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A Punch to the Mouth: Food Price Volatility Hits the World

Tuesday, January 3, 2012, 1:48 PM
Perfect Storms

2011 was an abysmal year for the global insurance industry, which had to cover yet another enormous increase in damages from natural disasters. Unknown to most casual observers is the fact that during the past few decades the frequency of weather-related disasters (floods, fires, storms) has been growing at a much faster pace than geological disasters (such as earthquakes). This spread between the two types of insurable losses has moved so strongly that it prompted Munich Re to note in a late 2010 letter that weather-related disasters due to wind have doubled and flooding events have tripled in frequency since 1980. The world now has to contend with a much higher degree of risk from weather and climate volatility, and this has broad-reaching implications.

And critically, it has a particular impact on food.

Many factors seen over the past decade have produced higher food prices: population growth, urbanization, the decline of arable land per person, and the upgrading of diets for example. But more damaging than food inflation has been the pushing of global food prices out of their long, quiet envelope of stability. From the recently released UN Report on the World Food Situation:

The FAO Index (Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N) shows that, while prices are once again down from a peak, a troublesome volatility started to affect food prices this decade. These are the very prices that caused social instability in countries like Mexico in 2007-2008 (pressure on corn prices, owing in part to US corn ethanol mandates) and more recently in northern Africa (Arab Spring).

Commodity observers will note the rough correspondence with oil prices, and of course that’s no mistake. Inputs to food production are heavily composed of fossil fuels. In the same way that both high (and highly volatile) oil prices play havoc with economies, food prices and marginal speculation in food have done the same.

2011 also saw the highest average oil prices since 2008, at $94.81 per barrel. That is not far below the average high of 2008, at $99.67. In between was a crash in oil prices -- and most commodities -- which unfolded at a rate almost as rapid as the original run-ups from 2006-2008. What happens next?

The USDA has just released its Food CPI readings for 2011, along with their forecast for 2012.

With 11 months of data recorded, the outlook for the 2011 Consumer Price Index (CPI) and food price inflation has become clear. The CPI for all food is projected to increase 3.25 to 3.75 percent. Food-at-home (grocery store) prices are forecast to rise 4.25 to 4.75 percent, while food-away-from-home (restaurant) prices are forecast to increase 2 to 2.5 percent. Although food price inflation was relatively weak for most of 2009 and 2010, cost pressures on wholesale and retail food prices due to higher food commodity and energy prices, along with strengthening global food demand, have pushed inflation projections upward for 2011.

For 2012, food price inflation is expected to abate from 2011 levels but is projected to be slightly above the historical average for the past two decades. The all-food CPI is projected to increase 2.5 to 3.5 percent over 2011 levels, with food-at-home prices increasing 3 to 4 percent...

With non-existent wage growth and a dearth of investment opportunities, these price advances in food costs have much more impact than it appears. What asset classes are keeping pace with the year-over-year increases in food? Certainly not stocks, as the S&P 500 has gone nowhere in a decade. Moreover, a 3.5% increase in Food CPI this year, with more to come next year, falls on top of a deeply under-utilized US economy in which tens of millions derive income from government transfer payments, most of which are not sufficiently ratcheting higher from “inflation-adjustments." Food Stamp recipients, for example, are not seeing food inflation adjustments in their benefit checks that would compensate for the price increases. Not even close.

As you may have heard, milk was the top commodity performer in 2011, up 40% on the year in the futures market. A question: do you think milk is a central staple in American family diets? There's more. On a year-over-year basis through November, according to USDA, beef prices are up 9.8%, egg prices are up 10.25%, and potato prices are up 12%. (This partly explains why junk-type grocery foods make up an ever-larger portion of food-stamp purchasers' shopping carts. Sadly, people are buying caloric content, not nutrition).

Now, compare these price increases to the average individual Food Stamp benefit, which is basically flat year-over-year, moving from $133.79 in 2010 to $133.84 in 2011. And to the extent that households use Food Stamp benefits to plug overall cash flow problems, the very central and related pressure from higher gasoline prices also deflates the impact of the Food Stamp benefit.

