GMOs Expose Dangerous Science Disconnect in Agriculture

A contentious issue in the upcoming Colorado and Oregon GMO labeling referendums is the perceived safety of consuming genetically modified foods.

Question a representative of the National Corn Growers Association or the American Farm Bureau Federation about the safety of eating GMOs and you’ll rightly be scolded about the scientific evidence that consuming those crops is as safe as any other.

These representatives of the American farm lobby wield enormous political clout with conservative and rural lawmakers. They also influence farmers’ decisions. But, ironically, they are AWOL when it comes to publicly communicating the consensus on the science behind the single greatest threat to agriculture, which is human-induced climate change.

What’s the result of this willful ignorance?

A U.S Department of Agriculture survey released this year revealed that a scant 7.8 percent of corn belt farmers believe that human activity causes climate change. Compare that to the fact that 93 percent of 2014’s planted corn was genetically modified.

A huge gulf exists in farmer attitudes toward science. Growers clearly accept the scientific evidence that modified food is safe while rejecting the scientific evidence that climate change is real and caused by human activity. And this chasm is driven by simple economics. One finding makes farmers money, but the other doesn’t — yet.

Climate change is swiftly re-writing the rules for all of U.S agriculture. The havoc wrought by a warming atmosphere will have profound effects on our food and farm system. We need to enlist the entire U.S. agriculture sector if we hope to reduce emissions to tolerable levels and thrive in a changing climate.

That means the farm lobby and food activists need to both embrace science outside their ideological biases.

I’m no scientist, nor an active farmer. I am a prodigious consumer of both organic and genetically altered food and beverages, and I know it’s not the GMO corn used to distill my extra glass of bourbon that will determine my long-term health. I’ve been a staunch defender of much of the sustainable food movement’s central tenets, such as organics and local food. Our goal should be to use fewer chemicals and do as little harm to the environment as possible when growing what we eat.

I’m also lucky enough to own part of my family’s fourth-generation South Dakota farm. GMO corn and soybeans dominate this remote part of the state because they make money. There is no local market. The ultimate goal of most farms — including ours — is to pass a viable operation on to the next generation.

Despite their prevalence, there is ample reason to question the deployment of GMO technology. They play a major role in nurturing a biodiversity-crushing monoculture, and one farmer’s planting actions contaminating another’s should be an issue of paramount importance to agriculture.

Yet in order to survive abrupt changes to our climate, American agriculture must transform itself into a fine-tuned, diverse and resilient web of organic and conventional farms that produce at a rate that continues to astonish the world.

It can be done. Companies are looking at ways to give farmers financial incentives to use less climate-damaging synthetic fertilizer. Some farmers are enrolling in carbon markets. And the recent federal farm bill provides a roadmap on how to reform policy and subsidies so they benefit farmers who do the right thing by water, habitat, soil and climate.

What’s needed now, more than ever, is for good-food advocates and conventional agriculture to unify over the overarching issue of climate change. That won’t happen as long we keep having this silly food fight over GMO safety.

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This Pit Bull With A Cleft Palate Proved Doctors Wrong And Is Now Living The Good Life

Three veterinarians advised that Ruby the pit bull be put down.

The pup was born in December with a cleft lip and palate, meaning that those parts of her body didn’t get fully developed in the womb. The lip is mostly a cosmetic issue, but the palate made it impossible for the pup to nurse.

At just 5 days old, she was already severely malnourished. A dog breeder surrendered the pup to the Utah Animal Advocacy Foundation in Salt Lake City.

“I have to admit that she looked pretty bad,” Jennifer Clayton, director of the foundation, told The Huffington Post.

Clayton’s own vet gave Ruby only a slightly better prognosis than the three who’d recommended euthanasia. The doctor, however, warned the effort and expense required to make things work would be great.

“But she said she’d help me try to save her if that’s what I wanted to do,” Clayton says. “As I sat there trying to make that terrible decision, Ruby started to suck on my finger and I knew that she wasn’t ready to give up.”

dogRuby’s a few weeks old here.

It wasn’t easy keeping the tiny pup healthy. There were a lot of midnight tube feedings, as well as feedings at 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., and, really, every few hours throughout the day until March, when a surgeon at the University of Pennsylvania veterinary school told Clayton he thought he could help.

“Ruby and I flew from Salt Lake City to Philadelphia for surgery,” Clayton says. “The surgery was a complete success and the very next morning Ruby ate canned puppy food for the very first time.”

And now?

“Except for the occasional sinus infection and a few minor dental issues, Ruby has been the picture of health ever since. At this point, she really is like any other dog except for her unique look,” says Clayton.

dogHere’s Ruby back in February.

