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Forum Post: Foodopoly: Big Agribusiness and the Monopoly on the Food Industry

Posted 6 years ago on Feb. 15, 2014, 5:08 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5909)
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Foodopoly: Big Agribusiness and the Monopoly on the Food Industry

Saturday, 15 February 2014 11:29 By George Lavender, National Radio Project | Radio Report


Foodopoly: Big agribusiness and the monopoly on the food industry

From farm to fork, few things matter more than the food […]


From farm to fork, few things matter more than the food we eat. We all want the freedom and opportunity to choose what ends up on our plate, but when a handful of companies control most of the brands you see at the grocery store, what choices are really left?

On this edition Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch, author of Foodopoly, and one of the nation’s leading healthy food advocates, says it’s time to turn the tables on big agribusiness.

The top companies controlled an average of 62.8% of the sales of 100 types of groceries. In 30 categories, four or fewer companies controlled at least 75% of the sales. In six categories, the top companies sold more than 90% of the category sales, including baby formula and microwave dinners.

The charts below from foodopoly.org detail which companies control the food you eat.




This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.



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[-] 4 points by 1776 (34) from Glen Head, NY 6 years ago

If you think Monsanto is bad, well, you're right. But.

Dow's lobbyists are helping to poison us too.


[-] 3 points by JGriff99mph (507) 6 years ago

Organizing for next MAM gatherings are happening now: http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/p/blog-page_5.html

[-] 2 points by Renneye (3874) 6 years ago

Thanks for the heads-up 'JGriff'!

I'm cross-linking your 'March Against Monsanto' information to 'gnomunny's' Monsanto & GMO thread, for further sharing of important organizing information.



Gno's Monsanto thread;



[-] 2 points by JGriff99mph (507) 6 years ago

I've referred quite a few people to that thread, its really taken on a life of its own.

[-] 2 points by Renneye (3874) 6 years ago

That's good to hear, 'JGriff'...and yes, I'd have to agree with that sentiment.

I'm glad, though, that there are other great threads on the subject that overlap, like this 'Foodopoly' thread for instance. The more broadcasting of information, the better. Besides, it gives me a great excuse to 'cross-link'.

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

GMOs Are Killing the Bees, Butterflies, Birds and ...?

Monday, 17 February 2014 13:11 By Ronnie Cummins and Katherine Paul, Organic Consumers Association | News Analysis


"It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray." - Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

When the honeybees, our most important food pollinators, started dropping like proverbial flies, scientists scrambled to identify their killer (or killers). Attention eventually turned to the increased use of a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. Scientists now believe at least some of these pesticides play a major role in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), the ongoing demise of honeybee colonies.

Who makes the neonicotinoids? Syngenta, Bayer CropSciences and Dow Agrosciences.

Who's using them, and for what purpose? Companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow Agrosciences . . . in the herbicides and pesticides and seeds they sell to farmers who grow genetically engineered crops. Crops that eventually end up in our food, or in the feed used to fatten up animals in factory farms-animals we slaughter for food.

We need bees in order to grow food, or at least some of it. Yet the food-GMO food, drenched in neonics-we are growing is killing the bees.

It's not just the bees that are dying. Butterfly and bird populations are in decline, too. And it's not just the neonicotinoids that are to blame. Other herbicides and pesticides, especially Monsanto's Roundup, used to grow GMO crops-and also used to contain (kill) weeds in cities and home gardens-are decimating pollinators, fish and wildlife, and some would argue, humans, too.

As consumers ask more and more questions about the impact of GMO foods and crops on our health and environment, we're making smarter choices about the foods we choose to eat. Does my child's cereal contain sugar from genetically engineered beets? Did that steak on my dinner plate come from an animal raised on a factory farm, and fed a diet of Roundup-ready GMO corn, canola, soy or cotton seed?

But we need to look at the bigger picture, too. That means calling for an end to the use of Monsanto's Roundup in urban areas, on our lawns, roadways, schoolyards and parks. It means paying close attention to the seeds and garden plants we buy for our home gardens.

It means asking ourselves what can we do to pressure Monsanto, Dow, Syngenta, and Dupont's customers, both rural and urban, into understanding that their widespread, reckless use of neonics and other toxins is destroying our food, soil, water, air and wildlife? And that organic, sustainable, non-chemical alternatives exist?

It means asking ourselves, how do we force food manufacturers to stop using these poison-drenched GMO crops in their processed food products? How do we get through to the politicians who protect the interests (profits) of pesticide and junk food makers, at the expense of all else? Before it's too late?

