Tag Archives: tom laskawy

Frankenfoods: good for business, bad for the rest of us

From Tom Laskawy, on Grist.org

“Thirty years ago, scientists figured out how to directly modify the genes in our food crops. No more of that inefficient and slow breeding! Farmers would grab plant genes by the  horns nucleotides and bend them to their will!

Now, the preeminent science journal Nature has devoted an entire issue to the question (to paraphrase that legendary IBM ad), where are the magic seeds? We were going to get seeds that would grow faster, yield more, save the environment, and be more nutritious. What we got were seeds for a few commodity crops such as corn, soy, and cotton that made their own pesticide or resisted herbicides, but otherwise provided little, if any, benefit to consumers. Continue reading

5 Comments

Filed under News

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

4 Comments

Filed under News

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

3 Comments

Filed under News

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

Leave a comment

Filed under News

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

Leave a comment

Filed under News