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 →
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 →
In July 2016 Congress passed the first national GMO labeling legislation in the U.S. It is set to go into effect in July 2018, but not before the Department of Agriculture writes extensive rules for the legislation, which left many questions unanswered.
One of the most controversial parts of the bill would allow companies to use digital disclosures such as QR codes. Due to the heated debate over digital disclosures, Congress stipulated that the USDA must complete a study to identify any technological challenges consumers might face if companies used a digital disclosure for GMO ingredients instead of on-package labels. Continue reading →
In an early morning jaunt to Sacramento last week my car was rear ended. I serve on the California Organic Products Advisory Committee (who by the way are looking for new members), and was on my way to attend a subcommittee meeting when boom—a fine young man rammed me in the rear end of my car. As I recuperate from the trauma, I wax philosophical and wonder why this happened and what the long term unintended consequences will be. The same ruminations can be applied to the novel gene editing techniques that are racing towards us with accelerating speed. Are we all on a genetic collision course with unintended consequences? Continue reading →
Walk down the center aisles of any supermarket and you will be surrounded by cartons, cans and jars that represent our modern diet. Processed, prefabbed foods, perennially ready to eat, warm up, dine out, dash in – for those on the go. If you don’t see the USDA Certified Organic or Non-GMO Verified label, you can count on GMO ingredients inside those containers. The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) estimates that more than 75% of those packaged, processed, center-of-the-store foods contain genetically modified ingredients. What in the world are they and what is all the fuss about? Continue reading →