Human-like GM Milk Headed For Your Table

Schwarzwaldkuh - genetic engineering and the c...

Image by Rüdis Fotos via Flickr

Within a couple of years, you may be able to sit down to breakfast and wash it all down with a tall glass of genetically modified human-like milk!

Chinese based company, AgroBiotechnology, has taken a couple hundred head of cattle and genetically modified them with human genes in order to produce human-like milk. Similar research started a few years ago in Russia, when human-like milk began being produced from genetically modified goats.

Why would anyone want cows that produce human-like milk?

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Five Reasons You Should Own Chickens

Hens in Missoula, Montana

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Have you always wanted to raise hens for farm fresh eggs, but were afraid that your neighbors would turn you in? I used to be one of those people that just assumed that I could not legally own chickens because I lived in a residential area. Well a little research and 5 hens later, I now know that you don’t need to live on a farm or a ranch in order to raise farm fresh organic eggs.

Why would I want to raise chickens?

  1. First of all, once you’ve had farm fresh eggs, you’ll never purchase eggs from the supermarket again. There’s no comparison! I challenge you to a taste test.
  2. Owning laying hens will help improve the quality of your families diet. Farm fresh eggs are much healthier then store bought eggs. Store bought eggs are often weeks old by the time they are stocked.
  3. Another great reason to raise your own chickens is that not only will you get great tasting eggs, you’ll also get free fertilizer for the garden, and free pest control for the yard if you let the hens free range. Make sure to compost all the droppings and wood shavings after cleaning out the coop.
  4. Raising your own chickens means that you are in control of how your chickens are treated. Many chickens live out their lives confined to industrial environments. You have the power to give a few hens a better life.
  5. Chickens add great personality to your property. They’re hysterical and entertaining pets to own. I love watching my chickens roam around the yard, and so will you.

So I really might be able to raise chickens without owning a farm? How do I know for sure?

The best way to determine whether or not you qualify to own chickens and raise farm fresh eggs for yourself, is to check your city regulations. You might be surprised at just how many chickens you are allowed to own even though you don’t live out in the country on a poultry ranch.

So if you’re ready to get a few hens and start raising your own farm fresh eggs, than I highly recommend heading down to your nearest feed store. They will be able to set you up with everything you need to get started, and also help answer any questions that you might have. If you’re pretty handy with a saw and a hammer then I’m sure you can manage to build yourself a nice little coop and maybe even save a few dollars while you’re at it. If not, there are plenty of pre-made chicken coops out there for sale. Just remember one thing, the key to a successful chicken coop is easy access. You want to make sure that the coop has plenty of access that will make cleaning an easy chore.

Do you own chickens of your own? Leave us a comment and let us know about your favorite chicken stories.

New Hens For The Urban Farm

New Rhode Island Red hens added to the urban farmTwo weekends ago we picked up a couple more hens to add to the urban farm. This time we opted for two Rhode Island Reds, and once they’re ready, we’ll introduce them to our three Ameraucana hens.

Egg production already averages between one and two eggs a day with the Ameraucana’s. I’m hoping that the daily egg average will increase to somewhere between two and four eggs, in about six months when the Rhode Island Reds start producing. I’m also hoping that the Rhode Island Reds will continue to lay eggs during the winter when the Ameraucana’s tend to slow way down due to less available daylight.

Here are a few photos of how the Rhode Island Reds looked about two weeks ago when we first brought them home. It’s absolutely amazing how fast they grow and change.

After the first week, their wings and tail-feathers had grown about half an inch. Now, after two weeks, their wings are long enough for the little hens to take short flight, and almost all of their down feathers have been covered up by their exterior feathers. So far, it looks like the Rhode Island Reds will have markings equally as beautiful to the Ameraucana’s.

Do you have chickens? If so, leave a comment and let us know all about them.

Genetically Engineered Alfalfa Deregulated

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With around 23 million acres, alfalfa is the fourth largest field crop grown in the United States, and is the primary forage crop for dairy cattle. Well, earlier this week, the USDA decided to deregulate the once banned genetically engineered (GE) alfalfa without restriction.

GE alfalfa is approved for Spring planting, for the first time since GE alfalfa was banned in 2007 when the US District Court of Northern California ruled that the USDA needed to conduct an environmental impact statement (EIS) in order to analyze the impact that GE alfalfa creates for both organic farmers as well as conventional farmers.

What exactly is genetically engineered alfalfa?

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Is Your Health At Risk With The Food Safety Modernization Act?

Farmers' Market
Image by NatalieMaynor via Flickr

There is not much time, and I highly encourage you all to act now because Senate Bill S.510 will go to vote by the Senate on November 29, 2010. Please start immediately, and go research Senate bill S.510, also commonly referred to as The Food Safety Modernization Act.

