A genetically engineered grass expected to hit U.S. markets without government review could speed the evolution of hard-to-control weeds, and perhaps require a return to toxic herbicides scrapped decades ago.
On July 1 — a Friday afternoon, a time usually reserved for potentially controversial news — the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Scotts Miracle-Gro’s herbicide-resistant Kentucky bluegrass would be exempt from tests typically required of transgenic crops.
Scotts Miracle-Gro is the largest U.S. retailer of grass seed, and the modified grass could be widely used in residential lawns. It’s resistant to glyphosate, a front-line herbicide known commercially as Roundup.
The grass will survive extra doses of Roundup, allowing more than usual to be applied. That’s the problem, said agricultural biotechnology expert Douglas Gurian-Sherman of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“The more a chemical is used consistently, the more likely that somebody’s weeds will become resistant. That’s standard, agreed-upon science,” said Gurian-Sherman. “The way that Roundup is used because of transgenic crops exacerbates that problem.”
Originally constituted in 2003, the House Organic Caucus has re-organized. The Caucus recognizes the dramatic growth in organic food sales, now at around 26 billion annually and also acknowledges the growth in organic farming, with over 14,000 organic farms, both large and small, in the US, with larger corporate organic interests such as Earthbound Farms predominantly located in California.
According to the 2010 Agricultural Chemical Use Report released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), use of the herbicide glyphosate, associated with genetically engineered (GE) crops, has dramatically increased over the last several years, while the use of other even more toxic chemicals such as atrazine has not declined. Contrary to common claims from chemical manufacturers and proponents of GE technology that the proliferation of herbicide tolerant GE crops would result in lower pesticide use rates, the data show that overall use of pesticides has remained relatively steady, while glyphosate use has skyrocketed to more than double the amount used just five years ago.
Every year in the United States, 325,000 people are hospitalized because of food-borne illnesses and 5,000 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s right: food kills one person every two hours.
Yet while the terrorist attacks of 2001 led us to transform the way we approach national security, the deaths of almost twice as many people annually have still not generated basic food-safety initiatives. We have an industrial farming system that is a marvel for producing cheap food, but its lobbyists block initiatives to make food safer. Perhaps the most disgraceful aspect of our agricultural system...is the way antibiotics are recklessly stuffed into healthy animals to make them grow faster.
A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and state agency partners finds that pesticide drift from conventional, chemical-intensive farming has poisoned thousands of farmworkers and rural residents in recent years. According to the authors, agricultural workers and residents in agricultural regions were found to have the highest rate of pesticide poisoning from drift exposure, and soil fumigations were a major hazard causing large drift incidents. The study, “Acute Pesticide Illnesses Associated with Off-Target Pesticide Drift from Agricultural Applications — 11 States, 1998–2006,” was published June 6, 2011 in the online edition of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives
Pesticide News Roundup: The jig may be up for Monsanto & the U.S Dept of Agriculture found 34 unapproved pesticides on the herb cilantro. In Fresno, CA, farm workers and residents protest the use of methyl iodide. And, Finally, a recent CDC study found that pesticide drift from conventional farming has poisoned farm workers and rural residents.
Genetically engineered salmon has consumers and environmentalists running the other way. So why is the FDA considering approving it?
Industry regulators have known for years that Roundup, the world's best-selling herbicide produced by U.S. company Monsanto, causes birth defects, according to a new report released Tuesday.
The report, "Roundup and birth defects: Is the public being kept in the dark?" found regulators knew as long ago as 1980 that glyphosate, the chemical on which Roundup is based, can cause birth defects in laboratory animals.
But despite such warnings, and although the European Commission has known that glyphosate causes malformations since at least 2002, the information was not made public.
Three days a week, a funky bus transformed into a kitchen-on-wheels parks in a Minneapolis or St. Paul neighborhood. Inside cooks whip up such entrees as stuffed green peppers or zucchini with brie cheese, while others drag out a sign saying, "Free Meal Here Tonight."
By 5 p.m., neighbors start mingling outside one of the most unconventional free-meal services in Minnesota. It's run by Sisters' Camelot, an equally offbeat nonprofit that has given away organic produce to low-income neighborhoods for years -- out of a different bus -- before launching mobile organic meals last month.
Organics isn't the only thing that sets it apart. There's no set schedule for where the bus goes. Staff decide day-to-day. Anyone, poor or rich, is welcome to walk up to the bus window and grab a plate. Its goal isn't just to feed the hungry, but to "build community" in the parks and street corners where the bus is parked.
Every year, a hefty dairy cow tucked away in a snug barn produces more than 20,000 pounds of milk, along with an impressive amount of manure and an array of gases. New modeling work by an Agricultural Research Service team in University Park, Pennsylvania, suggests that a dairy cow living year-round in the great outdoors may leave a markedly smaller ecological hoofprint than her more sheltered sisters.
Agricultural engineer Al Rotz led a team of scientists at the ARS Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit through a modeling study that evaluated how different management systems on a typical 250-acre Pennsylvania dairy farm would affect the environment. “If we try to reduce one environmental factor in this complex production system, we can end up increasing others,” Rotz says. “So there’s a real need to look at all the environmental aspects together.”