From Storm Lake newspaper:
Your taxpayer dollars are funding corporate propaganda
Congress wants to spend millions peddling corporate talking points on GMOs
BY ANNA MEYER
While Congress hasn’t accomplished much in 2017, it did manage to pass a budget resolution — and within that budget, a sum of $3 million stands out.
Congress appropriated that $3 million to fund the Agricultural Biotechnology Education and Outreach Initiative. That’s a partnership between the Food & Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture “to provide consumer education on agricultural biotechnology and food and animal feed ingredients derived from biotechnology.”
What they’re really talking about is a promotional campaign for genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
There are two major flaws with this plan.
First, the FDA is tasked with building a campaign around the “safety and benefits of crop biotechnology.” But what about the risks, concerns and unknowns?
Leaving those out means using government agencies and taxpayer funds for corporate propaganda. It benefits companies like Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Syngenta and Bayer, which collectively earn billions of dollars from these technologies, but does little to inform consumers.
Second, the initiative will push forward “science-based” education. The question is: Whose science are they using?
There’s very little independent or government research on GMOs and their corresponding pesticides. The lack of unbiased and comprehensive science on biotechnology is a result of corporations controlling who can do research on biotech products.
Much of the existing research is either industry-funded or straight out of biotechnology companies’ own labs. The existing regulatory framework relies on voluntary reporting and doesn’t require independent verification to prove the safety of new products before they land on dinner plates across the country.
If the government’s going to educate consumers on biotechnology, it must first do its own unbiased studies on the long-term environmental and health impacts of existing GMOs and pesticides. It also needs a much more rigorous — and mandatory — regulatory process.
The government must tell consumers the full truth, presenting balanced and unbiased information on the benefits, risks and concerns around biotechnology. The FDA must openly address consumer concerns about long-term environmental impacts, corporate influence on government research, and corporate control of our industrialized food system.
We’re at a turning point in history where we can reverse the harm that we’ve done to our communities, farmland and environment.
Industrialized, chemical-intensive agriculture designed to work around biotechnology is a failed system. It’s increasing herbicide use, exacerbating pesticide resistance, polluting our waterways, soil, and air, and promoting highly processed food and confined animal production.
In order to build a more sustainable food system for our health and our climate, we need to move away from chemical-intensive agriculture. Rather than promoting corporate interests, that $3 million would be much better used to promote the transition to regenerative organic agriculture, to build urban food hubs, and to aid the next generation of farmers in accessing land and resources.
The FDA doesn’t need a biotechnology marketing initiative. It needs an initiative to bring back public trust in federal regulatory agencies, and move the country forward towards truly sustainable agriculture.
Anna Meyer is the Food Campaigns Fellow at Green America. Distributed by OtherWords.org.
Cedar Rapids Gazette: Stephen Dykstra, guest columnist
Much has been said since the Iowa Utilities Board approved the Bakken pipeline in Iowa this spring. Indeed, the project poses many environmental and health risks; it also illustrates how the opinions of a select few can override the concerns of many (including 40 percent of Iowans who are opposed to the pipeline).
Unfortunately, a similar phenomenon manifests itself among Iowa’s representatives in Washington, D.C., who come nowhere close to representing Iowans’ concerns for environmental issues. Eighty-one percent of Iowans believe climate change is caused by humans, but of the six government officials elected by Iowans to serve in Congress, five either completely deny or refuse to address humanity’s role in driving climate change.
Last August, the Environmental Protection Agency released its final version of the Clean Power Plan, a state-by-state approach to reducing carbon pollution from power plants. The plan provides commonsense public health protections while also reducing energy costs.
Given the health benefits it will provide, the Clean Power Plan is good for Iowans, made clear when Iowa joined 17 other states in legally supporting the EPA’s plan. And thanks to Iowa’s leadership in wind energy, our state is well on its way to meeting the EPA’s emission goal for 2030 — a 47 percent overall reduction in emissions.
Given the recent impact of climate change on Iowa (droughts, the 2008 floods in Cedar Rapids, and increasing uncertainty of crop yield due to extreme weather), many Iowans recognize the health and financial benefits of protecting the environment. Yet Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst have failed to do the same. In short, even though a majority of Iowans support limiting carbon emissions from power plants, their senators continue to side with polluters over people.
Grassley and Ernst have a long track record of climate denial. Ernst, while admitting she believes the climate is changing, refuses to concede the fact that humans play a role in climate change. Like Ernst, Grassley has continually cited his uncertainty about current scientific findings. And in 2014, Ernst called the Clean Water Act — which sets standards for the amount and type of harmful pollutants exposed to our drinking water — one of the most damaging laws ever passed.
In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Rod Blum (R-1st) is a self-described skeptic, justifying his apathy with an apparent lack of knowledge on the issue. Rep. Steve King (R-4th) flatly denies the issue, saying climate change “is not proven, it’s not science. It’s more of a religion than a science.” Rep. David Young (R-3rd) has avoided the issue by placing the responsibility to act on Congress, a scapegoat approach that will prove inadequate given the current gridlock in Washington.