Food Stamp Nation

The march higher in Food Stamp participation following the 2008 crisis has been relentless. The trend has paid no attention whatsoever to assertions of economic recovery or jobs growth in the US.

Yes, in the aggregate there has been moderate growth in private sector payrolls since the lows. There has also been a very big turnaround in exports, as this part of the economy has seen a veritable resurrection, growing to 15% of GDP. However, the upsurge in national Food Stamp participation (SNAP) has been stronger than them all. In December of 2007, just after the declared start of the “recession,” national participation in SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) stood at 27.385 million. As of the latest data, this has ballooned to 46.268 million.

Because the national figures are so enormous and harder to comprehend, for several years I have kept track of Food Stamp (SNAP) users in Los Angeles County -- alongside oil prices. Southern California illustrates well the dilemma for most of the nation: Through the force of US demand, we have lost the control we once enjoyed over oil prices, while at the same time we remain locked in to automobile-based transport. Previous recessions in the US would have knocked gasoline prices down for longer. Not so anymore. Earlier this year, it became clear to me that before year end, the number of L.A. County participants on Food Stamps would eventually cross the one million mark. That grim marker has now been achieved:

The above chart of L.A. County SNAP users echoes the FAO chart from the United Nations. Upward-moving volatility in energy is concurrent with wild swings in food prices and waves of people in need of public assistance. Wages in the US have remained flat while millions of workers remain either unemployed or underemployed. Meanwhile, urbanization in the developing world has continued apace, forcing food prices and energy prices up at the margin. The results are not complicated. When demand begins to hit a resource whose supply cannot be easily increased, then price moves to ration demand and price becomes more volatile.

That process, so obvious to many, can unfortunately digress into a series of time-wasting arguments about speculators and whether the world is running out of...(insert your preferred natural resource here). On the contrary, natural resources rarely, if ever, run out in the marketplace. The US is not running out of oil, or corn, and the world is not running out of coal, or copper. What we have seen however in the past decade is that a number of structural changes to human development, primarily industrialization in the Non-OECD, have combined to put an unexpectedly large burden of demand on world resources -- at a rapid rate. Meanwhile, many natural resources, such as copper and oil in particular, had already reached a more difficult place in the arc of their own extraction history when this started to unfold. 

The Decline of Arable Land

The result is that energy resources, and thus the ease of using energy resources in food production, began to converge with a long decline in the availability of arable land.

It is not for nothing that farming acreage in the US Midwest is up over several hundred percent since the lows twenty years ago. (As a personal aside, I remember those lows very well; I lived on a struggling soybean farm in Iowa during graduate school in the late 1980s). The world is in the midst of a New Great Game. But this time, the hunt is not on only for energy resources, but for agricultural resources -- mostly cropland.

On my own blog, I recently did a short post on a study of urbanization in China’s Pearl River Delta and its aggregate effect on climate and precipitation. In short? Paving over the earth decreases rainfall. I also found these two photos from NASA, comparing satellite views of the Pearl River Delta over a 24-year period from 1979 to 2003.

The loss of arable farmland per capita in China has placed enormous pressure on the global food system and all of its inputs, especially fertilizer. The miracle of the food revolution, much trumpeted over the past 30 years as the latest achievement of technology and innovation, is not to be dismissed. But there are limits. We can only convert so much farmland to urbanscape while making up the difference with N, P, and K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) before we lose resiliency -- and redundancy -- in the global food system. It did not used to be the case that a bad wheat crop in Australia or the Ukraine would hit global wheat prices so hard. Moreover, because food is a renewable resource, a level of overconfidence about our ability to respond to demand crept into policy-making and forecasting.

