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Organic Chickens Coming Home to Roost

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Earlier this summer, just as the nation was celebrating Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law going into effect on July 1, a handful of corporate-owned organic companies sold out the GMO labeling movement to get a few small protections for their own corporate profits.

They were joined in the sell-out by supposedly liberal stalwarts like Senator Al Franken and President Barack Obama. Obama, you may remember, even made it a campaign promise to promote GMO labeling.

At the time, Food Democracy Now gave a detailed analysis of exactly who was involved in this betrayal of the will of more than 90 percent of the American public. Now the fallout continues, as leading family farm and organic seed groups and top organic companies have announced their resignation from the Organic Trade Association and Just Label It for their active role in this outrageous betrayal on GMO labeling.

Just last week, Dr. Bronner’s announced its resignation from the Organic Trade Association ahead of the big organic industry event, the Natural Products Expo East, with Dr. Bronner’s CEO David Bronner denouncing the “betrayal of the consumer-led GMO labeling movement, and general drift away from the core principles that drive the organic movement.”

Food Democracy Now has announced that it’s making sure that everyone in the organic industry at Expo East knows exactly who was behind this sell-out by running mobile billboards at the industry event.

Dr. Bronner’s announcement comes on the heels of an announcement from the Organic Consumers Association that 60 leading non-profits and small organic businesses are calling on the small and mid-sized organic companies to leave the Organic Trade Association.

The corporate organic sell-outs who worked against the GMO labeling movement include Stonyfield Yogurt co-founder and Just Label It chair Gary Hirshberg, Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb, and Organic Valley lobbyist and Organic Trade Association President Missy Hughes.

Food Democracy Now is about to launch a boycott against these companies. Joining in the protest against the Organic Trade Association is the family farmer-run Organic Seed and Growers Association (OSGATA), which left the OTA in disgust earlier this summer.

***

RODALE INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES ORGANIC FARMERS ASSOCIATION

Rodale Institute, the world’s leading organic agriculture research organization, has launched a new membership organization for organic farmers. The new Organic Farmers Association will exist to provide a voice for organic farmers on policy issues, help organic farmers network and share information, and serve as a resource center for organic farmers.

Advocacy efforts will be led by Elizabeth Kucinich, Board Policy Chair for Rodale Institute. Kucinich has extensive policy experience in Washington, D.C., including serving as the former director of policy at the Center for Food Safety and former director of government affairs at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Elizabeth is an advisory council member of DC EFF, the world’s largest environmental film festival, and is a producer of GMO OMG and Organic Rising.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to bring organic farmers’ voices and their experience with agriculture to policymakers in Washington, D.C.,” said Kucinich. “Policymakers have not yet grasped the significance of organic agriculture for resilient, reliable, non-toxic food production, and its ability to mitigate climate change while restoring our nation’s soil health. We have an opportunity to benefit organic farmers, while positively impacting our nation’s health and mitigating our climate crisis.”

In addition to better representation for organic farmers on legislative issues, the Organic Farmers Association will provide resources for farmers such as webinars, online tools, discounts, and a subscription to Rodale Institute’s New Farm magazine, providing the latest research and news for organic farmers.

“A lot of people say they speak for farmers,” said Jeff Moyer, Executive Director, Rodale Institute. “But there are no national organizations that exist specifically for organic farmers, by organic farmers. A lot of organic farmers are still isolated in their communities. We’d like to unite the nearly 20,000 organic farms around the country to provide that voice, provide a network, and provide the resources that farmers need to be successful.”

To sign up for a membership, visit OrganicFarmersAssociation.org. There are two membership options. A “Farmer Membership,” which represents organic farmers and includes a vote on policy issues, and a “Supporter Membership” for individuals interested in supporting organic farmers. Both memberships are $100 per year. For farm members, the voting structure is simple. Each farm receives one vote on policy issues, so that large and small operations have an equal voice at the table.

The Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. The Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet.

***

3.2 MILLION MOSTLY TOP PREDATORS KILLED BY THE FED IN 2015

The highly secretive arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as Wildlife Services killed more than 3.2 million animals during fiscal year 2015, according to new data released by the agency. The total number of wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes, eagles and other animals killed largely at the behest of the livestock industry and other agribusinesses represents a half-million-animal increase over the 2.7 million animals the agency killed in 2014.

