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Posts Tagged ‘biotechnology’

It’s Friday! I mean, seriously, were more beautiful words ever spoken? I think not.

Anyway, as is usually the case around here, Friday means it’s time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up. Here’s what’s on tap for this week:

  • You’re probably aware of my love for the Blue and Gold jacket. I was an FFA member all the way through high school and am not ashamed to say that it helped shape who I am today. Heck, it even helped me land on a career choice. Given that, it’s no surprise that I don’t take kindly to people who rail against it, like a PETA blogger this week, who said, “FFA is lame AF.” I was all piped up and ready to respond, when I saw something amazing happening: Rather than respond to the blog and effectively promote it just by sharing, FFA members and alumni across the U.S. started sharing their FFA memories, pictures and positive moments instead. Talk about powerful. Here’s my favorite post – be sure to check it out.
  • This, because you know I love a good play on words. And cheese. Sweet Dreams
  • This article, from the Huffington Post. We’ve covered Bill Nye’s (Bill! Bill! Bill! – you know you were singing it in your head) switch from anti-GMO to pro-GMO before, but this piece, from Dr. Robert T. Fraley at Monsanto, offers a different take on why he switched.
  • And, speaking of GMOs, this story which appeared on CBS Sunday Morning. If you have questions about GMOs, this story does an excellent job of presenting both sides of the story.
  • This video, from Steve Harvey. Yes, Steve Harvey. He’s a well-known comedian, but did you know he grew up on a farm, too? In a rare moment where he’s not cracking jokes, Harvey talks about what it meant to grow up on a farm, and what he learned from the experience. It’s beautiful.
  • This, because whether you’re a farmer, accountant, writer, office manager or kid, this is true. Always. New Start

 

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Biotechnology and GMOs are one of today’s hottest topics. A simple Google search shows the battle lines are drawn and proponents on both sides are staunch in their support.

Still, despite the amount of media coverage and information on the internet, the science behind biotechnology and GMOs is still incredibly misunderstood.

In fact, as I’ve mentioned on the blog before, consumers like you and I view some of today’s most controversial scientific topics in a completely different way than do America’s top scientists.

report published by the Pew Research Center based on surveys of adults and, separately, a survey of scientists belonging to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, found that only 37 percent of the public viewed GM foods as safe to eat, while 88 percent of the scientists viewed GM foods as generally safe.

And here’s the remarkable part: Sixty-seven percent of the consumers surveyed acknowledged that they lacked a “clear understanding” of the health effects of GM crops.

Soybeans Corn

So, what do you do if you don’t feel comfortable believing the hype from either side, but want to get to the guts of the GMO issue — and the science behind it all.

That’s simple. You check out www.GMOAnswers.com.

Similar to the other websites I’ve featured so far, the amount of information you can find on GMOAnswers.com is astounding. And all of it is researched and presented by a wide variety experts in the fields of biotechnology and genetic engineering.

From the basics of genetic engineering and GMOs to studies about biotechnology and a place where you can ask questions — and read questions from other internet information seekers, GMOAnswers.com has all the information for which you’re looking.

To see the rest of the 30-day blogging challenge, check out the following posts:

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I found this on Facebook and have been thinking about it over the last couple of days.

I talk often about GMOs and organic foods here on the blog. I mean, they are a pretty hot topic these days. As for myself, I find it pretty easy to support conventionally-raised foods and GM products because I’ve done my research and believe that’s the best choice for my family.

But I also try my darndest to allow for others’ choices as well. In other words, if you whole-heartedly believe in the power of organics and non-GMO foods, it’s your right to spend your money on those products and choose them for your family.

We may not agree, but that’s okay.

Where I stumble is when I come across articles like this one that, without sources or background information, passively condemn one production type over another. Or, worse yet, include information that’s just plain incorrect.

The article mentioned above, from Eco Child’s Play, is touting the benefits of the first school lunch program to go 100 percent organic and GMO-free.

My first thought was, “Okay. Not my choice, or what I would want for my kid, but okay.”

Then I saw this:

“ORGANIC*

All ingredients are organic, with absolutely no exceptions.

To be certified organic, a farmer must avoid using anything that might harm air, water or soil, including synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic food puts human health first, and supports farmers and businesses that do the same.”

Specifically, “Organic food puts human health first, and supports farmers and businesses that do the same.”

I know lots of farmers. Farmers who raise corn and soybeans, pigs, beef cattle, dairy cattle and more. Some of them are organic and some of them aren’t. All of them put human health first because all of them are feeding their own families the products they raise.

