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Spraying Neonicotinoid Pesticides on Crops

Story at-a-glance -

  • The US Environmental Protection Agency analyzed the use of neonicotinoids for insect control in US soybean production and found they provide little or no overall benefits
  • Neonicotinoids have been implicated in massive bee die-offs plaguing the US and other parts of the world, and research shows they’re also harmful to butterflies, earthworms, and birds
  • Monsanto has no plans to stop selling the treated seeds to farmers
  • Votes to label genetically modified foods are going on in Oregon and Colorado
 

Monsanto to Keep Selling Pesticide-Coated Seeds EPA Says Don't Help Yields ― And May Harm Bees

November 04, 2014 | 61,284 views

By Dr. Mercola

Unbeknownst to many Americans, the majority of soybean, corn, canola, and sunflower seeds planted in the US are coated with neonicotinoid pesticides (neonics).

The chemicals, which are produced by Bayer and Syngenta, travel systemically through the plants and kill insects that munch on their roots and leaves. Neonicotinoids are powerful neurotoxins and are quite effective at killing the pests… but they’re also being blamed for decimating populations on non-target pests, namely pollinators such as bees and butterflies.

This occurs because the pesticides are taken up through the plant's vascular system as it grows, and, as a result, the chemical is expressed in the pollen and nectar of the plant. Despite accumulating evidence that neonics are implicated in widespread bee deaths across the US, Monsanto, DuPont, and Dow, which sell the treated seeds, have no intention of stopping.

Neonicotinoids Lead to ‘No Difference’ in Soybean Yields

The use of neonics becomes even more tragic (and greedy) after an analysis by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found they do little, if anything, to boost crop yields. Bayer, for instance, continues to claim that neonicotinoids help farmers to increase productivity1… 

But this is not what the EPA’s analysis revealed. According to the EPA, which analyzed the use of neonicotinoids for insect control in US soybean production:2

EPA concludes that these seed treatments provide little or no overall benefits to soybean production in most situations. Published data indicate that in most cases there is no difference in soybean yield when soybean seed was treated with neonicotinoids versus not receiving any insect control treatment.”

A public comment period on the analysis is open until December 22, 2014… let’s hope that after that time the EPA will take action against these environmentally destructive chemicals. To date, unfortunately, the EPA has failed to take action and has already been sued once by beekeepers and environmental groups for failing to protect bees from neonicotinoid pesticides.

They have also green-lighted another pesticide that is a close cousin to these toxic chemicals (sulfoxaflor). As a result, several beekeeping organizations and beekeepers have filed a legal action against them for approving sulfoxaflor, which is considered by many to be a "fourth-generation neonicotinoid.”

At least, in June 2014, an Executive Order was issued by the US government to investigate pollinator health (including the use of neonicotinoids), although no federal bans have been put in place.

Mounting Evidence Shows Neonicotinoids Are Too Toxic to Use

In 2013, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a report that ruled neonicotinoid insecticides are essentially “unacceptable” for many crops,3 and in the US, the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) announced that they were restricting the use of 18 pesticide products containing dinotefuran, a type of neonicotinoid.

Neonicotinoids have been increasingly blamed for bee deaths (and were implicated in last year’s mass bee die-off of 25,000 bumblebees along with millions of bee deaths in Canada), prompting the European Union (EU) to ban them for two years, beginning December 1, 2013, to study their involvement with large bee kills. At the end of two years, the restriction will be reviewed.

Meanwhile, an independent review by 29 scientists with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (which looked at 800 studies) put another nail in the coffin for neonicotinoids.

The study found that neonicotinoids are indeed gravely harming bees and other pollinators (like butterflies). And that’s not all. The research also showed serious harm to birds, earthworms, snails, and other invertebrates.4 One of the researchers, Jean-Marc Bonmatin with the National Centre for Scientific Research, said:5

"The evidence is very clear. We are witnessing a threat to the productivity of our natural and farmed environment equivalent to that posed by organophosphates or DDT… Far from protecting food production, the use of neonicotinoid insecticides is threatening the very infrastructure which enables it."

