Produce & Plants

Global Adaption Index tracks nations' food capacity, import dependency, malnutrition, rural population, other indicators to forecast resilience in face of climate change

By Morgan Clendaniel

Fast Company 2011-09-19

Monsanto's corn, genetically modified to resist biotech giant's glyphosate-based Roundup, falling victim to rootworms in northwestern Illinois fields

By Jack Kaskey

Bloomberg 2011-09-02

Colorado River estuary, once home to lush forests, jaguars, now arid because upstream, it grows nation's lettuce in November, December, and its carrots in January, February

National Public Radio 2011-07-14

Regenerative ag could return 13 percent of today's CO2 to soil, researcher says; some ranchers, farmers employ composting, year-'round plantings, tillage reduction, plant diversity

By Kristin Ohlson

Discover magazine 2011-06-30

Fracking wastewater dousing killed ground vegetation within days and more than half the trees within two years, study shows, spurring calls to classify liquid as toxic waste

By Vicki Smith

The Associated Press; Forbes 2011-07-11

E. coli probe centers on 16 tons of Egyptian fenugreek seeds received by German importer in December 2009 and distributed to dozens of firms in at least 12 European countries

By William Neuman

The New York Times 2011-07-05

House moves to kill only national program that routinely screens our fruits, vegetables for deadly e. coli, but tracking pathogens in meat, dairy has $9 million budget

By Monica Eng

Chicago Tribune 2011-07-04

Reduce food production dry northern plains or face dire water levels, groundwater expert warns China; agriculture accounts for 60 percent of demand on water table

By Jonathan Watts

The Guardian (UK) 2011-06-28

Opinion: As supplies of fruits, vegetables remain steady due to work of pollinators, we pay homage to resilience of honeybees and perseverance of their keepers

By Randal R. Rucker and Walter N. Thurman

The Wall Street Journal. (may require subscription) 2011-06-22

As rapid growth in food production slows and global appetite for meat, dairy increases demand, researchers point to climate change and sound alarm over adequate food supply

By Justin Gillis

The New York Times 2011-06-05

Severe water shortage along Yangtze River dries lakes, brings farming to standstill, leaves some thirsty - and refocuses attention on mistakes around dam construction

By William Wan

The Washington Post 2011-06-04

USDA testing finds 34 unapproved pesticides on cilantro; researchers say growers may have confused guidelines for it and flat-leaf parsley, for which more pesticides are OK'd

By Monica Eng

Chicago Tribune 2011-05-31

Heavy rains, extreme temperatures, pollinator decline from pesticides imperils future of Ataulfo mangoes grown in Mexico, sold in U.S. as "champagne" variety

By Eric Niiler

Global Post 2011-05-26

Proposed rules in Central Valley would restrict fertilizer, other runoff based on likelihood of polluting groundwater; rules would affect 35,000 growers and 7 million irrigated acres

By Margot Roosevelt

Los Angeles Times; The Associated Press 2011-04-08

In what some see as ominous sign of warming, botanists on both continents find earlier and earlier blooming - from grapevines in Europe to wild spring onion leaves along Potomac

By Brigid Schulte

The Washington Post 2011-04-08

Opinion: With bats saving U.S. farmers $22.9 billion a year in pesticides, it's crucial to fund research into cause, prevention of disease fatal to them - it will save a fortune later

The editors

The New York Times 2011-04-04

Letter to USDA head intensifies fight between those who see biotech as only way to feed rising population and those who fear that it produces food that is nutritionally lacking, environmentally dangerous

By P.J. Huffstutter

Los Angeles Times 2011-04-02

To growing cadre of eaters who care how their food is produced, agriculture wars under way are operatic, pitting technology against tradition in a struggle underscored by politics, profits

By Lyndsey Layton

The Washington Post 2011-03-23

Monitored goat grazing, low-cost and environmentally friendly, becoming a more common practice in restoration and conservation efforts

By Nicole Santa Cruz

Los Angeles Times 2011-03-05

Rising CO2 causing plants to have fewer pores, releasing less water to atmosphere; transpiration helps drive absorption of water at roots, cools plants in manner similar to sweating

Indiana University; Science Daily 2011-03-04

As food, oil prices rise and ethanol plants return to use, debate intensifies on whether corn ethanol is good for planet, taxpayers, global food supply - even car engines

By P.J. Huffstutter

Los Angeles Times 2011-03-02

With new varieties, researchers, agricultural agents hope to snatch portion of West Coast's $1 billion broccoli business; shoppers on East Coast would get fresher, cheaper vegetable

By Steve Szkotak

The Associated Press; Bloomberg 2011-02-21

USDA reports attempted fraud from Chinese firm using fake certificate to represent non-organic crops as organic; reliance on cheaper imported organics has undermined U.S. farmers

By Bart King

Sustainable Life Media; Reuters 2011-02-22

After years of resistance, European Union policy-makers to vote on allowing traces of genetically modified material in animal feed imports; move would be victory for GM lobby

By Caroline Henshaw

The Wall Street Journal. (may require subscription) 2011-02-21

Opinion: Possibility of taint from genetically modified alfalfa is low; farmers often cut hay before it flowers, and even if a cow producing organic milk ate GM alfalfa, impact would be benign

By James E. McWilliams

The Atlantic 2011-02-16

Opinion: With Monsanto's Roundup Ready Alfalfa, new kind of pollution is forced on us; it now affects majority of food produced in U.S., without our consent. We've said "No," but is anybody listening?

