And now those unheeded warnings are proving prescient. In late July, as I reported recently, scientists in Iowa documented the existence of corn rootworms (a ravenous pest that attacks the roots of corn plants) that can happily devour corn plants that were genetically tweaked specifically to kill them. Monsanto's corn, engineered to express a toxic gene from a bacterial insecticide called Bt, now accounts for 65 percent of the corn planted in the US.
The superinsect scourge has also arisen in Illinois and Minnesota. "Monsanto Co. (MON)’s insect-killing corn is toppling over in northwestern Illinois fields, a sign that rootworms outside of Iowa may have developed resistance to the genetically modified crop," reports Bloomberg. In southern Minnesota, adds Minnesota Public Radio, an entomologist has found corn rootworms thriving, Bt corn plants drooping, in fields.
Levels of pesticides commonly encountered across the country in food as well as around the home are significantly increasing children's risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and could be causing an increase in the number of children living with the condition, according to new research published in the journal Pediatrics.
Significant levels of the world's most-used herbicide have been detected in air and water samples from two U.S. farm states, government scientists said on Wednesday, in groundbreaking research on the active ingredient in Monsanto Co's Roundup.
"It is out there in significant levels. It is out there consistently," said Paul Capel, environmental chemist and head of the agricultural chemicals team at the U.S. Geological Survey Office, part of the U.S. Department of Interior.
Capel said more tests were needed to determine how harmful the chemical, glyphosate, might be to people and animals.
Organic farming is known to be environmentally sustainable, but can it be economically sustainable, as well? The answer is yes, according to new research in the Sept.-Oct. issue of Agronomy Journal. In an analysis of 18 years of crop yield and farm management data from a long-term University of Minnesota trial, an organic crop rotation was consistently more profitable and carried less risk of low returns than conventional corn and soybean production, even when organic prime premiums were cut by half.
The recession that started in 2008 meant a couple of tough years for Wisconsin's organic dairy industry, with near-zero growth. However, growth rates are back in the double-digits now, according to Joe Pedretti, an organic education specialist with the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.
"As consumers felt a little bit more confidence in the economy, then the buying of organic products came roaring back, and now we're looking at about the same 15- to 20-percent growth rates again."
With all due respect, Nina Federoff’s New York Times op-ed reads like it was written two decades ago, when the jury was still out about the potential of the biotech industry to reduce hunger, increase nutritional quality in foods, and decrease agriculture’s reliance on toxic chemicals and other expensive inputs that most of the world’s farmers can’t afford.
With more than 15 years of commercialized GMOs behind us, we know not to believe these promises any longer.
People with relatively high levels of certain pesticides in their blood may have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes -- particularly if they are overweight, a new study suggests.
The study, reported in the journal Diabetes Care, is not the first to link chemical pollutants to diabetes.
A number of studies have found a connection between diabetes risk and exposure to older pesticides known as organochlorines, PCBs and other chemicals that fall into the category of "persistent organic pollutants."
Poultry farmers who adopt organic practices and stop giving their birds antibiotics significantly reduce the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics in their flocks, according to a study released Wednesday.
Public health experts have become increasingly concerned about germs becoming resistant to many commonly used antibiotics. In fact, an outbreak of salmonella currently occurring is being caused by a resistant strain of the bacteria traced back to ground turkey.
After a review of 130 studies, researchers have concluded that organic farming systems use significantly less nonrenewable energy than conventional farming.
The farm energy savings for organic are often 20 per cent or more.
"We concluded that the evidence strongly favours organic farming with respect to whole-farm energy use and energy efficiency both on a per hectare and per farm product basis," states the study.
Men still own and operate the vast majority of large farms with commodity crops such as wheat or soybeans that require heavy equipment, capital and labor. But woman-run farms cover the gamut, USDA figures show, reflecting everything from widows running dairy businesses to recent college grads entering specialty markets such as grass-fed goats or heirloom tomatoes.
Their farms range from one acre to more than 500 but trend toward the small. About 40 percent are under 50 acres.