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DocWatch
corporate farming
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News stories about "corporate farming," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?corporate+farming
Related Scary Tags:
contamination  ~ health impacts  ~ food crisis  ~ climate impacts  ~ ecosystem interrelationships  ~ pesticide runoff  ~ GMOs  ~ antibiotic resistance  ~ anthropogenic change  ~ toxic buildup  ~ global warming  



Sun, Mar 6, 2016
from The Conversation:
The best way to protect us from climate change? Save our ecosystems
... Data have now confirmed that salt marshes would have significantly reduced the impact of those surges, and stabilised the shoreline against further insult, at far less cost than engineered coastal defences. With this data in hand, discussions are now beginning around how to restore the Louisiana salt marshes to insulate against future extreme weather events. ... ...


Like we need protection from Climate Chaos.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 29, 2015
from Times of London:
GM 'whiffy wheat' fails to deter aphids
A Ł3 million publicly funded field trial of genetically modified wheat has failed after the crop was shown to be no better at repelling pests than conventional wheat. The "whiffy wheat" project involved plants modified to produce a pheromone that aphids release when under attack from predators. Scientists thought that the scent would cause the aphids to flee and also attract wasps, which prey on them. However, the trial found no significant reduction in aphids, possibly because they learnt to ignore the continuous alarm scent. ...


Swing and a miss.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 20, 2015
from London Guardian:
White House makes bid to save honeybees but ignores toxic pesticides
The White House has announced an ambitious plan to "promote the health of honeybees and other pollinators" in the United States in a bid to help reverse a worrying trend that has seen the honeybee population fall by half over the last seven decades. It includes making millions of acres of federal land more bee-friendly, an explicit ambition to increase the population of the monarch butterfly, and the provision of millions of dollars to be spent on research. But the plan announced on Tuesday falls short in one capacity that has environmental groups up in arms. It does not ban the use of any form of toxic pesticides, despite a large body of scientific research showing many of them - specifically neonicotinoids, or "neonics" - to be closely linked to widespread bee life loss. ...


Always racing for the cure, instead of the cause.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 20, 2015
from Washington Post:
Think of Earth, not just your stomach, panel advises
The nation's top nutritional panel is recommending for the first time that Americans consider the impact on the environment when they are choosing what to eat, a move that defied a warning from Congress and, if enacted, could discourage people from eating red meat... the panel's findings, issued Thursday in the form of a 571-page report, recommended that Americans be kinder to the environment by eating more foods derived from plants and fewer foods that come from animals. Red meat is deemed particularly harmful because of, among other things, the amount of land and feed required in its production. ...


But I thought I was supposed to have it my way?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Dec 30, 2014
from Politico:
2015, the year the GOP strikes back at Obama food policies
The Obama administration is becoming increasingly involved in what Americans put on their dinner plates and in their cereal bowls, from requiring school children to be served fruit to eliminating trans fats in doughnuts. But the new Republican Congress is already laying the groundwork to push back in 2015. As the opening bell sounds for the 114th Congress, don't be surprised to see GOP lawmakers take on school nutrition. The $1.1 trillion omnibus this month included provisions to allow states more flexibility to exempt schools from the Department of Agriculture's whole-grain standards if they can show hardship and to halt future sodium restrictions... ...


You are what you(r kids) eat.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Dec 30, 2014
from Reuters:
Monarch butterfly eyed for possible U.S. endangered species protection
Monarch butterflies may warrant U.S. Endangered Species Act protection because of farm-related habitat loss blamed for sharp declines in cross-country migrations of the orange-and-black insects, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said on Monday. Monarch populations are estimated to have fallen by as much as 90 percent during the past two decades because of destruction of milkweed plants they depend on to lay their eggs and nourish hatching larvae, according to the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. ...


No crying over spilled milk(weed).

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 29, 2014
from Wisconsin State Journal:
Technique for turning manure into drinkable water could help lakes
Dane County is setting aside about $1.3 million for new technology officials say could turn lake-fouling dairy cow manure into crystal clear water. The process would be installed at a county-sponsored biodigester just outside of Middleton that this year began collecting natural gas from manure and other waste, and extracting about half of the phosphorus before the manure-waste mixture is spread on farm fields as fertilizer. ...


Not quite straw-into-gold or water-into-wine but close!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 10, 2014
from Reuters:
Big U.S. school districts plan switch to antibiotic-free chicken
Six of the largest U.S. school districts are switching to antibiotic-free chicken, officials said on Tuesday, pressuring the world's top meat companies to adjust production practices in the latest push against drugs used on farms. The move by districts in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, Miami-Dade County and Orlando County is intended to protect children's health amid concerns about the rise of so-called "superbugs," bacteria that gain resistance to conventional medicines, school officials said. However, the change may raise costs for schools because bird mortality rates are typically higher in flocks raised without antibiotics. The six districts, which served at least 2.6 million meals last year, hope to limit costs by combining their purchasing power, officials said. ...


This is your brain ... and this is your brain on superbugs.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 4, 2014
from :
Food diversity at risk
... But fewer people have heard about another ongoing mass extinction that involves the foods that we eat. More than 75 percent of the fruit and vegetable varieties that humans once consumed have already gone the way of the wooly mammoth and the saber-toothed tiger, according to the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. And half of all domesticated animal breeds have been lost in roughly the past century. Apple historian Dan Bussey says that of the 20,000 named apple varieties that have been cultivated in North America, only 4,000 remain. Thousands of varieties of rice once flourished in the Philippines. Today, less than 100 varieties survive. And similar numbers could be cited for virtually all of our food crops. This massive loss of diversity is - you guessed it - the result of the rapid spread of industrial agriculture and the increasing standardization of the food industry, where unconventional varieties have been squeezed off of supermarket shelves. ...


A farmer's gotta eat.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 7, 2014
from Huffington Post:
Save the Humans
...Each year, the U.S. grows and kills about 10 billion livestock animals. Globally, we're raising and slaughtering about 56 billion animals animal agriculture each year. If you do the math, that means we're killing 1,776 animals for food every second of every day. That doesn't even include fish and other seafood. But even though I'm a vegan for ethical reasons, I don't want to write about the animal ethics of animal agriculture. I want to write about the ways in which animal agriculture is killing us and ruining our planet.... The U.N. released a conservative report wherein they stated that animal agriculture causes about 18 percent of current greenhouse gas emissions. ...


If we don't eat them they'll eat us!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 19, 2014
from Rodale News, via TruthOut:
New GMO Poised for Approval Despite Public Outcry
Despite its own admission that it will cause an up to sevenfold increase in chemical pesticide use, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is poised to approve a new type of genetically engineered seed built to resist one of the most toxic weedkillers on the market. Now, total approval hinges on the Environmental Protection Agency. If that federal body approves the new GMO, farmers will be free to plant corn and soy seeds genetically manipulated to live through sprayings of Dow's "Enlist Duo" herbicide, a chemical cocktail containing both glyphosate and the antiquated, toxic chemical 2,4-D. Ironically, in the 1990s, chemical companies said the development of GMOs would eliminate the need to use older, more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D. But as GMO use ramped up over the last few decades, chemical use increased, and many weeds are no longer responding to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup and the current chemical of choice for GMO farmers. This has created a "superweed" crisis, resulting in millions of acres of U.S. fields' being infested with hard-to-kill weeds. ...


2,4-D and RoundUp? Nature doesn't stand a chance!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 27, 2014
from London Guardian:
Wanted: a breed of chicken that can survive crippling heatwaves
American scientists are racing to develop chickens that can cope with scorching heat as part of a series of government-funded programmes looking to adapt to or mitigate the effects of extreme weather patterns on the food supply. A University of Delaware project is developing ways to introduce climate hardiness to the US domestic breed stock before summer heatwaves predicted under climate change models kill or spoil the meat of billions of birds. ...


These chickens are pre-broiled.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 7, 2014
from UC Davis, via EurekAlert:
Field study shows why food quality will suffer with rising CO2
For the first time, a field test has demonstrated that elevated levels of carbon dioxide inhibit plants' assimilation of nitrate into proteins, indicating that the nutritional quality of food crops is at risk as climate change intensifies.... "[T]his is the first study to demonstrate that elevated carbon dioxide inhibits the conversion of nitrate into protein in a field-grown crop," he said. The assimilation, or processing, of nitrogen plays a key role in the plant's growth and productivity. In food crops, it is especially important because plants use nitrogen to produce the proteins that are vital for human nutrition. Wheat, in particular, provides nearly one-fourth of all protein in the global human diet. ...


I'm thinkin' we'll just engineer that out.

ApocaDoc
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Want more context?
Try reading our book FREE online:
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Sun, Mar 30, 2014
from Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry, via PubMed:
Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: A comparison between 1995 and 2007.
Glyphosate and its degradation product, AMPA, were detected in ≥75 percent of air and rain samples in 2007, but were not measured in 1995. The 1995 seasonal wet depositional flux was dominated by methyl parathion (88 percent) and was >4.5 times the 2007 flux. Total herbicide flux in 2007 was slightly greater than in 1995, and was dominated by glyphosate. ...


When it rains, it Roundups.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Mar 7, 2014
from Reuters:
Groups sue EPA to force it to move on pesticide disclosures
Three environmental and public health groups sued the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday, seeking to press it to move forward with rules that would require public disclosure of certain pesticide ingredients... The groups claimed there has been an "unreasonable delay" on the EPA's part in finalizing rules to require chemical manufacturers to disclose hazardous inert ingredients in their pesticide products. The groups said there are more than 350 inert pesticide ingredients that can be just as hazardous as active ingredients that are labeled and can comprise up to 99 percent of a pesticide's formulation. Of the common inert ingredients, many are classified as carcinogenic, possibly carcinogenic or potentially toxic, the lawsuit said. ...


Instead of calling them inert we should call them ert.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Dec 31, 2013
from USA Today:
Plastic made from pollution hits U.S. market
Two childhood friends spent a decade, beginning in college, figuring out how to cheaply make plastic from carbon that's been captured from the atmosphere... Today, the 31-year-old co-founders of California-based Newlight Technologies have two factories that take methane captured from dairy farms and use it to make AirCarbon -- plastic that will soon appear in the form of chairs, food containers and automotive parts. Coming next year: cellphone cases for Virgin Mobile. "You'll be able to hold carbon in your hand," Herrema says of the products, which an independent lab says remove more carbon from the atmosphere than their manufacturing emits. By replacing oil-based plastics, he says he wants to help reduce global warming: "We actually want to change the world."... ...


Conceivably, my kitchen sink could be a carbon sink.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Dec 27, 2013
from Care2:
Tax Meat to Reduce Methane Emissions and Global Warming, Say Scientists
You've probably heard that methane from cows, sheep, goats and buffalo (that is, ruminant farts) has been linked to global warming. There are 50 percent more cows and similar animals today than half a century ago (3.6 billion) and methane released from their digestive systems is the biggest human-related source of this greenhouse gas. So, to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases cows and the like produce, we need to tax meat. That's what some scientists have recently proposed in an analysis in Nature Climate Change. Only by increasing the price of meat so people consume less can we cut down on the amount of methane emissions and halt the warming of the planet. ...


Why don't we tax the animals for farting?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 12, 2013
from National Public Radio:
Robots Could Help Farmers Rein In Fertilizer Pollution
Lately, robots have been taking over all kinds of jobs that humans used to do on the farm -- from thinning lettuce to harvesting spinach. Three brothers in Minnesota are betting that robots could compete with machines on the farm, too: the huge, and often inefficient, fertilizer applicators made by John Deere and the like. The brothers' Rowbot, in comparison, is so small it can move between rows of crops and fertilize plants one at a time. "We joked about it being the Roomba of the cornfield," says one of the brothers, Kent Cavender-Bares, referring to the autonomous vacuum cleaner. The motivation for creating a fertilizer robot is simple: Many farmers overuse fertilizer, and that's costly and bad for the environment. But farmers don't have many tools to help them cut back. ...


No shit! Or rather... less shit.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Nov 24, 2013
from New York Times Review:
The Year the Monarch Didn't Appear
ON the first of November, when Mexicans celebrate a holiday called the Day of the Dead, some also celebrate the millions of monarch butterflies that, without fail, fly to the mountainous fir forests of central Mexico on that day. They are believed to be souls of the dead, returned. This year, for or the first time in memory, the monarch butterflies didn't come, at least not on the Day of the Dead. They began to straggle in a week later than usual, in record-low numbers. Last year's low of 60 million now seems great compared with the fewer than three million that have shown up so far this year. Some experts fear that the spectacular migration could be near collapse. "It does not look good," said Lincoln P. Brower, a monarch expert at Sweet Briar College.... Another major cause is farming with Roundup, a herbicide that kills virtually all plants except crops that are genetically modified to survive it. As a result, millions of acres of native plants, especially milkweed, an important source of nectar for many species, and vital for monarch butterfly larvae, have been wiped out. One study showed that Iowa has lost almost 60 percent of its milkweed, and another found 90 percent was gone. "The agricultural landscape has been sterilized," said Dr. Brower. ...


If we don't sterilize it, how can we be sure that Nature is clean?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Nov 21, 2013
from The Daily Caller:
Norwegian army goes vegetarian to fight global warming
Norway's military is taking drastic steps to ramp up its war against global warming. The Scandinavian country announced its soldiers would be put on a vegetarian diet once a week to reduce the military's carbon footprint. "Meatless Monday's" has already been introduced at one of Norway's main military bases and will soon be rolled out to others, including overseas bases. It is estimated that the new vegetarian diet will cut meat consumption by 150 tons per year. "It's a step to protect our climate," military spokesman Eystein Kvarving told AFP. "The idea is to serve food that's respectful of the environment." ...


If you're planning on attacking this army don't do it on a Monday night.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Nov 14, 2013
from Ensia/Scientific American:
14 humans fed/acre vs. 3 humans fed/acre. It's Time to Rethink America's Corn System
... For corn-fed animals, the efficiency of converting grain to meat and dairy calories ranges from roughly 3 percent to 40 percent, depending on the animal production system in question. What this all means is that little of the corn crop actually ends up feeding American people. It's just math. The average Iowa cornfield has the potential to deliver more than 15 million calories per acre each year (enough to sustain 14 people per acre, with a 3,000 calorie-per-day diet, if we ate all of the corn ourselves), but with the current allocation of corn to ethanol and animal production, we end up with an estimated 3 million calories of food per acre per year, mainly as dairy and meat products, enough to sustain only 3 people per acre. This is lower than the average delivery of food calories from farms in Bangladesh, Egypt and Vietnam. In short, the corn crop is highly productive, but the corn system is aligned to feed cars and animals instead of feeding people. ...


Careful. You're messing with the Free Market, here.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 15, 2013
from Los Angeles Times:
Nutrient pollution threatens national park ecosystems, study says
National parks from the Sierra Nevada to the Great Smoky Mountains are increasingly being fertilized by unwanted nutrients drifting through the air from agricultural operations, putting some of the country's most treasured natural landscapes at risk of ecological damage, a new study has found. Thirty-eight of 45 national parks examined by scientists are receiving doses of nitrogen at or above a critical threshold that can harm sensitive ecosystems, such as lichens, hardwood forests or tallgrass prairie, scientists found... Scientists looked at nitrogen oxides and ammonia that are released by vehicles, power plants and farms and carried on air currents into national parks, including those in some of the most remote areas of the West. ...


Just so Yellowstone doesn't turn green.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 14, 2013
from Associated Press:
Lake Erie algae a threat to Ohio drinking water
Toxins from blobs of algae on western Lake Erie are infiltrating water treatment plants along the shoreline, forcing cities to spend a lot more money to make sure their drinking water is safe. It got so bad last month that one township told its 2,000 residents not to drink or use the water coming from their taps... The unsightly surface has scared away tourists, and toxins produced by the algae have contributed to oxygen-deprived dead zones where fish can't survive. The toxins also are a threat to the drinking water that the lake provides for 11 million people. ...


Let them drink Coke.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Sep 25, 2013
from CBC:
Monarch butterfly numbers drop to new lows
Monarch butterflies appear headed for a perhaps unprecedented population crash, according to scientists and monarch watchers who have been keeping tabs on the species in their main summer home in Eastern and Central North America. There had been hope that on their journey north from their overwintering zone in Mexico, the insects' numbers would build through the generations, but there's no indication that happened. Only a small number of monarchs did make it to Canada this summer to propagate the generation that has now begun its southern migration to Mexico, and early indications are that the past year's record lows will be followed by even lower numbers this fall.... "Based on what I saw this year, I'm very concerned they're not going to bounce back that well, and my fear is I'm going to see them extinct within my lifetime," Burkhard said.... Taylor says that "in the Midwest, we're seeing a tremendous loss of habitat due to the type of agriculture that been adopted here, Roundup-ready corn and soybeans, which has taken the milkweeds out of those row crops, and we're seeing overzealous management of roadside marshes, excessive use of herbicides here and there." ...


Guess that means fewer hurricanes this season!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 19, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
Women living near pesticide-treated fields have smaller babies
Women in Northern California farm towns gave birth to smaller babies if they lived within three miles of strawberry fields and other crops treated with the pesticide methyl bromide, according to researchers. The soil fumigant, which is injected into the soil before planting, can volatize into the air, exposing nearby neighborhoods. Use of methyl bromide has been declining over the past decade under an international treaty that phases out chemicals that deplete the Earth's protective ozone layer. Strawberries and a few other crops are exempt under the ban because they are deemed "critical uses." ...


I have always considered babies to be pests.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Sep 19, 2013
from Alternet:
How Chicken Is Killing the Planet
Earlier this month, while you were busy sneaking out of your empty office, hoping nobody would notice your starting the holiday weekend early, the USDA was also doing something it was hoping nobody would notice. It was green-lighting the sale of Chinese processed American chicken. As Politico explained, "U.S. officials have given the thumbs-up to four Chinese poultry plants, paving the way for the country to send processed chicken to American markets." But while, "eat first, China will only be able to process chicken that has been slaughtered in the U.S. or other certified countries," that should not be a comfort to fans of the McNugget, Campbell's chicken soup, or any other processed chicken product...Meat is already the No. 1 contributor to climate change. Don't expect shipping slaughtered chickens 7,000 miles to China and then bringing them back as processed food to lower that carbon footprint. And, of course, the Chinese poultry industry has its own dirty laundry, including a current bird flu outbreak, believed to have "evolved from migratory birds via waterfowl to poultry and into people," and already responsible for 44 deaths; the sale of 46- year-old chicken feet; and exporting tainted dog treats, sickening nearly a thousand American pets. ...


Let them eat drywall.

ApocaDoc
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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013
from Grist:
U.S. government paid $17 billion for weather-withered crops last year
Desiccated corn and sun-scorched soybeans have been in high supply lately -- and we're paying through the nose for them. The federal government forked out a record-breaking $17.3 billion last year to compensate farmers for weather-related crop losses -- more than four times the annual average over the last decade. The losses were mostly caused by droughts, high temperatures, and hot winds -- the sizzling harbingers of a climate in rapid flux. ...


The Sizzling Harbingers is the name of my new band, dude!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Aug 30, 2013
from Huffington Post:
Lake Erie Algae 'Dead Zones' An Urgent Problem: Report
Canada and the U.S. should crack down on sources of phosphorus runoff blamed for a rash of harmful algae blooms on Lake Erie, an advisory agency said Thursday. The International Joint Commission said in a draft report that urgent steps are needed to curb runaway algae -- which produce harmful toxins and contribute to oxygen-deprived "dead zones" where fish cannot survive.... The report's Canadian co-author, Glenn Benoy, said algae blooms had almost disappeared but now there is a recurrence. "Some of the worst blooms we've seen in the lake happened in the last five to seven years," he said from Ottawa. ...


Erie, quit wimping out! I thought you were great!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 27, 2013
from KSU, via PNAS and ScienceDaily:
Future Water Levels of Crucial Agricultural Aquifer Forecast
If current irrigation trends continue, 69 percent of the groundwater stored in the High Plains Aquifer of Kansas will be depleted in 50 years. But immediately reducing water use could extend the aquifer's lifetime and increase net agricultural production through the year 2110.... The study investigates the future availability of groundwater in the High Plains Aquifer -- also called the Ogallala Aquifer -- and how reducing use would affect cattle and crops. The aquifer supplies 30 percent of the nation's irrigated groundwater and serves as the most agriculturally important irrigation in Kansas. ...


Can't we just squeeze the earth harder?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Aug 11, 2013
from Peruvian Times:
Ten Year Ban on Genetically Modified Seeds and Foods Takes Force Thursday
A 10-year ban on genetically modified foods in Peru came into effect this week, state news agency Andina reported. Peru's executive has approved the regulations for the law that prohibits the importation, production and use of GMO foods in the country. Violating the law can result in a maximum fine of 10,000 UIT tax units, which is about 36.5 million soles ($14 million). The goods can also be seized and destroyed, according to the norms. The law, which was approved by President Ollanta Humala last year, is aimed at preserving Peru's biodiversity and supporting local farmers, Environment Minister Manuel Pulgar Vidal said. ...


Where's the agribusiness in that?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 24, 2013
from Scientific American:
The Colorado Is Pronounced America's Most Endangered Waterway
The river that carved the Grand Canyon and supplies 36 million Americans with drinking water is in trouble, according to American Rivers... "The Colorado River...is so over-tapped that it dries up to a trickle before reaching the sea." Indeed, 36 million of us drink water from the Colorado. The river responsible for cutting the Grand Canyon irrigates nearly four million acres of farmland where some 15 percent of the nation's crops are grown. But according to American Rivers, over-allocation and drought have placed significant stress on water supplies and river health--and another summer drought is on the way. A 2013 study by the federal Bureau of Reclamation finds that there isn't enough water in the Colorado to meet current demands and that the flow will be as much as 30 percent less by 2050 due to climate change. That reduced flow threatens not only endangered fish and wildlife but also the river system's $26 billion recreation economy. ...


By the time it reaches the ocean, it's just the C. crick.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jun 5, 2013
from CNN:
Nepalese farmers go organic with human waste
Jeevan Maharjan has a different approach to human waste -- he considers it as wealth. Rather than flush it down the toilet, the 47-year-old Nepalese farmer collects it to spray on his crops. "It's three times better than chemical fertilizers," he said .... The urine and feces are stored in separate airtight compartments of the toilet, he said, for later use on the land. The urine is kept for about two weeks before it is used, while the feces, which is turned into manure, is used every six months. ...


Aged ... like fine wine.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 4, 2013
from Alternet:
Monsanto Mystery Wheat Appears in Oregon, No One Knows Why
How did genetically modified wheat produced by the agricultural corporation Monsanto end up in Oregon? That's the question many people want answered after the discovery of the wheat by a farmer in Oregon, according to a report in the New Scientist. Genetically modified wheat has not been cleared for commercial use anywhere in the world, though the Federal Drug Administration approved it as safe for human consumption in 2004. It was never put on the market in the U.S., though, since Monsanto dropped it after citing a lack of demand. The Associated Press reported that the wheat was also not developed because "wheat growers did not want to risk retaliation from their biggest export markets." ...


It's gone rogue!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 3, 2013
from University of Arkansas, Fayetteville:
Dairy's Carbon Footprint: Flatulence Tops the List
Researchers at the University of Arkansas are attempting to help the U.S. dairy industry decrease its carbon footprint as concentrations of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere reach record levels... The researchers found that for every kilogram of milk consumed in the United States per year, 2.05 kilograms of greenhouse gases, on average, are emitted over the entire supply chain to produce, process and distribute that milk. This is equivalent to approximately 17.4 pounds per gallon... The largest contributors were feed production, enteric methane -- gas emitted by the animal itself -- and manure management. ...


Crying over spilt gases.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, May 29, 2013
from Reuters:
Insight: Pork industry hunts for deadly pig virus
The sudden and widespread appearance of a swine virus deadly to young pigs - one never before seen in North America - is raising questions about the bio-security shield designed to protect the U.S. food supply. The swine-only virus, the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV), poses no danger to humans or other animals, and the meat from infected pigs is safe for people to eat. ...


Still, the word "diarrhea" ain't all that appetizing.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Apr 18, 2013
from New York Times:
Report on U.S. Meat Sounds Alarm on Resistant Bacteria
More than half of samples of ground turkey, pork chops and ground beef collected from supermarkets for testing by the federal government contained a bacteria resistant to antibiotics, according to a new report highlighting the findings. The data, collected in 2011 by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System -- a joint program of the Food and Drug Administration, the Agriculture Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- show a sizable increase in the amount of meat contaminated with antibiotic-resistant forms of bacteria, known as superbugs, like salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter.... The Agriculture Department has confirmed that almost 80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture, and public health authorities around the world increasingly are warning that antibiotic resistance is reaching alarming levels. "We don't have a problem with treating animals with antibiotics when they are sick," Ms. Undurraga said. "But just feeding them antibiotics to make them get bigger faster at a lower cost poses a real problem for public health." ...


My biota are feeling particularly "anti" today.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 18, 2013
from Huffington Post:
Bills Pushed By State Legislators Would Make Farm Animal Abuse Investigations More Difficult
in a pushback led by the meat and poultry industries, state legislators across the country are introducing laws making it harder for animal welfare advocates to investigate cruelty and food safety cases. Some bills make it illegal to take photographs at a farming operation. Others make it a crime for someone such as an animal welfare advocate to lie on an application to get a job at a plant...the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think tank backed by business interests... has labeled those who interfere with animal operations "terrorists," though a spokesman said he wishes now that the organization had called its legislation the "Freedom to Farm Act" rather than the "Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act." ...


