Multinationals make billions in profit out of growing global food crisis

Speculators blamed for driving up price of basic foods as 100 million face severe hunger

Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation, The Independent on Sunday can reveal. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry.

The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world’s poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution.

The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world’s richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (£275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn.

Cargill’s net earnings soared by 86 per cent from $553m to $1.030bn over the same three months. And Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world’s largest agricultural processors of soy, corn and wheat, increased its net earnings by 42 per cent in the first three months of this year from $363m to $517m. The operating profit of its grains merchandising and handling operations jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m.

Similarly, the Mosaic Company, one of the world’s largest fertiliser companies, saw its income for the three months ending 29 February rise more than 12-fold, from $42.2m to $520.8m, on the back of a shortage of fertiliser. The prices of some kinds of fertiliser have more than tripled over the past year as demand has outstripped supply. As a result, plans to increase harvests in developing countries have been hit hard.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation reports that 37 developing countries are in urgent need of food. And food riots are breaking out across the globe from Bangladesh to Burkina Faso, from China to Cameroon, and from Uzbekistan to the United Arab Emirates.

Read moreMultinationals make billions in profit out of growing global food crisis

Exposed: the great GM crops myth

Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.

The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.

Professor Barney Gordon, of the university’s department of agronomy, said he started the research – reported in the journal Better Crops – because many farmers who had changed over to the GM crop had “noticed that yields are not as high as expected even under optimal conditions”. He added: “People were asking the question ‘how come I don’t get as high a yield as I used to?'”

He grew a Monsanto GM soybean and an almost identical conventional variety in the same field. The modified crop produced only 70 bushels of grain per acre, compared with 77 bushels from the non-GM one.

The GM crop – engineered to resist Monsanto’s own weedkiller, Roundup – recovered only when he added extra manganese, leading to suggestions that the modification hindered the crop’s take-up of the essential element from the soil. Even with the addition it brought the GM soya’s yield to equal that of the conventional one, rather than surpassing it.

The new study confirms earlier research at the University of Nebraska, which found that another Monsanto GM soya produced 6 per cent less than its closest conventional relative, and 11 per cent less than the best non-GM soya available.

The Nebraska study suggested that two factors are at work. First, it takes time to modify a plant and, while this is being done, better conventional ones are being developed. This is acknowledged even by the fervently pro-GM US Department of Agriculture, which has admitted that the time lag could lead to a “decrease” in yields.

But the fact that GM crops did worse than their near-identical non-GM counterparts suggest that a second factor is also at work, and that the very process of modification depresses productivity. The new Kansas study both confirms this and suggests how it is happening.

A similar situation seems to have happened with GM cotton in the US, where the total US crop declined even as GM technology took over. (See graphic above.)

Monsanto said yesterday that it was surprised by the extent of the decline found by the Kansas study, but not by the fact that the yields had dropped. It said that the soya had not been engineered to increase yields, and that it was now developing one that would.

Critics doubt whether the company will achieve this, saying that it requires more complex modification. And Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington – and who was one of the first to predict the current food crisis – said that the physiology of plants was now reaching the limits of the productivity that could be achieved.

A former champion crop grower himself, he drew the comparison with human runners. Since Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile more than 50 years ago, the best time has improved only modestly . “Despite all the advances in training, no one contemplates a three-minute mile.”

Last week the biggest study of its kind ever conducted – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development – concluded that GM was not the answer to world hunger.

Professor Bob Watson, the director of the study and chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when asked if GM could solve world hunger, said: “The simple answer is no.”

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 20 April 2008

Source: The Independent

Scientists to capture DNA of trees worldwide for database

The New York Botanical Garden may be best known for its orchid shows and colorful blossoms, but its researchers are about to lead a global effort to capture DNA from thousands of tree species from around the world.

The Bronx garden is hosting a meeting this week where participants from various countries will lay the groundwork for how the two-year undertaking to catalog some of the Earth’s vast biodiversity will proceed.

The project is known as TreeBOL, or tree barcode of life. As in a similar project under way focusing on the world’s fish species, participants would gather genetic material from trees around the world.

A section of the DNA would be used as a barcode, similar to way a product at the grocery store is scanned to bring up its price. But with plants and animals, the scanners look at the specific order of the four basic building blocks of DNA to identify the species.

The resulting database will help identify many of the world’s existing plant species, where they are located and whether they are endangered. The results are crucial for conservation and protecting the environment as population and development increases, said Damon Little, assistant curator of bioinformatics at the Botanical Garden and coordinator of the project.

