We feel that genetic engineering is an important and crucial technology. Ignorance and myths surrounding this field hinders advancement at best and harms at worst. It’s especially a concern to us as vegans for these reasons:
- Animal testing: Insisting on unfounded safety testing leads to more animals being harmed in order to perform this testing.
- Animal alternatives: GM technology can help create alternatives to animal products. For example, insulin used to be obtained from slaughtered animals; now it is manufactured by genetically modified bacteria. It could also be possible to use GM technology to replace animal foods. Cheese has been difficult to mock, and the lack of acceptable vegan cheese analogues could be a barrier for many potential vegans.
- Nutrition & Health: GM technology can benefit vegans by creating plants rich in nutrients vegans lack, such as vitamin B12 and DHA. This would make it easier for people to go and stay vegan. Recently, CSIRO scientists have been enabling canola plants to produce DHA. People who are vegan need DHA, and synthetic DHA can help save the lives of fish, who are often used as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. People are animals too, and there are many in dire need of help. GM technology could help bring essential nutrients to starving populations, and GM foods could even be used as vehicles for vaccine delivery.
- Environment: Creating plants that use fewer pesticides and fertilizers will help us strive toward a sustainable agriculture that’s less detrimental to all life on this planet. Fewer insects would be killed, less runoff will poison fish, and no- or low-till agriculture will save the lives of ground-dwelling animals.
There are many in the vegan community co-opting the vegan cause with conspiratorial thinking and junk information on GMO. The best antidote to this is good critical thinking. Please be sure the source for your information is well-qualified and scientific.
Thousands on Kauai marched the streets to show their support of the “Right to Know” Bill, a bill that would require agricultural companies working with genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to disclose the chemicals they’re using and take extra steps to keep the chemicals contained.
It’s a volatile debate. One side is arguing business and development, the other side health and safety.
The bill is going to its second hearing Monday in front of the county’s Economic Development and Agricultural committee, where changes could be made before a final city council vote on the measure.
Roads were shut down as nearly 2,000 people marched in the streets from Vidinha Stadium to the Historic County Building, the place where the Right To Know Bill will go before a committee hearing Monday morning.
“We’re united. This is exactly what they didn’t want to happen,” a community activist at the Mana March said.
They rallied to send this message to the agricultural corporations that are reportedly testing new pesticides and GMO technologies on Kauai agricultural land.
“If you like poison, poison your own place. If you like experiment, experiment on your own family,” activists said.
Many said they have had enough and are concerned about the health effects the chemicals are having on their families, and the environmental impacts that the pesticides may have for generations to come. Continue reading
Kaua‘i seed farmers want to set the record straight about how they farm. In today’s edition of The Garden Island, they rolled out a new ad campaign breaking common myths about their farming practices and the seed industry. The ad says they want to in inform, educate and maintain a dialogue with friends and neighbors on Kaua‘i.
One of the myths addressed is the claim that seed farmers are experimenting with chemicals. Kaua‘i seed farmers say they “DO NOT develop or test chemicals. Our job is to improve crops for farmers around the world through plant breeding and growing seed.
We check our fields daily to determine if there are pests. Only if the number of pests would likely hurt the yield and quality of seed, and if there are no other appropriate control options, do we use a pesticide. We only use federally and state approved pesticide on specific crops, and we only use them when necessary and in amounts specified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to control weeds, insects and diseases.”
(Click the image below for full size) Continue reading
You are invited to a seminar/field day to see the results of 3-herbicide tests involving Dismiss, Roundup and salt on goosegrass, crabgrass, postrate spurge, creeping indigo, dollarweed, horseweed, nutsedge, and purslane in a seashore paspalum lawn. Although the results were inconsistent, you may still find the information useful and interesting.
Date: March 28, 2013 (Thursday)
Time: 10:45 to 12:00 pm
Place: UH-Maui College (UH-MC) Agricultural Greenhouse & Lawn. Across the Maui Arts & Cultural Center near the recycling center on Wahine Pi’o Avenue. Park in the lot next to the new science building with the vertical windmills on its roof top.
Hawaii Dept. of Agriculture Pesticide categories will be offered for categories 1a, 3, 6 & 10.
Deadline to register is March 27 (Wednesday) to reserve your handouts for this event. You can register by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or by calling the Cooperative
Extension Service at 244-3242 x230. Please provide your name, company & telephone number should we need to contact you of any changes to this event.
Mahalo to: Ann Emmsley and William Jacintho of UH-MC for making this test and field day possible.
The Kauai County Department of Water said it has received $6,693 from a Swiss pesticide manufacturer as part of a class-action lawsuit regarding the pesticide atrazine.
The money will help the county pay for testing the water supply for the common weedkiller.
The Water Department said it has conducted tests for atrazine since the 1990s and has found the level of the pesticide in Kauai’s water systems to be either well below the EPA maximum contaminant level of 3 pbb or nondetectable.
Syngenta of Switzerland agreed to a $105 million settlement with 1,085 water systems, including Kauai County’s.
