The Gangs of El Salvador (Trailer) – Vice News Published on Nov 9, 2015


El Salvador is set to eclipse Honduras as the country with the highest homicide rate in the world. By the end of September 2015, there had been around 5000 murders in a country of just over 6 million.

The staggering death toll follows the breakdown of a truce between powerful, rival gangs and the government. El Salvador’s murder rate is now the highest it’s been since the end of the country’s brutal civil war. There is on average one murder an hour.

Police and military are now combatting the gangs head-on and gang members are being charged with a new crime — membership of a terrorist organization.

VICE News correspondent Danny Gold headed to El Salvador to investigate what many are now calling a war between gangs and police.

Watch “San Pedro Sula Nights” – http://bit.ly/1GTAJQT

Congress looks increasingly skeptical about GMO labeling – Updated by Nathanael Johnson on October 24, 2015, 10:00 a.m. ET


Originally published on Grist.

On Wednesday morning, for the first time in a decade, there was a US Senate hearing on agricultural biotechnology. Lawmakers are tuning into the issue for two reasons: First, the Obama administration has said that it’s time to update and modernize GMO regulations; second, there are bills pending that would either force or ban mandatory labeling of GMOs in food products.

The hearing, held by the Senate agriculture committee, provided a chance to gauge how senators are thinking about this issue. The Senate is currently mulling a bill, already passed by the House, that would set a federal standard for voluntary labeling, while also invalidating any mandatory labeling laws that states — like Vermont — have passed or might pass. I’ve gotten the sense from Politico’s reporting on this that Republicans are having a hard time finding Democratic senators to sign on to the bill, so I was a bit surprised to see a fairly pro-GMO sentiment prevailing in the hearing Tuesday morning.

Of course, this was the agriculture committee — and I’d expect some pro-GMO sentiments from Democrats with big constituencies of farmers. But I was also expecting to see some senators from more liberal states channeling anti-GMO concerns as well. Instead, I heard strong pro-GMO statements, and no senator planted a flag on anti-GMO ground.

An exchange between regulators and Heidi Heitkamp, a no-nonsense Democrat from North Dakota, was illustrative of the general tenor of the hearing. The regulators had been saying time and time again that the GMOs they approved were just as safe as any other food. So Heitkamp asked William Jordan, from the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs, to explain how he shared the information he used to determine that safety with the public. Jordan began talking about making every effort toward transparency against a broader backdrop of a general decline in trust in government.

Heitkamp jumped in: “Except what people hear is blah, blah, blah. Blah, blah.”

Jordan: “I know that.”

Heitkamp: “I believe the science is so strong in this area — that these are products that will not have an adverse effect in any way on health, in fact can improve health by making food more available worldwide. And yet we seem to be losing the fight, not just on labeling but on how we are going to make these products more accessible.”

Then, turning away from Jordan, she threw the question to a USDA regulator, who began to give a similar homily about the importance of press releases and emailing stakeholders.

 

 

Article continues:

http://www.vox.com/2015/10/24/9603536/gmo-labels

More Foods Boast Non-GMO Labels—Even Those Without GMO Varieties – By Ilan Brat Aug. 20, 2015 5:30 a.m. ET


As consumer concern grows over genetically modified products, more produce purveyors are paying to use such labels

The Non-GMO Project has logged a big increase in the number of fruit and vegetable sellers requesting its stamp of approval in the past two years.

The Non-GMO Project has logged a big increase in the number of fruit and vegetable sellers requesting its stamp of approval in the past two years. Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Last year, Evolution Salt Co. proudly slapped a label on its packages of Himalayan salt proclaiming they contained no genetically modified organisms.

It shouldn’t have been a surprise, because salt has no genes. But Hayden Nasir, chief executive of the Austin-based company, said advertising the absence of GMOs was good business.

If a competing salt next to Evolution’s “doesn’t say non-GMO on it, chances are somebody will bypass that,” said Mr. Nasir, who said he also supports such labeling in principle.

The U.S. food industry is under siege from consumers’ growing demand for natural and less-industrially produced fare, with sales of everything from conventional breakfast cereals to Cheez Whiz suffering. Part of that skepticism has focused on GMOs, which, according to a vocal core of critics, damage the environment and may harm human health.

While the U.S. government and most major science groups say evidence shows that GMOs are safe, consumer concern has grown so strong that some vendors of products like blueberries and lettuce are paying for non-GMO labeling even though their products aren’t among the small number of crops that are genetically modified in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved production of genetically modified varieties of less than 20 crops. Only eight are widely produced commercially: corn, soybeans, alfalfa, papaya, summer squash, sugar beets, cotton and canola. GMO potatoes and apples recently started commercial production but aren’t yet widely available. Of the total, only some papaya and squash commonly are eaten by people directly (little of the sweet corn Americans eat is of the GMO variety). The rest are used for animal feed or to make oils or ingredients for packaged foods like soy lecithin.

Article continues:

http://www.wsj.com/articles/more-foods-boast-non-gmo-labelseven-those-without-gmo-varieties-1440063000s

Unhealthy Fixation


The war against genetically modified organisms is full of fearmongering, errors, and fraud. Labeling them will not make you safer.

 

Is genetically engineered food dangerous? Many people seem to think it is. In the past five years, companies have submitted more than 27,000 products to the Non-GMO Project, which certifies goods that are free of genetically modified organisms. Last year, sales of such products nearly tripled. Whole Foods will soon require labels on all GMOs in its stores. Abbott, the company that makes Similac baby formula, has created a non-GMO version to give parents “peace of mind.” Trader Joe’s has sworn off GMOs. So has Chipotle.

