07/26/2016: Golden Rice and GMOs; Farmed Eggs; Ballparks

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Caryn Hartglass, On The Road Again
Caryn at the beachCaryn gives updates on Golden Rice and other GMO news. She unscrambles the confusion behind caged eggs and free-range eggs. She also covers the good news: Vegetarianism promotion in Italy, Veggie Dogs in Ballparks and more delicious news while traveling.

 

 

 

TRANSCRIPTION:

Remember Joel Helfrich? He was on the program two weeks ago and he talked about the Rochester River School, the first vegan public school in the United States. He was launching a fundraiser, well it’s now up on croudrise.com. And if you were curious about it, want to know more about it, or want to help, you can go to croudrise.com and look for the Rochester River School, and the Rochester River Foundation. You can help there. I just told Joel, I would give a shout out about that, I think it’s really important project, and I would love to see more schools actually incorporate some of the ideas that they are considering for the Rochester River School.

Okay, good news, bad news, what do you want to hear first? Bad news, that’s what I want to talk about first because I like to end on a happy note. So perhaps you have heard about golden rice, golden rice, can you say golden rice? It sounds so lovely, doesn’t it? I wonder who actually came up with that name. It sounds expensive! It sounds heavenly. Well do you remember back in 2000, sixteen years ago, the TIME magazine cover, back then, said that this rice could save a million kids a year. And I remember learning from an organization called, Amberwaves, they have a website, http://amberwaves.org/. And you can read what they have been talking about for over fifteen years, about this genetically modified rice, called golden rice, which was supposed to save a million kids a year. And guess what? It’s still not happening. This golden rice, this genetically modified rice, is still years away from field introduction, and may surprisingly, surprisingly to whom, may fall short, of the great health benefits. A new report came out a few months ago, and I just want to read some of the abstract because I’m enjoying reading it, rereading it, and mouthing all of these words. Here it is:

Golden rice has played a key role in the argument over genetically modified crops for many years. It is routinely depicted as a generic GM vitamin tablet in a generic plant, bound for the global south. But the release to golden rice is only on the horizon, only in the Philippines, a country with a stored history, complicated present, and contested future for rice production and consumption. The present paper corrects this blinker view of golden rice through an analysis of three distinctive rice worlds of the Philippines.

The green revolution rice is developed at the International Rice Research Institute in the 1960s. Golden rice is currently being bred by this institute and scheme to promote and export traditional heirloom landrous rice. More than mere seed types, these rice are at the centers of separate rice worlds with distinctive concepts of what the crop should be and how it should be produced. In contrast to the common productivist framework for comparing types of rice, this paper, compares the rice world on the basis of geographical embeddedness or the extent to which local agro ecological context is valorized or nullified in the crops construction. The green rice revolution spread generic, disembedded, client seeds to replace locally adapted landdrousses, the heirloom rice. As well as peasant attitudes, and practices associated with them.

The disembeddness of golden rice that boosts its value as a public relations vehicle has also been proved difficult to breed, has also been the main impediment in it reaching farmers’ fields, as if it has proved difficult to breed into varieties that grow well, specifically in the Philippines. Finally, and I love this, somewhat ironically, the International Rice Institute has recently undertaken research and promotion of heirloom seeds in collaboration with the exports scheme.

So this report has discovered that golden rice isn’t ready, golden rice is difficult to grow in the Philippines, golden rice is difficult to get the local people excited about this particular food. It’s not working and fifteen sixteen years ago, Amberwaves and other groups knew it wasn’t going to work. It’s still not working to the point where this institute that’s been promoting it all this time is actually starting to look at heirloom seeds because the foods and the seeds that are natural to that environment, that people want to eat, that people want to grow, that’s what should be going on there. It just boggles my mind that so much money has been going into creating a new food and this new food, of course they say, they will give freely, but you know ultimately that they want to make money off of this food, when there are so many heirloom varieties that are that naturally work in the area that would do so much better with support, different kind of support, maybe we could learn more about those heirloom varieties and why they might not be flourishing at a particular time and help them to flourish.

This is one of the things I believe is inherently wrong with G.M.Os today, where our favorite companies like Monsanto are creating these foods that have been genetically modified, that they want us to grow and eat, and it is reducing the biodiversity of our planet because when we chose their products we are mono-cropping and growing the same foods and growing genetically modified foods encourages todays current agricultural practices that we were talking about earlier in the program, that deplete nutrients, deplete the soil of its life, and its value, and its richness, ultimately creating food that aren’t healthy and don’t do well in particular environments.

