Farms Are Climate Enemies And Must Be Radically Transformed

The UK says farm practices must radically change to be sustainable and friendly to the environment, claiming that the true cost of cheap food is health and climate crisis.

The hallmark of Technocracy is that Technocrats think they are experts at everything, even if they know nothing about it. Pushing agriculture backwards will precipitate a region-wide famine.⁃ TN Editor

The true cost of cheap, unhealthy food is a spiralling public health crisis and environmental destruction, according to a high-level commission. It said the UK’s food and farming system must be radically transformed and become sustainable within 10 years.

The commission’s report, which was welcomed by the environment secretary, Michael Gove, concluded that farmers must be enabled to shift from intensive farming to more organic and wildlife friendly production, raising livestock on grass and growing more nuts and pulses. It also said a National Nature Service should be created to give opportunities for young people to work in the countryside and, for example, tackle the climate crisis by planting trees or restoring peatlands.

“Our own health and the health of the land are inextricably intertwined [but] in the last 70 years, this relationship has been broken,” said the report, which was produced by leaders from farming, supermarket and food supply businesses, as well as health and environment groups, and involved conversations with thousands of rural inhabitants.

“Time is now running out. The actions that we take in the next 10 years are critical: to recover and regenerate nature and to restore health and wellbeing to both people and planet,” said the commission, which was convened by the RSA, a group focused on pressing social challenges.

The commission said most farmers thought they could make big changes in five to 10 years if they got the right backing.

“Farmers are extraordinarily adaptable,” said Sue Pritchard, director of the RSA commission and an organic farmer in Wales. “We have to live with change every single day of our lives.

“We are really keen that farmers feel they are in the driving seat and that they can be a force of change. At the moment, a lot of farmers feel beleaguered and that they have become the bad guys. But without sustainable, secure and safe farming in the UK, we will not survive.”

The commission criticised decades of government policy aimed at making food cheaper, fuelling rising obesity and other health problems. “The true cost of that is simply passed off elsewhere in society – in a degraded environment, spiralling ill health and impoverished high streets,” said the report.

Pritchard said the UK had the third cheapest basket of food in the developed world, but also had the highest food poverty in Europe in terms of people being able to afford a healthy diet. Type 2 diabetes, a diet-related illness, costs the UK £27bn a year, she said.

The commission also said agriculture produced more than 10% of the UK’s climate-heating gases and was the biggest destroyer of wildlife; the abundance of key species has fallen 67% since 1970 and 13% of species are now close to extinction.

To solve these crises, the commission said “agroecology” practices must be supported – such as organic farming and agroforestry, where trees are combined with crops and livestock such as pigs or egg-laying hens.

The commission has also adapted for the UK a recently published scientific dietthat is both nutritious and environmentally sustainable. While it and other studies recommend large reductions in meat-eating, Pritchard said: “There is a strong case to be made [in the UK] to support sustainable beef and lamb in the places where grass is the best thing to grow.”

The so-called planetary health diet calls for more nuts and pulses in diets and Pritchard said these and more vegetables could be grown in the UK. Hazelnuts and walnuts are native to the UK, she pointed out, and some farmers are now starting to grow crops like lentils and quinoa, as well as beans and peas.

The commission said the government must develop a plan to put the countryside and the communities living there at the centre of the green economy.

“[Brexit] creates a once-in-50-years opportunity to change our food and farming system, but we need to act now: the climate emergency makes urgent, radical action on the environment essential,” said Sir Ian Cheshire, chair of the RSA commission and also a senior government adviser.

Gove said: “This report raises issues that are hugely important. We know that it is in the interests of farmers and landowners to move to a more sustainable model.” He added that the government’s agriculture bill would reward farmers with public money for public goods and a new “farm to fork” food review would look to ensure everyone had access to healthy British food.

The report was backed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats. The Green MP Caroline Lucas said: “This monumental report is a powerful and profound account of the ecological transformation of our food and farming system that we urgently need – and where we can start.”

The commission said a new non-profit bank should be set up to provide finance to farmers investing in new practices.

With Brexit uncertainty worrying farmers, the commission urged minister to stop delays on policy and trade decisions and commit to a future-proof ambition by January 2020. It also said schools, hospitals and prisons should buy more sustainably produced British food.

