Oregon Anti-GMO Measure Fails
Organic Lifestyle Comments Off on Oregon Anti-GMO Measure Fails
The “Yes on 92” campaign, supporting the labeling of GMO foods in Oregon, has ended its efforts.
“While we have accomplished much, Measure 92 will not emerge victorious in this election. But our growing movement to label genetically engineered foods is neither defeated nor discouraged,” Yes on 92 reported. The measure lost by slightly more than 800 votes out of 1.5 million cast.
“On Tuesday we went to court in a final attempt to have 4,600 uncounted ballots opened and counted in this race. The judge agreed that leaving thousands of ballots uncounted in this election will cause irreparable harm to those voters and to the Measure 92 campaign. But he ultimately ruled that Oregon law didn’t allow him to issue the order to stop the count.
“These voters did everything right; completing, signing and returning their ballots on time and yet they have been denied the right to vote. We strongly believe we would have won the election if those votes had been counted.”
Meanwhile, the House Energy & Commerce Committee is now holding hearings on H.R. 4432. Lead sponsors Mike Pomeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) are calling the bill, “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2014.”
Like last year’s Monsanto Protection Act, this bill has been crafted by Monsanto and biotech lobbyists to offer protection to Monsanto and permanently hide the fact that GMOs are in 75 percent of the processed foods sold in grocery stores in America.
What H.R. 4432 will do:
Preempt states from requiring labeling of genetically engineered food; prevent FDA from requiring GMO labeling; allow “natural” foods to contain genetically engineered ingredients; creates a new GMO “review” system based on industry studies and loopholes for certain food additives and animals fed conventional food.
CHOOSE GLASS OR CERAMIC LIQUID CONTAINERS
Chemicals can and do leach from plastic containers, thereby contaminating foods and beverages, Dr. Joseph Mercola’s website reports.
Among the most hazardous of these chemicals are bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, both of which mimic hormones in the body. Ovarian toxicity appears to be a particularly strong feature of BPA. Harvard researchers have found that higher BPA levels in women are linked to a reduced number of fertile eggs.
In response to consumer demand for BPA-free products, many manufacturers have switched to using a different chemical called bisphenol-S (BPS), which appears to be just as toxic as BPA. Styrene, found in Styrofoam cups, can be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” according to scientists with the National Research Council.
SCIENCE OUT AT EPA, LOBBYISTS IN
H.R. 1422, which passed the House of Representatives 229-191, would transform the Scientific Advisory Board of the Environmental Protection Agency, effectively gagging scientists while handing power to people with direct financial interests in the industries regulated by the EPA. It now goes to the Senate.
The bill even goes so far as to forbid scientific experts from participating in “advisory activities” that either directly or indirectly involve their own work. This means that world-leading experts would be banned from sharing their expertise in their own research.
Republicans are arguing that allowing EPA to use peer-reviewed scientific studies would constitute a conflict of interest. “In other words,” wrote Union of Concerned Scientists director Andrew A. Rosenberg in an editorial for RollCall, “academic scientists who know the most about a subject can’t weigh in, but experts paid by corporations who want to block regulations can.”
So how is the GOP selling such a blatantly absurd policy?
Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) sums up the logic of the Republicans, arguing
that the board’s current structure “excludes industry experts, but not officials for environmental advocacy groups.” The inclusion of industry experts, he said, would right this injustice.
Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachussets didn’t beat about the bush with his summary of the Republican position: “I get it. You don’t like science,” he told bill sponsor Rep. Chris Stewart, (R-Utah). “And you don’t like science that interferes with the interests of your corporate clients. But we need science to protect public health and the environment.”
But the fight was lost, the bill passed, and two other bills aimed at impeding the EPA are scheduled to slide through. One prevents the agency from relying on what it calls “secret science” in crafting its regulations—translation: a means to effectively block the EPA from adopting any new rules to protect public health.
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), in an editorial for The Hill, stated that this trifecta of idiocy represents “the culmination of one of the most anti-science and anti-health campaigns I’ve witnessed in my 22 years as a member of Congress.”
The White House has threatened to veto all three bills.
The role of independent scientific assessment of the environmental and health impacts of industry is the only way the EPA is of any value or credibility. Take that away, and you turn the EPA into a Trade Show where industry lackeys hard-sell the public and politicians with zero scrutiny, according to the Organic Consumers Association.
