by Jack Kaskey
‘Monsanto Co. (MON) opponents who want to block genetically modified foods are guilty of “elitism” that’s fanned by social media and fail to consider the needs of the rest of the world, Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant said.
The global population is growing and food consumption will rise even faster as people enter the middle class and eat more protein, the head of the world’s largest seed maker said in an interview. Those who can pay more for organic food want to block others from choosing more affordable options, Grant said.
“There is this strange kind of reverse elitism: If I’m going to do this, then everything else shouldn’t exist,” Grant said at Monsanto’s St. Louis headquarters yesterday. “There is space in the supermarket shelf for all of us.”’
by Spencer Hunt
‘The trees and shrubs that dot Teresa Horstman’s 3-acre Madison County property look fine, but only from a distance.
A closer look reveals leaves that are curled and dying and flowers that have lost their petals or have turned black.
“It’s devastating,” Horstman said of her shrubs and trees, which include maple, locust, dogwood, buckeye and oak. “We’re not talking about a person. No one has died here. But it’s really tough to see.”Horstman blames the farm across Plain City-Georgesville Road. She said herbicides sprayed on a windy day this month were blown onto her property.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture calls the phenomenon “drift.” Agency officials investigate about 40 complaints of unintentional agricultural poisonings each year.
“Basically, what happens in many of the cases would be that somebody is out spraying and it’s breezy,” said Matt Beal, the agency’s chief of plant health. “Sometimes, it’s pretty apparent what happened.”
Ohio farmers use as many as 136 pesticides, which are chemicals used to kill pests and include herbicides, insecticides and fungicides. More than 3,000 tons of the most-popular herbicide, Roundup, are sprayed on an estimated 5 million acres of farm fields each year.The instructions that come with Roundup warn users not to spray on windy days because it can kill plants and trees, too.’
‘Garden cress is a fast growing and edible herb that will sprout in just a small amount of slightly alkaline water. But there is one exception to that rule, and is has scientists scratching their heads.
A group of 5 girls have carried out a science experiment at Hjallerup School in North Jutland, Denmark that saw garden cress seeds placed in 12 tubs and split into two batches. Both batches were placed in different rooms that remained the same temperature, and were given the same amount of water and sunlight over the course of 12 days.
You’d expect both batches of 6 tubs to grow equally well, but one set didn’t even germinate. The reason? They were placed next to two routers. Although it’s unclear exactly why this happened, it is thought that the radiation produced by the routers is what stopped the seeds germinating.’
by Brian Milligan
‘Over five days, I set out to see if it was possible to include sufficient fruit, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates in my food to do that, spending no more than £1 a day – while trying not to lose sight of the fact that eating should be a pleasure, not just a necessity.
Coffee, alcohol, cakes and even salad are just too expensive. But there are plenty of surprising goodies that are very much on the menu.’
‘The so-called Monsanto Protection Act signed into law earlier this year caused such an outrage that people around the world are planning to protest the biotech company later this month. Now a United States senator is expected to try and repeal that law.
According to the Huffington Post, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) plans to introduce an amendment in Washington that would repeal Section 735 from the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013, a provision that has put St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto in the sights of environmentalists around the world.
Deep within the nearly 600-page spending bill, Section 735 includes language that lets biotech companies that experiment with genetically-engineered and genetically-modified crops test and sell lab-made products even if legal action is taken against them.’
‘Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) on Monday announced he would veto controversial legislation that would have made it harder to expose animal abuse.
[...] The so-called “ag gag” bill would have required that evidence of animal abuse be turned over to law enforcement within 48 hours or face criminal charges. The bill’s sponsors said the proposal would ensure animal cruelty was quickly investigated.
But groups like the Humane Society of the United States said the true purpose of the bill was to prevent undercover activists from exposing cruelty on factory farms’
‘The UN has been working on ways to end world hunger for decades, but their newest idea does not involve economics, politics, or even food: The organization is now advising people to eat more insects.
Insect farming is “one of the many ways to address food and feed security,” the agency said in a 200-page report released at a news conference at the UN’s Rome headquarters. The report said that insects are “extremely efficient” in converting feed into edible meat for humans. It added that insects are“particularly important as a food supplement for undernourished children.”
