Monsanto executives will not be happy about Carey Gillam’s new book.
Released last week, Whitewash documents the corporation’s aggressive efforts to establish, promote and protect their RoundUp Ready seed and pesticide empire. Through investigative reporting, Gillam unveils Monsanto’s dubious playbook, from bankrolling supportive scientists to blackballing critics and strong-arming regulators. It’s not a pretty picture.
An up-close look at corruption
In our line of advocacy work, it’s been clear for years that the pesticide industry has too much influence on public officials and the policies they set. The recent case of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt bowing to Dow on chlorpyrifos is just the latest case in point.
Gillam’s meticulous research shows just exactly how this works, with “friendly” regulators identified and cultivated by industry handlers, and the revolving door placing former executives in seats of public decisionmaking power again and again.
And then there’s the corporate science.
Whitewash documents Monsanto’s decades-long, largely successful campaign to control what scientists say about glyphosate — the active ingredient in Monsanto’s flagship herbicide, RoundUp. Their “friendlies” at EPA convinced agency scientists to ignore early findings that exposure to glyphosate was increasing risk of certain rare cancers in test animals. They promised funds to universities when studies confirmed the safety of their products, and arranged trips and speaking tours for supportive scientists. They even ghostwrote “independent” studies verifying glyphosate’s safety.
When a committee of independent World Health Organization experts found that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen, Monsanto waged an all-out war to discredit and undermine those cancer researchers and their findings.
But this strategy appears to be losing steam as Monsanto’s credibility wanes. Last week, as Europe considered whether to allow continued use of glyphosate, French President Emmanuel Macron called for “more independent expertise” in the decisionmaking mix. Excellent idea.
Off the pesticide treadmill?
Whitewash’s release could not be better timed. As the fate of glyphosate is being reviewed in Europe, here in the U.S. Monsanto’s next contribution to the pesticide treadmill — a new formulation of the old herbicide dicamba — is creating heated controversy in the heartland.
So how are glyphosate and dicamba connected? It turns out that widespread use of RoundUp Ready crops meant a sharp increase in glyphosate use — leading to the emergence of hard-to-control herbicide-resistant “superweeds” across U.S. farmland. Monsanto’s plan to address this problem, with EPA’s blessing, was to sell a new GE seed and herbicide package and increase the use of a different chemical.
Enter Xtend soy seeds, designed for use with a cocktail of glyphosate and the drift-prone herbicide, dicamba — which this year damaged or destroyed over three million acres of crops in 20 states.
The dicamba story is a textbook example of the “pesticide treadmill.” And it won’t stop here. Scientists predict weeds will develop resistance to this chemical even more quickly than glyphosate, and resistance may have already started emerging in Arkansas.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Thanks to Gillam and others who continue to uncover clear evidence, we know that Monsanto is not, in fact, motivated by an altruistic desire to “feed the world.” Maybe we can finally put the brakes on their self-serving pesticide treadmill and support farmers instead of undermining those who don’t toe the Monsanto line.
Speak up! Add your voice to the call from dozens of farm groups to find a better solution and halt the pesticide treadmill.
Oct 16, 2017
Kristin Schafer

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At last, visible progress.


Byron uses steam to weed without chemicals.

Council workers using the steam machine to weed a garden bed.
Byron Shire Council workers are using a new steam weeding machine to keep public areas free of weeds without using chemicals.
The mobile unit is being used by the council’s open spaces team as part of efforts to stop using herbicides by 2018.
The council’s Open Spaces manager Michael Matthews said the council resolved to phase out herbicides in 2015.
‘This machine is highly effective at killing weeds without the use of chemicals and I know that anything that reduces the use of herbicides will be welcomed by our residents,’ he said.
‘Staff are using it to kill weeds in and around children’s playgrounds which is a relief to many parents who feel strongly about the use of herbicides and other chemicals.
‘We are also using the steam weeder in retail areas of our towns and villages and other popular spaces such as picnic areas.
‘The steam weeder is a mobile unit operated by the Open Space team who use a wand to spray steam onto weeds and into the ground to penetrate their root systems.
‘An added bonus is that we are also able to use it as a steam machine to clean playground equipment, tables and paths,” he said.
‘For many years our residents have been telling Council they are not happy with society’s reliance on chemicals and we hear their concerns.
‘Byron Shire Council will continue to lead the region in finding innovative and effective ways to reduce chemical use in our community.”
Mr Matthews said steam the machine, supplied by Australian company Weedtechnics, is regarded as one of the best and most efficient on the market.