MASSIVE FRAUD ALLEGED ON HUGE ORGANIC DAIRY FARMS
In what has been called one of the largest fraud investigations in the history of the organic industry, The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, announced filing formal legal complaints against 14 industrial livestock operations producing milk, meat and eggs being marketed, allegedly illegally, as organic.
After years of inaction by the USDA, Cornucopia contracted for aerial photography in nine states, from West Texas to New York and Maryland, over the past eight months. What they found confirmed earlier site visits: a systemic pattern of corporate agribusiness interests operating industrial-scale confinement livestock facilities providing no legitimate grazing, or even access to the outdoors, as required by federal organic regulations.
“The federal organic regulations make it very clear that all organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and that ruminants, like dairy cows, must have access to pasture,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute. “The vast majority of these massive, industrial-scale facilities, some managing 10,000-20,000 head of cattle, and upwards of 1 million laying hens, had 100 percent of their animals confined in giant buildings or feedlots.”
“Shoppers, who passionately support the ideals and values represented by the organic label, understandably feel betrayed when they see photos of these massive CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) masquerading as organic,” Kastel added.
The organization recommends consumers consult Cornucopia’s organic brand scorecard (http://www.cornucopia.org/2008/01/dairy-report-and-scorecard/) so they can choose from the many organic brands that partner with farmers and that truly deliver on the promise of better environmental stewardship, humane animal husbandry, and economic justice for the families who produce organic food.
ORGANIC STRAWBERRY PLANTING STOCK BEING TRIALED
Center for Food Safety (CFS), in collaboration with six organic strawberry farmers, today announced the launch of a pilot project to field test newly developed organic strawberry planting stock. Government funds and university research support for this project have been non-existent, despite repeated requests for contributions.
Currently, organic planting stock is not commercially available to organic strawberry growers, as revealed by the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). Therefore, the farmers have no choice but to purchase non-organic planting stock from conventional nurseries, which routinely fumigate their soils with methyl bromide, chloropicrin and other toxic chemicals prior to propagation.
Organic strawberry growers have expressed dissatisfaction with being forced to grow conventional transplants, but no organic transplants or funding for nursery experiments have been forthcoming in nearly a decade.
In response, in January 2012, Center for Food Safety convened the first Organic Strawberry Summit, bringing together all sectors of the organic strawberry industry to discuss this problem. At its second meeting, Greenheart Farms in Arroyo Grande, California, agreed to produce the first-ever organic strawberry plants from tissue culture and to sell them to growers for field testing this season.
“Organic (agriculture) has consistently led the way in developing pest management strategies that do not rely on dangerous synthetic chemicals, which jeopardize both human and environmental health,” said Dr. Lisa J. Bunin, organic policy director at Center for Food Safety. “Organic farmers are ready and willing to take up the challenge in the case of methyl bromide and strawberry planting stock.”
Organic strawberries comprise 8.5 percent of California’s strawberry market and contribute more than $63 million to the state’s economy, based on 2011 figures. These figures are likely to be much higher given the tremendous, recent growth in organic strawberry production. Between 2013 and 2014, organic strawberry production increased by 21.5 percent for winter plantings and 118 percent for summer plantings, according to the California Strawberry Commission.
Methyl bromide is a neurotoxin, a carcinogen, and an ozone depleter. In accordance with the Montreal Protocol, it was slated to be banned, internationally, nearly 10 years ago. The U.S. is currently only one of three advanced industrialized countries, including Australia and Canada, that still apply for annual exemptions to this ban. European Union countries no longer use it. California strawberry growers use about 90 percent of all the methyl bromide used in the industrialized world.
Organic Lifestyle Comments Off on Color Blind
What with all the hideous gunning down of unarmed black people by police in recent days, the subject of race is back, front and center. The other day I read someone’s comment that we, as a society, need to become color blind.
Nonsense. No way will we ever, or should we ever, become color blind. Are you going to look at black person and pretend they’re not black? Or look at a white person and pretend they’re not white? That’s just stupid.
Color blind is simply the wrong term. What we want is to become color tolerant. Then any black person will have all the rights, excuses, advantages, forgivenesses, acceptances, and equality as everyone else.
If anything, we should celebrate our divergent ethnicities. Where would this country be without our black folks? They are the backbone of America. They did the heavy lifting for centuries. They have kept the soul of this country alive. They have insisted on the righteousness of tolerance. They have shown us the way of non-violence. They have mightily enriched our arts, especially in the area of music, and in the field of athletics. They should be cherished and celebrated every day of every year. We would not be the country we are without the contribution of all our citizens, black or white.
