Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Center Can't Hold

News Item One: At G8 this week, Obama's ag secretary Tom Vilsack has been promoting the use of agricultural biotech, including the use of genetically modified organisms, to combat global hunger. He also advocated against creating global grain reserves. As Tom Philpott writes,

"For most of agricultural history, societies have kept grain stores, to be released during shortages to soften shocks. Starting about 20 years ago, the U.S. government and institutions like the IMF and World Bank decided that government grain reserves interfered with the magic of the market and began selling them off and discouraging developing nations from keeping them. It’s a little bit like dismantling levees, on the theory that they interfere with the magic of water flow."

Yet that's exactly what our agricultural secretary is advocating.

News Item Two: According to a study by Purdue University researchers, farmers relying on Monsanto's genetically modified Roundup Ready crops are finding that the herbicide is losing its ability to control weeds. Not surprisingly, the farmers who saw the most benefit from Roundup were those who rotated Roundup Ready GMO crops with conventional crops.

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