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The Politics Of Pesticides: Monsanto Under Fire

Through a series of mergers, pesticide companies are consolidating, taking over seed companies and pushing genetically-engineered foods. Companies such as Monsanto, now merged with Bayer, and Dow and Dupont, which have merged, are chemical companies with a long history of producing toxic chemicals, including chemical weapons used in warfare. We speak with Mitchel Cohen and Robin Esser, authors of “The fight Against Monsanto’s Roundup: The Politics of Pesticides,” who spoke about the corruption and health impacts of pesticides as well as the connections to imperialism and colonialism.

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Mitchel Cohen coordinates the No Spray Coalition in New York City,which successfully sued the City government over its indiscriminate spraying of toxic pesticides.He graduated from Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan and received his B.A. from SUNY Stony Brook, where he co-founded the Red Balloon Collective in 1969 – a radical-thinking and creatively-acting group that put their bodies and art on the line against the U.S. war machine and in defense of social and environmental justice.

Mitchel ran for Mayor of NYC as one of five Green Party candidates. That primary election fell on September 11, 2001, when life as we know it was changed forever. He was editor of the national newspaper, “Green Politix,” for one faction of the national Green Party (before being purged), as well as the NY State Green Party newspaper; chaired the non-commercial, listener-sponsored WBAI radio (99.5 FM) Local Board, and hosted a weekly show, “Steal This Radio,” for different internet-based station. His writings include: The Social Construction of Neurosis, and other pamphlets; What is Direct Action? a book that draws on personal experiences as well as lessons from Occupy Wall Street; two books of poetry – One-Eyed Cat Takes Flight and The Permanent Carnival – and scores of pamphlets; which he sells on the streets and subways of his beloved Brooklyn. His forthcoming book of poetry and short stories is called, The Rubber Stamp Man, and will be available in 2019.

Robin T. Falk-Esser, Ph.D., earned her Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics (cardiac electrophysiology, neurphysiology, and pharmacology) at SUNY Stony Brook Health Sciences Center; published papers in Science and Nature, and co-authored scientific papers published in The Journal of Physiology, The Journal of General Physiology, and The Biophysical Journal. She was a New York City high school science teacher for 30 years, teaching Advanced Placement Environmental Science, AP Bio, and Chemistry, and was a recipient of the Siemens AP Science award for excellence in teaching (subject of NY Times articles and Tom Brokaw NBC Nightly National News interview on exemplary teaching). She is a life-long political activist; working as a teenager in the 1965 anti-apartheid mobilization, 1968 Poor People’s Campaign with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., against the Vietnam War and in the draft resistance movement, and with the Red Balloon Collective at SUNY Stony Brook.

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