News regarding the dangers of GMOs and biotech, and the advantages of organic sustainable agriculture.

America’s Fraudulent Organics Industry: 40% of All Organic Food Tested Positive for Prohibited Pesticides

A Missouri farmer has been charged with ripping off food companies and consumers by falsely marketing more than $140 million worth of corn, soybeans, and wheat as organic. Observers have called the scale of this fraud “jaw dropping” and likely the largest case of its kind involving US farmers. The level of deception in the organic industry has reached epidemic proportions: a USDA study found that 40% of all organic food sold in the US tested positive for prohibited pesticides. This is an outrage, but the USDA shows no signs of deviating from business as usual.

Judge Rules Monsanto’s Attempts to Ghostwrite Studies and Influence Findings of Scientists and Regulators to be Allowed in Court

A federal judge overseeing lawsuits alleging Bayer AG's glyphosate-based Roundup weed killer causes cancer on Monday tentatively allowed pieces of controversial evidence that the company had hoped to exclude from upcoming trials. The company denies allegations that glyphosate causes cancer and says decades of independent studies have shown the chemical to be safe for human use. Chhabria on Monday said plaintiffs could introduce some evidence of Monsanto's alleged attempts to ghostwrite studies and influence the findings of scientists and regulators during the first phase of upcoming trials. He said documents which showed the company taking a position on the science or a study introduced during the first phase were "super relevant."

New USDA “Mandatory” GMO Labeling Rule Allows Loopholes to Let Companies Hide GMO Ingredients

The USDA has released its final GMO labeling rule, and it’s not good. As we feared when the agency released its proposal earlier this year, the so-called GMO labeling law will apply only to a narrow set of foods. Congress and the USDA have offered a number of loopholes and exemptions to food companies, undermining any semblance of a consumer’s right to know. It’s as if the USDA asked the food industry to write the rule themselves.

French Court Cancels Monsanto Weedkiller Permit on Safety Grounds

A French court cancelled the licence for one of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based weedkillers on Tuesday over safety concerns, placing an immediate ban on Roundup Pro 360 in the latest legal blow to the Bayer-owned business. A court in Lyon in southeast France ruled that the approval granted by French environment agency ANSES in 2017 for Roundup Pro 360 had failed to take into account potential health risks.

Report: Costco to Stop Selling Glyphosate-based Roundup Weed Killer

Zen Honeycutt, the leader of Moms Across America, announced this week that Costco will not be selling the glyphosate-based weed killer Roundup Ready. In a live video update posted on Facebook, Honeycutt stated that she received word that Costco was no longer selling Roundup or glyphosate-based herbicides. While she has reportedly not received any official word yet from Costco, she stated that she has talked to various people at the headquarters and various regional offices to confirm this news. Honeycutt stated that based on the recent lawsuit against Monsanto in 2018, where a jury awarded damages to a man with terminal cancer resulting from exposure to glyphosate, Costco had decided to stop carrying the product. Moms Across America also sponsored a petition on Change.org that received over 89,000 signatures asking Costco, Lowes, and Home Depot to stop selling Roundup. It is hoped that Home Depot and Lowes will now follow Costco's example.

After 80 Years, Hemp, the Non-psychoactive Cousin of Marijuana, is Legal Again in the U.S.

United States’ hemp agriculture has been given the “green light” in the 2019 Farm Bill. President Trump signed the 2019 Farm Bill that was passed by both the Senate, with an 87 to 13 vote, while the House voted it into law with a 369 to 47 count. President Trump signed it into law on December 20th, 2018. It includes a clause that legalizes hemp agriculture throughout the entire United States. What had been a valued commodity for thousands of years among varied cultures, including America until immediately after WWII, has been a viable cash crop denied to American farmers, till now. Even though many of our U.S. founding fathers grew hemp as an agricultural product in the 1700s, it has been illegal to grow in the U.S. for over 80 years. From circa 1960 to now, hemp advocates have been constantly campaigning to bring hemp agriculture and hemp products back into open commerce. Hemp advocates have tended to promote the superiority of many hemp products over ecologically-destructive material sources for paper, clothing, plastics, and even building materials. But it appears that what has finally swayed the nation’s lawmakers was the fact that many farmers need this agricultural option to improve their lot for a variety of reasons.