(No way that this is only about identifying the species and finding out weather they are endangered or not.
What could a scientist possibly do with DNA?
Why have massive, high level security ‘Doomsday’ Seed Vaults been built just recently?
Just in case you have missed these articles:

‘Doomsday’ seed vault opens in Arctic

Investors Behind Doomsday Seed Vault May Provide Clues to Its Purpose (Part 2)

Hungary to start the world’s first wild seed bank

African seed collection first to arrive in Norway on route to Arctic seed vault

Maybe, just maybe, could it be that this is more than a coincidence? …and there are no coincidences.
Maybe some of the – socially accepted – most powerful people in the world are expecting a catastrophe of epic proportions.
– The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreScientists to capture DNA of trees worldwide for database

Merck Plant Dumps Vaccine Waste and Chemicals Into Water Supply

(NaturalNews) Merck, the maker of the very controversial Gardasil vaccine, has a pharmaceutical plant located in West Point, Pennsylvania, that discards pollutants from this facility into the Upper Gwynedd Township Publicly Owned Treatment Works (UGT POTW), according to a press release by the U.S. Department of Justice. The treated wastewater is released into the Wissahickon Creek, a tributary of the Schuylkill River. A federal court complaint was filed alleging that Merck violated the Clean Water Act with various discharges that caused numerous pass through and interference violations at the UGT POTW.

On June 13, 2006, Merck released potassium thiocyanate (KSCN) into the water that reacted with the chlorination at UGT POTW which resulted in extensive fish kills in the Wissahickon Creek on June 14th and 15th. The Philadelphia Water Department had to shut down its Schuylkill River drinking water intake for several days, and a health advisory was issued stating that all recreational uses on the Wissahickon Creek were prohibited from June 14th – July 10th. Then, on August 8th and 9th, Merck released a batch of spend substrate used in vaccine production which caused large-scale foam discharge into the creek. Later, on the 16th, Merck released a massive amount of cleaning agents that when treated at UGT POTW caused another major foam discharge.

Merck has agreed to settle the violations of federal and state water pollution regulations. Merck will pay $10 million to institute a system that will prevent future hazardous discharges from their plant. They will also spend approximately $9 million for environmental projects and will pay $1,575,000 in penalties and civil damages for past violations. “Merck’s actions led to an extensive fish-kill and caused the Philadelphia Water Department to temporarily shut down its drinking water operations,” stated Acting Assistant Attorney General Tenpas. “This settlement ensures that Merck will take steps to prevent future illegal discharges including installing an early warning system to protect drinking water.”

Read moreMerck Plant Dumps Vaccine Waste and Chemicals Into Water Supply

Ted Turner Repeats Call For Population Curb

Says diminishing farmland will lead to food riots, despite being behind corn-based ethanol push

Says diminishing farmland will lead to food riots, despite being behind corn-based ethanol push
Billionaire Globalist Ted Turner, who earlier this month predicted that global warming would eventually lead to cannibalism, has repeated his call to curb population growth, claiming that disappearing farmland will cause food riots, despite the fact that Turner himself is behind the push to grow corn-based ethanol, an industry the UN has blamed for food shortages and increased poverty.

“There are a lot of different problems being caused by an ever-increasing number of people in a finite-sized world,” Turner told CNBC’s Bob Pisani. “The resources of the planet just can’t keep up with the demand and I’m afraid this going to be more commonplace. I’m afraid we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. It’s very complicated I do want to say.”

Watch the video.

“We’ve had warnings for a number of years,” Turner said. “Grain stocks have been dropping every year for the last 10 years or pretty close to that – the reserves. And, the environment in so many different areas is being – the pressure being put on it by the ever-increasing number of people and the number of people using more stuff and more energy – that’s what ‘s leading to global climate change and the over-fishing of the oceans,” he added.

Read moreTed Turner Repeats Call For Population Curb

World might be heading towards Ice Age

CANBERRA: Scientists have warned that the world might once again be heading towards an Ice Age, with global warming approaching a possible end.

Evidence in support of this theory has come from pictures obtained from the US Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, which showed no spots on the sun, thus determining that sunspot activity has not resumed after hitting an 11-year low in March last year.

A sunspot is a region on the sun that is cooler than the rest and appears dark.

Some scientists believe a strong solar magnetic field, when there is plenty of sunspot activity, protects the earth from cosmic rays, cutting cloud formation, but that when the field is weak – during low sunspot activity – the rays can penetrate into the lower atmosphere and cloud cover increases, cooling the surface.

According to Australian astronaut and geophysicist Phil Chapman, this might have caused the world to cool quickly between January last year and January this year, by about 0.7C.