In Part II: Preparing for Higher Food Prices, using the most recent data, I show what’s happened to arable land around the world and talk about how we have created ever more tightly-coupled fragility in our systems of food production. I also chart the relative performance or return on various investments, compared to food, and show that despite the avoidance of the matter, stagflation has now entered the US economy. (How does one cope with flat wages and rising food prices?) Finally, I have just finished reading Julian Cribb’s The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It, 2010, and found his discussion of virtual water very much on point, and relevant to our next set of challenges:

In theory, countries that lack water can import virtual water as food commodities with those with plenty. So too, countries that lack the energy to grow all their food can import surplus food from countries with highly productive oil based farming systems--provided they are rich enough to afford it. The fact, however, that a billion people starve while another billion wallow in surpluses of food so huge that they throw away half undermines this idea.

-- from The Coming Famine by Julian Cribb, page 122.

As I discuss in Part II, the United States is also becoming swept up in the globalization of food production, as it remains a titan of commodities exports, on an absolute basis. But the hunger for US food exports has implications for our own population, which struggles with falling (real) wages and depressed purchasing power. Will Americans be able to afford to pay what the world can afford to pay for food?

Click here to access Part II of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

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75 Comments

Rob44's picture
Rob44
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An Important Video That Clarifies the Situation in the U.S

Just as I am deeply indebted to Chris for his insights, work and prosyletizing, there is another Chris that we should pay attention to. His thoughts are in the following video

I think this is an important video for us to watch. Particularly, since I fear that it will vanish from the web. Please set the time aside to see it. Alternately, save the video. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7zotYU21qcU

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GMO Health Problems

I'd like to share why I personally am convinced that GM foods are harmful to human health. 

A couple of years ago, I started to occasionally have some asthma symptoms.  Tightness in the chest, couldn't take in a full breath feeling.  In a couple of days the symptoms went away, but it was really odd, because I am over 40 and have had zero allergies or asthma in my entire life.  After several of these episodes, I noticed that every time I had the symptoms it was after I had made taco salad for dinner.  It contained corn tortilla chips which I realized were very likely made from GM corn.  In general I don't eat a lot of corn or processed foods.  If I did, I suspect I would not have been able to notice the correlation so easily.  

So, I started to experiment.  A handful of tortilla chips = asthma symptoms.  Then I bought a bag of organic tortilla chips which I can eat as much as I care to and have zero symptoms.  It really makes me wonder how many people are taking serious medications for problems that would be milder or non-existent if they went GM free.  Anyone reading this that has a health problem, especially one related to immune system, digestive system, inflammation or fatigue, may want to try a few weeks' diet with no GMOs.  What have you got to lose?

Also, fresh sweet corn is now likely to be GM.  So, if you like to buy fresh corn in season at your local farm stand or farmer's market, buyer beware!

It would be nice if we could just agree to disagree on the GMO issue, but unfortunately they are completely contaminating entire crops.  Even now, seeds certified to be GE free, are found upon testing to contain them.  By the time we know the full cost, it will be too late, and even heirloom varieties will be open to contamination as soon as they are planted.

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 @gallantfarms: no

@gallantfarms: no disrespect but your reasoning with regard to corn is flawed.    You drew an association of effects but as we know from the placebo effect and researcher bias, it is best to do a double-blind study of the subject before discussing tentative knowledge, especially when it seems your business benefits from your your vociferous opinion.   Want-to-believe and financial incentive is a bad mix; see Causes of Credit Crisis.   

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KugsCheese
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The FED

The correlation of asset classes seems to argue that FED policy is driving much of the recent commodity price volatility, including food staples.  With sound money, modern farming should be able to feed a more wealthy China.   

VeganD's picture
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@KugsCheese I know you are a

@KugsCheese

I know you are a good and thoughtful poster so I mean no criticism here. I would assume that we would not recommend that Gallantfarms resume something that gives him or her asthma attacks-obviously when it comes to individual reactions to different foods and chemicals, we are all an "n" of one and have to decide for ourselves what is good or bad. Due to the massive genetic variability inherent in a population of humans numbering in the billions, there are many people genetically predisposed to a wide variety of allergies.    Double blind crossover studies are considered state of the art but where the possible outcome is a previously elicited potentially life threatening reaction  in your only test subject it could be too risky no?  It certainly makes sense to encourage studies on a larger scale but conflict of interest issues are rampant given the amount of money at stake here for the makers of the world's seed corn.  

