Health Thailand wants to ban three pesticides

But US government says no

The Trump administration is pressuring Thailand not to ban three pesticides that scientific research has shown to be particularly dangerous to children and other vulnerable populations.

You know it’s a dark day for America when foreign leaders have to lecture US officials about the importance of prioritising public health over corporate profits.

Thailand’s leaders have said that as of 1 December, a ban will take effect on the use of the following farming chemicals: chlorpyrifos, an insecticide made popular by Dow Chemical that is known to damage babies’ brains; Syngenta’s paraquat, a herbicide scientists say causes the nervous system disease known as Parkinson’s that has been banned in Europe since 2007; and Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide, which is linked to cancer and other health problems.
Dow, Syngenta and Monsanto have each merged their way to become bigger corporate behemoths in recent years, wielding their power in Washington to keep their money-making pesticides on the market. They are not having as much luck keeping foreign leaders in line, however, amid growing global awareness of the risks many pesticides spell for human health.

Thailand joins dozens of countries that have already banned or are planning bans on paraquat, chlorpyrifos and/or glyphosate. Thailand’s national hazardous substances committee voted last month to ban all three due to the dangers established by scientific evidence.

Thailand’s leaders were motivated in part by research showing that use of these chemicals in agriculture not only puts farm workers at risk, but also endangers consumers because the bug and weed killers’ residues persist in fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods.

In the United States, pesticide residues are so common in domestic food supplies that a Food and Drug Administration report issued in September found more than 84% of domestic fruits, 53% of vegetables, and 42% of grains sold to consumers carried pesticide residues.

US regulators parrot industry talking points as they insist that dietary exposures to pesticides are nothing to worry about and say any risks to farm workers can be mitigated with proper training, protective clothing and other measures.
According to Thai news reports, US officials have also been warning that the ban will interfere with lucrative trade. The US is especially upset about a glyphosate ban, arguing that it could limit hundreds of millions of dollars in Thai imports of US grains, which are often laced with glyphosate residues.

Outraged Thai officials say they have been forced to “clearly explain” to US officials that Thailand’s priority is the health of Thai consumers. “Our job is to take care of the people’s health,” the public health minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, told the press.

If only US leaders had such moral clarity.

It may be disgraceful, but it’s certainly not surprising that the Trump administration is working to protect glyphosate and other pesticides that bring profits to big corporations. The agrochemical industry players are devoted donors to the political machinery that runs Washington and they expect a return on their dollars.

Chlorpyrifos was scheduled to be banned two years ago from US agricultural use but when Trump came into office the EPA decided to delay any action until at least 2022. The agency is currently updating its risk assessment of paraquat, seeking public comments through 16 December; but it appears poised to allow continued use, albeit with restrictions. And earlier this year the EPA affirmed that it continues to find no health risk associated with glyphosate.

One example of the US government's fealty was laid out in an internal Monsanto consultant’s report made public through litigation against the company. The report quotes a White House policy adviser as saying: “We have Monsanto’s back on pesticides regulation. We are prepared to go toe-to-toe on any disputes they may have.”

There is no shortage of scandal to alarm and divide Americans. It is often easiest to simply ignore the headlines and convince ourselves the partisan battles don’t actually affect us. But when it comes to the food we eat and feed our families, we only harm ourselves when we ignore policies that literally promote the poisoning of our children for profit. We can’t afford to look away from this.

Food Waste Reduction

Better Post-harvest Processing

a solution to global hunger?

Though hunger rarely makes the headlines anymore, it is still a burning issue in many countries, with an estimated 821 million undernourished people in the world. For decades, governments and donors have been increasing investment into food production to alleviate the problem. But what if the solution lies elsewhere?

Seven years have passed since FAO estimated that about one third of the food produced worldwide is either lost or wasted. Surprisingly huge amounts of food are lost even in the poorest countries, the very same which have the highest numbers of hungry or malnourished people. Most of these countries are affected by high levels of post-harvest losses caused by inappropriate handling of the produce after harvest.
For example Rwanda: like many other sub-Saharan African countries, agriculture is the leading economic activity in this densely populated nation, with more than 70 per cent of the workforce employed in the agricultural sector. Most of the produce is handled by smallholder farmers in their own homes through rudimentary post-harvest practices, often leading to low quality produce and high post-harvest losses.

Climate change is a big part of the problem. Due to shifting climatic patterns, maize harvesting currently happens during the peak of the rainy season. Most farmers do not have access to adequate drying facilities and cannot dry their produce to acceptable moisture levels before storing it, leading to pest infestation, mold and contamination. The result: large quantities of their maize is either inedible or unsalable.

