Tag Archives | Agriculture

No Monsanto GMOs For The UK

No Monsanto Crop Circle

UPDATE from Natural News:

We regret to inform our readers that this story is based on a Daily Mail article that we have now been informed is from 2003, not 2012. In their own search engine, Daily Mail mistakenly listed their own story as being published on February 3, 2012…

Oh well – let’s pressure Monsanto to get out of the UK anyway!

Mike Adams reports for Natural News:

A massive victory against Monsanto and genetically engineered seeds has been achieved in the United Kingdom today. Monsanto has announced a total withdrawal from the UK, shuttering its Cambridge-based wheat production operation. UK newspaper Daily Mail was instrumental in promoting opposition against Monsanto through its “Frankenstein Foods” educational campaign.

The paper is now reporting that Monsanto plans to sell off GMO crop-breeding centers in France, Germany and the Czech Republic. Daily Mail reported, “…the company has given up hopes of introducing GM crops to Europe.” (Are you grinning as wide as I am right now?)

The UK government, it turns out, was on the verge of announcing a finding that genetically engineered crops would “pollute the countryside for generations.” Gee, ya think?

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The Mother Of All Herbicide Marketing Plans

Roundup_herbicide_logoDow Agrosciences plans to double the trouble caused by Monsanto’s Roundup with a compelling marketing pitch to farmers. Tom Philpott reports for Mother Jones:

During the late December media lull, the USDA didn’t satisfy itself with green-lighting Monsanto’s useless, PR-centric “drought-tolerant” corn. It also prepped the way for approving a product from Monsanto’s rival Dow Agrosciences—one that industrial-scale corn farmers will likely find all too useful.

Dow has engineered a corn strain that withstands lashings of its herbicide, 2,4-D. The company’s pitch to farmers is simple: Your fields are becoming choked with weeds that have developed resistance to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. As soon as the USDA okays our product, all your problems will be solved.

At risk of sounding overly dramatic, the product seems to me to bring mainstream US agriculture to a crossroads. If Dow’s new corn makes it past the USDA and into farm fields, it will mark the beginning of at least another decade of ramped-up chemical-intensive farming of a few chosen crops (corn, soy, cotton), beholden to a handful of large agrichemical firms working in cahoots to sell ever larger quantities of poisons, environment be damned.

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France Defeats Monsanto

Gordon Davidson writes in the Scottish Farmer:

France has held firm in its opposition to Monsanto’s genetically modified MON 810 maize [trade name: YieldGard] – and the agri-chemical multinational has admitted defeat.

Monsanto had been putting legal pressure on the French government to lift its 2008 cultivation ban on MON 810, firstly with a successful appeal to the European Court of Justice, then with a follow-up case heard in France’s own highest court, the Council of State.But despite both these institutions ruling that the ban was “insufficiently justified in law”, the French Government, backed by President Sarkozy, has insisted that it will still not allow cultivation of the biotech maize.

yieldgard

Now Monsanto has announced that it would not be selling seeds for MON810 in France this year.

France’s stand – and Monsanto’s capitulation – has been warmly welcomed by anti-GM lobbyists GM Freeze, whose campaign director Pete Riley said: “The decision by Monsanto not to market MON810 seeds in France in 2012 is yet another sign that Monsanto has failed to convince the public or policy makers that there is any benefit to growing to growing GM crops…

[continues in the Scottish Farmer]

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Japan To Open Robot Farm In Disaster Zone

s57bA century or two from now, pretty much most of the world will be a flooded/radioactive zone being farmed by robots. The Telegraph reports:

The project, masterminded by the Ministry of Agriculture, will involve unmanned tractors working the fields of the farm on a disaster zone site spanning 600 acres. Robots will then box produce grown on the farm, including rice, wheat, soybeans, fruit and vegetables as part of the “Dream Project” scheme.

An expanse of farmland in Miyagi prefecture, northeast Japan, which was flooded in last year’s tsunami, has been earmarked by the government for the project. Miyagi was one of Japan’s three worst hit prefectures in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which left more than 19,000 dead or missing and triggered the world’s worst nuclear crisis in decades.

Farming was hit particularly hard by the disaster, with tsunami water leaving soil laden with salt and oil deposits, as well as radiation contamination as a result of the leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

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The Industry of Hunger

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Photo: Tawheed Manzoor (CC)

Vandana Shiva on Al Jazeera English explains how, as mega-chains venture into industrial farming, they have created an epidemic of hunger- and generated billions in profit.

New Delhi, India – In November 2011, when the UPA government announced that it had cleared the entry of big retail chains such as Walmart and Tesco into India through 51 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in multi-brand retail, it justified the decision saying that FDI in retail would boost food security and benefit farmers’ livelihoods.

