Climate Adaptation

CLIMATE ADAPTATION

I want to punch climate change in the face. A blog about the interactions between the built environment, people, and nature.


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Monsanto winner of prestigious World Food Prize

I’m not into the tone of this article, but thought y’all would appreciate knowing about it.

New report: Monsanto pesticides do more damage than good, costing tax payers billions

Solid reporting on this one.

Superweeds, Superpests: The Legacy of Pesticides

"The rapid adoption of a single weed-killer for the vast majority of crops harvested in the United States has given rise to superweeds and greater pesticide use, a new study suggests. And while crops engineered to manufacture an insect-killing toxin have reduced the use of pesticides in those fields, the emergence of newly resistant insects now threatens to reverse that trend.

Farmers spray the herbicide glyphosate, widely sold under the Monsanto brand Roundup, on fields planted with seeds that are genetically engineered to tolerate the chemical. Found in 1.37 billion acres of corn, soybeans, and cotton planted from 1996 through 2011, this “Roundup Ready” gene was supposed to reduce or eliminate the need to till fields or apply harsher chemicals, making weed control simple, flexible, cheap, and less environmentally taxing.

In fact, this system has led farmers to use a greater number of herbicides in higher volumes, according to the study, published this week in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Sciences Europe.”

NYTimes

motherjones:

Roundup, New York City’s most heavily used liquid herbicide, is widely considered dangerous. And it’s coming to a picnic blanket near you. 

Opinion shifts: 50% of Australians feel genetically modified (GM) foods are safe to eat

The argument of necessity is changing public opinion. With more people on the planet, coupled with more natural disasters crippling farmers and infrastructure, the case for GMOs is established. Also, there have been no widespread doom-day disasters despite decades of GMO uses.

If you asked this question 10 years ago, you’d have found widespread opposition. These days there’s a degree of familiarity, and there’s a sense that this stuff has been around for a while and there haven’t been disasters. There’s also a degree of ambivalence – this stuff is in the food system and we can’t do anything about it.”

David Tribe, a Senior Lecturer in Food Biotechnology and Microbiology, Agriculture and Food Systems at the University of Melbourne, agreed. “People have been given time to kick the tyres, check the paintwork, and they slowly accommodate something that was once perceived as very different. That’s one thing.

“The other thing is that Kevin Rudd was overseas in 2009 talking to prime ministers in countries that were under threat from a food crisis. He realised that food security was one of the greatest moral issues that we faced. So the message started to get through to people that it was important to think about food availability. The conversation changed dramatically.”

Via The Conversation.edu.au

Here’s the opinion survey(PDF).

As drought hits corn, biotech firms see lush field in GMO crops Monsanto has received regulatory approval for DroughtGard, a corn variety that contains the first genetically modified trait for drought resistance.

GMOs are a controversial climate adaptation measure. But, drought resistant crops are necessary.

Agricultural biotechnology companies have been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into developing plants that can withstand the effects of a prolonged dry spell. Monsanto Co., based in St. Louis, has received regulatory approval for DroughtGard, a corn variety that contains the first genetically modified trait for drought resistance.

Seed makers, such as Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc. of Johnston, Iowa, and Swiss company Syngenta, are already selling drought-tolerant corn varieties, conceived through conventional breeding.

At stake: a $12-billion U.S. seed market, with corn comprising the bulk of sales. The grain is used in such things as animal feed, ethanol and food. The push is also on to develop soybean, cotton and wheat that can thrive in a world that’s getting hotter and drier.

"Drought is definitely going to be one of the biggest challenges for our growers," said Jeff Schussler, senior research manager for Pioneer, the agribusiness arm of DuPont. "We are trying to create products for farmers to be prepared for that."

Their efforts come amid concerns about genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, and the unforeseen consequences of this genetic tinkering. Californians in November will vote on Proposition 37, which would require foods to carry labels if they were genetically modified. The majority of corn seed sold is modified to resist pests and reap higher yields.

Opponents say the label would unnecessarily dampen further development that is intended to feed a growing global population dependent on the U.S., the largest exporter of corn and soybean.

"Trying to create drought-tolerant crops is not going to be easy to do," said Kent Bradford, director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at UC Davis. “We certainly need all the tools [available] to do that, and that includes conventional breeding and adding transgenic traits. We don’t need to stigmatize these approaches.”

Great read via LATimes

Food stamps to be cut via new Farm Bill. But, RT gets the story wrong. RT points to aggressive lobbying by Walmart as the cause, but this doesn’t make any sense.

