A research scientist at Pioneer in a Dupont Pioneer cornfield near Koloa, Kauai. The county is considering limits on growers. Photo credit: Cory Lum/The New York Times
I was on vacation on the Hawaiian island of Kauai this past April and noticed signs of “No GMOs” all over the island. The sentiment seems to be against the biotech seed companies growing and testing their genetically modified organisms in Paradise.
More in this New York Times article by Andrew Pollack:
The balmy tropical isles here seem worlds apart from the expansive cornfields of the Midwest, but Hawaii has become the latest battleground in the fight over genetically modified crops.
The state has become a hub for the development of genetically engineered corn and other crops that are sold to farmers around the globe. Monsanto and other seed companies have moved here en masse, and corn now sprouts on thousands of acres where sugar cane or pineapples once grew.
But activists opposed to biotech crops have joined with residents who say the corn farms expose them to dust and pesticides, and they are trying to drive the companies away, or at least rein them in.
The companies counter that their operations are safe and that the industry is essential to Hawaii’s economy.
In the last two weeks, legislative committees on the islands of Kauai and Hawaii have approved proposed ordinances that would restrict the ability of the seed companies to operate. The Kauai bill will go before the full County Council on Tuesday.
Click to read the rest of the story…
Photo credit: Minter Gardens
Unfortunately, one of the most beautiful botanic gardens in North America, 90 minutes east of Vancouver, B.C., is going to close. I was fortunate enough to attended the 2005 Garden Writers Association dinner here with great drink and food stations throughout the gardens.
This is the last week that this beautiful 33 year old landmark, owned and operated by the Minter family, will be open to the public to view the 32-acres of 12 individual themed gardens. More from the Minter press release:
With mixed feelings, the Minter family today announced that 2013 will be the final season for Minter Gardens, the 32-acre show garden located at the foot of Mt. Cheam in Rosedale, BC. The last day of operation will be Monday, October 14, 2013.
Photo credit: Minter Gardens
“Minter Gardens has been a huge part of our lives,” said Brian Minter, who co-owns the property with his wife and business partner, Faye Minter. “It was a once-in-a-lifetime dream to create one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Few people have the opportunity to live out their dreams so we consider ourselves truly blessed. We thank everyone who has had a hand in our success and shared our vision. To our daughters Lisa and Erin, family, friends and loyal employees, we are so very grateful for your help and support over the years.” Continue reading
Sole Food transforms vacant urban land into street farms that grow artisan quality fruits and vegetables, available at farmer’s markets, local restaurants and retail outlets.
Sole Food’s mission is to empower individuals with limited resources by providing jobs, agricultural training and inclusion in a supportive community of farmers and food lovers. Individuals are given basic agriculture training and are employed at the farm based on their capability.
Some participants excel in this environment, but the project is set up to allow for the “ups and downs” of people with multiple barriers. For some individuals, a weekly shift at Sole Food is one of the only meaningful engagements they hold. Unlike mainstream employers, Sole Food uses employment as an outreach tactic, working to build and nurture relationships with even the most challenging individuals.
We believe healthy food systems foster healthy communities. We envision a future where good food is accessible and grown sustainably, where farms thrive in an urban setting and where the community comes together to connect directly with their food and their neighbors.
Protesters gathered at the Oregon Capitol in July to help block a bill that would have pre-empted local ordinances against genetically modified seeds. Lawmakers passed a similar bill Oct. 2 during a special session intended primarily to focus on public pensions and taxes. Photo credit: Yuxing Zheng/The Oregonian
Monsanto has taken their buyout of politicians from the Federal level to the State level. The Oregon legislature in a special three day legislative session passed SB 863 which makes the state the regulator of seeds for commercial agriculture.
Yuxing Zheng writes on OregonLive.com:
Senate Bill 863 bars counties from regulating genetically modified agriculture, except Jackson County, where a measure is already on the May 2014 ballot. Supporters said the bill was needed to prevent a patchwork of local policies.
The inclusion of the legislation in a five-bill special session package on public pensions and taxes angered environmentalists and organic farmers. An emergency clause in the bill allows it to go into effect immediately, precluding efforts to qualify similar initiatives in Lane and Benton counties, as well as any referendum challenge.
In an Oct. 1 letter to Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, Kitzhaber said he is directing the Oregon Department of Agriculture to map out where genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered crops are grown. The systems would allow growers to coordinate buffers and exclusion areas, he wrote.
The department will also submit an action plan by June spelling out what can be done on GMO regulations under existing rules.
