Dicamba Facing Hurdles

Rec’d the following notice from a fellow GMO fighter. Hopefully an informed populace can throw Monsatan another curve ball:

Dear friends,

Monsanto is launching a super poison that kills plants in its path — except for Monsanto GMOs. It even flies through the air onto neighbouring land!

But in days we can shut it down.

After a massive outcry from 1,000 affected farmers, a key US state could now ban this poison. This will set a precedent to influence regulation around the world.

Monsanto is mounting an intense pressure campaign, and hoping to keep it to a local fight. But if one million of us sign this petition now, we’ll submit it to the official process to show that the whole world wants this toxic chemical out of our fields and off our food! Add your name:

Stand up to Monsanto

It’s no surprise farmers are up in arms. Dicamba spreads death with the wind, drifting onto their crops, trees, soil, and water. Farmers are now faced with a terrible choice — switch to Monsanto GMO seeds, or watch their crops die.

It’s a greedy, dangerous scheme that will make Monsanto billions and could destroy our food system.

But we can stop it. 17 US states opened Dicamba investigations and key Arkansas authorities just recommended a ban — now it is up for a vote. Regulators from the EU to Latin America are watching carefully. If one million of us face down Monsanto in Arkansas, and win a ban, we could stop this deadly poison in its tracks.

Stand up to Monsanto

For years, the Avaaz community has taken on the David vs Goliath fight to stop the corrupt and dangerous takeover of our food system. And we are winning. Last year, we helped stop Monsanto from opening a flagship GM factory in Argentina, and we stopped the EU from giving a new license to the pesticide glyphosate. Now, we can help win in Arkansas where the next fight begins.

With hope and determination,

Dalia, Nick, Danny, Allison, Diego, Camille and the rest of the Avaaz team

Sources:

Arkansas Defies Monsanto, Moves To Ban Rogue Weedkiller (NPR)
http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/09/22/552803465/arkansas-defies-monsanto-moves-to-ban-rogue-weedkiller

This miracle weed killer was supposed to save farms. Instead, it’s devastating them. (Washington Post)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/this-miracle-weed-killer-was-supposed-to-save-farms-instead-its-devastating-them/2017/08/29/33a21a56-88e3-11e7-961d-2f373b3977ee_story.html

Arkansas one step from dicamba ban (AgriNews)
http://www.agrinews-pubs.com/news/arkansas-one-step-from-dicamba-ban/article_9a258824-25d7-5e73-a623-9831fb993ecf.html

Monsanto Fighting Arkansas Dicamba Ban (Arkansas Matters)
http://www.arkansasmatters.com/news/local-news/monsanto-fighting-arkansas-dicamba-ban/806920404

Arkansas one step from ban on controversial herbicide next summer (Reuters)
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-pesticides-arkansas/arkansas-one-step-from-ban-on-controversial-herbicide-next-summer-idUSKCN1BW33A

Avaaz is a 44-million-person global campaign network
that works to ensure that the views and values of the world’s people shape global decision-making. (“Avaaz” means “voice” or “song” in many languages.) Avaaz members live in every nation of the world; our team is spread across 18 countries on 6 continents and operates in 17 languages. Learn about some of Avaaz’s biggest campaigns here, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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EBT Failing?

EBT Card Outage?: It Is 8 Days Into June And Many Americans Are STILL Waiting For Food Stamp Money

Supermarket Bananas - Public DomainWidespread reports continue to pour in from all over the nation of “glitches” with the food stamp system.  It is eight days into the month and large numbers of people still have not received their benefits, and in other instances it is being reported that EBT cards are simply not working correctly.  So what in the world is going on here?  On downdetector.com there are scores of reports of problems with the EBT system from people all over the nation.  Could this simply be another example of government incompetence, or is something else at work here?

I had heard some rumblings about this over the past few days, but I had not really taken them seriously until I read an article from highly respected author Ray Gano

It interesting over the weekend I got several emails telling me about cell phones being down, internet being down, and get this, EBT cards not working and having no money associated to them.

This is a concern because when the US Government has payment failures, then there is possibly something happening that the press is not telling you about.

Now, we know that computers have problems and that states, counties and cities run on computers. But what is interesting is that since the beginning of 2016, The US government has had over 2,700 reports on downdetector.com showing that they have been late loading the money onto these EBT cards.

Folks, we are now going on 8 days where the Government has not paid the EBT payments so that people have food.

