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Factory in Perafita, Porto, Portugal. Photo: José Moutinho via Flickr (CC BY).

How a toxic spill and a book launched Britain's environmental movement - the forgotten story

John Clark, University of St Andrews

22nd February 2017

The mass poisoning of farm animals in Kent in 1963 was traced to a factory where a pesticide developed as a WWII chemical warfare agent was manufactured, writes John Clark. The event, so close to the publication of Rachel Carson's 'Silent Spring', galvanised a growing ecological awareness - all the more so as the government's only wish was to hush the matter up. more...
Herbicide spraying in Arkansas, USA. Photo: Kevin Wood via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Suppressed EPA toxicologist: 'it is essentially certain that glyphosate causes cancer'

Carey Gillam

14th February 2017

Letters from an EPA toxicologist to the EPA official in charge of assessing whether glyphosate, the active ingredient of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, causes cancer, reveal accusations of 'staff intimidation' and 'political conniving games with the science' to favour pesticide corporations, writes Carey Gillam. Could this be a game-changer for cancer-suffering plaintiffs? more...
When we can't even properly regulate fairly simple things like the chemicals coming from this plant in Sarnia, Ontario, what chance have we got with truly 'wicked' problems like genes engineered to spread through populations? Photo: Jon Lin Photography vi

Gene drives: the scientific case for a complete and perpetual ban

Jonathan Latham, PhD

13th February 2017

At what point are technologies so complex, uncertain, or unmanageable as to be beyond regulation? The question is key to human and ecological health, writes Jonatham Latham. But instead of learning from successful approaches, such as aviation safety, we are throwing the lessons away when faced with truly complex problems - like chemicals, GMOs, and now 'gene drives'. more...
Monarch butterfly sipping nectar from milkweed. Photo: Sherri VandenAkker via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Monarch butterflies down over a quarter in one year

The Ecologist

10th February 2017

It's been another disastrous year for North America's Monarch butterflies, with the insect's population down 27% in a single year. The sudden decline is blamed on severe winter storms in Mexico, and the impacts of GMO crops, herbicides and insecticides on US farms. more...
After Brexit, currently banned pesticides like atrazine could once again contaminate the British countryside. Photo: Will Fuller via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Fighting the Brexit threat to pesticide laws

Keith Tyrell / PAN UK

8th February 2017

After leaving the EU the government could allow dangerous pesticides banned elsewhere in Europe to be used in the UK, writes Keith Tyrell. Today, Pesticides Action Network is launching a new campaign calling on citizens to fight back against the pesticide industry - and ensure that EU directives and regulations serve as a baseline for British pesticide laws. more...
Pesticide spraying taking place just over the garden fence of a British home. Photo: UK Pesticides Campaign.

Pesticide deregulation - the real reason for Myron Ebell's Number 10 meeting?

Georgina Downs

3rd February 2017

If it wasn't climate change, was the real purpose of the Number 10 meeting of Theresa May's advisors and President Trump's environmental transition supremo Myron Ebell to plan the post-Brexit deregulation of UK farming, including pesticides? That's how it looks, writes Georgina Downs - and we had better begin now to fight for our health, wildlife and environment. more...
Bottles of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller relabeled by Global Justice Now activists, April 2016. Roundup contains glyphosate, a chemical that the WHO classifies as 'probably carcinogenic'. Photo: Global Justice Now via Flickr (CC BY).

On trial: Monsanto's 'alternative facts' about glyphosate

Carey Gillam / USRTK

1st February 2017

Reeling from California's decision to ban glyphosate, fearful of 're-evaluation' by EU and US regulators, and facing ruinous cancer claims in federal courts, the US chemical industry are fighting back, writes Carey Gillam. Their key argument: don't trust independent doctors and scientists - trust us! And as they just told a California court, profit must come before people. more...
Fatty liver disease, obesity, diabetes and 'metabolic syndrome' may be among the human health consequences of eating glyphosate residues in food, if a new study on rats is anything to go by. Photo: Tony Alter via Flickr (CC BY).

Roundup residues in food cause fatty liver disease

Claire Robinson / GMWatch

9th January 2017

Cutting-edge molecular profiling analyses reveal that the popular weedkiller Roundup causes serious liver damage to rats at low doses permitted by regulators, reports Claire Robinson. The findings suggest that residues of glyphosate-based herbicides in food could be linked to rises in the incidence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, obesity, diabetes and 'metabolic syndrome'. more...
Mark VanGessel identifies Palmer Amaranth - now a superweed resistant to Roundup herbicides - in a field of soybeans. But how long before it also develops resistance to dicamba as well? Photo: University of Delaware Carvel REC via Flickr (CC BY).

