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

Tuesday, January 3, 2012, 12:48 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

Doug's picture
Doug
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correction

1979 to 2003 is a 24 year period, not 14.

Doug

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jasonw
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updated

Doug - thanks for catching this error.  Corrected. 

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Finally, a balanced view on GM crops from someone writing for CM

Genetic modification of crops is a regular source of fear and subject of ridicule on these pages, from readers and commenters but also from the authors and contributers. These comments and news pieces are often unbalanced at best or misguided at worst.  It's great to finally see 'official' reference to a publication that deals with this subject in a balanced manner, although GM was not mentioned in the posting.  I urge all those unsure about or prejudiced against GM crops to pick up Julian Cribb's excellent book or download the $8 Kindle e-book (you can read it on your PC/Mac with the free Kindle app).
Some of the knowledgeable author's points:
* GM crops 'may have lessened the use of insecticides on farms, leading to cleaner food and a healthier environment'
* They were poorly introduced (basically without prior notification of the public)
* '...biotechnology offers real promise for tackling some of the fundamental drivers of the coming famine—the shortages of water, land, nutrients, emerging diseases, soil problems, erratic climate, and the like. The world’s food supply is not sufficiently secure that we can afford to turn our back on any technology that may help to address these in a safe and sustainable fashion, and especially one that can accelerate the delivery of new types of crops to meet urgent needs.'
* 'For the sake of food security as well as for reasons of consumer preference it will be important to pursue both approaches and not to neglect conventional breeding in favor of molecular methods of plant improvement or vice versa.'
* 'GM crops are sometimes depicted by their critics as being characteristic of a Westernized farming system that is anathema to smallholder agriculture. In reality, both sorts of agriculture can take advantage of the tools of biotechnology to reduce inputs of fuel, chemicals, and fertilizer and raise crop resistance to pests and diseases, as they need to do.'
* 'biotechnology potentially holds benefits as great or even greater for the small subsistence producer and the organic farmer compared to the large modern commercial farm, as it may enable the small producer to sidestep the high-cost, high-intensity chemical farming route—yet still achieve greater outputs of food. Also, some agricultural challenges may simply not be solvable without the use of biotechnology.'

Cribb, Julian (2010-07-11). The Coming Famine: The Global Food Crisis and What We Can Do to Avoid It (Kindle Locations 2339-2342). University of California Press. Kindle Edition.

 

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resources running out
Gregor wrote:

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.

Errrr.......  yes we are!  It's just we're not running out NOW, but we started running out the very first time a barrel of oil or a tonne of coal was removed from the Earth's crust.

Mike

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GM Crops INCREASE pesticide use

 To Isildur22:

 
If you think that the contributers to this site seem prejudiced against GM foods, I believe that it may be because many here are more likely to know the FACTS of the issue than the average person who may have only heard the propaganda of the biotech industry.
 
If Julian Cribb states that GM crops 'may have lessened the use of insecticides on farms, leading to cleaner food and a healthier environment' then he is, in fact, NOT very knowledgeable.
 
I recommend reading the following very well-documented report:
 
The GMO Emperor Has No Clothes, a Global Citizen's report on the state of GMOs.  
 
http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Environment/documents/2011/10/19/GMOEMPEROR.pdf
 
It covers many of the issues with GM crops, including the fact that GM crops have not increased yields in ANY crop, but I have copied some of the section on increased pesticide/herbicide use here to prove my point:
 
 
Reduced Use of Chemicals 
Despite claims that genetically modified organisms 
(GMOs) will lower the levels of chemicals 
(pesticides and herbicides) used, this has not been 
the case. This is of great concern both because 
of the negative impacts of these chemicals on 
ecosystems and humans, and because there is the 
danger that increased chemical use will cause pests 
and weeds to develop resistance, requiring even 
more chemicals in order to manage them.
In India:
UÊ A survey conducted by Navdanya in Vidharbha 
showed that pesticide use has increased 13-fold 
there since Bt cotton was introduced. 
UÊ A study recently published in the Review 
of Agrarian Studies also showed a higher 
expenditure on chemical pesticides for Bt 
cotton than for other varieties for small farmers. 
(Are there Benefits from the Cultivation of Bt cotton? 
Review of Agrarian Studies Vol 1(1) JanuaryJune 2011. Madhura Swaminathan* and Vikas 
Rawal)UÊ Non-target pest populations in Bt cotton fields 
have exploded, which will likely erode and 
counteract any decrease in pesticide use (Glenn 
Davis Stone. Field versus Farm in Warangal: Bt 
cotton, Higher Yields, and Larger Questions.World 
Development, 2011; 39 (3): 387)
In the US, due mainly to the widespread use 
of Roundup Ready seeds: 
UÊ Herbicide use increased 15 percent (318 
million additional pounds) from 1994 to 
2005—an average increase of ! pound per 
each acre planted with GM seed—according 
to a 2009 report published by the Organic 
Center. (http://www.organic-center.org/science.pest.
php?action=view&report_id=159).
UÊ The same report found that in 2008, GM crops 
required 26 percent more pounds of pesticides 
per acre than acres planted with conventional 
varieties, and projects that this trend will 
continue due the spread of glyphosate-resistant weeds. (http://www.organic-center.org/science.pest.
php?action=view&report_id=159).
UÊ Moreover, the rise of glyphosate (the herbicide 
in Roundup Up)- resistant weeds has made it 
necessary to combat these weeds by employing 
other, often more toxic herbicides. This trend is 
confirmed by 2010 USDA pesticide data, which 
shows skyrocketing glyphosate use accompanied 
by constant or increasing rates of use for other, 
more toxic, herbicides. (Despite Industry 
Claims, Herbicide Use Fails to Decline with 
GM Crops.” GM Watch. http://www.gmwatch.org/
latest-listing/1-news-items/13089)In Argentina, after the introduction of 
Roundup Ready soya in 1999:
UÊ Overall glyphosate use more than tripled by 
2005. A 2001 report found that Roundup Ready 
soya growers in Argentina used more than 
twice as much herbicide as conventional soya 
growers. (“Who Benefits from GM Crops? 
Feed the Biotech Giants, Not the World’s Poor.” 
Friends of the Earth International, February 
2009). (http://www.foei.org/en/resources/publications/
pdfs/2009/gmcrops2009exec.pdf)UÊ In 2007, a glyphosate-resistant version of 
Johnsongrass (considered one of the worst and 
most difficult weeds in the world) was reported 
on more than 120,000 hectares of prime 
agricultural land - a consequence of the increase 
in glyphosate use. (Ibid)
As a result, it was recommended that farmers use 
a mix of herbicides other than glyphosate (often 
more toxic) to combat the resistant weeds, and it is 
estimated that an additional 25 liters of herbicides 
will be needed each year to control the resistant 
weeds. (Ibid).
 
 
  
 Failed Technology: GE crops do not control pests and weeds,  they create super pests and super weeds Herbicide tolerant (Roundup Ready) crops were  supposed to control weeds and Bt crops were  intended to control pests. Instead of controlling  weeds and pests, GE crops have led to the  emergence of super weeds and super pests. In  the U.S., Round Up Ready crops have produced  weeds resistant to Round Up. Approximately  15 million acres are now overtaken by Roundup  resistant “superweeds”, and, in an attempt to  stop the spread of these weeds, Monsanto has  started offering farmers a “rebate” of up to $6 per  acre for purchasing and using other, more lethal  herbicides. These rebates offset approximately  25 to 35 percent of cost of purchasing the other  herbicides. Agronomists around the world are alarmed by the  growing epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds,  also known as superweeds, that have evolved  resistance to glyphosate as a result of the intensive  use of this herbicide.  From November 2007 to January 2011, the number of reports of confirmed  glyphosate-resistant weeds in the U.S. nearly  doubled from 34 to 66. Infested acreage more  than quintupled, from 2.4 to 12.6 million acres.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
The other huge issue with GM foods is the potential health risks from eating them.  For anyone who would like more information on that subject, you may wish to read the article here:
 
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeffrey-smith/anniversary-of-a-whistleb_b_675817.html
 
Here is a quote:
 
By early 1996, genetically modified tomatoes had been sold in US supermarkets for more than a year, and GM soy, corn, and cottonseed were about to be widely planted. But not a single peer-reviewed study on the safety of GM foods had been published, and there was not even an agreed-upon protocol for answering the question,"Is this stuff safe?"
 
