Posts tagged agriculture
Posts tagged agriculture
Just when you think there’s no winning against the biotech industry, news out of Mexico City shows that all is not lost. After years of deliberation, a Mexico judge has placed an indefinite ban on genetically-engineered corn. Effective immediately, companies like Monsanto and DuPont/Pioneer will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country’s borders.
The decision comes nearly two years after Care2 reported that the Mexican government had put Monsanto’s GE corn on hold, citing the need for more tests.
“Corn is a staple food crop in Mexico, intricately intertwined with the country’s cuisine, history, and culture. Authorities are concerned that Monsanto’s genetically modified corn will contaminate native species, and could cause both health and environmental issues,” Care2 reported at the time.
Now, it appears that Mexican authorities have finally made their decision. According to Environmental Food and Justice, Judge Jaime Eduardo Verdugo J. of the Twelfth Federal District Court for Civil Matters of Mexico City ruled that the genetically-engineered corn posed ”the risk of imminent harm to the environment.” He also ordered Mexico’s Secretary of Agriculture and SEMARNAT (Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales), equivalent to the U.S. EPA, to immediately “suspend all activities involving the planting of transgenic corn in the country and end the granting of permission for experimental and pilot commercial plantings.”
The ruling means that Monsanto and other biotech companies will be required to halt all activities in the country, giving collective action lawsuits initiated by citizens, farmers, scientists and other concerned parties a chance to work their way through the judicial system.
According to a local press release, Acción Colectiva [Collective Action] aims to achieve absolute federal declaration of the suspension of the introduction of transgenic maize in all its various forms, including experimental and pilot commercial plantings, in Mexico, “which is the birthplace of corn in the world.”
This is a huge victory for the Mexican people, and provides at least temporary protection for the 20,000 varieties of corn grown in Mexico and Central America. The decision comes just days after thousands of people in over 50 countries participated in the global March Against Monsanto.
The problem of antibiotic-resistant bacteria—especially MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)—has ballooned in recent years. Bacteria in the Staphylococcusgenus have always infected humans, causing skin abscesses, a weakened immune system that leaves the body more susceptible to other infections, and—if left untreated—death.
Historically, staphwith resistance to drugs have mostly spread within hospitals. Last year, though,a study found that from 2003 to 2008, the number of people checking into U.S. hospitals with MRSA doubled; moreover, in each of the last three years, this number has exceeded the amount of hospital patients with HIV or influenza combined. Even worse, multidrug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MDRSA) has become an issue, as doctors have encountered increasing numbers of patients who arrive with infections resistant to several different drugs that are normally used to treat afflictions.
It’s clear that these bacteria are acquiring resistance and spreading outside of hospital settings. But where exactly is it happening?
Many scientists believe that the problem can be traced to a setting where antibiotics are used liberally: industrial-scale livestock operations. Farm operators habitually include antibiotics in the feed and water of pigs, chickens and other animals to promote their growth rather than to treat particular infections. As a result, they expose bacteria to these chemicals on a consistent basis. Random mutations enable a small fraction of bacteria to survive, and constant exposure to antibiotics preferentially allows these hardier, mutated strains to reproduce.
From there, the bacteria can spread from the livestock to people who work in close contact with the animals, and then to other community members nearby. Previously, scientists have found MRSAliving in both the pork produced by industrial-scale pig farms in Iowa and in the noses of many of the workers at the same farms.
On the eve (May 24, 2013) of a worldwide protest against Monsanto, 71 U.S. senators (listed below) voted against an amendment to the Senate version of the 2013 Farm Bill that would have guaranteed states the right to enact mandatory GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling laws.
Seventy-one Senators voted against you, the 90 percent of consumers who have said that you want labels on foods containing genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
Seventy-one Senators – including 28 so-called liberal Democrats and 43 Republican so-called defenders of states’ rights - voted against your state’s Constitutional Tenth Amendment right to protect the health, safety and welfare of its citizens and local businesses.
We know who those Senators are. And we plan to make certain that everyone who cares about food safety and food sovereignty knows who they are, too.
We’ll make sure that every consumer, citizen, voter knows that last year Monsanto donated almost $6 million , more than any other company, to the agriculture lobby. And that almost $1 million of that money went directly to political candidates, including some of the 71 Senators who voted against states’ rights to label GMOs.
And we will make sure that every one of those Senators knows that if they support any amendment or rider to the Farm Bill that would preempt state labeling laws, that if they fight labeling laws in any of their home states, we’ll support efforts to recall them where possible, or oppose them if recall isn’t an option.
The 71 Whores Who Voted Against Your Right to Know
These politicians can not do their job. Please remove these corporate whores from office.
A new idea in agribusiness: food that tastes good…is sustainable, where success is measured by the health of the local predators and serves to clean the environment. Yes, it is possible and more importantly, the only way to live.
The old agribusiness model is a model of liquidation, liquidation of our environmental capital. We need new agricultural models created by biologists that understand ecology and the relationships in nature. - chef Dan Farber
Some of the most healthful foods you can think of — blueberries, cranberries, apples, almonds and squash — would never get to your plate without the help of insects. No insects, no pollination. No pollination, no fruit.
A huge collaboration of bee researchers, from more than a dozen countries, looked at how pollination happens in dozens of different crops, including strawberries, coffee, buckwheat, cherries and watermelons. As they report in the journal Science, even when beekeepers installed plenty of hives in a field, yields usually got a boost when wild, native insects, such as bumblebees or carpenter bees, also showed up.
