Tag Archives: Monsanto

My Porch Before And After The Chemtrail spraying

It doesn’t matter where I live,where do I come from or where I am heading to. All that it matters is that you,me and everyone,no matter the place or the location,we see the same signs.We suffer the same consequences.We face the same Future.

That is Before.. April 2012

Lilac tree in Full Blossom in April 2012

And that IS After.. August 2012

Night Flowers with no flowers or seeds in mid August

The Lilac Tree as it is now

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Jatropha biofuels: the true cost to Tanzania

.Billed as wonder crop, the establishment of jatropha plantations on the ground in Tanzania has been far from successful, or, in some cases, ethical

Biofuel investment and production in Tanzania is a highly contentious issue.

Biofuel investors have been doing business in Tanzania since 2000, but business stepped up a gear after 2006. To date there are 17 investor companies here, from UK, Germany, Sweden, the Nederlands and America – a small number compared to those in Brazil and Indonesia, but a number with clear motives.

With over four million hectares requested by investors for biofuels (but only 650,000 hectares currently allocated), this is a sizeable potential earner for Tanzania.

Or is it? Much of the hype and excitement surrounding biofuels – and surrounding the oil seed crop jatropha in particular – seems to be coming from international consultants and investors. Ministers, farmers, politicians and NGOs who are based here are unanimous in one thing: scepticism. Dr Felician Kilahama, head of Tanzanian Beekeeping and Forestry, and part of the task force overseeing jatropha cultivation in Tanzania puts it succinctly: ‘How will jatropha benefit Tanzania? Well exactly. We have no answers. We want food first, not jatropha’.

Jo Anderson, a Tanzanian environmental consultant, feels similarly:
‘There’s a lot of theory about jatropha. Despite acres of scientific research, there’s no evidence of it working on a large scale at all. It’s driven by the industrialised countries and donors’ need to find potential fuel to mitigate against environmental problems: it’s sold as a plant that grows anywhere: on degraded land, as a hedgerow… Any poor farmer can just put it in, and get rich. But jatropha doesn’t grow on the commercial industrial scale needed to run biodiesel plants: the transaction costs of large scale don’t add up. On a small scale, say 500 villages, you could produce the oil for this village to cook on, but not enough to run it at the size the investors need.’

READ OUR EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION INTO THE UK FUND MANAGERS SELLING JATROPHA AS AN ETHICAL INVESTMENT

A crop of questions

The arguments around jatropha fall into several distinct categories. First the land-use debate: can it actually be grown on marginal land? Should valuable land be used for food, or fuel? And how should land be partitioned, both nationally and at village level? What about the water and forests on that land: how does one calculate their actual economic, social, cultural, ecological and projected value, and to whom? Locals or investors?

And then come questions of benefit: will Tanzania actually profit from biofuels – can we use biofuels here rather than simply export to Europe and the US?

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) claims that over 70 per cent of Tanzania is potentially available for agriculture, yet for this to be true valuable indigenous forest must be cut down. Dr Felician Kilahuma, Head of The Beekeeping and Forestry Ministry is worried: ‘Thus far villagers who are desperately poor have sold off land at way below its market value to biofuel investors without fully understanding or thinking it through – they are selling off valuable investments. Plus of course, in Rufigi [an area in Southern Tanzania], one of the 25 allocated global hotspots – an area of ‘outstanding natural biodiversity’ – 81,000 hectares were given over to [bioenergy company] SEKAB for biofuels. This is valuable forest, where the rare hardwoods African blackwood, and mpingo are grown.’

SEKAB was in the process of closing down its operations in Tanzania as this article was written and refused to comment: so far the future of this plantation is unclear.

Land clearances

The story is not an isolated case. A report published by WWF Tanzania in March 2009, ‘Biofuel Industry Study: An Assessment of the Current Situation’, includes a very long list of endemic animals and plants (including rare orchids and the rarest bush baby in the world – Galago rondoensis) on the the redlist living in areas where Dutch firm BioShape has plantations.

Land has been cleared there, admits BioShape, but not by burning, and the company says it has paid compensation. Opponents say the land was not gained legally, and that it makes no sense to counter climate change through deforestation. The Makonde carvers flourish in this area, and the hardwoods are used to make woodwind instruments. And, as Fred Nelson, of the NGO Tanzania Natural Resources Forum points out, ‘The World Bank says managed forests can potentially earn $25-$50 a month for villagers, from medicinal products, food, charcoal… we don’t know what jatropha can earn for people yet’.

Mark Baker, of EI consultants based in Tanzania, is less equivocal:
‘Recently, in Kilwa, the Dutch firm BioShape rejected land that is labelled barren, or idle, in favour of fertile forest, the Namatimbile, the largest coastal forest in East Africa. Why did they do that if jatropha can grow on weak land? And anyway, what exactly is ‘barren’ land if it is being used extensively by pastoralists?’

Like SEKAB, BioShape said that it has now completely ceased operations in Tanzania, for reasons that are unclear. No-one from the company was prepared to comment on its activities.

Not indigenous

SEKAB and Bioshape are not alone: of the nine other major jatropha investors in Tanzania, 90 per cent are using at least some land that is not considered ‘marginal’, according to WWF.

A key question is whether jatropha really is as hardy and durable as its supporters claim. Geoffrey Howard, of the International Union of Conservation of Nature in Kenya says: ‘Because jatropha is used locally on graves by East Africans we assume it’s indigenous. It’s not. Jatopha is essentially an invasive species. It is thirsty, needs irrigation and in no studies has it met the expectations of projected yields, either in terms of fruit, or oil produced.’

Jam tomorrow

Perhaps the least investigated side of the jatropha debate is the social and economic implications. It is hard for most people in the industrialised world to imagine the level of desperation that many Tanzanians experience. In the Rufigi Delta, where Swedish firm SEKAB has recently halted its work with jatropha, locals look set to be bitterly disappointed.

Mohamed Osman Makaui, a resident of Nyamage village in Rufigi, who was unaware the project had completely stopped, told me: ‘Overall my expectations for the future of the village are good and I am hopeful about the presence of the [biofuel] company here. If the company sticks to what they have agreed in their discussions with us, the income of our village will grow and everyone will benefit from their presence.’

According to WWF’s report, no compensation had been paid for land at the time of publication in March 2009, and no jobs created. The campaign group also alleged that glaring holes exist where labour relations, child labour and health and safety considerations should be; though Tanzanian law states these are necessary preconditions for investors, in practice they can’t enforce these practices. At the time, SEKAB told WWF that it was still waiting for the land deeds, and that compensation will be paid when these are received. Now that the company has ceased operations in Tanzania, the likelihood of compensation being paid is unknown.

In a damning Oxfam report, ‘Another Inconvenient Truth’, a subsidiary of British firm Sun Biofuels plc was criticised for telling the press it was awarding compensation of over $600,000 to villagers who allowed jatropha to be planted on their land, a figure that was later revealed to be twice the offered amount, and many times what actually seems to have been taken up by villagers who were uncertain on what to do with their claim forms.

In fact, WWF’s research suggests that even where land was purchased, over half the biofuel investors did not carry out Environmental Impact Assessments, and none consulted villagers or informed them of what they were doing, or offered villagers opportunities in farming management.

A way forward?

There is clearly a big need for thorough and comprehensive minimum standards for jatropha investors, both before they arrive in Tanzania, and once they are here.

Says Professor Pius Yanda at the Institute for Research on Environment at the University of Dar Es Salaam: ‘At the moment there is a complete freeze on jatropha investors, as we assess what our options are for jatropha. Minimum guidelines need to include clear definitions of no-go areas for investors, and a policy for jatropha use here in Tanzania, so we run our own cars, buses and factories on jatropha. At present Fairtrade International is researching jatropha as a fair trade product, we shall see.’

But jatropha could yet be produced in an equitable and sustainable way. On the ground in Tanzania, firms were distinctly cagey about agreeing to let the Ecologist look at their projects, but one notable exception was Diligent Energy Systems. After two years, this small Dutch company has signed up 5000 farmers to grow jatropha.