I say let's call it the "Freedom to Do Whatever the Hell We Want That Ensures Profit for our Shareholders."

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Mar 11, 2013
from Associated Press:
2,800 pigs dumped in Shanghai river raises concern
BEIJING--A surge in the dumping of dead pigs upstream from Shanghai--with more than 2,800 carcasses floating into the financial hub through Monday--has followed a police campaign to curb the illicit trade in sick pig parts. The effort to keep infected pork off dinner tables may be fueling new health fears, as Shanghai residents and local media fret over the possibility of contamination to the city's water supply, though authorities say no contamination has been detected. Authorities have been pulling out the swollen and rotting pigs, some with their internal organs visible, since Friday--and revolting images of the carcasses in news reports and online blogs have raised public ire against local officials. ...


Rivers... quiet, giant floating trashcans...

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Feb 21, 2013
from London Guardian:
Halve meat consumption, scientists urge rich world
People in the rich world should become "demitarians" -- eating half as much meat as usual, while stopping short of giving it up -- in order to avoid severe environmental damage, scientists have urged, in the clearest picture yet of how farming practices are destroying the natural world.... The quest for ever cheaper meat in the past few decades -- most people even in rich countries ate significantly less meat one and two generations ago -- has resulted in a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock. This has diverted vast quantities of grain from human to animal consumption, requiring intensive use of fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides and, according to the Unep report, "caused a web of water and air pollution that is damaging human health". The run-off from these chemicals is creating dead zones in the seas, causing toxic algal blooms and killing fish, while some are threatening bees, amphibians and sensitive ecosystems. ...


All I did was order a cheeseburger!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 19, 2013
from Climate Central:
The Top 10 Hardest-Hit States for Crop Damage
The searing U.S. drought of 2012 devastated the nation's corn crop, pushing yields down in some states to their lowest levels in nearly 30 years. According to recently-released numbers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Missouri, Illinois and Indiana were among the hardest hit Corn Belt states, with yields at 28-, 26-, and 22-year lows, respectively.... Overall, crop-related farm income was not down substantially in 2012, despite the severe drought. The unusually high crop prices and record insurance payouts -- at least $14 billion in government aid has already been doled out -- helped offset drought-related profit losses. ...


Monoculture = welfare state.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 15, 2013
from Slate:
Why Beef Is Becoming More Like Chicken: Cheap, uniform, and bland.
A new cattle drug called Zilmax is being widely used in the industrial feedlots where most of America's beef comes from, but not because it produces a better sirloin. In fact, it has been shown to make steak less flavorful and juicy than beef from untreated cattle. Many feedlot owners, big meatpackers, and at least one prominent industry group resisted the drug, worrying that the beef industry would turn off consumers if it started churning out lower-quality steaks. So what accounts for the sudden popularity of Zilmax? Zilmax is a highly effective growth drug, and it makes cattle swell up with muscle in the final weeks of their lives. And despite concerns within the industry, the economics of modern beef production have made the rise of Zilmax all but inevitable.... The drought created a perfect opening for Zilmax. Now, drug salesmen are roving Middle America, pitching Zilmax as an antidote to hard times in cattle country. With Zilmax, a feedlot owner can get more meat from a cow without feeding it any additional grain or letting it drink any additional water. According to one Zilmax salesman, using the drug could help a feedlot owner make about $30 in additional profit per cow by adding about 33 pounds of extra meat to each carcass. ...


An extra bonus: those cows can hit home runs like crazy!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 12, 2013
from Center for Public Integrity:
U.S. report urges deeper look into breast cancer's environmental links
A new federal advisory panel report makes a forceful case for more research into environmental causes of breast cancer, which was diagnosed in 227,000 women, killed 40,000 and cost more than $17 billion to treat in the United States last year. Compiled by the congressionally mandated Interagency Breast Cancer and Environmental Research Coordinating Committee, the report notes that most cases of breast cancer "occur in people with no family history," suggesting that "environmental factors -- broadly defined -- must play a major role in the etiology of the disease." Yet only a fraction of federal research funding has gone toward examining links between breast cancer and ubiquitous chemicals such as the plastic hardening agent bisphenol A; the herbicide atrazine; and dioxin, a byproduct of plastics manufacturing and burning... ...


Race for the truth!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 6, 2013
from PhysOrg:
Research says biodiversity helps protect nature against human impacts
Their research, published today as the cover story in Nature, suggests farmers and resource managers should not rely on seemingly stable but vulnerable single-crop monocultures. Instead they should encourage more kinds of plants in fields and woods as a buffer against sudden ecosystem disturbance. Based on a 10-year study, their paper also lends scientific weight to esthetic and moral arguments for maintaining species biodiversity.... McCann, who studies food webs and ecosystem stability, said many ecosystems are at a "tipping point," including grasslands that may easily become either woodlands or deserts. "They're a really productive ecosystem that produces year in and year out and seems stable and then suddenly a major perturbation happens, and all of that biodiversity that was lost earlier is important now," said McCann. ...


Clearly, Monsanto needs to engineer more biodiversity into its corn and soybean genomes.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 29, 2013
from Essex Chronicle:
Writtle College aiming to tackle global warming with burping sheep
BURPING sheep are the subject of a ground-breaking study at Writtle College which aims to tackle global warming. While most people do their bit for the environment by recycling food packaging, switching off lights and saving water, student Francine Gilman is researching ways to stop sheep from belching so many harmful greenhouse gases into the environment. As part of her MSc in Livestock Production Science this spring, the 24-year-old is studying to improve the digestive systems of sheep with therapeutic essential oils. "Of all the greenhouse gases produced by agriculture as a whole, methane from livestock accounts for 80 per cent, so it is a major problem all over the world," said Francine. ...


Can't they learn to swallow it -- like I do?

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 21, 2013
from EcoWatch:
How Factory Farming Contributes to Global Warming
... Today, nearly 65 billion animals worldwide, including cows, chickens and pigs, are crammed into CAFOs ... CAFOs contribute directly to global warming by releasing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere -- more than the entire global transportation industry. The air at some factory farm test sites in the U.S. is dirtier than in America's most polluted cities, according to the Environmental Integrity Project. According to a 2006 report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), animal agriculture is responsible for 18 percent of all human-induced greenhouse gas emissions, including 37 percent of methane emissions and 65 percent of nitrous oxide emissions. The methane releases from billions of imprisoned animals on factory farms are 70 times more damaging per ton to the earth's atmosphere than CO2... Nitrous oxide pollution is even worse than methane -- 200 times more damaging per ton than CO2. And just as animal waste leaches antibiotics and hormones into ground and water, pesticides and fertilizers also eventually find their way into our waterways, further damaging the environment. ...


That is, like, almost 10 animals per human!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 7, 2013
from Environmental Health News:
Study finds insecticide in Costa Rican children near banana and plantain plantations
Children living near traditional plantations in Costa Rica are exposed to twice as much of the insecticide chlorpyrifos compared to children living near organic plantations, a study reports. More than half of the 140 studied children -- mostly indigenous Ngabe and Bribri -- had higher daily exposures than what is considered safe by U.S. standards. Residential use of the pesticide, which has been linked to neurological effects in children, is banned in the United States, although it is still permitted on some crops. Costa Rica's banana and plantain plantations export products to U.S. and European markets. ...


Yeah, but kids near organic plantations are exposed to arrogance.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 31, 2012
from UPI:
MRSA detected in milk samples in Britain
A strain of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus was found in British milk, indicating the superbug is spreading in livestock, researchers say. Mark Holmes of the department of veterinary medicine at Cambridge University, who first identified MRSA in milk in 2011, said the latest finding of a different strain -- MRSA ST398 in seven samples of bulk milk from five British farms -- was a concern. ...


Apocalypse cow!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 3, 2012
from The Telegraph:
Pesticide exposure harms memory
A review of 14 separate studies has shown that chemicals can reduce memory and the ability to process information quickly. The findings, by researchers at University College London and the Open University, are the most comprehensive evidence yet that organophosphates can harm human health at low levels...."The weight of evidence is that low level exposure is harmful. It targets memory, information processing speed, the ability to plan and have abstract thoughts." ...


Just when we needed our wits most ... we are witless!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Oct 22, 2012
from Trinity College Dublin :
Rice Agriculture Accelerates Global Warming: More Greenhouse Gas Per Grain of Rice
More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and rising temperatures cause rice agriculture to release more of the potent greenhouse gas methane (CH4) for each kilogram of rice it produces, new research published in this week's online edition of Nature Climate Change reveals.... Methane in rice paddies is produced by microscopic organisms that respire CO2, like humans respire oxygen. More CO2 in the atmosphere makes rice plants grow faster, and the extra plant growth supplies soil microorganisms with extra energy, pumping up their metabolism. Increasing CO2 levels will also boost rice yields, but to a smaller extent then [sic] CH4 emissions. As a result, the amount of CH4 emitted per kilogram of rice yield will increase. ...


Not nice of rice...

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 9, 2012
from Associated Press:
Hog farm to plant trees, pay fine in fish kill
RIDGEVILLE, Ind. -- An eastern Indiana hog farm tied to a large fish kill would plant more than 500 trees as an air emissions buffer and pay a $5,000 fine under a settlement proposed by the state environmental agency. State officials say Aaron Chalfant Farms sprayed 200,000 gallons of hog manure onto a field upstream of the June 2010 fish kill near the Randolph County town of Ridgeville. An estimated nearly 108,000 fish died in the Mississinewa (mis-ih-SIHN'-uh-wah) River and a tributary. ...


Not sure how trees are going to comfort the bereaved families of the dead fish.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Oct 2, 2012
from Reuters:
Pesticide use ramping up as GMO crop technology backfires: study
U.S. farmers are using more hazardous pesticides to fight weeds and insects due largely to heavy adoption of genetically modified crop technologies that are sparking a rise of "superweeds" and hard-to-kill insects, according to a newly released study. Genetically engineered crops have led to an increase in overall pesticide use, by 404 million pounds from the time they were introduced in 1996 through 2011, according to the report by Charles Benbrook, a research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University.... in recent years, more than two dozen weed species have become resistant to Roundup's chief ingredient glyphosate, causing farmers to use increasing amounts both of glyphosate and other weedkilling chemicals to try to control the so-called "superweeds." ...


GMO no mo'

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Sep 24, 2012
from Reuters:
Sweet times for cows as gummy worms replace costly corn feed
Mike Yoder's herd of dairy cattle are living the sweet life. With corn feed scarcer and costlier than ever, Yoder increasingly is looking for cheaper alternatives -- and this summer he found a good deal on ice cream sprinkles... As the worst drought in half a century has ravaged this year's U.S. corn crop and driven corn prices sky high, the market for alternative feed rations for beef and dairy cows has also skyrocketed... in the mix are cookies, gummy worms, marshmallows, fruit loops, orange peels, even dried cranberries. ...


If they are feedin' 'em gummy worms they better be showin' 'em some movies, too!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Sep 19, 2012
from Reuters:
Study on Monsanto GM corn concerns draws skepticism
In a study that prompted sharp criticism from other experts, French scientists said on Wednesday that rats fed on Monsanto's genetically modified corn or exposed to its top-selling weedkiller suffered tumors and multiple organ damage. The French government asked the country's health watchdog to investigate the findings further, although a number of scientists questioned the study's basic methods and Monsanto said it felt confident its products had been proven safe. Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen and colleagues said rats fed on a diet containing NK603 - a seed variety made tolerant to dousings of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller - or given water with Roundup at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier than those on a standard diet. ...


People sure get wound tight talking Roundup down, don't they?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 11, 2012
from London Guardian:
Caribbean coral reefs face collapse
Caribbean coral reefs -- which make up one of the world's most colourful, vivid and productive ecosystems -- are on the verge of collapse, with less than 10 percent of the reef area showing live coral cover. With so little growth left, the reefs are in danger of utter devastation unless urgent action is taken, conservationists warned. They said the drastic loss was the result of severe environmental problems, including over-exploitation, pollution from agricultural run-off and other sources, and climate change. The decline of the reefs has been rapid: in the 1970s, more than 50 percent showed live coral cover, compared with 8 percent in the newly completed survey. ...


The collapse of coral is immoral.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Sep 4, 2012
from New York Times:
Stanford Scientists Cast Doubt on Advantages of Organic Meat and Produce
... Stanford University scientists have weighed in on the ... debate after an extensive examination of four decades of research comparing organic and conventional foods. They concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli. The researchers also found no obvious health advantages to organic meats. Conventional fruits and vegetables did have more pesticide residue, but the levels were almost always under the allowed safety limits, the scientists said. ...


Seems like it would cost more for all the fancy pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from Reuters:
Wal-Mart joins agriculture sustainability group
The world's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc has joined an alliance of other Fortune 500 companies, including Cargill and Kellogg Co, seeking to make agriculture more sustainable. The Field to Market alliance was started three years ago by the non-profit Keystone Center to improve agricultural productivity and reduce the use of natural resources. It includes farm groups, grain handlers and food makers but Wal-Mart is the first retailer in the group and now its largest member ... Wal-Mart is seeking to eliminate 20 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from its global supply chain by the end of 2015. ...


Every little bit helps!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 28, 2012
from London Guardian:
Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists
Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages. Humans derive about 20 percent of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5 percent to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world's leading water scientists. ...


These scientists sound like a bunch of hippies.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Aug 7, 2012
from Mother Jones:
Biotech Giants Are Bankrolling a GMO Free-for-All
The so-called "Big Six" agrichemical companies--Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow Agrosciences, BASF, Bayer, and Pioneer (DuPont)--are sitting pretty. Together, they control nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market, and essentially the entire market for genetically modified seeds. Prices of the crops they focus on--corn, soy, cotton, etc.--are soaring, pushed up by severe drought in key growing regions.... But two things could mess up the Big 6 here in the US: 1) any delay in the regulatory process for a new generation of seeds engineered for resistance to multiple herbicides; and 2) any major move to require labeling of foods containing GMOs, a requirement already in play in many other countries--including the European Union, China, Japan, and South Korea--and one for which the US public has expressed overwhelming support. Unsurprisingly, the Big 6 are investing millions of their vast profits into forestalling both of those menaces.... ...


I don't call it GMO -- I call it an upgraded food operating system.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jul 5, 2012
from Reuters:
Diseases from animals hit over two billion people a year
A global study mapping human diseases that come from animals like tuberculosis, AIDS, bird flu or Rift Valley fever has found that just 13 such diseases are responsible for 2.4 billion cases of human illness and 2.2 million deaths a year. The vast majority of infections and deaths from so-called zoonotic diseases are in poor or middle-income countries, but "hotspots" are also cropping up in the United States and Europe where diseases are newly infecting humans, becoming particularly virulent, or are developing drug resistance. And exploding global demand for livestock products means the problem is likely to get worse, researchers said. ...


We need to kill all animals before they kill us!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 11, 2012
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Bee-Linked Pesticide Under Fire
A Syngenta pesticide, thiamethoxam, is likely to be banned in France because of concerns about the compound's effects on honeybees. Thiamethoxam is an active ingredient in the Swiss firm's Cruiser OSR neonicotinoid pesticide, which is used as a seed coating for the oilseed crop rapeseed. The proposed ban follows research by French scientists showing that bees exposed to thiamethoxam in nectar have trouble returning to their hive after foraging (C&EN, April 2, page 10). French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll says he based his decision on a review of the research by the French Agency for Food, Environmental & Occupational Health & Safety. ...


What a meth.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, May 21, 2012
from TIME:
Does Organic Food Turn You into a Jerk?
Are these strawberries organic? Is this omelette made with free-range eggs? Can you swap out the rice for quinoa? Is this kale locally sourced? Pesticide-free? Fair trade? Are the hazelnuts local? The onslaught of questions from an enlightened eater can test the patience of even the calmest restaurant server. And a new study shows that organic foodies' humane regard for the well-being of animals makes some people rather snobbish. The report, published last week in the Journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science, notes that exposure to organic foods can "harshen moral judgments." ...


I pledge to be a jerk for the earth.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 15, 2012
from Chicago Tribune:
American livestock get extra dose of antibiotics from spent ethanol grain, report says
As the battle wages on over the safety of feeding antibiotics to livestock for growth promotion, a new report reveals yet another source of unregulated antibiotics in American animal feed--spent ethanol grain... When the Food and Drug Administration discovered the antibiotic residues in the grain in 2008, it started requiring ethanol/distiller grain producers to get approval for their presence as a food additive. But the IATP report claims that the antibiotic companies are skirting this rule by relying on their self affirmed GRAS status as approval enough. GRAS (generally recognized as safe) approval requires only that a company proves to itself that its product is safe. It can voluntarily report those findings to the FDA as well. ...


Our ass is GRAS.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 8, 2012
from Chronicle of Higher Education:
As Beef Cattle Become Behemoths, Who Are Animal Scientists Serving?
Scores of animal scientists employed by public universities have helped pharmaceutical companies persuade farmers and ranchers to use antibiotics, hormones, and drugs like Zilmax to make their cattle grow bigger ever faster. With the use of these products, the average weight of a fattened steer sold to a packing plant is now roughly 1,300 pounds--up from 1,000 pounds in 1975. It's been a profitable venture for the drug companies, as well as for the professors and their universities. ...


You could call it a cash cow.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, May 1, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Exposures to Pesticide in Utero Linked to Brain Abnormalities
Babies exposed in the womb to a commonly used insecticide have brain abnormalities after birth, according to a study that looked at children born before the U.S. limited the chemical's use. Magnetic resonance imaging of elementary school-aged children with the highest exposure to chlorpyrifos, used mostly in agricultural settings now, showed structural changes in the brain compared with those who had the lowest exposure, research online today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found. Some parts of the brain were overgrown, while other regions were smaller, the scientists found. The study is the first to use imaging scans to show that prenatal exposure to the chemical, included in Dow Chemical Co.'s pesticide Dursban, is linked to structural changes in the brain five to 10 years after exposure... ...


Perhaps it makes these children more resistant to pests.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 27, 2012
from Associated Press:
Burger King makes cage-free eggs, pork promise
In a boost to animal welfare activists looking to get livestock out of cramped cages, Burger King will be the first major U.S. fast-food chain to give all of its chickens and pigs some room to roam. On Wednesday, the world's second-biggest burger chain pledged that all of its eggs and pork will come from cage-free chickens and pigs by 2017, hoping to satisfy rising consumer demand for humanely produced fare and increase its sales in the process. ...


Fast food is getting to be downright enlightened.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 20, 2012
from ABC News:
USDA to Let Industry Self-Inspect Chicken
Chicken is the top-selling meat in the United States. The average American eats 84 pounds a year, more chicken than beef or pork. Sorry red meat, chicken is what's for dinner. And now the USDA is proposing a fundamental change in the way that poultry makes it to the American dinner table. As early as next week, the government will end debate on a cost-cutting, modernization proposal it hopes to fully implement by the end of the year. A plan that is setting off alarm bells among food science watchdogs because it turns over most of the chicken inspection duties to the companies that produce the birds for sale. The USDA hopes to save $85 million over three years by laying off 1,000 government inspectors and turning over their duties to company monitors who will staff the poultry processing lines in plants across the country. ...


The foxes of industry shall watch over the henhouse of chickens.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 18, 2012
from USAToday:
Farmers must spend more on herbicides as effectiveness fades
A much-used herbicide, which for years has helped farmers throughout the United States increase profits, is losing its effectiveness and forcing producers to spend more and use more chemicals to control the weeds that threaten yields. The problem is Roundup, a herbicide introduced in the 1970s, and its partner, Roundup Ready crop seeds, genetically modified to withstand Roundup's active ingredient, glyphosate. In 1996, Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready soybean, soon touted as a game changer. "It was an extremely valuable and useful tool for the past 15 years," said Bob Scott, extension weed scientist with the University of Arkansas. But now, weeds that Roundup once controlled are becoming resistant to glyphosate, Scott said. "It's a very, very serious issue here in the Delta," licensed crop consultant Joe Townsend said. "We're knee-deep in it." ...


Right on time, since Roundup Ready soybean patents expire in 2014!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 13, 2012
from IoP, via EurekAlert:
Drastic changes needed to curb most potent greenhouse gas
Meat consumption in the developed world needs to be cut by 50 per cent per person by 2050 if we are to meet the most aggressive strategy, set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to reduce one of the most important greenhouse gases, nitrous oxide (N2O).... The findings have been made by Dr Eric A Davidson of The Woods Hole Research Center, Massachusetts, and demonstrate the magnitude of changes needed to stabilise atmospheric N2O concentrations as well as improve the diets of the growing human population. N2O is the third highest contributor to climate change behind carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4); however, it poses a greater challenge to mitigate as nitrogen is an essential element for food production. ...


Didn't you get the memo? The American Way of Meat is Non-Negotiable. Next?

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 11, 2012
from New York Times:
U.S. Tightens Rules on Antibiotics Use for Livestock
Farmers and ranchers will for the first time be required to get a prescription from a veterinarian before using antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and other animals, federal food regulators announced on Wednesday. Officials hope the move will slow the indiscriminate use of the drugs, which has made them increasingly ineffective in humans.... The Food and Drug Administration has been taking small steps to try to curb the use of antibiotics on farms, but federal officials said that requiring prescriptions would lead to meaningful reductions in the agricultural use of antibiotics, which are given to promote animal growth. The drug resistance that has developed from that practice has been a growing problem for years and has rendered a number of antibiotics used in humans less and less effective, with deadly consequences. ...


I've got my vet on retainer.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Apr 7, 2012
from New York Times:
Arsenic, Cipro, Benadryl, Caffeine, Tylenol in Factory Farmed Chicken Feed
[M]y topic today is a pair of new scientific studies suggesting that poultry on factory farms are routinely fed caffeine, active ingredients of Tylenol and Benadryl, banned antibiotics and even arsenic. "We were kind of floored," said Keeve E. Nachman, a co-author of both studies and a scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future. "It's unbelievable what we found."... [They found that] feather meal routinely contained a banned class of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones. These antibiotics (such as Cipro), are illegal in poultry production because they can breed antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" that harm humans. Already, antibiotic-resistant infections kill more Americans annually than AIDS, according to the Infectious Diseases Society of America. The same study also found that one-third of feather-meal samples contained an antihistamine that is the active ingredient of Benadryl. The great majority of feather meal contained acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol. And feather-meal samples from China contained an antidepressant that is the active ingredient in Prozac. ...


They threw in the chicken sink.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 4, 2012
from United Press International:
Weed killer causes animal shape changes
The world's most popular weed killer can induce morphological changes in vertebrate animals, U.S. biologists studying its effect on amphibians say. University of Pittsburgh researchers said the weed killer Roundup, in sub-lethal and environmentally relevant concentrations, caused two species of amphibians to change their shape. The study is the first to show that a pesticide can induce morphological changes in a vertebrate animal, biological sciences Professor Rick Relyea said in a university release Monday. ...


Does Roundup make amphibians more round?

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Wed, Mar 14, 2012
from Wired, via Ars Technica:
Mysterious hog farm explosions stump scientists
A strange new growth has emerged from the manure pits of midwestern hog farms. The results are literally explosive. Since 2009, six farms have blown up after methane trapped in an unidentified, pit-topping foam caught a spark. In the afflicted region, the foam is found in roughly 1 in 4 hog farms. There's nothing farmers can do except be very careful. Researchers aren't even sure what the foam is. "This has all started in the last four or five years here. We don't have any idea where it came from or how it got started," said agricultural engineer Charles Clanton of the University of Minnesota. "Whatever has happened is new." A gelatinous goop that resembles melted brown Nerf, the foam captures gases emitted by bacteria living in manure, which on industrial farms gathers in pits beneath barns that may contain several thousand animals.... Disturb the bubbles, and enormous quantities of methane are released in a very short time. Add a spark--from, say, a bit of routine metal repair, as happened in a September 2011 accident that killed 1,500 hogs and injured a worker--and the barn will blow. ...


Ickily, this smells like an opportunity.

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Tue, Mar 13, 2012
from Bloomberg News:
Water Pollution From Farming Is Worsening, Costing Billions
Water pollution from agriculture is costing billions of dollars a year in developed countries and is set to rise in China and India as farmers race to increase food production, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said. "Pollution from farm pesticides and fertilizers is often diffuse, making it hard to pin down exactly where it's coming from,” Kevin Parris, author of a report by the Paris-based organization, said in an interview in Marseille. "In some big agricultural countries in Europe, like parts of France, Spain and the U.K., the situation is deteriorating.” ...


If only people ate pollution.

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Tue, Mar 13, 2012
from NPR:
Death By Bacon? Study Finds Eating Meat Is Risky
Bacon has been called the gateway meat, luring vegetarians back to meat. And hot dogs are a staple at many a backyard BBQ. But a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine finds that daily consumption of red meat -- particularly processed meat -- may be riskier than carnivores realize. "The statistics are staggering," study author Frank Hu, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public health, told us. "The increased risk is really substantial." He found that people who consumed about one serving of red meat (beef, pork or lamb) per day had a 13 percent increased risk of mortality, compared with those who were eating very little meat. And processed meats raised the risk higher, to about a 20 percent increased risk of death from diseases including cancer and heart disease. ...


And the pigs shall inherit the earth.

