Tag Archives | Food

Pesticides just got a whole lot smaller. Is that a good thing?

Liz Core writes at Grist:

Nanoparticles are basically the X-Men of the molecular world, in that they are unpredictable, elusive, and come in a dizzying array of forms.

So it should come as no surprise that scientists are now researching a new type of nanotechnology that could revolutionize modern farming: nanopesticides. (Cue: Ooo, ahh) Recentstudies have suggested that the nano-scale pesticide droplets could offer a range of benefits including raising crop durability and persistence, while decreasing the amount of pesticide needed to cover the same amount of ground. But they’re also looking at the hefty potential for trouble: No one knows if the nanopesticide particles will seep into water systems, and, if they do, if they will harm non-pests like bees, fish, and even humans.

As we’ve written before, nanotechnology involves engineering particles that are tinier than the tiniest tiny. (More technically, we’re talking anything measured in billionths of a meter.) Scientists find this useful, since most substances behave much differently at that scale.

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USDA Approves New Monsanto Seeds While Kidneys Fail in Sri Lanka

Donna Cleveland (CC BY 2.0)

Donna Cleveland (CC BY 2.0)

Via St. Louis Biz Journal:

St. Louis Biz JournalMonsanto Co. has won approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for new soybean and cotton seeds resistant to specific herbicides, including dicamba and glyphosate, which is marketed by the company under the Roundup brand.

The decision Thursday clears another hurdle for Monsanto’s genetically modified products, with the Environmental Protection Agency expected to make a decision on the seeds in the coming months.

Monsanto applied for deregulation of the plants with the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in 2013. In its decision Thursday, APHIS said Monsanto’s new technologies “are unlikely to pose a plant pest risk and, therefore, should not be regulated” under the agency’s rules on dissemination of plant pests.

The seeds are part of what Monsanto has branded as its Roundup Ready 2 Xtend system, which combines tolerance to both dicamba and glyphosate herbicides and is aimed in part at tackling glyphosate-resistant weeds.

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Hydroponic gardener to raise plants that produce valuable medicines

 

Bob Shaw, St. Paul Pioneer Press writes at Duluth News Tribune:

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — For Dave Roeser, it’s not just about salad anymore.

St. Paul’s award-winning hydroponic gardener will still grow vegetables but is adding medicinal plants. He plans to raise 100,000 genetically modified plants to produce medicine for cancer, flu and — potentially — Ebola.

“This is exciting,” said Roeser, a retired controller for Hewlett-Packard.

Roeser has been operating a Maplewood greenhouse to produce vegetables for his company, Garden Fresh Farms. He will continue growing vegetables in a new location in St. Paul but has co-founded a new company — MnPharm — to convert the Maplewood greenhouse into a biological drug factory.

Scientists — and Roeser — see great potential in using plants to produce vaccines.

That’s because vaccines traditionally have been made by the cumbersome process of injecting weakened germs into chicken eggs.

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Monsanto is now the leader in corn in Ukraine and 7 other ways they are killing the 5 year plan

monsantopoison

Via WTF News:

Monsanto’s reported 34 percent earnings decline, which was hinted at last quarter as we reported, was released during the media frenzy after the terror attacks in Paris.

AP
Monsanto said Wednesday that its earnings fell 34 percent in its first fiscal quarter as South American farmers cut back on planting corn, reducing demand for the company’s biotech-enhanced seeds.

U.S. farmers harvested record crops of soybeans and corn last year, sending prices on those food staples to their lowest levels in years. That has resulted in farmers in South America and elsewhere reducing the number of acres they dedicate to corn. The company said lower corn plantings in the U.S. will likely reduce second quarter results by 5 to 10 percent compared with the prior year.

Monsanto said its business was also affected by reduced cotton planting in Australia and a shift in timing for its chemical business.

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U.S. Lifts Ban on Irish Beef 15 Years After Mad Cow

Michael Johnson (CC BY 2.0)

Michael Johnson (CC BY 2.0)

According to the CDC:

“The incubation period for vCJD is unknown because it is a new disease. However, it is likely that ultimately this incubation period will be measured in terms of many years or decades. In other words, whenever a person develops vCJD from consuming a BSE-contaminated product, he or she likely would have consumed that product many years or a decade or more earlier.”

Various considerations put the incubation period somewhere between 15 to  60+ years.