Lawsuit challenges Monsanto's 'back to the future' toxic herbicide

Center for Food Safety

25th January 2017

A coalition of farmer and public interest groups are suing the US Environmental Protection Agency for unlawfully approving the use of Monsanto's highly toxic herbicide dicamba on its dicamba-resistant GMO soybeans and cotton, without consulting wildlife and fisheries agencies. more...
The EPA building in Washington DC. Photo: Mark Ordonez via Flickr (CC BY).

EPA's systemic bias in hearings over glyphosate and cancer

Carey Gillam

19th December 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency was on the defensive last week in its hearings to determine whether glyphosate, the word's number one herbicide, causes cancer, writes Carey Gillam, as it stood accused of giving preferential treatment to industry representatives, excluding evidence of cancer links, and refusing testimony from a world expert epidemiologist. more...
A portrait of Luc taken in the Rheinthal (Switzerland) in May 2007.

Heaven's eyes: Luc Hoffmann, unsung hero of nature conservation

James Breiding

23rd November 2016

Born into the wealthy family that founded the Roche pharmaceutical and chemical giant, Luc Hoffman turned his back on the comforts of wealth at an early age, writes James Breiding, and dedicated his life, and his money, to conservation. We all owe a huge debt of gratitude to this man of few words, encyclopedic knowledge, decisive action and unswerving commitment. more...
Bt GMO crops are designed to combat pests like the Helicoverpa armigera moth, which causes A$25 million of damage a year in Australia alone to crops such as cotton, legumes and vegetables. But there is a cost: damage to beneficial soil fungi. Photo: CSIRO

Vital soil fungi damaged by GMO Bt cotton

Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

24th November 2016

A study of GMO cotton varieties shows they disrupt an important beneficial soil fungus, writes Eva Sirinathsinghji, apparently due to the Bt insecticide they are engineered to express. Disruption caused by the transgenic cotton to mycorrhizal fungi, and the wider soil ecosystem, may underlie the low yields and poor pest resistance now endemic among Bt GM crops. more...

pesticide: 1/25 of 176
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A total of 1,378 chemicals are banned for use in cosmetics in the EU, as opposed to a mere 11 in the US. Photo: Agnes via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Europe must resist chemical industry attacks on health and environment

Lora Verheecke & Laura Große

12th October 2016

Chemical and pesticide industry lobbyists are striving to abolish the European precautionary principle in favour of a so-called 'science-based' approach, write Lora Verheecke & Laura Große. If the EU succumbs to the spin, human health and the environment across Europe will be sacrificed to corporate profit. more...
A keyboard player, blind from birth due to a genetic defect induced by Agent Orange, performing at the War Remnants Museum. Photo: Mick Grant.

First Agent Orange, now Roundup: what's Monsanto up to in Vietnam? Ecologist Special Investigation

Mick Grant

10th October 2016

With the International Monsanto Tribunal beginning this week (14-16 October) in The Hague, MICK GRANT reports from Vietnam with this special investigation for The Ecologist five decades after the company's lethal herbicide Agent Orange first devastated the country - and discovers the agribusiness giant is sneaking its way back into Vietnam with modern herbicides and 'Roundup-Ready' GMO crops. more...
Monsanto Graph' in Abode of Chaos by Thierry Ehrmann, Saint Romain en Mont d'Or, France. Photo: Urban Scraper via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Bayer-Monsanto merger - corporate madness or a moment of possibility?

Pat Thomas

19th September 2016

With the Wall Street Journal warning that the GMO crop boom may be over in the face of superweeds, higher seed prices, falling yields and farmer antipathy, writes Pat Thomas, the Monsanto-Bayer merger is a sign of weakness as both companies struggle to deliver growth and profits to match shareholder expectations. We had better be ready to press home our advantage! more...
'Resistance is Fertile - Compost Capitalism !' Banner at Occupy Oakland protest against GMOs, 10th December 2011. Photo: Lily Rhoads via Flickr (CC BY).