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Thu, Feb 16, 2012
from 100 Reporters:
EPA Oversight: Weighing the Parts, Ignoring the Whole
Each year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency gives the green light for a score of agricultural chemicals to come to market. But the chemicals the EPA registers for use have little connection with the frequently more toxic substances sold by the millions of pounds to unsuspecting American consumers. Dr. Warren Porter, a professor of zoology and environmental toxicology at the University of Wisconsin, likens the EPA's process for registering chemicals to "bait and switch -- sales tactics. Pesticide makers win approval for specific active ingredients, and then mix those chemicals with a number of other ingredients. The result is a far different formulation that has bypassed government safety reviews and is then sold to the public. "It's like releasing molecular bulls in a china shop," Porter said. "Virtually no pesticide is registered by the EPA. The EPA only registers the active ingredient." ...


More like bullshit in a china shop!

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Tue, Feb 14, 2012
from Washington Post:
Monsanto found liable for weedkiller poisoning in France
Memory loss. Headaches. Stammering. French farmer Paul Francois says he suffered all three neurological problems after inhaling a weedkiller made by biotech giant Monsanto in 2004. On Monday, a French court found Monsanto legally responsible for poisoning Francois and ordered the company to compensate him "entirely," Agence France-Presse reports. The decision could affect more than just Francois; it marks the first time a farmer has successfully sued the company over claims of the health problems caused by pesticides... Francois's suit accuses Monsanto of not providing adequate health warnings on the label of the weedkiller, Lasso, as well as keeping the product on the French market even though it had been banned in Canada, Britain and Belgium. ...


Seems Ă  propos to moi.

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Tue, Feb 14, 2012
from Tom Philpott, Mother Jones:
Dow and Monsanto Team Up on the Mother of All Herbicide Marketing Plans
Last summer, Roundup-resistant superweeds flourished in huge swathes of US farmland, forcing farmers to apply gushers of toxic herbicide cocktails and even resort to hand-weeding--not a fun thing to do on a huge farm. A recent article in the industrial-ag trade journal Delta Farm Press summed up the situation: "Days of Easy Weed Control Are Over."... Dow's new herbicide-resistant product promises to bring those days back. In its petition to the USDA to approve 2,4-D-resistant corn, the company explicitly pitched it as the answer to farmers' Roundup trouble. The 2,4-D trait will be "stacked" with Monsanto's Roundup trait to "generate commercial hybrids with multiple herbicide tolerances," the petition states. Note that the new product marks a point of collusion, not competition, between industry titans Dow and Monsanto--they plan to license the 2,4-D and Roundup traits to each other to form "stacked" hybrids.... The authors note that even by Dow and Monsanto's reckoning, a new stacked 2,4-D/Roundup-resistant product would immediately lead to an increase in herbicide use, because the companies have been advocating an herbicide program that combines current rates of Roundup use with a roughly equal amounts of 2,4-D. That's good for sales, but not so good for the environment.... [T]he advocacy group Beyond Pesticides points to both epidemiological and lab-based evidence linking it non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and other cancers. It's also an endocrine disruptor, Beyond Pesticides reports, meaning it can "interfere with the body's hormone messaging system and can alter many essential processes."... ...


Corpetition between frenemies can't end well for the rest of us.

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Mon, Feb 13, 2012
from ABC Environment:
Fake steak may feed the world
It looks more like squid than steak and because it lacks the fat and protein found in real cattle, does not taste like traditional beef. So why would anyone eat meat grown in a lab? Cultured or in-vitro meat may still be years away from our supermarkets, but scientists in The Netherlands say they will be able to grow a hamburger by the end of this year. Professor Mark Post, who is refining the meat-making process at Maastricht University, says once perfected, the technology could slash the environmental footprint of growing food... Livestock for human consumption takes up 70 per cent of the world's arable land. They use eight per cent of global freshwater and produce 18 per cent of all global greenhouse gas emissions - some 3,000 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year (that's more than the entire world's transport sector). Deforestation to create farmland accounts for a third of those emissions. ...


We can always pretend it's tasty.

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Mon, Feb 13, 2012
from AP, via HuffingtonPost:
Mystery Kidney Malady In Central America Killing Thousands
A mysterious epidemic is devastating the Pacific coast of Central America, killing more than 24,000 people in El Salvador and Nicaragua since 2000 and striking thousands of others with chronic kidney disease at rates unseen virtually anywhere else. Scientists say they have received reports of the phenomenon as far north as southern Mexico and as far south as Panama.... Many of the victims were manual laborers or worked in sugar cane fields that cover much of the coastal lowlands. Patients, local doctors and activists say they believe the culprit lurks among the agricultural chemicals workers have used for years with virtually none of the protections required in more developed countries. But a growing body of evidence supports a more complicated and counterintuitive hypothesis. ...


As long as it's complicated, there's nobody to blame!

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Wed, Feb 8, 2012
from Mother Jones:
The Frog of War
Darnell lives deep in the basement of a life sciences building at the University of California-Berkeley, in a plastic tub on a row of stainless steel shelves. He is an African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis, sometimes called the lab rat of amphibians. Like most of his species, he's hardy and long-lived, an adept swimmer, a poor crawler, and a voracious eater. He's a good breeder, too, having produced both children and grandchildren. There is, however, one unusual thing about Darnell. He's female. Genetically, Darnell is male. But after being raised in water contaminated with the herbicide atrazine at a level of 2.5 parts per billion--slightly less than what's allowed in our drinking water--he developed a female body, inside and out. He is also the mother of his children, having successfully mated with other males and spawned clutches of eggs. ...


Don't knock it if you haven't tried it.

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Tue, Jan 31, 2012
from Agence France-Press:
Climate-driven heat peaks may shrink wheat crops
More intense heat waves due to global warming could diminish wheat crop yields around the world through premature ageing, according to a study published Sunday in Nature Climate Change... a 2.0 Celsius increase above long-term averages shortened the growing season by a critical nine days, reducing total yield by up to 20 percent. ...


Thank goodness we use Fahrenheit!

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Tue, Jan 24, 2012
from London Daily Mail:
Livestock identified as having biggest impact on global warming - even more than usual suspect, carbon monoxide
Forget the toxic fume-spouting industries. Livestock - mainly cows and buffaloes - has been identified as one of the primary contributors of greenhouse gases in India by Brighter Green, a US-based public policy action tank. The animals play a major role in the emission of methane - a gas with a much more lethal impact on global warming than the usual suspect carbon dioxide. Livestock is known to release a huge amount of methane through belching and flatulence, though the latter accounts for a smaller quantity. ...


My old Ford SUV burps and farts: that must be really bad!

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Tue, Jan 17, 2012
from Discovery Channel:
Antibiotics Breed Drug-Resistant Bacteria in Pigs
After giving pigs a low-dose of antibiotics for just two weeks, researchers detected a drastic rise in the number of E. coli bacteria in the guts of the animals. And those bacteria showed a large jump in resistance to antibiotics. The particular strain of E. coli detected in the study was not pathogenic to pigs or humans. But the results add to concerns that regular use of antibiotics in farm animals could spread dangerous and drug-resistant varieties of bacteria throughout the environment and into our food and water... "This is an exciting study because it goes beyond what anyone else has done and looks at the whole ecology of the animal's intestinal tract," said microbiologist Stuart Levy, director of the Center for Adaptation Genetics and Drug Resistance at Tufts University in Boston. "It shows that a low-dose of antibiotic can have a broad effect on the flora of animals," he said... ...


When pigs jump!

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Sat, Jan 14, 2012
from Grist, via Guardian:
Honeybee problem nearing a '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 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. ...


Bee very afraid.

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Wed, Jan 4, 2012
from International Business Times:
FDA Withdraws Longstanding Petition to Regulate Antibiotics in Livestock Feed
The U.S. Food and Drug and Administration announced only days before Christmas that it has decided to back off a 34-year attempt to regulate the use of antibiotics in livestock feed for animals intended for human consumption, despite mounting scientific evidence that has linked the practice to the development of potentially fatal antibiotic-resistant superbugs in humans. With no other notice aside from an obscure posting in the Federal Register on Dec. 22, the FDA declared it will now focus on encouraging "voluntary reform" within the industry instead of enforcing actual regulatory action, in addition to the "promotion of the judicious use of antimicrobials in the interest of public health." ...


Livestock: volunteer to not be pumped full of antibiotics by raising your hoof!

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Thu, Dec 29, 2011
from Associated Press:
Bugs may be resistant to genetically modified corn
One of the nation's most widely planted crops -- a genetically engineered corn plant that makes its own insecticide -- may be losing its effectiveness because a major pest appears to be developing resistance more quickly than scientists expected. ...


Curses, foiled again.

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Thu, Dec 15, 2011
from NPR:
Putting Farmland On A Fertilizer Diet
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released a document yesterday that got no attention on the nightly news, or almost anywhere, really.... this document represents the agency's best attempt to solve one of the country's -- and the world's -- really huge environmental problems: The nitrogen and phosphorus that pollute waterways.... around the world, environmentalists and scientists are mobilizing to fight the plague of over-nutrition. That's where the new USDA document comes in. It lays out a host of steps that farmers can take -- and will have to take, if they get funding from certain USDA programs -- to minimize the spread of nutrients outside farm fields. Essentially, it involves putting farmland on a sensible diet. Only feed the land as much as it really needs. And don't apply fertilizer, including manure, when the crops don't need it. Also, try to capture and store any excess nutrients. For instance, grow wintertime "cover crops" that can trap free nitrogen before it leaches into groundwater. ...


Sounds like some common sense shit to me!

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Tue, Nov 29, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
Antibiotics in Swine Feed Encourage Microorganism Gene Exchange
A study to be published in the online journal mBio® on Nov. 29 shows that adding antibiotics to swine feed causes microorganisms in the guts of these animals to start sharing genes that could spread antibiotic resistance. Livestock farms use antibiotic drugs regularly, and not just for curing sick animals. Antimicrobial drugs are used as feed additives to boost animal growth, a profitable but controversial practice that is now banned in the European Union and under scrutiny here in the United States. Using antibiotics in animal feed saves farms money, but opponents argue the practice encourages antimicrobial resistance among bacteria that could well be consumed by humans.... Prophages underwent a significant increase in induction when exposed to antibiotics, indicating that medicating the animals led to increased movement of prophage genes among gut bacteria. "Induction of the prophages is showing us that antibiotics are stimulating gene transfer," says Allen. "This is significant because phages have previously been shown to carry bacterial fitness genes such as antibiotic resistance genes." ...


I don't think we want to be turning amateur phages into prophages, do we?

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Mon, Nov 28, 2011
from Associated Press:
A quarter of world's farmlands highly degraded, says UN
The United Nations has completed the first-ever global assessment of the state of the planet's land resources, finding in a report today that a quarter of all farmland is highly degraded and warning the trend must be reversed if the world's growing population is to be fed. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that farmers will have to produce 70 per cent more food by 2050 to meet the needs of the world's expected nine billion-strong population. That amounts to 1 billion tonnes more wheat, rice and other cereals and 200 million more tons of cow and other livestock. But as it is, most available farmland is already being farmed, and in ways that actually decrease its productivity through practices that lead to soil erosion and wasting of water. ...


Cropalypse!

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Mon, Nov 28, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Atrazine in water tied to menstrual irregularities, low hormones
Women who drink water contaminated with low levels of the weed-killer atrazine may be more likely to have irregular menstrual cycles and low estrogen levels, scientists concluded in a new study. The most widely used herbicide in the United States, atrazine is frequently detected in surface and ground water, particularly in agricultural areas of the Midwest. Approximately 75 percent of all U.S. cornfields are treated with atrazine each year. The newest research, which compared women in Illinois to women in Vermont, adds to the growing scientific evidence linking atrazine to altered hormones....use of the herbicide continues to rise. In the first half of 2011 alone, Syngenta reported double-digit growth in sales, with atrazine as a high performer. ...


That's some mean atrazine!

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Sun, Nov 20, 2011
from UPI:
Great Plains water pumping imperils fish
Great Plains river basins are threatened by pumping of groundwater from aquifers, risking a bleak future for native fish in many streams, U.S. researchers say. Unlike alluvial aquifers, which can be replenished with rain and snow, these regional aquifers were created by melting glaciers during the last Ice Age, the researchers say, and when that water is gone, it's gone for good.... In a three-year study of the Arikaree River in eastern Colorado, researchers concluded that during the next 35 years only slightly more than half of the current fish refuge pools would remain. Falke and his colleagues say it would require a 75 percent reduction in the rate of groundwater pumping to maintain current water table levels and refuge pools, which is "not economically or politically feasible," the study said. Pumping of regional aquifers is done almost entirely for agriculture, Falke said, with about 90 percent of the irrigation aimed at corn production, along with some alfalfa and wheat. ...


If God didn't want us to use that water, He wouldn't have made it available. Right?

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Thu, Oct 20, 2011
from New York Times:
Infectious salmon anemia found in wild Pacific salmon
As word spread that infectious salmon anemia, a deadly virus that has devastated farmed fish in Chile, had been found for the first time in prized wild Pacific salmon, there remained much uncertainty about the finding and what its potential impact could be. So far it has been found in just two wild sockeye salmon in British Columbia and not in an active state. Nevertheless the reaction from fishermen has echoed that of some scientists: this is the last thing salmon need. "On top of everything else, that would just be murder here," said Mr. Tremain, aboard his 40-foot boat, Heidi, at Fishermen's Terminal here.... Richard Routledge, a professor from Simon Fraser University, speculated that the fish may have caught the disease from a nearby fish farm. Canadian officials, however, say the fish at the farm have not tested positive for the disease. That discrepancy has caused some scientists to privately question the validity of the government tests, in part because the same Canadian agency that regulates fish farming, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, also promotes it. The agency did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. ...


If the salmon are anemic, give 'em iron supplements. Duh!

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Wed, Oct 12, 2011
from University of Illinois, via EurekAlert:
Which direction are herbicides heading?
2,4-D is coming back. What many might consider a "dinosaur" may be the best solution for growers fighting weed resistance today, said Dean Riechers, University of Illinois associate professor of weed physiology. "Farmers can't imagine going back to 2,4-D or other auxin herbicides," Riechers said. "But herbicide resistance is bad enough that companies are willing to bring it back. That illustrates how severe this problem is." In a recently published article in Weed Science, Riechers and his team of research colleagues suggest that tank-mixing auxinic herbicides with glyphosate may be the best short-term option available to farmers interested in broad-spectrum, postemergence weed control. "Resistance has become a big problem," Riechers said. "In 1997, researchers predicted that glyphosate resistance would not be a big issue in Round-Up Ready crops. For the most part, they were right. But they underestimated a few weed species and resistance mechanisms."... Ideally, chemical companies would come up with a new herbicide to fight these resistant weeds. But new herbicide development is expensive and time-consuming. Riechers said he does not know of any new compounds on the horizon. "If we don't find completely novel and new herbicides, our next best bet is to mix glyphosate and another herbicide with relatively minor resistance problems," Riechers said. "Auxin resistance is not considered a huge problem in the United States, particularly in corn, soybean and cotton. It has only occurred in isolated incidences." ...


It's two! two! two toxins in one!

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Mon, Oct 10, 2011
from Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Factory farms rarely cited for polluting
Acting on a tip, state environmental inspectors in February paid a surprise visit to a dairy farm in Eatonton. They found the owner pumping gallon upon gallon of liquefied cow manure into a freshwater pond. From there the toxic brew leached into neighboring streams, the inspectors said. Seven months later, the farmer signed a consent order agreeing to bring his farm up to regulations, update some equipment and take classes on managing the huge amounts of manure his cows generate. (A single dairy cow may produce an astonishing 140 pounds of manure a day.) The Georgia Environmental Protection Division chose not to fine the Eatonton farmer. ...


140 pounds of manure per day? Holy shit!

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Tue, Sep 27, 2011
from Environmental Health News:
Organic farming reduces antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria were less common on chicken farms that had recently switched to organic farming practices when compared to those that continued to use conventional farming practices, finds a study of organic poultry farms in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The results are published online in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The results show that reducing nontherapeutic use of antibiotics also reduces antibiotic-resistant bacteria in chickens and their waste materials. It is one of the first to examine the changes on farms in the United States. The findings agree with prior studies from Europe and Asia that report similar results: less antibiotic use means fewer resistant bacteria in the animals and food products. In conventional chicken farming, antibiotic use goes beyond just treating sick chickens. The drugs are often added to feed to promote the growth of chickens living in crowded poultry houses. Antibiotics use increased during the 1990s and a large portion of that increase was due to these so-called nontherapeutic uses. However, this kind of overuse can increase antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the facilities. The bacteria can then spread to people by either direct contact with the animals, through the handling and eating of meat products and via manure spread on crops and farmland. ...


The sky is still falling, just not as bacterially!

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Tue, Sep 20, 2011
from London Independent:
Antibiotics losing the fight against deadly bacteria
Our last line of defence against bacterial infections is fast becoming weakened by a growing number of deadly strains that are resistant to even the strongest antibiotics, according to new figures given to The Independent on Sunday by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). The disturbing statistics reveal an explosion in cases of super-resistant strains of bacteria such as E.coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, a cause of pneumonia and urinary tract infections, in less than five years.... Years of over-prescribing antibiotics, bought over the counter in some countries, and their intensive use in animals, enabling resistant bacteria to enter the food chain, are among the factors behind the global spread...In a statement issued during a WHO conference in Baku, Azerbaijan, last week, the organisation warned that doctors and scientists throughout Europe fear the "reckless use of antibiotics" risks a "return to a pre-antibiotic era where simple infections do not respond to treatment, and routine operations and interventions become life-threatening." ...


Just so we have more than fireflies to light our operating rooms.

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Sat, Sep 3, 2011
from The Ecologist:
Chemical warfare: the horrific birth defects linked to tomato pesticides
Carlitos, as they called him, was born with an extremely rare condition called tetra-amelia syndrome, which left him with neither arms nor legs.... Jesus had Pierre Robin Sequence, a deformity of the lower jaw. As a result, his tongue was in constant danger of falling back into his throat, putting him at risk of choking to death. The baby had to be fed through a plastic tube. Two days after Jesus was born, Maria Meza gave birth to Jorge. He had one ear, no nose, a cleft palate, one kidney, no anus, and no visible sexual organs. A couple hours later, following a detailed examination, the doctors determined that Jorge was in fact a girl. Her parents renamed her Violeta. Her birth defects were so severe that she survived for only three days.... In addition to living within one hundred yards of each other, Herrera, Maceda, and Meza had one other thing in common. They all worked for the same company, Ag-Mart Produce, Inc., and in the same vast tomato field. Consumers know Ag-Mart mainly through its trademarked UglyRipe heirloom-style tomatoes and Santa Sweets grape tomatoes, sold in plastic clamshell containers adorned with three smiling, dancing tomato characters named Tom, Matt, and Otto. 'Kids love to snack on this nutritious treat,' says the company's advertising.... A sign at the entry warned that the field had been sprayed by no fewer than thirty-one different chemicals during the growing season. Many of them were rated 'highly toxic,' and at least three, the herbicide metribuzin, the fungicide mancozeb, and the insecticide avermectin, are known to be 'developmental and reproductive toxins,' according to Pesticide Action Network. They are teratogenic, meaning they can cause birth defects. ...


But the tomatoes are blemish-free!

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Thu, Sep 1, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
USC study tackles pesticide-prostate cancer link
Researchers at USC have found an increased prevalence of prostate cancer among older men exposed to certain pesticides in Central Valley neighborhoods. The authors used the state cancer registry to recruit 173 white and Latino seniors in Tulare, Fresno and Kern counties who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer between August 2005 and July 2006. They compared them with 162 men without prostate cancer, found through Medicare and tax records. Researchers then traced where the men lived and worked from 1974 to 1999 and compared those locations with state records of pesticide application. Those who lived within 500 meters of places where methyl bromide, captan and eight other organochlorine pesticides had been applied, they found, were more likely to have developed prostate cancer. ...


O Captan! My Captan!... Fallen cold and dead

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Wed, Aug 31, 2011
from California Watch:
State officials ignored scientists in approving pesticide
California's former top pesticide regulatory official dismissed safety guidelines suggested by her own staff scientists on the grounds that they were "excessive" and too onerous for the pesticide manufacturer, recently released internal documents show... In one of the documents, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, who led the state's Department of Pesticide Regulation until this year, weighs a recommendation from her staff that farm workers be exposed to no more than a trace amount of methyl iodide per day. The recommendation -- intended to protect farm workers from cancer and miscarriage -- is "excessive and difficult to enforce," Warmerdam wrote in April 2010, about two weeks before the department made its recommendation that California approve methyl iodide. If the restrictions on methyl iodide were approved, she wrote, the pesticide manufacturer might find the recommendations "unacceptable, due to economic viability." ...


Scientists should be neither seen nor heard.

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Mon, Aug 29, 2011
from Wall Street Journal:
Monsanto Corn Plant Losing Bug Resistance
Widely grown corn plants that Monsanto Co. genetically modified to thwart a voracious bug are falling prey to that very pest in a few Iowa fields, the first time a major Midwest scourge has developed resistance to a genetically modified crop. The discovery raises concerns that the way some farmers are using biotech crops could spawn superbugs. Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann's discovery that western corn rootworms in four northeast Iowa fields have evolved to resist the natural pesticide made by Monsanto's corn plant could encourage some farmers to switch to insect-proof seeds sold by competitors of the St. Louis crop biotechnology giant, and to return to spraying harsher synthetic insecticides on their fields.... These insect-proof and herbicide-resistant crops make farming so much easier that many growers rely heavily on the technology, violating a basic tenet of pest management, which warns that using one method year after year gives more opportunity for pests to adapt.... Dr. Gassmann collected rootworm beetles from four Iowa cornfields with plant damage in 2009. Their larvae were then fed corn containing Monsanto's Cry3Bb1 toxin. They had a survival rate three times that of control larvae that ate the same corn. ...


I call it "Unplanned GMObsolescence."

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Tue, Aug 23, 2011
from Muncie Star Press:
Selma woman says crop duster soaked her
Sheri Stewart didn't know what to do when a crop duster soaked her and her home with pesticide recently. "What she should have done was call us immediately," said Dave Scott, manager of the pesticide program at the state chemist's office. "If they get sprayed, they should take their clothing off, stick it in a clean garbage bag, take a shower and call us. The bottom line is, it's OK for crop dusters to be out there, but every product says you can't spray people or drift onto people. If you get sprayed, that's the greatest likelihood of absorbing the stuff." Scott's office, which received a record 24 complaints of aerial agricultural pesticide applications drifting onto Indiana residences last year, didn't investigate Stewart's complaint because she didn't call. ...


Those pesticide people sound a little perverted.

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Mon, Aug 15, 2011
from Scientific American blogs:
Myths: Busted - Clearing Up the Misunderstandings about Organic Farming
The article1, by a PhD candidate named Christie Wilcox, was compromised by a slew of elisions and exaggerations. If the intention was to myth-bust, mark this one a fail: The article spread new misconceptions about the methods of organic food production. As the co-manager of an urban farm2 that uses organic practices, I was annoyed by the distortions in the article. So I'm pleased that the Scientific American editors have dedicated some space for a rebuttal.... Any approved sprays must either be produced from a natural substance or, if they are synthetic, must be proven to "not have adverse effects on the environment" or "human health."... She writes: "Why the government isn't keeping a watch on organic pesticide and fungicide is a damn good question." Well, actually, the government is -- through the highly detailed rules regarding organic certification.5 Farmers hoping to be certified as organic must keep records covering the "production, harvesting, and handling" of their crops -- and maintain those records (including receipts for purchases of any off-farm inputs like sprays) for at least five years. Organic growers also submit to an annual on-site inspection from an organic certifier. Yes, the certifiers are independent, non-government agencies, but the level of scrutiny is intense. No, the government doesn't record the use of non-synthetic pesticides on organic farms. And neither does it record the use of synthetic pesticides on individual industrial farms. A national law, FIFRA (the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act), expressly forbids the EPA from requiring pesticide applicators to report how they use synthetic chemicals6. The only information the federal government collects on pesticide usage is at the aggregate level.... Still, given the demands of yearly on-site inspections, it's fair to say that organic-certified farmers, ranchers, and processors are the most highly regulated sector of the US food system and consent to far more oversight than any industrial farmer.... It would make more sense, then, to reverse Wilcox’s question: Why the government requires far less reporting on the production methods of industrial farmers than it does reporting from organic farmers is a damn good question. The burden of proof seems askew. ...


What a silly question. Destructive agriculture is normal, after all.

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Sat, Aug 13, 2011
from The Detroit News:
Algae blooms foul Great Lakes
...Bay City State Recreation Area features a one-mile beach that runs south from its visitors center along Lake Huron's western shore. In reality, you can enjoy about 500 feet of it. Just south of the park's volleyball courts, the white sands turn into what locals call "beach muck" -- a thick layer of washed-up algal growth and detritus that sucks at visitors' feet and makes the area close to impassable... Bay City is hardly the only place where algae has become part of summer life. But it does lie in one of the Great Lakes' hot spots for algal growth -- the Saginaw Bay. There, as well as in western Lake Erie and the Green Bay area of Lake Michigan, the green stuff has gone from being an occasional nuisance to an annual problem over the past decade. In each of these areas, the trigger is phosphorus. It gets carried off the region's yards, farms and golf courses by storm runoff and moves via streams and rivers to the lakes. It settles on the bottom of the lake bed and, in shallow waters, reacts to penetrating sunlight by generating algae. ...