Prof Joanna Price, the vice-chancellor of the Royal Agricultural University, said: “The report paints an honest picture of the challenges and sets out some bold ideas to address them. We strongly agree that farming can be a force for positive change and that rural communities can thrive as a powerhouse for a green economy.”

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The German Green Party Wants To Ban ALL Industrial Farming

The European Green Party is growing alongside the populist movement, and is emerging as the dominant force in Germany. The insanity of banning all industrialized farming would cause massive starvation and even societal collapse. ⁃ TN Editor

The Green party in Germany has said it intends to ban industrial farming as part of a wide-ranging and costly package to combat climate change should they come to power.

Katrin Goering-Eckardt, the party’s leader in the Germany parliament, said her party would establish a fund worth at least €100 billion to finance climate projects including dam construction, reforestation and environmentally friendly transportation projects.

Ms Goering-Eckardt did not go into further details on a timeline for the prohibition of intensively reared meat.

But the proposal is likely to stoke up debate over whether the Greens are still Germany’s Verbotspartei (prohibition party), a nickname they gained in 2013 due to a misjudged plan to introduce a weekly “veggie day”.

Last week Christian Lindner, the leader of the pro-business Free Democrats, warned that the Greens “dream of a meat-less country.”

“Whoever wants to be vegan is free to do so, but the rest of us shouldn’t be banned from eating our schnitzel,” Mr Lindner said.

In a country where pork is still a central part of the diet, such fears have traditionally restricted support for the environmentalists to liberal urban districts.

But Ms Goering-Eckardt told the German tabloid Bild am Sonntag that public attitudes have transformed, with Germans realizing that drastic action on global warming is required.

“Many people have now understood that things are going to change fundamentally,” the 53-year-old said. “The question is whether we make the changes ourselves or allow ourselves to be swept over by the climate crisis.”

The Green party politician said they would publish detailed financing for the fund in the coming weeks. She said that no decision had been made on whether it would be financed through tax hikes or via an increase in public debt.

“What we face is a monumental task which even surpasses the reunification [of Germany] as it demands massive investment over a shorter timeframe,” she said.

Ms Goering-Eckardt also argued that it was a question of Germany doing it itself or facing fines of up to €60 billion (£53.4bn) from Brussels.

The Green party are currently riding a wave of popularity that makes it ever more probable that they will help form the next coalition government in Europe’s largest economy.

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Outback

How To Create A Country With No Heart

Take a lesson in the ultra-radical anti-human, green agenda: It is the identical story in every nation, as clearly seen in Australia. It is not Communism or Fascism, but rather Technocracy, the “science of social engineering.” ⁃ TN Editor
 

Anti-development policies, land-use sterilisation, climate alarmism and green law-fare are destroying the future for our kids and grandkids. Current policies will stack-and-pack the coasts and major cities leaving a depopulated outback to uncontrolled floods and droughts, lantana and woody-weeds, wild cats and dogs, wild fires, feral pigs and the occasional park ranger or tourist bus.

What has happened to Australia’s once-bipartisan policies favouring decentralisation? Why is every proposal to develop an outback mine, dam, irrigation scheme or a real power station now labelled “controversial” by the ABC and opposed by the ALP/Greens?

This coastal-city focus and the hostility to new outback industry (except for wind/solar toys) has surely reached its zenith with the recent state budget for Queensland.

The population of coastal and metropolitan Queensland is surging with baby-boom retirees, welfare recipients, grey nomads, tourists, overseas students, migrants and winter refugees. But the outback is dying with lagging industry and many aging farmers retiring to the coast. We are creating a country with no heart.

This growing urban and seaside population needs power, water and food.

However two critical power-water-food infrastructure projects that have been on the drawing boards for decades did not even rate a mention in the state budget – an expansion of coal-fired power at Kogan Creek and a water supply dam at Nathan Gorge.

The current policy of all major parties is cluttering the countryside with piddling subsidised intermittent power producers like solar panels and wind turbines plus their expensive network of roads and transmission lines. This is inflating electricity prices, and future generations will see this bi-partisan energy policy as a disastrous blunder. It is also a mistake to encourage or subsidise private electricity cartels and put politicians, not engineers, in charge of power generation.

The Kogan Creek power station with its adjacent coal mine was opened in 2007. It is connected to the National Grid and integrated with local gas-fired and solar supplies. It was always planned to add another generating unit at Kogan Creek, but twelve long years have passed with no action.

