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Thursday, February 13, 2014

More Companies Voluntarily Phasing Out GMOs in Response to Growing Consumer Demand

February 13, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson

(NaturalNews) Demand for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or synthetically derived "food" owned by multinational corporations, is on the decline, suggests a new report by NPR. And many U.S. farmers are now voluntarily switching to non-GMO and organic crops to meet this growing demand for clean food, despite the fact that mandatory GMO labeling has yet to become a reality anywhere in North America.

Much of this demand comes from Asian countries like Japan, admits Illinois-based grain processor Lynn Clarkson, where GMOs are much more scrutinized at the regulatory levels, and the public is generally more wary about the long-term safety of GMOs. But demand is shifting here in the U.S. as well, where an increasing number of food processors and manufacturers are responding to growing public demand for more unmodified, chemical-free food options.

For Clarkson, this meant transforming his Clarkson Grain processing plant, which sits amidst thousands of acres of transgenic corn and soybeans in the central Illinois town of Cerro Gordo, to only GMO-free grains. But this was not exactly a difficult feat, as Clarkson's innovations with regard to supplying American food companies with consistent product naturally paved the way for a longstanding non-GMO-grain-trading relationship with Asia.

"We don't tell people what their values should be," explained Clarkson to NPR, noting that it was food companies themselves, and ultimately their customers, that inspired what would later become a non-GMO tradition. "We inquire, and then we do our best to support those values."

Foreign food companies don't want GMOs, and neither do conscious consumers

Having worked in the grain business for 40 years, Clarkson witnessed the emergence of GMOs during the peak of his career some 20 years ago. Many farmers switched to the technology, which some say was more the result of coercion, but Clarkson's customers were simply not buying it.

According to NPR, Clarkson had already successfully built a strong rapport with his Asian clients around the time that GMOs emerged. Since none of them wanted these transgenic fabrications, he in turn was able to establish one of the first non-GMO supply chains right in the midst of America's agricultural heartland.

"U.S. buyers often think that we're starting from scratch," he contends, referring to his plant's loyal dedication to processing only non-GMO grains. "Well, we're not. We're starting from millions of bushels of demand that are in place and being satisfied on a regular basis for Asian clients."

Farmers do not even want to grow GMOs

Having all the pieces already in place, though, has made the transition to non-GMO a lot simpler for Americans, as the logistics behind the growing and shipping of non-GMO grains to Asia -- many non-GMO farms in the Midwest are located along river routes that easily connect shipping vessels to the ocean -- have already been previously established.

Adding to the conversation are some previous and even current GMO farmers, who are more than happy to escape the clutches of the biotechnology industry by meeting new demand for non-GMO crops. In many cases, farmers were unduly pressured by the likes of Monsanto to switch to GMO crops, a decades-long campaign that has resulted in some 90 percent of the corn, soy and cotton grown in the U.S. being converted to GMO.

"[N]one of us want the crops," explains one NPR commenter and farmer, noting that Monsanto and others in the industry successfully introduced GMOs by initially intimidating farmers alongside its legal team. "Monsanto wants the crops and the herbicide sales, and that's the only reason it's there."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Western Drought Leads to Smallest Cattle Herd in 61 Years, Organic Food Shortages

February 05, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson

(NaturalNews) It is shaping up to be an exceptionally tough year for agriculture in America, where persistent drought and erratic weather patterns across much of the nation have led to the smallest overall cattle herd in 61 years, according to the latest data, as well as widespread food shortages that have been particularly injurious within the organic sector.

A recent Washington Post (WP) report explains how the U.S. cattle herd, stricken by harsh cold and a lack of food due to drought, has shrunk to the smallest size since 1952. A downward trend that has been worsening every year for the past six years, the low herd numbers are also the compounded result of a record-breaking dry spell that struck the Midwest back in 2012.

"The U.S. cattle herd contracted for six straight years to the smallest since 1952," writes Elizabeth Campbell for WP. "A record drought in 2011 destroyed pastures in Texas, the top producing state, followed the next year by a surge in feed-grain prices during the worst Midwest dry spell since the 1930s."

Colder weather means cattle need more food to stay healthy

Less water, of course, means fewer food crops. And fewer food crops means less available cattle feed, which is why many cattlemen have had to significantly trim down their herds these past few years. As we reported previously, the 2012 Midwest drought led to the vast majority of corn, soybean and hay crops not getting the water they needed to survive, which is still having an effect on the food supply.

"You sell your cattle because you can't afford to feed" them, stated Paul Looney, a Texas-based rancher who also serves as the first vice president for the state's Independent Cattlemen's Association, to WP. "We were hit across the board in Texas. Everyone had to reduce herd size, so that impacts the whole beef business, from the ranch to the plate."