The UK government was about to change all that, and Hungarian born chemist Dr. Arpad Pusztai was their man to do it. He beat out 27 competing scientists for a £1.6 million grant to develop a safety testing protocol; it was supposed to eventually be required for all GM food approvals in Europe.
 
But when Dr. Pusztai fed the GM potato to rats using his new safety testing protocol, he got a shock. Nearly every system in the rats' bodies was adversely affected—several in just 10 days. Their brains, livers, and testicles were smaller, while their pancreases and intestines were enlarged. The liver was partially atrophied. Organs related to the immune system, including the thymus and the spleen, showed significant changes. Their white blood cells responded to an immune challenge more slowly, indicating immune system damage.
 
On the afternoon of August 11th, two phone calls were allegedly placed from the UK prime minister's office, forwarded through the Institute's receptionist, to Professor James. Dr. Pusztai's hero status was revoked.
 
The next morning, the director suspended Dr. Pusztai after 35 years of service. He was silenced with threats of a lawsuit and his twenty member research team disbanded. The government never implemented their GMO safety testing protocol.
 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
Dr Pusztai is not the only researcher to find adverse health effects in animal feeding studies, and there are many many reports of increased animal illnesses and infertility problems being reported.  Thousands of sheep have died after grazing on bt cotton fields, etc.  In humans, many diseases are increasing over the past 10+ years including allergies, immune disorders, digestive problems etc, and the experts are baffled.  For example, according the CDC, food allergies are up by 18 percent from 1997 to 2007 and are more severe, often requiring hospitalization or resulting in death.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
RJE's picture
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You must hear this video from Ann Barnhardt at Financial Newshou

...http://www.financialsense.com/financial-sense-newshour

We are near one major and total cluster f-ck. I am the most optimistic Man you will ever know but when reality smacks me in the face I get just a little peeved, more prepared, and will take whatever measures are necessary. Regards

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Damnthematrix wrote: Gregor
Damnthematrix wrote:
Gregor wrote:

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.

Errrr.......  yes we are!  It's just we're not running out NOW, but we started running out the very first time a barrel of oil or a tonne of coal was removed from the Earth's crust.

Mike

I'd tend to agree with Mike there. We really are running out of resources. Of course it's location specific but when everything's tied into the global market and priced accordingly, we are all in the same boat.

Unless some other new source of oil opens up in Alaska (America`s parklands?), the Alyeska pipeline is threatening to be shut down because it won't have the minimum sustainable flow. The Bakken shale is mostly an urban myth that MAYBE could provide the equivalent of one year's worth of US oil consumption, of course spread out over a 10 year period so it will offer little salvation (remember Ambrose Evans-Pritchard's article the other month about how the US would be a ``Phoenix`` rising to a new era of prosperity because of the Bakken deposit? I don`t think he was purposely misleading -- I think he truly believed it).

What I find concerning is that we are being told that Alberta oil sand will save us all from Peak Oil ... when the whole deposit amounts to 11 years of current global oil consumption (350 billion barrels / 31 billion) ... and would require gobbling up 10% of the known global reserves of natural gas to extract due to its EROEI of 3:1 (6.2 quadrillion cubic feet  / 670 trillion) ... and this is our savior?!

We are running out of resources because all we've done is slide down the EROEI curve from 200:1 Saudi crude to 3:1 Alberta oil sand. And somehow people get duped into believing that building nuclear reactors to turn tar into gasoline is an efficient use of energy resources? That's "progress" and "technological innovation". Unfortunately, hardly anyone in mainstream-land understands the EROEI concept.

We`re being told we have over a century of coal left, and similar for natural gas, and THREE centuries of oil sand. But when Conventional oil extraction rates fall off the cliff soon then all those other more difficult fossil fuels will be called upon to take up the slack, and with the low EROEI`s involved in turning them into liquid fuels, all those `centuries` of deposits turn into about 25 years. We`re putting a LOT of faith in future discoveries.

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Huffington Post is not part of the scientific literature!

@Gallantfarms

Oh you're referring to the Jeffrey Smith who claims he can levitate?  He's also a ballroom dance instructor when he's not selling GMO fear.

http://academicsreview.org/reviewed-individuals/jeffrey-smith/

/sigh

Gallantfarms shows us once again that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him think. 

But my post was not for the prejudiced and the mind-made-ups, but for the undecideds and the want-to-know-mores.  Regular readers of this site know already that we're not going to have enough food in the near future, from erosion and liquid fuel and fertilizer shortages post peak oil to name a few reasons.  I, and Julian Cribb clearly, in the interest of minimizing starvation, merely suggest that we not handicap ourselves for the sake of "purity of essence" or because of the vehement opinions of the misled.  As in the case of global warming research, a couple of contrarian scientists (or pseudo-scientists) and weak studies do not overturn the wealth of knowledge that has been gathered as to the safety and usefullness of agricultural biotechnology.  There has never been a documented case of human illness from GM food; we need this technolgy now and will need it more in the future.

Here's more on GMOs, human health, and Jeffrey Smith, written by actual university food scientists:

GM food options aren’t any riskier than others   from http://thehill.com/opinion/letters/98503-friedman-day-a-reminder-of-govt...

From Bruce M. Chassy, Professor of Nutritional Sciences, Professor of Food Safety, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and David E Tribe,  Senior Lecturer, Food Biotechnology and Safety, University of Melbourne, Australia

Mr. Jeffery Smith (“Genetically modified food introduces host of dangers” May 10) claimed Saenators Lugar and Casey had been duped by the biotech industry because their bipartisan bill states that agricultural biotechnology “shall be used” to conduct research. Mr. Smith would do well to read the language of the bill before offering comment. What the bill attempts to ensure is that biotech research will not be deliberately excluded in the search for solutions by pressure from fear mongers like Mr. Smith. The exact words of the bill: “include research on biotechnological advances appropriate to local ecological conditions, including genetically modified technology.” That is the only time the words “genetically modified” appear in the bill.

It shouldn’t surprise us that Mr. Smith, the self-appointed Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology that he created, and author/publisher of two books about the horrors of genetically modified (GM) crops and foods, should attack a bill that seeks to reduce world hunger. To advance his agenda, he chooses to ignore the repeated findings of the National Academy of Science and the National Research Council that GM foods pose no new, special or different risks to the environment or to food safety than crops produced by any other breeding method. Fifteen years of successful harvests of biotech crops by tens of millions of farmers have proven the technology yields environmental and economic benefits and is safe.

And we expect Mr. Smith to ignore the American Medical Association’s (AMA) finding that GM foods are safe to eat and instead favor the words of a tiny splinter group of physicians who formed the American Academy of Environmental Medicine because they could not convince the AMA to accept their radical unscientific positions. We recently launched a website that we call Academics Review (http://academicsreview.org) that exposes each of Smith’s claimed GM food-caused maladies to scientific scrutiny and contrasts them with findings in peer-reviewed scientific research publications. 

Although Smith would have people believe that biotech has been prematurely and irresponsibly unleashed on the world as a result of some conspiracy and must be reined in, in fact quite the opposite is true – if anything needs to be changed, governments need to relax the overzealous, unjustified, and counter-productive hyper-precautionary regulation of GM crops. From a scientific perspective, these crops are no riskier than any other and usually perform better than conventional varieties.

