Category Archives: Agriculture

Ground-level ozone continues to damage health, even at low levels

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A study finds that higher ozone levels correlate with slower performance times for college endurance athletes. Pavel1964

Jamie T. Mullins, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ground-level ozone is one of six major pollutants regulated nationally under the Clean Air Act. It is not directly emitted, but instead forms in the atmosphere through reactions between other pollutants from cars, power plants and industrial sources. Breathing ozone irritates the airways and can worsen respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

Regulation has reduced ozone levels across the United States over the past four decades, but exposure to ambient ozone still negatively impacts our health, well-being and productivity. In a recent article published in the journal Health Economics, I found that harm from ozone extends well beyond the high exposure levels and sensitive groups that have traditionally been studied. In fact, I identify negative effects of ozone exposure on the performances of intercollegiate track and field athletes under the relatively clean conditions common in the United States today. Continue reading

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Prisoner strike exposes an age old American reliance on forced labor

American slavery was technically abolished in 1865, but a loophole in the 13th Amendment has allowed it to continue “as a punishment for crimes” well into the 21st century. Not surprisingly, corporations have lobbied for a broader and broader definition of “crime” in the last 150 years. As a result, there are more (mostly dark-skinned) people performing mandatory, essentially unpaid, hard labor in America today than there were in 1830.
Photo: Return to Now

Calvin Schermerhorn, Arizona State University

Prisoners in 17 states and several Canadian provinces are on strike in protest of prison labor conditions.

Their demonstrations are compelling Americans to understand that some everyday foods are produced behind bars, for cents on the hour, in a system many call “modern slavery.” Prisoners in the U.S. harvest and process eggs, orange juice, ground beef and fish. They also staff call centers, fight wildfires and make sugar.

For this work, they receive, on average, 86 cents a day, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, an advocacy group. Continue reading

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South African Officials Among Many Denouncing Trump’s “Disgusting” White Supremacist Talking Point on Land Reforms

“Tucker Carlson is acting as a direct pathway communicating narratives between white nationalists and the president of the United States.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-23-2018

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa rejected President Donald Trump’s attempt to insert himself into the debate of land expropriation in South Africa, using debunked white nationalist talking points. (Photo: GovernmentZA/Flickr/cc)

After apparently tuning in to Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Wednesday evening, President Donald Trump waded into the affairs of the South African government, pushing a talking point favored by white nationalists regarding the country’s land reforms—and angering South Africans as well as others who understand South Africa’s history of racial oppression.


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‘Guilty on All Counts!’: In Historic Victory, Monsanto Ordered to Pay $289 Million in Roundup Cancer Lawsuit

“This is a company that has always put profits ahead of public safety, and today, Monsanto has finally been held accountable.”

By Common Dreams. Published 8-10-2018

A California jury on Friday found Monsanto liable in a lawsuit filed by a man who alleged the company’s glyphosate-based weedkillers, including Roundup, caused him cancer and ordered the company to pay $289 million in damages. (Photo: London Permaculture/cc/flickr)

In an historic victory for those who have long sought to see agrochemical giant Monsanto held to account for the powerful company’s toxic and deadly legacy, a court in California on Friday found the corporation liable for damages suffered by a cancer patient who alleged his sickness was directly caused by exposure to the glyphosate-based herbicides, including the widely used weedkiller Roundup.

As Reuters reports: Continue reading

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‘An Insult to Our National Wildlife’: Trump Reverses Ban on GMOs and Bee-Killing Pesticides in Refuges

“Industrial agriculture has no place on public lands dedicated to conservation of biological diversity and the protection of our most vulnerable species.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 8-3-2018

The Trump adminstration just reversed a ban on using bee-poisoning pesticides in wildlife refuges. (Photo: Amy Whitehead/Flickr/cc)

While regulators in other regions of the world have recently worked to ban bee-poisoning pesticides called neonicotinoids that scientists have long warned could cause an “ecological armageddon,” the Trump administration just reversed an Obama-era policy that had outlawed the use of neonics and genetically modified crops in the nation’s wildlife refuges.

