Monthly Archives: February 2008

Biotech Crops Experience Remarkable Dozen Years of Double-Digit Growth

Socio-Economic Benefits Becoming Evident Among Resource-Poor Farmers

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (Feb. 13, 2008) – After a dozen years of commercialization, biotech crops are still gaining ground with another year of double-digit growth, and new countries joining the list of supporters, according to a report released today by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications (ISAAA). In 2007, biotech crop area grew 12 percent or 12.3 million hectares to reach 114.3 million hectares, the second highest area increase in the past five years.In addition to planting more biotech hectares, farmers are quickly adopting varieties with more than one biotech trait. These “trait hectares” grew at a swift 22 percent, or 26 million hectares, to reach 143.7 million hectares – more than double the area increase of 12.3 million hectares. New crops were also added to the list as China reported 250,000 biotech poplar trees planted. The insect-resistant trees can contribute to reforestation efforts. Continue reading Biotech Crops Experience Remarkable Dozen Years of Double-Digit Growth

How Green Are Biofuels?

Jörn P. W. Scharlemann and William F. Laurance
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
Balbao, Ancon, Panama

(Published in Science 319:43-44, 2008)

Global warming and escalating petroleum costs are creating an urgent need to find ecologically friendly fuels. Biofuels–such as ethanol from corn (maize) and sugarcane–have been increasingly heralded as a possible savior (1, 2). But others have argued that biofuels will consume vast swaths of farmland and native habitats, drive up food prices, and result in little reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions (3-5). An innovative study by Zah et al. (6), commissioned by the Swiss government, could help to resolve this debate by providing a detailed assessment of the environmental costs and benefits of different transport biofuels. Continue reading How Green Are Biofuels?

New Questions about Beef Safety?

William Henning, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Meat Science
The Pennsylvania State University

Consumer concerns have once again been raised after 143 million pounds of ground beef was recalled this week from a California firm that manufactures and distributes ground beef to retailers and schools. The problems initially surfaced when a member of a special interest group (The Humane Society of the United States; HSUS) filmed a case of brutal animal handling of a cow that was unable to get up and posted it on YouTube. Normally, this would have been a case of animal cruelty that would have been dealt with by the USDA and the plant in question. Since the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service is responsible for animal welfare in packing plants, this should have been all handled within the regulatory system for animal handling. However, it was apparently revealed later that this non-ambulatory cow was, in fact, harvested and entered the food supply that raised the food safety questions. Since non-ambulatory animals are not considered fit for processing due to the possible relationship with BSE (mad cow disease), it should been prevented from entering the food supply. Continue reading New Questions about Beef Safety?

Orion Samuelson of WGN Radio on the Use of rbST

The following podcast features Orion Samuelson of WGN Radio discussing the use of recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST).

Orion Samuelson is heard on WGN Radio, where he has served as Agribusiness Director since 1960. He and his associate, Max Armstrong, present 15 agricultural/business reports daily on WGN. They also host the hour-long Morning Show and Noon Show, both heard on Saturdays on WGN. Orion is also heard daily on more than 260 radio stations with his syndicated National Farm Report and on 110 stations with his syndicated Samuelson Sez. Orion and Max are seen weekly on rural channel RFD-TV, carried on Dish-TV and DirecTV on This Week in Agribusiness.

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WHYY Radio Interview on PDA’s Ruling Regarding Labeling of MilK

The following podcast is of an interview with Dr. Terry Etherton on WHYY Radio in Philadelphia. This interview took place on January 15, 2008.

Summary from WHYY: The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture recently ruled that dairies that do not inject their cattle with synthetic growth hormone can no longer label their milk as hormone-free. The decision, which has been put on hold until the beginning of February, raises serious questions for consumers, dairy farmers, and retailers. We talk to TERRY ETHERTON of Penn State University.

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