Oct 5, 2013

Love Your Farmers Market? Bill McKibben Says Thank Wendell Berry | BillMoyers.com

Environmental activist Bill McKibben sat down with Moyers & Company to talk about the lasting contributions of Wendell Berry to the environmental, sustainable agriculture and slow food movements.

“He understood what was happening on this planet a long time before everybody else,” McKibben said. It was Berry’s foresight and activism that led local farmers to bring their produce directly to consumers in communities across the country.

McKibben calls Berry the patron saint of farmers markets adding “almost by force of will and [the] beauty of his words he gave birth to a counterculture trend that … bears great promise.”
Love Your Farmers Market? Bill McKibben Says Thank Wendell Berry | BillMoyers.com

Wendell Berry on His Hopes for Humanity | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

October 4, 2013

Wendell Berry, a quiet and humble man, has become an outspoken advocate for revolution. He urges immediate action as he mourns how America has turned its back on the land and rejected Jeffersonian principles of respect for the environment and sustainable agriculture. Berry warns, “People who own the world outright for profit will have to be stopped; by influence, by power, by us.” In a rare television interview, this visionary, author, and farmer discusses a sensible, but no-compromise plan to save the Earth.

This week on Moyers & Company, Bill Moyers profiles Berry, a man of the land and one of America’s most influential writers, whose prolific career includes more than forty books of poetry, novels, short stories and essays. This one-on-one conversation was taped at Kentucky’s St. Catharine College during a two-day conference celebrating Wendell Berry’s life and ideas and marking the 35th anniversary of the publication of his landmark book, The Unsettling of America.

Berry, described by environmental activist Bill McKibben as “a prophet of responsibility,” lives and works on the Kentucky farm where his family has tilled the soil for 200 years. He’s a man of action as well as words. In 2011, he joined a four-day sit-in at the Kentucky governor’s office to protest mountaintop mining, a brutally destructive method of extracting coal. Moyers explores Berry’s views on civil disobedience as well as his strong opposition to agribusiness and massive industrial farms. They also discuss Berry’s support for sustainable farming and the local food movement.

“It’s mighty hard right now to think of anything that’s precious that isn’t endangered,” Berry tells Moyers. “There are no sacred and unsacred places; there are only sacred and desecrated places. My belief is that the world and our life in it are conditional gifts.”

“We have the world to live in on the condition that we will take good care of it. And to take good care of it we have to know it. And to know it and to be willing to take care of it, we have to love it.”

Wendell Berry: Poet & Prophet is a collaboration between Mannes Productions, Inc. and Schumann Media Center, Inc., headed by Bill Moyers, which supports independent journalism and media programs to advance the understanding of the critical issues of democracy for the benefit of the public.

Wendell Berry on His Hopes for Humanity | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

Oct 3, 2013

Monsanto’s Losses Widen as Seed Sales Decline - NYTimes.com

Published: October 2, 2013

WASHINGTON — Agricultural business giant Monsanto Co.reported worse-than-expected losses for its fiscal fourth quarter on Wednesday, due to lower sales of its genetically engineered seeds.

The company forecast for fiscal 2014 also came in below Wall Street expectations, and it revealed plans to buy farming software and data firm The Climate Corporation. The combination sent shares lower in morning trading.

Monsanto said separately it would pay $930 million in cash for the Climate Corporation, which was founded in 1996 by engineers from Google and other Silicon Valley companies. The company's technology uses weather forecasting and data analysis to help farmers plan their growing seasons.

Company executives said the purchase is part of a broader strategy to combine the company's biotechnology with the emerging field of agriculture-focused information technology.

"Looking into the future, growers will need every available tool to produce more yield on the same acre," said CEO Hugh Grant, during a call with analysts. "Strategically, we believe we're putting the best in class analytical capability on the largest global agricultural footprint."

Grant said Monsanto would integrate Climate Corp's technology into its Integrated Farming Systems business, a computer-based system designed to help farmers increase production.

Executives noted the advantages of marketing such software-based products, which can be continuously updated and resold without much oversight. That contrasts with the company's genetically-engineered seed business, which is subject to strict regulation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other government agencies throughout the world.

The St. Louis company recorded a loss of $249 million, or 47 cents per share, for the quarter ended Aug. 31. That was wider than its loss of $264 million, or 42 cents per share, in the 2012 fourth quarter. Revenue climbed 5 percent to $2.2 billion, from $2.1 billion last year.

Analysts, on average, expected a loss of 43 cents per share, on sales of $2.26 billion, according to data provider FactSet.

The fourth quarter is generally Monsanto's weakest, because it occurs before farmers buy new seed for the next planting season.

The company's performance was hurt by a steep drop in sales of genetically modified soybean seeds, which fell 38 percent to $87 million. That drop was offset by higher sales of the company's best-selling product, genetically modified corn seeds, which rose 5.1 percent to $618 million. But overall seed sales still edged lower to $1.19 billion for the quarter.

For the full fiscal year Monsanto posted net income of $2.48 billion, or $4.60, up 21 percent from fiscal year 2012.

