That's pretty much all the untrustworthy company had to say to win yet another round in a drawn-out court battle with organic farmers and seed producers.
The U.S. court system is refusing to protect the organic growers from future Monsanto lawsuits in the event that traces of genetically engineered genes accidentally end up in the farmers' crops. That's because of a single paragraph on the biotech giant's website that says it has no such litigious intentions.
“Only with the sperm of your species’ strongest creature,” Morpheus intoned to Neo, “do you have any hope of survival.” --The Matrix, except starring bees
I think we’re all familiar with colony collapse disorder (CCD) here -- bees be dyin’, trouble be brewin’, etc., to use the scientific terms. (But seriously, bees pollinate a ton of our food, and their unexplained, massive die-offs are ominous and straight out of The X-Files.) So it’s cool that Washington State University researchers are trying to create The One in bee form, the super-bee that can survive CCD. It’s even cooler that they’re creating a bee sperm bank to do so, because sperm is one of our favorite topics:
[I]n an effort to find and utilize the needed genes, the USDA granted WSU a permit in 2008 to import honey bee semen for breeding purposes, subject to strict screening for viruses.
Taking only from the best, the scientists collected semen from Italian bees who are known to reproduce quickly and in order to create a bee resilient to the cold.
San Francisco is currently undergoing an unusual and sometimes uncomfortable growth spurt. The San Francisco Business Times calls it “the biggest burst of apartment construction” since the early 1970s, set to “dramatically reshape San Francisco’s skyline, neighborhoods and politics.” Over roughly the next three years, almost 8,000 new apartments will be constructed in the city, mostly in dense projects -- more than all the rental housing built over the last 15 years combined.
This city has traditionally been an outpost of entrenched NIMBY power, but local residents mostly seem to be welcoming the new construction. San Francisco has some of the lowest housing vacancy rates and the fastest rising rental prices in the country -- the median rental price for a one-bedroom apartment in the city is now more than $2,700, and still going up. Many current and wannabe residents hope the new apartment boom will help level things off.
In the heart of the city, however, one group is fighting the boom, trying to save a patch of land they say represents a vanishing resource: urban farmland.
Today the U.S. Senate passed its version of the farm bill, a massive piece of legislation that sets U.S. agricultural policy until 2023. The bill is 353 days overdue, and lawmakers will still have to reconcile it with the version making its way through the House before it becomes a law. You may recall that once there was hope for major reform in the legislation: Strip away the subsidies supporting giant monocultures, and move that money to support the kind of farming that makes people, and the environment, healthier.
Remember that? Yeah, not going to happen.
The bill is called S. 954, Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act, which is a bit misleading. A small fraction of the bill is concerned with risk management and even less devoted to reform. The most accurate part is the 954 -- which is about how much the bill would cost over a decade, in billions of dollars. A better title would be the Crop Insurance, Conservation and Food Stamps Act.
Don’t tell the Coca-Cola Corporation, but according to a major new study, kids today are drinking less soda. And that’s not all. They’re drinking fewer sugary drinks overall -- a category that includes sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade, flavored waters like Vitaminwater, and fruit drinks. Huzzah!
It probably has something to do with public ad campaigns like this latest from New York City:
Indeed, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has styled himself the Great [anti-]Soda Satan and he is probably pleased as punch about this latest news, despite the fact that his proposed ban on supersized sodas has been stopped, for the moment at least, by a beverage industry lawsuit.
The evidence for the drop comes in new research from doctors and scientists at the Centers for Disease Control that looked at consumption rates of sugary drinks between 1999 and 2010 among adults and kids. The work, which appeared in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, determined that kids now get 8 percent of their calories from these drinks, down from 11 percent back in 1999.
