Transgenic maize not allowed to be cultivated in Mexico

Mexico's native maize is a little safer after winning an appeal to keep a ban on planting GE corn

Mexico’s native maize is a little safer after winning an appeal to keep a ban on planting GE corn

Maize, a staple in the Mexican diet, has been cultivated there for hundreds of years. This important crop has been threatened by the introduction and cross-pollination of transgenic or genetically engineered corn.

But a group of scientists have succeeded in standing in Monsanto’s plan to expand the territory for its GE corn.

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“Certified Naturally Grown” label brings trust and confidence to consumers

It’s tough for consumers to make sense of the many food certification labels

There’s a steadily growing plethora of food certifications out there and it’s getting pretty confusing for consumers to make sense of them. And the label “natural” has become downright suspicious and meaningless.

Among the confusion, there are labels we can trust out there, including Non-GMO Verified and perhaps Certified Humane. Now it seems there’s another one that smaller farmers are embracing and that’s trustworthy.

Certified Naturally Grown (CNG), a grassroots non-profit created by a handful of farmers from New York’s Hudson Valley who were committed to organic practices, has ts own set of standards and certification process. Continue reading

Concerns for toxic chemical use in the news

Pesticides signConsumers have reason to be concerned. The use of toxic chemicals is seriously on the rise. And their effects, although our federal “watchdog” agencies are officially touting them to be safe, look to be real cause for concern (to put it mildly).

Here are a few stories that hit the news today. Judge for yourselves, then you might want to make some changes.

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Federal Judge says no to GMO sugar beets

GMU.S. District Judge Jeffrey White says the government illegally approved a genetically modified, herbicide-resistant strain of sugar beets without adequately considering they might contaminate other beet crops.

In 2005, the Department of Agriculture began allowing Monsanto to sell their “Roundup Ready” sugar beets.

White said that in concluding that the new crop posed no significant environmental effects, the USDA discounted the likelihood that wind-borne pollen would spread to fields where conventional sugar beets, table beets and the beet variety known as Swiss chard are grown.

Planting genetically-modified sugar beets has a “significant effect” on the environment, White said in his ruling Monday, because of “the potential elimination of a farmer’s choice to grow non-genetically engineered crops, or a consumer’s choice to eat non-genetically engineered food.

Though White said the agency must prepare an environmental impact statement that includes public input, he didn’t prohibit the immediate distribution of the genetically modified sugar beets.

So far, over 70 companies have pledged to not use genetically modified sugar beets in their products, and the courts have ruled in their favor.

The ruling “sends a very clear message to the USDA to protect American farmers and consumers and not the interests of Monsanto,” said Kevin Golden, a San Francisco attorney for the nonprofit Center for Food Safety, which opposes genetically modified foods and supports organic farming.

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With the mounting evidence of potential problems posed by GMO food crops, this is a step in the right direction. Stay tuned to see how this serious melodrama plays out.

Environment Loses Big Time to Border Patrol

Border Patrol to poison plant life along the Rio Grande

Border Patrol to poison plant life along the Rio Grande

In yet another effort to cut back on illegal crossings, the US Border Patrol will begin using herbicides to poison plant life along the US-Mexico border.

This pilot program is one of three methods the Border Patrol is testing to eliminate thick stalked carrizo cane which they say smugglers, illegal immigrants and robbers use to hide behind. Teams of agents will also try cutting the plants by hand, then painting the stumps with an herbicide called Imazapyr, and digging them out by their roots.

The most controversial method would be spraying the plants by helicopter with Imazapyr.

Although the EPA and Border Patrol insist the herbicide is safe for animals, Mexican officials are concerned it could threaten the safety of Nuevo Laredo’s  water supply.

This $2.1 million project, if successful across a 1.1 mile stretch of the Rio Grande border, would then be implemented along much of the river’s 130 miles of the Laredo, Texas sector, as well as along other parts of the US-Mexico border.

The U.S. Border Patrol says after spraying, it would then “green” the river’s edge again by planting native plants., naive thinking at best.

Concerned citizen groups are comparing this plan to Vietnam-era use of Agent Orange. Jay Johnson-Castro, Sr. Executive Director of the Rio Grande International Study Center at Laredo Community College, located next to the planned test area, said “it’s unprecedented they do (this) in a populated area.”

Johnson-Castro has no issue about removing the cane, a non-native plant introduced by Spaniards centuries ago, just with the method used.

“It’s complicated,” says Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas. “We have to think about protecting our border.”

“But let’s do it in a sensible way,” he said, to make sure that humans won’t be harmed, nor vegetation (or) animals, nor the environment.”

Sensible words, but it’s unlikely the Border Patrol will go that direction, given it’s penchant for actions that completely disregard environmental concerns and established facts.