Looking ahead, Monsanto said it expects to report earnings per share of $5 to $5.20 in fiscal 2014, including 14 cents from its planned acquisition of the Climate Corporation.

Analysts were looking for $5.31 in earnings per share for fiscal 2014, on average.

Company shares fell 1.91 to $103.14 in midday trading, recovering from a low of $101.79 earlier in the session. The stock started the day up 11 percent since the start of the year and near the top end of its 52-week trading range of $82.70 to $109.33.

Monsanto, which has dominated the bioengineered-seed business for more than a decade, reiterated its expectation for ongoing earnings growth in the "mid-teens" for fiscal 2014, based on the company's international growth.

In June, Chinese regulators approved the importation of Monsanto's Intacta soybeans, the first variety of the bean that has been genetically modified to repel pests that eat the crop. The new soybean is rolling out in Brazil this season and will be available in Argentina the following year. Both countries are major exporters to China. Intacta is the company's first product specifically designed for use outside the U.S.

The company's biotech seeds have genetically engineered traits that the company says benefit farmers enough that they come out ahead, despite the seeds' higher cost.
Monsanto’s Losses Widen as Seed Sales Decline - NYTimes.com

Oct 2, 2013

Anna Lappé Is Ready to Bust the Food Industry's Biggest Myths | Mother Jones

By Tom Philpott
Wed Oct. 2, 2013
Who you gonna call? Food mythbuster Anna Lappé. Clark Patrick

In her work as a critic of the food and agriculture industries, Anna Lappé is carrying on a family business. Her mother, Frances Moore Lappé, brought out the seminal Diet for a Small Planet in 1971, and its central argument, that hunger comes from an unjust allocation of resources, not a lack of food, remains relevant today. Her father, the late toxicologist Marc Lappé, was an early, persistent critic of the ahrichemical industry and what its products do to the people they touch—including penning the prescient book about the threat of antibiotic resistance, Germs That Won’t Die, in 1982. Anna has emerged as a leading voice in her own right. Her 2010 book, Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It, was a trailblazing work that teased out the connections between our food-production system and climate change.

Her latest project, Food MythBusters, is a series of videos designed to counter the vast resources marshaled by the food and agrichemical industries in food policy debates. I recently caught up with Anna on the phone from her home in Oakland.

Mother Jones: What inspired you to start this project?

Anna Lappé: Those of us who think about what we eat, how it's grown, those of us who care about the environmental impact of food—we've been educated over the past decade or so by fabulous books, like Fast Food Nation and documentaries like Food Inc. But despite these and other great projects that shine a critical light on the topic, every year the food industry spends literally tens of millions of dollars to shape the public conversation about our food system.

So I wanted to get together some of my favorite food and farm organizations and figure out a way to create new media, a new online resource center, and organize grassroots events that would help people rethink the frame that we're hearing from the food industry and help people pose the question: What's the real story about our food? How do we make sense and tease out the truth from the misinformation the food industry is putting out there?

MJ: In addition to overt marketing and lobbying, I've noted a real push by the industry to infiltrate social media.

AL: Part of what the food industry does with public relations, just like the chemical industry or the oil industry, is to try to erase their fingerprints from their messaging. So when consumers hear about a recent effort like the "food dialogues" put on by a group called the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, do they know necessarily that these "dialogues" are being funded by companies like Monsanto, a large chemical company and the controller of most of the patents on genetically modified seeds? No, they don't. Do they know that DuPont and Syngenta and John Deere and other agribusiness companies are funders of the US Farmers and Ranchers Alliance? They don't. Do they know that there isn't a single organic farmer organization that's a part of that Alliance?

MJ: As a result of these efforts, I hear a lot of smart, informed people saying, "Don't we need GMOs to feed the world?"

AL: Watch our first mythbusting movie, which takes on exactly that question! The agrichemical manufacturers and GMO companies—they are the same companies, of course—have really pushed this frame, this idea that we have no choice but to turn to these technologies.

Yes, there is a crisis of hunger on the planet, but as my mother has been saying for 40 years, hunger is not caused by a scarcity of food but a scarcity of democracy.

To argue that we need some technology in order to produce food to tackle hunger is completely blind to the facts on the ground. Actually, what we need is the exact opposite of what GMOs give us. We have to empower farmers to grow food for themselves and plant and grow their own seeds and use practices to deal with weeds and the need for fertility, not from purchased products like a seed or a chemical, but from their own farms, from their own knowledge and skillsets. GMOs are not the answer for a lot of reasons, but those are some of the main ones.

MJ: Let's drill down a bit into your latest video, on the barrage of junk-food marketing that targets kids. Why do we need restrictions on marketing to junk food—aren't companies just giving people what they want?

AL: The food industry is spending almost $2 billion a year marketing directly to children and teens. We know that those ads lead to children demanding certain brands, and we know that food and drink marketing gets all of us to consume more calories.

If we're going to address diet-related illnesses, talking about marketing to kids is a key step. There should be places like schools that are protected sanctuaries from commercialization and from advertising, especially when it comes to kids' health.

MJ: I did a piece a while back about how something like 80 percent of public schools have exclusive marketing agreements with Pepsi or Coke. How pervasive is this kind of marketing?

