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Europe needs genetically engineered crops, scientists say

TGF-FruitImageApr. 25, 2013 — The European Union cannot meet its goals in agricultural policy without embracing genetically engineered crops (GMOs). That’s the conclusion of scientists who write in Trends in Plant Science, a Cell Press publication, based on case studies showing that the EU is undermining its own competitiveness in the agricultural sector to its own detriment and that of its humanitarian activities in the developing world.

“Failing such a change, ultimately the EU will become almost entirely dependent on the outside world for food and feed and scientific progress, ironically because the outside world has embraced the technology which is so unpopular in Europe, realizing this is the only way to achieve sustainable agriculture,” said Paul Christou of the University of Lleida-Agrotecnio Center and Institució Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avançats in Spain.

“Many aspects of the EU agricultural policy, including those concerning GMOs, are internally inconsistent and actively obstruct what the policy sets out to achieve,” Christou and his colleagues continued.

For instance, the Lisbon Strategy aims to create a knowledge-based bioeconomy and recognizes the potential of GMOs to deliver it, but EU policy on the cultivation of GMOs has created an environment that makes this impossible. In reality, there is a de facto moratorium in Europe on the cultivation of genetically engineered crops such as maize, cotton, and soybean, even as the same products are imported because there is insufficient capacity to produce them by conventional means at home.

Subsidies designed to support farmers now benefit large producers at the expense of family farms, Christou says. The EU has also banned its farmers from using many pesticides and restricted them from other nonchemical methods of pest control, while allowing food products produced in the same ways to be imported.

“EU farmers are denied freedom of choice — in essence, they are prevented from competing because EU policies actively discriminate against those wishing to cultivate genetically engineered crops, yet exactly the same crops are approved for import,” Christou says.

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The above story is reprinted from materials provided by Cell Press, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Note: Materials may be edited for content and length. For further information, please contact the source cited above.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gemma Masip, Maite Sabalza, Eduard Pérez-Massot, Raviraj Banakar, David Cebrian, Richard M. Twyman, Teresa Capell, Ramon Albajes, Paul Christou. Paradoxical EU agricultural policies on genetically engineered crops. Trends in Plant Science, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.tplants.2013.03.004

Note: If no author is given, the source is cited instead.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of ScienceDaily or its staff.

ScienceDaily: Agriculture and Food News

Weather conditions in Chile have been favorable for this season’s crops

Apart from some recent rains that affected cherry volumes, weather conditions have been favorable for this season. “We expect to see volume increases across all commodities, even cherries,” said Karen Brux, managing director of the Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, North America, based in San Carlos, CA.

The news is especially good because Chile saw large volume decreases in 2013-14 due to severe frosts in the country.Karen-BruxKaren Brux

Looking specifically at the blueberry category, Brux noted that there is a huge increase over 2013-14.  Exports of Chilean blueberries are expected to increase by 30 percent over last season, with volume exceeding 200 million pounds.

“Roughly 70 percent of exports come to North America, so that’s great news for our market,” added Brux.

She also noted a few promotion tips for retailers. Many shoppers still associate certain commodities, like blueberries or stone fruit, with a specific season, but Brux said, “Retailers should let their customers know that they can continue enjoying their favorite summer fruits during the winter, thanks to Chile.

“It goes without saying that retailers should communicate the key selling points of whatever product they’re carrying to their shoppers,” she continued. “For example, a large retail chain is flying in all of their Chilean stone fruit to offer what they believe are the freshest, best-tasting fruits for their shoppers. We’re helping them develop point-of-sale materials that communicates this. Another large retail chain brings in Muscat grapes from Chile and builds beautiful displays with information that highlights the unique taste of this grape.”

This also brings attention to the broader grape category. Brux said retailers see sales increases across all varieties. The CFFA works with them to develop targeted promotions.

“It’s additionally helpful to give consumers season-appropriate usage ideas and wellness messages,” Brux pointed out. “Consumers are familiar with summer usage ideas for items like cherries, blueberries, grapes and stone fruit, but what about during the cold winter months? We worked with one retail chain to introduce our roasted Brussels sprouts and Chilean grapes recipe via a video that was sent out to a database of more than 300,000 customers. The CFFA also has numerous usage ideas and corresponding images for everything from a cherry, wild rice and quinoa salad to cherry chocolate chip muffins to smoked salmon with blueberry compote or a festive green grape salsa for St. Patrick’s Day.”