Read moreWorld might be heading towards Ice Age

UN official: Biodiversity loss could hurts medical research

The world risks losing new medical treatments for osteoporosis, cancer and other human ailments if it does not act quickly to conserve the planet’s biodiversity, a senior United Nations environmental official said Wednesday.

Earth’s organisms offer a variety of naturally made chemical compounds with which scientists could develop new medicines, but are under threat of extinction, said Achim Steiner, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program.

“We must do something about what is happening to biodiversity,” Steiner told reporters. “We must help society understand how much we already depend on diversity of life to run our economies, our lives, but more importantly, what are we losing in terms of future potential.”

Read moreUN official: Biodiversity loss could hurts medical research

Gore Used CG Video To Hype Climate Crisis

Al Gore’s widely discredited film “An Inconvenient Truth” that falsely hypes the threat of global warming has now been further discredited. ABC News has discovered that Gore used computer generated footage in his documentary that was taken from the 2004 natural disaster film “The Day After Tomorrow” to fraudulently emphasize the global warming threat. If global warming is such a dire threat to us, why would Gore need to use computer generated footage in the documentary to justify his point? The bottom line is that Gore’s film is based off of lies in order to scare the public into believing that man made carbon emissions are the cause of all of the planet’s environmental problems. Gore ignores scientific data that indicates solar activity is the real cause for planetary warming. Mars and other planets have also experienced rising temperatures the same time that warming has been reported on Earth. So unless man is on other planets emitting carbon, it is clear that solar activity is the cause for the planetary warming. Gore also ignores the fact that this past winter saw record snowfalls and record low temperatures in various parts of the world which indicate that this warming cycle might be coming to an end. Gore’s theories simply don’t add up, but that doesn’t stop him from attempting to recruit a green army of 10 million useful idiots to help him push this agenda. Instead of tackling real environmental problems like chemicals being dumped in oceans, the disappearance of the bees, genetically modified foods, the mixing of human and animal DNA and chemicals being sprayed in the air, Gore would prefer to tackle a problem that isn’t real. This makes Gore a phony environmentalist and he has positioned himself to profit greatly off of this scam. Gore is nothing more than a propagandist who is hyping this phony doomsday scenario so the global elite can justify implementing a planetary carbon tax which will be used to enslave humanity.

The following blurb is taken from ABC News.

Al Gore’s “traveling global warming show,” the award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” includes a long flyover shot of majestic Antarctic ice shelves. But this shot was first seen in the 2004 blockbuster “The Day After Tomorrow.” Sculpted from Styrofoam and later scanned into a computer, the ice shelf “flyover” looks real.

Karen Goulekas, the special effects supervisor for “The Day After Tomorrow” said the shot is a digital image. She was glad Al Gore used it in the documentary since “It is one hell of a shot.” Both movies use the shot to convincingly portray global warming, but it is left to the audience to decide if this created image can both entertain and educate us about our changing planet.

This is blatant fraud on the part of Gore and more proof that his film is nothing more than propaganda designed to misdirect people’s legitimate environmental concerns towards something that helps their goal of a global carbon tax. It is entirely dishonest for Gore to be using computer generated video footage in a documentary that is supposed to be based off of facts. Gore is using this footage to exaggerate his phony claims.

Read moreGore Used CG Video To Hype Climate Crisis

In lean times, biotech grains are less taboo

A farmer harvests soy beans on the outskirts of Gualeguaychu, north of Buenos Aires.(Andres Stapff/Reuters)

Soaring food prices and global grain shortages are bringing new pressures on governments, food companies and consumers to relax their longstanding resistance to genetically engineered crops.

In Japan and South Korea, some manufacturers for the first time have begun buying genetically engineered corn for use in soft drinks, snacks and other foods. Until now, to avoid consumer backlash, the companies have paid extra to buy conventionally grown corn. But with prices having tripled in two years, it has become too expensive to be so finicky.

“We cannot afford it,” said a corn buyer at Kato Kagaku, a Japanese maker of corn starch and corn syrup.

In the United States, wheat growers and marketers, once hesitant about adopting biotechnology because they feared losing export sales, are now warming to it as a way to bolster supplies. Genetically modified crops contain genes from other organisms to make the plants resistance to insects, herbicides or disease. Opponents continue to worry that such crops have not been studied enough and that they might pose risks to health and the environment.

(Genetically modified crops have been studied long enough to know that GM food weakens the immune system within days, increases the cancer risk dramatically etc. – The Infinite Unknown)

Read moreIn lean times, biotech grains are less taboo