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Friday Finds: Herbicide Overkill


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19 August 2011, 7:15 AM
Genetically modified dilemma, school energy savings
Monsanto's herbicide harms crops genetically modified to resist it. Image courtesy worldwidehippies.com

Monsanto's herbicide harms plants it's meant to protect
Monsanto’s popular herbicide Roundup may be harming more than just weeds, reports Reuters. A recent study by US Department of Agriculture microbiologist Bob Kremer found that repeated and widespread use of Roundup, which contains the active ingredient glyphosate, on crops genetically engineered to withstand the pesticide is harming both the soil and the plants, and potentially reducing crop yields. Unfortunately, Kremer isn’t the only researcher to find problems with glyphosate. Over the years, other researchers have linked glyphosate use to “cancer, miscarriages and other health problems in people and livestock.”
 
Despite these concerns, the government has continued to green-light so-called Roundup Ready crops like genetically engineered sugar beets, adding to the already long list of staple food items that now dominate American supermarkets. According to the Center for Food Safety, more than half of all processed food in U.S. grocery stores—items like cereals, corn dogs and cookies—contain genetically engineered ingredients. Says Earthjustice’s Paul Achitoff, who is currently litigating against the government’s approval of GE sugar beets and alfalfa:

"The main problem for the public at large is increased chemicals in the environment. But you also have consumers’ as well as farmers’ choices being adversely affected. Nobody really wants Monsanto controlling their diet, but that is in fact what’s happening."

Schools hit the books on energy-saving measures
Energy efficiency “police” and Post-it notes are just two of the ways that schools across the nation are cutting energy bills, reports the New York Times. As public education feels the squeeze from never-ending budget cuts, schools are finding fresh ways to cut costs that also happen to save the environment. On the east coast, yellow sticky notes that say “When not in use, turn off the juice” resulted in one school saving $350,000 annually on utility bills. Other schools across the nation have used millions in federal stimulus money to upgrade lighting and build geothermal heating and cooling systems.

Whatever the tactic, the success of these initiatives makes it clear that the simple act of flipping a switch when multiplied by thousands of tiny, eager hands can make a huge environmental impact and even save schools from going into the red. Couple that with labels that give consumers an option to choose more energy-efficient appliances, and we just might save the world from climate change before it’s lights out. 

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