What makes Diligent so interesting is that it owns no land. Effectively it ‘outsources’ the growing: villagers get the economic benefits of money for seeds and cultivation. Secondary benefits include oil for cooking stoves, lamps, oilseed cake (which Diligent is encouraging villagers to put into anaerobic digesters, producing biogas with which to cook), soap, and fertiliser for use on other crops.

There’s no perceptible negative impact, though as Hayo De Feijter, general manager of Diligent, admits: ‘It’s not terribly profitable for farmers yet – 5kg of jatropha yields about 1 litre of oil, but potentially it’s only positive. We aim to make money for local farmers, and for the company, and we avoid all the environmental problems or compensation issues: we pay there and then. If this model could be developed – outgrowing schemes – it’s very hopeful.’

The farmers seem to agree with him. Mzee El Rahema, based in Makoa, in West Kilimanjaro says: ‘I get 180 shillings per kilo (18 pence) of jatropha; I do farming as well, but the extra income means the kids get food, schooling, clothes. It absolutely, definitely does help me and our community, and I am delighted.’

Thembi Mutch is a freelance journalist based in Tanzania

Source


Obama Promised GMO Labeling in 2007

According to a poll conducted by Reuters Thompson, more than 90% of Americans feel that products containing GMOs should be labeled.  Back in 2007, Obama pulled the support of GMO activists by promising to push for proper labeling of GMO food items, stating that he would push to “let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.” Of course the promise was not fulfilled, as 4 years later in 2011 GMO foods are still not properly labeled. In fact, products containing the Non-GMO label have actually been found to contain GMOs.

Not only has Obama been completely silent on the GMO labeling issue despite his bold statements, but so has the FDA — the very organization in charge of ensuring the ‘health’ of United States consumers. An organization that has caused even more harm, however, is the USDA. The USDA has been approving the production of many new genetically modified crops, including the highly-controversial genetically modified alfalfa. Despite the warnings of scientists and health activists over the dangers of genetically modified crops on human health and the environment, the USDA has continually supported biotech corporation Monsanto over the American public.

GMOs rambunctiously approved by the FDA and USDA, despite known dangers

Despite acknowledging the fact that these crops lead to herbicide-resistant weeds, the USDA assures consumers that these DNA-altering crops are safe for consumption.

As the FDA and USDA continually approve genetically modified creations such as AquaAdvantage salmon without proper labeling, it becomes necessary for consumers to take action. Major ‘health’ food stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s still offer products that contain GMOs that are either not labeled at all, or deceptively so. Slogans like ‘All Natural’ mean virtually nothing when it comes to GMOs and other toxic ingredients, tricking shoppers into thinking they are avoiding these health sinks.

Tell Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to label their GMO products and stop deceiving customers. It seems that it will be health-conscious activists, not Obama, who will ”let folks know when their food is genetically modified, because Americans have a right to know what they’re buying.”


DuPont Purchase Of African Seed Company Gives Edge Over Monsanto

 

DuPont Co.’s (DD) purchase of a South African seed producer, approved after more than a year of regulatory delays, gives it roughly double the market share of Monsanto Co. (>> Monsanto Company) in the region, a DuPont executive said.

DuPont’s seed subsidiary, Pioneer Hi-Bred, is buying the company, Pannar Seed Ltd., for an undisclosed sum in a deal that was first announced in 2010. An appeals court approved the deal Monday, overturning other regulatory rejections that had delayed the sale.

Pioneer and Pannar, along with St. Louis-based Monsanto Co. (>> Monsanto Company), are the top three seed producers in South Africa, with roughly equal market share, said Dan Jacobi, Pioneer’s vice president over its commercial business in Africa, Asia-Pacific, China and Europe. Acquiring Pannar gives Pioneer a clear advantage over Monsanto in the region, he said.

A Monsanto spokeswoman said the company has farmers growing its corn, cotton and vegetable seeds in Africa, but did not give a breakdown of its seed sales there.

Opponents of the Pannar deal focused in on the effect of consolidation on competition in a market where the top three seed companies were Pioneer, Monsanto and Pannar. But Jacobi said that without the deal there would ultimately be two large competitors anyway.

“There was no standing still here,” he said. “If Pannar wasn’t able to find a partner to ramp up their breeding efforts, they wouldn’t be viable for very long.”

South Africa has been the first country on the continent to adopt genetically modified seeds, but Kenya and Ghana are also “on the road” toward genetically modified corn, Jacobi said. Pannar does business in both countries, which made the deal more attractive to Pioneer, Jacobi said.

Corn yields across sub-Sarahan Africa lag far behind the U.S., due in part to antiquated technologies. African farmers typically yield about 1.5 metric tons per hectare, Jacobi said, versus 10 metric tons in the U.S.

“There’s no question in my mind that Africa will get to that level of production,” he said.

 


Corporate control of the food system -UK

Where Does the Money Go?

Most of what we spend on food – in fact nearly all of it – goes to non-farmers. It is estimated that UK farmers receive only 9p of every £1 spent on food by consumers. [139] There is plenty of money moving through the global food economy, but less and less of it is getting back to farmers. Most of the money in the food system is going into the pockets of companies in the processing and retailing sectors, which are dominated by huge multinational food corporations like Unilever, Nestle and Altria (Kraft Foods) and the big supermarkets like Asda/Wal-Mart, Carrefour and Tesco (see tables on page 27).

Where does the money go in the UK food system?

Gross value[140]
UK food processing, manufacture and retailing sector (2002) £37 billion
UK farming sector (2002) £6.68 billion

Net Profits[141]
Top six UK supermarkets (2002) £2,781 million
All UK farms combined (2002) £2,356 million

Profits as % return on capital (2000) [142]
Tesco 11.0%
UK farmers 0.54%

Incomes
Terry Leahy (CEO of Tesco) pre-tax salary (2002) (equivalent to the combined income of 243 UK farm households) £2.46 million [143]
UK average net farm income (pre-tax) (2002) £10,100 [144]

A study comparing the five year return on equity (a measure of current profitability) for Canadian farmers with that of a number of multinational food corporations found that farmers had a five year return on equity of only 0.7%, whereas the giant food corporations were many times higher: Nestle 21.5%, Philip Morris (now Altria) 39.1%, Kellogg 41.6%.[145] The average return on capital (a measure of future profitability) for the UK’s big supermarkets is around 10-15% and for farmers approximately 0.5%.[146]

Maximising profits, minimising competition

Food production in the UK and globally is increasingly controlled by a small number of multinational corporations. The food system has been described as an hourglass, with thousands of farmers selling their produce to millions of consumers via a small number of corporate food processors and retailers.[147] As the number of corporations in every sector of the food system has fallen, competition between them has diminished and the market power of the survivors has increased, enabling them to extract ever larger profits from the food system. According to the principles of competitive economics, markets are most effective when there is strong competition between a number of businesses. But the small number of corporations that now dominate each stage of the food system have created an oligopoly/oligopsony which distorts market prices.

These firms can exert significantly more upward pressure on their selling prices and more downward pressure on their buying prices than would be the case in a truly competitive market, especially when they enter into transactions with players several orders of magnitude smaller, such as farmers or consumers. It is no surprise, given the market power imbalance between food corporations and the farmers who must do business with them, that farmers do not get a fair price for their produce.

Top 10 global food retailers[148]

Company Sales 2002 (US$ million)
Wal-Mart (US) 246,525
Carrefour (France) 64,979
Royal Ahold (Netherlands) 59,455
Kroger (US) 51,759
Metro (Germany) 48,714
Tesco (UK) 40,387
Costco (US) 38,762
Albertson’s (US) 35,916
Safeway (US-no link to Safeway UK) 34,799
Ito-Yokado (Japan) 27,606

Top 10 global food and drink companies[149]

Company Sales 2002 (US$ million)
Nestle 54,254
Kraft Foods 29,723
Unilever 25,670
PepsiCo 25,112
Archer Daniels Midland 23,454
Tyson Foods 23,367
Cargill 21,500
ConAgra 19,839
Coca-Cola 19,564
Mars 17,000

Horizontal Integration

In order to survive in the global food system corporations need to increase their market share. There has been a frenzy of corporate mergers and acquisitions, especially over the past ten years, which has led to the concentration of market power at every level in the food and agriculture industry. Control of each sector from seeds, fertilisers and machinery to processing, transportation and retailing, is now in the hands of just a few multinational corporations.