That unique look is really pretty much entirely irresistible.

Ruby has nearly 20,000 Facebook fans, some of whom call out to the nearly year-old pup when they spot her out and about.

“It has been crazy to realize just how many people know Ruby and recognize her when we’re out in public,” Clayton says. “It’s not uncommon at all for people to approach us on walks, outside the grocery store, at various events, and even at the drive-thru. Her little pink nose is so recognizable, and people who have followed her story are always excited to meet her in person.”

Clayton hopes that all this interest will translate to other rescue animals finding homes — especially those pets who need a little extra care due to medical needs. She hopes that kids who need a little extra care will also find solace in Ruby.

“Ruby is famous and loved because of her differences, and I think there’s a powerful message in that,” she says.

dogRuby’s 6 month birthday party, in June.

The original plan was for Ruby to be with Clayton only temporarily, as a foster, until the dog could be placed in a permanent home. Clayton already had four other rescue dogs and said she wasn’t looking to add this kind of energetic newcomer into the mix.

“But by the time we traveled to Philly for her surgery, I was so unbelievably attached to this little dog that I couldn’t imagine my life without her,” she says.

Almost a year in, Clayton says that “like any respectable puppy” Ruby has “eaten a shoe or two” and tries the older dogs’ patience from time to time. But she still can’t imagine her life without this sweet, silly, gorgeous, improbably lucky dog, who came so close to not making it this far.

“She is truly one of the goofiest, happiest pups I’ve ever met,” she says. “I swear that I have laughed more in the last 10 months than any other time in my life. Ruby’s love of life is contagious.”

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Keep tabs on the adorable Ruby on her Facebook page, and get in touch at arin.greenwood@huffingtonpost.com if you have an animal story to share!

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This Is What A Cat Dude Looks Like

Earlier this year we gave lady cat lovers a chance to take back the term “cat lady” and share their feline family members. Now it’s the guys’ turn to show off their pets and prove that women aren’t the only ones who love having cats around.

Guys can face just as many stereotypes as the ladies do when it comes to owning cats, but our photos prove that cat lovers aren’t limited to any one category. We asked our friends on Twitter and Instagram to share photos of themselves with their cats using the hashtag #CatDudePride. We got tons of submissions of happy cats and their favorite dudes.

Here are a few of our favorite photos. To share your own, post on Twitter or Instagram with #CatDudePride or upload it right to this page using the slideshow tool at the bottom.

catman… with a c

A photo posted by n≡m0 (@infinite_nem0) on Oct 10, 2014 at 4:17pm PDT

infinite_nem0 embedded via Instagram

the bubba’s. ❤️

A photo posted by Siobhan O’Keefe (@siobokee) on Mar 3, 2014 at 11:03pm PDT

siobokee embedded via Instagram

Yes, I will be posting a lot of these. #kitten #podo #kodoandpodo #reading

A photo posted by Michael Botti (@m_botti) on May 5, 2014 at 9:58pm PDT

m_botti embedded via Instagram

#catdudepride @huffpostgreen #purrito

A photo posted by @saaaarrra on Oct 10, 2014 at 7:58pm PDT

saaaarrra embedded via Instagram

. Everyone loves Baby O ✨ ✨

A photo posted by Vanille (@cutevanille) on Oct 10, 2014 at 8:02am PDT

cutevanille embedded via Instagram

damo_nigel embedded via Instagram

Road trip kitty kiss.

A photo posted by Anthony Frank Lacina V (@aflfive) on Oct 10, 2014 at 10:42am PDT

aflfive embedded via Instagram

These two❤️#mcm #mancrusheveryday #catlife

A photo posted by Holly Bentley (@holly_bentley_) on Sep 9, 2014 at 9:18am PDT

holly_bentley_ embedded via Instagram

One of this life’s greatest companions. All 18 years. #cats

A photo posted by Trevor Ellestad (@litteroddity) on Dec 12, 2013 at 11:05am PST

litteroddity embedded via Instagram

I’m that cat guy, now. Sorry. Our love is real! #catsofinstagram #kittensofinstagram

A photo posted by Jake Odmark (@jakeodmark) on Oct 10, 2014 at 9:28am PDT

jakeodmark embedded via Instagram

Starting ‘em early. #catdudepride #nephew

A photo posted by Sarah Tichenor (@sarahtich33) on Oct 10, 2014 at 6:27pm PDT

sarahtich33 embedded via Instagram

Our two new family members! We are in for a long night :) They are only 6 weeks old!

