Time to confront Arcata’s evil neighbor Sun Valley Floral Farms

The man with the power to stop this – Sun Valley CEO and President Lane DeVries

Don’t be fooled by the expanse of pretty irises growing between Foster Avenue and Bay School Road in the Arcata Bottom.

Earlier this year, Sun Valley Floral Farms sprayed that field with the carcinogen glyphosate (aka Roundup) without adequately informing neighbors, the three nearby schools, or anyone in the densely populated Greenview/Windsong neighborhood of Arcata, all of which were downwind of the spraying.

In 2015 the World Health Organization declared glyphosate a “probable carcinogen.” Later the state of California added glyphosate to its list of chemicals that cause cancer. Since then Monsanto and its parent company Bayer, which produces glyphosate, have suffered several high-profile court losses to victims of glyphosate who contracted non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers. By now managers of any company that uses glyphosate should well know that in doing so they risk giving workers and neighbors cancer. (A new study shows when combined with other risk factors Glyphosate dramatically increases the risk of breast cancer)*TE

The Arcata Bottom tract is new to Sun Valley’s floral production. It was formerly used to feed cattle, with no chemicals needed. Yet over summer Sun Valley was at it again, spraying the same field with yet another carcinogen: chlorothalonil.

In this case, I watched it happen. My presence was coincidental, as spraying occurred with no public notice. On the afternoon of July 30 a Sun Valley operator sprayed chlorothalonil onto the company’s new field. It was chilling to watch the day’s predictable northwest breeze wafting the chemical across Bay School Road right into neighbors’ homes and yards, and presumably into Arcata.

The next day a large troupe of agricultural workers tarried in this very field, presumably absorbing the toxic impacts of a long-lasting chemical like chlorothalonil. (I learned that the chemical was chlorothalonil by contacting the Humboldt County Agricultural Commissioner’s office.)

The state and federal governments list chlorothalonil as a probable human carcinogen and reproductive toxin. Chlorothalonil can contaminate the air traveling beyond the field and has been found in residential neighborhoods in many areas where it is applied. It is a potential groundwater contaminant, is persistent in soils, and is acutely toxic to fish, crabs, and frogs.

In 2016 (the last year for which statistics are available) Sun Valley used 1,152 pounds of chlorothalonil in Humboldt County. Now that the company is cultivating a new field its use of chlorothalonil has undoubtedly risen.

Also in 2016, Sun Valley applied 1,621 pounds of captan—a mutagen and carcinogen that can cause respiratory damage and is highly toxic to fish—and 171 pounds of thiophanate-methyl. Thiophanate-methyl is a possible human carcinogen and suspected endocrine disruptor.

(The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences defines endocrine disruptors as “chemicals that may interfere with the body’s endocrine system and produce adverse developmental, reproductive, neurological, and immune effects in both humans and wildlife.”) Other dangerous and toxic chemicals used by Sun Valley include diuron (birth defects, groundwater contamination, destruction of aquatic invertebrates) and the infamous 2,4-D (developmental and reproductive toxin, a possible human carcinogen, potential groundwater contaminant).

It’s bad enough that Sun Valley uses these poisons for non-food crops that could easily be produced without them. It’s infuriating that the company would waltz onto a brand new field, formerly free of toxics, and blithely contaminate it as well. Sun Valley might blandly state that “we adhere and comply with state and federal laws” in applying the chemicals, but this may not even be true.

The company has no legal right to contaminate the waters and wildlife of California, which are owned by the people, and Sun Valley certainly has no legal right to poison its workers and its neighbors. Without extensive and expensive monitoring there is no way to adequately ascertain the extent of such contamination.

Companies like Sun Valley count on this difficult process, and deferent county and state officials, to protect their “right” to do whatever they want, no matter the human and environmental costs.

The County of Humboldt and the City of Arcata, and its residents, need to step up and object to Sun Valley’s contamination. There is no reason these irises cannot be grown organically, except that it might cost a penny or two more on the dollar.

So instead, Sun Valley management, including company CEO and President Lane DeVries, has opted to impose these costs onto the lives of workers, neighbors, and the environment.

Greg King Mad River Union Oct 2, 2019

They failed measurably to protect us from Pesticides, but trust ’em on GMO’s, right?

yes on p a While Measure P isn’t about regulating Pesticides (the state won’t let us) it will have a big impact on the amount used in the future. Most GMO crops require Pesticide use to survive.

Five Myths of ‘Safe’ Pesticides

By Andre Leu September 10, 2014

 

IFOAM President André Leu has used a wealth of respected scientific journals to present peer-reviewed evidence refuting the claims of chemical companies and pesticide regulators. In his book, The Myths of Safe Pesticides, Leu outlines the many serious deficiencies in the regulation of toxic chemicals used in our food supply. Much of the criteria used to support the current regulations, says Leu, are based on out-of-date, data-free assumptions rather than on the latest published science. These assumptions, says Leu, are a series of mythologies.