However, you make an excellent point imho. Research into possible side effects of GMO is important....It  just seems we are now doing that experiment in a "naturalistic setting" (post-marketing of GMO corn for example).  Of course the same is true for post marketing research on pharmaceuticals but at least those can be withdrawn from market if the evidence of danger is overwhelming (take the VIoxx scandal for example). Impossible, not difficult, but impossible, to withdraw these organisms now. They are living and self perpetuating.  They are good and bad. Hopefully Arthur is right and mother nature wil take care of any bad actors amongst the GMO's.  The only thing we can do now is wait and see.

I am not opposed to genetic engineering in its entirety. Genetic manipulation of bacteria has led to the development of many important medications and biological compounds (like insulin) which I think are very useful and life saving. Still, as seen with all the hoopla over the bird flu research and concerns about weaponized viruses, the scientific community obviously worries about the negative consequences of genetic engineering as well.

http://www.virology.ws/2011/12/06/ferreting-out-influenza-h5n1/

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counter argument to the "central dogma" of genetics

micro rna contamination:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2012/01/the-very-real-danger-o...

We absorb little bits of genetic material from the food we eat and it gets into our cells. Fact.

What does it do to us? Don't know.  We shall see.

Perhaps the little bits of rna that make the corn and other living creatures grow so fa(s)t makes us grow so fa(s)t too.....

Speculation.

ed.

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@Denise  Thanks for sharing

@Denise  Thanks for sharing that paper (the Cell Research paper linked in the first part of your linked Atlantic piece).  I hope that the results of that paper are true, because it is certainly a remarkable story.  It's too early to tell, because sometimes strange things happen in Chinese labs that are not reproducible elsewhere, so I'm sure others are working on verifying it.  When the paper came out it was quite controversial, because how could miRNAs make it through the intestinal wall...  and then when someone noticed that two of the data figures were actually the same (but were claimed to be different data...)  many people kind of disregarded it.

Some points about the Atlantic piece, however:

* It's shocking that the Atlantic is no longer employing any science writers.  I know times are tough, but... This piece was written by someone with no science background whatsoever.  The results, even the general topic here, have NOTHING to do with the Central Dogma.  I don't know what they were thinking.  With this statement "The Chinese RNA study threatens to blast a major hole in that claim. It means that DNA can code for microRNA, which can, in fact, be hazardous." the author already forgets that they already told us about microRNAs in the third paragraph up, it's like they were cutting and pasting from Google results!  Of course DNA can code for microRNA-- you told us already that this is alread well known, not discovered anew in this study!  /facepalm.

*  We've known about microRNAs for over a decade now, which the article does say. They are the result of genes in our bodies as in probably every other eukaryotic creature (above bacteria).  Here's a free review paper on them: http://pdn.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=MiamiImageURL&_cid=272196&_user=10&_pii=S0092867404000455&_check=y&_coverDate=2004-01-23&view=c&_gw=y&wchp=dGLzVlB-zSkWz&md5=00e4837110ad73fa2c550008228f6b58/1-s2.0-S0092867404000455-main.pdf              However, we know what the genes that make miRNAs are structured like.  Their DNA shows a sequence that allows their mRNA molecules to  fold back on themselves in order for the miRNAs to be clipped out and float away to function.  It's hard to imagine making an miRNA gene by mistake while modifying another gene, but it's possible.  But to fail to notice it would mean that you're not doing your science.  Plus, you would be able to see the novel miRNA in the plant. 

* The Atlantic piece spookily intones that we've been eating 'information too".    Well, not really.  These are very short pieces of RNA (22 nucleotides, or letters, long) so they are not encoding genes, which tend to be thousands of letters long. 

