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The Barley Mow
Reaping what we sow
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Joanna Blythman Writing - Why it’s a no to GMO

Joanna Blythman Writing - Why it’s a no to GMO | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The biotech lobby makes swaggering claims, presenting genetic modification (GM) as a magic bullet that will feed the world, without any downside whatsoever. It assures us that GM is entirely safe, for both humans and animals. It promises that it will increase crop yields and reduce pesticide use. What’s not to like?

 

Fairy stories can be entrancing, but never confuse them with the truth. It has long been clear that GM is substantively and radically different from traditional methods of improving plants and breeds. GM is a relatively crude technique- think of cut and paste- that moves genetic material across species barriers. As such, it is unprecedented, capable of triggering unpredictable, and irreversible, changes in the DNA, proteins and biochemical composition of food. And the case against GM has only become more persuasive and authoritative since the 1990s when informed consumers first fought to keep food with GM ingredients off shelves in Europe. Mounting evidence shows that GM has not delivered on its bragging promises.

 

I remain implacably opposed to the genetic modification of our food, and here, in the simplest, briefest terms, is why.

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Government leads new GM crops push

Government leads new GM crops push | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

GM crops are probably safer than conventional plants, according to the Environment Secretary.

 

Making the strongest call yet for the adoption of the technology, Mr Paterson told the BBC that that GM has significant benefits for farmers, consumers and the environment.

 

He said the next generation of GM crops offers the "most wonderful opportunities to improve human health."

 

But green groups say this new push is dangerous and misguided.

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Organic growers claim ‘partial victory’ v Monsanto | Materials & Production News

Organic growers claim ‘partial victory’ v Monsanto | Materials & Production News | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

WASHINGTON – A bid by a group of organic seed growers to pre-emptively sue GM giant Monsanto to try gain protection against patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto's GM seed has once again been turned down by the US courts. However, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association attorney, Dan Ravicher of the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), is claiming a partial victory because, during the course of the lawsuit, “Monsanto has bound itself to not sue the plaintiffs.” The ruling will have significance for growers of organic cotton.

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How can business support sustainable financing for smallholder farmers?

How can business support sustainable financing for smallholder farmers? | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
An array of innovative sources of social finance have emerged to help small producers in the developing world

 

When it comes to access to finance, especially in the developing world, small producers are typically left staring into a void. Without significant collateral, mainstream banks are reluctant to lend. Informal lenders, meanwhile, typically charge crippling interest rates. That leaves them with the possibility of governmental assistance or charitable aid, both of which are limited.

 

Ethical players such as Union Hand Roasted Coffee are trying to fill the financing gap with their own initiatives. The UK-based specialty coffee company has strong developmental goals, and believes that negotiating directly with small farmers is the best way to deliver on that mission.

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Inside Track: Organic is now for all | Herald Scotland

Inside Track: Organic is now for all | Herald Scotland | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Over the past five years, the "free from" market has morphed from niche to mainstream as big retailers and food manufacturers clock the commercial benefits of catering to the spiralling number of us who have a food allergy or intolerance – most often to gluten, wheat and dairy products.


Children are most affected, with up to 50% being diagnosed with an allergic condition. Allergy UK reports a significant increase in such conditions, partly due to diets that include a lot of processed foods and less fruit and vegetables.

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California looks to milk China’s growing dairy demand | The Center for Investigative Reporting

California looks to milk China’s growing dairy demand | The Center for Investigative Reporting | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A growing demand for milk and cheese in China has the potential to bring California’s beleaguered dairy industry back to life – and with it, renewed concern about its damaging effects on the environment.

 

As China’s middle class grows, so does its penchant for dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt. U.S. government data show that Chinese demand for dairy products is growing rapidly. For instance, between 2011 and 2012, imports of skimmed milk powder grew by 49 percent and are expected to increase an additional 18 percent this year.

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Farming News - International team studies pest resistance to GM crops

Farming News - International team studies pest resistance to GM crops | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
A team of scientists from France and the United States has attempted to improve understanding of growing resistance amongst insect pests to genetically modified insecticidal crops.

 

Research released on Tuesday has examined the development of resistance amongst insect pests to insecticidal genetically modified crops grown around the World.

 

One of the most persistent criticisms levelled at deeply controversial GM crops is the issue of resistance. Although their existence wasinitially denied by the companies developing GM crops, insect pests resistant to modified crops, which have been engineered to produce insecticidal 'Bt' toxins, have been discovered in a number of countries since the early 2000s.