As horizontal integration takes place, competition within each sector is reduced and the surviving corporations increase their market power and their ability to protect their profits. A study of US corporations in the food processing industry confirms that when mergers and acquisitions occur competition within the sector tends to be reduced and prices increase.[150]

Global grain trader, Cargill Inc, is the largest privately owned company(i.e. not listed on any stock exchange) in the world.

It dominates the distribution and primary processing of commodity crops such as soya and maize and has a global infrastructure with feed mills, port and storage facilities in 59 countries and operations in 130 others. In most of the sectors in which it operates Cargill controls at least 25% of the market and is either the largest or second largest player (also see box ‘Cargill’s involvement at every link in the food supply chain’).[157]

Concentration in the food and agriculture industry

Ten corporations control 80% of the global agrochemical market, ten companies control 31% of the seed market and four agribusinesses (Syngenta, Du Pont, Monsanto and Bayer) control almost 100% of the transgenic (GM) seed market.[151 & 152]

Three companies (Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) and Zen Noh) control 65% of US soybean exports and 81% of corn exports, four companies (Cargill, ADM, Cenex (now in a joint venture with Cargill) and General Mills) control 60% of US grain handling facilities and four companies (Cargill, ADM, Bunge and Ag Processing Inc) control 80% of US soybean crushing facilities.[153]

In the US, four beef processors slaughter 81% of the cattle and four companies control 50% of broiler chicken production. [154] The biggest beef processors in the US are also the dominant processors in Canada and Australia.

Six processors (Arla/Express, Dairy Crest, Robert Wiseman, Glanbia, Associated Co-operative Creameries and Nestle) control 93% of UK dairy processing.[155]

Four supermarkets (Tesco, Asda/Wal-mart, Sainsbury and Somerfield) control 75% of UK food retailing.[156]

Vertical Integration and ‘food chain clusters’

To consolidate their power further the biggest food corporations (e.g. Cargill, Con Agra and Archer Daniels Midland) are vertically integrating and making links both formal and informal at every stage in the food supply system. Where they don’t own the companies in a particular sector, corporations have made strategic alliances to create what have been termed food chain ‘clusters’.[158]

Cargill’s involvement at every link in the food supply chain [159]

created a joint venture with Monsanto-Renessen to develop genetically engineered soya for animal feed [160]

supplies seed and fertiliser to farmers

gives loans to farmers through Cargill-owned Bank of Ellsworth

makes production contracts with farmers to grow grain

collects, transports, processes and exports grain

manufactures animal feed

makes production contracts with farmers to rear cattle and pigs

processes and packages beef and pork products

supplies beef, under a long-term agreement, to Kroger Supermarkets (one of the biggest US supermarket chains)

These vertically integrated companies control the food system virtually from ‘field to fork’: the same companies buy, ship and mill grain, feed it to livestock and then supply the supermarkets with meat products creating a production system where price is internal to the company’s operation. There is no longer a marketplace and so there is no ‘price discovery’ at the different stages of production, competition is reduced and profits increase for the corporations. [160]

The agribusiness and food corporations controlling these vertically integrated ‘clusters’ have also gained control over decision- making throughout the food system; how much food is produced, what is produced, how it is produced and for whom. It is company profits, of course, that determine the outcome of these decisions, not the well being of farmers or the welfare of the public. Companies like Cargill are working to build a food system that is primarily self serving.[161] It has economic power over both suppliers and customers as well as political power over governments, especially the US government, which mean that it can successfully shape global trade policies in its own interests.

Since agribusiness and small farmers have opposing interests, the success of the corporations necessarily comes at the expense of small farmers. Farmers need to be able to keep their production costs low and to maximise the price at which they sell their produce. Agribusiness with its more diversified interests is looking for market share, high volume sales and low commodity prices. For a business such as Cargill, high grain prices only make it more expensive to feed cattle and pigs or to make flour, eating into the company’s profits overall.[162]

Contract farming in the US – hired hands on their own land

Like their counterparts in the UK, US farmers are in financial trouble and are finding it difficult to gain market access because of corporate concentration in the food processing industry. To be sure of a market for their produce many farmers, particularly in the pork and poultry sectors, have turned to contract farming for the big agribusiness corporations. The proportion of US agriculture carried out under contract has increased from 10 to 35% in the last two decades.[163]

While agribusiness corporations are involved in most aspects of the food system they have not involved themselves in direct farm production.

The risks of farming – weather, pests disease etc – are too high, so instead agribusiness corporations such as Cargill and ConAgra aim to externalise these risks by making production contracts with farmers. With so much power in the food system and with farmers in such a precarious financial position, the corporations can make ‘take it or leave it’ contracts in which the company takes control over all management decisions on the farm. Contracted farmers no longer own their own animals, and feed and veterinary supplies are provided by the company. The company decides the feed ration, the timing of the production schedule and the weight of the animals at slaughter. It even tells farmers what type of chicken sheds or hog buildings they must invest in in order to win the contract.

When the animals are ready for slaughter they are transported to the company’s processing plant and the farmer is paid what is left after deduction of all the company’s charges.[164]

Essentially the corporation bears none of the risks of food production but passes them all on to the farmer. Many US farmers say they have effectively become ‘hired hands’ to the corporations. Beef farmers argued that production contracts and other ‘captive supply’ techniques that don’t require open-market bidding had systematically depressed prices and were hurting farmers. Fed up with the rough deal they were getting from the big corporations they successfully sued Tyson Foods, the largest meat company in the US.[165]

Is contract farming for big corporations the future for UK farmers as well?

The power of the UK supermarkets

‘Humanity is born free but everywhere is in supermarket chains buying 14.7cm long carrots stripped of dirt, geography, effort, labour stripped of content, context, joy and flavour buying 14.7cm long carrots stripped of carrothood’

Steven Hancock ‘All power to the allotment’, in Between Poems, Pig and Ink Books 2000

Retail Feudalism

The impact of corporate concentration on most UK farmers comes not from agribusiness corporations or food processors but primarily from the highly concentrated supermarket sector which wields an enormous amount of power over farmers.

This power is weilded not only on price but through demands for consistency of supply and compliance with stringent ‘quality’ standards, which allow for more efficient processing and marketing of food, but are more difficult for small farmers to comply with.

Over the past 40 years food sales have dramatically shifted from small independent shops to huge supermarket chains.

Supermarkets began to gain ground in the 1960s aided initially by the abolition of retail price maintenance and increasing post war affluence and consumption and more recently by changing lifestyles (the decline of the traditional family, more women working outside the home and the demand for one-stop shopping and cheap convenience foods). In 1960 small independent retailers had a 60% share of the food retail market. By 2000, their share was reduced to 6% while the multiples’ share increased to 88%.[166] Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation says that we are witnessing the death of small and independent retailers and a new retail feudalism is emerging as a handful of brands take over our shopping.[167]

With the recently announced takeover of Safeway by Morrisons, the UK grocery retailing sector has become even more concentrated. Four supermarkets now control 75% of food sales (Tesco 25.8%, Sainsbury 17.2%, Asda-Walmart 16.6%, Morrisons 15.8%)[168]. This concentration of the grocery retailing sector has produced a situation in which a small number of large supermarket chains ruthlessly exploit their substantial buying power. Farmers are in an extremely weak negotiating position and are frequently paid less than the costs of production (see section ‘Producing more, but earning less’ on page 8).