The problem is a real one and there is data to prove it. According to the Africa Post-Harvest Loss Information System (APHLIS), the leading source on post-harvest wastage in Africa, losses in the Rwanda maize supply chain could be as high as 22 per cent. The figure is also alarmingly high for other crops in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, with an average grain loss estimated at 13.5 per cent continent-wide.

Reducing such losses could constitute a more cost-effective answer to hunger than increasing productivity. If the figures published in a 2011 World Bank report paint an accurate portrait, eliminating grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa alone could provide the annual calorie requirement for around 48 million people. And this increase would not be detrimental to the environment, as it would require no extra resources (water, land and energy) to grow the food that would otherwise go wasted.

The problem is that it is difficult to isolate post-harvest losses from the issue of rural underdevelopment in general. That is because they are largely due to the lack of infrastructure and appropriate equipment that affects many developing economies. What is really needed is a complete overhaul of the rural sector and its value chains, and one that leaves no loss behind.

A growing number of projects supported by IFAD follow a holistic approach that aims to improve the overall efficiency of the value chain by upgrading the capacities of all actors involved. An internal desk review found that between 2013 and 2016 IFAD earmarked about US$433 million to post-harvest operations through such projects. The infrastructure, equipment and capacity developed thanks to this investment is essential to enable producers to reduce their losses.

More focused interventions may still be needed to reduce losses at critical loss points, as we've done for example in East Timor by subsidizing 42,000 improved storage drums for household storage. Yet the comprehensive and durable development many of our projects have brought to rural communities is arguably more effective than piecemeal interventions, which may have a more immediate and measurable impact, but a more uncertain future.
Source: https://www.ifad.org/web/latest/blog/asset/40810706

Reducing food losses is just as important as improving yields, especially in the context of shifting climatic conditions. But the most effective way to stop the loss is to take a holistic approach that carefully integrates post-harvest loss reduction into every step of the targeted supply chains, from production to retail. If adequately funded and implemented, this approach could be the key to building more sustainable food systems, ensuring that everyone is adequately fed while our environment is protected.

Global Food Movement Rejects 'Gene drive' Technology

World Food Day (Oct/18) ...

Over 200 global food movement leaders and organisations representing hundreds of millions of farmers and food workers set out their clear opposition to “gene drives” – a controversial new genetic forcing technology.

Their call for a stop to this technology accompanies a new report, Forcing the Farm: How Gene Drive Organisms Could Entrench Industrial Agriculture and Threaten Food Sovereignty, that lifts the lid on how gene drives may harm food and farming systems.

Unlike previous genetically modified organisms (GMOs) these gene drive organisms (GDOs) are deliberately designed to spread genetic pollution as an agricultural strategy – for example, spreading "auto-extinction" genes to wipe out agricultural pests. Agri-research bodies now developing these extinction-organisms include the California Cherry Board, the US Citrus Research Board and the private California company Agragene Inc. Next month, the United Nations Biodiversity Convention will meet to discuss measures to control this technology, including a possible moratorium.

Those launching the call for a moratorium on gene drives in food and agriculture include all past and present UN Special Rapporteurs on the Right to Food; the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements; IUF (the International Union representing Food and Farmworkers); La Via Campesina, the largest network of peasant movements representing 200 million peasants in 81 countries; and GMWatch. Signatories also include well-known commentators on food matters including seed activist Vandana Shiva, World Food Prize winner Dr Hans Herren, International President of Friends of the Earth International Karin Nansen, activist and food entrepreneur Nell Newman, and environmentalist and geneticist David Suzuki.

Applying gene drives to food systems threatens to harm farmers’ rights and the rights of peasants as enshrined in international treaties,” said Dr Olivier De Schutter, who served as the UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food from 2008-2014. “Gene drives would undermine the realisation of human rights including the right to healthy, ecologically-produced and culturally appropriate food and nutrition

Africa grabbing | Economic colonialism

The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, is a G7/G8-led scheme, masquerading as an aid programme is serving up African nations on a silver platter—to Big-Seed/Big-Ag corporations. The deal threatens to rob and imprison farmers needing aid, while growing profits for various Ag-based giants.

A list of the organisations involved includes the names of the usual Big-Ag/Food/Bank corporations lurking behind such schemes: Monsanto; Syngenta; Caygill; Nestle; Swiss Re … it’s a war against tradition: self-reliant peasant agriculture.

