Tag Archives | climate

New Report Debunks Myth That GMOs are Key to Feeding the World

About 70 percent of the world's poor are farmers, and to raise them out of poverty requires access to basic resources such as fertilizer, water, and the infrastructure to properly store or transport crops to market—not expensive, resource-intensive GMO seeds. (Credit: La Montañita Co-op)

About 70 percent of the world’s poor are farmers, and to raise them out of poverty requires access to basic resources such as fertilizer, water, and the infrastructure to properly store or transport crops to market—not expensive, resource-intensive GMO seeds. (Credit: La Montañita Co-op)

Originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Lauren’s posts here.

The biotechnology industry “myth” that feeding billions of people necessitates genetically engineered agriculture has been debunked by a new report out Tuesday by the nonprofit health organization Environmental Working Group.

The report, Feeding the World Without GMOs (pdf), argues that investment in genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, has failed to expand global food security. It advocates more traditional methods “shown to actually increase food supplies and reduce the environmental impact of production.”

Over the past 20 years, the report notes, global crop yields have only grown by 20 percent—despite the massive investment in biotechnology.

On the other hand, it continues, in recent decades “the dominant source of yield improvements has been traditional crossbreeding, and that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.”

As the report states, “seed companies’ investment in improving yields in already high-yielding areas does little to improve food security; it mainly helps line the pockets of seed and chemical companies, large-scale growers and producers of corn ethanol.”

After examining recent research on GMO crop production, the report also found:

  • Genetically modified crops—primarily corn and soybeans—have not substantially contributed to global food security and are primarily used to feed animals and cars, not people.
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Monsanto Crops Pushing Monarch Butterfly to ‘Verge of Extinction’

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

A monarch butterfly on butterflyweed, a type of milkweed, at the Lenoir Preserve Nature Center in Yonkers, New York. (Photo: Don Sutherland/flickr/cc)

Deirdre Fulton writes at Common Dreams:

Herbicide-resistant genetically modified crops have brought the iconic monarch butterfly to the brink of extinction, according to a new report presented by the Center for Food Safety to Congress on Thursday.

The report, Monarchs in Peril (pdf), is the most comprehensive look yet at how Monsanto’s ‘Roundup Ready’ crops have helped decimate the monarch population, which has declined by 90 percent in the past 20 years.

“This report is a wake-up call. This iconic species is on the verge of extinction because of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready crop system,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director at Center for Food Safety. “To let the monarch butterfly die out in order to allow Monsanto to sell its signature herbicide for a few more years is simply shameful.”

As Common Dreams has reported before, and the new study makes abundantly clear, a critical factor in the orange-and-white butterflies’ decline is the loss of host plants for larvae in their main breeding habitat, the Midwestern Corn Belt.

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How the People Can Outwit the Global Domination Plans of Agribusiness

In Texas, large fields are prepared for the next year's corn crop. (Photo: Daniel James/flickr/cc)

In Texas, large fields are prepared for the next year’s corn crop. (Photo: Daniel James/flickr/cc)

Jonathan Latham writes at Common Dreams:

The strategic centerpiece of Monsanto PR is to focus on the promotion of one single compelling idea. The idea that they want you to believe in is that only they can produce enough for the future population. They wish you to therefore believe that non-industrial systems of farming, such as all those which use agroecological methods, or SRI, or are localised and family-oriented, or which use organic methods, or non-GMO seeds, cannot feed the world. This same PR strategy is followed by every major commercial participant in the industrial food system.

To be sure, agribusiness has a few other PR strategies. Agribusiness is “pro-science”, its opponents are “anti-science”, and so on. But the main plank has for decades been to create a cast-iron moral framing around the need to produce more.

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10 Good Things About the Year 2014

(Photo: Daniel Arauz/flickr/cc)

(Photo: Daniel Arauz/flickr/cc)

Medea Benjamin writes at Common Dreams:

It’s been a year of fervent activism on police accountability, living wages, climate change, personal freedoms, immigrant rights, an open internet and diplomacy over war. The electoral beating the Democrats received has prompted both the Administration and some spineless congresspeople to realize that support for progressive issues could reinvigorate their base —a realization that has already led to Obama’s executive action on immigration and the opening to Cuba.

So here are some of the 2014 highlights.

1. Uprising for police accountability. The movement for police accountability has swept the nation, spawning brilliant new leaders from communities most affected, giving a voice to the families who have lost loved ones and opening people’s eyes to the militarization of our police forces. It is an organic, grassroots movement destined to have a transformative impact on the struggle for racial equality. Keep an eye out in 2015 for CODEPINK’s campaign to demilitarize the police, Communities Organize to Demilitarize Enforcement.

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Freemason, Scholar and Master Builder, Randall Carlson (Part 2)

Via Midwest Real 

(This is part 2, click here for part 1).

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I love conversations like this because they remind us that there are truly massive, un-fuckwithable forces at play in the universe that could crush us in an instant. Why would I like such a thing? It helps me remember to be humble, not take my own personal nonsense too seriously, and to enjoy the shit out of life.