This phosphorus is sooooo phucking up our phlora and phauna.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Aug 12, 2011
from Mother Jones:
The Deal With $8 Eggs
Confronted at her neigborhood market by the spectacle of $8/dozen eggs--which had sold out, no less--Black frets that "that the 'good-food-costs-more' argument is being taken to an extreme that puts at risk the goal of a mass food-reform movement, which is to make good food available to the greatest number of people possible."... So we have a genuine quandary here: A farmer who's just scraping by while doing the right thing by his land and his birds, charging a price that makes the whole concept of alternative food systems seem hopelessly elitist. Meanwhile, at my local Walmart in Boone, North Carolina, a dozen eggs will set you back just $1.18. Those 10-cent eggs, of course, are produced in vast, fetid factories, sucking in huge amounts of environmentally ruinous corn and concentrating much more manure than can properly be absorbed into surrounding farmland.... How much of a hidden subsidy does big agribusiness reap from our lax regulatory regime, some of which it pockets in profit and some of which it passes on to consumers in the form of stuff like 10-cent eggs and $2-a-pound pork chops?... But if you made the giant hog factories deal properly with the vast amount of toxic waste they produce, the price difference reverses. In other words, a Walmart value-pack of pork chops would cost significantly more per pound than the pasture-raised ones that give you sticker shock at the farmers market.... But the report also points to a third kind of hog production, pictured left: hoop houses that give hogs plenty of room to roam over beds of straw. Their production costs are only marginally higher than those of factory hog farms under current regulations, and they don't generate massive waste problems or require daily doses of antibiotics. ...


Strangely, even "hog heaven" ends in brutal death.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Aug 12, 2011
from Guardian:
Farmers turn away from organic as sales drop
Farmers across the UK have been deserting organic farming, or holding back on plans to convert their land to more environmentally friendly farming methods, as sales of organic products have fallen in the economic downturn. Last year, only 51,000 hectares was in "conversion" - the process that farmers need to go through to have their land and practices certified as organic. That is less than half the amount of land that was in conversion in 2009, which itself was down markedly from the recent peak of 158,000Ha in 2007, according to statistics released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Thursday morning. Far fewer farmers are interested in turning their land to organic production, despite the promise of premium prices for their produce, after a marked fall in sales of organic goods in the past two years as a result of the recession.... "This is very worrying," said Kirtana Chandrasekaran, food campaigner at Friends of the Earth. "What this points to is that the UK government is doing barely anything to promote organic farming, despite the benefits of it."... The number of organic producers or processors, including arable and livestock farmers, and food processors, fell by 3.7 percent last year across the UK as a whole, with the number in Scotland falling by 10 percent. ...


See? I told ya that unsustainable agriculture was where the big money was.

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Mon, Aug 8, 2011
from TreeHugger:
USDA Hides Damning Report Of Antibiotic Abuse on Factory Farms
We've covered before the horrible consequences of constantly given factory farm animals antibiotics so they don't get sick in the sickening conditions we make them live. And recently the USDA commissioned a report reviewing the current research on antibiotics, antibiotic resistant infections and farm animals. The report was pretty damning of current industry practices, as Tom Philpott summarizes over at Mother Jones. Perhaps even more disturbing, though, is that the document has since disappeared from the USDA website, apparently after the findings upset industry, and the report's author seems to have been prevented from talking to media. Have no fear, there's a cached version: A Focus on Antimicrobial Resistance.... ...


Modern agriculture will collapse without sustained, massive, prophylactic abuse of antibiotics!

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Mon, Aug 1, 2011
from Vanity Fair:
Monsanto's Harvest of Fear
Gary Rinehart clearly remembers the summer day in 2002 when the stranger walked in and issued his threat. Rinehart was behind the counter of the Square Deal, his "old-time country store," as he calls it, on the fading town square of Eagleville, Missouri, a tiny farm community 100 miles north of Kansas City.... As Rinehart would recall, the man began verbally attacking him, saying he had proof that Rinehart had planted Monsanto's genetically modified (G.M.) soybeans in violation of the company's patent. Better come clean and settle with Monsanto, Rinehart says the man told him--or face the consequences. Rinehart was incredulous, listening to the words as puzzled customers and employees looked on. Like many others in rural America, Rinehart knew of Monsanto's fierce reputation for enforcing its patents and suing anyone who allegedly violated them. But Rinehart wasn't a farmer. He wasn't a seed dealer. He hadn't planted any seeds or sold any seeds. He owned a small--a really small--country store in a town of 350 people.... Rinehart says he can't remember the exact words, but they were to the effect of: "Monsanto is big. You can't win. We will get you. You will pay." Scenes like this are playing out in many parts of rural America these days as Monsanto goes after farmers, farmers' co-ops, seed dealers--anyone it suspects may have infringed its patents of genetically modified seeds. As interviews and reams of court documents reveal, Monsanto relies on a shadowy army of private investigators and agents in the American heartland to strike fear into farm country.... Farmers call them the "seed police" and use words such as "Gestapo" and "Mafia" to describe their tactics. ...


Other descriptors include "drug dealer" and "slave trader." Or maybe just "economic fascist."

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Fri, Jul 29, 2011
from Mother Jones:
What the USDA Doesn't Want You to Know about Antibiotics and Factory Farms
Here is a document the USDA doesn't want you to see. It's what the agency calls a "technical review" -- nothing more than a USDA-contracted researcher's simple, blunt summary of recent academic findings on the growing problem antibiotic-resistant infections and their link with factory animal farms. The topic is a serious one. A single antibiotic-resistant pathogen, MRSA -- just one of many now circulating among Americans -- now claims more lives each year than AIDS.... To understand the USDA's quashing of a report it had earlier commissioned, published, and praised, you first have to understand a key aspect of industrial-scale meat production. You see, keeping animals alive and growing fast under cramped, unsanitary conditions is tricky business....Altogether, the US meat industry uses 29 million pounds of antibiotics every year. To put that number in perspective, consider that we humans in the United States -- in all of our prescription fill-ups and hospital stays combined -- use just over 7 million pounds per year. ...


A tricky business well worth my classic monster happy whopper meal!

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Tue, Jul 26, 2011
from Washington Post:
Alarming "dead zone" grows in the Chesapeake
A giant underwater "dead zone" in the Chesapeake Bay is growing at an alarming rate because of unusually high nutrient pollution levels this year, according to Virginia and Maryland officials. They said the expanding area of oxygen-starved water is on track to become the bay's largest ever. This year's Chesapeake Bay dead zone covers a third of the bay, stretching from the Baltimore Harbor to the bay's mid-channel region in the Potomac River, about 83 miles, when it was last measured in late June. It has since expanded beyond the Potomac into Virginia, officials said. Especially heavy flows of tainted water from the Susquehanna River brought as much nutrient pollution into the bay by May as normally comes in an entire average year... ...


I'm cul-de-sad about dead zones.

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Wed, Jul 20, 2011
from Reuters:
USDA chief economist: Factoring in climate effects too 'cumbersome' to be considered
"They are very elaborate models," said USDA's chief economist Joseph Glauber, referring to climate-crop forecasting in an interview on Tuesday on the sidelines of a farm lending conference at the Kansas City Federal Reserve. "Take into account all the fundamentals on crops and yields. You also have to build in all this climate variability and predictions about climate variability. The range of potential outcomes is pretty large," Glauber said. "We just don't consider that in our 10-year baseline. We assume some trend growth, we really don't even look at variabilities. That's probably proper for a 10-year forecast horizon." The USDA's crop reports, such as the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) and its 10-year baseline crop outlooks, are key benchmarks for the world food and farming industries, given the vast domestic and world data gathering the agency employs. "To take our crop forecasting models -- they are what they are -- and try to marry in a lot of climate stuff, it's pretty cumbersome," Glauber said.... "Climate doesn't make a difference much over 10 years. There is a lot more variability now relative to say 10, 15 years ago. But the real changes we are talking about here start manifesting themselves over 30, 40, 50 years," Glauber said. "World food needs will increase by 70 percent by 2050. By 2050, you can have climate issues," he added. ...


Said the grasshopper to the ant: why work so hard? Winter is months away.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jul 19, 2011
from Los Angeles Times:
Meat Eater's Guide ranks foods by environmental, health effects
Lamb, beef and cheese generate the most greenhouse gases of 20 popular meat, fish, dairy and vegetable proteins, according to a new study from the Environmental Working Group. The Meat Eater's Guide, released by the Washington-based environmental research firm, used a cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment to determine each food's rank, including the amount of fertilizer used to grow animal feed, as well as data on each food's processing, transportation and disposal... The guide considers the effects of meat, fish, dairy and vegetable consumption on the environment and the climate, as well as human health and animal welfare. Ruminant livestock, such as sheep and cows, "release substantial amounts of methane," a greenhouse gas 25 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, according to the guide. In the U.S., 149 million acres of cropland, 167 million pounds of pesticides and 17 billion pounds of nitrogen fertilizer are used just to grow livestock feed; U.S. livestock generate around 500 million tons of manure annually, which contributes to groundwater and air pollution, the guide said. ...


This heartburn is breaking my heart.

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Mon, Jul 18, 2011
from EcoHearth:
The Film 'Farmageddon' Says It's 1984 for Small Farmers
The documentary film Farmageddon explores the fine line between consumer protection and government intrusion when it comes to food safety. Certainly we all want wholesome food, but what happens when rules written with agribusiness in mind are inflexibly applied to family farms by overzealous regulators? It often means the latter are harassed to the point of being driven out of business, less choice for consumers and ultimately less healthy food.... Farmageddon has high production values and a solid human-interest angle. It follows individual farmers and others as their businesses are slowly choked off by raids, forced shut-downs and confiscations of products and equipment--many times unrelated to the laws being enforced, and so seemingly serving only the purpose of harassment. Some of the police actions are chillingly reminiscent of those depicted in the dystopian classic, 1984. Since when is it necessary for a local sheriff to employ an armed SWAT team to shut down a co-op for selling raw-milk yogurt? Since when should a parent who has found that raw milk cured a longstanding illness in her son have such difficulty obtaining it? These are just two questions that the film Farmageddon skillfully and entertainingly asks. ...


I heard that small natural farms were unhealthy, because they don't feed everything antibiotics.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jul 16, 2011
from Fast Company:
The Bacon Uprising
...The Chinese middle class is eating more and more meat, and Beijing wants to keep prices low. That means finding a way to feed all those pigs with grain imported from land cut from the Brazilian rainforest, leading to conflict within the BRICs... Since Deng Xiaoping, China's leaders have been obsessed with "food security" the same way America's are haunted by not having enough oil. And as Chinese diets become more meat centric, fears of the dangers in the fluctuation of pork prices led China to establish a top-secret "strategic pork reserve" in 2007, the only one of its kind. But maintaining all those pigs has led to a massive dependence on corn and soybean imports for animal feed, which in turn is leading China's agribusinesses to fan out abroad in a quest to control the means of production. China's attempts to control the means of production in other countries just rising out of developing world is causing tension with its natural allies, and could be just the first step in an ever-escalating series of resource-based conflicts. ...


One day, we can sort out all this mess together in Hog Heaven.

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Wed, Jul 13, 2011
from Yale360:
Peak Phosphate: Critical Resource Beginning to Run Low
Not many people would call phosphate a critical issue or one with serious environmental consequences. But even leaving aside the resource politics of the Sahara, it is an absolutely vital resource for feeding the world. It is also a resource that could start running low within a couple of decades -- and one we grossly misuse, pouring it across the planet and recycling virtually none of it.... It takes one ton of phosphate to produce every 130 tons of grain, which is why the world mines about 170 million tons of phosphate rock every year to ship around the world and keep soils fertile.... The world is not about to run out of phosphate. But demand is rising, most of the best reserves are gone, and those that remain are in just a handful of countries. Dana Cordell of Linkoping University in Sweden, who runs an academic group called the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, says we could hit "peak phosphorus" production by around 2030. ...


I'm aphraid that pholks will pheel this only when phood becomes unaphphordable.

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Mon, Jul 4, 2011
from Mother Jones:
Persistent pollutants linked to diabetes?
But another culprit may be contributing, too: exposure to certain pesticides and other toxic chemicals. A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Diabetes Care found a strong link between diabetes onset and blood levels of a group of harsh industrial chemicals charmingly known as "persistent organic pollutants" (POPs), most of which have been banned in the United States for years but still end up in our food (hence the "persistent" bit--they degrade very slowly). The ones with the largest effect were PCBs, a class of highly toxic chemicals widely used as industrial coolants before being banished in 1979. Interestingly, the main US maker of PCBs, Monsanto, apparently knew about and tried to cover up their health-ruining effects long before the ban went into place. Organochlorine pesticides, another once-ubiquitous, now largely banned chemical group, also showed a significant influence on diabetes rates.... How are these awful chemicals sticking around and still causing trouble decades after being banned? POPs accumulate in the fatty tissue of animals--and transfer to the animals that eat them, including humans who eat meat and fish. In industrial animal farming, livestock are often given feed that includes animal fat, which helps POPs hang around in the food chain. "We feed the cow fat to the pigs and the chickens, and we feed the pig and chicken fat to the cows".... Farmed salmon, too, carry significant levels of these dodgy chemicals, especially PCBs. ...


POP goes the food chain!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jul 1, 2011
from PhysOrg:
'Goat plague' threat to global food security and economy must be tackled, experts warn
"Goat plague," or peste des petits ruminants (PPR), is threatening global food security and poverty alleviation in the developing world, say leading veterinarians and animal health experts in this week's Veterinary Record.... It's important to control the infection because it spreads quickly through goat herds and sheep flocks, decimating their numbers, and taking a terrible financial toll on the farmers and families who depend on these animals for their livelihoods, say the authors. And it has also spread to wildlife species, many of which are endangered or threatened.... They go on to say that there has been a reluctance to tackle the issue because sheep and goats are considered to be of lesser economic value than cattle, and their shorter working lives mean that it would cost more to eradicate PPR. But they warn: "The ever advancing spread of PPR has made the economic impact of the disease, and consequently the benefits of its eradication, much greater. The imperative for coordinated action is therefore much stronger." ...


Goats? Who cares about goats?

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Thu, Jun 30, 2011
from ScienceDaily:
Farm Animal Disease to Increase With Climate Change, Scientists Say
Researchers looked at changes in the behaviour of bluetongue -- a viral disease of cattle and sheep -- from the 1960s to the present day, as well as what could happen to the transmission of the virus 40 years into the future. They found, for the first time, that an outbreak of a disease could be explained by changes to the climate.... The team examined the effect of past climate on the risk of the virus over the past 50 years to understand the specific triggers for disease outbreak over time and throughout geographical regions. This model was then driven forwards in time, using predictive climate models, to the year 2050, to show how the disease may react to future climate change. Using these future projections, researchers found that in northern Europe there could be a 17 percent increase in incidence of the bluetongue virus, compared to 7 percent in southern regions, where it is already much warmer. ...


Y'know, there are worse things than going vegetarian.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jun 17, 2011
from IRIN:
FOOD: High prices do not mean a bigger supply
Contrary to popular perception, the current high food prices will not see more money flowing into agriculture in the long term, warned a new forecast released ahead of a critical meeting of agriculture ministers in Paris on 22 and 23 June. "Input costs, including that of fuel and fertilizer, have risen significantly - we anticipate global agriculture production to slow down in the next decade," said Meritt Cluff, a senior economist at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and one of the authors of the Agricultural Outlook 2011-2020.... Besides the cost of agricultural inputs, pressure on resources such as water and land, and the higher risk of adverse weather are also contributing to the slow-down in food production.... "Throughout the world, but especially in low-income countries, the poor are overwhelmingly net food buyers, so poverty increases as food price levels rise - but losses due to food price volatility fall mainly on relatively better-off large farmers, Barrett said. "Perhaps not coincidentally, these same large farmers enjoy tremendous taxpayer-funded support programmes from G20 governments presently expressing concern about food price volatility." ...


Soylent Green is made by farmers!!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jun 14, 2011
from USA Today:
Apples top most pesticide-contaminated list
Apples are at the top of the list of produce most contaminated with pesticides in a report published today by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a public health advocacy group. Its seventh annual report analyzed government data on 53 fruits and vegetables, identifying which have the most and least pesticides after washing and peeling. For produce found to be highest in pesticides, the group recommends buying organic. Apples moved up three spots from last year, replacing celery at the top of the most-contaminated list; 92 percent of apples contained two or more pesticides. ...


Living up to its tradition as the forbidden fruit!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 9, 2011
from TIME:
The Bacterium That Ate a Continent: What E. Coli Is Doing to the E.U.
No one yet knows what vegetable or fruit is the ultimate source of the outbreak of a deadly form of E. coli in Europe. Nor do officials know at what point the contamination occurred: on the farm, as agricultural workers handled the produce, as a result of packaging, in the midst of transport or at some other point in the chain of supply? What is clear is that, even after the health hazards are contained, questions will have to be asked about how well the E.U.'s food-safety system works. ...


It's sorta nice to know the U.S. isn't the only food fuck-up.

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jun 6, 2011
from Scientific American:
New MRSA Strain Found In Dairy Cattle and Humans
A new form of drug-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has been found in dairy cows and humans in the U.K. and Denmark, providing more evidence that animals could be passing this superbug on to people--not just the other way around. The new methicillin-resistant bacterial strain was found in tests of raw milk by a team looking for another infection among the herds. Pasteurization kills off the bacteria, making milk products--even from a cow infected with this antibiotic-resistant strain--safe for consumers, the researchers explain. ...


I can't see how this blame game is helping any.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Jun 3, 2011
from Associated Press:
Food-poisoning outbreak in Europe blamed on 'super-toxic' E. coli strain that may be brand new
Scientists on Thursday blamed Europe's worst recorded food-poisoning outbreak on a "super-toxic" strain of E. coli bacteria that may be brand new... Chinese and German scientists analyzed the DNA of the E. coli bacteria and determined that the outbreak was caused by "an entirely new, super-toxic" strain that contains several antibiotic-resistant genes, according to a statement from the Shenzhen, China-based laboratory BGI. It said the strain appeared to be a combination of two types of E. coli. "This is a unique strain that has never been isolated from patients before," Hilde Kruse, a food safety expert at the World Health Organization... ...


Maybe WHO better get WHAT to help figure out WHY.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jun 2, 2011
from Chicago Tribune:
USDA testing finds 30-plus unapproved pesticides on the herb cilantro
Just in time for cookout season, some unsettling news arrives for guacamole and salsa lovers: Federal testing turned up a wide array of unapproved pesticides on the herb cilantro -- to an extent that surprises and concerns government scientists. At least 34 unapproved pesticides showed up on cilantro samples analyzed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the agency's routine testing of a rotating selection of produce. Cilantro was the first fresh herb to be tested in the 20-year-old program. "We are not really sure why the cilantro came up with these residues," said Chris Pappas, a chemist who oversees the Virginia-based USDA pesticide testing. ...


Somehow it's a comfort to know there are approved pesticides.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jun 1, 2011
from Associated Press:
Sturgeon's death highlights threat to ancient fish
...Sturgeon have thrived in the Danube for 200 million years, migrating from feeding grounds in the Black Sea to Germany 2,000 kms (1,200 miles) upstream... Fishermen, unrestrained after the collapse of order in eastern Europe in 1989, caught them in huge numbers as they began their migration, trapping them before they could reproduce. Pollution from agricultural run-off and expanding cities put them under further pressure, although the construction of water treatment plants in the last decade has lessened the flow of filth. Now environmentalists are trying to head off the latest threat: a European Union plan to deepen shipping channels in the Danube that they fear could eliminate the last shallows where the sturgeon deposit their eggs, which would doom the fish to vanish in its last stronghold in Europe. ...


What God hath fashioned, man can fucketh up pretty fast.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jun 1, 2011
from BBC:
Rising food prices increase squeeze on poor - Oxfam
Rising food prices are tightening the squeeze on populations already struggling to buy adequate food, demanding radical reform of the global food system, Oxfam has warned. By 2030, the average cost of key crops could increase by between 120 percent and 180 percent, the charity forecasts. It is the acceleration of a trend which has already seen food prices double in the last 20 years. Half of the rise to come will be caused by climate change, Oxfam predicts. ...


I'll just eat half as much.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 26, 2011
from Bloomberg:
Global Food Production to see 'Massive Disruption' as Climate Shifts, UN Forecaster Says
Global food output may be hurt as climate change brings more extreme weather over the next decade, with China likely set for harsher droughts and North America getting heavier rain, said the World Meteorological Organization. "Extreme events will become more intense in the future, especially the heat waves and extreme precipitations," Omar Baddour, a division chief at the United Nations' agency, said in a phone interview from Geneva. "That, combined with less rainfall in some regions like the Mediterranean region and China, will affect crop production and agriculture." The more extreme weather -- including in the U.S., the world's largest agricultural exporter -- may disrupt harvests, possibly cutting production of grains, livestock and cooking oils and boosting prices. Global food costs reached a record in February, stoking inflation and pushing millions into poverty. "We foresee with high confidence in climate projections that intense precipitation in some parts of the world will be more intense, and drought will be more intense," said Baddour, who's tracked the subject for more than two decades. Extreme heat waves "will also be more intense and more frequent."... Baddour's comments add to projections that more extreme weather may affect farm production. Sunny Verghese, chief executive officer at Olam International Ltd. (OLAM), among the world's three biggest suppliers of rice, forecast in February that food- supply chains face "massive disruptions" from climate change. ...


Well, only if you believe in the "future."

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Wed, May 25, 2011
from NRDC:
NRDC et al. Files Lawsuit to Preserve Antibiotics for Sick People, Not Already-Healthy Livestock
Today NRDC and our allies filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration to finally end the use of antibiotics in animal feed--a practice that's contributing to the rise in drug-resistant superbugs and endangering the health of our families. Roughly 70 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to healthy farm animals to promote faster growth and compensate for unsanitary conditions. These cows, pigs, chickens, and turkeys receive doses too low to actually treat disease, but high enough to allow bacteria resistant to antibiotic treatment to survive and thrive. Those bacteria don't stay on the farm. They spread to humans and can lead to superbugs that are difficult or impossible to cure. Last month, for instance, 55,000 pounds of frozen raw turkey burgers had to be recalled because of a salmonella strain the Centers for Disease Control said is immune to commonly prescribed antibiotics.... This lawsuit will have no bearing on the use of antibiotics for treating sick animals. We simply want to end the practice of giving these critical disease fighters to healthy livestock when it's not medically necessary. ...


I suppose that means we can't keep our cows locked knee-deep in manure any more. What about the economy?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 19, 2011
from Washington Times:
Raw milk activists protest arrest of farmer, milk cow on the Hill
A resounding theme of yesterdays Rally for Food and Farm Freedom on the Hill was that the FDAs recent arrest of Amish farmer Dan Allgyer for selling raw milk was not about food safety; it was about economics and keeping control of the food supply in the hands of big business, instead of giving power to the consumer. Organizers took power -- and sustenance -- into their own hands by creating an impressive showing at the rally in Upper Senate Park, and by drinking the controversial liquid, milked fresh onsite from Morgan the cow, who was trailered in from a Maryland dairy farm. ...


I prefer my milk cooked.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 19, 2011
from Grist:
Big Ag doesn't want you to care about pesticides
The produce lobby is livid that consumers might be concerned about pesticides. They are taking their fury out on the USDA for its annual report on pesticide use (via The Washington Post): "In a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, 18 produce trade associations complained that the data have "been subject to misinterpretation by activists, which publicize their distorted findings through national media outlets in a way that is misleading for consumers and can be highly detrimental to the growers of these commodities.... There are some organizations with agendas that do want to scare people away from fresh produce," said Kathy Means, a vice president at the Produce Marketing Association, a major industry group. "We don't want anyone eating unsafe foods, of course. But for those products that are grown legally and the science says [the pesticide] is safe, we don't want people turning away." ...


If they haven't regulated it, it must not be dangerous.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, May 12, 2011
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
Fraser River sockeye face chemical soup of 200 contaminants
Sockeye salmon are exposed to a soup of chemicals in the Fraser River, and some of the ingredients are accumulating to potentially lethal levels in eggs, while others may be disrupting the sexual function of fish, according to a scientific review conducted for the Cohen Commission... While it is unlikely that contaminants are "the sole cause" of sockeye population declines, the report says there is "a strong possibility that exposure to contaminants of concern, endocrine disrupting chemicals, and/or contaminants of emerging concern has contributed to the decline of sockeye salmon." ...


Coldcocking the sockeye!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 15, 2011
from EurekAlert:
Nationwide study finds 1 in 4 samples of US meat and poultry is contaminated with MRSAs
Drug-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria linked to a wide range of human diseases, are present in meat and poultry from U.S. grocery stores at unexpectedly high rates, according to a nationwide study by the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen). Nearly half of the meat and poultry samples -- 47 percent -- were contaminated with S. aureus, and more than half of those bacteria -- 52 percent -- were resistant to at least three classes of antibiotics, according to the study published today in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. This is the first national assessment of antibiotic resistant S. aureus in the U.S. food supply. And, DNA testing suggests that the food animals themselves were the major source of contamination. ...


Rare-meat Roulette.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Apr 13, 2011
from Bloomberg Businessweek:
Graves of Diseased Animals Spur Shift to Evian in S. Korea
More than 1,000 kilometers from Tokyo, Seoul is having its very own crisis of faith in tap water, and radiation isn't to blame. In South Korea, the carcasses of 9.7 million cattle, pigs and poultry were buried in mass graves across the frozen countryside after outbreaks of foot-and-mouth disease and bird- flu last winter. That's raised concerns that pollutants may enter groundwater now that the soil has thawed, said Jun Kwan Soo, a professor of environmental engineering at Yeungnam University. ...


Ten million buried cattle, pigs and poultry? What could go wrong?

