Capital press. (Salem, OR) 19??-current, November 06, 2015, Page 12, Image 12

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November 6, 2015
Chlorpyrifos maker confident
despite revocation proposal
Environmental regulators propose revoking food residue tolerances for insecticide
Capital Press
The manufacturer of chlor-
phyrifos expects that further
studies will allow for the insec-
ticide’s continued use despite a
regulatory proposal to prohibit
most of its applications.
Dow AgroSciences claims
the U.S. Environmental Protec-
tion Agency’s proposal to re-
voke all food residue “toleranc-
es” for the insecticide won’t stop
growers from using it next year.
EPA won’t stop usage of
the chemical until it receives
input from stakeholders, such
as farmers who rely on it, Dow
said in a statement.
The company also said it
“remains confident” the toler-
ances for chlorpyrifos ultimate-
ly won’t be revoked after the
EPA conducts a “more refined
analysis of data,” Dow said.
In 2007, Pesticide Action
Network North America, an en-
vironmental group, petitioned
the agency to prohibit the in-
secticide due to alleged dangers
that it poses to farmworkers and
their children.
PANNA filed a lawsuit
against the EPA after it failed to
act on the petition — the agen-
cy said it needed more time to
study the issue — and earlier
this year, the 9th U.S. Circuit
Court of Appeals ordered the
government to make a decision.
EPA initially said it would
propose revoking all tolerances
next April, but the 9th Circuit
said the delay was unaccept-
able and ordered the agency to
decide by Oct. 31.
The agency has now pro-
posed the revocation but said
it won’t become final until
an assessment of the chem-
ical’s impacts on drinking
water is complete.
Environmental and farm-
worker groups said the EPA’s
decision is a “step forward on
the path to environmental jus-
tice” but urged the agency to
“move quickly to protect work-
ers and children,” according to a
statement from Earthjustice, the
law firm representing PANNA.
Growers of crops like cauli-
flower, cabbage, broccoli and
citrus fruits would be most
affected by a ban, but non-
food crops wouldn’t be sub-
ject to the tolerance revoca-
tion, EPA said.
Carol Ryan Dumas/Capital Press
April Hulet, assistant professor in the University of Idaho Depart-
ment of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences, discusses research
on seed treatments to enhance germination, emergence and
early seedling growth of sagebrush on rangelands during the Fall
Rangeland Forum on Oct. 22 in Jerome, Idaho.
Researchers target
seed enhancement in
Jury to settle billion-dollar battle between sweeteners
Capital Press
Associated Press
Big Sugar and Big Corn faced
off in court this week in a bit-
ter, multibillion-dollar battle
of sweeteners that boils down
to a mix of science, semantics
and marketing.
Jurors in the case between
sugar processors and corn
manufacturers will take up
one of nutrition’s most vexing
debates and confront a choice
common among some con-
sumers: sugar or high fructose
corn syrup?
The trial that started Tues-
day in federal court grew out
of efforts by the Corn Refin-
ers Association to rebrand its
high fructose corn syrup as
“corn sugar” to reverse dam-
aging publicity that associated
it with diabetes and obesity.
Its ad campaign featured a
TV commercial with a father
walking with his daughter
across a cornfield and saying
that he’s reassured by experts
that high fructose corn syrup
is the same as cane sugar.
“Your body can’t tell the
difference,” he says. “Sugar
is sugar.”
That didn’t go over well
with the Western Sugar Co-
operative and other sugar
processors, who sued the corn
refiners and Archer Daniels
Midland Co. and Cargill Inc.
for false advertising. They are
seeking as much as $2 billion.
Corn refiners and the two
agribusiness giants counter-
sued, charging the sugar in-
dustry with making false and
misleading statements that
included a comment that high
fructose corn syrup is as ad-
dictive as crack cocaine. They
are seeking $530 million.
Jurors will hear from ex-
perts on both sides of the de-
bate, getting a mix of science
and spin. They will also see
AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File
This photo shows a nutrition label that lists high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient in a can of soda.
In a trial that started Nov. 3, jurors in the case between sugar processors and corn manufacturers will
take up one of nutrition’s most vexing debates and confront a choice common among some consum-
ers: sugar or high fructose corn syrup?
damning internal documents
that show what was happen-
ing behind closed doors.