Kogan Creek is crucial to maintaining a stable power supply to eastern Australia. This was demonstrated recently when a fault temporarily shut down Kogan Creek. The National Grid was barely maintained for about 30 minutes by the battery in SA until other base load generators could be started. With the likely 7 month closure of one damaged generating unit at Loy Yang power station, East Australian electricity supplies are now even more precarious.

Moreover, with the complete failure of the $105M Kogan solar booster and delays to other solar plants in this area which were to be connected to the grid, the duplication of Kogan Creek is urgently needed. (Here is a revealing quote from one of the backers of the failed Kogan solar project: “Solar works extremely well when the sun’s out.”)

Coal produces reliable low-cost electricity from a concentrated area with less real environmental damage than gas, wind or solar. These low density energy sources need much more land to collect equivalent continuous energy from a wide area of bores, pipelines, turbines and solar collectors plus their backup generators, connecting roads and transmission lines. Most CSG wells also need to pump salt water from each bore before the gas will flow. Even if costly processes are used to extract fresh water from this salt water, brines are left behind and must be stored safely. This evil-genie of salt should be left in its underground lair and disturbed as little as possible.

It is becoming clear that that CO2 does NOT drive global warming. Even if it did, when careful life-of-project studies are done for all of Qld energy sources, coal and hydro look likely to have the lowest carbon footprint with the least environmental harm (and they do not slice, dice or fry birds and bats).

The surface disruption from an open cut coal mine is 100% and it shocks the senses. However, it recovers 100% of concentrated hydro-carbon energy from a small area of land – far less than is permanently sterilised by public roads and schools (there is no intention of restoring them). Even if the open cut was abandoned at the end of coal mining, slow but relentless natural healing would immediately start. However, instead of treating the final void as an expensive liability to be refilled with overburden, it should be seen as an asset to be landscaped as a pleasant lake or used for burial of the growing mountains of urban waste.

The need for reliable economical electricity is urgent. However, if Kogan Coal Power is too-close-for-comfort for Jacki Trad, her Environment Minister and the greens of South Brisbane, the next real power station option is Collinsville.

The need to conserve more water is also urgent. Nathan Gorge has been known as an ideal dam site for 50 years, but still nothing is done. The site and catchment make it likely to be a high-yielding, cost-efficient dam. It is vital to the continuing development of the Surat and southern Bowen Basins and its water could be used for irrigation, power generation or fed into the Condamine/Darling River in droughts.

Kogan and Nathan are decentralising projects that could provide community insurance for blackouts, floods and droughts.

It is the outback that produces most of Australia’s food, minerals, energy, water, exports and jobs. And it produces serious income for state governments addicted to ever-rising taxes and royalties.

Anti-development policies, land-use sterilisation, climate alarmism and green law-fare are destroying the future for our kids and grandkids. Current policies will stack-and-pack the coasts and major cities leaving a depopulated outback to uncontrolled floods and droughts, lantana and woody-weeds, wild cats and dogs, wild fires, feral pigs and the occasional park ranger or tourist bus.

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farmland

Foreigners Now Own 30 Million Acres Of Prime U.S. Farmland

Globalization is about taking resources out of the hands of their owners and concentrating in the hands of oligarchs. In the U.S., over 12% of our own shrinking farm acreage is owned by foreign interests. This is the over-arching goal of Sustainable Development, aka Technocracy. ⁃ TN Editor

All across America, U.S. farmland is being gobbled up by foreign interests.  So when we refer to “the heartland of America”, the truth is that vast stretches of that “heartland” is now owned by foreigners, and most Americans have no idea that this is happening.  These days, a lot of people are warning about the “globalization” of the world economy, but in reality our own soil is rapidly being “globalized”.  When farms are locally owned, the revenue that those farms take in tends to stay in local communities.  But with foreign-owned farms there is no guarantee that will happen.  And while there is plenty of food to go around this is not a major concern, but what happens when a food crisis erupts and these foreign-owned farms just keep sending their produce out of the country?  There are some very serious national security concerns here, and they really aren’t being addressed.  Instead, the amount of farmland owned by foreigners just continues to increase with each passing year.

Prior to seeing the headline to this article, how much U.S. farmland would you have guessed that foreigners now own?

