The Cost of Food  

Consequences of not valuing soil and water and those who manage them

Tony Allan[1] and David Dent      

Food, water, soil and society: competing claims and their consequences

The food system is a political economy, not an economy

Water flows uphill to money and power (Reisner 1984) that have created a politicised food system which delivers cheap food but is blind to the value of soil and water – it does not account for the damage done by the way farmers produce that food.  Everyone assumes the food system is an efficient, seamless conveyor of affordable food from farm to fork.  Not so.  It has degraded the land, overdrawn water resources, and hollowed out rural societies to the point where food supply chains are at risk and there is no certainty that they will be able to meet future needs.  Julian of Norwich affirmed: ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing (sic) shall be well’ (Serranus de Cressy 1670).  And politicians of all stripes promote this reassuring myth – just imagine what will happen if people were to think there won’t be food on the shelves next week!

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Farming, food and nature

Alan Thornett reviews Farming, Food and Nature: Respecting Animals, People and the Environment, edited by Joyce D’Silva and Carol McKenna (Routledge 2018)

This book brings together 35 individual contributions that were made, or planned, at a conference entitled Extinction and Livestock organised by Compassion in World Farming (CWF) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in London in 2017 in order to discuss farming and food production and its impact on the biodiversity on the planet.

It is a book that should be strongly welcomed. It looks not just at the problem of feeding the planet’s current 7.5 billion people but on the disastrous impact this is having on the biodiversity of the planet. It reflects an emerging wider debate on how to feed the population of the planet without destroying its biosphere in the process

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GMO potatoes: The risks to health

Dr Caius Rommens developed GMO potatoes, but subsequently renounced his work. He explains why we should be wary of the products he created

Dr Caius Rommens developed GMO potatoes for the Idaho-based agbiotech company Simplot. The chief genetic modification he introduced was to silence the potatoes’ melanin (PPO) gene. This gene, when operative, causes potatoes to discolour when bruised. The GMO potatoes do not discolour when bruised. They have therefore been marketed as bruise-resistant and are being sold without GMO labels in the US under innocuous-sounding names like Innate, Hibernate, and White Russet. They’ve also been approved in Canada but are not yet being sold there, according to research by CBAN.

After finding that “most GMO varieties were stunted, chlorotic, mutated, or sterile, and many of them died quickly, like prematurely-born babies”, Dr Rommens renounced his genetic engineering career and wrote a book about his experiences, Pandora’s Potatoes: The Worst GMOs, which is available from Amazon.

In an interview with GMWatch, Dr Rommens discussed the risks to health posed by the GMO potatoes he created.

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