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Former Ag Chem Salesman to Head USDA

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Former Georgia Governor and agricultural chemical salesman Sonny Perdue is Donald Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Trump’s plan to pull a big hood over every aspect of the government continues. The USDA has been told to silence its scientists. The EPA is already on a lockdown that blocks not just any public glimpse into the organization, but blocks grants that are needed to support research and enforcement. The Interior Department has been cut off from social media.


The USDA has banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets as it starts to adjust to life under the Trump administration, BuzzFeed News has learned.


Like many federal agencies, the USDA is responsible for research and enforcement in a great number of areas. The fact sheets it produces include everything from food safety bulletins, to commodities studies, to economic data. This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.


A widely-read summary on farm animal welfare that the USDA regularly posted on its website has been removed. From now on, the agency says, anyone wanting to know the results of its animal welfare program must file a Freedom of Information Request.






California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge has tentatively ruled.


California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal, according to the Associated Press.


Monsanto had sued the nation’s leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France.


Monsanto attorney Trenton Norris argued in court that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company. He said many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup.


“It will absolutely be used in ways that will harm Monsanto,” he said.


After the hearing, the firm said in a statement that it will challenge the tentative ruling.


Critics take issue with Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, which has no color or smell. Monsanto introduced it in 1974 as an effective way of killing weeds while leaving crops and plants intact.


It’s sold in more than 160 countries, and farmers in California use it on 250 types of crops.


The chemical is not restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says it has “low toxicity,” but recommends people avoid entering a field for 12 hours after it has been applied.


The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a Lyon, France-based branch of the U.N. World Health Organization, classified the chemical as a “probable human carcinogen.”


Shortly afterward, the most populated U.S. state took its first step in 2015 to require the warning labels.


St. Louis-based Monsanto contends that California is delegating its authority to an unelected foreign body with no accountability to U.S. or state officials in violation of the California Constitution.


Attorneys for California consider the International Agency for Research on Cancer the “gold standard” for identifying carcinogens, and they rely on its findings along with several states, the federal government and other countries, court papers say.


Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan still must issue a formal decision, which she said would come soon.


California regulators are waiting for the formal ruling before moving forward with the warnings, said Sam Delson, a spokesman for the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.


Once a chemical is added to a list of probable carcinogens, the manufacturer has a year before it must attach the label, he said.







Nic’s Organic Fast Food, the nation’s first QAI-certified organic drive-thru chain, has announced the opening of its first store at 2101 Plum Grove Rd. in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, in early 2017. Founded by Nicolette and Benjamin Brittsan.


Nic’s Organic Fast Food will offer well-known fast food favorites, all certified organic and reasonably priced, from breakfast to organic burgers, organic fries to organic ice cream cones. Everything at Nic’s is grown or raised without agricultural chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, GMO’s, preservatives, artificial flavors, or colors. Meats are humanely raised and sustainably sourced.


There is an organic drive-in in California. Amy’s Drive-In in Sonoma County features organic food, but it’s not a chain—at least not yet.






In what’s shaping up to be the most Monsanto-friendly Congress in history—including a president keen to sign off on the pending Monsanto-Bayer merger—chemical companies are redoubling their efforts to keep consumers in the dark, the Organic Consumers Association reports.


According to US Right to Know (USRTK), the American Chemistry Council (Monsanto is a member) just this month formed a new group called Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research (CAPHR).


Just as the “Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act” had nothing to do with safe and affordable food labeling (and everything to do with keeping consumers in the dark) this newcomer to the “deflect and deceive” industry propaganda movement is hell-bent on keeping accurate scientific research away from the public.


In fact, the group’s primary motive is to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a unit of the World Health Organization made up of independent scientists. In March, 2015, an IARC panel of 17 scientists unanimously concluded that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Ever since, as US Right to Know’s Carey Gillam reports, Monsanto and friends have been harassing IARC through a series of “demands, threats and legal maneuvers,” including lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives to cut funding for IARC.


Gillam reports that the new campaign takes the assault further. On the group’s new twitter account, set up on January 25, CAPHR posted a string of insults against IARC scientists, accusing the experts from prestigious institutions around the world of “making sensational claims,” drawing conclusions “that can’t be trusted,” and using “questionable methodologies.”






On January 21, my wife Susanna and I drove to San Francisco to take part in the Women’s March. It was men and women, young and old, black and white and every shade in between, gay and straight—all the tapestry of America. It felt great to be there, because the Women’s March combined denunciation of the new President’s misogyny along with many other social causes, including the right to clean and wholesome food grown in a sustainable way. You can’t disentangle the organic movement from the movement for social justice.


