Independence from GMOs, why fire works

Washington Post: Anti-GMO activist Jeremey Rifkin's editorial cautiously welcomes the rise of a new genomic technology -- marker-assisted selection (MAS) -- that will increase crop yields and pest resistance without relying on splicing in genes from other species. Except GMO crops may have already contaminated non-GMO crops enough to make MAS more difficult.

NPR: Morning Edition asks Michael Pollan why grilling with fire is such a primordial pleasure.

Texas A&M's AgNews: An article on a Texas A&M study (published in Meat Science this summer) that waiting longer to slaughter cows fed on corn produces nicely marbled beef with more monounsaturated fats than younger corn-fed beef. An eye-opening look at the other side's mindset, where a researcher says with a shrug, "We've always had more corn in this country than we can consume, so we feed it to our livestock."

Edmonton Journal: A firm in Vancouver, B. C. has chosen a site north of Edmonton, Alberta for Canada's first biodiesel plant. The plant will convert canola into biodiesel. Although diesel cars could run on 100% biodiesel, but Canadian industry and government plant to blend 5-20% biodiesel with regular diesel. (There also are plans for biodiesel plants in Washington State. Does anyone else see a problem with turning food into fuel while millions of people are starving?)

The Seattle Times: Continuing the topic of biodiesel, a Kirkland, Washington company is selling "green" cars. These are a mixture of used Volvos, Mercedes and VW Beetles which have been refitted to operate on biodiesel. The company, The Green Car Company, also sells DaimlerChrysler Smart Cars that are refitted to meet U.S. standards. The Smarts get 40 mpg. DaimlerChrysler recently has announced that they will sell Smart Cars in the U.S.

BBC News: Even if you aren't a lactard and haven't adopted the locavorean habit, you may want to wait for Cadbury to fix their testing process before you reach for that milk chocolate bar (or any of their other candies). They recalled one million chocolate bars due to fears that the products may contain salmonella bacteria. (I can't help but think of the corny "Sam N Ella" food safety videos from grade school.)

One Responseto “Independence from GMOs, why fire works”

  1. Marc says:

    People generally don't go hungry because of low food production. They can't get enough to eat because of a combination of war, poverty, lack of education, poor land management, official corruption or government policy. Look at the U.S., for example. The food industry produces something like 4000 calories per person per day, but still millions go hungry. In Africa, many of the worst famines have been caused by civil war or government oppression. Food First's 12 Myths about Hunger explains ( http://www.foodfirst.org/12myths ).

    Some of the concerns I have about biofuels include:

    Involvement by big corporations (oil companies, ADM, and Cargill) - They could start buying up little farms and creating super-farms for biofuel production. These firms have some of the worst environmental records around and therefore might not be the best land stewards. There is a potential tie-in to hunger here, as in developing nations, large corporations might buy up subsistance farms and convert them to biofuel feedstock that could be made into fuel and exported to the U.S. or E.U.

    Opening up conservation lands - These lands are currently not being farmed so they can recover some fertility and provide temporary habitat for animals. In an article in the New York Times about the ethanol boom, the possibility of these lands being farmed with biofuel crops was discussed.

    Lowest cost approaches (in the short term, anyway) - If the oil companies or other mega-corporations get involved, they will strive for the lowest-cost option. One of these options is clear-cutting pristine rainforest to create massive palm, corn or soybean plantations. This will probably have a negative carbon balance and thus negate any CO2 benefits of biofuel. Bird Life International has written about the biodiversity implications (http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2005/12/bioenergy.html).