Urbana, Ill., and Moonee Ponds, Australia  

 

 

 

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GMO's

@isildur2 & gallantfarms

I just read that weeds and pests are already getting resistant much, much sooner than expected. Some farmers aren't following guidelines for maintaining effectiveness. "Weeds and pest will be slow to build resistance unless farmers don't follow the guidlines/Weeds and pest will be slow to build resistance if farmers follow the guidelines". They never seem to put the if/unless in the press release or reports. I don't trust anything Montsano or the government tells me anyway.

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On GMOs

We don't need GMOs.  Period.

The problem with modern industrial agriculture is that it's, well... industrial in nature!  We shouldn't be fighting Nature, we should be going along with it.  Nature hates uncovered soil and monoculture.  End both, end of problems.  And in any case, traditional GM agriculture STILL needs shedloads of irrigation and fertilisers and ploughing up thousand acre farms, all unsustainable and all requiring loads of Fossil Fuels.  I wonder if Oil and Gas is used as feedstock for the manufacture of Glyphosate?

1. GM crop yields

First-generation genetic modifications address production conditions (insect and weed control), and have not been modified to increase yield. Yields of both GM and conventional varieties vary depending on growing conditions, such as degree of infestation with insects or weeds, weather, and region of production.i Furthermore:

 

  • A 2003 report published in the journal Science states that “in the United States and Argentina, average yield effects [of GM crops] are negligible and in some cases even slightly negative”.ii

  • The UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s 2004 report on agricultural biotechnology acknowledges that GM crops can have reduced yields.iii

  • In 1998 several universities carried out a study that demonstrated that, on average, Roundup Ready soy varieties were 4% lower in yield than conventional varieties.iv

 

i European Commission, 2000. Economic Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops on the Agri-food sector. http://europa.eu.int/comm/agriculture/publi/gmo/cover.htm

ii Qaim, M. and Zilberman, D., 7 February 2003. “Yield Effects of Genetically Modified Crops in

Developing Countries” in Science, vol. 299, p. 900.

iii FAO, 2004. Agriculture Biotechnology: Meeting the Needs of the Poor? The State of Food and

Agriculture 2003, p. 50.

iv Oplinger, E.S. et al., 1999. Performance of Transgenetic Soyabeans, Northern US.

http://www.biotech-info.net/soybean_performance.pdf and Gianessi, L.P., April 2000. Agriculture Biotechnology: Benefits of Transgenic Soybeans. National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, p. 63. http://www.ncfap.org/reports/biotech/rrsoybeanbenefits.pdf

 

4. Reduced soil erosion and fossil fuel use

It is claimed that growing GM crops results in reduced soil erosion and reduced fossil fuel use because no till or reduced till methods are used. However, whilst organic and integrated pest management systems have been successful in no till without the use of herbicides, these are overshadowed by GM and other industrial no-till, which is inherently dependent on the use of herbicides. Both herbicides and pesticides require fossil fuel use for their production and during use. Far from being low impact, this results in a cycle of increased use of herbicides and increased resistance. Dependence on herbicides is storing up future problems such as resistance, as well as health, water, environment and biodiversity impacts.

 

 

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bt corn

residue breaks down more slowly? BT gene affects soil microbes ability to break down lignin in stalks?

 

http://brownfieldagnews.com/2010/10/01/bt-corn-residue-study/ 

     http://www.allbusiness.com/agriculture-forestry-fishing-hunting/4096292-1.html

there is alot of studies many contradictory esp the recent studies supported by the seed purveyors saying thee is no difference.                                                                                                                                           

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GM

GM crops are nothing more than the continued manipulation and financialization of natural processes. A corporations attempt to gain more power and wealth with little or no regard for anything else.

There will be the "marketing" of alleged gains in productivity followed someday by the realization that there truly is no free lunch and the true costs to our island will be far more than the alleged benefits were ever worth.

Short term, big ag wins. Long term, we all lose.

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Find a floating, dancing GMO expert! or, Google research fails

@ DantheMatrix: We need GMOs, period.  They certainly do raise yields, which is why nearly every farmer in the Midwest uses them.  We went from 100 bushel/acre corn to 200 now, and the companies say 250 or 300 bushel corn will be here in by 2030 with GMOs.  Now, living in rurual Iowa as I do, I know that some farmers already get 300 bushels, when the year's weather is favorable for their locality (lots of rain) and when they use advanced seeds .

@jonesb.mta:  Of couse the weeds would evolve!  That's what all organisms do when selection pressure is applied!  Everyone knew this but you?  The farmers certainly knew it.

@robie robinson  Do you know what farmers mean by the word "residues"?  That's just the non-kernel plant matter that's left in the field after harvest.  The second article says that there are more residues, more plant material, because the plants are healthier!   The article says the yields of bt corn are thereby higher.  This is the kind of "problem" that farmers want to have. But you think the ag company should have warned farmers to expect healthy-plant problems when they are selling seeds carrying a gene that kills insects that try to eat the plants?

 

You know, "Google research" is pretty easy.  Gallantfarms spent just a few seconds to find a floating, dancing GMO risk expert.  One can type just about any word and add the word "dangers"after it and find something that will kill you or the planet if we're not careful.  Type "dangers organic farming" and you'll find a host of people (some with advanced degrees) who will tell you it will kill you.  Keep up the good research, boys!

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isildur22

If i were of quick wit and typing ability i'ld keep this going,the argument that is. The farmers here are spraying nitrogen fert. on the stubble that is supposed to be good so it will break down in sufficient time for next crop. http://southeastfarmpress.com/grains/extra-n-needed-speed-decay-bt-corn-stalks as you implied one can find something to back up any position.

robie,husband,father,farmer

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getting back to food prices

Not every Walmart has groceries, but thoes that do are part of their supply chain. Walmart is the inventor of just-in-time delivery, and they did it by getting their supply chain electronically hooked into their registers, so that suppliers know what is selling and help them resock. Where this fits into food prices really hit me between the eyes this past hoiiday season. It makes Walmart a good gauge of coming food price increases.

I shop at Walmart only very occasionallly, like once every three months, since  I absolutely HATE shopping there but they have certain things no one else around here carries (things I miss from NY). While I am there I like to grab anything they carry that is significantly cheaper than in our local supermarkets - little grocery items like canned mushrooms (mostly canned vegetables and dairy, but also things made with grains) . In November I noticed that all of the things I went to Walmart for were now the same price as in a reglar supermarket. It's a good thing we are tryiing to depend on neither.

I no longer buy certain things in grocery stores or at Walmart. Pickles and pickled jalapenos are good examples. Let's talk about pickles. A tray of four kirby (pickling) cukes in the supermarket is $2. An overflowing peck of kirby's (in seaon) at the flea market stall is $4. (A peck is a 1/4 bushel) At the state farmer's market, a case (2 bushels) is $18. So, the same volume of pickling cuccumbers as the $18 case is $32 at the flea market, and $64 at the supermarket. The price differentials are the same for tomatoes, jalapenos, beets and apples - and more.

And the only reason I am BUYING cucumbers to pickle is that I've not quite gotten growing the cukes in the garden down to a science yet. Seed is even cheaper, and saving heirloom seed is the cheapest of all. If you can, let's break loose of supply chains and live in abundance - and garden. If you can't, at least these alternatives might help you make ends meet. (Two bushels too much for you? Then go in with some other familes and share a case of whatever you all like, as sort of an informal food coop) .Just make sure to ask for local produce when you get there.

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I don't disagree that GMO's

I don't disagree that GMO's are much more productive than natural strains. The issue is how much are those productivity gains dependent on irrigation and synthetic fertilizer inputs? And, when those inputs are reduced or eliminated, how productive will the GMO strains be? Probably less than the historical natural varieties. If there was a way to increase ecological productivity in a sustainable way without irrigation or fertilizer inputs, nature would have already figured it out; she's had a few billion years to work on it. We are in a classic case of ecological overshoot, and no amount of denial will change that.

