Austrian Parliament votes to fully ban the controversial herbicide Glyphosate

Austrian parliament

Lawmakers in Austria’s lower house of parliament voted to ban all uses of controversial herbicide glyphosate on Tuesday, as the substance faces a slew of lawsuits in the US for potentially causing cancer.

“The scientific evidence of the plant poison’s carcinogenic effect is increasing,” the assembly’s top social democrat, Pamela Rendi-Wagner, said in a statement.

“It is our responsibility to ban this poison from our environment,” she added.

Glyphosate was originally developed by chemical giant Monsanto, a US company that became a subsidiary of Germany’s Bayer last year. The herbicide first appeared on the market under the name of Roundup in 1974. The patent for it has since expired and various companies now produce glyphosate-based weedkillers under different names.

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Credit: Sustainable Pulse (image: DW)

Full article: hhttps://sustainablepulse.com/2019/07/04/austrian-parliament-votes-to-ban-glyphosate-weedkiller/#.XScAJehKhPY

Food webs essential for nature conservation efforts

lake

Lake ecosystems make annual environmental changes more predictable. Nature conservation should not focus on individual species but on whole food webs, because the protection of their functioning is important for the predictability of species, especially when global warming is increasing environmental variability.

The environment varies drastically from year to year. Yet the variation of species in natural populations is positively correlated so that consecutive years tend to be fairly similar. Traditional population models cannot explain this phenomenon. Researchers have for long been wondering what the explanation could be, but they have now discovered a mechanism that translates various environmental variations into positive correlations in natural populations. 

A new, more predictable food web model

A team of Finnish and US researchers used a food web model to simulate daily biomass development of plankton and fish species in Lake Constance. The model accounted for the prey-predator interactions and the age structure of fishes. The food web was subjected to environmental variation in terms of algal growth, that is, in the lake’s primary production. Such variation can be caused by annual changes in temperature, for example. 

“This model differed from earlier ones, as it depicted a whole food web dynamics with 30 different species or age categories and altogether 133 prey-predator interaction links,” says Associate Professor Anna Kuparinen from the Department of Biological and Environmental Science in the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

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Credit: EurekAlert!

Full article: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-11/uoj–fwe112818.php

Eat organic meat to tackle antibiotic crisis

organic meat

Shoppers should choose organic or high-welfare meat to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bugs, England’s chief medical officer has urged.

Dame Sally Davies has warned that if antibiotics stop working, society faces an “apocalyptic” scenario in which treatments including chemotherapy and hip replacements become impossible and common infections kill.

She has called on consumers to use their buying power to pressure the food industry into reducing antibiotic use. That includes choosing organic meat and poultry or produce labelled with the “Red Tractor” and Scottish or Scandinavian fish that have been vaccinated, rather than reared using antibiotics.

“Like many people I am eating less meat,” she said. “And yes, I do look to try to make sure it is at least Red Tractor. 

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Credit: The Times

Full article: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/eat-organic-meat-to-tackle-antibiotic-crisis-nh03wkxs8

Organic GMOs – ask yourself, can this ever be a ‘thing’?

Wheat crop

There is no question that our food system is broken. The way we farm, the way we process, sell, buy and eat food has become an exercise in a polluted environment and polluted, undernourished bodies.

Against this backdrop the word ‘organic’ is sometimes waived like a flag – or worn like a magic cloak – that protects us from harm.

The image of organic, of an agricultural system that promotes healthy plants, animals, soil and humans; that emulates and sustains natural systems; that promotes fairness and justice for all living things; and that cares for future generations, is still strong and is still substantially true.

Organic is the most widely-used system that comes closest in practice to genuinely sustainable farming. But it’s under attack on many fronts. In part this is because there can be a large space between image and the business-as-usual reality of food production. Even with the best will in the world, unsatisfactory practices can creep in and, increasingly, corporate and industrial farming and food interests seek to benefit financially from the cache of organic while at the same time belittling, and in some cases ignoring, its core values.

As in many things the US leads the way in this. Hydroponics and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) have both been allowed in organic foods certified by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in the face of considerable opposition, recently formalised under the banner of the Real Organic Project.

The US has also been blighted by the rise what some call ‘Big Organic’ – an upscaling of organic production that mimics industrial agriculture in its reliance on monocultures, intensive animal rearing and industrial processes. One component of Big Organic is some of the well-established organic brands that have been bought up by large food conglomerates; another is the proliferation of ‘organic’ supermarkets that operate in the same unfair and unsustainable way as their conventional counterparts.

It might be argued that this is simply the consequence of continued and healthy growth in the organic market. Even if that is the case, it is also part of a subtle trend that chips away at the essential nature of organic using mumbo jumbo about the inevitability of market forces and opaque certification.

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Credit: Hospitality and Catering News

Full article:  https://www.hospitalityandcateringnews.com/2018/11/organic-gmos-ask-can-ever-thing/?fbclid=IwAR27xuDnAPacEch7BECWOcNgzfzpqusD7DU41SfhnMBK44JMCfIlL5k16ag