Monsanto Set to Sue Vermont for Requiring GMO Labeling

OccupyReno MediaCommittee/Flickr Creative CommonsA Monsanto protest in Reno, Nevada

OccupyReno MediaCommittee/Flickr Creative Commons
A Monsanto protest in Reno, Nevada

 

Indian Country Today

 

On May 8, Vermont set history by becoming the first state in the country to require genetically modified (GMO) food to be labeled.

When Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed the bill into law, he released the statement: “We believe we have a right to know what’s in the food we buy.”

But one hurdle still stands in the state’s way: a likely lawsuit from Monsanto, the world’s largest GMO producer.

According to a recent report on labeling requirements from the nonprofit Council for Agricultural Science and Technology, at least 25 states are considering similar legislation, but with trigger clauses like Connecticut and Maine that require multiple other states to pass GMO labeling laws before theirs take effect.

“If Vermont wins, it might not be long until the entire country mandates GMO labeling, giving consumers the information to make their own choices,” states a petition by the SumOfUs community (sumofus.org) that urges people to sign to protest Monsanto suing Vermont for its decision to label GMO foods.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell told Vermont Public Radio in May that he would be “very surprised” if Monsanto doesn’t sue the state, reported the Washington Post. State officials  have even guarded against a lawsuit with a copy.5 million legal defense fund, which would be paid for with settlements won by the state.

Among Monsanto’s outlandish claims is that a labeling requirement would be a violation of the company’s freedom of speech. In recent years, Monsanto has even gone as far as to partner with DuPont and Kraft Foods to grossly outspend and defeat supporters of similar laws in California and Washington, explains sumofus.org.

Sign the SumOfUs petition here.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/06/04/monsanto-set-sue-vermont-requiring-gmo-labeling-155139

Millions March Against Monsanto Calling For Boycott Of GMOs

On May 24, millions of people from around the world participated in the March Against Monsanto, calling for the permanent boycott of genetically engineered foods and other harmful agro-chemicals.

 

By Eco Watch

 

On May 24, millions of people from around the world participated in the March Against Monsanto, calling for the permanent boycott of genetically engineered foods and other harmful agro-chemicals. Marches occurred on six continents, in 52 countries, with events in more than 400 cities, including 47 U.S. states.

Daniel Bissonnette, a very articulate 9-year-old, mesmerized listeners in this must-see video at a Vancouver, Canada, March Against Monsanto event, asking key questions on why children—the most vulnerable age group to ravages of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and pesticide—are subjected to the worst food possible.

“Monsanto’s predatory business and corporate agricultural practices threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity,” said Tami Monroe Canal, founder of March Against Monsanto (MAM) who was inspired to start the movement to protect her two daughters. “MAM supports a sustainable food production system. We must act now to stop GMOs and harmful pesticides.”

GMOs have been partially banned by Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, South America, Russia, France, Switzerland and Costa Rico, and are currently labelled in 62 countries. In India, more than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide after Monsanto’s Bt cotton seeds did not perform as promised. Farmers, left in desperate poverty, are opting to free their families of debt by drinking Monsanto pesticide, thereby ending their lives. Many farmers in other countries are also stripped of their livelihood as a result of false promises, seed patenting and meticulous legal action on the part of Monsanto and other big-ag interests. In many parts of Africa, farmers are left to choose between starving or eating GMOs.

“If we fail to realize that March Against Monsanto is not about GMOs alone, then we have already lost the battle,” said Kelly L. Derricks, founder of March Against Monsanto’s Agent Orange awareness program, which educates supporters on this deadly chemical weapon that Monsanto was the largest manufacturer of during the Vietnam War era.

An Open Letter from World Scientists to All Governments Concerning Genetically Modified Organisms is signed by 828 scientists from 84 countries and details concerns regarding GMOs coupled with a call for an immediate 5-year suspension of GMO crops in order to conduct “a comprehensive public enquiry of agriculture and food security for all.”

Monsanto and Big Food losing the GMO and ‘natural’ food fight

Photo: Kevin Van den Panhuyzen

Photo: Kevin Van den Panhuyzen

 

By Ronnie Cummins, April 24, 2014. Source: Huffington Post

After 20 years of battling Monsanto and corporate agribusiness, food and farm activists in Vermont, backed by a growing movement across the country, are on the verge of a monumental victory — mandatory labels on genetically engineered foods and a ban on the routine industry practice of labeling GMO-tainted foods as “natural.”

