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Federal Judge Overturns Kaua‘i GMO, Pesticide Regulatory Law – August 26, 2014

Ordinance 960 preempted by state law, says ruling; appeal likely

A federal judge yesterday overturned Kauai’s new law regulating the transgenic seeds industry on the Hawaiian island, ruling that it was preempted by state law and was therefore invalid. The ruling is a setback for activists and citizens fighting to protect local residents and the environment from exposure to the heavy doses of toxic pesticides that the biotech companies use on their fields year round.

A GM corn field in KauaiPhoto by Ian UmedaA GE corn field in Kaua‘i. Community activists and Kaua‘i residents impacted by pesticide exposure from genetically engineered crop fields promise to keep the fight going.

“Obviously I would have preferred… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Ocean Acidification Is an Imminent Threat for Alaska Fishing Communities – July 29, 2014

Communities in southeast and southwest Alaska face the highest risk, says NOOA-led report

Keeping Alaska’s fisheries wild and sustainable is going to be a serious challenge in the years ahead as our oceans become more acidic, and that in turn, is going put many Alaskans’ subsistence way of life at risk, says a new report.

Many of the nutritionally and economically valuable marine fisheries in the state are located in waters that are already experiencing ocean acidification, says the report, “Ocean Acidification Risk Assessment for Alaska’s Fishery Sector” that was published online today in the journal Progress in Oceanography.

Bering Sea Crab FishermenPhoto by Meg J/FlickThe Bering Sea crab fisheries are among the most at risk from… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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31-Day Undersea Mission has Been a Boon for Marine Scientists – July 1, 2014

A young researcher talks about Fabien Cousteau’s underwater living experiment

Three years ago, I dove 63 feet undersea at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to visit Aquarius — the world’s only remaining underwater research lab — and gawked through the portholes at the researchers (they are called “aquanauts,” by the way) living inside the 81 ton, 43 by 20 by 16.5 foot, yellow, not-quite submarine (it’s stationary). I’ve been fascinated with that lab ever since and have been keeping track of its fate, from its near death by federal budget cuts in 2012, to its miraculous rescue in 2013 by Florida International University (FIU).

Aquarius Reef BasePhoto by Kip Evans/Mission31Aquarius residents can spend… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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Feeding Hawai‘i – June 18, 2014

Could small, biodiverse farms help the Aloha State transition to growing enough food to feed itself?

For Chris Kobayashi and her husband, Dimi Rivera, it all started with Japanese cucumbers. “In 1997 we said, ‘OK, let’s grow Japanese cucumbers, but let’s grow it organically,’” Kobayashi tells me as we walk around her farm in Hanalei Bay on Kaua‘i’s North Shore. “You know, because they are crispy, crunchy, and yummy and you can eat the skin and everything,”

Chris Kobayashi and Dimi Rivera pulling up taroPhoto by Ian UmedaChris Kobayashi, her husband, Dimi Rivera (extreme left) and a friend harvest taro on their 10-acre farm on Kaua‘i. Kobayashi says transitioning to small-scale, agroeological farms will be a lot of hard work,… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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That ‘Natural’ Vanilla in Your Ice Cream May Soon Be Coming from a Biotech Lab – June 12, 2014

Synthetic biology firms’ foray into food and fragrances faces resistance from greens and consumer groups

The first time I ever tasted real vanilla was in a scoop of French vanilla ice cream back in 2000 when I was visiting the United States. The ice cream’s smooth, rich flavor was far superior to the artificial, overly-sweet, “vanilla essence” usually used in ice creams and baked desserts in my home country. I’ve been an ardent fan of real vanilla bean products (extract, paste, and the bean itself) ever since. So last month, when a colleague mentioned that a lab-created, synthetic vanilla product might be hitting the US markets as early as this summer and that it would most likely be passed off as “natural,” I simply had to… more

by: Maureen Nandini Mitra

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