Less than a year ago, concern over wasted food was almost imperceptible amidst U.S. government agencies. Tuesday, however, the United States joined the ranks of countries around the world who are taking food waste seriously. Kudos to USDA and EPA for their speedy turnaround, as evidenced by their announcement of the U.S. Food Waste Challenge. The devil is in the details, of course, but I’m cautiously optimistic that this is a great step toward a more economically, socially, and environmentally streamlined food system. With the announcement, USDA has committed to several actions to reduce, recover, and recycle wasted food across …
Even the farmers who think climate change is a hoax have to adapt to it. Agriculture depends profoundly on the weather, and yesterday Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced a suite of new government programs to help farmers adjust to a more extreme climate.
“The bottom line is that in the United States, we produce an amazing amount of food because we adapt to today's threats and prepare for tomorrow's threats,” Vilsack said.
The thing is, a lot of the people growing that food refuse to accept that there is any threat. Reporter Julia Kumari Drapkin illustrated this problem vividly in a story that recently aired on This American Life. In rural, conservative agricultural areas, this story showed, climatologists are loath to talk about climate change, and for good reason: Some who have acknowledged that they believe human-caused climate change is a problem have lost their jobs.
Warm soda is gross. Coke’s latest desperate bid for attention newest packaging idea addresses that in sort of edible-beer-cozy fashion, by creating a bottle made of ice. Currently only available in Colombia, the ice-bottle will theoretically keep your Coke cold long enough for you to mull over the plight of melting glaciers, soda’s link to weight gain, and the depression/diet soda correlation.
“Are Coke and Pepsi the new cigarettes?” you can muse aloud while sipping an icy cool brown beverage on the shores of Cartagena. “Does the melting ice symbolize our shared mortality and the fleeting nature of youth? SHOULD I STOP ASKING RHETORICAL QUESTIONS?”
Because any positive economic activity that happens in Detroit is apparently national news, the opening of a Whole Foods Wednesday in the city’s Midtown neighborhood has caused more fanfare than possibly any grocery-store debut in history. Hundreds reportedly waited in line to enter the store, and Whole Foods Co-CEO Walter Robb was present for the occasion, accompanied by “a marching band, speeches by civic leaders, specialty food vendors handing out samples of pickles, granola and other products, and a festive air of celebration,” according to the Detroit Free Press.
Why all the hoopla? After all, as Aaron Foley at Jalopnik Detroit points out in a level-headed post, the city, despite being labeled a “food desert,” already has its share of real grocery stores, including independent chains like Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe, not to mention its famous Eastern Market, the largest permanent farmers market in the U.S. So it’s not like Whole Foods is suddenly swooping in to deliver fresh vegetables where only Twinkies and Top Ramen existed before.
Much has been made of Whole Foods’ potential to attract further economic development, “a magnet for retail, in particular, and for development more generally,” as Free Press editor Stephen Henderson puts it. “A grocery store as a creator of density.” But would a concentration of high-end retail and condos in one neighborhood do anything to address this troubled city’s structural problems? Local investors and government officials seem to be betting so; the store was financed with the help of $5.8 million in state and local grants and tax credits.
But really, what seems to be causing the freakout over Whole Foods’ unlikely new location is just that: its unlikeliness, and the racist and classist assumptions underlying that assessment. Just listen to Kai Ryssdal of public radio's Marketplace question CEO Robb at the opening. Ryssdal calls Whole Foods “a place that does not have the reputation of perhaps being a place where people would shop in Detroit,” and even asks, “Did you have to teach people how to shop here?” -- as if navigating a Whole Foods requires some special sixth sense not innate to black and low-income people.
Have you heard the term “bait and switch”? You know, when you see the words “Bates Motel” in a blog post and you THINK Downton Abbey but really Mr. Bates isn’t a hotelier at ALL? That’s kind of what Canadian convenience store Couche-Tard did to us, after choosing a name that sounds like a couch turd.
Let’s back up. Because Canada is a crazy land up in the sky (so to speak, if you’re looking at a map), they like to eat a combination of pizza and spaghetti. Naturally, their version of 7-11 thought it would be cool to combine this dynamic flavor duo in slushie form. The result is a “pizzaghetti”-flavored Sloche drink (why they can’t use normal words is beyond me).