Jessica Corbett, Common Dreams
Austria is on track to become the first country in the European Union (EU) to fully ban the world’s most commonly used herbicide after the nation’s lower house of parliament passed a bill Tuesday that would outlaw all uses of glyphosate, which researchers and global health experts have tied to cancer.
“The scientific evidence of the plant poison’s carcinogenic effect is increasing,” the leader of Austria’s Social Democrats, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said in a statement. “It is our responsibility to ban this poison from our environment.”
Glyphosate is a key ingredient in Roundup — a product of Monsanto, a U.S. company that merged with German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year. Reuters noted that “it is now off-patent and marketed worldwide by dozens of other chemical groups including Dow Agrosciences and Germany’s BASF.”
In 2015, glyphosate was classified as a “probable carcinogen” by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer. Despite that designation, mounting public concerns, and a series of ongoing legal battles launched by cancer patients in the U.S., Bayer has maintained that Roundup is safe — and regulators in both the U.S. and EU have continued to permit the widespread use of the weed killer.
Katharina Rall, a researcher with the Environment and Human Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, welcomed Austrian lawmakers’ move as “good news.”
Following the lower chamber’s vote Tuesday, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported that “unless Austria’s upper house chooses to object the glyphosate ban, the bill will be signed into law by the country’s president, Alexander Van der Bellen.”
DW pointed out that the ban, if it takes effect, will put Austria at odds with the EU policy on glyphosate.
“This ban would apparently clash with E.U. rules, as, in 2017, the bloc cleared the herbicide for use for the next five years. The E.U. relies on the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency which did not classify glyphosate as carcinogenic. However, reports from earlier this year indicated that some European regulators were copying and pasting from studies conducted by Monsanto itself.”
A spokesperson for Bayer told the Wall Street Journal, “We expect the European Commission to review this decision critically, as it may be inconsistent with mandatory legal and procedural requirements and scientific reasoning.”
The bill was also criticized on legal grounds by Austria’s right-wing People’s Party (OVP), which opposed the ban as “a slap in the face to farmers,” as well as the country’s sustainability ministry, which is responsible for agriculture and the environment.
However, Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) joined with the liberal Neos party and the Social Democrats Tuesday in passing the bill. Putting that vote into context, Reuters explained that the country “is currently led by a provisional government of civil servants ahead of a parliamentary election expected in September. Political parties are forming shifting alliances to pass laws that appeal to their voters before parliament goes into recess this week until the election.”
Erwin Preiner, a member of the Austrian parliament for the Social Democrats who worked on the ban, told the Journal, “We want to be a role model for other countries in the E.U. and the world.”
As of 2017, Austria had the highest portion of organic farmland among all EU member states — 23.4 percent, compared with the bloc’s average of just 7 percent. Though Austria’s action targeting glyphosate may be the boldest yet in Europe, the country is not alone in considering strict regulations of the weed killer.
“Among Austria’s EU partners, France said in 2017 it hoped to ban glyphosate within three years, but President Emmanuel Macron has since said such a move could not be ‘100 percent,’” reported Agence France-Presse. “In May 2018, the French government pledged to ban glyphosate ‘for its main uses’ by 2021, and ‘for all of its uses’ within five years. In January 2019, French authorities banned the sale of Roundup Pro 360.”
About the Author
Jessica Corbett is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter: @corbett_jessica.
10 Vegetables You Can Easily Grow At Home All Year Round
Home gardening is making a huge comeback!
Elias Marat, The Mind Unleashed
As the coronavirus spreads across the United States, countless families are preparing to hunker down for what could be an indefinite amount of time. Whether it’s because of orders to “shelter-in-place,” self-quarantine, or simply our own conscience telling us it’s the right thing to do for the public good, many of us are preparing for a long stay at home.
With store shelves being stripped bare by panicked shoppers and many of our work hours—if not our entire jobs—being cut back due to the crisis, food security has suddenly become an issue, not only for our households but for our communities as well.
Because of this, home gardening could likely make a big comeback. Just as past generations of Americans responded to World Wars I & II with “victory gardens” at home, current generations could be set to revive the practice of planting, harvesting, and eating our own food. If anything, CoViD-19 could help us become reacquainted with some better habits when it comes to not just hygiene but general nutrition and self-sufficiency.
Here are just a few plants that can easily be grown in a small apartment or home.