So I went over to downdetector.com myself, and I was stunned to see that reports of EBT outages continue to pour in every hour.  Here are just a few of the recent comments that have been left by people that are still waiting for their food stamp benefits for June…

Heidi Lynn: I was supposed to get mine on the 5th and still nothing. Even ebt NJ site says $0 as well as my EBT card says $0. I’m on disability. I forgot to add I tried calling NJ Board of Services and was on hold for over an hour. I had to hang up to take dog out, etc. Does anyone know what’s going on yet?

Ann Wilson: Now that it’s been a whole week since I was supposed to get my June benefits, and haven’t, I’m planning on going to my Illinois FCRC office. I hope they will be able to fix this difficulty.

Jenn Johnson: I always get mine on time. I was due to get mine today June 7th and nothing. I am from kentucky. Why is there nothing on the news about this?

Jarrett Manhart: Havnt received mine either. They are never late. And my fone is off so i cant call em. Im on Wi-Fi down the street from me.

Sunny Nicole Jones: I haven’t gotten mine either! I’m glad it’s not just me though because then I would really be worried!

But when I went to confirm these widespread outages with articles from the mainstream media, I came up empty.

Either the mainstream media does not know what is going on yet, or it is being ignored.

If you have not gotten your EBT benefits for this month yet or you know someone that is in that position, please feel free to let me know.  I want to get to the bottom of this.  There are people all over the nation that are reporting problems with the food stamp system, but nobody seems to know exactly how widespread this issue is just yet.

Today there are well over 40 million Americans on food stamps, and a lot of them would start rioting tomorrow if you told them that their food stamp cards were being turned off permanently.

EBT cards are the modern equivalent of the bread lines of the 1930s.  Instead of having to wait in long lines for food, the government just zaps money on to EBT cards each month, and those that are hurting are able to get something to eat.

But down in Venezuela, extremely long food lines are a daily reality for much of the population right now.  The following comes from the Daily Mail

Venezuela was once South America’s richest nation, but a fall in oil prices combined with other economic problems has led to desperate citizens taking drastic measures.

Nearly half of Venezuelans say they can no longer afford to eat three meals a day, according to a recent poll by the local firm Venebarometro. The poll surveyed 1,200 adults at their homes during the first week of April and had a margin of error of plus or minus of about two percentage points

Those who can, cross the border into Colombia to buy, bring back and then use or sell food and other basic commodities.

Could you imagine not being able to provide three meals a day for your family any longer?

Close to half the population of Venezuela is already in that position, and the economic collapse down there grows worse with each passing day.

Most Americans just assume that nothing like that could ever happen here.

Most Americans just assume that the government will always have plenty of money to give out.

As I mentioned above, there are well over 40 million Americans that receive EBT benefits.

However, when you factor in all government programs, more than 100 million Americans get some form of money or benefits from the federal government each month.

So what would happen someday if suddenly the spigot was turned off?

What would those 100 million people do?

How would they survive?

Hopefully this current EBT outage is just a temporary technical glitch, and hopefully the government will get it fixed in short order.

But someday there will be a major crisis that will cause food stamp benefits to be cut off either permanently or for an extended period of time.

When that day arrives, what will that do to our communities?

Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

Monsanto Announces New Poison For Your Consumption

Monsanto, arguably one of the ten most hated corporations in the world, is going to release a more deadly genetically modified strain for everyone to get sick and or die from. Sometimes I become speechless. The loathing and disgust I feel over altering things that are food and turning them into tertiary or quaternary things that can be swallowed is causing me to feel a little speechless right at the moment. Does their logo have a plant in a coffin?

Here’s an article about their recent bragging:

Monsanto announces new technology to make its GM crops more pest resistant

 The entrance sign is seen at the headquarters of Monsanto in St. Louis, Missouri © Juliette Michel
Monsanto says it has developed breakthrough technology to help make its crops more resistant to bugs and pests. The new techniques will help target insects that have developed resistance to previously genetically modified crops.

The research was conducted by scientists at Harvard University in conjunction with Monsanto. The aim was to try and speed up the process of generating proteins, which have properties that can kill pests.

The team was using PACE (phage-assisted continuous evolution) technology, which is able to eliminate insects that have grown resistant to prior agricultural solutions. The PACE method is 100 times faster than other methods in trying to identify protein with insect killing properties, according to the research team.

“Scientific breakthroughs like PACE technology are key to continue bringing solutions to farmers to help them get more out of every acre,” Tom Adams, vice president of biotechnology at Monsanto said in a press release.

