Tag Archives | Food

GMO Purple Tomatoes To Be Sold In Stores

tomatoIs the public ready for genetically modified, nutrient-packed super-foods in unnatural colors? Via the BBC:

The prospect of genetically modified purple tomatoes reaching the shelves has come a step closer. Developed in Britain, large-scale production is now under way in Canada with the first 1,200 litres of purple tomato juice ready for shipping.

Their dark pigment is intended to give tomatoes the same potential health benefits as fruit such as blueberries. The pigment, known as anthocyanin, is an antioxidant which studies on animals show could help fight cancer. The purple pigment is the result of the transfer of a gene from a snapdragon plant.

Scientists say the new tomatoes could improve the nutritional value of everything from ketchup to pizza topping. The tomatoes are part of a new generation of GM plants designed to appeal to consumers – the first types were aimed specifically at farmers as new tools in agriculture.

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Monsanto Goes Organic

Yes, you read that right, Monsanto is concocting a line of trademarked organic vegetables. Let’s hope it takes off and they decide to give up on their favorite genetically modified varietals. Report from Wired:

…Changing the agricultural game is what Monsanto does. The company whose name is synonymous with Big Ag has revolutionized the way we grow food—for better or worse. Activists revile it for such mustache-twirling practices as suing farmers who regrow licensed seeds or filling the world with Roundup-resistant super­weeds. Then there’s Monsanto’s reputation—scorned by some, celebrated by others—as the foremost purveyor of genetically modified commodity crops like corn and soybeans with DNA edited in from elsewhere, designed to have qualities nature didn’t quite think of.

seminisSo it’s not particularly surprising that the company is introducing novel strains of familiar food crops, invented at Monsanto and endowed by their creators with powers and abilities far beyond what you usually see in the produce section.

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Is the USDA Really Dumb Enough To Approve Agent Orange Corn?

500px-Dow_Chemical_logo.svgJohn Robbins writes at Common Dreams:

The Obama administration announced last week that it expects to approve corn and soybeans that have been genetically engineered by Dow Chemical company to tolerate the toxic herbicide — 2,4-D. They are planning this approval despite the fact that use of this herbicide is associated with increased rates of deadly immune system cancers, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and many other serious kinds of illness and reproductive problems.

Weed ecologists are unanimous in warning that approval of these crops will lead to vast increases in the use of this poisonous chemical. Researchers at Penn State say that in soybeans alone, planting of crops resistant to 2,4-D would increase the amount of 2,4-D sprayed on American fields to 100 million pounds per year — four times the current level. The researchers predict a cascade of negative environmental impacts, and add that the increasing use of the herbicide would actually worsen the epidemic of superweeds it is intended to address, by causing weeds to become resistant to multiple herbicides.

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Hershey Developing 3D ‘Printable Foods’

HersheyCoContinuing with the meme that any technology Gene Roddenberry and the writers of Star Trek dream up eventually makes its way into our lives, Hershey and 3D Systems Corp. have announced plans for 3D printable foods, reports MarketWatch:

Hershey Co. and 3D Systems Corp. reached a multiyear joint development agreement to explore and develop ways to use 3-D printing technology to produce edible foods, including confectionary treats.

“We believe that innovation is key to delivering relevant, compelling consumer experiences with our iconic brands,” said William Papa, Hershey’s vice president and chief research and development officer. “Whether it’s creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3-D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future.”

Financial terms of the deal weren’t provided.

In a widely seen report, research firm Gartner Inc. last year said the number of consumer 3-D printers globally was set to double and that combined end-user spending on the devices was expected to rise 49% during 2013.

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Junk Food Linked To Memory Loss

processed foods

Australia’s ABC News 24 reports that fast food is trying to kill your brain:

A team of researchers from the University of New South Wales has uncovered a link between junk food and memory loss. The team placed rats on a diet high in sugar and fat and compared their performance with rodents on a healthy diet.

Lead researcher Margaret Morris says the rats on the poor diet developed an impaired memory after just six days. “Poor diet was associated with a cognitive decline that happened very quickly,” she told AM.

Professor Morris says the memory issues became apparent well before the animals showed any physical symptoms. “The animals of course weren’t obese after just six days on the diet. So the changes in cognition, the loss of memory, happened well before there was any weight change,” she said.

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Blueberry Trees: GMO or Hybrid?