 

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Cereals 2013: Harvested area down 29 per cent, NFU poll suggests | Shows and events | Farmers Guardian

Cereals 2013: Harvested area down 29 per cent, NFU poll suggests | Shows and events | Farmers Guardian | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

THE NFU is predicting a major reduction in the 2013 wheat harvest following the unprecedented weather of the past year or so.

 

A new snapshot NFU member poll suggests the overall harvested area on the farms surveyed could be 29 per cent lower than in 2012. This follows on from HGCA figures showing winter wheat planting area was 25 per cent down.

The NFU is cautious about the poll, taken in May of 76 members of NFU crops boards across England and Wales, covering around 16,000ha of land, but warns it will have profound implications for the harvest if reflected nationally.

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Study: GMO Feed Harmful to Pigs

Study: GMO Feed Harmful to Pigs | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A groundbreaking new study [1] shows that pigs were harmed by the consumption of feed containing genetically modified (GM) crops.

 

GM-fed females had on average a 25% heavier uterus than non-GM-fed females, a possible indicator of disease that requires further investigation. Also, the level of severe inflammation in stomachs was markedly higher in pigs fed on the GM diet. The research results were striking and statistically significant.

 

Lead researcher Dr Judy Carman, adjunct associate professor at Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia,[2] said: “Our findings are noteworthy for several reasons. First, we found these results in real on-farm conditions, not in a laboratory, but with the added benefit of strict scientific controls that are not normally present on farms.

 

“Second, we used pigs. Pigs with these health problems end up in our food supply. We eat them.

 

“Third, pigs have a similar digestive system to people, so we need to investigate if people are also getting digestive problems from eating GM crops.

 

“Fourth, we found these adverse effects when we fed the animals a mixture of crops containing three GM genes and the GM proteins that these genes produce. Yet no food regulator anywhere in the world requires a safety assessment for the possible toxic effects of mixtures. Regulators simply assume that they can’t happen.

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Fipronil named as fourth insecticide to pose risk to honeybees

Fipronil named as fourth insecticide to pose risk to honeybees | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A widely used insect nerve agent has been labelled a "high acute risk" to honeybees by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). A similar assessment by the EFSA on three other insecticides preceded thesuspension of their use in the European Union.

 

"The insecticide fipronil poses a high acute risk to honeybees when used as a seed treatment for maize," the EFSA said in a statement. "EFSA was asked to perform a risk assessment of fipronil [by the European commission], paying particular regard to the acute and chronic effects on colony survival and development and the effects of sub-lethal doses on bee mortality and behaviour."

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6 Farmers’ Market Scams: Organic Gardening

6 Farmers’ Market Scams: Organic Gardening | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Farmers’ markets are hot business nowadays. The number of markets shot up 17 percent last year, and in a recent survey from Mintel market researchers, 52 percent of people said it’s more important to buy local produce than organic, which will likely drive the growth even more.

 

And that’s great—if you’re more concerned about where your food comes from than how it was grown. People tend to equate farmers’ markets and “local” food with clean, wholesome food. That’s true in many cases—but not all of them. Farmers’ markets have become so popular that they’re being co-opted by wholesalers, retailers, and farmers who may be local but not so committed to a sustainable food system. If you’re looking for farmers’ markets that sell the kind of healthy, down-on-the-farm food most of us equate with farming, arm yourself with this info to ward off farmers’ market fraud.

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Seattle News and Events | New Ordering System Connects Local Institutions With Farm-Fresh

Seattle News and Events | New Ordering System Connects Local Institutions With Farm-Fresh | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The problem with farm-to-table restaurants, so far as the farmers are concerned, is the difficulty of getting those tables sat during a recession. While chefs may wholeheartedly support locavorism, they only buy as much product as their customers demand – and if their restaurants close, they don't buy any product at all.

 

That's why farmers are increasingly promoting their wares to the institutionswhich don't have the option of shutting down or moving to a faraway city where the economy's healthier.


“Institutions are anchors in our community,”Northwest Agriculture Business Center's marketing coordinator Emma Brewster explained at last week's Planning for Agriculture in the Puget Sound Region conference, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust.

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German farmers can't keep up with organic boom | Environment | DW.DE | 14.05.2013

German farmers can't keep up with organic boom | Environment | DW.DE | 14.05.2013 | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Organic produce is a given in a lot of shops in Germany. But while demand is increasing, cultivation is lagging behind. Since Germany is failing to turn out enough organic products on its own, many of the products must be imported.