And then I read the following article, written by Sharon Weeks, a retired school teacher in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She has a message and a history lesson for the young women in the movement for social justice who may not have yet learned how and where the Women’s March came from. I think everyone in that tapestry of America I encountered can use this refresher. Here’s Ms. Weeks’ article in its entirety:


It came to my attention recently, after the March on Washington, that many young women are completely satisfied with their lives right now. I will refer to this as their “status quo.” But first a crash course in women’s history and a mention of many past marches and the influence they have had. I beg them, and you, to read on.


One thing I want to point out, as I am going to discuss women’s rights from more than a hundred years ago to 2017, is what I think these young women are missing. Women’s history has been basically excluded from the classroom text books in public schools. Many people are not aware that a select group of white men, a board of education in Texas, has been charged with the job of editing all of the history textbooks for decades. Their editing is final. (See Bill Moyers, “Messing with Textbooks,” June 2012.)







That is the reason you probably didn’t know that in the 1870s women could not own property, could not sign contracts, could not vote, file law suits, nor have their own money. Under their father’s roof, he had control and that control was passed to her husband upon marriage. A woman running away from violent domestic abuse was hunted down by the law and returned to her husband as she was his property.


From the 1840s to 1920 women fought for the vote. The struggle to gain the right to vote began nearly 200 years ago. Attempts to vote in 1870 were turned away. The Supreme Court ruled against them in 1875. In 1916 Alice Paul formed the National Women’s Party. They marched. Over 200 supporters were arrested while picketing the White House. They were beaten with clubs and thrown in prison. Some went on hunger strikes and endured forced feedings. Forty prison guards wielding clubs went on a rampage against 33 women known as the “Night of Terror” on Nov. 15, 1917. (See HBO movie, “Iron Jawed Angels.”)


In the 1960s women fought for birth control. It was illegal in many parts of the country then, you see. Margaret Sanger, a pioneer in the struggle for a woman’s right to birth control in an era “when it was illegal to discuss the topic,” was arrested many times for her publications and her New York City clinic.


Civil rights marches (1960s)


Again people were beaten, drowned and hanged. Because of the media, there was more attention and the marches for these rights were better known. After the Civil War, the 14th and 15th amendments adopted in 1868 and 1878 granted citizenship and suffrage to blacks, but not to women. A suffrage amendment to the federal Constitution was presented to Congress and repeatedly failed to pass.


1972: Title IX is a landmark federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Title IX is not just about sports and it protects all students; the federal government threatened to stop aid to all public schools that did not correct this.


1973: Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal and safe. Women stopped dying from abortions. The government is planning to stop funding for Planned Parenthood and tens of thousands of women will not only lose coverage for basic health care, but they will also no longer have access to birth control. That pretty much means there will be more unwanted pregnancies and if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, which seems likely with the appointment of a new Supreme Court judge by this administration, there will be more women dying from abortions again.


Gay rights marches


Again people were beaten and killed, even when not participating in marches, but while just trying to live their lives like people of color before them. Eventually gains were made and gays were given the right to marry and the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. LGBT people and their rights are now being subject to reversal.


Now it is 2017 and people are marching. Women, their husbands, children and fathers descended upon Washington, D.C., to march for women’s rights. There were people marching in 57 other countries around the world. They marched for women who still make less money than men for the same work; for Muslim women and their families who fear deportation and being sent back to the terribly dangerous places they were trying so hard to flee; for Mexican families who live in fear of being deported and being torn from their children; and to raise awareness for women in other countries who have few, if any, rights.


Every march, every right that was fought for, that women died for, was for your “status quo,” for the life you have now, that you take for granted. Please know that every one of these rights that let you live the life you have can be erased with the swipe of a pen. Don’t let all those who died, the fighting and suffering be for naught.


Guess what? The Equal Rights Amendment did not pass. It won the two-thirds vote from the House of Representatives in October, 1971. In March of 1972, it was approved by the Senate and sent to the states for ratification. It failed to achieve ratification by 38, or three-quarters, of the states. It was not brought to a vote again.


Because of that rejection, sexual equality, with the exception of when it pertains to the right to vote, is not protected by the Constitution. However, in the late 20th century the federal government and all states have passed legislation protecting women’s rights. These protections are not amendments to the Constitution. They, too, can be wiped away with the swipe of a pen.


Please don’t be complacent and too comfortable with your life. Be aware of what has happened over the years, decades and literally centuries to get you here. Women fought and died. People march to make other people aware; pay attention, please, lest you lose it all. Lest we all lose it all.