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Apr 12, 2011
from The Independent:
Nitrogen pollution costs are revealed
Nitrogen pollution is costing every person in Europe up to [700 euros] a year in damage to water, climate, health and wildlife, a major new study warned today. Scientists behind the research said nitrogen was needed as fertiliser to help feed a growing world population - but suggested that eating less meat could reduce the amount of pollution caused by agriculture. The report also suggests that with 60 percent of costs of the nitrogen damage stemming from fossil fuels burnt for energy generation and transport, more energy efficient homes and cutting long distance travel could also help tackle the problem.... Nitrogen contributes to air pollution that causes respiratory problems such as asthma and cancers in people and reduces life expectancy by six months across much of Europe. Nitrates in water are bad for human health and damage wildlife including fish stocks. Nitrous oxide is also a greenhouse gas. The environmental effects of nitrogen were estimated at 25 billion euro to 145 billion euro, compared with the 25 billion euro to 130 billion euro benefits to agriculture fertilisers deliver. ...


Maybe we should revisit the cost/benefit ratio, what?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Apr 8, 2011
from St. Petersburg Times:
USF study concludes that common fungicide is deadly to frogs
Two years ago some University of South Florida researchers began studying the effects of the most widely used fungicide in the country to see if it might kill more than just fungus. Turns out it's also a pretty effective frog-icide... The fungicide, chlorothalonil, sold under such names as Bravo, Echo and Daconil, is used to treat farmers' fields, lawns and golf courses and is an ingredient in mold-suppressing paint. It's part of the same chemical family, organochlorines, as the banned pesticide DDT. It is known to cause severe eye and skin irritation in humans if handled improperly. ...


Bravo, indeed, for our unending creativity when it comes to the mindless destruction of the habitat!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Apr 4, 2011
from San Jose Mercury News:
Native bee populations on the decline, report says
The National Academy of Sciences recently released a report confirming that some native bee populations -- the ones agriculture has depended on for centuries for pollination, until the advent of the honeybee -- are in decline. And one of the major culprits is no surprise: habitat loss. The scientists, led by Sydney A. Cameron of the University of Illinois at Urbana, found that the relative abundances of four species have declined by up to 96 percent over the last few decades. In addition, their surveyed geographic ranges have contracted by alarmingly -- as much as 87 percent, and even at the lowest level, 23 percent. The bumble bees also are being hit with higher infection levels of a pathogen known as Nosema bombi. And -- the triple whammy -- they have lower genetic diversity than other populations of non-declining species. "Pollinator decline has become a worldwide issue, raising increasing concerns over impacts on global food production, stability of pollination services, and disruption of plant-pollinator networks," Cameron wrote. Native bee populations matter hugely, given the decline of honeybees. Researchers in this area have been studying them, with the idea of determining if they could take up the slack -- regain their agricultural prominence -- if honeybee populations should collapse altogether. ...


To a rose, a pollinator is a pollinator is a pollinator. Until it isn't.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Mar 31, 2011
from Healthfinder.gov:
Two Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's Disease, in Study
People who use the pesticides rotenone and paraquat have a 2.5 times increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease, a new study finds. U.S. researchers compared 110 people with Parkinson's disease and 358 people without the nervous system disorder. All of the participants were enrolled in the Farming and Movement Evaluation Study involving licensed pesticide applicators and their spouses. "Rotenone directly inhibits the function of the mitochondria, the structure responsible for making energy in the cell," study co-author Freya Kamel, a researcher at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said in an institute news release.... "These findings help us to understand the biologic changes underlying Parkinson's disease. This may have important implications for the treatment and ultimately the prevention of Parkinson's disease...". "Paraquat increases production of certain oxygen derivatives that may harm cellular structures," she added. "People who used these pesticides or others with a similar mechanism of action were more likely to develop Parkinson's disease." ...


Are you implying that there might be a cost for blemish-free produce?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 20, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
A new clue in the case of the toxic strawberries
It was disappointing, if not downright strange, when California's Department of Pesticide Regulation decided in December to approve methyl iodide for use on the state's strawberry crops despite more than 50,000 letters of opposition -- the most DPR has ever gotten on any proposed rule. Was DPR head, Mary-Ann Warmerdam, in the pocket of the chemical industry? There's no smoking gun, but Warmerdam had been subject to aggressive lobbying by Arysta LifeScience, the largest privately held chemical manufacturer in the world and the maker of the profitable methyl iodide. Earlier this week, Warmerdam resigned her post, announcing she would be taking a job at chemical maker Clorox. (Clorox does not manufacture methyl iodide.) DPR's approval raised eyebrows because methyl iodide is known to cause cancer, nerve damage and late-term miscarriage.... "Due to the potent toxicity of methyl iodide, its transport in and ultimate fate in the environment, adequate control of human exposure would be difficult, if not impossible."... California produces almost 90 percent of all strawberries grown in the U.S. ...


If I can pronounce a chemical's name, it can't be that bad, right?

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Mar 18, 2011
from Twin Falls Times-News:
Dairy industry pushes CAFO secrecy bill
BOISE -- An Idaho House committee supported Wednesday a move to seal off more data related to confined-animal feeding operations from the public eye, making it harder for the public to tell if state regulations are enforced. A bill proposed by Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, would put all dairy nutrient management plans -- and related proprietary business information -- out of the public's eye. The plans essentially detail what becomes of animal waste produced at the dairies, which if not properly disposed of can pollute groundwater and soils. ...


I'd prefer they hide their shit... so it doesn't get in my eye.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 13, 2011
from New York Times:
Spilled Milk Regulations a Myth, E.P.A. Says
To Representative Morgan Griffith, a freshman Republican from Virginia, nothing illustrates the Environmental Protection Agency's overreach more clearly than a new rule applying the same regulations that govern spilled oil to milk spilled on dairy farms. In the midst of a heated debate over the E.P.A.'s authority to regulate heat-trapping emissions like carbon dioxide, the charge makes for great political theater. But according to the agency, it is pure fiction.... Politifact, the Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking organization run by The St. Petersburg Times, also examined the Republican claims on the spilled milk regulations and rated them false. ...


Why let facts get in the way when you're dedicated to ruining the habitat!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 13, 2011
from The Denver Post:
Colorado farmland goes dry as suburbs secure water supplies
Colorado farmers still own more than 80 percent of water flowing in the state, but control is rapidly passing from them as growing suburbs move to secure supplies for the future. The scramble is intensifying as aging farmers offer their valuable water rights to thirsty cities, drying up ag land so quickly that state overseers are worried about the life span of Colorado's agricultural economy.... Since 1987, Colorado farmers and ranchers have sold at least 191,000 acre-feet of water to suburbs, according to a review of water transactional data. (That's enough water to fill Chatfield Reservoir nine times-- and enough to sustain 382,000 families of four for a year.) ...


Few truly appreciate the value of a well-watered lawn and a sparkling-clean car.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Mar 8, 2011
from PNAS, via New Scientist:
Bird boom in wake of mad cow outbreak
Mad cow disease in Europe seems a world apart from the lives of sparrows in North American pastures. But populations of sparrows and other pasture birds boomed three years after outbreaks of the disease hit Europe, according to a new study by Joseph Nocera and Hannah Koslowsky of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.... To keep beef on consumers' tables, the affected countries import more meat, and many of those imports come from the US and Canada.... This in turn leaves more natural vegetation for grassland birds such as sparrows and meadowlarks, which respond with a population boom a year after that. There's nothing particularly surprising in any of this - every step in the causal link between BSE and the sparrows is exactly what one might have predicted. But by putting it all together and backing it up statistically, the pair provide an unusual and striking illustration of the way globalisation weaves the planet into a single fabric of cause and effect. ...


Other times, cause and effect can kick you in the jujubes.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Mar 6, 2011
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Gloomy Malthus provides food for thought as world's appetite builds
At some point, argued Malthus, the demands of the human race will exceed agricultural capacity, sparking violence, population decline and radical social change. A highbrow version of the man with the "End is Nigh" sandwich board, Malthus banged his "impending catastrophe" drum until his death in 1834 - hence the "dismal" sobriquet.... The United Nations index of global food prices hit yet another record high in February - the eighth successive monthly increase. The respected UN index - which tracks prices of cereals, meat, dairy, oils and sugar - is now up 40 percent on a year ago and 5 percent above its June 2008 peak. The price of corn - a widespread staple crop - is now 95 percent higher than a year ago. While there were many factors behind the outbreak of dissent in Libya, soaring food prices were the catalyst. A wave of price-related resentment has swept across a number of North African nations and could yet cause a political eruption in the Gulf. Since before the days of Malthus, economists have tracked the natural swing and counter-swing of food prices, as production has responded with a lag to price signals and the vagaries of the weather. But maybe Malthus was right and that self-correcting cycle is now over. ...


Relax! We'll just make a bigger pie!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Feb 28, 2011
from The Bay View Compass:
Female mice disabled by parents'pesticide intake
A white mouse is placed in the center of a maze. She is hungry because she hasn't eaten all night. As soon as the gate is raised she takes off in search of her breakfast, scurrying down the channels. She quickly realizes that turning left at every point in the maze gets her food. A few minutes later, a second mouse is set down in the center of the maze. She looks the same as the first mouse, but when the gate is raised she just sits there and seems afraid to move. Slowly and hesitantly she starts moving and eventually finds a piece of food. She continues slowly down the maze but doesn't seem to have learned or remember that taking left turns leads to food. You might call her a slow learner.... Why is it hard for the second mouse to learn? Three months earlier when she was growing in her mother's womb, her mother was exposed to a pesticide called chlorpyrifos at levels comparable to what humans encounter in the environment. ...


Is this why I can't find my way out of my garage most mornings?

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Feb 26, 2011
from Lavidalocavore:
New pathogen associated with RoundUp may be cause of rising animal miscarriages: Fascinating 'open letter' to Vilsack by emeritus professor
A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn--suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup.... This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen's source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.... For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman's terms, it should be treated as an emergency. ...


If this was suspected to be agricultural bioterrorism, it might be big news.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Feb 19, 2011
from Live Science:
New Idea to Reduce Global Warming: Everyone Eat Insects
There is a rational, even persuasive, argument for voluntarily eating insects: Bugs are high in protein, require less space to grow and offer a more environmentally friendly alternative to the vertebrates we Westerners prefer, advocates of the bug fare say. However, this topic is not a hotbed of research, so while some data exist -- in particular on the protein content of insects -- there are some assumptions built into the latter part of this argument. "The suggestion that insects would be more efficient has been around for quite some time," said Dennis Oonincx, an entomologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands. He and other researchers decided to test it, by comparing the greenhouse gas emissions from five species of insects with those of cattle and pigs. The results, Oonincx said, "really are quite hopeful." ...


Hopeful maybe for everyone but the poor bugs!

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Feb 18, 2011
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Agricultural chemicals interfere with testosterone
We've known for a while that endocrine disruptors may be causing early-onset puberty in girls, but, in our male-centric culture, that's not really a big deal. But you know what is bad -- like so bad I have no words and instinctively assume a stance protective of the family jewels? Demasculinization, sissy men, men whose wieners -- gasp! -- don't work. Well, guess what? Agricultural chemicals might mess with those, too. So says a new study that looked at pesticides humans are commonly exposed to (H/T Environmental Health News). It found that 23 of 37 compounds tested were anti-androgenic, or interfered with the effects of that all-important hormone, testosterone. Another 7 mimicked testosterone. Many of the offending chemicals were fungicides applied to produce including strawberries and lettuce.... As evidence of just how little we know about the chemicals we come into contact with, 16 of the tested substances had not previously been known to affect hormonal activity. ...


So far, so good.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Feb 2, 2011
from Mark Bittman, New York Times:
A Food Manifesto for the Future
And we've come to recognize that our diet is unhealthful and unsafe. Many food production workers labor in difficult, even deplorable, conditions, and animals are produced as if they were widgets. It would be hard to devise a more wasteful, damaging, unsustainable system. Here are some ideas -- frequently discussed, but sadly not yet implemented -- that would make the growing, preparation and consumption of food healthier, saner, more productive, less damaging and more enduring.... Total agricultural subsidies in 2009 were around $16 billion, which would pay for a great many of the ideas that follow. Begin subsidies to those who produce and sell actual food for direct consumption.... Outlaw concentrated animal feeding operations and encourage the development of sustainable animal husbandry. The concentrated system degrades the environment, directly and indirectly, while torturing animals and producing tainted meat, poultry, eggs, and, more recently, fish. Sustainable methods of producing meat for consumption exist. At the same time, we must educate and encourage Americans to eat differently. ...


This from the guy whose food column in the NYT was called the Minimalist?!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Feb 1, 2011
from Reuters:
U.S. scientists work to grow meat in lab
In a small laboratory on an upper floor of the basic science building at the Medical University of South Carolina, Vladimir Mironov, M.D., Ph.D., has been working for a decade to grow meat. A developmental biologist and tissue engineer, Dr. Mironov, 56, is one of only a few scientists worldwide involved in bioengineering "cultured" meat. It's a product he believes could help solve future global food crises resulting from shrinking amounts of land available for growing meat the old-fashioned way ... on the hoof.... The new National Institute of Food and Agriculture, part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, won't fund it, the National Institutes of Health won't fund it, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration funded it only briefly, Mironov said. ...


What do you wanna bet chickens, cows and pigs would be willing to help fund it?

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Jan 27, 2011
from Kyodo News:
Miyazaki starts 410,000-chicken containment cull
The Miyazaki Prefectural Government stepped up its latest bird flu fight Monday after infections were confirmed at a second poultry farm, triggering the culling of about 410,000 chickens in the town of Shintomi late the previous day. To prevent the highly pathogenic avian flu from spreading further, it asked the Ground Self-Defense Force for disaster relief assistance and received a team of 170 troops from a camp based in the prefecture to help bury the carcasses and perform other work Tuesday. While it is expected to take several days to kill all the birds and bury them, about 10,000 chickens already culled at a nearby farm in the prefectural capital Miyazaki, where the flu first broke out, are slated to be burned by Monday evening. ...


For these poor chickens the sky hath already fallen.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Jan 26, 2011
from BBC:
Report: Urgent action needed to avert global hunger
A UK government-commissioned study into food security has called for urgent action to avert global hunger. The Foresight Report on Food and Farming Futures says the current system is unsustainable and will fail to end hunger unless radically redesigned. It is the first study across a range of disciplines deemed to have put such fears on a firm analytical footing. The report is the culmination of a two-year study, involving 400 experts from 35 countries. ...


I prefer my fears to be based on whim and misinformation.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Jan 23, 2011
from PhysOrg:
Researchers develop a way to control 'superweed'
They pop up in farm fields across 22 states, and they've been called the single largest threat to production agriculture that farmers have ever seen. They are "superweeds" - undesirable plants that can tolerate multiple herbicides, including the popular gylphosate, also known as RoundUp - and they cost time and money because the only real solution is for farmers to plow them out of the field before they suffocate corn, soybeans or cotton.... Using a massive genetic database and a bioinformatic approach, Dow AgroSciences researchers identified two bacterial enzymes that, when transformed into plants, conferred resistance to an herbicide called "2,4-D," commonly used in controlling dandelions. The enzymes were successfully put into corn and soybean plants, and those new plants showed excellent resistance to 2,4-D, including no negative effects on yield or other agronomic traits. ...


Good thing, since the patent on Roundup is about to expire!

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Jan 22, 2011
from London Independent:
2.4 billion extra people, no more land: how will we feed the world in 2050?
The finite resources of the Earth will be be stretched as never before in the coming 40 years because of the unprecedented challenge of feeding the world in 2050, leading scientists have concluded in a report to be published next week. Food production will have to increase by between 70 and 100 per cent, while the area of land given over to agriculture will remain static, or even decrease as a result of land degradation and climate change. Meanwhile the global population is expected to rise from 6.8 billion at present to about 9.2 billion by mid-century. ...


Too many people, too little food... solution seems rather obvious to me!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Jan 17, 2011
from Huffington Post:
Let the Buffalo Roam! America's Last Wild Herds Under Attack by US Government and Cattle Industry
As a result, today's modest population of Yellowstone buffalo, numbering close to 4,000, is the only herd with direct genetic lineage to the original 23 that prevailed out of the estimate 30-60 million that once roamed freely across the Great Plains.... The reality is that year after year taxpayer dollars are sponsoring the scapegoating of an animal that should be revered as national and cultural icon so that a handful of ranchers can graze cattle on public and private land adjacent to Yellowstone National Park. It is this legacy of greed and deceit that is responsible for more than 3,000 buffalo slain since 2000, when the Interagency Bison Management Plan took effect.... "The Buffalo are being persecuted by the same interest groups that wiped them off the continent in the first place. There is a huge benefit to the cattle ranchers who want to see public lands used for grazing cattle. Cows are an invasive species and we now control our wildlife in this country on their behalf including targeted hunting campaigns against wolves, grizzly bears and buffalo." ...


Dastardly cows! Quietly invading without us even realizing it!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Jan 11, 2011
from Reuters:
EPA "pollution diet" starves agriculture: farm group
The head of the largest U.S. farm group called on Congress to stop ruinous EPA "over-regulation" of agriculture and announced on Sunday a lawsuit against EPA rules to reduce Chesapeake Bay pollution. Bob Stallman, president of the 6 million-member American Farm Bureau Federation, announced the lawsuit during a speech that opened the group's annual meeting. He said the Environmental Protection Agency's "over-regulation endangers our industry." Farmers have been leery of EPA for years. Opposition has grown in the past couple of years out of concern that regulation of greenhouse gases will drive up farming expenses and that EPA may tell farmers to limit dust from fields. ...


And YOUR pollution endangers OUR environment!

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 30, 2010
from IRIN:
Afghanistan: Bleak outlook for food security in 2011
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) plans to assist 7.3 million people in Afghanistan in 2011 but only has enough funding to feed the most vulnerable for a few months, and needs US$400 million to continue its humanitarian activities next year.... "If additional support cannot be obtained, WFP will have to cut planned food distribution activities throughout Afghanistan," said the report.... Recent funding from the USA and Canada eased wheat shortages faced by WFP following the catastrophic floods in Pakistan in July. But the US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS-NET) has predicted that over half of the country would be highly or moderately food-insecure in January-February. It said wheat prices had increased by over 31 percent since July 2010 and further increases were likely in the coming months. Afghanistan remains among the most food-insecure countries in the world where armed conflict and natural disasters have denied access to adequate food to over eight million people, aid agencies say. They also think the humanitarian situation is likely to deteriorate in 2011. ...


Every cloud has a silver lining. Big Agriculture is smokin'!

ApocaDoc
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Mon, Dec 27, 2010
from National Science Foundation via ScienceDaily:
Global Rivers Emit Three Times IPCC Estimates of Greenhouse Gas Nitrous Oxide
...Human-caused nitrogen loading to river networks is a potentially important source of nitrous oxide emission to the atmosphere. Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and stratospheric ozone destruction. It happens via a microbial process called denitrification, which converts nitrogen to nitrous oxide and an inert gas called dinitrogen. When summed across the globe, scientists report this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), river and stream networks are the source of at least 10 percent of human-caused nitrous oxide emissions to the atmosphere. That's three times the amount estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). ...


I thought denitrification was when I got my teeth fixed up.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Dec 23, 2010
from Politics Daily:
Salinas, California: The Salad Bowl of Pesticides
Locals call this place the world's salad bowl. Dole, Naturipe and Fresh Express are here, where much of the global fruit and vegetable trade emerges in neat green fields just over the hills from the Pacific Coast... It is here that University of California, Berkeley public health professor Brenda Eskenazi and her colleagues have spent the past 12 years studying mothers and children who are exposed to pesticides used in the fields... Investigators tracked the women throughout their pregnancies, waiting at hospitals as babies were born to collect the umbilical cord blood. As the children grew, Eskenazi and her team also charted their growth, mental development and general health. This group is now 10 and a half years old, and Eskenazi's work has set off alarms among public health officials. She and her colleagues have found that at age 2, the children of mothers who had the highest levels of organophosphate pesticide metabolites in their blood had the worst mental development in the group. They also had the most cases of pervasive developmental disorder. ...


These are not the salad days, anymore.

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Dec 15, 2010
from Los Angeles Times:
Livestock in U.S. gobble up the antibiotics
The U.S.-raised animals we eat consumed about 29 million pounds of antibiotics in the last year alone, according to a first-ever Food and Drug Administration accounting of antimicrobial drug use by the American livestock industry... Farmers feed these medications to the animals they raise for market in an effort to prevent disease from spreading among flocks of poultry and herds of livestock living in crowded and often unsanitary conditions. The medications also promote faster growth in many animals. The ubiquitous use of these medications is controversial because they are used to counter the effects of raising livestock in conditions that are unhealthy and widely considered cruel. But they represent a major public health concern too: the widespread administration of antibiotics to prevent infections in animals has made those same antibiotics less effective in fighting off disease in animals and in humans. That is because, when under constant bombardment by existing antibiotic medications, the viruses that cause disease evolve at an accelerated rate just to stay alive. The results: new viruses that are resistant to existing antibiotics, and a population that is is increasingly vulnerable to them. ...


If I were a cow I'd be mad as hell about this!

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Dec 12, 2010
from Guardian:
Grassland butterflies in steep decline across Europe
Butterflies that flourish on grassland across Europe are in steep decline, indicating a catastrophic loss of flower-rich meadows in many European countries. Populations of 17 butterfly species widely found in Europe, including the adonis blue, Lulworth skipper and marsh fritillary which fly in Britain, have declined by more than 70 percent in the past 20 years according to a new study by Butterfly Conservation Europe. The dramatic decline in butterfly numbers indicates a wider loss of biodiversity, with other insects such as bumblebees, hoverflies, spiders and moths, as well as many plants and birds, disappearing along with the loss of traditional grassland.... Flower-rich grassland created by traditional livestock-grazing and hay-making over centuries of human occupation is either being abandoned, overgrazed or ploughed up for intensive farming, particularly in eastern Europe and mountainous regions. ...


It's not my fault. I was just hungry.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 16, 2010
from WTHR 13 - Indianapolis:
Dumped in Indiana
...This summer, just over the border in Ohio, Grand Lake St Marys was devastated by blue-green algae that killed fish, birds, and tourism. The iridescent algae is blamed for millions of dollars in lost revenue for businesses surrounding Ohio's largest inland lake. State officials say the algae crisis was a direct result of manure runoff that drained into the shallow lake from area farm fields. To curb the problem - and hopefully save the lake - state officials developed a detailed action plan to improve water quality at Grand Lake St Marys. The plan calls for Ohio to "promote manure hauling" away from the lake's watershed, and it includes using federal funds from the Environmental Quality Incentive Program to help Ohio farmers transport their manure to Indiana. ...


Here in Indiana we don't mind being shat upon.

ApocaDoc
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Fri, Nov 12, 2010
from Baltimore Sun:
Intersex fish found in Delmarva lakes
Scientists have found more intersex fish in Maryland, this time on the Eastern Shore, and their research suggests one possible source of the gender-bending condition could be the poultry manure that is widely used there to fertilize croplands. Six lakes and ponds on the Delmarva Peninsula sampled over the past two years have yielded male largemouth bass carrying eggs, according to University of Maryland scientists. Those are the first intersex fish reported there, though researchers found the condition several years ago in smallmouth bass in the Potomac and its tributaries, and recently found it in smallmouth bass in the Susquehanna. Intersex fish are a concern, scientists say, because they could be indicators of contaminants in the water, affecting their growth and reproduction. ...


But intersex fish taste ... I dunno, so much more complex.

ApocaDoc
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Thu, Nov 11, 2010
from Yale360:
China Turns to Biogas to Ease Impact of Factory Farms
His farm is also different than the American pig farms you usually detect with your nose before you see any animals: it smells only faintly of waste. He says that's because it's an ecological CAFO, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron. "The whole system is pollution-free, zero-emission, and energy saving," says Ye. "The key is the biogas digester." Biogas digestion takes the nuisances of most large animal farms -- solid, liquid, and gaseous wastes -- and turns them into resources that farmers can use and even sell. Raw pig waste is usually a liability for farmers: It's full of pathogens and compounds like ammonia that can ruin crops and soil if applied directly. It also is prone to running off into waterways and leaching into groundwater.... The South China Sea today is largely a dead zone with frequent red tides and little remaining life because of run-off from upstream agriculture.... Ye thinks his biogas digester may be part of the solution. It cost about $600,000, but Ye only paid for half while the central, provincial, and local governments picked up the rest with subsidies.... To avert future environmental disasters like leaks or spills of wastewater from large farms and to capture methane, the government has decreed that all farms with more than 1,000 cows, 10,000 pigs or 100,000 chickens must install biogas digesters. In Zhejiang province, one of China's richest and most environmentally progressive, the local government recently decided that all farms with more than 50 pigs must have biogas digesters. ...


Y'know, in this country we'd call that socialism. We like our freedom to do whatever the hell we want to others.

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 9, 2010
from London Daily Telegraph:
Crops that reflect sunlight could offset global warming, scientists claim
Planting ''climate friendly'' crops that reflect sunlight could help offset the effects of global warming, a study suggests. The crops, spread across large fertile regions of North America and Europe, would send a small percentage of the sun's light and heat back into space. Different strains of crops such as wheat have significantly different levels of reflectivity, or albedo, say scientists. Selecting those that reflect the most could make summers in Europe more than 1 per cent cooler, they claim. ...


Sure, let's plant fields of albedobeans.... or amber waves of tin foil!