The problem is that while Iowans care about environmental issues, our representatives refuse to do the same. They don’t accurately represent their constituents in Washington. For example, we care about our declining water quality, now more than ever, in light of the disastrous chain of events in Flint, Michigan. Not surprisingly, over 40 percent of Iowans consider their home drinking water quality to be “fair” or “poor” — an unacceptable reality.
We also care about finding new renewable energy sources. Iowans overwhelmingly approve of wind farms — an energy source that provides over 27 percent of our energy needs in Iowa.
Put simply, Iowans recognize the need to act responsibly when it comes to climate.
Unfortunately, our senators’ and representatives’ records speak for themselves, showing they are out of touch with their constituents. Now is the time for that to change. Let’s make our priorities clear — clean air, renewable energy, and a carbon-free future.
• Stephen Dykstra is a press intern at the Center for American Progress and Iowan native. He studies public relations and political science at Northwestern College in Orange City, and is planning to graduate this month.
James Hansen’s Ted Talk
from Barbara Schlachter: This is the NASA scientist who convinced me we need 100 Grannies full bore! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWInyaMWBY8
Plastics alert: Chirping Bird Society Compares Winston Churchill to Capt. Charles Moore:
WE MUST TAKE ACTION NOWIt’s early fall and many of us are still talking about what we did this past summer.Have you been to Glacier National Park in Montana? If not, you had better go soon — if you want to see the glaciers. New predictions are that the 25 remaining glaciers will have melted by 2020.My family and I went this summer. I was in awe of the beauty, as well as somberly startled by what we learned.Of the 150 glaciers that existed in 1850, only about 25 remain today in the park. A National Park Service photo display at the Many Glacier Lodge on the park’s east side shows the dramatic change. The display outlines the changes that are occurring and what that means for the park: “As climate changes, both the visible and not-so-visible features of the park will be altered. In just a couple of decades, the view from this spot may look dramatically different. As climate warms, rainfall and snowfall are also likely to change. This will affect soil moisture, runoff and stream flow, as well as landscape disturbance processes such as fire and avalanches. These kind of changes will impact park ecosystems.“Climate plays an important role in determining what flora and fauna exist in a habitat. Every species has a temperature range in which it can thrive. For example, the elevation where trees stop growing, known as treeline, is strongly related to temperature and moisture. As climate warms, more trees will encroach on alpine meadows and treeline will migrate to higher elevations. Changes in the distribution of forests and trees and other vegetation may cause animals to seek higher ground or to
See CLIMATE, Page 4OP
op ed by Jane Yoder-Short : http://www.press-citizen.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014304020012
A SPEECH TO THE GARDEN CLUB OF AMERICA by Wendell Berry
(with thanks to Wes Jackson
and in memory of Sir Albert Howard and Stan Rose.)
Thank you. Iʼm glad to know weʼre friends, of course,
There are so many outcomes that are worse.
But I must add that Iʼm sorry for getting here
By a sustained explosion through the air,
Burning the world in fact to rise much higher
Than we should go. The world may end in ﬁre
As prophesied – our world! We speak of it
As “fuel” while we burn it in our ﬁt
Of temporary progress, digging up
An antique dark-held luster to corrupt
The present light with smokes and smudges, poison
To outlast time and shatter comprehension.
Burning the world to live in it is wrong,
As wrong as to make war to get along
And be at peace, to falsify the land
By sciences of greed, or by demand
For food thatʼs fast or cheap to falsify
The bodyʼs health and pleasure – donʼt ask why.
But why not play it cool? Why not survive
By Natureʼs laws that still keep us alive?
Let us lighten, then, our earthly burdens
By going back to school, this time in gardens
That burn no hotter than a summer day.
By birth and growth, ripeness and decay,
By goods that bind us to all living things,
Life of our life, the garden lives and sings.
The Wheel of Life, delight, the fact of wonder,
Contemporary light, work, sweat and hunger
Bring food to table, food to cellar shelves.
A creature of the surface, like ourselves,
The garden lives by the immortal Wheel
That turns in place, year after year, to heal
It whole. Unlike our economic pyre
That draws from ancient rock a fossil ﬁre,
An anti-life of radiance and fume
That burns as power and remains as doom,
The garden delves no deeper than its roots
And lifts no higher than its leaves and fruits.
“”” Wendell Berry
” ” ” New Yorker 9/28/09
This is how the disappearing Grinnell Glacier at Glacier National Park looked in the summer. DAVID DRAKE PHOTO
DAVID E. DRAKE, D.O., is a Des Moines family psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry at Des Moines University. Contact: drake office@gmail .com.
Continued from Page 1OP
migrate north to find suitable habitat.”
