Scientists condemn retraction of Séralini study on GM
Scientists from around the world have united to condemn the retraction by the editor of the Elsevier journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) of the pioneering study on genetically modified (GM) maize and Roundup herbicide, conducted by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini and his team at the University of Caen, France. The study found that rats fed the GM maize and/or low levels of Roundup in their diet suffered severe organ damage, particularly to the liver, kidneys and pituitary gland. Additional unexpected observations were higher rates of large tumours and mortality in most treatment groups. A group of 41 scientists and biosafety experts have signed a public statement condemning the retraction as an apparent “act of scientific censorship” and demanding that the journal reinstate the study, which they say contains findings of potentially critical importance to public health.
End Science Censorship (29 January 2014)
GM herbicide resistant crops cause of Monarch butterfly decline in US
The number of Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) wintering in Mexico plunged this year to its lowest level since studies began in 1993, leading experts to announce Wednesday that the insects’ annual migration from the United States and Canada is in danger of disappearing. Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, wrote that “The migration is definitely proving to be an endangered biological phenomenon. The main culprit is now GM herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA, which leads to the wholesale killing of the monarch’s principal food plant, common milkweed.”
The Guardian (29 January 2014)
Groups step up campaign against GM foods in Ghana
Scores of individuals and organisations continued to demonstrate against the importation of Genetically Modified (GM) foods and passage of Plant Breeders’ Bill currently before parliament. Food Sovereignty Ghana and Belief The Bible Media Publications on Tuesday jointly matched through some principal streets in Accra, calling on Parliament to exercise caution before passing the Plant Breeders Bill into law.
Business Ghana (29 January 2014)
Pesticides halve bees’ pollen gathering ability, research shows
Scientists call for a permanent EU ban as neonicotinoid toxins are found to harm bees and deprive their young of food. Bumblebees exposed to controversial pesticides collect just half the pollen they would otherwise harvest, according to new research, depriving their growing young of their only source of protein. The work has been hailed as important by independent scientists because it sheds light on how the neonicotinoid pesticides can harm bees. A two-year EU ban of three neonicotinoids, the most widely used insecticides in the world, began in December, following research that showed harm to honey and bumblebees.
The Guardian (29 January 2014)
Climate change is ‘killing Argentina’s Magellanic penguin chicks’
The new analysis of data from Punta Tombo indicates that climate change is having an increasing impact on the chicks. While on average, around 40% of the youngsters that die every year succumb to starvation, changes in the climate killed an average of 7%. Warming ‘killing penguin chicks’ “Climate variability in the form of increased rainfall and temperature extremes, however, has increased in the last 50 years and kills many chicks in some years,” the authors write in the report. In two years it was the most common cause, accounting for half the dead chicks in one year, and 43% in another.
BBC News (30 January 2014)
Penguins in peril from climate change because of rainstorms and heatwaves The Daily Mail (29 January 2014)
Children who are overweight in nursery are four times more likely to be obese teenagers
Obesity begins in nursery, new research suggests. Overweight five-year-olds are four times more likely to be obese by the time they are 14 than their slimmer peers, a study shows. Researchers looked at data from a health study of nursery children in 1998 to 1999 to see how many were overweight. Dr Solveig Cunningham, of Emory University in Georgia, who was involved in the study said: “Our findings uncovered several important points by examining incidence over time. We have evidence certain factors established before birth and during the first five years are important. Obesity prevention efforts focused on children who are overweight by five-years-old may be a way to target children susceptible to becoming obese later in life.”
The Daily Mail (29 January 2014)
Obesity is found to gain its hold in earliest years The New York Times (29 January 2014)
What does Organic mean?
Toni is the founding director of Organic Ilford who want to bring proper food back onto our daily menus. It is a Social Enterprise, which means it is a not for profit organisation, and the (hopefully not too) long term aim is to have an organic farm in Redbridge. They are currently looking at a former allotment site, so the soil there is very rich and nutritious, and negotiating with the Council.
Barkingside 21 (29 January 2014)
Farm sales of unpasteurised milk should remain legal
The Food Standard Agency recommends farmers be allowed to continue to sell unpasteurised milk directly to consumers. In a review of the public health risks associated with raw milk, the FSA sets out four options ranging from removing all restrictions on sales to making all milk pasteurised before it goes on sale. The review applies only to England, Wales and Northern Ireland, as the sale of unpasteurised milk is banned in Scotland. The consultation follows an investigation after the London department store Selfridges installed vending machines selling unpasteurised milk supplied by Soil Association licensee, Stephen Hook a Sussex farmer from Longley Organic Farm, in December 2011.
The Guardian (30 January 2014)
Farmers slam further delays in Defra’s red tape overhaul
Farmers have welcomed the Government’s bid to slash red tape but have questioned why some measures will not be in force until 2017. The Coalition vowed to cut unnecessary bureaucracy as part of its Red Tape Challenge, announcing it would be the first in history to have ‘less regulation in place than there was at the beginning’ of its Parliamentary term. Farming Minister George Eustice promised a ‘bonfire’ of redundant regulations – 156 redundant regulations will now be scrapped, while a further 134 regulations will be simplified. However farmers believe the rules changes, which involve being able to move sheep within a 10 mile radius of their holding without reporting, should be implemented immediately.
Farmers Guardian (30 January 2014)
Arla to have EU milk price boost
Arla Food amba’s announcement of a Europe-wide milk price increase shows how its UK co-operative members are now linked into the global dairy trade, an expert said. The proposed one euro cent (about 0.07p/kilo) will take place from 3rd February. John Allen, Kite Consulting, said Arla was the ‘UK lightning rod into the European price pool the industry has been clamouring for’.
Farmers Guardian (30 January)
The EU has awarded over six million euros to fund new research into agroforestry. The study, which involves some 15 European countries, will look to find out how increasing woodlands on farms can help them be more productive. Anna Hill has been to see agroforestry in action on a farm which grows strips of wheat between avenues of coppiced trees. Dr Phil Burges from Cranfield University said: “Traditionally we looked at agriculture and forestry as separate sectors. In the context of food security the demand for bio energy, environmental issues require thinking of landscape approach. One way of taking that forward is to work with farmers to integrate trees and farming systems to create production and environmental benefits.”
BBC Radio 4 (30 January 2014)
And finally…animals take a swim
The Guardian (30 January 2014)