On April 16, 2014, the Vermont Senate passed H.112 by a vote of 28-2, following up on the passage of a similar bill in the Vermont House last year. The legislation, which requires all GMO foods sold in Vermont to be labeled by July 1, 2016, will now pass through a House/Senate conference committee before landing on Governor Peter Shumlin’s desk, for final approval.

Strictly speaking, Vermont’s H.112 applies only to Vermont. But it will have the same impact on the marketplace as a federal law. Because national food and beverage companies and supermarkets will not likely risk the ire of their customers by admitting that many of the foods and brands they are selling in Vermont are genetically engineered, and deceptively labeled as “natural” or “all natural” while simultaneously trying to conceal this fact in the other 49 states and North American markets. As a seed executive for Monsanto admitted 20 years ago, “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”

Proof of this “skull and crossbones” effect is evident in the European Union, where mandatory labeling, in effect since 1997, has all but driven genetically engineered foods and crops off the market. The only significant remaining GMOs in Europe today are imported grains (corn, soy, canola, cotton seed) primarily from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Argentina. These grains are used for animal feed, hidden from public view by the fact that meat, dairy and eggs derived from animals fed GMOs do not yet have to be labeled in the EU.

Given the imminent passage of the Vermont legislation and the growing strength of America’s anti-GMO and pro-organic movement, the Gene Giants — Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, BASF, and Syngenta — and the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), representing Big Food, find themselves in a difficult position. Early polls indicate that Oregon voters will likely pass a ballot initiative on Nov. 4, 2014, to require mandatory labeling of GMOs in Oregon. Meanwhile, momentum for labeling continues to gather speed in other states as well.

Connecticut and Maine have already passed GMO labeling laws, but these laws contain “trigger” clauses, which prevent them from going into effect until other states mandate labeling as well. Vermont’s law does not contain a “trigger” clause. As soon as the governor signs it, it will have the force of law.

Divisions Between Big Food and the Gene Giants

Given what appears to be the inevitable victory of the consumer right-to-know movement, some of the U.S.’s largest food companies have quietly begun distancing themselves from Monsanto and the genetic engineering lobby. General Mills, Post Foods, Chipotle, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and others have begun to make changes in their supply chains in order to eliminate GMOs in some or all of their products. Several hundred companies have enrolled in the Non-GMO Project so they can credibly market their products as GMO-free.

At least 30 members (10 percent of the total membership) of the GMA who contributed money to defeat Proposition 37 in California in November 2012, have held back on making further contributions to stop labeling initiatives in other states. Among the apparent defectors in the GMA ranks are: Mars, Unilever, Smithfield, Heinz, Sara Lee, Dole, Wrigley, and Mead Johnson. Under pressure from the Organic Consumers Association, Dr. Anthony Weil’s natural health and supplements company, Weil Lifestyle, pulled out of the GMA.

Meanwhile a number of the Gene Giants themselves, including Monsanto, appear to be slowly decreasing their investments in gene-spliced GMOs, while increasing their investments in more traditional, and less controversial, cross-breeding and hybrid seed sales. Still, don’t expect the Gene Giants to give up on the GMO seeds and crops already in production, especially Roundup Ready and Bt-spliced crops, nor those in the pipeline such as 2,4-D “Agent Orange” and Dicamba-resistant corn and soybeans, GE rice, and “RNA interference” crops such as non-browning apples, and fast-growing genetically engineered trees.

America’s giant food companies and their chemical industry allies understand the threat posed by truthful labeling of GMOs, pesticides, antibiotics, growth promoters and toxic chemicals. They understand full well that the GMO monocrops and factory farms that dominate U.S. agriculture not only pose serious health and environmental hazards, but represent a significant public relations liability as well.

This is why the food and GE giants are threatening to sue Vermont and any other state that dares to pass a GMO labeling bill, even though industry lawyers have no doubt informed them that they are unlikely to win in federal court.

