Southern California environment news and trends

When nature adapts: Pests thriving on Monsanto GMO corn

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While controversy and opinions continue to swirl around the hot-button topic of genetically modified produce, a new report from biotech firm Monsanto sounds like the premise of a Stephen King story. According to RT.com, pests known as the western corn rootworm have not only been surviving but thriving on corn genetically modified to kill the bugs. A 2010 sample showed that the worms had an elevenfold survival rate compared to a control population, eight times more than the previous year. They pests have also hatched earlier, “about a month ahead of schedule,” said Mike Gray, professor of entomology at University of Illinois, to Naturalnews.com.

"This is not something that is a surprise... but it is something that needs to be addressed," said Joseph Spencer, another entomologist at University of Illinois, to Reuters. Spencer is one of 22 academic corn experts who sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency with warnings regarding the failure of the genetic modifications at protecting the corn. That letter also warned of the financial ramifications for farmers paying much higher prices for the seeds, with the added costs of pesticides. Those added costs could potentially end up reflected in food prices at the local grocery store.

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New California ballot initiative demands GMO food labeling

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Proponents of a California bill requiring labels that would clearly identify GMO (genetically modified organism) produce delivered close to one million signatures to state officials this week. These are foods that have had their DNA altered in some way, generally to make them resistant to certain pesticides.

As reported by NBC Los Angeles, the California Right to Know Campaign collected twice the number of votes required to land the Genetically Engineered Food Act on the state ballot in November. The signatures were delivered to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk’s office in Norwalk this Wednesday to the delight of a large crowd of supporters.

"I was brought up on a farm and feel really strongly about authenticity when you're selling something," said one such supporter, Zuri Allen, at the Norwalk rally to NBC Los Angeles. "And I think it's the consumer's right to know. It's as American as apple pie."

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EPA rejects petition to ban popular herbicide

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The Environmental Protection Agency this week denied a request by the National Resources Defense Council that extensively used herbicide 2,4-D be taken off the market. The 2008 petition was denied because the EPA felt that the NRDC did not provide adequate evidence to their claims that the pesticide is indeed harmful to humans.

“This has been one of the most widely used and successful herbicides in history and growers along with other users around the U.S. and the world can continue to use it with confidence,” said Jim Gray, executive director of the Industry Task Force II on 2,4-D research data in a press release. “EPA’s most recent decision is consistent with findings of other authorities such as the World Health Organization, Health Canada’s Pest Management Regulatory Agency and the European Commission.”

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