Personally, I had no idea that foreigners now own nearly 30 million acres.  The following comes from NPR

American soil.

Those are two words that are commonly used to stir up patriotic feelings. They are also words that can’t be be taken for granted, because today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities.

How did we allow this to happen?

And actually laws regarding land ownership vary greatly from state to state.  Some states have placed strict restrictions on foreign land ownership, while in other states it is “a free-for-all”

“Texas is kind of a free-for-all, so they don’t have a limit on how much land can be owned,” say’s Ohio Farm Bureau’s Ty Higgins, “You look at Iowa and they restrict it — no land in Iowa is owned by a foreign entity.”

Ohio, like Texas, also has no restrictions, and nearly half a million acres of prime farmland are held by foreign-owned entities. In the northwestern corner of the state, below Toledo, companies from the Netherlands alone have purchased 64,000 acres for wind farms.

But even in states where there are restrictions, foreign entities can get around that by simply buying large corporations that own land.

For example, when the Chinese purchased Smithfield Foods in 2013 they instantly gained control over 146,000 acres of prime farmland.  The following comes from Wikipedia

Smithfield Foods, Inc., is a meat-processing company based in Smithfield, Virginia, in the United States, and a wholly owned subsidiary of WH Group of China. Founded in 1936 as the Smithfield Packing Company by Joseph W. Luter and his son, the company is the largest pig and porkproducer in the world.[4] In addition to owning over 500 farms in the US, Smithfield contracts with another 2,000 independent farms around the country to grow Smithfield’s pigs.[5] Outside the US, the company has facilities in Mexico, Poland, Romania, Germany, and the United Kingdom.[6]Globally the company employed 50,200 in 2016 and reported an annual revenue of $14 billion.[2] Its 973,000-square-foot meat-processing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, was said in 2000 to be the world’s largest, processing 32,000 pigs a day.[7]

Then known as Shuanghui Group, WH Group purchased Smithfield Foods in 2013 for $4.72 billion, more than its market value.[8][9] It was the largest Chinese acquisition of an American company to date.[10] The acquisition of Smithfield’s 146,000 acres of land made WH Group, headquartered in LuoheHenan province, one of the largest overseas owners of American farmland.[a]

Of course this hasn’t happened by accident.

The communist Chinese government has actually made the purchase of foreign agricultural assets a top national priority in recent years, and this has been reflected in a series of key documents

The strategy is reflected in encouragements to invest abroad by various documents and articles issued by Chinese leaders. For example, a series of annual “Number one documents” from China’s communist party authorities stating rural policy have contained increasingly specific strategies for investment. A general exhortation to invest in agriculture overseas, issued in 2007, was followed by an initial surge in overseas farming ventures. In 2010, authorities called for supportive policies to encourage investment abroad.

The 2014 document included a more specific mandate to create large grain-trading conglomerates, designed to give Chinese companies greater control over oilseed and grain imports. That was the same year COFCO acquired Nidera and Noble Agri, making COFCO one of the largest trading companies in the world based on value of assets. The 2015 document specifically called for policies to support facilities, equipment, and inputs for agricultural production in foreign countries. The 2017 document broadened the encouragement to include all types of agricultural conglomerates. The 2018 document repeated the general endorsement of overseas investment and instructions to create multinational grain-trading and agricultural conglomerates.

In the end, how much Chinese ownership of our farmland would we be comfortable with?

If they owned 20 percent of our farmland, would we be okay with that?

Well, what if that figure surged to 30 or 40 percent?

Would that still be okay?

We need to start asking these sorts of questions, because foreigners are buying up more of our farmland with each passing day, and this is a very real national security threat.

And after this absolutely disastrous year, thousands more U.S. farmers will be forced out of business and it is anticipated that more U.S. farmland will be up for sale than ever before.