This is also why corporate agribusiness is supporting “Ag Gag” state laws making it a crime to photograph or film on factory farms. Why they’re lobbying for state laws that take away the rights of counties and local communities to regulate agricultural practices. And why they’re supporting secret international trade agreements, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that will, among other provisions, enable multinational corporations to sue and eliminate state and local laws on matters such as GMOs, food safety, and country of origin labeling.

The bottom line is this: Corporate America’s current “business-as-usual” strategies are incompatible with consumers’ right to know, and communities’ and states’ rights to legislate.

Coca-Cola, Pepsi, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Campbell’s, Safeway, Del Monte, Nestlé, Unilever, ConAgra, Wal-Mart, and every food manufacturer with GMO-tainted brands, understand they’re not going to be able to label their products as “produced with genetic engineering,” or drop the use of the term “natural” on GMO-tainted products, only in Vermont, while refusing to do so in other states and international markets. This is why their powerful front group, the GMA, is frantically working in Washington, D.C., to lobby the FDA and the Congress to take away the right of states to require genetically engineered foods and food ingredients to be labeled, and to allow them to continue to label and advertise genetically engineered and chemically-laced foods as “natural” or “all natural.”

Industry’s Last Chance: Indentured Politicians

Conspiring with the GMA, Monsanto’s minions from both the Republican and Democratic parties in Congress, led by the notorious Koch brothers mouthpiece, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), introduced in early April in the House a GMA-scripted bill to outlaw mandatory state GMO labels and allow the continued use of “natural” or “all natural” product labels on a wide range of Frankenfoods and beverages.

The GMA’s federal offensive to prop up the dangerous and evermore unpopular technology of transgenic foods comes on the heels of two high-profile ballot initiative battles in California (2012), and Washington State (2013), where GMA members were forced to spend almost $70 million to narrowly defeat GMO labeling forces. The 15 largest contributors to stop GMO labeling in California and Washington include the following GMA members:

(1) Monsanto: $13,487,350
(2) Dupont: $9,280,159
(3) Pepsico: $4,837,966
(4) Coca-Cola: $3,210,851
(5) Nestlé: $2,989,806
(6) Bayer CropScience: $2,591,654
(7) Dow Agrosciences: $2,591,654
(8) BASF Plant Science: $2,500,000
(9) Kraft Foods (Mondolez International) $2,391,835
(10) General Mills: $2,099,570
(11) ConAgra Foods: $2,004,951
(12) Syngenta: $2,000,000
(13) Kellogg’s: $1,112,749
(14) Campbell Soup: $982,888
(15) Smucker Company: $904,977

The Fire Next Time

These “dirty tricks,” “dirty money” ballot initiative victories in California and Washington now ring hollow. If Congress or the FDA, prompted by these same companies, dare to stomp on states’ rights to require GMO labels on GMO food, if they dare to repress the rights of millions of consumers to know whether or not their food is genetically engineered, they run the very real risk of detonating an even larger and more vociferous grassroots rebellion, including massive boycotts and a concerted effort to throw “Monsanto’s Minions” out of Congress. The widespread furor last year over the so-called “Monsanto Protection Act,” surreptitiously appended to the Appropriations Bill, and then, after massive uproar, subsequently removed, is but a partial foreshadowing of the turmoil yet to come.

Likewise Congress or the FDA should think twice before legally sanctioning the patently outrageous practice of allowing companies to continue to label or advertise GMO or chemically tainted food as “natural” or “all natural.”

Given the fact that 80-90 percent of American consumers want genetically engineered foods to be labeled, as indicated by numerous polls over the last 10 years, and given the fact that it is obviously unethical and fraudulent to label or advertise GMO or heavily chemically processed foods as “natural,” even the FDA has so far declined to come to the rescue of Monsanto and Big Food. In the face of 65 so far largely successful national class-action lawsuits against food companies accused of fraudulently labeling their GMO or chemically-laced brands as “natural, “Big Food’s lawyers have asked the FDA to come to their aid. But so far, the FDA has declined to throw gasoline on the fire.

It’s clear why “profit at any cost” big business wants to keep consumers in the dark. They want to maximize their profits. The consumer, the environment, the climate be damned. But let’s review, for the record, why truthful food labeling is so important to us, the overwhelming majority of the people, and to future generations.

