Tag Archives | Agriculture

Mass Death Of Bees Accelerated Greatly In 2012

Perhaps genetically engineering poison into our food supply was a short-sighted idea, hints the New York Times:

A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables.

A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment, colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.

The European Union has proposed to ban the use of neonicotinoids on crops frequented by bees. Some researchers have concluded that neonicotinoids caused extensive die-offs in Germany and France.

The Agriculture Department says a quarter of the American diet, from apples to cherries to watermelons to onions, depends on pollination by honeybees.

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The Dark Future Of Chocolate

Fotg cocoa d055 cacao podsMaryam Henein, co-director of the colony collapse documentary The Vanishing of the Bees, now investigates some worrying developments that–gasp–threaten chocolate as we know and love it, at  Honey Colony:

Back in the Mayan age, around 1100 BCE, around the Upper Amazon River Basin, cacao was recognized as a “super” food, traded as a precious currency with a value on par with gold and jewels. By the 17th century, the Spanish added sugar (cane) to sweeten it, and the rest is history. As other European countries clamored to get in on the action and started exporting cacao trees to their colonies, Africa soon became the world’s most prominent grower of cacao, even though it’s not native to that continent.

The Cacao Genome
Today, cacao has devolved into a byproduct of itself. Instead of being viewed as the sacred fruit that it is, with all its nutritional benefits, cacao is largely seen as a candy bar, a mid-day fix, loaded with sugar, milk, and other substandard ingredients.

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‘Honey Laundering: An International Scandal”

Picture: Jacopo Werther (CC)

Via Mother Nature Network

Food experts have found that much of the honey sold in the U.S. is a concoction of corn or rice syrup, malt sweeteners and a small amount of genuine honey.

There might be something funny in your honey.

Food-safety experts have found that much of the honey sold in the United States isn’t actually honey, but a concoction of corn or rice syrup, malt sweeteners or “jiggery” (cheap, unrefined sugar), plus a small amount of genuine honey, according to Wired UK.

Worse, some honey — much of which is imported from Asia — has been found to contain toxins like lead and other heavy metals, as well as drugs like chloramphenicol, an antibiotic, according to a Department of Justice news release.

And because cheap honey from China was being dumped on the U.S. market at artificially low prices, Chinese honey is now subject to additional import duties.

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Occupy Sugar?

Evan-Amos (CC)

A movement whose time has come? Kevin Roose makes a strong case against the United States government subsidizing the sugar industry, at New York Magazine:

Right here in America, under our collective nose, there is an industry that survives on political patronage and government subsidies, that regularly receives mysterious and untraceable bailouts funded by taxpayers, that is disproportionately influential in Washington as a result of its massive lobbying efforts, and that is making huge profits at the expense of ordinary consumers.

I’m not talking about Wall Street. I’m talking about the American sugar industry, which for years has been a perfect case study for the corrupting influence of money in politics. These days, beverage-makers like Coca-Cola and PepsiCo are catching flack for working behind the scenes to build opposition to Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban. But the sugar industry has been exerting its power in politics for decades. And while camping out at a Florida sugarcane farm isn’t as sexy and eye-catching as a Zuccotti Park protest, it’s clear that Big Sugar needs to be kept in check with an Occupy movement of its own.

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The Fox (Monsanto) Buys the Chicken Coop (Beeologics)

Merovingian BeeA couple of years ago disinformation‘s sister video label True Mind released the colony collapse disorder documentary Vanishing of the Bees. It was fairly obvious that the biggest (if not only) cause of the mysterious disappearing colonies of bees was widespread pesticide use in monoculture farming. Everyone’s favorite corporate criminal Monsanto is now causing conspiracy theorists to go into overdrive with their acquistition of a company specializing in bee medicine. Richard Schiffman sounds the alarm at Huffington Post:

Why would one of the largest purveyors of pesticides, genetically engineered seeds and agrochemicals want to buy a company which has been seeking solutions to the escalating threats to the world bee population?

Monsanto spokeswomen Kelly Powers says it is to give the fledgling company a helping hand. Beeologics has developed a product called Remembee, an anti-viral agent which its boosters claim will help stem the tide of Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious plague which has led to the disappearance of the bees in up to a third of the commercial colonies located in the U.S.