Despite increasing calls for reform a century after the federal wildlife-killing program began in 1915, the latest kill report indicates that the program’s reckless slaughter continues, including 385 gray wolves, 68,905 coyotes (plus an unknown number of pups in 492 destroyed dens), 480 black bears, 284 mountain lions, 731 bobcats, 492 river otters (all but 83 killed “unintentionally”), 3,437 foxes, two bald eagles and 21,559 beavers. The program also killed 20,777 prairie dogs outright, plus an unknown number killed in more than 59,000 burrows that were destroyed or fumigated.

“Despite mounting public outcry and calls from Congress to reform these barbaric, outdated tactics, Wildlife Services continues its slaughter of America’s wildlife with no public oversight,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s simply no scientific basis for continuing to shoot, poison and strangle millions of animals every year — a cruel practice that not only fails to effectively manage targeted wildlife but poses an ongoing threat to other animals, including pets.”

Agency insiders have revealed that the agency kills many more animals than it reports.

The data show that the Department of Agriculture boosted its killing program despite a growing public outcry and calls for reform by scientists, elected officials and nongovernmental organizations.

“The Department of Agriculture should get out of the wildlife-slaughter business,” said Robinson. “Wolves, bears and other carnivores help keep the natural balance of their ecosystems. Our government kills off the predators, such as coyotes, and then kills off their prey — like prairie dogs — in an absurd, pointless cycle of violence.”

USDA’s Wildlife Services program began in 1915 when Congress appropriated $125,000 to the Bureau of Biological Survey for “destroying wolves, coyotes, and other animals injurious to agriculture and animal husbandry” on national forests and other public lands.

By the 1920s, scientists and fur trappers were robustly criticizing the Biological Survey’s massive poisoning of wildlife, and in response in 1928 the agency officially renounced “extermination” as its goal. Nevertheless it proceeded to exterminate wolves, grizzly bears, black-footed ferrets, and other animals from most of their remaining ranges in the years to follow. The agency was blocked from completely exterminating these species through the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act.

In 1997, after several name changes, the deceptive name “Wildlife Services” was inaugurated in place of “Biological Survey.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

***

GREENPEACE UNCOVERS INDUSTRY BEE-KILLING PESTICIDE STUDIES

Joe Sandler Clarke, writing for Greenpeace, reveals how chemical giants Bayer and Syngenta commissioned private studies that showed their neonicotinoid pesticides causes serious harm to bees.

The company research—designed to reveal the level at which their products harm bees—was obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to the U.S. environmental regulator. Publicly, the two firms have often sought to play down suggestions that their products can cause harm to honeybees.

However, the studies will cause little surprise in industry circles. Industry and scientists have long known that the products can harm bees. Instead, the research has been criticized by experts because it assumes a very narrow definition of harm to bee health and ignores wild bees, which evidence suggests are more likely to be harmed by neonicotinoids. It means the studies may substantially underestimate the impact of the two firms’ products on pollinators.

Due to commercial confidentiality rules, Greenpeace is not allowed to release the studies in full.

On its website, Syngenta states there is “no direct correlation between neonicotinoids use and poor bee health” and “the allegation that neonicotinoids-based pesticides are inherently damaging to bee colonies or populations is not true.”

In statements issued to Greenpeace last month, the firm added, “None of the studies Syngenta has undertaken or commissioned for use by regulatory agencies have shown that thiamethoxam (its neonicotinoid pesticide) damages the health of bee colonies and we stand by the integrity of our neonicotinoid product.”

The private research did not examine the impact of the product on bee colonies in “normal” conditions. However, other studies have done so.

Last month, a study by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology linked the long-term decline of wild bees in England to the use of neonicotinoids.

A major field study in Sweden last year found that wild bees were badly affected when exposed to fields treated with clothianidin (Bayer’s neonic), while honeybees proved more robust.

In a statement to Greenpeace, a Bayer spokesperson said:

“The study conducted in North Carolina is an artificial feeding study that intentionally exaggerates the exposure potential because it is designed to calculate a ‘no-effect’ concentration for clothianidin. Although the colony was artificially provided with a spiked sugar solution, the bees were allowed to forage freely in the environment, so there is less stress (which can be a contributing variable) than if they were completely confined to cages.

“This protocol was developed jointly by Bayer and the EPA several years ago and it is now being applied to other compounds. Based on these results, we believe the data support the establishment of a no-effect concentration of 20 ppb for clothianidin, which is consistent to that of other neonicotinoids.

