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 report ranks the cleanest — and most toxic — fruits and vegetables

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There has been much debate in the news of late regarding genetically modified foods (GMO), particularly in terms of identifying and for many, simply avoiding said produce. Here in California, the controversy has resulted in the Right to Know initiative landing on the November ballot. If passed, it would the first law in the country requiring labeling on all GMO food.

Pesticides are another area of controversy when it comes to produce, such as the current debates in California’s strawberry industry over fumigants. Treehugger has reported on the Environmental Working Group’s recent release of the eighth “Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce,” which ranks the pesticide load of 45 commonly consumed fruits and veggies. The numbers are culled from pesticide residue testing data from the US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration.

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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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