Tag Archives | Farming

Food Ark: Will Seed Banks Save Our Sources of Food?

“Experts estimate that we have lost more than half of the world’s food varieties over the past century”. Charles Siebert writes in National Geographic:

Svalbard Vault Mountain (Cutaway). Illustration: Global Crop Diversity Trust

Svalbard Vault Mountain (Cutaway). Illustration: Global Crop Diversity Trust

A crisis is looming: To feed our growing population, we’ll need to double food production. Yet crop yields aren’t increasing fast enough, and climate change and new diseases threaten the limited varieties we’ve come to depend on for food. Luckily we still have the seeds and breeds to ensure our future food supply — but we must take steps to save them.

Six miles outside the town of Decorah, Iowa, an 890-acre stretch of rolling fields and woods called Heritage Farm is letting its crops go to seed. It seems counterintuitive, but then everything about this farm stands in stark contrast to the surrounding acres of neatly rowed corn and soybean fields that typify modern agriculture. Heritage Farm is devoted to collecting rather than growing seeds.

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Toxin From Genetically Modified Crops Detected In Canadians’ Blood

bigredbarnUntil now, scientists and multinational corporations promoting GM crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein breaks down in the human gut. But the presence of this toxin in human blood shows that this does not happen.

Eating GM corn, soy, and potatoes is perfectly safe, provided you don’t mind having a powerful toxin swirling in your bloodstream. Oh, and your unborn baby’s bloodstream as well. So says a debbie-downer peer-reviewed Canadian study, India Today reports:

Fresh doubts have arisen about the safety of genetically modified crops, with a new study reporting presence of Bt toxin, used widely in GM crops, in human blood for the first time.

Scientists from the University of Sherbrooke, Canada, have detected the insecticidal protein, Cry1Ab, circulating in the blood of pregnant as well as non-pregnant women. They have also detected the toxin in fetal blood, implying it could pass on to the next generation.

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If The White House Garden Was Planted With Subsidized Crops…

With thanks to @SlowFoodUSA, the image below shows what the White House Garden would look like if it was planted with subsidized crops from the Food and Farm Bill. When will we break this crazy taxpayer-funded transfer of wealth to agribusiness that is ruining the health of our precious farmland (and the animals and humans who depend on it)?

Source: Kitchen Gardeners (http://kitchengardeners.org/)

Source: Kitchen Gardeners (http://kitchengardeners.org/)

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China Farmers Facing ‘Exploding’ Watermelon Problem (Video)

GallagherGallagher is not responsible. At least it's not exploding people. Reports the AP via Yahoo News:
BEIJING — The overuse of a chemical that helps fruit grow faster is causing a rash of exploding watermelons in eastern China. An investigative report by China Central Television airing Tuesday found farms in Jiangsu province were losing acres of fruit to the problem. It said farmers sprayed too much growth promoter, hoping they could get fruit to market ahead of season and make more money. China is battling rampant misuse of pesticides, fertilizers and food additives, like dyes and sweeteners, meant to make food more attractive and boost sales.
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Cambridgeshire Farm Seeks Online Farmers

myfarm-logoWhat happens when Farmville becomes reality and not just a game? National Trust create MyFarm, an actual working farm that has 10,000 virtual farmers. BBC reports:
A National Trust farm is to be run by online subscribers voting on which crops to grow and livestock to rear.
For a £30 annual fee, 10,000 farm followers will help manage Wimpole Home Farm, in Cambridgeshire. The National Trust says its MyFarm project aims to reconnect people with where their food comes from. It was partly inspired by the online Facebook game Farmville and follows the example of Ebbsfleet Football Club which is run on a similar basis. Decisions about the running of the team in Kent has been in the hands of MyFootballClub subscribers since 2008.
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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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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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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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