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Margaret Mellon

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About the author: Margaret Mellon is a respected expert on sustainable agriculture and the potential environmental risks of biotechnology. She holds a doctorate in molecular biology and a law degree. Now a private consultant, Dr. Mellon was the founding director of the UCS Food and Environment Program. The views expressed in her posts are her own.

CDC’s “Get Smart About Antibiotics” Campaign Still Ignoring Animals

“Although previously unthinkable, the day when antibiotics don’t work is upon us. We are already seeing germs that are stronger than any antibiotics we have to treat them.” These are the words Dr. Arjun Srinivasan of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used last year to kick off the agency’s educational campaign on antibiotic resistance, “Get Smart About Antibiotics Week 2012.” Read More

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Important Reports on GE Crops Missed by the Boston Review Magazine Forum

I was recently a participant in a virtual forum sponsored by the Boston Review magazine called, rather grandly, “The Truth About GMOs.” I was one of eight respondents asked to provide short comments on an article by Dr. Pamela Ronald advocating greater acceptance of genetic engineering. The forum also gave Dr. Ronald space to reply to the respondents’ comments. Read More

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Let’s Drop “Feed The World”: A Plea To Move Beyond an Unhelpful Phrase

After years of participation in public discussions about agriculture, I’ve developed something of an allergy to the catchphrase “feed the world.”

It seems to come up with depressing regularity to justify, among other things, pesticides, industrial-scale monoculture, and biotechnology, all of which we must embrace—all together now—to feed the world. What gets under my skin is that the phrase is so often used by advocates of high-input American corn and soybeans, who otherwise seem not terribly concerned about problems of hungry people or farmers in developing countries. Read More

Categories: Food and Agriculture  

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Cover Crops Dramatically Increase Corn Yields–Especially In Drought Conditions

Farmers planting crops that can’t be sold? That doesn’t sound like a sensible proposition, does it? After all, seed cost money and so does the equipment to get them in the ground. Why grow ‘em if you can’t sell ‘em? Read More

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Refocusing the Farm Bill

The current farm bill debate is unprecedented, shaking to its very foundation the powerful alliance of commodity and food stamp interests that has driven farm bills for decades. The failure of the House to include a nutrition program in its version of the farm bill, while lavishing public monies on farmers to encourage commodity crop production, is the height of hypocrisy…and mean-spirited as well. Read More

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Risk Assessments Are Missing Harmful Effects of Neonics on Honey Bees

As Rachel Carson noted in her seminal book Silent Spring, a quiet landscape can speak volumes. Lately the buzz of bees going about their invaluable work is getting softer and softer…and in some places, it is just about inaudible. Read More

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Gene Silencing: New Products and New Risks

The J.R. Simplot Co. just filed a petition asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to grant non-regulated status to potatoes genetically engineered (GE) to reduce bruising and suppress levels of acrylamide, a neurotoxin occurring naturally in cooked potatoes. Read More

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Its Master’s Voice: The FDA’s Dependence on Drug Industry Fees

I’ve spent many years wondering why the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been so slow to curb the rampant overuse of antibiotics in agriculture. Read More

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Weaker Antibiotic Regulation: Another Problem with FDA’s Voluntary Cooperation Program

Last post, I described some of the features of the voluntary process that might convince veterinary drug companies to give up lucrative approvals to sell antibiotics for production purposes, like growth promotion and feed efficiency. Read More

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Negotiating with Drug Companies: The Horse-Trading Behind the FDA’s Voluntary Program

After decades of dragging its feet on the issue, the FDA has finally acknowledged that the ongoing massive use of antibiotics in food animal production poses a public health risk that demands a response. Read More

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