Whether you’re living in a sprawling condo or a tiny studio apartment, growing and harvesting herbs is supremely easy. Foodies who aren’t keen on blowing their hard-earned dollars on spices at Whole Foods can easily grow little pots of basil, mint, ginger, cilantro, parsley, or rosemary at home. All you need is a nice sunny spot on your window sill or fire escape and a bit of regular watering, and you’ll soon have fresh herbs in every meal!
Don’t let the price-tag fool you! While kale may be a trendy item at health food stores and restaurants, the plant is surprisingly easy to grow indoors—even during the colder months!
However, of key importance is to sow the seeds a bit farther apart than normal to allow the kale plants adequate room for growth. Within a week, you’ll soon see your kale sprouting! And then it’s only a matter of time before you’re baking kale chips, drinking kale smoothies, and enjoying a healthy kale salad!
Carrots can be a super fun vegetable for beginners to grow indoors because anyone can help keep a steady level of moisture in the soil, it’s not too hard! Carrots also come in a dazzling array of different types—from the common Imperator to the dozens of varieties of the reddish, crunchy Nantes—that can all be grown indoors and aren’t always easily found at local markets.
All you’ll need is a 12-inch pot, soil, and a sunny window, and you’re all set to be on your way to harvesting some nutritious and tasty carrots!
4. Bell Peppers
Growing bell peppers indoors can help one gain proper control of the growing environment, which in turn produces stunning peppers. Bell peppers also have a nice and long indoor growing season, which means a much larger yield spanning longer periods of time.
Mushrooms are one of nature’s gifts to our pantry, mainly because the low-calorie fungi are very healthy as well as tasty, high in fibre, and chock full of healthy potassium.
Growing them at home is extremely easy and because they grow in dark, moist environments, they can be grown by anyone just about anywhere. It takes about 4.5 weeks to grow mushies from start to plate, and there are few things as fun as picking the little guys and eating them in the same day.
Beets are a brilliantly colourful addition to any plate, but they also pack a strong nutritional power-punch of vitamins and minerals. The root vegetable is perfect for beginning gardeners because they are so easy to grow indoors, and a beginning chef would do well to experiment with beet dishes—be it a satisfying Russian borscht soup or some nice beet pickles.
Growing potatoes is one of the easiest things you could do, whether you are growing them in a large basket, a big bucket, or even in a plastic sack. But when you’re growing them, leave some empty space at the top so you can dump some fresh compost in and help the root veggie develop.
8. Micro greens
Micro greens are delicious super-foods, tiny green plants that are packed with flavour and normally cost an arm and a leg at the local supermarket. But they’re also very easy to grow at home with a few basic supplies, a bit of sunlight, and a small container. It takes only 2 to 3 short weeks from planting to harvesting before you can have a plateful of healthy micro greens.
Onions are awesome to grow indoors in decorative pots or water dishes because not only do they not take up much space or require direct sunlight, but they naturally re-sprout. What this means is that you can grow new onions from seeds, or you can take your old onion scraps and sprout new onions, ensuring that your kitchen never goes without fresh bulbs.
Like onions, garlic is a re-sprouting plant that can be harvested year-round to ensure that you always have the tasty plant in your kitchen. You can also trim the shoots of the garlic bulb to use in soups, pizzas, or as a delicious garnish! Just get some good garlic from a nursery or online, break up the bulbs, and plant your biggest cloves. Soon you’ll see the green shoots of the plant, which are also edible, and after 10 months you’ll have some delicious home-grown garlic!
Norway Becomes First Country To Ban Palm Oil-Based Biofuel
Norway made history this month when the nation’s parliament announced plans to ban Palm oil-based biofuels. The decision was made as an effort to protect Indonesian rainforests, which are being destructed and destroyed to plant more plantations for palm.
As a result of the ban, biofuel industries in Norway will have until 2020 to phase out the use of palm oil. According to the non-profit Rainforest Rescue — which acts to preserve rainforests, protect its inhabitants, and further social reforms worldwide — 61% of the 7.7 million tons of palm oil consumed in Europe last year was used on energy (biofuel, power, and heat), while the remaining 39% was used on food, animal feed, and chemical products.
Despite the biofuel ruling, palm oil will still be permitted in food and cosmetic (and other non-energy) items; however, the European Union is hopefully working towards a 2030 deadline that will phase out other palm oil products, with hopes that other countries will institute their own bans again palm oil-based biofuels, like Norway has.
As Nils Hermann Ranum of the Rainforest Foundation Norway said in a statement, “The Norwegian Parliament’s decision sets an important example to other countries and demonstrates the need for a serious reform of the world’s palm oil industry.”
