Food is going high-tech — policy needs to catch up with it
BY THE BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL BOARD
or generations newspaper editorials have been the “eat your spinach” part of the operation. But what if that spinach can now be organic baby spinach, or hydroponically grown? What if we can eat it year round — and from just around the corner?
With a warming planet, the need for high-tech food and high-tech food policies is undeniable. Both are going to play an increasingly vital role in the planet’s future — and the way we eat. Here are a few ways to use science to steer food into a more sustainable path.
Learn to love GMOs, and resist efforts to demonize or prohibit them. Genetically modified food sets off alarm bells for purists, but crops designed to last longer or resist disease are increasingly necessary.
MAINE PUBLIC RADIO
September 6th, 2018
PORTLAND, Maine – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says new guidance about added sugars that exempts pure maple syrup and honey products will be released early next year.
The agency announced months ago that it was considering requiring pure maple syrup and honey to be labeled as containing “added sugars.” Members of the industries that produce those products protested the labels, saying they would be misleading and unfair.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Thursday that the new rules will provide “a path forward for pure, single-ingredient” maple syrup and honey products that does not involve an “added sugars” declaration along with the nutritional facts.
He says the solution addresses “producer concerns that their products could be perceived as being economically adulterated.”
By Quartz Media
We’re surrounded by information about the health and nutritional benefits of different food, but a lot of it conflicts—and it’s leaving people more confused than ever about how to make healthy food choices. Should we eat all organic? Does our food need to be natural, and fresh? One recent fad is to avoid genetically modified food.
GM food has negative connotations for many consumers because of general mistrust of the food production industry, but also because anti-biotech activists have been so effective at stoking concerns. It’s led to an sharp increase in non-GMO labels, even on products like salt, which can’t be genetically modified because sodium chloride is an inorganic compound that doesn’t contain genes.
But non-GMO labels do more than placate people concerned about scientists secretly tinkering with their food. They might persuade people to make a poor food choice. That’s because genetically modifying food can actually make it safer, by limiting the need for, say, pesticides. According to Pam Ronald, who studies genetics at the University of California, Davis and whose husband is an organic farmer, farms going non-GMO to meet consumer demand are causing major damage.
“These non-GMO labels have proliferated, and they’re really a problem,” Ronald told Quartz. “Because there’s no regulation, they can just spray anything they want. So what’s happening is… they’re going back to using [far] more toxic compounds. And I think that’s really a disservice to the consumer to market it as somehow being more healthy—when of course, it’s not, and it’s also more harmful to the environment.”
(A representative from the non-GMO Project was not available for an interview.)
Click here to learn more on how misleading labels confuse consumers, and some expert advice on how to actually make healthier choices. (Hint: it’s not choosing non-GMO.)
On July 29, 2016, President Obama signed into law an Act amending the Agricultural Marketing at of 1946 which provides for a national bioengineered food di
STUDY: Commercial Crop Yields Reveal Strengths and Weaknesses for Organic Agriculture in the United States – GMO Answers
On 22, Sep 2016 | No Comments | In Blog, Featured Articles, Future of Ag, GMO Labeling, GMO’s and The Environment, In The News, Pollinator Health, Seed Treatments, Weed Management and Pesticides | By Admin
Land area devoted to organic agriculture has increased steadily over the last 20 years in the United States, and elsewhere around the world. A primary criticism of organic agriculture is lower yield compared to non-organic systems. Previous analyses documenting the yield deficiency in organic production have relied mostly on data generated under experimental conditions, but these studies do not necessarily reflect the full range of innovation or practical limitations that are part of commercial agriculture.
The analysis we present here offers a new perspective, based on organic yield data collected from over 10,000 organic farmers representing nearly 800,000 hectares of organic farmland. We used publicly available data from the United States Department of Agriculture to estimate yield differences between organic and conventional production methods for the 2014 production year. Similar to previous work, organic crop yields in our analysis were lower than conventional crop yields for most crops.
Averaged across all crops, organic yield averaged 80% of conventional yield. However, several crops had no significant difference in yields between organic and conventional production, and organic yields surpassed conventional yields for some hay crops. The organic to conventional yield ratio varied widely among crops, and in some cases, among locations within a crop. For soybean (Glycine max) and potato (Solanum tuberosum), organic yield was more similar to conventional yield in states where conventional yield was greatest. The opposite trend was observed for barley (Hordeum vulgare), wheat (Triticum aestevum), and hay crops, however, suggesting the geographical yield potential has an inconsistent effect on the organic yield gap.
Read the full study here.
Nothing’s changed since then, except for further confirmation of the safety of foods containing GMOs. So it remains unnecessary to eliminate the trigger clause – the part of the labeling mandate that relies on other states – as proposed in a new bill, L.D. 991.
However, we do support the other provision of L.D. 991. It would revoke a clause automatically repealing the original law if the other states don’t pass legislation by 2018, thus allowing Maine to continue to stand as a supporter of reasonable transparency on food labels.