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Farming out of thin air?
isildur22 wrote:

@ DantheMatrix: We need GMOs, period.  They certainly do raise yields, which is why nearly every farmer in the Midwest uses them.  We went from 100 bushel/acre corn to 200 now, and the companies say 250 or 300 bushel corn will be here in by 2030 with GMOs.  Now, living in rurual Iowa as I do, I know that some farmers already get 300 bushels, when the year's weather is favorable for their locality (lots of rain) and when they use advanced seeds .

First, we had money created out of thin air, now it's corn.......

Biomass is biomass.... whether it's GM or not.  ALL the atoms in a plant have to come from somwhere, and the only places they can come from is the air, the water, and the soil.  So to get three times the yield, you need to find three times the molecular mass, so you're either depleting the soil big time, or adding three times the inputs.

This year, one of my garden beds generated broccoli heads the size of dinner plates..... but I had buried all my pigs' offals in it!  I can garantee it won't happen next season.....

You NEVER get anything for nothing.

Nature herself may be the best opponent of genetically modified crops and pesticides.  Not only plants, but insects are also developing resistance.  The Western rootworm beetle – one of the most serious threats to corn – has developed resistance to Monsanto’s Bt-corn, and entire crops are being lost. [Image]

Farmers from several Midwest states began reporting root damage to corn that was specifically engineered with a toxin to kill the rootworm.  Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann recently confirmed that the beetle, Diabrotica virgifera virgifera, has developed resistance to the Bt protein, Cry3Bb1.

Mike

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Damnthematrix wrote:Biomass
Damnthematrix wrote:

Biomass is biomass.... whether it's GM or not.  ALL the atoms in a plant have to come from somwhere, and the only places they can come from is the air, the water, and the soil.  So to get three times the yield, you need to find three times the molecular mass, so you're either depleting the soil big time, or adding three times the inputs.

I somewhat agree. However, biomass is composed primarily of carbon, oxygen and nitrogen (and of course water). Carbon is found in endless quantities in the air. Nitrogen can come from either of two sources -- from atmosheric fixation of nitrogen gas, or from external application of fertilizers. The atmospheric fixation of N is something that legumes do. They have symbiotic bacteria in their roots which fix nitrogen in return for getting carbohydrates from the plant. So theoretically, both C and N could be fixed in unlimited quantities simply from the air. But in reality, plant fixation of N is limited.

To maintain long term soil productivity all the other minerals also need to be replenished as well, which is why I am a little skeptical that organic methods could sustainably be ramped up to the high rates of productivity that we currently get out of intensive agriculture because with all those nutrients leaving the site via food harvesting, they would also have to be replenished at a high rate. I suppose this could be done organically, but it would require a lot of biomass to be brought on to site to offset the loss, and where would that come from? Ideally what we should be doing is simulating 4 billion years of how nature used to do it and pumping our sewage back onto the fields but that is a huge engineering undertaking and it would need to be sterilized first.

Not that I think that higg intensity industrial agriculture is any more sustainable for producing high yields. That's why I'm not optimistic that current agricultural yields can be sustained via any method for a long time into the future. There are too many people on the planet, period.

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Mark_BC wrote: There are too
Mark_BC wrote:

There are too many people on the planet, period.

Yep, and that problem will take care of itself at some point.

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both

Some of the distrust GMOs is distrust of Monstanto itsself.  

When productivity begins to decline in the large fields, we will be depending more on garden type sustainable agriculture.  It may be that land that is not considered fertile now because of hills, rocks, or soil chemistry, will be seeded in tended beds with carefully managed soils.  In the U.S. we have a lot of land that is not considered productive that could be coaxed into production using sustainable methods.  If we were hungry we would figure it out.

It is not all about the seeds; it is also about the soil.  Raising plants raised in a bath of roundup, fed by artificial fertilizers, is not the only way to go.  There is so much we dont know about the chemistry of the soil that supports us. 

Gotta love those worms.

 

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Damnthematrix wrote: Biomass
Mark_BC wrote:

To maintain long term soil productivity all the other minerals also need to be replenished as well, which is why I am a little skeptical that organic methods could sustainably be ramped up to the high rates of productivity that we currently get out of intensive agriculture because with all those nutrients leaving the site via food harvesting, they would also have to be replenished at a high rate. I suppose this could be done organically, but it would require a lot of biomass to be brought on to site to offset the loss, and where would that come from? Ideally what we should be doing is simulating 4 billion years of how nature used to do it and pumping our sewage back onto the fields but that is a huge engineering undertaking and it would need to be sterilized first.

Quite right, which is why going organic is not good enough, we have to go to PERMACULTURE in which NOTHING is wasted.  Composting toilets should be compulsory.  We use one, and everything that passes through us is 100% recycled back into the garden as humanure.

Permaculture, as an aside, also improves drainage and water harvesting using simple modifications of the lanscape that could, if needed, be done by hand....  And once Peak Fossil Fuels is entrenched, everything will go back to hard work, though luckily, Permaculture only needs to be implemented once every few decades at any one site.

Like I said earlier...  we don't need GMOs. Perios.

Mike

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 To isuldurr22   It's

 To isuldurr22

 

It's interesting that rather than debate factual issues, you prefer name-calling insults.  Dr. Pusztai's research documenting organ damage to rats eating GM potatoes was peer reviewed and published in the medical journal The Lancet.  Gosh, I'd better watch out for those "way out there" sources. (sarcasm).

 

 

I chose one claim, that GMOs reduce pesticide use, and provided evidence that it was NOT TRUE. Yes, I quoted some internet sources that document that they have actually greatly increased pesticide use. Is it true or false that USDA data shows that pesticide use has increased greatly? Is it true or false that Monsanto has been offering rebates to farmers to purchase additional herbicides to combat resistance to Roundup? If those facts are true then the claim GMOs reduce pesticide use is a LIE.

 

 

It's also about to get much worse. Dow Chemical is currently seeking approval for a new GM corn variety that is resistant to 2,4-D.

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/2011/12/brs_actions.shtml

 

 

From Organic Consumer's website, quote:

A new generation of genetically engineered crops designed to survive repeated spraying of the super-toxic herbicide 2,4-D, which was a major component of Agent Orange, the defoliant used by the U.S. in its herbicidal warfare campaign in Vietnam.

 

 

There is a large body of evidence indicating major health problems resulting from exposure to 2,4-D that include cancer, reproductive problems, neurotoxicity, and immunosuppression.

 

2,4-D contains dioxin, one of the “dirty dozen” group of extremely toxic chemicals that are resistant to environmental degradation through chemical, biological, or photolytic processes.

 

2,4-D has been banned in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Quebec and scores of Canadian municipalities after numerous epidemiological studies linked 2,4-D to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

 

 

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Bar room brawl.

Oooh, I love a good brawl. May I join?

Because Monsanto and the big companies are the first to use GM's we must not fall into the trap of thinking that is how things are going to be forever. People are always telling me how things stand at present.

Soon little Johnny will be doing genetic manipulation for his show and tell at school. It is said that we are running out of species diversity. I demure. Just you wait Henry Higgins.

Six legged camel for transport? So ho hum. Can't you be more creative? How about this? Grow your own airship out of  modified bamboo. Make it sentient. modify cockaroaches to clean up all waste behind you in the airship. Grow "grapes" from the ceiling of the cabins nurtured by sunlight outside and intergrated into the ship's cells. Impossible. I put it to you that most genetic material on this planet is bog standard. Mommy nature says,"If it works don't fix it."

How about this ethical issue? We geneticaly modify ourselves. Why not? Women do it all the time. They carefully choose their mate for his genetic qualities. What do you think all the Sports Jocks are about? That is defacto genetic selection. Yes I know Gladys, that is not what you mean, but do you know what you mean?

How would I genetically modify humans? Top of the list. Make ovulation an act of volition. Step two, enlarge the spinal column. Pack it full of redundant brain cells. An idea of my daughters.

Talking about creativity, nothing works like trial and error. That is common sense talk for.  .  . hold on to your hat, here it comes, Evolution. Wot? No takers? Oh well. The organisms that have survived evolution are good, very good. (Observe exhibit "A", Me.) Anything created by design will be a pussy for these battle hardened street kids.