“The remarkable progress that’s been made in applying PACE to agriculture biotechnology is a huge testament to the success that comes when parties work together and collaborate to advance science in a way that can bring long-term benefits to global agriculture.”

The importance of the technique means that the proteins are able to be developed at faster than the insects and pests are able to become resistant.

“It’s a breakthrough in a way we can handle resistance in the future,” Tom Malvar, the head of insect control discovery at Monsanto said, according to the Agriculture journal. “This technology is not limited to insect control. We envision this having broad applications,” he added.

In November, a report by Greenpeace slammed the genetically modified (GM) crop industry, for failing to tackle problems regarding superbugs caused by insects becoming resistant to previously genetically modified crops.

“GM crops can only increase yield by reducing losses to pests in years of high infestation, and this effect is not permanent as pesticide-producing crops lead to resistant ‘superbugs’. GM crop yields have often failed to isolate the effects of GM technology from other factors, or to compare like-for-like farms,” the report stated.

GM corn and soyabeans have given smaller yields in recent years in the US due to pests and weeds becoming resistant to weedkillers used to protect the plants.

In March, the US Department of Agriculture announced its intention to end regulation of Monsanto’s GM corn that is engineered to resist the company’s herbicide, meaning that farmers will now be able to plant the corn strains without permits.

However, the move was slammed by critics, with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a nonprofit advocating pro-family farm policies, saying the unregulated process could lead to environmental damage.

“Without a coordinated and thorough evaluation of the full technology package, and a meaningful analysis of impacts, adding yet another new crop/herbicide package will continue adding to the existing harmful effects on herbicides on ecological systems, human health, and farmers’ livelihoods through herbicide drift and non-target crop losses; the widespread increase in herbicide-resistant weeds; and environmental and public health impacts,” the group said in a statement.

In November, protesters took to the streets in hundreds of cities around the world for the 2015 Million Mask March, which saw activists storm the doors of Monsanto in Washington, DC. In May, activists from over 400 cities spoke out against GMOs and Monsanto’s monopoly over the food supply.

Activists accuse the agricultural corporation of selling toxic chemicals, which are bad for people’s health, water supplies, vital crop pollinators and the environment in general. The giant is also criticized for its attitude towards food safety regulations and staunch opposition to GMO labeling. Small farmers blame Monsanto for monopolizing the seed market.

In January, Seattle announced its intention to sue Monsanto over allegations the company polluted the Lower Duwamish River and city drainage pipes, becoming the sixth city to file a lawsuit against the bio-tech giant.

“Long after the dangers of PCBs were widely known, Monsanto continued its practice of protecting its business interests at our expense,” City Attorney Pete Holmes said in a statement. “The City intends to hold Monsanto accountable for the damage its product wreaked on our environment.”

OIE and Animal Based Bio-Weapons

The OIE is basically the USDA on the animal side for all World Trade Agreements and therefore sets the harmonization and standardization for animal products and animal diseases within all WTO member states….Yes, I used the word states instead of nations, because we truly are now under global government. I could pontificate and illustrate for hours about just how this is now a fact, and the methods by which we have lost our nation, but I don’t have the hours to do so again. SO, if you desire to see how that happened in our food and livestock sector, just look for any article I have written on the Food Safety Modernization Act and GAP (Good Agricultural Practices). Maybe I’ll do it all again as a retrospective, but right now, I’m consumed with taking care of family and prepping for the imminent collapse. :Smiley Face: I hope you are as well!

The OIE is responsible for the foolish stamping out policies for diseases that must be controlled under trade standards. A quick illustration is the annihilation of all the poultry due to avian influenza here. Since it is classified as a “disease of concern” states must either be free of the disease, or have a “controlled” level of this disease. The “free” status is what brings about the stamp out or eradication policy. To maintain a free status, should a disease of concern present itself, all animals potentially exposed and potentially carriers must be killed to stop the disease. Biologic idiocy, but that’s “free trade”. If you kill all the animals exposed, it leaves no genetic pool that demonstrates resistance to draw from. So two birds out of 10,000 die and the whole barn must now be killed.

After that lovely little introduction to the OIE and the reason for such lack of reason, here is an article that people should know about. Please read between the lines and act accordingly:

Beware of animal diseases as biological weapons, health experts say

PARIS (Reuters) – The World Health Organization, animal health and national defense officers called on Tuesday for wider international cooperation to avoid the spread of animal diseases that could be used as biological weapons.