Here are three major, indeed life-or-death, issues that drive America’s new anti-GMO and pro-organic food movement:

(1) There is mounting, and indeed alarming, evidence that genetically engineered foods and crops, and the toxic pesticides, chemicals, and genetic constructs that accompany them, are hazardous. GMOs pose a mortal threat, not only to human and animal health, but also to the environment, biodiversity, the survival of small-scale family farms, and climate stability.

(2) Genetically engineered crops are the technological cornerstone and ideological rationale for our dominant, out-of-control system of industrial agriculture, factory farms, and highly processed junk food.America’s industrial food and farming system is literally destroying public health, the environment, soil fertility and climate stability. As we educate, boycott and mobilize, as we label and drive GMOs off the market, we simultaneously rip the mask off Big Food and chemical corporations, which will ultimately undermine industrial agriculture and speed up the “Great Transition” to a food and farming system that is organic, sustainable and climate stabilizing.

(3) Fraudulent “natural” labels confuse consumers and hold back the growth of true organic alternatives. Consumers are confused about the difference between conventional products marketed as “natural,” or “all natural”and those nutritionally and environmentally superior products that are “certified organic.” Recent polls indicate that many health- and green-minded consumers remain confused about the qualitative difference between products labeled or advertised as “natural,” versus those labeled as organic. Many believe that “natural” means “almost organic,” or that a natural product is even better than organic. Thanks to growing consumer awareness, and four decades of hard work, the organic community has built up a $35-billion “certified organic” food and products sector that prohibits the use of genetic engineering, irradiation, toxic pesticides, sewage sludge and chemical fertilizers. As impressive as this $35 billion Organic Alternative is, it remains overshadowed by the $80 billion in annual spending by consumers on products marketed as “natural.” Get rid of fraudulent “natural” labels on GMO and chemically tainted products, and organic sales will skyrocket.

With the passage of the Vermont GMO labeling law, after 20 years of struggle, it’s time to celebrate our common victory. But as we all know, the battle for a new food and farming system, and a sustainable future has just begun

American “democracy” in action: 60 corporations contribute $22m to stop WA GMO labeling bill

by

November 2, 2013-MapLight, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money’s influence on politics, has updated the campaign finance data on the ballot intiatives in Washington state to make labeling of foods containing GMOs mandatory.

A MapLight analysis of campaign finance data from the Washington Public Disclosure Commission as of October 30, 2013 shows the Top 10 contributors on the supporting and opposing side and the geographic origin of the contributions.

From MapLight’s Voter’s Edge in Washington State

I-522: GMO Labeling
(Requires labeling of food products made from genetically modified organisms).

Contributions from Supporting Interests

Total Raised: $7.7 million from 10,500 donors

1 DR. BRONNER’S MAGIC SOAPS $1,840,635
2 CENTER FOR FOOD SAFETY ACTION FUND $455,000
3 MERCOLA.COM HEALTH RESOURCES LLC $300,260
4 ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION $298,076
5 PRESENCE MARKETING, INC $260,000
6 PCC NATURAL MARKETS $230,274
7 NATURE’S PATH FOODS USA INC $178,700
8 FOOD DEMOCRACY NOW $175,000
9 WASHPIRG $168,121
10 WEILAND WILLIAM T. $150,000

Contributions from Opposing Interests

Total Raised: $22.0 million from 60 donors

1 MONSANTO $5,374,484
2 DUPONT PIONEER $3,880,159
3 PEPSICO $2,352,966
4 NESTLE USA $1,528,206
5 THE COCA-COLA COMPANY $1,520,351
6 GENERAL MILLS INC $869,271
7 CONAGRA FOODS $828,251
8 DOW AGROSCIENCES LLC $591,654
9 BAYER CROPSCIENCE $591,654
10 BASF PLANTSCIENCE $500,000

Background: The initiative, I-522, is a sibling to California’s 2012 Proposition 37 (GMO Labeling): many of the major contributors in this race also contributed to committees for or against Proposition 37, and the recent spike in opposition dollars echoes last year when the opposition to Proposition 37, according to the LA Times, “bankrolled” a “media blitz” in the final stretch.

