SUSTAINABLE FARMING NEEDED FOR FOOD SECURITY: FAO

Dawn, October 10th, 2017

ISLAMABAD: More productive and sustainable farming systems need to be developed to meet growing food demand, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) report said on Monday.

The report titled ‘State of the Food and Agriculture 2017’ said agricultural transformations in the late twentieth century relied on large-scale intensification using high levels of inputs.

In many countries that approach has resulted in severe environmental impacts, including massive deforestation, depletion of soil and water and high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, it said.

The future transformation faces unprecedented environmental constraints, requiring action to both mitigate and adapt to climate change and natural resource scarcities. Farmers will need to reduce resource use in agriculture without compromising yields and optimally manage livestock residues, a major source of greenhouse gases.

The report makes the case that needed transformations in rural economies can be sparked by leveraging growing demand for food in urban areas to diversify food systems and generate new economic opportunities in off-farm, agriculture-related activities.

This includes enterprises that process or refine, package or transport and store, market or sell food. In addition, it includes businesses that supply production inputs, such as seeds, tools, equipment and fertilisers or provide irrigation, tilling or other services.

Already, growing demand coming from urban food markets currently consumes up to 70 per cent of national food supplies even in countries with large rural populations, the report notes.

It called for overcoming hurdles posed by excessive fragmentation of landholdings, stating that some 85pc of the world’s farms are smaller than two hectares (or about five acres). In most low-income and lower-middle income countries, small farms are becoming smaller, to the point where many are no longer economically viable.

In the long term, the consolidation of farmland by investors may occur alongside the continuing fragmentation of land operated by traditional farming communities. Declining farm size may not necessarily hinder productivity.

Although the labour productivity of small farms is low, they have the highest land productivity, the report notes.

However, smallholders must have either the necessary scale to access markets and adopt new technologies or access to technologies that are specifically adapted to small-scale operations, it said.

The overarching conclusion of the report is that fulfilling the “2030 Agenda” depends crucially on progress in rural areas, which is where most of the poor and hungry live. It presents evidence to show that, since the 1990s, rural transformations in many countries have led to an increase of more than 750 million in the number of rural people living above the poverty line.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1362744

INDIAN STATE TO INSPECT CULTIVATION OF UNAPPROVED MONSANTO GM COTTON

Dawn, October 7th, 2017

New Delhi: A top Indian cotton-producing state has ordered an inspection of fields planted with an unapproved variety of genetically modified seeds developed by Monsanto, which is fighting to retain its market in the world’s biggest grower of the fibre.

Farmers in Andhra Pradesh have planted 15 per cent of the cotton area in the state with Bollgard II Roundup Ready Flex (RRF), prompting the local government on Friday to form a panel of officials to “inspect the fields of farmers growing RRF”.

The order, issued by senior Andhra Pradesh official B Rajasekhar, did not say how the farmers accessed the unapproved variety of genetically modified (GM) cotton. Calls to his office went unanswered.

“It’s a matter of grave concern that some seed companies, while suppressing their real intent of profiteering, are attempting to illegally incorporate unauthorised and unapproved herbicide-tolerant technologies into their seeds,” a Monsanto spokesman said.

“Commercial release of GM technologies in India without the requisite regulatory approvals may not only pose tremendous risks for the country’s farmers, it may also be in violation of applicable laws of the land.” The spokesman did not identify the local companies.

Bollgard II RRF is a proprietary technology owned by Monsanto, the world’s biggest seed maker, which last year withdrew its application seeking approval from the regulator, Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC), for this variety.

The withdrawal was seen as a major escalation in a long-running dispute between the Indian government and Monsanto, which is also locked in a bitter battle with Andhra Pradesh-based Nuziveedu Seeds Ltd.

Monsanto applied for GEAC approval of Bollgard II RRF, known for its herbicide-tolerant properties, in 2007. When the US company withdrew the application last year, it was in the final stages of a lengthy process that included years of field trials.

The illegal sale of the seeds violates India’s environmental protection rules, said C D Mayee, president of the South Asia Biotech Centre, a not-for-profit scientific society.

Mayee, a former government scientist, estimated that 3.5 million packets of such seeds were sold this season.

“Over the years, we have kept the regulators and key stakeholders apprised of the illegal usage of unapproved technology,” the Monsanto spokesman said.

“Even as late as August 2017, we have sought their intervention on the gross misuse of patented and regulated technologies which may pose numerous other challenges to Indias cotton ecosystem.”

A spokesman for the federal environment ministry was not immediately available for comment.