By Barbara Damrosch

The Washington Post 2011-02-16

Opinion: Government's unwillingness to label genetically modified foods and products that contain them is demeaning, undemocratic; without labeling, we have no say

By Mark Bittman

The New York Times 2011-02-17

Opinion: Agribusiness giants Monsanto and Syngenta restrict independent research on their genetically engineered corn, soybeans, canola, cotton, legally limiting research options

By Doug Gurian-Sherman

Los Angeles Times 2011-02-13

Opinion: Lawsuits against biotech alfalfa, sugar beets seek to award organic farmers a civil right not to have their high-end, ad-created market segment disturbed by industrial progress

By Holman W. Jenkins Jr.

The Wall Street Journal. (may require subscription) 2011-02-02

Defying court ban, USDA to allow commercial planting of Roundup Ready biotech beets days after OK of Monsanto alfalfa; critics cite herbicide resistant weeds, tainting of other crops

By Carey Gillam and Chuck Abbott

Reuters 2011-02-04

After biotech, farm groups object, USDA changes course, OKs GMO alfalfa, pulling back from proposal that would have restricted its growth to protect conventional plants from cross-pollination

By Andrew Pollack

The New York Times 2011-01-27

Substantial technological advances, along with shifts in appetites in prosperous societies, will be needed to fit human appetites on a finite, thriving planet, experts say

By Andrew C. Revkin

The New York Times 2011-01-10

About $13 million in federal grants awarded to more than 2,400 farmers in 43 states to help pay for low-tech tunnels that add weeks, months to growing seasons

By Steve Karnowski

Los Angeles Times 2011-01-17

Farm groups, biotechnology industry skeptical of USDA head's "co-existence" proposal to allow Monsanto's biotech alfalfa near conventional plants; biotech sugar beet case in court

By Charles Abbott

Reuters 2011-01-10

Cold snaps in Florida idle farm workers, who wait for protective ice coatings to melt away from strawberries so they can pick crops - and be paid

By Kim Wilmath

St. Petersburg Times 2010-12-30

California appeals court upholds farmer's right to sue pesticide applicator in case of pesticide drift that contaminated organic dill; $1 million award stands as well

By Kurtis Alexander

Santa Cruz Sentinel 2010-12-22

Republicans who opposed food safety bill say it gives FDA authority but not accountability, that it will lead to higher food prices and that $1.4 billion cost isn't justified

By Christopher Doering

Reuters 2010-12-21

Corn ethanol pits livestock industry against oil industry: "We've now ... inextricably linked the price of corn, to the price of crude oil, and I think we can't turn the clock back, that's the way it is," says economist

By Kathleen Masterson

National Public Radio/ Morning Edition 2010-12-22

As India's climate turns drier, emerald fields of water-thirsty rice give way to fields of fruits, vegetables, grown organically and with drip irrigation - and stubby palms for oil

By Akash Kapur

The New York Times 2010-12-16

USDA mulls OK for biotech alfalfa that would allow crop to be grown with rules aimed at protecting non-GMO crops; alfalfa is pollinated by honeybees, which makes it tough to isolate

By Carey Gillam

Reuters 2010-12-16

Opinion: In tax bill, lawmakers serving agribusiness and ethanol illustrates public choice school of economics, where government, special interests collude against public good

The editors

The Wall Street Journal. (may require subscription) 2010-12-13

Lawmakers from some agricultural states say they will vote against food-safety bill because of amendment that exempts small, local farms from some regulations

By Elizabeth Weise

USA Today 2010-12-03

Legume-planting experiment alongside fields of subsidized corn in Malawi pays off for courageous farmers in more fertile soil, better nutrition for residents

By Dan Charles

National Public Radio/Morning Edition 2010-12-01

Corn-based ethanol support wasn't good policy, says former VP Gore; subsidies reached $7.7 billion last year and industry will use 41 percent of the U.S. corn crop this year

By Gerard Wynn

Reuters 2010-11-22

E. coli can live for weeks around roots of produce plants and transfer to edible portions, but threat can be minimized if growers don't harvest too soon, study shows

By Brian Wallheimer

Science Daily; Purdue University 2010-11-04

Monsanto paying farmers to increase number of herbicides they're using to help fight Roundup-resistant superweeds that developed in soy, corn, cotton fields

By Philip Brasher

The Des Moines Register 2010-10-19

Mars, Hershey battle for credit on DNA sequencing of cocoa tree that could quintuple output; 70 percent of crop grown in West Africa, and supports several million small farmers

By Andrew Pollack

The New York Times 2010-09-15

Certification, soil-building pushes costs of organic produce past those of industrially grown foods, but toxic chemicals aren't used, so they don't pollute air, water, soil

By Marshall Brain

The Seattle Times 2010-09-01

Analysis: Evolution of potash, phosphate, nitrogen to hunted, strategic commodities illustrates growing links between globalization, demographics, agriculture, food security

By Javier Blas and Leslie Hook

Financial Times (London) (may require registration) 2010-08-27

Opinion: Brazil's agriculture system, underpinned by research, capital-intensive large farms, openness to trade, new techniques is worthy of study in face of slow-motion food crisis

The Economist 2010-08-26

Opinion: Volatility in grain prices caused by drought, flood plus population growth and emerging grain diseases - if this is pattern, or glimpse of future, it's worrying

The editors

The New York Times 2010-08-27

Treating potatoes with ultrasound could improve their antioxidant activity by up to 60 percent, researchers say; plants create antioxidants in response to pests, disease, drought

By Mike Stones News Media 2010-08-24

Russia launches probe after Twitter campaign notes potential destruction of Pavlovsk, world's oldest seed bank; scientists starved rather than eat seeds during siege of Leningrad

By John Vidal

The Guardian (UK) 2010-08-16

Two types of transgenic canola found growing freely and have bred in North Dakota; scientists say discovery highlights lack of proper monitoring, control of GM crops