A photo posted by Sarah Tichenor (@sarahtich33) on Jul 7, 2014 at 5:44pm PDT

sarahtich33 embedded via Instagram

Loves being loved #CatDudePride

A photo posted by @jimgreg on Oct 10, 2014 at 5:10pm PDT

jimgreg embedded via Instagram

No dogs allowed. #anyoneseenthecat #nyc

A photo posted by @hillsing on Apr 4, 2014 at 10:54am PDT

hillsing embedded via Instagram

Modie does NOT like to be smothered. #catsofinstagram #egyptianmau #kittylove #appleofmyeye

A photo posted by alisha gridley (@gridali) on Aug 8, 2014 at 6:43pm PDT

gridali embedded via Instagram

Seriously, ladies.. #willingtocuddleforfood #callme

A photo posted by Eric (@hobbes2485) on May 5, 2014 at 5:38pm PDT

hobbes2485embedded via Instagram

#catdudepride

A photo posted by Nicole Wilbanks (@wilboots) on Oct 10, 2014 at 5:06pm PDT

wilboots embedded via Instagram

#slimcharles putting up with me! Barely! Photo by @cleverrrgirl

A photo posted by Andy Heitz (@besound) on Dec 12, 2013 at 2:53pm PST

besound embedded via Instagram

from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1uVmhLP

America’s Last Coal-Fired Ship Finally Stops Dumping Coal Ash Into Lake Michigan

The 2014 season for Lake Michigan’s only coal-powered passenger and car ferry comes to a close Sunday, signaling the end of the controversial practice of dumping coal ash into the Great Lake. When the vessel resumes operations in 2015, it will no longer release the waste material into those waters.

The SS Badger, the last coal-fired steamship still operating in the United States, began service in 1953. From May to October, it ferries riders between Ludington, Michigan, and Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Until recently, it also dumped about 500 tons of coal ash per season into Lake Michigan. To put that into perspective, all other Great Lakes freighters combined discharge just 89 tons of coal, limestone and iron waste annually.

But as part of a 2013 Environmental Protection Agency consent decree, the ship reduced its ash output last year and, beginning in the 2015 season, will keep its ash out of the lake. A spokeswoman for Lake Michigan Carferry, which operates the Badger, told The Huffington Post that an ash retention system will be installed over the winter, and that the boat’s next season will proceed as usual.

Lake Michigan Carferry last winter dropped $1.5 million to install a combustion control system on the ship. The pricey upgrade allows ash to be stored on board by reducing both the amount and temperature of the ash produced, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

In an agreement with the EPA last year, Lake Michigan Carferry consented to reducing its coal consumption and cutting ash discharges by 15 percent this year. Prior to the agreement, however, the company lobbied to avoid EPA regulation entirely and pushed to get the ship designated as a National Historic Landmark, according to the Chicago Tribune. Shortly before the Badger’s last permit expired in 2012, several congressmen attempted to pass legislation giving it a lifetime permit.

Many locals see the Badger as a historic treasure and a vital piece of the local economy. (The ship provides 200 jobs and brings a combined $35 million to the two port cities it connects.) Some were altogether opposed to new regulations for the ship; others favored compelling the Badger to stop dumping ash, as long as the EPA allowed Lake Michigan Carferry time to comply.

But detractors have long been concerned about the potential harm of coal ash, which contains mercury, arsenic, lead and other heavy metals.

“The SS Badger, the filthiest ship on the Great Lakes, has been given two more years to dump hundreds of tons of dangerous coal ash into Lake Michigan,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said in a statement when the EPA consent decree was lodged in 2013. “The millions of people who live, work and play in and around this beautiful lake should be outraged that this filthy ship will continue to operate.”

As part of the EPA agreement, Lake Michigan Carferry was ordered to pay a $25,000 civil penalty for violating mercury standards. According to the Tribune, 2012 testing showed mercury concentrations in the Badger’s coal ash reached 200 parts per trillion, while the federal standard is just 1.3 parts per trillion.

from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1rztdwT

Victor Peters Of Florida Shoots 400-lb. Bear Breaking Into His House

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) – A Florida man shot and killed a 400-pound (180-kg) black bear after it broke into his house two nights in a row to get to a bag of dog food, a state wildlife officer said on Friday.

“I felt in danger enough that since it wouldn’t leave I had to shoot it,” said Victor Peters of Lady Lake of the Wednesday night incident in a video interview posted online by the Orlando Sentinel.

Killing a bear in Florida is illegal. Wildlife officer Greg Workman of the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation said he expects to hand the case to prosecutors by early next week for their consideration at the completion of his investigation.

“It sounds like he did what he could do to try to keep the bear from coming back,” Workman said. “We’re looking at all sides to make the best decision.”