New Delhi approved the first GM cotton seed trait in 2003 and an upgraded variety in 2006, helping transform India into the world’s top producer and second-largest exporter of the fibre.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1362189/indian-state-to-inspect-cultivation-of-unapproved-monsanto-gm-cotton

Statement on behalf of Farmers Constituency during UNEP Senior Official Meeting

Agenda Item 8

Wali Haider, Roots for Equity, Pakistan

Thank you Mr. Chairman!

I am Wali Haider from Roots for Equity, Pakistan on behalf of the Farmers Constituency of the Asia Pacific Regional CSOs Engagement Mechanism (APRCEM).

While we appreciate the space for interventions given to CSOs, we also would like to stress that we feel excluded to see no civil society being included in any of the today’s panel and the days to come. We believe that genuine inclusive participation of CSOs is necessary for the spirit of partnership that agenda 2030 puts so much emphasis on. We believe our inputs would be critical to the discussions in these meetings.

We emphasize that we need to look at pollution in a broader sense which includes genetic pollution and pollution from the use of pesticides and fertilizers. The neoliberal era has brought this planet beyond the threshold of ecological limits due to the development model based on over dependence on fossil fuel, extraction of mineral resources and concentration of wealth, power with fewer individuals and TNCs. The commodification of natural resources has also intensified, particularly of seeds by agro-chemical and biotechnology corporations through dispossession of local communities’ right to access and control over their local and indigenous seeds.

New emerging phenomena of land grabbing by investors has exacerbated environmental and livelihood crisis. The land is often used for the expansion of export crops that are dependent on chemical inputs as well as the production of agro-fuels which creates unhealthy competition with food production and severely restricts poor people’s access to land and food.

We would like to suggest that governments ensure strong policies for implementation of agroecology as well as support for small and landless farmers’ movements that are advancing the framework of food sovereignty. These farmers and small food producers are contributing to safe and nutritious food, to healthy soils, water, air and the environment as well as contributing to adaptation to climate change.

We demand for development justice so that the inequities particularly for small producers can be removed from our society. For this re-distributive justice, ecological justice and accountability to the people are most crucial. If we really want a pollution free world we must get rid of the structural barrier and hear the voices of marginalized communities which include small and landless farmers, fisherfolk, indigenous communities among others.

LANDLORD CHOPS OFF FARMER’S EAR NEAR SARGODHA

The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2017.`

FAISALABAD: A landlord brutally tortured a tenant farmer in Chak No9 Shumali, Teshil Bhalwal of Sargodha, cutting off his ear and inflicting other horrific injuries.

Muhammad Riaz’s buffalo had wandered in landlord Irshad Ashraf’s fields, grazing in his fields. The landlord got infuriated and decided to teach him a lesson. On Saturday, he asked his brothers, Naveed and Asghar and six other men to bring Riaz to his Dera. They allegedly blindfolded him, forced him to swallow some poisonous chemical, pulled out his nails with pliers, chopped off one of his ears and broke his legs.

The victim was admitted to the District Headquarter Hospital, Sargodha where his condition is stated to be critical. SHO Saddar Muhammad Akram told The Express Tribune that Ulfat Hussain, the farmer’s cousin, filed a complaint and police were awaiting for the medico-legal report from the hospital to book the landlord and his accomplices. He added that three of the accused, Naveed, Asghar and Sajjad, had already been taken into custody.

The complainant told the police that no one in the village had dared to come to rescue his cousin when he shouted for. When Riaz fell unconscious, the landlord and his accomplices threw him outside his house and threatened his family that they would kill them if they informed the police about the incident.

The medical officer of the DHQ hospital told The Express Tribune that although the victim’s condition was improving, he was still in critical condition.

Riaz, 52, works as a labourer and is father of two children.

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1492674/landlord-chops-off-farmers-ear-near-sargodha/

E.P.A. PROMISED ‘A NEW DAY’ FOR THE AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY, DOCUMENTS REVEAL

Eric Lipton And Roni Caryn Rabin

International New York Times, August, 18, 2017

 

WASHINGTON — In the weeks before the Environmental Protection Agency decided to reject its own scientists’ advice to ban a potentially harmful pesticide, Scott Pruitt, the agency’s head, promised farming industry executives who wanted to keep using the pesticide that it is “a new day, and a new future,” and that he was listening to their pleas.

Details on this meeting and dozens of other meetings in the weeks leading up to the late March decision by Mr. Pruitt are contained in more than 700 pages of internal agency documents obtained by The New York Times through a Freedom of Information request.

