Food Security and Sustainability

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Food Security and Sustainability

Post by Tigger34 on Sun Apr 03, 2011 12:56 am

This is an interesting article on genetically engineered crops and who controls the seeds.

The Battle For Biodiversity: Monsanto and Farmers Clash
From The Atlantic (April 3, 2011)

"In 2004, half of global seed sales were controlled by 10 companies. Today, those companies control nearly three-quarters of sales. This concentration has led to higher prices and shrinking choice for consumers."

"Two weeks ago, Monsanto announced the latest genetically engineered crop it hopes to bring to market: a soybean rejiggered to resist the herbicide dicamba. The new product, says Monsanto, will aid in weed control and "deliver peace of mind for growers."

"Meanwhile, half a world away, La Via Campesina, a farmers' movement of 150 organizations from 70 countries, had a slightly different idea about what would bring peace of mind to its millions of members: protecting biodiversity. In its statement to those gathered in Bali for the United Nations treaty on plant genetics, the organization urged treaty drafters to reevaluate the legal framework that allows seed patenting and the spread of genetically engineered crops, like those Monsanto soybeans. These genetically modified crops and the international patent regime, La Via Campesina said, block farmers' ability to save and share seeds, threatening biodiversity and food security."

See full article here: http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2011/03/the-battle-for-biodiversity-monsanto-and-farmers-clash/73117/

_________________
"Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human life". ~ Albert Schweitzer
avatar
Tigger34
Admin

Posts : 67
Join date : 2011-03-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Food Security and Sustainability

Post by Tigger34 on Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:44 am

Interesting Article:

Future Farm: a sunless, rainless room indoors
By ARTHUR MAX, Associated Press – Mon Apr 11, 2011

"DEN BOSCH, Netherlands – Farming is moving indoors, where the sun never shines, where rainfall is irrelevant and where the climate is always right. The perfect crop field could be inside a windowless building with meticulously controlled light, temperature, humidity, air quality and nutrition. It could be in a New York high-rise, a Siberian bunker, or a sprawling complex in the Saudi desert. Advocates say this, or something like it, may be an answer to the world's food problems. 'In order to keep a planet that's worth living on, we have to change our methods,' says Gertjan Meeuws, of PlantLab, a private research company. ..............."

Fuill article at this link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/eu_netherlands_sunless_farming

_________________
"Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human life". ~ Albert Schweitzer
avatar
Tigger34
Admin

Posts : 67
Join date : 2011-03-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Food Security and Sustainability

Post by Tigger34 on Fri Apr 15, 2011 4:00 pm

Institute for Responsible Technology

GMOS Linked to Organ Disruption in 19 Studies
by Jeffrey Smith, April 7, 2011

"A new paper shows that consuming genetically modified (GM) corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys. By reviewing data from 19 animal studies, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and others reveal that 9% of the measured parameters, includingblood and urine biochemistry, organ weights, and microscopic analyses (histopathology), were significantly disrupted in the GM-fed animals. ....."

See full article at this link: http://www.responsibletechnology.org/blog/1340a

_________________
"Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human life". ~ Albert Schweitzer
avatar
Tigger34
Admin

Posts : 67
Join date : 2011-03-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Food Security and Sustainability

Post by Tigger34 on Tue May 24, 2011 1:13 pm

Is Organic Food the Answer?

By Marc Gunther, May 24, 2011, GreenBiz.com

Well, that depends on the question.

Of all the things I write about -- energy, the greening of business, the politics and policy of climate change, geoengineering -- food is by far the most emotional. With near-religious fervor, people debate the merits or demerits of, broadly speaking, two ways to produce food.

The first can be described, depending upon who's talking, as big, fast, modern, conventional, industrial, intensive, chemical, genetically-modified, processed and global. It's the system that delivers most of the food that most Americans eat.

The second is described as organic, sustainable, local, small-scale, family-owned, natural, agro-ecological and slow. It's driving the growth of farmer's markets and community-supported agriculture, as well as Whole Foods, and it's increasingly being taken seriously by big companies like Walmart, Safeway and Kroger's.

As shoppers and as eaters, most of us partake from both worlds. But make no mistake about it -- the advocates of conventional food and those pushing reform are deeply polarized, as I've seen first-hand lately.

Earlier this month, I moderated a conference for CropLife America, a trade association of companies that make herbicides and pesticides. [Disclosure: They paid me to do so.] To their credit, the folks at CropLife -- corporate members include Bayer CropScience, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta -- brought in critics like Robby Kenner, director of the movie "Food Inc.," and Greg Jaffe of Center for Science in the Public Interest. The CropLife people and their allies say they have nothing against organic or alternative food systems, but they don't believe that organic ag can match modern agriculture (their term of choice) in terms of efficiency or yield. A reliable food supply on a large scale and at reasonable cost can only be guaranteed with the help of crop protection products, they say. Steve Savage, an industry consultant and blogger, made this argument articulately at the CropLife event; he's skeptical about the claims being made for organic ag, to say the least. See, for example, Organic Crops Alone Can't Feed the World, from Slate, or The Seven Most Dangerous Myths About Organic Farming.

