Fresh doubts have arisen about the safety of genetically modified crops, with a new study reporting presence of Bt toxin, used widely in GM crops, in human blood for the first time.
Genetically modified crops include genes extracted from bacteria to make them resistant to pest attacks.
These genes make crops toxic to pests but are claimed to pose no danger to the environment and human health. Genetically modified brinjal, whose commercial release was stopped a year ago, has a toxin derived from a soil bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis ( Bt).
Till now, scientists and multinational corporations promoting GM crops have maintained that Bt toxin poses no danger to human health as the protein breaks down in the human gut. But the presence of this toxin in human blood shows that Read more…
May 16, 2011
Dear Friends and Readers of Millennium-Ark,
For the last 5 years, we have posted countless articles covering both natural disasters and their impact on our food supplies as well as on many other timely topics. After several decades of monitoring these events, it’s hard to convey how shocked we are by the sheer number of disasters that have occurred just in the first 4 months of 2011.
Yesterday, all day, I spent analyzing natural disasters and plotted them against our food belts. Never, ever, have I seen so many federally declared disasters this early in the year.
The DHS/FEMA maps were defined by 2 colors: blue signified no disasters (to distinguish the disaster-free areas from water, they are shown in white below) and yellow indicated declared disasters. Map after map, state after state were mostly yellow. Surely this must be an error? Thinking through the numerous news items on Earth Changes, with sinking feeling, I knew they were correct. It was only when the state information was transferred to a single national map, the implications become uncomfortably clear.
Notice how many disasters have occurred in food-producing areas. They are striking the heart of our food growing regions. Many food crops have been wiped out by drought, flood, hail and freezes. These food destroyers are occurring in greater frequency and having larger impact. America’s food belts are taking mighty hits. Some growing areas will not recover this entire year.
The Army Corps of Engineers blew a two-mile hole into the Birds Point levee, which has flooded 130,000 acres of farmland in Missouri’s Mississippi County, in an effort to protect nearby Cairo, Ill., from rising floodwaters.
But farmers who pleaded unsuccessfully for the Supreme Court to stop the blast, which diverted floodwaters and inundated their land, had 130,000 acres of severely damaged farmland and close to $100 million in crop losses, a farmers’ association said. About 100 homes are in the deluged area, according to Army engineers.
The purpose was to divert floodwaters from Cairo, a town of about 3,000.
The government engineers blasted the first hole into the Birds Point levee site at Sikeston, Mo., at about 10 p.m. Monday and the second one at around noon Tuesday, said Lisa Coghlan, spokeswoman for the Army engineers in Sikeston.
Flood stage for the Mississippi River in the area is normally 40 feet, but on Monday, the water was at 61.72 feet, the engineers said. By Tuesday, after the two blasts, the water was receding and had fallen to 60.12 feet, the engineers said.
“It was definitely a success,” Coghlan said. The engineers planned to stage one more blast, probably today, depending on how quickly they could move equipment through the rain-soaked area, Coghlan said.
“The ground is absolutely just mush,” she explained. “It’s been raining for two weeks and today is actually the first sunny day.” Read more…
QE2 is going to go down as one of the worst monetary policy initiatives in the history of the modern Federal Reserve era. On almost any metric applied, QE2 ends up not only falling well short of its proposed goals, but actually turns certain metrics like GDP growth negative compared with the prior quarter, and heading in the wrong direction.
Costs Eat into Corporate Profits = No Hiring
Analysts all over Wall Street are starting to revise their 2nd quarter GDP forecasts down, and some like Goldman Sachs have made several downward revisions as higher input costs due to a weak dollar are creating an additional burden on businesses and consumers and thus slowing economic growth.
A weak dollar (Fig. 1) to a point can help exports, but an extremely weak dollar which in combination with QE2 liquidity juicing up commodities even further, turns out to be a net negative on the economy, and risks sending the Read more…
Robert Zoellick cited rising food prices as the main threat to poor nations who risk “losing a generation”.