*  If this paper''s finding turns out to be true  it means that plants producing new miRNAs need to be tested for effects of their fruits or grains on human health.  This is something I already agree we should do.  Round-Up resistance, Bt toxin, and to my knowledge the other released GMOs were not modified for producing miRNAs.

*  To title this article The Very Real Dangers of Genetically Modified Foods is sensational at best and immorally misleading at worst.  I wonder if the Atlantic misses its scientific credibility. 

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If you care about people and the other life on this planet

Alright, it's time for me to take a break from the forums again and get back to work and family. I'll will return sometime.  But please stop the quasi-hostile PMs to me.  I have received nice PMs and thank you for those.  But the others can save their advice for rejecting, with extreme prejudice, anyone with any education, credibility, track record, or evidence.

Please remember that if you care about people and the other life on this planet, its not the the GMOs or the corporations that are killing us (well, except for Wall Street and the City maybe >< ).  Peak oil is just a case of the flu.  What's killing us is climate change. 

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Inflation is the hidden tax

I'm wondering if there's any influence on keeping the readers eye on geological, geophysical, climate , weather and other market issues that affect food prices in order to disguise the biggest cuprit of USD creation from thin air ? Sleight of hand !

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pantry

Perhaps one reason why readers here have not jumped in to talk about food inflation is that we have been working on our home pantries and are not as exposed to price inflation as we were.  Fortunately, here in the U.S. prices are rising so slowly that most folks are not too alarmed.  I  am learning to take more advantage of sales at the grocery store and am eating less meat and processed food.  I still have a full freezer and dehydrated goodies from last summer's garden.

What I have noticed is that containers that cost the same contain less. What held ten now holds eight for the same price.  Or those cute dimples in the bottoms of plastic juice bottles that let  the bottle hold less while looking the same as before.

I am in a weight loss contest right now, so it will be interesting to see if turning the traditional Amercan diet on its head costs more or less.  

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KugsCheese

KugsCheese wrote:

@gallantfarms: no disrespect but your reasoning with regard to corn is flawed.    You drew an association of effects but as we know from the placebo effect and researcher bias, it is best to do a double-blind study of the subject before discussing tentative knowledge, especially when it seems your business benefits from your your vociferous opinion.   Want-to-believe and financial incentive is a bad mix; see Causes of Credit Crisis.   

I completely agree that my experience proves nothing (except to me), but I decided to share it in case others are having similar reactions but haven't realized it may be something they're eating and that they may improve simply by avoiding it.  If that doesn't help, no harm done.

I would like to make clear that I have absolutely no financial incentive for my opposition to GM foods.  I am not a farmer, (other than a small organic garden for personal use).  I breed horses.  (And may I say I am completely outraged about the approval of GM alfalfa, which is predicted to contaminate all alfalfa within 5 years).

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/01/10/herbicide-poison-groundwater-supply.aspx?e_cid=20120110_DNL_art_2

Monsanto, the world leader in the production of genetically engineered (GE) staple crops, has long claimed that its broad-spectrum herbicide Roundup is safe.

In fact, they have even used the following slogans to describe it:

  • "It's Safer than Mowing"
  • "Biodegradable"
  • "Environmentally Friendly"

What we are now finding out -- unfortunately long afterhundreds of millions of pounds of the chemical have already been applied to U.S. soil -- is that Roundup is proving to be a pervasive environmental threat, one that may already be poisoning a good portion of the world's remaining natural water supply.

The results of the first report on the ambient levels of glyphosate and its major degradation product, aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA) in air and rain water were published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry in March 2011. The samples were collected during two growing seasons in Mississippi and Iowa. Glyphosate was detected in 60 to 100 percent of all air and rain samples, which lends further credence to the fact that Roundup does not readily break down in the environment, but rather is lingering all around us.

In 2009, a French court found Monsanto guilty of falsely advertising its herbicide as "biodegradable," "environmentally friendly" and claiming it "left the soil clean." The truth is that Roundup is anything BUT environmentally friendly.  Even Monsanto's own tests showed that only 2 percent of the herbicide broke down after 28 days, which means it readily persists in the environment!

