Agricultural experts warn against genetic engineering
Industrial agriculture will not suffice to provide food for a growing world population, say experts. Instead, sustainable and eco-friendly practices should be promoted. This requires a change of mindset in politics.
One billion people on our planet don't get enough to eat. It's estimated that by the middle of this century, there will be more than nine billion people living on earth. Current agricultural practices are among the biggest threats to the environment.
This means that unless more sustainable approaches are developed, the planet will become even less able to feed its growing population. The equation 'more input equals more output' no longer holds true in agriculture.
Genetically engineered corn, soy and plant oil should be disclosed on mandatory food labels, a coalition of more than 350 producers, trade groups and consumers said in a petition to U.S. regulators.
The U.S. should require added disclosure even when a product containing a gene-altered organism is similar to foods that aren’t bioengineered, the groups said today in the petition to the Food and Drug Administration. Stonyfield Farm, the organic-yogurt maker owned by Danone SA, and Dean Foods Co.’s Horizon Organic are among the coalition members.
Petitioners, led by the Washington-based Center for Food Safety, want to reverse a 1992 Food and Drug Administration policy that doesn’t require different labeling. Gene-altered seeds are used for almost 90 percent of U.S.-grown corn, 94 percent of soy and 90 percent of cottonseed, an oil-producing plant, the coalition said.
An organic farming advocate says the industry is suffering something akin to growing pains in Australia, partly because supermarkets are increasingly stocking the produce.
Dr Andrew Monk, from the Biological Farmers of Australia, says the big supermarket chains have put organic meat, fruit and vegetables within reach of more consumers.
We are in a food emergency. Speculation and diversion of food to biofuel has contributed to an uncontrolled price rise, adding more to the billion already denied their right to food. Industrial agriculture is pushing species to extinction through the use of toxic chemicals that kill our bees and butterflies, our earthworms and soil organisms that create soil fertility. Plant and animal varieties are disappearing as monocultures displace biodiversity. Industrial, globalized agriculture is responsible for 40 percent of greenhouse gases, which then destabilize agriculture by causing climate chaos, creating new threats to food security.
AquaBounty Technology's genetically modified salmon just got a hefty financial boost from the USDA: On Monday, the agency awarded the Massachusetts-based company $494,000 to study technologies that would render the genetically tweaked fish sterile. This would reduce the likelihood they could reproduce with wild salmon, should any escape into the wild -- a scenario that has many environmentalists concerned.
"I started this because I could not see the future in conventional farming," Kurt Unkel told the magazine. And their risk paid off. But the article left me wondering: Are transitions like this something the USDA will ever fully embrace?
With Wall Street and international investors bidding up the price of the land itself, it's not hard to imagine a future where most farmers aren't owner-operators but are hired hands on massive corporate farms. To avoid such a fate, we'll need more than just training programs and enthusiasm: It requires a willingness by the federal government to take on Wall Street and anti-competitive corporations. And so far, I'm not impressed.
One of my icons in the organic food and green movement is the Rodale family. You don't read about the Rodale family in the press much, but behind the scenes they are a silent multimedia publishing behemoth that quietly publishes mainstream books, magazines, websites and more about advice, health and wellness and the environment (they are the largest independent book publisher in the United States).
Today Rodale publishes books like Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, The South Beach Diet, Eat This, Not That! and many more. Their magazines include Women's Health, Men's Health, Prevention, Organic Gardening and more.
The Rodale family's commitment to organic food, sustainability and the right to healthy living is unparalleled. J. I. Rodale founded the American organic movement in 1942 when he launched Organic Gardening and Farming magazine. In 1947 J. I. launched the U.S. Soil Association, which today is known as the Rodale Institute and is a nonprofit organization.
"Similar growing conditions" -- there's an interesting tidbit. For all we know, then, Beneforté's glucopharanin content could pale in comparison to that of organic broccoli. Of course, this obsession with glucoraphanin is a silly and myopic distraction. Broccoli, by virtue of being a vegetable, is healthful and does not need to be improved upon. None of the myriad of chronic health issues affecting millions of Americans are due to "faulty broccoli" with low levels of glucoraphanin.
The biggest irony of this product lies in Monsanto's claim that Beneforté "help[s] maintain your body's defenses against the damage of environmental pollutants and free radicals."
There is, however, another current, which is democratizing power and aligning farming with nature’s genius. Many call it simply “the global food movement.” In the United States it’s building on the courage of truth tellers from Upton Sinclair to Rachel Carson, and worldwide it has been gaining energy and breadth for at least four decades.
If you sit quietly in Bill and Susan Gorman's pasture, you can hear the Jerseys rhythmically pulling mouthfuls of orchard, timothy and brome grass.
The Jerseys are efficient mowers, harvesting the pastures to produce milk that's marketed through Organic Valley. Bill Gorman milks them once a day in a big, old, red barn on his family farm. The cows are rewarded for their trip to the barn with oats and barley.