He was speaking in Washington at the end of the spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Meanwhile, G20 finance chiefs, who also met in Washington, pledged financial support to help new governments in the Middle East and North Read more…
To those who think that buying food in the corner deli is becoming a luxury, we have five words: you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. U.S. consumers face “serious” inflation in the months ahead for clothing, food and other products, the head of Wal-Mart’s U.S. operations warned Wednesday talking to USA Today. And if Wal-Mart which is at the very bottom of commoditized consumer retail, and at the very peak of avoiding reexporting of US inflation by way of China is concerned, it may be time to panic, or at least cancel those plane tickets to Zimbabwe, which is soon coming to us.
The world’s largest retailer is working with suppliers to minimize the effect of cost increases and believes its low-cost business model will position it better than its competitors.
Still, inflation is “going to be serious,” Wal-Mart U.S. CEO Bill Simon said during a meeting with USA TODAY’s editorial board. “We’re seeing cost increases starting to come through at a pretty rapid rate.”
Along with steep increases in raw material costs, John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon, says labor costs in China and fuel costs for transportation are weighing heavily on retailers. He predicts prices will start increasing at all retailers in June. Read more…
Food prices are rising quickly around the world. Part of the problem is weather. The winter wheat crop in China has been poor. Australia has suffered floods, while Russia has undergone a drought. The earthquake and tsunami in Japan, no doubt, will hammer the very intensive agricultural production of the limited arable land on that archipelago. Weather-related agricultural problems, however, balance out fairly quickly. Mythical “global warming” aside, weather has ups and downs, and farmers, who are smart folks, take that into account. The Soviet Union, whose vassal state the Ukraine was once one of the best farmlands on earth, never managed to feed its people well, because a communist-controlled economy destroys Read more…
It is not just the United States that is headed for an economic collapse. The truth is that the entire world is heading for a massive economic meltdown and the people of earth need to be warned about the coming economic disaster that is going to sweep the globe. The current world financial system is based on debt, and there are alarming signs that the gigantic global debt bubble is getting ready to burst. In addition, global prices for the key resources that the major economies of the planet depend on are rising very rapidly. Despite all of our advanced technology, the truth is that human civilization simply cannot function without oil and food. But now the price of oil and the price of food are both increasing dramatically. So how is the current global economy supposed to keep functioning properly if it soon costs much more to ship products between continents? How are the billions of people that are just barely surviving today supposed to feed themselves if the price of food goes up another 30 or 40 percent? For decades, most of the major economies around the globe have been able to Read more…
Global food prices have hit “dangerous levels” that could contribute to political instability, push millions of people into poverty and raise the cost of groceries, according to a new report from the World Bank.
The bank released a report Tuesday that said global food prices have jumped 29 percent in the past year, and are just 3 percent below the all-time peak hit in 2008. Bank President Robert Zoellick said the rising prices have hit people hardest in the developing world because they spend as much as half their income on food.
“Food prices are the key and major challenge facing many developing countries today,” Zoellick said. The World Bank estimates higher prices for corn, wheat and oil have pushed 44 million people into extreme poverty since Read more…
U.S. grain prices should stay unrelentingly high this year, according to a Reuters poll, the latest sign that the era of cheap food has come to an end.
U.S. corn, soybeans and wheat prices — which surged by as much has 50 percent last year and hit their highest levels since mid-2008 — will dip by at most 5 percent by the end of 2011, according to the poll of 16 analysts.
The forecasts suggest no quick relief for nations bedeviled by record high food costs that have stoked civil unrest. It means any extreme weather event in a grains-producing part of the world could send prices soaring further.
The expectations may also strengthen importers’ resolve to build bigger inventories after a year in which stocks of corn and soybeans in the United States — the world’s top exporter — dwindled to their lowest level in decades.
Story: Global food chain stretched to the limit Read more…