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Hold the phone

Evaluating seafood choices just became a lot easier

Wondering whether the seafood entrée you are about to order at a restaurant is environmentally friendly? Pulling the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Card out of your wallet to check it out is so 2006. Enter FishPhone, a text-messaging service provided by the Blue Ocean Institute. Text 30644 on your cell phone with the message "FISH" and the name of the fish in question, and the BOI will get back to you within seconds. The FishPhone website allows mobile web users to look up seafood choices as well, and provides a "Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood" that you can download …

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The 'Exxon of corn' licks its chops

Archer Daniels Midland sees glut as opportunity to consolidate the ethanol market

Over the past year, ethanol production has exploded -- surpassing even the dramatically higher "alternative fuel requirement" in last year's energy bill. And now we have a glut of ethanol on the market, which has pushed prices down dramatically and caused many ethanol plants -- particularly independent farmer-owned ones -- to struggle. But Archer Daniels Midland, hailed on Wall Street as the Exxon of corn, is seeing the downturn in ethanol prices as an opportunity to consolidate the ethanol market. It already produces a quarter of U.S. ethanol. Now it wants more. From Dow Jones newswire: Archer Daniels Midland Co. …

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Neither trick nor treat

Pumpkin production is down for second year in a row

Halloween may still be four weeks away, but this story's already got me spooked: Scorching weather and lack of rain this summer wiped out some pumpkin crops from western New York to Illinois, leaving fields dotted with undersized fruit. Other fields got too much rain and their crops rotted. It's the second year in a row that pumpkin production has been down. First we're losing our woolly turtlenecks and now our jack-o'-lanterns? Scary. Good thing no one's predicting scorching heat and unseasonable rain for future autumns ...

Read more: Climate & Energy, Food

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Business as usual?

Why we shouldn’t forget the Farm Bill

Once again, a prime example of our misguided farm policies hits like a ton of factory-farm manure sludge -- or in this case, a massive sack of federally insured, genetically modified corn. Last Wednesday, Monsanto announced that the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) approved a pilot program that will give farmers a 20 percent discount on insurance premiums if they plant a majority of their corn acres with seeds featuring Monsanto's trademarked YieldGard Plus with Roundup Ready Corn 2 or YieldGard VT Triple stack technology. This is the first time the FCIC Board has approved a crop insurance discount for …

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Federal officials claim ethanol, border fence green as can be

Well, phew. Ethanol's not to blame for high food prices and a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border will actually benefit the environment. If we can't believe the top federal farm official and the top federal security official, whom can we believe?

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Fair-trade market boosted by consumer demand

An ever-greener and ever-more-caffeinated world is boosting the fair-trade market -- not just for coffee, but for products such as cocoa, cotton, tea, pineapples, and flowers. The certification, which holds growers to strict standards per child labor, pesticide use, recycling, and more, is not a phenomenon specific to hippie shops: all Dunkin' Donuts in the U.S. and all McDonald's in England sell fair-trade coffee. Starbucks is also a big buyer, while Sam's Club just converted its private label of ground coffee to fair trade. It's still a niche market: in 2006, only 3.3 percent of coffee sold in the U.S. …

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U.S. food aid low, getting lower

The U.S. donates more food internationally than any other country, but shipping costs and rising food prices (thanks, biofuels!) have contributed to its lowest level of donation in a decade. The situation is likely to get worse: the appropriations bill moving through Congress contains no significant increases in the U.S. food aid budget, and the United Nations estimates that low-income countries will see a 14 percent jump in the price of grain imports next year. A restriction in the farm bill requires food aid to be shipped from the U.S.; in a rare proposal aligned with green values, the Bush …

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Study suggests link between DDT exposure and breast cancer

Women exposed to the pesticide DDT as children are five times as likely to develop breast cancer, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. Draw your own conclusions.

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Today is World Vegetarian Day

It's World Vegetarian Day, everyone! Go celebrate by pissing someone off.

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U.S. ethanol boom slowing due to market glut

The ethanol boom in the United States, the political darling of presidential candidates, farm-state lawmakers, and others, has recently been showing signs of slowing due to a market glut that's exacerbated by infrastructure troubles. It seems everyone and their farmer have been constructing ethanol refineries to turn corn into fuel, but the means to get that fuel to gas stations hasn't been keeping pace with output. Due to ethanol's corrosive properties and its propensity to soak up water and other impurities, it can't travel by oil pipeline and instead makes its way to market by boat, train, or truck. Ethanol's …

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