Category Archives: Sustainability

sustainable agriculture, promoting local food and small farms… (see also Environment, Energy, Science)

Monsanto GM-corn harvest fails massively in South Africa

By Adriana Stuijt, Digital Journal, Mar. 29, 2009

South African farmers suffered millions of dollars in lost income when 82,000 hectares of genetically-manipulated corn (maize) failed to produce hardly any seeds.The plants look lush and healthy from the outside. Monsanto has offered compensation.

Monsanto blames the failure of the three varieties of corn planted on these farms, in three South African provinces, on alleged ‘underfertilisation processes in the laboratory”. Some 280 of the 1,000 farmers who planted the three varieties of Monsanto corn this year, have reported extensive seedless corn problems. Continue reading

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The Reckoning

By John Grant
What many see today as an economic miracle of productivity-led growth may prove to be a mirage.  Our perceived prosperity may be nothing more than a grand illusion built on speculation and leverage.
—Don DeVitto,” Irrational Markets and the Illusion of Prosperity,” 2001

The particular road to hell on which Americans were embarked at the debut of the 21st century was a feature of their own unique situation.  A half-century of economic progress and a 25-year bull market had led them to believe things that were not true and to expect things that they were not likely to get.
-William Bonner
—”Financial Reckoning Day: Surviving the Soft Depression of the 21st Century,” 2003

America has become a divided society, in which an anxious majority is wedged between an underclass that has no hope and an overclass that denies any civic obligations.
-John Gray, “False Dawn: The Delusions of
Global Capitalism,” 1998

In 1930 John Maynard Keynes wrote: “We have involved ourselves in a colossal muddle, having blundered in the control of a delicate machine, the working of which we do not understand.”  The true scarcity in his world — and ours — was therefore not of resources, or even of virtue, but of understanding.
-Paul Krugman, “The Return of Depression Economics,” 1999

I have never understood finance.  Like other right-brain people, when presented with all those numbers my eyes glaze over and my mind wanders.  Boredom sets in. Despite this handicap, in 1980 I applied for and got a reporter job with the Philadelphia Business Journal.  I became a business and finance reporter.

I quickly taught myself what a balance sheet was.  I had to understand enough, or be able to fake it, that I could ask a corporate CEO or an analyst from Merrill Lynch an intelligent enough question to get back an answer worthy of a story.  Then I had to write the story.  As it turns out, it seems many of our financial wizards have been faking it as well.

My other encounter with finance came from my father, with whom I had a long argument that spanned from my adolescence to the day he died in 2000.

After serving in the Pacific as the captain of a PT boat, my father came home, bought a small house and settled his wife and young son into the new Victory Culture.  I was born then — Number Two.

Of stoic New England stock, my father chose to live simply and cheaply.  He began to put his money into the stock market, often referring to Wall Street as “the citadel of entrenched greed.” He tried to interest me in this, and though I was a poor acolyte, some of it must have rubbed off.  He died in 2000 the night before the historic bubble burst.  Looked at on a 55-year chart, it looked like he died at the peak of Mt Everest.

In finance and American politics, my father was pure Bull.  In both these cases, as my father’s son and as a business reporter, I was a contrary force.  It took me a long time to realize that when it came to American politics and finance, I was pure Bear.
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