Tag Archives | Agriculture

GMOs Linked to Organ Disruption in 19 Studies

GMOFrom Responsible Technology via Current:

A new paper shows that consuming genetically modified (GM) corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys. By reviewing data from 19 animal studies, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and others reveal that 9% of the measured parameters, including blood and urine biochemistry, organ weights, and microscopic analyses (histopathology), were significantly disrupted in the GM-fed animals. The kidneys of males fared the worst, with 43.5% of all the changes.

The liver of females followed, with 30.8%. The report, published in Environmental Sciences Europe on March 1, 2011, confirms that “several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects.” The authors point out that livers and kidneys “are the major reactive organs” in cases of chronic food toxicity.

“Other organs may be affected too, such as the heart and spleen, or blood cells,” stated the paper.

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Genetically Modified Cows Produce Milk Similar To Humans

DairyCowWill cows be feeding our newborns in the future? Genetically modified cows are now producing milk with similar properties of breast milk. Popular Science reports:

In a potential new step for genetically modified food, babies could someday drink human-like milk derived from herds of genetically modified dairy cows, which scientists say could supplement breast milk and replace baby formula.

Scientists have created 300 cows that produce milk with some of the properties of human breast milk, including lysozyme, which fights bacteria and improves infants’ immune systems in their first few days of life.

Researchers in China introduced genes that express human lysozyme (also called HLZ) and other human proteins into Holstein cattle embryos, and implanted the embryos into surrogate cows. When the GM cows started lactating, their milk contained HLZ and two other proteins.

Using a new purification process, the researchers were apparently able to make the milk taste more human — they increased its fat content and changed the amounts of milk solids, according to the Telegraph.

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The Next Market Bubbles: Food and Farm Land?

Balloon Pop

Photo: Andrew Magill (CC)

Robert Schiller writes for Al Jazeera:

There have been three colossal stock-market bubbles in the last century: the 1920s, the 1960s, and the 1990s. In contrast, there has been only one such bubble in the United States’ housing market in the last hundred years, that of the 2000s.

We have had a huge rebound from the bottom of the world’s stock markets in 2009. The S&P 500 is up 87 per cent in real terms since March 9 of that year.

But, while the history of stock-market prediction is littered with too much failure to try to decide whether the bounceback will continue much longer, it does not look like a bubble, but more like the end of a depression scare.

The rise in equity prices has not come with a contagious “new era” story, but rather a “sigh of relief” story. Likewise, home prices have been booming over the past year or two in several places, notably China, Brazil, and Canada, and prices could still be driven up in many other places.

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Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty

Sedgwick, Maine

Sedgwick, Maine

Do we really need the government to regulate our food? Sedgwick, Maine doesn’t think so and has become the first town to take action towards producing and selling their own foods. Sustainable Cities Collective reports:

The town of Sedgwick, Maine, population 1,012 (according to the 2000 census), has become the first town in the United States to pass a Food Sovereignty ordinance.  In doing so, the town declared their right to produce and sell local foods of their choosing, without the oversight of State or federal regulation.

What does this mean?  In the debate over raw milk, for example, the law opens the gate for consumer and producer to enter a purchasing agreement without interference from state or federal health regulators.  According to the Mayo Clinic, a 1987 FDA regulation required that all milk be pasteurized to kill pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli.  The Sedgwick ordinance declares that:

Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption.

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Churkey: The Neck Of A Turkey And The Body Of A Chicken

Erdelyi_fekete_kopasznyakuThe Churkey, also known as a turken or naked neck chicken, has a unique genetic modification which gives the bird its unusual look. Scientists believe this species could help in understanding the evolutionary progression of such birds as the vulture. Also, with it’s featherless neck, the bird proves potential for underdeveloped countries in hot climates. BBC reports:

The “churkey” owes its distinctive look to a complex genetic mutation, according to scientists.

Experts at Edinburgh University set out to discover how the Transylvanian naked neck chicken came by its appearance.

The bird, which has also been dubbed the turken, has the neck of a turkey and the body of a chicken.

The scientists said the effects of the genetic mutation were enhanced by a vitamin A-derived substance produced around the bird’s neck.

This causes a protein, BMP12, to be produced, suppressing feather growth and causing the bird to have its bald neck, according to researchers at the Roslin Institute at Edinburgh University.