Last week, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Cooking for Solutions powwow, organic advocates were out in full force, particularly at a scrumptious all-organic breakfast at Earthbound Farm, America's largest brand of organic produce. There we heard from Earthbound co-founder Myra Goodman, a passionate advocate for organic, and from Maria Rodale, chairman of Rodale Inc and author of Organic Manifesto: How Organic Food Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World and Keep Us Safe. Her subtitle sums up the claims made on behalf of organics very well and in the book she goes a step farther, writing: "Organic agriculture is the key to our survival."

Frankly, I'm confused about much of this. I'm skeptical in particular of the claim that organic agriculture is as productive or more productive than farming methods that use synthetic chemicals and genetically-modified foods. Partly that's because most farmers have embraced modern ag. Less than 1 percent of US farmland is farmed organically. If farmers could improve their yields by giving up chemicals and genetically modified seeds, why wouldn't they?

I put that question to organic advocates in Monterey including the fine farm and food journalist Tom Philpott and author-activist Anna Lappe, as well as Rodale, and got some interesting answers. They identified strong cultural and institutional obstacles to organic. Big seed companies, they said, dominate the market and push farmers towards GM crops. Agriculture schools and crop consultants who advise farmers are financed by and tilt toward chemical methods. Even the 4-H and Future Farmers of America are funded by the chemical companies. Crop insurance can be more expensive for organic growers. Organic farming is more knowledge-intensive. And because farmers, like the rest of us, are influenced by their peers, they have a reluctance to go against the grain. I was told that there's even a stigma attached to organic fields, where different crops are planted side by side and flowers grow to attract beneficial insects, because they look messier than mono cropped land. Rodale, who interviewed lots of conventional farmers for her book, told me that a farmer told her: "If I went to my banker and told him I was going to go organic, they'd laugh me out of the bank." What's more, converting farmland from chemical to organic requires a three-year transition before crops can be sold as USDA-certified organic. "That's the biggest risk for farmers," Rodale said. "It's a three year transition, and they can't collect the organic premium." What's more, some of the benefits of organic growing -- soil that becomes enriched over time, for example -- require taking a long-term view.

All this complicated the picture for me, although it remains hard for me to believe that the overwhelming majority of American farmers would act in ways contrary to their own self interest.

Myra and Drew Goodman, the founders and owners of Earthbound Farm, clarified matters a little when they explained that organic farmers have higher costs, perhaps just a few percent higher for the very popular salad mixes they sell but up to 30 or 40 percent higher for row crops like broccoli, strawberries, romaine heads, etc. So farmers who choose the organic path are taking a risk because there may not be enough people willing to pay a premium for the products they sell. Said Myra: "It's much more expensive (for us) to farm organically, and we are the most efficient producer out there." Small organic farmers face even tougher hurdles, and they might do better to serve farmer's markets or nearby restaurants, Drew said.

But if the economic benefits to farmers are uncertain -- and it seems to me that they are either uncertain or long term -- the case for the health and environmental benefits of organic seems stronger. Logic argues that chemicals created to kill weeds or pests can't be good for farmworkers who are repeatedly exposed to them. Soils treated repeatedly with chemicals lose their ability to sequester carbon, the organic advocates say. Chemical fertilizers applied to soils in the Midwest contribute to vast dead zones in the Mississippi. And, while the scientific evidence, if any, for the health benefits of organic or the risks posed by chemical residues on food is a matter of great debate, it strikes me as entirely possible (albeit unproven) that chemical pesticides could do some of us some harm. Rodale goes a lot farther than that. "Autism, ADHD, diabetes, obesity, cancer, Parkinson's Disease," she said. "I don't think we realize yet that how our food is grown is contributing to these diseases."

What are we to make of all this? All I can say is that we need more third-party unbiased science to address the competing claims. (Maybe The Sustainability Consortium can help sort some of this out.) The productivity and environmental issues should be relatively easy to settle; untangling the claims about health will be much harder. Some people I respect -- notably plant scientist Pamela Ronald and her husband, organic farmer Raoul Adamchak -- argue that truly sustainable farming should be able to embrace both organic and genetically engineered crops. (See my 2010 blogpost, Biotech and Organic Food: A Love Story.)

I'm going to keep buying organic food, especially fruits, vegetables and milk. I'm fortunate enough to be able to pay the premium, and even if some of the claims for organic ag are overblown, others (especially around farm workers' health) make sense. I'm also going to keep listening with an open mind, and keep reading -- beginning with Rodale's book. Suggestions for other reading are most welcome.

Link to article: https://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2011/05/24/organic-food-answer

_________________
"Anyone who has accustomed himself to regard the life of any living creature as worthless is in danger of arriving also at the idea of worthless human life". ~ Albert Schweitzer
avatar
Tigger34
Admin

Posts : 67
Join date : 2011-03-29

View user profile

Back to top Go down

Re: Food Security and Sustainability

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

View previous topic View next topic Back to top


 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum