genetically modified

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gm maize study finds fertility lowered in mice

Submitted by turbosprout on Tue, 2008-11-18 19:22

pic: greenpeacepic: greenpeaceOr "Why Eating GM could lower your fertility!", as reported by the Mail Online article.

In a long-term feeding trial commissioned by the Austrian government and published last week, mice fed on GM corn (maize) were found to have fewer offspring and lower birth rates.

Professor Dr Jurgen Zentek, Professor for Veterinary Medicine at the University of Vienna and lead author of the study, said a GM diet effected the fertility of mice.

One of the studies was a reproductive assessment by continuous breeding (RACB) trial, in which the same parent generation gave birth to several litters of baby mice. The parents were fed either with a diet containing 33per cent of GM maize, a hybrid of Monsanto's MON 810 and another variety, and a normal feed mix.

The team found changes that were 'statistically significant' in the third and fourth litters produced by the mice given a GM diet. There were fewer offspring, while the young mice were smaller.

Prof Zentek said there was

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un study: organic farming reduces poverty in africa

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2008-10-23 13:51

Whilst many have scoffed at organic farming as little more than a Western lifestyle fad, a major UN study, released yesterday, shows that these traditional practices can break the hunger cycle.

An analysis of 114 projects in 24 African countries found that yields had more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used. That increase in yield jumped to 128 per cent in east Africa.

The research conducted by the UN Environment Programme, suggests that organic, small-scale farming can deliver the increased yields which were thought to be the preserve of industrial farming, without the environmental and social damage which that form of agriculture brings with it.

The study found that organic practices outperformed traditional methods and chemical-intensive conventional farming. It also found...


food – getting perspective: a news round up

Submitted by sproutingforth on Mon, 2008-09-29 10:30

Perhaps it’s not immediately obvious when combing the average abundant supermarket shelf for food that there is a world-wide food crisis on – we blogged about it here, here and here - but there is a food production crisis in South Africa that Farmer’s Weekly editor Chris Burgess likens to a ‘national emergency’.

Starve, the beloved country. "This is not a fight between racist farmers and disenfranchised black people. It's a national crisis; it's a fight for the economic survival of our country," says Burgess, who candidly describes what is happening to farmers and food production in South Africa.

"We are heading for a catastrophe and the cracks are already showing because our government under President [Thabo] Mbeki did not treat food production as a national priority," he says.

Food production the world over is of primary strategic importance. Countries such as India and China are buying up vast tracts of land in Africa and other parts of the world with the sole purpose of producing food for their people...


gm foods labelled soon

Submitted by sproutingforth on Fri, 2008-09-19 13:06

The Department of Trade and Industry has handed down a ruling for mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods in South Africa.

From now on, you have a choice as to whether or not you want to buy GM, but better still, you will actually know which foods contain GM.

The ruling came after a clause about labelling, which had been removed from the draft Consumer Protection bill last year, was reinstated. SAFeAGE has been lobbying for two years to have this clause reinstated; one that gives shoppers the right to choose once the Bill is implemented.

At the moment no GM foods on the market are labelled as such. The Bill will mean that GM food can be tracked from farm to fork, linking any long term issues with GM food directly to the parties responsible.

The only downside to the exciting ruling, is that “our multinational-friendly, people-unfriendly department of Agriculture” (to quote the ethical blog) remains responsible for determining the thresholds and technical requirements of the new regulations. We need to remain vigilant, in other words...

For more about GM foods on urban sprout

Visit the SAFeAGE website


seven deadly myths of industrial agriculture

Submitted by turbosprout on Mon, 2008-09-15 11:01


We regularly trawl second-hand bookshops for bargains and recently we picked up this gem of a book: Fatal Harvest - The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture. It is quite a tome, but a very interesting and alarming read. I'm slowly making my way through it, dipping in to it now and then, but it will probably take a few months to complete. The book details the destruction of eco-systems and biodiversity by the global industrial farming complex and also presents a new vision for 21st century food systems. The contributing authors include a healthy dose of journalists, professors, legal experts, directors of NGO's and food activists, Vandana Shiva amongst them. Here are some pearls of wisdom from a section called Corporate Lies: Busting the Myths of Industrial Agriculture.

Myth One: Industrial Agriculture Will Feed the World
World hunger is not created by a lack of food but by poverty and landlessness, which deny people access to food. Industrial agriculture actually increases hunger by raising the cost of farming, by forcing tens of millions of farmers off the land, and by growing primarily high-profit export and luxury crops.


green your diet

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2008-08-21 08:38

Eating for the sake of your body and the planet doesn’t mean giving up on the foods you love. It does mean becoming more actively aware of where your food comes from, how it’s produced and how its production affects the Earth.