Defenders of Wildlife CEO and president Jamie Rappaport Clark, who served as director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) during the Clinton administration, called the move “an insult to our national wildlife refuges and the wildlife that rely on them.” Continue reading

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Hottest Four Years Ever? 2015. 2016. 2017. 2018?

“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle”

By Common Dreams. Published 7-28-2018

The Carr fire. Screenshot: ABC News

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2018 is on pace to be the fourth hottest year on record. Only three other years have been hotter: 2015, 2016 and 2017.

“The impacts of climate change are no longer subtle,” Michael Mann, a climate scientist and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University, told CNN.

“We are seeing them play out in real time in the form of unprecedented heat waves, floods, droughts and wildfires. And we’ve seen them all this summer,” he said. Continue reading

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“Slap in the Face” to Poor Americans: House GOP Passes Farm Bill Attacking Nation’s Hungriest Families

“This is just another attempt by Paul Ryan to pretend that the biggest problem with the federal deficit is lazy poor people, not the $1.5 trillion tax cut he and his colleagues just gave to the richest people in the country.”

By  for Common Dreams. Published 6-22-2018

A grocery store in Missouri informs customers that food stamps are accepted. (Photo: Paul Sableman/Flickr/cc)

With the Poor People’s Campaign protesting “policy violence against families and children” outside the Capitol Building, House Republicans on Thursday forced through a “shameful” and “cruel” Farm Bill that would deprive about 2 million Americans of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often called food stamps.

“It’s a deliberate slap in the face to the millions of low-income Americans who rely on SNAP benefits to survive,” declared Morris Pearl, chair of Patriotic Millionaires. “We don’t want to live in a country where the government allows its citizens to starve, and neither should anyone else.” Continue reading

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How Native American food is tied to important sacred stories

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The First Salmon ceremony being performed. U.S. Department of Agriculture , CC BY-ND

Rosalyn R. LaPier, The University of Montana

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling, on June 11, that asked Washington state to remove culverts that block the migration of salmon. The ruling has significant implications for Northwest Coast tribes, whose main source of food and livelihood is salmon.

The legal decision stems from the 1855 Stevens treaties when Northwest Coast tribes retained the “right to take fish” from their traditional homelands. Fighting to protect salmon habitat, however, is more than just upholding tribal rights. Salmon is viewed as sacred. Continue reading

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Coalition Ignores Famine Warnings and Continues Assault on Yemen as Critics Question US Complicity

While senators demand answers from the Pentagon, anti-war advocates are calling the attack on Hodeida a failure by the U.S. to stop it and demanding an end to American military support for the coalition

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-16-2018

Yemen Emergency Response Food Assistance. Photo: IRUSA

Ignoring international aid groups’ warnings that an attack on the Yemeni city of Hodeida, which is held by Houthi rebels, could exacerbate hunger in an impoverished and war-torn nation already on the brink of famine, Saudi-led U.S.-backed coalition forces continued a sweeping assault on the Red Sea port city Saturday, reportedly seizing control of an airport.

Since the fighting started earlier this week, thousands of Hodeida’s 600,000 civilians have evacuated and hundreds of people have been killed. The port city is the main conduit through which about 70 percent of international aid reaches Yemenis, many of whom are battling starvation and outbreaks of infectious diseases such as cholera. Continue reading

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‘Historic First’: Nebraska Farmers Return Land to Ponca Tribe in Effort to Block Keystone XL

“We want to protect this land,” said the tribe’s state chairman. “We don’t want to see a pipeline go through.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-15-2018

In a move that could block the path of the Keystone XL pipeline, a couple in Nebraska signed over a portion of farmland to the Ponca Tribe. (Photo: @BoldNebraska/Twitter)

In a move that could challenge the proposed path of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline—and acknowledges the U.S. government’s long history of abusing Native Americans and forcing them off their lands—a Nebraska farm couple has returned a portion of ancestral land to the Ponca Tribe.

At a deed-signing ceremony earlier this week, farmers Art and Helen Tanderup transferred to the tribe a 1.6-acre plot of land that falls on Ponca “Trail of Tears.” Continue reading

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