Media/News Archive

Imported Crops Mean Changes in What We Grow Domestically

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: Countries around the world are importing food and animal feed at lower and lower costs, forcing domestic farmers to grow other crops in order to make ends meet. This study looks at the environmental impacts of what domestic farmers grow when their markets bottom out. Cornucopia has reported on fraudulent organic grain imports, and we have heard accounts of domestic organic grain producers returning to conventional agriculture due to imports forcing prices down for their organic crops.

Imported food damages domestic environment
Science Daily

Source: CiViLoN

Trees falling as fragile forests become cropland is a visual shorthand for the environmental costs exporting countries pay to meet lucrative global demands for food. Yet a new study reveals a counterintuitive truth: Importing food also damages homeland ecology.

In this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) and their colleagues show that the decisions domestic farmers must make as imported food changes the crop market can damage the environment.

“What is obvious is not always the whole truth,” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu director of MSU’s Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability and senior author of the paper. “Unless a world is examined in a systemic, holistic way, environmental costs will be overlooked.” Read Full Article »

USDA Offers GMOs a Total Makeover in Labeling

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: U.S. consumers typically think of genetically engineered food as “GE” or “GMO,” but the proposed logos to identify such products on grocery shelves use the brand-new letters “BE” for “bioengineered.” Cornucopia considers this re-branding a proposed betrayal of the public trust by the USDA. Public comments will be accepted at until July 3, 2018.

USDA Unveils Prototypes For GMO Food Labels, And They’re … Confusing
NPR – The Salt
by Merrit Kennedy

Smiley face label
proposed for GMOs
Source: USDA

Foods that contains genetically modified ingredients will soon have a special label.

We recently got the first glimpse of what that label might look like, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture released its proposed guidelines.

This is the product of a decades-long fight between anti-GMO campaigners and Big Agriculture companies, which left neither side completely satisfied, as NPR has reported.

After Congress passed a bill in 2016 requiring labels on foods containing GMO ingredients, the USDA launched a long process to figure out the specifics. When it asked for feedback, it received 112,000 responses from consumers, farmers and manufacturers, among others.

The result?

There are a few options, and they look kind of like the labels you’d see on health food. They’re brightly colored, with greens and blues and yellows. They feature the letters B-E. Below that, some of them have a curved line. Read Full Article »

Editing Genes at Home

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: As gene editing technology has moved ahead, it has become a cheap hobby for the science-minded. Meanwhile, little attention has been paid by government entities around the world, and anyone can buy self-cloned DNA fragments online for their at home scientific experimentation. The main concern is the creation of dangerous organisms, deliberately or by accident, with little oversight.  For example, an extinct relative of smallpox has already been recreated at a Canadian University without comment by regulators.

As D.I.Y. Gene Editing Gains Popularity, ‘Someone Is Going to Get Hurt’
The New York Times
by Emily Baumgaertner

Hands-on CRISPR lab at TED Summit 2016
Source: TED Conference

After a virus was created from mail-order DNA, scientists are sounding the alarm about the genetic tinkering carried out in garages and living rooms.

As a teenager, Keoni Gandall already was operating a cutting-edge research laboratory in his bedroom in Huntington Beach, Calif. While his friends were buying video games, he acquired more than a dozen pieces of equipment — a transilluminator, a centrifuge, two thermocyclers — in pursuit of a hobby that once was the province of white-coated Ph.D.’s in institutional labs.

“I just wanted to clone DNA using my automated lab robot and feasibly make full genomes at home,” he said. Read Full Article »

U.S. Government Scientists Find “Inerts” in Roundup More Toxic than Glyphosate Alone

Wednesday, May 16th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: The U.S. National Toxicology Program is now analyzing, for the first time, the top-selling glyphosate-based herbicides on the market. They are finding the inert ingredients, added to enhance application and effectiveness of glyphosate, among other things, make the formulations markedly more toxic than glyphosate on its own. Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, has been aware of this phenomenon since at least 2002, according to internal memos. Glyphosate is not allowed in organic production.

Weedkiller products more toxic than their active ingredient, tests show
The Guardian
by Carey Gillam

“Other Ingredients” are also called
inert ingredients
Image Source: Mike Mozart

After more than 40 years of widespread use, new scientific tests show formulated weedkillers have higher rates of toxicity to human cells

US government researchers have uncovered evidence that some popular weedkilling products, like Monsanto’s widely-used Roundup, are potentially more toxic to human cells than their active ingredient is by itself.

These “formulated” weedkillers are commonly used in agriculture, leaving residues in food and water, as well as public spaces such as golf courses, parks and children’s playgrounds.

The tests are part of the US National Toxicology Program’s (NTP) first-ever examination of herbicide formulations made with the active ingredient glyphosate, but that also include other chemicals. While regulators have previously required extensive testing of glyphosate in isolation, government scientists have not fully examined the toxicity of the more complex products sold to consumers, farmers and others. Read Full Article »

Organic Grass-fed Beef is Better for the Environment

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: A recent Japanese study looked at the production methods used for beef cattle, generally considered to have higher environmental impacts than other livestock production. Researchers studied the impacts of feed production, transportation, processing, animal management, enteric fermentation, and manure and its management. While this study had a very small sample, it provides consumers and farmers food for thought.

Organic grass-fed beef has less environmental impact than non-organic grass-fed beef
The Organic Center

Source: USDA

A recent study published in the Journal of Cleaner Production assessed the environmental impacts of organic grass-fed beef and non-organic grass-fed beef production. Researchers used a lifecycle analysis to analyze data collected from one grass-fed farm prior to conversion to organic and then after its conversion to organic, as well as data from conventional non-grass-fed farms. They found that organic and non-organic grass-fed beef production practices were more environmentally friendly than conventional production, with reduced impact on acidification, eutrophication (over-growth of algae and decrease of oxygen in bodies of water due to nutrient runoff), and energy consumption. The global warming potential for organic grass-fed beef and conventional beef was not statistically different, although both out-performed non-organic grass-fed beef production. Overall, the study found that organic grass-fed beef production has fewer environmental impacts than both conventional beef and non-organic grass-fed beef production. Read Full Article »