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Feds Approve Monsanto Herbicide-Resistant Crops

genetically engineered cornThe US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has approved plantings of three genetically engineered (GE) crops in as many weeks, including Monsanto Co.'s Roundup Ready sugar beets and alfalfa that are engineered to tolerate Roundup Ready weed-killing herbicide.

The USDA on February 11 also legalized, without restriction, the world's first GE corn crop meant for biofuel production. Biotech giant Syngenta's Event 3272 seed corn will simplify ethanol production and is not meant to feed animals or humans.

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Chevron fined for Amazon pollution by Ecuador court

Chevron fined for Amazon pollutionA court in Ecuador has fined US oil giant Chevron a reported $8bn (£5bn) for polluting a large part of the country's Amazon region. The oil firm Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, was accused of dumping billions of gallons of toxic materials into unlined pits and Amazon rivers.

Campaigners say crops were damaged and farm animals killed, and that local cancer rates increased. Condemning the ruling as fraudulent, Chevron said it would appeal. The lawsuit was brought on behalf of 30,000 Ecuadoreans, in a case which dragged on for nearly two decades.

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Gulf oil wells 10 miles from Deepwater Horizon site leaking since 2004

While the Deepwater Horizon well has been capped since July, another group of wells about 10 miles away has been leaking oil into the Gulf since 2004, according to federal records.

Citing litigation, federal officials refused last week to answer a series of questions about the ongoing leaks, including how many wells are involved, how much oil has escaped into the Gulf and whether any fines have been issued to Taylor Energy Co, LLC, the company that owns the wells.

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GM cotton has not improved yields, but it has ruined sustainable agriculture

Remember the promises made by Monsanto that genetically-modified (GM) crops would bring higher yields and a better quality of life to the world? A recent study put forth by anthropologists from Washington University (WU) in St. Louis has revealed that Bt cotton, a type of GM cotton that produces its own insecticide, is causing significant problems for sustainable farm management, while offering little to no actual increases in yield.

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USDA Allows GMO Sugar Beet Planting Even After a Landmark Court Decision Says No

Why is the USDA once again putting biotechnology before human safety?

And then in December, a federal judge ordered that 258 very important acres of genetically modified sugar beets be destroyed. Judge Jeffrey White ruled that the crops be destroyed because the risk of gene contamination in Oregon's Willamette Valley was so great. This was a step in the right direction no matter how small the step.

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Chernobyl birds are small brained

Chernobyl birds have smaller brainsBirds living around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear accident have 5% smaller brains, an effect directly linked to lingering background radiation. The finding comes from a study of 550 birds belonging to 48 different species living in the region, published in the journal PLoS One.

Brain size was significantly smaller in yearlings compared to older birds. Smaller brain sizes are thought to be linked to reduced cognitive ability. The discovery was made by a team of researchers from Norway, France and the US led by Professor Timothy Mousseau from the University of South Carolina, US, and Dr Anders Moller from the University of Paris-Sud, France.

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Special report: Catastrophic drought in the Amazon

Rio Negro, BrazilA widespread drought in the Amazon rainforest last year caused the "lungs of the world" to produce more carbon dioxide than they absorbed, potentially leading to a dangerous acceleration of global warming. Scientists have calculated that the 2010 drought was more intense than the "one-in-100-year" drought of 2005.

They are predicting it will result in some eight billion tonnes of carbon dioxide being expelled from the Amazon rainforest, which is more than the total annual carbon emissions of the United States. For the second time in less than a decade, the earth's greatest rainforest released more carbon dioxide than it absorbed because many of its trees dried out and died.

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