ans of organic milk now have a compelling argument for their choice: New evidence says it's better for you.
There are more unsaturated fats in organic milk than in conventional milk, according to a research team at Newcastle University in Northern England. In addition to containing omega-3 acids, organic milk's conjugated linoleic acid (also called CLA) has anti-cancer properties and is believed to have many health benefits for the heart. The results of this study were published in the January 2011 issue of The Journal of Dairy Science.
Organic growers say that, without safeguards, their foods will be contaminated by genetically modified crops growing nearby. The genetic engineering industry argues that its way of farming is safe and should not be restricted in order to protect organic competitors.
Into that conflict comes Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who for two years has been promising something revolutionary: finding a way for organic farms to coexist alongside the modified plants. But in recent weeks, the administration has announced a trio of decisions that have clouded the future of organics and boosted the position of genetically engineered (GE) crops. Vilsack approved genetically modified alfalfa and a modified corn to be made into ethanol, and he gave limited approval to GE sugar beets.
The announcements were applauded by GE industry executives, who describe their genetically modified organisms as the farming of the future. But organics supporters were furious, saying their hopes that the Obama administration would protect their interests were dashed.
On Friday, the Center for Food Safety, a group critical of genetically modified crops, sued federal regulators, alleging the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent approval of genetically modified alfalfa was illegal. The center alleges the approval is based on faulty information, and that genetically modified alfalfa will damage the organic industry because it could contaminate conventional or organic alfalfa. The alfalfa, developed by Creve Couer-based Monsanto, is engineered to withstand applications of the herbicide Roundup, which kills weeds but not the crop.
Given the demand for salmon, it is no surprise that a Frankenfish has emerged — a lab-created hybrid that could soon become the first genetically engineered animal approved by the Food and Drug Administration for human consumption. The company behind these manufactured fish promises that they will not affect ones from an ancient and wild gene pool.
Here we go again. It is human to think we can trick nature, or do it one better. It is human to think a tsunami would never knock out a nuclear plant, a hurricane would never bury a city and a deepwater oil drill would never poison a huge body of water. In the gods of technology we trust. Until they fail. And then, we feel helpless and small and wonder what they — or we — were thinking.
"Agriculture is at a crossroads," says the study by Olivier de Schutter, the UN special reporter on the right to food, in a drive to depress record food prices and avoid the costly oil-dependent model of industrial farming.
So far, eco-farming projects in 57 nations demonstrated average crop yield gains of 80 per cent by tapping natural methods for enhancing soil and protecting against pests, it says.
Recent projects in 20 African countries resulted in a doubling of crop yields within three to 10 years. Those lessons could be widely mimicked elsewhere, it adds.
Turns out, the secret ingredient of Pete and Kelly Mahaffy's fertile 200-acre dairy farm - a member of the Organic Valley co-op - is waste product from seafood processors.
Six to eight truck loads a day deliver shells and shrimp husks to their dairy farm on the Coos River during crab season's peak.
It's a nutrient-rich, slowly decomposing fertilizer the couple spreads thinly over pastures during the rainy months.
As a jaded observer of the meat industry, even I'm flummoxed by this fact: It's standard practice on factory chicken farms to dose those unfortunate birds with arsenic. The idea is that it makes them grow faster -- fast growth being the supreme goal of factory animal farming -- and helps control a common intestinal disease called coccidiosis.
The next time you're feeling sick, think twice before going to your doctor for answers. Look down at your plate, instead.
Hidden in your hamburger or smoked ham may be something you didn't want or expect on the menu -- antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Instead of protecting you from infectious diseases, antibiotics might simply be making you sick.
"There's reality and there's perception," says George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley, one of the country's biggest organic food companies. "And the perception is, consumers are saying they don't want any pollution in organic products. And whether that's realistic or not is another matter. But for sure, consumer perception is a real concern." Siemon cited a survey in which 77 percent of organics consumers said they would stop buying organic food if it contained GMOs.
What sort of antibiotic-resistant pathogens are growing on factory farms, along with all the cheap pork chops and chicken wings? And what level of threat do they pose to our health?
Well, we know that in total, factory-farm animals consume a jaw-dropping four times as many antibiotics as do people in the United States, thanks to diligent reporting by Maryn McKenna and Ralph Loglisci and work by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.)....And now we know of yet another means by which antibiotic-resistant nasties can make their way from meat factories into the broader community: through the cockroaches and flies drawn to the titanic amounts of manure produced on factory farms.