University biologists agree, claiming that certain types of beetles, ants, crickets, and grasshoppers offer nearly as much protein per gram as lean red meat or broiled fish. Crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein. Insects can also be rich in copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc. They are also a source of fiber.’
by Stephen C. Webster
‘The Supreme Court unanimously sided with agribusiness giant Monsanto on Monday against a 75-year-old Indiana soybean farmer for planting seeds without paying the company a “technology fee.”
In the case Bowman v. Monsanto (PDF), justices expressed little interest in addressing the broader problems posed by Monsanto’s technology, which self-replicates and can contaminate neighboring fields. Instead, they ruled that farmer Vernon Hugh Bowman had knowingly used Monsanto’s pesticide-resistant soybeans beyond his licensing period by purchasing soybeans from neighboring farmers once his Monsanto license expired.
Knowing these seeds would likely contain Monsanto’s patented genetics, the court noted that he planted them for eight straight growing seasons and repeatedly used Monsanto’s Roundup bug killer on them. Once Monsanto sued, Bowman argued that the company’s patent did not apply due to patent exhaustion, a legal provision that lets someone who purchased something resell it if they choose.’
Despite Touting ‘Healthier’ Products, Fast Food Chains Haven’t Improved Their Menus In Years ~ Think Progress
by Katie Valentine
‘The study, recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, looked at the menus of eight fast food chains between 1997 and 2010. Researchers judged menus by using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Healthy Eating Index, a 100-point scale that determines the nutritional value of American diets based on the variety of foods eaten; the intake of each major food group; and the intake of fat, cholesterol and sodium. The study found fast food menus only increased their nutritional value by three points in the last 14 years — from 45 to 48 points. The score is lower than the general American food supply’s score of 60 points and far below the 80-plus points that the USDA recommends for a “good” diet.
And the scores of the menus from the eight restaurants studied — McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Arby’s, Jack in the Box and Dairy Queen — actuallyworsened over time in the sodium category. That result is especially alarming, given that overuse of salt in the food and restaurant industry now contributes to an estimated 100,000 American deaths per year.
The study provides empirical evidence for a growing trend among fast food restaurants: marketing “healthy” options with little added nutrition in order to make the restaurants as a whole seem healthier.’
by Anthony Gucciardi
‘In a legislative blow against GMO giant Monsanto and major food corporations who wish to keep you in the dark over what you’re eating on a daily basis, the Vermont House has passed a significant new GMO labeling bill known as H. 112 by a count of 99-42.
[...] despite the mass lobbying and mountains of cash that go into squashing labeling, around 90 plus percent (or more on average depending on the polling institute) of the public is in favor of GMO labeling — and an increasingly large number of this percentage are turning into hardcore activists who are sick of Monsanto’s food monopoly.’
‘In apparent contradiction to its stated intention to protect pollinators and find solutions to the current pollinator crisis, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the unconditional registration of the new insecticide sulfoxaflor, which the agency classifies as highly toxic to honey bees. Despite warnings and concerns raised by beekeepers and environmental groups, sulfoxaflor will further endanger bees and beekeeping. The U.S. EPA continues to put industry interests first to exacerbate an already dire pollinator crisis.
In January, the agency proposed to impose conditional registration on sulfoxaflor due to inconclusive and outstanding data on long-term honey bee brood impacts. At that time, the agency requested two additional studies—a study on residue impacts, and a field test to assess impacts to honey bee colonies and brood development. This week, the EPA granted full unconditional registration to sulfoxaflor stating that there were no outstanding data, and that even though sulfoxaflor is highly toxic to bees it does not demonstrate substantial residual toxicity to exposed bees, nor are “catastrophic effects” on bees expected from its use. While sulfoxaflor exhibited behavioral and navigational abnormalities in honey bees, the EPA downplays these effects as “short-lived.” The agency says it has reviewed 400 studies in collaboration with its counterparts in Australia and Canada to support its decision. However, these studies do not seem to be currently available in the public scientific literature.’
by Damian Carrington
‘From the great yellow bumblebee in Scotland to the potter flower bee clinging on in a few sites on England’s south coast, many of Britain’s rarest wild bees are in deep trouble, according to a report published on Thursday. The study blames intensive farming and urban sprawl which have decimated the flowery meadows that bees feed in as the key factors.
