Tag Archives | Agriculture

Golden Rice: A ‘Good’ GMO?

Golden Rice grain compared to white rice grain in screenhouse of Golden Rice plants. (IRRI CC)

Golden Rice grain compared to white rice grain in screenhouse of Golden Rice plants. (IRRI CC)

Could Golden Rice, a genetically modified strain of rice that imbues the grains with beta carotene, be the GMO that proves the exception to the Monsanto-led madness of Roundup Ready crops? Amy Harmon reports for the New York Times:

One bright morning this month, 400 protesters smashed down the high fences surrounding a field in the Bicol region of the Philippines and uprooted the genetically modified rice plants growing inside.

Had the plants survived long enough to flower, they would have betrayed a distinctly yellow tint in the otherwise white part of the grain. That is because the rice is endowed with a gene from corn and another from a bacterium, making it the only variety in existence to produce beta carotene, the source of vitamin A. Its developers call it “Golden Rice.”

The concerns voiced by the participants in the Aug.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Pooping Canadian Geese May Have Spread Monsanto GMO Seeds

pooping geeseMonsanto’s GMO lifeforms have a habit of mysteriously popping up in places where they were not expected to be found.

In the case of Canada, where GMO wheat is not approved, geese may have caused the crop’s escape from a controlled experimental site, the Ottawa Citizen reports:

Canada geese may have spread seeds of genetically modified wheat grown at the Central Experimental Farm, documents from Agriculture Canada show.

The fear is that these geese may have left poop with living GM wheat seeds that could allow GM wheat to spread outside the controlled field. The issue blew up in 2012, taking the Agriculture Canada department by surprise.

GM wheat is not approved in Canada. Many growers, including the Canadian Wheat Board, strongly oppose it, saying that growing GM wheat will make all Canadian wheat harder to sell in Europe and Asia. And the last thing any grower wants is to have ordinary wheat crops accidentally mixed with the GM varieties.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Why Poor Kids in the US are Fat and Hungry and What to do About It

photo_09I was thinking about Buckminster Fuller, dedicating his life to help humanity. I was really seriously thinking about this. I wanted to do it. I wanted to seriously consider it and then do it and not take it back. Then soon after this, I went to my friend’s (liberal not Fundy) Presbyterian church and the message was about feeding the hungry. After church we had a luncheon and watched a DVD about how to end Childhood hunger in America. It was called A Place at the Table, and it explained how hunger and obesity are related. Because of the US system of Farm subsidies, corn, wheat and soy are really cheap and so food companies use these commodities to make lots of junk food. The subsidies were created for family farmers recovering from the depression, but now huge agribusinesses get 70% of it. Vegetables and fruit are smaller operations and don’t get many subsidies and so fruits and vegetables have gone way up and commodities have gone way down.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Inside Monsanto’s Rural Police State

monsanto

Truthout on the regime of rural surveillance and suspicion instituted by multinational seed companies:

The GMO regime has initiated a “new era of feudalism,” by powerful multinationals who have consolidated their control over the lives and practices of farmers everywhere.

Monsanto boasts one of the largest corporate security operations in the world, with agents working both openly and undercover in rural counties throughout the United States and Canada. Monsanto’s investigators show up at front doors, and in some cases in the middle of farmers fields, making accusations, brandishing surveillance photos and demanding to see the farmer’s private records or to be handed over their hard drives.

Monsanto also has its own toll-free tip-line (1-800-ROUNDUP) where farmers are invited to inform on their neighbors, as thousands have reportedly already done. “Instead of helping each other with barn-raisings and equipment sharing,” a CFS report states, “those caught saving seed, a practice that is hundreds of years old, were turned into ‘spies’ against their neighbors, replacing the atmosphere of cooperation with one of distrust and suspicion.” Critics accuse the company of fraying the delicate social fabric which holds farming communities together.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

European Union To Ban Pesticides Linked To Mass Bee Deaths

bee deaths

Via the BBC:

The European Commission will restrict the use of pesticides linked to bee deaths by researchers, despite a split among EU states on the issue. Neonicotinoid chemicals in pesticides are believed to harm bees and the European Commission says they should be restricted to crops not attractive to bees and other pollinators.

There is great concern across Europe about the collapse of bee populations. A report published by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) in January concluded that the pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.

There was ferocious lobbying both for and against in the run-up to Monday’s vote. Nearly three million signatures were collected in support of a ban. Chemical companies and pesticide manufacturers have been lobbying hard – they argue that the science is inconclusive, and that a ban would harm food production.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

‘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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

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.

Read the rest
Continue Reading