Unfortunately, thus far the United States has chosen to ignore the warning signs and allows the deceitful marketing and unabated use of glyphosate herbicides like Roundup. On a brighter note, the EPA is finally looking into the damaging effects of glyphosate on humans and the environment and plans to make a decision regarding its future by 2015. At that time, Roundup could either continue to be used as it is now, be required to have some modifications to its use or be banned entirely from use within the United States.

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aspartame

OK--I  am going to jump in here with another Monsanto product, aspartame, that is also very controversial.   I was suffering from memory loss and other symptoms that were not related to any  other health problem.   I found that when I methodically dropped aspartame from my diet those symptoms gradually disappeared.  I am absolutely convinced that  aspartame was the source of those problems.  If you do an interent search, you will find that Monsanto has efficiently buried critical studies so they are not easily discovered by someone with aspartame poisoning symptoms. Hence my distrust of Monsanto.

KugsCheese is reporting his own testimony from his own experience.  I am adding mine.

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Aspartame

I too found that Aspartame was problematic, at least when paired up with my own particular metabolism.  When I drink a lot of diet soda, my vision suffers.  This may be a fairly simple matter of my being extraorinarily sensitive to methanol, which is a known decomposition product of Aspartame.  Defenders of the sweetener make the claim that the methanol levels are on the order of those found naturally in fruit juices, etc., but my vision tells a different story.  I have absolutely no tolerance for it... it I injest it via gums (they ALL contain it now) or soda, I will find that my eyes seem fatigued as I drive the car.. a manifestation of this effect.    

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Aspartame

Jim thank you for sharing this .  My husband has been noticing vision trouble and I would have not thought to check his gum .   He quit smoking eight years ago and took up gum .  I suppose corn syrup is the other choice ingriedent  .  OH joy .

FM

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Organic v. Monsanto

Organic v. Monsanto

by Danielle Magnuson

More than 270,000 organic farmers are taking on corporate agriculture giant Monsanto in a lawsuit filed March 30. Led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the family farmers are fighting for the right to keep a portion of the world food supply organic—and preemptively protecting themselves from accusations of stealing genetically modified seeds that drift on to their pristine crop fields.

Consumers are powerful. For more than a decade, a cultural shift has seen shoppers renounce the faster-fatter-bigger-cheaper mindset of factory farms, exposéd in the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. From heirloom tomatoes to heritage chickens, we want our food slow, sustainable, and local—healthy for the earth, healthy for animals, and healthy for our bodies.

But with patented seeds infiltrating the environment so fully, organic itself is at risk. Monsanto’s widely used Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola seed has already turned heirloom canola oil into an extinct species. The suing farmers are seeking to prevent similar contamination of organic corn, soybeans, and a host of other crops. What’s more, they’re seeking to prevent Monsanto from accusing them of unlawfully using the very seeds they’re trying to avoid.

“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement,” says Public Patent Foundation director Dan Ravicher in a Cornucopia Institute article about the farmers’ lawsuit (May 30, 2011), “but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement.”

Even as the megacorporation enjoys soaring stock, the U.S. justice department continues to look into allegations of its fraudulent antitrust practices (The Street, June 29, 2011):

Monsanto, which has acquired more than 20 of the nation’s biggest seed producers and sellers over the last decade, has long pursued a strict policy with its customers, obligating them to buy its bioengineered seeds every year rather than use them in multiple planting seasons. Farmers who disobey are blacklisted forever.

<MORE>

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Monsanto...

is a Corporate Monster that must be constrained.... I hope the farmers are successful.  

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Aspartame

My wife gets headaches if she eats or drinks anything containing aspartame. It doesn't seem to affect me.

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gallantfarms
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Aspartame free gum

Off topic, but there is a brand of gum called Spry that is sweetened with Zylitol.  No aspartame.  Sold in Health Food Stores or on the internet.