Though the latest ruling is an important one, it was not necessarily an easy one; the majority vote by Parliament came after many years of discussion, and a vote last year to stop the government from purchasing palm oil for biofuel.
As Rainforest Rescue has explained, the demand for palm oil plantations has had catastrophic consequences for animals and humans alike; the destruction of the rainforest in Southeast Asia in order to make room for the plantations has released vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere (so much so that in 2015, Indonesia — the largest producer of palm oil — temporarily surpassed the United States in terms of greenhouse gas emissions). The clearing of the rainforest has been problematic for the animals that have lost their habitats as well, with species such as orangutans, Borneo elephant, and Sumatran tigers are being pushed closer to extinction.
And, as Rainforest Foundation Norway put it, this is more than just a win for Norway; the group said in a statement, “This is a victory in the fight for the rainforest and the climate.”
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Mainstream Media Finally Admits Legal Hemp Is The Answer To Dependency On Big Oil
Matt Agorist, The Free Thought Project
Because government is the antithesis to freedom, industrial hemp has been banned nationwide since 1937 ostensibly due to the plant’s similarities to cannabis. Many have speculated that this move was also due to the fact that cannabis is in direct competition with the pharmaceutical industry by providing far safer alternative treatments as well as directly competing with the petrochemical industry. However, all this changed in December after President Donald Trump signed the Agriculture Improvement act of 2018, legalizing industrial hemp on a national scale.
Despite this move, law enforcement across the country continues to go after entirely legal businesses for selling this THC-free version of the cannabis plant. However, they are quickly being exposed for the tyrants that they are. Even the mainstream media—that have long suppressed and ignored the benefits of the hemp plant—are now forced to cover its benefits.
In an article out of Forbes this week, titled, “Industrial Hemp Is The Answer To Petrochemical Dependency,” the case is made for an environmentally friendly solution to the monopoly the petrochemical industry has had over fuel and plastics.
As Forbes reports, “our dependency on petrochemicals has proven hard to overcome, largely because these materials are as versatile as they are volatile. From fuel to plastics to textiles to paper to packaging to construction materials to cleaning supplies, petroleum-based products are critical to our industrial infrastructure and way of life.”
But all this is now changing. Thanks to the many states that chose to disobey hemp prohibition, the federal government was forced to legalize it nationally.
As Forbes points out:
“The crop can be used to make everything from biodegradable plastic to construction materials like flooring, siding, drywall and insulation to paper to clothing to soap to biofuels made from hemp seeds and stalks. Porsche is even using hemp-based material in the body of its 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport track car to reduce the weight while maintaining rigidity and safety.”
The shift from petrochemical dependency to a sustainable model of hemp production is not only going to help remove the world’s dependency on big oil, but it is a necessity if we are going to maintain a healthy planet.
Right now, one garbage truck of plastic is being dumped into the ocean every minute.
This disturbing reality is underscored by the recent discovery of another giant patch of plastic—bigger than Mexico—floating in the South Pacific Sea. It was discovered by Captain Charles Moore, who found the North Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997.
One million seabirds die each year from ingesting plastic, and up to 90 percent have plastic in their guts. Microplastic (resulting from the breakdown of larger pieces by sunlight and waves) and microbeads (used in body washes and facial cleansers) are the ocean’s smog. They absorb toxins in the water and enter the food chain, from the smallest plankton to the largest whales, as well as humans.
Lawmakers unable to see past the act of scribbling on legal paper to solve problems have been suppressing the ability of humankind to free themselves from this problem with free market solutions like hemp. Instead of pushing to legalize hemp and help to cultivate infrastructure that would boost its production, states like California moved to make straws illegal. Nice work Cali.
Plastic in the ocean is a very real danger to the environment and all life on the planet. But, are waiters and straws responsible? Should they be thrown in jail for offering a customer a straw with their iced tea?
No, and anyone who supports such tyranny does more to hinder the progress of humanity than any waiter giving a customer a staw ever would. In fact, government created the plastics problem in the first place by banning hemp.
There are solutions—outside of the police state.
Hemp, one of the most useful plants on the planet, has thousands of applications, including making plastic that is biodegradable and non-toxic.
Fuel is an option as well. In fact, the first cars were initially built to run on ethanol, or alcohol, which could also be derived from hemp. Henry Ford even famously designed a car model that ran on hemp fuel and was partially built with hemp as well.
Because of government however, alcohol and cannabis prohibition made it impossible for these types of engines to be on the market, so the industry turned to gas and oil, which has had devastating consequences for the environment in just the last century.
