Tag Archives: Grist.org

USDA advising organic farmers to get insurance against GMO contamination

Remember Percy Schmeiser? Remember the case in Canadian courts in which he was sued by Monsanto for contamination of his crops with stray Monsanto seeds? And how he lost at the Supreme Court? Following along from that precedent, the onus is clearly, if unfairly, being put on non-GMO farmers whose crops are contaminated with stray GMO pollination or whatnot from the crops of their GMO growing neighbours.

How long will it be before it’ll cost more to insure your non-GMO crop against contamination than it will cost to use GMO seeds in the first place. Meanwhile organic standards will inevitably get diluted to recognize the impossibility of keeping the ubiquitous contamination out. Sadly it looks like the madness that is GMO farming, is becoming ever more entrenched on this continent.

From Tom Laskawy on Grist.org

“One of the big debates in agriculture right now involves “coexistence” between farmers who use genetically modified or GMO seeds and those who don’t. This is far more than an academic debate; in question is the risk of “contamination” of conventional or organic crops by GMO crops. The wind, insects, and even the farmers themselves can inadvertently cause this type of cross-pollination, and it puts organic farms at risk of losing their organic status and conventional farmers at risk of losing sales to countries that don’t allow imports of GMO foods. Continue reading

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Thoughts on the book “Girl Hunter”

Girl Hunter, the book

I should say firstly that I haven’t read this book, only the Grist.org review of it, which I will be excerpting below. Still there’s something fresh and appealing about hearing how a young woman — whose kind don’t usually go for hunting — has made her way into, and her peace with, that most ancient of human practices — to the point where I definitely want to read the book and am going to order it.

I’ve hunted myself as a teenager, but not that successfully. And no, that’s not why I gravitated to vegetarianism. 

Aajonus Vonderplanitz, the guy who helped found the recently raided Rawsome Foods club in California tells a wild story of how he made the transition from being a strict vegan, to being an eater of meat in his book, “We want to live”. Continue reading

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Walmart is not America’s food saviour

From Tom Laskawy, on Grist.org:

One of the new, smaller "neighborhood markets" Walmart has been opening in urban areas.

“Reforming our food system is a Herculean task; one that might intimidate Hercules himself. Willie Nelson and Anna Lappe summed up the challenge recently in the Huffington Post:

Of the 40,000 food items in a typical U.S. grocery store, more than half are now brought to us by just 10 corporations. Today, three companies process more than 70 percent of all U.S. beef, Tyson, Cargill and JBS. More than 90 percent of soybean seeds and 80 percent of corn seeds used in the United States are sold byjust one companyMonsanto. Four companies are responsible for up to 90 percent of the global trade in grain. And one in four food dollars is spent at Walmart.

Meanwhile, author Eric Schlosser and urban agriculture pioneer Will Allen put the consequences of all this in sharp perspective in their afterword to the recently published book based on a 2011 Prince of Wales speech on the importance of sustainable agriculture. The essay reads: Continue reading

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Animation provokes big ag PR offensive

From Tom Laskawy on Grist.org

“During the broadcast of this year’s Grammys, Chipotle “stole the show” when it ran this animated ad to illustrate the company’s support for less-intensive sustainable livestock agriculture.

The animation itself has been online since last August, but thanks to Chipotle, it was seen by millions of people that night. It also got the attention of Big Ag, which expects to be the one doing all the expensive ad buys when it comes to agriculture. Continue reading

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Livestock antibiotics and superbugs

From Tom Laskawy, on Grist.org:

Smoking gun image via Grist.org

“How does the livestock industry talk about antibiotics? Well, it depends on who’s doing the talking, but they all say some version of the same thing. Take the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association; they say there is “no conclusive scientific evidence indicating the judicious use of antibiotics in cattle herds leads to antimicrobial resistance in humans [MRSA].”

Or Ron Phillips of the Animal Health Institute (a drug-industry front group). In an interview on Grist last year, he said that before you can draw any conclusions: Continue reading

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Big dairy on the defensive?

From Andy Bellatti on Grist.org:

There was a time, not too long ago, when American’s milk options were limited to various forms of cow’s milk (i.e. full-fat, reduced-fat, skim, lactose-free). But times have changed. Soy was the first non-dairy milk to “go mainstream” in the mid 1990s, and you can find “milk” varieties including almond, coconut, hazelnut, hemp, oat, and sunflower seed on supermarket shelves,

Much like an only child who is the center of attention until a sibling comes along, Big Dairy has started to lash out. “Alternative milks” are no longer relegated to the vegan world; many vegetarians and omnivores also purchase and consume plant-based milks. This is bad news for Big Dairy (a.k.a. The California Milk Processor Board).

Behold their latest campaign — “Real Milk Comes From Cows” (tagline: “many imitations, still no equal”). The idea, apparently, is to point out all the ways in which plant-based milks have cooties. One of their inane recent ads can be seen in the screenshot below:

Image via Grist.org

Coconut milk is described as “spooky” for looking so “real,” or similar to cow’s milk. Hazelnut milk is supposed to creep us out because of the “stuff on the bottom,” Almond milk is dissed for having a “funky” color, and soy milk is unveiled as a product that doesn’t come from a cow (when did it ever claim to?). Continue reading

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Confessions of a former big food exec

From Andy Bellatti, at Grist.org:

Processed food -- trick or treat? Image from Bruce Bradley's blog.

“A few weeks ago, I learned of a relatively new blog about food industry deception, but with an interesting twist. The blog’s author is Bruce Bradley, who spent over 15 years as a food marketer at companies like General Mills, Pillsbury, and Nabisco. He has since, in his words, “become more educated about the risks and environmental impact of eating processed foods,” and is now a CSA enthusiast. Continue reading

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