Chaos_Dynamics

The US has decided to lift its ban on Irish beef 15 years later. More at Bloomberg:

The U.S., the world’s biggest beef consumer, is lifting a ban on imports from Ireland more than 15 years after mad cow disease spurred restrictions of supplies from Europe.

Ireland’s Agriculture Ministry said it’s the first European Union country to regain access to the U.S. market, which buys more beef than any other country, according to an online statement today.

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Sustainable Ways to Feed the World Are Subverted by Corporations

Rosewoman (CC BY 2.0)

Rosewoman (CC BY 2.0)

Via News Junkie Post:

Humans’ relationship to food is one of the most fundamentally shaping aspects of our societies. The sole fact that the majority of the world’s population now lives in urban centers is the direct result of a process that began approximately 10,000 years ago. This process was the switch from nomadic hunting-gathering societies to urban sedentary ones. In fact, formal agriculture is the only means whereby an urban society can sustain itself, its population can increase size and density, and complex societal interactions can develop from an urban context. It could be argued that behind the entire construct of capitalism, as becoming sheltered and sedentary allowed our societies to develop an affection for material objects, lies formal agriculture.

The industrial revolution, and in particular the “green revolution” of the 1960s and 70s, once again changed the way that our global society relates to food.

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Fecal Farms: Drone Video Exposes ‘Feces Lake’ Inside Mega US Factory Farm

factory-farm-drone-lake

via The Mind Unleashed:

You’ve seen disturbing images and videos of factory farm animals being forced to live in the absolute worst of conditions, but a new overhead video captured by a spy drone reveals a whole new sector of disturbing factory farm activity.

Caught on tape and unveiled in the video and images below, drone operator Mark Devries says that the apparent ‘lake’ residing on the factory farm compound is in fact a large holding body of feces, urine, and who knows what else.

Read more.

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The Future Is Local, The Future Is Not Monsanto

via RINF:

The US as a nation consumes more than anyone else, virtually at the expense of everyone else. The petrodollar system has ensured that imports into the US have been cheap and readily available. Post 1945, Washington has been able to take full advantage of the labour and the material resources of poor countries.

Consider that ‘developing’ nations account for more than 80 percent of world population but consume only about a third of the world’s energy. Also bear in mind that US citizens constitute 5 percent of the world’s population but consume 24 percent of the world’s energy. On average, one American consumes as much energy as two Japanese, six Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians and 370 Ethiopians [1].

The US is able to consume the way it does because of high demand for the US dollar: it is the world reserve currency.

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Pot Pie, Redefined? Chefs Start to Experiment With Cannabis

The era of creative cooking with marijuana is upon us according to the New York Times:

BOULDER, Colo. — Recreational marijuana is both illegal and controversial in most of the country, and its relationship to food does not rise much above a joke about brownies or a stoner chef’s late-night pork belly poutine.

But cooking with cannabis is emerging as a legitimate and very lucrative culinary pursuit.

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Making canna butter. Credit: Realclark.

In Colorado, which has issued more than 160 edible marijuana licenses, skilled line cooks are leaving respected restaurants to take more lucrative jobs infusing cannabis into food and drinks. In Washington, one of four states that allow recreational marijuana sales, a large cannabis bakery dedicated to affluent customers with good palates will soon open in Seattle.

Major New York publishing houses and noted cookbook authors are pondering marijuana projects, and chefs on both coasts and in food-forward countries like Denmark have been staging underground meals with modern twists like compressed watermelon, smoked cheese and marijuana-oil vinaigrette.

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These 10 companies make a lot of the food we buy. Here’s how we made them better.

Behind-the-brands-illusion-of-choice-graphic-2048x1351

via OxFam America:

It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it’s true: There really are 10 companies that control most of the food and drinks you’ll find in the grocery store. Between them, these giants—whose revenues add up to more than a billion dollars a day—own hundreds of common brands, from Cheerios to Ben & Jerry’s, Odwalla to Tropicana. (See the infographic above to learn more.)

So why should these huge companies care about doing business responsibly? First, because their global operations touch countless lives. “These corporations are so powerful that their policies can have a major impact on the diets and working conditions of people worldwide, as well as on the environment,” wrote Alexander E.M. Hess in USA Today.

Second, because shoppers these days think about factors like fairness and sustainability—and we’re increasingly (and successfully) demanding that the brands we buy do the same. These food companies may be big, but no company is too big to listen to its customers.

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