Regenerative Newsletter - Sept 2023
Genetically Engineered Soil Microbes: Risks and Concerns
Biotech companies are developing genetically engineered microbes for use in agriculture, including the largest agrichemical corporations — Bayer-Monsanto, Syngenta, and BASF. The first of these products are already being used across millions of acres of U.S. farmland.
The release of live genetically engineered microbes in agriculture represents an unprecedented open-air genetic experiment. The scale of release is far larger and the odds of containment far smaller than for genetically engineered crops.
This report provides historical context for this novel technology, insight into future trends, a summary of potential risks, and policy recommendations that would ensure robust assessment and oversight as more genetically engineered microbes move from the lab to the field.
Atrazine, an Endocrine Disrupting Herbicide Banned in Europe, is Widely Used in the U.S.
Atrazine is the second-most widely used weed killer in the United States, with more than 70 million pounds are applied across the nation each year, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It is an endocrine disruptor and also linked to various cancers, premature birth and birth defects.
The herbicide has been banned for use in the European Union since 2004. In the U.S., it is one of the most commonly reported contaminants in groundwater and public drinking water, according to the EPA.
While atrazine is applied to a wide range of crops, it is primarily used on sugarcane, soy, sorghum, and corn; the USDA notes that more than 65 percent of all corn crops in the U.S. have been treated with the herbicide. It is also a weed killer for golf courses, fields, and residential and commercial lawn spaces across the United States.
Atrazine is among the most prevalent herbicides used in Canada and Australia, as well.
The primary manufacturer of atrazine is Syngenta, a Swiss-based corporation owned by the Chinese state-owned company ChemChina.
Glyphosate and Other Pesticides, Sustainable Alternatives
Welcome to Review 552, which covers a lot of news and new research on glyphosate-based herbicides such as Roundup, as well as other GMO-related pesticides, and the sustainable alternatives to poisoning ourselves and our environment. Topics include Roundup cancer lawsuits, the European Food Safety Authority’s perverse decision to greenlight glyphosate’s re-approval in the EU, the concerns of health scientists about exposure to glyphosate and other pesticides, new studies on glyphosate and its commercial formulations, damage to ecosystems from the use of GMO-related pesticides, actions of citizens resisting pesticide spraying in their localities, and innovations that provide effective non-toxic alternatives to weedkilling chemicals.
Bayer says it expects to take a €2.5bn ($2.8bn; £2.2bn) hit from a slower demand for its glyphosate-based products, including the controversial weedkiller Roundup. The announcement came as the company lowered its outlook for the year as it braces for a persistent fall in demand and lower prices.
More Information Here
USA Escalates Mexico Corn Trade Spat with Dispute Panel Request
Right under our feet, living soils enable us to regenerate ecosystems, replenish waterways, and draw down atmospheric carbon. In Canada, many farmers are implementing regenerative practices that allow them to increase resiliency on their farms as well as in our communities while protecting our planet and ensuring a healthy food system for all.
With Stories of Regeneration, our team is visiting farmers from across the country—listening to diverse voices, exploring changing landscapes, learning about different practices, connecting with local communities through 8 farm events, and producing educational content in the form of 10 short films, 10 podcast episodes, 6 webinars and 10 articles.
Join one or more of our pan-Canadian events from July until October 2023!
When Discussing Flora and Fauna, Don’t Forget “Funga”
Fungi. They grow between toes, on bread and in the shower. But the organisms also produce food and medicine and act as ecosystem maids by decomposing dead matter — benefits that are sometimes overlooked (SN: 11/17/20). That’s why the Fungi Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to fungi education and conservation, advocates for adding “funga” to the popular phrase “flora and fauna.”
The mushrooming movement is also backed by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which in August called for the addition of “a third ‘F’ — funga — to address the planetary challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss.” More than 20 countries already use the term, including Australia, Iceland and Brazil.
Historically, fungi have been left out of most conservation discussions and plans, says mycologist Giuliana Furci, founder of the Fungi Foundation, which was created in Chile and is now based in the United States. While flora refers to an area’s plant diversity and fauna its animal diversity, fungi don’t fit into either category.
Mycelium: Exploring the Hidden Dimension of Fungi
You might have seen mycelium before as a fuzzy, white, green or even black mass growing on mouldy food, blue cheese or salami.