For people committing to a healthier lifestyle in the New Year, the CFFA also has commodity-specific health messages available. It is, for example, currently working with a registered dietitian from a large retail chain in the Northeast to supply short sound bites on all of the Chilean fruits.

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Cover crops can sequester soil organic carbon

A 12-year University of Illinois study shows that, although the use of cover crops does not improve crop yields, the practice does increase the amount of sequestered soil organic carbon using three different soil management systems.

U of I soil scientist Ken Olson evaluated plots that were subjected to no-till, chisel plow and moldboard plow treatments with and without hairy vetch and cereal rye cover crops.

“By 2012, we found that the soil tillage plots that had cover-crop treatments had more soil organic carbon stock than those without cover crops for the same soil root zone and tillage treatment,” Olson said.

In fact, Olson said that the no-till system, with cover crops, sequestered the most soil organic carbon when compared to the pre-treatment from the year 2000 no-till baseline soil organic carbon stock.

“In addition, the no-tilled, chisel plowed, and moldboard-plowed plots with cover crops all sequestered soil organic carbon above the pre-treatment baseline levels of the same tillage treatment.”

With the addition of cover crops to all tillage treatments for the 12-year study, the soil organic carbon stock gains were 30 percent higher for no-till, 10 percent higher for chisel plowed, and 18 percent for moldboard-plowed plots.

“This suggests that soil organic carbon stock losses from tillage, water erosion, and some disturbance or mixing during no-till planting, aeration, nitrogen injection in corn years, and mineralization were less than the soil organic carbon gain from the cover-crop treatment,” Olson said.

Olson stressed that establishing a baseline of soil organic carbon prior to the study is critical in order to claim that soil organic carbon is truly being sequestered.

“Management practices, such as no-till and cover crops, must create an increase in net soil organic carbon from a previous pre-treatment baseline, as well as result in a net reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to be described as having sequestered soil organic carbon,” Olson said.

The study was conducted at U of I’s Dixon Springs Agricultural Research Center in southern Illinois beginning in 2001 on sloping ground with a moderately well drained, eroded soil.

“Long-Term, Effects of Cover Crops on Crop Yields, Soil Organic Carbon Stocks and Sequestration” was published in Open Journal of Soil Science and was co-authored by Stephen A. Ebelhar and James M. Lang. Olson is a researcher in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at the University of Illinois.

Agriculture and Food News — ScienceDaily

Forecast shows unexpected growth in Florida orange crops

Forecast shows unexpected growth in Florida orange crops

Experts predict a spike in the price of Florida’s citrus this upcoming harvest season, meaning slightly more revenue for the state’s farmers. But an unexpected increase in orange production could keep retail prices low.

Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that’s cut Florida’s citrus crops in half since it first struck the state’s trees in 2005. The lower supply has helped farmers fetch higher prices per orange. But, former University of Florida professor of agricultural economics Tom Spreen says farmers are still having a hard time breaking even.

But a bit of relief could come in this upcoming harvest, with the most recent projection showing a slightly higher orange output. That means retail prices on orange products could stabilize, even though wholesale prices might be higher. Florida Department of Citrus economist Marisa Zansler says the increased production is unexpected after several seasons of decline. She adds scientific advances in the fight against citrus greening disease, and a government replanting program, give hope for a revitalization of the industry.

Some remain more cautiously optimistic. Retired UF professor Spreen says the citrus industry is in need of help sooner, rather than later.

“My guess is that a solution will be found, or it may even be solutions,” Spreen says. “There may in fact be a number of tactics that are developed. It’s just the question right now is how soon is it going to come?”

Spreen says some orange juice producers have begun offering subsidies to encourage wary farmers to plant more trees.

Please visit www.wfsu.org for more information.

Publication date: 10/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Forecast shows unexpected growth in Florida orange crops

Forecast shows unexpected growth in Florida orange crops

Experts predict a spike in the price of Florida’s citrus this upcoming harvest season, meaning slightly more revenue for the state’s farmers. But an unexpected increase in orange production could keep retail prices low.

Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that’s cut Florida’s citrus crops in half since it first struck the state’s trees in 2005. The lower supply has helped farmers fetch higher prices per orange. But, former University of Florida professor of agricultural economics Tom Spreen says farmers are still having a hard time breaking even.

But a bit of relief could come in this upcoming harvest, with the most recent projection showing a slightly higher orange output. That means retail prices on orange products could stabilize, even though wholesale prices might be higher. Florida Department of Citrus economist Marisa Zansler says the increased production is unexpected after several seasons of decline. She adds scientific advances in the fight against citrus greening disease, and a government replanting program, give hope for a revitalization of the industry.

Some remain more cautiously optimistic. Retired UF professor Spreen says the citrus industry is in need of help sooner, rather than later.

“My guess is that a solution will be found, or it may even be solutions,” Spreen says. “There may in fact be a number of tactics that are developed. It’s just the question right now is how soon is it going to come?”

Spreen says some orange juice producers have begun offering subsidies to encourage wary farmers to plant more trees.

Please visit www.wfsu.org for more information.

Publication date: 10/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com

Forecast shows unexpected growth in Florida orange crops

Forecast shows unexpected growth in Florida orange crops

Experts predict a spike in the price of Florida’s citrus this upcoming harvest season, meaning slightly more revenue for the state’s farmers. But an unexpected increase in orange production could keep retail prices low.

Citrus greening is a bacterial disease that’s cut Florida’s citrus crops in half since it first struck the state’s trees in 2005. The lower supply has helped farmers fetch higher prices per orange. But, former University of Florida professor of agricultural economics Tom Spreen says farmers are still having a hard time breaking even.

But a bit of relief could come in this upcoming harvest, with the most recent projection showing a slightly higher orange output. That means retail prices on orange products could stabilize, even though wholesale prices might be higher. Florida Department of Citrus economist Marisa Zansler says the increased production is unexpected after several seasons of decline. She adds scientific advances in the fight against citrus greening disease, and a government replanting program, give hope for a revitalization of the industry.

Some remain more cautiously optimistic. Retired UF professor Spreen says the citrus industry is in need of help sooner, rather than later.

“My guess is that a solution will be found, or it may even be solutions,” Spreen says. “There may in fact be a number of tactics that are developed. It’s just the question right now is how soon is it going to come?”

Spreen says some orange juice producers have begun offering subsidies to encourage wary farmers to plant more trees.

Please visit www.wfsu.org for more information.

Publication date: 10/30/2014


FreshPlaza.com

EPA Approves Herbicide for Use on Dow’s GE Crops

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the registration of Dow Chemical’s Enlist Duo herbicide, a new blend of 2,4-D and glyphosate.

The product is intended for use on Dow’s Enlist genetically engineered corn and soybeans, which were approved by the Department of Agriculture last month.

Dow stated in a press release that EPA’s decision means that the company can “bring to the market this necessary, innovative technology that is expected to deliver significant growth for Dow while at the same time addressing a critical global challenge.”

The combination of the two chemicals “will control and help prevent further development of herbicide-resistant weeds,” the company said.

A number of farm, food, health, public interest, consumer, fisheries and environmental organizations submitted comments in opposition to both proposals, arguing that its use on millions of acres of farm fields could negatively impact both environmental and human health. Members of Congress and prominent doctors, scientists and researchers also expressed their opposition.

2,4-D was a component of Agent Orange, which was produced by Dow and Monsanto and used as a defoliant in Vietnam, and glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup, the top-selling weed killer developed by Monsanto.

The opposition groups are particularly concerned about the health risks associated with 2,4-D exposure, including non-Hodgkin lymphoma, suppressed immune function, lower sperm count, and a greater risk of Parkinson’s disease. There are also risks of learning disabilities, behavioral problems and chronic diseases in children.

In terms of environmental effects, critics say that Enlist Duo will increase soils, surface and groundwater contamination and perpetuate the “pesticide treadmill,” which is when farmers use larger amounts of increasingly toxic chemicals to control herbicide-resistant weeds, eventually requiring the use of different chemicals.

Now that EPA has announced its approval of Enlist Duo, these groups are outraged.

“EPA has turned its back on those it purports to protect — the American people and our environment,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for the Center for Food Safety. He added that his organization will “pursue all available legal options to stop the commercialization of these dangerous crops.”

Ronnie Cummins, international director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), argued that now it’s time for consumers to “shut down this treadmill of higher doses of increasingly toxic poisons.” OCA now plans to put more effort into its campaigns for mandatory GMO-labeling laws and for federal policies that promote organic agriculture.

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said that, “EPA shunned its duties to protect the environment and safeguard public health by bowing to corporate interests instead of relying on science.”

Food Safety News