Neonicotinoids Found in 100 Percent of Midwestern Streams Tested

So there’s solid research showing that neonicotinoids harm bees and other wildlife and do little to increase crop yields… further, research in Environmental Pollution identified yet another route of harm: waterways.6

After sampling nine Midwestern stream sites during the 2013 growing season, neonicotinoids were detected at all sites sampled. At different times of the growing season, levels of the insecticides peaked. For instance, after spring planting, levels spiked well above what would be considered toxic for aquatic organisms.7

Furthermore, reduced levels were detected in the waterways even before planting, which indicates that they can “persist from applications in prior years.”8 As reported by Mother Jones:9

These findings directly contradict industry talking points. Older insecticides were typically sprayed onto crops in the field, while neonics are applied directly to seeds…

‘Due to its precise application directly to the seed, which is then planted below the soil surface, seed treatment reduces potential off-target exposure to plants and animals,’ Croplife America, the pesticide industry's main lobbying outfit, declared in a 2014 report.

Yet… USGS researchers report that older pesticides that once rained down on the corn/soy belt, like chlorpyrifos and carbofuran, turned up at ‘substantially’ lower rates in water—typically, in less than 20 percent of samples, compared to the 100 percent of samples found in the current neonic study.

Apparently, pesticides that are taken up by plants through seed treatments don't stay in the plants; and neonics, the USGS authors say, are highly water soluble and break down in water more slowly than the pesticides they've replaced.”

Top Scientific Journals Won’t Run Dr. Bronner’s Anti-GMO Ad…

David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, recently submitted a short advertorial to two leading science journals: Science and Nature. The short essay described how genetically modified (GM) crops have led to a net increase in pesticide use and cited data from Dr. Ramon J. Seidler, who is a former senior scientist with the EPA.

While magazines including Scientific American and The New Yorker accepted the ad, both journals denied it. Nature gave little in the way of explanation, but Science explained:10

“…our CEO along with the board have come back saying that we cannot accept the ad. We're concerned about backlash from our members and potentially getting into a battle with the GMO industry.”

It’s unclear what type of backlash they expected, but clearly they weren’t willing to take on any sort of battle in the interest of the sharing of knowledge and information – which scientific journals stand for. Laurie Faraday, the journal’s East regional ad-sales manager told Mother Jones that the editorial side even agreed with what Dr. Bronner’s ad said… they simply feared the backlash of the GMO industry:11

Science's management found it ‘a little bit controversial,’ and worried that ‘if we allowed that kind of a piece to be printed in Science, then maybe we'd be subject to the GMO world coming after us.’ She added: ‘Ironically, it's not that anyone in the organization disagreed with what it [the ad] said. It's just that we had to consider that the opposite side of the coin might want to start a war in our magazine.’"

Why We Need GMO Labeling: GM Soy Has Higher Levels of Pesticide Residues

From a regulatory perspective, GM crops are considered to be "substantially equivalent" to their non-GM counterparts. This means, that they are essentially the same, with no meaningful differences for your health or the environment. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has (so far) not required labeling of GM foods because they are deemed to be "substantially equivalent" to non-GM foods. It is also due to substantial equivalence that no oversight or long-term safety testing has been required of GM crops.

Yet, research shows that GM crops are not the same as their traditionally grown counterparts. A 2012 nutritional analysis of GMO versus non-GMO corn showed shocking differences in nutritional content. Non-GMO corn contained 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than GMO corn. GMO corn was also found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, compared to zero in non-GMO corn.

Research published in 2014 in the journal Food Chemistry also revealed that GM soybeans contain high residues of glyphosate and its amino acid metabolite, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA).12 The researchers also noted soybeans from different agricultural practices (GMO, organic, and conventional) differ in nutritional quality, and concluded their data “rejects that GM soy is substantially equivalent to non-GM soybeans.” They noted:

Using 35 different nutritional and elemental variables to characterize each soy sample, we were able to discriminate GM, conventional and organic soybeans without exception, demonstrating ‘substantial non-equivalence’ in compositional characteristics for ‘ready-to-market’ soybeans.”