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USDA Report Shows Rocketing Food Prices – Global Revolution?

source: www.fao.org

source: www.fao.org

The back story to the revolutionary overthrow of longstanding dictatorships in the Middle East is that the people of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, et al couldn’t afford even basic foods and weren’t going to stand for the elites hoarding all their countries’ resources any longer.

The U.S Dept. of Agriculture’s Outlook Forum suggests that syrocketing food prices will continue, with possibly disastrous consequences around the world. Adam Gordon analyzes the situation for Forbes:

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) annual “Outlook Forum” in Washington D.C., usually draws a polite trickle of insiders and commodities traders, but on February 24 the forum’s venue was overrun with 2,000 attendees.

At the event, USDA chief economist Joseph Glauber warned of record farm prices for corn, wheat, and soyabeans for 2011, and resulting US food inflation of at least 4% this year and next as prices work their way through the supply chain.

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China Produces “Rice” Made From Plastic

Raw Story reports:

China’s history with food safety is a rocky one, but even in the annals of robbery and abuse, this will go down in infamy.

Various reports in Singapore media have said that Chinese companies are mass producing fake rice made, in part, out of plastic, according to one online publication Very Vietnam.

The “rice” is made by mixing potatoes, sweet potatoes and plastic. The potatoes are first formed into the shape of rice grains. Industrial synthetic resins are then added to the mix. The rice reportedly stays hard even after being cooked.

The Korean-language Weekly Hong Kong reported that the fake rice is being sold in the Chinese town of Taiyuan, in Shaanxi province.

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Legal War Starts Against GM Alfalfa Seeds

Roundup_herbicide_logoI’m sure I’m not the only one who feels utterly betrayed by the Obama Administration’s capitulation to corporate interests — Monsanto and the agribusiness giants in this case — in approving the use of genetically-modified “Roundup Ready” alfalfa seeds without any meaningful protections for organic and non-GM farming. Fortunately there is a very strong litigation culture in the United States. I encourage everyone to join the battle to reverse the U.S. Government’s decision. UPI reports on the first legal salvo:

Washington is endangering consumer and farmer rights and hurting the environment by green-lighting genetically modified alfalfa, a public-health group said.

Executive Director Andrew Kimbrell of the non-profit Center for Food Safety vowed to seek a court order immediately reversing and voiding the U.S. Agriculture Department’s approval of “Roundup Ready” alfalfa — the fourth Roundup Ready crop approved for U.S. commercial-farming use, after soybeans, corn and cotton.

“We will be back in court representing the interest of farmers, preservation of the environment and consumer choice,” Kimbrell said.

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Tyson Foods Revokes Activist Chicken Farmer’s License To Raise Chickens; Farmer Sues & Loses Appeal in U.S. Supreme Court

TysonFoodsMark Sherman reports on the AP via Yahoo News:

The Supreme Court on Monday turned down an appeal from a former Tennessee poultry farmer who sued Tyson Farms after losing his contract to raise their chickens.

The justices did not comment in turning away Alton Terry, who said Tyson cut him off because he helped organize area farmers and complained about the company’s practices. Lower courts had previously dismissed the lawsuit.

Terry, essentially, argued that he lost his contract to raise chickens on his 12-acre farm, because he squawked too much.

Terry was a poultry farmer who brought together a group of area farmers and told them they had the right to complain about Tyson’s practices. He also raised concerns directly with Tyson, among the world’s largest meat companies.

Terry says Tyson and other big companies have too much sway over farmers, and federal courts also have bowed to agribusiness interests by setting too high a standard for the farmers to succeed in court.

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Genetically Modified Canola ‘Escapes’ Farm Fields

CanolaPlant

Photo: Heather LeMoine/North Dakota Tourism

Geoffrey Brumfiel reports for NPR:

Genetically modified crops are commonplace in fields across the United States, but a new study suggests that some plants have spread into the wild. A survey of North Dakota has turned up hundreds of genetically modified canola plants growing along roads across the state.

The results, presented Friday at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Pittsburgh, show that the vast majority of feral canola plants in the state contain artificial genes that make them resistant to herbicides. Researchers also found two plants that contained traits from multiple genetically modified varieties, suggesting that genetically modified plants are breeding in the wild.

“What we’ve demonstrated in this study is a large-scale escape of a genetically modified crop in the United States,” says Cindy Sagers, an ecologist at the University of Arkansas, who led the study.

Canola plants are used in cooking oil and animal feed, as well as some forms of biodiesel, and nearly all of America’s canola is grown in North Dakota.

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