Tag Archives | Agriculture

Hedge Funds Accused of Gambling with Lives of the Poorest as Food Prices Soar

Hunger Casino

Image: World Development Movement (WDM)

Katie Allen writes in the Guardian:

Financial speculators have come under renewed fire from anti-poverty campaigners for their bets on food prices, blamed for raising the costs of goods such as coffee and chocolate and threatening the livelihoods of farmers in developing countries.

The World Development Movement (WDM) will issue a damning report on the growing role of hedge funds and banks in the commodities markets in recent years, during which time cocoa prices have more than doubled, energy prices have soared and coffee has fluctuated dramatically.

The charity’s demands for the British financial watchdog to follow the US in cracking down on such speculation comes against a backdrop of cocoa prices jumping to a 33-year high as it emerged that a London hedge fund had snapped up a large part of the world’s stock of beans. On Friday, traders say, Armajaro took delivery of 240,100 tonnes of cocoa — the biggest from London’s Liffe exchange in 14 years and equal to about 7% of annual global production, according to the Financial Times.

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Genetically Modified Salmon Near FDA Approval

Photo: Atlantic salmon

Photo: Atlantic salmon

While most people are wondering what will happen to the fishing industry in the Gulf, Massachucettes geneticists are raising quick-growing Atlantic salmon.  Les Blumenthal of McClatchy Newspapers writes:

WASHINGTON — They may not be the 500-pound “Frankenfish” that some researchers were talking about 10 years ago, but a Massachusetts company says it’s on the verge of receiving federal approval to market a quick-growing Atlantic salmon that’s been genetically modified with help from a Pacific Chinook salmon.

Though genetically engineered crops such as corn and soybeans have been part of the American diet for several years, if the Food and Drug Administration approves it, the salmon would be the first transgenic animal headed for the dinner table.

“I would serve it to my kids,” said Val Giddings, who worked as a geneticist at the U.S. Agriculture Department for a decade before becoming a private consultant.

The financial rewards could be enormous.

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New EPA Scrutiny for Commonly-Used Herbicide Atrazine

AtrazineJim Morris and M.B. Pell write on the Center for Public Integrity:

After years of fielding complaints about the ubiquitous weed-killer and water pollutant atrazine, the Environmental Protection Agency has decided to take a closer look at the product, used on corn and other crops, mainly in the Midwest. Some of those complaints are documented in a database produced by the Center in 2008 as part as of our perils of the New Pesticides investigation.

Last week, an EPA advisory panel began assessing the latest science on the chemical, frequently found in surface waters and groundwater, and two more meetings of the advisory group are planned for later this year.

The Perils of the New Pesticides project includes a tool that allows the public to search 15 years of previously undisclosed EPA data for reported environmental and health effects of specific products. A search of “atrazine” produces 242 pages of results from 1992 through 2007.

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Amazing Rice Field Art In Japan

This story from Hemmy.net is one of the first sites I found taking about this. Since then, the Guardian reported on it. Via Hemmy.net:

Every year, farmers in the rural town Inakadate, Japan create rice field art by using red rice in with their regular rice in special patterns. A few others fields in rural Japan also followed the trend of this beautiful rice field art.

Rice Art in Japan

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Monsanto: The #1 Most Unethical Company In The World

Grace Kiser writes on the Huffington Post:

Can ethics be quantified? Or, better yet, can a lack of ethics be quantified?

This week, the Swiss research firm Covalence released its annual ranking of the overall ethical performance of multinational corporations. The idea behind the Covalence research is that there’s value — both for companies and consumers — in measuring corporations against an ethical standard. (We’re hoping this idea also applies to Wall Street firms.)

Monsanto

Monsanto, the Missouri-based agriculture giant, ranked dead last in the Covalence ethical index. The company, which leads the world in the production of genetically-engineered seed, has been subject to myriad criticisms. Among them: the company is accused of frequently and unfairly suing small farmers for patent infringement.

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Russia Bans U.S. Poultry Over Chlorine

Ducks_and_poultryBy Dan Flynn for FoodSafetyNews.com:

With as much as 30,000 tons of American poultry in the pipeline to Russia, the government in Moscow imposed a ban on future U.S. poultry imports on New Year’s Day.

Russia joins the European Union in prohibiting the use of chlorine as an anti-microbial treatment in poultry production, which is commonly used in the United States.

As for birds in the pipeline, USA Poultry and Egg Export Council President Jim Summers said he thinks based on earlier assurances from the Russian Veterinary Service that poultry in transit will be allowed to enter.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defended the use of chlorine by the American poultry industry.

“Since chlorine has been used as an anti-microbial treatment for more than 25 years, this resolution effectively blocks U.S. exports of poultry to Russia, has a devastating impact on the U.S. poultry industry and trade, and raised the costs of poultry products for Russia’s consumers,” says USDA spokeswoman Katie Gorscak.

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Why Haven’t Fruit & Vegetable Eaters Been Told About This Toxic Waste Overload?

From Dr. Joseph Mercola’s  mercola.com:

The U.S. government is encouraging farmers to spread a chalky waste from coal-fired power plants on their fields to loosen and fertilize soil.

The material is produced by power plant “scrubbers” that remove acid-rain-causing sulfur dioxide from plant emissions.

The substance is a synthetic form of the mineral gypsum, and it also contains mercury, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

The Environmental Protection Agency says those toxic metals occur in only tiny amounts. But some environmentalists say too little is known about how the material affects crops, and ultimately human health…

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Genetically Modified Corn Linked With Organ Damage

cornA new study has linked the genetically modified corn made by global agriculture giant Monsanto to liver and kidney failure. The Huffington Post reports that the results were announced by the International Journal of Biological Sciences. In addition to damaging the kidneys and liver, effects on “heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells were also frequently noted.”

Three varieties of the corn are approved by food authorities for consumption in the United States (as well as other countries). Monsanto “gathered its own crude statistical data after conducting a 90-day study,” even though 90 days is too short a time for chronic health issues to emerge, “and concluded that the corn was safe for consumption.” Now that’s just good science.… Read the rest

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More Herbicide Use Reported On Genetically Modified Crops

By Julie Masis for the Christian Science Monitor:

A report has found that farmers are using more herbicides on genetically engineered soybeans, corn, and cotton because of resistant weeds.

A report has found that farmers are using more herbicides on genetically engineered soybeans, corn, and cotton because of resistant weeds.

A report released by the Organic Center found that the amount of herbicides used on genetically engineered crops has increased in the past 10 years, not decreased as might be expected. Since many genetically engineered crops were modified so that farmers could spray Roundup, or Glyphosate, to kill the weeds in their fields but not the crops themselves, the expectation was that less herbicide would be required. But the new report found that this is not what happened.

The authors of the report, entitled “Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use,” used US Department of Agriculture data to look at America’s three largest genetically engineered crops – soybeans, corn, and cotton.

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How In Vitro Meat Will Change Everything

From H+, a number of ways in which the arrival of animal-free, laboratory-created meat will be a revolution:

Red meat & poultry will vanish from the marketplace, similar to whale oil’s flame out when kerosene outshone it in the 1870′s. Predictors believe that IVM will sell for half the cost of its murdered rivals. This will grind the $2 trillion global live-meat industry to a halt.

IVM sales will be aided by continued outbreaks of filthy over-crowded farm animal diseases like swine flu, Mad Cow, avian flu, tuberculosis, brucellosis, and other animal-to-human plagues.

Today’s gentle drift into urbanization will suddenly accelerate as unemployed livestock workers relocate and retrain for city occupations. Rural real estate values will plummet as vast tracts of ranch land are abandoned and sold for a pittance.

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