Corn refiners will present
evidence that the sugar indus-
try was behind the pounding
that high fructose corn syrup
took in public opinion as sug-
ar tried to regain market share
it lost when food producers
switched to the cheaper corn
product that came on the mar-
ket in the 1970s.
“We were just getting tor-
pedoed in the press with all
this junk science about high
fructose corn syrup,” said at-
torney Neil Murphy, who rep-
resents corn refiners. “They
were feeding the media.”
There were some high-pro-
file defections as a result.
Hunt’s ketchup, Capri Sun
juices and Thomas English
muffins dumped high fructose
corn syrup for sugar.
The sugar producers will
attempt to show that the corn
refiners’ own advertising agen-
cy was uncomfortable creating
something it felt was mislead-
“We’ve got the ad men say-
ing that after they deal with
their client, the corn refiners,
they have to take a shower be-
cause they feel so dirty,” said
attorney Mark Lanier, who
represents sugar. “It tells you
that this was not an ad agency
gone amok. This was a client
pushing an ad agency amok.”
One key document on the
sugar side will be from a 1997
Mexican court case in which
corn refiners said their product
was distinct from sugar.
“Then 15 years later, ‘Sug-
ar is sugar,”’ Lanier said. “You
can’t be more electrically
charged opposites than those
two positions taken by the one
defendant in the case.”
Corn refiners say that was
taken out of context, and they
argue there’s no difference in
the way the body metabolizes
the two substances.
Science favors corn on that
point, said Roger A. Clemens,
a University of Southern Cal-
ifornia research professor of
pharmacology and pharma-
ceutical science who has stud-
ied sugars.
The two products are near-
ly identical and are metabo-
lized the same, he said. Sugar
is sucrose, which is half fruc-
tose, half glucose. High-fruc-
tose corn syrup is 55 percent
fructose and 45 percent glu-
Clemens, who knows play-
ers on both sides, said the case
won’t solve the lingering dis-
putes within science but will
continue to stir controversy
about the two products that
have traded places in public
“In the 1970s, there was a
big push to take sucrose out of
the diet and sucrose was get-
ting expensive,” Clemens said.
“Here we are 40 years later,
and we’ve flipped all the way
around. High fructose corn
syrup now has a bad omen.”
Corn refiners ultimately
lost their bid to change the
name to “corn sugar” when the
Food and Drug Administration
ruled in 2012 that sugar was
a solid, dried and crystallized
food, not syrup.
JEROME, Idaho — Loss
of rangeland to large wildfires
is a growing problem in the
arid West, where as much as
half of the Great Basin’s sage-
brush steppe has already been
Native sagebrush plant com-
munities are not only important
in providing forage and habitat
for wildlife, they also minimize
weed invasion. Sagebrush,
however, is a slow-growing
species and difficult to restore
following wildfire in a growing
environment of competing an-
nual grasses.
“Sagebrush restoration has
had very limited success and pri-
marily depends on the amount
of precipitation received during
the growing season following
seeding,” said April Hulet, assis-
tant professor in the University
of Idaho Department of Forest,
Rangeland and Fire Sciences.
In addition, large wildfires
are destroying a lot of the seed
source, Hulet told participants
at the Fall Rangeland Forum,
organized by the University of
Idaho Rangeland Center and
held on Oct. 22.
Hulet has been involved in
multiple studies working on
rangeland restoration, includ-
ing pre-emptive strategies to
increase a plant community’s
resilience to fire and resistance
to annual grass invasion.
She is working on two stud-
ies that focus on sagebrush
restoration. One is monitoring
various sagebrush restoration
methods post fire in south-
eastern Oregon, and the other
is aimed at speeding up seed
germination in native plants to
better compete with cheatgrass.
Sagebrush establishment is
challenged by competing spe-
cies, precipitation, elevation,
soil texture and seeding depth,
she said.
But mitigating those con-
straints through seed enhance-
ment technologies aimed at
germination, emergence and
seedling survival holds prom-
ise, she said.
Masterminded by Matt
Madsen, assistant professor at
Brigham Young University,
seed extrusion technology is
one avenue to try to overcome
multiple abiotic constraints.