Future Shock? You aint seen nutthing.

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Well said Arthur

Well said Arthur Robey.

 

Regarding the Pusztai item in Lancet, it was a letter, not an article.  Letters to medical journals, in my reading, are usually seen as preliminary, sometimes speculative, and subject to further revision.  The authors are expected to provide scientific analysis but it is one of the forums for new ideas and real academic discussion of controversies in a real time format. Research takes years, letters can be discussed over a period of weeks and months.

 

Unfortunately for Dr. Pusztai, it meant the end of his 50 year research career and decades long tenure at Rowett :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pusztai_affair

That is a pretty clear warning shot to others in the field and those who plan on tenure, imho, would avoid this area like the plague.  

 

 

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Ridiculous claims must be ridiculed!

....especially when they are part of a campaign whose aim  (banning GMOs) would lead to a decrease in the world's food supply.

My responses did not constitute an ad hominem attack, because they addressed the thoughts and not the thinker, the post and not the person.  You don't score points by crying "foul", any more than I would by calling you names. Besides everyone reading this already knows what people who promote the fraudulent claims of con artists are called.

The Lancet of late has become better known for their promiscuity than their scientific integrity.  Think of how many of the current outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseeases in the US and Europe would never had happened had the Lancet not published the weak Andrew Wakefield study that "showed" a connection between vaccination and autism.  Deaths of children because their parents were convinced by the fraudsters.  Yet even after the medical community thouroughly debunked the science of that study, it took years and years for the Lancet to retract it!  The anti-vaccine crowd is still animated by that phony research today, just as the anti-GM crowd continues to hold up the discredited claims of Arpad Pusztai, for lack of other fake data.

I'll now counter your claims on pesticide use and 2-4,D danger.  Numerous studies have shown reduction in pesticide use with GM crops.  These are articles published by real university labs, in journals without a history of dangerous failures in peer review like the Lancet:

Bt cotton in China resulted in pesticide use reduction of 78,000 tons of formulated pesticides in 2001. This corresponds to about a quarter of all the pesticides sprayed in China in the mid-1990s. (Pray, C et al., 2002. Five years of Bt cotton in China – the benefits continue. The Plant Journal, 31(4):423-430)

The use of Bt cotton can substantially reduce the risk and incidence of pesticide poisonings to farmers.  2004. Genetically modified cotton and farmers’ health in China. (International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health, 10: 296-303)

Herbicide tolerant crops have facilitated the continued expansion of conservation tillage, especially no-till cultivation system, in the USA. The adoption of conservation and no-till cultivation practices saved nearly 1 billion tons of soil per year. (Fawcett, R and D Towery. 2002. Conservation tillage and plant biotechnology: how new technologies can improve the environment by reducing the need to plow. Conservation Tillage Information Center, West Lafayette, Indiana. http://ctic.purdue.edu/CTIC/BiotechPaper.pdf)

A study assessing the global economic and environmental impacts of biotech crops for the first nine years (1996-2004) of adoption showed that the technology has reduced pesticide spraying by 172 million kg and has reduced environmental footprint associated with pesticide use by 14%. The technology has also significantly reduced the release of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, equivalent to removing five million cars from the roads. (Brooks, G and P Barfoot. 2005. GM crops: the global economic and environmental impact – the first nine years 1996-2004. AgbioForum, 8(2&3): 187-196)

In the USA, adoption of GM crops resulted in pesticide use reduction of 46.4 million pounds in 2003. From a metastudy by the National Center for Food and Agriculture Policy, Washington, DC,Sankula, S. and E. Blumenthal. 2004. Impacts on US agriculture of biotechnologyderived crops planted in 2003: An update of eleven case studies. Available at http://www.ncfap.org/whatwedo/biotech-us.php

2-4,D is a form of auxin, one of the most important natural plant hormones.  Every bite of vegetables that you put into your mouth is full of auxin, because plant cells are full of it.

From the EPA's website, http://epa.gov/oppsrrd1/REDs/factsheets/24d_fs.htm

"Advisory Panel Special Joint Committee reviewed available epidemiological and other data on 2,4-D in 1992 and concluded that "the data are not sufficient to conclude that there is a cause and effect relationship between exposure to 2,4-D and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma." 2,4-D was classified as a Group D, not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity. The Agency requested further histopathological examinations of rat brain tissues and mouse spleen tissues in question. These exams were submitted and reviewed, and on March 16, 1999, the Agency notified the 2,4-D Task Force that the Agency would continue to classify 2,4-D as a Group D carcinogen.

The Agency has twice recently reviewed epidemiological studies linking cancer to 2,4-D. In the first review, completed January 14, 2004, EPA concluded there is no additional evidence that would implicate 2,4-D as a cause of cancer (EPA, 2004). The second review of available epidemiological studies occurred in response to comments received during the Phase 3 Public Comment Period for the 2,4-D RED. EPA's report, dated December 8, 2004 and authored by EPA Scientist Jerry Blondell, Ph.D., found that none of the more recent epidemiological studies definitively linked human cancer cases to 2,4-D."

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silly

as it may be to yawl, my milk cow likes my OP corn better than GM corn. Same with my pig.

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silly plus

I am in good company robie, I like OP corn better than the GM corn I buy from green giant-I can taste a difference and it is real enough to me

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Which grabs your attention more?

Thunder over the horizon on a warm summer evening or a thunderstorm raging over your home?  One makes you sit up and take notice, the other is just noise that drowns itself out.

I do not know who is more correct in this debate, but it would appear to my tired old eyes that the sources provided by isildur22 have an air of credibility the others do not. This is the observation and opinion of one man and is not intended to cause an argument we should not be having.

isildur22, please continue to rumble quietly over the horizon.  Many people are sitting up, watching, waiting and listening.

With much respect,

Cetan

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op corn

 Where have you found is the best place to get the op corn seed ?     I quit graining and went strictly hay/ alfalfa ... but I do not have a milk cow .   Right now  I am trying to keep the family from eating grain products as well ,but somewhere I read of a Lady who is raising old world ( not modified )wheat ... hope I can find where I read it . Yesterday I ground beans to make flour  I will let you know how that goes over .

  I am also reading that nuts have an enzyme inhibitor on them that we need to be soaking off before we eat them . Who knew !   I thought the salt would have done the trick .      SOOOO  more nut trees will be on my list to buy .  Right now the little ones I have planted will take years .

   FM

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BTW

 Great debate .    Our farm ground has  NEVER  had chemicals on it . My grandfather was one to say ..if a bug won't eat it why should I .     Yes we do not get as great yields as some others who do .  But I will tell you that my dad was hoppin mad when the overspray from the neighbors corn field  wilted his fruit trees .     We were not telling the neighbor that he could not use it on his fields, because he is down hill  from us,  but to over spray does not make for good neighbors at all .

 I am totally praising that every bit of ground around my place is back to native grass so I do not have to worry what is in my well water .  It tests perfect every year .

  FM

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Full Moon wrote:  Great
Full Moon wrote:

 Great debate .    Our farm ground has  NEVER  had chemicals on it . My grandfather was one to say ..if a bug won't eat it why should I .     Yes we do not get as great yields as some others who do .  But I will tell you that my dad was hoppin mad when the overspray from the neighbors corn field  wilted his fruit trees .     We were not telling the neighbor that he could not use it on his fields, because he is down hill  from us,  but to over spray does not make for good neighbors at all .

 I am totally praising that every bit of ground around my place is back to native grass so I do not have to worry what is in my well water .  It tests perfect every year .

  FM

What really sold me when buying our place was that it too had never been sprayed...  before being subdivided into small acreage, this place was a 100 odd acre dairy farm, and I've met the old farmer who used to own it (in fact he infrequently visits because he is so interested in what we're doing) and he claims he used to walk he entire property constantly with a hoe to chip the weeds out...!