So, until the asteroids hit, (real, or metaphorical) do awesome things, and for God’s sake, remember to check your ego every now and then. 

Anyway, there’s an esoteric library’s worth of information over at Sacred Geometry International. Literally hundreds of hours. Go there!

They also have tremendous Twitter and Facebook accounts.

We truly love your participation and support. Get involved by checking out our new sitefollowing us on Twitter, and Facebook and please subscribe and review on iTunes!Read the rest

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The Climate Change Deniers Have Won

PIC: Greenpeace China (PD)

PIC: Greenpeace China (PD)

What’s with the “let us hope” bullshit?  Nick Cohen writes at the Observer:

The American Association for the Advancement of Science came as close as such a respectable institution can to screaming an alarm last week. “As scientists, it is not our role to tell people what they should do,” it said as it began one of those sentences that you know will build to a “but”. “But human-caused climate risks abrupt, unpredictable and potentially irreversible changes.”

In other words, the most distinguished scientists from the country with the world’s pre-eminent educational institutions were trying to shake humanity out of its complacency. Why weren’t their warnings leading the news?

In one sense, the association’s appeal was not new. The Royal Society, the Royal Institution, Nasa, the US National Academy of Sciences, the US Geological Survey, the IPCC and the national science bodies of 30 or so other countries have said that man-made climate change is on the march.

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New NASA Map Shows Where You Are Most Likely to Die From Air Pollution

Screen Shot 2013-10-30 at 1.38.14 PMVia PlanetSave:

Each year millions of premature deaths world-wide result from various forms of air pollution. According to a new atmospheric pollution model designed by earth scientist Jason West of the University of North Carolina (data from which informs the NASA map shown above), some 2.1 million deaths per year result from just one particular form of atmospheric pollution: fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, which is emitted in car exhaust and smokestack effluent (and other industrial, domestic and natural  sources).

In general, these polluting particles in the atmosphere are referred to as aerosols (a mixture of particulate matter and air). Aerosols can take the form of suspended particulate matter (SPM), respirable suspended particles (RSP), which are particles with a diameter of 10 micrometers (microns) or less, and, the aforementioned fine PM2.5…the ’2.5′ refers to particles of 2.5 microns or less and may include ultrafine particles, and some forms of soot (such as black carbon soot from cooking stoves and biomass burning).

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Why Monsanto Bought The Climate Corporation (It’s The Weather, Stupid)

The_Climate_Corporation_Logo2Monsanto’s billion-dollar acquisition of The Climate Corporation plants the seeds for an agribusiness revolution, writes Vlad Savov for The Verge:

To look at Monsanto’s product pages, you’d think the company’s business is in selling two closely related commodities: agricultural seeds and weed killers. But that would be like saying that Verizon sells people data and phone calls. What these companies are truly engaged in is an effort to make themselves indispensable to their target market’s daily activities. Now Monsanto is stepping up that campaign by expanding into the high-tech world of big data with its $930 million acquisition of The Climate Corporation.

It’s not that Monsanto is unfamiliar with the cutting edge of technology — as its long list of patents will attest — but so far most of the company’s energies have been spent on altering, enhancing, and otherwise rearranging the basic ingredients that go into land farming. With Climate Corp’s expertise in hyper-local weather prediction and big data analytics, Monsanto looks set to become a fully fledged services company as well.

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New Little Ice Age In Store Next Decade?

89705312_aa574e68a8The Telegraph says we may enter a short mini-Ice Age in the next decade due to low solar activity. Consider it Mother Nature giving us a temporary reprieve from global warming so that we have time to set things right:

Sunspot activity, which follows an 11-year cycle, is due to peak in 2013 after which it will start to wane slightly. But astronomers think the next upswing will be less intensive than normal, or could fail to happen at all. That could affect weather on Earth because low solar activity has been linked to low global temperatures in the past.

Three studies, presented at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s solar physics division, all point towards declining sunspot activity into the next decade.

Between 1645 and 1715 almost no sunspots were observed, a solar period which came to be called the Maunder Minimum. During those decades Europe suffered frequent unusually harsh winters, and the time was later termed the Little Ice Age.

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Abu Dhabi Now Creating ‘Man-Made Rainstorms’ Regularly

rain_1795776cAbu Dhabi now controls its weather with giant ionizers, the Telegraph reports:

A secret £7 million weather project in Abu Dhabi has resulted in dozens of man-made rainstorms, according to reports.

Scientists employed by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, president of the UAE and leader of Abu Dhabi, successfully created more than 50 rainstorms in the state’s Al Ain region last year, mostly in July and August when there is virtually no rain at all. It is believed to be the first time the system has produced rain from clear skies.

They have been using giant ionizers, shaped like giant lampshades, to generate fields of negatively charged particles, which create cloud formation.

In a company video, seen by The Sunday Times, Helmut Fluhrer, the founder of Metro Systems International, the Swiss company in charge of the project, said: “We are currently operating our innovative rainfall enhancement technology, Weathertec, in the region of Al Ain in Abu Dhabid.

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