LOS ANGELES >> The worst disease known to the citrus industry may have arrived in California on a bud of friendship.
A graft of pomelo — a symbol of good fortune and prosperity in many Asian cultures — was the likely source of the state’s first documented case of huanglongbing, a citrus disease with no known cure, say researchers involved in the investigation. The suspected plant shoot, or budwood, was passed freely among San Gabriel Valley church friends who loved to garden and experiment with hybridization, according to residents.
Until a month ago, California was the last major citrus-growing region in the world to avoid a scourge that has decimated groves in China, Brazil and Florida. The disease arrived the way experts had long predicted: in a tree in a Southern California yard. Now, agriculture officials are scrambling to slow the disease’s march north and save a $2 billion industry based in the Central Valley.
Authorities launched a massive containment effort involving quarantines, pesticides and public hearings when a lemon-pomelo tree in Mary Wang’s lush Hacienda Heights yard tested positive for the disease on March 30. The sickly looking tree was quickly removed for study. Continue reading
An Ewa farm has been ordered by the state Health Department to cease the sale of basil because it was using unapproved pesticide.
The basil will be destroyed today at FAT Law’s Farm three-acre farm in Ewa. The farm also maintains a farm in Kunia.
FAT Law’s Farm, Inc. was notified Tuesday to cease the sale of all suspect basil after test revealed the presence of the pesticide methomyl. There is a zero tolerance for methomyl on basil, a pesticide that is not approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use on basil.
Basil samples were collected on FAT’s Ewa farm on April 12. The results received from the state laboratory on April 16 indicated a range of 0.045 to 3.49 parts per million (ppm) of methomyl.
Additional samples from the Kunia farm were collected on Tuesday and analyzed for the presence of methomyl. Results received on Thursday indicated a range from non-detectable to 0.507 ppm of methomyl on the basil.
No basil will be allowed to be sold by the farm until subsequent samples indicate zero levels of methomyl.
The Health Department believes that the basil crops tested on April 12 and 17 may have been distributed to consumers in Hawaii. However, since the pesticide is allowed in greater amounts on other crops, the department does not consider the situation to be a significant threat to public health. Methomyl is approved by the EPA for use on a variety of vegetables and has an allowable range from 1 ppm for tomatoes up to 6 ppm for parsley leaves. There is a zero tolerance for methomyl on basil.
How valuable are bees? In the UK, about £1.8bn a year, according to new research on the cost of hand-pollinating the many crops bees service for free. If that sounds a far-fetched scenario, consider two facts.
First, bees are in severe decline. Half the UK’s honey bees kept in managed hives have gone, wild honey bees are close to extinction and solitary bees are declining in more than half the place they have been studied.
Second, hand-pollination is already necessary in some places, such as pear orchards in China, and bees are routinely trucked around the US to compensate for the loss of their wild cousins.
The new figure comes from scientists at the Reading University and was released by Friends of the Earth to launch their new campaign, Bee Cause. Paul de Zylva, FoE nature campaigner, said: “Unless we halt the decline in British bees our farmers will have to rely on hand-pollination, sending food prices rocketing.”
So what’s the problem? Continue reading
A pitched battle about why bee populations around the world are declining so rapidly has been joined by two new studies pointing directly at the harm from insecticides most commonly used by grain, cotton, bean and vegetable farmers.
Pesticides were an early suspect, but many additional factors appear to be at play — including a relatively new invasive mite that kills bees in their hives, loss of open land for foraging, and the stresses on honeybee colonies caused by moving them from site to site for agricultural pollinating.
The new bee research, some of the most extensive done involving complex field studies rather than simpler laboratory work, found that exposure to neonicotinoid pesticides did not kill the bees directly, but changed their behavior in harmful ways. In particular, the insecticide made the honeybees and bumblebees somewhat less able to forage for food and return with it to their hives.
While the authors of the studies published Thursday in the journal Science do not conclude that the pesticides are the sole cause of the American and international decline in bees or the more immediate and worrisome phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, they say that the omnipresent chemicals have a clearly harmful effect on beehives. Continue reading
Orkin, the pest control company, recently said its agents nationwide are reporting a 30 percent increase in calls to treat ant infestations compared with this time last year. Termite swarms do not normally show up until the end of March, but Orkin received 85 termite-control calls in February.
An Orkin branch in Montgomery County, which serves the District, has already responded to mosquito sightings this year. And the National Pest Management Association, based in Fairfax, issued an early warning of ticks, possibly carrying Lyme disease, lurking in back yards.
County agricultural extension agents across the country are sending out bug alerts to farmers.
“These things are coldblooded,” said Mike Raupp, a professor of entomology at the University of Maryland. “Whenever we have a warm winter, they’re going to be out earlier. How do you stop them? You pray for cold weather.”
A mild winter is not great for all bugs, including some highly beneficial insects. Some were up and about when they should have been idle and hibernating, burning less energy, experts say. When this happens, they gobble the food they stored for the winter and emerge into a world where food is scarce. Many starve. Continue reading