Do Onion Farmers Hate the Arctic?

Op-Ed

Peel off the layers of the National Onion Association and you will find an organization that wants to despoil the Arctic with drilling for oil and gas, or maybe they just aren’t very smart and really believe that drilling for oil in the Arctic can be safe, just like fracking doesn’t frequently contaminate groundwater and emit massive amounts of methane and deepwater drilling didn’t result in the catastrophic Deepwater Horizon spill.

Earlier this year the National Onion Association, being the experts in Arctic ecology they are, expressed their “strong support for oil and gas development in the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)” by sending a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement recommending that drilling in the Arctic be approved.

The letter was provided to them by Shell Oil’s lobbying and lying organization “Consumer Energy Alliance”.

Maybe the onion-heads truly believe in the old dirty energy industry lies that the climate is not really changing and even if it was, it is just a natural variation in weather.  Or maybe their leadership is just corrupt and took money from the dinosaurs in the fossil fuel industry to lobby the feds.

Maybe it is time to boycott onions.

Please feel free to call the onion-heads at 970-353-5895 and let them know that you will be eating fewer onions in reaction to their stupidity and malice.

 

Heat-Tolerant Beans Essential for a Climate-Changed Planet

Amidst fears that global warming could zap a vital source of protein that has sustained humans for centuries, bean breeders with the CGIAR global agriculture research partnership announced today the discovery of 30 new types, or lines as plant breeders refer to them, of “heat-beater” beans that could keep production from crashing in large swaths of bean-dependent Latin America and Africa.

“This discovery could be a big boon for bean production because we are facing a dire situation where, by 2050, global warming could reduce areas suitable for growing beans by 50 percent,” said Steve Beebe, a senior CGIAR bean researcher, who shared the findings at a development conference organized by the German government in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“Incredibly, the heat-tolerant beans we tested may be able to handle a worst-case scenario where the build-up of greenhouse gases causes the world to heat up by an average of 4 degrees Celsius (about 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit),” he said. “Even if they can only handle a 3 degree rise, that would still limit the bean production area lost to climate change to about five percent. And farmers could potentially make up for that by using these beans to expand their production of the crop in countries like Nicaragua and Malawi, where beans are essential to survival.”

CGIAR researchers had previously warned that rising temperatures were likely to disrupt bean production in Nicaragua, Haiti, Brazil, and Honduras, while in Africa, those warnings had focused on Malawi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as the most vulnerable, followed by Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.

“As a result of this breakthrough, beans need not be the casualty of global warming that they seemed destined to be, but rather can offer a climate-friendly option for farmers struggling to cope with rising temperatures,” said Andy Jarvis, a CGIAR climate change expert.

Many of the new heat-tolerant beans developed by the CGIAR scientists are “crosses” between the “common bean”–which includes pinto, white, black, and kidney beans–and the tepary bean, a hardy survivor cultivated since pre-Columbian times in an area that is now part of northern Mexico and the American southwest.

Often called the “meat of the poor” for the affordable protein it provides, the crop is a vital foundation of food security for more than 400 million people in the developing world. Beans are a highly nutritious food, offering protein, fiber, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and other micronutrients. In addition to heat tolerance, CGIAR experts are simultaneously breeding for higher iron content to enhance the beans’ nutritional value.

Unlocking the Potential of Humanity’s Key Crops

The new beans are a landmark result of urgent efforts by CGIAR to develop new crop varieties that can thrive in drastic weather extremes. The bedrock of this research is CGIAR’s “genebanks,” which preserve the world’s largest seed collections of humanity’s most important staple crops. Using new genomic tools, plant breeders are now better able to unlock the potential of the genebanks’ vast genetic diversity by probing nearly 750,000 samples of cereals, legumes, roots and tubers, trees, and other important food crops–along with their wild relatives–to identify genes with traits like heat, flood, and drought tolerance or resistance to pests and disease that can help farmers adapt to environmental stresses.