AL: It's a lot more pervasive than many of us think. One of the most common responses I get is, "Just turn off your television! Then your kids won't see ads. Or don't even have a television in your house."
People would be outraged if they saw Shrek on a box of Marlboros, but somehow are not as outraged when they see Shrek on a fast-food box.

People don't realize how much the food industry has infiltrated all aspects of our children's lived experience, including their experience at school. There are sponsored curricula by food companies—there's a Reese's Pieces counting book, there's an Oreo counting book. They're also in our schools with logos sponsoring sports teams.

Just in the past couple of years there's been pushback against some of that marketing, as parents have gotten really upset. Now we're seeing Coke and Pepsi kind of shapeshifting. Instead of doing these very explicit marketing deals, they are getting in in much more hidden ways—things like My Coke Rewards, where they encourage schools to push their student body to purchase Coke products and in exchange for points to go toward various products for the school. It's a way for these companies to get in front of kids, presented as a form of charity.

MJ: So what should public policy do about marketing to kids?

AL: When people hear about legal restrictions on marketing and advertising, often the response is: aren't you just being a food nanny? Isn't that government playing too much of a role in our lives? Isn't it really up to parents?

When people have that response, they're forgetting the extent to which what kids are eating and drinking is having as much of an impact on their lives as, say, if they were starting to smoke cigarettes as teenagers. Diet-related illnesses are causing nearly as many deaths as tobacco-related illnesses, not to mention the impact on quality of life when you start to develop adult-onset diabetes as a child, or all these other diet-related illnesses. People would be outraged if they saw Shrek on a box of Marlboro cigarettes, but somehow are not as outraged when they see Shrek on a fast-food box.

MJ: What do you make of Michelle Obama's intervention into the kids' health debate through her Let's Move campaign?

AL: Recently the First Lady held an impressive convening on marketing to kids at the White House of about 100 people, including advocates for child health as well as representatives from Coke, Pepsi, and a number of other food companies. I applaud her and I feel it's high time we had that conversation.

My concern is that as this conversation unfolds that we need to remain very skeptical of when food industry that insists the solution is self-regulation. Just the week before Michelle Obama's event, a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation came out that looked at what self-regulation of marketing targeted to kids has gotten us. The study found that self-regulation has failed. What's really going to make a difference here is going to be real regulation—policymaking, not industry promises.

MJ: What would you say is the most insidious food myth that people, maybe even progressive-leaning people, still cling to?

AL: Even very progressive, informed people still get tongue-tied responding to the question, can organic and sustainably raised food still feed the world? A corollary to that question, and one we certainly hear a lot of these days, is that genetically modified foods are better for the environment because they use fewer chemicals, which has been thoroughly debunked.

Also, people still have this myth that we can't pay food-system workers more without hurting poor people, because it would make food cost more—even though the lowest-paid, most-exploited workers in the economy are food workers. So if you paid food workers more, they would be able to buy food for themselves. You could increase farm worker wages significantly and not change the price to the consumer at all—for instance, if you redistribute how revenue is paid out across the food chain. Labor costs, particularly farm labor, is a tiny potion of the price we pay at the supermarket.

Anna Lappé Is Ready to Bust the Food Industry's Biggest Myths | Mother Jones

Oct 1, 2013


             Larger Image - Nailed it!

The Story of Solutions

Published on Oct 1, 2013

The Story of Solutions explores how we can move our economy in a more sustainable and just direction, starting with orienting ourselves toward a new goal.

In the current 'Game of More', we're told to cheer a growing economy -- more roads, more malls, more Stuff! -- even though our health indicators are worsening, income inequality is growing and polar icecaps are melting.

But what if we changed the point of the game? What if the goal of our economy wasn't more, but better -- better health, better jobs and a better chance to survive on the planet?

Shouldn't that be what winning means?
The Story of Solutions - YouTube

Jon Stewart Shreds GOP Over Obamacare: 'Utter Insanity,' 'It's a F*cking Law!' - YouTube

Stewart Nails It!    :-)   :-)   :-)   :-)   :-)     Monte Hines

Published on Sep 30, 2013

9/30/2013 - Jon Stewart tore apart Republicans over threatening to shut the government down over Obamacare, using it to claim the GOP doesn't really care about the Constitution that much to begin with, mocking their concern that Obamacare is "the end of America as we know it for reasons no one is able to clearly explain!

Stewart walked through how Obamacare was already upheld as constitutional, and offered a simple analogy: when football teams lose, they don't say "If you don't give us 25 points on Monday, we will shut down the fucking NFL!" He decried this "utter insanity" and berated the media for thinking both sides are equally at blame here, likening Republicans to an "asshole causing a head-on collision" on the highway."

Stewart ended by calling out the GOP for the talking point that Obama negotiates with Iran but not them.

"You're not helping yourself if it turns out that President Barack Obama can made a deal with the most intransigent, hardline, unreasonable, totalitarian mullahs in the world, but not with Republicans, maybe he's not the problem!"

Jon Stewart Shreds GOP Over Obamacare: 'Utter Insanity,' 'It's a F*cking Law!' - YouTube