What we're reading this week

Jan 11, 2016 8:39:00 AM

Unnatural Balance: How Food Waste Impacts World’s Wildlife

Environment 360


New research indicates that the food discarded in landfills and at sea is having a profound effect on wildlife populations and fisheries. But removing that food waste creates its own ecologicalchallenges.




U.S. Farms Becoming Less Diverse Over Time

Civil Eats


A new study published last month in the journal PLOS ONE, shows that U.S. crop diversity is significantly lower today than it was 30 years ago. So while it’s been a commonly held belief that U.S. farms are moving toward monoculture, and away from crop diversity, now there’s solid evidence to support that claim.  Read more >>



Around the country, organic farmers are pushing for ‘GE-free’ zones

The Washington Post


Genetic engineering — especially as it relates to the food system — remains a hot-button issue in the U.S., with a primary concern among members of the public being the safety of GE products in terms of their impacts on public health and the environment. A growing movement has devoted itself to passing GE-labeling laws, for instance, which would identify products containing genetically modified organisms. When it comes to GE-free farming zones, the concern is largely an economic one. The goal of creating the zones, according to proponents, is to protect non-GE crops from contamination with modified product — a risk they argue has become a threat to the livelihood of traditional and organic farmers.  Read more >>



This Ancient Grain May Have Helped Humans Become Farmers

The Smithsonian


New research suggests that millet was one of the most important crops of the ancient world, providing a bridge between nomadic, hunter-gather societies and more complex agricultural ones. Researchers based in the U.S., U.K. and China pieced together the history of this cereal by dating the charred remains of the grain found at archeological sites in China and Inner Mongolia. 




EPA says pesticide harms bees in some cases

Associated Press


A major pesticide harms honeybees when used on cotton and citrus but not on other big crops like corn, berries and tobacco, the Environmental Protection Agency found.It's the first scientific risk assessment of the much-debated class of pesticides called neonicotinoids and how they affect bees on a chronic long-term basis. The EPA found in some cases the chemical didn't harm bees or their hives but in other cases it posed a significant risk. It mostly depended on the crop, a nuanced answer that neither clears the way for an outright ban nor is a blanket go-ahead for continued use. Both the pesticide maker and anti-pesticide advocates were unhappy with report. Read more >>



Big Food Makers Launch an Image Makeover for 2016

National Geographic


As 2016 approached, two heavyweight agricultural organizations—the National Chicken Council, representing the poultry industry, and the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance, an umbrella of 80 producer organizations—quietly launched a transparency initiative intended to reframe consumers’ understanding of where their food comes from.  Read more >>



Campbell Soup Switches Sides In The GMO Labeling Fight



In a letter to the company's employees, posted on Campbell's website, Campbell's CEO Denise Morrison wrote that the company was responding to the desires of consumers, but it also wanted to avoid multiple and conflicting demands for GMO labeling by individual states. "Printing a clear and simple statement on the label is the best solution for consumers and for Campbell," Morrison wrote. Read more >>