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The Monsanto-Permaculture Alliance: Committed To Sustainable Agriculture

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Jill Cloutier

Monsanto recently announced the formation of a new MPCA or Monsanto Permaculture Alliance. The MPCA was formed to transition Monsanto from an herbicide and GMO manufacturer into a leader in the organic agriculture movement. The MPCA plans to “turn Monsanto’s liabilities into assets” using Permaculture principles.

As one company executive stated, “After attending our first PDC or Permaculture Design Course, Monsanto realized that the problem is the solution… And that we are the problem.”

Permaculture, a natural design system with roots in Australia, was created by founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren  in the 1970′s.  There are now thousands of Permaculture projects around the globe that demonstrate how Permaculture principles can be used to design resilient, sustainable and diverse landscapes and human settlements.

While some have applauded Monsanto’s efforts, many industry observers have wondered whether it’s possible to transform what has been a GMO-producing, seed patenting, farmer-suing and herbicide manufacturing behemoth into a proponent of organic agriculture?  According to Monsanto, the answer is not only that’s it’s possible, but that it’s already happening.  As one representative for the company said, “We have the brains. We have the technology. We have the resources. The only thing missing is the knowledge and that’s why hundreds of Permaculture teachers are already on their way to Monsanto locations around the globe to teach our staff  how to work with nature, instead of against her.”

Last Updated ( Thursday, 08 August 2013 15:51 ) Read more...

'Foodies' spark reawakening of Grange in California

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The state Grange still abides by its symbolic Civil War-era ceremonies, but in its modern-day role, it's become home to food literacy activists, food insecurity worriers and food sovereignty supporters. Not to mention the slow food devotees who, in turn, support the small organic farmers and local produce purveyors.

"For lack of a better term, it seems to be 'foodies' who care about community today and see the Grange as a way to provide community service," said Rick Keel, spokesman for the California State Grange.

State Grange leaders say the farm-to-fork ethos that's taken hold in Sacramento juxtaposes well with the Grange's purpose since it formed in 1867: to serve the interests of farmers.

"This food movement fits right in line with our purpose and principles," said Bob McFarland, president of the state Grange. "We call this the Grange renaissance, the reawakening of the Grange."

Last Updated ( Friday, 14 June 2013 22:13 ) Read more...

Mothers and Allies Challenge Wine Industrialist

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Half a dozen mothers from small town and rural Sebastopol in Northern California quickly rallied hundreds of people to their side to challenge Sonoma County’s Paul Hobbs Winery. He wants to convert a 40-acre apple orchard into a vineyard that would use pesticides; it borders five schools on Watertrough Road, including Apple Blossom and Orchard View. Together they have around 700 children, as well as many teachers, staff, neighbors and wildlife.

The mothers only found out in late April about Hobbs’ plan and in less than a week got over 400 signatures on their petition “Stop alcohol firms from endangering children and the environment.” The conversion has been in process for around a year--as some school officials apparently knew—but parents did not find about it until recently, when workers in hazmat suits showed up to demolish a house and barn.

“We are deeply troubled by the cumulative, chronic, and acute health effects from the use of pesticides, fumigants, insecticides, rodenticides, and other toxic chemicals,” the petition notes.

Parents complain that this fast-moving conversion has had no public input yet and is reaching its final stage. They see it as primarily a health issue. The parents are especially concerned about the possible presence--after decades of pesticide use in the orchard--of lead arsenate in the soil and the damage it is known to do to children.

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 May 2013 01:35 ) Read more...
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