Fruit and Vegetable Prices Are Rising

Grocery shoppers may soon need more green in their wallets to afford their next salad.

The cost of fresh produce is poised to jump in the coming months as a three-year drought in California shows few signs of abating, according to an Arizona State University study set to be released Wednesday.BN-CJ559_calipr_G_20140415104036

The study found a head of lettuce could increase in price as much as 62 cents to $2.44; avocado prices could rise 35 cents to $1.60 each; and tomatoes could cost 45 cents more at $2.84 per pound. (The run-up in produce prices is in line with other projections showing that overall food cost gains are expected to accelerate this year.)

The latest projections were compiled by Timothy Richards, an agribusiness professor at ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business. He studied the drought’s effect on farmland and consumer purchasing trends to determine the eight fresh fruits and vegetables likely to see the largest price increases this spring and summer.

And the price increases may already be happening. Grocery prices rose by 0.5% for the second-straight month in March, according to the Labor Department’s consumer-price index, released Tuesday. It was the largest two-month gain in the food-at-home category since 2011. Fruit and vegetable prices rose 0.9% last month, after a 1.1% gain in February. Meat and dairy prices are also increasing. Meanwhile, overall consumer prices rose just 0.2% last month, as broader inflation in the economy remains tepid.

California is the largest domestic producer of each of the products Mr. Richards identified, ranging from grapes to peppers. And in the case of avocados, it’s the only state with a significant crop.

 

READ MORE: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2014/04/15/attention-shoppers-fruit-and-vegetable-prices-rising/?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLENexttoWhatsNewsFifth

RoundUp Tainting our Food: Monsanto Misleads on Glyphosate-Tainted GM Crops

Elizabeth Renter
Infowars.com
April 14, 2014

Photo by Viriditas, Wikimedia Commons

If you believed Monsanto, you would think conventionally-grown crops have higher levels of toxic glyphosate than GM varieties. Not surprisingly, you would be wrong. Despite Monsanto’s assurance that their GM crops are safe, a recent analysis in Food Chemistry revealed that not only do GM crops “take up and accumulate” dangerous pesticides during the growing season, but that Monsanto’s research to the contrary is completely misleading.

According to the researchers on that project, Thomas Bohn and Marek Cuhra, genetically modified foods contain “extreme levels” of pesticide residues, glyphosate and its principal breakdown product Aminomehtylphosponic acid (AMPA).

For the study, the researchers tested three different soybean samples for nutrients and various compounds including pesticides, glyphosate, and AMPA. Those three samples included: organic soybeans, GM soybeans, and conventional (non-GM) soybeans. None of the organic or conventional soybeans showed residues of glyphosate or AMPA. The GM soybeans, however, had residues averaging 9.0 mg/kg, an amount that surpasses many vitamins in the crop.

So how is this possible, considering Monsanto has always said pesticide contamination is worse in conventionally grown crops when compared with their Roundup-ready GM varieties? Not surprisingly, it seems the “truth” simply depends on who’s telling it.

In 1999, Monsanto said glyphosate levels in conventionally grown soybeans measured up to 16-17 mg/kg, which would be an alarmingly-high rate. But, these residues were present because of a pre-harvest pesticide spraying.

Read: Glyphosate-Ban Demanded in Brazil

Monsanto has also said that residue levels up to 5.6 mg/kg found in GM-soy are extreme and “far higher than those typically found”. In other words, they are outside the norm, according to the GM-giant. But seven of 10 of the tested GM samples in the latest study had glyphosate far higher than this “extreme level”.

It’s likely true that glyphosate contamination is actually increasing as time passes. This is because the number of glyphosate-tolerant weeds in GM-fields are increasing and so farmers are having to apply more pesticides than ever, in both higher concentrations and more frequent applications.

The toxicity of RoundUp has in part been underestimated because regulatory agencies are only testing the safety of claimed active ingredients. This despite the listed “inert” ingredients in RoundUp having disastrous consequences when combined and sprayed liberally on foods.

With the prevalence of GM foods and the use of RoundUp at alarming levels, we are only beginning to fully understand the effects. In 2012, a study indicated glyphosate’s presence in the urine of all tested men. Most recently, a study has even found that chronically sick people have even more glyphosate in their urine than healthy people.

The chemical is inside us and there is evidence it is leading to fertility problems, cancer, mental illness, and more.

This article first appeared at NaturalSociety.com.

Monsanto blamed for disappearance of monarch butterflies

RT.com
February 02, 2014 15:49

As scientists continue to track the shrinking population of the North American monarch butterfly, one researcher thinks she has found a big reason it’s in danger: Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.

On Wednesday, the World Wildlife Fund announced that last year’s migration – from Canada and the United States down to Mexico – was the lowest it’s been since scientists began tracking it in 1993. In November, the butterflies could be found on a mere 1.6 acres of forest near Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, a decline of more than 43 percent over the previous year.

Back in 1996, the insects could be found covering a span of 45 acres. Part of the decline can be attributed to illegal logging in Mexico that has decimated the butterfly’s natural habitat, as well as rising temperatures, which threaten to dry out monarch eggs and prevent them from hatching.

Now, though, biologist Karen Oberhauser of the University of Minnesota has also pinpointed the increased use of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides in the United States and Canada as a culprit.

According to Oberhauser, the use of Roundup has destroyed the monarch butterfly’s primary food source, a weed called milkweed that used to be commonly found across North America. As the agriculture industry boomed and farmers effectively eliminated the weed from the land in order to maximize crop growth, she was able to catalog a parallel decline in the butterfly’s population.

Speaking with Slate, Oberhauser said that when the milkweed population across the Midwest shrank by 80 percent, the monarch butterfly population decreased by the same amount. With some states such as Iowa losing more than 98 percent of their milkweed population – the weed doesn’t even grow on the edges of farmland anymore – the disappearance of the plant poses a huge risk to the insect’s survival.

“We have this smoking gun,” she told Slate. “This is the only thing that we’ve actually been able to correlate with decreasing monarch numbers.”

For its part, Monsanto noted that herbicides aren’t the only reason the monarch is dying. The company cited studies that showed the butterfly’s population in Michigan and New Jersey were not shrinking, though scientists have dismissed those studies since they focused on areas where milkweed was still prevalent.

Monsanto has come under fire before for the effects of its agriculture-oriented chemicals. As RT reported last year, studies linked Roundup’s main ingredient to diseases such as cancer, autism and Alzheimer’s. In spite of these findings, the Environmental Protection Agency ruled to raise the permissible level of the ingredient that can be found on crops.

Meanwhile, another report in October found a clear link between the pesticides sold by Monsanto in Argentina and a range of maladies, including higher risk of cancer and thyroid problems, as well as birth defects.

As for the plight of the monarch butterfly, the insect is still thriving in Hawaii and countries like Australia and New Zealand. In North America, Oberhauser believes the great migration can still rebound due to the monarch’s high fertility rates (a single female can lay up to 1,000 eggs throughout her life). For that to happen, however, scientists believe the US, Canada and Mexico will have to work together and draft a strategy that will help the insect safely make its way through the three countries.

“I think it’s past time for Canada and the United States to enact measures to protect the breeding range of the monarchs,” monarch expert Phil Schappert of Nova Scotia told the Washington Post, “or I fear the spiral of decline will continue.”

Total ban on GM food production mulled in Russia

RT
February 4, 2014

Russian MPs have prepared a bill severely restricting imports of genetically modified agricultural produce / Russian MPs have prepared a bill severely restricting imports of genetically modified agricultural produce / AFP Photo/Robyn Beck

Russian MPs have prepared a bill severely restricting imports of genetically modified agricultural produce / AFP Photo/Robyn Beck

A group of Russian MPs have prepared a bill severely restricting imports of genetically modified agricultural produce, and completely banning its domestic production.

The initiative is backed by Evgeny Fyodorov of the parliamentary majority United Russia and a group called Russian Sovereignty, which unites MPs from various parties and parliamentary factions.

The politicians want to amend the existing law On Safety and Quality of Alimentary Products with a norm set for the maximum allowed content of transgenic and genetically modified components. The powers to establish that norm go to the government and products with excessive content of GMO components should be banned for turnover and imports.

Currently there are no limitations on the turnover or production of GMO-containing foodstuffs in Russia. However, when the percentage of GMO exceeds 0.9 percent the producer must label such goods and warn consumers. Last autumn the government passed a resolution allowing the listing of genetically modified plants in the Unified State Register, but this resolution will come in force only in July this year.

The main sponsor of the bill, Fyodorov, said in comments to Izvestia daily that he wanted to make this norm zero for all foodstuffs produced in Russia. The draft bans the production of genetically modified organisms and transgenic products of plant, animal or microbial origin for their use in human and animal foods.

Fyodorov said that this measure was needed because international corporations could try to bypass the limitations on imports by launching GMO production inside Russia. He added that under the new bill businessmen still can register genetically modified organisms and conduct research, but not grow and sell them until a slightest doubt of their safety remains.

Professionals perceived the initiative differently. The head of Russia’s Organic Farming Union, Yakov Lyubovedsky, holds that the passing of the bill would show if the Duma can defend the country’s independence and the interests of population. He also added that GMO was an experiment on humanity itself and that the industry could do very well without genetically-enhanced plants and animals.

The president of the Grain Producers’ Union, Arkady Zlochevsky holds the opposite opinion. He told Izvestia that the suggested measure would be extremely harmful for Russian farmers as they would be deprived of modern technology and their foreign competitors would be still allowed to export their goods to Russia.

If legislators decide on a ban, it should be complete, including consumption, but this is currently not possible, Zlochevsky noted. In addition the limitations would create a threat of uncontrolled and dangerous spread of illegal genetically modified crops, Zlochevsky noted.

The pro-GMO businessman also pointed out that the discussion of the problem should not be limited to the agriculture and food industries. He said that 70 percent of genetically enhanced materials were used in pharmacology and medicine, 20 percent were used in industry and only 10 percent of GMOs were used in agriculture and food production.

The bill will be submitted to the lower house in two weeks’ time and its authors claim that its chances of passing are very high.

Hawaii Bans GMO Biotech – Citizens Cheer in Excitement

Christina Sarich
Prison Planet.com
January 20, 2014

Hawaii is a unique place – not only because of its cultural and agricultural diversity, but because the politicians sometimes actually listen to the demands of the people. Fortunately, the mayor of the Big Island Hawaii, Billy Kenoi, has now banned biotech GMO from his island, and thousands of Hawaiians are cheering his decision to sign Bill 113, even though the agriculture industry largely opposed it. He can stand proud no matter what part of the islands he travels too, as this unprecedented move to keep the ‘aina,’ or land pure has been upheld.

Furthermore, Kenoi wants to encourage community-based farming and ranching, with a nod to local commerce instead of international biotech monopolies. The only problem with the bill is that is exempts the island’s GMO papaya industry, but it is a huge step in the right direction to ban GMO crops.

In a letter to city council members Kenoi states:

“Our community has a deep connection and respect for our land, and we all understand we must protect our island and preserve our precious natural resources . . .We are determined to do what is right for the land because this place is unlike any other in the world.”

On an island, it is hard to run away from the fruits of your labor, or your political decisions – you might run into a farmer that feeds your family at the grocery store, or the mother who visited your last public forum meeting on the beach.

This bill was signed just weeks after Kauai passed its own law relating to GMO and disclosure of pesticide use by biotech companies.

In places where the land is so beautiful, it is easier to understand what is at stake when GMO interferes with Mother Nature. If you live in paradise compared to a concrete jungle, you become less disassociated from nature, and the food, shelter, and textiles around. Hawaiians are especially proud of the of land for this reason, but their message can be carried throughout the world.

Hopefully this act against Monsanto, Syngenta, and other biotech giants in Hawaii will spark similar GMO banning bills in other states – such as Maine and Connecticut recently passing GMO labeling bills.

This post oringally appeared at Natural Society

‘Agent Orange Corn’: Biotech Companies Are Waging a Chemical Arms Race on Our Food Supply

John Robbins
Food Revolution Network
January 19, 2014

biohazcornThe Obama administration announced last week that it expects to approve corn and soybeans that have been genetically engineered by Dow Chemical company to tolerate the toxic herbicide — 2,4-D. They are planning this approval despite the fact that use of this herbicide is  associated with increased rates of deadly immune system cancers, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, birth defects, and many other serious kinds of illness and reproductive problems.

Weed ecologists are unanimous in warning that approval of these crops will lead to vast increases in the use of this poisonous chemical.  Researchers at Penn State say that in soybeans alone, planting of crops resistant to 2,4-D would increase the amount of 2,4-D sprayed on American fields to 100 million pounds per year — four times the current level. The researchers predict a cascade of negative environmental impacts, and add that the increasing use of the herbicide would actually worsen the epidemic of superweeds it is intended to address, by causing weeds to become resistant to multiple herbicides.

A coalition of 144 farming, fishery, environmental and public health groups  have asked the USDA not to approve the 2,4-D resistant crops. Citing studies that predict dire consequences to both human and environmental health, they add the concern among farmers that 2,4-D would drift onto their property and kill their crops, causing serious economic damage in rural communities.

Read more

Monsanto readies first-ever GMO wheat

rt.com
January 15, 2014

Biotech titan 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.

Genetically-modified wheat isn’t legally approved anywhere in the world, but the billion-dollar St. Louis, Missouri-based 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 endeavors 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-made wheat, like other GMO crops created by the company, would be resistant to their weed killer Roundup and thus join the likes of other “Roundup Ready” products already sold by the company, including bioengineered soybean 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 soybean 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 soybeans. And 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 wasn’t quite ready to be launched.

As RT reported last week, Monsanto also recently announced that sales of its Roundup Ready soybean 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 centerpiece 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.