Keep Your Biotech Off My Beets

The genetically modified organism debate continues this week after a federal judge in California ruled today that the government must conduct a more thorough Environmental Impact Statement before genetically engineered sugar beet seeds can be planted.

GMOs are seeds or plants that have had their DNA altered in a lab in order to be more resilient or to grow in certain conditions (such as in smaller fields or in a drought climates), thereby resulting in higher crop yields. The beets in question (which are processed to make sugar) are genetically engineered by Monsanto to be "Round-up Ready." In other words, the beets themselves will be left unharmed when sprayed with the powerful Round-up herbicide, killing only unwanted weeds and pests.

Organic farmers, who were some of the plaintiffs in the case, have a strong interest in preventing "cross-pollination" of GMO and non-GMO seeds, which can occur by natural processes like wind, bees, and birds. Federal standards mandate that genetically modified foods cannot bear a USDA organic label, thereby threatening organic farmers' livelihoods.

GMOs are particularly controversial. Advocates claim that they allow humans to grow more food more efficiently, and could thereby be helpful in alleviating worldwide hunger. Opponents claim that not enough testing has been done to determine the safety of these kinds of crops as well as their effect on humans and the environment. From the California Independent Voter Network:

A growing body of research has also linked genetically modified foods to organ failure in lab animals. Andrew Kimbrell, the Center for Food Safety's executive director said in a statement, "Hopefully, the agency will learn that their mandate is to protect farmers, consumers and the environment and not the bottom line of corporations such as Monsanto."


Do the cons of GMOs outweigh the pros? Do you support the ban on biotech beets?

Photo (cc) Flickr user Lars Ploughmann

via David Leavitt / Twitter

Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that the worst thing about the job, right after the pay, are the unreasonable cheapskates who "want to talk to your manager" to get some money off an item.

They think that throwing a tantrum will save them a few bucks and don't care if they completely embarrass themselves in the process. Sometimes that involves belittling the poor employee who's just trying to get through their day with an ounce of dignity.

Twitter is rallying around a gal named Tori who works at a Target in Massachusetts after she was tweet-shamed by irate chapekate, journalist, and Twitter troll, David Leavitt.

Keep Reading

Childbirth is the number one reason American women visit the hospital, and it ain't cheap. In fact, it's getting more and more expensive. A new study published in Health Affairs found that the cost of having a baby with employer-sponsored health insurance increased by almost 50% in the past seven years.

The study evaluated "trends in cost-sharing for maternity care for women with employer-based health insurance plans, before and after the Affordable Care Act," which was signed into law in 2010. The study looked at over 657,061 women enrolled in large employer-sponsored health insurance plans who delivered babies between 2008 and 2015, as these plans tend to cover more than plans purchased by small businesses or individuals.

Keep Reading

A meteorite crashed into Earth nearly 800,000 years ago. The meteor was 1.2 miles wide, and the impact was so big, it covered 10% of the planet with debris. However, scientists haven't been able to find the impact site for over a century. That is, until now. A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal believes the crash site has been located.

Tektites, which are essentially rocks that have been liquefied from the heat of the impact and then cooled to form glass, help scientists spot the original impact site of a meteor. Upon impact, melted material is thrown into the atmosphere, then falls back to the ground. Even if the original crater has disappeared due to erosion or is hidden by a shift in tectonic plates, tektites give the spot away. Tektites between 750,000 to 35.5 million years old have been found in every continent except Antarctica.

Keep Reading
The Planet