Category Archives: Agriculture

Trump EPA Denounced for ‘Disgusting’ Decision on Atrazine, Herbicide Tied to Birth Defects

One critic warned that “this decision imperils the health of our children and the safety of drinking water supplies across much of the nation.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-19-2020

Atrazine is mostly used on corn, according to Civil Eats, “but also on sorghum, sugarcane, and a few other crops, as well as on golf courses, Christmas tree farms, and in residential landscaping.” (Photo: TumblingRun/flickr/cc)

The Trump administration alarmed environmental and public health advocates on Friday with the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reauthorize the use of atrazine, an herbicide common in the United States but banned or being phased out in dozens of countries due to concerns about risks such as birth defects and cancer.

“Use of this extremely dangerous pesticide should be banned, not expanded,” declared Nathan Donley, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). “This disgusting decision directly endangers the health of millions of Americans.” Continue reading

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“Touted as ‘Essential’… Treated as Disposable”: Labor Day Anger as Migrant Farm Workers Toil Inside Wildfire Evacuation Zones

“For the workers, their hands were forced by a combination of circumstances as toxic as the ash that falls over the region’s famous vineyards.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-7-2020

Photo via salud-america.org

This Labor Day, immigrant and worker’s rights advocates are sounding the alarm in response to reports of migrant grape pickers, many of whom are undocumented, being forced to work in fire evacuation zones by California growers in a situation critics say demonstrates how some of those deemed “essential” at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic have been rendered “disposable” in the face of a record-setting heat wave and extremely dangerous conditions.

While the threat of flames and smoke was strong enough in Sonoma County to provoke the relocation of area residents, “the county agriculture commissioner invited workers to continue laboring in the fields, doling out evacuation-area access passes to dozens of agricultural producers,” Alleen Brown reported for The Intercept. Continue reading

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How Trump is opening the way for the Taliban to take Afghanistan back

Trump’s eagerness to ‘bring our boys home’ is leaving the Afghan government with little power to resist the Taliban afterwards.

By Paul Rogers. Published 7-31-2020 by openDemocracy

Goodbye Afghanistan | US Air Force photo by Clay Lancaster. Public domain.

One of Donald Trump’s main election pledges back in 2016 was to ‘bring our boys home’. Alongside this came criticism of Germany and other NATO states for not paying their way on military spending. He has followed up on both themes this week, by starting to reduce the US presence in Germany, albeit shifting some to Poland and leaving all the mechanisms of a rapid return in place, so that the extent of the ‘back home’ is far from what it appears.

Extricating US forces from Middle East is another matter. Many army units are consolidating in fewer bases in Iraq or moving to nearby Kuwait. The US Navy is holding on, too, mainly because of the confrontation with Iran. It currently has two carrier battle groups within reach of the region. Continue reading

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Updated Species Extinction List Signals ‘Urgent Action Needed to Save Life on Earth’

More than one in four of the 120,372 plant and animal species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are at risk of extinction.

By  Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-9-2020

All 17 species of Red Colobus, including Temminck’s Red Colobus (Piliocolobus basius temminckii) are threatened, making this Africa’s most threatened genus of monkeys. Hunting for bushmeat—much of it illegal—and habitat loss continue to pose the most urgent threats to primates across the continent. (Photo: Mic Mayhew/IUCN)

The U.S.-based Center for Biological Diversity warned Thursday of the “urgent action needed to save life on Earth” in response to a new global assessment revealing that nearly 27% of over 120,000 analyzed plant and animal species are now threatened with extinction.

“This assessment shows that one in four mammals are facing extinction, and although we don’t prefer to think of ourselves as animals, we humans are mammals,” Tierra Curry, a senior scientist at CBD, said in a statement. “We have to take bold and rapid action to reduce the huge damage we’re doing to the planet if we’re going to save whales, frogs, lemurs, and ultimately ourselves.” Continue reading

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World Environment Day Provokes Warnings That ‘To Care for Humanity, We Must Care for Nature’

U.N. chief António Guterres, Fridays for Future strikers, and other activists and experts demand bolder environmental action globally.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-5-2020

“Today, nature is sending us a clear message. We are harming the natural world—to our own detriment,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Friday.. Photo: Pxfuel

As a pandemic that’s killed over 393,000 people rages on and demonstrations demanding racial justice continue across the globe, the international community on Friday marked World Environment Day with scientifically supported warnings about the importance of protecting nature for the future of humanity.

Climate campaigners, including members of the youth-led Fridays for Future movement, as well as other activists, scientists, policymakers, and global figures such as United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres publicly called for more ambitious environmental action around the world. Continue reading

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Earth Day 2020: Hope Gardens for your future

 

During WWII, America united in the war effort. We had a unified voice in all things that would help win against an enemy that most Americans would not see personally. Children rushed to dump the contents of their piggy banks because we needed copper for bullets. Women became workers that built ships, tanks and airplanes for the war and we celebrated Rosie the Riveter. We planted Victory Gardens and encouraged food preservation through canning because tin was needed for the war and workers were needed for the war effort. In 1942, roughly 15 million families planted victory gardens; by 1944, an estimated 20 million victory gardens produced roughly 8 million tons of food—which was the equivalent of more than 40 percent of all the fresh fruits and vegetables consumed in the United States.

