Engineered crops won't fix nitrogen pollution problem
new UCS report concludes that we need multiple approaches to address
the serious problem of nitrogen pollution from overapplication of
fertilizer to crops. Excess fertilizer from fields pollutes the air
and water and some of it is converted into nitrous oxide, a potent
heat-trapping gas that also degrades the ozone layer. The report
found that, despite more than a decade of effort, biotechnology
companies have not yet succeeded in commercializing genetically
engineered (GE) crops that will use nitrogen more efficiently. More
promising solutions include traditional breeding, which has already
produced crops with improved nitrogen efficiency; precision
agriculture that matches fertilizer applications to times when crops
are best able to use it; and environmentally friendly farming
techniques such as cover crops that reduce the need for nitrogen
fertilizers and remove excess nitrogen from fields. Although GE
attracts large amounts of private investment, we need to increase
public research funding and provide incentives for other approaches
in order to fix our nitrogen problem. Read
No Sure Fix: Prospects for Reducing Nitrogen Fertilizer
Pollution through Genetic Engineering.
challenge of optimizing nitrogen use in a hungry world
is far too important to rely on any one approach or
technology for its solution. We don't want to put all
our eggs in the GE basket." ~ Doug
Gurian-Sherman, Senior Scientist and author of the
Antibiotic resistance estimated to cost $20
billion a year
Antibiotic-resistant infections cost patients and the U.S.
healthcare system $20 billion a year, according to a new study.
Biotech crops responsible for huge increase in weed killers
According to a new report from the Organic Center, and contrary to
industry claims, the use of weed killers (herbicides) in the United
States has increased dramatically—by 383 million pounds—over the
first 13 years of commercial production of GE crops. Impacts of
Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use in the United States
attributes the increased use to weeds that have become resistant to
herbicides with the widespread planting of GE herbicide-tolerant
crops. These crops are engineered to withstand weed killers so that
the chemicals can be applied to fields to kill weeds. However, their
overuse on GE crops has led to weeds that, like the crops, can
tolerate the herbicides. As farmers use more and more herbicides to
control them, the weeds become more resistant in turn, requiring
even more herbicides to control them. This report, like UCS's report
"Failure to Yield", refutes the biotech industry's overstated
assertions of the benefits of GE crops. To learn more about how
herbicide-tolerant weeds are overtaking fields in the South,
watch an ABC News video.
shows that the overall chemical footprint of today's
engineered crops is massive and growing. The growth in
herbicide use has important implications for public
health, the health of the environment, and farmers'
bottom lines." ~ Margaret Mellon,
Food & Environment Program Director
Bon Appétit produces guide to help young farmers
A new guide to help student gardeners partner with college food
service providers is available from Bon Appétit Management Company.
Major cattle producer loses right to use organic label
After a four-year investigation and legal battle, the U.S.
Department of Agriculture (USDA) has suspended the organic
certification of Promiseland Livestock, LLC, for four years.
Promiseland, one of the largest organic cattle producers in the
United States, manages 22,000 beef and dairy cattle in Nebraska and
Missouri. Investigators accused Promiseland of violating numerous
organic regulations, including feeding conventional grain to cattle
and reselling conventional grain as organic. The suspension directly
resulted from the company's inability to provide records
demonstrating its compliance with organic standards. The ruling
signifies a commitment by the USDA to ensure the integrity of the
organic label, which is critical to consumer confidence and support
for organic products.