This Week in Eco News - November 4, 2016

Video of the Week

Sustainable Future Proteins
Are proteins derived from sustainable sources nutritious enough? Wageningen University is researching this question because providing a scientific basis for the development of high-quality foods with sustainable proteins may become a necessity as our population rises. Would you eat lab-grown proteins? [Wageningen University]

Take Action: Learn more about the risks of industrially produced meat.

News From Around the Web

Doubts About the Promised Bounty of Genetically Modified Crops
In a front page article in the Sunday edition, New York Times reporters Karl Russell and Danny Hakim argue that 20 years after the introduction of GMO crops, herbicide use has not decreased nor have yields increased - debunking two of the central promises of the technology. Unsurprisingly, biotech companies strongly disagree. [NY Times]

US Department of Agriculture Approves Two Types of Genetically Engineered Potatoes
Speaking of GE crops...the US Department of Agriculture has approved commercial planting of two types of potatoes that are genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine. Next the potatoes must clear a voluntary review process through the Food and Drug Administration and get the OK from the US Environmental Protection Agency. The company that developed the potatoes says it expects those approvals in January with the potatoes entering the market next spring. [Register Guard]

Consumer Advocacy Group Charges Egg Distributor With Misrepresentative Labels
A recent traceability audit, prompted by a whistleblower's complaint, found that despite the fact that Phil's Fresh Eggs, a large supplier to Handsome Brook Farms (HBF) in New York, had the appropriate certifications justifying its use of certified human and organic labels, three of its supplying farms lacked any such credentials. The report also said HBF had purchased eggs on the open market without verifying if they were "pasture-raised," yet resold them as such. [Legal News Online]

With GPS and Graph Paper, Farmers Find A-maze-ing Ways to Bring in Cash
For the past 17 years, Wissemann's family and landscape artist Will Sillin have used arithmetic as well as the tools and technology available to them to build beautiful corn mazes in the shape of theMona Lisa, Albert Einstein and Salvador Dali paintings. In 2000, that was graph paper and an ATV equipped with a GPS that was not very accurate. But now, a GPS-equipped mower and drones can pinpoint individual corn stalks, allowing for the creation of elaborate and incredible mazes. [NPR]

Dow Weed Killer Re-Approved After Patent Raises Questions
The Environmental Protection Agency once again gave its stamp of approval to a new weed-killing pesticide from Dow Chemical Co. [Bloomberg BNA]

This Farm Uses Only Sun and Seawater to Grow Food
Sundrops Farms, located in an arid region of coastal Australia, converts its bountiful solar power and seawater into fresh water for crops like tomatoes. The indoor commercial farm replaces soil with a coconut husk medium and avoids the use of pesticides and fossil fuels. The company is successful enough that it's building other "sustainable" greenhouses, although not all of them will depend on seawater and solar. [Modern Farmer]

The $100 Million US Government Fish Farm Nobody Wants
The US government has tried to kick-start large-scale fish farming miles offshore, but due to the steep infrastructure, management and environmental costs, companies have rejected the appeals. Because "[i]ndustrial fish farms can pollute the water and disrupt natural ecosystems," decision makers shouldn't support "outdated and risky ocean aquaculture" but rather encourage sustainable options, says Marianne Cufone of the Recirculating Farms Coalition. [Bloomberg]

Deep South Drought Kills Crops, Threatens Herds, Dries Lakes
One of the worst droughts in decades has hit 13 southern states, from Oklahoma to Alabama to Georgia to Virginia and has destroyed crops and forced ranchers to cull herds. Used to plentiful water supplies in the South, droughts can be particularly harsh because its clay soil is poor at holding water. Water problems are becoming more troublesome in this fast-growing region even as a legal water battle between Georgia, Florida and Alabama rages on. [AP]

What Is Causing the Rapid Rise in Methane Emissions?
Researchers are now saying say that, globally at least, the increase in methane emissions in recent years is due to the activities of microbes in wetlands, rice paddies, and the guts of ruminants. [The Guardian]

Monday Campaigns

How Family Caregivers Can Take Care of Themselves
It is estimated that there are more than 60 million unpaid American caregivers who tend to special needs children, older parents, or loved ones with chronic illnesses or disabilities. Experts agree caregivers need to take time to focus on their own well-being, both for themselves and those they care for. Caregivers can leverage Monday as a simple, effective way to nudge themselves towards healthier behavior. Caregiver Monday, an initiative of the nonprofit Monday Campaigns, emphasizes that key to staying healthy is for caregivers to carve out a dedicated time at the beginning of each week to focus on the tools they need to keep their healthy habits consistent. [PR Newswire]


In One Take: Using Social Networks to Reduce Food Waste
Sustainable Food Management is a new way to look at preventing food from being wasted along the lifecycle of the food chain, starting where food is produced on the farm and all stages along the way until it gets to our plates. All 10 EPA Regions are learning where changes can be made to reduce food lost in production, transportation, distribution, manufacturing, retail, food service and consumption. Wasted food is a growing problem in the US and is the single largest material discarded in landfills today. [USEPA]

Bottle Water or Tap: How Much Does Your Choice Matter?
Thirsty? Grab a bottle of water. You'll have plenty of company: For the first time, bottled water is expected to outsell soft drinks in the United States this year. But how do all those water bottles affect the planet? And how do your water drinking habits compare to those of other Americans? Take this quiz and find out. [NYTimes]

Eco News contributed by Gabrielle Blavatsky; Kai Olson-Sawyer;James Rose and Robin Madel.

Image "Breakfast" by An& on Flickr used under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.