We do it by making intelligent and ethical buying decisions. By boycotting the corporations who refuse to hear us. But voting out the politicians who sell us out to the industry lobbyists who fund their political campaigns.

We do it by all of the above. Over and over again.

Bee Week of Action just the bee-ginning

February 16 marks the end of a national Bee Week of Action. This week, more than 27,000 activists, coast to coast, delivered valentine cards to managers of Home Depot and Lowe's stores, and handed out bee education leaflets to store customers.

The actions, organized by Friends of the Earth, the Organic Consumers Association and 10 other groups, focused on pressing Home Depot and Lowe's to stop selling garden plants pre-treated with neonicotinoids. OCA and our allies also collected more than 650,000 signatures on petitions to Home Depot and Lowe's, and sent letters to the CEOs of both companies. Home Depot responded this week, saying that it is "working on" a policy to address neonics. We're hopeful, that with enough pressure, Home Depot and Lowe's will take these killers off their shelves and promote organic alternatives.

Our goal this week was to draw attention to the plight of honeybees, the damage caused by neonics, and the fact that consumers-most of them unknowingly-contribute to the problem when they purchase plants that may attract bees, only to kill them.

It's a strong campaign. One that OCA is committed to supporting until Home Depot and Lowe's end the sales of bee-killing plants.

But the problem is bigger than bees. The use of neonics isn't limited to garden plants. Neonics aren't the only toxins killing bees. And bees aren't the only victims of agribusiness's chemical assault on the environment.

As the bees go, so goes our food

When the honeybees started dying en masse, the alarm bells went off. Bees are critical to food production. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), more than a quarter of America's diet relies on pollination by honeybees.

No bees, no food. Or at least, no apples, cherries, onions, celery, cabbage, and a long list of others, including almonds and blueberries which, according to the American Beekeeping Federation, are 90-percent dependent on bees for pollination.

Estimates are that nearly a third of the honeybee population has been wiped out since 2006. Once scientists pinpointed neonics as the likely suspect, more studies were launched.

Under pressure, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agreed to study the link between at least three types of neonics and the mass die-off of bees. Despite the fact that their counterpart in the EU took the precautionary step of requiring companies to suspend the use of neonics for at least the next two years, until further studies could be done, the best the U.S. EPA could come up with was a requirement that certain neonics carry warning labels.

As if Monsanto and Bayer and Dow are going to read those labels and stop selling, and spraying, neonics.

[-] 4 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

Neonics, more powerful than DDT

Science writer George Monbiot says neonicotinoids are the "new DDT killing the natural world," 10,000 times more powerful than DDT. In an article published in The Guardian, Monbiot skillfully explains how neonics, when applied to the seeds of crops, remain in the plant as it grows, killing the insects that eat the plant. (According to Pesticide Action Network of North America, the seeds for at least 94 percent of the 92 million acres of corn planted across the U.S. are treated with neonics). Other pollinators, including bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, and beetles that feed from the flowers of the treated crops, absorb enough of the pesticide to compromise their survival, says Monbiot.

But more disturbing? Monbiot points to studies proving that only a small percentage of the pesticide used to coat a seed before it's planted is absorbed by the plant. Some of it blows off into surrounding habitats. But more than 90 percent enters the soil, where it can remain for up to 19 years, causing who knows what damage.

"This is the story you'll keep hearing about these pesticides: we have gone into it blind," says Monbiot. "Our governments have approved their use without the faintest idea of what the consequences are likely to be."

Rounding up the other suspects, identifying the victims

Neonics are in the spotlight when it comes to bees, but scientists warn that other chemicals could be responsible, too, including those used widely in the production of GMO crops. For instance, there's Dow's 2,4-D, closely associated with the infamous Agent Orange defoliant used in Vietnam. Besides being linked to cancer and birth defects in humans, 2,4-D is also toxic to honeybees. While the herbicide may not result in the immediate die-off of bees, scientists report that over time, it severely impairs their ability to reproduce.

And yet, the USDA is on the verge of greenlighting Dow's two new 2,-4-D-resistant crops (corn and soy). If the USDA follows through, experts predict we'll see anywhere from a 25 - 50-fold increase in the use of this highly toxic chemical.

Perhaps the most widely used, and most well-known weed-killer in the world is Monsanto's Roundup. It's sprayed on home gardens and on roadsides. But by far, the single most use for Roundup is on Monsanto's "Roundup-Ready" corn, soybeans, sugar beets, canola and cotton.