I mentioned before the book that I had read, An Unnatural Order by Jim Mason, which I read a long time ago, and I really should read again, and I recommend it to you because it’s an excellent book. It talks about food, obviously, and mono-cropping food and the dangers that are related to it, and to the point where we are growing so much food that its enabling the population to grow and yet we are still not getting food to everyone which was the marketing behind golden rice, which was to help save the millions of lives and yet, we still have a billion people starving. It doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work.

We can’t believe the marketing hype, and it’s the wrong path to go down. I would love to see, here’s my solution; we really reduce and eliminate growing animals so that we don’t have to grow all those mono-cropped plant foods to feed the animals to feed the people, we free up lots of land that we can learn how to regenerate, with beneficial insects the Xerces Institute can help with that, that’s x e r c e s , I love that organization, and wild flowers and bring back all of these edible wild foods. We could do more foraging, and have more locally grown food. It’s a beautiful plan to grow everything organically. I’m just taking in that image, because that’s a really lovely image.

Ok so back to golden rice, so it gets crazy because in late June you may have read that more than a hundred noble laurates signed a letter urging Greenpeace to end its opposition to genetically modified organisms. They were specifically encouraging the golden rice, the strain of rice that these particular laurates said could reduce vitamin A deficiencies, which cause blindness and death in children in the developing world. Now this is a terrible thing, blindness and death in children in the developing world, but golden rice is not going to solve the problem.

The problem is bigger than that, the problem is politics, and the problem is distribution of food which is done unfairly. There’s so many issues, that are related to poverty where people are paid next to nothing to grow food that ends up being exported so that the landowner can make money, and the farmers that are growing whatever it is that’s being exported, don’t even have enough money to eat or grow their own food. It’s the system that isn’t working, we don’t need golden rice, we need equality and we need more education, and we need more diversity, in people and in plants. So when these laureates come along and tell Greenpeace to buck up and stop its opposition against G.M.O.s, there all so close minded because they are not looking at the big picture.

Sure it’s fun to be a scientist, and get funding, to discover new kinds of varieties, and create something on your own that may have new properties that seem to be beneficial, and you feel really good about yourself, and a lot of these scientists, feel like they’re really doing great work. But unfortunately, I think, many of them are short sided, and are not looking at the big picture. Global, big problem with the breed, golden rice. So Greenpeace came back and they came back with everything I’ve just been talking about, saying that accusations against anyone blocking genetically engineered golden rice is false. Golden rice, has failed as a solution, and isn’t currently available, for sale even after more than twenty years of research. So people are trying to shut down Greenpeace, and Greenpeace is not necessarily my favorite organization because they have not talked enough about the environmental devastation going on by growing plants to feed animals to feed people. They could be promoting a more plant based diet. That’s slow going, but I do agree with them on being opposed to genetically modified foods. Ok that’s golden rice.

Then there was a lovely article recently, in the New York Times called Eggs That Clear the Cages but maybe not the conscience, and this is a story that brings a lot of anger to me and I imagine a lot of other people. We’ve talked about the difference between animal welfare and animal rights, and the animal welfarists are taking small steps, which they believe are beneficial, for animals.

One of those small steps, was eliminating the cage that egg bearing hens were crammed into, this tiny, tiny space, and they’re claws would grow over the wire, it was just a disastrous situation. They encouraged getting rid of the cages so that the hens could walk around freely. Now we are learning since this regulation was approved, a lot of places, a lot of companies said, ok we are going away from cages and we are going to have hens that just can roam around inside the hen house freely. Well of course there not roaming around freely to begin with, they have been engineered to be top heavy in their chests, their legs are weak, they can barely walk around as it is, and there’s no space for them to walk around.

So there’s no cage, but they’re crammed in this high density population of filth. This article is talking about how this change may not have brought about anything positive. These unfortunate animals are not in a cage anymore, but they can’t really move, and the conditions may be unhealthier. So I’m disappointed that so many organizations, like the Humane Society, have promoted getting rid of the cage because they haven’t gone far enough. We need to get rid of factory farms. We need to get rid of animals being raised in confinement, in hell, in order to make food for people. You know, I’m a vegan. I don’t even think we need to eat eggs, period. But the first step is not to eliminate cages, the first step is to get rid of the factory. Hens should not be in a factory, they should be roaming outdoors, freely having fun with their families, pecking at each other, and you know if they happen to drop an egg here and there, if somebody wants to take advantage of that, that’s one thing. But the factory has to go.

Ok let’s talk about some happy things. Good news! Have you heard about Italy’s Five Star Movement? This is a populist, anti-establishment, environmentalist, anti-globalist, Euro-septic, Euro skeptic movement.  The members of the M5S, Five Star Movement, say that it’s not a party but a movement, and doesn’t include the traditional left-right paradigm. Now these five stars reference five key issues for this party or movement; public water, sustainable transport, sustainable development, right to internet access, and environmentalism. Love it. Don’t you love this? The party also advocates direct democracy, principle of zero cost politics, degrowth and nonviolence. They have condemned military interventions of the west, and the Greater Middle east, and as well as American intervention in Syria.

