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That ‘Natural’ Vanilla in Your Ice Cream May Soon Be Coming from a Biotech Lab

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”…
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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra – June 12, 2014

Dining on Weeds

Dandelion Hunter
Foraging the Urban Wilderness
By Rebecca Lerner
Lyons Press, 2013, 215 pages

In the spring of 2009, on assignment from an online magazine, Rebecca Lerner tried to live off of wild-growing food foraged from the yards, overgrown sidewalks, and parks around the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area for an entire week. No gleaning, no dumpster diving, no salt. But after four days of subsisting largely on stinging nettle, burdock root, some ant eggs, and a failed attempt to chomp down on slugs, Lerner became so…
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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra – Summer 2014

Vermont Gov. Signs US’ First No-Strings-Attached GE Food Labeling Bill into Law

Law goes into effect in 2016. State girding up for legal challenge

It’s a big day for food safety activists in the United States. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin just signed the country's first no-strings-attached GE food labeling bill into law. Photo courtesy Center for Food Safety What this means is that the law will…
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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra – May 8, 2014

Even Bullets Haven’t Stopped Ramesh Agrawal From Fighting Big Coal

Goldman Environmental Prize winner’s crusade against coal mining highlights the risks environmentalists face in India

Ramesh Agrawal knew right from the start that he was putting his life on the line. When you take a stand against India’s politically powerful coal industry, that’s almost a given. “I knew from their past history what they are doing to…
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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra – April 29, 2014

Showtime Series Uses Star Power to Drive Home the Truth About Our Warming World

Can a 60 Minutes-meets-Ocean’s Eleven show on climate change lure viewers away from Don Draper?

A Sunday night primetime television show, a documentary series at that, on climate change — that’s kind of ambitious, wouldn’t you say? Harrison Ford stirred up quite a flutter during his reporting trip to Indonesia when he bore down upon the country's…
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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra – April 11, 2014

Kentucky Lawmakers Using Animal Welfare Bill to Sneak in Ag Gag Provision

Senate ag committee introduces amendment that would penalize whistleblowers and undercover investigators at factory farms

Industrial Ag interests are at it again, trying to block public scrutiny of their operations in Kentucky this time. I just learned that the Kentucky state senate is using a popular animal welfare bill as a cover to quietly slip through an…
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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra – March 26, 2014

Trouble in Paradise

Hawaiians Push Back Against Big Ag

There is a whiff of bubblegum scent in the air as I drive toward Waimea Town and past the sprawling, fields of red earth operated by the agri-biotech companies flanking Kauai’s Highway 50. Just before reaching the bridge over Waimea River, which separates the fields from the town, I hang a left and pull into a gravel parking lot. There are only two other vehicles there. Wendell Kabutan and Klayton Kubo are…
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by: Maureen Nandini Mitra – Spring 2014

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