Vote counts go slowly in Washington State, where ballots come in via mail and can be sent in as late as election day. But early returns suggest that—like its predecessor, California’s Prop. 37—Washington’s ballot initiative that would have required labeling of genetically modified food has been snuffed out under a fluffy pillow of cash from the agrichemical and food-processing industries.
As in California, the Washington initiative, known as I-522, polled strongly early and then swan-dived as the election approached amid a flurry of anti-labeling TV ads. Again, the anti forces outspent the pro forces by a wide margin; again, they promoted the trumped-up charge that labeling would dramatically ramp up food prices, which I debunked here. Here’s the money-in-politics group Maplight: [Read the full article]
Being a utility executive used to be a sweet gig.
State regulators told you how much you could charge your customers for electricity and dictated your profit margin. Your job was to build big power plants, or buy energy from those that do, and distribute it your customers. And those customers weren’t exactly going anywhere. After all, you owned the transmission lines that delivered your electrons to their homes. In other words, it was a bit like sitting in the corner suite of AT&T, circa 1981, when Ma Bell was the only game in telephone town.
Those days are over. Regulators now want you to obtain a growing percentage of the electricity you sell from wind, solar, and other renewable sources that are carbon-free but intermittent, which plays havoc with the power grid. And your customers? They’re increasingly generating their own electricity from rooftop solar arrays, fuel cells, wind farms, and self-contained power systems called microgrids. The rapid expansion of this so-called distributed generation deprives utilities of revenues while leaving them liable for maintaining the grid. And increasingly severe weather spawned by climate change is raising doubts about the wisdom of relying on a centralized power system. [Read the full article]
Monsanto’s Very Bad Week: 3 Big Blows for GMO Food | AlterNet
Just three days ago, Mexico banned genetically engineered corn. Citing the risk of imminent harm to the environment, a Mexican judge ruled that, effective immediately, no genetically engineered corn can be planted in the country. This means that companies like Monsanto will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country’s borders.
At the same time, the County Council for the island of Kauai passed a law that mandates farms to disclose pesticide use and the presence of genetically modified crops. The bill also requires a 500-foot buffer zone near medical facilities, schools and homes — among other locations. [Read the full article]
5 Ways Monsanto Wants to Profit Off Climate Change | Mother Jones
Global warming could mean big business for controversial agriculture giant Monsanto, which announced last week it was purchasing the climate change-oriented startup Climate Corporation for $930 million.
Agriculture, which uses roughly 40 percent of the world’s land, will be deeply affected by climate change in the coming years. In 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that warming will lead to pest outbreaks, that climate-related severe weather will impact food security, and that rising temperatures will hurt production for farms in equatorial areas. (In areas further from the equator, temperature rise is actually estimated to increase production in the short term, then harm production if temperatures continue to rise over 3 degrees Celsius in the long term.) Meanwhile, increases in the global population will make it crucial for farmers to be efficient with their land, says UC Davis professor Tu Jarvis. “The increase in food production, essentially, in the future needs to be in yields—output per acre,” Jarvis says, even while weather patterns make farming less predictable or more difficult in some places. [Read the full article]
Grant’s journey took him from lettuce fields to the corner office.
Monsanto (ticker: MON) first achieved success in 1983 in genetically altering plant cells, and produced its first genetically modified crops later in the decade. The company’s seed and seed-traits business, which also includes conventionally bred products, generated 70% of last year’s revenue of $13.5 billion, while crop-protection products accounted for the remainder. Monsanto, DuPont (DD), and Syngenta (SYT) together produce half of the world’s seed supply. [Read the full article]