Monsanto and GMOs

Monsanto protestor

Skip and Dez explain what GMOs are why Monsanto is such a controversial company.

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Skip: Hello everyone. Welcome to Down to Business English. Nice to be back with you Dez. Dez…are you there?

Dez: …Hi Skip. Yes, I’m here…barely. I just got back from my daily bike ride along the Corniche.

Skip: Daily bike ride? I knew you had laid out a little bit of cash on a nice bike awhile back but I didn’t realize that  you were that into cycling.

Dez: Well I don’t like to go around tooting my own horn but yes, I’m a fairly avid bicyclist. It’s a great way to stay in shape. I think I’ve dropped two stone since I started taking it seriously.

Skip: Two stone? And for us outside of the UK, what would that be in kilograms?

Dez: Sorry. That would be approximately 12 kilograms in about 6 months.

Skip: 12 kilograms! That’s great Dez. Now that you mention it, I did notice you were looking especially smart in your wedding pictures. All of that from cycling. 

Dez: Thank you Skip. Cycling was a part of it, but I think the most important factor for getting into shape is watching what you eat. Eat the wrong foods and all the exercise in the world won’t help you.

Skip: I couldn’t agree more. 

Dez: Oh? Trying to shed a few kilograms Skip? Have you gone on a diet?

Skip: No, that’s not what I meant, although I could stand to start eating better and exercising more regularly. 

Dez: I highly recommend it.

Skip: Thanks, but the reason I’m agreeing with you is a result of the all the research I’ve done for today’s story.  

Dez:  Oh yes, today we’re going to be looking at the agri-chemical giant Monsanto and GM foods.

Skip: Yes, and after studying up on this topic I have suddenly started to question the safety of the foods I am consuming.

Dez: As a new parent who’s responsible for the health and well-being of a 14 month old toddler, I’m very eager to hear what you have to report and I certainly have a lot of questions.

Skip: Fantastic. So let’s do it, let’s get D2B….Down to Business with Monsanto and GMOs. Who is Monsanto, what is a GMO, and why are GM foods so controversial?

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Technology in the Food Industry


Skip is joined by guest host Samantha Vega to talk about how the food industry is slowly but surely embracing technology.

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Skip: This is Skip Montreux in Tokyo, Japan. And you are listening to Down to Business English.  Hello everyone! Welcome back to another episode of Down to Business English. The podcast that helps you improve your business English through discussing business topics making the news around the world. Unfortunately, my dear co-host, Dez Morgan, can’t be here today, as he is stuck under a mountain of research, as he works on his PhD in TESOL. But fear not, today I am very fortunate to be joined by a colleague and dear friend, Ms. Samantha Vega. Coming to us from Auckland in New Zealand. Thanks for being here today, Sam.

Samantha: Oh, no problem. It’s lovely to see you again, and to talk to you.

Skip: Yes. It’s good to hear your voice. Now, for all you listeners, Sam is a very, very old friend of mine. And Sam, why don’t you tell us how, how did we meet?

Samantha: Well gee, we uh, are both Canadians, so maybe that’s one reason why we get along so well. But we met in Tokyo in Japan, gosh, 13-14 years ago? How long we known each other? 

Skip: That’s right. We did not meet in Canada. I have been in Japan for 18 years now. And you are one of the first people I…I met here. So, it’s been that long, actually.

Samantha: It has been. I moved there in, uh, 1997, is when I went there. But, I stayed there for six years. And then I moved to Thailand for 13 years, and I’ve, less than a year now, moved to Auckland, New Zealand, which is actually where I was born. But I was raised in Canada. That’s why I don’t have the Kiwi accent.

Skip: Now, just, just one moment. You lived in Thailand for 13 years (chuckling). I know a lot of people who visit Thailand. I don’t know anyone who stayed there for 13 years. You got to tell us a little bit about that.

Samantha: Well, I kinda got stuck on Thai time which is very lazy, lazy time. The time seems to move… 

Skip: Thai time.

Samantha: … it moves a little bit slowly there. Well, I decided to move from uh Tokyo, one of the biggest cities in the world to Ko Samui, Thailand, which is a very small tourist island. So I decided to go from a very big place to a very small place to see…

Skip: That must have been a very dramatic change. 

Samantha: It was! It took some time. And then I kind of, now that I’ve gone back to the west, it’s taken some time for me to get back into the way of the western world. I was in Asia for 19 years. So, it’s definitely a difference in culture, between Asian countries and Western countries.

Skip: Well, I’ve never been to New Zealand. I’ve been to Thailand, a couple of times. But, Tokyo certainly is my home, and I’m very accustomed to everything. Uh, what about you? Is there anything about Tokyo that you miss?

Samantha: Loads about Tokyo that I miss. And …

Skip: For example?

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Youth Unemployment



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Skip and Dez discuss youth unemployment in the EU and UK.

Dez:     Hello everyone and welcome to an all new episode of Down to Business English.