 

Organic apples from Argentina, tomatoes from Spain – when looking at the assortment in German organic supermarkets, consumers are easily confused. Even though one might want to make ecologically correct and sustainable decisions when shopping, many of the fruits and vegetables have travelled a long way, leaving a considerable carbon footprint. German grocers are not just importing the exotic produce such as bananas and mangoes that are impossible to grow in Germany, but also potatoes, apples and cucumbers, as well as pork and dairy products.

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Shropshire farm imports £10,000 of Italian bees - 19/06/2013 - Farmers Weekly

Shropshire farm imports £10,000 of Italian bees - 19/06/2013 - Farmers Weekly | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

A Shropshire farm has imported £10,000 worth of bees from Italy after losing two-thirds of its stock following months of poor weather.

The Plymouth Estate, at Bromfield, near Ludlow, has lost more than 100 hives in the past 12 months.

 

But farm owners moved quickly to refill stocks by transporting the bees over to the UK in a lorry. The bees pollinate farm crops and make the honey which is then sold in the farm shop, Ludlow Food Centre (www.ludlowfoodcentre.co.uk).

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Top 10 Most Common GMO Foods

Top 10 Most Common GMO Foods | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Genetically modified organisms, such as plants and livestock are already found in our supermarkets. GM plants are much more common than many people realize too. Here is a list of the 10 most common GMO foods so you can be more aware while grocery shopping.

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Study: You’re In Trouble, Roundup

Study: You’re In Trouble, Roundup | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Europe may be skeptical of genetically modified crops — fearing they may contaminate traditional species and require more pesticides — but a new study shows that tests of urban Europeans’ urine already spell M-O-N-S-A-N-T-O.

 

A network of environmental groups, Friends of the Earth International, tested the urine of 182 European city dwellers, from 18 countries, and found traces  of the potentially-dangerous herbicide glyphosate, commonly known as Roundup, in 44% of samples. The leading producer of this herbicide is Monsanto Co. MON +0.77%, a company whose name has become almost synonymous with the genetically modified organisms it produces.

 

“This weed killer is being widely overused,” said Adrian Bebb, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth International. And that’s even though hardly any genetically modified crops are grown in Europe.

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This little piggy went to Foston’s mega pig farm | Victoria Martindale | Independent Notebook Blogs

This little piggy went to Foston’s mega pig farm | Victoria Martindale | Independent Notebook Blogs | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Mr Leavesley likes to dabble in a spot of pig farming on the side too. And for his next move he plans to build an intensive pig farm in the middle of the picturesque village of Foston, Derbyshire.

 

There’s nothing all that new about intensive pig farms. Since the 1960s, UK farmers have been adopting intensive systems of farming in an effort to produce the highest output at the lowest cost. But the mammoth project that Mr Leavesley wants to roll out would house around 25,000 pigs. That’s nearly 40 times the size of today’s average pig farm, herding the UK in a brusque trot towards all mechanized, workerless American-style mass protein manufacturing plants.

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Home | Manchester Veg People

Home | Manchester Veg People | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

If you believe in a fairer food system, want better access to locally grown organic food for Greater Manchester, or simply want the opportunity to be a farmer for the day or dine at one of our buyers restaurants, have a look at our fantastic rewards and give us your support!

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Farmers fail to feed UK after extreme weather hits wheat crop

Farmers fail to feed UK after extreme weather hits wheat crop | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

The wettest autumn since records began, followed by the coldest spring in 50 years, has devastated British wheat, forcing food manufacturers to import nearly 2.5m tonnes of the crop.

 

"Normally we export around 2.5m tonnes of wheat but this year we expect to have to import 2.5m tonnes," said Charlotte Garbutt, a senior analyst at the industry-financed Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. "The crop that came through the winter has struggled and is patchy and variable. The area of wheat grown this year has been much smaller."

 

Analysts expect a harvest of 11m-12m tonnes, one of the smallest in a generation, after many farmers grubbed up their failing, waterlogged crops and replanted fields with barley. According to a National Farmers Union poll of 76 cereal growers covering 16,000 hectares, nearly 30% less wheat than usual is being grown in Britain this year.

 

Britain is usually the EU's third biggest wheat grower but it will be a net importer for the first time in 11 years. "Our poll is a snapshot but it is extremely worrying. If this plays out nationally, we will be below average production for the second year in a row," said NFU crops chair Andrew Watts.

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The future home: self-sufficient in meat, fish, vegetables and fruit

The future home: self-sufficient in meat, fish, vegetables and fruit | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Future homes and workplaces are set to be transformed into complex food production systems becoming self-sufficient in meat, fish, vegetables and fruit, according to research due to go on public display in Britain for the first time next month.