"The surprising message in all of this is that honeybees cannot carry the load. Honeybees need help from their cousins and relatives, the other wild bees," says Marla Spivak, a professor of entomology at the University of Minnesota. “So let’s do something to promote it, so that we can keep honeybees healthy and our wild bee populations healthy.”
Unfortunately, a second study, also released in Science this week, makes it clear that wild bees aren’t having an easy time of it.
That study essentially follows in the century-old footsteps of Charles Robertson, “one of America’s great scientists that nobody knows about,” says Laura Burkle, an ecologist at Montana State University.
Robertson taught biology and Greek at Blackburn College in Carlinville, Ill., and he was fascinated by the close connection between insects and flowers. He spent years in the forests around Carlinville, carefully noting which insects visited which wild flowers at what time of year.
Burkle and Tiffany Knight, a colleague at Washington University in St. Louis, went back to Carlinville to see how much of the ecosystem that Robertson observed still exists today.
Much of the forested area around the town has been converted into fields of corn and soybeans — or suburbs. In the fragments of forest that remain, Burkle and Knight found all of the flowering plants that Robertson recorded in his notes a century ago. Of the 109 species of bees that Robertson saw, though, just over half seemed to have disappeared from that area.
"We don’t know why," says Burkle.
One possibility might be a loss of nesting sites for these bees. But a changing climate may also play a role.
The bees that disappeared tended to be species that depended on just a few kinds of flowers for food. For those bees to survive, their preferred flowers have to be blooming when the bees start flying and need food. The warming trend might have thrown off that timing.
In fact, Burkle says, if you map the interactions between flowers and bees, they seem more tenuous now. Some flowers may get visited by just one or two kinds of bees, and maybe just for one week.
"I don’t know that these systems can take a lot more environmental change without something drastic happening," she says.
Many bee researchers are trying to figure out how to help those native bees — and how to help farmers who benefit from them.
Claire Kremen, a conservation biologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who’s a co-author of the first study in Science, says one of the biggest problems for wild bees is the agricultural specialization that has produced huge fields of just one crop.
The almond groves of California, for example, are a sea of blossoms in February. It’s a feast, as far as the eye can see, for honeybees that come here from all over the country.
"But for the rest of the year, there’s nothing blooming," she says.
That means there are no bees. “In fact, in places where we have very large monocultures of almond, we don’t find any native bees anymore,” Kremen says.
Planting other flowers in and around these almond groves, maybe as hedgerows, blooming all summer long, would help, she says.
Even better would be farms with smaller fields, and lots of different crops flowering at different times. Wild bees, Kremen says, need diversity.
What a perverse idea it is that corporate apologists offer, that my earnest desire and demand to simply know what is in my food is an action tantamount to an attack on Monsanto’s pristine reputation. If I eat Monsanto GMO’s and complain of stomach ache, can I be sued for defamation too? I am ridiculous, you say? What is ridiculously legal when it should be criminal is that if you are a farmer and Monsanto infects your fields with their GMO’s, they can sue you. How pathetic it is that our people have to bow to such a damnably criminal demand. And you fantasize that Osama bin Laden was bad. That Monsanto will use American legislatwhores and judiciwhores to take me and the American farmer hostage is truly equivalent to the death of democracy and a celebration of plutocracy. It’s like Monsanto won the American Revolution all by themselves, while the people ran cowed and hid. Monsanto would force farmers to pay Monsanto to grow Monsanto GMOs then force people to pay Monsanto to eat Monsanto GMOs, since there would be no way of knowing which foods have Monsanto GMO’s. Government transparency declines along with my right to know; such seems to be a trend these days. Inescapable corporate GMO’s in America must be a government orchestrated event: emptying the market of nothing but GMO’s and refusing to allow Americans information is the last piece creating a total monopoly for Monsanto and their friends. This extravaganza of corporate power eliminates the rights of people. Talk about being raped. I am forced to buy a product, farmers were forced to grow, along with Monsanto’s judgment that it is good for me? My right to know what is in my food is the only right that matters. Monsanto has no name that can be slandered, libeled or defamed. Monsanto is cancer, Monsanto is deceit and Monsanto has a monumental disregard for human life and health, their one hundred years of poisoning Americans proves it.
M H O’Neal
How do you keep consumers in the dark about the horrors of factory farms? By making it an “act of terrorism” for anyone to investigate animal cruelty, food safety or environmental violations on the corporate-controlled farms that produce the bulk of our meat, eggs and dairy products.
And who better to write the Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, designed to protect Big Ag and Big Energy, than the lawyers on the Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force at the corporate-funded and infamous American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
America: Owned By Big Business, Fuck Yea!
How does Monsanto keep moving in the face of this kind of opposition? They pay for it.
We The Cattle
Despite a fierce campaign to stop the measure, Iowa became the first state Friday to officially make it a crime to enter a farming operation with the intent to secretly videotape animal abuse. Undercover footage filmed by animal rights groups during the past several years have been instrumental in exposing cases of cruelty to farm animals.
It’s official: Gardeners and farmers can count on warmer weather. If that’s you, it might be a good time to rethink those flower and vegetable beds for this year’s growing season.
That’s the word from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which released a new version of its “Plant Hardiness Zone Map” this week, the first update since 1990. The color-coded zones on this map of the United States are widely used as a guide for what perennial flowers will survive in a particular area, or when to plant your vegetables.
Now the zones have shifted northward. The new map shows that in much of the country, winters aren’t as cold as they used to be, and spring planting comes earlier.