Farmers used to have some bargaining power on the basis of seasonality, but imports and glasshouses have destroyed this advantage. With the globalisation of the trade in food, supermarkets shop around the globe looking for the best price. They employ researchers to discover what the average cost of production is for a particular crop world wide, they then conduct ‘blind’ auctions over the internet.[169] Farmers do not not know what price has been tendered by other producers and this forces them to offer their produce at a low price to ensure a sale. Producers of perishable foods are especially vulnerable. Supermarkets dictate not only how much they will pay, but also how the produce will be packaged, stored and delivered.[170]

Only multinational food corporations and companies with successful brands have any leverage with the big retailers. Supermarkets have farmers over a barrel. They either accept the supermarkets prices and terms or they don’t trade. Even Tony Blair has admitted that supermarkets have farmers in an ‘armlock’.[171]

Dedicated supermarket supply chains

Supermarkets have brought their buying power to bear on producers not only with respect to prices, but also through supply chain management – their systematic control of the whole food supply chain. Highly sophisticated systems of contracts and specifications and tight managerial control monitor the supply chain, including direct contracts with selected farmers rather than traditional competitive markets, the use of ‘favoured’ slaughterhouses, processing and packing companies and the development of retailer ‘own brand’ foods produced under contract by big food processors.

Tesco was the first supermarket to bypass live auction markets, buying cattle and sheep direct from farmers,[172] but all the big supermarkets now favour buying directly from a small number of selected farmers. These closed contract production systems have become such a large part of the livestock and produce industries that the traditional methods of selling farm produce through wholesalers and livestock markets are in serious decline. While some farmers appear to be benefiting from these dedicated supermarket supply chains, the majority of farmers have been marginalised by the consequent collapse in the wholesale market and a lack of alternative markets for their produce.[173]

Selling through live auction markets was still dominant in the 1960s and over 800 markets operated in the UK, but by March 2001 only 170 remained.[174] A survey by the Meat and Livestock Commission in 2002 suggests that less than 20% of cattle are now sold through cattle markets and only 35% of lambs.[175] The closure of livestock markets is also destroying the viability of market towns and further isolating farmers, from their communities as they no longer come into town every week to the market.

While many may applaud the closure of livestock markets on the grounds of cruelty and their replacement by alternatives such as electronic selling,[176] there has also been a decline in the number of slaughterhouses which means that animals must often travel long distances by truck to be slaughtered. In 1967 there were over 3,000 slaughterhouses in the UK, but by March 2001 only 520 were still in operation.

This is partly the result of increased competition and rising hygiene standards following Britain’s membership of the EU but also because the big supermarkets have forced farmers into direct supply contracts via favoured slaughterhouses, such as Tesco associated slaughterhouse St Merryn Meats.[183] The decline in the number of slaughterhouses is also making it difficult for farmers to trade locally.

Who has the power in the UK bread sector?

The level of corporate concentration and vertical integration in the UK bread and flour industry is extremely high. A handful of grain merchants; Allied Grains (part of Associated British Foods (ABF)), Grain Farmers, Dalgety, Banks- Cargill and Glencore control wheat purchasing from UK farmers (there are 63,000 cereals farmers in the UK[177]) and sell on to the flour millers. Just two companies Rank Hovis (part of RHM) and Archer Daniels Midland Milling account for more than 50% of bread flour milled in the UK.[178]

The factory (‘plant bread’) industry produces 81% of the bread eaten in the UK.[179] This sector is controlled by two companies: Allied Bakeries (part of ABF) and British Bakeries (part of RHM) who have 55% of the total bread market by value, producing bread under their own brands and for supermarket own-labels.

The big supermarkets are the major retailers of bread and account for about 70% of UK bread sales of which 50% is own-label bread, produced by the big plant bakeries and 18% is produced by in-store bakeries.[180] To increase their share of the retail grocery market, the big supermarkets have sold bread as a ‘loss leader’, i.e. at below cost, for a number of years. Bread prices have fallen by 28% in real terms since 1995.

Although the level of corporate concentration and vertical integration in the bread chain is very high, no one seems to be making a large profit from it. Certainly farmers are not: they have considerably less bargaining power than the big corporations and as a consequence the farmgate price for bread wheat is well below the cost of production.

Supermarkets, with their large share of bread sales, are controlling the sector by maintaining very low bread retail prices. To retain their profit margins the supermarkets put the squeeze on suppliers and ultimately farmers. Unwilling to increase retail bread prices because of fierce competition for retail market share, the price of bread in the supermarkets has become disconnected from the price of the raw materials and production costs. According to the Scottish Association of Master Bakers in their submission to the Competition Commission on Supermarkets, the supermarkets blatantly abuse their power over suppliers, expecting them to absorb overheads so that the supermarkets can maintain their profits.[181] The combination of retailer power and persistent below-cost selling policies is blamed for devaluing the bread sector and forcing down factory gate (and farmgate) prices.[182]

Supermarket exploitation of farmers

The superior bargaining power of the supermarkets means that they frequently fail to enter into fair contracts with suppliers who are at the whim of constantly changing packaging and quality demands. Many farmers have stories to tell of their exploitation at the hands of the supermarkets but for fear of being blacklisted, most are unwilling to speak out publicly about their plight. For example, an anonymous farmer selling cauliflowers to a supermarket had his entire crop rejected due to excessive quality standards. He had a problem with caterpillars and the supermarket told him he couldn’t use pesticides to eliminate them but that he could use a bio-pest control, the Encarsia wasp. This caused no damage to the cauliflowers, but the occasional dead wasp was left on them. The supermarket rejected the whole batch of cauliflowers (because of the wasps) as not up to their quality standards.[184]

In 2000, the Competition Commission examined the many anonymous complaints from farmers that they were being subjected to excessive or unreasonable demands from supermarkets.

In its report the Commission cited 30 ways in which supermarkets exploited their power over producers.[185] These included ‘requests’ for ‘over-riders’ and retrospective discounts, ‘requests’ for promotion expenses, making changes to contractual arrangements without adequate notice, late payment of invoices and unreasonably transferring risks from the supermarket to the supplier. Despite these findings the Commission failed to impose any sanctions on supermarkets.

They did however propose the setting up of a code of practice between the supermarkets and their suppliers. However, according to farmers and small processors, the voluntary code agreed between the Office of Fair Trading and the big four supermarkets has failed to curb the power of the supermarkets.[186] A long-awaited review of the code by the Office of Fair Trading is due out in spring 2004.

For further information see the Corporate Watch publication ‘What’s Wrong With Supermarkets?'[187]

Who has the power in the UK dairy sector?

The small number of companies dominating both dairy processing (currently six processors control 93% of the industry) and retailing (six supermarkets control 65% of liquid milk and 70-85% of dairy produce sales) means that there is a significant imbalance of market power in the UK dairy sector. The dairy processors and supermarkets are able to exert considerable pressure on the 29,000 comparatively much smaller dairy farm businesses, consistently forcing the farmgate milk price below the cost of production.

Supermarkets have brought their buying power to bear not only on dairy farmers but also on the dairy processors through consolidation of the retail sector (horizontal integration) and through their increasing control of the dairy supply chain (vertical integration). The biggest supermarkets have increased their power in the dairy sector by becoming directly involved in milk processing through the development of ownbrand milk and milk products in association with the big milk processors.

The six largest supermarkets are all supplied with own brand milk by just three big milk processors (Arla/Express, Dairy Crest and Robert Wiseman). Supermarket purchasing power is putting increasing pressure on dairy processors’ profit margins and the big processors are falling over themselves to get an even bigger share of the market supplying own-brand dairy products to the supermarkets. While processors are powerful in relation to farmers, the processor must take the price offered by the supermarket or the buyer will simply go elsewhere. The big processors have a perishable product to sell and currently have excess liquid milk processing capacity; competition to fill that capacity plays into the hands of the supermarkets. [188] The supermarkets essentially have a small but interchangeable pool of milk suppliers and are in a strong position to dictate the terms of supply and to switch between suppliers.

The farmgate price of fresh milk has declined since 1995. Despite the falling price for raw milk, both supermarkets and processors have maintained their selling prices and increased their respective profit margins at the expense of both farmers and consumers over the same period (see table below).

