Monthly Archives: April 2008

Research at U of C paid for attack ads

How long before the Liberal party grows a spine and demands an election: Full Story Here.

Unfortunately, not soon enough. By now, most companies that got the “Flaherty Bonus” with tax breaks have deposited all of their ill-gotten gains into off-shore bank accounts.

A New World Order as US Sinks

Full Story Here.

The question remains: what will the US do to the rest of the world to jolt us into submission? Will it be continued printing of money, bringing on global inflation? Will it be continued destabilization of international commodity markets? Or maybe complete ruination of the world’s financial markets?

Since it’s all of the above, one can only guess what will come next.

I did realize something tonight though: the top 500 (or even 50) companies the control most of the world’s resources are still American-owned companies. What harm is brought to the rest of the world is actually helping most of the largest companies generate record profits.

At what point will the rest of the world say ‘enough’ and cut off the States?

Some countries are already there:

European nations that are big exporters of capital goods – the heavy tools and machinery used in manufacturing – are faring better. Companies in Germany, Switzerland and parts of Italy have so far managed to blunt the effects of the rising euro by diversifying away from the US market. Unlike their consumer goods counterparts, these manufacturers are still able to rely on sales to emerging economies. Machinery sales also depend on quality of engineering, where some European companies may be perceived to have an edge.

It’s time for Canada to follow suit and slowly, but methodically, alter its trading relationship with the US and reduce its dependency on an economy (and policymakers) that are so reckless.

Exposed: The Great GM Crop Myth

For years, we’ve been told about how important Genetically Modified crops are to our lives (and livelihood), but we’re starting to see that this kind of product and brand strategy is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Full Story Here.

Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.

The study – carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt – has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.

Professor Barney Gordon, of the university’s department of agronomy, said he started the research – reported in the journal Better Crops – because many farmers who had changed over to the GM crop had “noticed that yields are not as high as expected even under optimal conditions”. He added: “People were asking the question ‘how come I don’t get as high a yield as I used to?'”

He grew a Monsanto GM soybean and an almost identical conventional variety in the same field. The modified crop produced only 70 bushels of grain per acre, compared with 77 bushels from the non-GM one.

The GM crop – engineered to resist Monsanto’s own weedkiller, Roundup – recovered only when he added extra manganese, leading to suggestions that the modification hindered the crop’s take-up of the essential element from the soil. Even with the addition it brought the GM soya’s yield to equal that of the conventional one, rather than surpassing it.

The new study confirms earlier research at the University of Nebraska, which found that another Monsanto GM soya produced 6 per cent less than its closest conventional relative, and 11 per cent less than the best non-GM soya available.

The Nebraska study suggested that two factors are at work. First, it takes time to modify a plant and, while this is being done, better conventional ones are being developed. This is acknowledged even by the fervently pro-GM US Department of Agriculture, which has admitted that the time lag could lead to a “decrease” in yields.

But the fact that GM crops did worse than their near-identical non-GM counterparts suggest that a second factor is also at work, and that the very process of modification depresses productivity. The new Kansas study both confirms this and suggests how it is happening.

A similar situation seems to have happened with GM cotton in the US, where the total US crop declined even as GM technology took over. (See graphic above.)

Monsanto said yesterday that it was surprised by the extent of the decline found by the Kansas study, but not by the fact that the yields had dropped. It said that the soya had not been engineered to increase yields, and that it was now developing one that would.

Critics doubt whether the company will achieve this, saying that it requires more complex modification. And Lester Brown, president of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington – and who was one of the first to predict the current food crisis – said that the physiology of plants was now reaching the limits of the productivity that could be achieved.

A former champion crop grower himself, he drew the comparison with human runners. Since Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile more than 50 years ago, the best time has improved only modestly . “Despite all the advances in training, no one contemplates a three-minute mile.”

Last week the biggest study of its kind ever conducted – the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development – concluded that GM was not the answer to world hunger.

Professor Bob Watson, the director of the study and chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, when asked if GM could solve world hunger, said: “The simple answer is no.”

Chertoff Says Fingerprint Data isn’t Personal

Full Story Here.

The US used to be the model for leading the world in terms of how to treat its citizens. Unfortunately, they’re leading still, but taking us all down a very different path. It used to be that any kind of personal data, be it your address or habits or fingerprints were sacrosant and untouchable. Today, it’s just another piece of necessary info to fight the war on terror.

What amazes me is how Americans have given up. It’s disheartening to all because they used to offer the world a reason to be optimistic.

Commodity Pricing

Full Story Here.

This is an excellent analysis of the state of oil prices around the world, as priced in different currencies.

I would like to know if similar analysis has been done with other commodities, such as corn, rice and soya products.

As we can see, the intentional depreciation of the US dollar by American policy makers is inevitably resulting in extreme inflation, even for Americans. One might even go so far as to suggest that this is a form of economic terrorism, but I’m not quite there yet.