Genetic testing recently carried out by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) confirmed that GM soy has been detected in infant formula being sold in Portland, Oregon,13 where a vote on whether or not to label GM foods is going on today – November 4, 2014. Most mothers would be interested to know if the infant formula they’re buying contains more pesticide residues and other risks from GM ingredients compared to another brand… and this is just one example of why GMO labeling is so important.

Voters in Oregon and Colorado: Vote YES for GMO Labeling Today, November 4, 2014


Today, we have two important measures on the ballot in Oregon and Colorado regarding GMO labeling. If you live in either of these states, please Vote Yes on Measure 92 in Oregon and Proposition 105 in Colorado to call for labeling on genetically modified foods. As you can see in Dr. Seidler’s video above, farmers get color-coated seeds so they know which are genetically modified and which are not… once it’s in your food, don’t you deserve to know the difference?

The Great Boycott Is Here

The insanity has gone far enough. It’s time to unite and fight back, which is why I encourage you to vote with your wallet and boycott every single product owned by members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), considering the fact that it consists primarily of pesticide producers and junk food manufacturers who are going to great lengths to violate some of your most basic rights.

This is just to ensure that subsidized, genetically engineered and chemical-dependent, highly processed junk food remains the status quo. This includes both natural and organic brands. You can start by using the list in the table below. The recent GM labeling victories in Vermont and Oregon clearly show that we have the power to incite great change. In this case, you can help change the food system by taking decisive action with your food dollars.

"We flood their Facebook pages, tarnish their brand names. We pressure financial institutions, pension funds and mutual funds to divest from Monsanto and the other GMA companies. Our motto for Monsanto and GMA products must become: Don't buy them. Don't sell them. Don't grow them. And don't let your financial institution, university, church, labor union or pension fund invest in them," Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) writes.14

"As soon as the GMA files a lawsuit against Vermont, the Organic Consumers Association, joined by a growing coalition of public interest groups, will launch a boycott and divestment campaign directed against all of the 300 GMA companies and their thousands of brand name products—including foods, beverages, seeds, home and garden supplies, pet food, herbicides and pesticides."

So far, between 2012 and 2014, Monsanto and the GMA have successfully blocked GMO labeling legislation in over 30 states, at a price tag of more than $100 million! These funds were received from the 300+ members of the GMA, which include chemical/pesticide, GE seed, and processed food industries. Together, these industries are working in a symbiotic fashion to grow, subsidize, and manufacture foods that have been clearly linked to growing obesity and chronic disease epidemics. As noted by Ronnie Cummins:

"Until now the GMA colossus has ruled, not only in Washington DC, but in all 50 states. But now that Vermont has passed a trigger-free GMO labeling law, and Oregon is poised to do the same in November, the balance of power has shifted. Monsanto, the GMA and their allies are in panic mode. Because they know that when companies are forced to label or remove GMOs, and also are forced to drop the fraudulent practice of labeling GE-tainted foods as 'natural' or 'all natural,' in one state, they will have to do it in every state. Just as they've been forced to do in Europe, where mandatory GMO labeling has been in effect since 1997."

Are You Supporting Those Who Have Repeatedly Taken a Stand Against Your Health and Right to Know?

To defeat the GMA lawsuit against Vermont, money must be raised for legal assistance to the state. We must also intensify any and all efforts to educate others and put pressure on the marketplace to quell the GMAs radical power grabs. To this end, please make a donation to the Organic Consumers Fund today.

Other ways you can help is by refusing to invest in GMA member companies—even if indirectly through retirement and mutual funds. With enough pressure, we can pressure institutional investors like Fidelity, Vanguard, and State Street to dump the stocks they have in these companies. Moreover, we need to boycott ALL of the 300 companies who are still members of the GMA. Combined, they produce more than 6,000 brand name products, and all of these products are on the boycott list. This includes:

Foods BeveragesSeeds
Home and garden suppliesPet foodsHerbicides and pesticides for home and professional use

This may seem as a monstrously difficult task... but if we work together and individually make an effort, collectively we can do it. There are 400 million Americans, and each person makes multiple purchasing and investment decisions each and every day of the year. Every action you take from here on counts. Pro-organic consumer groups will also launch programs placing emphasis on boycotting "Traitor Brands," meaning natural and organic brands that are actually owned by members of the pro-GMO GMA. As noted by Cummins:

"Health-conscious and green-minded consumers often inadvertently support the GMA when they buy brands like Honest Tea, Kashi, Odwalla and others whose parent companies, all members of the GMA, have donated millions to defeat GMO labeling initiatives in California (Prop 37) and Washington State (I-522)."