Though hundreds of pages describing the deliberations were redacted from the documents, the internal memos show how the E.P.A.’s new staff, appointed by President Trump, pushed the agency’s career staff to draft a ruling that would deny the decade-old petition by environmentalists to ban the pesticide, chlorpyrifos.

Chlorpyrifos is still widely used in agriculture — on apples, oranges, strawberries, almonds and many other fruits — though it was barred from residential use in 2000. The E.P.A.’s scientists have recommended it be banned from use on farms and produce because it has been linked to lower I.Q.s and developmental delays among agricultural workers and their children.

At a March 1 meeting at E.P.A. headquarters with members of the American Farm Bureau Federation from Washington State, industry representatives pressed the E.P.A. not to reduce the number of pesticides available. They said there were not enough alternative pesticides to chlorpyrifos. They also said there was a need for “a reasonable approach to regulate this pesticide,” which is widely used in Washington State, and that they wanted “the farming community to be more involved in the process.”

According to the documents, Mr. Pruitt “stressed that this is a new day, a new future, for a common-sense approach to environmental protection.” He said the new administration “is looking forward to working closely with the agricultural community.”

Three days before Donald J. Trump’s inauguration, Dow Chemical had separately submitted a request to the agency to reject the petition to ban chlorpyrifos, calling the scientific link between the childhood health issues and the pesticide unclear, agency records show.

Amy Graham, an E.P.A. spokeswoman, said the denial of the petition to ban chlorpyrifos was justified. “Taking emails out of context doesn’t change the fact that we continue to examine the science surrounding chlorpyrifos,” she said in a written statement. She added that the agency was examining “scientific concerns with the methodology used by the previous administration.”

The emails show that as late as March 7, Wendy Cleland-Hamnett, the acting head of the E.P.A.’s office of chemical safety, was presenting the top political staff with options for how to handle the decade-old petition from an environmental group requesting the ban.

“We would talk about impacts of different options in the briefing,” Ms. Cleland-Hamnett wrote in a March 7 email. The email raised the possibility of a meeting with Mr. Pruitt to discuss the pesticide, a decision that the E.P.A.’s political staff had called a “hot” regulatory item, given a court-ordered deadline of late March to rule on the petition.

The next day, Ryan Jackson, Mr. Pruitt’s chief of staff, wrote to another political appointee that he had “scared” the agency’s career staff, suggesting that he had made clear the direction that the political staff wanted to go — and given the career staff explicit verbal orders to prepare documents explaining why the agency had shifted its position.

“I think I did scare them or surprise them,” Mr. Jackson wrote to Samantha Dravis, Mr. Pruitt’s political appointee to oversee E.P.A. policy. “They are getting us information for Friday but they know where this is headed and they are documenting it well.”

As the draft of the order rejecting the ban of the petition was being written, political staff at the E.P.A. continued to organize meetings with agriculture industry officials. An email on March 10 said: “Basic info for meeting. Purpose is to reset relationship with ag leaders.”

When Ms. Cleland-Hamnett wrote back to the political appointees on March 16 to provide a draft of the order rejecting the ban of the pesticide, she told her bosses that “I think this version will allow you to see how we’re describing the basis for the denial.”

The emails indicate E.P.A. officials closely coordinated their decision on chlorpyrifos with the White House and the Department of Agriculture, which is more closely linked with the agriculture industry and had questioned the justification for the ban.

On March 29, as the E.P.A. was about to publicly announce Mr. Pruitt’s decision to forego the ban, an E.P.A. political employee asked in an email, “Did you run this by Ray Starling at the White House?” referring to the special assistant to the president for agriculture, trade and food assistance.

E.P.A. officials wanted to demonstrate in the news release that they had the support of the Agriculture Department and the White House, writing in one email, “Do you think we could add ‘With Support from USDA, Admin….’ Into the headline, to show it’s a joint release? Or is that too much?”

Environmental groups said the emails demonstrate that the E.P.A. under Mr. Pruitt is doing favors for the industry, even if it means compromising public health.