Key to America’s survival in the homeland was the national push for Victory Gardens; symbolizing independence and American’s ability to adapt. Those who did not garden were left at the mercy of survival solely by governmental rations of food, long bread lines and ration stamps. Those who planted Victory Gardens had the needed food to continue working as the nation struggled toward victory. Only two of these original Victory Gardens survive to today. One is located at the Richard D. Parker Memorial Victory Gardens in Boston’s Fenway and the other is the Dowling Community Gardens in Minneapolis.

Jump forward to today. We are once again fighting an enemy we can not see with our only defense being equipment and supplies that are hard to come by. Our meat processing facilities are threatened by outbreaks while our grocery stores can not keep enough stock on hand to meet the needs of everyone eating at home. Production in the United States has always focused on two separate markets; the consumer market and the commercial market. There is no adaptability between the two systems that have been specialized to specific markets. Packaging, size, quality, preparation, transportation and pricing all affect these two separate supply chains.

The problem is compounded by extreme weather associated with climate change. The western United States in undergoing a drought that makes the Dust Bowl of the 40’s appear meaningless. Bee and pollinator populations continue to plummet after the current Administration approved broad, expansive insecticides that are known to kill bee and pollinator populations.

Absent a federal response that meets the gravity of the moment, we are left to figure out how we are going to move forward with hope for our families and our future. Your grandmother would most likely encourage you to plant a garden to supplement your food needs for the short term. Chances are, she did it when your parents were young.

In a space of 20 x 30 feet (600 square feet), you can grow enough food to feed two adults for close to 8 months. If your family is larger, you can use more space to grow your Hope Garden. There is a plethora of information available online. Your county extension office, local DNR or any Master Gardener site can also assist you.

Preservation of food has come a long way since 1943. Options now include traditional canning, freezing or dehydration. All are effective and fairly simple to accomplish even at beginning levels. Fresh apple pie in the dead of winter is as American as pot roast with potatoes, gravy and a side or two of garden vegetables. Home made jelly on a slice of home-baked bread still warm from the oven has a certain nostalgia that is hard to beat. Sweet corn in January that tastes like it was picked yesterday is beyond rewarding.

This is the time to make your decision. This is the time to remove the sod from the space you want to garden in, so you are not fighting weeds and grasses among your vegetables. This is the time to choose vegetables based on your family’s preferences and source seeds or bedding plants to get the most from your growing season.

Yes, gardening is a commitment. So is marriage, being a parent or having a career. But food is essential to survival. Being totally dependent on others for your food places you and those you provide for at risk. Reduce your risk by realizing you can do this, you can have hope, and you can have a Hope Garden to gain that edge up in what appears to be a crumbling system whose consequences are not fully understood yet.

 

 

 

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USDA’s $19 Billion in COVID-19 Relief for Farmers and Food Banks Sparks Questions About Who Will Benefit

The new plan, says the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, “lacks critical details to confirm whether it will actually reach all who need it.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-18-2020

Photo via salud-america.org

While some industry trade associationshunger relief organizations, and federal lawmakers welcomed the Trump administration’s new pledge to provide $19 billion in relief from the coronavirus pandemic to farmers and food banks nationwide, policy groups, and reporters highlighted that the announcement lacked critical details about who will benefit.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the plan at a Friday night press briefing with President Donald Trump. The president said that “the program will include direct payments to farmers as well as mass purchases of dairy, meat, and agricultural produce to get that food to the people in need.” Continue reading

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Damning New Report Says Every Nation Undermining Children’s Hopes for a Livable Planet

Children’s “collective concerns must now be heard, and effective actions taken to prevent the next generation inheriting an irreversibly damaged planet.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-19-2020

Climate Strike demonstration in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Julian Meehan/flickr/CC

A major new report released Wednesday says every nation on the planet is failing children because of the threats to their health and wellbeing from the climate and ecological crises and commercial exploitation.

The damming assessment comes from 40 global child and adolescent health experts in “A Future for the World’s Children?” The expert commission was convened by the World Health
Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the prestigious medical journal The Lancet. Continue reading

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A military perspective on climate change could bridge the gap between believers and doubters

A soldier stands guard at the damaged entrance to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida, Oct. 11, 2018, after Hurricane Michael. AP Photo/David Goldman

Michael Klare, Hampshire College

As experts warn that the world is running out of time to head off severe climate change, discussions of what the U.S. should do about it are split into opposing camps. The scientific-environmental perspective says global warming will cause the planet severe harm without action to slow fossil fuel burning. Those who reject mainstream climate science insist either that warming is not occurring or that it’s not clear human actions are driving it.

With these two extremes polarizing the American political arena, climate policy has come to a near standstill. But as I argue in my new book,“All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change,” the U.S. armed forces offer a third perspective that could help bridge the gap. Continue reading

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‘Victory for Farmers’ as Jury Awards Grower $265 Million in Damages From Drift of Monsanto’s Dicamba

“This verdict is just the tip of the iceberg.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-17-2020

Field day participants make their way past dicamba damaged soybeans to hear University of Arkansas System Div of Ag Weed Scientist Jason Norsworthy talk about volatility of dicamba products on Aug 8, 2017. Photo: uacescomm’flickr/CC

German chemicals giant Bayer announced Monday its intention to “swiftly appeal” a U.S. jury’s decision to award a Missouri peach farmer over $265 million in compensation for years of crop losses as a result of drifting dicamba weedkiller.

The legal challenge was the first dicamba suit to go to trial and was brought forth by Bill and Denise Bader, owners of Bader farms. Dicamba is produced by Monsanto, which Bayer acquired in 2018. Continue reading

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