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Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Dec 02nd, 2016

Crops genetically-engineered to withstand certain pesticides have a short shelf-life in Boulder County, Colorado. The county’s commissioners voted Wednesday to ban growing genetically engineered crops on county open space with a 2-1 vote. The decision does not apply to privately-owned farmland. The vote puts in place a transition plan to remove GMO corn and sugar beets -- the only GMO crops grown locally on open space land -- from public land within the next 5 years. In 2015, farmers planted GMO corn and sugar beets on about 1,200 acres of the county’s leased open space, accounting for about 8 percent of the total amount of leased cropland in Boulder County. Starting in 2017, tenant farmers will have five years to remove GMO sugar beets from their crop rotations, and three years to eliminate GMO corn. That means 2021 would be the last year any GMO crop is grown on county-owned land.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Dec 02nd, 2016

While Monsanto insists that Roundup is safe and "minimally toxic" to humans, independent research6 strongly suggests that glyphosate residues "enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease."  According to Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Anthony Samsel, Ph.D., a research scientist and consultant: "Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body." Samsel and Seneff have also published research tying glyphosate exposure to Celiac disease and gluten intolerance.7 While genetically engineered (GE) crops such as corn, soybeans and sugar beets tend to contain higher levels of glyphosate due to them being more heavily sprayed, conventional non-organic crops such as wheat are also routinely doused with glyphosate pre-harvest to boost yield, a practice known as dessication. In summary, studies have found that glyphosate: Inhibits cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances. This, Samsel and Seneff believe, is "an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals."

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Dec 02nd, 2016

Food has become a flashpoint in American culture and politics. In the past generation, Americans have witnessed the introduction of genetically modified crops, the rise of the organic food industry, increasing concerns about obesity, growing awareness to food allergies and other health concerns linked with what people eat, an expanding volume of best-selling books and publications about food and the proliferation of premier chefs as superstars in popular culture. There has been a pronounced shift in Americans’ eating habits over the past 20 years with far-reaching implications for how food is created, prepared and consumed. Moreover, the way Americans eat has become a source of potential social, economic and political friction as people follow personal preferences reflecting their beliefs about how foods connect with their health and ailments, according to a new survey by Pew Research Center.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Dec 01st, 2016

Do you look for meat, and poultry products that are produced humanely?  Unfortunately, foods labeled as “humanely raised” may come from factory farms with terrible conditions for animals. The Food Safety and Inspections Service (FSIS) is charged with ensuring “the labeling of meat and poultry products is truthful and not misleading.” Animal welfare and environmental stewardship claims are supposed to be verified by FSIS before they show up in grocery stores, but this isn’t always the case. In 2014, the Animal Welfare Initiative reported that FSIS was approving animal welfare labels without any sort of supporting evidence. As a result, FSIS is proposing changes to the guidelines for on-package labeling of meat and poultry products. But, these guidelines fail to address the heart of the issue – animal welfare labels can be highly deceptive.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Dec 01st, 2016

Food security. Health. Environmental sustainability. Democracy. All of these things are interconnected like spokes around the hub of agriculture. Agriculture, in turn, has undergone massive changes over the past several decades. Many of them were heralded as progress that would save us from hunger and despair. Yet today, we're faced with a new set of problems, birthed from the very innovations and interventions that were meant to provide us with safety and prosperity. You don't have to go very far back in history to get to a point where "What should I eat?" was a nonexistent question. Everyone knew what "food" was. They harvested food off trees, bushes and out of the ground, and they ate it, either raw or cooked in some fashion. Our current confusion about what is healthy and what is not is basically rooted in having divorced ourselves from the actual growing of food. What's worse, this separation has led to an even greater forgetfulness about our place in the ecosystem, and our role as shepherds of the natural world. 


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Dec 01st, 2016

A controversial weed spray has been removed from Auckland Council's gardening practice in select parts of the city as well as on Waiheke. In 2015, the World Health Organisation said glyphosate, commercially known as Roundup, "probably" has the potential to cause cancer in humans. Now five of Auckland's 21 local boards will spend funds from their own budget to use mechanical gardening equipment instead. Mike Cohen is one of the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board members who voted to spend $50,000 to keep his area chemical-free.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Nov 30th, 2016

Today the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its decisions on whether federal and Hawaiʻi state laws preempt Hawaiʻi counties’ authority to regulate genetically engineered (GE) crops and pesticide use. Of significance to state and local communities throughout the United States, the Ninth Circuit ruled that federal law—specifically, the Plant Protection Act—does not prohibit states and counties from passing local laws to regulate and ban commercially-grown GE crops. “Today’s decision to allow states and counties to ban or regulate GE crops is an important victory for GE-free seed sanctuaries and small communities and farmers around the country,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Nov 30th, 2016