Skip:     Yes, thanks to all of our listeners, regular and new, for downloading D2B today.

Dez:     And I guess I should say welcome back to you too Skip. How was your fishing trip in the Gulf of Mexico? I see you managed not to get lost at sea.

Skip:     It was fantastic Dez! My first experience with offshore fishing and boy did I ever enjoy it.

Dez:     So you actually caught something? That’s good, as I was worried you would come up empty.

Skip:     I held my own I think. I didn’t keep track of every fish but I did land some snapper, a grouper, and even a shark.

Dez:     Sharks? That sounds exciting.

Skip:     It was. But enough about that. How are things with you Dez?

Dez:     Not so bad, I have been really busy with finishing up courses and exams as it is the end of the semester here.

Skip:     Well, I certainly hope you passed.

Dez:     The students have been taking exams Skip, not me.

Skip:     Only joking Dez. But busy is good. I know for a fact that there are a lot of people that would love to be a bit busier.

Dez:     I guess you are talking about the high rates of unemployment since the financial crisis in 2009?

Skip:     That I am Dez, but I am especially talking about the high rates among the under 25s, and most notably in some countries in Europe.

Dez:     And is that our story for today, the difficulties that many young people are having getting jobs?

Skip:     It certainly is. So let’s do it. Let’s get D2B…Down to Business with youth unemployment, jobs and the unscrupulous practice that some employers in the United Kingdom have been using.

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Shale Oil

The extraction process known as fracking


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Skip Montreux and Dez Morgan discuss the economic benefits of shale oil and the controversial drilling technique of fracking.

Skip:     Hello everyone. Skip Montreux here. Thanks for joining us on Down to Business English today.

Dez:     Yes, welcome back listeners, I hope everyone is well. How is life treating you Skip?

Skip:     Me? Oh not so bad. I’ve been dealing with a few issues in my office which have caused some minor setbacks recently, but essentially I am good. How about you Dez? How is family life treating you?

Dez:     Well, thanks for asking. Well, the big news here is Roxie and I have just bought a flat in Scotland.

Skip:     Nice! Congratulations.

Dez:     Thanks Skip. But unfortunately this investment will be taking most of our salaries for the next 20 years.

Skip:    That is if you are still around in 20 years. You don’t lead the healthiest of lifestyles Dez.

Dez:     That is certainly a consideration but I imagine the world will be a very different place by then.

Skip:     It most definitely will.

Dez:     I wonder if we’ll all be driving around in self-controlled electric flying cars, living in solar heated and cooled apartments that are floating in the clouds, and if everyone will have a computers strapped to their wrists that are more powerful than a supercomputer today?

Skip:     Actually, with the advances in technology over the last 20 years, that scenario doesn’t sound too far off. But I am sure that fossil fuels will continue to play a big part in our lives for the foreseeable future, especially now with the recent discoveries of shale oil in the US.

Dez:     Maybe. I still prefer my version though. Anyway Skip is that our story for today, shale oil?

Skip:     Well partly. Today we’ll be talking not only about shale oil and the countries with the biggest reserves but also we’ll be taking a look at the advent of a new oil drilling technique known as fracking, as well as how all of this will affect the energy markets moving into into the future.

Dez:     Okay, lets do it. Let’s get D2B…Down to Business with…with that list of topics that Skip just rattled off.

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Roundup Episode

The markets react
The markets react

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Skip Montreux and Dez Morgan update several of the business news stories recently covered on Down to Business English.

Skip: A big hello to all of our listeners out there. Welcome to a new episode of Down to Business English, the show that helps you build your base of professional vocabulary through discussing the latest in business news.

Dez: And a big hello to you too Skip. 

Skip: I’m sorry. Hello to you Dez. 

Dez: Hello Skip. 

Skip: Okay, now that we have all greeted each other, how are things? 

Dez: Well my wife Roxie and our new baby daughter have just gone on a trip back to Scotland for a week. 

Skip: Oh nice, so you are free then! Are you going to paint the town red. Party every night till dawn. Get out your old dancing shoes maybe? 

Dez: No Skip. I am going to take it pretty easy. Maybe get a takeaway, get out some of the Playstation games that I’ve been meaning to play, maybe Skype a few people that I haven’t spoke to in a while and check up on the prices for the Baltic Dry Index. 

Skip:  The Baltic what? Wait a minute, you don’t even have a Playstation, that’s way too cool for you. 

Dez: You’re right. I don’t have a Playstation, and the Baltic Dry Index is the index used to calculate the cost of shipping goods transported by sea. 

Skip: In the Baltic Sea? 

Dez: No that’s just the name. 

Skip: So, is that our story for today? Shipping charges? 

Dez: Actually not really. But I am trying to create a nice segue into our episode today. 

Skip:Really? I’m a bit confused.

Dez:Nothing new there. Anyway, I thought that today we could do a roundup of some of the recent stories we’ve covered here on D2B. So, of course Scottish Independence and computer games were the first two topics I mentioned. Then Skype, which is owned by Microsoft and therefore connected to the story we did on their acquisition of Nokia.

