US Dakota: “Farmer Readies His First #GMO Wheat Crop”

#AceNewsServices says over the past 20 plus years the “The Rise and Rise of Monsanto” has made significant advances in the development of herbicide-tolerant wheat, the company announced recently, and could have the first-of-its-kind crop ready for farming in just a few years’ time.

sayno2gmo

sayno2gmo

Genetically-modified wheat is not legally approved anywhere in the world, but the billion-dollar St. Louis, Missouribased agriculture company has for years been determined to develop the first #GMO variety of the cash crop. Now Monsanto’s chief technology officer thinks the company is on the right track with regards to research.

Monsanto’s GMO wheat-in-progress is among 29 endeavours being undertaken by the group to have made “phase advancements” recently, company reps said in a conference call last week, and testing has advanced from the “proof of concept” stage to early development.

monsanto-labeling-300x300Monsanto-made wheat, like other #GMO crops created by the company, would be resistant to their weed killer Round-up and thus join the likes of other “Round-up Ready” products already sold by the company, including bio-engineered soy-bean and corn.

“From an overall market perspective, the grain industry and the wheat industry — specifically the wheat trade industry — has remained very interested and supportive of biotech advances,” Monsanto CTO Robb Fraley said during last week’s call, according to Baking Business reporter Eric Schroeder.

“A wheat farmer generally is also a corn and soy-bean farmer, and they understand the benefits of the technology, and the wheat industry has watched the benefits that this technology has brought to both corn and soy-beans. So we continue to make advances,” added Schroeder.

According to the company’s top technologist, though, GMO wheat would likely not be reality until a couple of years down the road.

“We are still several years away from a product launch, but it is nice to see those products in the pipeline,” Fraley  added.

Indeed, Monsanto has actually spent the better part of a decade-and-a-half researching GMO wheat. The company began field testing a variety starting in 1998, but suspended operations in 2005 after determining that a super-wheat strain was not quite ready to be launched.

As RT  states Monsanto also recently announced that sales of its Round-up Ready soy-bean grew 16 percent during the quarter ending November 30, 2013.

Piper Jaffray Cos analyst Michael Cos told Bloomberg News at the time that Monsanto’s GMO soybean “will prove to be the single most important earnings driver” for the company during the course of the next two years. According to Fraley’s  assessment, though, the company could be nearly completion on its GMO wheat by then.

Should Monsanto stay on track, however, they’ll still have to worry about the restrictions currently in place in the United States and abroad against #GMO wheat. The company became the centre piece of a biotech scandal last year when remnants of old biotech wheat turned up on an Oregon farm practically a decade after Monsanto supposedly stopped testing the crop. After those reports circulated, a government official for Japan’s farm ministry placed an embargo on all US wheat.

Many others countries outside the US have banned #GMO imports, and China recently refused no fewer than five shipments of American corn allegedly over concerns it could have been tainted by a biotech variety of the crop.

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“Soy Factory Farming and the Destruction of Lands and Lives In Argentina”

#AceGuestNews and Views provided the basis of this article on “Factory Farming and the Destruction of Lands and Lives in Argentina due to the Soy Industry” For which our thanks goes to her.

The world’s reliance on soy to feed factory farmed animals is having a devastating impact. In Argentina, ’Big Soy’ production is ruining lands and lives. Raw campaigners spent time with Argentinean communities to investigate the true cost of factory farming. Witness the Soy Story below.

The logo for Compassion in World Farming.

The logo for Compassion in World Farming. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to the write upJonty Whittleton, campaigner at Compassion in World Farming, recounts the time he spent with communities in Argentina, where the ‘Big Soy’ boom is ruining lands and lives – and it’s all in the pursuit of cheaper meat and bigger profits.

Argentina is the world’s biggest exporter of soy meal – the solid, protein-rich part of the bean that’s left after grinding. On paper, it’s the agricultural lifeblood of the country (the UK imports more soy meal than wine), but there’s a dark side to this green-gold rush. The bean isn’t feeding Argentinians; 97% of soy meal is used to fatten up farm animals around the world, most of whom are reared in factory farms (also known as concentrated animal feeding operations – CAFOs). The animal-welfare problems associated with these intensive systems are well documented, but their impact goes far beyond this; these systems are also ruining people’s lands and lives.

In October 2013, I travelled to the Chaco and Pampas regions of Argentina, northwest of the country’s capital, Buenos Aires. Big Soy has come at a heavy cost for many Argentinians, with lands being grabbed, rampant deforestation and intense chemical spraying. Here’s what I found.

Soybeans: Not so Green

First, I met Alicia Barchuk, who works at the University of Cordoba. She told me that more than 100 million hectares of native forest have been lost to Big Soy in the last 50 years – only 10–12% of the original forest still stands.

A similar story came from my guide, Alberto Villarreal, who works at Friends of the Earth in Uruguay. He spoke of the ‘ecological graveyards’ that are brought about by Big Soy’s reliance on chemicals – they don’t just kill everything on the ground, but also everything in the ground (apart from the genetically modified soy beans, of course).

Living on the Front Line of Big Soy

Alberto also talked about Big Soy’s far-reaching social impact. He introduced me to Ramona Bustamante, who is in her late 80s. She told me that her home has been bulldozed twice by soy barons, who wanted to take her land. Ramona even showed me where her house once stood, now a heap of rubble.

I also met peasant farmer Christina Sanaviron, who spent three days in jail with her 11-month old baby, just for standing up to the land-grabbers. ‘The land is for everyone’, her family told me. ‘It belongs to the people, not the government.’

Sick to Your Stomach

There has been much speculation about the possible links between the chemicals sprayed on the crops (glyphosate, in particular) and sickness in humans. According to the Associated Press, in Argentina ‘agrochemical spraying has increased nine fold, from 9 million gallons in 1990 to 84 million gallons today’. And although the manufacturers insist that these chemicals are safe to use, a lack of awareness around their proper handling and ineffective enforcement of legislation have created a dangerous situation, with medical cases that are hard to ignore.

Both Norma Herrera and Marcela Ferreyra have deeply personal reasons to fight Big Soy: Norma’s daughter had leukemia and one of Marcela’s children was stillborn. They showed me a worrying map in a recent newspaper article – it suggested that the closer you get to the soy fields, the more sick people you find.

Driving past a small school, I stopped to talk to teacher Marta Ferreyra. The spraying planes apparently come dangerously close to the school, and pupils are regularly affected by breathing problems from the haze of chemicals in the air.

I spoke to Doctor Medardo Avila Vazquez – a well-known face in the Argentinean media. He’s studied the effect of the industry’s chemicals on humans and has found a significant increase in the number of babies born dead or with severe physiological problems in areas where the soy spraying is intense.

A Violent Legacy

On my last day in Argentina, I visited a protest camp, full of people resisting companies, like Monsanto, who are responsible for the soy boom here. Later, I read reports of intimidation and violence against camp members – desperate attempts to prevent the public’s voice from being heard.

The soy story in Argentina is a truly toxic tale. Lands are being grabbed, lives are being ruined. And so much of this is happening to fill the bellies of farm animals around the world – mostly in factory farms.

For me, it’s yet more proof that factory farming isn’t just an animal welfare issue.

Fighting Back

We can all help to tackle this crisis. You can cut down on the amount of meat you eat, and make it as high quality as possible. And if you eat soy products, you can look for options that are GM-free and organic.

You can also help spread the word. Witness the full Soy Story and help break the world’s addiction to cruel, destructive, intensive farming on our website.

Help us end the addiction

 

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