My kids had a great baseball season playing in Little League this Spring. We've now moved on to other summery things like swim lessons in Berkeley's freezing fog. So I was caught off-guard by last week's surprise collision between my work and home worlds, namely the revelation that USDA has just given Scotts Miracle Gro (the lawn chemical company and much decried sponsor of Major League Baseball), the go-ahead for a new and once again totally unnecessary genetically engineered product: Roundup Ready lawn grass. And they may have pulled off a de facto deregulation of all future GE products in the process.
This morning, while my boys are eating breakfast, I’m going to take a moment to mentally thank our local dairy farmers for the milk on our table and our chicken farmers for our eggs. Then I’m going to pick up the phone and call the President. It won’t take long, and it’s really important. Family farmers and ranchers' livelihoods are on the line.
A New York Times Environment reporter has been pumping out a series of attention-getting blogs on agriculture, climate change and the environment. So far, so good. But, while glad to see serious attention given to this intersection, I was disappointed by the author’s apparent infatuation with the promise of technological miracle cures to increase yields, evident in his near-reverential regard for the international research institutes responsible for the first Green Revolution and for the naive techno-optimism of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Climate change, environment and agriculture are inextricably linked. Many would have us believe that protecting the environment means feeding fewer people. Can we somehow feed the world and save rare and endangered species from extinction?
A scientific review published this month by my colleague, Michael Jahi Chappell and his co-author, Liliana Lavalle, tackles just this question. Asking “Food security and biodiversity: can we have both?” Chappell and Lavalle say yes. Citing the UN-led International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), among other studies, the authors explain how agroecological farming not only can feed the world, but also can enhance biodiversity.
An international team of highly respected scientists has just released a stunning report, Roundup and Birth Defects, proving that Monsanto and industry regulators have known for decades that Monsanto’s top-selling weedkiller, Roundup, causes birth defects in laboratory animals.
Farmers, Indigenous people and rural communities around the world celebrated the International Day for Biological Diversity last week. But casting a long shadow was the news that big funders and new NGOs are teaming up with the pesticide-biotech giant, Syngenta, in a renewed effort to push genetically engineered rice forward in Bangladesh and the Philippines.
Nicknamed “golden rice,” this untested, highly controversial GE crop threatens biodiversity across the region and risks bringing economic and ecological disaster to Asia’s farms.
My mom hackles are up. GE toxins are turning up in umbilical cordblood and the blood of pregnant women, according to a study by independent Canadian doctors. And what might be the effect of these toxins on developing fetuses? No one really knows. Let me tell you why this is big news.
All this time, Monsanto has based its assertion that crops engineered to contain the bacterial toxin, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), are harmless on an assumption that the toxin breaks down in the digestive system and so never enters the rest of the body. Regulators have been repeating this to us for over a generation. Now it turns out that the Bt toxin is not only surviving in our guts, but is making its way on into our bloodstreams — and if we’re pregnant, into the soon-to-be-babies in our bellies.
With gas prices well over $4/gallon, conversation with my neighbors frequently turns to the vulnerability of our fossil-fuel-based economy and to the future of our planet. The good news I can share today is that organic farms — besides being good for the soil, environment and our health — are proving to be much more energy efficient than conventional systems.
A big thanks to all who came out Monday night and joined us in what was a lively conversation on Growing Food Democracy: Connecting Global Lessons to Local Action. I was thrilled to see such interest and to meet so many people in the Bay Area so deeply engaged in the work of building a just and sustainable food system.
As the sun crested the Berkeley hills early yesterday, I logged on to the Washington Post’s live feed of its daylong conference, The Future of Food. For the next 8 hours, I enjoyed a veritable feast of thoughtful, well-evidenced and deeply inspiring calls to embrace a new agriculture, rooted in community and ecological resilience. The messengers included the Prince of Wales — who seamlessly knitted together the challenges of our failing global food system with a clear vision for the future — Eric Schlosser, Wendell Berry, Vandana Shiva and many more.