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Caroline Cox's picture

On Thursday, The Atlantic is hosting a livestreamed event called "Harvest: Transforming the Food We Eat". It looks to be a fascinating discussion of new food technologies, including making meat without animals and other cutting-edge ideas. And don't get me wrong, I have loved The Atlantic ever since seventh grade when reading it made me feel like a grownup. But in this case, The Atlantic has made an error. The magazine invited the agriculture division of Dow DuPont to underwrite the event. Dow DuPont is a recent merger of two notorious chemical giants Dow and DuPont.

Look at just a few of the products that Dow and DuPont contribute to American agriculture today. There's chlorpyrifos, an insecticide that in linked to reduced IQ and autism in children whose moms were exposed. 1,3-dichloropropene is not a household word, but is a cancer-causing pesticide used to grow strawberries, sweet potatoes and more. Glyphosate, better known by one of its brand names Roundup is also in the Dow DuPont portfolio. Glyphosate has been identified as a cancer-causing pesticide by the World Health Organization.

Let's hope that DowDupont's partnership with The Atlantic will end with this event. Or maybe humor is what we need. Should we suggest to The Atlantic that the next event be about health, and invite Philip Morris to be the underwriter? Or maybe there could be a climate change event underwritten by Exxon, or a peace event underwritten by Lockheed Martin? You get the idea -
feel free to think of more and send them to CEH or The Atlantic.

Sales of organic food and other products now total almost $50 billion dollars every year in the U.S. - $50 billion dollars’ worth of products that provide our families with healthy food; are grown without genetic engineering; protect farmers, farmworkers and rural communities; and are good for the planet besides.

It’s no wonder that DowDuPont wants to look like it’s behind the transformation of agriculture while it is fighting hard to protect markets for its toxic products. The Atlantic should be clear about the difference. Yes, our farms need to transform and move quickly to adopt sustainable practices, but more pesticide sales and use is not the answer. 

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