Sixty percent of human diseases come from animal agents and 80 percent of the agents that could be used for bio terrorism are of animal origin, said Bernard Vallat, director general of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

“History has shown that animal diseases have often been used as weapons before. Advances in genetics can now make them even more harmful. So we are calling for further investment to be made at national level on bio security,” Vallat told reporters at a conference on biological threat reduction.

Diseases have spread from animals to humans for millennia, with latest examples including the bird flu virus that has killed hundreds of people around the globe.

The OIE and the WHO warned that animal disease agents could escape naturally, accidentally but also intentionally from laboratories, to be used as bio weapons.Earlier during the conference Kenneth Myers, Director of the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), part of the Department of Defense, stressed the need for international collaboration to avoid the loss of biological material.

“Terrorists have clearly shown they will use any weapons at their disposal,” Myers said, noting that disease agents are easy to transport and difficult to detect.

Security breaches involving animal diseases are not rare.

The Pentagon said in May and earlier this month the U.S. military had sent live samples of anthrax, which can be used as biological weapon, to five countries outside the United States and to dozens of U.S. labs.

The conference on ‪‎biothreat reduction in Paris is the first to gather experts from the ‪‎OIE, ‪‎WHO, international police agency I‪nterpol, the ‪United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization FAO and representatives from the health, security or defense sectors from over 120 countries.

“The aim is to have the same voice on this subject,” Vallat said. “International solidarity is key because any country that does not implement standards can be a threat to the entire planet.”

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

Prices Edging Up Due to Bird Flu

The stamping out policy due to “free” trade is already affecting poultry and poultry product pricing. We now have three different strains of bird flu active in the continental US. These are deemed highly pathogenic and the policy for handling this is foolish at best. Here’s the method, birds get sick with swollen combs, the runs and likely fever. They go off feed and off water. Many begin to die. So the entire house and/or facility has all the birds killed.

The issue that I take with the eradication policy is two fold. First, and arguably most importantly, when you have definitive avian influenza and you kill everything, you are destroying not only ill birds, but most likely destroying birds with genetically carried resistance to the virus. So there are no resistant genes that can be passed on to offspring if you kill the entire flock. Quarantine is definitely a positive method of disease control to employ, but eradication is foolhardy in a long term view. It is a recipe for shortages and economic implosion of that sector of agriculture. There is no way to quarantine the air, but this brings to light the importance of diverse and extremely diffuse production methods. Smaller farms in a myriad of locations is better for all living things. It’s better for economic prosperity, environmental health, hardiness of stock, and the literal security of the food supply.But that makes sense, so we can’t have that.

 Now, the second reason I am so opposed to this eradication policy in any disease, is because it is purely in position for international trade. The OIE has “reportable” diseases that a country must demonstrate it does not have an active issue with in order to be able to continue in unabated free trade agreements. So, to comply with this trade requirement, the stamping out and eradication policies are employed.

We now have these three different strains in 16 states as of today. People are being put out of work and 32 million or more poultry have been killed. The carcasses are an environmental issue. The National Guard is bringing in water to help with the environmental concern…”Huh?” you say. Yep. Farms typically don’t have enough water available. Particularly factory run poultry farms. (In case you’re wondering, that is sarcasm.)

 As for a solution, food grade hydrogen peroxide added to the water of your chickens will help them to resist the flu. Also, being outside and eating fresh stuff the way they were designed to by our Creator to do is going help them be more resistant to disease and generally happier as well.

Here’s an article about the prices rising:

Egg, turkey meat prices begin to rise as bird flu spreads

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Prices for eggs and turkey meat are rising as an outbreak of bird flu in the Midwest claims an increasing number of chickens and turkeys. Market experts say grocery stores and wholesalers are trying to stock up on eggs, but there’s no need to worry about having enough turkeys for Thanksgiving.

The cost of a carton of large eggs in the Midwest has jumped nearly 17 percent to $1.39 a dozen from $1.19 since mid-April when the virus began appearing in Iowa’s chicken flocks and farmers culled their flocks to contain any spread. Neighboring Nebraska reported its first case of bird flu Tuesday, affecting 1.7 million chickens at an egg farm in Dixon County.

A much bigger increase has emerged in the eggs used as ingredients in processed products such as cake mix and mayonnaise, which account for the majority of what Iowa produces. Those eggs have jumped 63 percent to $1.03 a dozen from 63 cents in the last three weeks, said Rick Brown, senior vice president of Urner Barry, a commodity market analysis firm.