Fundamental to greening your diet is eating ‘real’ food. Processed and refined foods are, let’s face it, not good for you. Most of them are produced as part of the push by marketers to ‘make your life easier’ but they’re usually laden with chemicals, additives, pesticides, and barely disguised GM derivatives.

Eat organic
We’re not banging on about anything new, but it really pays to buy


sowing the seeds of change

Submitted by turbosprout on Wed, 2008-07-30 14:03

One of the so-called criticisms of petitioning or campaigning is that one invests "negetive energy" in opposing something unjust. I've heard some people comment that they would rather be pouring energy into initiatives that promote positive outcomes than always opposing, lobbying, campaigning and fighting against the status quo. I also know that some activists are prone to burn out because of the mindset that they have to adopt: it is hard work constantly having to oppose.

Personally, I believe that both forms of action are effective and very necessary. I think we have a duty to support companies and organisations that offer positive alternatives but that we also need to do more than voting with our wallets and so should take part in campaigns, protests and on the ground action too. So we can support organic but should also oppose GM and we can support renewable energy and also oppose nuclear. Some things just are mutually exclusive.

Not only do the three civil society organisations involved in the GM Potato Protest vigilantly look out for applications to bring GM food to market, campaign against legislation (by having to take government to court - an expensive exercise), and tirelessly get their petitions signed - they are also involved in positive outreach! For example: They


campaign: protest the GM potato

Submitted by turbosprout on Tue, 2008-07-29 10:47

The Agricultural Research Council (ARC) has been conducting field trials for several years with a GM potato called Spunta G2, genetically engineered to kill a pest called the Tuber Moth. They have given notice that they will apply to the South African GMO Council for a general release permit in the next few days. This means they want to release the GM Potato to commercial farmers, which has the potential to wreak havoc with the local potato industry, and infringes on our basic human right to choose the food we want to eat.

Please check out this petition on the activist website, it is activist's first campaign and a very important one. The campaign is initiated by the African Centre for Biosafety and supported by SafeAge, Biowatch SA and urban sprout. (We're founding members of activist too).

What can your signature do?

The GMO council will be deciding on whether or not to allow this permit to commercialise GMO potatoes. Your signature will show them that consumers are not willing to eat this product. Your signature can sway their decision.

Potato South Africa oversees the whole potato industry. If they believe that their market will be jeopardised by GM potatoes, they will make a strong case to the GMO council not to allow them onto the market. Potato SA has already said


greening it up – wed 16 july 2008

Submitted by sproutingforth on Wed, 2008-07-16 10:02

Inspirational bike-sharing programme in Paris. Almost 1500 bike stations are spread around the city of Paris with over 20 000 bicycles and 3 million subscribers. They’ve saved roughly 10 million kilometres of car trips. Considering the rising price of petrol, this is something cities the world over should be considering. [treehugger] Other than walking, there is no more earth-friendly mode of transportation than a bicycle. Bikes have an incredibly low manufacturing footprint when compared to a motorized vehicle. They’re cheap to operate, don’t pollute the air, and provide more miles per calorie of energy than any mode of getting around known to humankind. Find out how to pick a great used bike. [lighterfootstep]

V Schalkwyk comes down on polluters of the atmosphere. After blustering away at the ineptitude of the G8 summit [reuters], the minister of the environment is now punishing pollution of the


viva biowatch! on their way to contitutional court

Submitted by turbosprout on Tue, 2008-05-20 12:09

This is an important story we've been tracking for a while, the outcome of which has ramifications that extend throughout the public sector. In fact we thought it was game over when, in November last year, Biowatch was ordered to pay Monsanto's legal costs.

Biowatch announced yesterday that it would be lodging an application for leave to appeal with the Constitutional Court against the order to pay legal costs of Monsanto South Africa.

percy schmeiser beat monsanto: photo by andre filipepercy schmeiser beat monsanto: photo by andre filipeThe story goes back all the way to the year 2000 when Biowatch requested information from the Registrar for Genetic Resources and which the Registrar basically chose to ignore. Biowatch took them to court along with the Executive Council for Genetic Resources and the Minister of Agriculture in order to force them to make certain information available in the public interest. Monsanto and a few other GM seed companies saw fit to join in the fray by becoming co-respondants in order to protect their business interests.

By Feb 2005 the court ordered that Biowatch be granted access

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