“One of our research scientists will make a public presentation at the International Congress of Entomology meeting in Orlando, Florida, in which he will discuss the similarities of the findings of these studies, as well as the merits of the new test protocol.”

Responding to the Greenpeace story, a Syngenta spokesperson said:

“The EPA asked us to do this study and agreed with the methodology. A sucrose based mechanism was used on the basis that it was required to expose bees artificially to Thiamethoxam to determine what actual level of residue would exert a toxic effect.

“There were transient effects observed and the reported No Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) for this study was 50 ppb (parts per billion). It is accepted that residues of Thiamethoxam in pollen and nectar from seed treated crops are in the single ppb level. So this reported NOAEL of 50 ppb indicates that honeybee colonies are at low risk from exposure to Thiamethoxam in pollen and nectar of seed treated crops.

“This research is already in the process of being published in a forthcoming journal and is clearly already publicly available through the Freedom of Information process in the United States.”

***

TOWN NEAR GMO PLANTINGS SUFFERS BIRTH DEFECTS, CANCERS

The village of Avia Terai in Argentina is surrounded by GMO soy crops and Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide is sprayed freely.

Here, children are born with birth defects and degenerative diseases of unknown origin. One little girl has large brownish-black spots all over her face and body—marks she’s had since birth. Another is slowly wasting away from an undiagnosed degenerative disease thought to be genetic, aggravated by exposure to herbicides. Many children are deformed in one way or another. Many elders are dying from cancer.

On October 15, Maria Liz Robledo, one of Monsanto’s victims in Argentina, and Damian Verzenassi, a public health doctor in Argentina, will tell the world how Argentinians have suffered from Monsanto’s Roundup. They are among the witnesses and experts who will testify before a panel of international judges at the International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

###




Organic Chickens Coming Home to Roost

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

Earlier this summer, just as the nation was celebrating Vermont’s first-in-the-nation GMO labeling law going into effect on July 1, a handful of corporate-owned organic companies sold out the GMO labeling movement to get a few small protections for their own corporate profits.

They were joined in the sell-out by supposedly liberal stalwarts like Senator Al Franken and President Barack Obama. Obama, you may remember, even made it a campaign promise to promote GMO labeling.

At the time, Food Democracy Now gave a detailed analysis of exactly who was involved in this betrayal of the will of more than 90 percent of the American public. Now the fallout continues, as leading family farm and organic seed groups and top organic companies have announced their resignation from the Organic Trade Association and Just Label It for their active role in this outrageous betrayal on GMO labeling.

Just last week, Dr. Bronner’s announced its resignation from the Organic Trade Association ahead of the big organic industry event, the Natural Products Expo East, with Dr. Bronner’s CEO David Bronner denouncing the “betrayal of the consumer-led GMO labeling movement, and general drift away from the core principles that drive the organic movement.”

Food Democracy Now has announced that it’s making sure that everyone in the organic industry at Expo East knows exactly who was behind this sell-out by running mobile billboards at the industry event.

Dr. Bronner’s announcement comes on the heels of an announcement from the Organic Consumers Association that 60 leading non-profits and small organic businesses are calling on the small and mid-sized organic companies to leave the Organic Trade Association.

The corporate organic sell-outs who worked against the GMO labeling movement include Stonyfield Yogurt co-founder and Just Label It chair Gary Hirshberg, Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb, and Organic Valley lobbyist and Organic Trade Association President Missy Hughes.

Food Democracy Now is about to launch a boycott against these companies. Joining in the protest against the Organic Trade Association is the family farmer-run Organic Seed and Growers Association (OSGATA), which left the OTA in disgust earlier this summer.

***

RODALE INSTITUTE ANNOUNCES ORGANIC FARMERS ASSOCIATION

Rodale Institute, the world’s leading organic agriculture research organization, has launched a new membership organization for organic farmers. The new Organic Farmers Association will exist to provide a voice for organic farmers on policy issues, help organic farmers network and share information, and serve as a resource center for organic farmers.

Advocacy efforts will be led by Elizabeth Kucinich, Board Policy Chair for Rodale Institute. Kucinich has extensive policy experience in Washington, D.C., including serving as the former director of policy at the Center for Food Safety and former director of government affairs at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Elizabeth is an advisory council member of DC EFF, the world’s largest environmental film festival, and is a producer of GMO OMG and Organic Rising.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to bring organic farmers’ voices and their experience with agriculture to policymakers in Washington, D.C.,” said Kucinich. “Policymakers have not yet grasped the significance of organic agriculture for resilient, reliable, non-toxic food production, and its ability to mitigate climate change while restoring our nation’s soil health. We have an opportunity to benefit organic farmers, while positively impacting our nation’s health and mitigating our climate crisis.”