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Honeybee problem nearing a 'critical point'

http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/environment/2012/jan/13/honeybee-problem-critical-point

Although news about Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has died down, commercial beekeepers have seen average population losses of about 30 percent each year since 2006, said Paul Towers, of the Pesticide Action Network. Towers was one of the organizers of a conference that brought together beekeepers and environmental groups this week to tackle the challenges facing the beekeeping industry and the agricultural economy by proxy.

"We are inching our way toward a critical tipping point," said Steve Ellis, secretary of the National Honey Bee Advisory Board (NHBAB) and a beekeeper for 35 years. Last year he had so many abnormal bee die-offs that he'll qualify for disaster relief from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

In addition to continued reports of CCD -- a still somewhat mysterious phenomenon in which entire bee colonies literally disappear, alien-abduction style, leaving not even their dead bodies behind -- bee populations are suffering poor health in general, and experiencing shorter life spans and diminished vitality. And while parasites, pathogens, and habitat loss can deal blows to bee health, research increasingly points to pesticides as the primary culprit.

"In the industry we believe pesticides play an important role in what's going on," said Dave Hackenberg, co-chair of the NHBAB and a beekeeper in Pennsylvania.

Of particular concern is a group of pesticides, chemically similar to nicotine, called neonicotinoids (neonics for short), and one in particular called clothianidin. Instead of being sprayed, neonics are
used to treat seeds, so that they're absorbed by the plant's vascular system, and then end up attacking the central nervous systems of bees that come to collect pollen. Virtually all of today's genetically engineered Bt corn is treated with neonics. The chemical industry alleges that bees don't like to collect corn pollen, but new research shows that not only do bees indeed forage in corn, but they also have multiple other routes of exposure to neonics.

The Purdue University study, published in the journal PLoS ONE, found high levels of clothianidin in planter exhaust spewed during the spring sowing of treated maize seed. It also found neonics in the soil of unplanted fields nearby those planted with Bt corn, on dandelions growing near those fields, in dead bees found near hive entrances, and in pollen stored in the hives.

Evidence already pointed to the presence of neonic-contaminated pollen
as a factor in CCD. As Hackenberg explained, "The insects start taking [the pesticide] home, and it contaminates everywhere the insect came from." These new revelations about the pervasiveness of neonics in bees' habitats only strengthen the case against using the insecticides.

The irony, of course, is that farmers use these chemicals to protect their crops from destructive insects, but in so doing, they harm other insects essential to their crops' production -- a catch-22 that Hackenberg said speaks to the fact that "we have become a nation driven by the chemical industry." In addition to beekeeping, he owns two farms, and even when crop analysts recommend spraying pesticides on his crops to kill an aphid population, for example, he knows that "if I spray, I'm going to kill all the beneficial insects." But most farmers, lacking Hackenberg's awareness of bee populations, follow the advice of the crop adviser -- who, these days, is likely to be paid by the chemical industry, rather than by a state university or another independent entity.

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Damnthematrix
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Farmer feeds GMO corn to his pigs: they all become sterile.

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maceves
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found a solution

So now Monsanto has found a solution for overpopulation.....

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Damnthematrix
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Monsanto & Cancer Milk: FOX NEWS KILLS STORY & FIRES Reporters.

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Genetically Modified Foods Not Served in Monsanto Cafeteria

By Crisis Boom

The fight to ban genetically modified foods has won more converts — some employees of Monsanto the company that is doing the most to promote GM products.

The Independent newspaper reports that there is a notice in the cafeteria of the Monsanto pharmaceutical factory is High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, advising customers “as far as practicable, GM soya and maize (has been removed) from all food products served in our restaurant. We have taken the steps to ensure that you, the customer, can feel confident in the food we serve.”

The notice was posted by the Sutcliffe Catering Group.

Monsanto confirms the authenticity of the notice, but company spokesman Tony Coombes says the only reason for the GM-free foods is because the company “believes in choice.” Coombes says in other Monsanto locations employees are happy to eat GM foods because they are “sprayed with fewer chemicals.”

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