Roundup is routinely used along with neonics, which implicates it in CCD. But its key active ingredient, one linked by numerous studies to widespread human and environmental health problems, is glyphosate.

According to the latest figures available from the EPA, in 2007, as much as 185 million pounds of glyphosate was used by U.S. farmers, double the amount used six years prior. Since 2007, more GMO crops have been approved, more acres of GMO crops have been planted. Glyphosate, too, has been linked to the die-off of bees. But it's also the prime suspect in the dramatically declining population of the monarch butterfly. Roundup kills the milkweed plant, the main source of food for monarch butterflies. According to one leading entomologist, the "main culprit" in the declining population of monarch butterflies is "herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA" which "leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch's principal food plant, common milkweed."

For whom the bee tolls

The Monarch butterfly isn't yet on the verge of extinction, and unlike the honeybee, it isn't critical to our food supply. But does that mean we can, or should, dismiss the impact GMO crops has on its ability to thrive?

We asked Karen Oberhauser, Ph.D, a professor at the University of Minneapolis and director of the school's Monarch Butterfly Lab. She said that Monarch's don't, to our knowledge, play a key role in any ecosystem, unless you count the fact that they provide food for a lot of birds. But, she wrote in an email to OCA:

"I would argue that there are both ethical and more selfish reasons that monarchs deserve our protection. From an ethical perspective, just because we have the ability to so alter ecosystems that we can cause the extinction of species doesn't mean that it is ethical for us to do so. Thus, preserving monarchs is the "right" thing to do. From a selfish perspective, we can learn a great deal about migration, species interactions, insect population dynamics, and insect reproduction by studying monarchs. Monarchs thus have a great deal to teach us about how the natural world works, and I would argue that understanding the natural world will benefit us."

When in 1962, Rachel Carson published Silent Spring, her seminal work on the impact of chemicals on our environment, she probably didn't imagine a world in which millions of tons of evermore powerful chemicals are used not just to eliminate unwanted weeds and insects, but to grow the majority of the corn, soy, beets and other crops that are found in more than 80 percent of our processed foods, and are fed to an equally high percentage of the animals that eventually enter the human food supply.

But here we are. Will we change course, and reverse the damage? Will we save the bees, birds, butterflies-and ourselves-by driving GMOs, neonics and Roundup off the market? And by making the Great Transition to organic agriculture and gardening, before it's too late?

Or will we maintain the status quo, on the outside chance that we humans will be somehow impervious to the decaying state of our surrounding environment?

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 4 points by Renneye (3874) 6 years ago

How very troubling. Thanks kindly Leo...for this very important & excellent thread, and for your consistent work & tireless dedication in all that you do here.

I'm cross-linking your two critical articles above to another very educational and important thread (gnomunny's Monsanto thread), for wider sharing of information.


Thanks again!

'Gnomunny's' Monsanto thread.



[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5909) 6 years ago

Five New Reasons Monsanto's "Science" Doesn't Add Up

Monday, 03 March 2014 10:37 By Katherine Paul and Ronnie Cummins, Organic Consumers Association | News Analysis


To hear the pesticide and junk food marketers of the world tell it, anyone who questions the value, legitimacy or safety of GMO crops is naïve, anti-science and irrational to the point of hysteria.

But how long can Monsanto ignore the mounting actual scientific evidence that their technology is not only failing to live up to its promises, it’s putting public health at risk?

Jim Goodman, farmer, activist and member of the Organic Consumers Association policy advisory board, recently wrote about Monsanto’s deceptive use of the expression “sound science.”

But, ‘sound science’ has no scientific definition. It does not mean peer reviewed, or well documented research. ‘Sound science’ is only a term, an ideological term, used to support a particular point of view, policy statement or a technology. ‘Sound science’ is little more than the opinions of so-called “experts” representing corporate interests.

Simply put, ‘sound science’ always supports the position of industry over people, corporate profit over food safety, the environment and public health.

Here are five new reports and studies, published in the last two months, that blow huge holes in Monsanto’s “sound science” story. Reports of everything from Monsanto’s Roundup causing fatal, chronic kidney disease to how, contrary to industry claims, Roundup persists for years, contaminating soil, air and water. And oh-by-the-way, no, GMO crops will not feed the world, nor have they reduced the use of herbicides and pesticides.