The more recent cold spells have also had a damaging impact on the size of the U.S. cattle herd. As if the feed shortages were not already bad enough, the extreme cold that swept much of the nation recently has resulted in even higher demand for cattle feed. Colder temperatures, it turns out, mean that cattle require substantially more feed in order to stay healthy and alive.

"Cattle are requiring more feed in order to just maintain their body temperature, instead of putting that extra energy into gaining weight," stated Dean Wang, a rancher from Montana who has had to increase alfalfa hay rations during the cold spell. "This year, everyone started feeding a little earlier than what they would have liked, because of the heavy snow and the cold."

Higher demand, decreased supply lead to organic food shortages

The organic food market for humans is also taking a hit during all of this, with shortages of cage-free, organic eggs, for instance, being reported all across the country. Everything from citrus fruit to canned tomato sauces is dwindling due to both increased demand and decreased supply, the latter of which is largely due to drought.

"[California] produces 99 percent of the artichokes grown in the U.S., 44 percent of asparagus, a fifth of cabbage, two-thirds of carrots, half of bell peppers, 89 percent of cauliflower, 94 percent of broccoli, and 95 percent of celery," reads an excerpt from an End of the American Dream post concerning the ongoing California drought, which is having a major impact on the national supply of fresh produce.

Sources for this article include:

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com

http://washpost.bloomberg.com

http://www.myfoxny.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/043790_drought_cattle_herds_organic_food_shortage.html#ixzz2sSiE7ebb

Are GMO-Free Cheerios, Grape-Nuts a Ploy by Grocery Manufacturers Association to Kill Mandatory GMO Labeling?

February 05, 2014 by: Jonathan Benson

(NaturalNews) Two of the largest breakfast cereal companies in the nation, General Mills and Post, recently announced that they will soon be removing all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) from two of their most popular cereal brands, Cheerios (General Mills) and Grape-Nuts (Post). But this sudden move toward transparency in food labeling may be nothing more than a ploy by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), of which both General Mills and Post are members, to shift the public conversation away from mandatory GMO labeling.

As you may recall, the GMA is the same group that fought tooth and nail to defeat Proposition 37 in California and Initiative 522 in Washington, both of which would have required GMO labeling on foods sold at the retail level in their respective states. The GMA was also caught operating an illegal money laundering scheme that involved funneling large amounts of cash from big food manufacturers to the No on I-522 campaign.

More recently, the GMA was exposed for filing a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to declare all GMOs as "natural" so that they can continue to be added to food products sold at high-end grocers like Whole Foods Market and Sprouts. The GMA is also busy working toward the passage of legislation that would actually bar individual states from ever passing their own GMO labeling laws, as we recently reported.

The nefarious activities of the GMA with regard to the issues of GMO labeling and transparency have been so devious in recent days that some media sources have actually started using the word evil to describe the organization, likening it to the agribusiness giant Monsanto. And yet two prominent GMA members that also vehemently oppose mandatory GMO labeling are suddenly and voluntarily embracing a transgenic-free approach, at least for some of their products. So what gives?

Voluntary GMO labeling ruse an attempt to derail GMO labeling movement, suggests blogger

The truth of the matter, as we recently pointed out, is that both Cheerios and Grape-Nuts have been largely GMO-free all along. The former is made primarily from oats, for which there are currently no GM commercial varieties, and the latter is made mostly from wheat, which is also non-GM. With the exception of having to change a few extraneous additives like corn starch to non-GM varieties, in other words, it was really not that hard for either General Mills or Post to make these two cereals GMO-free.

Since both companies have also indicated their intention to keep adding GMOs to all their other cereal formulas, it appears as though the whole charade is more of a publicity stunt than a major shift of opinion about the continued use of unlabeled GMOs in the food supply. One popular health blogger believes that the GMA will use this voluntary labeling initiative, as trite as it is, to argue against the need for mandatory GMO labeling.

"[I]t's more likely that come next GMO-labeling initiative, one of the tools in the GMA's 'no' campaign will be to point at Cheerios and Grape-Nuts and whatever other cereal brands declare their non-GMO status," writes Jill Ettinger for Eat Drink Better. "Their argument will sound a little something like: 'Why push a mandatory label law forward when brands are voluntarily doing the work already? This is cheaper, dear taxpayers.'"

Voluntary GMO labeling, no matter what the true agenda behind its adoption by major food corporations, is still a positive step forward in raising awareness about the existence of GMOs. It is also indicative of shifting public perception and increased demand for cleaner foods produced on farms rather than in labs. But it is important to remain vigilant about the sinister tactics of an industry that we know is inherently dishonest and hellbent against having to be transparent with consumers.

Sources for this article include:

http://eatdrinkbetter.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://www.naturalnews.com

http://science.naturalnews.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/043791_GMO_labeling_Grocery_Manufacturers_Association_GMO-free_Cheerios.html#ixzz2sSh3mt8R