Single BlueberrySome interesting ideas on just what genetically modified means are discussed by Michael Byrne in the context of hybrid blueberry trees, at Motherboard:

Blueberries grow on bushes. Whatever. I don’t care if they grow on bushes or on trees or underground or are skimmed from the surface of fetid water, but bushes are what most of us would consider natural or “as intended” by the naturalness of evolution, which is the mostnatural thing. That’s the ideological pole of the post-science green movement, an appeal to naturalness uber alles or naturalness as crippled “other” to technology’s absolute disruption of a greater Way Things Should Be. And so we have blueberry bushes because … evolution made them that way. So: natural.

Lost on most of the ideological green movement (the one that loathes/fears radiation and biotechnology more than mountaintop removal or forest clear-cutting) is the basic property of evolution as being based on failure and slight success.

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Peak Oil Can Wait: Peak Food Beckons

Ansel Adams - Farm workers and Mt. WilliamsonPeak Food is a term you may be hearing more of in 2014. The Guardian via Raw Story reports on a new study published in Nature dryly entitled “Distinguishing between yield advances and yield plateaus in historical crop production trends,” but within are some worrying findings:

Industrial agriculture could be hitting fundamental limits in its capacity to produce sufficient crops to feed an expanding global population according to new research published in Nature Communications.

The study by scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln argues that there have been abrupt declines or plateaus in the rate of production of major crops which undermine optimistic projections of constantly increasing crop yields. As much as “31% of total global rice, wheat and maize production” has experienced “yield plateaus or abrupt decreases in yield gain, including rice in eastern Asia and wheat in northwest Europe.”

The declines and plateaus in production have become prevalent despite increasing investment in agriculture, which could mean that maximum potential yields under the industrial model of agribusiness have already occurred.

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EU: Same Insecticides Killing Bees Also Harming Human Nervous System

beeI guess if we keep using these chemicals we’ll collapse the ecosystem but be too stupid to care about it.

Via Raw Story:

The EU warned Tuesday that two widely used insecticides, one of which has already been implicated in bee population decline, may pose a risk to human health.

The neonicotinoid insecticides acetamiprid and imidacloprid “may affect the developing human nervous system,” the European Food Safety Authority said, the first time such a link has been made.

As a result, experts wanted “some guidance levels for acceptable exposure … to be lowered while further research is carried out to provide more reliable data on developmental neurotoxicity (DNT).”

The EFSA said its opinion was based on recent research and existing data on “the potential of acetamiprid and imidacloprid to damage the developing human nervous system — in particular the brain.”

The research suggested the two insecticides “may adversely affect the development of neurons and brain structures associated with functions such as learning and memory,” the EFSA said in a statement.

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Why Eating Healthy Food Will Cost Your Family $2,000/Year More Than Processed Junk

Organic FoodThe gap between haves and have nots becomes ever more obvious when the have nots can only afford to eat processed junk that doesn’t deserve the moniker “food.” CBC reports on a study demonstrating the disturbing correlation between healthy eating and high income:

A family on a healthy diet can expect to pay $2,000 more a year for food than one having less nutritious meals, say researchers who recommend that the cost gap be closed.

The research in Thursday’s issue of British Medical Journal Open reviewed 27 studies from 10 high-income countries to evaluate the price differences of foods and diet patterns.

“Our results indicate that lowering the price of healthier diet patterns — on average about $1.50/day more expensive — should be a goal of public health and policy efforts, and some studies suggest that this intervention can indeed reduce consumption of unhealthy foods,” Dariush Mozaffarian, the study’s senior author and a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and his co-authors concluded.

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The Tech Industry’s Plans To Fix Food Production

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From Modern Meadow

One of the wonderful but irritating qualities of the technology culture prevalent in Silicon Valley and various other wannabe Silcon Somethings is the attitude that its engineers can fix everything wrong with the world. Joscelin Cooper, part of that very culture, describes how some of the Valley’s finest have turned to the world’s food crisis, writing at VentureBeat:

The technology industry can have an important impact on fixing the food system both by inventing new systems and infrastructure to reduce food waste, and ensuring that healthy, affordable food is widely available. Here are a few people and programs making a difference:

Invest in fake meat

Khosla Ventures has invested in numerous food-tech projects to create healthier foods that reduce the environmental impact of heavy meat consumption. As people in developing nations become more affluent, demand for meat products has gone up. However, the planet cannot sustain this growing market. Around 15 percent of the planet’s greenhouse gases are produced by livestock farming.

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