In addition to better representation for organic farmers on legislative issues, the Organic Farmers Association will provide resources for farmers such as webinars, online tools, discounts, and a subscription to Rodale Institute’s New Farm magazine, providing the latest research and news for organic farmers.

“A lot of people say they speak for farmers,” said Jeff Moyer, Executive Director, Rodale Institute. “But there are no national organizations that exist specifically for organic farmers, by organic farmers. A lot of organic farmers are still isolated in their communities. We’d like to unite the nearly 20,000 organic farms around the country to provide that voice, provide a network, and provide the resources that farmers need to be successful.”

To sign up for a membership, visit OrganicFarmersAssociation.org. There are two membership options. A “Farmer Membership,” which represents organic farmers and includes a vote on policy issues, and a “Supporter Membership” for individuals interested in supporting organic farmers. Both memberships are $100 per year. For farm members, the voting structure is simple. Each farm receives one vote on policy issues, so that large and small operations have an equal voice at the table.

The Rodale Institute is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to pioneering organic farming through research and outreach. The Institute has been researching the best practices of organic agriculture and sharing findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet.

***

3.2 MILLION MOSTLY TOP PREDATORS KILLED BY THE FED IN 2015

The highly secretive arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture known as Wildlife Services killed more than 3.2 million animals during fiscal year 2015, according to new data released by the agency. The total number of wolves, coyotes, bears, mountain lions, beavers, foxes, eagles and other animals killed largely at the behest of the livestock industry and other agribusinesses represents a half-million-animal increase over the 2.7 million animals the agency killed in 2014.

Despite increasing calls for reform a century after the federal wildlife-killing program began in 1915, the latest kill report indicates that the program’s reckless slaughter continues, including 385 gray wolves, 68,905 coyotes (plus an unknown number of pups in 492 destroyed dens), 480 black bears, 284 mountain lions, 731 bobcats, 492 river otters (all but 83 killed “unintentionally”), 3,437 foxes, two bald eagles and 21,559 beavers. The program also killed 20,777 prairie dogs outright, plus an unknown number killed in more than 59,000 burrows that were destroyed or fumigated.

“Despite mounting public outcry and calls from Congress to reform these barbaric, outdated tactics, Wildlife Services continues its slaughter of America’s wildlife with no public oversight,” said Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “There’s simply no scientific basis for continuing to shoot, poison and strangle millions of animals every year — a cruel practice that not only fails to effectively manage targeted wildlife but poses an ongoing threat to other animals, including pets.”

Agency insiders have revealed that the agency kills many more animals than it reports.

The data show that the Department of Agriculture boosted its killing program despite a growing public outcry and calls for reform by scientists, elected officials and nongovernmental organizations.

“The Department of Agriculture should get out of the wildlife-slaughter business,” said Robinson. “Wolves, bears and other carnivores help keep the natural balance of their ecosystems. Our government kills off the predators, such as coyotes, and then kills off their prey — like prairie dogs — in an absurd, pointless cycle of violence.”

USDA’s Wildlife Services program began in 1915 when Congress appropriated $125,000 to the Bureau of Biological Survey for “destroying wolves, coyotes, and other animals injurious to agriculture and animal husbandry” on national forests and other public lands.

By the 1920s, scientists and fur trappers were robustly criticizing the Biological Survey’s massive poisoning of wildlife, and in response in 1928 the agency officially renounced “extermination” as its goal. Nevertheless it proceeded to exterminate wolves, grizzly bears, black-footed ferrets, and other animals from most of their remaining ranges in the years to follow. The agency was blocked from completely exterminating these species through the 1973 passage of the Endangered Species Act.

In 1997, after several name changes, the deceptive name “Wildlife Services” was inaugurated in place of “Biological Survey.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

***

GREENPEACE UNCOVERS INDUSTRY BEE-KILLING PESTICIDE STUDIES

Joe Sandler Clarke, writing for Greenpeace, reveals how chemical giants Bayer and Syngenta commissioned private studies that showed their neonicotinoid pesticides causes serious harm to bees.