I extensively discussed the problems that farmers in the middle of the country are currently having yesterday, and today I would like to share with you a portion of an email that a friend in Missouri just sent me…

I work for a farmer in West-Central Missouri who raises corn, soybeans, and cattle and to say it’s been a challenging Spring would be the understatement of the year!!! We managed to get some corn planted in April but it started to rain and rain and rain and we still have more corn to plant. My boss doesn’t like to plant corn after May 15 and here it is May 27 and we still are not done planting corn. With each late day that passes by the yield goes down so what do you do??? Do we start planting soybeans if or when it dries up even though the price of soybeans is at a record low or do we plant corn that has risen in price but will have a reduced yield??? From April 28 through today (May 27) we have had 10 inches of rain. One day we had 4.5 inches with roads and basements flooded. Last week we had rain 4 out of those 7 days!!! It’s raining again today as I write this!!! We need warm, sunshine, dry, windy days and we get mostly cool, cloudy, rainy days. Next Thursdays low is supposed to be 57!!! If the weather pattern doesn’t change I don’t see how we can ever get the soybeans planted and we have 1,300 acres to plant. There are large farmers in my area that don’t have anything planted.

This truly is a “perfect storm” for U.S. farmers, and many believe that what we have witnessed so far is just the beginning.

Farm bankruptcies are already at the highest level that we have seen since the last recession, and do we really want foreigners gobbling up even more of our farmland from farmers that are incredibly desperate to sell?

Our founders never intended for America to be for sale to the highest bidder, and hopefully more states will start passing laws that will make sure that U.S. farms stay in the hands of U.S. farmers.

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raspberry

Robocrop: Raspberry-Picker Robot Set Boot More Workers

Goodbye fruit pickers. Designed by skilled Technocrats, this robot picker  will out-produce any human field worker by 40% or more. The tech is being adapted to all sorts of delicate crops that need to be picked. ⁃ TN Editor
 

Quivering and hesitant, like a spoon-wielding toddler trying to eat soup without spilling it, the world’s first raspberry-picking robot is attempting to harvest one of the fruits.

After sizing it up for an age, the robot plucks the fruit with its gripping arm and gingerly deposits it into a waiting punnet. The whole process takes about a minute for a single berry.

It seems like heavy going for a robot that cost £700,000 to develop but, if all goes to plan, this is the future of fruit-picking.

Each robot will be able to pick more than 25,000 raspberries a day, outpacing human workers who manage about 15,000 in an eight-hour shift, according to Fieldwork Robotics, a spinout from the University of Plymouth.

The robot has gone on trial in the UK, as the farming industry battles rising labour costs and Brexit-related shortages of seasonal workers.

Numbers of seasonal workers from eastern Europe have diminished, partly due to Brexit fears but also because Romania and Poland’s surging economies have persuaded their own workers to remain in their home countries .

The robot has been developed in partnership with Hall Hunter, one of Britain’s main berry growers which supplies Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Waitrose. Standing at 1.8 metres tall, the wheeled machine with its robotic arm has begun field trials in a greenhouse at a Hall Hunter farm near Chichester in West Sussex.

Guided by sensors and 3D cameras, its gripper zooms in on ripe fruit using machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence. When operating at full tilt, its developers say the robot’s gripper picks a raspberry in 10 seconds or less and drops it in a tray where the fruit gets sorted by maturity, before being moved into punnets, ready to be transported to supermarkets.

The final robot version, expected to go into production next year, will have four grippers, all picking simultaneously.

Separate field trials in China have shown the robot can pick tomatoes, and it has also been let loose on cauliflower.

As robots don’t get tired, they can pick for 20 hours a day, but the biggest challenge has been getting them to adapt to different light conditions, says Rui Andres, portfolio manager at Frontier IP, one of the main backers of Fieldwork.

Andres says UK farmers typically pay £1 to £2 for a kilogram of raspberries picked by human workers. Fieldwork intends to lease its robots to farmers for less.

The robot is the brainchild of Dr Martin Stoelen, a lecturer in robotics at Plymouth University, who moved from aerospace engineering into robots and took inspiration from his grandparents’ farm in Norway. By tackling one of the most difficult soft fruits first, he hopes to be able to tweak the technology so the robot can be used to pick other berries, fruit and vegetables.

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Playing God: Crispr’d GMO Food Will Stock Grocery Shelves Within 5 Years

The FDA is lobbied and dominated by Big-Ag Technocrats who insist that GMO food is ‘substantially equivalent’ to its natural counterpart, so the GMO food race is full-speed ahead. This trend will substantially change the entire global food chain.  ⁃ TN Editor

A geneticist at the University of California who helped invent the gene-editing tool Crispr told Business Insider she believes its most profound impacts will be on food.

Several Crispr’d crops have already been made, and although you can’t buy them yet, she said she expects to see them in grocery stores within 5 years.

