Archive for October, 2013


USDA Announces Request for Public Input on Agricultural Coexistence Acts on Recommendations Made by Advisory Committee on Biotechnology in 21st Century

20 September, 2013. Source: US Department of Agriculture ly=true.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the Department of Agriculture (USDA) will soon publish a notice in the Federal Register asking the public to comment on how agricultural coexistence in the United States can be strengthened.

“The Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture recommended that USDA support agricultural coexistence by strengthening education and outreach on this vital issue,” said Secretary Vilsack. “In response, with this notice, we are asking all those with a vested interest in coexistence to help us learn more about what coexistence means to them, how they are already contributing to it, and what more is needed to achieve coexistence. With this input, we can continue the dialogue begun by the AC21 group and find practical solutions that will help all sectors of American agriculture be successful.”

The AC21 made recommendations in five major areas regarding agricultural coexistence. In the area of education and outreach, the committee recommended that USDA foster communication and collaboration to strengthen coexistence. USDA’s notice seeks public comment to identify ways to foster communication and collaboration among those involved in all sectors of agriculture production. The comment period begins upon publication of the notice in the Federal Register and will be 60 days.

Coexistence is defined as the concurrent cultivation of crops produced through diverse agricultural systems including traditionally produced, organic, identity preserved, and genetically engineered crops. USDA supports all forms of agriculture and wants each sector to be as successful as possible providing products to markets in the United States and abroad.


For GM food and vaccinations, the panic virus is a deadly disease

23 September 2013. Source: The Conversation. By Dr David Tribe and Prof Rick Roush

Most readers are aware of the benefits of using vaccines to boost the immune system and prevent infectious disease. Many readers will not be aware of a very different disease prevention tool: supplementing vitamins in crops through genetic modification (GM).

Anti-science opposition to both is rife; to save lives, that opposition has to stop.

The disease-prevention benefits of supplemental vitamin A were accidentally discovered in 1986 by public health scientists. They were working to improve nutrition in the villages of Aceh, Indonesia, where families are heavily dependent on rice as their main source of nutrition.

These scientists discovered that simple supplementation of infant diets with capsules containing beta-carotene (a natural source of vitamin A) reduced childhood death rates by 24%.

White rice is a very poor source of vitamin A, so the people of Aceh (like millions of poorer people in large regions of the world) suffered from vitamin A deficiency. This impaired proper development of their biological defences against infection.

We now better understand vitamin A deficiency as a disease of poverty and poor diet, responsible for near two million preventable deaths annually. It is mostly children under the age of five and women who are affected.

Many other studies carried out in several Asian, African and Latin American countries reveal the health benefits of beta-carotene supplementation in the diets of people subsisting on vitamin A-deficient staple foods.

Small wonder then that scientists internationally were outraged at the recent wanton sabotage of field trials to evaluate new varieties of rice called Golden Rice. This rice is genetically modified to contain nutritionally beneficial levels of beta-carotene.

Trenchant opposition to vaccines, and opposition to genetically modified crops, are examples of the disturbing and strong anti-scientific sentiment in many modern countries. They share some common features.

To read more





Heat gone out of GM food debate

27 September 2013. Source: ABC Rural


Has the heat gone out of the genetically modified food debate?

That’s the sentiment of a science author who says people are now willing to eat GM food.

“I think the debate has been around enough that the extremes have gone out of it,” the CSIRO’s Dr Craig Cormick said.

“The hysteria has probably diminished a lot and people are no longer willing to make a gut reaction and say ‘it’s dangerous, it’s wrong, it’s against nature’.

“It’s been around for over a decade and people always go through the hot reaction at first, and then it calms down a bit and people start (thinking) ‘let’s have a discussion around this’.”

GM crops are plants that have genes removed or added to change their attributes.

In Hawaii, scientists created a GM papaya crop to overcome a deadly virus.

Cotton and canola are among the most common genetically modified Australian crops.

Dr Cormick says people are willing to eat GM foods if they understand why the crop has been modified.

He says changes in climate impact on people’s willingness to eat GM food.

“The agricultural community is talking about it seriously,” Dr Cormick said.

“We look back a couple of years during the big drought, we did find clearly in public attitudes that people were much more receptive to the idea of GM drought-resistant wheat or GM drought-resistant crops.