Posts Tagged: GMO
The story describes a lone councilman's effort to get science-based information in face of vocal opposition to GMOs among advocacy groups. The lack of input from farmers and scientists on policy issues that affect food and farming has rankled many agircultural scientists, including Pamela Ronald, professor in the Department of Plant Pathology at UC Davis. She compared some advocacy groups' resolute objections to GMOs to people who don't believe the world climate is changing despite the scientific proof.
“Just as many on the political right discount the broad scientific consensus that human activities contribute to global warming, many progressive advocacy groups disregard, reject or ignore the decades of scientific studies demonstrating the safety and wide-reaching benefits” of genetically engineered crops, Ronald said.
Hawaii has a unique status in the GMO debate. It's the only American state where farmers grow genetically modified fruit. After an outbreak of papaya ringspot virus in the mid-1990s, scientists used biotechnology to insert a gene from the virus itself into the papaya that gave it immunity and saved the crop.
The article outlines research showing that many of the claims made by GMO opponents do not stand up to scrutiny. Experts conceded that the research doesn't prove genetically engineered food could never cause harm, but the risks of such crops could be reliably tested, and they had so far proved safe.
“With scientists, we never say anything is 100 percent certain one way or another,” USDA-ARS research molecular biologist Jon Suzuki said. “We weigh conclusions on accumulated knowledge or evidence — but often this is not satisfactory for some.”
The GMO ban was approved by Hawaii's County Council by a 6 to 3 vote and on Dec. 5 signed by the Big Island's mayor.
If the proposition passes in November, the packaging of most foods with common ingredients like corn syrup, sugar, canola oil and soy-based emulsifiers will declare that they contain ingredients that have been genetically altered.
Biotech crops are so commonplace in the United States that about 90 percent of the nation's corn and soybeans are genetically engineered, the Bee reported. For that reason, Colin Carter, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, views the labeling debate as more about the business of food than its safety.
He predicts that more people would buy organic goods if comparable non-organic items carried labels saying they've been genetically engineered.
"This does not present a health risk," Carter said. "It's about money."
Christine Bruhn, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC Davis, agrees that the term "genetically engineered" would scare away consumers. However, the article pointed out, such food labeling is already required in more than 40 countries.
University of California at Davis Reports Make Dubious Claims on Prop 37
Michele Simon, Huffington Post Blog
A public health lawyer called into question two studies by UC Davis researchers that predict the effects of labeling foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, as would be required if Proposition 37 passes in November. The studies are "California's Proposition 37: Effects of Mandatory Labeling of GM Food," co-authored by Carter; and "Proposition 37 - California Food Labeling Initiative: Economic Implications for Farmers and the Food Industry if the Proposed Initiative were Adopted," co-authored by Julian Alston and Daniel Sumner, professors in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.
Proposition 37 would result in $1.2 billion in higher costs for farmers and food processors, higher prices for consumers and new regulations, according to an article published in Western Farm Press that refers to a new UC Davis study. The article is credited to the No on 37 campaign.
If passed, Proposition 37, which is on California's November ballot, would require labeling of genetically engineered food.
“The proposed regulations have no basis in science and impose rules that would have significant costs for food producers, processors and marketers, and ultimately for consumers, while providing misinformation and no demonstrable benefits,” the article quotes Julian Alston and Daniel Sumner, professors in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at UC Davis.
An editorial in the Los Angeles Times notes that the work for the study was undertaken with partial funding support from No on 37.
"That doesn't mean the study is without interest for voters," wrote Karin Klein in the editorial.
The reporters called the proposition a "multi-million dollar food fight."
"All of the data that's come out from the American Medical Association and National Academy of Sciences have all agreed that the food products on the market today that are genetically engineered are safe," Van Eenennaam told the reporter
Polls show the 'Yes on Proposition 37' campaign is "way ahead" of those who oppose the initiative, "but there's a long way to go until November," the reporter said.
Vision still pays dividends after 150 years
Sacramento Bee editorial
The Sacramento Bee editorial staff called the 1862 Congress of the United States one of the most productive in American history. One of the reason was it's passage of the Morrill Land-Grant College Act July 2, 1862. The act created the world's best system of public colleges and universities for people of modest means, the editorial said. Previously most Americans had no access to higher education. California took up the land-grant offer in 1864 and the University of California was born – at Berkeley – in 1868. Later, the University Farm would become UC Davis. The Citrus Experiment Station would become UC Riverside.
Building a better, tastier tomato
Lauren Sommer, QUEST Northern California, KQED
Lauren Sommer interviewed Ann Powell, associate researcher in the Department of Plant Sciences at UC Davis, about her finding that the gene that creates "green shoulders" in tomatoes influences the amount of sugar in the ripe fruit. Powell says now that they know about this gene, plant breeders could put it back in commercial varieties.
Bees need a hand, especially in drought
Debbie Arrington, Sacramento Bee
In honor of National Honeybee Day, the Sacramento Bee paid homage to the indispensable pollinator with information about the challenges it faces. Colony collapse disorder, drought and urbanization take their toll. There was some good news: "Bees got through the winter a little better," said Eric Mussen, UC Cooperative Extension specialist, apiculture. "This spring, we saw bigger, earlier and more swarms." However, nationwide, the hot dry summer has made it a tough year for honey production.
Carson envisioned harnessing the knowledge of biological diversity — entomology, pathology, genetics, physiology, biochemistry and ecology — to shape a new science of biotic controls that would help control weeds, diseases and pests without further damaging the environment, Ronald wrote.
"Her dream of a science-based agricultural system may come as a surprise to those who believe that sustainability and technology are incompatible," the article says.
In her UC Davis laboratory, Ronald has genetically engineered rice that tolerates flooding and resists disease.
"I have to believe that, if Rachel Carson were alive today, she would reject the anti-science, fear-mongering of anti-GE campaigners," Ronald said.