Genetically engineered (GE) seeds are often sold to farmers and the public on the grounds that they are the wave of the future, taking over where conventional plant breeding left off by improving productivity and sustainability. But that might be changing. Read more
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It’s easy for the average consumer to assume that food labeled “natural” is healthy, wholesome, and free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). After all, the dictionary definition of the word natural is “existing in, or formed by, nature as opposed to artificial.
For nearly 15 years, Frank Kutka has been working to save prevent genetically modified (GMO) corn from cross-pollinating with organic and other corn varieties. Kutka, a plant breeder, has been developing what he calls “Organic Ready” corn varieties that have the ability to prevent cross-pollination.
“We need corn that organic farmers can grow without fear of GMO contamination,” says Kutka, who is in the fourth year of a five-year breeding project funded by the Organic Farming Research Foundation. Read more
It’s summer, but that doesn’t mean food news stops. Below, we share some of the top news stories of the week.
1. USDA Overhauls Poultry Inspection Rules (The Hill)
After more than two years of proposals and push-back by advocates, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) moved to put new poultry inspection rules in place yesterday. The voluntary rules would result in companies providing their own inspectors (while keeping one from the USDA in every plant), making it essentially a move to privatize the inspections. It will also mean fewer inspectors per plants, with each inspector looking at 140 birds per minute. Read more
It’s rare when a plant breeder goes from developing genetically modified crops at a major biotechnology company to breeding varieties for organic and non-GMO farmers. Jane Dever, associate professor at Texas A&M’s AgriLife Research and Extension Center, is unique in having done just that. As global cotton breeding manager for Bayer CropScience, Dever put genetically modified or (GM) traits into cotton plants. Now she focuses on keeping GM traits out of organic cotton varieties. Read more
Most Americans would prefer to know whether or not they’re eating genetically engineered foods (commonly referred to as GMOs). According to some polls, as many as 93 percent of us would like to see them labeled. But there’s one group committed to ensuring that such labels never grace supermarket shelves. Read more
Genetically engineered (or GMO) corn that was developed to kill insect pests has been causing resistance in some of those very insects for several years. But the issue has not received as much attention as it should. A new research paper in the prestigious journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), may change this by providing additional cause for concern. Read more
In the fields of Iowa where I grew up, organic soy and corn does indeed exist alongside genetically modified (or “GMO”) varieties. But the policy allowing so-called “coexistence” of organic and GMO crops now in place in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is one-sided and precarious at best.
More than 90 percent of the soybeans and corn grown on U.S. soil are from GMO seeds, which are modified to withstand heavy applications of herbicides and pesticides. Among those pesticides is 2,4-D, which contains the same chemical used in Agent Orange. Read more
Normally, news that Costco is test-marketing a new farm-raised salmon wouldn’t exactly make headlines—but this fish tale is different than the others.
This is the story of a salmon that has the potential to move the aquaculture industry away from the practice of using wild-caught forage fish as food for larger species—a practice that concerns both environmentalists and scientists. Species like anchovy, sardines, and menhaden are the very cornerstone of the ocean’s food web. Too much pressure on these important stocks could have profound ripple effects if we continue scooping them out of the ocean to feed farmed fish. Read more