By Natasha Gilbert

Nature News 2010-08-06

Spread of superweeds, legacy of herbicide-resistant genetically modified seeds, shows need to regulate biotech, and to protect farming environment, House panel told

By Philip Brasher

The Des Moines Register 2010-07-28

Shortage of phosphate, necessary for plant growth, key component in DNA, looms but researcher sees abundance in compost, livestock and human manure, municipal waste

BusinessGreen/The Guardian (UK) 2010-07-14

Analysis: Agriculture's nitrogen addiction costly to kick, but researchers say that it, along with climate change, biodiversity loss threaten future habitability of Earth

By Fred Pearce

Yale Environment 360 2009-05-11

Agricultural research must broaden past production, integrate other disciplines, consider water, air pollution concerns, federal advisory group says

By David Mercer

The Associated Press; Deseret News 2010-06-29

Terroir-true Alsatian winemakers, scientists square off over whether genetically modified grape vines could protect against vigor-sucking fanleaf virus

By Edward Cody

The Washington Post 2010-06-12

Temperature-sensitive bacteria found on plants may be part of malleable ecosystem that seeds precipitation and could be affected by crop variety, overgrazing, logging or warming

By Jim Robbins

The New York Times 2010-05-25

Farmers' overuse of weedkiller Roundup has led to infestation of tenacious new superweeds that could temper enthusiasm for GM crops

By Willam Neuman and Andrew Pollack

The New York Times 2010-05-04

Government does more to promote global acceptance of biotech crops and companion glyphosate weedkiller than to protect public from possible harmful consequences, experts say

By Carey Gillam

Reuters 2010-04-13

Seafood harvesters, eaters pay price for fertilizer/agricultural pollution flowing out of Midwest into Gulf of Mexico's "dead zone"

By Krista Hozyash

Rodale Institute 2009-11-18

Judge denies request to ban planting of Monsanto's GM sugar beets, but says ruling isn't indicative of views on a permanent injunction

By Kelsey Volkmann

St. Louis Business Journal 2010-03-16

Fearing cross pollination, organic farmers file suit to halt planting, sugar production of genetically modified sugar beets

By Jeff Barnard

The Associated Press; The Washington Post 2010-03-01

21-part package in Science probes obstacles to achieving global food security, causes and effects of hunger, and promising solutions

Science Magazine 2010-02-12

Scientists create genetically modified tomato with shelf life of 45 days; next up, papayas, bananas

Discover magazine 2010-02-02

India to rule on allowing eggplant as first GM food; broad coalition, citing biodiversity, health, consolidation concerns, mobilizes against Monsanto

By Jason Burke

The Guardian (UK) 2010-02-08

Feds plan bold vertical garden with vegetated fins, eye rainwater, gray water as irrigation possibilities

By William Yardley

The New York Times 2010-01-30

Supreme Court's upcoming rule on ban of Monsanto's Roundup alfalfa could affect ruling on GM sugar beets - and half of U.S. sugar crop

By Jeffrey Tomich

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2010-01-16

Simple paper sensor could test for pesticides

By Henry Fountain

The New York Times 2009-12-28

Researchers predict velocity of climatic zone changes that plants, animals must match to survive warming

By Michael D. Lemonick

Time magazine 2009-12-24

Feds urge farmers to spread coal waste on fields though it contains mercury, arsenic, lead

By Rick Callahan

The Associated Press; Deseret News 2009-12-21

USDA eyes hoop houses as key to longer produce availability, nationwide

By Charles Abbott

Reuters 2009-12-16

Monsanto protecting dominance of genetically modified seeds, secret documents show

By Christopher Leonard

The Associated Press; Seattle PI 2009-12-14

Genetic engineering cuts cotton toxin, creating high-protein edible seed

By Raja Murthy

Asia Times 2009-12-08

At FDA, Team Tomato pits germ vs germ in battle against food pathogens

Building on 1917 discovery of bacteriophages - viruses that live within bacteria and can kill other bacteria - FDA scientists have found what they believe are powerful, naturally occurring 'good' bacteria that can slaughter 'bad' bacteria on fresh fruits, vegetables. In experiments, microorganisms kill salmonella, listeria, e.coli O15:H7 on tomato surfaces; only vibrio, found in warm seawater that can contaminate oysters and other seafood, has stood its ground.

By Lyndsey Layton

The Washington Post 2009-10-31

Opinion: Time for hard look at behavior of dominant seed businesses

Agriculture is at frontier of technological progress; its innovations will largely determine whether and at what cost world will feed its growing population. No company should dominate such an essential business. Good place to probe potentially anticompetitive behavior is Monsanto, which is trying to block DuPont from adding its own genetic traits to Monsanto's Roundup Ready technology to produce soybeans that would be resistant to multiple pesticides. Monsanto genes, which resist Roundup weedkiller, present in 97 percent of soybean crops, 79 percent of corn.

The editors

The New York Times 2009-10-22

Climate change already affecting farmers on U.S. coast

In harbinger of climate change, fewer 'winter chill' days already reducing yields of almonds in California, cranberries in New Jersey, Massachusetts. Higher CO2 levels, longer growing seasons will bring increased fruit yields in Great Lakes region, plus droughts, bugs, big storms everywhere. That means lower crop yields, more pesticide use or forced switch to hardier crops, more crop insurance claims. Farm equipment emits large quantities of CO2 by burning fossil fuels; this was main reason agricultural states opposed Waxman-Markey bill (a.k.a. American Clean Energy and Security Act).