ApocaDoc
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Wed, Nov 3, 2010
from New York Times:
Rising Seas and the Groundwater Equation
Worldwide overpumping of groundwater, particularly in northern India, Iran, Mexico, northeastern China and the American West, more than doubled from 1960 to 2000 and is responsible for about 25 percent of the rise in sea level, according to estimates in a new study by a team of Dutch researchers published in Geophysical Review Letters. The general idea that groundwater used for irrigation is running off into ocean-bound rivers or evaporating into the clouds, only to end up raining into the ocean, has been around for two decades or so; it was a focus of a 2005 paper in The Journal of Hydrogeology. But Peter H. Gleick, a leading expert on water issues, said the new paper offers a fresh way of quantifying the phenomenon. Mr. Gleick, president of the Oakland-based Pacific Institute, said that experts on groundwater issues "have known for a long time that that water ultimately ends up in the oceans and contributes to sea level rise. What we haven't known is the magnitude and severity of the problem." ...


The sky IS falling!

ApocaDoc
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Tue, Nov 2, 2010
from Washington Post:
Meat industry unhappy over limiting the use of antibiotics
For decades, factory farms have used antibiotics even in healthy animals to promote faster growth and prevent diseases that could sicken livestock held in confined quarters. The benefit: cheaper, more plentiful meat for consumers. But a firestorm has erupted over a federal proposal recommending antibiotics only when animals are actually sick. Medical and public health experts in recent years say overuse and misuse of antibiotics pose a serious public health threat by creating new strains of bacteria that are difficult to treat - both in animals and humans. "Over time, we have created some monster bugs," said Russ Kremer, a Bonnots Mill, Mo., farmer who speaks nationally about the threat to the food supply. "It is truly harmful to everyone to feed antibiotics to animals just for growth promotion and economic gain." ...


Broad-spectrum antibiotics are just like vitamins for meat animals, right? What's the harm?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Oct 17, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Africa lays foundations for commercial GM crops
African nations should support proposed regional policy guidelines on GM technology, says an editorial in Nature. Under the new proposal from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a trade bloc of 19 African nations, the bloc would carry out science-based risk assessments on growing commercial GM crops in any of the bloc's countries. If COMESA finds the crop safe for the environment and for human consumption, the crop could then be grown in all COMESA countries, although individual countries would retain the right to withhold, says the editorial.... African countries should avoid ideological arguments and stick to evidence-based policy-making on GM crops. Many public-private partnerships in Africa, where companies donate their technologies for free, disprove the anti-GM lobby's arguments that poor African farmers are being exploited by the big multinationals, argues the editorial. ...


Go ahead, try it, on me. It'll make you real happy.

ApocaDoc
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Sat, Oct 16, 2010
from San Francisco Chronicle:
Another scary study on low-dose chemical exposure
New research being presented at an American Heart Association conference this week contributes to the body of evidence suggesting that organophosphates are dangerous even at low doses. The research focuses on sarin, a chemical warfare agent, and demonstrates that mice exposed to low doses of the stuff suffer permanent damage to the heart. Researchers injected the mice with doses too low to produce visible symptoms and found that after 10 weeks, their hearts had become malformed and dysfunctional. Sadly, the results resembled those in humans and point to low-level exposure to sarin as the cause of the mysterious illness suffered by veterans of the first Gulf War. But because sarin is an organophosphate, a class which includes many herbicides and pesticides, the study also points to the serious health effects that can result from low-grade exposure to compounds commonly used in industrial farming. ...


But it has "organo" in its name. Isn't that the same as "natural"?

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Oct 10, 2010
from National Science Foundation via ScienceDaily:
Too Much of a Good Thing: Human Activities Overload Ecosystems With Nitrogen
Humans are overloading ecosystems with nitrogen through the burning of fossil fuels and an increase in nitrogen-producing industrial and agricultural activities, according to a new study. While nitrogen is an element that is essential to life, it is an environmental scourge at high levels. According to the study, excess nitrogen that is contributed by human activities pollutes fresh waters and coastal zones, and may contribute to climate change... Nitrogen oxide is a greenhouse gas that has 300 times (per molecule) the warming potential of carbon dioxide. In addition, nitrogen oxide destroys stratospheric ozone, which protects the earth from harmful ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation. ...


It is the dawning of the Age of Nitrogen.

ApocaDoc
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Sun, Oct 3, 2010
from ACS, via EurekAlert:
A painless way to achieve huge energy savings: Stop wasting food
Scientists have identified a way that the United States could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year -- without spending a penny or putting a ding in the quality of life: Just stop wasting food.... people in the U.S. waste about 27 percent of their food. The scientists realized that the waste might represent a largely unrecognized opportunity to conserve energy and help control global warming.... That represents about 2 percent of annual energy consumption in the U.S. ...


But just think of the lost agribusiness profits!

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Mon, Sep 27, 2010
from Telegraph.co.uk:
Consumer backlash against 'super dairies' could create new label for 'free range milk'
But he warned of a "consumer backlash" that could lead to a demand for "free range milk". "They [super dairies] will fill a market for milk that is produced in vast quantities and is cheap to collect but there will be a backlash from consumers so maybe they will be best selling their milk into processing rather than into liquid markets," he told the Farmers Guardian. "It is probably good news for organic farmers because one of the organic standards is that cattle have to graze. Anything that raises consumer awareness of organic farming is good. "I think it could also open the door to a free range milk brand as well, something which is probably long overdue."... But it is common to keep thousands of animals indoors in the US and the Continent where robots milk the cows and the animals only have limited time outside.... She said even the limited time outside is unlikely to be 'green pasture' because the animals are bred to need constant feeding and milking. ...


Thousands of meat objects attached all day to robotic milkers? What's to object to? The quarterly earnings are great!

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Mon, Sep 27, 2010
from Food Safety News:
Ag Secretary Vilsack Asked to Clarify Position on Antibiotics Overuse
U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) have asked the Obama administration to clarify its position on antibiotic use in food animals.... Responding to a question about legislation Slaughter and Feinstein have proposed, Vilsack reportedly said the use of antibiotics in livestock production cannot be banned, adding "USDA's public position is, and always has been, that antibiotics need to be used judiciously, and we believe they already are."... Those draft FDA recommendations, released for public comment in June, were immediately questioned by industry groups. But some say FDA's proposed guidelines do not go far enough.... According to estimates by the Union of Concerned Scientists, some 50 million pounds -- 70 percent of antibiotics used in the United States each year -- are mixed into animal feed or drinking water to promote growth or compensate for crowded conditions. Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that the antibiotics in meat have led to antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and have already made some drugs ineffective. ...


Not to worry. We'll just designate antibiotics as a "nutritional supplement." Problem solved.

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Wed, Aug 25, 2010
from New York Times:
Egg Industry Faces New Scrutiny After Outbreak
As it reeled from the recall of half a billion eggs for possible salmonella infection, the American egg industry was already battling a movement to outlaw its methods as cruel and unsafe, and adapting to the Obama administration's drive to bolster health rules and inspections. The cause of the infections at two giant farms in Iowa has not been pinpointed, Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said Monday in a television interview. But "there is no question that these farms that are involved in the recall were not operating with the standards of practice that we consider responsible," Ms. Hamburg said in the strongest official indication yet that lax procedures may be to blame. ...


Um, something tells me someone named "Hamburg" ... might have some expertise in corporate farming.

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Tue, Aug 17, 2010
from London Guardian:
Artificial meat? Food for thought by 2050
Artificial meat grown in vats may be needed if the 9 billion people expected to be alive in 2050 are to be adequately fed without destroying the earth, some of the world's leading scientists report today. But a major academic assessment of future global food supplies, led by John Beddington, the UK government chief scientist, suggests that even with new technologies such as genetic modification and nanotechnology, hundreds of millions of people may still go hungry owing to a combination of climate change, water shortages and increasing food consumption. ...


I'm going to start hoarding my Spam right now!

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Wed, Aug 11, 2010
from Chicago Tribune:
Poised on History's Doorstep: Super Salmon or Frankenfish?
...With global population pressing against food supplies and vast areas of the ocean already swept clean of fish, tiny AquaBounty Technologies of Waltham, Mass., has developed a variety of salmon that reaches market weight in half the time of other salmon. What's more, AquaBounty not only promises to slash the ready-for-market time - and production costs -- on a hugely popular, nutritious fish that currently commands near-record prices, it plans to avoid the pollution, disease and other problems associated with today's salt-water fish farms by having its salmon raised inland. But there's a catch: AquaBounty's salmon is genetically engineered. Indeed, it aspires to be the nation's first genetically-modified food animal of any kind. That means the Food and Drug Administration must approve it. It also means the company and its salmon must withstand vociferous opposition from environmental and other advocacy groups, win over skeptical producers and -- possibly most difficult of all - overcome potential consumer resistance to genetic tinkering with food. ...


Long as it tastes like chicken I'm good with it!

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Wed, Jul 28, 2010
from International Business Times:
Common Herbicide Suspected in Frog Sex Changes
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will present findings in September on the safety of atrazine, one of the most commonly used herbicides in the U.S. But some studies seem to show that the chemical affects the sexual development of amphibians, raising concerns about its effect on people. Two studies earlier this year, one from the University of California at Berkeley and the other at Canada's University of Ottawa, say exposure to atrazine at concentrations below the EPA limit can cause abnormalities. Syngenta, atrazine's largest producer, maintains that atrazine has demonstrated its safety.... When the EPA presents its evaluation in September, it will seek peer review, but many groups representing farmers and the chemical industry are worried that the agency could ban it. ...


Apparently, farmers and chemical industry people don't mind a little hermaphroditism.

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Tue, Jul 20, 2010
from ILRI, via EurekAlert:
Experts warn rapid losses of Africa's native livestock threaten continent's food supply
Urgent action is needed to stop the rapid and alarming loss of genetic diversity of African livestock that provide food and income to 70 percent of rural Africans and include a treasure-trove of drought- and disease-resistant animals, according to a new analysis presented today at a major gathering of African scientists and development experts.... "Africa's livestock are among the most resilient in the world yet we are seeing the genetic diversity of many breeds being either diluted or lost entirely," said Abdou Fall, leader of ILRI's livestock diversity project for West Africa. "But today we have the tools available to identify valuable traits in indigenous African livestock, information that can be crucial to maintaining and increasing productivity on African farms." ...


If monoculture is good for Iowa, it's good for Africa.

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Mon, Jul 19, 2010
from London Independent:
Curry spices for cows and sheep could cut methane emissions
Curry spices could hold the key to reducing the enormous greenhouse gas emissions given off by grazing animals such as sheep, cows and goats, scientists have claimed. Research carried out at Newcastle University has found that coriander and turmeric -- spices traditionally used to flavour curries -- can reduce by up to 40 per cent the amount of methane that is produced by bacteria in a sheep's stomach and then emitted into the atmosphere when the animal burps. Working rather like an anti-biotic, the spices were found to kill the methane-producing "bad" bacteria in the animal's gut while allowing the "good" bacteria to flourish. ...


Might be hell on those first-date kisses, though.

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Mon, Jul 12, 2010
from Columbia University:
What's Killing Farmed Salmon? New Virus May Also Pose Risk to Wild Salmon
Farmed fish are an increasingly important food source, with a global harvest now at 110 million tons and growing at more than 8 percent a year. But epidemics of infectious disease threaten this vital industry, including one of its most popular products: farmed Atlantic salmon. Perhaps even more worrisome: these infections can spread to wild fish coming in close proximity to marine pens and fish escaping from them....Now, using cutting-edge molecular techniques, an international team led by W. Ian Lipkin, MD, the John Snow Professor of Epidemiology and director of the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, has found evidence that the disease may be caused by a previously unknown virus. The newly identified virus is related but distinct from previously known reoviruses, which are double-stranded RNA viruses that infect a wide range of vertebrates. ...


Nothing gets the blood flowing like "a previously unknown virus."

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Sat, Jul 10, 2010
from Reuters:
U.S. farmers can't meet booming corn demands
Exporters, livestock feeders and ethanol makers are going through the U.S. corn stockpile faster than farmers can grow the crops, the government said on Friday. Despite record crops in two of the past three years and another record within reach this year, the Agriculture Department estimated the corn carryover will shrink to the lowest level since 2006/07. ...


How could the practice of monoculture not be working out?

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Thu, Jul 8, 2010
from London Guardian:
China launches armada to head off algae plume
Chinese authorities have dispatched a flotilla of more than 60 ships to head off a massive tide of algae that is approaching the coast of Qingdao. The outbreak is thought to be caused by high ocean temperatures and excess nitrogen runoff from agriculture and fish farms. Scientists involved in the operation say the seaweed known as enteromorpha needs to be cleaned up before it decomposes on beaches and releases noxious gases. According to the domestic media, the green tide covers an area of 400 sq km. Newspapers ran pictures of coastguard officials raking up the gunk as soon as it reached the shore. As well as the 66 vessels sent to intercept the approaching algae, a net has been stretched offshore as an extra defence. Ten forklift trucks, seven lorries and 168 people were clearing up the many tonnes of seaweed that still got through. ...


Sounds blooming gross to me!

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Sat, Jul 3, 2010
from AP, via PhysOrg:
Ohio lake's algae dangerous to swimmers, economy
Patches of green and turquoise slime floated like thick paint in the channel behind Kyle Biesel's home. His pontoon boat sat covered up, unused for weeks, on a wooden lift stained by the algae. A foul smell enveloped the backyard where he used to fish and watch blue herons glide over the water. He called it a "sickening combination of manure and propane gas." Even more alarming, tests reveal that the waters in Ohio's largest inland lake contain dangerous toxins with the potential to cause rashes, vomiting or even liver and nerve damage. State officials say it's no longer safe for swimming and skiing.... "We have reached a tipping point where the degraded nature of the lake is causing a significant loss to local businesses and the total livelihood of the region," the governor said in his letter. ... Grand Lake St. Marys is one of the state's most lakes polluted because of the fertilizer and manure that runs off from nearby farms and into creeks and streams flowing into the lake, feeding the algae that produces toxins. This year state environmental regulators have found a different species of algae that can produce up to seven different toxins. Water tests have shown there are low levels of two toxins that can affect the liver and nervous systems. ...


Better get down to it / algae's now cutting us down / should have been done long ago.

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Tue, Jun 29, 2010
from Washington Post:
FDA seeks less use of antibiotics in animals to keep them effective for humans
The Food and Drug Administration urged farmers on Monday to stop giving antibiotics to cattle, poultry, hogs and other animals to spur their growth, citing concern that drug overuse is helping to create dangerous bacteria that do not respond to medical treatment and endanger human lives. Joshua M. Sharfstein, the FDA's principal deputy commissioner, said antibiotics should be used only to protect the health of an animal and not to help it grow or improve the way it digests its feed.... The FDA has tried to limit the use of antibiotics in agriculture since 1977, but its efforts have repeatedly collapsed in the face of opposition from the drug industry and farm lobby. But mounting evidence of a global crisis of antibiotic-resistant bacteria has propelled the government to act, said Brad Spellberg, an infectious-diseases specialist and the author of "Rising Plague," a book about antibiotic resistance. ...


Antibiotics spur growth? Maybe I should give them to my li'l slugger instead of those expensive steroids!

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Mon, Jun 28, 2010
from New Scientist:
Robb Fraley: Monsanto is a champion of healthy eating
The company's chief technology officer on how the agri-biotech giant is reinventing itself.... We have introduced two genes that allow soybeans to produce about 20 per cent of their oil as an omega-3 fatty acid. It doesn't have the fishy odours that are normally associated with the breakdown of omega-3s and means companies can formulate foods with direct benefits for cardiovascular health.... Monsanto is on the verge of launching a new set of genes that can provide drought protection and is also working to improve fertiliser efficiency. Changes in plant breeding may be even more dramatic.... There are groups that are anti-biotechnology and with whom there will never be a meeting of minds. But we have had partnerships with environmental groups in the US and South America. In addition, we already supply vegetable seeds to the organic market. ...


The world is our RoundupReady™ oyster.

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Tue, Jun 22, 2010
from via DesdemonaDespair:
As world prices peak, Vietnam runs out of shrimp to sell
Shrimp prices have spiked since the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but Mekong Delta production is at a cyclical low. CEO Le Van Quang of Minh Phu Seafood Company says there's been a surge in demand by US shrimp importers since the oil spill disaster cratered Gulf of Mexico production. Prices offered for black tiger shrimp have reached $13 per kilo, an increase of 30 percent over 2009 levels and the highest price seen in ten years. Hot weather and decreased production in competing countries are also pushing prices up. An epidemic has killed 80 percent of Indonesia's farmed shrimp, and 20 percent in Thailand and Malaysia. Production is down in India and Bangladesh too. Seafood companies say that they are missing fat profits because demand has outstripped supply.... Khuan says his company is scouring Ca Mau and Bac Lieu province for more shrimp. It has only been able to buy 40 tonnes per day, though the factory can process and pack 120 tonnes per day. ...


I bet the "scouring" will increase next season's harvest!

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Thu, Jun 10, 2010
from Epoch times:
Monsanto's Gift Not Needed in Haiti
Monsanto Company sent more than 60 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to help with relief efforts in Haiti in May, but the gift was not entirely welcomed. According to numerous media reports, 10,000 members of The Movement of Papay (MMP) lead by Chavannes Jean-Baptiste took to the streets to protest the planting of Monsanto's crops, which were accepted by the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture. Monsanto -- an American giant of agricultural produce -- has a reputation of producing large amounts of hazardous pollution and dispersing branded herbicides, like Roundup, around the world to make resource-poor countries dependent on Monsanto's supply of the chemical. Hybrid seeds donated by Monsanto will allow farmers to grow crops for only one year as the plants do not reproduce, thus making the farmers dependent on buying the same crops the following year. ...


Like The Pusher says, first one's free.

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Wed, May 26, 2010
from BBC:
'Synergy' explanation for bee decline
Scientists from the US Department of Agriculture say the pathogens to blame are a fungus and a family of viruses.... Jay Evans of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, a researcher on the study, says that when these two very different pathogens show up together, "there is a significant correlation with colony decline".... So how do bees get CCD? Evans believes the infection is spread primarily through pollen on flowers.... "Once the viruses become prevalent in a colony, they spread quite rapidly both by contact among the bees and often by a parasitic [Varroa destructor] mite that lives on them. "We've been able to see the viruses move within that mite and actually be transmitted from bee to bee by the mite," said Evans. As for the fungus, it is transferred by the insects' excretions, he said. ...


Thank God it's not our fault! ... er, much.

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Tue, May 18, 2010
from Reuters:
Pesticides tied to ADHD in children in U.S. study
Children exposed to pesticides known as organophosphates could have a higher risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a U.S. study that urges parents to always wash produce thoroughly. Researchers tracked the pesticides' breakdown products in children' urine and found those with high levels were almost twice as likely to develop ADHD as those with undetectable levels. The findings are based on data from the general U.S. population, meaning that exposure to the pesticides could be harmful even at levels commonly found in children's environment. "There is growing concern that these pesticides may be related to ADHD," said researcher Marc Weisskopf of the Harvard School of Public Health, who worked on the study. "What this paper specifically highlights is that this may be true even at low concentrations." Organophosphates were originally developed for chemical warfare, and they are known to be toxic to the nervous system. There are about 40 organophosphate pesticides such as malathion registered in the United States, the researchers wrote in the journal Pediatrics. ...


Maybe that explains why my kids... what was I saying?

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Tue, Apr 27, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Agricultural biodiversity research plan dropped
The conservation of crops and livestock in agricultural areas has become a high-profile victim of a radical overhaul of international agricultural research conducted by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). 'Mobilising agricultural biodiversity for food security and resilience' was one of several thematic areas (or megaprogrammes) proposed by the CGIAR, a group of donors that funds a major international network of agricultural research centres.... But a meeting of donors and the CGIAR consortium earlier this month (1 April), held to discuss the proposed themes, failed to approve the idea of a separate programme on agricultural biodiversity. Instead, biodiversity will continue to be promoted as a "cross-cutting theme" alongside gender, it was decided. Certain aspects of agricultural biodiversity conservation - such as the use of a range of climate change-resistant crops by poorer farmers, and promoting nutrition and health through more crop diversity -- will be incorporated into other thematic areas that are still to be finalised. ...


I guess that megaprogramme on "Agricultural Colonialism via Monocrops" had more appeal.

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Sun, Apr 25, 2010
from Sacramento Bee:
Bee exclusive: Livestock waste found to foul Sierra waters
...parts of the high Sierra are not nearly as pristine as they look. Nowhere is the water dirtier, [Robert Derlet] discovered, than on U.S. Forest Service land, including wilderness areas, where beef cattle and commercial pack stock - horses and mules - graze during the summer months. There, bacterial contamination was easily high enough to sicken hikers with Giardia, E. coli and other diseases. In places, slimy, pea-green algae also blossomed in the bacteria-laden water. That contrast has prompted Derlet and Charles Goldman, director of the UC Davis Tahoe Research Center, to mount a publicity campaign calling for dramatic management change in the Sierra. Cattle, they say, should be moved to lower elevations. And Forest Service areas where they now graze should be turned into national parks. "At one time, cattle were important for developing civilization here," said Derlet. "But now, with 40 million people in California, the Sierra is not for cattle. It's for water. We need water more than Big Macs." ...


I call that... McWisdom.

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Thu, Apr 22, 2010
from Science News:
Rural ozone can be fed by feed (as in silage)
Livestock operations take a lot of flak for polluting. Manure lagoons not only irritate neighbors' noses but also leak nitrogen -- sometimes fostering dead zones up to 1,000 miles downstream. And ruminants can release copious amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas. Researchers are now linking ozone to livestock as well. But this time the pollution source is not what comes out the back end of an animal but what's destined to go in the front... o they began investigating animal feed, Howard says -- especially silage, grain "which has been [deliberately] fermented" and as such comes laced with a lot of alcohol... "Ethanol and especially larger alcohol species account for more than 50 percent of the ozone formation for most types of feed," Howard and his colleagues now report online, ahead of print, in Environmental Science & Technology. ...


Aren't our lives secondary to our livestock?

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Mon, Apr 19, 2010
from Public Radio International:
Outbreak of rare disease in the Netherlands
Q-fever, a bacterial infection transmitted by goats, moves from farms to larger population in the Netherlands.... [it] has now infected hundreds of people who have no contact with farms. Most people who contract the illness come down with flu-like symptoms or pneumonia for a few weeks, but some are sick for months and a handful have died.... "It's always been an occupational disease of farmers, slaughter house personnel and veterinarians," said Jos van de Sande, an infectious disease expert at the public health department in the Dutch province of Brabant. But recently, many who have no connection to farms are coming down with Q-fever and the number of patients is growing. Three years ago the Netherlands had fewer than 200 cases. Last year, it had more than 2,000, and at least nine people have died. It's not clear why the disease is spreading. Jos van de Sande says the bacteria may have mutated. "And now Q-fever is spread by the wind, and the whole population can get it." ...


Q-fever is going trip-trap, trip-trap over the winds.

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Wed, Apr 14, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
Foul Farms
Barbara Sha Cox knows that there's nothing funny about leaking, underground gasoline tanks or abandoned, polluted industrial sites known as brownfields. The lifelong family farmer is part of a group of environmentalists that meets monthly with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). And she is a regular at committee meetings of all kinds held by the General Assembly and other state agencies like IDEM. But she chuckles when considering how little state government has learned from the past. "I sit in those meetings, and I think, 'They're talking about all these underground tanks, the brownfields, and how they've got to deal with them and all the leakage,'" the retired nurse says. "I keep thinking, 'How can you not have the foresight to see that you have this huge environmental problem that you are not acknowledging?'"...just a few hundred yards away, looms a 7.2-acre manure lagoon that has lately drawn national media attention from publications as diverse as the Huffington Post and Wall Street Journal due to fears it could explode from methane gas buildup. ...


It might explode just from all this media attention!

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Tue, Apr 13, 2010
from Reuters:
Special Report: Are regulators dropping the ball on biocrops?
Robert Kremer, a U.S. government microbiologist who studies Midwestern farm soil, has spent two decades analyzing the rich dirt that yields billions of bushels of food each year and helps the United States retain its title as breadbasket of the world. Kremer's lab is housed at the University of Missouri and is literally in the shadow of Monsanto Auditorium, named after the $11.8 billion-a-year agricultural giant Monsanto Co... But recent findings by Kremer and other agricultural scientists are raising fresh concerns about Monsanto's products and the Washington agencies that oversee them... many people on both sides of the debate who say that the current U.S. regulatory apparatus is ill-equipped to adequately address the concerns. Indeed, many experts say the U.S. government does more to promote global acceptance of biotech crops than to protect the public from possible harmful consequences. ...


What's all the ruckus? It's only food.

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Tue, Apr 13, 2010
from USA Today:
'Growing concern' over marketing tainted beef
Beef containing harmful pesticides, veterinary antibiotics and heavy metals is being sold to the public because federal agencies have failed to set limits for the contaminants or adequately test for them, a federal audit finds. A program set up to test beef for chemical residues "is not accomplishing its mission of monitoring the food supply for ... dangerous substances, which has resulted in meat with these substances being distributed in commerce," says the audit by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General. The health effects on people who eat such meat are a "growing concern," the audit adds. ...


A "growing concern" in more ways than one!