As Americans gather with their families for Thanksgiving this week, new government data offers a potentially unappetizing assessment of the U.S. food supply—Residues of many types of bug-killing pesticides, fungicides and weed killing chemicals have been found in roughly 85 percent of thousands of foods tested. Data released last week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows varying levels of pesticide residues in everything from mushrooms to potatoes and grapes to green beans. One sample of strawberries contained residues of 20 pesticides, according to the Pesticide Data Program report issued this month by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service. The report is the 25th annual such compilation of residue data for the agency, and covered sampling the USDA did in 2015.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Nov 30th, 2016

Yesterday a judge in the Northern District of California delivered a crushing blow to the nation’s beekeepers and imperiled honey bees. The judge ruled against the beekeepers and public interest advocates in a lawsuit seeking to protect honey bees and the broader environment from unregulated harms caused by the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) lax policies for seeds coated with certain insecticides known to cause massive die-offs of honey bees. “It is astounding that a judge, EPA or anyone with any common sense would not regulate this type of toxic pesticide use, especially when the seed-coatings are so broadly applied and there is so much at risk. Study after study has shown that seeds coated with these chemicals are a major culprit in catastrophic bee-kills. Now more than ever our country’s beekeepers, environment and food system deserve protection from agrichemical interests, and it is EPA’s job to deliver it,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Director of Center for Food Safety.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Nov 29th, 2016

There is a wave of revolt in the kingdom of GMOs. Driven by lower cereal prices, some US farmers are wondering if they still have an interest in growing genetically modified crops, which cost them up to twice as much to plant than conventional seeds. The debate on GMOs that is emerging in the United States is far removed from European concerns about public health and biodiversity. It’s about a completely different aspect: the return on investment. The time is not conducive to unnecessary spending: in recent years, the world has consumed less corn, soy and wheat than it produces. As a result, the price of corn has halved since its peak in 2012, dropping sharply from $8 to $4 a bushel. This is also the case for soybeans, the price of which has fallen by 46% over three years. There is little reason to think that prices will soar over the next five years, warns the Ministry of Agriculture. Farmers' incomes have been negatively affected: they have fallen by 42% in three years (2013-2016), according to the ministry.

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Nov 29th, 2016

For the first time in history, essential fatty acids used to feed salmon could be sourced from crops harvested on the Great Plains instead of from fish caught in the ocean. Cargill, the world’s largest private company, says it can transform technology developed by German chemical company BASF using algae genes to produce omega-3 bearing canola oil into a commercially viable product in less than five years, according to Lorin DeBonte, associate vice president of research and development at Cargill. The Wayzata, Minneapolis-based company is speeding up efforts to grow tracts of land in the US state of Montana with genetically engineered canola plants bearing omega-3 fatty acids, and is leading a race to deliver a viable fish oil substitute to global aquaculture industries. Cargill faces competition from rivals Bunge and Archer-Daniels-Midland, part of the so-called "ABCD" of global food trading giants, in their quest to dislodge the traditional fishing industries as the main supplier of fatty acid oils to aquaculture and as dietary supplements to humans.


Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Nov 29th, 2016

In fight against Zika, British company Oxitec must seek approval from FDA for insects’ release into the wild following Monroe County referendum. Genetically modified mosquitoes could be released in the Florida Keys as early as this spring, an official said, after voters in Monroe County, Florida, approved the experiment in a referendum on election day. The British company Oxitec will still need to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval, as the original location for the trial – Key Haven – voted against the trial. The experiment could be the first time a genetically modified animal is released into the wild in the United States. “We decided we have so many other options in the county that we are going to pick another site in the county, and not worry about Key Haven for the trial,” said Phil Goodman, a commissioner with the Florida Keys mosquito control district and longtime supporter of the trial.

 

Posted By: Food Democracy Now on Nov 28th, 2016

Rats fed GM Bt corn MON810 for only 90 days suffered serious damage to the surface mucous membranes of the jejunum (part of the small intestine), according to a new study.[1] The type of corn fed to the rats was MON810: Ajeeb YG, a GM version of Ajeeb, a locally adapted variety of corn grown in Egypt. MON810: Ajeeb YG was developed by Monsanto for the Egyptian market. The GM-fed rats ate a diet containing 30% of MON810: Ajeeb YG corn. Control rats were fed the same amount of non-GM corn. In the GM-fed rats, some areas of the villi – finger-like structures in the intestine that absorb nutrients from food – were damaged. They were distorted and flattened, with some cells joined together. The damage can clearly be seen in the images included in the study. The crypts (mucosal glands) were disrupted and blood vessels were congested. Signs of inflammation – white blood cell infiltration – were seen around areas of damage. In addition, the cells of the intestinal lining were abnormal in structure. 


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