“The way we farm and use land across the UK has pushed many rare bees into serious decline,” said bee expert Prof Simon Potts, at the University of Reading, who led the study commissioned by Friends of the Earth. “I’m calling on the government to act swiftly to save these iconic creatures which are essential to a thriving environment and our food supply”.
The report focused on12 key species across Britain. It found the great yellow bumblebee has disappeared from 80% of its historic UK range and now relies on the unique machair habitat in western Scotland, a flower-rich grassland. On the south coast of England, the range of the solitary potter flower bee, which digs burrows to lay eggs in, has also shrunk dramatically. Britain’s rarest solitary bee, the large mason bee, is on the brink of extinction in Wales, the report found.’
by Alex Newman
The New American
‘As part of the seemingly never-ending drive to expand and centralize its own coercive power, the controversial European Union in Brussels is now targeting seeds and gardeners with a proposed new “law” aimed at regulating all “plant reproductive material” within the bloc. Despite strong backing by mega-corporations and genetic-engineering giants, however, the proposal has sparked a furious grassroots outcry around the world that transcends traditional political divides.
Critics are calling on the emerging EU super state to kill the scheme immediately. Over 200,000 people have already signed a petition against the plan. Another 35,000 signed a petition refusing to accept the scheme, and thousands more signed a separate statement vowing non-compliance. The growing coalition fighting back against the program brings together unlikely allies, too: environmentalists, leftists concerned about corporate power over government, libertarians, farmers, conservatives, liberals, gardeners, small-scale seed producers, advocates for national sovereignty, and more.
However, while Brussels policymakers are reportedly scrambling to amend the proposal in response to the unexpected tsunami of outrage, powerful lobbyists and the European establishment appear determined to ram through the nearly 150-page package of “reforms.” There is major pressure behind the effort, which reportedly includes well-funded lobbying campaigns by companies such as Monsanto and other “Big Ag” interests seeking to consolidate their dominance over the seed market.’
‘A leaked study examining genetically-modified corn reveals that the lab-made alternative to organic crops contains a startling level of toxic chemicals.
An anti-GMO website has posted the results of an education-based consulting company’s comparison of corn types, and the results reveal that genetically modified foods may be more hazardous than once thought.
The study, the 2012 Corn Comparison Report by Profit Pro, was published recently on the website for Moms Across America March to Label GMOs, a group that says they wish to “raise awareness and support Moms with solutions to eat GMO Free as we demand GMO labeling locally and nationally simultaneously.” They are plotting nationwide protests scheduled for later this year.’
by Genna Reed
Nation of Change
‘A new review of hundreds of scientific studies surrounding glyphosate—the major component of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide—sheds light on its effects within the human body. The paper describes how all of these effects could work together, and with other variables, trigger health problems in humans, including debilitating diseases like gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Glyphosate impairs the cytochrome P450 (CYP) gene pathway, which creates enzymes that help to form and also break down molecules in cells. There are myriad important CYP enzymes, including aromatase (the enzyme that converts androgen into estrogen) and 21-Hydroxylase, which creates cortisol (stress hormone) and aldosterone (regulates blood pressure). One function of these CYP enzymes is also to detoxify xenobiotics, which are foreign chemicals like drugs, carcinogens or pesticides. Glyphosate inhibits these CYP enzymes, which has rippling effects throughout our body.’
by Tara Culp-Ressler
‘A New York City elementary school became the first public school in the nation to go completely vegetarian when it stopped serving meat in its cafeteria this year.
Flushing’s P.S. 244 consists of about 400 students between kindergarten and third grade. And the staff say that the school lunches — which include options like black bean quesadillas, brown rice, falafel, roasted red potatoes, and tofu — are a hit among those young kids, some of whom have started requesting similar foods at home.’
by Julian Hattem
‘Federal regulators are troubled by processes that add caffeine to food products, a growing trend over which they currently have little oversight.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Deputy Commissioner for Food and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor called caffeine additives in snacks from jellybeans to waffles to energy drinks “very disturbing to us” in an interview posted by the agency on Friday.