The GuardianEuropean parliament slams G7 food project in Africa

Tanzania recently enacted a law that criminalised seed sharing, an ancient agricultural practice that is widespread in many parts of the world and critical to local farming. Under the new legislation, if a farmer buys seeds from Monsanto or Syngenta, those companies retain the intellectual property rights. For instance, if a farmer saves some seeds from the first harvest, those seeds can only be used on that farmer’s land for non-commercial purposes. This new law threatens an essential practice for many of these farmers.

The penalty for sharing seeds is twelve years in prison or a fine of over 200,000 euros. The average wage of a farmer in Tanzania is two dollars a day.

According to news reports, about 90% of African farmers depend on their seeds for survival. The informal sale or exchange of seeds allows farmers to be independent from the commercial seed business, while allowing poor farmers to have resilient crops at affordable prices. Eliminating seed-sharing closes off a fundamental source of revenue for poor farmers.

Tanzania did not enact this law out of thin air. An aid programme launched by the G8 (the US, UK, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, the European Union, and Russia) in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (NAFSN), promises aid in the form of agricultural investment to the ten African member countries, but only on the condition that countries receiving aid enact political reforms that help Big-Ag at the expense of small farmers who produce 70% of the world’s food.

Launched in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition provides aid money from rich countries like the US and the UK, and helps big business invest in the African agricultural sector. But in return, African countries are required to change their land, seed and trade rules in favour of big business.

By 2013 ten African countries had signed up: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Benin, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal. Around 50 multinational companies including Monsanto, Cargill and Unilever, and around 100 African companies, are also involved.

A few years on and evidence is mounting against the New Alliance.

A recent report from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact condemned the New Alliance as “little more than a means of promotion for the companies involved and a chance to increase their influence in policy debates”.

This excerpt from The Guardian says it all:

[NAFSN] will lock poor farmers into buying increasingly expensive seeds – including genetically modified seeds – allow corporate monopolies in seed selling, and escalate the loss of precious genetic diversity in seeds – absolutely key in the fight against hunger. It will also open the door to genetically modified (GM) crops in Africa by stopping farmers’ access to traditional local varieties and forcing them to buy private seeds.

NAFSN also calls for countries to help foreign investors take over agricultural lands. This “aid,” in short, is the wedge that Big-Ag and biotech companies are using to get a stronger foothold in Africa, leading many critics to call the schemes a “new wave of colonialism.” We tend to agree. Depriving farmers of their livelihood is hardly a way to battle poverty and hunger.

The New Alliance will:

  • Make it easier for big corporations to grab land in Africa.
  • Prevent farmers from breeding, saving and exchanging seeds.
  • Heavily promote chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which increase farmers’ risk of debt as well as damaging the environment and farmers’ health.
  • Replace family farms with low paid, insecure jobs.
  • Prevent countries from restricting crop exports, even at times of domestic shortage

Much of the aid money and investment promised as part of the New Alliance prioritises crops for export, including tobacco, palm oil and biofuel crops, rather than supporting small farmers to grow crops sustainably for local consumption.

Forfeit local sovereignty

70% of Africa’s food is produced by small-scale farmers who grow nutritious food without harming their health or the environment. And they can keep control over their land, seed and soil in line with the principles of food sovereignty.

Unsurprisingly, there are already reports that NAFSN is failing. Canadian authorities conducted a review of NAFSN’s progress in Senegal. The Canadian government concluded that there was no evidence that NAFSN “was effective in reducing poverty, improving food security and nutrition, or addressing the challenges faced by women in the Senegalese context.”

This story underscores the depths to which biotech companies like Monsanto and Syngenta will sink to, and why they must be vigorously opposed at every opportunity. Not only have they proven to be reckless with our health, they are intentional about attacking the livelihoods of some of our planet’s neediest.

Licensing Seeds as Commons

You’ve heard about open-source software and hardware, but can the concept be expanded to address other copyright challenges … like seeds and biopiracy?

Today, in this era of privatisation, just a handful of companies account for most of the world’s commercial breeding and seed sales. Increasingly, patents and contractual restrictions are used to enhance the power and control of these companies over the seeds and the farmers that feed the world.

Patented and protected seeds cannot be saved, replanted, or shared by farmers and gardeners. And because there is no research exemption for patented material, plant breeders at universities and small seed companies cannot use patented seed to create the new crop varieties that should be the foundation of a just and sustainable agriculture.

German Nonprofit has Seeds Open-Sourced


OpenSourceSeeds (OSS) recently launched a licensing process for open-source seeds, to create a new repository of genetic material that can be accessed by farmers around the world, in perpetuity. Their strategy is aimed to protect this valuable resource from the takeover of seed rights by corporate interests.

