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Posts Tagged ‘Monsanto’

Welcome to the Weekly Round Up where everything is interesting and nothing is second-rate.

Or something like that.

  • So, Supreme Court justices are always austere and serious, right? Turns out, that may not be the case. To find out what you get when you mix a bunch of justices from the highest court in the land, wine and the State of the Union address, check out this article from NPR’s The Salt.
  • This, because, well – I don’t think this is well-known.   corn
  • This story, from Scary Mommy, which has nothing to do with agriculture and everything to do with a boy who’s caught trespassing and stealing – but in the best way. Ever.
  • This, because wise words are always good to hear on a Friday. dreams
  • So, I know this is a longshot, but have you heard of GMOs? Oh, you have? Weird. In all seriousness, though, it’s a touchy topic these days. And, it’s a worrisome topic for moms and dads who are out there just trying to pick the right food for their families. So what do you when you have questions? Tour Monsanto, of course. For more on one mom’s tour of Monsanto and the questions she asked, be sure to check out www.WatchUsGrow.org.

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It’s time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up and, let me tell you, there was no shortage of stuff to talk about this week. WOTUS, COOL, TPA and EPA’s proposed RVOs for RFS all happened, or are in the process of happening, this week. And if you don’t know what all of those acronyms mean, don’t worry. We’re going to cover a couple of them this weekend.

But first, it’s quick hit time:

  • This, from CBS News, which gives an interesting overview of how you, now matter where you are, will feel the pinch due to California’s unprecedented drought. It’s definitely interesting.
  • This, because, of course. I do love The Beatles.The Beatles
  • This, from Three Little Birds and One Messy Nest, which I thought was really interesting. This self-proclaimed ‘food activist’ decided it was high time to get the rest of the story on GMOs. So she went to Monsanto and asked the hard questions. She was traveling as part of a group of moms who toured the St. Louis facility and asked every question under the sun about GMOs and biotech. Kudos to her for having an open mind and being willing to listen, rather than just talk.
  • And this, from the Peterson Farm Brothers. They’ve released parody after parody and they’re always great and always about agriculture. And this one features an ’80s rock anthem. What’s not to love?
  • This article, found via Holly Spangler, which is just…well, it’s really something. It’s my sincere hope that everyone who doesn’t have livestock can at least see through PETA and their ridiculous antics.

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It’s time for another edition of the Weekly Round Up! This week, we’re talking graduates, more GMOs, Monsanto and cows.

  • My friend, Holly Spangler, over at Prairie Farmer this week reposted this blog she wrote last year, giving the graduates out there some advice as they jump, head first, into their futures. It’s a pretty great read, graduate or not.
  • This, because no truer words were ever spoken. Proof, again, that 4-H teaches more than just ‘farm stuff.’Earned Rest
  • The fall out from Chipotle’s announcement just keeps on comin’. This opinion piece, from USA Today, was a pretty interesting take on Chipotle’s announcement. I’ve posted I don’t know how many links to stories and opinions on Chipotle’s recent anti-GMO announcement, but this one is a little different. Not only does it analyze the company itself, but some interesting aspects of society in general.
  • Katie Pratt is at it again, this time taking on the March Against Monsanto protestors. Katie talks tools in the farmer’s tool belt and how they related back to Monsanto and even the March Against Monsanto protestors. As always, great info that’s easy to read and easy to share.
  • This, because I love a good, corny joke. Decalfinated
  • This piece, from AFBF President Bob Stallman, which talks about responsible corporate policy and how bowing to the loudest voice doesn’t always equate to the smartest corporate policy. Don’t own a corporation? Don’t worry. These are principles you can apply to your life no matter what. Read: sticking to your guns.
  • And finally, my favorite share this week. A post that my friend, Mary, at Mackinson Dairy, posted on her blog. It’s a guest post from a friend of hers named Heather. In the piece, Heather talks about the healing power of her cows, especially during a particularly difficult time in her life. It’s a heartbreakingly beautiful piece and so worth the read. But make sure you have the tissues handy.

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Yesterday morning, I read an article shared by Holly Spangler over at Prairie farmer, titled “When did science become a dirty word?”

The article, written by Cathleen Enright, executive director of the Council for Biotechnology, appeared on CNBC.com and hit on some of today’s most hotly debated topics, including climate change, vaccinations and GMOs. The week before last, The Truth About Trade and Technology posted a similar article, titled “On Vaccinations and GM Food: It’s Time to Accept the Scientific Consensus.”

It’s not the first time I’ve discussed this topic here on the Illinois Farm Bureau blog. In fact, just last month I wrote about how many of us seem to have trouble marrying scientific information with our own emotions and beliefs.

And in many cases, it’s not an all-or-nothing situation. Take, for instance, the three topics Enright discussed in her article. Most people don’t believe or disbelieve the data behind climate change, vaccinations and GMOs all together. In many cases, they may whole-heartedly believe in the science behind vaccinations, yet disregard the same peer-reviewed science backing GMOs.

As Enright said:

“Increasingly, consumers have been standing up for scientific evidence as being reliable on one issue, but questioning its validity on another, even when there’s an equally rigorous body of evidence. That’s because in the age of Google, social media, personal blogs and partisan media, it’s easy to find sources that reinforce a personal point of view. Sometimes it’s more convenient to believe your favorite blog with a similar perspective than time-tested scientific evidence to the contrary.”

So what’s the deal? Why do we continue to encounter the outright refusal to believe science-based information? Especially when, I would argue, this same predicament wouldn’t have happened a generation ago.

Enright believes it’s because, in the internet and social media age, it’s becoming easier and easier to find information that backs our own personal opinions, whether or not they’re right. In other words, we’re making up our minds on a topic, then finding the research, or non-research as the case may be, to support our own opinion. That, my friends, is decidedly unscientific.

Such is the case with vaccinations and GMOs. For both, the ‘research’ against is about as airtight as a fishing net. The difference, however, is a larger majority of Americans believe in the science of vaccinations than that of GMOs.

The reason? Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said, basically, it’s because Monsanto got too big for its britches.

In a recent article published in UK’s The Independent, Grant said the company’s ‘hubris’ played a role in consumers’ distrust for GMOs and the company had failed to appreciate public concerns over GM technology when it was introduced nearly 20 years ago.

“There never had been a lot of trust in companies, particularly not big companies and certainly not big American companies,” he said.

“[But] we were so far removed from that supermarket shelf, that was never something we gave a lot of thought to. We never thought about our place in the food chain.

“I think as an agricultural community in general — and Monsanto in particular — there is so much more to do to explain where food comes from and how it is produced and how much more we’re going to have to make.”

So how do we fix this? And maybe fix is the wrong word. After all, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. So maybe the better questions is, how do we bring science back? How do we underscore the importance of the scientific process, the data and the end results that show a particular finding is not only correct, but well-researched and safe?

I think Monsanto is on the right track by starting out listening to consumer concerns and answering questions.

You can’t un-ring the bell, but you can do everything in your power to make sure you’re prepared the next time the bell does ring. So ask the questions and listen to the answers. If you’re still certain that GMOs aren’t for you, that’s fine. But make sure you’re basing that opinion on peer-reviewed, sound science.

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Today’s post is brought to your by our good friend and Farm Mom, Katie Pratt, from Dixon, Ill.

By Katie Pratt, Farmer, Dixon, Ill.

By Katie Pratt, Farmer, Dixon, Ill.

In March, My Farmer and I joined four other farming couples in Hawaii to talk to government and media about biotechnology and why it is an important tool on our farms. 

Our ticket to the land of sun and sand was writing an essay that described the reasons we chose to use biotech, and how it benefits our farms, our families, our communities and our environments. Each farmer had a very different story to tell. You can read all the essays here.

The “contest” was sponsored by the Hawaii Crop Improvement Association, a non-profit trade organization representing the Hawaiian seed industry.  Its member companies include Monsanto, Dow AgroScience, Syngenta, Pioneer and BASF. 

So, why talk biotech in Hawaii? Because the majority of the genetics found in our seeds today originate on the islands. Here companies spend money, time and resources researching and developing new hybrids and biotechnologies for use on farms around the world.

The island environment is perfect for this type of work. Researchers can pull three trials off their plots annually. The warm, moist climate offers the challenge of constant insect, weed and disease pressures, allowing scientists to fully test their ideas against all Mother Nature has to offer.

Biotechnology is no stranger to the islands. In the 1990s, the papaya ringspot virus decimated Hawaiian papaya farms. Thankfully, Dr. Dennis Gonsalves, a plant pathologist working at Cornell, but with strong ties to the islands, developed a transgenic papaya resistant to the virus. In 1998 the variety was available to farmers and today the papaya industry thrives.

In spite of that success story and the overwhelming economic, social and environmental benefits of the islands’ seed industry, the anti-biotech movement in Hawaii is fierce, loud and extreme, organizing rallies and marches instead of sharing a table and a civil discussion with seed industry supporters. 

During our visit, activists burned two tractors on a Maui sugarcane farm and waved signs and accusations during our events in the state capital. In speaking with employees of the HCIA member companies we learned many receive threats against their families and properties, and one individual told us she had purchased a gun for protection at her home.

The arguments against the seed industry are steeped in the history of the Hawaiian Islands, but also in the anti-Monsanto, anti-GMO rhetoric that grips so much of the food conversation today.  And in Hawaii, the anti-movement is gaining ground. In 2008, activists successfully achieved a ban on research in coffee and taro, two other important Hawaiian agriculture products.  Last month, the state legislature brought a complex, confusing GMO-labeling bill to the floor.  Although it was not passed, the state is now entering a few years of impact research before making a decision.

Sometimes it is hard to connect our farms with forces beyond our front porch. Whether we farm in Illinois, North Dakota, Washington, Arizona or Georgia, we all are and will be affected by the Hawaiian farm conversation. 

I, for one, am pleased that the seeds found in our fields have been researched in these United States by successful companies that choose to operate in this country, pay taxes, and employ fellow Americans in an otherwise not so friendly, sometimes downright dangerous business climate. They could go elsewhere giving the jobs, the money and the innovations to another country. But they stay giving me one more chance to buy American-made.

Want to know more? Check out my three-part series about our Hawaii trip.

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