The technology involves a
“dough” of seeds and desired
ingredients that is extruded
through equipment similar to
what is used in the food indus-
try to make pasta or doughnuts.
It encapsulates seeds in
pillows, or pellets, of materi-
als — such as super-absorbent
polymers, fungicides, fertiliz-
ers and soil surfactants — to
enhance survival in rangeland
“We’re trying to overcome
ecological barriers to make it
(sagebrush) more competi-
tive,” Hulet said.
Precipitation limitation is
the primary barrier, and the
amount of precipitation is
influenced by environmental
characteristics, such as eleva-
tion and aspect, she said.
Absorbent material in the
pillows or pellets makes water
available to the seeds longer,
increasing the likelihood of
emergence and seedling sur-
vival, she said.
Seedling depth is another
determining factor in sage-
brush establishment and can
be challenged by logistical
constraints and indiscriminate
placement of broadcast and
drill seeding, she said.
Encapsulation of the seed in
the dough provides a self-con-
tained environment that can
better ensure proper planting
depth and good soil-seed con-
tact, she said.
Most of the trials on seed
have occurred in growth
chambers and grow rooms, but
the research team plans to start
in-field trials in small plots this
spring, she said.
About 2,000 lawsuits filed against biotech company over corn exports
Associated Press
About 2,000 farmers, grain
handlers and corn exporters
have filed lawsuits against
Swiss biotechnology compa-
ny Syngenta now that a feder-
al judge has ruled their cases
have merit to move forward.
The lawsuits allege Syn-
genta’s introduction of a new
genetically modified corn seed
in 2011 interrupted trade with
China and harmed the market
for U.S. corn by depressing the
commodity’s price. That cost
the U.S. corn industry an esti-
mated $1 billion to $3 billion.
On Sept. 11, U.S. District
Judge John Lungstrum denied
Syngenta’s motion to dismiss
the case, rejecting the compa-
ny’s argument that it had no
duty to protect the farmers and
other agribusinesses that han-
dle and trade corn. A federal
court panel decided in Decem-
ber to consolidate all of the
Syngenta cases in Lungstrum’s
court in Kansas City, Kansas.
More than 1,860 cases
have been transferred from 22
states, including 1,300 cases
from Minnesota.
Since Lungstrum’s de-
cision in early September
hundreds more lawsuits have
been filed including more
than 200 in South Dakota and
more than 300 in Iowa.
The dispute centers around
Syngenta’s sale of Agrisure
Viptera, a seed genetically al-
tered to contain a protein that
kills corn-eating bugs such as
earworms and cutworms. The
U.S. Department of Agricul-
ture approved it in 2010, and
Syngenta first sold it to farm-
ers in 2011.
China, a growing importer
of U.S. corn that refuses to buy
genetically modified crops it
hasn’t tested, had not approved
Viptera when Syngenta began
selling it. In November 2013,
China discovered the Vip-
tera corn trait in several U.S.
shipments and began rejecting
U.S. corn imports in February
2014. The lawsuits say the
Chinese rejected more than
131 million bushels.
Syngenta attorney Michael
Jones said it’s not surprising
Lungstrum allowed the case
to proceed at this early stage.
After each side conducts in-
terviews and fact gathering to
build their case, there will be
another point at which Syn-
genta may file a summary
judgment motion asking the
judge to dismiss the case.
Lungstrum also will decide
whether to certify the case as
a class-action lawsuit allowing
many of farmers and agribusi-
nesses to be represented in a
central trial.
“If the judge agrees and this
goes forward as a class-action
every corn farmer in the Unit-
ed States that lost money is
covered by that class action.
It is an enormous case,” said
Jayne Conroy, a New York at-
torney on the plaintiffs’ exec-
utive committee coordinating
the cases. “This is by far the
largest agricultural case that
has gone forward.”
On Oct. 21 Lungstrum
decided to first try a small
number of representative bell-
wether cases “to determine
the nature and strength of
the claims....” Four farmers
and two plaintiffs represent-
ing non-farmer agribusiness-
es will go to trial first in the
test cases, the first of which
is scheduled for trial in June