In 2002, Tesco and Asda, under pressure from dairy farmers, announced that the farmgate price for milk should be increased by 2ppl.[189] Dairy processors came under pressure from the supermarkets to pass on this 2ppl price increase directly to farmers.[190] However neither supermarkets nor processors were willing to cut into their profits to support dairy farmers. In the end it was consumers who were forced to pay; the retail price of fresh milk was raised by 2ppl.

Overall the power in the UK dairy sector resides primarily with the big supermarkets and to a lesser extent with the big dairy processors; dairy farmers and consumers are the clear losers.

Milk Price Indices at the Farmgate, Factory Gate and Retail Checkout (1995=100) [191]

Farm Gate Factory Gate Retail Checkout
1995 100 100 100
1996 101.6 101.6 99.56
1997 89.7 102.6 97.07
1998 78.71 102.6 94.46
1999 74.78 95.0 94.71
2000 69.11 94.5 94.93
2001 80.67 99.9 101.39Source


Corporate Crimes:Du Pont,Agent Orange & Monsanto

“We will never compromise our core values – safety and environmental excellence, integrity, high ethical standards and treating people fairly and with respect. They are our foundation. We must continually strive to find ways to enhance them.”[1]

However critics of the company see them in a somewhat different light:
“The business of Du Pont has been dangerous from the start”
Philip Mattera, World Class Business, 1992[2]

“The company has consistently treated the long-term interests of humanity as largely irrelevant” Curtis Moore, Former Counsel to the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works,[3]

There is hardly a single chemical toxin in which DuPont has not played a major role in developing. “The company pioneered the production of sulphur dioxide, leaded petrol, CFC’s and recently deep well injection of hazardous waste. The company then used dubious science, political manipulation and cover up to avoid restrictions on their use.” [4] During its 200 years of existence, DuPont has committed a staggering amount of corporate crimes (far too many to mention here). The following section contains just a selection of these.
Arms manufacturing

DuPont began life as a gunpowder company and has made an incredible amount of money from arms manufacturing over the course of its existence (see History). The company has made major contributions to the development of plastic and other forms of explosives, gun and rocket propellants, chemical warfare and the atomic bomb.[5] The 1996 International Defence Directory cites DuPont as providing synthetic plastics, rubber and textiles to the defence industry.[6] According to the Ethical Matters magazine website, DuPont was one of the companies that manufactured the defoliant Agent Orange that devastated human health and the environment in Vietnam. The company also ran chemical warfare plants for the US government.[7]
Control of the food chain

Attempting to monopolise food production
Now the largest seed company in the world, DuPont is exerting increasingly more control over the human food chain. The company supplies seeds, agricultural inputs and also owns food-processing technologies. Recently Dupont and Monsanto decided to live in sync by sharing their proprietary agricultural biotechnologies with one another. The decision was met with alarm by the ETC Group, which believes that the quasi-merger will result in less choice for farmers, at the same or higher prices. Hope Shand, Research Director at the ETC, expressed concern that the companies “are being allowed to create global technology cartels that run below the radar screens of anti-trust regulators.”[8]

In 2000, the Foundation on Economic Trends and the National Family Farm Coalition filed a lawsuit against DuPont and other GM seed producers, on behalf of both U.S. and international farmers who purchased genetically modified (GM) corn and/or soybeans, as well as farmers engaged in farming non-GM crops in the 1999-2000 growing season. They allege that the company was involved in a global cartel engaged in biotech product price-fixing. According to the plaintiffs’ complaint, a 1996 internal Monsanto document known as the “Maize Protection Business Plan” describes how Monsanto, DuPont, Dow Chemical, Novartis and AstraZeneca amongst others, formed a global cartel to monopolise and restrain trade in the GM seed market, effectively precluding additional competitors from entering the marketplace. [9]

Biopiracy and patenting
DuPont owns over 20,000 worldwide patents and over 14,000 worldwide patent applications. In 2001, it was granted almost 500 U.S. patents and over 1,800 international patents.[10] The company has been branded by Greenpeace as the “World-wide leader in biopiracy of plant genetic resources”. ‘Biopiracy’ is the term used to describe the patenting of genes, by private companies, that were originally selected for by indigenous people, using traditional breeding methods. Many developing countries regard this as the theft of their genetic resources, and biopiracy has become an extremely contentious issue in recent years. Greenpeace has accused DuPont of using ‘tricky patents’ (i.e. passing off items as their ‘inventions’ when they quite clearly aren’t) in an attempt to gain control over the most important food crops. They observe that DuPont has “a natural interest both in owning and exploiting plant genetic material, mostly derived from developing countries, and in replacing farmers’ own local varieties with few patented crops – and their often associated inputs.”[11]

A number of cases of DuPont abusing patent law have come to light recently. These include a patent application accepted by the European Patent Office in August 2000 (Patent EP 744888). This covers all maize plants containing over 50% oil, including those produced by traditional breeding methods. The patent also covers any use of these maize varieties, including cultivation, harvesting, and processing, whether for food, animal fodder or industrial use. By obtaining this patent DuPont has managed to pass off any such varieties of maize as its invention. This is despite the fact that such varieties already exist in Latin America, having been obtained through traditional breeding techniques. According to the Mexico based International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), “this patent may considerably impede the development of maize varieties in Latin America.” Dr Sukestoshi Taba from CIMMYT states that the patent could “seriously discourage further research on maize oil content if it is not challenged.”[12]

According to Greenpeace, the maize patent application is just one example of a systematic strategy that DuPont is using to gain control of the most important food crops. Other ‘tricky patents’ that DuPont has filed based on fake ‘inventions’ include:
Describing special plant ingredients (e.g. protein or oil) and claiming all genetic resources with these characteristics.
Changing certain details in hybrid breeding processes and claiming all resulting seeds and plants.
Using cell culture techniques to reproduce plant genetic material and claiming all genetic resources with given characteristics.
Isolating genes in genome databanks and claiming gene sequences as their inventions.
Transferring foreign genes into existing varieties, then claiming all plants and seeds with the inserted genes.[13]

Dupont has also faced heavy criticism for it patenting of the oncomouse – a mouse genetically engineered to carry a cancer-causing gene.[14]

 

Genetically modified (GM) crops
DuPont is shifting a substantial portion of its research and production capacity into what is feared to be a dangerous new form of pollution – the release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment. According to A SEED, the company is currently playing a double tune: at the market level it is attempting to capture crop markets lost by GM crop companies due to lack of consumer confidence, whilst simultaneously moving heavily into GM seeds.[15]

One of the main arguments of GM-proponents is that GM crops are no different to crossbred varieties, which we have had for thousands of years. However, there are some distinct processes, now known as genetic engineering, which, unlike the creation of hybrids and other crossbred varieties, cannot be carried out by farmers. For example, farmers can not exchange genes between different species. On its website DuPont attempts to confuse the issue by suggesting that Pioneer Hi-Bred has been supplying farmers with genetically engineered maize since the 1970s. (http://heritage.dupont.com/touchpoints/tp_1999/overview.shtml) This appears like a deliberate attempt to convince the public that genetic engineering is the same as crossbreeding and therefore to be accepted, and it is a confusion we could do without.