In Silicon Valley, some startups are even using Crispr to make lab-grown meat.

The geneticist, Jennifer Doudna, was named to Business Insider’s list of the10 People Transforming Healthcare.

While ethicists debate the applications of blockbuster gene-editing tool Crispr in human healthcare, an inventor of the tool believes it has a more immediate application: improving our food.

“I think in the next five years the most profound thing we’ll see in terms of Crispr’s effects on people’s everyday lives will be in the agricultural sector,”Jennifer Doudna, the University of California Berkeley geneticist who unearthed Crispr in early experiments with bacteria in 2012, told Business Insider.

Crispr has dozens of potential uses, from treating diseases like sickle cell to certain inherited forms of blindness. The tool recently made headlines when a scientist in China reportedly used it to edit the DNA of a pair of twin baby girls.

Then there are Crispr’s practical applications — the kinds of things we might expect to see in places like grocery stores and farmers’ fields within a decade, according to Doudna.

Work on Crispr’d produce has been ongoing for about half a decade, but it’s only recently that US regulators have created a viable path for Crispr’d products to come to market.

Back in 2016, researchers at Penn State used Crispr to make mushrooms that don’t brown. Last spring, gene-editing startup Pairwise scored $125 million from agricultural giant Monsanto to work on Crispr’d produce with the goal of getting it in grocery stores within the decade. A month later, Stefan Jansson, the chief of the plant physiology department at Sweden’s Umea University, grew and ate the world’s first Crispr’d kale.

More recently, several Silicon Valley startups have been experimenting with using Crispr to make lab-grown meat.

Memphis Meats, a startup with backing from notable figures like Bill Gates and Richard Branson that has made real chicken strips and meatball prototypes from animal cells (and without killing any animals), is using the tool. So is New Age Meats, another San Francisco-based startup that aims to create real meat without slaughter.

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GMO

GMO Cooking Oil Quietly Arrives In Restaurants

Flipping logic upside-down, the Technocrats at Calyxt state: “At Calyxt, we believe it is unethical NOT to use our technologies to address these issues head-on.” In reality, GMO is not equivalent to traditional plant husbandry. ⁃ TN Editor

Somewhere in the Midwest, a restaurant is frying foods with oil made from gene-edited soybeans. That’s according to the company making the oil, which says it’s the first commercial use of a gene-edited food in the U.S.

Calyxt said it can’t reveal its first customer for competitive reasons, but CEO Jim Blome said the oil is “in use and being eaten.”

The Minnesota-based company is hoping the announcement will encourage the food industry’s interest in the oil, which it says has no trans fats and a longer shelf life than other soybean oils. Whether demand builds remains to be seen, but the oil’s transition into the food supply signals gene editing’s potential to alter foods without the controversy of conventional GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

Among the other gene-edited crops being explored: Mushrooms that don’t brown, wheat with more fiber, better-producing tomatoes, herbicide-tolerant canola and rice that doesn’t absorb soil pollution as it grows.

Unlike conventional GMOs, which are made by injecting DNA from other organisms, gene editing lets scientists alter traits by snipping out or adding specific genes in a lab. Startups including Calyxt say their crops do not qualify as GMOs because what they’re doing could theoretically be achieved with traditional crossbreeding.

So far, U.S. regulators have agreed and said several gene-edited crops in development do not require special oversight. It’s partly why companies see big potential for gene-edited crops.

“They’ve been spurred on by the regulatory decisions by this administration,” said Greg Jaffe of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health watchdog group.

But given the many ways gene editing can be used, Jaydee Hanson of the Center for Food Safety said regulators should consider the potential implications of each new crop. He cited the example of produce gene-edited to not brown.

“You’ve designed it to sit around longer. Are there problems with that?” he said.

Already, most corn and soy grown in the U.S. are herbicide-tolerant GMOs. Just last week, regulators cleared a hurdle for salmon genetically modified to grow faster. The fish is the first genetically modified animal approved for human consumption in the U.S.

Though regulators say GMOs are safe, health and environmental worries have persisted, and companies will soon have to disclose when products have “bioengineered” ingredients.

Calyxt says its oil does not qualify as a GMO. The oil is made from soybeans with two inactivated genes to produce more heart-healthy fats and no trans fats. The company says the oil also has a longer shelf life, which could reduce costs for food makers or result in longer-lasting products.