This week, Taylor announced that the FDA would investigate the effect that foods with added caffeine have on the public and children’s health. He left the door open for future action from the agency, but in the published remarks on Friday he seemed skeptical about the possibility of imposing age restrictions on caffeine.’
Editors Note: Below is part of the German piece taken from the Google translation.
Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten
‘The European Commission is working on a revision of the European seed market in the form of a regulation. Thus, a decision of the European Court is legalized in July 2012: Farmers are allowed to sell only officially authorized seed. So far, old and rare seed varieties were excluded that were grown in long standing economic and exchange traded, usually in small quantities. If it goes to the Commission’s plans, small farmers or private persons may not even give away their homegrown seeds in the future.
Many conventional vegetables and cereals are thus disappear from cultivation, criticize Austrian environmental organizations. The mandatory registration of all varieties would lead to a complete unification. The small-scale agriculture is thus completely excluded from the seed-disclosure, it says in the text accompanying a joint petition of Noah’s Ark and Global in 2000. For them, the procedure for seed species with insurmountable bureaucratic and financial hurdles should be connected. In addition, environmentalists fear a strict official control. When replacing non-approved seed varieties to harsh penalties.’
‘More than 900 people have been arrested in China for involvement in meat-related crimes, including producing fake beef and mutton from animals such as rats, minks and foxes, authorities reported.
A total of 382 cases of alleged crimes in food industry were uncovered in a three-month campaign launched by China’s Ministry of Public Security on January 25, the ministry reported.
In addition to producing falsely-labeled meat, the crimes included using banned chemicals in processing of products, selling meat infected with various diseases and injecting water into meat to pad up its weight, according to Xinhua news agency.’
by Michelle Roberts
‘Staying healthy means following a balanced diet. A growing number of people, however, are eliminating entire food groups, seeing only negative qualities in things like dairy, eggs, meats, grains, and fats.
Over time, the only things left in their diet are fruits and vegetables. Taken to an extreme, it’s now treated as an eating disorder called “Orthorexia”.
This is how Boston University Nutritionist Jenn Culbert defines Orthorexia: “What it essentially means is that someone is obsessed with eating only healthy food that they consider to be pure.”
The problem, according to Culbert, is our bodies need those so called bad foods.’
‘Fifteen countries voted in favour of a ban – not enough to form a qualified majority. According to EU rules the Commission will now have the option to impose a two-year restriction on neonicotinoids – and the UK cannot opt out.
The Commission says it wants the moratorium to begin no later than 1 December this year.
The UK did not support a ban – it argues that the science behind the proposal is inconclusive. It was among eight countries that voted against, while four abstained.
Wild species such as honey bees are said by researchers to be responsible for pollinating around one-third of the world’s crop production.
There is heated debate about what has triggered the widespread decline in bee populations. Besides chemicals, many experts point to the parasitic varroa mite, viruses that attack bees and neglect of hives.’
‘Data from a new study of British adults suggest that adherence to a “Western-style” diet (fried and sweet food, processed and red meat, refined grains, and high-fat dairy products) reduces a person’s likelihood of achieving older ages in good health and with higher functionality. Study results appear in the May issue of The American Journal of Medicine.
“The impact of diet on specific age-related diseases has been studied extensively, but few investigations have adopted a more holistic approach to determine the association of diet with overall health at older ages,” says lead investigator Tasnime Akbaraly, PhD, Inserm, Montpellier, France. “We examined whether diet, assessed in midlife, using dietary patterns and adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI), is associated with aging phenotypes, identified after a mean 16-year follow-up.”
The AHEI is a validated index of diet quality, originally designed to provide dietary guidelines with the specific intention to combat major chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Investigators analyzed findings from the British Whitehall II cohort study, which suggest that following the AHEI can double the odds of reversing metabolic syndrome, a condition known to be a strong predictor of heart disease and mortality. The research team sought to identify dietary factors that can not only prevent premature death, but also promote ideal aging…’