Walmart is the largest grocer in America, and they accept food stamps. Why would they undermine their own business? They also point to Monsanto and the Sugar lobbies as sources for food stamp cuts. Again, this is nonsensical. These two industries’ revenues depend - in part - on low cost, affordable foods. Why would they undermine their own business?

It’s true that Walmart et al influence politics and legislation such as food regulations and farm bills. But, they certainly would not push for squeezing food stamps out of the budgets. RT would be wise to point their light of truth on the real reason for eliminating food stamps: the Republican party. It’s an open part of their platform.

rtamerica:

The Power of Money in Food (by RTAmerica)

“ there is a false nostalgia for primitive agriculture, based on limited transportation and the arduous conversion of raw materials into comestible commodities. Rarely is it admitted, much less emphasized, that cheap, quick food — including its embodiment through our sometimes obnoxious agribusiness corporations — is the single most important advance in human history. ”

—    Writer Tyler Cowen on GMO food and the locavore movement.
#France to EU: Stop #Monsanto's Corn

fertilizermarkets:

France has asked the European regulators to suspend the authorization to plant Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) MON810 corn. France’s ecology minister says the decision is based on studies showing GM crops “pose significant risks for the environment.”

Agence France-Presse reports:

The request is “based on the latest scientific studies” which show that the use of the GM crops “pose significant risks for the environment,” the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry pointed to a recent study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that raised concerns with another form of GM crop, BT11, that it said could also be applied to MON 810.

“If the European Union does not act, we can invoke the safeguard clause” which allows EU nations to independently restrict or prohibit the sales of products, it said.

President Nicolas Sarkozy in November pledged to seek new legal measures after the European Court of Justice and France’s top administrative court overturned a French ban on GM crops from US agriculture giant Monsanto.

France tv info writes that six countries in the EU also ban the cultivation of genetically modified corn: Germany, Hungary, Greece, Luxembourg, Austria et Bulgaria.

(SIPA/Durand Florence)

Monsanto's Roundup Found in People's Urine

Looks interesting, though it could be lefty anti-Monsanto panic - stuff I try to avoid posting here. I do not know if glyphosate is all that dangerous, nor what levels would be OK to consume. Wikipedia has a clear article on glyphosate, which points to an article that states impacts on humans is not known. The Wiki entry has a short lawsuit section covering Monsanto’s key ingredient herbicide, but again these are related to regulation rather than impacts. 

recent study conducted by a German university found very high concentrations of Glyphosate, a carcinogenic chemical found in herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup, in all urine samples tested. The amount of glyphosate found in the urine was staggering, with each sample containing concentrations at 5 to 20-fold the limit established for drinking water. This is just one more piece of evidence that herbicides are, at the very least, being sprayed out of control.

Just queued this up…

fertilizermarkets:

The World According to #Monsanto documentary trailer. MONSANTO is the worlds leader in genetically modified organisms (GMOs). This 100 year old empire has created some of the most toxic products ever sold, including poly-chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the herbicide AGENT ORANGE. 

This never before told story of misleading reports, collusion, pressure tactics and attempts at corruption, makes up the history of this global corporation. Behind its clean green image, MONSANTO is now tightening its grasp on the world seed market, striving to for market domination resulting in a detriment to food security and the global environment.

View the documentary at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYO2k_o16E0

or http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/the-world-according-to-monsanto/

A great documentary exposing the evil agricultural nightmare called Monsanto and the story of Roundup and Roundup Ready Soybeans. A 2004 documentary film which makes an in-depth investigation into unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly made their way onto grocery stores in the United States for the past decade. It voices the opinions of farmers in disagreement with the food industry and details the impacts on their lives and livelihoods from this new technology, and shines a light on the market and political forces that are changing what we eat. The film decries the cost of a globalized food industry on human lives around the world, and highlights how international companies are gradually driving farmers off the land in many countries. Potential global dependence of the human race on a limited number of global food corporations is discussed, as is the increased risk of ecological disasters — such as the Irish Potato Famine (1845—1849) — resulting from the reduction of biological diversity due to the promotion of corporate sponsored monoculture farming. The issue of incorporating a terminator gene into plant seeds is questioned, with concern being expressed about the potential for a widespread catastrophe affecting the food supply, should such a gene contaminate other plants in the wild. Legal stories reported by the film related how a number of farmers in North America have been sued by Monsanto; and the defendant of the Monsanto Canada Inc. v. Schmeiser case is interviewed. 

The World According to Monsanto.