Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Link-straveganza

via The Guardian
The Guardian is reporting on an over-fishing scheme in the UK:
An inquiry into the UK's largest fishing scandal has uncovered "serious and organised" criminality by Scottish trawlermen and fish processors in an elaborate scam to illegally sell nearly £63m of undeclared fish.
Three large fish factories and 27 skippers have pleaded guilty to sophisticated and lucrative schemes to breach EU fishing quotas, in what one senior police officer described as "industrial level" deception.
They went to extraordinary lengths to conceal their illegally caught fish, installing underground pipelines, secret weighing machines and extra conveyor belts and computers to allow them to land 170,000 tonnes above their EU quota of mackerel and herring between 2002 and 2005.
The extent of the "black landings" scandal emerged as 17 skippers and one of the three factories were given fines totalling nearly £1m at the high court in Glasgow on Friday, after admitting repeated breaches of the Sea Fishing (Enforcement of Community Control Measures) (Scotland) Order 2000. Another six skippers pleaded guilty at the same hearing to landing undeclared fish worth nearly £7m at Lerwick, in the Shetlands, and Peterhead, Aberdeenshire.
{...}Judge Lord Turnbull, told the 17 skippers sentenced on Friday they were guilty of a "cynical and sophisticated" operation, which brought embarrassment and shame on them and their families. "The motivation was purely financial," he said. "Those who were already making a good living saw this as a way more income could be generated and were prepared to participate in deliberate lies and falsehoods."
It's no wonder the bloody cod are gone. Even when we know we're over-fishing, even when we're already making a good buck, we still connive and scheme to empty the bloody ocean when we know better!  And notice, this lot got fined a million pounds on £63 million in fish. And they will be allowed to go back to doing what they were doing in the first place.

Community Food Centres Canada get animated!

CFCC gets animated! from Community Food Centres Canada on Vimeo.

more after the jump....

Something I'm really not qualified to pontificate about is the new paper by Robin Mesnage, Benoît Bernay and Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini, on the toxicology of glyphosate (commonly known as Round-Up). The abstract:
Pesticides are always used in formulations as mixtures of an active principle with adjuvants. Glyphosate, the active ingredient of the major pesticide in the world, is an herbicide supposed to be specific on plant metabolism. Its adjuvants are generally considered as inert diluents. Since side effects for all these compounds have been claimed, we studied potential active principles for toxicity on human cells for 9 glyphosate-based formulations. For this we detailed their compositions and toxicities, and as controls we used a major adjuvant (the polyethoxylated tallowamine POE-15), glyphosate alone, and a total formulation without glyphosate. This was performed after 24 h exposures on hepatic (HepG2), embryonic (HEK293) and placental (JEG3) cell lines. We measured mitochondrial activities, membrane degradations, and caspases 3/7 activities. The compositions in adjuvants were analyzed by mass spectrometry. Here we demonstrate that all formulations are more toxic than glyphosate, and we separated experimentally three groups of formulations differentially toxic according to their concentrations in ethoxylated adjuvants. Among them, POE-15 clearly appears to be the most toxic principle against human cells, even if others are not excluded. It begins to be active with negative dose-dependent effects on cellular respiration and membrane integrity between 1 and 3 ppm, at environmental/occupational doses. We demonstrate in addition that POE-15 induces necrosis when its first micellization process occurs, by contrast to glyphosate which is known to promote endocrine disrupting effects after entering cells. Altogether, these results challenge the establishment of guidance values such as the acceptable daily intake of glyphosate, when these are mostly based on a long term in vivo test of glyphosate alone. Since pesticides are always used with adjuvants that could change their toxicity, the necessity to assess their whole formulations as mixtures becomes obvious. This challenges the concept of active principle of pesticides for non-target species.

 The LA Times is reporting that doctors who cook give better advice about diet than those who don't cook. It's the same for those who've quit smoking, use seatbelts, and the like.
In a “teach the teachers” experiment, healthcare professionals have been learning to cook as well as learning nutritional science at a conference that has been presented eight times in the last few years by Harvard University and the Culinary Institute of America. The idea behind “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives – Caring for Our Patients and Ourselves” is that doctors and other healthcare professionals who know how to cook healthfully might be more likely to get patients to do the same.
“The conceptual mode for this program was influenced by the observation that for healthcare professionals, practicing a healthful behavior oneself (eg, exercise, wearing a seat belt) is a powerful predictor of counseling patients about these same behaviors,” researchers wrote in a letter in the Monday issue of the Journal of the American Medical Assn. Internal Medicine.