“The payoff we are seeing from these bean breeding efforts underscores the vital importance of investing in CGIAR’s genebanks–a front-line defense in the race to adapt crops to climate change to protect the staple food supplies of poor farmers and consumers and avert food crises around the world,” said Jonathan Wadsworth, a CGIAR Executive. “The development of these heat-defying beans also highlights what can be achieved when we invest in modern science to find solutions to urgent challenges, with expected economic benefits vastly exceeding the costs of investment in the research.”

The heat beaters emerged from the methodical and exhaustive testing of more than 1,000 bean lines, work that originally started as an effort to develop beans that could tolerate poor soils and drought. The focus turned to heat-tolerance following an alarming 2012 report from CGIAR scientists warning that heat was a much bigger threat to bean production than previously believed.

Led by CGIAR researchers, a team of the world’s leading bean experts quickly moved to cultivate test plots on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, where they deliberately exposed beans to night-time temperatures well above what they can normally tolerate. Scientists also established greenhouses so that temperatures could be dialed up on demand.

“We confirmed that 30 heat-tolerant lines are productive even with night-time temperatures above 22 degrees Celsius (about 72 degrees Fahrenheit),” Beebe said. “Normally, bean yields start to falter when the temperatures exceed 18 or 19 degrees Celsius (about 64 to 66 degrees Fahrenheit).”

Among the beans found to be especially heat tolerant was one that was recently introduced into commercial production in Nicaragua, chiefly because of its performance in drought conditions. Tested in dry conditions in Costa Rica, it yielded more than twice the amount of beans compared to what farmers were currently cultivating. Beebe said scientists now have evidence that the superior performance was due not just to drought tolerance but also heat tolerance.

“What this shows us is that heat may already be hurting bean production in Central America far more than we thought and farmers could benefit from adopting the new heat-beater beans right now,” he said.

Better Beans for Better Nutrition

To provide a sustainable and cost-effective way to combat hidden hunger, caused by diets low in key vitamins and minerals, CGIAR researchers embarked more than a decade ago on a pioneering program to improve the nutritional content of staple food crops that the poor rely upon.

Some of the heat-tolerant beans identified by Beebe and his team have also been deliberately bred through conventional methods to be higher in iron in an effort to tackle malnutrition. In developing countries, deficiencies of this essential micronutrient afflict one out of every two preschool children and pregnant women, making them highly susceptible to anemia and compromising children’s growth and cognitive development. While beans are already high in iron, these new varieties could eventually provide up to 60 percent of daily iron needs for women and children–almost twice the iron of non-improved beans.

“A couple of years ago, when climate change experts warned that rising temperatures could be devastating for bean production, we were asked how this would affect high-iron beans,” said Beebe. “Now, I am confident that we can confront this challenge as well. We can develop more iron-rich beans that are also heat tolerant. These beans would deliver even greater benefits than expected because they could be grown more widely.”

Vega One & Sports Performance Protein Mix Recall

Sequel Naturals Ltd., maker of the popular Vega One vegan whole food supplement has initiated an immediate voluntary recall of a number of Vega products, including nutrition shakes and sports performance drinks that have tested positive for, or that may potentially be contaminated with trace amounts of the antibiotic chloramphenicol.

Sequel Naturals Ltd. and a number of other companies were supplied contaminated enzyme preparations by Specialty Enzymes & Biotechnologies that were then used in making their natural health products. As a result, products from these companies are at risk of contamination with chloramphenicol.

Chloramphenicol is a potent drug and should only be used under medical supervision after careful consideration of the risks associated with its use. It is associated with a rare risk of aplastic anemia and many other serious side effects. In laboratory animals a dosage of 2500mg can be fatal.

The antibiotic was first discovered in 1947 as a natural product secreted by the bacterium Streptomyces venezuelae, which is found in soil and compost. It was used successfully in treating typhus outbreaks in Bolivia and Malaysia in 1948 and remains widely used in many third-world countries.

Consumers wanting more information on the recall can contact Sequel Naturals Ltd. at 1-866-839-8863. Health Canada has posted a full list of affected products being recalled in Canada by various companies supplied with contaminated enzyme preparations.

