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When it Comes to GMOs, the Devil is in the Details – July 21, 2016

Unresolved safety questions about gene-editing technologies underscore need for caution

While expressing support for the watered-down GMO labeling bill, which was passed by Congress last week and is now awaiting President Obama’s signature, White House spokeswoman Katie Hill told Bloomberg News: "While there is broad consensus that foods from genetically engineered crops are safe, (emphasis added) we appreciate the bipartisan effort to address consumers' interest in knowing more about their food…."

Making these kinds of broad statements about all genetically modified foods being “safe” seem to be a common quirk among even among science journalists who write about  GMOs. There is a tendency to describe genetically engineered crops as though they are just one thing. True, GMOs have many traits in… more

by: Paul Koberstein

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EPA Mulls Ban on Nation’s Most Heavily Used Insecticide – January 21, 2016

Numerous studies have shown that Chlorpyrifos causes serious harm to children and farmworkers

Scott Krogstad grows soybeans and sugar beets in the heart of the Red River Valley near Grand Forks, North Dakota. Like most sugar beet farmers in the Midwest, he wages a difficult war with the unpredictable infestations of the sugar beet root maggot. The maggot, the larva of a small two-winged fly, can completely sever the roots from a beet with its hooked mouth.

Photo of Farm Workers in CaliforniaPhoto by Dan Long Farm workers cut and pack celery in Salinas Valley, California. Many farmers view the insecticide chlorpyrifos as indespensable in their battles with bugs.

Meanwhile, a thousand miles away in fruit orchards… more

by: Paul Koberstein

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A Very Different Kind of GMO is Headed to Supermarket Shelves – August 17, 2015

Little is known about the environmental and public health impacts of crops using a new technology called RNAi

Soon, maybe within a year, Americans could be eating two new varieties of apple that won’t turn brown after slicing. To make these new transgenic apples, Okanagan Specialty Fruits, Inc., a Canadian company, turned to an advanced biotechnology called RNA interference (RNAi). Okanagan insists its modified Granny Smith and Golden Delicious varieties— called Arctic Golden and Arctic Granny — are safe to eat. “By the time Arctic apples reach your market, they will be one of the most researched and tested foods on the planet,” the company says on its website. Despite this assurance, a number of disturbing questions remain about how RNAi technology might affect human health.

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by: Paul Koberstein

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Bill Clinton’s Visionary Northwest Forest Plan Is On the Chopping Block – February 11, 2015

Feds proposal to revise forest management plan that safeguards old growth forests in the Pacific Northwest could lead to increased logging

Twenty years ago, the Clinton administration adopted the Northwest Forest Plan to safeguard what little remained of the region’s heavily logged old-growth forests, as well as protect its imperiled wildlife. The plan limited the timber industry’s access to federal timber in Oregon, Washington, and Northern California. But now, the Obama administration appears willing to concede to the demands of the logging industry and members of Congress who are clamoring for timber they say they were promised but never delivered.

SCoastal Temperate Rainforest in Drift Creek, OregonPhoto by Sam BeebeThe Northwest’s ancient forests need protection now more than ever. Since the plan went into… more

by: Paul Koberstein

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Pesticide Exposure Linked to Depression Among Ag Workers, Says Report – November 19, 2014

It is not clear if farmer suicides are linked to pesticide use, says coauthor of study that’s being cited in news reports connecting the two

Is routine exposure to pesticides responsible for the global outbreak of suicides on farms? One might think so after reading a recent report that was published in several popular science and environment magazines and websites that suggested researchers have linked pesticide exposure with farmer suicides.

The pesticide-suicide meme gained currency on in early October with the publication of the article, “Pesticide use by farmers linked to high rates of depression, suicide,” in the online magazine Environmental Health News. The article noted that “recent research has linked long-term use of pesticides to higher rates of depression and suicide.” Versions of the article were published by the Scientific American and more

by: Paul Koberstein

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