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November 2018

PESTICIDE NEWS The Journal of Pesticide Action Network UK

An international perspective on the health and environmental effects of pesticides

ISSN 2514-5770

MONSANTO RESISTANCE CONTINUES TO BUILD FOLLOWING LANDMARK VERDICT An insider's perspective by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr Every day for five weeks, I sat in a San Francisco courtroom. I listened as Dewayne “Lee” Johnson described, in excruciating detail, how non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a painful and potentially terminal cancer, robbed him of his health.

In the weeks following the verdict, Monsanto filed two motions; one to overturn or amend the verdict, and the other to grant a new trial. On 22nd October, Judge Bolanos ruled to uphold the jury verdict but reduced the punitive damages from $250 million to $39.2 million, bringing the total verdict to $79.4 million.

I watched Monsanto’s lawyers try to deny that Roundup weed killer caused Lee’s cancer. I watched Monsanto’s experts dance around the company’s herculean 40-year campaign to hide the truth about Roundup’s deadly cancer-causing properties.

While we think the punitive damages reduction was not appropriate, Judge Bolanos’ final ruling did weigh the liability and punitive conduct evidence according to the required standard: in a light most favorable to the prevailing party, thus preserving the jury’s basic findings.

Thankfully, the jury didn’t buy it.

As many already know, the trial culminated in a $289.2 million To hopefully achieve Dewayne Johnson jury verdict for Lee a final resolution within wearing a protective mask Johnson and his family. his lifetime, Mr. Johnson and suit while applying It is a major victory decided to accept Roundup. for everyone who has the punitive damages fought to hold Monsanto reduction suggested by Judge accountable for capturing our Bolanos. regulatory agencies, manipulating our public officials, ghostwriting We expect Monsanto to appeal, scientific articles, corrupting science notwithstanding, so we will address all and misleading consumers, farmers, issues regarding the verdict and the gardeners and the public. amount of damages at the U.S. Court of But the fight is far from over. Appeals. 2


UPDATE ON THE MONSANTO ROUNDUP LITIGATION As of October 2018, between 8,000 and 9,000 cases against Monsanto based on similar allegations are pending in federal and state courts throughout the United States.

Monsanto also faces thousands of cases in state court cases filed in California, Delaware, Missouri, Montana and elsewhere. The first state court case is scheduled to begin in St. Louis City Court on Feb. 6, 2019. The case is Ronald Peterson and Jeff Hall v. Monsanto Company.

The federal Monsanto Roundup litigation consists of more than 560 cases filed in federal courts across the U.S. These cases are consolidated in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco, California. Last month, Judge Chhabria chose four potential bellwether cases for trial dates, though he is seeking a larger pool.

Another Missouri case, this one in St. Louis County Court, is scheduled to begin on 22 April 2019. In California, a state court case involving Alva and Alberta Pilliod, a husband and wife who both have non-Hodgkin lymphoma, could begin as early as December 2018. A hearing on the couple’s request for an expedited trial is scheduled for 7th November 2018.

The first Roundup multidistrict litigation cases will be heard Feb. 25, 2019 and May 2019. The potential bellwether cases are as follows (in no particular order): Hardeman v. Monsanto, Case No. 3:16-cv-00525 Stevick v. Monsanto, Case No. 3:16-cv-02341 Gebeyehou v. Monsanto, Case No. 3:16-cv-05813 Penrod v. Monsanto, Case No. 3:16-cv-5901 Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is a longtime environmental advocate and author of American Values: Lessons I Learned From My Family. He is an attorney of counsel to Baum Hedlund Aristei & Goldman, representing nearly 800 people across the nation who allege Roundup exposure caused their non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Follow him on Twitter: @RobertKennedyJr Like him on Facebook: @rfkjr 3


THE RISE OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN ETHIOPIA Pesticide Action Nexus Ethiopia (PAN Ethiopia) has taken on the role of implementing the ‘information and communication pillar’ of the Ecological Organic Agriculture (EOA) initiative in Ethiopia. The aim is to complement the work of other EOA partners, creating increased awareness and knowledge of the value and practices of EOA as well as strengthening agricultural extension support systems. Poor communication and lack of dialogue among research institutions, extension agents and rural farming communities in Ethiopia has resulted in a mismatch of demand and provision of appropriate technologies. This situation has contributed to the country’s persistent problems with food insecurity, environmental degradation and low household incomes among smallholder farmers. PAN Ethiopia’s work as a pillar ‘implementer’ aims to share insights and lessons from experiences by farmers, food processors, marketers, agricultural extension agents and researchers in order to sensitise the general public and policy makers to the importance of EOA in general and organic agriculture in particular.

Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania and Uganda and is funded mainly by the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC) and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC). In-country activities are driven by six strategic pillars: • • • • • •

Research, training and extension Information and communication Value chain and market development Networking and partnership Supportive policies and program Institutional capacity development

WHAT PROGRESS HAS THE EOA MADE SO FAR? The Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD), in collaboration with numerous partners including the National Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resource, universities, NGOs and media institutions, has been implementing EOA activities in different parts of the country. They have worked with smallholder vegetable farmers in the Holeta area of the Oromia region and the South Wollo zone of the Amhara region and helped these farmers to set up their own organic farming associations in order to find better market links and bridge the gap between organic producers and consumers.

WHAT IS THE EOA INITIATIVE? The initiative is led by the African Union and began in 2013, aiming to establish an African organic farming platform based on available best practices and to develop sustainable organic farming systems. Its mission is to promote ecologically sound practices among diverse stakeholders in production, processing, marketing and policy-making to safeguard the environment, improve livelihoods, alleviate poverty and guarantee food security. The project is currently being implemented in Benin, Ethiopia, Kenya, 4


Members of Estena association on their beetroot farm (Credit: ISD)



Results have revealed a strong demand for organic products, mainly in Addis Ababa. To link trained, organic farmers more directly with consumers in the capital, the project has supported farmers in agreeing contracts with supermarkets and organising organic market open days.

grown under organic practices. Bearing in mind that third party certification is too expensive for smallholders, ISD laid the groundwork to start a participatory guarantee system (PGS) which serves as a locally appropriate form of ‘certification’. The essence of the PGS system is for organic producers and consumers to establish a functioning certification scheme based on trust. In order to push the PGS system forward, ISD has developed PGS guidelines, for use by farmers and consumers. Once the PGS is validated, it will be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resource’s organic desk as the Ministry is striving to establish a PGS system across the country.

So far, EOA activities in Ethiopia have focused on vegetable and fruit production, especially in areas where smallholder farmers are more engaged in growing these crops. In Oromia, Amhara and Tigray, the training and extension component is working with agriculture offices at the village level. Smallholder farmers, government agricultural extension agents, women and youth are at the forefront of the activities. Street fairs were organised under the slogan ‘Ecologically produced organic food for all’ to showcase produce grown under agroecological practices and to educate consumers about the benefits of choosing EOA produce and supporting EOA farmers.

NEXT STEPS... A road map for Ecological Organic Agriculture policy in Ethiopia, as a guidance document to implement ecological organic agriculture nationally, was drafted in 2018, using lessons and experiences from EOA activities conducted by the different implementing partners. This is due to be submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Resources for adoption as supportive guidance of the already existing organic agriculture proclamation. A clear, strong national policy from Ethiopia’s federal and regional governments to promote agroecological production will serve as a major driving force for organic producers, traders and consumers to build a safer, more sustainable, and socially just, local food system. However, a national organic regulation that enforces its implementation is required.

The main beneficiaries of the initiative are: smallholder families and farmer groups working as associations or cooperatives; community based organisations; and young people and youth groups. The goal is to have organic and agroecological practices taken up for improved health and economically sustainable livelihoods. A special emphasis is given to maximising the involvement of women as producers, processors, marketers, and also at the level of PhD/MSc trainees and policy makers. EOA activities have highlighted the importance of a certification scheme that allows organic consumers a guarantee that the produce sold as organic was 6


With thanks to Selam Yilma, Communications Officer at PAN Ethiopia, for this article. Selam works on joint projects with PAN UK, including the organic cotton project in the Southern Rift Valley (Arba Minch) and the vegetable IPM project in the Central Rift Valley (Ziway). She is also the main contact for the EOA project activities currently being implemented by PAN Ethiopia and can be contacted on selamyilma@gmail.com. "I am happy that I am able to work to improve the productivity and livelihood of farmers using ecological practices and climate smart technologies that create a better environment."