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Wed, Mar 24, 2010
from AP, via Yahoo:
Bees in more trouble than ever after bad winter
The mysterious 4-year-old crisis of disappearing honeybees is deepening. A quick federal survey indicates a heavy bee die-off this winter, while a new study shows honeybees' pollen and hives laden with pesticides. Two federal agencies along with regulators in California and Canada are scrambling to figure out what is behind this relatively recent threat, ordering new research on pesticides used in fields and orchards. Federal courts are even weighing in this month, ruling that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency overlooked a requirement when allowing a pesticide on the market.... Bees have been declining over decades from various causes. But in 2006 a new concern, "colony collapse disorder," was blamed for large, inexplicable die-offs. The disorder, which causes adult bees to abandon their hives and fly off to die, is likely a combination of many causes, including parasites, viruses, bacteria, poor nutrition and pesticides, experts say. ...


Wait -- pesticides can affect bees?

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Tue, Mar 16, 2010
from Stanford, via EurekAlert:
The environmental and social impact of the 'livestock revolution'
Global meat production has tripled in the past three decades and could double its present level by 2050, according to a new report on the livestock industry by an international team of scientists and policy experts. The impact of this "livestock revolution" is likely to have significant consequences for human health, the environment and the global economy, the authors conclude.... # More than 1.7 billion animals are used in livestock production worldwide and occupy more than one-fourth of the Earth's land. # Production of animal feed consumes about one-third of total arable land. # Livestock production accounts for approximately 40 percent of the global agricultural gross domestic product. # The livestock sector, including feed production and transport, is responsible for about 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. ...


Gosh -- that's almost, almost enough to make me go vegetarian.

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Tue, Mar 2, 2010
from Washington Post:
Manure becomes pollutant as its volume grows unmanageable
...Animal manure, a byproduct as old as agriculture, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, scientists and environmentalists say. The country simply has more dung than it can handle: Crowded together at a new breed of megafarms, livestock produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled as fertilizer for nearby fields. That excess manure gives off air pollutants, and it is the country's fastest-growing large source of methane, a greenhouse gas. And it washes down with the rain, helping to cause the 230 oxygen-deprived "dead zones" that have proliferated along the U.S. coast. In the Chesapeake Bay, about one-fourth of the pollution that leads to dead zones can be traced to the back ends of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys. ...


That is just a shitload of shit!

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Sun, Feb 28, 2010
from Madison Wisconsin State Journal:
Tracking a rising tide of waste
Wisconsin is churning out permits for industrial-scale farms to spread millions of gallons of manure on state fields but provides little oversight after that, inspecting them only once or twice every five years, a Wisconsin State Journal investigation has found. At stake is the health of thousands of homeowners who draw their drinking water from wells near the giant farms or the fields where the manure is spread... But a review of the state's oversight of the huge farms turned up weaknesses and missteps, including farms operating without permits, a dearth of on-site inspections and a monitoring system that consists largely of inspectors filling out paperwork at their desks. ...


Who wants to look at shit more often than that!

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Fri, Feb 26, 2010
from Daily Kansan:
Decreasing water levels raise problems
But these days in southern Meade County, located about five hours southwest of Lawrence, the Ross farm is restricted by declining water levels. Old sprinklers stand in fields with no chance of spreading water over the crops. Streams, creeks and ponds slowly turn to dust, revealing the lack of water available. As the water levels drop, these sights will become more common. Since 1996, the water levels in southwest Kansas have declined, except for a 1.2-inch increase in 1998, said Brownie Wilson, Geographic Info System and support services manager at Kansas Geological Survey. Irrigation started in the 1950s and '60s, and with the ability to obtain and use more water, large-scale production soaked up the water in the underground Ogallala aquifer. Increased water usage allowed Kansas' agriculture industry to make millions.... Wells averaged water level drops of 2 to 5 feet, but drops as low as 10 feet occurred in some areas of southwest Kansas this year, said Wilson. Though the water levels are visibly receding, the Kansas Division of Water Resources records the water movements every year so the exact amount of the decrease is known. So far, results have shown decreasing water levels throughout the state, except for a surprising increase in northwest Kansas, Wilson said. ...


Water, water, underwhere, but not a drop to spare.

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Sun, Feb 21, 2010
from EarthJustice:
Proposal Would Let California Salmon Perish At The Pumps
Thousands of jobs linked to the decline of Sacramento River salmon have been lost -- but big agricultural interests in California are stepping up political efforts that may permanently extinguish salmon and the industries they support. Even without this latest assault, the future of California's king salmon is in doubt. Salmon runs are at all time lows, due in large part to water pumps in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta that suck baby salmon in and kill them. The water is going to agricultural operators south of San Francisco Bay -- and now they want more.... The ag operators enlisted the support of Sen. Dianne Feinstein who proposed ramping up delta pumping even while the 2012 class of salmon is currently trying to migrate through the delta past those killer pumps. ...


Without that water, we won't have artichokes. The economy can't handle that.

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Thu, Jan 28, 2010
from Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres, via EurekAlert:
Fewer honey bee colonies and beekeepers throughout Europe
The number of bee colonies in Central Europe has decreased over recent decades. In fact, the number of beekeepers has been declining in the whole of Europe since 1985. This is the result of a study that has now been published by the International Bee Research Association, which for the first time has provided an overview of the problem of bee colony decline at the European level. Until now there had only been the reports from individual countries available. As other pollinators such as wild bees and hoverflies are also in decline, this could be a potential danger for pollinator services, on which many arable crops depend.... Through the investigation, the mystery of bee losses has by no means been solved, emphasize the scientists, who were however able to add another piece to the puzzle. Furthermore, the data would have to be interpreted very carefully because of the very different evaluation methods in individual countries. "With the limited evidence available it is neither possible to identify the actual driver of honey bee losses in Europe nor to give a complete answer on the trends for colonies and beekeepers...." ...


What a buzzkill.

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Sun, Jan 24, 2010
from London Guardian:
Fears over use of chemicals to castrate pigs
Meat from pigs that have been "chemically castrated" could soon be on sale in Britain, with no label to warn shoppers that it contains a controversial drug. An injection to prevent puberty in male pigs was licensed for use in Britain and most of Europe last year, and has gone on sale to farmers who produce pork. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer developed the drug, Improvac, to allow farmers to grow pigs bigger before slaughter but without them releasing the hormones that cause boar taint, a taste many consumers dislike. In much of Europe, young males are physically castrated, but in the UK the practice is rarely carried out. ...


I'd rather not know and I'll bet the pigs agree!

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Fri, Jan 22, 2010
from New Scientist:
Engineered maize toxicity claims and counterclaims
Monsanto, the giant of genetically modified crops, has for the first time been forced to release raw data from toxicology studies it carried out on three strains of its modified maize. An external analysis of the data claims it shows that eating the maize could result in damage to the liver and kidneys, but this has been dismissed as unsupportable by a government agency and independent toxicologists.... With each of the three strains of maize, researchers say they found unusual concentrations of hormones and other compounds in the blood and urine of the tested rats, suggesting each strain impaired kidney and liver function. By the end of the trials, the female rats that were fed MON 863 had elevated blood-sugar levels and raised concentrations of fatty substances called triglycerides. Both are potential precursors of diabetes, according to Seralini. And there were further signs that the kidneys of rats fed NK 603 were impaired, he says. "What we've shown is clearly not proof of toxicity, but signs of toxicity," says Seralini. "I'm sure there's no acute toxicity, but who's to say there are no chronic effects?" He wants longer studies on more species to check for such effects. ...


I don't mind rats getting liver problems.

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Mon, Jan 18, 2010
from The Herald Scotland:
Tofu is bad for the environment, finds food study
Vegetarians have claimed for years that their meat-shy ways are helping save the world but a new study has found that tofu may actually be worse for the environment than beef. In a stark report on the environmental impact of the global food industry, WWF has warned that replacing meat with "highly refined" substitutes such as Quorn could increase the area of farmland needed to feed the UK. Instead, the charity has said, a wide range of measures will be required to bring harmful emissions from agriculture down to a safe level. In the new report, released today, researchers said: "A broad-based switch to plant-based products through increasing the intake of cereals and vegetables is more sustainable." ...


Tofu worse than beef? Let's ask the cows!

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Sat, Jan 16, 2010
from NUVO Newsweekly:
CAFOs in court
Randolph County family farmers Judy and Allen Hutchison are finally getting their day in court. The couple's home is surrounded by more than 75,000 hogs and cows housed on what are called Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), a.k.a. "factory farms." They can see the largest CAFO manure lagoon in the county from their driveway, a manmade, uncovered, 7.2-acre pond that holds roughly 20 million gallons of liquid animal waste. Their clothes frequently smell like manure when they come out of the dryer. The Hutchisons are among more than a dozen East-Central Indiana citizens who have sued several in- and out-of-state CAFO operators for more than just the daily indignities of life near factory farms, like the odors and the irrepressible flies. The lawsuits also allege the families have suffered from a number of physical maladies as a result, including skin irritations, nausea, headaches, breathing difficulties, tightness of the chest, sinus infection, stress and burning eyes, noses and throats. ...


That, my friends, is one whale of a pile of shit.

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Fri, Jan 15, 2010
from London Independent:
Voodoo wasps that could save the world
They are so small that most people have never even seen them, yet "voodoo wasps" are about to be recruited big time in the war on agricultural pests as part of the wider effort to boost food production in the 21st century. The wasps are only 1 or 2 millimetres long fully-grown but they have an ability to paralyse and destroy other insects, including many of the most destructive crop pests, by delivering a zombie-inducing venom in their sting... The researchers have decoded the full genomes of three species of parasitic wasp, which could lead to the development of powerful new ways of deploying these tiny insects against the vast range of pests that destroy billions of tonnes of valuable crops each year. ...


Genetics is a kind of voodoo, isn't it?

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Thu, Jan 14, 2010
from SolveClimate:
Return to Small Farms Could Help Alleviate Social and Environmental Crises
Indeed, Altieri shows that on a per-hectare basis, small farms are able to strongly out-produce large ones. It's not the first time this claim has been made. The quick counter is that agricultural labor is onerous and backbreaking, that no one wishes to do it, that freeing up farm labor by using mechanical devices and chemical inputs allows former farmers to move into the cities, raising productivity, contributing more effectively to national GDP, and so on. That's a reasonable claim, except for the fact that there's now more available labor in the world than the world knows what to do with, so much so that much of the global South, its former peasantry, lives in dilapidated shanties on the peripheries of urban cores. ...


Farm? I'd rather profit from credit default swaps.

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Sat, Jan 9, 2010
from Agence France-Presse:
6 U.S. baby bottle firms agree to stop using BPA
The six major baby bottle makers in the United States have agreed to stop using the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A, suspected of harming human development, local officials said. "All six major baby bottle companies — Avent, Disney First Years, Gerber, Dr. Brown, Playtex and Evenflow — have agreed to voluntarily ban BPA from bottles in a major public health victory," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said in a statement... Over 130 studies over the past decade have linked even low levels of BPA to serious health problems, breast cancer, obesity and the early onset of puberty, among other disorders. ...


Way to grow up, baby bottle makers!

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Sat, Jan 9, 2010
from Indianapolis Star:
State Fair to celebrate Indiana's hogs
This year's Indiana State Fair will celebrate the state's $3 billion hog industry by putting hogs and pork products center stage during the 17-day fair. A series of events, exhibits and displays will toast Indiana's 3,000 hog farming families during the fair's "Year of Pigs" tribute. Indiana Pork Producers executive director Mike Platt says the Aug. 6-22 fair will highlight the large role the hog industry plays in the state's economy. Last year, Indiana hog farmers raised some 8 million pigs. ...


Displays include a booth that emits manure and urine smells!

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Mon, Jan 4, 2010
from London Independent:
Deadly animal diseases poised to infect humans
The world is facing a growing threat from new diseases that are jumping the human-animal species barrier as a result of environmental disruption, global warming and the progressive urbanisation of the planet, scientists have warned. At least 45 diseases that have passed from animals to humans have been reported to UN agencies in the last two decades, with the number expected to escalate in the coming years. Dramatic changes to the environment are triggering major alterations to human disease patterns on a scale last seen during the industrial revolution. ...


Let's kill all the animals... before they kill us!

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Thu, Dec 31, 2009
from Newcastle Journal:
Scientists fear life-saving drugs could soon be useless
DECADES of man-made pollution of the environment is leaving a legacy which could see disease-fighting drugs rendered increasingly ineffective, North East scientists fear. Soil studies by a Newcastle University team indicate a rising level of bacteria in nature with a gene which is resistant to the antibiotic drugs that have improved health dramatically over the last 50 years or so. A rising "background" level of resistance makes it more likely that pathogenic, or disease-causing bacteria, acquire the resistant gene....ears of pollution had placed pressure on organisms, many of which live naturally in the soil. Antibiotics pass into the environment from waste from humans and farm animals, which has seen organisms evolve to defend themselves. ...


As long as my painkillers are still effective, I'll be okay.

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Wed, Dec 30, 2009
from USA Today:
How McDonald's makes sure its burgers are safe
The hamburger you buy at McDonald's may look just like the hamburger you cook at home. But, in terms of safety, the two burgers are not close. Not unless you buy your own meat directly from a packing plant that you'd not only inspected yourself but was also inspected by a third party. And you demand the meat be tested multiple times for E. coli O157:H7, salmonella and coliform bacteria.... A day spent at the Keystone Foods plant here, one of five in the United States that makes hamburger patties for McDonald's, is a glimpse into the world of extreme food safety. McDonald's (MCD) is considered one of the best, if not the best, company in the United States when it comes to food safety. "They're the top of the top," says Caroline Smith DeWaal, food-safety director of the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, D.C. ...


No matter how safe the burgers, meat farms are still perilous to the habitat!

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Wed, Dec 23, 2009
from Muncie Star Press:
Lawyers target pig, dairy farms
WINCHESTER -- Neighbors who are fed up living next door to factory farms have found three high-powered trial lawyers who vow to make Randolph County "ground zero" in a courtroom food fight over how Indiana produces pork and milk. Highly aggressive flies, harmful odors, stacks of dead animals and mismanagement of millions of gallons of manure are among the complaints of neighbors suing pork and dairy producers. The trial lawyers are bringing multiple lawsuits challenging Indiana's industrial or factory model of producing milk and pork in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) promoted by Gov. Mitch Daniels' agriculture department. ...


"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

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Tue, Dec 22, 2009
from Christian Science Monitor:
More herbicide use reported on genetically modified crops
DesA report released by the Organic Center found that the amount of herbicides used on genetically engineered crops has increased in the past 10 years, not decreased as might be expected. Since many genetically engineered crops were modified so that farmers could spray Roundup, or Glyphosate, to kill the weeds in their fields but not the crops themselves, the expectation was that less herbicide would be required. But the new report found that this is not what happened. The authors of the report, entitled "Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use," used US Department of Agriculture data to look at America's three largest genetically engineered crops -- soybeans, corn, and cotton. They found that the amount of herbicides used on them has increased from 1996 to 2008 by approximately 7 or 8 percent, with a particularly sharp increase from 2005 on. ...


So... Roundup ain't so ready after all?

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Fri, Dec 18, 2009
from Associated Press:
Environmental groups ask EPA to fix Indiana water rules
INDIANAPOLIS — Three environmental groups asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday to review and correct what they call serious flaws in Indiana's water pollution control program, or to wrest control of it from the state... In a petition, the Chicago-based Environmental Law & Policy Center, the Hoosier Environmental Council and the Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter asked the EPA to “evaluate the systematic failure” of Indiana to properly administer and enforce a federal water pollution program that issues wastewater permits to industrial, municipal and other facilities. ...


Right, the Environmental Procrastination Agency will get right on that.

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Sun, Nov 29, 2009
from BBC:
Australian aims to breed 'green' sheep that burp less
The scientists have been trying to identify a genetic link that causes some sheep to belch less than others. Burping is a far greater cause of emissions in sheep than flatulence, they say. About 16 percent of Australia's greenhouse emissions come from agriculture, says the department of climate change. Australia's Sheep Cooperative Research Council says 66 percent of agricultural emissions are released as methane from the gut of livestock....The scientists' goal in the long term is to breed sheep that produce less methane, which produces many times more global warming than carbon dioxide. ...


While we're at it, can we teach them to bleat "pardon me"?

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Wed, Nov 25, 2009
from Forbes:
China executes 2 for role in tainted milk scandal
BEIJING -- China executed a dairy farmer and a milk salesman for their roles in the sale of contaminated baby formula - severe punishments that Beijing hopes will assuage public anger, reassure importers and put to rest one of the country's worst food safety crises. The two men executed Tuesday were the only people put to death in a scheme to boost profits by lacing milk powder with the industrial chemical melamine; 19 other people were convicted and received lesser sentences. At least six children died after drinking the adulterated formula, and more than 300,000 were sickened. ...


Wouldn't a slap on the wrist have sufficed?

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Wed, Nov 25, 2009
from Agence France-Presse:
Dead Sea needs world help to stay alive
The Dead Sea may soon shrink to a lifeless pond as Middle East political strife blocks vital measures needed to halt the decay of the world's lowest and saltiest body of water, experts say. The surface level is plunging by a metre (three feet) a year and nothing has yet been done to reverse the decline because of a lack of political cooperation as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The shoreline has receded by more than a kilometre (around a mile) in some places and the world-famous lake, a key tourism destination renowned for the beneficial effect of its minerals, could dry out by 2050, according to some calculations. ...


Calling it "Dead" sure can't be helping...

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Tue, Nov 17, 2009
from Reuters:
Biotech crops cause big jump in pesticide use-report
The rapid adoption by U.S. farmers of genetically engineered corn, soybeans and cotton has promoted increased use of pesticides, an epidemic of herbicide-resistant weeds and more chemical residues in foods, according to a report issued Tuesday by health and environmental protection groups. The groups said research showed that herbicide use grew by 383 million pounds from 1996 to 2008, with 46 percent of the total increase occurring in 2007 and 2008.... The report by the environmental groups states that a key problem resulting from the increase in herbicide use is the emergence of "super weeds," which are difficult to kill because they have become resistant to the herbicides. ...


Sounds like it's time to pull out the super pesticides!

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Fri, Nov 13, 2009
from Economist:
Farmers v greens
AMERICA will not pass a cap-and-trade law in time for the global climate-change summit in Copenhagen next month. To understand why, it helps to ask a farmer. Take Bruce Wright, for example, who grows wheat and other crops on a couple of thousand acres near Bozeman, Montana. His family has tilled these fields for four generations. His great-grandfather built the local church. He loves his job and the rural way of life. But he fears that higher energy prices will endanger both. To grow his crops, Mr Wright needs fertiliser, fuel and pesticides -- all of which are derived from oil. When the price of oil hit the sky last year, Mr Wright's operating costs nearly trebled. He survived because the oil-price surge also forced up the price of grain. But such wild swings make him nervous. If he has to invest three times as much in his crop and the crop fails, he says, he will be buried in debt. ...


We can save ourselves... if only we would stop eating.

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Sat, Oct 31, 2009
from Los Angeles Times:
FDA urged to ban feeding of chicken feces to cattle
A fight is brewing over the practice of feeding chicken feces and other poultry farm waste to cattle. A coalition of food and consumer groups that includes Consumers Union and the Center for Science in the Public Interest has asked the Food and Drug Administration to ban the practice. McDonald's Corp., the nation's largest restaurant user of beef, also wants the FDA to prohibit the feeding of so-called poultry litter to cattle. Members of the coalition are threatening to file a lawsuit or to push for federal legislation establishing such a ban if the FDA doesn't act to do so in the coming months. Farmers feed 1 million to 2 million tons of poultry litter to their cattle annually, according to FDA estimates. Using the litter -- which includes feces, spilled chicken feed, feathers and poultry farm detritus -- increases the risk of cows becoming infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at Consumers Union. ...


Ya gotta think the cattle are gonna miss eatin' that yummy chicken shit.

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Sat, Oct 31, 2009
from McClatchy Newspapers:
Farmers fight climate bill, but warming spells trouble for them
...The Missouri Farm Bureau started the letter campaign early, weeks before the bill was fully written and made public. It was followed this month with a pitch from the American Farm Bureau , the nation's largest agriculture lobby, to get farmers to take farm caps, sign their bills and send them to senators with notes that say, "Don't cap our future." Agriculture is likely to have a central place in the debate on the bill later this year about the short-term costs of acting to curb climate change -- and the costs of failing to address the long-term risks. Farm lobby groups and senators who agree with them argue that imposing limits on the nation's emissions of heat-trapping gases from coal, oil and natural gas would raise the cost of farming necessities such as fuel, electricity and natural gas-based fertilizer. A government report, however, warns of a dire outlook for farms if rising emissions drive more rapid climate shifts in the decades ahead. ...


Ultimately, "long-term" is as vague a concept as "tomorrow."

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Wed, Oct 28, 2009
from Cold Truth:
The chemical industry hides behind touchy-feely name...
The Coalition for Chemical Safety sounds like just the kind of group to which environmental activists would swarm. The images on their Web site are iconic: A child holding the hand of a grownup, a worker's hard hat with an American flag decal, a family photo.... But if you check the interactive map on the coalition's website, the three or four "members" in the 13 states listed are mostly agri-business, chemical and industry trade associations....earlier this month, the chemical industry received an unexpected gift when the White House Office of Management and Budget prevented EPA from requiring safety data on pesticides that Congress had required years earlier. The OMB -- which oversees regulatory policies -- was notorious for bending over backwards in previous administrations to please industry, especially in regulations involving the environment and public health and safety. ...


Vhat? You prefer they name themselves We Vant Pesticides to Harm You?

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Sun, Oct 25, 2009
from Washington Post:
Back where virus started, new scrutiny of pig farming
...Little is known about the origin of the novel H1N1. But one thing is virtually certain: The bug now infecting the people of more than 190 countries began in a pig....A major concern now is what might happen if the pandemic H1N1 virus spreads widely in pigs, and then out again into the human population....What worries virologists is the mixing of human and swine flu strains -- or, worse, human, swine and bird strains. That can lead to "reassortment," in which strands of genetic material are exchanged to yield a new virus, often with behavior not seen in its parents. ...


Cold-cocked... by the cocktail.

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Thu, Oct 22, 2009
from SEED Magazine:
The Dead Zone Dilemma
Each year in April and May as farmers in the central US fertilize their crops, nearly 450 thousand metric tons of nitrates and phosphates pour down the Mississippi River. When these chemicals reach the Gulf of Mexico, they cause a feeding frenzy as photosynthetic algae absorb the nutrients. It's a boom-and-bust cycle of epic proportions: The algae populations grow explosively, then die and decompose. This process depletes the water of oxygen on a vast scale, creating a suffocating "dead zone" the size of Massachusetts where few, if any, animals can survive.... The study examined the implications of a 2007 law that requires the US to annually produce 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022. Barring major biofuel production breakthroughs from sources like algae or microbes, most of this fuel will come from crops grown in the central US; the fertilizers and other agricultural waste they produce will flow straight down the Mississippi and feed the dead zone. Hite says the study, led by Christine Costello, found that meeting this goal will make it impossible for the EPA to reach its target reduction in the size of the dead zone. Even if fertilizer-intensive corn is replaced with more eco-friendly crops like switchgrass, the vast increase in agricultural production will cause the dead zone to grow unless preventive measures are taken. ...


A new mixed metaphor: Legislating with the left hand while cutting off the right!

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Tue, Oct 13, 2009
from The Australian:
Scientists back law to limit farm runoff to Great Barrier Reef
SCIENTISTS have backed the Queensland government's crackdown on farm runoffs to the Great Barrier Reef, describing new laws to limit the chemicals on sugar crops and pastures as "the right answer". Conservation groups have swung behind the measures, after producer organisations and individual farmers branded them unnecessary and a sop to the green lobby.... "The state is taking its responsibility to the reef very seriously ... I think we have to do everything we can." Marine scientists have warned that vast sections of the reef are threatened by the coral bleaching associated with rising sea temperatures caused by climate change.... Ms Jones's spokesman pointed out that high concentrations of the nutrients associated with fertiliser runoff were being detected up to 50km offshore. ...


Scientists and specialists weighing in on policy? What? Isn't more study needed?

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Wed, Sep 30, 2009
from Indianapolis Star:
Purdue researchers monitor cow emissions
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue University is leading a new study that seeks to answer the smelly question of how much greenhouse gases are produced by dairy cows. The study won't just look at the issue of cow flatulence -- it will also examine the amount of greenhouse gases that cow manure releases. A Purdue professor is leading colleagues at Purdue and four other schools in the study. They'll monitor carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide at five barn sites and two manure lagoons in Indiana, Wisconsin, California, Washington and New York. ...


'Cause we know just how vital the issue of cow flatulence can be!

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Fri, Sep 18, 2009
from New York Times:
Health Ills Abound as Farm Runoff Fouls Wells
...Agricultural runoff is the single largest source of water pollution in the nation's rivers and streams, according to the E.P.A. An estimated 19.5 million Americans fall ill each year from waterborne parasites, viruses or bacteria, including those stemming from human and animal waste, according to a study published last year in the scientific journal Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology...In Brown County [Wisconsin], part of one of the nation's largest milk-producing regions, agriculture brings in $3 billion a year. But the dairies collectively also create as much as a million gallons of waste each day. Many cows are fed a high-protein diet, which creates a more liquid manure that is easier to spray on fields. ...


They put the "brown" in Brown County.