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The Meat Industry Now Consumes Four-Fifths Of All Antibiotics

Will our taste for flesh be what leads to the creation of super-strains of bacteria impervious to antibiotics? Mother Jones reports:

Last year, the Food and Drug Administration proposed a set of voluntary “guidelines” designed to nudge the meat industry to curb its antibiotics habit. But the meat industry has been merrily gorging away on antibiotics—and churning out meat rife with antibiotic-resistant pathogens.

While human antibiotic use has leveled off at below 8 billion pounds annually, livestock farms have been sucking in more and more of the drugs each year—and consumption reached a record nearly 29.9 billion pounds in 2011. That suggests that meat production might be getting more antibiotic-intensive.  To put it another way, the livestock industry is now consuming nearly four-fifths of the antibiotics used in the US, and its appetite for them is growing.

 

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Vikings Grew Cannabis, Findings Reveal

Researchers say it is unclear whether the plant was used for hedonistic purposes or merely for producing cloth and rope, but I think we all know the answer. ScienceNordic reports:

The Sosteli farmsted, in Norway’s southermmost Vest-Agder County, offers strong evidence that Vikings farmers actively cultivated cannabis, a recent analysis shows. The cannabis remains from the farmsted date from 650 AD to 800 AD. This is not the first sign of hemp cultivation in Norway this far back in time, but the find is much more extensive than previous discoveries.

“The other instances were just individual finds of pollen grains. Much more has been found here,” says Frans-Arne Stylegar, an archaeologist and the county’s curator.

“We don’t know if hemp could have been used as a drug. Most of it was probably used in textile production,” says archaeologist Marianne Vedeler at the Museum of Cultural History in Oslo.

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An Intro to Farm Shares and Community Sponsored Agriculture

Comics artist Colleen Doran writes a quick and breezy intro to the world of farm shares and farm credit programs. Establishing trustworthy ways to get fresh, healthy, non-GMO food is going to become increasingly important. Doran gives an overview of what’s available and links to get started.

via A Distant Soil:

In almost every major metropolitan area, and most rural areas, you will find farm shares or CSA’s, “Community Sponsored Agriculture”.

A CSA is, basically, a food subscription service.

Depending on the program (and they vary widely between suppliers,) the CSA will supply weekly, biweekly, or monthly food subscriptions for a flat annual fee which will cover the farming season, usually around half the year. If you live in California where the season is long, you can get a year-round subscription.

The farm will provide you with a prescribed amount of food per drop based on whatever is in season.

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Supreme Court To Rule On Monsanto’s ‘Self-Replicating Patent’ Seeds

Monsanto demands that anyone who plants a seed containing the its patented herbicide-resisting genes pay steep “technology fees.” The problem is that Monsanto’s plants amount to self-replicating patent machines, as the Monsanto-created genes spread through the ecosystem. NPR  reports:

This farmer, Vernon Hugh Bowman, has been a loyal customer for Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soybeans. Sometimes he bought ordinary soybeans from the local grain elevator or another farmer.

But here’s the problem: Monsanto’s soybeans account for 94 percent of all the soybeans grown in Indiana. So almost all the soybeans that Bowman could get his hands on contained the patented “Roundup Ready” gene. Monsanto found out and took Bowman to court [where he was ordered] to pay $84,000. An appeals court affirmed that decision.

The arguments and counter-arguments that both sides have submitted to the Supreme Court mostly focus on the reach of Monsanto’s patents — specifically, whether Monsanto really can demand a royalty for the planting of any soybean containing its patented genes.

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Turning Back the Timeline: Human Growth Boom Started Before Agriculture

Picture: Margaret A. McIntyre (PD)

Researchers who dare to propose that the development of human civilization started well before the established timeline of approximately 4,000 BC are used to the scorn of mainstream academics. However, as historical anomalies too big to ignore or cover up continue to surface some academics are learning that they don’t like the taste of their own medicine.

Mainstream academia teaches that proper civilizations and its associated sciences, like architecture, began with the birth of agriculture. Crops offered a sustainable source of food, hence ending the need to wander in search for sustenance. Population growth followed, and along with it specialized social strata and trades: artisans, farmers, soldiers and priests. Walls, temples and towers grew to dominate the landscape. Or at least, that’s what generations of students have been taught.

The so-called “Neolithic Revolution” – one part of which was the birth of agriculture – began sometime between 10 and 5,000 years ago.… Read the rest

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