Media/News Archive

With Zika Virus, Widespread Pesticide Spraying Not the Long-Term Solution, says Entomologist

Thursday, February 4th, 2016

Beyond Pesticides

Aedes aegypti
Source: James Gathany

Speaking to The Guardian, a leading Kenyan entomologist warns that spraying pesticides will fail to deal with the Zika virus. Just recently the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the virus a public health emergency over growing concerns that the virus is linked with microcephaly. Aerial and ground applications of pesticides have long been used for mosquito control, but many believe that these methods fail to sufficiently control mosquito populations, promote resistance and kill other species that would have acted as a natural predator to mosquitoes.

Dino Martins, PhD, a Kenyan entomologist in an interview with The Guardian said that while pesticides can reduce the population of flying adult mosquitoes that transmit the virus, they will fail to deal with the epidemic that threatens to become a global pandemic, and warns that spraying landscapes is extremely dangerous.  “It is a quick fix but you pay for it. You kill other species that would have predated on the mosquitoes. You also create a mosaic of sprayed and unsprayed low densities of chemicals that fosters the rapid evolution of resistance.” Read Full Article »

FDA Bans Imports of Genetically Engineered Salmon — For Now

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

The Washington Post
by Brady Dennis

AquaBounty Salmon
Source: Prachatai

Genetically engineered salmon won’t be hitting U.S. dinner tables anytime soon. Two months after federal regulators approved the nation’s first genetically engineered salmon for human consumption, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday issued a ban on the import and sale of the fish until the agency can publish guidelines for how it should be labeled.

The FDA’s action was prompted by language in a sprawling federal spending bill passed by Congress recently, which instructed regulators to forbid the sale of genetically engineered salmon until the agency finalizes rules about how it should be labeled — a process that potentially could take years. Read Full Article »

Following an Email Trail: How a Public University Professor Collaborated on a Corporate PR Campaign

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016

U.S. Right to Know
by Carey Gillam

Bruce Chassy
Source: University of Illinois

Former University of Illinois food science professor Bruce Chassy is known for his academic gravitas. Now retired nearly four years, Chassy still writes and speaks often about food safety issues, identifying himself with the full weight of the decades of experience earned at the public university and as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. Chassy tells audiences that before he retired in 2012, he worked “full time” doing research and teaching.

What Chassy doesn’t talk much about is the other work he did while at the University of Illinois – promoting the interests of Monsanto Co., which has been trying to overcome mounting public concerns about the genetically engineered crops and chemicals the company sells. He also doesn’t talk much about the hundreds of thousands of dollars Monsanto donated to the university as Chassy was helping promote GMOs, or Monsanto’s secretive role in helping Chassy set up a nonprofit group and website to criticize individuals and organizations who raise questions about GMOs. Read Full Article »

Sikkim is India’s First Organic State

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

Traditional Meal in Sikkim, India

All of Sikkim’s farmland has been certified organic under the National Programme for Organic Production (NPOP) regulations by the end of 2015. “Sikkim has already achieved that feat of living in harmony with nature, and is therefore a model of development which also protects nature,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said.

Under NPOP guidelines and the government program Sikkim Organic Mission, it took 12 years to convert the Himalayan state into the first 100 % organic state of India, eliminating pesticides, chemical fertilizers and GMOs, and working closely with the local ecosystem to preserve biodiversity and prevent erosion.

Sikkim’s organic mission started in 2003, when its Chief Minister Pawan Chamling declared his intent to make Sikkim India’s first organic state. Chamling has been reelected five times, so he was able to oversee the entire process. First, the state officially banned the sale of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, forcing its farmers to go organic. And it ran a number of events like a two-day workshop in March 2010 where organic experts and scientists advised farmers on making the transition. But Sikkim’s organic switch is not just good for public health; it’s also good for the economy as organic produce has higher profit margins for farmers, reports the Huffington Post. Read Full Article »

Activists Demand A Bill Of Rights For California Farm Workers

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

NPR – The Salt
by Tracie McMillan

Source: USDA

Farm workers in two of the nation’s most important agricultural counties joined other low-wage food sector workers on Wednesday, demanding better wages with a new Bill of Rights.

The thrust of the bill, which is aimed at workers in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties in California, is to establish a “rule of law” in the fields, observers say.

There are rampant violations of farm workers rights in agriculture,” says Bruce Goldstein, executive director of Farmworker Justice, a national advocacy group supporting the effort. “A lot of this is that a lot of employers feel like it’s not likely they’re going to get caught [breaking laws], and that if they get caught the cost is not that much —so they might as well take the risk.”

That’s particularly true because so many farm workers – an estimated 40 to 50 percent — are undocumentedMany are afraid that if they report labor abuse they’ll be deported, says Goldstein. Read Full Article »