As a sign of solidarity, please sign the Boycott Pledge now.

Traitor Brands

While I cannot list all of them here, some of the 50 "natural" and/or organic Traitor Brands targeted by this boycott include those listed below. The reason for not focusing the boycott on the conventional parent companies is because pro-organic health-conscious consumers rarely buy Coca-Cola, Diet Pepsi, or sugary breakfast cereals to begin with. The only way to really put pressure on these parent companies is by avoiding the brands they market to organic consumers; the brands you actually typically buy.

"Let's be clear. Junk Food and beverage companies who are members of the GMA are gobbling up organic and 'natural' brands because they recognize the huge profit potential in the fast-growing organic and natural markets. They want our business. If we stop buying their brands, they know there's a good chance we'll find alternative brands. And we might never look back," Cummins writes.

Natural/Organic Traitor Brand Owned By/Parent company
IZZE PepsiCo
Naked Juice PepsiCo
Simply Frito-Lay PepsiCo
Starbucks Frappuccino PepsiCo
Honest Tea Coca-Cola
Odwalla Coca-Cola
Gerber Organic Nestle
Sweet Leaf tea Nestle
Boca Burgers Kraft/Mondelez
Green and Black's Kraft/Mondelez
Cascadian Farm General Mills
Larabar General Mills
Muir Glen General Mills
Alexia ConAgra
Pam organic cooking sprays ConAgra
Bear Naked Kelloggs
Gardenburger Kelloggs
Kashi Kelloggs
Morningstar Farms Kelloggs
Plum Organics Campbells
Wolfgang Puck organic soups Campbells
RW Knudsen Smuckers
Santa Cruz Organic Smuckers
Smuckers Organic Smuckers
Dagoba Hersheys
Earthgrain bread Bimbo Bakeries
Simply Asia McCormick
Thai Kitchen McCormick

Nine Additional Ways to Take Your Power Back

In addition to not buying Traitor Brand foods or beverages (even if they're certified organic), here are nine ways you can take power back from the corporate bullies that make up the Grocery Manufacturers Association:

  1. Stop buying all non-organic processed foods. Instead, build your diet around whole, unprocessed foods, especially raw fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats from coconut oil, avocadoes, organic pastured meat, dairy and eggs, and raw nuts
  2. Buy most of your foods from your local farmer's market and/or organic farm
  3. Cook most or all your meals at home using whole, organic ingredients
  4. Frequent restaurants that serve organic, cooked-from-scratch, local food. Many restaurants, especially chain restaurants (Chipotlé is a rare exception), use processed foods made by GMA members for their meals
  5. Buy only heirloom, open-pollinated, and/or organic seeds for your garden. This includes both decorative plants and edibles
  6. Boycott all lawn and garden chemicals (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) unless they are "OMRI Approved," which means they are allowed in organic production. If you use a lawn service, make sure they're using OMRI Approved products as well
  7. Become an avid label reader. If a GMA member company owns the product, no matter what it is, don't buy it
  8. Download the Buycott app for your smartphone, which allows you to scan products to find out if they're part of the boycott before you buy them
  9. Join the Organic Consumers Association's new campaign, "Buy Organic Brands that Support Your Right to Know"

To learn more about this boycott, and the traitor brands that are included, please visit TheBoycottList.org. I also encourage you to donate to the Organic Consumers Fund. Your donation will help fight the GMA lawsuit in Vermont, and also help win the GMO labeling ballot initiative in Oregon in November.

Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference. By boycotting GMA member Traitor Brands, you can help level the playing field, and help take back control of our food supply. And as always, continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and share what you’ve learned with family and friends.

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