Monsanto and Bayer: food and agriculture just took a turn for the worse

Colin Todhunter

16th September 2016

Bayer's $66 billion takeover of Monsanto represents another big click on the ratchet of corporate power over farming and food, writes Colin Todhunter. With the 'big six' of global agribusiness now set to turn into the 'even bigger three', farmers and consumers are facing more GMOs and pesticides, less choice, and deeper price gouging. Agroecology has never looked more attractive. more...
Weeds in farmers' crops - like these poppies in an oilseed rape field near Thirsk - may reduce profit margins - but they are hardly a 'serious danger to plant health'. Photo: James West via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

EFSA creates 'plant health' loophole for banned weedkillers

Oliver Tickell

8th September 2016

The EU's food and farming safety regulator is trying to create a 'back door' system to licence the use of herbicides that have been banned for their toxic impacts on people and wildlife - under a clearly inapplicable 'plant health' exemption. more...
Jerusalem artichoke harvest at Sandy Lane Farm, Oxfordshire. Photo: Sandy lane Farm via Facebook.

Good nutrition begins in healthy soils

Patrick Holden

7th September 2016

There's no such thing as 'healthy food' if it's not produced by sustainable farming systems on living soils, Patrick Holden told the recent 'Food: The Forgotten Medicine' conference. But after 70 years of industrial farming, there's a huge job to be done to restore our depleted soils and the impoverished genetic diversity of our seeds and crops. more...
Suffolk farmland at dusk. Photo: Jimmy - S via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Dark days ahead for British agriculture? Or green shoots of a brighter future?

Keith Tyrell / PAN UK

25th August 2016

With Brexit the UK will have to chose between two visions of our farming future, writes Keith Tyrell. Will it be heavily subsidised corporate agribusiness that ravages both nature and small, high quality farmers. Or will we seize the chance to build a sustainable food and farming system that supports wildlife, landscape, family farms, organic production and diverse rural economies? more...
Monsanto's supply of defoliant chemicals for the US's 'Operation Ranchand' in Vietnam is just the first of the alleged 'crimes' for which the company is facing trial in the peoples' tribunal. Photo: manhhai via Flickr (CC BY).

Holding Monsanto to account: the People's Tribunal

Heidi Chow

4th August 2016

This autumn the Monsanto Tribunal will assemble experts from around the world to set out the evidence against the global mega-corporation, which will stand accused of monstrous 'crimes' against people and the environment. The Tribunal's verdict will not be legally binding - this time. But on a future occasion, it may be. more...

Help to get toxic chemicals banned from our towns, cities, streets and parks

Nick Mole - Pesticides Action Network (PAN) UK

27th June 2016

Last week, as the UK voted itself out of the European Union, Greenpeace called for another exit strategy - a glyphosate exit plan. Nick Mole from PAN UK explains how we can all get involved in a campaign to ban all pesticides - not just glyphosate - in our towns and cities more...

Brexit - a nasty sting in the tail for Britain's bees?

Dave Timms

21st June, 2016

Britain's bees are under threat from Brexit and moves to allow farmers to use banned bee-harming 'neonictinoid' pesticides, warns Dave Timms, Bees Campaigner with Friends of the Earth. With 20 species extinct since 1900 and a further 35 under threat, how much more can our bees take? more...
Are we the real lab rats? If glyphosate herbicides can mess up rats uterine development, what's it doing to humans? Photo: Tatiana Bulyonkova via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Glyphosate disrupts rats' uterine development

GMWatch

21st June 2016

As the EU prepares to vote on whether to re-authorise glyphosate this week, a new study finds that commercial formulations of the herbicide alter the development of rats' uteruses, potentially causing cancer and affecting fertility. more...
Pesticides - what's actually in them? If this judgment from a US federal court stands, you will never find out any but the 'active' ingredients. Photo: Gail Langellotto via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Judge rules: no right to know hazardous pesticide ingredients

Oliver Tickell

14th June 2016

A federal judge has ruled that the US Environmental Protection Agency is under no obligation to force pesticide makers to disclose supposedly 'inert' ingredients in their products - even where those ingredients are seriously hazardous to health or environment. more...

What price cotton? Too high when sustainability standards are not being met

Keith Tyrell, Isabelle Roger and Richard Holland

8th June, 2016

In an independent cotton sustainability ranking released earlier this week by Pesticide Action Network (PAN) UK, Solidaridad and WWF, just eight out of 37 companies make it out of the red zone. Only home furnishing giant IKEA, which tops the list, is in the green zone. more...

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