DuPont has been criticised for its use of terminator technology. Terminator has been widely condemned as an immoral technology that threatens global food security, especially for the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed. According to Julie Delahanty of the ETC Group, companies such as DuPont are trying to gain market acceptance for seed sterility as a biosafety tool. This will give them “carte blanche to use it as a monopoly tool for maximising seed industry profits” she argues.[16]

In 1999 Deutsche Bank analysts pointed out that for DuPont “there is more to biotechnology than just ag-biotechnology used for crops to feed humans and/or animals.” The analysts also predicted that “GMO cotton and other fiber crops, which will not enter the food chain, will not draw the attention or focus that corn and soybeans have.” DuPont aims to get 25 percent of its raw materials from biomaterials by 2010, a large portion through the next generation of GMO crops. [17]

Functional Foods
DuPont has been criticised for its marketing of highly processed food products as ‘healthy’.
“Functional foods are about marketing, not health” asserts Professor Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University “My concern is that functional foods will distract people from eating healthy diets and encourage companies to market absurd products as health foods because they contain one or another single nutrient.”[18]
Working conditions

Union Busting
Historically, DuPont was strongly anti-union. In the 1930s, the company crushed any attempts at worker unionisation. Later, DuPont created a series of company-dominated employee-associations.[19] However, the company now claims to have improved its record dramatically.[20]

Health and Safety
DuPont has a miserable environmental health and safety record and, in the past, has frequently run afoul of occupational safety and health laws.[21] In 1987, the New Jersey Supreme Court found that DuPont had deliberately concealed medical records identifying that several workers were suffering illnesses related to asbestos exposure. The same year, DuPont’s then subsidiary Consolidation Coal was cited for ‘reckless disregard’ in reporting worker injuries. Consolidation Coal was also among a group of coal companies fined for falsifying air samples provided to federal inspectors testing for conditions that could cause black lung disease.[22]

In 1999 the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined DuPont $70,000 for Health and Safety record keeping violations at its Seaford DE plant in the US. The company was also ordered to implement a series of Health and Safety improvements. Health and Safety records at the site were investigated in response to a complaint filed by an employee, whose cumulative trauma injury was not acknowledged by the company as work-related. It was found that the company failed to record 117 occupational injury and illness cases during 1997 and 1998 that should have been recorded and that certain cases of injury and illness were recorded incorrectly. [23]

Using prison labour
According to Transnational Obsevatory, DuPont is one of the companies in the US that use prison labour.[24]

Ripping off pensioners
DuPont has been recently been criticised for redesigning its U.S. health-care plan. This has dramatically increased the premiums for the company’s approximately 61,000 retirees and surviving spouses aged 65 and older.[25]

Genetic Screening
In the early 1980s, DuPont was reported to have tested thousands of US workers to determine if any of their genes made them vulnerable to certain chemicals in the workplace.[26] The company also apparently gave blood tests to all black job applicants to determine which were carriers of sickle-cell anaemia.[27]

Moving production to the developing world

DuPont has been criticised in the Multinational Monitor magazine for moving parts of its production to developing countries such as India, where labour is cheaper and environmental laws less strict.[28] The company has also been heavily criticised in the magazine for ignoring the rights of indigenous people in the areas in which it operates.[29] According to the company’s 2001 SEC filing, it has major plants in Puerto Rico, Mexico, Brazil, China and Argentina.[30]

Supporting oppressive regimes
According to the company’s website dated January 9th 2002, DuPont owns subsidiaries in Bosnia, China, Columbia, Croatia, Egypt, Indonesia, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Yugoslavia. These countries are all classified by Ethical Consumer magazine as oppressive regimes. Their classification is based on a ranking system devised by the Observer newspaper, and is based on a range of indicators such as ‘use of torture, political prisoners, denial of religious freedoms and extra-judicial killings.’[31]

DuPont’s expansion into Turkey has been partially financed by the IFC (the International Finance Corporation – a branch of the World Bank). The IFC provided a loan $22.5million for the Dusa 2 Nylon expansion project, the primary sponsors of which are DuPont and the Sabanci group of Turkey.[32]

DuPont’s nylon plant in Goa
DuPont was voted one of the Worst Companies of 1995 by Multinational Monitor because of its activities in Goa, India. In 1985 DuPont formed a partnership with the Indian company Thapar to build a $217 million factory to make nylon 6,6 (a tyre ingredient) in the uplands of Goa. This venture set out on the wrong foot as far as community relations were concerned. The investors managed to get the State Economic Development Corporation to take over the factory site from a co-operative and then lease it to Thapar-DuPont Ltd. (TDL) in exchange for a State stake in the enterprise.[33]

Since industrial chemical concerns had been heightened in India since Union Carbide’s Bhopal disaster, TDL took out a full page advertisement in a local newspaper, proclaiming: “We will not handle, use, sell, transport, or dispose of a product unless we can do it in an environmentally sound manner.” What the advertisement neglected to say was that DuPont’s contract with TDL exempted it from liability for environmental claims or a Bhopal-style industrial accident.[34]

Activists from the environmental group the Goa Foundation managed to intercept an electronic message from DuPont to Goan project manager Sam Singh. The message acknowledged that the company had not taken appropriate measures to ensure four critical types of pollution control for the plant: groundwater protection, waste water treatment, solid waste recycling and air pollution control. Indian activists also acquired information concerning the hazardous chemicals that TDL was planning to use at the Goa facility and decided that they did not want the company as a neighbour. They first stormed the construction site in October 1994. Despite police repression, the protests continued into January 1995, when protesters refused to allow a bus load of US DuPont officials onto the factory site. Police responded by opening fire, killing 25 year-old Nilesh Naik. Naik’s funeral was held at the factory site. Before his funeral pyre was lit, somebody blew up the factory’s electricity generator.[35]

Finally getting the message, TDL began negotiating to reopen the factory elsewhere. In June 1995, it signed a memorandum of understanding with the state of Tamil Nadu to relocate the factory near Madras. S.N. Krishnan, the plant director, told the Indian paper Frontline that in the new plant 95% of the effluents would be recycled for use by the plant (compared to 70% at the Goan plant). Opposition in Tamil Nadu focussed on environmental concerns as well as the incentives that the State offered the company. These included: 150 acres of land, electricity at one-third of the usual industrial rate, a commitment of one million gallons of water a day and other subsidies and tax concessions.[36] In 1999 DuPont decided to cease Nylon production in India altogether, citing financial concerns as the reason for the decision.[37]

Endangering the public’s health

Numerous DuPont products and the pollution caused by their production have been implicated in a range of different health problems, including cancer and birth defects (see also Pollution).
DuPont has faced criticism for endangering the health of both its employees and the public (see also Working Conditions).

According to the Working Group on the Community’s Right to Know, a 1998 analysis of ten DuPont chemical plants shows that up to seven million people in surrounding communities are at risk from potential worst-case chemical accidents. The analysis of the plants’ hazards addressed three chemicals commonly associated with chemical accidents -chlorine, ammonia, and hydrofluoric acid.[38]
Irresponsible waste disposal
DuPont has an appalling record of irresponsible waste disposal although it is impossible to quantify how many people’s lives have been adversely affected by the company’s dash for profits at any cost.

In 1990 it was revealed that a former DuPont landfill site, in Newport, New Castle County, Delaware had contaminated the groundwater both on and off the site, with heavy metals, including barium, cadmium, and zinc, as well as trichloroethylene and tetrachloroethylene. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the pollution potentially threatened the water supply of 131,000 people.[39]

DuPont is one of the companies that operates in what has become known as “Chemical Valley” in Sarnia, Ontario. Chemicals discharged into the St. Clair River from this site include mercury, chlorinated organics, volatile hydrocarbons, PCBs and lead. The high levels of birth defects and cancer among indigenous residents on Walpoe Island have been attributed to pollution from the site.[40]

In 1998 DuPont was ordered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to carry out a $65 million clean up of its Necco Park landfill site near Niagara Falls. This was necessary due to concerns regarding hazardous liquid seepage from the site.[41]

Pesticide production
Some of the chemicals used in pesticides produced and marketed by DuPont have been linked to brain damage and disruption of the hormone system. [42] The company has also faced a string of lawsuits in recent years, brought by parents whose children were born without eyes. These defects are alleged to have occurred due to the children’s mothers being exposed to the fungicide Benlate whilst pregnant (See Benlate).[43]

In 1994 DuPont agreed to phase out its toxic herbicide Cyanazine by 1999, when the US EPA discovered that it and other related herbicides were contaminating drinking water in parts of the US.[44] DuPont’s Sulfonylurea (SU) Herbicides, which it bills as environmentally sound and cost-effective, have also been found to be toxic according to studies by the US EPA and the National Coalition against the Misuse of Pesticides. These chemicals may also contaminate surface and ground waters, due to their high solubility in water and low soil absorption.[45]

