Digest – News: GM soy underperforms conventional, food riots, raw-milk development

OK, please bear with us while we catch up on the last few weeks' worth of news and remember how to pun. The links in the Digest that got deleted are gone forever, however; apologies to readers who'd sent in tips. We did go back and hunt down a few of the biggest stories for the Re-Digest below.

starObviously you forgot to read the fine-print disclaimer: A major new study has shown that genetically modified soy produces 10 percent less food than its conventional equivalent. Yeah, you read that right. Monsanto shrugged, saying its "soya had not been engineered to increase yields, and that it was now developing one that would." Which it will then force down farmers' throats and blackmail them into paying for all eternity, presumably. We're just cityfolk, but wasn't the idea that Roundup-Ready soy wouldn't have to compete with weeds, and would thus produce even more? (The Independent)

Pass the Frankenfoods…on by: As prices rise, Europeans, the Japanese, and other countries historically cautious about biotech crops are getting what a European ag spokeman calls "more realistic" about accepting them. A new Unesco report, however, gives short shrift to GM crops; the project's co-chair says, “What farmers really are struggling with are water issues, soil fertility issues and market access for their products." (New York Times) Related: More about the Unesco report's recs from BBC News.

The hunger artists: All around the world there is anger at rising food prices, as this searing piece on food shortages in Haiti, Egypt, Senegal, and elsewhere depicts in vivid, stomach-clutching detail. In Haiti the poorest are buying mud cakes flavored with oil and salt to eat. (New York Times) Related: On his blog Stuffed & Starved, Raj Patel offers a cogent explanation why certain countries are rioting over food and others aren't.

starAmanda kicks over the raw-milk bucket: Whoa! Our Ethicurean team member Amanda Rose (and Organic Gardening milk feature writer) neglected to tell us she would be dropping a bombshell on the California raw-milk community. On her other blog, she confirms rumors that one possible reason that state investigators' tests never could link Organic Pastures Dairy conclusively to the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak of 2006 was because it wasn't OP's milk...even if it was under its label. Organic Pastures' Mark McAfee has admitted he was "outsourcing" — selling colostrum from the notorious Vander Eyk dairy, which had its organic certification pulled because it did not give its cows access to pasture. Sums up Amanda, at the end of a obsessively detailed factual argument that ends with the roar of an outraged mama bear: "This story is a food processor integrity story. If I buy a product from a processor and that processor tells me that the product comes from a cow on grass, I expect that the product comes from a cow on grass … I want to thank Mark for bottling a product self-described as laden with 'filth, feces, contaminants, and pathogens.' Thank you for marketing that same product to my young son as a health food." (Rebuild from Depression)

Downergate just one bad, lame apple: Richard Raymond, undersecretary for food safety at the USDA, told Congress that the Hallmark/Westland slaughterhouse incidents caught on video that triggered the massive beef recall were 'isolated,' and no thanks, the USDA doesn't need any new workers and technology. (Los Angeles Times) And on the opposite side of the moral universe: China may enact penalties of up to life imprisonment for people responsible for the production of substandard food. (Reuters)

The good news is, almost 8 out of 10 didn't!: 22.2 percent of slaughterhouses in a recent audit were found to have violated humane animal treatment rules. (High Plains Journal)

Druggie catch: Australia's salmon industry is unconcerned that antibiotics used in fish farming have been found at high levels in wild fish. (Mercury) Meanwhile: Norway may halt salmon fishing season due to dangerously low stocks. (UPI)

Pork quois?: The Canadian government announced that it would pay hog producers as much as $50 million to kill 150,000 pigs by fall. (NPR)

Federal immigration agents raided Pilgrim's Pride poultry plants in Florida and four other states (Capital Press)

Organic prices are rising for many of the same reasons affecting conventional food prices (NYT)

BASF threatens EU over slow approval process for GM potato (BusinessWeek)

South Korea will resume beef imports from the U.S., ending 2003 ban over mad-cow fears (NYT)

Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act to go on California's ballot in Nov. (AVMA.org)

Study confirms Parkinson's-pesticides link (Reuters)

2 Responsesto “Digest – News: GM soy underperforms conventional, food riots, raw-milk development”

  1. Melissa says:

    I think you with the GM soy it's a management issue more than anything. The farm kids in one of my ag classes were talking about how they used to have to "walk the beans" when they were kids, which means they had to walk around the fields spraying them. Because of Roundup Ready GM beans, they don't have to do this anymore. GM Soy simply requires a lot less labor and skill to grow.

  2. Anastasia says:

    On the Independent article you cite here - unfortunately Geoffrey Lean twisted the research inappropriately. I extensively analyzed the article here: http://www.geneticmaize.com/2008/04/exposed/.
    More recently, Dr. Barney Gordon himself wrote in Seed Today that Lean misrepresented his research: http://www.seedtoday.com/info/ST_articles.html?ID=56952.