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For all the international furor over genetically modified food, or GMOs, the biotech industry has really only managed to put a few foreign genes into food crops.

The first of these genes — actually, a small family of similar genes — came from a kind of bacteria called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. Those genes make plants poisonous to certain insect pests.

When Frances Moore Lappe wrote the best-selling Diet For A Small Planet back in 1971, she helped start a conversation about the social and environmental impacts of the foods we choose.

And, back then, what she had to say was revolutionary. Her idea that a plant-centered diet could be better for the planet — and our health — than a meat-centered diet was considered radical. "It was heresy," Lappe told me during a recent interview.

Farmers Enlist Chickens And Bugs To Battle Against Pests

Sep 20, 2016

In an effort to turn away from chemical pesticides, which have the potential to damage the environment, some farmers are looking in a new direction in the age-old struggle against pests. They're warding off intruding insects and noxious weeds with bugs and chickens.

I'm the health reporter covering the Zika story here at WLRN in Miami, and I'm a pregnant woman.

When Florida Gov. Rick Scott made free Zika testing available to all pregnant Floridians through the Florida Department of Health, I was one of the more than 2,200 women who took him up on the offer.

Two years ago, PawHser Moo's mother started pushing her and her sisters to join a group called Growing Colorado Kids. As Moo recalls, at first, she was far from thrilled by the idea.

"I was like, 'Oh my gosh, no! I have to wake up early!' " says Moo — a pretty typical reaction for a 14 year old. Wake up early on Saturdays just to catch a van up to rural Adams County, about a half-hour drive from Denver, only to spend hours outside gardening? It was hardly her first choice for her weekends.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.


No chemical used by farmers, it seems, gets more attention than glyphosate, also known by its trade name, Roundup. That's mainly because it is a cornerstone of the shift to genetically modified crops, many of which have been modified to tolerate glyphosate. This, in turn, persuaded farmers to rely on this chemical for easy control of their weeds. (Easy, at least, until weeds evolved to become immune to glyphosate, but that's a different story.)

Health workers are piecing together a complicated puzzle in El Paso County, Colo. In January, three cities — Security, Fountain and Widefield — noticed synthetic chemicals known as PFCs in the drinking water.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


During the Our Ocean conference in Washington, D.C., President Obama announced the creation of the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

The floods that hit Louisiana last month were caused by rainfall that was unlike anything seen there in centuries. Most of the southern part of the state was drenched with up to 2 or 3 inches in an hour. A total of 31 inches fell just northeast of Baton Rouge in about three days; 20 parishes were declared federal disaster areas.

Climate scientists and flood managers suspect there could more like that to come — in Louisiana and in other parts of the country.

From anthrax outbreaks in thawing permafrost to rice farms flooded with salty water, climate change seems to play a bigger and bigger role in global health each year.

The 10th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was an odd one: When the National Weather Service announced the formation of Tropical Storm Julia in northeastern Florida on Tuesday night, it marked one of the few known instances of such a storm developing over land rather than open water.

Copyright 2016 Prairie Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Prairie Public Broadcasting.

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