OSS are an offspring of the Association for AgriCulture and Ecology (AGRECOL), which focuses on sustainable and organic agriculture mainly in the developing world,  which has worked on open-source seeds for about five years ago.

There is a similar initiative in the United States – the Open Source Seeds Initiative, (OSSI). Rather than licensing, they add a pledge to seed varieties – an ethical approach …

The OSSI Pledge: “You have the freedom to use these OSSI- Pledged seeds in any way you choose. In return, you pledge not to restrict others’ use of these seeds or their derivatives by patents or other means, and to include this Pledge with any transfer of these seeds or their derivatives.

Working together We are the Commons

Debate about the preservation of common goods – or simply commons – was instigated by Elinor Ostrom. Together with her
working group she studied countless commons and has confirmed: commons do not come into existence by themselves, they are made. Commons are the result of complex interactions of resources, communities and care taking; that is, of commoning.

In her lifework Ostrom defined universal rules – which she calls “design principles” – and demonstrated that compliance with these rules guarantees the sustainable use of common goods. In 2009 she was the first woman awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

The fight over who will control our food, countryside and natural resources is heating up

“Feed the World” – a battle-cry for both sides in a fight heating up over who will control our food, countryside and natural resources.

Today, April 17th, marks the International Day of Peasant Struggles. These ‘peasants’, or paysans in French, are the hundreds of millions of small farmers who currently produce the majority of the world’s food. They are the David struggling against the agribusiness Goliath – the large corporations consolidating control over global food production.

There is little in common between these two sides. The former know that food sovereignty and small-scale ecological farming can feed the world – once food production is fully in the hands of producers and consumers. The latter desire a resource intensive, chemical-based industrial farming model where control over seeds, chemical inputs, machinery, distribution and most importantly profits, sits in the hands of corporations.

In the last month the European Commission approved the merger of Dow Chemicals and DuPont, and Chinese state company ChemChina’s acquisition of Syngenta. Next up is the potential merger of Bayer and Monsanto – a ‘marriage made in hell’. These are some of the biggest agricultural companies ever known, true Goliaths, with market power that sends shudders through small-scale farmers worldwide.peasants_feed_the_people.jpg

Click to support the rights of peasants

We cannot allow corporations bent on profit at any cost to take control over our food and farming. Increasing corporate control, combined with a political fixation on export-led growth has tipped the scales in favour of industrial agriculture, threatening the existence of small-scale farmers, biodiversity and the environment.

In Europe, four million small farms disappeared between 2003 and 2013, a staggering 33% of all farms in the European Union. In contrast, three percent of industrial farms now control 52% of the European Union’s agricultural land.

Exacerbating this are trade deals that favour global food chains instead of de-centralised local markets – benefitting a small number of transnational companies. If the current trend of chemical-intensive industrial farming persists, the UN estimates we may have fewer than 60 years of farming left. The status quo is simply not an option.

Resistance to this trend has begun. Direct food distribution like Community Supported Agriculture initiatives and organic sales are booming, and opposition to trade deals that only cater for corporate wishes is increasing. The myths of industrial agriculture are being busted at the highest level, and now peasant farmers, as well as a large number of civil society organisations are pressing the United Nations to recognise the rights of peasants. A petition to European foreign ministers calls for support from European governments for the rights of peasants to land, seeds, a decent income and livelihood, and means of production.

It is time for political leaders to catch up. The European institutions, as well as national governments across Europe, need to unshackle themselves from corporate influence, and focus support on truly sustainable food and farming.

Nothing less than a radical overhaul of trade deals and the Common Agricultural Policy is needed. Putting peasants and a locally-based food system at the core of policy-making means shifting public money away from industrial agriculture to those who deliver for the environment and society.

This would mean ensuring fair prices for farmers, providing support for agro-ecological food production and artisanal infrastructure, such as small-scale food processing facilities and farmers’ cooperatives, to help them thrive.

At a local level, authorities can help by providing support to revitalise local shops, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, and fair-trade schemes. Internationally, it means recognising the rights of peasants and communities to define and build the food system.

The Davids of this world are not alone, and they have their slingshots full of public support. The fight to ensure that food and farming works for people, and the planet, has begun.


Stanka Becheva is food and agriculture campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe where she coordinates  work on agroecology and food sovereignty.


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Growing the Movement in Auckland

The Tomato Movement

From now till end of summer, Kai Auckland want to help people to grow, harvest and bottles tomatoes. Across Auckland people are raising tomato seedling to give away. Distribution points are being identified.