Bears and humans cross paths, occasionally fatally for the animals, in Central Florida where sprawling subdivisions have sprung up in former bear habitat and along their natural corridors around the Ocala National Forest.

In a previous case this year, seven bears were euthanized in April by wildlife officers in the search for the culprit after one grabbed a Lake Mary woman by the head outside her home.

Peters, whose home is about 50 miles northwest of Orlando, called 911 on Tuesday evening after the bear entered his glassed-in porch by smashing out the metal-framed windows to get the dog food, Workman said.

At the direction of wildlife officers, Peters removed the dog food from his porch, but the bear returned on Wednesday evening.

Peters, in the video interview on Friday, said he was prepared with a loaded rifle. When the bear ignored his yells and kept approaching, Peters said he shot the bear in the head from a distance of 10 feet (3 meters).

Workman said the adult male bear was one of the biggest he has seen in the area.

(Editing by David Adams and Sandra Maler)

from Green – The Huffington Post http://ift.tt/1rz7vZU

11 Foods That Double As Cleaning Products

Ketchup is delicious, sure, but did you know that it’s also effective at polishing copper? Yea, bet you find it a little less appetizing now. But ketchup isn’t the only condiment or food that has dual purposes. In fact, many of the things you eat all the time have uses other than just keeping you satiated.

Here are 11 foods that do double-duty as cleaning products. You should always remember these, if for no other reason than they will save you money.

1. Banana peels can polish silver

bananasilver

Don’t throw away that banana peel just yet. If your prized silverware collection is starting to get a bit tarnished, just rub the inside of a banana peel along the tarnished parts on your silver and it will help them look as good as new.

2. Cucumber peels can remove marks on walls and tables

cucumber

According to Saudia Davis, the founder and CEO of Greenhouse Eco-Cleaning, cucumbers are extremely versatile cleaning products. The peels can remove marks on countertops and walls; and if you want a non-foggy bathroom mirror when you get out of the shower, just rub cucumber peel on it before you start the water.

3. Use ketchup to brighten up your copper pots and pans

ketchup

All you’ve got to do is dab some of ketchup on a cloth on whatever copper item you have that needs some polishing, and let it sit for five to thirty minutes. The acids in the condiment will remove the tarnish.

4. A raw onion will clean your dirty grill grates

onion

The folks over at The Kitchn report that if you run half of a raw onion against your grill grates with the cut side down, it will work to remove all the grease and leftover grit on the grill. Your best option is to heat up your grill first to help burn off any attached food or grime, then add the onion to the end of a large fork and go at it.

5. Use walnuts to remove scratches on wood furniture

walnut

Here’s how it works: You peel the walnut from its shell and rub the nut part along the scratch. Then, run your finger over the scratch to help penetrate the oils. Let it sit for five minutes. Finally, use a soft cloth to buffer the area, and voila! Hopefully you now have a scratch-free piece of wood.

6. Your regular table salt will help remove a red wine stain

salt

Next time someone accidentally spills their glass of red on your brand new white couch, immediately grab the table salt in the kitchen. Ingrid Johnson, Professor and Assistant Chairperson of Textile Development and Marketing at Fashion Institute Of Technology (FIT), recently told The Huffington Post that table salt is “the first and easiest thing to do” since it will absorb the wine.

7. A slice of white bread will help pick up little pieces of broken glass

bread

The answer to picking up all those annoying little shards of glass is devastatingly simple: Grab a piece of Wonder Bread, dampen it, and dab it on all the little pieces.

8. Rice will clean your coffee grinder

rice

This little trick, provided by Food52, works for spice grinders, as well. Take some uncooked rice and put it in your grinder. Grind it up until it becomes dust. When you remove that dust, it will also remove any coffee bean or spice fragments left in your grinder. Then you can just clean off the rest of it with a damp cloth.

9. Olive oil will remove sap

oliveoil

Perhaps one of your kids brushed up against some sap while playing outside and then sat on the couch, and now… well… there’s sap on your couch. Grab the olive oil. Real Simple says when you dab a tablespoon of it on a cloth and rub it on the affected area, it should loosen up that sap in no time.

10. Cornmeal will remove grease stains on fabric

cornmeal

A pantry staple can remove that dreaded pizza stain. Just cover the stain entirely will cornmeal and let it sit for 15-20 minutes. Once you vacuum the cornmeal away, the stain should be absorbed. Then all you have to do is clean the fabric as your normally would.

11. Use Coca-Cola to clean your toilet bowl

coketoilet

The acids in Coca-Cola will help remove any toilet bowl stains, apparently. So, grab a can and pour the whole thing into your toilet. Let the soda sit in there and do its magic for an hour. Then scrub the bowl and flush. Your toilet should be sparkling clean after.

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