Booze Kills 10% of American Adults

If you can believe the lying Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use accounts for one in 10 deaths among working-age adults ages 20-64 years in the United States. The study was published in Preventing Chronic Disease.

Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths per year from 2006 to 2010, and shortened the lives of those who died by about 30 years.  These deaths were due to health effects from drinking too much over time, such as breast cancer, liver disease, and heart disease; and health effects from drinking too much in a short period of time, such as violence, alcohol poisoning, and motor vehicle crashes.  In total, there were 2.5 million years of potential life lost each year due to excessive alcohol use.

Nearly 70 percent of deaths due to excessive drinking involved working-age adults, and about 70 percent of the deaths involved males.  About 5 percent of the deaths involved people under age 21.  The highest death rate due to excessive drinking was in New Mexico (51 deaths per 100,000 population), and the lowest was in New Jersey (19.1 per 100,000).

“Excessive alcohol use is a leading cause of preventable death that kills many Americans in the prime of their lives,” said Ursula E. Bauer, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. “We need to redouble our efforts to implement scientifically proven public health approaches to reduce this tragic loss of life and the huge economic costs that result.”

Excessive drinking includes binge drinking (4 or more drinks on an occasion for women, 5 or more drinks on an occasion for men), heavy drinking (8 or more drinks a week for women, 15 or more drinks a week for men), and any alcohol use by pregnant women or those under the minimum legal drinking age of 21.  Excessive drinking cost the United States about $224 billion, or $1.90 per drink, in 2006.  Most of these costs were due to lost productivity, including reduced earnings among excessive drinkers as well as deaths due to excessive drinking among working age adults.

To estimate deaths due to excessive drinking, CDC scientists analyzed data from the Alcohol-Related Disease Impact (ARDI) application for 2006-2010.  ARDI provides national and state-specific estimates of alcohol-attributable deaths and years of potential life lost.  ARDI currently includes 54 causes of death for which estimates of alcohol involvement were either directly available or could be calculated based on existing scientific information.

“It’s shocking to see the public health impact of excessive drinking on working-age adults,” said Robert Brewer, M.D., M.S.P.H., head of CDC’s Alcohol Program and one of the report’s authors. “CDC is working with partners to support the implementation of strategies for preventing excessive alcohol use that are recommended by the Community Preventive Services Task Force, which can help reduce the health and social cost of this dangerous risk behavior.”

The independent HHS Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends several evidence-based strategies to reduce excessive drinking.  These include increasing alcohol taxes, regulating alcohol outlet density, and avoiding further privatization of alcohol retail sales.

For more information about excessive drinking, including binge drinking, and how to prevent this dangerous behavior, visit the CDC’s Alcohol and Public Health website at http://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/index.htm.  Members of the public who are concerned about their own or someone else’s drinking can call 1-800-662-HELP to receive assistance from the national Drug and Alcohol Treatment Referral Routing Service.

For state-specific estimates of deaths and years of potential life lost due to excessive drinking by condition, visit the ARDI online application at https://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/ardi/HomePage.aspx.

Increased Drought = Lower Future Midwest Crop Yields

Research recently published in the journal Science shows that increasingly harsh drought conditions in the U.S. Midwest’s Corn Belt may take a serious toll on corn and soybean yields over the next half-century.

Corn yields could drop by 15 to 30 percent, according to the paper’s estimates; soybean yield losses would be less severe.

North Carolina State University’s Roderick Rejesus, associate professor of agricultural and resource economics and a co-author of the Science paper, says that corn and soybean yields show increasing sensitivity to drought, with yields struggling in dry conditions in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana during the 1995 to 2012 study period.

“Yield increases are getting smaller in bad conditions,” Rejesus said. “Agronomic and genetic crop improvements over the years help a lot when growing conditions are good, but have little effect when growing conditions are poor, like during droughts.”

U.S. corn and soybeans account for approximately 40 and 35 percent of global production, respectively, making the results important to the world’s food supply.

Using field data over an 18-year period, the researchers point to the effects of vapor pressure deficit (VPD) on corn and soybean yields. VPD includes temperature and humidity measures; extremes at either end of this variable signify drought or too much water for crops. Akin to the sweet spot on a baseball bat, the best VPD condition is a value in its middle range.