Going back to GMOs, it absolutely astounds me that ANYONE would trust ANY multinational corporations on ANYTHING after the mess they have left behind everywhere.  I refuse to buy ANYTHING that involves big companies, even if it means doing without.  They do not give a stuff about anything other than their profits, and they can just go straight to hell as far as I'm concerned.......

Re chemicals.... we don't even have a bottle of bleach here!

Mike

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Mostly Agree w/ Isildr22

Isildr22 comments on GM food per the data are consistent w/ our experiences on our farms in Iowa.

One item of concern though w/ GM is the density of nutrition is becoming less for some (all?) foods, this a variation of 1st Law Of Thermodynamics (Energy can't be created or destroyed... leading to a continuity of mass issue of larger yields with less dense nutrients).

Another example is milk cows.  50 years ago...a dairy cow use to last 15 years....now they last 3 or so years.  Why?  They produce 10+ times the amount of milk per day and "burn out".

We just averaged a mean of over 210 bu/acre for corn and 79 bu/acre for soybeans.  The variance of choosing the correct hybrid can be worth tens of a percent on yield from our data.  We planted heat and drought tolerant yeilds and received one timely rain.

This past year was our best year ever, both for total profit and profit margin. 

We've been using no till for decades.  Our dropoff is estimated to be around a percent or two...minor to very minor.

The farm profits, plus low interest rates are resulting in amazing prices bidding on land.  

We had the first choice (turned down) on some land that sold for almost an average of $9000 per acre.   These prices we believe are too high...even with good profits. 

In Iowa...the Corn Suitability Rating (CSR) is a vital value reference point for land prices.  For example...Iowa averages the highest in the US (world) in the lower 70s.  Our farms average in the lower to middle 80s.

If your interested in land...be sure you inderstand how to evaluate its productivity.

Lots of stuff is being tried to improve productivity.  Our view is the rate of increase of better yields will continue,  but a slowing rate.  We monitor GM foods closely, this is our livelyhood, it routinely is discussed w/ lots of views but most are similar to the comments above, the benefits are more than the tradeoffs in our neck of the woods.

2 cents from our farms.

 

Nichoman

 

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GMO Research Suppressed

 I think that most on this site have seen how our government and regulators have been bought and corrupted by the big corporations. Monsanto and friends have done the same. They use their money and influence to pay for “research” that supports their side and viciously attack any that doesn't. Dr. Pusztai was at the top of his field before he had his career destroyed for publicizing results that were “bad for business.” How many honest researchers are going to be lining up to further our knowledge after they see what was done to him?

 

From Scientific American:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=do-seed-companies-control-gm-crop-research

Do Seed Companies Control GM Crop Research?

Scientists must ask corporations for permission before publishing independent research on genetically modified crops. That restriction must end

Unfortunately, it is impossible to verify that genetically modified crops perform as advertised. That is because agritech companies have given themselves veto power over the work of independent researchers.

To purchase genetically modified seeds, a customer must sign an agreement that limits what can be done with them. 

For a decade their user agreements have explicitly forbidden the use of the seeds for any independent research. Under the threat of litigation, scientists cannot test a seed to explore the different conditions under which it thrives or fails. They cannot compare seeds from one company against those from another company. And perhaps most important, they cannot examine whether the genetically modified crops lead to unintended environmental side effects.

Research on genetically modified seeds is still published, of course. But only studies that the seed companies have approved ever see the light of a peer-reviewed journal. In a number of cases, experiments that had the implicit go-ahead from the seed company were later blocked from publication because the results were not flattering. 

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

 

 

Bt cotton did reduce pesticide use right at first. Bt is a toxin that causes insects' stomachs to burst. The problem is that pretty soon either they become resistant to it or other pests move in. Then you're back to using more pesticides again.

 

From Cornell University:

http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/July06/Bt.cotton.China.ssl.html

 

Seven-year glitch: Cornell warns that Chinese GM cotton farmers are losing money due to 'secondary' pests'

 

“Although Chinese cotton growers were among the first farmers worldwide to plant genetically modified (GM) cotton to resist bollworms, the substantial profits they have reaped for several years by saving on pesticides have now been eroded.

The reason, as reported by Cornell University researchers at the American Agricultural Economics Association (AAEA) Annual Meeting in Long Beach, Calif., July 25, is that other pests are now attacking the GM cotton.

The GM crop is known as Bt cotton, shorthand for theBacillus thuringiensis gene inserted into the seeds to produce toxins. But these toxins are lethal only to leaf-eating bollworms. After seven years, populations of other insects -- such as mirids -- have increased so much that farmers are now having to spray their crops up to 20 times a growing season to control them, according to the study of 481 Chinese farmers in five major cotton-producing provinces.

 

The study -- the first to look at the longer-term economic impact of Bt cotton -- found that by year three, farmers in the survey who had planted Bt cotton cut pesticide use by more than 70 percent and had earnings 36 percent higher than farmers planting conventional cotton. By 2004, however, they had to spray just as much as conventional farmers, which resulted in a net average income of 8 percent less than conventional cotton farmers because Bt seed is triple the cost of conventional seed. “

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

I really am amazed you would proclaim the safety of 2,4-D. I think you should drink a big glass of it to prove to us all how safe it is.

 

There is also the issue of how it affects bees. It doesn't kill adult bees but impairs their ability to reproduce. A personal account from a beekeeper:

http://saulcreekapiary.com/Honey%20Bees%20and%20Effects%20Of%20Herbicide%20Spraying.htm

 

Even though adult bees were not immediately killed and no adult bees were observed dead in colonies, the removal of eggs, larva and sealed brood led to the eventual collapse and failure of the effected colonies. Honey Bees are extremely fragile and if I experienced a burning sensation upon being sprayed with 2-4-D one can only imagine what effect it has on Honey Bees.

It's my opinion that the Government needs to do more testing on the long term effects of 2-4-D and Honey Bees. Every time I hear a Beekeeper tell another Beekeeper that it is ok to spray any type of weed control containing 2-4-D around Honey Bee colonies I cringe. Unfortunately we are society that looks only at direct effect and not long term consequences.

 

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

Lawsuit in U.S.A. Uncovers Disagreement 
Within FDA Over Safety of Biotech Foods 
 

Agency Contradicted Own Experts in Approving Genetically Engineered Foods 
-- Misrepresented Facts in Order to Promote U.S. Biotech Industry 

In May 1998, a coalition of public interest groups, scientists, and 
religious leaders filed a landmark lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug 
Administration to obtain mandatory safety testing and labeling of all 
genetically engineered foods (Alliance for Bio-Integrity, et. al. v. 
Shalala). Nine eminent life scientists joined the coalition in order to 
emphasize the degree to which they think FDA policy is scientifically 
unsound and morally irresponsible. Now, the FDA's own files confirm how 
well-founded are their concerns. The FDA was required to deliver copies 
of these files--totalling over 44,000 pages--to the plaintiffs' 
attorneys. 
 

The FDA's records reveal it declared genetically engineered foods to be 
safe in the face of disagreement from its own experts--all the while 
claiming a broad scientific consensus supported its stance. Internal 
reports and memoranda disclose: (1) agency scientists repeatedly 
cautioned that foods produced through recombinant DNA technology entail 
different risks than do their conventionally produced counterparts and 
(2) that this input was consistently disregarded by the bureaucrats who 
crafted the agency's current policy, which treats bioengineered foods the 
same as natural ones. 
 

Besides contradicting the FDA's claim that its policy is science-based, 
this evidence shows the agency violated the U.S. Food, Drug and Cosmetic 
Act in allowing genetically engineered foods to be marketed without 
testing on the premise that they are generally recognized as safe by 
qualified experts. 

