Hello Ms Truss

Our new UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is Elizabeth Truss. Er… who? She’s been working for improvements to education, very important, yes, but I haven’t seen much to suggest that she knows anything about the land. Where will you lead us, Ms Truss? We’re watching you.

Posted in agriculture, ecology, fish, food, horticulture, money and trade, weather and climate | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Goodbye Mr Paterson

Here in Britain, our Secretary of State for Environment Food and Rural Affairs has been Owen Paterson. Not any more! Today, in a Cabinet reshuffle, Mr Paterson’s been sacked.

I wonder who’ll take his place. Whoever that person is, I hope they’ll bring wellies as Mr Paterson didn’t when he visited the flooded areas of Somerset.

Posted in agriculture, ecology, fish, food, horticulture, money and trade, weather and climate | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Séralini’s rat-feeding trial (part 5)

Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini is a French scientist researching pesticides and GM (genetically modified, genetically engineered, GE) crops. A research paper from his team was published in 2012, retracted (withdrawn) in 2013 and republished in 2014. Here it is.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts in which I comment on Prof Séralini’s study.

The study was a feeding trial in which rats (Rattus norvegicus) ate a GM maize (corn, Zea mays) called NK603 from Monsanto and Monsanto’s weedkiller Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) which NK603 had been engineered to resist.

My fellow bloggers at Retraction Watch tell us how the ‘Séralini affair’ isn’t over. Was the original paper peer-reviewed? If it were so, would that make us believe it? I say no, it wouldn’t make me believe it. It wouldn’t make me disbelieve it either.

I’ve been on both ends of the peer-review system – the reviewed author, and the reviewer. Peer review is done by real people with human faults but it’s the best system anybody has invented. Now that we can see what Prof Séralini wrote, we can think for ourselves about his rat-feeding trial. Just now, I’m learning the chemistry.

Posted in agriculture, food, knowledge transfer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Séralini study shows Roundup damages sperm

Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini is a French scientist researching pesticides and GM (genetically modified, genetically engineered, GE) crops. He’s published a new study in which rats (Rattus norvegicus) were exposed to the world’s most popular weedkiller, Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) for eight days. It was bad news for their sperm, not so much during those eight days but for months afterwards.

Claire Robinson*, Managing Editor of GMO Seralini, explains the new study. This was ‘the first [study] to measure the delayed effects of exposure to Roundup on sperm in mammals from a short exposure…

‘The study’s findings should raise alarm in farm workers, as well as people who spray Roundup for municipal authorities and even home gardeners. People exposed to lower doses repeated over the long term, including consumers who eat food produced with Roundup and people who happen to be exposed to others’ spraying activities, should also be concerned.’

Here’s the new science.

In case you’d like a reminder, here’s my blog post about how Roundup and Roundup Ready crops work.

You might also want to look at the series of blog posts in which I comment on Prof Séralini’s most famous (or infamous) previous study. That study was a feeding trial in which rats ate a GM maize (corn, Zea mays) called NK603 from Monsanto and the Roundup which NK603 had been engineered to resist.

Here in Britain, and no doubt in other countries too, cute Roundup adverts appear on our television screens. Roundup is easy to buy with our groceries and gardening supplies. Doesn’t it look easy to spray a little weedkiller? As I continue my series about Prof Séralini’s rat-feeding trial, please remember that Roundup is poison.

* Claire Robinson is also one of the leaders at Earth Open Source.

Posted in agriculture, horticulture, human health, knowledge transfer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

America’s dwindling diversity

Here’s a graphic picture about the range of crop varieties available to farmers and growers in the United States. A range falling and falling between 1903 and 1983. Of course some of the now-extinct varieties will have been weak, but most of them probably would have been worth conserving. We don’t know what the future holds.

Since the 1980s, genetic modification (GM, genetic engineering) has gone mainstream. I don’t think that’s very good news for biodiversity.

Posted in agriculture, horticulture, knowledge transfer | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Is transatlantic free trade a lose-lose deal for food and farming?

The biggest free trade deal in history is being negotiated now. If finalised, this will be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA).

The non-profit Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) (‘Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU’) calls the TTIP a lose-lose deal for food and farming. ‘From a look at their lobbying demands, the agribusiness industry seems to regard the treaty as a perfect weapon to counter existing and future food regulations. However, the corporate food and agriculture agenda has not gone un-noticed. The negotiations face rough weather as more and more people on both sides of the Atlantic are understanding what we stand to lose from this agreement.’

The TTIP has been accused of sneaking past the rule of law.

Free trade, eh? Free for who?

Posted in agriculture, food, money and trade | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Debating GM across the Pond

The biggest free trade deal in history is being negotiated now. If finalised, this will be the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA).

A few hours ago I told you of a legal victory for freedom of information about anything Europe’s involved with, including the TTIP. Today (if you can find it across time zones) you could take part in a webinar. It’s about one of the most hotly debated topics in the TTIP: genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on farms, in food, in grocery shops (noticing moves to label GMOs in USian food) and in livestock feed.

In case you didn’t realise how important this is, the non-profit Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) (‘Exposing the power of corporate lobbying in the EU’) tells us today that agribusiness is the biggest lobbyist on the TTIP. ‘Food multinationals, agri-traders and seed producers have had more contacts with the Commission’s trade department (DG Trade) than lobbyists from the pharmaceutical, chemical, financial and car industry put together.’

You can browse through this CEO article for a great set of infographics to bring this story alive.

Posted in agriculture, food, knowledge transfer, money and trade | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments