the Gulf of Mexico.
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Just click headline, scroll to bottom of page and listen to the CBC Radio Podcast with Laurence Packer!
There are over 19-thousand species of bees found all over the world, including two species that have been found near the edge of glaciers in the Arctic. It is estimated that bee pollination is key for about one-third of the world's food supply, either directly or indirectly. Bees play a vital role in the ecology of the planet, yet these unsung heroes of the natural world may be at risk.
Pesticides, fragmentation of habitat and climate change all pose threats to bees. And according to Laurence Packer, if they are in trouble, then so are we. Dr. Packer is a melittologist and a Professor of Biology at York University in Toronto.
In his new book, Keeping The Bees -Why All Bees Are At Risk and What We Can Do to Save Them, he writes about common misconceptions, some of the more exotic species he has encountered, and suggests simple ways ordinary people can help bees.
Friday, June 25, 2010
GM Alfalfa Ruling by US Supreme Court Has Sweeping Implications For Canadian Farmers and All Citizens
SASKATOON, Sask.—The US Supreme Court ruled this week that genetically-modified (GM) alfalfa cannot be planted or sold in that country. This ruling has very significant implications for Canadian farmers and all other citizens. Canada’s National Farmers Union (NFU) participated in an “amicus brief” to the US Supreme Court as part of this case.
The case, Monsanto v. Geerston Farms, marks the first time a GM crop case has been brought before the US Supreme Court. Ruling on a lower court decision, the Supreme Court upheld a ban on the sale and planting of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready alfalfa. The ban will remain in place until the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) prepares a proper Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and until the USDA succeeds in officially “deregulating” the crop—a move that will be scrutinized and opposed (possibly in court) by many groups. Work on an EIS and possible deregulation will take at least a year, possibly much longer, giving farmers and others opposed to GM alfalfa time to gain a permanent ban. The US ruling also makes Canadian GM alfalfa commercialization less likely.
The proposed introduction of GM alfalfa in North America threatens Canadian agriculture and food in several ways. First, organic farmers will face risks and lost income. Experience with canola and flax in Canada and rice and other crops in the US shows that GM alfalfa, if approved, will contaminate our fields and seed stocks. Alfalfa plays a key role in organic farming systems and crop rotations. The introduction of GM alfalfa will make it difficult for some farmers to continue in organic crop production. It will make it more difficult to raise organic livestock. The threat (or reality) of contamination may close overseas markets for a wide range of organic (and conventional) crops. And the risk of rejected shipments will create unbearable financial risks for organic and conventional farmers alike. Several groups in Canada share the NFU’s concerns, including key players in the alfalfa seed industry.
Second, many Canadians choose alfalfa sprouts as a nutritious food. Most of those citizens want non-GM sprouts. The introduction of GM alfalfa will mean that all alfalfa-based foods will have some level of GM contamination.
Third, alfalfa is a main feed source for Canadian livestock—beef and dairy cattle, especially. NFU President Terry Boehm commented: “The alfalfa that goes into our beef and dairy cattle is turned into the beef and milk we serve our families. And if that alfalfa is genetically-modified, that makes a difference to Canadians.” The NFU was part of a broad coalition that won a multi-year campaign to prevent the use of genetically-modified milk-production hormones in Canadian dairy herds.
Fourth, alfalfa is one of the most widely grown crops in Canada, covering more than ten million acres. It is also a primary food source for the bees that make our honey, and that pollinate other food crops. “Introducing GM alfalfa will have a huge impact on the landscape, and on our ecosystems. No one has evaluated the effects of GM alfalfa on the environment. Canadians will not accept widespread environmental risk just so Monsanto can make large private profits,” concluded Boehm.
— 30 —
For more information, please contact:
Terry Boehm, NFU President: (306) 255-2880
Darrin Qualman, NFU Researcher: (306) 652-9465
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
Andrew Kimbrell - Executive Director of the Center for Food Safety - June 21, 2010
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Science 18 June 2010:
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg1,* and John F. Bruno1,2 University of Queensland
Coral reef with Anthias fish colony.
(Credit: iStockphoto/Pawel Borowka)
Marine ecosystems are centrally important to the biology of the planet, yet a comprehensive understanding of how anthropogenic climate change is affecting them has been poorly developed.The impacts of anthropogenic climate change so far include decreased ocean productivity, altered food web dynamics, reduced abundance of habitat-forming species, shifting species distributions, and a greater incidence of disease. Although there is considerable uncertainty about the spatial and temporal details, climate change is clearly and fundamentally altering ocean ecosystems. Further change will continue to create enormous challenges and costs for societies worldwide, particularly those in developing countries.