Peruvian President Ollanta Humala suspended U.S.-backed plans to begin eradication there and replaced the Peruvian drug czar who was advocating it

LIMA, Peru — Colombia surpassed Peru last year in land under coca cultivation, with Peru experiencing a 14 per cent drop in acreage for the plant used to make cocaine, according to UN data released Wednesday.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s annual report on Peruvian coca’s crop said it encompassed 42,900 hectares. It’s the crop’s fourth straight year of decline and the smallest area under cultivation since 1998.

The finding does not necessarily mean Colombia is now the world’s No. 1 cocaine producer, however. Much of Peru’s crop is more mature and higher yielding, having never been subjected to eradication.

Peru’s government does not destroy coca in the Apurimac, Ene and Mantaro river valley, the world’s leading coca-growing region, citing security concerns. The size of Belgium and Israel

combined, the valley accounts for 68 per cent of Peru’s coca crop.

Last year, Peruvian President Ollanta Humala suspended U.S.-backed plans to begin eradication there and replaced the Peruvian drug czar who was advocating it.

The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy estimates Peru’s potential cocaine production for 2014 at 285 metric tons, versus 245 metric tons for Colombia.

Peru’s drug czar, Alberto Otarola, said his government is not finished measuring potential cocaine production but estimated it at currently “no more than 270 tons.”

Two weeks ago, the UN said Colombia’s coca acreage skyrocketed in 2014 from 48,000 hectares to 69,000 hectares. That’s in large part because of reduced aerial spraying. The herbicide used, glyphosate, was recently classified by a UN health agency as a probable carcinogen.

Peru only eradicates manually.

“We are the Andean region country that has advanced most in reducing coca leaf,” Otarola told reporters. Peru destroyed 31,000 hectares of coca last year and has set the goal of destroying 35,000 hectares this year.

The policy provokes resistance from the tens of thousands of Peruvians who depend on coca for their livelihood.

On Tuesday, at least one person was killed and 25 people, including seven police officers, were injured in a clash between coca farmers and police in the Amazonian town of Constitution, local officials said. The farmers were protesting eradication and a lack of alternative development in the region.

One indicator of cocaine production is the amount of coca leaf harvested per country.

In 2014, Peru produced an estimated 100,800 metric tons, compared to 132,700 metric tons for Colombia, said Flavio Mirella, the Peru country representative for the UN agency.

The vast majority of coca leaf grown in both countries is used to produce cocaine.

The UN and the U.S. both agree that Bolivia is the No. 3 cocaine-producing nation after Colombia and Peru. The White House put Bolivia’s estimated potential cocaine production at 210 metric tons, up from 145 metric tons in 2012.

Bolivia has become a major transit and refining country for Peruvian cocaine in recent years.

The U.S. ended counter-narcotics assistance to Bolivia in 2013, five years after its government expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

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USDA Gives GMO Potato Exclusive Approval

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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reportedly deregulated a new genetically modified potato, adding the product to an exclusive list of now nine lab-made GMO food crops that can be sold in the United States.

According to the J.R. Simplot Company, "this approval comes after a decade of scientific development, safety assessments and extensive field tests."

The potatoes also apparently grow just like your standard domestic potato crop. What makes the potatoes different, however, is that they bruise less and have lower levels of asparagine – a natural amino acid that can be turned into a suspected human carcinogen when exposed to flash frying.

Reuters reports that Simplot first applied for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) approval back in 2013, after a number of field trials conducted from 2009 through 2011.

GMOs are not uncommon in the United States. Technically, mostly everything you eat (and yes, that includes most of the rustic products you buy at your local farmer’s market) are genetically modified organisms. Experts have been arguing that we have been selecting for the genetic expression of traits in our food crops for centuries, even if we have just recently moved away from breeding kits to doing things exclusively in a lab.

Most GMOs are also products of genetic editing, in which only naturally possible traits are selected for. Genetic insertion, on the other hand, is a new practice where traits that a plant could not normally boast are added into the mix. This allows researchers to make crops (like corn and soybeans) that can tolerate herbicides or grow in unfavorable conditions. However, it also can have unforeseen consequences, which is why many people are strongly opposed to GMOs in the United States.

Simplot’s so-called "Innate potato" apparently is not of the worrisome second variety.

"The name does a good job of describing the process," David Douches, Director of the Potato Breeding and Genetics Program at Michigan State University, told BestFoodFacts. "The technology used to produce it involves isolating genetic elements from the plant’s existing gene structure, and after some rearranging, introducing them back into the potato without incorporating genes from other species. The product is from within… adding something new, but it was already in the potato in the first place."

Tags GMOs, crops, food, genetically engineered foods

Read more: http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/10190/20141110/usda-gives-gmo-potato-exclusive-approval.htm#ixzz3Ipn3z07e

Jake Graves used to be a Kentucky hemp farmer, but that was 50 years ago

Jake Graves used to be a Kentucky hemp farmer, but that was 50 years ago. Now he’s out front in the battle to bring the crop back. He calls it one of our unalienable rights — "the freedom to farm."

Jacob Hughes Graves III is one of Kentucky’s native sons. He can trace his family in America back to the 1600s and lives in the grand old plantation home in Lexington built by his great-grandfather in 1852. Hemp farming in his family goes back at least 200 years. He has nine children and 17 grandchildren and at age 70, he is probably one of the few Kentucky hemp farmers still around. "The Last of the Mohicans," Graves calls himself.

He went to war in 1944 and when he returned a year later, he harvested his last crop. Though the Kentucky Hemp Growers Cooperative Association had been organized to help in the war effort, hemp production declined dramatically following war’s end and the Co-op was disbanded. But in 1994 with the emergence of a modern hemp marketplace, it was reincorporated to assist state farmers in reestablishing the industry. Jake Graves was named Co-op President.

