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Friday Finds: Monsanto’s Ministry of Truth

Pesticide-resistant bugs eat Monsanto’s crops, lies & profits
Monsanto is taking a page from George Orwell's 1984 with the recent release of an EPA report that chides the biotech company for not adequately monitoring its pesticide-resistant crops, reports Mother Jones. According to the agency’s report, a pesky bug known as corn rootworm is rising up and decimating corn fields in Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska. Unfortunately for Monsanto and its farmers, the insect is targeting Monsanto’s Bt corn, which is engineered precisely to resist rootworm. The problem of pesticide resistance is a well-known issue amongst those in the ag and business world these days. In fact, Earthjustice is suing the USDA for failing to adequately asses the environmental and economic impacts of Monsanto's RoundUp Ready crops. But despite evidence to the contrary, Monsanto continues to deny that its products propagate pesticide-resistant bugs and weeds, all while promoting new genetically engineered seeds designed to “fix” the very problem that it won’t admit it created. That is some clever doublespeak indeed.

Greenpeace successfully prompts Facebook to “like” clean energy
After two years of prodding by Greenpeace, Facebook has announced that it will move away from dirty coal and power its operations using clean, sustainable energy, reports the UK Guardian. According to a Greenpeace report, more than half of Facebook’s electricity is powered by coal. That’s bad news for the climate and for clean air, considering that coal plants are the nation’s worst toxic air polluters (though that could change thanks to a recent Earthjustice victory wherein the EPA set the nation’s first-ever toxic air pollution limits for power plants.) In the meantime, though, moving off coal is a great first step to greening one of the most popular social networking sites out there. Now we just need to keep a close eye on Facebook to make sure it lives up to its largely vague green promises.

McDonalds promptly pushed off of farm-to-fork bandwagon by real food advocates
The farm-to-fork movement has officially gone mainstream. Recently, McDonalds announced its intent to start telling its own farm-to-fork story through ads that will be released in January, reports Grist. Though increased access to local, unprocessed foods from small farmers is great,  McDonalds is about as farm-to-fork as Walmart is green. After all, McDonalds’—and its customers, to be fair—have an insatiable need for cheap meat, which can only be produced cost efficiently in confined animals feeding operations, or CAFOs. The problem is that CAFOs’ are home to some of the most horrific environmental and human rights abuses. Think Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle meets the movie Saw. So, until McDonalds’ makes a real effort to address some of these concerns, no amount of “farmwashing” is going to get small farm and animal rights activists (like actors Ryan Gosling and Zooey Deschanel) off its back. 

Emerald city goes green with long overdue plastic bag ban

Starting in July, plastic bags may no longer be welcome in Seattle’s grocery stores, department stores, clothing stores, convenience stores, home improvement stores, food trucks and farmers markets, reports the Seattle PI. The ban, which was recently passed by City Council members and now heads to Seattle’s mayor for signing, is a long time coming.

Seattle’s battle of the bags first began in 2008 when the council passed a 20-cent fee on bags, a measure that was promptly crushed by voters thanks to a million-dollar media blitz by the plastics industry. Since then, Seattleites have blown through almost 300 million bags per year and only recycled about 13 percent of them. The city is hoping that its second attempt at banning bags will go over better with voters this time around thanks to some lessons learned from the first bag ban fiasco. That’s good news for the environment, considering that plastic bags, which clog the oceans, our sewers and our bodies, aren't just dangerous if you stick them over your head.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.