Make no mistake, organic farming isn’t farming without chemicals. It’s farming with chemicals specifically approved for organic production. And those chemicals can be just as dangerous as chemicals used in conventionally-raised crops. The key to raising food safe for human consumption isn’t necessarily organic or conventional, it’s the knowledge and care each individual farmers uses in raising that food.

Corn Soybeans

A little farther down, I saw this:

“NON-GMO*

 A commitment to using only ingredients that are not genetically modified. We believe The Conscious Kitchen is the only 100% organic/non-GMO school food program in the country.

GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have yet to be deemed safe for humans or the environment, yet they are ubiquitous in today’s food. In the United States, companies are not required to label items that contain GMOs.

*Indicates a no-exceptions rule”

Honestly, this statement is the one that really got to me and it got to me because it’s just plain wrong.

Google GMOs and it’s an argument you’ll see again and again, despite the fact that study after study has proven that isn’t the case. Every time, the “study” backing the proof that GMOs are dangerous comes from a non-peer-reviewed journal, was authored by someone close to anti-GMO organizations, or has been retracted.

In fact, more than 2,000 studies (real ones that have been done by independent researchers and published in peer-reviewed journals) have documented that biotechnology doesn’t pose a threat to human health and GMO foods are as safe or safer than conventional or organic foods.

The most recent was published a year ago. This study, which takes into account animals fed GMO crops like many others, is based on 29 years of livestock productivity and health data from both before and after the introduction of GMO crops.

Nebraska 13

I’ll give you two guesses as to what they found out, but you’ll only need one. GM feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. From Forbes writer Jon Entine who reviewed the study:

“The field data represented more than 100 billion animals covering a period before 1996 when animal feed was 100% non-GMO, and after its introduction when it jumped to 90% and more. The documentation included the records of animals examined pre and post mortem, as ill cattle cannot be approved for meat.

What did they find? That GM feed is safe and nutritionally equivalent to non-GMO feed. There was no indication of any unusual trends in the health of animals since 1996 when GMO crops were first harvested. Considering the size of the dataset, it can reasonably be said that the debate over the impact of GE feed on animal health is closed: there is zero extraordinary impact.”

As for the rest of the Eco Child’s Play article’s assertion that, because of these foods, disciplinary actions are down, I can’t comment because, well, I’m not a scientist. Personally, I don’t think it’s because they’re feeding the kids organic, non-GMO foods. I think it’s because they’re feeding kids fresh foods, prepared in house, and bringing students and teachers together in an atmosphere that is conducive to communication and cooperation.

After all, that’s what food, of any kind, has a tendency to do; bring us to the table to talk and enjoy each other’s company.

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Eating Well magazine is really rather benign. There is lots of good information, but it isn’t a threat to anyone, and certainly wouldn’t use scare tactics to bully readers. Or would it?

But, actually, that’s what The Top GMO Foods and How to Avoid Them is — a scare tactic.

I say that because, the article, on the whole, isn’t that bad. The scariest part is the headline itself.

Call me crazy, but after reading the article with the most unbiased eye I can muster, the reasoning behind of the use of GMOs in the description of each food seems pretty, well, reasonable. I would hope that consumers with no background in agriculture reading it find the reasoning makes sense, too.

if you haven’t had the time to read it, here’s the gist: Farmers have been using GMOs for nearly 30 years, and today, close to half of all U.S. cropland is planted with GMO crops. However, very few of the whole foods we eat are GMO varieties.

The article covered summer squash and zucchini, papayas, sweet corn, potatoes and apples, all of which have GMO varieties available. In the instance of summer squash and zucchini, papayas and sweet corn, Eating Well says GMO varieties are grown to combat diseases or pests which would have previously wiped out the crops.

In the case of sweet corn, Eating Well says,

“A minor amount of GMO sweet corn is grown in the U.S. and sold as fresh ears; a high percentage of Canadian sweet corn is GMO. Traits that have been developed are herbicide and earworm (insect) resistance.”

Am I wrong in thinking that explanation makes a lot of sense? Why grow safe food that’s going to be eaten by pests when you can grow safe food that’s not going to be eaten by pests? I mean, this just doesn’t look appealing to me:

Despite the logic Eating Well employs when talking about the benefits of GMOs, it lays out a headline sure to reel in anyone who is dead-set against GMOs, and even folks who are simply curious about GMOs. Unfortunately, a headline like that has the ability to sway the curious.

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Summer is finally here, you guys! And it’s almost over. Talking with President Guebert this week, he said he couldn’t figure out where summer has gone. Given that the majority of this summer felt like spring with lots of rain and 60 degree temperatures, I’m just going to say summer has felt short because we never really had one.