Some 29 climate estimates modeled in the paper suggest that VPD will rise significantly over the next 40 years, bringing on more severe drought conditions.

The researchers ran the same tests using the Palmer Drought Severity Index, another widely used measure capturing nationwide temperature and humidity, and reported similar results. They also ran the same tests for a broader group of Corn Belt states to include South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas. Those tests confirmed the results found in Iowa, Illinois and Indiana.

Rejesus adds that crop densities may be one reason for the problem. When plants are placed closer together, he says, it’s easier for bad conditions to affect more plants. Crop simulations conducted in the study supported this notion.

Rejesus says that research into more drought-resistant seeds or other ways of combating sensitivity to drought is necessary because the findings have strong implications throughout the food chain.

“There are a number of risk management implications for farmers,” he said. “Should farmers – 80 percent of whom already purchase crop insurance – buy even higher levels of crop insurance? What kinds of safety nets should be in place for farmers, if any? What happens to meat prices when corn yields diminish? There are lots of tradeoffs involved in this issue.”

Mercury Contaminates Remote Western Areas

Mercury has been discovered in fish in some of the most remote national park lakes and streams in the western United States and Alaska. Mercury levels in some fish exceeded U.S. Environmental Protection Agency health thresholds for potential impacts to fish, birds, and humans.

The information about mercury, and its appearance in protected areas considered to be relatively pristine and removed from environmental contaminants, is in a recently published scientific report from the U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service.

The study of mercury in fish is the first of its kind to incorporate information from remote places at 21 national parks in 10 western states, including Alaska. Western parks were selected for this study because of the significant role that atmospheric mercury deposition plays in remote places, and the lack of broad-scale assessments on mercury in fish in remote areas of the west.

Mercury concentrations in fish sampled from these parks were generally low, but were elevated in some instances. This study examines total mercury in fish, of which 95 percent is in the form of methylmercury, the most dangerous form to human and wildlife health.

Mercury is harmful to human and wildlife health, and is among the most widespread contaminants in the world. It is distributed at a global scale from natural sources, such as volcanic eruptions and from human sources such as burning fossil fuels in power plants. Mercury is distributed at local or regional scales as a result of current and historic mining activities. These human activities have increased levels of atmospheric mercury at least three fold during the past 150 years.

“Although fish mercury concentrations were elevated in some sites, the majority of fish across the region had concentrations that were below most benchmarks associated with impaired health of fish, wildlife, and humans. However, the range of concentrations measured suggest that complex processes are involved in driving mercury accumulation in these environments and further research is needed to better understand these processes, and assess risk,” said USGS ecologist Collin Eagles-Smith, the lead author of the publication.

Between 2008 and 2012, NPS resource managers collected more than 1,400 fish from 86 lakes and rivers, and USGS scientists measured mercury concentrations in fish muscle tissue. Sixteen fish species were sampled, with a focus on commonly consumed sport fish found across the study area such as brook, rainbow, cutthroat, and lake trout. Smaller prey fish consumed by birds and wildlife were also sampled.

Scientists compared fish mercury concentrations among sites within an individual park, as well as  from one park to other parks, and identified areas with elevated mercury levels. They also compared the mercury concentrations in the fish to a range of health benchmarks including human health guidelines established by the EPA for fish consumption, and wildlife risk thresholds that indicate the potential for toxicity and impairment in fish and fish-eating birds.

The authors found that mercury levels varied greatly, from park to park and among sites within each park. In most parks, mercury concentrations in fish were moderate to low in comparison with similar fish species from other locations in the Western states. Mercury concentrations were below EPA’s fish tissue criterion for safe human consumption in 96 percent of the sport fish sampled.

The average concentration of mercury in sport fish from two sites in two Alaskan parks exceeded EPA’s human health criterion. Mercury levels in individual fish at some parks from other states including California, Colorado, Washington, and Wyoming also exceeded the human health criterion.

