As billions of desert locusts swarm through East Africa and into Asia threatening the food supply of millions, environmental activists want to ban and regulate the only effective tools to stop it: pesticides.
* * *
Activist campaigns to ban pesticides around the world mean the many effective products to combat the locust invasion are no longer available. In addition, increased regulations make development of new products less profitable and leave too few options for fighting locusts and other serious crop-damaging pests.
* * *
Currently, aerial and ground-level spraying with organophosphates, particularly a product called fenitrothion, is the main, if not only, line of defense against the locusts. Yet Greenpeace and African environmental groups funded by the European Union are pressing for the elimination of this last line of defense.
By Blake Hurst
This guest post is by Blake Hurst, a farmer in northwest Missouri, growing greenhouse flowers, corn, and soybeans. He is also president of the Missouri Farm Bureau.
Farmers and what critics call “industrial agriculture“ are under public pressure—over genetically modified seeds, long-standing fear of chemicals, and concerns about animal welfare. Farmers’ methods of producing food are criticized in documentaries, in best-selling books, and of course, on Twitter. Heck, dairy farmers even got a starring role at the Academy Awards, when Joaquin Phoenix gave his opinion on the evils of drinking milk.
Not only are farmers in trouble in the court of public opinion, but we’re also faring poorly in actual courtrooms. Lawsuits against Roundup, the most ubiquitous crop-protection product on the market, have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments against the German chemical company Bayer. Bayer recently purchased Monsanto, the company that brought Roundup to the market. Hair-on-fire ads on TV and social media have convinced at least 42,000 people to file suit against Bayer, leading the company to signal a willingness to accept a multi-billion-dollar settlement.
The lawsuits claim that Roundup causes cancer, but regulatory agencies worldwide have failed to find a link between Roundup and cancer. In fact, the U.S. EPA has taken the unprecedented step of intervening in a related lawsuit in California that would require products with the chemical to be labeled as carcinogenic. The EPA has, in no uncertain terms, told the court that such a label would contradict the agency’s conclusions about the carcinogenicity of Roundup. Continue reading “The War on Roundup: A War on Science in Agriculture”