The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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Chinese Populace Rejects GM Foods

Corn is harvested at a farm in Shandong province, Sept. 28, 2013. (Photo/Xinhua)

The resistance to genetically modified foods by the populace is consistent in almost every country where they are “literally” trying to ram it down people’s throats.  Here’s an article about the uncertain fate of GM food imports into China posted in Want China Times:

In November of 2013, China rejected imports of 600,000 tonnes of US-grown corn on the grounds they it was a genetically modified food not approved in China.
Since then, more than 400,000 tonnes of US corn has been turned away by Chinese authorities for the same reason.
This is merely the tip of the iceberg in China where genetically modified food has been a fiercely debated issue, and not one that will be resolved soon.
In July, 2013, 61 top Chinese scientists appealed to Chinese leaders to facilitate the commercialization of GM rice.
Around the same time, the Ministry of Agriculture attempted to convince the public of the safety of GM foods through state-run newspapers and news agencies, stating that no harmful side-effects had been reported for GM foods that had been stored for more than two decades.
This argument, however, could not silence those who doubt GM food’s safety because they claim that the lack of reports that GM is unsafe do not mean the foods are safe for human consumption or the environment. Some critics also expressed concerns that China’s dependence on imported GM foods would jeopardize its security, especially in the event of any conflicts with food producing countries.

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Vermont on Track to Mandate GMO Labeling

By Reuters:

The Vermont Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would make it the first state to mandate labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Unlike bills passed last year in Maine and Connecticut, which require other states to pass GMO labeling laws before they can be enacted, Vermont’s contains no such trigger clause.
The developers of genetically modified crops and the $360 billion packaged food industry pushed for passage of an opposing bill, introduced in Congress last week, that would nullify any law that would require labeling of foods made with GMO crops.
Consumers increasingly are demanding to know where their food comes from, advocates say.
“We have a growing food movement in which people are demanding more transparency,” said Michele Simon, a public health attorney.
But GMO crop developers such as Monsanto and their backers say the biotech crops have been proven to be safe.
“This debate isn’t about food safety,” said Karen Batra, spokeswoman for the Biotechnoloy Industry Organization. “Our science experts … point to more than 1,700 credible peer-reviewed studies that find no legitimate concern.”
Vermont’s bill, approved 28-2 by the Senate, has passed the state House. It will go back to the House to vote on changes made by the Senate. If passed, the law would take effect in 2016.
GMO labeling bills are under consideration in 29 states.


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Organics Under Attack

The OCA has a long history of defending the integrity of organic standards.

Last September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), under pressure from corporate interests represented by the Organic Trade Association, made our job harder.

They also made it more important than ever for consumers to do their homework, even when buying USDA certified organic products.

Without any input from the public, the USDA changed the way the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) decides which non-organic materials are allowed in certified organic. The change all but guarantees that when the NOSB meets every six months, the list of non-organic and synthetic materials allowed in organic will get longer and longer.

The USDA’s new rule plays to the cabal of the self-appointed organic elite who want to degrade organic standards and undermine organic integrity. For consumers, farmers, co-ops and businesses committed to high organic standards, the USDA’s latest industry-friendly move is a clarion call to fight back against the corporate-led, government-sanctioned attack on organic standards.

Read the essay

 


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Organic Farming – Solution to World Hunger

The following article by Paul Hanley in Saskatoon’s The Star Phoenix succinctly lays out the benefits of organic farming and the issues with industrial farming.  To summarize it in a nutshell, “We need to start paying farmers for ecological services, not just food. The money can come from repurposing perverse subsidies on fossil fuels and farming, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be over $2 trillion a year worldwide.”

It’s been a good year for Saskatchewan’s organic farmers. First, prices for some organic crops are quadruple those of conventional grains. Second, due to the vagaries of the rail transportation system, organic growers have had more success getting their crop to market this year than conventional farmers. And since they do not use chemical inputs, costs are lower, resulting in higher net income.
Actually, it’s been a good year for organic agriculture worldwide.
The organic approach is gradually shedding the “it can’t feed the world” myth. In fact, report after report came out this year saying it may be the only way to feed the world, even as the population rises by 50 per cent over the course of this century.

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Live Streamed Lecture by Vandana Shiva

Arts-Vandana Shiva poster

Internationally renowned eco-feminist, philosopher, and activist Vandana Shiva will be paying a visit to Winnipeg this weekend, and while her ticketed event is now sold out, local organizers have arranged an alternate, free live-streamed teach-in.

Shiva will be speaking to a group of paying attendees on the evening of March 28 as part of the “Fragile Freedoms” lecture series, presented by the University of Manitoba’s centre for professional and applied ethics, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the CBC.

On March 29, Shiva will be giving a lecture about Earth democracy from 90 Sinclair Street, which will be broadcast as a live-streamed teach-in to other locations across Canada, including a secondary location in Winnipeg.