Turkey prices, which had been expected to fall this year, are up slightly as the bird flu claimed about 5.6 million turkeys nationwide so far. About 238 million turkeys were raised in the U.S. last year.

The price of fresh boneless and skinless tom breast meat primarily used for deli meat has risen 10 percent since mid-April to $3.37 a pound, a USDA report said Friday. Frozen hens in the 8- to 16-pound range, those often used for home roasting, were up about 3 percent to $1.06 a pound.

Egg supplies are falling short of demand, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has indicated, and Brown said egg buyers such as grocery stores and wholesalers are trying to stock up for fear that another large farm with millions of chickens will be stricken – causing prices to spike higher.

“We’re starting to see a little bit of that demand increase, and the sellers are reluctant to give clients too much more than they normally have because they know what’s going on and they don’t want to be caught short either,” he said.

The number of Iowa chickens lost exceeds 26 million, the vast majority of which lay eggs for food use. That’s about 41 percent of the leading egg state’s layers and about 8 percent of the nation’s laying hens. That many chickens would lay more than 500 million table eggs a month. For comparison, Iowa chickens laid 1.4 billion table eggs in March, before the disease struck. U.S. egg production for March stood at 7.42 billion table eggs.

Some companies are beginning to notice the impact of fewer eggs. Cereal maker Post Holdings Inc., which bought egg products supplier Michael Foods last year, said in its May 7 quarterly earnings report that about 14 percent of its egg supply has been affected by the bird flu outbreak. Post estimated the impact at about $20 million through the end of September.

Michael Foods primarily supplies extended shelf-life liquid and precooked egg products and eggs used in food ingredients.

The poultry industry can replenish the supply of chickens more quickly than beef or pork industries can rebound, but it still takes time to rebuild a flock.

“They’re going to have to phase in replacing those flocks so they can get them get back into a laying schedule that results in a more even flow of eggs, and that’s going to take six to nine months,” said Tom Elam, an agricultural economist and poultry industry consultant.

It takes about four months for a hatched chick to be old enough to begin laying eggs, and it will typically be productive for about two years, Elam said. Many of the hens dying from the disease are younger and no pullets had been planned to replace them yet, Elam said. More than 350,000 pullets have been lost to bird flu – a very small portion of the 50 million egg-type chicks hatched in March, but it compounds the replenishment problem.

While new bird flu outbreaks are occurring in the turkey market – Minnesota, the nation’s leading turkey producer, has 4 million confirmed dead birds so far – Elam said cold storage stocks and the number of hens still on farms suggest turkeys will be available for Thanksgiving.

“Anybody who wants a Thanksgiving turkey is going to be able to get one,” he said. “They may have to pay a little more for it but we’re not going to have national stock-outs for Thanksgiving turkeys, yet.”

 

Gene Silencing of GMO’s Not Considered

While the topic of gene silencing brought about by ingestion of GMO’s has had some scientific study done, not once has it been taken into consideration by the Powers that Shouldn’t Be when approving GMO’s for human or animal consumption in the US. The article below touches on that subject in relation to the recent approval of GMO Simplot potatoes. These are the primary potatoes for McDonald’s french fries.

Poorly tested gene silencing technology to enter food supply with Simplot potato

on 08 November 2014.

USDA approves new GM potato developed with new, little understood form of genetic engineering called RNA interference (RNAi)

EXCERPT: “We simply don’t know enough about RNA interference technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment. If this is an attempt to give crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the U.S. regulation of GE crops. These approvals are riddled with holes and are extremely worrisome,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, Ph.D., CFS director of sustainable agriculture and senior scientist.

Poorly tested gene silencing technology to enter food supply with Simplot potato

Center for Food Safety, November 7th, 2014
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/3594/poorly-tested-gene-silencing-technology-to-enter-food-supply-with-simplot-potato

* A new form of genetic engineering will soon be sold to unsuspecting consumers

Center for Food Safety (CFS) is today warning consumers about a new genetically engineered (GE) potato that may soon enter the food supply. Because GE foods are not required to be labeled, the new GE potato will be sold to consumers without their knowledge. The GE potato was one of two new crops approved today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that uses a new, little understood form of genetic engineering called RNA interference (RNAi). The other is a new low-lignin alfalfa from Monsanto. Despite the unprecedented nature of these approvals, USDA has inexplicably failed to undertake the legally required rigorous and overarching analysis of the GE crops’ impacts or reasonably foreseeable consequences.