Skip:Okay, I see that now.

Dez:But I couldn’t think of anyway to shoehorn Khalifa port into the conversation so I talked about the Baltic Dry Index. 

Skip: Well this is a relief. If we were doing a report on the Baltic Dry Index and shipping charges, I would need to pour myself a giant sized coffee to stay awake. So let’s do it…let’s get D2B Down to Business with updates on some of the most recent stories covered on Down to Business English. 

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a bitcoin
The crypto currency Bitcoin

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Dez:     And welcome to Down to Business English

Skip:     Thanks for downloading us today. It is good to have you here.

Dez:     So Skip, what have you been up to recently?

Skip:     Well to tell the truth, I’m working as much as I can, saving my money up for a trip I’m planning to the US later this year.

Dez:     Oh? Where in the US are you going?

Skip:     I am on my way to Texas actually.

Dez:     Nice.

Skip:     Yes, I’m hooking up with some friends and we are going to do some offshore fishing in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dez:     Great, but it sounds expensive. At least the exchange rate is still somewhat favorable for you coming from Japan.

Skip:     Well, the Japanese Yen has weakened over the last few months but historically it is still fairly strong.

Dez:     The currency in the UAE is officially tied, or artificially pegged, to the US dollar, so has not been faring too well over the last few years.

Skip:     A lot of that has to do with the US quantitative easing policies which has seen the America create more and more money.

Dez:     And the more money they print, the more people lose faith in the currency and so its value goes down. The same thing has been happening in Britain too. In fact there are a couple of towns that have created their own money.

Skip:     Really? Can they do that?

Dez:     The two that I can think of are Brixton in London and Lewes, which is near Brighton in Sussex. Both places have created their own pound which is equivalent to a British pound but can only be used to make local purchases. So I guess they can do that locally.

Skip:     That is interesting but on a much larger scale, have you heard about Bitcoin, the alternative international online crypto currency?

Dez:     Bitcoin? Yes I’ve heard it mentioned but I’m not that up on the details. So are you going to tell me and the listeners the story behind Bitcoin?

Skip:     I sure am. Are you ready?

Dez:     I’m all ears?

Skip:     Great. So let’s get D2B…Down to Business with Bitcoin. What is it? How did it start? And why has it been in the news recently?

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Scottish Independence

A Passionate Scot
A Passionate Scot

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Dez gives his take on the upcoming Scottish referendum on independence from the U.K. He also has a big announcement to make.

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Dez:     Hello Skip. Good to hear your voice.

Skip:     Hi Dez. Good to hear yours too. Once again we must apologize to all our listeners for being off the air for so long as both Dez and I have been absolutely snowed under with work and other personal commitments.

Dez:     Yes, indeed. Humble apologies. So what have you been up to, to keep yourself so busy Skip?

Skip:     I have been working on a book, a series of books actually.

Dez:     Oh wow. Is it Skip’s guide on how to win at high stakes poker?

Skip:     You really think I would tell everyone my secrets?

Dez:     Skip, I’ve seen you at a poker table and your ‘secret’ looks more like blind luck to me. So what kind of books are they?

Skip:     As a matter of fact they are textbooks aimed at Japanese professionals on how to give an effective business presentation in English.

Dez:     Very cool.

Skip:     Thank you. But holy cow! This is the first time I have written a textbook and I am just amazed at how time consuming the whole process is.

Dez:     I know. I’ve written textbooks in the past and there just always seemed to be a deadline looming.

Skip:     You can say that again. But that is enough about me. You are the one with the big news. Are you going to fill everyone in?

Dez:     Well, Roxy, my wife, had a baby girl a few weeks ago so that has kept us pretty busy.

Skip:     Congratulations, from me and I am sure, all of our listeners.

Dez:     Thank you everyone.

Skip:     Fantastic. So, how are you coping with becoming a father for the first time?

Dez:     I’ll tell you that I am not getting much sleep and I miss the house being quiet when I get home from work, but apart from that things are going fine.

Skip:     So all of that must be keeping you really busy?

Dez:     That and all of the paperwork that we need to do to register our daughter and get her passport, her visa and her identity card, and so on.

Skip:     She has a passport already?

Dez:     She does and pretty soon she might have two passports?

Skip:     Really? How do you figure that out?

Dez:     Well Roxy was born in Scotland and Scotland might very soon be a separate country so hopefully we can get our daughter separate passports for both England and Scotland.

Skip:     That’s right, I have been reading about the referendum coming up later this year in September where the Scots will vote on whether they wish to remain in the union with England, Wales and Northern Island. And is that our story for today Dez?

Dez:     It sure is.

Skip:     Okay, let’s do it. Let’s get D2B… Down to Business with Scottish independence. Who wants it? Who doesn’t want it? And how likely is it to happen? Continue reading Scottish Independence

a Business English podcast with Skip Montreux and Dez Morgan