News bites, March 2002
This article was originally published in March 2002
Lawsuit over GMO contamination
In January, organic farmers Larry Hoffman and Dale Beaudoin filed a class action suit against Monsanto and Aventis on behalf of all certified organic farmers in Saskatchewan, Canada. The suit seeks compensation for damages caused by Monsanto and Aventis’ genetically engineered (GE) canola, and an injunction to prevent Monsanto from introducing GE wheat in the province.
The suit claims that GE canola has spread across the prairies in Canada and contaminated conventional crops so extensively that most certified organic grain farmers no longer even attempt to grow canola. The suit claims that loss of canola as an organic crop has robbed organic farmers of a high-paying and growing market. The Saskatchewan Organic Directorate (SOD) has set up an Organic Agriculture Protection Fund to support the suit.
Growth of vegetarianism
The market for vegetarian foods is likely to grow nearly 125 percent over the next five years, according to Mintel Consumer Intelligence, a market research firm. Researchers say the aging of the American population — and a corresponding concern about health — are among the top reasons behind the increase.
They say that while only 2.5 percent of American consumers consider themselves full-time vegetarians, roughly 25 percent of consumers replace meat with a protein substitute at least for some meals and therefore are driving growth in vegetarian foods. The report cites refrigerated soymilk as the one product likely to lead the future growth of the larger vegetarian category.
Pesticide contamination threatens salmon
Widespread pesticide contamination of Northwest rivers and streams poses a threat to salmon, according to a new report by the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides.
The report, “Poisoned Waters,” examines results from five major river systems in the Northwest. The studies found at least 35 pesticides present in each watershed.
“Northwest salmon are reeling from the one-two punch of habitat loss and contaminated water,” says Rob Masonis, acting regional director of American Rivers. “Pesticides have no place in our rivers and streams, and public agencies need to take aggressive steps to reduce their use. Maintaining streamside vegetation is also critical because it filters pesticides and other chemicals that pollute our rivers.” See the report at www.watoxics.org.
Pesticide residues may disrupt human hormones
Grapes, kiwi, lemons and milk from major British supermarkets contain residues of pesticides that are linked to hormone disruption, according to data released by the British government. The European Commission says many of the pesticides in question show strong evidence of hormone-disrupting effects, such as reproductive abnormalities.
The tests, done in 2001, showed pesticide residues in 61 percent of grapes, 63 percent of kiwi fruit, all lemons, 8 percent of milk, 25 percent of canned salmon, 29 percent of breakfast cereals, 64 percent of cereal bars, and 19 percent of noodles. None of the goat’s milk, honey or organic produce samples tested contained pesticide residues. (Natural Business Communications)