Our world is changing around us. The glaciers are dramatic — that was brought home to Des Moines last year by James Balog in a Bucksbaum lecture at Drake University and beautifully photographed in his “Chasing Ice” film, a film both beautiful and sober.
How do we connect melting glaciers in Montana’s Glacier National Park with what we are doing, or not doing, in Iowa to forestall/ prevent/adjust to climate change? The reality is that what happens in one part of our planet affects us all.
Recent news from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a report we must listen to. According to Jaisal Noor, producer with the Real News Network, the Sept. 20 report from climate scientists “declared with 95 percent certainty that climate change is, indeed, manmade.”
So what do concerned Iowans have to say and what are we doing and how can we each get involved?
One promising new group in Iowa is Citizens Climate Lobby. One of its Iowa leaders, Joan Wooters Fumetti, wrote to me: “The sense behind Citizens Climate Lobby is that politicians don’t create, but rather respond to political will. CCL is an energetic, grassroots, nonpartisan organization dedicated to creating the political will for a stable climate as it empowers citizens to grow in their personal and political effectiveness.
“Our focus is a carbon fee and dividend (revenue neutral carbon tax) proposal that has broad support from economists across the political spectrum. It is simple to understand and makes good common sense.
“The CCL approach of civil and respectful dialogue sets it apart from many voices in the climate change debate. In order to solve climate issues we are going to have to learn to live and work together.”
State Sen. Jack Hatch of Des Moines, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, wrote: “Climate change is real, is having a significant effect on our environment and is a major policy challenge for this and coming generations. In Iowa, we can have a positive effect on the carbon emissions that produce harmful greenhouse gases by continuing to build on our strengths in renewable energy, including wind and solar.
“Iowa’s ability to produce 20 percent of our energy from wind is extraordinary and is an example to the rest of the country and the world. We’re moving in the right direction and must continue. The result will be high-wage manufacturing jobs in an emerging industry, which is a net economic gain for our state.
“Over time, we must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, including coal. Iowa must have a responsible state government that continually seeks ways to reduce direct carbon emissions at state-owned facilities and works on conservation of energy, including within the state vehicle fleet and in state buildings. New construction should be LEED certified to reduce the total amount of energy consumed over the life of a building.”
Ed Fallon, Des Moines radio talk show host and former candidate for governor and the U.S. House of Representatives, has been at the center of a planned walk across the United States to highlight climate change and what we can do about it.
Prospective marchers need to make their decision soon to get in shape, take care of personal matters andgenerate sponsors. Fallon wrote me: “The march is unprecedented in scope, and the timing could not be better as many committedclimate activists pushto get America to the tipping point where we actually embrace the changes needed.”
The website for the Great March for Climate Action says its goal is to change the heart and mind of the American people, elected leaders and people across the world into acting now to address the climate crisis. The march is scheduled to depart Los Angeles on March 1, 2014, with 1,000 marchers walking nearly 3,000 miles to Washington, D.C., to inspire action to resolve the climate crisis.
State Sen. Rob Hogg,
D-Cedar Rapids, has been a vocal proponent of Iowans taking the charge to prevent further climate change. He has authored the book “America’s Climate Century” that appears essential reading to Iowans wanting to deal with this pressingissue. Hogg wrote me: “Across our state, Iowans are connecting the dots between climate change and a series of recent disasters — record flooding in 2008, 2010 and 2011, extreme storms, the drought of 2012, and the erratic weather we have experienced this year.
“More Iowans are taking action to fight climate change, too, by conserving energy, building green buildings, investing in fuel efficiency and electric vehicles, and expanding our use of wind, solar, geothermal and biomass.
“Beyond that, Iowans are speaking up, telling our elected officials and candidates that it is time to take climate action. Groups like Green Dubuque, Sustainable Independence, 100 Grannies for a Livable Future, the Indianola Green Team and Citizens Climate Lobby are all asking our elected officials to support policies that promote sustainability.”
It’s no longer enough to just do what we can on an individual level.
I used to feel pretty good that my wife drives a Prius, that my Honda Civic gets 40 mpg on the highway, that we recycle at home and in the office, that we support local agriculture and organic farming with a share in a CSA (community supported agriculture), and that we’ve changed over all our lightbulbs to compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).
But that’s clearly not enough.
A professor of nutrition
at Des Moines University, David Spreadbury, doesn’t mince words about what needs to be done to prevent worsening of climate change.
He calls for a “Manhattan Project” (the name first used to describe the U.S.’s race to build an atomic bomb) on alternative energy to turn our country and planet around.
He advocates for a project “with the focus of brains, resources and human input on renewable solar thermal energy and its distribution” and says an area equivalent to 12 percent of Nevada could satisfy all electrical needs in the U.S.
Spreadbury notes that European medical journals rate climate change as the number one emerging health issue in the world.
Let’s take the good doctor’s advice and push our government — at the city, state and federal levels — to make the changes we need to make as leaders in the world, to sustain and prevent further climate change.
We owe this to all children and their children’s children. The time to act is now.