DuPont has been criticised for exporting pesticides to developing countries, such as DDT, aldrin, clordane, and clorobenzolate, that have been banned in the US. However, even pesticides that are considered scientifically ‘safe’ can be dangerous in these areas. Due high illiteracy levels, farmers may ignore, or not understand, warning labels or instructions for proper use. Pesticides applied in too large doses, or to the wrong crops result in lethal consequences.[46] DuPont was recently fined $1.89 million by the US EPA for shipping pesticides on 380 occasions, without adequate labelling specifying that protective eyewear should be used when handling the product.[47]

Lead paint
The company is one of several facing dozens of lawsuits seeking recovery of lead paint damage and cleanup costs. State, county and local governments in New Jersey and Rhode Island in the US argue that lead paint manufacturers should have known and warned of health dangers.[48]

Formaldehyde
DuPont is a major producer of formaldehyde. This chemical is a known carcinogen and is also implicated in other health problems such as respiratory illness. Despite this, DuPont has vigorously fought efforts to get the chemical banned, using spurious science and disinformation. It is one of the companies that provided funding for the Formaldehyde Institute, a corporate front group set up to defend the chemical (see Influencing Research and Education).[49]

Dioxins
DuPont and other chemical companies have been accused of trying to suppress evidence regarding the severe toxicity of dioxins, hardly surprising given the quantities of these carcinogens they churn out every year. [50] Recently, residents in Mississippi, in the US, threatened a $3 billion lawsuit against DuPont, claiming damage from dioxin pollution. The pollution was left in wastes similar to those found piled near DuPont’s Edge Moor titanium dioxide plant in Delaware in 2001, for which the US EPA is forcing DuPont to pay approximately $12.4 million in remediation costs.[51]

Pollution
(see also Endangering the public’s health)

DuPont has an appalling pollution record and is responsible for the production of a wide range of polluting chemicals. In 1999 DuPont was listed by the US Public Interest Research Groups as one of the ‘Dirty Five’ – the five biggest polluters in the US – that together spent $6,523,677 over the period 1991-1998 in lobbying Congress, the House of Representatives and Superfund-related committees in order to prevent stricter legislation (see Influence).

In 1996 DuPont’s proposal to dispose of 85 tons of toxic pollutants a year into the Guadalupe River in Texas prompted a local shrimper, Dianne Wilson, to go on hunger strike for 31 days. The proposal related to a DuPont facility, which already disposed of 20 million gallons of wastewater a day, mainly through seven underground injection wells. Ms Wilson argued that “DuPont’s decision to begin toxic discharge into the Guadalupe River threatens an already sick bay. There is no need for this. Zero discharge is possible right now. All I am asking is that DuPont do a feasibility study to find out what it would take to achieve zero wastewater discharge from its Victoria plant.” DuPont however refused to accede to Wilson’s demands. This is despite the fact that independent research has demonstrated that virtually any petrochemical plant can go to zero water discharge with an additional capital investment of about 2 percent. [52]

In March 1991, the area around DuPont’s Quimica Fluor plant in Matamoros, Mexico, was judged so toxic that the Mexican President ordered 30,000 people to give up their homes in order to create a two mile buffer zone around the site. The company paid $2.16 million to nearby farmers whose crops were damaged by toxic releases.[53]

Oil exploration
Although DuPont has now sold its oil subsidiary Conoco, in the past this company was responsible for its fair share of environmental devastation and had an appalling Health and Safety record.[54] Since DuPont today still remains heavily dependent on the oil industry to provide it with the raw materials of its business, the company must shoulder its share of the blame for the atrocities committed by its suppliers.

Global warming and carbon trading
Through its production of energy intensive petrochemical-based synthetic fibres, DuPont is a major contributor to global warming.[55] The company produces large quantities of the greenhouse gases CO2, N2O (which has 310 times the warming effect of CO2), HFCs and PFCs[56]. DuPont is also reported to have provided funding for the Global Climate Coalition, a global fossil-fuel lobby set up by Burson-Marsteller in 1989 in an attempt to discredit scientific evidence for global warming.[57]

More recently, DuPont has been making a small fortune at the taxpayers expense through the new UK emissions trading scheme. This year the company looks set to walk away with £26.7 million of taxpayers’ money by bidding in emissions targets that have already been met as a result of regulatory requirements. According to the ENDS Report, the company looks set to meet its emissions target without lifting a finger and stands to make millions more by selling emissions credits of “dubious integrity”.[58]

3 case studies:

The following three examples show just how far DuPont is prepared to go to keep its toxic products on the market, regardless of their detrimental effects on human health and the environment.

· Tetraethyl lead
In the 1920s DuPont and General Motors developed tetraethyl lead, also known as ethyl, to help car engines run more smoothly (see History and Strategy). The product has been labelled by the World Health Organisation as “the mistake of the 20th Century”.[59] The lead ingredient of leaded petrol, TEL is said to account for 80-90% of all environmental lead contamination and is known to retard the mental development of children, cause hypertension in adults and impair coordination.[60] According to Curtis Moore, former counsel to US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, leaded gasoline “has irrevocably damaged the intelligence of two generations of American children and is responsible for 50,000 deaths a year by heart attack and stroke”.[61]

The chemical was discovered to be dangerous to human health quite early on. In 1924, reports broke out that 80 percent of workers involved in the production of TEL at DuPont and Standard Oil plants had been killed or severely poisoned. When TEL was pulled off the market, DuPont ran a series of advertisements in Life magazine, and managed to reverse the decision after a hearing in which it called TEL an “apparent Gift of God”. To entrench its market position, DuPont introduced a new car engine that ran only on leaded petrol. The product was finally banned half a century later, after scientists conclusively proved its detrimental affects. In December 1988, the US Department of Justice sought to collect $9.2 million from DP for illegally blending excessively high levels of lead into gasoline between 1983-1985.[62]

Once banned in the US in the 1980s, DuPont exported TEL to other countries where it was not banned. With Pemex, the Mexican Oil Company, it exported TEL to Latin America. DuPont finally sold its 40% shares in the production plant in Coatzalcoalcos, Mexico in 1992. According to the Council on Economic Priorities 1993 report on DuPont, the company has “aggressively promoted the use of leaded gasoline”.[63]

· Ozone depletants (CFCs, HCFCs)
“The parallel’s between DuPont’s handling of CFCs and Ethyl are striking. Both were invented by the same team in the same lab at roughly the same time…the DuPont company adopted similar strategies to maintain sales of these environmentally hazardous products. In both cases, DuPont answered critics’ concerns about health and environmental hazards with bold faced denials.”
Curtis Moore, Multinational Monitor, 3/1990[64]

CFCs were developed and patented by DuPont in the 1930s. In 1993, the company supplied 25% of the global CFC market and almost 50% of the US market. When ozone depletion was identified in 1974, DuPont was prominent in downplaying the scientific findings and in “orchestrating a political campaign to forestall regulation.”[65] At the same time the company was investing in researching alternatives. To strengthen the commercial sector drive for a non-regulatory approach, DuPont used its network to establish the Alliance for Responsible CFC Policy.[66] However, as the threat of federal legislation died down with the Reagan Administration, DuPont put a stop to its $3-4 million research programme for alternatives.[67]

In 1988, when pressure against the use of CFCs again began to mount, DuPont pledged to cease CFC production by 2000. As part of its solution strategy, the company put forward two of its products – Hydrochloroflourocarbons (HCFCs) and Hydroflourocarbons (HFCs) as substitutes for CFCs. At the time, neither of these chemicals were regulated by the Montreal Protocol or the US Environmental Protection Agency. HCFCs, however, have proven to be ozone depleters and greenhouse gases, while HFCs are potent greenhouse gases. As HCFCs and HFCs began to be criticised for their environmental effects, DuPont once again launched a multi-pronged strategy to ensure weak regulation and a distant phase-out.[68]

According to a 1996 Third World Network (TWN) report, DuPont will continue to manufacture CFCs in the US and other industrialised countries for export to the less-industrialised world until 2010. The company will also continue the use of HCFCs in industrialised countries until 2030, with no termination date set for less industrialised countries. The company is still also involved in the production of HFCs. [69] According to Jack Doyle from TWN “DuPont is probably most culpable for stringing out the CFC era for its own business reasons and for delaying a shift to safe alternatives.”[70]

