NON-GM BREAKTHROUGHS - 2007
4.MORE NON-GM DEVELOPMENTS
1.INTRO – GM WATCH
Does mention of allergen-free peanuts, striga-resistant cowpeas, salt-resistant wheat, beta-carotine rich sweet potatoes, virus-resistant cassavas make you think of GM?
If so, you've missed the great unpublished story of 2007 - all the non-GM breakthroughs with precisely the kind of problems (drought-resistance, salt-resistance, biofortification etc.) that GM proponents claim only GM can provide the answer to.
While GM ''miracle'' stories win vast amounts of column inches, the non-GM stories generally get minimal if any reporting in the popular media. Without GM's often exaggerated crisis narratives and silver bullet solutions, it seems there is no story!
The biotech industry and its PR people are, of course, very keen to keep it that way, particularly because the non-GM solutions are often way ahead of the work on GM. They also bring with them none of the uncertainties that surround GM.
All of this makes keeping track of some of the many non-GM success stories especially important.
Another reason it's important is because - thanks to the lack of success with GM ''solutions'' - non-GM success stories can end up being claimed as GM breakthroughs!!
This happened again recently with the UK Government's retiring Chief Scientist, David King, who claimed an important non-GM breakthrough in Africa as evidence of why we need to embrace GM.
The real lesson of the example King chose is that we need to do the exact opposite, ie stop being distracted by GM and get the funding and support behind the non-GM solutions to the problems we so badly need to address.
So here's some of the good things we came across on the non-GM front in 2007.
2. ORGANIC RESEARCH
+ ORGANIC FARMING CAN FEED THE WORLD - STUDY
Organic farming can yield up to three times as much food on individual farms in developing countries, as low-intensive methods on the same land - according to new findings which refute the long-standing claim that organic farming methods cannot produce enough food to feed the global population. ''My hope is that we can finally put a nail in the coffin of the idea that you can't produce enough food through organic agriculture,'' said Ivette Perfecto, professor at University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, and one of the study's principal investigators.
+ ORGANIC FARMING COMBATS GLOBAL WARMING...
Big time, according to data from the Rodale Institute's long-running comparison of organic and conventional cropping systems. Converting the US's corn and soybean acres to organic production would sequester enough carbon to satisfy 73 percent of the Kyoto targets for CO2 reduction in the US.
+ ORGANIC FARMING BEATS NO-TILL
Organic farming can build up soil organic matter better than conventional no-till farming, according to a long-term study by US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists. Organic farming, despite its emphasis on building organic matter, was previously thought by some to endanger soil because it relies on tillage and cultivation - instead of herbicides - to kill weeds. But Teasdale's study showed that organic farming's addition of organic matter in manure and cover crops more than offset losses from tillage.
+ UN's FOOD AND AG ORG SUPPORTS ORGANIC
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has come out in favour of organic agriculture. Its report, ''Organic Agriculture and Food Security'' states that organic agriculture can address local and global food security challenges.
+ ORGANIC FOOD BETTER
Important new research has shown up to 40% more beneficial compounds in organic vegetable crops and up to 90% more in organic milk. It has also found high levels of minerals such as iron and zinc in organic produce.
+ IT'S OFFICIAL: ORGANIC REALLY IS BETTER FOR YOU
A 10-year study comparing organic and non-organic tomatoes has found that the organic ones have almost twice the quantity of antioxidants (called flavonoids) that help to prevent high blood pressure, thus reducing the likelihood of heart disease and strokes.
+ GROWERS CAN MAKE MORE MONEY BY GOING ORGANIC
Minnesota grain farmers could make more money by switching from conventional to organic grain crops, shows a four-year study announced at the American Agricultural Economics Association's annual meeting in Long Beach, Calif. The study, by David W. Archer, an Agricultural Research Service (ARS) economist, and Hillarius Kludze, an ARS soil scientist, analyzed both economic risks and transition effects of switching to organic farming.
3. NON-GM BREAKTHROUGHS
+ NEW SALT-TOLERANT WHEAT SET TO BRING LIFE TO ''DEAD'' FARMLAND
Scientists have developed a non-GM salt-tolerant wheat which could allow farmers to crop a third of the 1.8 million hectares of agricultural land lost to salinity across Australia's wheat belt.
+ NON-PESTICIDE, NON-GM COTTON MANAGEMENT SUCCESS IN INDIA
+ ZAMBIA: BETTER NON-GM MAIZE HARVESTS
Although drought-prone Zambia is still facing many problems, huge improvements have been reported in its maize harvests - its main staple crop. A report from Inter Press Service notes, ''... production changed dramatically after President Levy Mwanawasa took over from Frederick Chiluba in 2001.... [He] promoted innovations like mixed farming and conservation farming. Mwanawasa rejected GM maize and encouraged the growing of non-GM maize, resulting in bumper harvests for the past three consecutive years.'' When the Zambian government rejected GM maize in 2002, there were calls from the US Ambassador to the FAO for its leaders to be tried ''for the highest crimes against humanity in the highest courts of the world.''
+ UK: NON-GM CROP SCIENCE GETS GBP13m BOOST
UK crop scientists have been awarded a GBP13.3m boost in funding to carry out research aimed at delivering benefits for farmers and consumers. Researchers say they will not be producing GM crops. Prof David Pink, from Warwick HRI, University of Warwick, whose team has been awarded GBP500,000 to identify genes in broccoli that will extend its shelf life and maintain its nutritional value for longer, said, ''We are not going down that [GM] route because GM is not acceptable at the moment, and not acceptable to our plant breeding partner.''
+ NON-GM DROUGHT-RESISTANT RICE IN PIPELINE
Japanese researchers have made progress in breeding non-GM drought-resistant rice, intended for planting in Africa and other dry regions.
+ GM DROUGHT TOLERANT MAIZE WAY BEHIND NON-GM
During March 2007, the South African authorities gave Monsanto permission to conduct GM drought tolerant maize field trials in Sou
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