But the assurance that FDI in retail would ease inflation did not resolve the political crisis the government was facing; it deepened it. Parliament was stalled for several days of the Winter Session, after which the government was forced to withdraw its decision.

The story of FDI in retail goes back to 2005, when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed an agriculture agreement with the US, along with the nuclear agreement.

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Alabama Looks To Replace Immigrant Workers With Prison Labor

JO3ND00ZA draconian law passed earlier this year has resulted in an exodus of illegal (and legal) immigrants from Alabama, and as a result, crops are rotting in fields on farms across the state. The solution? A return to chain gang days, reports AFP:

Alabama farmers have proposed using prisoners to work their fields to replace migrants who fled the state after it passed the country’s harshest anti-immigration law, officials said Tuesday.

The Alabama Department of Agriculture and Industry officials met Tuesday in Mobile with farmers to discuss their proposal. A statement by the department said the meeting with the farmers was convened “to help solve the chronic labor shortages created by Alabama’s new immigration law.”

Known as HB56, the new law requires local police to verify the immigration status of anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” of being in the country illegally.

The law touched off an exodus of mainly Hispanic workers who moved to other states because of fears of being deported, prompting complaints by farm and construction industry groups of a shortage of workers in one of the poorest US states.

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Farm and School

Denver Green SchoolAre schoolyard farms the best way to counteract the increasingly industrial food provided by school lunches? Via Denver's ABC affiliate:
DENVER — Just eight months ago, a one-acre plot at the Denver Green School was an unused athletic field, but now that land has come to life with food-bearing vegetation. "We have harvested over 3,000 pounds of produce from this ground. Lots of salad greens and root vegetables, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers," said Megan Caley, the programs and outreach coordinator for Sprout City Farms. Each week during harvest season, the farm produces 150 pounds of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables that end up in the school's cafeteria. "Kids are eating healthier," said Frank Coyne, lead partner at the Denver Green School. "They are excited to eat the tomatoes on the salad bar, they are excited to eat the cucumbers."
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Monsanto Corn Falls to Illinois Bugs

Tom Philpott writes in Mother Jones:

As the summer growing season draws to a close, 2011 is emerging as the year of the super-insect — the year pests officially developed resistance to Monsanto’s genetically engineered (ostensibly) bug-killing corn.

While the revelation has given rise to alarming headlines, neither Monsanto nor the EPA, which regulates pesticides and pesticide-infused crops, can credibly claim surprise. Scientists have been warning that the EPA’s rules for planting the crop were too lax to prevent resistance since before the agency approved the crop in 2003. And in 2008, research funded by Monsanto itself showed that resistance was an obvious danger.

And now those unheeded warnings are proving prescient. In late July, as I reported recently, scientists in Iowa documented the existence of corn rootworms (a ravenous pest that attacks the roots of corn plants) that can happily devour corn plants that were genetically tweaked specifically to kill them.

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Monsanto Modified Corn Losing Bug Resistance

CornAgribusiness monster corporation Monsanto is in peril of creating a worse problem than it purports to solve with its genetically modified corn plants. Scott Kilman reports for the Wall Street Journal:

Widely grown corn plants that Monsanto Co. genetically modified to thwart a voracious bug are falling prey to that very pest in a few Iowa fields, the first time a major Midwest scourge has developed resistance to a genetically modified crop.

The discovery raises concerns that the way some farmers are using biotech crops could spawn superbugs.

Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann’s discovery that western corn rootworms in four northeast Iowa fields have evolved to resist the natural pesticide made by Monsanto’s corn plant could encourage some farmers to switch to insect-proof seeds sold by competitors of the St. Louis crop biotechnology giant, and to return to spraying harsher synthetic insecticides on their fields.

“These are isolated cases, and it isn’t clear how widespread the problem will become,” said Dr.

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Monsanto Monster Weeds Spreading Fast

MonsantoMichael J. Coren warns that Monsanto’s Roundup was supposed to make it easy for farmers to get rid of weeds, but it’s working on fewer and fewer plants, including some monsters that can grow three inches a day and destroy farm equipment, for Fast Company:

For decades, farmers had it relatively easy when it came to weeds infesting their soil: apply herbicides, wait for the weeds to die and grow more crops. Those salad days, alas, are coming to an end.

A new series of studies released by Weed Science this month finds at least 21 weed species have become resistant to the popular herbicide glyphosate (sold as Monsanto’s Roundup), and a growing number survive multiple herbicides, so-called “super-weeds.” The same selection pressure creating bacteria resistant to multiple antibiotics is leading to the rapid evolution of plants that survive modern herbicides. If the trend continues, yields could drop and food costs climb as weeds grow more difficult to uproot.

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