The company research—designed to reveal the level at which their products harm bees—was obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to the U.S. environmental regulator. Publicly, the two firms have often sought to play down suggestions that their products can cause harm to honeybees.

However, the studies will cause little surprise in industry circles. Industry and scientists have long known that the products can harm bees. Instead, the research has been criticized by experts because it assumes a very narrow definition of harm to bee health and ignores wild bees, which evidence suggests are more likely to be harmed by neonicotinoids. It means the studies may substantially underestimate the impact of the two firms’ products on pollinators.

Due to commercial confidentiality rules, Greenpeace is not allowed to release the studies in full.

On its website, Syngenta states there is “no direct correlation between neonicotinoids use and poor bee health” and “the allegation that neonicotinoids-based pesticides are inherently damaging to bee colonies or populations is not true.”

In statements issued to Greenpeace last month, the firm added, “None of the studies Syngenta has undertaken or commissioned for use by regulatory agencies have shown that thiamethoxam (its neonicotinoid pesticide) damages the health of bee colonies and we stand by the integrity of our neonicotinoid product.”

The private research did not examine the impact of the product on bee colonies in “normal” conditions. However, other studies have done so.

Last month, a study by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology linked the long-term decline of wild bees in England to the use of neonicotinoids.

A major field study in Sweden last year found that wild bees were badly affected when exposed to fields treated with clothianidin (Bayer’s neonic), while honeybees proved more robust.

In a statement to Greenpeace, a Bayer spokesperson said:

“The study conducted in North Carolina is an artificial feeding study that intentionally exaggerates the exposure potential because it is designed to calculate a ‘no-effect’ concentration for clothianidin. Although the colony was artificially provided with a spiked sugar solution, the bees were allowed to forage freely in the environment, so there is less stress (which can be a contributing variable) than if they were completely confined to cages.

“This protocol was developed jointly by Bayer and the EPA several years ago and it is now being applied to other compounds. Based on these results, we believe the data support the establishment of a no-effect concentration of 20 ppb for clothianidin, which is consistent to that of other neonicotinoids.

“One of our research scientists will make a public presentation at the International Congress of Entomology meeting in Orlando, Florida, in which he will discuss the similarities of the findings of these studies, as well as the merits of the new test protocol.”

Responding to the Greenpeace story, a Syngenta spokesperson said:

“The EPA asked us to do this study and agreed with the methodology. A sucrose based mechanism was used on the basis that it was required to expose bees artificially to Thiamethoxam to determine what actual level of residue would exert a toxic effect.

“There were transient effects observed and the reported No Adverse Effect Level (NOAEL) for this study was 50 ppb (parts per billion). It is accepted that residues of Thiamethoxam in pollen and nectar from seed treated crops are in the single ppb level. So this reported NOAEL of 50 ppb indicates that honeybee colonies are at low risk from exposure to Thiamethoxam in pollen and nectar of seed treated crops.

“This research is already in the process of being published in a forthcoming journal and is clearly already publicly available through the Freedom of Information process in the United States.”

***

TOWN NEAR GMO PLANTINGS SUFFERS BIRTH DEFECTS, CANCERS

The village of Avia Terai in Argentina is surrounded by GMO soy crops and Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide is sprayed freely.

Here, children are born with birth defects and degenerative diseases of unknown origin. One little girl has large brownish-black spots all over her face and body—marks she’s had since birth. Another is slowly wasting away from an undiagnosed degenerative disease thought to be genetic, aggravated by exposure to herbicides. Many children are deformed in one way or another. Many elders are dying from cancer.

On October 15, Maria Liz Robledo, one of Monsanto’s victims in Argentina, and Damian Verzenassi, a public health doctor in Argentina, will tell the world how Argentinians have suffered from Monsanto’s Roundup. They are among the witnesses and experts who will testify before a panel of international judges at the International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

###




Bayer to Buy Monsanto for $66 Billion

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

Ordinarily, the wheelings and dealings of large agribusiness corporations aren’t of much interest to organic farmers and consumers, but a new deal in the works should give us all pause because it involves two of the least environmentally-friendly Big Ag companies in the world, plus some of the banksters who gave us the Great Recession of 2008.

German drug and agricultural chemical maker Bayer makes the neonicotinoid pesticides that are decimating bee colonies around the world, and Monsanto is the company behind GMOs and Roundup herbicide. Bayer has clinched a $66 billion takeover of Monsanto, according to the Reuters News Service, ending months of wrangling with a third sweetened offer that marks the largest all-cash deal on record.

