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Articles by Claire Hope Cummings

Claire Hope Cummings is an environmental journalist who covers food and farming stories for print, broadcast, and online media. She practiced law for for 20 years, including four years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She has farmed in California and Vietnam and is the author of Uncertain Peril: Genetic Engineering and the Future of Seeds.

Featured Article

So, the world did not end on Saturday. Harold Camping’s predicted Judgment Day and “Rapture” failed. I wonder how disappointed his followers are.

I also wonder if this might be a good time for the environmental community to reconsider its use of apocalyptic terms when describing our fears for the future.

There’s no doubt that we face certain peril and that immediate radical action is needed. We find ourselves frustrated by failures in Copenhagen, Cancun, and the Obama administration. And the “Arab Spring” reminds us that we need massive mobilization; we long for our “Cairo moment.”

So, what now?

I’ve spent two years studying the reasons why we haven’t been more effective on climate change. I have looked at our opposition, and at ourselves. In the light of a long history of failed doomsday forecasts, I think we need to find a more sympathetic and less cataclysmic way to capture the public’s attention.

The opposition is well funded, dishonest, cynical, and divisive. It includes those who deny the science behind climate change, obstruct policy, oppose reasoned public debate, block g... Read more

All Articles

  • Searching for the hope in Obama’s USDA pick

    Is it too early to peel my Obama sticker off my car? I am more than disappointed by the President-elect’s nomination of Tom Vilsack for secretary of agriculture. But after some reflection, this dark cloud may have one ray of light coming through. During his remarks at the press conference announcing the choice of Vilsack, […]

  • When the benevolent seed giant declares it’s going to save the world, why be skeptical?

    Do you worry about where your food comes from? Are you concerned that farmers might use too many toxic chemicals, or that health and safety agencies of the U.S. government might not be looking out for your best interests?

    Well then, you suffer from too much skepticism. You probably need to learn to trust what you are told more often. Maybe you should consider some pharmacological support for your worry problem. I know. My name is Claire and I'm a skeptic.

    I thought all you other skeptics out there might like to know that the latest word on our problem comes from a company who knows a lot about food, farming, and chemicals. This week, the CEO of Monsanto Corporation, Hugh Grant, told Public Radio International's Marketplace that he expects people to be skeptical about what Monsanto says but also, given the food problems the world is facing, "skepticism is a commodity the world can't afford right now."