Our African-American countrymen and women (and children) are owed a great deal, not only because of their contributions to our society and culture, but also and maybe most importantly, because how badly they and their progenitors have been used and abused in this country.
The fact that white police forces feel they have a license to kill black people with impunity is a horrible blot on our people, our culture, and our nation. Right now, I don’t say God bless America. I say God, please make it stop.
NO IT WASN’T
“It is easy to forget that once upon a time all agriculture was organic, grassfed, and regenerative.” — Courtney White, The Carbon Pilgrim, Nov. 16, 2014.
People say this all the time, as if farming in the centuries and millennia before the advent of organic farming in the 1930s was equivalent to the organic method. But no, it wasn’t. True, farmers way back didn’t have modern agricultural chemicals, but the organic method is a lot more than the absence of chemicals. It’s a holistic way of thinking about farming, about the farm as an ecosystem. Ecology wasn’t even recognized as a science until the mid-20th Century. Yes, cattle in bygone eras were pastured, but they were also fed silage and grains to fatten them up. And regeneration as a concept to advance farming was introduced by Bob Rodale in the late 1970s. So stop saying that pre-industrial agriculture was organic, because it wasn’t.
WE CAN’T BE ORGANIC IF WE’RE RADIOACTIVE
The cumulative amount of radiation released from Fukushima already exceeds that of the infamous 1986 Chernobyl disaster, says a new study published in the journal Nature — and the damage, of course, is still ongoing. In fact, according to some news sources, the radiation plume in the Pacific Ocean has reached the shores of Alaska and is heading down the coast toward California.
Scientists from Japan, after testing radiation concentrations in various spots throughout the Pacific Ocean and on land, found that at least 120 petabecquerels (PBq), or 120 quadrillion becquerels (Bq), of radioactive cesium-134 (Cs-134) and cesium-137 (Cs-137) have been released by Fukushima into the ocean.
This figure is 11 percent higher than the total amount of radioactive cesium released by Chernobyl on both land and water, illustrating the true severity of the Fukushima disaster that the mainstream media is concealing from the public.
Even worse is the fact that the 120 PBq figure does not take into account all the other radioactive isotopes like strontium, plutonium and uranium that have been spreading through the air and water since 2011 when the disaster occurred. Taking all these other contaminants into account paints an even more dire picture of what the world has to look forward to.
MORE BAD NEWS ABOUT FUKUSHIMA
The following are 28 signs that the west coast of North America is being threatened with nuclear radiation from Fukushima. Some of this seems anecdotal, some seems a little hysterical, but there’s no doubt that the Pacific is being contaminated and it’s heading our way.
1. Polar bears, seals and walruses along the Alaska coastline are suffering from fur loss and open sores. Wildlife experts are studying whether fur loss and open sores detected in nine polar bears in recent weeks is widespread and related to similar incidents among seals and walruses. The bears were among 33 spotted near Barrow, Alaska, during routine survey work along the Arctic coastline. Tests showed they had “alopecia, or loss of fur, and other skin lesions,” the U.S. Geological Survey said in a statement.
2. There is an epidemic of sea lion deaths along the California coastline. At island rookeries off the Southern California coast, 45 percent of the pups born in June have died, said Sharon Melin, a wildlife biologist for the National Marine Fisheries Service based in Seattle. Normally, less than one-third of the pups would die. It’s gotten so bad in the past two weeks that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration declared an “unusual mortality event.”
3. Along the Pacific coast of Canada and the Alaska coastline, the population of sockeye salmon is at a historic low. Many are blaming Fukushima.
4. Something is causing fish all along the west coast of Canada to bleed from their gills, bellies and eyeballs.
5. A vast field of radioactive debris from Fukushima that is approximately the size of California has crossed the Pacific Ocean and is starting to collide with the west coast.
6. It is being projected that the radioactivity of coastal waters off the U.S. west coast could double over the next five to six years.
7. Experts have found very high levels of cesium-137 in plankton living in the waters of the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and the west coast.
8. One test in California found that 15 out of 15 bluefin tuna were contaminated with radiation from Fukushima.
9. Back in 2012, the Vancouver Sun reported that cesium-137 was being found in a very high percentage of the fish that Japan was selling to Canada. The radioactive isotope was found in 73 percent of mackerel tested, 91 percent of the halibut, 92 percent of the sardines, 93 percent of the tuna and eel, 94 percent of the cod and anchovies, 100 percent of the carp, seaweed, shark and monkfish.