The $128-a-share deal, up from Bayer’s previous offer of $127.50 a share, has emerged as the signature deal in a consolidation race that has roiled the agribusiness sector in recent years, due to shifting weather patterns, intense competition in grain exports and a souring global farm economy.

“Bayer’s competitors are merging, so not doing this deal would mean having a competitive disadvantage,” said fund manager Markus Manns of Union Investment, one of Bayer’s top 12 investors.

Grain prices are hovering near their lowest levels in years amid a global supply glut, and farm incomes have plunged.

But the proposed merger will likely face an intense and lengthy regulatory process in the United States, Canada, Brazil, the European Union, and elsewhere. Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s chief executive, said the companies will need to file in about 30 jurisdictions for the merger.

Competition authorities are likely to scrutinize the tie-up closely, and some of Bayer’s own shareholders have been highly critical of a takeover that they say risks overpaying and neglecting the company’s pharmaceutical business.

If the deal closes, it will create a company commanding more than a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides in the fast-consolidating farm supplies industry.

What the newly-formed company would be named is unclear.

Grant said on a media conference call that the future of the Monsanto brand has not yet been discussed, but the world’s largest seed company is “flexible” about the name going forward.

The transaction includes a $2-billion break-up fee that Bayer will pay to Monsanto should it fail to get regulatory clearance. Bayer expects the deal to close by the end of 2017.

Bayer’s move to combine its crop chemicals business, the world’s second-largest after Syngenta AG, with Monsanto’s industry-leading seeds business, is the latest in a series of major agrochemicals mergers.

The German company is aiming to create a one-stop shop for seeds, crop chemicals and computer-aided services to farmers.

That was also the idea behind Monsanto’s swoop on Syngenta last year, which the Swiss company fended off, only to agree later to a takeover by China’s state-owned ChemChina.

U.S. chemicals giants Dow Chemical and DuPont plan to merge and later spin off their respective seeds and crop chemicals operations into a major agribusiness.

And Canadian fertilizer producers Potash Corp of Saskatchewan Inc. and Agrium Inc. agreed to combine to navigate a severe industry slump, but the new company’s potential pricing power may attract tough regulatory scrutiny.

Antitrust experts have said regulators will likely demand the sale of some soybeans, cotton, and canola seed assets.

Bayer said BofA, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, and Chase JP Morgan had committed to providing the bridge financing.

BofA, Merrill Lynch, and Credit Suisse are acting as lead financial advisers to Bayer, with Rothschild as an additional adviser. Bayer’s legal advisers are Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and Allen & Overy LLP.

Morgan Stanley and Ducera Partners are acting as financial advisers to Monsanto, with Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen, & Katz its legal adviser.

***

TOXIC CHEMICALS IN HOUSEHOLD DUST LINKED TO CANCER, INFERTILITY

Household dust harbors a cocktail of toxic chemicals that have been linked to an increased risk of a range of health hazards, from cancer to problems with fertility, researchers in the US have found, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper in Britain.

The chemicals are shed from common products, from flooring to electrical goods as well as beauty and cleaning products.

“We think our homes are a safe haven, but unfortunately they are being polluted by toxic chemicals,” said Veena Singla, co-author of the study by the Natural Resources Defense Council in California.

The scientists cautioned that children were particularly vulnerable to the health effects of contaminated dust as they often play or crawl on the floor and frequently touch their mouths. “They end up having a lot more exposure to chemicals in dust and they are more vulnerable to toxic effects because their brains and bodies are still developing,” said Singla.

Writing in the Environmental Science and Technology journal, Singla and colleagues described how they analyzed 26 peer-reviewed papers, as well as one unpublished dataset, from 1999 onwards to examine the chemical make-up of indoor dust. The studies covered a wide range of indoor environments, from homes to schools and gymnasiums across 14 states.

“What emerged was a rather disturbing picture of many different toxic chemicals from our products that are present in dust in the home and [are] contaminating the home,” said Singla.

The researchers highlighted 45 toxic chemicals in indoor dust, 10 of which were present in 90 percent or more of the dust samples–these included flame retardants, fragrances, and phenols.

Among them is the flame retardant TDCIPP that is known to be cancer-causing and is frequently found in furniture foam, baby products, and carpet padding, as is TPHP, another flame retardant in the top 10 list that can affect the reproductive and nervous systems.

