Thirty years ago the term genetically modified organisms was unknown and today they are considered the fastest adopted crop technology in recent history. They have gone from being an unknown term to becoming one of the most talked about and controversial topics in food policy. The controversy of GMOs boils down to a variety of groups, which is what makes it so complicated. The players involved in policy and regulation include major food corporations, interest groups, environmental activists, agriculture biotechnology corporations, the government, and lastly concerned public citizens.
Louisiana’s “Cancer Capitol” is the term that was deemed appropriate to describe Mossville; a small town found by Jim Moss, a former slave, and a town populated almost entirely by black people. The reason the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) labeled it as such is because the small town is currently surrounded by fourteen chemical plants and industrial facilities that contribute on a daily basis to the town’s air, soil and water pollution. The town’s residents were found to be suffering from health issues as severe as cancer and serious learning disabilities to less sever ones such as rashes and breathing hardships. According to ICCR, these health concerns have been linked to the pollution caused by toxic chemicals. Recently, a new project to build one of the largest chemical plants in the country in this same area was proposed, if this were to happen, it is highly likely that Mossville will exist no more, and its residents will be forced to relocate.
Not only is pollution is shortening lives in the world’s most populous nation, but it is also an inescapable reminder of the trade-offs at the heart of China’s transition from a developing country into a prosperous, modern nation. While the Communist Party has been legitimized by the thriving economy, it now needs to balance the rush for economic growth against the threats to life and health.
China’s premier, Li Keqiang, has declared “war on pollution,” saying that the country would tackle it with the same determination it has used to fight poverty in the past three decades. Spoken at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress earlier this year in March, Li’s remarks reflect government recognition of public displeasure over pollution and its impact on people’s health. Garlic Liu, a college student in Beijing said in an in person interview (Liu is currently studying abroad in Columbia University) “I can’t go out everyday. I have to choose when to go out so I don’t make my asthma worse. All my friends do the same thing. We hang out not when it is convenient for us but when it’s convenient for the weather. We all have a pollution app on our phones to check when it’s a good day.”
On March 31st researchers from the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden concluded that to meet the United Nations’ goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius a reduction in meat consumption is needed. Further the report contends that if meat consumption trends continue as projected, nitrous oxide and methane emissions from livestock may double by 2070. The scientists conclude, “This alone would make meeting the climate target essentially impossible.”
The industrial livestock sector has come under much criticism as it has been pinned for 18 percent of all green house gas emissions. Some experts feel that the contribution could be as high as 51 percent, as scientific studies continue to demonstrate how factory farms exacerbate greenhouse gas emission levels. Producers, policymakers, and consumers have the ability to dramatically change the impact of meat production on the environment.
“Space-based solar? That’s a blast from the past,” says Dr. Laura Kay, Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Astronomy at Barnard College of Columbia University. “It’s not quite as crazy as the people who want to mine the moon for resources, but it’s out there.”
Kay’s reaction is highly indicative of the scientific community as a whole: space-based solar power is seen as a quaint idea from yesteryear that is too unfeasible to implement. SBSP gets a bad rap, and yet it represents a real possibility to change the way humanity creates energy to run the world.