Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pesticide Maker Pays Farmers to Use Competitors' Pesticides

Pesticide Maker Pays Farmers to Use Competitors' Pesticides

"It says 'desperation.' What we're seeing is the collapse of the whole system of weed management that was build around herbicide sales," says Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, PhD, senior scientist at Pesticide Action Network of North America. "Ecologists predicted back in the '90s that as soon as you start pouring on and designing seeds for use of one pesticide, there will be an emergence of superweeds. Bingo, that's what we have now."

"The U.S. farmer is in a crisis that was pretty much created by Monsanto. It's ironic—they're now paying for the competition's herbicides just to deal with the resistance that they, in effect, created,"

This is opening the doors for other biotech companies like Dow to push other crops through the approval pipeline, including ones designed to be used with chemical 2,4-D, one of two highly toxic herbicides used in Agent Orange.

Here's how to stop corporations from wrecking our country's farm heritage:

• Choose organic every time. There's a hot debate around organic versus local. But if you want to keep your family safe from harmful chemicals and promote a system of farming that's not fostering the spread of superweeds, choose organic. The more you vote with your pocketbook, the more other farmers may consider going organic. Organic farmers are largely protected from the problems chemical farmers face because they keep weed seed banks stored in the soil low by planting green manure and cover crops, rotating crops, and building soil fertility that boosts the numbers of beneficial critters underground. (Of course, you don't always have to make a choice. Buy organic AND local whenever you can.)

• Write a letter to the Justice Department. Send a letter to the Department of Justice spelling out how farming affects you. You can raise issues like why aren't GMO ingredients required to be labeled on food, protecting consumers, and your concerns about farming chemicals and how they affect human and environmental health.

If you want to be heard in person, speak up at a Department of Justice workshop, open to farmers and consumers, in Washington, DC, on Dec. 8.

• Read and share. Maria Rodale, CEO of Rodale and a longtime advocate for organic farming, lays out a strong case for protecting your family by supporting organic in her book Organic Manifesto (Rodale, 2010). Even stubborn family members will appreciate the read, and maybe even be inspired to buy an organic apple afterward!

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