“What is clear from these documents is that Administrator Pruitt’s abrupt action to vacate the ban on chlorpyrifos was an ideological — not a health-based decision,” said Melanie Benesh, a legislative attorney at the Environmental Working Group. “In fact, the Pruitt E.P.A. has shown time and time again that it seems to only be willing to act quickly when it comes to dismantling health-protective rules like the proposed ban on chlorpyrifos at the behest of industry.”

www.nytimes.com/2017/08/18/us/politics/epa-agriculture-industry.html?mcubz=0

‘TILL THE FARMER GETS HIS LAND, POVERTY WILL NOT END’

 Haneen Rafi

Dawn, July 24, 2017

KARACHI: “The rights of the peasant will benefit greatly only by creating widespread social awareness of land reforms which can be our greatest weapon. And this cannot be possible without including women in this struggle,” said PPP Senator Taj Haider at a seminar organised by the Awami Workers Party in Karachi on Sunday.

Highlighting the importance of empowering the farmer and peasant, Mr Haider criticised the fact that Pakistan remained one of the few countries that allowed a system to persist in which a few individuals sitting at home directly benefitted from the farmer toiling away on the fields.

The urgency of the land reforms needed in Pakistan have remained a constant demand of the AWP in a bid to battle the monopoly of feudal land owners that have for long usurped the rights of the peasants.

AWP peasant secretary Hassan Askari highlighted how land reforms in East Pakistan were more rigorously pushed through than in West Pakistan. “In East Pakistan land reforms were supported more because most of the land owners there were Hindus. In West Pakistan the land owners however, were not touched.”

“One of the most dynamic revolutionary forces is the kisan,” said AWP Sindh president Bakhshal Thallo, who explained how it was the British who organised and privatised the feudal system in South Asia.

Central secretary general Akhtar Hussain was of the opinion that to make land reforms, or for that matter any sort of reforms successful, the grassroots need to be galvanised and be invested enough to get the reforms implemented. If this is missing, then no amount of reforms will garner much change as there are many examples in Pakistan.

He also spoke about different legal developments the country has witnessed with regards to land reforms.

Prof Tauseef Ahmed Khan criticised how giving ownership of the land to the peasant was not a custom accepted by those in power. “It was for the first time after the revolution in 1917 in the Soviet Union that a state accepted that the land belongs to the peasant and eliminated the feudal system.”

He explained that it was when the communist party was established in the subcontinent that the idea that the peasant who works on a piece of land should own it too came to the fore. However, in his opinion the political parties led down this cause. Even in Pakistan this trend subsisted. “It was the Left politics that created a sense of awareness among the kisan about his rights. And till the farmer does not get his land, poverty will never end from this country.”

https://www.dawn.com/news/1347188/till-the-farmer-gets-his-land-poverty-will-not-end

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR FOOD SECURITY POLICY FINALISED

Dawn, July 16th, 2017

Amin Ahmed

ISLAMABAD: Recommendations for the National Food Security Policy that seeks to achieve agricultural growth of four per cent per annum were finalised on Saturday for approval by the federal cabinet.

A group of experts met at the National Agricultural Research Centre (NARC) and finalised recommendations. These were incorporated in the draft of the national policy that was released and discussed at a national-level workshop held in Islamabad early this week.

All stakeholders, including the private sector, agriculture-related agencies at the federal and provincial levels, scientists, researchers and representatives of donor countries, participated in the one-day national conference.

Food insecurity in Pakistan is mainly driven by poverty. This is especially evident in rural areas. With a high rural population, agriculture still contributes around 19.5pc to GDP. About 42pc of the labour force is engaged in agriculture. Growth in this sector has to be a goal of the policy, experts said.

The new policy has 16 elements, which include special programmes for reducing poverty and hunger, bridging the yield gaps, ensuring farm profitability, augmenting the existing water resource base by promoting efficient use through alternative energy, developing hybrid seeds, providing incentives for food processing and value addition under public-private partnership arrangements, developing efficient farm mechanisation and processing technologies to reduce the cost of production, and enacting food safety regulatory laws.

The policy also includes the development of nine agricultural corridors under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for agro-based industries.

The nine zones, which will be set up in collaboration with China, will help achieve food sovereignty, benefit farmers and rural communities, improve yields, conserve biodiversity, and ensure soil health, cleaner water and resilient food systems.

Commenting on the policy, Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations said the policy represents an important milestone for Pakistan. “We are satisfied that the policy addresses four dimensions of food security, which are food availability, accessibility, utilisation and stability.”

It is time to move towards the implementation of specific strategies and action plans that respond to the needs of the provinces, she said.

The establishment of a federal government-led data collection process for food and nutrition security indicators has been recommended with a view to strengthen a food security information system.

The imposition of a research levy has been recommended to fund services of particular help to small farmers, such as farmer field schools and mobile applications with information on weather patterns and crop pests and diseases.