Neither the USGS nor the NPS regulate environmental health guidelines. The NPS is coordinating with state officials in the 10 study states regarding potential fish consumption advisories. State fish consumption guidelines consider both the risks associated with mercury exposure and the benefits of fish consumption, such as improved cardiac health from increased omega-3 fatty acid consumption or potential reduced intake of unhealthy fats due to food substitutions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to high levels of mercury in humans may cause damage to the brain, kidneys, and the developing fetus. Pregnant women and young children are particularly sensitive to the effects of mercury.

Mercury at elevated levels can also impact wildlife. High mercury concentrations in birds, mammals, and fish can result in reduced foraging efficiency, survival, and reproductive success. Mercury concentrations in fish exceeded the most conservative fish toxicity benchmark at 15 percent of all sites, and levels exceeded the most sensitive health benchmark for fish-eating birds at 52 percent of all sites.

Mercury threatens natural resources, including wildlife, which the NPS is mandated to protect. “This is a wake-up call,” said NPS ecologist Colleen Flanagan Pritz, a co-author of the report. “We need to see fewer contaminants in park ecosystems, especially contaminants like mercury where concentrations in fish challenge the very mission of the national parks to leave wild life unimpaired for future generations.”

Funding for this study was provided by the NPS Air Resources Division, USGS Contaminants Biology Program within the Environmental Health Mission Area, the Ecosystems Mission Area to the USGS Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, and with in-kind contributions from participating parks.

More information is available in the USGS Top Story “Mercury Finds a Way—Even into the Pristine National Parks.”

Monsanto Demands Removal of Judge For Mexico GM Corn Ban

Want to know Big Ag’s solution if it doesn’t get the unquestioned support they desire? Just throw out the judge. That’s what is happening now as Monsanto asks for the Appeals Court Judge who ruled against them in Mexico to be removed.

Following two separate rulings to ban GMO, Monsanto made an official request for the removal of Judge Jaime Manuel Marroquin Zaleta. The country is currently resisting Monsanto’s attempt to grow GM maize in one of its most important crop zones. If biotech got their way, more than 7000 years of indigenous maize could be ruined. More than 60 varieties would be put in danger through cross-pollination should Monsanto find a way to be above justice.

Monsanto is playing with immoral legal tactics to try to overturn not just the decision of Judge Zaleta, but by attempting to remove him from his chair. The biotech company claims that Zaleta stated his opinion on the case before sentencing.

Last December, Judge Marroqun Zaleta threw out the appeals of Mexico’s SEMARNAT (Environment and Natural Resources Ministry), and Monsanto who were trying to play legal quackery again – by overturning a ruling from September – also disallowing GM maize planting.

The attorney for Acción Colectiva, Rene Sanchez Galindo, states what the rest of the world feels:

 “. . .the accusation against a Federal Judge by a multinational company, which has been questioned for lying to the world’s population with misleading information about the damage their products cause, and whose employees occupy high positions in governments around the globe; is tantamount to granting a merit badge to the Judge.”

Acción Colectiva is a concerned group of 53 scientists and 22 organizations that fruitfully brought the case against GMO and Monsanto to ban genetically modified maize.

Part of the reason Monsanto fights against this particular judge is because this decision cemented a first judgment, sending Monsanto and its government lackeys a message that they couldn’t wrongly influence the Mexican courts.

The Mexican government previously allowed trial crops of GM maize to be planted in 2009 before an earth-shattering decision made in September by the Twelfth Federal District Court for Civil Matters of Mexico City. Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo J. cited “the risk of imminent harm to the environment” as the reason behind his decision. Little has even been said about the harm to human health – but it is a start, and at this point any way to get Monsanto out of a country is a good one.

The Mexican government seems to have a stronger backbone to fight Monsanto than even our own. We applaud them.

The ban of GM maize will remain until the appeals court makes a new ruling on Monsanto’s ridiculous claim.

 

Bees Infected With Mutated Plant Virus?

A viral pathogen that typically infects plants has been found in honeybees and could help explain their decline, researchers in the U.S. and China report.