Kitzhaber also plans to convene a task force to examine issues surrounding genetically modified agriculture and foods, including preventing contamination of organic agriculture and labeling requirements for genetically engineered foods.
An additional 4 billion people in the world could be fed if land currently used to grow crops for livestock were given over to crops for human consumption, according to a new study.
The work of a team at the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, and published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study says that 36 percent of the calories produced by the world’s crops are being used for animal feed … and only 12 percent of those calories ultimately contribute to the human diet (as meat and other animal products).
Click to read the study…
Flowers are some of the most beautiful parts of nature. Their petals can be vibrant and their smells sweet. Yet flowering plants weren’t always around; their particular evolution occurred millions of years ago. Now, researchers have uncovered that they first evolved 100 million years early than previously thought. Photo credit: University of Zurich
Flowers are some of the most beautiful parts of nature. Their petals can be vibrant and their smells sweet. Yet flowering plants weren’t always around; their particular evolution occurred millions of years ago. Now, researchers have uncovered new evidence about these plants. It turns out that they first evolved 100 million years early than previously thought.
Flowering plants had ancestors that were actually more closely related to conifers, ginkgos, cycads and seed ferns. Now extinct, these first plants left behind pollen grains that were then fossilized. In fact, an uninterrupted sequence of fossilized pollen from flowers begins in the Early Cretaceous, about 140 million years ago. This has led researchers to believe in the past that this is the time at which the first flowering plants evolved.
Now, it turns out that this might not be the case. The researchers studied two drilling cores from northern Switzerland. There, they discovered pollen grains that resemble fossil pollen from the earliest known flowering plants. Using Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy, the scientists obtained high-resolution images across three dimensions of six different types of pollen.
Click to read the rest of the story…
- A Palestinian woman waters plants growing in tear gas canisters in the village of Bilin, near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The tear gas canisters were collected by Palestinians during years of clashes with Israeli security forces. Photo credit: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed
Mohammed Khatib, a village organizer, said Wednesday that the unusual garden is meant to show that life can spring from death.
The village Bilin has become a symbol of Palestinian protests against Israeli policies in the West Bank. The village’s struggle to regain land taken by the barrier was the subject of “Five Broken Cameras,” a documentary nominated for an Oscar last year.
Click to read the rest of the story and more pictures of the Tear Gas Garden…
It always amazes me how in the political battle over funding for safety nets for the poor and unemployed, or even tax cuts for the middle class, the term socialism is bandied about very liberally. But when it comes to tax cuts and subsidies for the corporations and wealthy it is never labeled socialism but capitalism. In reality it is socialism for them and capitalism for the rest of us… From the website ClassWarfareExists.com:
Ever since House Republican leaders removed the funding for SNAP, the food stamp program that keeps millions of people fed and out of poverty, from the farm bill this July, conservatives have been pushing hard to “reform” SNAP to the tune of funding cuts of $40 billion over the next 10 years. With such a focus on fiscal restraint and small government, it would be logical to assume that the other portion of the farm bill covering subsidies to farmers would also be subject to strict review and budgetary restraint. But this is America. Where interest groups can pay for the legislation they want while beggaring the taxpayer, who is forced to subsidize corporate welfare for the wealthiest among us.
Including, in this case, the federal crop insurance scheme. Yesterday’s piece in Bloomberg outlines how a Depression-era program designed to save farmers from ruin and starvation in the Dust Bowl years has grown into a bloated conglomeration of affluent farmers, insurers, and financial institutions that thrive while the American taxpayer watches her grocery bill rise every month.
Federal crop insurance encourages farmers to gamble on risky plantings in a program that has been marred by fraud and that illustrates why government spending is so difficult to control.
And the cost is increasing. The U.S. Department of Agriculture last year spent about $14 billion insuring farmers against the loss of crop or income, almost seven times more than in fiscal 2000, according to the Congressional Research Service.The arrangement is a good deal for everyone but taxpayers. The government pays 18 approved insurance companies to run the program, pays farmers to buy coverage and pays the bills if losses exceed predetermined limits.
Here’s how the whole story breaks down: 1. Lobbyists Win: The farm and insurance lobbies spent over $52 million influencing lawmakers in the 2012 election cycle. And what do they get for their work? Well, the program insured $117 billion worth of crops last year, including almost all the corn, soybeans, cotton, and wheat grown in the US. That’s a huge win for Monsanto, as their patented genes exist in roughly 95% of all soybeans and 80% of all corn grown in the US [source]: the taxpayer pays when Monsanto seeds fail.
Click to read the rest of the story…