The policy recommends utilising the government’s social protection, subsidies and procurement programmes in rural areas in a way that smaller farmers can be lifted out of poverty.

Incentives have been proposed for continued and socially responsible private-sector investment in the subsectors of agriculture for the promotion of value chain and food systems, such as dairy, livestock and horticulture.

Experts recommended support for growth in the provision of independent, private-sector extension services to vulnerable farmers. This was particularly needed in the area of plant and animal pests and diseases.

Experts recommended the effective implementation of land tenancy laws that would reform land inheritance, buying and selling laws, and steps towards redistribution of agricultural land through provision of opportunities for landless farmers.

Experts recommended food security policy measures to tackle the challenges of climate change and unsustainable resources, including support for the adoption and application of efficient irrigation technologies, modern irrigation infrastructure, rainwater harvesting, early-warning systems for extreme climate events, import of genetic resources to improve indigenous breeds and varieties to suit climatic conditions, soil amelioration and conservation technologies.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1345646

PKMT demands pro-farmers policies

Press Release:

July 16, 2017

The Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) Khyberpakhun Khua chapter holds its 5th provincial assembly on July 16, 2017 in Bagh Darai, lower dir.  All of the PKMT members for KPK province participated in large numbers.

Altaf Hussain, PKMT National Coordinator spoke on water issues and market rate for the grower. He stress that due to the climate change there are less rain or more rains hence most of the rainfed land had is being distorting. The government is also not interested in solving the issue since there is no electrify for tube wells. In these critical circumstances whatever production that farmer got could not get good rate in the market. The Globalization and WTO policies implemented in such a way in the country that imported grains i.e. potatoes, onion among others are so cheap. He demand that climate justice, that mean those who responsible for the climate issues for example US, EU and other 1st world nations should pay compensation to the third world loss and they should also change their industrial production system in which high carbon emission is being discharged.

Fayyaz Ahmed, Provincial Coordinator, PKMT pointed out that 70.8 percent of households in Sindh were already suffering from malnutrition and poverty from the oppressive exploitative feudal land lords in the province, and to push profit-oriented corporate land grab and real estate development projects in the province would intensify hunger and poverty in the province. He also told that women agriculture workers should also been recognized as labour.

Asif Khan, member PKMT from Haripur mentioned that commodification of the natural resources which include land, water, seed, and forest etc. for corporate interest bring the mother earth at high risk. Deforestation, land erosion, food contamination, glacier melting are happening at a very high speed. Flood, drought, diseases are the manifestation of these issues. If people owns and control these very natural resources peoples’ life would be at ease, happy healthy, and prosperous like in case of a village in Gilgit “Goharabad” where they own and control their mountain, tress, fruits etc.

PKMT leaders Raja Mujeeb, Tariq Mehmood and Wali Haider told that government is pursuing policies that advocate the production of genetically-engineered cotton; a policy which would ultimately allow hegemonic transnational seed companies such as Monsanto to take control and dictate the total agricultural cotton policy and production in the province, which surely will also spread to other provinces. The Amended Seed Act, 2015 and Plant Breeders Rights Act has already been passed which will aggressively promote hybrid and GM cotton; the next step would be they promotion of GM maize, as maize is the most important crop for KPK, the farmers of KPK should be aware of the implications and must resist. All of these initiatives are there to protect intellectual property rights of the TNCs in result BT cotton and Maize business will have a legal cover.

PKMT firmly reasserts farmers collective right to seed, its free exchange among farmers; it is the farmers who have bred, preserved and passed on the genetic material of seed over many millennia and we will not allow profit-hungry corporations to control the most basic agricultural input – critical for maintaining life on our planet. The agro-chemical mega-corporations that thrive on ‘selling’ lies about higher yields has gained super profits while leaving farmers reeling under multi-pronged crises from suicidal debt, to ever-increasing cost of production, pests and super bugs infestation, falling yields, and destroyed lands and lives. BT-cotton cultivation is a diabolical attack that will replace/reduce wheat production, the most critical food crop that ensures food security of the small and landless farmers.

PKMT demands that instead of promoting TNCs interest and GM crops, the government must put a moratorium on GM technology so that national genetic resources, environment, biodiversity and most importantly right to seed for farmers can be protected.

Local and indigenous seed stalls and pictorial exhibition of PKMT 10 years struggle were also displayed in the Assembly.

Released by: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT)

https://www.dawn.com/news/1345831/timergara-people-seek-clean-drinking-water

National Consultation on Land Rights: A Policy Discussion with Stakeholders

Press Release

July 12, 2017

A national consultation was held on Land Rights: A policy Discussion with Stakeholders in Margala Hotel, Islamabad on 12th July, 2017 organized by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity.