There will be plantings in community gardens and back yards, with bottling workshops also planned as a follow up in Autumn.  Peasants NZ has opened a backyard in Sunnyvale (West Auckland) as a focal for growing seedlings. Contact Ross through Contact Us for dates and times to work in with that.  If there is any way you want to be involved, we are just an email away.

Summer in the Square

Kai Auckland is excited to have the opportunity to be part of Summer in the Square, the summer festival at Aotea Square. From December through to February, there will be pallet gardens growing edibles in the square, and free Saturday morning gardening workshops. You can get involved by volunteering at the garden set-up and planting day (Saturday 3 December), putting your hand up to help look after the gardens over the summer, or suggesting someone who could present a gardening workshop. If you are interested in being involved, contact Emily — urbanpantry.

The Trans-Tasman review into labelling irradiated food has meet a mixed response

While most industry groups and corporations that produced submissions to Food Standards Australia New Zealand were supportive of removing the labeling, all but one of the private citizen submissions were against the idea.

The body will not propose a removal of the current labelling requirements at this stage, but asked respondents whether they thought the countries’ approach to signalling irradiated food was effective or necessary at present.

Irradiation, which is used as both a pest control method and way of extending food’s shelf life, is a rare practice in the two countries, used mainly as a final quarantine measure to prevent the spread of fruit flies.

Five FSANZ studies over the last 15 years and numerous World Health Organisation reports have found the irradiation process is safe, but food manufacturers are required to add a label informing consumers food has been processed in this way.

The wording of the labelling is not proscribed, though manufacturers can add an optional Radura symbol, the internationally recognised identifier of irradiated food.

Consumer NZ, Friends of the Earth and New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries made submissions against removing the label requirements, arguing consumers were in favour of greater levels of information about the origin and processing of their food. They were joined by Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis (pictured above), who in a submission as a private citizen said “any process that alters the ingredients of a product should be labelled“.

“It is not the responsibility of government or government endorsed bodies to decide on behalf of the individual what they should or should not know is in their food,” he said.

Source – Sydney Morning Herald: http://www.smh.com.au/national/irradiation-food-labelling-review-draws-mixed-response-20160523-gp1pi5.html#ixzz4ACrPum2q

 

President Putin Calls Westerners ‘Intensively Vaccinated Borderline Autistic Fat Man …’

Russian President, Vladimir Putin is making waves again today and this time, it is because he is once again, slamming the pharmaceutical alliances and big food corporations. He believes that both of these entities are divisive, mind-controlling and poisonous beings with the ambition of world population control.

In a report prepared by the Security Council (SCRF), President Putin has put these entities on notice and stated that his people should be protected from pharmaceutical companies and GMO foods “at all costs.” According to YourNewsWire Putin also stated that human evolution is at “grave risk” and that Western powers are “intentionally decelerating the process for personal gain.”

We as a species have the choice to continue to develop our bodies and brains in a healthy upward trajectory, or we can follow the Western example of recent decades and intentionally poison our population with genetically altered food, pharmaceuticals, vaccinations, and fast food that should be classified as a dangerous, addictive drug.”
“We must fight this.  A physically and intellectually disabled population is not in our interests,” the report states. It also states Putin describing Western culture as, “intensively vaccinated borderline autistic fat man slumped in front of a screen battling a high-fructose corn syrup comedown.”

Russia has always been anti-GMO, promoting the rise of farmers who do so under non-GMO circumstance. All this being fair and equal, Putin has also announced that Russia has invented an Ebola vaccine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that his country has developed a vaccine for the Ebola virus which has killed thousands of people in west Africa.

But Putin, who is famed for his talent for headline-grabbing announcements, did not divulge the vaccine’s name, nor did he say how it worked, who was developing it or give details of any trials.

“We have good news,” Putin was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti news agency.
We have registered a drug against Ebola, which after the corresponding tests has been shown to be highly effective, more effective than the drugs used worldwide up to now.”

Maybe he’s headline-grabbing on this issue? Either way, it is difficult to invalidate his prior statements regard the West’s relationship with pharmaceutical companies. While his proclamation may be rather rough around the edges, it is nonetheless accurate. The rate of autism in U.S. children is now at 1-45 with no viable solution or investigations into solutions in play. The future would seem dismal on this front. Childhood obesity is now at over 50% and growing. At some point the West most certainly needs to wake up and see that the powers that be aren’t working in our favour.

Source:  |  truthkings.com

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