Monsanto’s absurdity reaches new heights

mon828By Jim Hightower, 3 November 2013, Climate Connection 

It was my privilege to go to Des Moines recently for a World Food Prize extravaganza recognizing Monsanto’s work against global hunger. But wait, Monsanto is not a hunger-fighter. It’s a predatory proliferator of proprietary and genetically engineered seeds.

That’s why I wasn’t actually attending the ceremony to bestow a false halo on the corporate giant. Rather, I was one of more than 500 scruffy “outsiders” in the city’s First United Methodist Church to protest the Monsanto absurdity.

There, real-life Iowa farmers spoke plainly about the countless abuses they have endured at the hands of the genetic manipulator.

One pointed out that if the corporation genuinely gave even one damn about hunger, it could’ve used its immense lobbying clout in Washington this year to stop Congress from stripping the entire food stamp program from the Farm Bill. Instead, Monsanto didn’t lift a finger to help fend off hunger in our own country.“It doesn’t care at all about feeding the world,” the Iowa farmer said with disgust. “It cares about profits, period.”

Indeed, Monsanto is a pitch-perfect example of what Pope Francis was referencing in May, when he declared: “Widespread corruption and selfish fiscal evasion have taken on worldwide dimensions. The will to power and of possession has become limitless. Concealed behind this attitude is a rejection of ethics.”

How ironic, then, that Monsanto bought this year’s World Food Prize for itself, just to masquerade as a world hunger fighter, hoping to persuade the Vatican to bless its demonic effort to force the world’s poor farmers to buy and become dependent on its patented seeds.

The World Food Prize Foundation says it recognizes contributions for “agriculture.” But Monsanto has zero to do with agri-culture. It’s the agri-business face of the unethical, selfish, corruption that the Pope warned about.

More money pours into Wash. food labeling fight

October 29, 2013 

By PHUONG LE — Associated Press

SEATTLE — A group fighting food labeling in Washington state has busted the record for the most money raised by an initiative campaign in state history.

Largely financed by five biotechnology giants and a food industry group, the No on 522 committee has raised nearly $22 million to defeat Initiative 522, which would require foods containing genetically engineered ingredients to carry a label, the latest campaign finance records show.

Initiative supporters have raised about $6.8 million, mostly from natural food companies and others.

Opponents of food-labeling have received an infusion of last-minute contributions with just days to go until the November election. Monsanto Co. gave $540,000 on Monday to No on 522, bringing the company’s total contributions to nearly $5.4 million. Monsanto is the second highest contributor fighting the measure.

A political committee formed by the Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association is the top contributor to No on 522, giving $11 million total. About a third of that amount has come in the last several days.

The food group has collected money from the nation’s top food and beverage companies such as PepsiCo Inc., Coca-Cola Co., Nestle SA, General Mills Inc., Kellogg Co., The Hershey Co. and ConAgra Foods Inc.

On Nov. 5, Washington voters will decide whether to approve I-522, which requires genetically engineered foods offered for retail sale to be labeled. Products would have to carry a label on the front of the package disclosing that they contain genetically engineered ingredients.

Supporters say consumers have a right to know whether foods they buy contain such ingredients and a GMO label is no different from nutrition and other labels. Opponents say it would cost farmers and food processors and such a label implies the food is somehow less safe.

Moriah Armstrong, 67, who lives on Orcas Island, has already cast her mail-in ballot in support of the initiative. She said she has been alarmed by the amount of money that initiative opponents appear to have spent on numerous television ads, campaign fliers and phone calls.

“Time and time again corporations are using their money to influence the voters. I’d like to see the little man beat out the corporations’ big spending,” said Armstrong, a retiree who gave $50 to labeling supporters.

Armstrong said she voted for the measure because she believes in transparency and that the public has the right to know what’s in their food.

Doreen Wardenaar, whose family runs a farm in the eastern Washington town of Othello, opposes the measure.

“We feel strongly that it will add another layer to our bureaucracy that isn’t needed and Washington should fall in line with federal standards,” said Wardenaar, whose family grows potatoes, onions and fresh packaged sweet corn. “That would be an unfair playing field for Washington farmers.”

Wardenaar, whose husband gave $50 to No on 522, said the influx of money from the big corporations doesn’t help the cause. Still, she said: “I’m no attorney, but it just sounds like a mess to me.”