Soybean oils took a hit when regulators moved to ban oils with trans fats. Other trans fat-free soybean oils have become available in the years since, but the industry has found it difficult to win back food makers that already switched to different oils, said John Motter, former chair of the United Soybean Board.

Calyxt said the first customer is a company in the Midwest with multiple restaurant and foodservice locations, such as building cafeterias. It said the customer is using it in dressings and sauces and for frying, but didn’t specify if the oil’s benefits are being communicated to diners.

Calyxt is working on other gene-edited crops that it says are faster to develop than conventional GMOs, which require regulatory studies. But Tom Adams, CEO of biotech company Pairwise, said oversight of gene-edited foods could become stricter if public attitude changes.

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Next On Your Plate: Genetically Modified Salmon

The FDA is embattled in lawsuits to stop GMO salmon, but it has already been approved for human consumption. All GMO food is pushed as being equivalent to natural food, but no one will know the impact on humans until it’s too late. ⁃ TN Editor

U.S. regulators on Friday gave the green light to salmon genetically modified to grow about twice as fast as normal, but the company behind it may face legal challenges before the fish can be sold domestically.

The Food and Drug Administration said it lifted an alert that had prevented AquaBounty from importing its salmon eggs to its Indiana facility, where they would be grown before being sold as food. The agency noted the salmon has already undergone safety reviews, and that it lifted its alert because the fish would be subject to a new regulation that will require companies to disclose when a food is bioengineered.

The move comes despite a pending lawsuit filed by a coalition of consumer, environmental and fishing groups that challenged the FDA’s approval of the fish.

“We think a remedy in our case would stop sale of the fish before they’re allowed to be sold,” said George Kimbrell, legal director for the Center for Food Safety, one of the groups suing the FDA.

AquaBounty was founded in 1991, and it has been working through years of safety reviews and regulatory hurdles to sell its fish in the United States. In 2015, its salmon became the first genetically modified animal approved by the FDA for human consumption. But the agency subsequently issued an alert that stopped the Maynard, Massachusetts-based company from importing its fish eggs until disclosure guidelines for genetically modified foods were resolved.

Called AquAdvantage, the fish is Atlantic salmon modified with DNA from other fish species to grow faster, which the company says will help feed growing demand for animal protein while reducing costs.

AquaBounty CEO Sylvia Wulf said the company expects to get a final certification for its Albany, Indiana, growing facility in the coming weeks. Salmon eggs could then be sent from the company’s research and development facility in Canada, and would be harvested after about 18 months when they reach 10 pounds, she said.

Wulf said it’s been difficult to engage companies in sales discussions because AquaBounty didn’t know when it could start growing the fish in the United States. She said the salmon already has been sold in limited quantities in Canada, where it doesn’t have to be labeled as genetically modified. Wulf said she doesn’t expect the pending lawsuit to affect the company’s U.S. plans.

The genetically modified salmon are raised in tanks and bred to be female and sterile, measures designed to address any fears that they might get into the environment and breed with wild fish.

But Kimbrell, of the Center for Food Safety, said the company’s own tests have shown it’s not 100 percent certain the fish would be sterile, and that concerns about it getting in the environment would grow if the company’s operations were to expand.

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sheep

Cattle And Sheep Now Herded By ‘Barking’ Drones

The idea of automated agriculture is gaining ground with various types of drone devices. The only element left to replace is the actual farmer/rancher, but that day drawing closer. ⁃ TN Editor

Robots aren’t just stealing human jobs, they’re after man’s best friend too – now there’s a drone that can bark like a sheep dog.

The latest drone developments come as more farmers have started using the technology for work on the farm in recent years.

Drone specialist from Christchurch-based DJI Ferntech, Adam Kerr, said the uptake in drones for agricultural uses had now made the National Agricultural Fieldays in Hamilton one of the biggest events in the company’s calendar.

“The past two years have seen farmers embrace drone technology to help with those jobs that are dirty, dangerous or just plain dull,” he said.

Corey Lambeth, a shepherd on a North Canterbury sheep and beef farm near Rotherham, said his drone had made work such as moving stock and checking water and feed levels more efficient.

“Winter time it’s ideal for flying it sitting at home on a cold day I don’t want to go outside, so I fly my drone round, have a look make sure all my stock are behind the wire.