The consultation was held in the context of Sustainable Development Goal 1 “ending poverty in all its forms everywhere” which specifies a target of “all men and women, in particular the poor and vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, . . . , ownership and control over land. . . .” In addition, Goal 2 aims to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” by 2030, and also emphasizes equal access to land for small farmers. So, in essence, land rights is a core pillar for achieving a world without injustice, inequity, hunger, exploitation, and discrimination. No doubt, achieving universal human dignity is not possible without ensuring land rights of small and landless farmers, which comprise a majority of the world population.

Dr. Azra Talat Sayeed, Executive Director Roots for Equity contextualized the need for the consultation, and detailed the basic three fundamental structural causes that have led to increased landlessness: these included feudal control over land, globalization and neoliberal policies in agriculture with emphasis on corporate agriculture, agro fuel production, and immense increase in land grab due to mega development projects; and third climate crisis. She emphasized that lack of equitable distribution of has resulted in immense hunger and poverty among the farming communities especially for women and children. Way forward was based on genuine democracy with the basic foundation of accountability to the people.

Community leaders, Kabir Khan highlighted that Rakh Azmat Wala in District Rajanpur farmers are facing a dire situation as the government has evacuated farming communities that have tilled this land for more than a hundred years; in addition many farmers have been charged with various crimes and given more than one FIR. He demanded that the government should give the ownership of these land to the farmers instead of handing over the land to Chinese investors. Raja Mujaeeb another farmer leader from Ghotki, SIndh stressed that a very huge percentage of rural communities are landless and few individuals hold vast tracts of land which creates huge inequities in society. He demanded there should be just and equitable land distribution in the country. Riverine community youth leader Saleem elaborated that climate disasters, especially floods create constant havoc in riverine communities. He demanded that farmers in this area should be given permanent land so that they can access decent lives. Rubina Saigol said that women farmers must be given land based on equitable distribution. In addition, agricultural workers, especially women must be recognized as formal agricultural workers, and farmers. Various public representatives at the consultation provided their input. According to MPA Syed Aleem Shah, the government is acquiring land which is under state ownership, and it is the government’s legal right to take back the land for national interest. MPA Sardar Aurangaiz said in KPK government cannot agriculture land for industrial projects and housing schemes.  Ex MPA Syed Bedar Hussain Shah recommended that land should only be given to the farmers as well as social protection policies be developed for agricultural workers.

Major recommendations at the end of consultation were demanding equitable distribution of land among men and women farmers, and social protection to be provided for agricultural workers.

RELEASED BY: Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) & Roots for Equity

California to add key ingredient of Monsanto weed killer to list of cancer-causing chemicals

Regulators in California took a pivotal step on Monday toward becoming the first state to require the popular weed killer Roundup to come with a label warning that it’s known to cause cancer.

Officials announced that starting July 7 the weed killer’s main ingredient, glyphosate, will appear on a list California keeps of potentially cancerous chemicals. A year later, the listing could come with warning labels on the product, officials said.

However, it’s not certain whether Roundup will ultimately get a warning label.

Monsanto, the chemical’s maker, has filed an appeal after losing in court to block the labeling, arguing that Roundup doesn’t cause cancer and that the labels will harm the company’s business.

State health regulators must also decide if there’s a high enough amount of the chemical in Roundup to pose a risk to human health. State officials received more than 1,300 public comments.

“We can’t say for sure,” said Sam Delson, a spokesman for California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. “We’re reviewing those comments.”

Glyphosate has no color or smell. Monsanto introduced it in 1974 as an effective way of killing weeds while leaving crops and plants intact.

It’s sold in more than 160 countries, and farmers use it on 250 types of crops in California, the nation’s leading farming state.

Attorney Michael Baum, who represents more than 300 people who claim a loved one became sick or died from exposure to Roundup, says the fight to protect Californians is not over.

He said that the state’s failure to set the proper risk level would undermine protections California put in place by listing harmful chemicals.

Scott Partridge, Monsanto’s vice president of global strategy, said in a statement that glyphosate does not cause cancer and there’s no need to list it as harmful in California.

“This is not the final step in the process,” Partridge said. “We will continue to aggressively challenge this improper decision.”

Sources:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/weed-killer-ingredient-california-list-cancerous-48295768

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/weed-killer-ingredient-going-on-california-list-as-cancerous/ar-BBDjM89