AN ALTERNATIVE TO GLYPHOSATE WHEN DEALING WITH JAPANESE KNOTWEED Japanese knotweed is a non-native invader, introduced in the 19th Century as an ornamental plant. The spread of this species across the UK has been astonishing. Thanks to its ability to regenerate from tiny fragments of rhizome, its root system, it is now thought to be present in every 10km2 of the UK and causes problems across a range of sectors. Current strategies for controlling the species have, until relatively recently, relied heavily on chemical herbicides such as Glyphosate, aminopyralid and triclopyr, with multiple applications required over a 3 to 5 year period to successfully control the plant. This amounts to a considerable use of herbicide across the industry.

developed in collaboration with Dr Eric Donnelly, provides an environmentallyfriendly method of controlling the invasive species, eliminating the need for chemical herbicides.

HOW DOES IT WORK? MeshTech works by using Japanese knotweeds aggressive growth against itself, forcing the plant to grow through a plate of mesh which then naturally severs the stems as the grow larger.

This over reliance on herbicides, combined with possible associated threats to the wider environment and the current push to reduce or remove pesticides entirely by Local Authorities, has lead the Japanese Knotweed Solutions (JKSL) development team to look for an alternative.

MeshTech causes damage to the Japanese knotweed stems in several ways: • The plant's water transport system (xylem) is restricted, reducing the amount of water and nutrients which reaches the leaves causing the plant to wilt and weaken;

AN ALTERNATIVE APPROACH JKSL has developed MeshTech, an altogether different strategy for Japanese knotweed treatment. The bespoke and patented technology,

• Damage to the phloem restricts the transport of sugars and proteins from the leaf back to the rhizome; 8



• Friction at the point of contact with the mesh causes abrasions to the stem, which then leads to localised infection, rot and further weakening.

MeshTech offers an environmentally friendly, chemical free alternative to controlling Japanese knotweed and is suitable on sites that remain undisturbed and are not planned for development such as:

As stems are broken off through interactions with the mesh, the plant begins to produce new shoots from dormant nodes to replace those lost. This contest of stem growth and damage depletes the rhizome of its vital carbohydrate stores.

• • • •

Not all the stems are killed each season, but those which last through the summer are on average ½ the height of those in a control group. Plants enter a state of dormancy over the winter period, depleted of carbohydrates. Once the plants energy stores have been fully exhausted, the plant will die, typically five years after initial installation and at this point the MeshTech process is complete.

Parks and public open spaces Riverbanks Road verges Environmentally sensitive areas

Installation cost varies between sites depending on size of stands, topography and the ground preparation required but is comparable to chemical treatment over a 5 year period. The galvanised, steel product is easily recyclable and fully reusable allowing the mesh to be used on other projects, eliminating the need for chemical herbicides.

Thanks to JKSL for this article - for further information please contact them on jk@sltd.co.uk or call 0161 723 2000. 9


DECISION TIME FOR UK AGRICULTURE by Josie Cohen, Head of Policy & Campaigns, PAN UK The Agriculture Bill currently going through parliament is the first chance the UK has had since 1947 to fundamentally reshape how we grow our food. It offers us the opportunity to usher in a new era of sustainable agriculture which better protects both human health and our natural environment. From PAN UK’s perspective, the Bill provides the government a unique opportunity to put in place the support British farmers need to shift away from our current model of agriculture which relies heavily on pesticides, and move towards genuine agro-ecological approaches. UK pesticide use has risen alarmingly in the past three decades, with the area of land treated increasing by 63% and the average number of times pesticides are applied to UK crops almost doubling. However, despite these concerning figures, there is a real danger that we will use the Bill to continue supporting the ‘business as usual’, industrial approach which has seen UK farmland bird numbers cut in half, our water sources contaminated and a wide range of species, including bees and other pollinators, under threat.

As you can tell, there is a lot at stake. And it really could go either way.

