paying it off, she will not be able to afford the children’s schooling. They will lose their land, joining the hordes seen begging in their thousands by the roadside throughout this vast, chaotic country.

Cruelly, it’s the young who are suffering most from the ‘GM Genocide’  –  the very generation supposed to be lifted out of a life of hardship and misery by these ‘magic seeds’.

Here in the suicide belt of India, the cost of the genetically modified future is murderously high.

Source

One suicide every 8 hours

Jaideep Hardikar

August 26, 2006

Ranjit Deshmukh / DNA
The widow and children of Loke


Vidarbha remains a grim statistic. One suicide in every eight hours. More than half of those who committed suicide were between 20 and 45, their most productive years.  The Maharashtra government says as many as 1920 farmers committed suicide between January 1, 2001 and August 19, 2006. Nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers are defaulters, reports Jaideep Hardikar

Suicide count

There are no authentic figures on the exact number of farm suicides in Vidarbha, but the Maharashtra government accepts a figure of 1920 from January 1, 2001 to August 19, 2006. The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), a farmers’ movement, puts the toll at 782 from June 1, 2005 to August 26, 2006. And, in the last three months, there has been a suicide every eight hours.

Cost of cultivation

Across the country, the average cost of cultivation in cotton is a little more than Rs 16,000 per ha. With an average productivity of 460 kg per ha, it costs between Rs 35 to Rs 48 per kg to grow cotton. In Vidarbha, the cost of cultivation could go well beyond Rs 20,000 perha and if marketing cost is added, it crosses Rs 22,000. But the productivity is only 146 kg per ha. In other words, the cost per kg is almost double — well over Rs 70 per kg. In Maharashtra, the cost of growing cotton increased from Rs 17,234/ha in 2001-02 to Rs 20,859 in 2002-03.

Right age, wrong step

Among the farmers who committed suicide in the past year, more than 50% were between 20 and 45 years of age (their most productive years), according to a study by the Sakal Newspapers Limited of the two districts, Amravati and Yavatmal.

Cotton area

The hybrid cotton covers about 73% of the cotton area in Vidarbha, whereas desi varieties cover about 27%. Most of these produce medium to medium-long fibre.

Area under Bt cotton has risen from a mere 0.4% in 2002-03 to 15% in 2005-06 in Vidarbha, according to the agriculture department statistics. Only 3% cotton land falls under assured irrigation. Cotton area has declined from 16.12 lakh ha in 2001 to 12.18 lakh ha in 2005-6. Only 3% of it is under irrigation. The shift is towards soybean.

Defaulters

The Planning Commission’s fact-finding mission members found out that nearly 2.8 million of the 3.2 million cotton farmers in Vidarbha are defaulters. Of every Rs 100 borrowed, approximately Rs 80 goes back in to servicing of old loans.

PM’s promise

The Prime Minister in his Rs 3750-crore package jacked up an additional credit flow of Rs 1200 crore taking it to Rs 2000 crore for 2006-07. But the ground situation shows a credit disbursal of less than a thousand crore.

Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

Revive traditional crops. Pump money back into the rural economy, say experts

“In Vidharbha, it is too risky to adopt expensive technologies. Small farmers who take loans for cultivation have no capacity to meet the calamity of crop failure. Traditional crops like jowar should  again be revived. The funds allotted under the Prime Minister’s package for seed replacement should be used to promote jowar, pulses and legumes. Also, organic farming and crop-livestock integration should be promoted on both ecological and economic grounds. Vidharbha can be declared as the Organic Farming Zone of Maharashtra, so that its oranges, jowar, cotton and other crops become known as organic products and thereby gain in market value.” — MS Swaminathan Chairman, National Commission on Farmers

“It’s not true that suicides are taking place only in Vidarbha. They began in Andhra and spread to other parts of the country. But why did farmer suicides begin after 1994? The answer is we liberalised the economy and devalued our rupee. As a result, the cost of energy went up, the cost of agriculture rose and living costs soared. The 5th Pay Commission was a vindication of this. But the farmers remained in a low-cost economy. The promise that exports in a free market would bring profits to farmers was never kept. We imported 110 lakh bales from 1998 to 2004.” — Vijay Jawandhia Wardha farmers’ leader, social commentator

“The point is we need to understand that green revolution has  collapsed. Continuing suicides by farmers is a reflection of that. Suicides are more alarming in those areas where green revolution was pushed with force. But that doesn’t mean there is no agrarian crisis in other areas; it’s all over the country now. A few areas like Vidarbha are peculiar with socio-economic, agro-climatic and other factors. We borrowed a technology that did not fit into our socio-economic milieu. Tractor is today a symbol of suicides. Fertilizers and pesticides have destroyed our natural base. Farmers in Vidarbha and elsewhere are the victims of policies that have siphoned money from the rural economy.” — Devinder Sharma Former journalist, agriculture expert

Source

They have created many problems for farmers. They bully, sue and torment them.

They are one of the worst Companies imaginable.

  • Monsanto Hid PCB Pollution for Decades
  • Monsanto’s Agent Orange: The Corporation Continues to Refuse Compensation to Veterans and Families for Exposure to the Toxic Chemical
  • Taxpayers Forced to Fund Monsanto’s Poisoning of Third World
  • Monsanto’s GE Seeds are Pushing US Agriculture into Bankruptcy
  • Cotton Farmers Going Bankrupt from Monsanto’s GE Cotton
  • In order for the FDA to determine if Monsanto’s growth hormones were safe or not, Monsanto was required to submit a scientific report on that topic. Margaret Miller, one of Monsanto’s researchers put the report together.
Shortly before the report submission, Miller left Monsanto and was hired by the FDA. Her first job for the FDA was to determine whether or not to approve the report she wrote for Monsanto. In short, Monsanto approved its own report. Assisting Miller was another former Monsanto researcher, Susan Sechen. Deciding whether or not rBGH-derived milk should be labeled fell under the jurisdiction of another FDA official, Michael Taylor, who previously worked as a lawyer for Monsanto.


There is more Much more.

This just the tip of the Iceburg.  It is a very large Iceburg.

Link to above information