“Also when we’re lambing we can fly it round, it’s ideal with the [camera] zoom, going right in, looking at it [the drone monitor], not even disturbing the ewes,” Mr Lambeth said.

The latest drone model, the $3500 DJI Mavic Enterprise, can record sounds and play them over a speaker – allowing a dog’s bark, or other noises, to be loudly projected across a paddock.

Mr Lambeth said this feature helped move stock along faster during mustering while stressing the animals less than a dog could.

Cows could sometimes become protective of their calves and try to lunge at farm dogs when they got too close, he said.

“That’s the one thing I’ve noticed when you’re moving cows and calves that the old cows stand-up to the dogs, but with the drones, they’ve never done that,” he said.

Mr Lambeth said while some farmers might consider it lazy, a drone could save them time and money.

His employer, fourth generation farmer Ben Crossley, bought a drone after seeing how Mr Lambeth was using his for day-to-day work on the farm.

Mr Crossley said while some farmers struggled with the new technology, it was important to keep up.

“Just trying to get efficiencies too, to just save time, it can sometimes take half a day to find a water leak, whereas with a drone you can zip around and have it done in an hour at the longest,” he said.

“I used to go an see my grandfather every night, he lived on the farm, and he used to even struggle with cellphones, so yeah, a drone would be a shock for him,” Mr Crossley said.

While drones were a new part of the farming tool-kit, Mr Lambeth said technology could sometimes let you down, especially in trying weather conditions.

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AI Targets Takeover Of Fast Food Drive Thru Windows

If AI has its way, the drive-through job is headed for mass extinction. Technocrats see no problem in displacing workers and potentially pushing them into a new class of unemployables. ⁃ TN Editor

The drive through window is often considered the most harrowing assignment inside a fast-food restaurant.

A nonstop whirlwind of multitasking, the gig involves organizing multiple orders, communicating with the kitchen, counting money and negotiating with an endless stream of customers who range from polite and coherent to angry and inebriated — all for a minimum wage reward.

If that juggling act wasn’t hard enough, a giant timer hangs in many drive through kitchens, adding urgency to each task, former workers say.

Though the drive through gantlet has broken many a fast food worker, the newest employee at Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard in Denver will not be feeling the heat anytime soon. That’s because she’s an artificially intelligent voice assistant — emotion-free and immune to stress — with the ability to operate a drive through window without fatigue, bathroom breaks or compensation.

She fills a classically American job nearly a century in the making, a rite of passage for generations of teenagers that could be in the very early stages of a mass extinction. But first Rob Carpenter, the CEO and founder of Valyant AI, an artificial intelligence company that designed the customer service platform, will have to prove that his model works as well as he says it does.

The AI assistant has endured months of testing, but officially began handling the restaurant’s breakfast orders at last week. If the fledgling assistant runs into any technical issues, the transaction is handed off to a human employee inside the restaurant.

“The system takes a lot of friction out of interactions between customers and employees,” Carpenter said, noting that the AI was designed to sound like an amiable woman’s voice. “The AI never gets offended and it will just keep talking to you in a very calm and friendly voice.”

There’s an immediate benefit for employees as well, Carpenter maintains.

“Over the course of an eight-hour shift, they don’t have to repeat the same welcome language hundreds of times,” he said.

Intelligent, interactive machines, once the stuff of sci-fi movies and futuristic fantasy, are quickly becoming a reality, especially in the fast food dining world, where repetition rules and improvisation is limited. In restaurants around the globe, machines are already taking orders, flipping burgers, preparing pizzas, pouring stiff drinks and cooking entire meals in full view of hungry customers.

Fast food restaurants like Starbucks, Wendy’s, Panera and McDonald’s encourage customers to order using self-service kiosks or a mobile app. But Valyant AI appears to be one of the first companies to create a platform for taking orders via an interactive AI voice assistant – one who also happens to be the first company representative many customers will encounter.

Carpenter said the assistant’s conversational cadence — which sounds like a more fluid version of Amazon’s Alexa — was designed to replicate human interactions, with limited pauses and a menu-based script that varies depending on the exchange.

In a video demonstrating the AI assistant, a woman’s voice can be heard saying:

“Hi, I’m your automated order taker. Take your time, order when you’re ready.”

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