On the Ball: Steroids side effects

Roger Clemens doesn’t know what a vegan is

This is a couple of weeks old, but it is still awesome:

The agricultural lobby vs. the public interest, part 5435

Factory farms fight to avoid reporting on toxic emissions

This article in the WaPo shows yet again how insidious the agricultural lobby in this country is, and how we need leadership that will take it on. This time it's the factory farms fighting laws that mandate that they provide information on their emission of toxic gases (from animal waste). Breaking the power of the agricultural lobby should be a top priority for the environmental community; at every turn it fights for corporate welfare and against environmental progress and the public good.

‘Doomsday’ seed vault opens in Arctic, awaits doom

A so-called “doomsday” seed vault opened in the Arctic today that’s designed to store up to 4.5 million seeds as a backup for the world’s food crops (and other seed banks) just in case something …

Like calves to the slaughter

The beef recall shows yet again that the USDA doesn’t protect schoolchildren

The USDA recently took action to force the recall of 143 million pounds of beef dating back two years -- the largest beef recall in our country's history. More than 25 percent of the recalled beef was distributed free of charge through the USDA's commodity food program to about 150 school districts across the nation. Undoubtedly, most of this potentially tainted beef has already been eaten by the 30 million children who participate in the National School Lunch Program every day. Clearly, the USDA is not protecting our children. In essence, the agency slammed the barn door shut after the downer (severely sick) cows had staggered out of the feedlots and into school cafeterias. Why does the USDA fail so miserably at this critical task?

Meat Wagon: Cow-feed misdeeds

More trouble with ethanol waste as cow chow

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat industry. Remember the good old days, when gigantic meat and dairy producers stuffed cows into feedlots and fed them corn? Sure, cows evolved …

Garbage in, garbage out

Survey of ‘experts’ on genetic food tampering leaves out farmers

This is sad. Billed as a survey of what "farmers" think of genetic tampering with food crops, the survey left out one important group: farmers. Restricting itself to large-scale commodity growers, the survey is garbage in, garbage out. I doubt that such notables as Gene Logsdon, Wendell Berry, and Joel Salatin would qualify as "experts" to these folk.

World fisheries still in danger of imminent collapse, says U.N.

When last we checked in on the world’s commercial fish stocks, they were in danger of collapsing within decades. And, sorry to say, they still are, according to a United Nations Environment Program report ominously …

Fire and rain

The ‘hell’ before the ‘high water’ in the U.S.

I just wanted to alert Grist readers to an excellent post at The Oil Drum called "Fire and Rain: The Consequences of Changing Climate on Rainfall, Wildfire and Agriculture." The author points out that "Current climate change predictions for much of the West show increased precipitation in the winter or spring, along with earlier and drier summers." To summarize his post, the drier summers will have profound impacts on the forests, grasslands, and agricultural areas. It seems that many kinds of trees are very delicately attuned to particular patterns of precipitation and temperature; changes lead to weakening, disease, and then "megafires" that are much more destructive than "normal" fires. The author discusses the biggest fires in American history, over 100 years ago, that seem to have been caused by the massive deforestation then occurring. A question I have is, is the dessication of the American West similar to the accelerating dessication of the Amazon, both the result of deforestation? The post also discusses the plight of agricultural areas; basically, you're damned if you depend on rainfall that will be decreasing during the summer, and you're damned if you depend on irrigation, because the aquifers and mountain ice packs are decreasing. He details the effects on grains and other agricultural produce. I didn't know that potatoes, orchards, and vegetables all depend on irrigation for most of their water needs. I realize that modeling the long-term behavior of the climate is hard enough, but it seems to me that it would be important to model the effects of those changes on our local ecosystems as well.

Bread-line time?

With wheat stocks at all-time lows, a fertilizer magnate utters the F-word

Famine. For us Americans, the word conjures images of heart-rending scenes from distant shores: the kind of images a sad-eyed Sally Struthers busts our chops about on late-night cable TV. Famine is an abstract concept, …

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