The routine screening of bees for frequent and rare viruses “resulted in the serendipitous detection of Tobacco Ringspot Virus, or TRSV, and prompted an investigation into whether this plant-infecting virus could also cause systemic infection in the bees,” says Yan Ping Chen from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, an author on the study.

“The results of our study provide the first evidence that honeybees exposed to virus-contaminated pollen can also be infected and that the infection becomes widespread in their bodies,” says lead author Ji Lian Li, at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science in Beijing.

“We already know that honeybees, Apis melllifera, can transmit TRSV when they move from flower to flower, likely spreading the virus from one plant to another,” Chen adds.

Notably, about 5% of known plant viruses are pollen-transmitted and thus potential sources of host-jumping viruses. RNA viruses tend to be particularly dangerous because they lack the 3′-5′ proofreading function which edits out errors in replicated genomes. As a result, viruses such as TRSV generate a flood of variant copies with differing infective properties.

One consequence of such high replication rates are populations of RNA viruses thought to exist as “quasispecies,” clouds of genetically related variants that appear to work together to determine the pathology of their hosts. These sources of genetic diversity, coupled with large population sizes, further facilitate the adaption of RNA viruses to new selective conditions such as those imposed by novel hosts. “Thus, RNA viruses are a likely source of emerging and reemerging infectious diseases,” explain these researchers.

Toxic viral cocktails appear to have a strong link with honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a mysterious malady that abruptly wiped out entire hives across the United States and was first reported in 2006. Israel Acute Paralysis Virus (IAPV), Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV), Chronic Paralysis Virus (CPV), Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV), Deformed Wing Bee Virus (DWV), Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV) and Sacbrood Virus (SBV) are other known causes of honeybee viral disease.

When these researchers investigated bee colonies classified as “strong” or “weak,” TRSV and other viruses were more common in the weak colonies than they were in the strong ones. Bee populations with high levels of multiple viral infections began failing in late fall and perished before February, these researchers report. In contrast, those in colonies with fewer viral assaults survived the entire cold winter months.

TRSV was also detected inside the bodies of Varroa mites, a “vampire” parasite that transmits viruses between bees while feeding on their blood. However, unlike honeybees, the mite-associated TRSV was restricted to their gastric cecum indicating that the mites likely facilitate the horizontal spread of TRSV within the hive without becoming diseased themselves. The fact that infected queens lay infected eggs convinced these scientists that TRSV could also be transmitted vertically from the queen mother to her offspring.

“The increasing prevalence of TRSV in conjunction with other bee viruses is associated with a gradual decline of host populations and supports the view that viral infections have a significant negative impact on colony survival,” these researchers conclude. Thus, they call for increased surveillance of potential host-jumping events as an integrated part of insect pollinator management programs.

Tasmania Extends GMO Ban

Tasmania is the only Australian state to have to a blanket ban on genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The ban started as a moratorium 10 years ago and was instituted to protect its farmers who serve a market that is increasingly demanding GMO-free food.

While the government will allow some exemptions for scientific trials of GM crops and has not ruled out lifting the ban in the future, the ban has strong support from Tasmanian farmers and consumers and is expected to remain in force for the foreseeable future.

Agro-Chemical companies claim that their crops are perfectly safe but the science clearly shows otherwise and thousands of scientists and environmentalists have been calling for a moratorium on the unleashing of GMOs until they can be proven safe.

U.S. Supreme Court Betrays Farmers, Again

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued a decision in the landmark federal lawsuit, Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association et al v. Monsanto. Farmers were denied the right to argue their case in court and gain protection from potential abuse by the agrichemical and genetic engineering giant, Monsanto. Additionally, the high court decision dashes the hopes of family farmers who sought the opportunity to prove in court Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed patents are invalid.

“While the Supreme Court’s decision to not give organic and other non-GMO farmers the right to seek preemptive protection from Monsanto’s patents at this time is disappointing, it should not be misinterpreted as meaning that Monsanto has the right to bring such suits,” said Daniel Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) and lead counsel to the plaintiffs in OSGATA et al v. Monsanto. “Indeed, in light of the Court of Appeals decision, Monsanto may not sue any contaminated farmer for patent infringement if the level of contamination is less than one percent. For farmers contaminated by more than one percent, perhaps a day will come to address whether Monsanto’s patents may be asserted against them. We are confident that if the courts ever hear such a case, they will rule for the non-GMO farmers.”

Farmers had sought Court protection under the Declaratory Judgment Act that should they become the innocent victims of contamination by Monsanto’s patented gene-splice technology they could not perversely be sued for patent infringement.

“The Supreme Court failed to grasp the extreme predicament family farmers find themselves in,” said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff OSGATA. “The Court of Appeals agreed our case had merit. However, the safeguards they ordered are insufficient to protect our farms and our families. This high court which gave corporations the ability to patent life forms in 1980, and under Citizens United in 2010 gave corporations the power to buy their way to election victories, has now in 2014 denied farmers the basic right of protecting themselves from the notorious patent bully Monsanto.”

The historic lawsuit was filed in 2011 in Federal District Court in Manhattan. The large plaintiff group numbers 83 individual American and Canadian family farmers, independent seed companies and agricultural organizations whose combined memberships total over 1 million citizens, including many non-GMO farmers and over 25% of North America’s certified organic farmers.

“The Appellate Court decision could leave Canadian farmers out in the cold because their protection may not extend to Canada at all,” said Saskatchewan organic grain farmer Arnold Taylor, a member of plaintiff member Canadian Organic Growers (COG). “Like many Canadian farmers, we sell crop into the United States and can therefore be liable to claims of patent infringement by Monsanto.”

In a complicated ruling issued in June 2013 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., American farmers were handed a partial victory when the three justices agreed with the farmers’ assertion that contamination by Monsanto was inevitable. The justices ordered Monsanto not to sue American farmers whose fields were contaminated with trace amounts of patented material, which the Court defined as 1%.

In a related situation, Canadian soybean farmer Stephen Webster of Ontario experienced just how abusively Monsanto treats innocent contamination victims. Through no fault of his own Webster, who farms with his elderly father, had his 2012 identify-preserved (IP) non-GMO soybean crop contaminated by Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered seed. Their soybeans were ruined for export to specialty markets in Japan. “First Monsanto claimed we had too many bees and that we were at fault for the contaminated crop,” said Webster. “Then they threatened to run up $100,000 in legal bills that we would have to pay.” Tragically, Webster’s story is the norm in farm country, with Monsanto using its extreme economic power to silence family farmers even before they can legally defend themselves.

Notably, none of the plaintiffs are customers of Monsanto. None have signed licensing agreements with Monsanto. The plaintiffs do not want Monsanto’s seed and they do not want Monsanto’s gene-spliced technology and have sought legal protection from significant economic harm to their businesses and way of life.

“We have a fourth generation farm,” said organic dairy farmer and plaintiff Rose Marie Burroughs of California Cloverleaf Farms. “Monsanto cannot be trusted. Their refusal to provide a binding legal covenant not to sue our fellow farmers would make anyone wonder, what are their real motives? GMO contamination levels can easily rise above 1% and then we would have zero protection from a costly and burdensome lawsuit.”

Significant contamination events, including Starlink corn and LibertyLink rice, have already cost farmers and the food companies nearly $2 billion dollars. In the past year alone, the discovery of Monsanto’s illegal GMO wheat in an Oregon farmer’s field and GMO alfalfa in Washington state sent foreign markets, where GMOs are not wanted, reeling. In both instances farmers’ economic livelihoods were put at risk as buyers in foreign markets refused to buy the GMO contaminated crops.

“If Monsanto can patent seeds for financial gain, they should be forced to pay for contaminating a farmer’s field, not be allowed to sue them. Once again, America’s farmers have been denied justice, while Monsanto’s reign of intimidation is allowed to continue in rural America,” said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now!, a grassroots advocacy group based in Iowa and a plaintiff in the case.

“Monsanto has effectively gotten away with stealing the world’s seed heritage and abusing farmers for the flawed nature of their patented seed technology. This is an outrage of historic proportions and will not stand,” said Murphy.