But, finally, this week, we haven’t had rain, I haven’t needed to mow my yard seven times, and my yard even has some sunburnt spots in it! Yay, summer!

Anyway, let’s get down to it:

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Time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up. This week we’re talking women on the farm, food storage guidelines (because, honestly, we all need to be better at using up food before it goes bad) and more dairy! And, bonus, dads in honor of Father’s Day!

  • As my friend, Martin, said about this article: “Despite what some may think, agriculture’s actually a clear leader in professional gender equality. Almost any successful farm couple I knew was a true partnership, with a strong woman encouraging, reasoning with, running the numbers (or the planter) alongside, and when necessary, Gilligan-slapping their hardworking hubbies.”
  • This. Oh man, this. Hungry People
  • Ever bought a bunch of carrots at the grocery store and, a month later, found them in the fridge and thought, “Can I still use these? I mean, they look okay.” Let’s be honest, we’ve all done that. Now, you can whip out this trusty guide to find out the shelf life of all your favorite produce!
  • This, because it’s awesome. Despic-hay-bale
  • And, finally, this local-to-Illinois story featuring Lake County Farm Bureau Manager, Greg Koeppen, who organized the breakfast on the farm. Said Greg, “Who doesn’t like pizza for breakfast?” Well, he said a lot more than that, but you’ll have to check out the article to find out what breakfast at Golden Oaks means for the folks who took the time to participate.
  • Bonus: In honor of Father’s Day this Sunday, these pictures of my dads. Because I’m lucky, I get two.
    Trail Riding

    The whole family get ready to take part in my dad’s favorite activity: trail riding. Side note: this was our second trailer. The first one we got didn’t last long because when we bought the three-horse, dad said it would be fine because he didn’t ride and wouldn’t need to haul a horse. That lasted about three weeks.

    DSC_0717

    And finally, my second dad, Chuck. He married my mom a few years after my dad passed away and he, well, he’s pretty cool. I couldn’t ask for a better second dad.

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Time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up. And, just so you know, a lot of stuff happened this week. Prepare yourself.

  • Did you know June is Dairy Month? I love Dairy Month because I grew up with dairy cattle. Everyone else loves Dairy Month because, well, ice cream and hot weather were made for each other. In celebration of Dairy Month, here are all the awesome articles and memes you can check out:
    • Need some new recipes for satisfy your June dairy cravings? Check out this cookbook from http://www.DairyMakesSense.com.
    • This. Because, obviously. Keep Calm
    • Have you ever wondered how real milk stacks up against other popular milks like soy, almond or coconut milk? This handy chart can help.
    • And also this. Consequently, if you love all things cows, visit http://www.steelcow.com. Beautiful artwork that features all things bovine (and a few pigs and chickens, too)!Dairy Month
    • And this. Midwest Dairy
    • And, one more. Because you’re a glutton for punishment. Milk Sales
  • You might have seen this making the rounds this week, but if not, check it out. Flooding in Texas has affected cities and rural communities alike and, in the case of this rancher, the community came together to help him get his stranded cattle to safety — driving them nearly 70 miles! The pictures alone are worth the read.
  • This, which I found last week. Apparently, in June 1938, several members of Congress competed in a milking contest on the Capitol grounds. From the House Agriculture Committee’s Facebook page: “Texas Congressman Marvin Jones, who was chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, served as the referee. According to new reports, he declared the contest a draw because after 10 minutes of milking, none of the contestants had more than a pint of milk to show for their efforts.” Wonder how the same contest with today’s Congressional delegation would go? We know they’re good at pulling legs. Milking Contest
  • This editorial, from TruthAboutTrade.org. Written by a Vermont farm mom, this article talks about the price of GMO labeling to the family farm. It’s an excellent read, straight from the horse’s mouth.
  • And finally, this article from BloodHorse.com. As someone who has a lot of experience in the horse industry, this was particularly interesting. The article focuses not on Triple Crown hopeful, American Pharoah, but instead, his pony horse, Smokey. What’s so interesting, for me, is the fact that Smokey has one heck of a pedigree and a whole lot of training to end up ponying horses on the racetrack. I’m just guessing her, but I would bet, with Smokey’s training and breeding, he was a six-figure horse when trainer Bob Baffert bought him to pony horses on the track. And, if all of that was just a foreign language to you, you should still check out the article, because there are pretty pictures of horses. And, it talks about American Pharoah, who just might be the first horse to claim the triple crown since Affirmed did it in 1978.

 

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