Novel Open Source Seed Pledge aims to keep new vegetable and grain varieties free for all

Novel Open Source Seed Pledge aims to keep new vegetable and grain varieties free for all

April 15, 2014 by Nicole Miller

Jack Kloppenburg (left), professor in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, Irwin Goldman (center), chair of the Department of Horticulture, and Claire Luby (right), graduate student in the UW’s Plant Breeding and Plant Genetics program, fill envelopes with non-patented seeds in the Horticulture office in Moore Hall.

Photo: Bryce Richter

This week, scientists, farmers and sustainable food systems advocates will gather on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus to celebrate an unusual group of honored guests: 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains that are being publicly released using a novel form of ownership agreement known as the Open Source Seed Pledge.

The pledge, which was developed through a UW-Madison-led effort known as the Open Source Seed Initiative, is designed to keep the new seeds free for all people to grow, breed and share for perpetuity, with the goal of protecting the plants from patents and other restrictions down the line.

Continue reading

Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

NPR version… some organic seed outfits are making these seeds available; unfortunately NPR doesn’t name them or provide any info on suppliers… which is typical of them

Researchers tap syrup potential of walnut and birch trees

By Stacey Shackford

birch Frank Fieber
Harvesting sap from birch trees.

The future of sweet syrup could come from some unlikely sources: birch and walnut trees.

Thanks in part to the efforts of the Cornell Maple Program, many maple producers are starting to explore the untapped potential of walnut and birch trees, which produce sap similar to maple that can also be boiled down into syrup. Nearly 100 sugarmakers attended a recent workshop on the topic at the New York State Maple Conference in Verona.

According to Michael Farrell, director of Cornell’s Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station in Lake Placid, there are hundreds of millions of tappable birch and walnut trees in the eastern United States, providing a significant opportunity for a valuable forestry crop.

Birch syrup production is particularly well suited for maple producers who have already invested in the equipment and want to extend their season.

“Since the sap in birch trees doesn’t start flowing until the sap flow in maples is ending in April, sugarmakers can use all of their existing equipment to produce another valuable crop of birch syrup as soon as the maple season ends,” Farrell said. “And if we have a poor crop of maple syrup like we did last year, it can provide another opportunity to utilize the land. It’s a way of hedging your bets against a changing climate and unpredictable weather from year to year.”

In 2012, Cornell researchers tapped 400 birch trees and produced about 30 gallons of syrup. Farrell hopes to expand that to 600-700 trees over the next year and develop one of the first major research and extension projects studying the biological, technological, processing and economic aspects of birch and walnut syrup production. Their research objectives include determining optimum tapping times and collection practices; sugar concentrations; consumer preferences; the impact on lumber quality; and whether landowners could earn more from using their trees for syrup or saw timber.

It usually takes 40-50 gallons of maple sap to produce one gallon of maple syrup. The sugar content of birch sap is much lower, requiring 150-200 gallons of sap to yield a gallon of syrup.

It is, therefore, more expensive and time-consuming to produce, but it also commands a steep price: the equivalent of $350 to $400 per gallon, although it is usually sold in 8-ounce bottles in Alaska and Canada where it is produced in limited quantities.

Its intense fruity molasses flavor means birch is unlikely to replace the mighty maple as a pancake syrup, but it does appeal to creative chefs for use in marinades and other culinary treats. Farrell plans to work with a team of chefs and food scientists to create recipes.

As for walnut syrup, the delicacy could easily forge a place of honor on the breakfast table, Farrell said.

“It tastes very much like a lighter maple syrup, with nutty butterscotch overtones,” Farrell said. “It has been very popular among visitors to the sugarhouse. People like it because it’s different. And delicious.”

Farrell is aware of only one person in the United States producing and selling walnut syrup on a commercial scale. “It’s definitely something homeowners can do. I would encourage anyone with access to walnut trees to give it a try,” he said.

For those with just a few birch trees, Farrell suggests drinking and cooking with the sap as they do in many European and Asian countries.

“Birch sap is basically 99 percent water, filtered by tree roots, with a slightly sweet taste and plenty of minerals and nutrients,” he said.

Stacey Shackford is staff writer at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Ardie’s Grapes for Syrup

90% Of Ground Turkey Contaminated With Horrible Shit

New Study Finds 90 Percent Of Ground Turkey Contaminated With One Or More Dangerous Bacteria

Published 1, May 2, 2013 Link 2 Jonathan Turley Posting

Consumer Reports has come out with a rather alarming study that shows that 60 percent of ground turkey tested contained fecal bacteria and sixty-nine percent of ground-turkey samples contained enterococcus.


Evil Bugz


Noble Burd

Even more scary was that 80 percent of the enterococcus bacteria were resistant to three or more groups of closely related antibiotics (or classes), as were more than half of the E. coli.

In all, 90 percent of the samples tested positive for one or more of the five bacteria targeted by the study such as salmonella and staphylococcus aureus. Three samples were contaminated with the potentially lethal methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

The percentage of such bacteria as E Coli did not change with organic or antibiotic-free turkeys.

The use of antibiotics (long criticized by health experts) has helped create a huge petri dish for generating resistant germs to antibiotics. Despite such studies, we continue to cut a demonstrably small force of food inspectors — relying on large part on the industry’s self-regulation.

The study is likely to have a huge impact on consumers who often view turkey as a healthier substitute for ground beef. It remains lower in fat but the contamination levels are astonishing.

The astonishing level of contamination in ground turkey would suggest that a large number of people are likely sickened every year without necessarily knowing that it was the turkey that was the culprit rather than the usual suspects of unclean restaurant conditions or other foods like lettuce etc. The problem is that people who are sickened by such food often do not trace their illness to a particular product. The result that tort actions remain rare due to factual causation problems — reducing the deterrence afforded by litigation.

Source: Consumer Reports

2012 cultured meat highlights


2012 cultured meat highlights

2012 cultured meat highlights.

Scientific American ran a feature about how the company Modern Meadow is working to produce tissue-engineered leather for mass production by 2017. Wired published an article about Peter Thiel, who is the billionaire founder of PayPal, for investing in cultured meat technology.

UK’s Guardian posed the question to its readers “Could lab-grown meat soon be the solution to the world’s food crisis?” And in a contest for the best essay regarding the ethics of eating meat, New York Times readers chose this piece on cultured meat entitled, “I’m about to eat meat for the first time in 40 years,” as the winner.

On radio, our choice for the best piece of the year aired on National Public Radio’s, Kojo Nnamdi Show. The episode featured cultured meat scientist Mark Post and New Yorker writer Michael Specter. It’s a must listen!

And for video of the year? Check out what students at Beckmans College of Design produced to explain the importance of cultured meat research.