Archive for July, 2010

The Center for Food Safety today launched a new mobile application that will help shoppers to quickly and easily identify foods made with ingredients from genetically modified (GM) organisms.  The free app, “The Center for Food Safety’s True Food Shoppers Guide”, is available for mobile devices through iTunes and Android Market.

Today, thousands of products on supermarket shelves are made with ingredients from genetically modified (also known as genetically engineered [GE]) crops. But GM foods are not labeled in the U.S., despite warnings from doctors and scientists that these foods may not be safe in the diet or the environment. This lack of mandatory labeling can make it difficult to determine which products are made with GM ingredients and which are not. The new application is designed to give health-and-safety-conscious consumers who wish to avoid GM ingredients the tools they need to make informed purchasing decisions.

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Date Published: Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Monsanto Co. is facing consumer fraud allegations for claiming that the latest version of its genetically modified soybean seeds could produce higher yields for farmers. West Virginia’s attorney general has accused Monsanto of violating the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act in making the claims.

The new Monsanto seed is called Roundup Ready 2. According to The Wall Street Journal, Roundup Ready soybeans are the most popular type of genetically modified seed planted in the U.S. They are designed to survive exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, making it possible for farmers to spray weedkiller directly on fields without damaging their crop.

According to a Bloomberg report, Monsanto last year began shifting growers to the new seeds by promising a 7 percent to 11 percent bigger harvest compared with the original Roundup Ready soybean seeds. The original version loses patent protection in 2014.

Roundup Ready 2 soybeans were planted on 1.5 million acres last year and cost growers $74 an acre, 42 percent more than the older product, Bloomberg said.

But according to West Virginia Attorney General Darrell V. McGraw, Iowa State University, Pennsylvania State University, a farmer group and investment researcher OTR Global found the latest seeds failed to deliver what Monsanto promised.

Read the rest of this entry.

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Raj Patel, food activist, scholar, and author of two important books: Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and his new book (now on the New York Times Best Seller list), The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy shares his views about our market driven economy, and what he sees as a necessary direction forward for civilization to survive, and people and communities to flourish.

In his previous book, Stuffed and Starved, Patel examined the global food system, and the transnational corporations that ultimately control the price and availability of the food we buy in the supermarket.

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India has deferred the commercial cultivation of what would have been its first genetically modified (GM) vegetable crop due to safety concerns.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said more studies were needed to ensure genetically modified aubergines were safe for consumers and the environment.

The GM vegetable has undergone field trials since 2008 and received approval from government scientists in 2009.

But there has been a heated public row over the cultivation of the GM crop.

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As a heat wave from Boston to Baghdad to Beijing sets record-breaking temperatures in cities across the world, a new analysis says the world is headed for an average temperature rise that far exceeds pledges at the Copenhagen climate conference last year. We speak with geopolitical analyst and columnist Gwynne Dyer about his new book, “Climate Wars: The Fight for Survival as the World Overheats.”

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Supporters of geoengineering have proposed radical ways to alter the planet to decrease the level of greenhouse gas emissions. Proposals include creating artificial volcanoes to pollute the atmosphere with sulfur particles, fertilizing the oceans and placing sun-deflecting aluminum foil in the sky. But opposition is growing to geoengineering. We host a debate between Indian environmentalist, scientist, philosopher and eco-feminist, Vandana Shiva, and geopolitical analyst and columnist, Gwynne Dyer.

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A call for America to divest its heart and stomach from feedlot beef


Published in the March/April 2010 issue of Orion magazine

MAY I SAY—somewhat defensively—that I haven’t cooked red meat in many years? That I haven’t visited a McDonald’s since college? That if you asked me how I like my steak, I’d say I don’t really remember? I’m not a moral abstainer—I’ll eat meat when poor people in distant places offer it to me, especially when they’re proud to do so and I’d be an ass to say no. But in everyday life, for a series of reasons that began with the dietary scruples of the woman I chose to marry, hamburgers just don’t come into play.

I begin this way because I plan to wade into one of the most impassioned fracases now underway on the planet—to meat or not to meat—and I want to establish that I Do Not Have A Cow In This Fight.

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At the Rural Development Foundation’s (RDF) primary school in Kalleda, a small village in the Warangal district of Andhra Pradesh, India, students carry gardening tools, along with their notebooks and pencils.

All of the students work in the school’s garden, cultivating and harvesting rice, lentils, corn, and cotton that is used to make the daily meals or sold to the village and to other schools. Students also take turns tending a field of marigolds and selling them in Kalleda. All of the profit goes back to the school.

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Obama’s F.D.A. is using a secret process designed to review veterinary drugs to rule on what could be the first genetically engineered animal to enter the food supply, genetically engineered salmon.

The confidential drug evaluation process does not fully assess food safety or environmental impacts and blocks public input. The public will never see, let alone have the opportunity to rebut, the information AquaBounty Technologies, the developer of the genetically engineered salmon, submits to the F.D.A. And, the F.D.A. is not conducting or soliciting independent research to determine whether the salmon is safe to eat or release into the environment.

Public opinion surveys show that Americans are even more wary about genetically engineered animals than about the genetically engineered crops now used in a huge number of foods.

The government doesn’t require genetically engineered foods to be labeled. Foods must be labeled, it says, only if they are different in their nutritional properties or other characteristics. AquaBounty is trying to make the case to the F.D.A. that its salmon is indistinguishable from normal Atlantic salmon in terms of taste, color, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, proteins and other nutrients.

But, AquaBounty’s franken-salmon is clearly different from normal salmon. It has been engineered to grow twice as fast, reaching its full size in 18 months.

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Published: June 25, 2010 in the New York Times

The Food and Drug Administration is seriously considering whether to approve the first genetically engineered animal that people would eat — salmon that can grow at twice the normal rate.

The developer of the salmon has been trying to get approval for a decade. But the company now seems to have submitted most or all of the data the F.D.A. needs to analyze whether the salmon are safe to eat, nutritionally equivalent to other salmon and safe for the environment, according to government and biotechnology industry officials. A public meeting to discuss the salmon may be held as early as this fall.

Some consumer and environmental groups are likely to raise objections to approval.

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