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The Friday Five: Weathering the Storm Edition

The Friday Five: Weathering the Storm Edition
Mothers and farmers, Chipotle, Monsanto and Syngenta, plus the elusive sweet potato: here are five links on the week in food and agriculture.

Growing Souls: I'm one of those people who sorta dislikes Mother's Day, or at least is kind of ambivalent about it. But this is really good, courtesy of Emily Webel. An apt comparison, no matter how tired or defeated you are today.

"I want to weed out the bad in this world until they’re mature to stand tall and handle it. A plant against a hard wind could snap, but if the roots and stalk are strong, it can weather the storm. I want my kids to be able to stand by their convictions, their beliefs, and be a person others want to be around. Stand up tall when life starts to get tough. Understand how to weather the storm."

Natural GMO? Sweet Potato Genetically Modified 8,000 Years Ago: Love sweet potatoes, love this story, love natural GMOs.

"So why does an 8,000-year-old GM sweet potato matter? The example might be helpful for regulators and scientists looking at the safety of GM crops, Jaffe says. 'In many African countries, some regulators and scientists are skeptical and have some concerns about whether these crops are safe,' Jaffe says. 'This study will probably give them some comfort. It puts this technology into context.'

"But the study won't assuage many consumers' worries about GMOs, Jaffe says. 'A lot people's concerns aren't just about whether what the scientists have done is natural or whether the crops are safe to eat.'

Many people worry about whether GMOs increase the use of pesticides and herbicides. Or that some companies use the technology to make seeds intellectual property. 'In these instances, you have to look at the GMO on a case-by-case basis,' Jaffe says."

Why We Can't Take Chipotle's GMO Announcement All That Seriously: The internet has been full of contempt this week for Chipotle and their anti-GMO trumpeting, and I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me a little happy. This is a great piece from NPR, sharing five points where Chipotle's "food with integrity" claim completely lacks integrity. Be sure to check out #2, where they point out the sunflower ALS inhibitor tolerance and weed resistance – sure to make any agronomist happy that someone noticed.

Syngenta issues statement on Monsanto move: A volatile market is a time when corporations look for ways to add value. For Monsanto, it appears the answer is to try to acquire Syngenta. Friday, Syngenta issued a statement acknowledging it had received an unsolicited proposal from Monsanto to acquire the company for CHF449 per share with about 45% cash, total cost would be $45 billion. Syngenta says its focus on integrated solutions is not compatible with Monsanto's approach, and has formally rejected a stock purchase. You can follow it all here, at this Farm Futures story.

Save Our Bacon: This is a fascinating story unfolding in Indiana; Kyle and Leah Broshears are a young family from Seymour who want to raise hogs and move their young family back to the farm. They approached local families, answered questions and received approval from their county zoning board last fall. Then, a lawsuit was filed against them, the county and each member of the zoning board. Indiana is a local-control state, which makes this kind of thing more common there. The fascinating part, however, is in their response: typically, opposition doesn't have to pay for legal counsel, which is often provided pro bono. The farmer usually does. But Kyle and Leah have taken to crowdfunding to help offset legal costs. Check out their video in the Go Fund Me link above, or on YouTube. It's compelling and Kyle makes some great points about what's to become of American agriculture if farmers are not allowed to produce food. 

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