By Jeneen Interlandi 2009-09-25

Former bank building houses new currency - heirloom seeds

Former bank building houses new currency - heirloom seeds

Baker Creek Heirloom seed company creates bricks-and-mortar seed bank, fills arched windows of former bank with produce. Store is evidence of effort to preserve, bring back fruit, vegetable and flower varieties pushed to extinction in era of commercial seed production. Others seedsaver groups: Kitazawa in Oakland (Asian herbs and vegetables), J.L. Hudson of La Honda, Redwood City Seed Co. (peppers), plus Seeds of Change in New Mexico, Seed Savers Exchange in Iowa (click 'See also').

By Carol Ness

San Francisco Chronicle 2009-09-06

See also 

Non-biotech labeling effort garners major players

Non-biotech labeling effort garners major players

Founder of Eden Foods leads campaign to test products and label those with no more than 0.9 percent of biotech ingredients (click 'See also'). Non-GMO Project includes Whole Foods Market, other major players. This year, 85 percent of corn, 85 percent of canola, 91 percent of soybean acreage have genetic modifications; majority of processed foods contain ingredients derived from these crops, including oils, corn syrup, corn starch, soy lecithin. Newest GMO crop is Monsanto sugar beets; with this year's crop, close to half of nation's sugar will come from GMO plants. Wheat is next.

By William Neuman

The New York Times 2009-08-28

See also 

Farming emerges as chief threat to ozone layer

Nitrous oxide (N2O, 'laughing gas') is biggest threat to ozone layer. Emissions come mostly from farming practices, including use of synthetic and organic fertilizers, production of nitrogen-fixing crops, cultivation of high organic content soils, adding livestock manure to fields, runoff leaching into groundwater (click 'See also'). Gas isn't regulated by Montreal Protocol, so there's no global effort to cut emissions. How non-farmers can help: Eat less meat, reduce driving, use fuel-efficient vehicle.

By Bryan Walsh

Time magazine 2009-08-28

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Monsanto plans price hike for GMO corn, soybean seed

Monsanto plans to increase cost of genetically modified corn, soybean seed as much as 42 percent, effectively splitting expected profits of increased yields. New biotech SmartStax corn seed expected to be planted on up to 4 million acres in 2010, with national potential for 65 million acres; Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybean seeds were planted on 1.5 million acres this year, with potential of 55 million acres, Monsanto said. And: After residents' opposition, Boulder county postpones decision on whether to allow farmers to grow Monsanto GMO beets on county open space; GMO corn has been permitted since 2003 (click 'See also').

By Jack Kaskey 2009-09-13

See also 

OId farming method cuts methane from rice paddies

Return to old rice farming method cut methane emissions from Chinese paddies by 70 percent since 1980. Rice growing causes 20 percent of global production of methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. Draining paddies between harvests cuts rot and methane, but somewhat increases nitrous oxide, another greenhouse gas. Also: In U.S., main man-made sources of methane are landfills and livestock (Click 'See also').

By Jane Qiu

Nature 2009-08-18

See also 

As planet warms, two approaches to feeding growing population

How do we feed burgeoning population in face of climate change? Classical economists failed to forecast transformation from industrial revolution. Cheap fossil fuels unleashed greatest increase in food, personal wealth, and people ever, enabling population to increase sevenfold since days of T.R. Malthus, who noted that population increases geometrically, while agricultural production increases more slowly. Reprise of Norman Borlaug's green revolution - with synthetic fertilizers, biotech seeds, pesticides, irrigation, monoculture, is backed by big foundations, but its flaws are reliance on fossil fuels, legacy of tainted soil, depleted aquifers. Agroecology means halting sole focus on maximizing grain yields at any cost and considering environmental, social impacts of food production. Research on small-scale diverse farming methods shows ability to sequester carbon, hold moisture--two key advantages for farmers facing climate change.

By Joel K. Bourne Jr.

National Geographic Magazine 2009-06-01

California resumes review of chemical for strawberry fields

California pesticide regulators resume review of methyl iodide for strawberry fields. Carcinogen OK'd for use in every state except California, Washington, New York. Federal law requires growers to set up buffer zones, prohibits workers from entering field for 48 hours after methyl iodide is applied, but critics worry about safety of those living or working near the plots. And: In Mississippi's delta, Roundup drift, from crop-dust pilots or ground-level applicators, can damage off-target crops, trees, gardens (click 'See also').

By Amy Littlefield

Los Angeles Times 2009-08-03

See also 

Ancient granaries change ideas about early food storage

Excavations in Jordan reveal evidence of world's oldest known granaries, upending assumptions that people only started to store significant amounts of food when plants were domesticated. Structures preceded emergence of fully domesticated plants and large-scale sedentary communities by at least 1,000 years. And: In 'An Edible History of Humanity,' Tom Standage shows how changes in food production, technology, consumption dragged humanity from its hunter-gatherer days (click 'See also').

By William G. Gilroy

University of Notre Dame 2009-06-23

See also 

Pollution hampers light rain formation, hindering crops, study shows

Air pollution in eastern China reduces light rainfall patterns critical to country's agriculture, may be contributing to drought, study shows. While China's population rose two and a half times in size in last half of 20th century, emissions of sulfur from fossil fuel burning rose nine times. And: Scientists in China want government to supply coal briquettes, improved stoves to millions of rural households to cut country's high air pollution levels. Traditional cooking/heating fuel is coal chunks (click 'See also').

Science Daily 2009-08-17

See also 

In organic-conventional nutrition studies review, concern over scientific standards

Review of studies on nutritional content of organic and conventional produce says there are few differences (click 'See also'), but big concern is standard of science. Of 162 field trials, farm surveys and basket surveys from 1958 to 2008, only 55 contained sufficient information for inclusion in analysis. Review didn't address public health or environmental benefits of organic production methods such as regulating chemical fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.

By Jess Halliday Decision News Media 2009-07-30

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High-profit stakes rise for agrichemical companies

Chemical industry, hit by lack of interest in consumer products, relies increasingly on the sale of high-tech seeds, fertilizer, weedkillers. High-stakes fights break out between leaders - Monsanto claims DuPont broke licensing agreement; Germany-based BASF and DuPont have asked court to invalidate the other's patents for lines of herbicides.

By Ernest Scheyder

The Associated Press; The Washington Post 2009-07-22

Feds send different signals on GM alfalfa, sugar beets

Judge bans Monsanto's genetically modified Roundup Ready alfalfa until scientific assessment can show that new crop doesn't harm environment, but Obama administration has said it intends to continue Bush-era policies on GM sugar beets despite similar suit against them. Monsanto charges ahead on GM wheat, buying WestBred, a wheat genetics company. And: Sugar from genetically modified beets - like all other GM foods - isn't labeled; during approval process, EPA OK'd increase of glyphosate residues allowed on sugar beets by 5,000 percent. (click 'See also').

By Barry Estabrook of the Plate 2009-07-24

See also 

Monsanto, Dow win ruling for biotech corn

EPA, Canadian Food Inspection Agency OK genetically modified SmartStax corn seed for sale. The seed, a result of partnership between agribusiness giant Monsanto and Dow Chemical, includes eight biotech genes that shield it from weedkiller applications and also kill insects in multiple ways (click 'See also'). Regulators also agreed to reduce 'refuge area' - a percentage of acreage required to be planted in conventional corn seed to guard against developing pesticide tolerance in bugs.

By Jeffrey Tomich

St. Louis Post-Dispatch 2009-07-21

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In quest for food safety, 'scorched earth' policy could affect farms nationwide

Panicked push for food safety leads to 'foolhardy' attempt to sanitize farm fields in California despite evidence suggesting industrial agriculture may be bigger culprit - and plan may go nationwide. To appease large produce buyers, farmers are poisoning ponds, ripping out vegetation harboring pollinators and filtering storm runoff. Fences and poison baits line wildlife corridors; dying rodents are leading to deaths of owls, hawks that naturally control rodents. Surprisingly little is known about how e.coli is transmitted from cow to table. And: Industry-generated food safety system no substitute for federal regulation, says food safety expert (click 'See also').

By Carolyn Lochhead

San Francisco Chronicle 2009-07-13

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Whole Foods will test private label foods for genetic modifications

Whole Foods says it plans to test its private label products for genetically engineered organisms and begin labeling before end of year. Nonprofit Non-GMO Project is designed to test whether a product has met defined standards for presence of genetically engineered or modified organisms. FDA says as much as 75 percent of processed food in U.S. may contain components from GM crops. And: GMO sugar beet farmer uses solar power to aid in lifting 210-pound kegs of Monsanto's weedkiller, Roundup (click 'See also').

Pacific Business News (bizjournals) 2009-07-07

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Son of Buffett on African front in war against hunger

Son of Buffett on African front in war against hunger

The Wall Street Journal.

Warren Buffett's middle son, Howard, fights global war against hunger after realizing that environment can't be saved if people aren't fed (click 'See also'). Among his foundation's Africa projects in progress: Obtaining for corn breeders royalty-free access to Monsanto's biotechnology for drought-tolerant seed, developing disease-resistant sweet potato, helping farmers sell crops to UN hunger-relief programs. Number of chronically hungry people expected to climb this year to 1.02 billion, up 11.5 percent from 2008.

By Scott Kilman and Roger Thurow

The Wall Street Journal. (may require subscription) 2009-06-28

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Food supply disruption may be key to salmonella vaccine

Disrupting salmonella's ability to use glucose for food while it sickens host could be key to creating vaccines for it, other bacteria, researchers learn. Salmonella food poisoning sickens about 20 million people annually, causing about 200,000 deaths. It also infects farm animals. And: Whole cantaloupes sold to some Wal-Mart stores recalled (click 'See also').

By Mike Stones Decision News Media 2009-05-20

See also 

Genetically modified crop yields suffer from hardy weeds

Rather than boosting yields, corn, soybeans genetically modified to resist insects and herbicide glyphosate have decreased production due to increased number of weedkiller-resistant weeds that compete for soil nutrients and moisture, study shows. Increased yields largely credited to better breeding, agricultural practices. And: Joining France, Luxembourg, Germany bans Monsanto's GM pest-resistant corn MON 810 (click 'See also').

By Tony C. Dreibus

Bloomberg 2009-04-14

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Vegetables absorb livestock antibiotics through tainted manure

Corn, potatoes, lettuce absorb antibiotics in soil fertilized with manure from livestock treated to increase growth, prevent infections. Nearly 70 percent of antibiotics and related drugs used in U.S. routinely fed to cattle, pigs and poultry - nearly 25 million pounds of antibiotics per year, advocacy group reports. Beyond encouraging development of resistant bacteria (click 'See also'), tainted manure can infiltrate water supplies as it percolates through soil into aquifers or runs off into waterways. Manure composting cut concentrations of some antibiotics up to 99 percent.

By Matthew Cimitile

Scientific American 2009-01-06

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In wheat fields, risk of 'pending disaster' in global agriculture

Devastating wheat epidemic, Ug99, begins to take hold, exposing fragility of food supply in poor countries. Eighty percent of Asian and African wheat varieties now susceptible, along with barley. Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, major wheat producers, most threatened. And: Monsanto, Syngenta say their genetically modified wheat resists fungus, want ban on GM wheat lifted (click 'See also').

By Sharon Schmickle

The Washington Post 2009-02-18

See also 

Mapping soil as hedge against hunger, climate change

New African soil mapping plan to assess mineral, organic nutrients and guide farmers in using fertilizer or crop rotation aims to reduce poverty, feed growing populations and cope with impact of climate change on agriculture. African soils are among most depleted on earth. New York launch scheduled for Feb. 17 (click 'See also').

By Alistair Thomson

Reuters 2009-01-13

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Human activity speeds changes in plants, animals

Hunting, commercial fishing and some conservation rules, like minimum size limits on fish, accelerating rates of evolutionary change in species, researchers find. Human predation is opposite to what occurs in nature, agriculture - with newly born or nearly dead the target of predators in wild, and farmers, breeders retaining most robust, fertile adults to breed.

By Cornelia Dean

The New York Times 2009-01-12

Profits top estimates for agri-biotech giant

Profit more than doubles for biotech giant Monsanto, world's biggest seed maker. Boost came from sales of seeds for genetically modified soybeans, corn, and accompanying Roundup weedkiller. U.S. farmers will plant about 90 million acres of corn this year; up to 35 million with Monsanto's triple-stack seeds, up 20 percent from last year, company head predicts.

By Jack Kaskey

Bloomberg 2009-01-07

Opinion: End to unregulated genetic seed alterations?

Austrian study (click 'See also') links genetically modified corn strain with diminishing fertility, size of mice. Upwards of 90 percent of U.S. soy, 60 percent of U.S. corn, come from gene-altered seeds, suffuse food system, yet government essentially doesn't regulate GMO food. Cause for hope is Obama's declaration for gene-altered organisms 'abetted by stringent tests for environmental and health effects and by stronger regulatory oversight guided by the best available scientific advice.'

By Tom Philpott

Grist 2008-12-12

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Rains latest challenge for Florida's citrus industry

Rains latest challenge for Florida's citrus industry

Florida DOACS

Asian citrus psyllid.

Steady, heavy rains increase woes of Florida's $9 billion citrus industry; juice prices go up at the supermarket. Soggy trees vulnerable to spread of citrus canker, which causes premature fruit drop. Another threat is invasive sap-sucking insect, already detected in all 32 citrus-producing counties in Florida, plus Louisiana and Texas.

By Hector Florin

Time magazine 2008-08-28

Hurdles will slow routine irradiation of leafy greens

Food firms see obstacles to irradiation of leafy greens, including scarcity of sites, costs and doubts that shoppers will embrace bacteria zapping method. Bagged salad maker calls it 'tease of a technology.' Only a few sites are set up for food, which means processors would pay three ways: shipping costs, shipping time and the procedure itself.

By Julie Schmit

USA Today 2008-08-27

Opinion: Organic farming needs genetic engineering, and vice versa

To secure future of food, combine genetic engineering with organic farming to grow more with less harm to environment and to farm workers, says plant pathology professor, organic farmer's wife. Pesticides more harmful than genetic engineering, she says. And: Food prices, shortages pressure those who resist genetically engineered crops (click 'See also').

By Pamela Ronald

The Boston Globe 2008-03-16

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Biotech-free revolution in the rice paddies and harvest of skeptics

In challenge to genetic engineering and old customs, Cornell scientist doubles rice harvests by planting early, giving seedlings more room to grow and calling halt to flooding fields. Critics complain that method increases drudgery of farming and yields are exaggerated, yet agree to field trials for determination.

By William J. Broad

The New York Times 2008-06-17

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Breeding out blight, fighting hunger with chestnuts

Breeding out blight, fighting hunger with chestnuts


The American chestnut tree once grew from Maine to Florida.

Hybrid disease-resistant chestnut touted as conservationist's dream: easily grown source of food, fuel and rot-resistant building material, says researcher. Chestnut flour predates wheat flour by a thousand years; it can be made into bread or pasta. Mario Batali, chef, says that pigs fed on chestnuts gives pork an intense, woodsy flavor. And: Breeding the blight out (click 'See also').

By Greta Cunningham

Minnesota Public Radio News 2008-06-07

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Budget cuts and pests in the paddies

Pests threaten rice in Philippines, China. With food surpluses of last decades, budgets for agricultural improvements were cut drastically as focus shifted to environment. Global network of 14 agriculture/food production research centers lost money for plant-breeding programs, pests and farmer education. For Norman Borlaug's view, click 'See also.'

By Keith Bradsher and Andrew Martin

The New York Times 2008-05-19

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Biotech in the snack food aisle

Packaged, processed food products likely to contain genetic modifications if they contain soybean oil or corn syrup, experts say. About three-fourths of the corn, and about 90 percent of the soybeans planted in U.S. are genetically modified. In poll, 87 percent of us want biotech ingredients labeled, as in Europe, Japan and Australia.

The Associated Press; CBS4 2008-05-11

Flurry of seed patents for hot, dry climate

In race to control 'climate-ready' genetically modified seed market, Monsanto, Syngenta and BASF file about 530 patent applications, says subsistence farmer advocacy group. Its report highlights biotech's moneymaking opportunities in time of food insecurity as well as image risks. Many poor countries in path of worst warming have rejected biotech crops.

By Rick Weiss

The Washington Post 2008-05-13

Tracking food to farm and buyer

Hawaii to test technology that eventually will trace product to farm of origin and identifies where foods were sent. Government says system will improve food safety and will create a database of all produce shipped and sold. State follows U.S. Department of Defense and Wal-Mart which in 2003 mandated radio tags for all crates and cartons. Critics say that tracking individual items actually tracks individuals and their eating habits.

By Jaymes Song

The Associated Press; Fox News 2008-04-15

Scenting reduction

Scenting reduction

Pollution is reducing distance that flowers' aroma can reach, research shows. Bees eat flower nectar, and if they have a hard time finding the flowers, they can't sustain their populations. Scent molecules readily bond with pollutants such as ozone, which destroys the aroma. In the 1800s, scents could travel up to 4,000 feet; today, up to 980 feet, scientist says. 2008-04-11

Deep cleaning

Irradiation, unlike water or chemical bath, kills bacteria within leaves of spinach and lettuce, researchers find. Critics say irradiation is stopgap measure that ignores bigger problem of how food is grown, processed and sold, and that process changes taste, nutritional value of food and produces toxic chemicals. Irradiated foods, except for spices, must be labeled as such, FDA says.

By Steven Reinberg

HealthDay News; The Washington Post 2008-04-10

Wheat endangered

Fatal wheat fungus, Ug99, spreads from Africa to Iran. Three-day wind in 2007 may have carried spores to India and Pakistan as well, where 20 percent of world's wheat is grown and one billion depend on grain for food. In response, Monsanto, Syngenta promote genetically modified wheat seed, said to resist to Ug99, and want ban on GM wheat lifted.

By F. William Engdahl

Asia Times 2008-04-04

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Opinion/Blog: When on Mars, eat this

While developing diet for life on Mars, researchers see benefits of same sustainable diet for Earth. Rice, azolla (highly nutritious mosquito fern, with drawback of stink) and loach (a fish) grown together would allow air- and water-cleaning, with azolla pulling nitrogen from the air, nurturing rice without need for fertilizer. Other foods are soybeans, sweet potatoes, silkworm pupa and a green-yellow vegetable.

By Loretta Hidalgo Whitesides

Wired 2008-03-07

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Gene marks the spot

Noting image problem with genetic modification, agribusiness biotech giants turbocharge conventional plant breeding instead. They use DNA to decipher resistance to pests or drought and to 'mark' desirable genes in fruits and vegetables, and know after 10 weeks from planting whether gene is present. Organic crop breeders embrace this benign biotechnology.

By Scott Kilman

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; The Wall Street Journal 2006-10-31

Biotech eventuality

Some Iowa corn has been contaminated with unapproved genetic modifications since 2006, Dow AgroSciences and EPA report. Though seed sold for 2008 crop has been recalled, harvested grain poses no risk, because the proteins produced by the unapproved Dow variety, called Event 32, are identical to the proteins in approved variety, called Event 22, federal officials say.

By Philip Brasher

The Des Moines Register 2008-02-22

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Changing terroir

Spanish winemakers, alarmed by warming climate, build a rainwater reservoir, try new varieties, fertilize, monitor by satellite, grow their vines taller and prune them differently, harvest earlier, sometimes even by night and plan a $370 million study. Meanwhile, the grapes are ripening faster, sugar and alcohol content are rising, and the aroma is losing its complexity.

By Jerome Socolovsky

National Public Radio 2008-02-12

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Broadcasting antibiotics

Potatoes, lettuce and corn absorbed antibiotics from pig manure used as fertilizer in experiment, a USDA-funded study first reported in 2006. Effects of consuming raw or cooked plants containing antibiotics are largely unknown, but concerns include antibiotic resistance and allergic reactions.

Science Daily 2007-07-13

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Reality check

As organic food sales increase 20 percent a year and some bring up the question of authenticity, scientists study sweet pepper plants to learn how to detect the characteristic markers of synthetic fertilizer. They find that older leaves and fruits are more sensitive to it.

By Laura Crowley

Food Navigator 2008-02-07

Measuring flavor

The Brix scale, long used to define quality of taste and flavor in wines, can be used in fruit and garden vegetables, a group argues. The number, they say, reflects the sucrose as well as the concentration of minerals and proteins, and these factors combine to make taste.

By Dennis Sentilles

Columbia Missourian 2007-12-05

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Future farming?

Future farming?

Even as popularity of organics skyrockets, Monsanto wins farmers over, worldwide, with its genetically modified seeds that kill bugs and withstand weed-killing poisons. Nearly all the soybeans and 70% of the corn planted in U.S. are genetically modified and get to our dinner plates via processed foods, animal feed, cornstarch, corn syrup, or cooking oil.

By Brian Hindo

Business Week 2007-12-06

Saving the future

As farmers increasingly specialize in one or two crops, aging European gardeners become accidental guardians of biodiversity and flavor. Preservation is crucial because old seeds can be bred into mainstream food crops as climate changes and population grows, but new generation is eschewing agrarian lifestyle, and seeds are being lost.

By Elisabeth Rosenthal

The New York Times 2007-11-27

Future food

Since the '80s, Cynthia Rosenzweig, NASA scientist, has been studying food supply and the warming planet. Though the subject is complicated, it's the human factor that makes her optimistic: People are learning how to consume less energy, send less heat-trapping gas into the air and, possibly, how to create a world where people everywhere can get enough to eat.

By Dan Charles

National Public Radio 2007-10-30

Too much

In 100-year-old crop lands used for research, Illinois scientists found that 50 years of massive nitrogen fertilization reduced corn yields and that level of organic carbon in the soil was greatly diminished, which leads to greater drought vulnerability. Conclusion? Lower doses of fertilizer often are better for crops, soil, water and air.

By Debra Levey Larson

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2007-10-29

Growing damage

Ozone from burning of fossil fuels stands to damage crops, possibly reducing food production by 10 percent this century, MIT study shows. The study looked at temperature, carbon dioxide, and ozone, all of which are rising, and found that the net effect is especially harmful to heavily fertilized plants.

