The Zika virus’ spread has catalyzed a massive industry boom for big-biotechnology. It’s an industry making bank off manufacturing poison, and even mutants. Interestingly, it’s latest mosquitocide comes along with a study guaranteeing it’s eco-friendly.
“We’re essentially preventing mosquitoes from producing urine”, says Vanderbilt pharmacologist Jerod Denton, Ph.D. According to Science Daily, the pesticide–VU041–was developed to transcend the insect’s adaptive prowess. Denton joined colleagues in an evaluation of its possible ecological impacts.
Agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto agreed in September to a global non-exclusive licensing agreement with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to use the ground-breaking CRISPR-Cas gene-editing tool.
The St. Louis, Missouri-based company, which is in the midst of a merger with Germany’s Bayer under regulatory review, plans to use the technology for agricultural purposes. “Genome-editing techniques present precise ways to dramatically improve the scale and discovery efficiency of new research that can improve human health and global agriculture,” said Issi Rozen, chief business officer of the Broad Institute. “We are encouraged to see these tools being used to help deliver responsible solutions to help farmers meet the demands of our growing population.”
Mergers puts food workers and small-scale farmers at risk and increase vertical integration, hurting farmers’ ability to compete.
When you look to the year ahead, what do you see? Ensia recently invited eight global thought leaders to share their thoughts. In this interview with Ensia contributor Lisa Palmer for Ensia’s 2017 print annual, Real Food Media founder Anna Lappé responds to three questions: What will be the biggest challenge to address or opportunity to grasp in your field in 2017? Why? And what should we be doing about it now?
The food system is one of the largest forces impacting our planet’s environment and people’s health. The choices about what crops are grown, where and how they are produced, who gets access to that food and who makes those decisions all have global consequences.
The country has its sights firmly placed on the spectacle occurring over the hack/leak of documents that may or may not have influenced the election. It’s irrelevant. The people of the United States cannot grant the Central Intelligence Agency (or any intelligence agency) the power to cast doubt on the results of elections via unconfirmed, unsourced, and politically biased findings. At the end of the day, the precedent set by allowing a secret agency to veto election results is the death of democracy.
So what did you miss while this was occupying the national narrative? Lots. Troops are deploying to Afghanistan, the Boko Haram is back in the headlines, a new pipeline fight, and much more.
Around the world, plant breeders are resisting what they see as corporate control of the food supply by making seeds available for other breeders to use.
Frank Morton has been breeding lettuce since the 1980s. His company offers 114 varieties, among them Outredgeous, which last year became the first plant that NASA astronauts grew and ate in space. For nearly 20 years, Morton’s work was limited only by his imagination and by how many different kinds of lettuce he could get his hands on. But in the early 2000s, he started noticing more and more lettuces were patented, meaning he would not be able to use them for breeding. The patents weren’t just for different types of lettuce, but specific traits such as resistance to a disease, a particular shade of red or green, or curliness of the leaf. Such patents have increased in the years since, and are encroaching on a growing range of crops, from corn to carrots — a trend that has plant breeders, environmentalists and food security experts concerned about the future of the food production.
A determined fellow dedicated to the millennia-old tradition of plant breeding, Morton still breeds lettuce — it just takes longer, because more restrictions make it harder for him to do his work.
The Bayer – Monsanto merger, announced last week, will no doubt be good for shareholders in the short term, with the sale price of seed and GMO giant Monsanto ending up at $66 billion, or $128 cash for each share. But the result for farmers across the globe will likely be far less rosy.
The Bayer – Monsanto merger deal, which took months of negotiations to finalize, will create the largest agribusiness in the world. Bayer, mostly known for their aspirin and other pharmaceutical products (including, long ago, heroin) are actually an agriculture product giant in and of themselves,with a large chunk of their yearly profits being from the sale of agricultural chemicals.
On the eve of her appearance at the One Earth, One Humanity One Future festival in Oxford later this month, Vandana Shiva calls for seed freedom.
Later this month I will be travelling to England, to take part in the ‘One Earth One Humanity One Future’ festival in Oxford, which will celebrate 50 years of the UK’s flagship environmental magazine, Resurgence.
This ‘Resurgence 50’ festival will be bringing together leading figures from the world’s social justice and environmental movements to share ideas for bridging a more equitable and sustainable world. A world that would be imminently fairer and more sustainable without the transnational agrochemical giant Monsanto and its GMO crops.
Despite Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) being touted as saviors, nations worldwide restrict or outright ban their use. That gouges their champion corporation–Monsanto– with deep profit wounds. That paradigm forces the company to get creative, and test all manner of boundaries. As agra-advancement demand grows, with GMO’s failing to catch on, Monsanto turns to countries like Vietnam to welcome its product.
The agra-giant once found success in Vietnam during 20th century struggles against colonialism. During the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese countryside drowned in massive amounts of the toxin known as Agent Orange across lush jungles. It acted as a kind of augmented herbicide, officially used to clear dense bush for troops. It was also useful for destroying food supplies, and tainting drinking water. A Vietnamese man interviewed for the 1975 documentary Hearts And Minds, who built coffins of a living, claimed many countryside children died due to the poison.