Reclaiming the future of food and farming

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

It's the (political) economy, stupid!

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.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Dispelling the 'Borlaug hypothesis'

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.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Chemical Trespass! RoundingUp Birth Defects

Two weeks ago I wrote about genetic trespass. This week it’s chemical trespass. Monsanto makes news again.

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.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

"Golden Rice," or Trojan Horse?

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. 

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Genetic Trespass! GE toxin reaches umbilical cordblood

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.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Organic farming = energy security

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.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

A fruitful discussion of Food Democracy

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.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

Princes & farmers on the future of food

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.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

PAN hosts food democracy discussion - Join us!

Do you ever wish it were easier to find fresh, healthy food for your family? Are you outraged by a food system that fills the pockets of giant corporations and denies fairness to farmers and farmworkers alike? Do you yearn to be part of a powerful, growing movement that's spreading across the U.S. (and in fact the world), and that's transforming our relationship to food — and each other — in the most fundamental ways imaginable?

If so, join us for a lively conversation about food justice, food sovereignty and food democracy — in this and future blog posts, or live and in person in San Francisco next Monday.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman
Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's picture

GE foxes invited to guard USDA henhouse

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) shocked the American public with its hasty approval of three highly controversial GE crops in a row (alfalfa, sugar beets and ethanol corn). In doing so, the agency effectively thumbed its nose at U.S. federal courts and spit in the face of consumers and farmers alike. Now, USDA has apparently decided that getting sued for ignoring U.S. environmental laws is getting to be too much of a hassle. So they've come up with a new plan: why not let Monsanto evaluate the potential harms of its new transgenic products? It’ll be so much quicker this way. And save USDA a lot of money.

The two-year pilot program allowing GE developers to conduct their own environmental assessments for USDA is an “experiment” to improve its systems, says USDA. Tom Philpott calls it a craven way out.

Pages