By Nancy Stauffer

MIT Energy Initiative 2007-10-26

Hottest of the hot

Plant scientists have discovered the world's hottest chili pepper in India. With a Scoville heat score nearly double that of the previous record holder, the Bhut Jolokiam pepper could serve as an economical seasoning in packaged foods.

Michael Neff

American Society for Horticultural Science 2007-10-26

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Less hungry

In paradigm shift from corn/soy mix that requires water, anti-hunger groups find success in feeding malnourished and starving children with sweet-tasting paste made from peanuts, peanut oil, powdered milk and powdered sugar, and fortified with vitamins and minerals.

By Debra J. Saunders

San Francisco Chronicle 2007-10-25

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Biotech future

Despite strong community opposition, European Union OKs imports of genetically modified corn and sugar beet for human and animal food; varieties were developed by subsidiary of DuPont, a unit of Dow Chemical, Monsanto and a German plant breeding company, KWS SAAT and taps into the $6 billion biotech crop market.

Bloomberg News; Reuters; International Herald Tribune 2007-10-24

Defenses down

Erythrina gall wasp, an accidental import from Africa, devastates groves of wiliwili trees used as wind shields for crops in Hawaii; desperate officials consider importing a Tanzanian wasp they hope might prey on it, but after mongoose import eschewed pesky rats for native birds, others are wary.

By Tomas Alex Tizon

Los Angeles Times 2007-10-15

Corn conundrum

Praying to the god of corn has its price: nitrogen waste in the waterways, taxpayer money feeding the industry, low-nutrition meat from animals that eat it, but it provides a fertile field of medical research, and in Mexico, growing corn is the only way one farmer ensures his wife's tortillas have the authentic taste.

By Hugh Dellios

Chicago Tribune 2007-09-09

Chemical connection:

Monsanto and Dow agree to stack designer-modified bug-killing, herbicide-resisting genes in corn seed, with eye on maximum yields; with 93 million acres dedicated to crop in U.S., critics worry about unintended deaths of insects beneficial to ecosystem and soil.

By Ana Campoy

Wall Street Journal 0000-00-00

Too late?

Though banned for sale in March, Monsanto's GMO alfalfa seed was already widely planted in Michigan; public interest group sues, citing concerns for human and animal health as well as possible contamination of conventional alfalfa plants through pollination by bees.

By Jeff Kart

The Bay City Times 2007-08-24

Eating summer:

Seeking the perfect tomato means eschewing perfectly formed orbs in favor of a weedy tangle of vines in which antique, thin-skinned heirloom treasures are hidden; this obsession is an art in the Merrimack Valley, where growers proliferate.

By Kristi Ceccarossi and Darry Madden

The Hippo (NH) 2007-08-23

Modified sugar:

Genetically modified sugar beet seed designed to resist Monsanto herbicide is gaining popularity among growers and processors, including American Crystal Sugar Co.; Wyoming Sugar Co., and Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative; farmers must pay $60 premium per acre, and GMO sugar won't carry special label.

Associated Press; CNN 2007-08-22

Grain base

Amber waves of wheat, once vital to Vermont's economy (and even part of the state seal), may return to the state fields, as bakers and locavores seek nearby sources and crops specialist uses USDA grant to grow three heirloom varieties - Surprise, Champlain and Defiance.

By Mel Huff

The Times Argus (VT) 2007-08-13

Sticky situation:

Sticky situation:

Bane and benefit both, blackberries cover the Oregon landscape with a thorny thicket but are high in antioxidants, show promise in tumor reduction, are a high cash crop, a primary food source for honeybees and other pollinators - and they're tasty as well.

By Joe Mosley

The Register-Guard (OR) 2007-08-11

Seeking shelter:

Bumper crop of corn leaves farmers struggling for storage; existing facilities have more business than they can handle, and manufacturers of silos and storage equipment are stepping up production; some farmers may resort to old schoolhouses, airport hangars, caves, or even tarp-covered piles on the ground.

By Shelly Banjo

Wall Street Journal; (IL) 2007-08-18

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Tasting tomatoes:

In search of past glory, team of top-level scientists from Rutgers New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station aim for the return of the tasty tomato, one that is nirvana with salt on a piece of crusty bread, one that isn't necessarily a good keeper.

By Dianna Marder

Philadelphia Inquirer 2007-08-14

See also 

Future farms:

For Toronto, Tokyo and other urban sites, Columbia University professor conceives of vertical farming in tall buildings, with each floor hosting hydroponically grown crops, including grains, as well as small livestock such as pigs.

By Eviana Hartman

Washington Post

See also 

GMO in EU:

It won't be used directly as food, but in a key concession and after years of restrictions and over environmentalists' objections, EU is poised to allow growth of GMO potato to make paper coating, with remainder going for livestock feed; in U.S., 89% of soybeans and 61% of corn reportedly are modified.

By John W. Miller

Wall Street Journal

A meal for Tut:

Kamut, a heirloom wheat with a sweet, nutty flavor and high in nutritional qualities, once the darling of the Birkenstock crowd, has captured Italy carbohydrate-wise, and Saskatchewan, as well as Montana and Alberta, are profiting.

By Beppi Crosariol

The Globe and Mail (Canada)

Food/Farm bill:

It's a $70 billion annual bill, and before, only agribusiness cared, but a tsunami of activists now believes that its subsidies for corn and soy encourage diet-related disease and climate change; instead, they advocate money for sustainable and organic food production, agricultural conservation and for a priority on fresh, local fruits and vegetables.

By Carol Ness

San Francisco Chronicle

Prize winner

Purdue scientist wins World Food Prize, which includes $250,000, for developing six-story, epoxy-coated steel tanks and commercially sterile storage that helps fruits, vegetables maintain nutritional integrity during long transport.

Forbes magazine 2007-06-18