Thursday, March 18, 2010
It defies comprehension how off the mark school nutrition is in 2010. School cafeteria programs MUST MAKE A PROFIT or they get SHUT DOWN COMPLETELY. How do they make a profit? When an orange is so expensive that it can be included in the menu only 2 times per week, the tater tots and chicken poppers are the real tried and true money-makers. And THAT is what school meals are all about. At least the kids have time to sit and eat....NOT. LUNCH for many students consists of a 20 minute period, over half of which is standing on line waiting to GET THE FOOD! And who doesn't love wolfing down their food in 3-5 minutes?
Take the quiz and see for yourself how badly in need of a complete overhaul the system is! -Clean Food Earth Woman
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Sunday, March 14, 2010 by Resurgence.org
by Vandana Shiva
Since 1966 - and as a consequence of the introduction of the Green Revolution model of water-intensive, chemical farming - India has over-exploited her groundwater, creating a water famine.
Intensification of drought, floods and cyclones is one of the predictable impacts of climate change and climate instability. The failure of monsoon in India, and the consequent drought, has impacted two-thirds of the country, especially the breadbasket of India's fertile Gangetic plains. Bihar, for example, has had a 43% rainfall deficit, and the story is the same in many other parts of India.
In the final analysis, India's food security rests on the monsoon. Monsoon failure and widespread drought imply a deepening of the already severe food crisis triggered by trade-liberalisation policies, which have made India the capital of hunger. They also imply a deepening of the water crisis.
The monsoons recharge the groundwater and surface-water systems. Since 1966, as a consequence of the introduction of the Green Revolution model of water-intensive chemical farming, India has over-exploited her groundwater, creating a water famine. The chemical monocultures of the Green Revolution use ten times more water than the biodiverse ecological farming systems.
In the 1970s, the World Bank gave massive loans to India to promote groundwater mining. It forced states like Maharashtra to stop growing water-prudent millets like jowar, which needs 300mm of water, and shift to water-guzzling crops such as sugar cane, which needs 2,500mm of water. In a region with 600mm of rainfall, this is a recipe for water famine.
A new study published in Nature magazine and led by Matthew Rodell of the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland shows that water levels in North India fell by 40mm between August 2002 and August 2008. And over the same period more than 109km3 of groundwater disappeared from aquifers, most of it extracted for chemical, Green Revolution-style farming.
Not only has chemical agriculture mined groundwater, but it has also mined soil fertility and contributed to climate change. Chemical fertilisers destroy the living processes of the soil and make soils more vulnerable to drought. Chemical fertilisers also produce nitrogen oxide, a greenhouse gas 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
The solution for the climate crisis, the food crisis and the water crisis is the same: biodiversity-based, organic farming systems.
Biodiverse ecological farms address the climate crisis by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases such as nitrogen oxide, and absorbing carbon dioxide in plants and in the soil. Biodiversity and compost-rich soils are the most effective carbon sinks. They also help adapt to climate change and drought by increasing organic matter, which increases the moisture-holding capacity of soil, and hence provides drought-proofing of agriculture.
Biodiverse organic farms increase food security by increasing the resilience and reducing the climate vulnerability of farming systems. They also enhance food security because they have a higher production of food and nutrition per acre than Green Revolution monocultures, which measure the yield of a cash-crop commodity, not the total food output, nor the nutritional quality of that food.
Biodiverse organic systems also address the water crisis. Firstly, production based on water-prudent crops such as millets reduces water demand. Secondly, organic systems use ten times less water than chemical systems. Thirdly, by transforming the soil into a water reservoir by increasing its organic matter content, biodiverse organic systems reduce irrigation demand and help conserve water in agriculture.
Maximising biodiversity and organic matter in the soil thus simultaneously increases climate resilience, food security and water security.
However, the dominant paradigm of agriculture based on the Green Revolution and genetic engineering is based on reducing biodiversity and reducing organic matter to promote monocultures based on intensive inputs of chemicals, water and fossil fuels. And as the multiple crises deepen because of these non-sustainable practices, corporations try and transform the crisis into new business and marketing opportunities. Examples include the patenting of climate-resilient traits that farmers have evolved over centuries and projecting this biopiracy as an ‘invention'.
In a recent article published in the Wall Street Journal, ‘Fight Droughts with Science', Henry I. Miller, co-author of The Frankenfood Myth, stated: "The first drought-resistant crop, maize, is expected to be commercialised by 2012. If field testing goes well, India would be a potential market for this variety." What Miller fails to mention is that India already has hundreds of thousands of drought-resistant crops.
These are the crops farmers are growing in times of drought. While cultivation of rice has gone down from 25.673 million ha to 19.13 million ha, the area under water-prudent drought-resistant nutritious crops has gone up from 15.325 million to 15.956 million ha. The biotechnology industry is clearly a laggard in breeding for drought resistance, compared to centuries of breeding by India's farmers. Miller also fails to mention that the genetically engineered drought-resistant maize seed performs badly in normal years. This is not science.
Another example of corporate opportunism in this period of drought is the pushing of Roundup (a broad-spectrum herbicide). Roundup kills everything green other than one single crop and therefore destroys the biodiversity and organic matter that is needed to promote climate resilience, conserve water and increase food production.
It is vital that the government of India does not use this emergency of drought to act as a marketer of GM seeds and Roundup. The alternative is clear. It involves:
1. Conservation and large-scale distribution of the seeds of water-prudent crops.
2. The promotion of organic agriculture to increase climate resilience and food and water security.
3. Incentives to farmers to encourage a shift from water-guzzling Green Revolution agriculture to water-conserving biodiverse organic agriculture.
Farmers did not create the Green Revolution. They should not be punished for its consequences.
© 2010 Resurgence
Vandana Shiva is an Indian feminist and environmental activist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology.
While EU countries are banning genetically engineered (GE) crops left right and centre - the President of the EU Commission is doing his best to force them on European citizens.
We're calling for a moratorium on all genetically engineered produce in the EU in order to protect consumers, farmers and the environment. Please join us.
Take Action! Write to President Barroso
In order to avoid your message going into the EU Commission's spam folder - you will need to send an email yourself. Please use the suggested text below with your own wording and subject line so that your message doesn't get ignored! And please blind copy us in your message so we can see just how many are being sent.
* Send to President Barosso of the EU Commission: email@example.com
* And European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy John Dalli: firstname.lastname@example.org
* Copy (Cc) President Zapatero of Spain - who currently holds the rotating Presidency of the EU: email@example.com
* Blind copy (Bcc) Greenpeace:firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear President Barroso and Commissioner Dalli,
You have just approved growing genetically engineered (GE) crops in the EU for the first time in 12 years! This decision poses unacceptable risks to our health and the environment. I'm asking you to protect my food from genetic manipulation with a moratorium on all approvals of GE foods and crops.
You have chosen to ignore safety concerns as well as the will of European citizens. This latest move shows that you put the bio-tech industry’s profits first instead of fulfilling your higher duties to protect European citizens.
The current system of assessing GE foods and crops does not work. On December 2008, EU member states unanimously concluded that EU laws on GE are not implemented properly and that the current GE risk assessment must be improved. No authorisation of GE can be granted in Europe until these essential legal requirements are properly implemented.
The risks GE crops pose on human and animal health and the environment are not sufficiently assessed. And the negative economic and social impacts that GE crops have on our societies are ignored. The European Commission should ensure that people, farmers and the environment are fully protected from GE foods and crops.
I want a future without GE - with diversity in farming that can guarantee food for all of us.