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  • Do you know where your salmon comes from?

    Thirty percent of the world's salmon now come from hatcheries, but wild fish account for only another twenty to thirty percent. Almost all of those wild fish come from waters around Alaska and British Columbia, northern waters where runs are mostly intact. These are the waters from which we harvest volumes comparable to those native people caught for thousands of years, that is, in those places largely unmanaged. The biggest share of the world's salmon consumption, however -- now forty to fifty percent -- comes from farmed fish, salmon raised and fed artificially in net pens their entire lives.

  • The Mod Squad

    Delegates from more than 130 nations on Saturday adopted the first global treaty regulating trade in genetically modified products, the first time that environmental concerns and trade rules have been reconciled in an international agreement. The treaty allows countries to bar imports of genetically modified seeds, crops, and animals, even if scientific studies have not […]

  • Pork Politics

    “Campaign reform” is much too polite a phrase. “Ending corruption” is more like it. I could — and maybe I will — write a column a week from now till next fall’s election counting the ways campaign contributions corrupt our government, destroy our public assets, and rob taxpayers. Today’s example is industrial hog farming. This […]

  • In Other Words …

    A while ago I wrote a column full of solemn statements from august scientists and other wise persons, warning that we are trashing our planet at a sickening pace. The august persons didn’t say “trashing” or “sickening.” They spoke of “adverse consequences” and “significant geopolitical risk.” An Alert Reader (to steal a phrase from Dave […]

  • Hogwatch

    10 million hogs live in North Carolina’s coastal region 8 million humans live in North Carolina 92 percent of North Carolina’s hogs are raised on factory farms with at least 2,000 hogs 1 hog generates as much waste as 3 people 2.5 tons of hog feces and urine are produced in North Carolina per citizen […]

  • Waiting for WTO

    The high priests of free trade are getting nervous. Corporate and government officials from the 134 nations that belong to the World Trade Organization (WTO) have long planned to meet in Seattle at the end of this month to negotiate the next round of global trade rules. Now they discover that thousands of angry citizens […]

  • Don't Smell the Flowers

    The more the agribusiness folks mess about with transplanted genes and toxic chemicals and irradiation, the better the market for local, fresh, organic, un-messed-about-with foods. When it comes to things we’re going to put into our mouths, things that are literally going to become us, we consumers are cautious, and rightly so. But what about […]

  • A former stock trader learns how to really pick 'em

    It’s an overcast day outside of Stoughton, Wis., the village that claims to have invented the “kaffee break.” But a warm cup of java seems far, far away from Pleasant Hill Market Garden, where farmer Rob Baratz fights off the early morning, chilled wind with gritted teeth and a hand-rolled cigarette. Baratz, up on the […]

  • A review of 'God's Last Offer' by Ed Ayres

    In 1998, S. Sailam, a farmer living with his pregnant wife and two children in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, found that the pesticide he was spraying on his cotton crop had ceased to do its job. In desperation, he killed himself by squirting the pesticide down his throat. More than 100 of his fellow farmers in the region took their lives with this same tragic gesture in January and February of last year. They had been pressed by the Indian government to abandon their tradition of diversified agriculture in favor of high-tech operations growing monoculture cotton for export, and they needed big yields to pay back the loans that financed their switch. When the farmers' crops were decimated by caterpillars, their lives were destroyed as well.

  • Don't let a chance to save the butterfly flutter by

    A couple of weeks ago, while the federal government was removing peregrine falcons from the list of endangered species, I was out watching the first monarch butterflies migrate through the desert on their way to Mexico. I saw both the migratory monarchs and their homebody cousins, the butterflies known as Queens, hovering around the lovely […]