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Risk and Responsibility: Farming, Food, and Unconventional Gas Drilling

November 12, 2012 Commentaries, Health 2 Comments
American Gasland

Michelle Bamberger and Robert E. Oswald (Photo credit: Marcellus Protest)

Extraction of hydrocarbon gas from tight shale formations using horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has been advertised as a path toward energy independence for the United States and is being promoted worldwide. This is tempered by environmental and societal concerns that have led to banning the practice in some countries (e.g., France), at least one state in the U.S. (Vermont), and numerous towns and cities in the United States. In the United States, the process itself is largely regulated at the state level, with exemptions from federal laws regulating air, drinking water and hazardous waste disposal. Regulation at the state level varies considerably among states with significant shale deposits, as does the level of enforcement of regulations. The argument often given to suggest that the process is safe cites the fact that in the sixty years since the first gas well was hydraulically fractured, the industry has not found proof it finds acceptable that drinking water has been contaminated. This assertion is not universally accepted because of at least two factors. … Continue Reading

US Crop Yield Increases Owe Little to Biotechnology

April 16, 2009 (Un)Sustainable Farming, Biotechnology, News Comments Off

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

The latest advertising campaign from Monsanto claims that already its “advanced seeds… significantly increase crop yields…”, while since the mid-1990s the biotechnology industry has consistently proposed that higher yielding genetically engineered crops will be necessary to feed the world.
… Continue Reading

US: Private Food Safety Labs Hide Negative Tests

June 1, 2008 Health, News Comments Off

Some private U.S. laboratories are under investigation by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce for withholding samples of tainted food and allowing importers to continue to bring their contaminated products into the U.S., the Chicago Tribune reported last week. A letter by the Congressional committee to the labs suggests that importing companies pressured them to toss out results that failed Food and Drug Administration standards. “We’re gathering information from both the FDA and private industry about the labs almost being complicit in helping importers game the system,” investigations subcommittee chairman Bart Stupak (D-MI) told the Tribune. “Someone told us you pay for the result you want to get from the labs.”
… Continue Reading

US Beef may cause Infertility in Males: A Hormone Link?

March 30, 2007 (Un)Sustainable Farming, Health, News Comments Off

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

Pregnant women who eat beef from cattle treated with growth-promoting hormones may be damaging the future fertility of their unborn sons.

New findings suggest that hormones widely given to American cattle could be affecting the development of male foetuses. The study will provide the EU with fresh evidence to support its ban on imported hormone-treated beef and which has been challenged by the US Government. The EU ban has been in place since 1988.
… Continue Reading

Unapproved Transgene Contaminates US Rice Supply

January 9, 2007 Biotechnology, Health, News Comments Off

Jonathan Latham and Allison Wilson

Transgene escape has again become a major biosafety and financial issue. On 18 August the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) revealed that non-transgenic long grain rice in the US was contaminated with Bayer transgene event LL601. This transgene encodes resistance to the herbicide phosphinothricin and LL601 has not been approved (deregulated) for cultivation or use in food supplies in the US or elsewhere. Contamination with LL601 was first detected in January and reported to Bayer in May, Bayer informed the USDA in late July. Contamination however is likely to have predated detection in January since the last permit for growing LL601 rice expired in 2001.
… Continue Reading

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Commentaries

Peasant Sovereignty?

China village

By Evaggelos Vallianatos In May 2014, the Spain-based international agrarian organization, Grain, reported that small farmers not only “feed the world with less than a quarter of all farmland,” but they are also the most productive farmers on Earth. For example, small farmers and peasants in nine European countries outproduce …

Will Food Sovereignty Starve the Poor and Punish the Planet?

Weeding maize in Burkina Faso

by Gilles Billen, Luis Lassaletta and Josette Garnier Globalisation is not only a matter of clothing and mobile phones. Long-distance worldwide shipping of food commodities has also increased tremendously over the last few decades. Lassaletta et al. (2014) estimate that one-third of all proteins (a proxy for the nutritive potential …

How the Great Food War Will Be Won

Dustbowl and soil erosion USA, 1935's

By Jonathan Latham, PhD By conventional wisdom it is excellent news. Researchers from Iowa have shown that organic farming methods can yield almost as highly as pesticide-intensive methods. Other researchers, from Berkeley, California, have reached a similar conclusion. Indeed, both findings met with a very enthusiastic reception. The enthusiasm is appropriate, but …

Seeds of Truth: Vandana Shiva and the New Yorker

Dr. Vandana Shiva

by Dr Vandana Shiva (A response to the article ‘Seeds of Doubt’ by Michael Specter in The New Yorker) I am glad that the future of food is being discussed, and thought about, on farms, in homes, on TV, online and in magazines, especially of The New Yorker’s caliber. The …

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Reviews

Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA

Poison Spring Evaggelos Valllianatos

Book Author: Evaggelos Vallianatos with McKay Jenkins Reviewed by: Carol Van Strum “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts,” Richard Feynman famously declared in 1966. Ever quick to challenge accepted wisdom, he distinguished the laudable ignorance of science, forever seeking unattainable certainties, from the dangerous ignorance of experts …

The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food

The Real Cost of Fracking book cover

Book Authors: Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald Reviewed by Allison Wilson (The Bioscience Resource Project) The first researchers to systematically document ill health in livestock, pets, and people living near fracking drill sites were Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald. Bamberger, a veterinarian, and Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at …

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