Over at Eco Watch, there's an interview with  George Siemon, the CEO of Organic Valley. Apparently they are worth nearly a billion US dollars now.
SS: How did you get involved in farming and what did you do prior to the formation of the Cooperative Regions of Organic Producer Pools (CROPP) in 1988?
GS: I was your classic back-to-the-lander. I moved to the country and lived close to the land. I got pulled into being a farmer and really enjoyed the traditional wisdom of the older farmers. Then I discovered organic farming. I wasn’t raised on a farm, so I was very excited for something new. I milked cows for about 10 years, but then got increasingly frustrated by the marketing system. It wasn’t rewarding, it wasn’t reasonable and commodity prices didn’t make any sense, so the economic part of it wasn’t satisfying.
At the same time, the 1985 Farm Bill was the last hurrah of what you call a populous farm movement. There was the unloading of manure on the steps of the USDA [U.S. Department of Agriculture] and the different American radical ag groups, and there was a group in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Farm Unity. After the 1985 Farm Bill had very disappointing results, they felt that they would not get the kind of help they needed from the government. They needed to find ways to help themselves, and the Wisconsin Farm Unity had the idea of starting value-added co-ops which was very pioneering at that time. It just so happened that one of the board members was in our region and he wanted to start an organic produce co-op, vegetable co-op. So, it was really a political activist group that had the idea to start a co-op that would help do what the government was unwilling to do, which was trying to provide farmers with a viable market.
It was a do-gooder concept that started taking root. We started our co-op in 1988. We had tremendous community support from the beggining.

And at Sustainable Pulse, a rather strident article on how developing countries are now growing about 52% of the world's GM crops. Which is not good news, but they do point out (and I love that they source their material):

In Europe:
  • The complete withdrawal of BASF from the EU market due failure to capture market share for the GM industrial starch altered potato Amflora.[1]
  • A ban on commercial growing GM crops in seven EU Member State.[2]
  • GM crops are only grown in five out of 27 Members Sates in 2012.[3]
  • A reduction in area of GM maize grown in four of the six countries where it is grown.[4]
  • A steep decline in the number of GM test site applications in Europe from over 100 in 2009 to 41 in 2012.[5]
In Americas GM crops resistant to the weedkiller glyphosate (Monsanto brand name Round Up) remain the lead product followed by insect-resistant crops (Bt crops):
  • In a 2012 industry survey forty nine percent of farmers reported glyphosate resistant weeds (super weeds).[6]
  • Since Roundup Ready crops were introduced in 1996, 11 new glyphosate resistant weed species in maize, soya and cotton crops in the US.[7]
  • Growing weed resistance to glyphosate in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay in RR crops.[8]
  • Six US states report growing resistance to Bt crops in rootworm pests in GM maize.[9]
  • Peru has a 10 year moratorium on GM crops in place. [10]
In India:
  • Biopiracy charges  have been made against a Monsanto owned seed company.[11]
  • The State of Maharashtra banned Bt cotton seed sales following crops failure and very high farmer suicide rates.[12]
  • A nationwide10 year Moratorium on Bt Brinjal (aubergine) has been introduced. [13]
  • Bt resistant bollworms have been confirm in Gujarat.[14]
In Africa:
  • Kenya has banned GM import in 2012 [15]
  • 400 farmer, consumer and business organisations have called upon the African Union to ban GMOs [16].
  • South Australia has a long term ban on GM oilseed rape [17]

1. BASF, 29 January 2013. “BASF to expand its plant biotechnology research into fungal resistance in corn”
2.Friends of the Earth Europe GM crops irrelevant in Europe February 2013
3. Friends of the Earth Europe GM crops irrelevant in Europe February 2013
4. Friends of the Earth Europe GM crops irrelevant in Europe February 2013
5. See Plant research in Europe; few New GM Plants
6. See Glyphosate Resistance Spreads in the U.S.
7. Heap, I.  The International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds.  Online. Internet. Wednesday, February 20, 2013 .
8 Heap, I.  The International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds.  Online. Internet.  Wednesday, February 20, 2013.  Available
9. University of Illinois Extension, press release 28 September 2011. “New Reports of Severe Rootworm Damage in Bt Corn”. Available at
10. See
11.. Mitra A, 2013. National Biodiversity Authority files case against Monsanto-Mahyco.
12. The Times of India, 2012. Maharashtra bans Bt cotton seeds
13. Devjah R., 2010 India bans cultivation of Bt brinjal.
14. Monsanto, 5 May 2010. “Cotton in India”. Available at
15. USDA,2012. Kenya Bans Genetically Modified Food Imports Gain Report 27th November 2011
16. African Civil Society Calls on the African Union to Ban Genetically Modified Crops

Remember, all the info in the world is no good unless you source it. If nothing else, you won't look like an idiot should it turn out to be wrong. And you look smarter when you point out all you've read on a topic.

And finally, as Cory Doctorow pointed out on Twitter yesterday:
Not food

 Got that right! Cory FTW.
Oh, and if you get the chance check out Cory's novels: For The Win, Little Brother, Homeland, and the one I just finished, Pirate Cinema. All are great reads!

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