She said she looked at the initiative and decided it would be expensive and would put Washington farmers at a disadvantage. The farm grows crops that aren’t genetically modified, but they’re concerned it would cost them money to prove that, she said.

Global ‘March Against Monsanto’ rallies activists

People hold signs during one of many worldwide “March Against Monsanto” protests against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and agro-chemicals, in Los Angeles, California Saturday. Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

People hold signs during one of many worldwide “March Against Monsanto” protests against Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and agro-chemicals, in Los Angeles, California Saturday. Photo: Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

By Renee Lewis, 12 October, 2013. Source: Al Jazeera

Activists from around the globe participated in a global ‘March Against Monsanto’ Saturday, calling for the permanent boycott of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This was the second global, anti-Monsanto protest — the first took place on May 25 with over 2 million participants, organizers said.

Photos appear to show hundreds of marchers taking to the streets in cities around the world including Vienna, London, Chennai and Sydney. Rallies have kicked off in U.S. cities as well including Los Angeles and Denver.

Critics of Monsanto, a multi-national biotech corporation, say its seeds destroy the soil and are designed to make constant repurchase necessary because the seeds last only one generation. The seeds must also be used with a variety of the company’s other products like fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides, which have been linked to mass bee deaths.

Monsanto, which touts itself as a “sustainable agriculture company” and is worth over $55 billion, says it produces high-yield conventional and biotech seeds that enable more nutritious and durable crops and “safe and effective crop protection solutions.” The U.S. government also says Monsanto’s products are safe.

March Against Monsanto (MAM), however, says GMOs are not properly monitored to ensure public safety and that no long-term, independent studies were carried out on GMOs before they were introduced for human consumption.

“In the U.S., the revolving door between Monsanto employees, government positions and regulatory authorities has led to key Monsanto figures occupying positions of power at the FDA and EPA. Monsanto has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to obstruct all labeling attempts; they also suppress any research containing results not in their favor,” MAM said in a press release.

GMOs have been banned to varying degrees in Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Japan, Luxembourg, Madeira, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, France, Switzerland and Costa Rica.

GMOs are labeled in 62 countries, but not the U.S. despite several attempts. Last fall, Californian voters narrowly rejected an initiative to label GMOs, and a similar initiative is on the Nov. 5 Washington state ballot.

Prominent environmentalist Vandana Shiva has been outspoken against Monsanto, particularly in light of the corporation’s link to hundreds of thousands of Indian farmer suicides.

More than 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India after Monsanto’s Bt cotton seeds largely failed. Many farmers left in desperate poverty decided to drink Monsanto pesticide, ending their lives.

“The creation of seed monopolies, the destruction of alternatives, the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties and the increasing vulnerability of monocultures has created a context for debt, suicides and agrarian distress,” Shiva wrote.

Josh Castro, organizer for the Quito, Ecuador march said in a press release that he hopes to stop the “destructive practices of multinational corporations like Monsanto.”

“Biotechnology is not the solution to world hunger … Monsanto’s harmful practices are causing soil infertility, mono-cropping, loss of biodiversity, habitat destruction and contributing to beehive collapse.

Monsanto just dropped $1 billion on better weather forecasts

John Upton, Grist

Congressional paralysis is freezing or slashing national spending on weather forecasting and monitoring. Plans to deploy a next-generation array of satellites known as COSMIC-2 could be cut by lawmakers as part of the sequester spending cutsif only they would pass a budget. And workers at NASA, which provide data used by climate researchers the world over, are being furloughed.

But Monsanto — that profitable agro-corporation that wields ever-increasing power over the world’s food supply — is taking a smarter approach. As the effects of climate change devastate crops the world over, Monsanto has announced it is buying the Climate Corporation for $930 million. From the press release:

“Farmers around the world are challenged to make key decisions for their farms in the face of increasingly volatile weather, as well as a proliferation of information sources,” said David Friedberg, chief executive officer for The Climate Corporation. “Our team understands that the ability to turn data into actionable insight and farm management recommendations is vitally important for agriculture around the world and can greatly benefit farmers, regardless of farm size or their preferred farming methods. Monsanto shares this important vision for our business and we look forward to creating even greater experiences for our farmer customers.”

