Blog | March 22, 2012

Ethan’s Farm and Food Roundup

EthanAccording to U.S. and Mexican scientists, GMO plant use has greatly depleted the monarch butterfly population over the past few years. They believe that genetically engineered plants and excessive pesticide use have reduced the amount of milkweed present on farms, which is one of the most common plants that butterflies use to lay their eggs.

Speaking of genetic engineering; a monumental law has been passed in Peru that bans GMO plants or ingredients from the country for ten years. The country fears that GMO crops will detrimentally impact their natural corn, and especially their famous Peruvian potatoes. The President of Peru’s Agrarian Commission said this ban was to “prevent the danger that can arise from the use of biotechnology.”

For Texas, 2011 was the driest year in the history of the state. The Texas AgriLife extension has now estimated that about $7.62 billion was lost during the last year because of the extensive and long lasting drought. This topped the original estimate of the drought damage by more than $2 billion.

Australian scientists have made a breakthrough in pesticide science by successfully creating a commercial pesticide from spider venom. The Australian funnel-web spider has a specific enzyme in its venom that fends off all types of annoying crop-eating insects. Not only is this new type of pesticide completely natural and eco-friendly, scientists will also be able to tailor different venoms to target different species of irritating insects.

Bad news for burger lovers: recent research conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health shows that eating red meat is linked to an increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer. It also showed that eating other proteins, such as chicken and fish, was associated with a lower risk of death. In terms of red meat, the study shows that processed meat has a much larger impact on your body than its unprocessed counterpart.

A record warm March has sent some farmers to the field to get a jumpstart on this year’s growing season. However, it’s a costly gamble trying to predict whether or not there will be another deadly frost this year, one that would kill all of the newly planted crops. “It’s going in good, but we have fear that it might come in too quick and a frost will come and kill it,” explained Ethan Cox, who owns a 5,000 acre farm in Illinois largely devoted to corn. Only time will tell if these farmers made the right choice to plant their crops so early.

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