Saturday, October 18, 2014

An organic corn seed producer speaks out

Link to video
"The genetically modified seed is TWICE as much money as what we charge."  says Vince Trudell of DeDell Seeds. He's a producer of organic corn seed.

Watch people hand-pollinate a corn field.  This labor-intensive process is what it takes to keep it un-polluted by GMOs.

In the video you'll learn quite a bit about traditional plant breeding, and how GMO-production differs from traditional plant breeding.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Freedom in Heirloom Seeds

"Heirloom seeds give us many freedoms: freedom to pass on ancestral traditions; freedom to grow food without patent fees; freedom to nourish our bodies; and freedom to exchange seed without corporate oversight."  

Drought-tolerance: Conventional plant breeding is far better

Corporate boasting, move aside.  GMO crops are far, far outdistanced by conventional breeding in drought tolerance.

And here in water-starved California, with a climate-changed future staring down at us, drought tolerance in food crops is a huge issue. Let's face it, genetically altered crops get a big "FAIL!

A recent article in the scientific journal Nature highlighted the efforts of plant breeders from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico City and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan, Nigeria.  These plant breeders are studying both conventional and transgenic methods in efforts to develop drought-tolerant maize.

"There are already about 153 varieties of conventionally-bred corn currently in trials for drought tolerance," writes blog Civil Eats.

"Researchers say that they are at least 10 years from developing a comparable GM variety," reports Nature.

Drought tolerance is a complex trait that involves multiple genes. Transgenic techniques, which target one gene at a time, have not been as quick to manipulate it.

Traditional plant breeders have been developing drought-tolerant varieties for generations:  See selection of varieties from the desert Southwest, available for purchase at Native Seed.  With a GMO-Free Zone, we can help preserve them, to feed humanity in a drought-challenged future.

Here they come ... GMO bees

Now they're starting to genetically modify honeybees?

Entomology Today hails it as a "breakthrough in the efforts." But to those of us familiar with the out-of-control dangers of GMO pollen drift, this one is downright scary.

Christina Schulte and colleagues from Heinrich Heine University have apparently figured out not just how to alter genes in honeybees, but how to make those genetic alterations be passed along to offspring. (link to study)

What happens when a few of those GMO bees escape into the wild?  Aren't our natural honeybees already under enough attack by modern agriculture?  Suspects in Colony Collapse Disorder include ...
  • A parasitic mite called Varroa destructor that has often been found in decimated colonies
  • Several viruses
  • A bacterial disease called European foulbrood that is increasingly being detected in U.S. bee colonies
  • The use of pesticides, including neonicotinoids, a neuroactive chemical
  • (summary article)
Frankly, Franken-bees are not the answer!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Future of Food lies in small-scale agriculture

A recent report by UN researchers emphasizes the necessity of developing small-scale agriculture.

Hilal Elver, the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, calls on governments to support a transition to “agricultural democracy” which would empower small farmers.

“Empirical and scientific evidence shows that small farmers feed the world,” said Elver.

"Modern agriculture, which began in the 1950s, is more resource intensive, very fossil fuel dependent, using fertilizers, and based on massive production. This policy has to change."  Read a YES magazine article on Elver's speech 

Creating a GMO-Free Zone is part of changing these policies.  Creating a GMO-Free Zone supports small producers in local urban agriculture.

And a GMO-Free Zone creates a space where we can save the Safe Seeds -- GMO-Free seeds -- which are absolutely essential for the shift away from the erroneous direction of modern agriculture.

Help create a GMO-Free Zone in L.A.

Monday, October 13, 2014

GMO crops mean MORE herbicides

"One of the main arguments behind creating these engineered crops is that farmers then need to use less herbicide and pesticide. This makes farms more eco-friendly, say proponents of genetically modified (GM) crops, and GM seeds also allow farmers to spend less on “inputs” (chemicals), thereby making a greater profit.

"But a new study released by Food & Water Watch ... finds the goal of reduced chemical use has not panned out as planned. In fact, according to the USDA and EPA data used in the report, the quick adoption of genetically engineered crops by farmers has increased herbicide use over the past 9 years in the U.S. The report follows on the heels of another such study by Washington State University research professor Charles Benbrook just last year.

"Both reports focus on 'superweeds.' It turns out that spraying a pesticide repeatedly selects for weeds which also resist the chemical. Ever more resistant weeds are then bred, able to withstand increasing amounts – and often different forms – of herbicide." -- Forbes