Modern Farmer explains the acquisition:

Climate Corporation underwrites weather insurance for farmers, basically in real time, using some of the most sophisticated data tools available to determine the risks posed by future weather conditions and events.

And the company doesn’t limit itself to weather data. As politicians, pundits, and people on the Internet continue to argue over whether climate change is real, the insurance industry has for years been operating under the assumption that it is. So Climate Corporation uses data from major climate-change models — the very ones that are under constant assault by doubters — in its calculations.

Climate Corporation manages an eye-popping 50 terabytes of live data, all at once. Besides climate-change models, data is collected from regular old weather forecasts and histories, soil observations, and other sources. The company collects data from 2.5 million separate locations. Given these numbers, it shouldn’t be surprising that Climate Corporation is basically alone in this market.

If Congress continues down the road of spending cuts and government shutdowns, private industry will soon know more about what’s going on with the weather than the government does.

TV ads against food-labeling initiative to launch this week

The campaign against the food-labeling initiative received millions this month from Monsanto and DuPont.

By Jerry Cornfield, The Herald

Opponents of a food labeling initiative are gearing up to air their first television commercials in an ad campaign expected to cost millions of dollars and run up to Election Day in November.

A copy of a contract filed with the Federal Communication Commission shows the No on Initiative 522 campaign has booked $72,000 worth of advertising this week on KOMO-TV in Seattle. A 30-second spot would air beginning with the early-morning newscast Monday, according to the contract.

Additional contracts reserve time every day on the station through the last day of voting, Nov. 5.

A representative of the campaign declined to confirm the schedule, which could be amended after the filing of the contracts.

“I am not going to give out our playbook,” said campaign spokeswoman Dana Bieber.

Supporters of the measure are anticipating the launch of television ads now that the opposition has received millions of dollars from Monsanto and DuPont, two corporations that worked to defeat a similar labeling measure in California in 2012.

“This goes to show these corporations are really more focused on protecting their bottom line than giving grocery shoppers in Washington state more information about their food,” said Elizabeth Larter, spokeswoman for the Yes on 522 campaign.

If passed, Initiative 522 would require many food products made with genetically modified ingredients to be labeled as such. This would apply primarily to processed and packaged foods sold in supermarkets and other retail outlets.

What this means, for example, is a product made with corn, canola or soybeans grown from scientifically created seed stock would need a label to inform the buyer of the modified ingredients. Snack foods such as chips and soft drinks that contain artificial ingredients would need labels starting in July 2015.

Supporters argue the measure is about giving shoppers more information about what’s in the food they consume. Labels would not be required on food sold in restaurants nor on dairy and meat products, even if the cattle are fed genetically engineered foods.

Opponents counter that I-522 would create new and costly burdens on farmers and businesses and would increase food costs. They also say the state will need to spend money to enforce the labeling law.

As of Friday, the No on 522 Committee had raised nearly $12 million in donations and pledges, according to reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. After expenditures, the committee had a little over $10 million available.

“We plan to use our resources to share with voters how misleading 522 is and how it is going to increase grocery costs by hundreds and hundreds of dollars a year,” Bieber said.

The majority of the opposition money arrived this month from the two companies, which are among the nation’s biggest producers of genetically modified seed products.

Monsanto wrote a $4.6 million check on Sept. 5, pushing its total donations to the campaign to roughly $4.85 million. On Sept. 10, DuPont gave $3.2 million and is now up to nearly $3.4 million in contributions.

The level of spending should come as no surprise. Last year, the two firms topped all contributors to the effort to defeat Proposition 37 in California.

In that campaign, Monsanto gave $8.1 million and DuPont $5.4 million, according to state campaign finance reports compiled by Ballotpedia.org.

In Washington, as of Friday, the Yes on 522 committee had collected $3.5 million in donations and, after expenditures, had about $2.6 million available in cash. The single largest donor is Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which has given roughly $1 million.

Reports filed with the FCC show the committee reserved time starting in mid-October on KOMO.

A statewide poll released last week shows the measure enjoys strong backing among potential voters. Of the 406 registered voters surveyed in the Elway Poll, 66 percent expressed support, with only 21 percent opposed. The survey has a margin of error of 5 percent.

Larter predicted the numbers will change once ads begin airing.

“This will be a competitive race,” she said.