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Wed, Sep 16, 2009
from American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert:
Biofuel production could undercut efforts to shrink Gulf 'Dead Zone'
Scientists in Pennsylvania report that boosting production of crops used to make biofuels could make a difficult task to shrink a vast, oxygen-depleted "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico more difficult. The zone, which reached the size of Massachusetts in 2008, forms in summer and threatens marine life and jobs in the region.... the zone forms when fertilizers wash off farm fields throughout the Mississippi River basin and into the Gulf of Mexico. The fertilizers cause the growth of algae, which eventually depletes oxygen in the water and kills marine life. Government officials hope to reduce fertilizer runoff and shrink the zone to the size of Delaware by 2015. But that goal could be more difficult to reach due to federally-mandated efforts to increase annual biofuel production to 36 billion gallons by 2022, the study says. ...


Our "dead zone" is still smaller than that Texas-sized plastic gyre in the Pacific -- how embarrassing, to be #2.

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Thu, Sep 10, 2009
from NUVO Newsweekly:
Downwind of the big dairy farm
...On a warm August day at the Stickdorn's farm, Eric Stickdorn reaches down, tears off a few blades of grass from the back lawn of their farmhouse, and tosses them in the air. A light breeze blows the grass at an angle toward the neighboring dairy. "That's pretty much south, maybe a little southeast," Stickdorn says. It's a good day. "That's why we're not smelling anything," he explains... Within a month after the odor from Samuel Lantz' cattle began to permeate the Stickdorn's house in October 2003, both Eric and Lisa Stickdorn developed some new and disturbing symptoms. "We began to experience a lot of coughing and had fluid in our lungs," Eric says. "We started having mysterious joint and tendon pains. We had [earaches] and headaches. We had really bad shortness of breath." A fatigue crept over Lisa. She'd been exercising hard on top of her farm work. "I thought I just overdid it. I quit exercising and still felt really, really tired. I couldn't figure it out." ...


Glad the closest I get to a dairy farm is a glass of milk!

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Wed, Sep 9, 2009
from Reuters:
As hybrid cars gobble rare metals, shortage looms
The Prius hybrid automobile is popular for its fuel efficiency, but its electric motor and battery guzzle rare earth metals, a little-known class of elements found in a wide range of gadgets and consumer goods. That makes Toyota's market-leading gasoline-electric hybrid car and other similar vehicles vulnerable to a supply crunch predicted by experts as China, the world's dominant rare earths producer, limits exports while global demand swells. Worldwide demand for rare earths, covering 15 entries on the periodic table of elements, is expected to exceed supply by some 40,000 tonnes annually in several years unless major new production sources are developed. One promising U.S. source is a rare earths mine slated to reopen in California by 2012. Among the rare earths that would be most affected in a shortage is neodymium, the key component of an alloy used to make the high-power, lightweight magnets for electric motors of hybrid cars, such as the Prius, Honda Insight and Ford Focus, as well as in generators for wind turbines.... Each electric Prius motor requires 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of neodymium, and each battery uses 10 to 15 kg (22-33 lb) of lanthanum. That number will nearly double under Toyota's plans to boost the car's fuel economy, he said. ...


Are you implying that the world has limits?

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Tue, Sep 8, 2009
from PNAS, via EurekAlert:
Half of the fish consumed globally is now raised on farms, study finds
Aquaculture, once a fledgling industry, now accounts for 50 percent of the fish consumed globally, according to a new report by an international team of researchers. And while the industry is more efficient than ever, it is also putting a significant strain on marine resources by consuming large amounts of feed made from wild fish harvested from the sea, the authors conclude.... To maximize growth and enhance flavor, aquaculture farms use large quantities of fishmeal and fish oil made from less valuable wild-caught species, including anchoveta and sardine. "With the production of farmed fish eclipsing that of wild fish, another major transition is also underway: Aquaculture's share of global fishmeal and fish oil consumption more than doubled over the past decade to 68 percent and 88 percent, respectively," the authors wrote. ...


See? We don't even need Nature. Uh -- wait, they're fed fishmeal?

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Thu, Sep 3, 2009
from AlterNet:
How Farm-Raised Salmon Are Turning Our Oceans Into Dangerous and Polluted Feedlots
As it turns out, farmed salmon comes with its own set of environmental and health issues -- threatening wild salmon populations, becoming harbingers of disease, and contaminating the oceans with antibiotics and toxic chemicals. And if you're eating salmon in the U.S., the chances are very good that it's farm raised. Only about 10 percent of salmon on the market in the U.S. is actually wild these days Alex Trent, executive director of the industry group Salmon of the Americas, told the New York Times.... While salmon "farming" conjures an agrarian image, the industry is more akin to CAFOs -- the concentrated animal feeding operations -- used by the industrial meat industry that is responsible for most of the chicken, burgers and pork that Americans consume. They're also responsible for a lot of waste and pollution that comes with raising a whole bunch of creatures in a confined space. ...


Wanting Omega-3 might produce the omega point for the ocean?

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Wed, Sep 2, 2009
from University of British Columbia, via EurekAlert:
Humans causing erosion comparable to world's largest rivers and glaciers
"Our initial goal was to investigate the scientific claim that rivers are less erosive than glaciers," says Michele Koppes, a professor of geography at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and lead author of the study. "But while exploring that, we found that many of the areas currently experiencing the highest rates of erosion are being caused by climate change and human activity such as modern agriculture," says Koppes, who conducted the study with David Montgomery of the University of Washington. In some cases, the researchers found large-scale farming eroded lowland agricultural fields at rates comparable to glaciers and rivers in the most tectonically active mountain belts. "This study shows that humans are playing a significant role in speeding erosion in low lying areas," says Koppes. "These low-altitude areas do not have the same rate of tectonic uplift, so the land is being denuded at an unsustainable rate." ...


Well, sure, unsustainable, but I'll be dead by then, right?

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Tue, Sep 1, 2009
from Environmental Health Perspectives:
Swine CAFOs and Novel H1N1 Flu: Separating Facts from Fears
...one potential source of the original outbreak--swine farming in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs)--has received comparatively little attention by public health officials. CAFOs house animals by the thousands in crowded indoor facilities. But the same economy-of-scale efficiencies that allow CAFOs to produce affordable meat for so many consumers also facilitate the mutation of viral pathogens into novel strains that can be passed on to farm workers and veterinarians, according to Gregory Gray, director of the Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases at the University of Iowa College of Public Health.... Gray says workers exposed routinely to livestock can pass these zoonotic infections--which transmit readily among humans and animals--on to the wider public. However, public health agencies that monitor risks from zoonotic infections routinely overlook CAFO workers, according to Ellen Silbergeld, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. ...


Fast food... could kill us fast!

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Sat, Aug 8, 2009
from Mother Jones:
Corn Syrup's Mercury Surprise
In 2004, Renee Dufault, an environmental health researcher at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), stumbled upon an obscure Environmental Protection Agency report on chemical plants' mercury emissions. Some chemical companies, she learned, make lye by pumping salt through large vats of mercury. Since lye is a key ingredient in making HFCS (it's used to separate corn starch from the kernel), Dufault wondered if mercury might be getting into the ubiquitous sweetener that makes up 1 out of every 10 calories Americans eat.... The corn-syrup industry claims that no HFCS manufacturers currently use mercury-grade lye, though it concedes some used to. (According to the EPA, four plants still use the technology.) It says that its own tests found no traces of mercury in HFCS samples from US manufacturers, including a number of samples from some of the same sources Dufault tested. But hundreds of foreign plants still use mercury to make lye -- which may then be used to make foods for export. Already, 11 percent of the sweeteners and candy on the US market are imported.... [A] report issued by the Minnesota-based Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy ... found low levels of mercury in 16 common food products, including certain brands of kid-favored foods, like grape jelly and chocolate milk. ...


Coke! It's the heavy thing!

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Mon, Aug 3, 2009
from :
From the ApocaDesk
In the intro to the new film Food, Inc., writer Michael Pollan narrates the following: "The way we eat has changed more in the last 50 years than in the previous 10,000." Pollan emphasizes that our food now comes from factories, not farms. Factories where animals -- and the workers -- are being abused. Section one of Food, Inc. focuses on the work of writer Eric Schlosser, who wrote Fast Food Nation... Food, Inc. begins with fast food, for as Schlosser says, the "industrial food system began with fast food." And how do you start with fast food, without addressing the primordial fast food: McDonald's -- the largest buyer of ground beef in the country. And since they want their hamburgers to taste exactly the same everywhere you go, you can see a compelling reason why farms are now factories. To feed the voracious appetite for fast and cheap food, chickens are now raised to slaughter in half the time -- and at twice as size. Says one chicken farmer, "if you can grow a chicken 49 days, why would you want a chicken that takes three months to grow?" A couple reasons explored in the film involve the dangers of the overuse of antibiotics (which are administered to the animals in a "preventative" gesture) as well as the fact that the animals' bone structure can't keep up with the growth of their meat, and so they can't walk -- even if there was room to move in their packed animal enclosures. By and large, farmers are reluctant to talk about corporate farming, whether they raise animals for slaughter or grow Monsanto crops for harvesting. One farmer does talk and her heartbreaking account -- along with hidden camera footage of heartless chicken wranglers -- is enough to make you wonder why you ever eat meat. In section two, Pollan riffs from his work, especially Omnivore's Dilemma. "Corn has conquered the world," he states, pointing out that the big fat kernel of starch pretty much finds its way into most of the products you find on the grocery shelves and beyond (disposable diapers, for example). Evolution designed cows to eat grass -- not corn -- but corn is cheaper (encouraged by government subsidizing). And the conditions are ripe that new strains of E coli will be created -- spread by the manure that cows stand in as they're being slaughtered in the slaughterhouse. As Food, Inc. begins to follow food safety advocates as they try and communicate issues of concern to their government, the story moves into heart-wrenching territory. One advocate turns out to be a mother -- a mother whose two and half year old son, she tells us, "went from perfectly healthy to dead in 12 days ... from eating [E coli contaminated] meat." Home movie footage of this now dead child is enough to send you running for the aisles, but fortunately Food, Inc. is also here to create solutions. A good portion of the film is directed toward remedies to our corporate-dominated food world. If you enjoyed Omnivore's Dilemma, you get to see in living color, the irascible and fascinating Joel Salatin, whose Polyface Farms is testimony to how a farmer can create nutritious, pesticide-free food in a balanced ecosystem. We visit with Gary Hirshberg, the owner of Stoneyfield Farms, whose organic yogurt is another exemplary foodstuff -- and is now being featured on Wal-Mart shelves. Still, when you learn what happens to these corporately-raised animals, and the stranglehold (by government and corporations) over our farms and farmers, and facts like 1 in 3 children born in the United States after 2000 will develop diabetes ... well, Food, Inc. might just give you heartburn. As Pollan says toward the end: "I think it's one of the most important battles for consumers to fight: The right to know what's in your food and how it's grown. Not only do they not want you to know what's in it, they've managed to make it against the law to criticize their products." But criticize we can, three meals a day, by learning what is in the food we're buying, by buying in season, and by buying local. And by saying bye-bye to fast food, period. ...


Two hungry thumbs up!

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Fri, May 29, 2009
from London Financial Times:
Argentina pressed to ban crop chemical after health concerns
Argentina's government is coming under pressure to ban the chemical used in the world's best-selling herbicide, which has helped turn the country into an important world food exporter in the past decade, after new research found that it might be harmful to human health. A group of environmental lawyers has petitioned the Supreme Court to impose a six-month ban on the sale and use of glyphosate, which is the basis for many herbicides, including the US agribusiness giant Monsanto's Roundup product.... Research by other Argentine scientists and evidence from local campaigners has indicated a high incidence of birth defects and cancers in people living near crop-spraying areas. One study conducted by a doctor, Rodolfo Páramo, in the northern farming province of Santa Fé reported 12 malformations per 250 births, well above the normal rate. ...


Don't die for me, Argentina.

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Wed, May 27, 2009
from SciDev.net:
Change to Ecuador's GM laws 'could allow suicide seeds'
Moves by Ecuador's president to veto legislation covering genetically modified organisms could let controversial 'terminator' seeds into the country, campaigning groups claim. Ecuador bans the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) crops but for more than a decade it has allowed imports of transgenic materials -- particularly soybean and corn. There are no clear regulations about planting GM crops for research.... Terminator or 'suicide' seeds are modified so they can't reproduce in the second generation. The Convention on Biological Diversity has had a moratorium on them since 2000. Supporters say they stop farmers using seeds they haven't paid for and that their genes cannot spread to conventional crops, unlike other GM seeds. But critics say that terminator seeds will make poor farmers dependent on big companies for seeds. ...


Ecuador's "rights of nature" seems in conflict with suicidal tendencies.

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Tue, May 26, 2009
from BusinessWeek:
The Great Ethanol Scam
First, the primary job of the Environmental Protection Agency is, dare it be said, to protect our environment. Yet using ethanol actually creates more smog than using regular gas, and the EPA's own attorneys had to admit that fact in front of the justices presiding over the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in 1995 (API v. EPA). Second, truly independent studies on ethanol, such as those written by Tad Patzek of Berkeley and David Pimentel of Cornell, show that ethanol is a net energy loser. Other studies suggest there is a small net energy gain from it. Third, all fuels laced with ethanol reduce the vehicle's fuel efficiency, and the E85 blend drops gas mileage between 30 percent and 40 percent, depending on whether you use the EPA's fuel mileage standards (fueleconomy.gov) or those of the Dept. of Energy. ...


I just want to forget ethanol's sorrows.

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Thu, May 14, 2009
from BBC:
Birds at risk reach record high
A record number of bird species are now listed as threatened with extinction, a global assessment has revealed. The IUCN Red List evaluation considered 1,227, or 12 percent, of all known bird species to be at risk, with 192 species described as Critically Endangered. The main threats affecting bird numbers continued to be agriculture, logging and invasive species, the report said. However, it added that where conservation measures had been put in place, bird populations had recovered. ...


Without birds, worms will take over the planet!

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Mon, May 11, 2009
from Wall Street Journal:
Pig Boom Raises Health Issues
The recent emergence of A/H1N1 flu highlights a wider concern among scientists: Pig and other animal populations are growing too rapidly, raising the odds of disease outbreaks and other environmental problems. The world's pig population has surged in recent years, to about one billion animals from less than 750 million 30 years ago, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Agricultural economists believe the number of hogs and other livestock will keep rocketing higher in the long term, as developing-world incomes rise and meat demand booms. Pigs provide a relatively cheap source of protein. But like chickens and cows, they also present enormous health and environmental challenges... ...


Pigs are hogging the planet!

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Sat, May 2, 2009
from The Australian:
Animal bugs our biggest risk
...Nine years ago infectious diseases experts attending a US conference were presented with alarming new research that made clear the threat animal infections posed to humans. The study found three-quarters of new diseases affecting people were crossing the species barrier from animals, in which case they are known as zoonoses.... The journal Science reported that after three months of looking through the literature, they found 1709 viruses, bacteria, fungi and other bugs that afflicted humans. Forty-nine per cent had come from animals. When they narrowed the focus to 156 diseases considered emerging, or recent, threats, 73 percent were derived from animals. ...


Zoonoses... or zoonooses?

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Tue, Apr 28, 2009
from London Times:
Mexico outbreak traced to 'manure lagoons' at pig farm
The first known case of swine flu emerged a fortnight earlier than previously thought in a village where residents have long complained about the smell and flies from a nearby pig farm... The Mexican Government said it initially thought that the victim, Edgar Hernandez, 4, was suffering from ordinary influenza but laboratory testing has since shown that he had contracted swine flu....It is now known that there was a widespread outbreak of a powerful respiratory disease in the La Gloria area earlier this month...about 60 per cent of La Gloria's 3,000-strong population have sought medical assistance since February. ...


Pig shit: the petri dish of plague.

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Mon, Apr 13, 2009
from New Dehli Business Standard:
Add agriculture to climate talks, says global body
A global farm policy think tank has recommended that agriculture should form part of the international negotiations on climate change in the forthcoming apex conference of parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at Copenhagen in December 2009. A policy brief issued by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has pointed out that with suitable technology and management, agriculture, which now contributes about 15 per cent to green house gas (GHG) emissions, can actually become an important sink for emissions even from other sectors. Besides, agriculture will be adversely affected by the climate change and millions of poor farmers will need help in adapting to the weather patterns. The mechanism for funding research on climate adaptation and mitigation by the agriculture sector needs to be discussed at the UNFCCC meet at Copenhagen. Apart from agriculture’s direct contribution of 15 per cent to the GHG emissions, land-use related changes, including forest loss, account for additional 19 per cent to harmful emissions. ...


How ya gonna keep 'em down on the farm, after they've seen Copenhagen?

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Sun, Apr 12, 2009
from TIME Magazine:
Cows With Gas: India's Contribution to Global Warming
By burping, belching and excreting copious amounts of methane - a greenhouse gas that traps 20 times more heat than carbon dioxide - India's livestock of roughly 485 million (including sheep and goats) contribute more to global warming than the vehicles they obstruct. With new research suggesting that emission of methane by Indian livestock is higher than previously estimated, scientists are furiously working at designing diets to help bovines and other ruminants eat better, stay more energetic and secrete lesser amounts of the offensive gas. ...


Methane: the silent but deadly environmental killer...

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Mon, Mar 30, 2009
from Soil Science Society of America, via EurekAlert:
Nitrate fertilizer stimulates greenhouse gas production in small streams
Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas that has been accumulating in the atmosphere since the industrial revolution. It is well known that fertilizer can stimulate nitrous oxide production in soils, but less is known about nitrous oxide production in small streams which drain agricultural landscapes. Much of the cropland in the agricultural Midwest is drained by an extensive subsurface drainage network which delivers soil-derived nitrate to small streams where it may be converted to nitrous oxide. Given the large quantities of nitrogen that leach from agricultural soils and the predominance of small streams in Midwestern agricultural landscapes, small streams may an important source of nitrous oxide.... The study revealed that nitrous oxide is frequently produced in the sediments of small streams and that production rates were best explained by stream water nitrate concentrations. The highest production rates were observed during the winter and spring of the second year of the study when snow melt and rain flushed nitrate into the streams resulting in elevated stream water nitrate concentrations. ...


Fertilizing our way to climate warming? How efficient.

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Wed, Mar 25, 2009
from American Society of Horticultural Science, via EurekAlert:
Effects of 'herbicide drift' on white oak
Herbicide drift, which occurs when [herbicides] "drift" from the targeted application area to a nearby non-targeted area, is a particular concern in Midwestern regions of the United States.... White oak, a popular landscape and forest species native to the eastern United States, has been suffering from an abnormality called "leaf tatters", which give the leaves a lacy appearance. Leaf tatters in white oak trees have been reported in states from Minnesota, south to Missouri, and east to Pennsylvania.... The researchers found that visual injury to white oak seedlings was dependent on year, herbicide treatment, concentration, growth stage, and rating date.... This research is the first to document leaf tatters injury from exposure of oaks to chloroacetanilide herbicides. ...


Startling: a chemical designed to kill plants, actually hurts plants.

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Fri, Feb 27, 2009
from Forbes:
25 more Oklahoma wells tested in E. coli probe
At least 25 more private water wells have been tested near a northeastern Oklahoma town where an E. coli outbreak last summer killed one man and sickened hundreds more, the state's Department of Environmental Quality said.... But earlier this month, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson suggested that it could have been the result of contamination from nearby poultry farms. He released a report concluding that the well at the Country Cottage "is, and has been, contaminated with poultry waste and associated bacteria, including E. coli." The report also noted 49 poultry houses within a six-mile radius of Locust Grove that have the capacity to produce 10,000 tons of waste a year. The poultry industry has denied these claims, saying the DEQ testing did not identify "any link between bacteria in water wells and poultry." ...


Gosh. How could thousands of tons of chickenshit possibly get into wells?

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Fri, Feb 13, 2009
from Latin America Press:
Farming chemicals cause kidney failure
More than 3,000 workers at a sugar plant owned by Nicaragua's most powerful company have died from chronic renal failure since 1990 and a victims' group says another 5,000 workers have since developed the condition for the company's use of agrochemicals. The San Antonio Refinery is owned by the Nicaragua Sugar Estates Limited, a part of Grupo Pellas, which produces Flor de Cana rum as well as ethanol and runs an electricity generator in Chichigalpa in the northern León department... Grupo Pellas denies any wrongdoing, accuses the sick workers of being alcoholics or drug addicts, and says that the illness is provoked by other causes. But a 2006 study by the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, cited by Artoni, found that 95 percent of the 26 wells that serve the northwest of the country and close to 96 percent of the small family-only use wells are contaminated with feces, herbicides, bacteria and agrochemicals. According to a recent investigation by the university, there is a possible cause-effect relation between the laborers' work and kidney failure. Dr. Cecilia Torres, an occupational health researcher at the university told the Latin American Regional Office of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations that environmental neurotoxins, such as heavy metals -- arsenic, cadmium and lead -- and agrochemicals such as aldrin, chlorothalonil, maneb, copper sulfate, endrin and Nemagon, are major causes of chronic kidney failure in Nicaragua. ...


Maybe they're "alcoholics and drug addicts" because their kidneys are failing!

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Thu, Nov 27, 2008
from CGIAR, via Mongabay:
Carbon market could pay poor farmers to adopt sustainable cultivation techniques
... [P]roceeds from the carbon market could be used to reward farmers who adopt cultivation techniques that reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation. Such methods include growing crops under a canopy of fruit or timber trees, planting fodder trees for livestock, and curtailing the use of slash-and-burn agriculture. "If we want to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as quickly and effectively as possible, we need to do everything we can to encourage the people living in and around the world's tropical forests to adopt carbon-saving and carbon-enhancing approaches to development," said Dennis Garrity, Director General of the World Agroforestry Center, one of 15 centers supported by the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). "One crucial way to do that is to give them the same opportunities to sell their carbon as a commodity in the global market as is encouraged in other sectors." ...


My only worry is that this is too sensible for humanity, but not conducive to agribusiness.

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Thu, Nov 20, 2008
from Financial Times:
Daewoo to cultivate Madagascar land for free
Daewoo Logistics of South Korea said it expected to pay nothing to farm maize and palm oil in an area of Madagascar half the size of Belgium, increasing concerns about the largest farmland investment of this kind. The Indian Ocean island will simply gain employment opportunities from Daewoo's 99-year lease of 1.3m hectares, officials at the company said. They emphasised that the aim of the investment was to boost Seoul's food security.... "It is totally undeveloped land which has been left untouched. And we will provide jobs for them by farming it, which is good for Madagascar," said Mr Hong. The 1.3m hectares of leased land is almost half the African country’s current arable land of 2.5m hectares. ...


Now there's a deal. Something tells me that there will be a few surprises ahead for that ecosystem.

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Tue, Jul 29, 2008
from Times Online (UK):
Farmers ready to cash in on soaring land prices
Farmland prices have risen by 50 per cent over the past year to reach a record high, according to the latest market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Some farmers are taking the opportunity to sell up and retire, particularly those feeling the squeeze from the rising cost of fuel, fertilisers and energy. Cashing in is a serious option for those who are unable to operate at a profit. ...


"... and the [wealthy] shall [purchase] the earth."

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Sun, Jul 20, 2008
from Toronto Globe and Mail:
A tough new row to hoe
"The Green Revolution that began in 1945 transformed farming and fed millions in developing countries. But its methods over the long run are proving to be stunningly destructive... Now, almost half a century later, the Green Revolution's key innovations - chemicals and monocultures - are being blamed for a recent pest and disease epidemic that has ravaged Asian rice fields and sharply curtailed the supply of the main food staple of half of the world's population." ...


And before long, all these troubles will land us in the funny farm.

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Mon, Jun 30, 2008
from Universitat Autňnoma de Barcelona:
An Impossible Coexistence: Transgenic and Organic Agriculture
The cultivation of genetically modified maize has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivation of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible. This is the main conclusion reached in one of the first field studies in Europe... The author's analysis reveals a social confrontation between proponents and opponents of GM technology regarding the consequences it can have and the measures to be taken in regulating and taking responsibility for any cases of admixture... Many farmers who could sue for damages prefer not to do so in order to avoid any local confrontations in small villages. ...


Small-town morays
vs.
big-corporate ethics.


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Mon, Jun 16, 2008
from Guardian (UK):
Corn sets all-time high on U.S. crop fears
Corn prices surged to a record high on Monday and looked set to climb further as widespread flooding in a key producing region, the U.S. Midwest, helped to heighten concern about tight supplies, dealers said. "I think we are definitely going higher. There is no let up either on the demand or supply side...," said analyst Sudakshina Unnikrishnan of Barclays Capital in London. ...


When the corn is as hiiigh
as the price of the sky...


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Tue, Jun 3, 2008
from Tulsa World:
High fertilizer prices a growing worry
Urea, a key form of solid nitrogen fertilizer, doubled in price from 2000 to 2007 and then went another 40 percent higher over the past year, according to reports. Potash, another key ingredient in some fertilizers, now costs nearly $600 per ton, while phosphate is nearing $1,000 a ton.... Fuel cannot be blamed for everything that goes up, he added; fertilizer demand is also reaching all-time highs and may bear some responsibility for the costly chaos. Some chemical components are fetching record orders worldwide for everything from farming to mining. "It's real global," Robinson said. "This is the first year in 30 years that (fertilizer) demand exceeds supply." ...


It won't be the last year, either.

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Sun, May 18, 2008
from Kalamazoo Gazette:
CAFOs in conflict: Huge farms increase efficiency but create environmental concerns
"...Concentrated-animal-feeding operations, or CAFOs. What's not to love about 'em? Supporters call them technological models of efficiency and energy conservation that protect animals from predators and disease, manage manure wastes that were once scattered across fields and streams, and create cheap food and full-time employment." ...


Sounds pretty sweet unless you're one of the animals!

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