10. Canadian authorities are finding extremely high levels of nuclear radiation in certain fish samples. One sea bass sample collected in July, for example, had 1,000 becquerels per kilogram of cesium.
11. Some experts believe that we could see very high levels of cancer along the west coast just from people eating contaminated fish. “Look at what’s going on now: They’re dumping huge amounts of radioactivity into the ocean — no one expected that in 2011,” Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear policy lecturer at the University of California-Santa Cruz, told Global Security Newswire. “We could have large numbers of cancers from ingestion of fish.”
12. BBC News recently reported that radiation levels around Fukushima are “18 times higher” than previously believed.
13. An EU-funded study concluded that Fukushima released up to 210 quadrillion becquerels of cesium-137 into the atmosphere.
14. Atmospheric radiation from Fukushima reached the west coast of the United States within a few days back in 2011.
15. At this point, 300 tons of contaminated water is pouring into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every single day.
16. A senior researcher of marine chemistry at the Japan Meteorological Agency’s Meteorological Research Institute says that “30 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium and 30 billion becquerels of radioactive strontium” are being released into the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima every single day.
17. According to Tepco, a total of somewhere between 20 trillion and 40 trillion becquerels of radioactive tritium have gotten into the Pacific Ocean since the Fukushima disaster first began.
18. According to a professor at Tokyo University, 3 gigabecquerels of cesium-137 are flowing into the port at Fukushima Daiichi every single day.
19. It has been estimated that up to 100 times as much nuclear radiation has been released into the ocean from Fukushima than was released during the entire Chernobyl disaster.
20. One recent study concluded that a very large plume of cesium-137 from the Fukushima disaster will start flowing into U.S. coastal waters early next year.
21. It is being projected that significant levels of cesium-137 will reach every corner of the Pacific Ocean by the year 2020.
22. It is being projected that the entire Pacific Ocean will soon “have cesium levels 5 to 10 times higher” than what we witnessed during the era of heavy atomic bomb testing in the Pacific many decades ago.
23. The immense amounts of nuclear radiation getting into the water in the Pacific Ocean has caused environmental activist Joe Martino to issue the following warning:
“Your days of eating Pacific Ocean fish are over.”
24. The Iodine-131, Cesium-137 and Strontium-90 that are constantly coming from Fukushima are going to affect the health of those living in the northern hemisphere for a very, very long time. Iodine-131, for example, can be ingested into the thyroid, where it emits beta particles (electrons) that damage tissue. A plague of damaged thyroids has already been reported among as many as 40 percent of the children in the Fukushima area. That percentage can only go higher. In developing youngsters, it can stunt both physical and mental growth. Among adults it causes a very wide range of ancillary ailments, including cancer. Cesium-137 from Fukushima has been found in fish caught as far away as California. It spreads throughout the body, but tends to accumulate in the muscles. Strontium-90’s half-life is around 29 years. It mimics calcium and goes to our bones.
25. According to a recent Planet Infowars report, the California coastline is being transformed into “a dead zone.”
26. A study conducted last year came to the conclusion that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster could negatively affect human life along the west coast of North America from Mexico to Alaska “for decades.”
27. According to the Wall Street Journal, it is being projected that the cleanup of Fukushima could take up to 40 years to complete.
28. Yale Professor Charles Perrow is warning that if the cleanup of Fukushima is not handled with 100 percent precision, humanity could be threatened “for thousands of years.”
NOT TO WORRY SAYS RESPECTED MAINSTREAM SCIENCE JOURNAL
From Science magazine:
After a two-and-a-half year ocean journey, radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has drifted to within 160 kilometers of the California coast, according to a new study. But the radiation levels are minuscule and do not pose a threat, researchers say.
Shortly after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in March, 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Co. estimated that the facility had released a staggering 7000 trillion becquerels—a measure of emitted radiation—of radiation into nearby seawater. Meanwhile, Japan’s Ministry of the Environment reported readings of 45.5 million becquerels per cubic meter of water, high enough to cause reproductive problems in fish.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that the power plant’s radiation dissipated quickly as it spread from the coast, however. It arrived at this conclusion by measuring cesium-134, a kind of radiation “fingerprint” unique to Fukushima because of its relatively short two-year half-life. By June, 2011, cesium-134 was found 600 kilometers offshore from Japan producing 325 becquerels per cubic meter. Building models based on early readings, the World Health Organization and public health departments in California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska all forecast that Fukushima radiation would not pose a human health risk in North America.
