Are New Genetically Modified Techniques the Future of Food and Farming?

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I first met Jim Thomas, Co-Director of the ETC Group, at a Sustainable Ag and Food Systems Funders conference.  Jim had been tracking emerging technologies and their intersection with food and agriculture for some time. When I first heard him speak, in his lilting almost playful cadence, about something called “synthetic biology,” my ears perked up.

He was talking about a new form of genetic engineering that can alter genetics on a worldwide scale – one with little or no government oversight.  Continue reading

Dear Human, Glyphosate by Any Other Name is Now a Reality

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As a follow up to my interview with Chuck Benbrook, I was astounded to see the verdict come through on the case of Alva and Alberta Pilliod. The jury awarded them an astonishing $2 billion in damages for their exposure to the herbicide glyphosate and their subsequent fight with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Chuck testified in the case on April 17th, and he focused on Monsanto’s “stewardship” and lack thereof for its Roundup-brand herbicides.

Chuck comment that “This verdict will surely get Bayer’s attention. Talk about chickens coming home to roost.” His May 13thblog post, Has Bayer’s Day of Roundup Reckoning Arrived?, elaborates more on the verdict.

What does all this have to do with organic products? Herbicides like glyphosate are explicitly forbidden in organic production. Continue reading

Are Genetically-Engineered Animal-Replacement Products the Answer to Factory Farming?

I am an ardent opponent of factory-farmed animals. I care about food and agriculture, the latter I sometimes fear was our original fall from Eden. The beastly way we have turned animal production into a heartless row of cages and confinement displays our belief that we are somehow above the animal kingdom—we are now masters of the universe.

Is it possible that our next play at masters of the universe—genetic engineering— is a solution to factory-farmed animals?

What’s at risk as we search for the next solution to feed a hungry world? Continue reading

Part 1: Gary Hirshberg reflects on GMO Labeling, Political Activism and Why He’s So Involved

Since the late 1970’s Gary Hirshberg has worked tirelessly to build a better food system. He’s followed his heart to encompass a love for the planet and its people. From building a business with seven cows, his heart has driven his mission. Tirelessly defending people from toxic chemicals, protecting the environment all the while selling some darn good yogurt, propels him still tirelessly to this day.

With his accomplishments and accolades in hand many like him would have sauntered off into the sunset of retirement. But Gary keeps pressing and driving hard for a better tomorrow. With such passionate energy I had to sit down and ask him: “Why do you do it?”    Continue reading