He is a venerated figure throughout the state. In addition to being the owner and operator of picturesque Leafland Farm where he makes his home, he has served as Chairman of the Board of two banks and been a member of the board of trustees for three universities including the University of Kentucky. People value Jake Graves’ opinion. He knows farming. He is also glib and gets to the point quickly.

"This is business," he says in his sonorous Southern drawl. "There aren’t many crops that can shelter, clothe and feed you, and leave the soil in good condition. The world needs it."

He doesn’t have a lot patience for the anti-hemp rhetoric that concentrates on the evils of marijuana. "The Co-op has no interest in changing any of the laws pertaining to marijuana other than to distinguish it from industrial hemp," he says.

But if the subject does come up, he has a stock answer which is mighty hard to debate: "When you’re sittin’ at home with your family and having bowl of popcorn, does it pop into your mind that a bottle of whiskey comes from the same source? You got all different kinds of corn–feed corn, calico corn, white corn. That’s what I’m tryin’ to tell you about fiber hemp." You can’t argue with the common sense of a farmer.

There’s a long history of farmer sense to be had when you talk about hemp in Kentucky. In 1787, an item appeared in the Kentucky Gazette submitted by a female reader encouraging Kentuckians to avoid imports and grow their own food and fiber crops, especially hemp. "Shall we not be as comfortable and lovely clothed in homespun as in foreign lace and brocade?" she asked.

Many other newspaper articles and advertisements from the era indicate that horses, paper, food and even that old standby, money, were offered in trade for hemp. By the 1800s, hemp stood as the premier cash crop for Kentucky farmers. Many historians claim Kentucky was our nation’s leader in hemp production. It’s no secret why. Kentucky is known for its high-quality soil, reliable rainfall and abundant sunshine.

But the same combination of factors which hurt the industry in other states damaged Kentucky’s hemp industry during the early 1900s. Declining prices, labor scarcity, competition from other fiber crops and synthetic materials, as well as, industrial and socioeconomic upheavals, all contributed to a gradual decline of hemp farming which was only slightly alleviated by a brief period of production during World War II.

Today, however, Kentucky farmers are poised to revitalize the hemp industry. They are pioneers, part of a long and honorable American tradition of self-reliance, thrift and respect for Nature’s bounty. Their vehicle is the reborn Kentucky Hemp Growers Co-op.

The primary function of the Co-op is to serve as a clearinghouse through which farmers may negotiate and contract with different industries. Graves believes that farmers need to act cooperatively in a unified group in order to participate in the hemp industry on any equitable basis. He also says, "The farmer must have some say in how the industry evolves and what direction it takes."

The Co-op is not just a farmers’ think tank either. Late last spring, Co-op Executive Director Joe Hickey mounted a comprehensive hemp fiber conference in Lexington. Farmers and researchers alike attended, as did textile spinners and weavers, equipment manufacturers, paper processors and a host of politicians and public policy makers.

At the public forum that was scheduled at the end of the conference, Graves spoke first, invoking hemp’s prominent place in Kentucky history and the legacy of hemp in his own family. He then retired to the back of the conference hall to listen to others talk of the legitimate value that hemp offers our nation. While speakers aired glowing reports of the crop’s possibilities, the mood in the room grew buoyant–and the farmer’s smile on Jake Graves’ face grew wider. By the end of the forum, his smile had turned into a triumphant chuckle.

Jake Graves’ dreams of a Kentucky hemp comeback are very much alive.

Written by: Jerry Roberts

APRONSTORE Organic Hemp Aprons

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Lawmakers promote hemp as cash crop in Kentucky Associated Press

 

 

 

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Lawmakers have grown bolder in their push to allow farmers to grow hemp in Kentucky, a Bible-belt state where the issue was once considered politically taboo.

Growing hemp is illegal under federal law, but supporters want to lift the state ban with hopes of Kentucky becoming a leading grower of the versatile crop if the federal ban is lifted.

The House Agriculture and Small Business Committee held a hearing Wednesday on two bills pending in the state Legislature. Neither bill was called for a vote.

Most Kentucky political leaders have dismissed the issue in the past because of fears that voters might somehow conclude that they’re also pro-marijuana. But the issue was a centerpiece in last year’s race for agriculture commissioner, which was won decisively by Jamie Comer, a hemp proponent.

Comer said growing industrial hemp would allow expansion of Kentucky farm markets and create jobs in rural communities.

Industrial hemp, a cousin to marijuana, is used to make fuel, cattle feed, textiles, paper, lotion, cosmetics and other products. Though it contains trace amounts of the mind-altering chemical tetrahydrocannabinol that makes marijuana intoxicating, it remains illegal in the U.S.

Ed Shemelya, regional marijuana coordinator in the Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, said police continue to oppose legalization of hemp because there’s no way to visually distinguish it from marijuana.

“It’s an enforcement nightmare,” Shemelya said.

State Rep. Keith Hall, D-Phelps, said he believes people are beginning to realize the potential economic value of hemp and that is allowing political leaders to feel more comfortable in promoting it.

“I would say today that the issue is fear, and the great President Roosevelt said ‘what do we have to fear but fear itself,”’ Hall said.

Hall said people might think it odd that “a Bible-read man” would speak in favor of allowing Kentucky farmers to grow hemp.

“They’re saying the best Bibles are made with hemp paper over in France, because they don’t yellow; they don’t tear; they don’t tarnish,” he said.

Sen. Joey Pendleton, D-Hopkinsville, said he expects the federal government will lift the ban on hemp production in the future, and that he wants Kentucky to be ready to plant the crop as soon as that happens.

Kentucky has an ideal climate for hemp production and during World War II it was a leading grower of the plant that produces strong fibers used in fabrics, ropes and other materials for the military.

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