Wilson Creek Hall site 5 years ago.

Following  dismay at the poisoning of the bana grass at the hall and close to the school, Huonbrook Herbicide Free Active volunteers took over the site and replanted it with lomandras and Dianela grasses.


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Richmond River

The Richmond River catchment is the sixth largest in New South Wales and covers an area of nearly 7,000 square kilometres in the north of the state.

It was once a thriving, heavily timbered forest, but since European settlement it has changed dramatically.

The banks of the river are now home to intensive agriculture, grazing, and urban development, which Rous County Council chairman Keith Williams said had long been blamed for killing the river.

“We all thought the river was bad five to 10 years ago,” he said.

“But when all the oysters at the mouth of the river died, the entire estuary — hundreds and thousands of oysters — they just died all at once.

“It’s like a slap in the face and you suddenly realise, this water and the river is not fit for marine creatures to live in anymore. So there’s got to be something majorly wrong.”

Coral tree poisoning, Wilson Creek.





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WEATHER permitting. Volunteer working morning.

Huonbrook Herbicide Free Active working group will continue jump-seed removal follow up during the coming weekend too. A few seedlings emerging in the push off road base. Overall a fraction compared to when we started the hand removal three years ago.


Byron Shire Chemical Free Landcare next fortnightly working bee will be on Saturday, the 21st of October, from 8 am to 12 pm, at Brunswick Heads Crown Land Reserve site. Meet at the end of South Beach Road fire track gate, not far from the Surf Club. Please wear boots, long sleeve shirt and long pants, a hat, gloves and bring water, rain coat  and some morning tea. Tools and first aid kit will be provided.
The task will be followup work of Bitou Bush and Tea tree seedlings , heading from the North to the South direction.


BSCFL is a project of Mullum Seed
Mullumbimby Sustainability Education and Enterprise Development Incorporated

Nadia de Souza Pietramale
Project Coordinator
0478 272 300

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120 mls of rain so far.

A relief when the rain started to fall on Saturday. Frogs emerged from everywhere, wallabies came out in-between showers to nibble on fast growing grasses. Birds sheltered.

Trees glistened as their leaves responded.

Me, transplanting . Lettuces, rocket, chilli, tomato, dill, parsley and celery.

No idea the summer ahead.  Water tanks already full and the cCoopers Creek flowing rapidly again.

Coffee trees already flowering which is usually in December.




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Field Day OCTOBER 27

Joe Harvey-Jones (PhD forestry SCU, 2006).
Paul Bibby’s article on Camphor laurel was very timely, and I was particularly struck by a comment on Echonetdaily by Don who said, among other things: ‘Any wholesale approach to removing large swathes of camphor will have another negative impact on our whole environment.
‘An organised approach to harvest with a value added outcome is needed when trees are removed. Ground uncovered replanted.’
This approach is to be the focus of a field day coming up on the October 27 in Eureka.
It is based on an idea I had a few years ago, to slowly thin dense stands of camphor over several years, following normal forest establishment systems.
In 15-20 years, the proceeds of a clear-fell harvest, would fund replanting with rainforest Cabinet Timbers, or environmental plantings.
Can you help us to spread the word about the field day? (We already have 20 registrations so the idea is popular) .

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Time zooming by.

Threatening rain which means cloudy, sun, cloud with a few spits falling.

Waiting to transplant vegetable seedlings. Hand watering again recent transplants of corn and melons.

Busy last week with visitors, bush walks, dancing and food.

2 regeneration work days start at 6 30 and conclude when it gets too hot.

Working towards the tree line. Waiting to transplant numerous red cedar seedlings as we layer the slashed foliage.  5 different rain forest seedlings have emerged in a previous lantana mulched area.

Chick pea flour bread and cocoanut currant biscuits.

Hand coffee processing is always a good activity when I have visitors. Each bean is hulled by hand and the green bean, ready for roasting is in the jar. I will have 2 kilos of green beans this harvest.

Broad beans have produced tender beans despite the lack of rain. I haven’t hand watered this dry season so am surprised at the harvest. Tender too and I have been putting them in salads.

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