· Benlate
On April 19th 2001 DuPont announced that by the end of the year it would stop selling the fungicide Benlate, after 33 years on the market. The company cited the high legal cost of defending the product as the reason for its decision. Litigation and settlement charges relating to the compound have cost the company approximately $1 billion over the last ten years. DuPont has set aside additional money to cover future losses and litigation expenses, bringing the total financial cost to $1.3 billion dollars.[71]

DuPont’s problems with the fungicide began in 1992 when it recalled its Benlate 50DF fungicide, in response to complaints from more than 2,100 US growers that the chemical had ruined their crops and land. The fungicide is believed to have been contaminated with a herbicide. By November of that year the company had paid more than $510 million in damages. The company then abruptly stopped payments however, claiming that its own tests showed that Benlate could not have caused the damage. As a result, more than 400 lawsuits were filed against the company in 21 states. Since then the company has been reprimanded five times by US for abusive litigation tactics and misconduct, including concealing evidence that supported the growers’ claims. DuPont was accused of shredding documents, destroying dead and dying plants, mislabelling documents and producing illegible records in an effort to withhold the results.[72]

In one of the cases US District Court Judge J. Robert Elliot fined DuPont $115 million. In his decision Elliot wrote that “Put in layperson’s terms DuPont cheated…and it cheated deliberately and with purpose.”[73] In August 2001, a Florida jury found the company liable under Florida’s racketeering statute (this allows plaintiffs to recover treble damages where they can prove a continuing pattern of fraud) and for product defect involving alleged crop damage. Plaintiffs are seeking to have judgement entered for about $88.5 million. As of 2001, DuPont plans to appeal.[74]

Twenty-eight cases are also pending against DuPont in the State Court in Broward County, Florida. These cases were brought by Ecuadorian shrimp farmers, who allege that Benlate run-off from banana plantations poisoned their shrimp farms. The company lost two cases to the shrimp farmers in the autumn of 2000 and in early 2001, and was ordered to pay $10.2 million and $12.3 million respectively. The company has appealed both cases. DuPont contends that the injuries alleged are attributable to a virus, Taura Syndrome Virus, and in no way involved Benlate. The untried cases are on hold awaiting resolution by the appellate court of the case tried in 2000.[75]

There are also concerns about the impact of Benlate on human health. The company has faced a string of lawsuits in recent years, brought by parents whose children were born without eyes. These defects are alleged to have occurred due to the children’s mothers being exposed to the fungicide Benlate whilst pregnant.[76] Reports in the UK from the Pesticides Trust indicate that the fungicide can cause eye birth defects at high dose exposure.[77]

The whole Benlate affair is a constant headache to DuPont, with approximately 110 cases pending and no end in site. Nevertheless the company still purports that “Benlate did not cause the damages alleged in these cases” and “denies the allegations of fraud and misconduct.”[78]Source


'Monsanto Protection Act' to grant biotech industry total immunity over GM crops?

(NaturalNews) While millions of Americans were busy celebrating freedom from tyranny during the recent Independence Day festivities, Monsanto was actively trying to thwart that freedom with new attacks on health freedom. It turns out that the most evil corporation in the world has quietly attached riders to both the 2012 Farm Bill and the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill that would essentially force the federal government to approve GMOs at the request of biotechnology companies, and prohibit all safety reviews of GMOs from having any real impact on the GMO approval process.

The Alliance for Natural Health – USA (ANH-USA), the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), and several other health freedom advocacy groups have been actively drawing attention to these stealth attacks in recent days, and urging Americans to rise up and oppose them now before it is too late. If we fail to act now as a single, unified community devoted to health freedom, in other words, America’s agricultural future could literally end up being controlled entirely by the biotech industry, which will have full immunity from the law.

You can fight back now against these threats to food freedom by visiting:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25711.cfm

Full exemption from the law for the biotech industry
Authored by Congressmen and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Related Agencies Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill rider, known as the “farmer assurance provision” (Section 733), specifically outlines that the Secretary of Agriculture will be required, upon request, to “immediately” grant temporary approval or deregulation of a GM crop, even if that crop’s safety is in question or under review.

In other words, if the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is strong-armed into approving a new GM crop that is later legally challenged in court (which is basically what happened for GM sugar beets and GM alfalfa), the Secretary of Agriculture, under the provisions of the Kingston rider, will be required to approve the cultivation and sale of that crop anyway, even if a higher court has already ordered a moratorium on that crop.

“A so-called ‘Monsanto rider,’ quietly slipped into the multi-billion dollar FY 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, would require — not just allow, but require — the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for the planting or cultivation of a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is completed,” wrote Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins in a recent piece for AlterNet.

“All the farmer or the biotech producer has to do is ask, and the questionable crops could be released into the environment where they could potentially contaminate conventional or organic crops and, ultimately, the nation’s food supply.”

You can read the rider for yourself, which begins on page 86, Sec. 733 of the following document:
http://appropriations.house.gov

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Or.) introduces amendment to kill ‘Monsanto Protection Act’
According to the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations website, the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, with the Kingston rider, was already approved by the committee on June 19. (http://appropriations.house.gov) But it will move next to the House floor, where debate and further amendment proposals will take place — this means there is still time to fight it.

One amendment being proposed by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Or.) seeks to altogether eliminate the Kingston rider, which has now been dubbed by the health freedom community as the Monsanto Protection Act, from the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. You can urge your Congressmen to support Rep. DeFazio’s amendment to kill the Monsanto Protection Act by emailing (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25711.cfm) or calling (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25778.cfm) them.

Committee Farm Bill riders would destroy safeguards that protect farmers, environment from untested GMOs
Another serious food freedom threat exists in the House Agriculture Committee’s discussion draft of the contentious 2012 Farm Bill, where Monsanto et al. have inserted key language, via corrupt legislators of course, that will dismantle existing federal law as it pertains to regulating GM crops, and replace it with a free-for-all system where biotech giants are basically free to grow and market whatever GMOs they please without resistance or legal challenge.

“Deliberately buried in the House Agriculture Committee’s voluminous discussion draft of the 2012 Farm Bill, these significant changes to the Plant Protection Act (PPA) — one of the few statutes that regulate GE crops — will counter the gains that have been made to protect our food supply and the farmers who grow it,” writes Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety (CFS), one of the key groups fighting back against this Monsanto sneak attack.

“The provisions (Sections 10011, 10013 and 10014) would force the rushed commercialization of GE crops, create a backdoor approval for Dow’s ‘Agent Orange’ corn and eliminate any meaningful review of the impacts of these novel crops” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com).

These provisions would explicitly outlaw any review of the environmental or human impacts of GM crops under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or any other environmental laws as well. Only the USDA would be allowed to review the safety of GM crops, and this review process would be so severely neutered that the USDA would essentially operate as a formal “rubber stamp” for approving the biotech industry’s offerings.

Both sets of riders threaten to eliminate every remaining semblance of regulatory power that “We the People” have over our own food system. If passed, these riders will abolish virtually all remaining protections over the American food supply, and allow Monsanto and the rest of Big Ag to completely control what is grown, and how it is grown.

There is still time to fight back against these heinous threats to food freedom, but swift action is necessary to stop Congress from hammering the last few nails into the coffin of American food freedom.

Be sure to contact your Congressmen right now and demand their support for Rep. Peter DeFazio’s amendment to eliminate the Monsanto rider from the 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, as well as their opposition to Sections 10011, 10013 and 10014 of the 2012 Farm Bill:
(http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_25711.cfm)

Sources for this article include:

http://www.anh-usa.org/urgent-action-alert-on-two-gmo-amendments/

http://www.alternet.org

http://rt.com/usa/news/monsanto-bill-immunity-court-862/

http://fooddemocracynow.org

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/036477_Monsanto_immunity_GM_crops.html#ixzz20gVf4uAn

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