“We simply don’t know enough about RNA interference technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment. If this is an attempt to give crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the U.S. regulation of GE crops. These approvals are riddled with holes and are extremely worrisome,” said Doug Gurian-Sherman, Ph.D., CFS director of sustainable agriculture and senior scientist.

Analysis of RNAi by a panel of independent scientists requested by the Environmental Protection Agency concluded that there were many significant uncertainties about potential risks from this technology, and that current risk assessment procedures were not adequate. Despite such cautions USDA is rushing the technology forward.

Unlike earlier genetic engineering techniques that splice in segments of DNA, the new technique used in the Simplot potato and Monsanto’s low-lignin alfalfa is based on the manipulation of the plant’s RNA-based control mechanisms. RNA interference (RNAi) induces the plant to silence or dial back expression of the plant’s own genes, such as those responsible for natural processes like browning or lignin production.. However, RNA manipulations may end up turning down, or off, genes other than those that were targeted because many genes contain similar, or even identical, stretches of DNA. Current testing requirements do not reliably detect such effects on other important crop genes.

Concerns with Simplot Potato:

Developed by the J.R. Simplot Company, the potato would be the only GE potato variety on the U.S. commercial market. The Simplot potato has been genetically engineered with RNAi technology to reduce browning by silencing the expression of one of five polyphenol oxidase genes, which is normally highly expressed in potato tubers. This is attractive to the potato processing industry because bruised potatoes are culled for cosmetic reasons. However, bruised potatoes have not been associated with health risks.

These potatoes are also silenced for genes affecting sugar production and the amino acid asparagine, which during frying and baking lead to the production of acrylamide, a probable carcinogen. However, it is unclear whether the observed reductions will lead to positive health outcomes, given that acrylamide is found in many other foods. In addition, fried potato products have other serious negative health effects.

“In light of the obesity crisis, there has been an important national push to discourage children and adults from eating large quantities of fried foods like french fries or chips. In creating the false illusion that fried potatoes are now healthy, the Simplot potato sends the absolute opposite message,” said Elizabeth Kucinich, policy director at CFS. “Claims of health benefits by USDA and Simplot are short sighted, misleading, and in the light of the science, could actually be potentially dangerous.”

The asparagine gene has also been shown in recent research to be important in plant defenses against pathogens. The Simplot potato was not adequately tested for a possible weakening of its ability to defend itself against disease. If this occurs in the field, it could lead to increased fungicide use, greater farmer expense, and possibly reduced productivity. The latter effect was seen in several tests of these potatoes.

“We need answers to these questions before these potatoes are commercialized,” said Gurian-Sherman.

Concerns with Monsanto’s Low-Lignin Alfalfa:

Monsanto and Forage Genetics International (FGI) have genetically engineered alfalfa for reduced levels of lignin through the suppression of a key enzyme in the lignin biosynthetic pathway. It represents the first non-regulated GE crop with reduced lignin levels. Lignin and its building blocks perform many functions in plants, including structural stability and plant defense. Lowering lignin levels could make the alfalfa more prone to attack by insects or diseases, and potentially increase pesticide use. Moreover, there are still many unknowns about how plants make lignin, making it premature to manipulate this important pathway. Additionally, alfalfa is a perennial crop and can cross-pollinate at great distances, allowing it to interbreed with other types of alfalfa. Any adverse impacts of the new variety will therefore be spread rapidly through much or all of the alfalfa seed supply

Regulatory Failures:

USDA assessed the risk from these crops under the inadequate plant pest provisions of the Plant Protection Act (PPA) of 2000. USDA has ignored the noxious weed provision of the PPA, which would allow a more thorough risk assessment. By failing to develop reasonable regulations under the PPA 14 years after its passage, USDA continues to fail in its mandate to protect the public and the environment.

 

California Drought Seriously Reducing Crops

I’ve seen many conflicting reports on the size of the almond crop in California. A few have stated that despite the most egregious drought the almond growers are harvesting a bumper crop. I find that difficult to believe. It looks to me like the drought seriously affecting food supply levels and prices is a great indication of the problem with not only monoculture, but the massive consolidation and centralization of our food supply. If you have a yard at all, even ten feet by ten feet, you can grow a lot of food in a small area. The other thing about everyone jumping on the growing wagon is that it is a hedge against hunger and poor nutritional quality. 

