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.
ALBANY, N.Y. » When Schuyler and Colby Gail were trying to get started in farming, they ran into an obstacle common to many fledgling farmers: Land was expensive and hard to find.
They turned to a local land conservancy, which matched them up with a landowner willing to sell at an affordable price. Now, they raise pigs, lambs and poultry on their farm in New Lebanon, 25 miles southeast of Albany near the Massachusetts border.
“We were able to come to a better financial agreement because the landowners were excited about what we were doing,” said Schuyler Gail, who launched Climbing Tree Farm a year ago with her husband, a carpenter. “It wouldn’t be the same if we bought land off the regular real estate market.”
To keep land in agricultural production and help a new generation start farming as older farmers near retirement, land conservancies and other farm preservation groups have launched a growing number of landowner-farmer matching programs like the one that helped the Gails.
About 25 states have FarmLink programs that match new farmers with landowners, and the programs vary in how involved they are in matches. For example, Connecticut has made only about a half dozen since it began in 2007 but staffers aren’t allowed to get involved in leases, spokeswoman Jane Slupecki said. The opposite is true in California, said Central Valley coordinator Liya Schwartzman. In Maine, the program has facilitated 82 matches since it started in 2002, a spokeswoman said.
More than 60 percent of farmers are over 55, and the fastest growing group of farmers and ranchers is those over 65, Census figures showed. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has set a goal of creating 100,000 new farmers within the next few years.
The heir to the British throne prunes brambles with a hand sickle and empties buckets of compost in “Harmony,” a documentary on NBC that showcases Prince Charles’s pet environmental causes.
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The film, made by the independent filmmakers Julie Bergman Sender and Stuart Sender, is part of a royal twofer being broadcast on Friday evening at 10 p.m. right after an hourlong interview with the NBC anchor Brian Williams, which Prince Charles gave in August and which focuses more intently on his marriages — and on his son William’s imminent one — than on biodiversity. In what looks like a quid pro prince, NBC agreed to broadcast “Harmony” as part of NBC Universal’s annual Green Week.
As it turned out, the timing of the interview and of the documentary, coming on the heels of the splashy engagement announcement of Prince William and Kate Middleton this week, was lucky for NBC.
It also seemed like a fortuitous case of sustainable royal marketing — the prince indulges the kind of media curiosity he despises in exchange for the chance to expound, uninterrupted, for an hour on primetime television. (Royalty has many privileges, but one curse is that interviewers rarely ask about the topics royals most want to discuss; Hollywood celebrities like Brad Pitt have less breeding but a lot more clout.)
By Carol Yurth
Enjoy a relaxed day of fun, food and celebration
Hamakua Alive! is this Saturday. This year’s theme is “From Plantation to Diversification.” Join in a relaxed day of fun, food and celebration from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the corner of the turnoff from the Belt Highway to Mamane Street in Honokaa.
Come experience the agricultural diversity found along the Hamakua Coast. This year’s festival has been expanded to include the Hamakua Farmers Market and local crafts. There will be tastings where chefs are paired with farmer/producers and prepare the foods grown in the area onsite. The tasting will be available to the general public for a minimal fee — usually just $2-$3 a plate or bowl! (Everything served with earth-friendly, compostable serveware).
Join the cooking contest with recipes using a large percentage of ingredients grown on Hawaii Island.
The Hawaii Island School Garden Network will have booths for agricultural education and locally grown products. There will be live Hawaiian music with Cyril Pahinui and John Keawe and kids’ games and entertainment. To find out more, visit http://www.hamakuaalive.com.
The 25-passenger van slammed into a deep trench. Rotarians and court reporters bounced out of their seats. The abused van’s windows rattled while keeping heat and dust at bay. A small air conditioner at the rear of the vehicle provided marginal cooling.
Driver Tony Vierra – one of only two men allowed to take Roberts Hawaii vans into the fields – tried to miss the biggest holes in the sugar fields’ “roads,” but there was no way to avoid them all. The benign jostling and, later, the heat in the mill were the most uncomfortable parts of a slick, six-hour Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. tour Saturday.
It began at 8 a.m. in a conference room in the old Puunene headquarters. Despite the hour, tour coordinator Linda Howe radiated city energy. She and agronomist Mae Nakahata had come over from Alexander & Baldwin’s Honolulu headquarters. Howe attended to the sign-in sheets, name tags, liability waivers and menus for lunch.
The Rotarians were from Kihei. The court reporters had come to Maui for a meeting of the Court Stenographers and Captioners Association. It was a convivial group sincerely interested in learning more about HC&S. One Mainland retiree liked to talk about his experiences as an employee at a sugar beet operation. It was somewhat annoying and definitely off the point of the tour – lobbying on behalf of the sugar company via candid education. The syllabus centered on sustainability and the production of energy.
Hawaii Rural Development Council News Release
As a part of a nation-wide movement, a rural community-improvement council is asking Molokai’s mana`o for how to increase economic opportunities.
The Hawaii Rural Development Council (HRDC) seeks your input, concerns, success stories, and ideas on issues related to rural communities in Hawaii. State Rural Development Councils nationwide are gathering input to be presented to Partners for Rural America and the USDA. This is an opportunity for Hawaii to voice our concerns and successes locally to build on a national action plan to promote enhance rural development strategies.
September 15, 2009 – Hilo, Hawaii Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi took a moment last Friday to talk about the challenges facing the Big Island economy, and how it will impact next year’s county budget.
According to a news release, Kenoi told his county staff on Monday at a meeting to kick off budget preparations that "deep and painful budget cuts will be necessary to carry the county through the next fiscal year". The county says its facing a $44.8 million hole in next fiscal year’s budget, which combines $33.8 million less in projected revenues and $11 million more in projected expenses.
“We’ve never faced what we face today,” said Mayor Kenoi in Monday’s media release. “Which means we’ve got to take steps that we never took before,” to make government more efficient and reduce county spending.
There is a place for GMO. Check out this article from the “Wired Blog.” It makes a very lucid argument for the necessity of genetically engineered crops in sustainable agriculture.
Sustainably Engineered Organic
- By Bruce Sterling
- July 30, 2009
…checklist for truly sustainable agriculture in a global context. It must:
Provide abundant safe and nutritious food…. Reduce environmentally harmful inputs…. Reduce energy use and greenhouse gases…. Foster soil fertility…. Enhance crop genetic diversity…. Maintain the economic viability of farming communities…. Protect biodiversity…. and improve the lives of the poor and malnourished. (He pointed out that 24,000 a day die of malnutrition worldwide, and about 1 billion are undernourished.)
…But organic has limitations, he said. There are some pests, diseases, and stresses it can’t handle. Its yield ranges from 45% to 97% of conventional ag yield. It is often too expensive for low-income customers. At present it is a niche player in US agriculture, representing only 3.5%, with a slow growth rate suggesting it will always be a niche player.
Genetically engineered crops could carry organic farming much further toward fulfilling all the goals of sustainable agriculture, Raoul said, but it was prohibited as a technique for organic farmers in the standards and regulations set by the federal government in 2000.
Announcement about a Sustainable Agriculture Conference on Oahu.
The agenda for this conference is at
Maui Cooperative Extension Service CTAHR / UH-Manoa