Africans Paid 69 Cents an Hour to be Bitten in GMO Mosquito Trial

Under the headline, Malaria trial pays Africans to be bitten, The Times of London reports that human “guinea pigs” in the West African state of Burkina Faso are being paid to expose themselves to mosquitoes that could potentially carry malaria or other diseases. Although the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested $70 million in the project, The Times reports that about 25 African “volunteers” in the village of Bana are being paid just 69 cents (£0.55) an hour to expose their legs for six hours a night to all mosquitoes in their local environment, as part of a GMO mosquito trial. The villagers taking part have been given information sheets warning them that they could be bitten by a mosquito and be “infected by malaria or another sickness transmitted by the mosquito”. According to The Times, for each six-hour shift, between dawn and dusk when the insects are most active, the villagers are paid just $4.17 (£3.30) a night “to compensate for fatigue and time given”. As part of this, they are expected to try and capture the mosquitoes that come to bite them. The information sheet also says they will be tested regularly for malaria.

Banned for Use in War, But OK for Our Crops

Researchers who recently examined studies sponsored by Dow Chemical and used by the EPA to approve chlorpyrifos, a type of insecticide, found inaccuracies in what the company reported to the agency. A memo sent to EPA management said that “The study was graded unacceptable due to an inadequate presentation of the statistical data analysis.” Some research has linked the pesticides to autism and other brain disorders. There’s also evidence to suggest that some children are more vulnerable to the chemicals than others due to their genetic makeup. These health effects should come as no surprise when we consider that chlorpyrifos were developed as a nerve gas during World War II by the Nazis, though they weren’t used in battle. Chemical weapons were prohibited by the Geneva Convention after WWI—so the chemical is too inhumane to use in war, but A-OK for our food, according to the government’s thinking.

Judge Rejects Monsanto’s Bid to Overturn Glyphosate Conviction but Reduces Punitive Damages from $250 Million to $39 Million

Earlier this week (October 2018) San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos rejected Monsanto’s appeal to overturn the jury verdict which found that glyphosate in the herbicide RoundUp causes cancer. Judge Bolanos had earlier hinted that she might overturn the jury's verdict, and eliminate the $250 million in punitive damages. While denying Monsanto's attorneys their request for a new trial, Judge Bolanos did reduce the punitive damages from $250 million to $39 million, the same amount (39 million) that was awarded to the plaintiff, Dewayne Johnson, who is not expected to live much longer due to his cancer diagnosis. Judge Bolanos also stated that if Dewayne Johnson and his attorneys did not accept the reduction in punitive damages, that she would order a new trial. Johnson’s lawyers said in a statement that the “reduction in punitive damages was unwarranted” and that his legal team, Baum Hedlund and the Miller Firm, was “weighing the options.” Bayer, now the parent company for Monsanto, stated that they would file another appeal of the jury's verdict.

Judge Says She Will Overturn Jury Conviction of Monsanto and Nullify $250 Million Award in Damages Over Glyphosate Injuries

A San Francisco judge cast doubt recently on a jury’s $289 million damage award to a former Bay Area groundskeeper who was diagnosed with cancer after frequently spraying school grounds with a widely used weed-killer manufactured by Monsanto Co. Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos said in a tentative ruling that she would likely overturn $250 million in punitive damages because there was no convincing evidence that Monsanto had knowingly manufactured a harmful product or acted “despicably” toward the plaintiff, Dewayne “Lee” Johnson. Bolanos did not announce a final ruling, but showed little indication during the hearing that she was reconsidering her tentative decision on punitive damages. “I’m not following your argument,” she told Miller at one point after the lawyer said Monsanto had failed to properly test its product or study its effects. “You may not have been convinced by the evidence but we were,” juror Gary Kitahata said in a letter to Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos, who is considering Monsanto’s requests to reduce the damages or overturn the entire verdict. “I urge you to respect and honor our verdict and the six weeks of our lives that we dedicated to this trial.” Another juror, Robert Howard, said in his letter to the judge that the jury had paid “studious attention” to the evidence, closely followed Bolanos’ instruction and deliberated for several days. The possibility that “our unanimous verdict could be summarily overturned demeans our system of justice and shakes my confidence in that system,” Howard wrote.