 

The extraordinary potential of so-called vertical urban farming techniques to feed growing city populations will form one of the centre pieces of this year's Manchester International Festival. Thousands of festival goers are expected to visit the site of a formerly derelict print works on the banks of the Irwell in Salford next month to glimpse the future shape of farming, gardening and shopping.

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Exclusive: The agricultural revolution - UK pushes Europe to embrace GM crops

Exclusive: The agricultural revolution - UK pushes Europe to embrace GM crops | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Britain is to push the European Union to relax restrictions on the licensing of genetically modified crops for human consumption amid growing scientific evidence that they are safe, and surveys showing they are supported by farmers.

 

While they are widely grown in North and South America, GM crops are effectively banned in the UK and Europe where they are considered on an extremely strict case-by-case basis.

 

Since the first GM food was produced in 1994 – a delayed-ripening tomato, which had a longer shelf-life - the EU has granted just two licences to cultivate GM crops, neither of them grown in the UK. One was for plants engineered to resist corn borers and the other for a starchy potato used to make paper.

 

Apart from that, Europe’s exposure to GM products has been confined to imports of genetically modified animal feed, while much of the meat, eggs and milk comes from animals that have been reared on engineered grains.

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UK raises alarm on deadly rise of superbugs

UK raises alarm on deadly rise of superbugs | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

In the past, drug resistance was countered by a steady flow of new antibiotics on to the market. Over the past 60 years, the pharmaceutical industry released three generations of drugs, starting with natural penicillins, then synthetic penicillins, and most recently the carbapenems. But the supply has dried up. The number of new drugs in the pipeline is at an all-time low as research was shelved in favour of more profitable drugs in the 1990s, coupled with the difficulties in discovering new medication.

 

Meanwhile, other experts are warning that increasing use of the drugs on farms poses a threat to people. Recent studies have shown that the overuse of antibiotics in intensive livestock farming could lead to the evolution of strains of dangerous bacteria, including MRSA, E coli and salmonella, that are resistant to some of the strongest antibiotics. An increasing body of evidence shows they can spread from farms to farm workers and their families as well as to consumers through affected meat.

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USDA Inspector General: Food Safety and Humane Slaughter Laws Ignored With Impunity

USDA Inspector General: Food Safety and Humane Slaughter Laws Ignored With Impunity | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it
Every year, roughly 150 million cattle and pigs are slaughtered in our nation's slaughterhouses, and the one measly law that attempts to ensure some small decrease in their abuse is all-but-ignored by the agency charged with enforcing it.

 

Two weeks ago, the USDA's Office of the Inspector General released a report that, once again, proves that our food system is broken: First, FSIS doesn't meaningfully attempt to stop repeat violations of food safety laws. Second, it has allowed a 15-year-old pilot program with faster slaughter and fewer inspectors to proceed without review. Third, it all but ignores its humane slaughter mandate. Remarkably, unless you read Food Safety News or the agricultural media, you will have missed this extremely damning report.

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Pesticide firms compete to showcase bee-protection programmes

Pesticide firms compete to showcase bee-protection programmes | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

Monsanto’s “Bee Summits” and Bayer AG’s “Bee care centre” are the latest examples of how pesticide makers are competing to showcase their goodwill to policymakers in Europe and the US that they are taking the necessary steps to protect bee populations. The companies say their pesticides are not the problem, but critics say science shows the opposite.

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Biochar: Carbon’s Champion: Organic Gardening

Biochar: Carbon’s Champion: Organic Gardening | The Barley Mow | Scoop.it

“I haven’t washed my hair since 1965,” says Craig Sams, who, when we met at the August 2012 Biochar Conference at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, California, sported a clean-looking, thick shock of Euro-style, longish white hair. The reason is that there’s a healthy ecology of microbes up there that he doesn’t want to scrub off by using soap. And so a rinse with warm water and olive oil is all he uses.

 

Protecting microbes is what he does these days as founder of Carbon Gold Ltd., a biochar company in Bristol, England. Biochar is plant matter, wood mostly, roasted until it’s black and crumbly. It’s not burnt to ash but is a form of charcoal that has some of the same characteristics as humus, plus one very important other function: When it’s buried in the soil, it stores carbon so it doesn’t enter the air as carbon dioxide and contribute to global warming.

 

We reported on biochar in our December 2010/January 2011 issue. But let Sams himself describe what’s happened with biochar since then:

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