Weeds designed to rove

September 2019

Scientific weed wisdom assured farmers that there would never be a weed able to resist 'Roundup' glyphosate-based herbicide because it required too big a change in a plant's biology.  The humanly-devised Roundup Ready GM crops were thought smarter than weeds could ever be.  Glyphosate-based herbicides became crucial to the productivity of American agriculture.

From this came an entrenched attitude that any Roundup-tolerant weed which chanced to appear in a location would be a one-off: it would have evolved independently and would remain a local problem.

The dramatic increase in both the quantity of Roundup used and the area sprayed after the advent of GM crops was accompanied by a dramatic emergence of glyphosate-tolerant weeds which took everyone by surprise.

Weed scientist wisdom didn't, it seems, factor in the qualities which make a weed a weed.

The cost of not testing

September 2019

President Trump and his administration view environmental regulations as a hindrance to economic productivity.

One US Professor of paediatrics and expert in children's environmental health has pointed out however, that history suggests the opposite.  For example, the phasing out of toxic lead in petrol to protect children's brains, now adds "a $200 billion annual economic stimulus package" to the US.

The true cost of environmental toxins, measured in terms of loss of economic productivity due to cognitive damage, comes to a staggering $20,000 per IQ point over a lifetime.  Add to this the costs of health care and the societal burden (not to mention personal suffering to which a figure can't be attached).

Most insidious among all the environmental toxins are the endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) which cause hormone dysfunction at very low levels of exposure.  Their damaging effects are often permanent and can harm future generations. 

The case for diversity

September 2019

The need for diversity in our food supply has been a hot topic lately [1, 2].

Green Revolution agriculture gave us monocultures of a tiny range of high-calorie crops.  The Gene Revolution of recent decades compounded this with GM versions of the same crops. Commercial GM plants are overwhelmingly designed to be used in conjunction with a single herbicide, and many generate a small range of very similar insecticides.

Paradoxically, the end-products of these staple crops have diversified.  The excuse for developing them may originally have been feeding the hungry, but large quantities of that 'food' are now diverted into biofuel-production, industrial chemicals and animal feed.

Those that do reach the human stomach are highly processed carbohydrates and chemicals (a.k.a. junk food, or food-like substances).  In the dietary desert we now inhabit, our animals' nutritional needs are better met than ours.

A tale of two villages in India

September 2019

Is it just a romantic, anti-science notion to ditch agrichemicals, GMOs, monocultures and patents?  Or, is it a necessity?

This is the story of how small-holders become trapped by addiction to pesticides, and how two villages in India got clean.

Climate change and GM go hand in hand

September 2019

Paul D. Thacker, a journalist with a nose for industry-led corruption of science and regulations, has commented that climate change denial and promotion of GMOs go together like peanut butter and jelly.

At first glance, it's not obvious why: it seems to involve a unique ability to entertain two opposing beliefs at the same time.  Climate change deniers say climate change isn't happening so we don't need to do anything.  GMO promoters say we need GM 'solutions' to feed the world and to save the environment because of climate change. 

However, when there's money involved, some people can believe anything.  Admitting that climate change is a damaging reality and rejecting GM foods are both harmful to big business

Super-simplified agri-systems support disease

August 2019

E.coli 0157 -

In 1996, an outbreak of E.coli 0157 bacterial disease in Scotland involved the largest recorded number of infected adults in whom the early digestive-tract symptoms progressed to life-threatening kidney disease. Twenty-eight of them died.

That same year, 7,966 individuals were diagnosed with E.coli 0157 infection in a single outbreak in Japan.

Because the guts of healthy cattle are a reservoir for E.coli 0157, the animals, their manure, and the land they've grazed, are potential sources of the infection. The bacteria can also make their way from fields into the water supply.

The Scottish E.coli 0157 outbreak was caused by contaminated raw meat stored next to cooked meat. The Japanese outbreak was caused by radish sprouts contaminated by infected water.

Organic foods have always been seen as an arch-enemy by biotech proponents. In a desperate attempt to trash organics, they've even been blamed for deadly infections of E.coli 0157 bacteria.

Bogus bleeding beef

August 2019

Remember the bleeding GM veggie-burgers rolled out across America in 2017? That's the fake meat produced by a similar method to the way Belgian beer's been made for nearly a thousand years? [1]

The Impossible Burger arrived courtesy of $80 million worth of research plus $300 million worth of promotion from foodie celebrities, and a heap of hype. Breathless write-ups name the Impossible Burger this year's 'It' food craze taking America by storm, and a wake-up call to the meat industry.

Indeed, the long-term goal of the bogus burger's manufacturer, Impossible Foods Inc., is to disrupt the meat industry and convert meat eaters to their products. Impossible Burgers are set to be followed by Impossible Sausages for pizzas and Impossible Steak.