But antinuclear groups like Beyond Nuclear, a Maryland nonprofit that advocates against nuclear power, questioned those predictions, citing concerns about continuing releases of radioactive isotopes from Fukushima since the 2011 meltdowns. In addition, nonprofits like the Tillamook Estuaries Partnership, which monitors and works to improve watersheds in Oregon, wanted more concrete data to present to their communities.
So marine chemist Ken Buesseler of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts convinced an eclectic group of organizations to collect water samples up and down the west coast of North America. Following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986, Buesseler had tracked radioactive contaminants in the Black Sea, the closest major water body to the accident site. To pay for similar research in the much larger Pacific Ocean, he turned to crowdfunding—the increasingly popular method of using the Internet to bring multiple people together to fund costly endeavors. Government bodies such as the Umpqua Soil and Water Conservation District, universities, and conservation groups joined in, offering both to collect water from more than 50 sites in the Pacific Ocean near U.S. shores and to pay to ship and test those samples in Buesseler’s lab.
The findings are reassuring, Buesseler says. He measured a high of just 8 becquerels of radiation per cubic meter in the samples. Of that, he says, less than 2 becquerels came from cesium-134 traced to Fukushima. The remainder is largely from strontium-90 and cesium-137: Some of that is fallout from mid-20th century atomic bomb tests in the Pacific, and some may have come from Fukushima—these isotopes lack the half-life fingerprint that ties cesium-134 to the Japanese disaster. The total level of radiation is hardly worth worrying about, Buesseler says: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for drinking water allow up to 7400 becquerels per cubic meter. Buesseler is presenting his latest findings Thursday at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry North America’s annual meeting.
“There are people here in California who are worried they could get fried by going to a beach, and this research confirms that those fears are wrong and inappropriate,” says Daniel Hirsch, a nuclear policy researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, who was not involved in the study. But he also cautions that Fukushima may bring other risks to North America beyond ocean radiation levels, particularly related to seafood. Oregon State University researchers found that radiation levels in tuna caught off the Oregon coast tripled after the Fukushima meltdown—though levels remain too low to risk human health, they said. Hirsch predicts seafood radiation levels could climb as fish higher on the food chain eat and absorb radiation from smaller animals.
Although his results may not have public health implications, Buesseler says he hopes his work leads to a better informed populace. “People were making irrational decisions about spending time at the coast, or attributing starfish deaths to Fukushima,” he says. “Dental x-rays and airplanes have greater exposures than what we are measuring.”
REPORT FROM ANOTHER RESPECTED SCIENCE JOURNAL
From Nature magazine:
Pressure continued to mount on the owner of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on 1 September after it admitted that recent leaks of contaminated cooling water contained 18 times the levels of radiation previously reported.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said that one hot spot was found to be giving off 1,800 millisieverts per hour — much more than the 100mSv initially quoted and enough gamma radiation to kill a human within four hours. It also emerged that the pipe from which the water was leaking had been sealed with plastic tape.
The company vowed to launch an investigation of the leak and “take any appropriate countermeasures immediately”, adding that only 1mSv of the radiation was made up of gamma rays, with the rest being less penetrating beta radiation.
But the new revelations will heap pressure on the Japanese government to intervene in the clean-up of Fukushima after experts voiced fears that TEPCO is unable to cope with the operation, which has seen hundreds of tons of radioactive water escape into the Pacific Ocean. Analysts warned that if the government fails to act, prime minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear stance may be jeopardized.
“It’s clear that TEPCO is unable to solve the problems on its own,” said Tsutomu Toichi, managing director and chief economist at the Institute of Energy Economics in Tokyo. “The government has to step in to ensure these problems are solved quickly. It is going to have to provide funds, as well as a plan for moving forward, and explain this to the public in a way that is easy to understand.”
Wiktor Frid, a nuclear expert with the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority in Stockholm, added, “That water leaked from a tank unnoticed for several days is alarming and extremely embarrassing for TEPCO”.
U.S. NUCLEAR WHISTLEBLOWER IS FIRED FOR HER EFFORTS
As the official in charge of overseeing safety compliance for the nation’s largest nuclear waste cleanup project, Donna Busche was simply doing her job. Federal contractors running the Hanford nuclear site suddenly saw her routine safety concerns as roadblocks to meeting deadlines regardless of quality, and terminated Busche in February, 2014. The companies have even stonewalled the Department of Energy Inspector General’s investigation into her case, putting into question who is supposed to regulate whom.
