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Posts Tagged ‘Organic farming’

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The number of tonnes of rice produced on one hectare of land by Indian farmer Sumant Kumar in 2012. This was a new world record and beat not only the previous record of 19.4 tonnes previously produced by a Chinese agricultural scientist, but also the results at the International Rice Institute in the Philippines, and anything achieved by the biggest European and American seed and GM companies.

Six months later Sumant’s friend Nitish broke the world record for growing potatoes shortly after Ravindra Kumar, a small farmer from a neighbouring village had broken the Indian record for growing wheat.

All this was achieved by adapting traditional methods to a system of growing crops known as System of Root Intensification (SRI), a method that needs no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or GMOs.

See the full story here: India’s Rice Revolution

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10000000000001900000010C8B6EFA71On the 14th of May the European Council for Agriculture & Fisheries adopted a set of conclusions pertaining to organic farming and the organic sector in general within the EU.

This is a set of Conclusions that presents a political view of how the current organic production regulatory framework is functioning; how it could be made more effective and how it should evolve in the European Union. The conclusions also provide a focus for policy development in the future.

The document lists 25 points of application of the regulatory framework and development of the organic sector. I’ve listed a number of the conclusions that immediately stand out below, but you can read the complete document and download a copy of the PDF here

A Few Highlights

1. Organic production and the organic foodstuffs sector in the European Union is established as a sustainable farming and production system which fulfils a dual societal role by responding to an increasing consumer demand for organic products while also delivering public goods which contribute to the protection of the environment, animal welfare and rural development.

5. The Council in its Conclusions on the future of agricultural promotion policy encouraged the Commission to provide consumers with better access to information on the European production model and increase their level of familiarity with quality systems such as organic farming.

7. The use of GMOs is strictly prohibited in organic production.

THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
CALLS ON THE MEMBER STATES AND THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION,
in accordance with their respective competences, to:

13. Develop the organic farming sector at an ambitious level by reviewing the current legal framework, with a view to improving its usability while providing for a period of stability and certainty, and aiming at :
– further clarification and simplification;
– addressing the current outstanding issues requiring further development;
– clarifying the situation regarding protection of the use of the term ‘organic’ for non Annex I products;
– providing guidance on the organic claims associated with the preparation of organic products in mass catering operations.

16. Take specific measures aimed at protecting the reputation of the organic sector and meeting consumer expectations. Explore proposals for the adoption of a rigorous, proportionate, cost-efficient control regime which should include the unambiguous allocation of responsibilities between the relevant control stakeholders and a harmonised sanction regime agreed at European level.

22. Encourage the promotion of the organic sector and increased consumption of organic produce.
Take action to harmonise and guarantee application of the EU logo as a very positive measure to increase the recognition and differentiation of organic products in the market; raise public awareness and promote its use through on-line information and specific campaigns.

25. Continue to recognise and encourage the innovative dynamism and potential of the organic sector and support relevant research and innovation, in particular within the framework of the European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs).”

Standouts

While there are several notable points here two in particular really stand out as helpful: in point 13 the sentence “clarifying the situation regarding protection of the use of the term ‘organic’ for non Annex I products”; and point 16:  “Take specific measures aimed at protecting the reputation of the organic sector and meeting consumer expectations”, show evidence of an awareness among politicians that the consumer-driven success of the organic sector hasn’t gone unnoticed in the boardrooms of the corporate food industries.  Type the sentence “corporate takeover of the organic foods market” into a search engine for example, and you’ll see why this level of awareness is so important.

To understand more about this relatively new aspect of the situation in the US and the seek and destroy mentality of the agribusiness and biotechnology giants follow this link: http://www.organicconsumers.org/Organic/

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Here are a couple of passages concerning GM crops and genetic manipulation in general. Both extracts are from books I’ve recently read, neither of which are specifically about genetic manipulation, but both offer insights not otherwise widely available. I’ve also included a link to a recent article on the website Truthout, offering more evidence about how particular interest groups are determined to ram genetically modified foods down our throats, whether we want them or not.

