Tag Archives | Agriculture

Pesticide Use Tied To Lower IQ In Children

pesticides-plants-warning-toxic-flickr-jetsandzepplinsWho could have guessed that drenching our food and homes in brain-ravaging toxins would have dire consequences? Wired Science reports that pesticides have been strongly linked to decreased memory and a seven-point drop in IQ in exposed children:

Children exposed in the womb to substantial levels of neurotoxic pesticides have somewhat lower IQs by the time they enter school than do kids with virtually no exposure. A trio of studies screened women for compounds in blood or urine that mark exposure to organophosphate pesticides such as chlorpyrifos, diazinon and malathion.

These bug killers, which can cross the human placenta, work by inhibiting brain-signaling compounds. Although the pesticides’ residential use was phased out in 2000, spraying on farm fields remains legal.

The three new studies began in the late 1990s and followed children through age 7. Pesticide exposures stem from farm work in more than 300 low-income Mexican-American families in California, researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and their colleagues report.

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20 Signs That A ‘Horrific’ Global Food Crisis Is Coming

Starved girlZero Hedge writes via The Economic Collapse Blog:

In case you haven’t noticed, the world is on the verge of a horrific global food crisis. At some point, this crisis will affect you and your family. It may not be today, and it may not be tomorrow, but it is going to happen.

Crazy weather and horrifying natural disasters have played havoc with agricultural production in many areas of the globe over the past couple of years. Meanwhile, the price of oil has begun to skyrocket. The entire global economy is predicated on the ability to use massive amounts of inexpensive oil to cheaply produce food and other goods and transport them over vast distances. Without cheap oil the whole game changes.

Topsoil is being depleted at a staggering rate and key aquifers all over the world are being drained at an alarming pace. Global food prices are already at an all-time high and they continue to move up aggressively.

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States To Outlaw Undercover Photos And Videos Of Factory Farms

4944283870_202e5923c1A bill before the Iowa legislature would make it a crime to produce, distribute or possess photos and video taken without permission at an agricultural facility.

In Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota, laws are in the works to criminalize the documenting of animal cruelty and health violations in factory farming. With activists nosing around, “people are scared to death that they might be found in a compromising position,” [says the] president of the Iowa Farm Bureau — it’s about “making producers feel more comfortable.” The New York Times reports:

Undercover videos showing grainy, sometimes shocking images of sick or injured livestock have become a favorite tool of animal rights organizations to expose what they consider illegal or inhumane treatment of animals.

Made by animal rights advocates posing as farm workers, such videos have prompted meat recalls, slaughterhouse closings, criminal convictions of employees and apologies from corporate executives assuring that the offending images are an aberration.

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Scientist Warns That Roundup Ready GM Seeds Could Cause Crop Collapse

Roundup_herbicide_logo

The Institute of Science in Society‘s Dr. Mae-Wan Ho reports that a USDA senior scientist has sent an “emergency” warning to US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack regarding a new plant pathogen in Roundup Ready GM soybean and corn that may be responsible for high rates of infertility and spontaneous abortions in livestock:

An open letter appeared on the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance founded and run by Judith McGeary to save family farms in the US [1, 2]. The letter, written by Don Huber, professor emeritus at Purdue University, to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, warns of a pathogen “new to science” discovered by “a team of senior plant and animal scientists”. Huber says it should be treated as an “emergency’’, as it could result in “a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies.”

The letter appeared to have been written before Vilsack announced his decision to authorize unrestricted commercial planting of GM alfalfa on 1 February, in the hope of convincing the Secretary of Agriculture to impose a moratorium instead on deregulation of Roundup Ready (RR) crops.

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Millions Of Dollars Found Buried In South Korean Garlic Field

A garlic storage in Changgilri, Uiseong County, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea. Photo: Robert (CC)

Whoever says money doesn’t grow on trees was right. In South Korea it grows in garlic fields. BBC reports:

South Korean police have dug up a stash of 11bn won ($10m, £6.2m), most of it buried in a garlic field, reports say.

The money is believed to be the proceeds of an illegal internet gambling operation, for which one of two brothers is already in jail.

Their brother-in-law helped out by burying the cash, and then helped himself to some of it, police said.

When he then accused a landscaper of stealing a chunk of cash, police moved in and unearthed it, they said.

Television footage has shown police pulling out two dozen containers, each brimming with cash.

According to the police version of the story, the brother-in-law, a 52-year-old man identified only as Mr Lee, bought the garlic field in south-western Gimje.

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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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