  1. The ‘Rigorously Tested’ Myth.

Most pesticide formulations sold on the market are deemed safe on the basis of testing only one of the active ingredients, rather than the whole formulation. Yet limited scientific testing of formulated pesticide products shows that they can be hundreds of times more toxic to humans than the pure single active ingredient.

The human fetus, the newborn and the growing child are at special risk due to their smaller body mass and rapid physical development, both of which increase their vulnerability to known or suspected carcinogens, according to a report by the United States President’s Cancer Panel (USPCP). Yet currently the pesticide testing used in the regulatory approval processes do not specifically test for the risks particular to these age groups.

 

  1.  The ‘Very Small Amount’ Myth.

Chemical regulations are based on the assumption that the higher the does, the greater the harm. But hundreds of studies now show that this isn’t true for chemicals that are associated with endocrine disruption. In fact, endocrine-disrupting chemicals may be more toxic in lower doses. Yet when regulators set their Average Daily Intake (ADI) allowances, they calculate the allowance by extrapolating it from testing done at higher, not lower, doses.

The only way to ensure that the allowed ADI is safe, and that a chemical won’t act as an endocrine disrupter at lower doses, is to test the actual residue levels that are set for the ADI.

 

  1. The ‘Breakdown’ Myth.

One of the biggest myths about pesticides is the assumption that once a chemical degrades it disappears and becomes harmless. Most agricultural poisons leave residues of metabolites (products of the chemical’s breakdown). Limited testing shows that some of these metabolites left by agricultural pesticides cause reproductive problems in humans, and many are more toxic than the pesticide itself. Yet testing of metabolites remains inadequate.

 

  1. The ‘Reliable Regulatory Authority’ Myth.

Regulatory authorities are ignoring a large body of peer-reviewed science showing the harm caused by pesticides and they are making decisions on data-free assumptions. A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found a cocktail of many toxic chemicals in the blood and urine of most Americans. A 2007 study by the Environmental Working Group found up to 232 chemicals in the placental cord of newborns in the U.S. Many of these chemicals, such as mercury and polychlorinated byphenyls, are known to harm brain development and the nervous system. These studies show the inaccuracies of the regulatory authorities’ assumption that because each of the chemicals is present at a low level in commercial products, they will cause no health issue. This assumption clearly has no basis in science. The scientific credibility of pesticide regulatory authorities has to be seriously questioned when they are approving the use of pesticides on the basis of data-free assumptions.

 

  1. The ‘Pesticides Are Essential to Farming’ Myth.

 

Organic farming can feed the world without the use of toxic synthetic pesticides. There are many examples (some included in The Myths of Pesticides) of organic systems producing yields that are equal to, or higher than, yields achieved by conventional farming. The bulk of agricultural research should be based on further improving and scaling up these high-yielding organic systems rather than on toxic chemicals and GMOs.

From the book:   The Myths of Safe Pesticides by Andre Leu       Publisher: Acres U.S.A.myths of safe pesticides

André Leu is a longtime Australian farmer and president of International Federation of Organic Agricultural Movements (IFOAM)

Has Hillary been seduced by the “DARK*” side?

*DARK  (Deny Americans the Right to Know) a bill introduced in congress.

In her June 25 keynote address to the BIO International Convention in San Diego, Calif., Hillary Clinton I love gmo'svoiced strong support for genetic engineering and genetically engineered crops. She earned a standing ovation that day by stating that the biotech industry suffers from a public perception problem and that it just needs “a better vocabulary” in order to persuade GMO skeptics who don’t understand “the facts” about genetic engineering.

And then Hillary proceeded to get the facts wrong.

Why does it matter what Hillary, who holds no public office and has not (yet) declared her candidacy for president, says or believes about genetic engineering and genetically modified crops and foods?

It doesn’t—unless she throws her hat in the ring for the Democratic nomination. And then it matters not just what her position is on GMOs, not just how deep her financial ties to the biotech industry run, not just how much she distorts the facts about the “promise” of biotech crops.

It matters, deeply, to more than 90 percent of Americans, what her position is on laws requiring mandatory labeling of GMOs in food and food products.

If elected, will Hillary support consumers’ right to know? Or will she support the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, a bill introduced in Congress earlier this year, which if passed, will preempt state GMO labeling laws?

Hillary has been coy about announcing her candidacy. But when it comes to clarifying her position on GMO labeling laws, she’s been dead silent.