The organizers of this event state that “there is no lecture hall or community centre with the capacity to hold everyone who should hear her inspirational and empowering message,” which is why they are offering this free, live-streamed event “in the spirit of decentralized knowledge-sharing and radical self-education.”

The notion of radical education, and radical self-education, is part of a larger movement to create spaces of knowledge-sharing outside of formal educational structures.

British scholar David Hicks believes that in its current form education “inevitably reproduces the social, political and economic norms of the dominant ideology. In the west this is capitalist, technocratic, individualistic, materialist, and patriarchal.”

In contrast to the Fragile Freedoms event, the teach-in on March 29 is free, and organizers of the second Winnipeg location—the University of Winnipeg Womyn’s Centre and the Women’s and Gender Studies Students’ Association—are attempting to make it as accessible as possible.

Free snacks, coffee, tea, bus tickets, and childminding are all offered as part of the event. It’s also being offered in a wheelchair accessible room in proximity to accessible washrooms.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept of Earth democracy, organizers of the teach-in provide a definition to use as a starting point before hearing Shiva’s thoughts: “Earth democracy is the worldview that we as humans can be part of a healthy planet, but we must take action to protect peace and swaraj (sovereignty) for all living beings: Let us learn about our right to water, our right to seed and to food, and our right to life.”

Join in the live-streamed teach-in at 7:00 p.m. on March 29 at room 2M70 at the University of Winnipeg.


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Russia Bans GMO’s

'GMO products cause cancer and obesity' - food safety expert

According to a recent article in The Voice of Russia. food safety experts in the nation have banned GMO’s as research shows they cause obesity and cancer.

Russia is firm: no genetically modified organisms in food production, the head of Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture Nikolay Fyodorov stated at the All-Russian Meeting of Agrarians. GMO-foods controversies between scientists, ecologists and producers have a long history. Russia, which is now going organic, has faced these problems just recently.
The battle is being waged by two camps: while scientists lack arguments and evidence that GMO is harmful, huge and powerful production corporation have resources and political links. Scientists say they will need another couple of decades for a comprehensive research, but some threats are obvious already now, says Biology Professor and international expert on eco and food safety Dr. Irina Ermakova:
“These organisms are all dangerous because the very technology of their production is far from being perfect ­– it features pathogenic bacteria and viruses. When scientists tested the aftermath of GMO-produce on animals, they were horrified with the results – cancer and obesity. So the best things would be to ban such foods at all, as European countries do”. Continue reading


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World Farmers on Edge

Canola

As if this wasn’t entirely predictable:

The West Australian Supreme court will commence hearing a test case that has farmers around Australia and even across the world on the edge of their tractor seats.
It involves a farmer Steve Marsh who lost his organic certification when GM canola seeds from his neighbour’s crop sprouted on his land.
Steve Marsh has sued his neighbour for the economic loss that accompanied his loss of certification.


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Pesticide Residue Strengthens Case for Organic Farming

My Google Alerts is ablaze with articles about pesticide residue found on organic produce.  Paul Hanley’s level-headed piece in the Star Phoenix explains why this finding “drives home the importance of expanding pesticide-free organic farming practices.”

Providing food free from chemical residues is just one goal of organic farming and perhaps not the most important.
As the CFIA and other studies show, organic food is not necessarily pesticide free, but is much more likely to be pesticide-free or have lower chemical residues because chemicals are not applied directly to organic crops. Residues come mainly from spray drift from surrounding farms.
Do some farmers who call themselves organic cheat and spray their crops? Of course there are always a few cheaters.
Still, the CFIA information confirms that consumers who buy organic, especially Canadian or locally grown options, are buying food with substantially reduced contaminants. The more important goal of organic farming, however, is to reduce the chemical load in the environment, which has negative impacts on all life forms, including people. Continue reading


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The Cost of Conventional Food to Society

Dr. Stan Gardener shares his perspective on the cost society pays for conventional food in his article Pay the Farmer or Pay Pharma.  This was published in the Meridian Magazine by the LDS Church.  It is refreshing to see them take this on. If all the churches followed suit, we might see significant changes to our agricultural policy sooner rather than later.

What is the Cost to Society for Conventional Food?

Although there is much more to spraying food than just pesticides, let’s examine the costs of pesticide use.

The Textbook of Environmental Toxicology by J. Rose, printed in 2005, identified the following costs in the US from pesticide-related illness:

  • $6,759,000 Hospitalized poisonings (2380 x 2.84 x $1000/day)
  • $17,010,000 Outpatient poisonings (27,000 x $630)
  • $1,760,000 Lost work due to poisoning (4680 x 4.7 x $80/day)
  • $48,400,000 Cancer treatment (12,000 x $70,700/case)
  • $59,400,000 Cost of fatalities (27 x $2.2 M) Continue reading