Recently, I have been investigating biochar and it looks to me like it is a potential miracle for soil ills when combined with compost. Intensive gardening is the future of life here in the US. I’d recommend that anyone who can see the systemic problems with our food supply, poor nutritional values, soil depletion, genetic pollution, centralization of markets, consolidation of sectors, cease trying to fix what doesn’t work and set about creating a different system that actually heals land, animals and people. We could grow enough food in the US to feed the entire planet if only greed, politics and control didn’t get in the way. And we don’t need to do it in giant scale. Bigger is not generally better. And bigger is definitely more problematic if it breaks! I don’t mind people growing their businesses, and I don’t think the answer is a to go against large farmers, but to shift the paradigm and buy directly as much as possible, and GROW YOUR OWN.

Please read the following article. I think it is important information and that it isn’t getting enough general attention from the MSM:

 

California harvest much smaller than normal across crops

Published: Sunday, Sep. 28, 2014 – 12:00 am

It’s harvest time in much of California, and the signs of drought are almost as abundant as the fruits and nuts and vegetables.

One commodity after another is feeling the impact of the state’s epic water shortage. The great Sacramento Valley rice crop, served in sushi restaurants nationwide and exported to Asia, will be smaller than usual. Fewer grapes will be available to produce California’s world-class wines, and the citrus groves of the San Joaquin Valley are producing fewer oranges. There is less hay and corn for the state’s dairy cows, and the pistachio harvest is expected to shrink.

Even the state’s mighty almond business, which has become a powerhouse in recent years, is coming in smaller than expected. That’s particularly troubling to the thousands of farmers who sacrificed other crops in order to keep their almond orchards watered.

While many crops have yet to be harvested, it’s clear that the drought has carved a significant hole in the economy of rural California. Farm income is down, so is employment, and Thursday’s rain showers did little to change the equation.

An estimated 420,000 acres of farmland went unplanted this year, or about 5 percent of the total. Economists at UC Davis say agriculture, which has been a $44 billion-a-year business in California, will suffer revenue losses and higher water costs – a financial hit totaling $2.2 billion this year.

Rising commodity prices have helped cushion at least some of the pain, but more hurt could be on the way. With rivers running low and groundwater overtaxed, the situation could get far worse if heavy rains don’t come this winter.

“Nobody has any idea how disastrous it’s going to be,” said Mike Wade of Modesto, executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, an advocacy group based in Sacramento. “Is it going to create more fallowed land? Absolutely. Is it going to create more groundwater problems? Absolutely.

“Another dry year, we don’t know what the result is going to be, but it’s not going to be good,” Wade said.

Central Valley residents don’t have to look far to see the effects. Roughly one-fourth of California’s rice fields went fallow this year, about 140,000 acres worth, according to the California Rice Commission, leaving vast stretches of the Sacramento Valley brown instead of their customary green.

“We’d all rather be farming, as would everybody who depends on us – the truck drivers, the parts stores, the mills,” said Mike Daddow, a fourth-generation rice grower in the Nicolaus area of southern Sutter County.

Daddow opted to fallow 150 of his family’s 800 acres this year and counts himself lucky. “We did better than a lot of people,” he said.

Last week, Daddow was gearing up for the harvest, which begins Monday. It was pleasantly warm, but the faint smoky smell from the King fire was another unwelcome reminder of the parched season of discontent.

“It affects me, yes, I will have less profit,” he said. “It affects hourly workers. If there’s no ground to till, I can’t hire them to do anything.”

Daddow hired just six workers during spring planting, instead of the usual nine or 10.

Three boxes, not two

Calculating total job losses related to the drought is difficult, especially in an industry in which many workers are transient and much of the work is part time. The state Employment Development Department, drawing from payroll data, said farm employment has dropped by just 2,700 jobs from a year ago, a decline of less than 1 percent.

But experts at UC Davis say they believe the impact is more severe. Richard Howitt, professor emeritus of agricultural economics, said he believes the drought ultimately will erase 17,000 jobs. He bases that, in part, on the increased number of families seeking social services.

The human cost shows up at rural food banks, which are reporting higher demand for assistance from farmworkers and their families. At the Bethel Spanish Assembly of God, a church in theTulare County city of Farmersville, the number of families receiving food aid every two weeks has jumped from about 40 last year to more than 200. Farmersville, a city of 10,000, is at the heart of a region that grows an array of crops, from lemons to pistachios to grapes.

“Some of them are working … but they’re not putting in the hours,” said the Rev. Leonel Benavides, who is also Farmersville’s mayor. Thanks to state-funded drought relief, the church has been able to meet the increased demand – and then some.

“Instead of just two boxes, we give them three,” Benavides said.