As she soon heads to Iowa—the testing ground for presidential candidates—Hillary’s presidential aspirations will no doubt become more clear. If she runs, as the pundits predict, it will be up to the GMO labeling movement to demand that she take a stand on GMO labeling laws.

Meanwhile, here’s why Hillary’s speech to the BIO convention was just plain wrong.

Wrong on the science of genetic engineering

Hillary brought the BIO convention-goers to their feet with her call for “a better vocabulary” to win over consumers.

No wonder. After all, that’s the line Monsanto has been feeding the public ever since the public became wise to the lies and false promises of an industry known for its reckless disregard for public health. It’s part of an aggressive, widespread public relations campaign to sugar-coat the facts about genetically engineered foods and the toxic chemicals required to produce them.

As scientists release studies, each one more alarming than the next, revealing the devastating health and environmental hazards of the herbicides required to grow GMO crops—toxic chemicals such as glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, and Dow’s 2,4-D —consumers are connecting the dots between the rise of chronic illness and the unleashing of toxins into the environment (and onto our food).

No amount of “better vocabulary” will be able to counter the science behind the impact of toxic herbicides and pesticides on soil, on the environment, on human health.

But here’s where Hillary’s call for a “better vocabulary” really ran off the rails. Coverage of the convention included a video in which Hillary wrongly equated the age-old practice of seed hybridization with modern genetic engineering, in order to make the case that genetic engineering has been around since the beginning of farming.

Hillary would do well to go back to her science books. Here are the facts, as understood by every biologist. Seed hybridization occurs when the seeds of two compatible parent plants, within the same species, are crossed, either in a controlled environment or in nature. That process is in no way equivalent to genetic engineering, a process that requires human intervention, and consists of changing the genetic code of one organism by inserting into it the DNA from a completely different plant or animal.

Genetic engineering is an unnatural process that can take place only in a laboratory, aided by a human.

Wrong on genetic engineering and drought

In the same video from the June 25 conference, Hillary perpetuates industry claims that as global warming leads to more droughts, GMO crops will feed the world. She does this by focusing on GE drought-resistant seeds—as if engineering seeds for drought-resistance were a major focus on the biotech industry.

It’s not, of course. Drought-resistant seeds and crops make up a miniscule portion of the GMO crop market. Close to 98 percent of GE crops are corn, soy, alfalfa, canola and sugar beets, used to make biofuels, animal feed and processed food products, such as high fructose corn syrup. These crops are engineered to produce their own Bt toxins in every cell or else to withstand massive doses of herbicides, such as Monsanto’s Roundup, which are sold to farmers as companions to their GMO seeds. They have nothing to do with drought-resistance.

In fact, attempts to engineer seeds to thrive during droughts are still in the experimental stages and so far have largely failed. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, Monsanto’s DroughtGard, the only drought-resistant crop approved so far by the USDA, produces “only modest results, and only under moderate drought conditions.”

Yet to hear Hillary tell it, genetic engineering is all about saving farmers by providing them with magic seeds that thrive without water.

Wrong on genetic engineering and global warming

Toward the end of her video interview, Hillary switched gears to talk about climate change. She endorsed the Obama climate plan and called out the media for giving too much attention to climate-change skeptics.

Hillary believes we must address global warming. Good news.

But there’s just one problem.

A growing chorus of scientists warn that we cannot successfully address global warming unless we acknowledge the huge role that industrial agriculture, with its GMO mono-crop culture and massive use of chemicals, plays in cooking the planet.

If we’re truly serious about averting a global warming disaster, reducing carbon emissions isn’t enough. We have to acknowledge, and harness, potential of organic, regenerative agriculture to reverse global warming by sequestering carbon.

According to groups like the Rodale Institute, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty, a transition to sustainable, regenerative agriculture—not genetic engineering—is not only the only way we will feed the world, but absolutely essential if we want to slow global warming.

Hillary is just plain wrong if she thinks we can solve global warming while simultaneously promoting GMO agriculture, here in the U.S. and abroad. That’s why the Organic Consumers Association has launched a petition asking her to rethink her support for biotech, and commit to supporting a transition to a sustainable, organic food and farming system.

As consumers grow more knowledgeable about the link between food produced using toxic chemicals and the declining health of the U.S. population, they are looking more closely at those politicians who side with, and take money from, the biotech industry. Clinton’s ties to the biotech industry date back to the 1970s, when she was a partner in the Rose Law Firm which represented Monsanto.

A recent ABC News poll revealed that 52 percent of Americans believe food containing GMOs are unsafe, while 13 percent are “unsure.”

On mandatory GMO labeling laws, Americans are clear: 93 percent want labels.

Hillary, where do you stand?
Essay by Paul and Cummins

Katherine Paul is associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

Ronnie Cummins is the international director of the Organic Consumers Association and its Mexico affiliate Via Organica.