 

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FM and Nichoman

We planted our last GM crop,RRbeans and realized 47bu/acre, its all going to pasture save some few acres of garden. (gov. paying to take out of crop?) I'll send you some OP corn seed with a PM and address. Its mostly 100 day yellow with some few red seed and even fewer white. Makes the BEST meal ever eaten. We sift it for flour, meal, polenta, grits and feed.  robie southside VA

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WOW

 Thank you so much, Robie .  We gave up eating grains as much as we can . This is no easy change  because we are used to eating one at least every day . But it was becoming evident by our rounding shape that something is wrong .  I narrowed it down to GMO grains and  Corn syrup because our meals ,amount of physical exersize ,and life style had not changed .. maybe even getting more physical.  Feeding a big family without grains is EXPENSIVE !

 We are now used to eating grass fed beef that I do not think we would change back to finish them off with corn .

 I will love trying the OP seed.   I hope we are far enough away from GM fields to not cross .

 FM .

 We too put some acres in CRP  and the neighbors for miles around have done the same . However the nearest neighbor is not keeping his burnt off  and it is almost a forest .

 

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Post Modern Agriculture

Science may "save the day" but not through the GMO/Pesticide route.

Dr. Norman Uphoff says in Post Modern Agricutlure (http://wassan.org/sri/documents/Post_Modern_Agriculture_March07.pdf)

The use of agrochemicals for crop protection has resulted in a kind of ‘chemical treadmill’ where
their increased use does not result in an overall reduction in the incidence of pests and diseases.
Pimentel (1997) reports that while pesticide use in the United States has gone up 10-fold since
World War II, total crop losses in America due to insect damage did no (sic) decline but instead went up
from 7% to 13%. Thus, chemical inputs have not reduced pest damage in the aggregate and may
have added to this.

According to the theory of trophobiosis proposed by Chaboussou (2004), supported by extensive
research findings reported in the peer-reviewed literature, the use of pesticides and other biocides
along with the use of chemical fertilizer has contributed to present-day pest and disease problems.
By causing imbalances or deficits in plant nutrition, with associated impacts on plant metabolism,
an excess of amino acids and simple sugars is created in plants’ sap and cytoplasm when these are
not consolidated efficiently and completely into proteins and polysaccharides. The use of chemical
fertilizers and sprays makes plants more attractive and more vulnerable not only to insects, but
also to bacteria, fungi and viruses. This vulnerability of crops is exacerbated by the practice of
monocropping and by soil compaction from heavy machinery and other stresses that modern
agriculture places upon soil systems.

Inasmuch as GMO crops require continued use of agrochemicals, it keeps us on the treadmill.

Properly balancing your soils minerally, activating them with biological life, and foliar feeding of plants what they need based on plant-sap analysis are some of the keys of Post Modern Agriculture. In my circles this falls under the heading of high brix / beyond organic farming.

Resoures for those wanting to read more:

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AWR
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 efarmer.ny, Thanks for

 efarmer.ny,

Thanks for posting!  Good information.  Curious...are you the "efarmer" of farmiemarket.com who recently gave a TED speach?

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efarmer.ny
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My Credentials

 Curious...are you the "efarmer" of farmiemarket.com who recently gave a TED speach?

Definitely not. I'm just a humble school administrative assistant by day, trying to build a farm for security and retirement by night, weekends, and summers. I'm still a student in the school of hard knocks who reads a lot and and then has to figure out the implementation. I've lurked around this site for a long time and this topic finally drove me to respond. i'll disappear into the void again soon since my schedule does not allow much time for online discussion.

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AWR
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 Well it sounds like you're

 Well it sounds like you're on the right track.

Figured I'd hazard a guess based on your username, as the young woman who started farmiemarket.com is a farmer from NY who is using ebusiness to better her farming community.

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ao
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playing with dynamite
robie robinson wrote:

as it may be to yawl, my milk cow likes my OP corn better than GM corn. Same with my pig.

And myself, family, and friends will confirm from first hand experience that the cattle and pigs eating the GM corn taste nowheres near as good as those eating the good stuff. 

From human health to animal health to plant health to soil health to planetary health, when will people realize there's no free lunch. 

The arrogance of thinking that some diphsh*t scientist at that agricultural equivalent of Nazi Germany, Monsanto, is going to engineer a superior genetic product and be fully aware of all the future unintended consequences of such an action reveals absolute unmitigated ignorance.  They are playing with generational dynamite.  Why don't they just pop some high altitude nukes over Iowa and see if any new fun mutations pop up like glow-in-the-dark corn that they can harvest at night. 

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Damnthematrix
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couldn't have said it better myself.
ao wrote:

From human health to animal health to plant health to soil health to planetary health, when will people realize there's no free lunch.

And I totally concur..... and share your anger ao.

Mike

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Climate Change

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).

Anyone aspiring to be the President of a country aspires to be its leader, not simply a follower of  those who only casual observe. As the article clearly states, the changes currently being observed in the climate are having an effect on food production. Yet all of those battling for nomination to contest the election for President belittle any attempt to combat climate change. Are they all as ignorant as that silly woman who simplistically justified her position on the matter with "CO2 is plant food"? It seem so.

America is sliding ever more rapidly from the top economic spot. No matter how mighty its military strength is, it will amount to nought if, as food supplies become scarcer, the rest of the world decides not to export their precious food to a food starved America on the basis that America's current behaviour will have led in large part to that scarcity.

You would think that 'bible bashers' would understand the biblical quote: 'As ye sow, so ye reap'. Perhaps the bible bashing is really what many suspect - the product of a cynical 'votes at any cost' attitude and to hell with all, especially future generations, even their own offspring. Church goers? Yes, Christians? Not by a long chalk.

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@Lakhota   Thank you for

@Lakhota   Thank you for your kind words =D It's nice to know that other people are also reading this forum thread!

@fungelstrumpet  Agreed.  The third E is the most important but the least discussed.  When the climate changes in earnest our era of frantic concern about the economy will seem like the good old days.  Transition to clean energy is the key to global warming alleviation, and would help solve the three E problems at the same time. 

@Arthur  A bamboo airship with a cockroach entourage is a funny picture.  But the reality is headed into the realm of science fiction already. 

While I'm certainly for GMO crops that have drought resistance, higher yield, and improved nutritional content, there are limits to my enthusiasm. For instance, outdoor fields of GM plants that make pharmaceuticals seems like a real bad idea, because if a pharmaceutical drug gene in one corn plant gets into a neighboring, non pharma field, that would damage the food supply.  What we're doing now won't damage the food supply.  But just to be clear, the USDA and the EPA clear each new crop before it goes into farm production.  Indeed, a researcher needs a host of permits to even conduct field trials on univerisity fields.  It's actually too restrictive and it takes insanely long to get approval for outdoor trials, but this should please some people.

But animal modification is an entirely different, well, animal.  This TED talk goes through the current status of animal biotechnology.

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/paul_root_wolpe_it_s_time_to_question_bio_engineering.html

Generally, I think that the "slippery slope" argument is fallacious; in a democracy we can just make laws against the human-animal hybrids that Pres. Bush was worried about. However, people have to know the facts first, so they can push for laws to avoid what I see as the dangerous possibilities of some biotechnology. And right now, it looks like everything is possible. Should we draw the line between, say, ligers and robo-roaches?

 
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round-up video

At the risk of burning out on reading this thread a few pages back and jumping to the end to post ...

I apologize if this link is something I found on CM and am just recirculating it.  However, I found it very interesting and it seems to have some science behind it and make a strong case why GMO roundup ready stuff is bad.

Here is the email I sent to my friend at the time.

 

 

I had always thought that people complaining about genetically modified organisms was a lot of bunk.  However, this interview explains how maybe not the genetic modification itself, but the reason for the modification - the ability to withstand the use of Round Up is the problem.

 
Round Up binds onto various minerals and prevents the weed from absorbing them.  The GM provides an alternative pathway for the soy bean, corn, beet or alfalpha to absorb the mineral.  However, the plant absorbs the Round Up and passes it along to the animals that eat it and also releases it into the soil.
 
One result is that the Round Up ready plants have much less nutritional value.  Another is that they pass along the Round Up to cause other side effects in animals that eat it.
 