 

 

Unpredictability in Genetic Engineering

It is remarkable that the majority of plants and vegetables found on tables all over the world had their birth in Central and South America. Were they the results of random mutations or were they given as gifts by the spirits of the plants to their two-legged relations? Today Western science can repeat such processes in the laboratory, adapting, for example, tomatoes for ease of harvesting and packing. Genetic engineering enables us to create designer plants and animals, even to modify our own bodies. The technology is impressive and its implications awesome. The problem, however, is that scientists don’t really understand the implications of what they are doing. The relationship of a plant or animal to the general ecology of its region is incredibly complicated. It may be possible to make a computer model of, say, the introduction of a new bean hybrid upon a particular environment. But, as mathematicians would say, models are highly nonlinear, containing many feedback loops. Predictable behaviour can suddenly change in abrupt ways, from gradual trends to wild oscillations or even chaos. It is beyond Western science to fully understand the impact that various aspects of genetic engineering could have upon the environment and our future. Indigenous science, if we are to believe its metaphysics and its claims, moves in a slower way. It is based upon generations of painstaking observations and upon a perception that looks into the heart of things, upon knowledge that is given by the plants and animals to the two-legged. Thus, when changes take place they do so from within an acknowledged web of relationship. Moreover, the power of the trickster is always acknowledged, for the People know that all human plans are subject to the forces of chance and transformation.

By: F.David Peat

From: Blackfoot Physics published 1994

 

 

On Gene Transfer

Recent advances in genome science have revealed an additional mechanism of cooperation between species. Living organisms, it turns out, actually integrate their cellular communities by sharing their genes. It had been thought that genes are passed on only to the progeny of an individual organism through reproduction. Now scientists realize that genes are shared not only among the individual members of a species but also among members of different species. The sharing of genetic information via gene transfer speeds up evolution since organisms can acquire “learned” experiences from other organisms. (References: Nitz, et al, 2004; Pennisi 2004; Boucher, et al, 2003; Dutta and Pan 2002; Gogarten 2003). Given this sharing of genes, organisms can no longer be seen as disconnected entities; there is no wall between species. Daniel Drell, manager of the Department of Energy’s microbial genome program told Science (200l 294:1634) “we can no longer comfortably say what is a species anymore.” (Pennisi 200l).

This sharing of information is not an accident. It is nature’s method of enhancing the survival of the biosphere. As discussed earlier, genes are physical memories of an organism’s learned experiences. The recently recognized exchange of genes among individuals disperses those memories, thereby influencing the survival of all organisms that make up the community of life. Now that we are aware of this inter- and intra-species gene transfer mechanism, the dangers of genetic engineering become apparent. For example, tinkering with the genes of a tomato may not stop at that tomato but could alter the entire biosphere in ways that we cannot foresee. Already there is a study that shows that when humans digest genetically modified foods, the artificially created genes transfer into and alter the character of the beneficial bacteria in the intestine. (Heritage 2004; Netherwood, et al, 2004). Similarly, gene transfer among genetically engineered agricultural crops and surrounding native species has given rise to highly resistant species deemed superweeds. (Milius 2003; Haygood, et al, 2003; Desplanque, et al, 2002; Spencer and Snow 200l). Genetic engineers have never taken the reality of gene transfer into consideration when they have introduced genetically modified organisms into the environment. We are now beginning to experience the dire consequences of this oversight as their engineered genes are spreading among and altering other organisms in the environment. (Watrud, et al, 2004).

Genetic evolutionists warn that if we fail to apply the lessons of our shared genetic destiny, which should be teaching us the importance of cooperation among all species, we threaten human existence. We need to move beyond Darwinian Theory, which stresses the importance of individuals, to one that stresses the importance of he community. British scientist Timothy Lenton provides evidence that evolution is more dependent on the interaction among species than it is on the interaction of individuals within a species. Evolution becomes a matter of the survival of the fittest groups rather than the survival of the fittest individuals. In a 1998 article in Nature, Lenton wrote that rather than focusing on individuals and their role in evolution “we must consider the totality of organisms and their material environment to fully understand which traits come to persist and dominate.” (Lenton 1998).

Lenton subscribes to James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis that holds that the Earth and all of its species constitute one interactive, living organism. Those who endorse this hypothesis argue that tampering with the balance of the superorganism called Gaia, whether it be by destroying the rainforest, depleting the ozone layer, or altering organisms through genetic engineering, can threaten its survival and consequently ours.

By: Bruce H. Lipton

From: The Biology of Belief published 2008

 

 

Why Monsanto Always Wins

Tuesday 22 February 2011

by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout

The recent approval of  Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa is one of most divisive controversies in American agriculture, but in 2003, it was simply the topic at hand in a string of emails between the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Monsanto. In the emails, federal regulators and Monsanto officials shared edits to a list of the USDA’s questions about Monsanto’s original petition to fully legalize the alfalfa. Later emails show a USDA regulator accepted Monsanto’s help with drafting the initial environmental assessment (EA) of the alfalfa and planned to “cut and paste” parts of Monsanto’s revised petition right into the government’s assessment.

Read the full article here…

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