Plant based diet and business news – good & bad

On Facebook today, two items popped up both of which concerned plant based diet and the business involved in producing them. There is a stark contrast in approach though. Firstly, a friend shared a picture which had a long description and told the story of mega Ag company Monsanto, a firm heavily involved in plant based food production claiming copyright infringement against farmers, very much in the profit above all else camp. While the second concerned a movement to use technology to produce eco-foods in Silicon Valley which could improve animal welfare and the environmental toll of food production.

monsanto v farmers

Monsanto, GM seeds and copyright infringement

Odd, to say the least but apparently they are making headway in a number of smaller courts in the US system. They are suing farmers for copyright infringement because said farmers are indulging in the age-memorial practice of harvesting seeds from their crops to be used the following year.

However, Monsanto and their mates –  think this is illegal because

seed patents are a form of biological patent and that means the company’s seeds – which are genetically modified to ward off bugs and weeds… – are legally protected inventions or discoveries in biology

The fact that the farmers bought these seeds legally in the first instance is unimportant to Monsanto though. Nor is the fact that these GM bug resistant strains are actually less resistant than they once were as ‘superbugs’ adapt!

Bill Freese from the  Center for Food Safety, an activist group, said that these GM strains are not as eco-friendly as Monsanto would like you to believe

While agrichemical corporations also claim that their patented seeds are leading to environmental improvements…  upward of 26 percent more chemicals per acre were used on GE crops than on non-GE crops, according to USDA data

Ouch! That’s not very encouraging. Typical big business bullying tactics intended to squeeze every ounce of profit out of it’s customers. Disgraceful! Perhaps the farmers themselves should reconsider their approach and take the line of the eco-food businesses  below!

However, more disgraceful still is how widespread GM crops are in the US. From the same source

86 percent of corn, 88 percent of cotton and 93 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. are currently GM strains.

Now that is scary! I will not eat anything non-organic that contains US soy or corn as best I can. The trouble is soy and corn derivatives are in all kinds of processed crap. Easy answer avoid the processed crap! A  well planned plant based diet can easily avoid all these nasties by juicing and cooking!

We have GM labeling in the EU, it’s here to stay, right?

Critical to a successful plant based diet plan is avoiding GM crap. Of course, in the US there’s the labeling issue, we’re fortunate that the EU still has the labeling laws or GM food  intact, for now. Hopefully, this will remain the case. Recently, as reported by the BBC German chemical giant BASF halted it’s GM potato cultivation in Europe and moved the whole shebang to honest to goodness GM friendly Uncle Sam. Good riddance!

They weren’t getting any market share and apparently the move was precipitated by not only a lack of enthusiasm from consumers and farmers but also political will! Wow are politicians listening?

Maybe some are although the report suggests it’s more to do with red tape than anything else. Good news all round not just those of us consuming potatoes as part of a plant based diet! And it seems we’ll retain the current labeling laws until 2014 at least.

Good news! Silicon Valley and food products suitable for plant based diets

Alternative food for plant based diets

Encouraging news for plant based diets in relation to business comes from an article on the Bloomberg Business Week site. A bloke called John Tetrick of Hampton Creek Foods is leading a food lab intent on developing sustainable egg alternatives suitable for those of us on a plant based diet simply because these alternatives are from plants!

Their Beyond Eggs product can be used in baking for cakes and muffins and even a scrambled egg product. The idea is their products will produce baked items as good as  ‘the real thing’ only

19 percent cheaper than eggs, will last longer on the shelf, is safer to use, and is better for you than eggs. Then there’s all the feel-good aspects—the poor environmental and inhumane conditions of the egg industry, plus fewer carbon emissions, reduced by decreasing the amount of feed (mostly corn and soy) that goes to chickens

All good! And while not a vegan company as such, their heart is in the right place. And there’s a whole swathe of like-minded companies in Silicon Valley producing faux-meat products and the like.

It seems there’s something of an eco-food movement using technology to produce products from plants which are suitable for plant based diets, are eco-friendly and therefore help animal welfare indirectly. These new companies are attempting to steal a march on already available plant based proteins. Efficient methods of producing food are required and could have a positive effect on animal welfare and the environment by reducing the requirement for atrocious farming methods. Good news all round!

Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation
Brilliant book, well written and researched in depth!

8 thoughts on “Plant based diet and business news – good & bad”

  1. Thanks for that. And that is one farmers opinion. Notice the emphasis on one…

  2. I am not sure how many farmers use Monsanto seed, millions I’d say. I don’t know what your point is, I was saying that you post the opinion of one farmer not all. I will refer you to a post I wrote a while ago after a newspaper editorial was decidedly pro-GMO and I wasn’t impressed. At the bottom of that article is a video of a Google hang-out interview with Howard Vlieger who is much more than just a farmer, he’s clearly a GMO expert. Listen to this bloke who has extensively researched GMOs from a farmers perspective.

    You may learn something

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