This makes me wonder if the bag of soy meal that I bought to make my home-made organic fertilizer is going to be a problem.  Too bad I mixed up a large garbage can of the stuff already.  I am not sure how much Round Up might be coming in via the soy meal.
 
This is a pretty long interview and I was bummed out when I saw it was so long, but once I started listening I found it very interesting.
 
Another aspect of the interview is how the politics is so corrupted that there are laws preventing scientists from researching various products from companies like Monsanto to determine if they are safe or not.  The patent law prevents them from being allowed to do the research.  Also a lot of scientists who raise concern end up getting fired.
 
First the financial world is shown to be a really corrupt problem, now the food supply - It seems to never end.. 

 

Joe 

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Round-Up degrades quickly into fertilizer in the soil

Couldn't figure out how to link to the post, but here are my explanations from the last time I saw Round-Up discussed:

Glyphosate degrades to aminomethylphosphonic acid and then to phosphoric acid/phosphate.  That’s inorganic phosphate. It’s the form required by plants as a fertilizer.

Here’s the link to one of the papers that shows that degradation sequence but unless you’re at a university (or have a subscription to Soil Biology and Biochemistry…) you’ll have to buy it or PM me your email address and I’ll send the pdf to you.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0038071799000103

But here’s a summary paragraph: "During recent years an intensive use of herbicides has raised increasing concern mainly due to their massive pollution of the environment. To address this problem, the herbicide glyphosate (N-[phosphono-methyl]glycine) might be very promising. It acts by interfering with the enzyme that catalyses the sixth step in the shikimate pathway, 5-enol-pyruvyl-shikimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase (Cole, 1985), has little or no chronic and neuro-toxic effects, and no obvious carcinogenic and mutagenic activity as well, and is thus to be considered ineffective against man and animals (Atkinson, 1985). Moreover, even though the rate of utilization has been reported to vary considerably between different soils, it is rapidly and completely degraded by soil microorganisms to water, carbon dioxide and phosphate. Following adsorption through the phosphoric acid moiety, mineralization proceeds without any lag phase, and seems to be a co-metabolic process that occurs under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions (Torstensson, 1985). The first step in the predominant degradation pathway is the cleavage to glyoxylate and aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), that is also biologically degradable (Rueppel et al., 1977).

Here's a paper free to access that talks about environmental effects

http://co.water.usgs.gov/midconherb/pdf/WREB_4102_323-332.pdf

Some notable points from it:  “Although glyphosate and (or) AMPA were found in many samples, other herbicides with similar or less total use in the Midwestern United States, such as acetochlor, atrazine, and metolachlor (Figure 1), were often detected more frequently and at higher concentrations (Table 2, Figures 3 and 4). It is probable that glyphosate is not as mobile and is transformed more rapidly in the environment than these other herbicides (Table 1)."

“Glyphosate is considered to be only slightly toxic to birds, fish, and aquatic invertebrates and is not expected to bioconcentrate.”

“It is widely used in no-till agriculture to prepare fields for planting, controlling weeds during crop development, or controlling perennial weeds after crop harvest.”

The bottom line is that it’s much less harmful and found at much lower concentrations than the other, toxic herbicides that are used the same amount or less.

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Roundup - GMOs

 I agree that we need to get very smart about how to raise more and better food. The idea of throwing millions of pounds of chemicals on our precious soil is simply a non-starter in my book. Much of our society has accepted the idea that the "experts" can do it better then Mother Nature, however as current research is beginning to find - much of what we are doing in the area of our industrial food production and processing is potentially  leading us to disaster. To name an example, the unintended consequences of large scale introduction of GMOs designed to allow use of Roundup has us headed for a trainwreck that will be difficult to avoid. Some paths that we choose leave room to simply back-up when proven wrong and change to a different path, however some paths such as using the GMO/Roundup system may be nearly irreversible - or at least decades in the healing phase at best.

Many dedicated research people have concluded that we are playing with millions of years of natural selection that have worked out the problems so as to work in a natural organic way. We come along with minimal understanding of what we are doing with good intentions, but lacking the understanding of natures extremely complex systems.

For example, one of many researchers such as Dr Don Huber, quoted in the following article, leads me to have serious doubt of the direct Monsanto and others have chosen to follow.

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/blog/664

 

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 The link was to a video

 The link was to a video titled "The hidden epidemic destroying your gut flora" and the speaker is Dr. Don Huber.

When I clicked the link I got to the video, but it is blocked by software at work.  I would think it is still available.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/10/dr-don-huber-interview-part-1.aspx?e_cid=20111210_DNL_art_1  

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Reducing waste

I may have missed mention of this on one of the pages of this thread but has there been any discussion of trying to just reduce the waste stream?  Are bigger yields the solution or do we grow enough now to support the global population if we eliminated the huge amount of food thrown away every year?  Are there more efficient and diversified crops that can be grown to support the nutritional needs of the population?  How many people can be  provided with the nourishment they need from the food that is wasted? And I am talking all wasted food (Excess Calorie Consumption, Wasted Cooked / Spoiled food, Food Recalls).  Is it more cost effective to implement programs to make our current food supply more efficient and safe then try to just grow more through a bio-technology arms race? Waste not - Want not. 

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Reducing waste Pt.II
jasonw wrote:

I may have missed mention of this on one of the pages of this thread but has there been any discussion of trying to just reduce the waste stream?  Are bigger yields the solution or do we grow enough now to support the global population if we eliminated the huge amount of food thrown away every year?  Are there more efficient and diversified crops that can be grown to support the nutritional needs of the population?  How many people can be  provided with the nourishment they need from the food that is wasted? And I am talking all wasted food (Excess Calorie Consumption, Wasted Cooked / Spoiled food, Food Recalls).  Is it more cost effective to implement programs to make our current food supply more efficient and safe then try to just grow more through a bio-technology arms race? Waste not - Want not. 

Amen Brotha....

And how about the amount of food waste from table scraps. Since taking the Red Pill, I've started raising a lot of farm critters and I've discovered how much food from table scraps we used to throw away. Ballpark at least 20%, probably more. We now have a "muck bucket" in the kitchen to collect all such food waste so it can be fed to the critters (mostly to pigs and chickens--but meat scraps go to the dawg). Recycling food that way is like feeding a pig for free: free pork forever just by not shoving food down the garbage disposal. Much easier on the septic system, too.

efarmer.ny's picture
efarmer.ny
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Problems exist already

isildur22 said

What we're doing now won't damage the food supply.  But just to be clear, the USDA and the EPA clear each new crop before it goes into farm production.  Indeed, a researcher needs a host of permits to even conduct field trials on univerisity fields.  It's actually too restrictive and it takes insanely long to get approval for outdoor trials, but this should please some people.

The food supply has already been compromised. Remember this incident?

Banned Corn Still Contaminating US Crop     http://www.organicconsumers.org/ge/ge_corn_starlink.cfm

Governments have been accused of waiving normal approvals. Remember this?

Government Fast-Tracked GM Potatoes    http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Monsanto-Potatoe-Fast-Tracked.htm

And of course, companies wouldn't illegally plant things, right? Oops. Remember this claim?

 http://globalpoliticalawakening.blogspot.com/2011/03/india-says-monsanto-covertly-illegally.html

Regarding needing GMOs to improve nutrlition, many places that can grow rice (and thus are candidates for golden rice with vitamin A) are also places where Moringa trees can be planted. Moringa tree leaves provide a host of nutrients, including vitamin A. Diversification is a key to good agriculture, and God (or Mother Earth, if you must) has provided much of what we need through natural processes. http://www.treesforlife.org/our-work/our-initiatives/moringa

@JasonW   The wasted food that really gets me is the stuff thrown away in schools after "we" provide it through free and reduced lunch programs. But that's a political discussion for another place. Maybe the "punch to the mouth" of higher food prices will help people wake up to the waste.

 

 

 

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