Opinion: Lawsuits moving forward on whether Monsanto’s Roundup cause cancer

Bayer’s announcement that it is terminating the Monsanto brand as part of its takeover of the St. Louis agri-business company unfortunately won’t come close to ending controversies surrounding Monsanto. Can you say clean up on aisle four? One needs to look no further than the massive cancer trial that got underway in early July  to understand the huge stakes Bayer is facing. The trial – in a nutshell – is whether or not California native DeWayne “Lee”Johnson developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from exposure to Monsanto’s flagship product weedkiller Roundup.  Johnson sprayed the chemical for years as part of his jobs serving as a goundskeeper for a school district in Benicia, California.

Opinion: Hawaii justified in flexing state muscles on chlorpyrifos

A little history lesson. Since it was first registered by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1965 to control pests in both commercial and non-commercial agricultural settings, chlorpyrifos has had a checkered past. Chlorpyrifos has long been a go-to pesticide for the U.S. corn producers.  But by 2000, it was becoming widely recognized that misuse of the pesticide had unintended consequences – killing fish and wildlife and potentially endangering human health. Instead of immediately banning use of chlorpyrifos, the EPA tried a voluntary approach, requiring chlorpyrifos users to promise pretty please to not use the pesticide around the house (except as roach and ant bait that had to be sold in child-proof packaging) and discontinue use on tomatoes, apples after blooming and lowering how much could be sprayed on grapes.

Opinion: Cargill and Bunge’s very, very bad day

OK … let’s begin by stating some rather obvious facts:

Soybean trading and processing is HUGE business in Brazil. And there is plenty of financial incentive to expand Brazilian soybean acres – either legally or illegally.  The Food and Agriculture Organization for the United Nations’ OECD/FAO Agricultural Outlook projects an increase in Brazilian soybean production of 38 percent over the next ten years.  
Cargill and Bunge have made boat loads of money processing and exporting Brazilian soybeans.  
Brazilian farmers are more than willing to circumvent laws protecting Brazil’s forests and savanna.

Opinion: Will farmers regret Bayer and Monsanto going to the chapel?

Despite Bayer’s $66 billion move  – yeah with a B –  to acquire Monsanto, there remains serious doubt among some advocates that the U.S. Department of Justice did not do enough to protect  farmers and other stakeholders from escalating seed and chemical costs and the unappetizing possibility of fewer choices at the retail marketplace.

Opinion: SNAP just got more transparent – but perhaps not for long

I’ll concede it. Writing a deep dive blog into the gyrations of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program lawmaking in developing Farm Bill 2018 legislation can be polarizing.  Especially in the new world of tribal politics. But this isn’t about SNAP work requirements so stay with it.  Rather this is about taxpayer transparency of SNAP usage. Here’s the background. Back in 2011, Argus Leader Media sent a Freedom of Information request to USDA requesting SNAP data – specifically ‘yearly redemption amounts, or EBT sales figures, for each store’ participating in the program between fiscal years 2005 and 2010.

Opinion: Election security paramount to democracy

At Big Ag Watch, blogging about the interrelationships between our nation’s largest agricultural companies, the administrative and legislative branches of the federal government, the courts, agricultural advocacy groups and producers is a core mission. Especially as those relationships inform our understanding of agricultural policy and law. Make no mistake about it.  It is our elected government officials, and if necessary the courts, that ultimately determine how our nation grows and distributes food. Let’s say it again.

Opinion: Will courts redefine CAFO operations?

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations have been around a long, long, long time. Ironically the CAFO may own its invention to a shipping mistake. Back in 1923, Ocean View, Sussex County, Delaware, red-haired farmer’s wife Cecile Long Steele needed 50 chicks for egg production.  She ordered the birds from Vernon Steen’s Dagboro hatchery. Well, there must had been something wrong with Steen’s eyes because he sent Cecile not 50 but 500 chicks. Instead of sending the birds back Cecile built a shed and raised the chicks indoors, eventually selling 387 birds that survived conditions in the coop for 62 cents a pound.