Some environmentalists and public interest groups want to go further. Hundreds of organizations, including Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Center for Food Safety, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, are demanding “mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.” Since 2013, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut have passed laws to require GMO labels. Massachusetts could be next.

The central premise of these laws—and the main source of consumer anxiety, which has sparked corporate interest in GMO-free food—is concern about health. Last year, in a survey by the Pew Research Center, 57 percent of Americans said it’s generally “unsafe to eat genetically modified foods.” Vermont says the primary purpose of its labeling law is to help people “avoid potential health risks of food produced from genetic engineering.” Chipotle notes that 300 scientists have “signed a statement rejecting the claim that there is a scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs for human consumption.” Until more studies are conducted, Chipotle says, “We believe it is prudent to take a cautious approach toward GMOs.”

The World Health Organization, the American Medical Association, the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science have all declared that there’s no good evidence GMOs are unsafeHundreds of studies back up that conclusion. But many of us don’t trust these assurances. We’re drawn to skeptics who say that there’s more to the story, that some studies have found risks associated with GMOs, and that Monsanto is covering it up.

I’ve spent much of the past year digging into the evidence. Here’s what I’ve learned. First, it’s true that the issue is complicated. But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It’s full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust.

Article continues:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/07/are_gmos_safe_yes_the_case_against_them_is_full_of_fraud_lies_and_errors.html

Unhealthy Fixation – By William Saletan JULY 15 2015 5:45 AM


1 They Want You to Be Overwhelmed

Is genetically engineered food dangerous? Many people seem to think it is. In the past five years, companies have submitted more than 27,000 productsto the Non-GMO Project, which certifies goods that are free of genetically modified organisms. Last year, sales of such products nearly tripled. Whole Foods will soon require labels on all GMOs in its stores. Abbott, the company that makes Similac baby formula, has created a non-GMO version to give parents “peace of mind.” Trader Joe’s has sworn off GMOs. So has Chipotle.

Some environmentalists and public interest groups want to go further. Hundreds of organizations, including Consumers Union, Friends of the Earth, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Center for Food Safety, and the Union of Concerned Scientists, are demanding “mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.” Since 2013, Vermont, Maine, and Connecticut have passed laws to require GMO labels. Massachusetts could be next.

The central premise of these laws—and the main source of consumer anxiety, which has sparked corporate interest in GMO-free food—is concern about health. Last year, in a survey by the Pew Research Center, 57 percentof Americans said it’s generally “unsafe to eat genetically modified foods.” Vermont says the primary purpose of its labeling law is to help people “avoid potential health risks of food produced from genetic engineering.” Chipotle notes that 300 scientists have “signed a statement rejecting the claim that there is a scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs for human consumption.” Until more studies are conducted, Chipotle says, “We believe it is prudent to take a cautious approach toward GMOs.”

I’ve spent much of the past year digging into the evidence. Here’s what I’ve learned. First, it’s true that the issue is complicated. But the deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. It’s full of errors, fallacies, misconceptions, misrepresentations, and lies. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust.

Article continues:

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2015/07/are_gmos_safe_yes_the_case_against_them_is_full_of_fraud_lies_and_errors.html

This is why farmers may revolt against Whole Foods – by Stephen Gandel JUNE, 2015


A new rating system has angered some organic farmers.

Whole Foods may be in the middle of an escalating organic food fight.

At issue is a new rating system the famously green grocer is instituting in its stores. Some of Whole Foods’ long-time farmers are unhappy with the rating system — which goes from good to better to best — because in some instances it may give non-organic produce a higher rating than fruits and vegetables grown organically. Whole Foods says the new rating system, which is called Responsibly Grown, takes into account things such as water use and conservation efforts, as well as pesticides.

The New York Times said a Whole Foods in Capitola, Calif., had given a “best” rating to a non-organic variety of asparagus from Mexico that was selling for $4.99 a pound. Nearby, organic asparagus from Durst Organic Growers, which was selling for $7.99 a pound, was labeled “good.” The New York Times said Jim Durst, the farmer, laughed when we was relayed the news of his lower ranked stalks. “Why our asparagus is ‘good’ and not ‘best,’ well, maybe we didn’t fill in the blanks correctly, or didn’t have it done on time,” Mr. Durst told the Times. Whole Foods says farmers have to get 220 points on their rating system to get the “best” label.

It’s rare for organic farmers to speak out against Whole Foods, which has been one of organic farming’s biggest backers. Company officials say 60% of the food that is sold in the company’s stores is organic.

But more and more grocery chains, including Walmart WMT -0.70% , are selling organic food. That increased competition has weighed on shares of Whole Foods WFM -0.51% , which are trading near their 52-week low. Whole Foods appears to be using the new rating system to differentiate itself from competitors. Farmers say it will be expensive to make the changes needed to win the highest grade in the new Whole Foods rating system, and they accuse the company of offloading the costs of its new marketing campaign on them.

“I’m hopeful that, as it has in the past, Whole Foods will make some modifications,” Jim Cochran, co-founder of Swanton Berry Farm, the first certified organic berry farm in California, told the Times.

For more on Whole Foods, read Beth Kowitt’s article: With new “365” stores, Whole Foods goes on the attack

http://fortune.com/2015/06/12/farmers-whole-foods/

Are GMOs Safe? – The People Speak – Vice News qPublished on May 29, 2015


VICE News traveled around the world speaking to people about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and differences in opinion about engineered food.

Find out what people from Mexico City to London had to say about about it, and tell us what you think: share a post with the hashtag #vicenews on Twitter, or send us a Skype video message.