The effect goes beyond the farm fields. N&S Tractor, which sells Case IH brand farm equipment throughout the Central Valley, has seen business tail off as farmers conserve cash.

“It’s not just our dealership,” said N&S marketing director Tim McConiga Jr., who works out of the company’s sales office in Glenn County. “You talk to John Deere, you talk to Caterpillar, everyone is going to tell you their numbers are down.”

The drought has had varying impacts on different areas of the state, depending in part on who has first dibs on the dwindling water supply. Some growers have stronger water rights than others. Generally speaking, Sacramento Valley farmers have had it easier than their counterparts south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, where the cutbacks have been more severe.

The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts are delivering about 40 percent of their usual amounts. The Merced Irrigation District is far worse off, as are many of the West Side areas supplied by the federal Central Valley Project. The Oakdale and South San Joaquin irrigation districts have not had large cutbacks, but leaders worry about a dry 2015.

Regardless of geography, many growers have had to make difficult choices about which fields to water, leaving portions of their farms idle.

Bruce Rominger of Winters, chairman of the California Tomato Growers Association, made the decision to push ahead with his tomato crop at the expense of other commodities. With tomatoes selling for a robust $83 a ton, vs. about $70 a year ago, it was a matter of simple economics.

“Other crops are not getting the water,” said Rominger, who owns and leases a total of about 5,000 acres. “We sacrificed some alfalfa, we sacrified some sunflowers, we sacrificed quite a bit of rice. We fallowed 25 percent of our farm.”

Much of the processing tomato crop goes to canneries in Modesto, Oakdale, Escalon and Los Banos.

Almonds, citrus affected

Choosing to focus on one crop doesn’t guarantee victory. Even the $4 billion almond industry – the great success story of California agriculture in recent years – could not be shielded from the drought’s effects.

As worldwide demand for almonds has boomed, prices have soared past $4 a pound and farmers have responded with more supply. Orchard plantings have continued unabated, even this year. With water supplies running low, many almond growers set aside other commodities to keep their orchards going.

Even so, the almond yield declined. Blue Diamond Growers, the big farmer-owner almond cooperative based in Sacramento, predicts that production in California will fall this year to around 1.9 billion pounds when the harvest is complete in a few weeks. That compares with the 2 billion pounds harvested last year and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s forecast, released in late June, that this year’s crop would total 2.1 billion pounds.

What went wrong? Almonds are one of the thirstiest crops around, and there wasn’t enough water to generate big yields.

“I don’t think there was anyone who used as much (water) as they normally do,” said Dave Baker, director of member relations for Blue Diamond. The hot spells in June and July “stressed the trees even further” and curtailed production, he said.

With California accounting for 80 percent of global almond supply, Baker said he’s worried about being able to meet demand. “We have a growth industry,” he said.

Blue Diamond has plants also in Salida and Turlock, and several smaller processors are in or near Stanislaus County.

The lack of water last spring likely also has stunted navel orange production in the San Joaquin Valley, where harvest is expected to begin in a few weeks.

“We’re expecting some kind of damage to the crop,” said Alyssa Houtby, spokeswoman for California Citrus Mutual, a grower-owned association based in Tulare County. “We didn’t have the water in those key months.”

Economist Vernon Crowder, a senior vice president with agricultural lender Rabobank, said farmers went into this difficult season with a couple of advantages: Most commodity prices have risen in recent years, and most growers are in pretty good financial shape as a result. But another dry year could bring more serious hardship, he said.

“They have a little bit of cash to withstand this,” Crowder said. “They’re going to get through it. The real question is what is going to happen next year.”

Similar questions are being raised in the California wine industry, which produces much of its volume in the Modesto area. The last two grape harvests were extraordinarily strong, leaving an overhang of product that should help offset the slight declines in this year’s harvest. “Pricing should be steady,” said industry consultant Robert Smiley, a professor emeritus of business at UC Davis.

That doesn’t eliminate fears that next season’s crop could shrink substantially. Craig Ledbetter of Vino Farms, a Lodi grape producer, had enough water this year but said he’s afraid he’ll receive “curtailment notices” from the state signaling significant cutbacks in next season’s water supply.

“I’m very nervous about water,” said Ledbetter, who also raises wine grapes in Sonoma County. “If we don’t have a rainy winter, I can pretty much guarantee we’re all going to be receiving curtailment notices. If that happens, we’re going to be concerned about keeping the vine alive rather than harvesting it.”

 

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