Okay so that brings us to, the mayor of Turin, in Italy, who is a vegetarian, Chiara Appendino, and she is pledging to promote vegetarian and vegan diets as a priority in her administration. This is really, really exciting. The Five Star Movement has a sixty-two page manifesto and it calls for better urban planning, protection of public land, and this endorsement of a meat-free and a dairy-free living is fundamental to the production of environmental health and wellbeing of animals. That’s what this new mayor in Turin is saying. I don’t know if you have seen the story, but this is something to be excited about. Especially with all the other junk going on in the news today, I love promoting these kind of stories. People, in places, that are making positive change. We can do it, even with all the craziness going on, there’s a lot of good things happening.

In my world there’s a lot of good things happening. So as you many know, I live in New York but I’ve been in the Bay area now for two months, and we are staying with family, enjoying some work out here. I happened to be invited to a surprise party at the Seascape Resort, in Aptos, California. Seascape is a lovely resort, I can’t say that I can afford to stay there, but it is nice to be invited to parties. I’m almost ashamed to say, I had almost a smug attitude, when heading there because, even though, the invitation allowed me to select what I wanted for a meal, I think it was either beef, chicken fish or vegetable, I thought, I wonder what does vegetable really means.

I was thinking, gosh they’re probably going to come up with a pasta dish. And I was dreading it thinking that it was going to be boring and unimaginary, unimaginative. I told the server my partner, Gary, and I were vegan and she was totally on it. She served us beautiful salads, to begin with, with those wonderful colorful cherry tomatoes that tasted like candy. And then the main dish came and I was blown away. It was delicious, imaginative. I’ve never had anything like it and that’s what I loved about it too. And I’ll tell u what it was. But it was made, from whole foods, and it was a celebration of local produce, plant foods, colors, flavors, just incredible.

So what was it? It was on the bottom of the plate, is what I call cauliflower steak, it was a big slab, like a slice, if you slice into cauliflower and you make big circular slab of it. So that had been grilled or roasted, I don’t know. But it was the bottom of the plate. And then on top of that was a big pile of sautéed spinach, and on top of that was two big slices of eggplant steak. And I’m not quite sure how they cooked that either. It was either roaster or braised or something, whatever it was, it was just phenomenal. On the side was a roasted, caramelized, onion, and all of it was in this rich roasted red pepper curry sauce. It was a blending of roasted red pepper, curry sauce, seasoning, probably some olive oil. It was very rich. Then there was this sprinkling of pistachio nuts and microgreens on the top. Is your mouth watering? It was a beautiful, colorful dish, just gorgeous. You can see it in my, What Vegans Eat post. I posted pictures of it. I’m going to tell you what day, so you can go and see it because it really was incredible. So I’m thanking, gratefully thanking, the chefs at Seascape and I’m taking back any bad thoughts I had, in my mind about what we were going to get. What Vegans Eat Day 529. You can see that lovely, lovely, lovely dish. I may try and make something like it myself. Why not?

Alright, the other thing I’m very excited about, this isn’t healthy food. This is just fun and I’m glad it’s out there. We went to a Giants ballgame last night. A friend of mine had some tickets that couldn’t be used and Gary and I and his cousins got to benefit. We went to a Giants game at the AT&T Park at the San Francisco. And while I was there, I started searching on my phone about the food that was available there and I found out that the San Francisco AT&T Park is the most vegan friendly of all.

There were lots of choices. The challenge in the choices was that the lines were long everywhere. It was all about how much patience you had standing on line. I interviewed about five years ago Johanna McCloy who has created a website called Soy Happy, it’s now called veggiehappy.com. If you go there, you can get guides to the sports stadiums all over the country and find out what they have and what’s vegan friendly. I used that guide to guide me while I was there last night because I found out that FieldRoast frankfurters are served at the AT&T Park. They also have a beautiful, edible garden, where they have all kind of greens growing, and you can get fresh salads there. This is really very encouraging, very positive. Now a veggie dog is not the healthiest food. But it’s wonderful to go to a ballgame, an American ballgame and enjoy a veggie dog. And that’s just what we did. Happy Ending.

I want to thank you for joining me and remember please visit responsibleeatingandliving.com. That’s where I live. My What Vegans Eat Blog is now at day 531, there’s over five hundred posts to help you and give you ideas about vegan eating. That’s all I want to do, I want to make it happy and healthy and easier and delicious. So have a great time and have a delicious week. I’m Caryn Hartglass, and you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food.

Transcribed by Swetha Ramesh, 8/13/2016

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