Posts Tagged ‘Sustainability’
Dr Mae-Wan Ho Institute of Science in Society June 11, 3014
New research confirms that DNA fragments derived from meals, large enough to carry complete genes, can escape degradation and enter the human circulatory system, and so can RNA, raising serious concerns over new nucleic acids introduced into the human food chain via genetically modified organisms.
Food RNA gets into blood and so does DNA
We have alerted readers to research showing how tiny RNA molecules in food eaten can circulate in the bloodstream and turn genes off in the body , raising concerns over the safety of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which introduce many novel and synthetic nucleic acids into the human food chain ( How Food Affects Genes, SiS 53). New research shows that pieces of DNA large enough to code for complete genes can also escape degradation in the gut and enter the human circulatory system, and the presence of circulating RNA from food is much more extensive and widespread. Read the rest of this entry »
One of the most frequent criticisms leveled against the sustainable agriculture movement is that its proponents want to send farmers back to 19th-century hard labor, with hand weeding and harvesting. Here’s an incredibly cool group of eco-minded “farmer-scientists” who aren’t in the least afraid of technology — and in fact believe in “creating industrial processes that are fully in harmony with ecologically responsible living.”
The Open Source Ecology team’s first, ambitious project is the Global Village Construction Set — a sort of life-size Erector set of the most essential machines for building a “small civilization with modern-day comforts,” including housing and the means for food, energy, and technology production.
The proposed set of essential machines. Eight prototypes have been built so far. Drawing: Courtesy of Open Source Ecology
By Vandana Shiva
When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. A handful of corporations and of powerful countries seeks to control the earth’s resources and transform the planet into a supermarket in which everything is for sale. They want to sell our water, genes, cells, organs, knowledge, cultures and future.
a worldwide ‘land rush’ that’s increasing world hunger without addressing the underlying long term threats to world food security
“The foreign companies are arriving in large numbers, depriving people of land they have used for centuries. There is no consultation with the indigenous population. The deals are done secretly. The only thing the local people see is people coming with lots of tractors to invade their lands….People cannot believe what is happening. Thousands of people will be affected and people will go hungry.”
The Institute of Science in Society April 28, 2010
Grabbing the world’s ‘unused land’
In the past three years, foreign governments and investment companies have been buying or leasing vast tracts of farmland in Africa and elsewhere for producing biofuels or food for their own use .
This ‘land rush’ was triggered by the demand for biofuels, and accelerated  with the financial and food crisis of 2007/8 (see  Financing World Hunger, SiS 46).
Government policies promoting biofuels are based on the mistaken belief that fuels made from plants are ‘carbon neutral’, in that burning them would simply release the carbon dioxide fixed by photosynthesis and would not increase greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The European Union is aiming for10 percent of its transport on biofuels by 2020  (Europe Unveils 2020 Plan for Reducing C Emissions, SiS 37). George W. Bush, for his part, proposed to cure the US’ “addiction to oil” by increasing federal budget 22 percent for research into clean fuel technologies including biofuels to substitutes for oil to power the country’s cars  (Biofuels for Oil Addicts, SiS 30). The hope is to replace more than 70 percent of oil imports from “unstable parts of the world” – the Middle East – by 2025.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation helpfully identified immense areas of ‘spare land’ in developing countries that could be used for planting ‘bio-energy’ crops to be turned into biofuels. The World Bank’s recent report on the 2008 commodities price hike includes a diagram entitled  “The stock of unused but potentially arable land is enormous”, depicting more than 700 million hectares of ‘unused’ land in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than 800 m ha in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Corporate farming for the rich
International agribusinesses, investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds, UK pension funds, foundations and ‘individuals have been snapping up some of the world’s cheapest land, in Sudan, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Congo, Zambia, Uganda, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Mali, Sierra Leone, Ghana and elsewhere. Ethiopia alone has approved 815 foreign-financed agricultural projects since 2007. Any land investors can’t buy is leased for about $1 per year per hectare. In many cases, the contracts have led to evictions, civil unrest and complaints of “land grabbing”, John Vidal reports in UK’s Guardian .
Nyikaw Ochalla, an indigenous Anuak from the Gambella region of Ethiopia now living in Britain but in regular contact with farmers in his region, told Vidal : “All of the land in the Gambella region is utilised. Each community has and looks after its own territory and the rivers and farmlands within it. It is a myth propagated by the government and investors to say that there is waste land or land that is not utilised in Gambella.