But out in the wild, mycelium is more than just the sign of an out-of-date sandwich: it’s a whole network of thin fungal strands called hyphae.
The mycelium has a similar function in fungi to the roots of plants.
The hyphae explore the soil or any other substrate where fungi are growing and secrete digestive enzymes onto their food source, often dead organic materials and sometimes living organisms.
These enzymes break down the matter into smaller parts that feed not only the fungi, but also their plant partners and many other organisms. They can also ferment foods, increasing palatability.
In fact, this process of breaking down organic matter is critical in maintaining healthy soil, recycling leaf litter, and providing food for the vast array of bacteria and animals that call soil home.
Essential Reading and Viewing
Organic September: What Actually Makes a Food Organic
In 1973, accreditation schemes were launched, allowing farmers to gain certification proving they don’t use harmful chemicals in their growing or production methods. To mark Organic September, we asked experts to describe what organic really means when it comes to food, and why it’s beneficial for us and the environment.
Regenerating Rural Opportunities
I have been given this amazing opportunity to travel Canada and interview agricultural producers about regenerative agriculture for the Rural Routes to Climate Solutions podcast. I’ve never done anything like this before, so when this opportunity came knocking about six months ago, turning it down didn’t cross my mind.
AFSA Urges African Climate Leaders: Prioritise Agroecology, Food Sovereignty and Biodiversity Conservation Now!
As the 2023 Africa Climate Week (ACW) took place from September 4-8, 2023 in Nairobi, and ran alongside the September 4-6 African Climate Summit, both hosted by the Government of Kenya, we take this moment to highlight the importance of sustainable, people-centered and African-led solutions to address the urgent climate crisis.
Agroecological Practices Are Widely Used by African Farmers
Agroecology is a body of knowledge, practices and political movements that aims to support transformation of food and agricultural systems to long-term social and environmental sustainability. African farmers face multiple challenges, and agroecology has been proposed as contributing to solutions and hence is being supported and promoted on the continent.
Soil Carbon Sequestration Accelerated by Restoration of Grassland Biodiversity
Agriculturally degraded and abandoned lands can remove atmospheric CO2 and sequester it as soil organic matter during natural succession. However, this process may be slow, requiring a century or longer to re-attain pre-agricultural soil carbon levels. Here, we find that restoration of late-successional grassland plant diversity leads to accelerating annual carbon storage rates that, by the second period (years 13–22), are 200% greater in our highest diversity treatment than during succession at this site, and 70% greater than in monocultures.
What Is the Environmental Impact of Wheat?
It is the most widely planted crop on earth and has helped sustain human populations for around 10,000 years. Today it supplies around a fifth of the total calories and protein consumed by human beings. This episode of Consumed delves into the environmental impact of one of our most iconic and important crops- wheat. "Consumed" is a video series from Mongabay tracking the environmental impact of consumer products through their life cycle.
Dear Friends of Regeneration International
Regenerative Agriculture is under attack by agribusiness. The poison cartels such as Bayer/Monsanto and Syngenta, along with their captive government departments, are trying to hijack regenerative agriculture to greenwash their degenerative systems.
“We need your participation and support as we move forward in this world-changing campaign we call Regeneration International. We need to build a massive international alliance to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, to sequester billions of tons of excess atmospheric carbon in our soils and biota, to regenerate billions of acres of degraded ecosystems, to eliminate rural poverty, to reverse our deteriorating public health and to revitalize rural communities all over the globe. The hour is late, but we still have time to regenerate.”
Please support our campaign to stop this greenwashing and ensure Regenerative Agriculture’s integrity by restoring farmer’s independence, promoting social justice, fair trade and regenerating ecological health.
Can you give $10 monthly or a one time donation today to support Regeneration International and our campaigns?
Regeneration International is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit, dedicated to building a global network of farmers, scientists, businesses, activists, educators, journalists, policymakers and consumers who will promote and put into practice regenerative agriculture and land-use practices that: provide abundant, nutritious food; revitalize local economies; regenerate soil fertility and water-retention capacity; nurture biodiversity; and restore climate stability by reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions while at the same time drawing down excess atmospheric carbon and sequestering it in the soil.