Since the main objective of ThePionnerWay.com is to promote awareness rather than propaganda, I will try to differentiate myself from most of the other sites reporting on this issue and let you all form your own opinions.

What is the purpose of The Food Safety Modernization Act?

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Wait, What’s Wrong With My Seeds?

My Trip to Comstock, Ferre & Co. + Free Seeds
Image by Chiot’s Run via Flickr

For those of you gardeners out there that prefer to grow your own fruits and vegetables, have you researched your seeds and do you know what you’re actually planting? Unfortunately not all seeds are the same and some seeds may be hybrid or genetically modified. If you care what you are eating then you have to be very careful about what you are planting.

What exactly are seed developers doing to seeds and why?

Large seed developers like Syngenta, Dupont and Bayer, and Monsanto, are genetically modifying and patenting their seed technologies with claims of increased food production for farmers. Monsanto specifically, is engineering a line of genetically modified seeds with Roundup Ready Technology that produces plants that inoculate against the popular herbicide Roundup, which also happens to be a product of Monsanto. Monsanto isn’t just limiting seed modification to it’s herbicide resistant Roundup Ready Technology, but they are also using a process called “trait stacking” which allows them to produce seeds that are not only resistant to Roundup, but also contain insect control for pests above the ground as well as below the ground. It’s these “advantages” that Monsanto claims will help farmers produce higher yielding crops.

What kind of health risk do genetically modified seeds pose?

In the United States, the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition only reviews summaries of food safety data provided by the developers of the engineered foods. The FDA does not require any specific tests in order to determine that genetically modified food is safe. After review of the food safety data, the FDA does not approve the safety of the genetically modified food but rather, acknowledges that the developer of the food has determined it is safe. Published reports state that no adverse health effects attributed to genetically modified food have been documented in the human population, but without epidemiological studies, it is highly unlikely that any harm that might occur will be detected and attributed to genetically modified food.

Traditionally, farmers saved thier seeds year after year, using them to replant thier crops. Now that seeds are genetically modified, seed developers have protected the seeds under patents. GMO seeds are now subject to licensing by their developers in written contracts that prevent farmers from practicing the tradition of saving seeds for replanting purposes.  Now, because farmers cannot save and replant seeds, they are forced to purchase new seeds for each crop and with seed prices rising at extortionate rates, farmers are beginning to find that the “benefits” are just not worth the extra cost.

Which seeds should I buy and how can I tell if they’ve been genetically modified?

Because the FDA does not require special labeling of genetically modified food unless there is a “material difference” in the final product, responsible product suppliers often identify themselves by adding their own “Non-GMO” label. When buying seeds, look for the “Non-GMO” label or purchase Heirloom seeds sometimes known as “heritage” seeds. Also, be sure to stay away from hybrid seeds, and if you don’t see a “Non-GMO” label, then make sure that they are labeled as certified organic or 100% organic.

What kind of seeds do you use in your garden?

Super-sized Salmon Gets Delayed

Filet of an Atlantic Salmon
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A highly controversial project, headed up by the biotechnology company AquaBounty Technologies Inc., recently faced an FDA panel for review as to whether AquaBounty’s genetically modified (GM) fish could be sold for human consumption. The FDA panel sided with consumer advocates and ruled that the data provided by AquaBounty Technologies contained insufficient evidence as to whether or not the super-sized salmon harbors the potential for harm.

AquAdvantage Salmon, the ‘Frankenfish’ developed by AquaBounty Technologies, is an advanced-hybrid fish genetically modified to reduce the growing cycle. Growth-hormone genes from king (Chinook) salmon are inserted into the fertilized eggs of Atlantic Salmon, along with AFP genes from the eel-like Ocean Pout, that allows for the growth hormone to remain active during the summer and the winter. The combination of these genes allow the GM fish to reach maturity twice as fast as natural Atlantic Salmon. (18 months versus three years)

AquaBounty claims that their fish is reproductively sterile due to another genetic alteration (triploidy), and plans to raise the fish within contained farms to avoid any possibility of interbreeding with native species.

If the sound of eating GM salmon isn’t enough, what would you say if you didn’t know you were eating it? AquaBounty claims that AquaAdvantage Salmon is completely like natural Atlantic salmon in every natural way, plus current FDA rules only call for special labels for altered food when there is a “material difference” in the final product. Frightening, absolutely frightening.

Advocates of the genetically modified salmon say it’s just a matter of time before GM fish become an accepted part of the US diet, but opponents say it could never happen. Since many major salmon farms have rejected the idea of raising these GM fish, I’m for one hoping that the critics are right on this one.

If or when the FDA approves this salmon, some say genetically modified trout and tilapia could be next, and you guessed it, AquaBounty is already working on it.

How do you feel about genetically modified food landing on your plate?