WHY DO WE NEED A NEW BILL? The need for a new Agriculture Bill is born out of Brexit and the UK’s imminent departure from the European system known as the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). CAP has shaped UK agriculture since the 1960s, but has been widely criticised for being overly bureaucratic for farmers and driving environmental destruction. In fact, the dire need to redesign the UK’s agricultural system is one of the few things that both Leavers and Remainers seem able to agree upon. Successive UK governments have long ignored calls to tackle rising pesticide use and continued to support industrialscale agriculture. We were therefore shocked and delighted when Secretary of State for Environment, Agriculture and Rural Affairs – Michael Gove –

announced in July 2017 that the postBrexit system would pay farmers “public money for public goods”. He defined public goods as work by farmers “to enhance the environment and invest in sustainable food production”. In other words, only farmers working hard to minimise the negative impacts of their operations will be able to access state subsidies. While this appears to be extremely positive, the devil is in the detail and there has been a flurry of activity to clarify exactly what kinds of ‘public goods’ will receive state support. For PAN UK, it’s vital that state subsidies are given to farmers using techniques such as Integrated Pest Management (an approach that can broadly be described as ‘pesticides as a last resort’). This would create a powerful financial incentive for farmers to reduce their pesticide use.

FAILINGS OF THE CURRENT DRAFT OF THE AGRICULTURE BILL Despite Gove’s announcement and the commitment to reduce pesticide use in the government’s recent 25 Year Environment Plan, the current draft of the Bill fails to even mention pesticides. While it does enable state support for ‘managing land or water in a way that protects or improves the environment’, it also contains a number of worrying mentions of payments for ‘improving productivity’ and ‘protecting or improving the health of plants’ which are both phrases deployed by propesticide lobby groups to justify high levels of use.

This failure to provide detail on how the UK plans to reduce pesticide use is highly disappointing. PAN UK has long been pushing for the adoption of a pesticide reduction target and the Agriculture Bill would be the perfect place to include it. A reduction target would help consolidate the wide range of existing government activities on pesticides and provide UK farmers with clarity as to the government’s direction of travel in terms of pesticide use, enabling them to make long-term decisions. Targets have been proven to work and have been key to driving down pesticide use in a range of other countries such as Denmark and France.

SO WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? The Agriculture Bill has had its Second Reading in parliament and is now being scrutinised line-by-line by a committee of MPs. However, it still has a long way to go before it’s passed into law and there remain plenty of opportunities to amend the Bill as it makes its way through the House of Commons and the Lords. PAN UK will continue to campaign vociferously to include a pesticide reduction target in the final Agriculture Law to ensure it delivers the environmental and health benefits we so desperately need. If we miss this opportunity, it’s likely that we won’t get another one for at least a generation. We must take the time to get this right.

We will be creating opportunities for UK citizens to contact their MPs directly regarding the Agriculture Bill. We will let you know the most strategic time to make your voice heard, so please subscribe for updates or keep an eye on our website and social media pages.

A TRIBUTE TO PETER MELCHETT for destroying a field of GM maize in Norfolk. At the trial, Peter and his fellow campaigners were acquitted by the jury, accepting their defence that they acted to prevent GM pollen escaping and contaminating neighbouring crops. Under Peter's leadership Greenpeace thrived and become one of the largest and high profile environmental organisations in the UK.

It is with great sadness that we report the death of Peter Melchett, a towering figure in the environmental movement, passionate campaigner for organic agriculture and good friend of PAN UK. For the past 16 years, Peter was Policy Director of the Soil Association where he fought tenaciously to expand organic agriculture in the UK, spelling out clearly the benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment. The harm caused by pesticides was an issue close to his heart, and while at the Soil Association he launched campaigns to protect pollinators from neonicotinoid insecticides; to raise awareness about the massive overuse of glyphosate in wheat growing; and exposed the steady increase in the number of pesticides used in UK agriculture.

Prior to his environmental activism, Peter had a successful political career and served in the Labour governments of Harold Wilson and Jim Callaghan in the 1970s, including as Minister of State for Northern Ireland. But above all, Peter was also a great human being. He was principled and passionate, but also pragmatic and was driven to make a difference. He was patient, and generous with his time and always willing to build bridges and work collaboratively. He will be sorely missed.

But Peter will be most remembered for his 12 years as Executive Director of Greenpeace, and in particular for his direct action to oppose the growing of GM crops in the UK. In 1999, along with 27 other activists, he was arrested and charged with criminal damage

Peter died at home on his organic farm in Norfolk surrounded by his family – he was 71.



Profile for PAN UK

Pesticide News - Issue 115  

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