AND NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS
After spending years trying to make good French fries at home, I’ve finally run across the trick.
It’s important to start with the right kind of potatoes. The best kind of potato to use for making fries is a Kennebec or Yukon Gold.
The best way to prepare the potato is to hand cut into 1/4 inch strips, skin on, then soak overnight in cold water. Then fry in Pure Canola oil first at 225 degrees for 4 minutes, then refrigerate overnight, then fry again at 375 degrees for 2 minutes.
Making good fries requires precise fryer oil temperature management. Thought has to go into how many fries to place in the fryer at once, how long they should cook, and then how long to wait before putting in the next batch to be fried.
Well, okay. Maybe next week. Just make sure the spuds are organic.
COKE TO INTRODUCE NEW IMPROVED “MILK”
Coca-Cola is poised to take advantage of growing demand for better-for-you products among American consumers, with its new Coke Life product that launched nationally this month in mini-cans, Coca-Cola North American President J. Alexander M. Douglas said. “And our belief is that that trend will continue and that we have to be in a competitively-advantaged place, a solution for consumers who want to make positive changes but also want to treat themselves to the best-tasting drinks,” he said.
Americans have been cutting back on soda for years, and that’s dealt a blow to sales and profit at Coca-Cola.
Now, the company is making a bold move into a completely different beverage: milk.
Coca-Cola is planning to bring a new kind of milk to stores nationwide in late December. The milk, called Fairlife, has 50 percent more protein and 50 percent less sugar than regular milk. It also has 30 percent more calcium.
“It’s basically the premiumization of milk,” Sandy Douglas, a senior vice president at Coca-Cola’s North American operation, said recently at an investor conference. (Is that like the gentrification of a neighborhood?) “Our ambition there is to create the Simply of milk.” He was referring to the company’s Simply juice line, which has seen strong growth even as the overall fruit juice industry has been in decline. Coca-Cola advertises its Simply juices as healthier, never frozen and never sweetened, which plays well with grocery shoppers.
My question is this. In order to get a fabulously well-paying job like Coca-Cola North American President, do you have to have a name like “J. Alexander M. Douglas?”
NEONICOTINOID (BEE-DESTROYING) SEEDS HAVE NO BENEFIT
Mounting scientific literature regarding neonicotinoid pesticides is finding they contaminate our rivers and streams, and likely play an important role in causing colony collapse disorder among honeybees.
One of the primary ways these pesticides enter the environment is through genetically modified soybean seeds coated with the pesticide prior to planting. Now, a new peer-reviewed report by the Biological and Economic Analysis Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has concluded these seed treatments do not provide any significant benefit, with data indicating that there was no difference in yield when comparing treated and untreated seeds. Also, as currently used, the pesticides are present in the soybean leaf during a time when most destructive pests are not active. “U.S. soybean growers derive limited to no benefit from neonicotinoid seed treatments in most instances,” the report says, adding, “Usage of neonicotinoid seed treatments does not protect soybean yield any better than doing no pest control.”
Oh, and by the way, Monsanto has announced that despite this mounting evidence of no benefit and honeybee die-offs, it will not stop coating seed with the chemicals. So there, America and your damn honeybees. As Bogey said when he was slapping Peter Lorre around in The Maltese Falcon, “You’ll take it and you’ll like it.”
POLLINATORS INCREASE WITH BIODIVERSITY ON ORGANIC FARMS
In a recent study published in Agriculture Ecosystems and the Environment, scientists found that pollinator services to crops on organic farms increased when habitat heterogeneity was increased, but this same trend was not seen on conventionally farmed land.
Researchers compared pod development in beans on conventional farms and organic farms surrounded by varying amounts heterogeneous habitat depending on the amount of surrounding land set aside to grow hay or grass. Pots of beans were then placed in each field and monitored for indicators of successful pollination in the number of bean pods that developed as well as the total number of beans per pod.
Overall, organic farms had more pods per plant than conventional fields, suggesting that more successful pollination occurred in organic fields. Also, as the amount of habitat heterogeneity increased, so did the number of beans in each pod—demonstrating that pollination services in organic fields also increased as the landscape became more diverse. “Surprisingly,” the report on the study said, “this increase in pollination services with habitat heterogeneity was not observed in conventional farms. The authors hypothesized that it may be that organic farming is simply friendlier towards pollinators because it does not use synthetic herbicides or fertilizers.”