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Land Grabbers: the Threat of Giant Agriculture

Land Grabbers: the Threat of Giant Agriculture

In the 1980s, I met a retired general at a Borders bookstore in northern Virginia. He used to buy tons of military history books. I used to buy environmental and classics books. We started talking about books. But, slowly, in our discussion of Latin America, I criticized American policies, especially the immoral support of  landlords against landless peasants.

“If I knew you a few years ago, I would take you outside the town and shoot you,” he said to me.

I dismissed this vicious threat as a sign the old man was crazy. But the threat, nevertheless, mirrors the invisible war around farming, food, and the environment. I felt the tension of that ceaseless war for decades.

Agrarian reform

In January 28 – February 1, 1992, I was attending an international climate and development conference in Brazil. I was one of the speakers addressing agrarian reform.

I argued that it was necessary for governments and international institutions to protect peasant farmers from the violence of large industrialized farmers. Moreover, Brazil and many other countries, including the United States, should give land to peasants and very small family farmers because the farming they practice has had negligible impact on climate change. In contrast, agribusiness and, especially animal farms, are having significant effects on global warming.

Taking this position in 1992, apparently, was controversial. Once at the conference in the gorgeous city of Fortaleza, Ceara, Northeast Brazil, I learned I would not be delivering my paper. Instead, I joined a few professors in a small room wasting our time: debating agrarian reform and drawing recommendations destined to oblivion.

Fear in the countryside

This is just one example of what happens to unwelcomed ideas. Governments ignore or suppress them. Powerful media refuse to publish them. Advocates of those ideas often abandon them. Sometimes, they risk death.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Joel Salatin: The Rise Of Rogue Food

Joel Salatin: The Rise Of Rogue Food

A ‘food freedom’ revolt against the government is starting

This week, we welcome back Joel Salatin to the podcast. Labeled by The Washington Post as “the most famous farmer in America”, Joel has spent his career advocating for sustainable farming practices and pioneering models that show how food can be grown and raised in ways that are regenerative to our topsoils, more humane to livestock, produce much healthier & tastier food, and contribute profitably to the local economy.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Well, the government and Big Ag for starters. Joel refers to himself as a ‘lunatic farmer’ because so many of the changes he thinks our food system needs are either illegal under the current law or mightily resisted by the deep-pocketed corporations controlling production and distribution.

And this anti-competitive restriction and stifling of small sustainable food producers is only getting worse. While dismayed at this, Salatin finds hope in the burgeoning rebellion of the “rogue food” resistence breaking out:

I’m not optimistic at all about where the government and all its bureaucracy is headed. It is getting more and more stifling. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that Obama put through, it’s absolutely stifling. It’s size prejudicial. It’s putting an inordinate price pressure on smaller producers. That’s a fact all the way across the board. And the cost of compliance is escalating — the amount of paperwork, the amount of licensing, the amount of testing and procedural stuff that’s happening on farms — is through the roof.

So on the federal level, I think it’s getting worse. Now, I think what’s happening on the local level, the other thing that’s a pushback that’s happened, is what’s now known as the food sovereignty movement.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Brave New Food: GEs and Clones are Heading to the Dinner Table

Brave New Food: GEs and Clones are Heading to the Dinner Table

Consumers, safety activists, Big Food, biotech companies and many of the US’s importing and exporting partners have been closely watching to see if the FDA would approve the genetically engineered AquAdvantage Salmon, which it did last month. Of course unlabeled GE crops are eaten by millions and GE animals have been created to make human drugs largely under the public radar. Still the AquAdvantage Salmon is the first approved GE animal destined for the US dinner table.

The AquAdvantage Salmon is not the only GE food animal in the works. Scientists at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where Dolly the cloned sheep was created, have spent years creating chickens that can be used as “biofactories” to make eggs with interferon and other disease-fighting substances.

“Once you’ve made the transgenic birds, then it’s very easy,” enthused scientist Helen Sang, PhD. “You can breed up hundreds of birds from one cockerel [young male]—because they can be bred with hundreds of hens and you can collect an egg a day and have hundreds of chicks in no time.

Other researchers are working on animals engineered to contain omega-3. Scientists at Harvard Medical School, the University of Missouri and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center have concocted “white piglets with muscle tissue larded with omega-3 fatty acids,” say published reports. All they had to do was modify a round-worm enzyme that converts omega-6 to omega-3, inject the gene into mouse embryos to create mice that make their own omega-3, and transfer the genetic material into pigs–and voila!

“People can continue to eat their junk food,” said Harvard’s Alexander Leaf, MD about the brave new pigs. “You won’t have to change your diet, but you will be getting what you need.” Aren’t animals great?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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