The Real Reason People Are Still So Confused About Genetically Modified Crops

Amidst the clamor over genetically modified crops, there’s an underlying point that’s still being missed: Nobody really knows what constitutes a genetically modified crop.

Source: The Real Reason People Are Still So Confused About Genetically Modified Crops

Some think the difference between genetically modifying something by cross-pollinization in a greenhouse, or modifying via gene splicing in a lab, is that the former is fairly natural while the latter is not.

No, one is just more sophisticated than another. By picking and choosing and having humans decide which crops get planted and which don’t you’ve already tossed “natural” out the door.  You know what else is natural? Cancer

Heroic Scientists Want to Clean Up Cow Farts to Save the Planet

Most of us consider farts to be little more than a mild embarrassment. But cow farts (and burps) are a scourge upon the Earth, releasing heat-trapping methane that wreaks havoc on our climate. Now, heroic scientists want to put an end to global warming-by-flatulence once and for all.

Source: Heroic Scientists Want to Clean Up Cow Farts to Save the Planet

While it is fun to talk about farts, really most of the methane comes out the front end of the cow.

My takeaway is that methane deserves more attention than it’s getting relative to the CO2 emissions we’re flipping out about, especially if it’s true that climate change may result in the release of large amounts of methane trapped underground/undersea.

If pivoting somewhat to methane relieves some of the economic pressure that CO2-focused legislation is causing, then the pivot seems like an opportunity to have our cake (cut climate change risk) and eat it too (lessen the economic hit from the CO2 focus) somewhat.

How to Turn Agave Into Tequila

Q: Where’s the worm?

Mezcal has the worm. While being the same as tequila, it can’t legally be called Tequila unless it’s made in one of the 5 special states in Mexico. Same reason you can’t call Champagne, Champagne unless it’s from Champagne. It’s just “sparkling wine”.

The “worm” (actually a caterpillar) was added just for fun.  Some places add other odd things, like toes or fingers (not kidding) – you get in trouble if you swallow them in some cases because they’re reused.

Prescription Medications Get Trapped in Disturbing Pee-to-Food-to-Pee Loop

If you think your “organic” crops are free of synthetic chemicals, urine for a shock. 😉

In a randomized, single-blind pilot study, researchers found that anticonvulsive epilepsy drug carbamazepine, which is released in urine, can accumulate in crops irrigated with recycled water—treated sewage—and end up in the urine of produce-eaters not on the drugs. The study, published Tuesday in Environmental Science & Technology, is the first to validate the long-held suspicion that pharmaceuticals may get trapped in infinite pee-to-food-to-pee loops, exposing consumers to drug doses with unknown health effects.

Source: Prescription meds get trapped in disturbing pee-to-food-to-pee loop

It’s a red flag for me when the researchers add an unknown variable right in the middle of the study (they “ran out of vegetables grown with reclaimed water” and used grocery store vegetables instead, which they assumed would be a mix) rather than start the study over, especially when the study is only over the period of two weeks and a relatively small number of participants.

The issue of filtration in reclaimed water is key.  And we have recycled drugs from patients urine before.

  • Joke’s on you: I don’t eat salad!
  • It’s not really food coma, it’s just recycled valium!

I had to get that out of my system 😉

The Number of GMOs Worldwide Just Dropped For the First Time in Two Decades

For the past two decades, the number of genetically-modified crops has been steadily skyrocketing around the globe. Until 2015, when the number saw its first recorded drop. What’s going on?

Source: The Number of GMOs Worldwide Just Dropped For the First Time in Two Decades

Why I hate GMO labeling?  Because it tells the consumer absolutely nothing. If a tomato is labeled “GMO”, it might mean “modified to resist pesticides”, in which case I would probably avoid it, or it might mean “modified to stay resist freezing”, in which case I would be willing to pay extra for it.

I oppose GMO labeling because to people who actually understand what GMO is (or can be), they provide no useful information, whereas scaring away people who do not understand it. It is a lose-lose.

GMO Labels Won’t Make Your Food Safer

Soon you will see the words “partially produced with genetic engineering” in the fine print on many food packages. Activist groups have spent millions of dollars fighting for that tiny text, and food companies have spent millions fighting back. And none of that effort had anything to do with your health.

Source: GMO Labels Won’t Make Your Food Safer

There are things to be concerned about with GMOs, but those things have to do with business practices, not the inherent danger of the products. Labels aren’t so much a red herring as a red elephant (bigger, noisier, and much less relevant to the real issues).

This Neolithic Graveyard May Solve Mystery of How Ancient Europe Started Farming

A new archaeological find in Turkey may have just answered a question about our ancestors that has persisted for thousands of years. Ancient farming may look a little less like what we imagined it as, and a little more like what we see today.

Source: This Neolithic Graveyard May Solve Mystery of How Ancient Europe Started Farming

Ah, life before Monsanto…

After Vermont Mandated GMO Labeling, Companies Are Starting to Comply Nationwide

When Vermont became the first state in the country to mandate the labeling for the use of Genetically Modified Organisms in food products in 2014, numerous companies vowed to sue to block the law. Now, many are beginning to label their products accordingly to comply with the law, which goes into effect July 1st.

Source: After Vermont Mandated GMO Labeling, Companies Are Starting to Comply Nationwide

Sincerely, I don’t see the problem with this, and please, don’t bring up the slippery slope argument. To the manufacturers, a couple of words on the package will not change the cost in any significant way (and they can even now market it as “better food” for anti-GMO advocates, as wrong as they may be). To informed people, is absolutely indifferent. To people that care about this, well, since it won’t cause any significant strain to the rest of society, good for them! How is this any different of labeling food as kosher or halal? All are labeling food based on personal beliefs lacking any scientific ground.

How a simple SIM card makes farmers more efficient—and possibly saves lives

A handful of years ago, Chandrakala Kongala, a farmer in the rural village of Kommireddipalli in the southern Indian state of Telangana, faced a devastating problem. In one fell swoop, an unanticipated downpour had ravaged her peanut crop.

…What changed? The weather may have been more temperate, but the most important factor had nothing to do with the land or the climate. Instead, it was a device familiar to much of the developed world: the SIM card.

Source: How a simple SIM card makes farmers more efficient—and possibly saves lives

When these farmers in India have additional factors stacked against them (access to tech, literacy, etc) it blows my mind that they are even able to be successful at farming considering how unforgiving the weather can be. We have every tool we could (almost) ever want, and yet a single weather event can come by and destroy us at any time. I’m trying to imagine having to also deal with it while not being able to even read the forecast I don’t even have access to and there’s just no way.