Now, it appears that this paradigm is shifting. It will, however, take some time.
As Forbes notes, because prohibition has been in place for so long, the infrastructure needed to make a revolutionary change to the market is simply not there yet.
“This infrastructural vacuum has created challenges around everything from seed genetics to planting to irrigation to harvesting to processing to pricing to distribution.
While the trends favour hemp, they are unlikely to allow industrial hemp to out produce or outcompete petrochemical products any time soon. Nevertheless, the growing understanding of, interest in and infrastructure for hemp will certainly allow it to have a permanent place in our economy, one that will contribute to a greener, healthier world.”
And just like that, we see how fewer laws—not more—pave the way for sustainable innovation and environmental efficiency.
About the Author
Matt Agorist is an honourably discharged veteran of the USMC and former intelligence operator directly tasked by the NSA. This prior experience gives him unique insight into the world of government corruption and the American police state. Agorist has been an independent journalist for over a decade and has been featured on mainstream networks around the world. Agorist is also the Editor at Large at the Free Thought Project. Follow @MattAgorist on Twitter, Steemit, and now on Minds.
This article (Mainstream Media Finally Admits Legal Hemp is the Answer to Dependency on Big Oil) was originally featured at The Free Thought Project and is re-posted under Creative Commons.
Here Comes Hemp: Congress Votes To Unleash A Billion-Dollar Industry
Phillip Smith, Drug Reporter
The Senate on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday gave final approval to the massive 2018 Farm Bill, including a provision that will end an eight-decade ban on industrial hemp, that non-psychoactive but extremely useful member of the cannabis family. President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.
Even though you could smoke a hemp joint the size of a telephone pole and get nothing more than a cough and a headache, for decades the DEA has refused to recognize any distinction between hemp and cannabis that gets you high. That meant that American farmers could not legally produce hemp for a hemp products industry worth $820 million last year and expected to break the billion-dollar mark this year.
That’s right: Thanks to a federal court case brought against the DEA more than a decade ago, farmers in countries where hemp is legal can export it to the U.S., and companies in the U.S. can turn that hemp into a variety of products ranging from foods to clothing to auto body parts to building materials and beyond, but U.S. farmers can’t grow it. That’s about to change.
“For too long, the outrageous and outdated ban on growing hemp has hamstrung farmers in Oregon and across the country,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). “Hemp products are made in America, sold in America, and consumed in America. Now, hemp will be able to be legally grown in America, to the economic benefit of consumers and farmers in Oregon and nationwide.”
Wyden and fellow Oregonian Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) teamed up with Kentucky Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell to sponsor the bill and guide it through Congress. McConnell’s role as Senate Majority Leader certainly didn’t hurt the bill’s prospects.
As well as guiding the bill forward, McConnell took to the Senate floor on various occasions to support it. In his statement on the passage of the farm bill, he touted “the new opportunities available with the full legalization of industrial hemp.”
“Finally we are recognizing industrial hemp for the agricultural product it is,” Merkley said. “This is a cash crop that hasn’t been allowed to meet its full economic potential because of outdated restrictions. When I visited a hemp farm mid-harvest, I saw first-hand the enormous potential of this diverse crop under the limited 2014 farm bill. This full legalization provides economic opportunity for farmers across rural Oregon and rural America—good for jobs, good for our communities, and just good common sense.”
The bill defines hemp as cannabis with 0.3 percent THC or less by dry weight and removes it from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Regulatory authority over hemp moves from the DEA to the Agriculture Department. The definition of hemp in the bill includes all parts of the plant and specifically lists cannabinoids, including CBD, that are removed from control of the CSA. The bill also includes funding and authorization for research and authorizes crop insurance for hemp farmers.
The inclusion of CBD has the potential of greatly expanding the size of the legal hemp industry. Hemp-based CBD wellness products—a category that didn’t exist five years ago—already account for nearly a quarter of the domestic hemp market, and the Hemp Business Journal predicts they will account for nearly $650 million worth of sales by 2022, becoming the single largest sector of the hemp market.
It’s been more than 40 years since Jack Herer ignited the cannabis movement’s interest in hemp with The Emperor Wears No Clothes: Hemp and the Cannabis Conspiracy. Herer is long gone—he died at age 70 in 2010—but the movement he launched has now reached the promised land. The single most ridiculously unjustifiable aspect of federal cannabis prohibition has been killed; now it’s time to finish the job by ending federal cannabis prohibition.
About the Author
Phillip Smith writes for Drug Reporter, a project of the Independent Media Institute, and where this article was originally featured.
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