  1. Monsanto’s Roundup linked to fatal, chronic kidney disease. Article in Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, February 2014

What happens when you mix glyphosate, the key active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, with “hard” water? That is, water that contains metals, such as calcium, magnesium, strontium and iron, either found naturally in the soil, or resulting from the use of chemical fertilizers?

The glyphosate becomes “extremely toxic” to the kidneys.

That’s the theory put forth by researchers trying to uncover the mystery of thousands of deaths from chronic kidney disease among people in farming areas of Sri Lanka, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

  1. Monsanto’s Roundup persists in soil and water. U.S. Geological Survey report in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, February 2014

Monsanto has always insisted (despite evidence to the contrary) that its Roundup herbicide is benign, that its toxicity doesn’t persist.

But that’s only half the story, according to a study published this month in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Researchers now say that if you study only the key active ingredient, glyphosate, you might, as Monsanto claims, determine that Roundup is benign.

But there are other ingredients in Roundup, including one called Aminomethylphosphonic acid, or AMPA. The study, called "Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: A comparison between 1995 and 2007," found that glyphosate and its still-toxic byproduct, AMPA, were found in over 75 percent of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007.

What does that mean for you? According to one analysis, “if you were breathing in the sampled air you would be inhaling approximately 2.5 nanograms of glyphosate per cubic meter of air. It has been estimated the average adult inhales approximately 388 cubic feet or 11 cubic meters of air per day, which would equal to 27.5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) of glyphosate a day.” Gasp.

  1. GMO crops have led to an increase in use of pesticides and herbicides. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, February 2014.

The USDA, which gauging from its track record has never met a GMO crop it didn’t like, published a report substantiating what responsible, independent scientists have been saying along. Genetic engineering does not result in increased yields (as industry would have us believe)—but it has led to the increased (not decreased, as industry claims) use of pesticides and herbicides.

To be fair, the report gives overall favorable reviews to GMO crops. Not surprising, given the agency’s cozy relationship with Monsanto. But that makes it all the more telling that the once staunch-defender of GMO crops is now raising questions about industry’s long-term, decidedly unproven and unscientific, claims that biotechnology is the best thing since sliced (GMO wheat) bread.

Sustainable Pulse does a good job of sifting through the USDA’s report to reveal the agency’s criticisms of GMO crops.

  1. Pesticides are more dangerous than we thought. Article in BioMed Research International, February 2014

More bad news on pesticides. A study published in BioMed Research International this month says that it’s not just the toxic chemicals we need to worry about in pesticides. It’s the inert ingredients, and how they interact with the active, toxic ingredients.

Typically, studies conducted to determine the safety of pesticides focus exclusively on the active ingredients. But scientists at the University of Caen tested eight commercial products, including Roundup, and found that nine of them were hundreds of times more toxic than their active ingredient alone.

Which product won the “Most Toxic” award? Monsanto’s Roundup, which was found to be “by far the most toxic of the herbicides and insecticides tested,” according to the study.

  1. Small-Scale, organic farming needed to feed the world. U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Wake Up Before It Is Too Late, December 2013

In December 2013, the U.N. Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) released the results of a lengthy, in-depth study that blows a huge hole in one of Monsanto’s favorite claims, that we need GMOs to feed the world. The study, entitled Wake Up Before it is Too Late, concluded with this warning: Small-scale organic farming is the only way to feed the world.

According to an analysis by one of the report’s contributors, the report contains in-depth sections on the shift toward more sustainable, resilient agriculture; livestock production and climate change; the importance of research and extension; the role of land use; and the role of reforming global trade rules.

More than 60 experts from around the world contributed to the report.

Clearly the evidence—real, scientific evidence—against GMO crops is mounting, when five new anti-GMO studies and reports surface in a matter of a couple of months.

How much more will it take before the USDA, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stop supporting an industry under attack from the scientific community? And start putting public health before corporate profits?

In December, more than 200 scientists, physicians, and experts from relevant fields, signed a statement declaring that the biotech industry is deceiving the public when it claims that GMOs are safe. There is, the group said, no “scientific consensus” to support industry’s claims that GMOs are safe.

But as new studies surface every day, it’s become increasingly clear that among credible physicians and scientists, the consensus is that we’d better wake up, soon, to the risks and threats posed by a reckless technology that has been allowed to dominate our food and farming systems, unchecked, for far too long.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 2 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

It is odd that PetCo doesn't carry iams dog food

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 years ago

put actions on front page