GMO Digest: Beyond 10/10/10, Health Dangers, CAFOs, and More

A look at the recent GMO stories, including a manifesto for changing the system of industrial food production and farming, also recent studies revealing the health hazards of GMOs. A settlement in GM rice contamination lawsuit. The tragedy of CAFOs in pictures. And more.

Honeybee Killer Found by University and Army Researchers

Honeybee Killer Found by University and Army Researchers

At last there seems to be an answer to the honeybee disappearance mystery. A virus-fungus one-two punch is now the lead suspect behind honeybee devastation. However, additional studies are needed to determine to determine the exact mechanisms leading to honeybee deaths.

Monsanto Cuts 700 More Jobs, Lowers Forecast

Monsanto says it’s cutting about 650 to 700 more jobs as it continues to restructure its business, according to a story we first read on NPR on August 31st 2010.

BPA Found in Paper Receipts

Yes, some of the highest concentrations of BPA that we are regularly exposed to are not in plastic bottles or cans, but in at least 40% of paper receipts we get from supermarkets, ATMs, and gas stations. In a study by the Environmental Working Group, some tested receipts showed 1,000 times the amount of BPA as you would find on a typical food can!  Apparently, 93% of Americans have detectable levels of BPA, an endocrine disruptor that may cause cancers and reproductive problems.
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GMO Digest: Superweeds Discussed in Congress, Environmental Justice, and More

Last week, superweeds and GMOs were on the minds of many U.S. lawmakers. Reports continued on growing pesticide resistance. Bee colony collapse problem grows. EPA considers giving environmental justice a chance. EU approved more GM maize imports, while a GMO-Free Europe conference nears. And more.

GMO Digest: Organic Pest Control Bests Pesticides, GE Trees and Potatoes, and More

The latest stories: Organic pest management proven to be better than pesticides. Chemical farming interests boost anti-pesticide message. GE tree trials continue. Why do we need GM potatoes? GM contamination lawsuits. Personal story about becoming a locavore. And more.

Solar power brings World Cup to Ghanaian village

A Ghanaian village will get the chance to see its national heroes play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, despite being outside the national grid, through a scheme promoting the use of solar energy.

The 6,900 people living in and around Oboadaka, an hour from capital city Accra, will be able to watch matches live in an attempt to persuade them of the benefits of solar power.

British Academic Resigns From FSA Group Over GM

Professor Brian Wynne was vice chairman of a steering group set up by the Food Standards Agency to gauge the public mood on genetically modified (GM) food. Prof Wynne said that he resigned when it became clear that the consultation was biased in favour of GM. Earlier in the week another member of the group, Dr Helen Wallace, Director of the non-governmental organisation Genewatch, resigned in protest at the Food Standard Agency’s allegedly close links with the agri-chemical industry.

Why Big Chicken May Be Obama's Next Antitrust Target

Last week, current and former chicken growers, mostly from the South, gave attorney general Eric Holder and USDA secretary Tom Vilsack accounts of a lack of competition, poverty-level earnings and bait-and-switch tactics among the big chicken producers. “This system takes hard working farmers and makes them indentured servants on their own land,” Kay Doby, a former chicken farmer from North Carolina, told a crowded room at Alabama A&M University.

GMOs: Higher Production Doesn't Mean Wider Acceptance

The planting of GMOs in Brazil and Argentina — both among the world’s top producers of GM crops — indicates that growth in GM crop production has guaranteed neither wide-scale social acceptance of the technology nor benefits for small-scale farmers.

EPA Imposes Pesticide Limits to Protect Salmon in Spite of Industry Refusal to Comply

EPA has announced plans to place additional limitations on the use of three N-methyl carbamate pesticides – carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl – to protect endangered and threatened salmon and steelhead in California, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. The decision comes after manufacturers of the chemicals diazinon, malathion and chlorpyrifos refused to adopt the limits voluntarily.

Beekeepers turn away from chemical cash deals after safety fears

The British Beekeepers’ Association is moving away from cash sponsorship deals with pesticide manufacturers after concerns that the chemicals may be harmful to bees. The Association is looking for other sources of funding. According to TimesOnline, bee numbers in Britain are down 54 per cent in 20 years.

How to Buy Ethically Raised, Organic Meats, Even at a Chain Supermarket

It’s well documented that the conventional factory-farm method of raising animals for food – especially cattle – is an energy-intensive, inhumane (for animals and workers), water-guzzling, poisonous-emissions-releasing, earth-polluting endeavor… Omnivores who have no interest in giving up their bacon or steaks should switch to sustainable, humane versions of their favorite proteins. Immediately.

Promises of Higher Yields With GM Seeds Refuted

The claims by biotechnology corporations that genetic engineering increases crop yields, and is therefore necessary to feed a growing world population, have also recently been refuted. Failure to Yield, a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists published in April 2009, is the first to evaluate in detail the overall yield effect of genetic engineering. Specifically, the report concludes “no currently available transgenic varieties enhance the intrinsic yield of any crops. The intrinsic yields of corn and soybeans did rise during the twentieth century, but not as a result of GE traits. Rather, they were due to successes in traditional breeding.”

Your Veggi Burger May Be Toxic

Until recently, not many consumers were aware of the widespread use of a toxic and environmentally damaging chemical, hexane, in the manufacturing of “natural” soyfoods such as vegetarian burgers, nutrition bars, and protein shakes. The use of chemical solvents such as hexane is strictly prohibited in organic food processing, yet its use is widespread in the “natural” soy industry, including in some products labeled as “made with organic soybeans,” such as Clif® Bars. Hexane, a neurotoxin, is listed as a “hazardous air pollutant” by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and grain processors, including soy processors, are responsible for more than two-thirds of all hexane emissions in the United States.

Farmers Cope With Roundup-Resistant Weeds

Monsanto has crops resistant to glyphosate. Bayer is selling cotton and soybeans resistant to glufosinate, another weedkiller. Monsanto’s newest corn is tolerant of both glyphosate and glufosinate, and the company is developing crops resistant to dicamba, an older pesticide. Syngenta is developing soybeans tolerant of its Callisto product. And Dow Chemical is developing corn and soybeans resistant to 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange, the defoliant used in the Vietnam War.