“They are just a bunch of letters – a lot of people might not recognise what those chemicals are, or what they mean, but they are really a number of bad actor chemicals,” said Singla.

Other toxic substances found in almost all of the dust samples include chemicals known as phthalates that are often found in vinyl flooring, food packaging, personal care products and have been linked to developmental problems in babies, hormone disruption, and are also thought to affect the reproductive system.

While some chemicals on the list have been banned from use in childcare products, or are being more widely phased out, Singla says many remain widespread in the home. “Especially for building materials there is not as much turnover of a lot of those products, like flooring,” she said, adding: “Unfortunately even though some of these phthalates have been banned from kids’ products, they are not banned from other kinds of products.”

In a separate, unpublished, analysis, Singla compared the levels of chemicals found in household dust with soil screening levels used by the Environmental Protection Agency in the US. “What we found–and we were shocked by it actually–is that the dust levels exceed those EPA screening levels for a number of the chemicals and again it is the phthalates and flame retardant chemicals that are standing out as the bad offenders here,” said Singla.

But, she adds, there are steps that can be taken to reduce exposure to contaminated dust. As well as vacuuming floors, hands should be washed with plain soap and water before eating, while cleaning with a wet mop and dusting with a damp cloth can help to reduce household dust levels.

While a wider policy change on the use of toxic chemicals is needed, Singla added, consumers could also take action by making careful choices about the products they buy. “It is really important for companies and regulators to get the message that people care about this and want and need safer products for their families.”

***

INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT TO PRIORITIZE ECO-CRIMES

Just as the International Monsanto Citizens’ Tribunal is preparing to hold Monsanto accountable for its crimes in The Hague next month, comes this breaking news from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The ICC, will for the first time in history prioritize crimes “committed by means of, or that result in the destruction of the environment, the illegal exploitation of natural resources, or the illegal dispossession of land.”

What does this mean for the Monsanto Tribunal?

It means that its work in The Hague will form the foundation for prosecuting companies like Monsanto, Bayer, Dow, and the rest of the corporate biotech criminals in the United Nations-backed International Criminal Court.

When the Monsanto Tribunal was being planned, the intent was to draw international attention to Monsanto’s crimes—all of them. The Tribunal wanted to change the rules so that corporations like Monsanto could be prosecuted for crimes against nature or the environment, not just crimes against humanity.

That’s why this news from the United Nations-backed ICC is breathtaking. It validates the work of the Citizens’ Tribunal. It means that finally, Monsanto and companies like it will have to answer for destroying the world’s soils, wiping out biodiversity, poisoning the world’s water and air.

The proposed takeover of Monsanto by Bayer doesn’t change the impact the Monsanto Tribunal will have. A corporate criminal by any other name is still a corporate criminal.

The Monsanto Tribunal is just one of the projects the Organic Consumers Association is working on. With Bayer’s proposed buyout of Monsanto, OCA plans to double down in 2017 on its work to expose Big Biotech’s efforts to monopolize seeds and the world’s food supply, and its rampant poisoning of our food, bodies, and our environment.

***

1.5 BILLION FEWER BIRDS IN NORTH AMERICA SINCE 1970, REPORT SAYS

North American skies have grown quieter over the last few decades by the absent songs of 1.5 billion birds, says the latest summary of bird populations, according to Bob Weber, writing in The Canadian Press.

The survey by dozens of government, university and environmental agencies across North America has also listed 86 species of birds—including once-common and much-loved songbirds such as the evening grosbeak and Canada warbler—that are threatened by plummeting populations, habitat destruction and climate change.

“The information on urgency is quite alarming,” said the summary’s co-author Judith Kennedy of Environment Canada. The summary is entitled, “Partners in Flight. “We’re really getting down to the dregs of some of these populations.”

The summary is the most complete survey of land bird numbers to date and attempts to assess the health of populations on a continental basis. It concludes that, while there are still a lot of birds in the sky, there aren’t anywhere near as many as there used to be.

Evening grosbeaks are down 92 per cent since 1970. Snowy owls have lost 64 per cent of their numbers. The Canada warbler has lost 63 per cent of it population.

Tally it all up and there should be another 1.5 billion birds perching in backyards and flying around in forests than there are, says the report.

Nor are the declines stopping. Among those 86 species, 22 have already lost at least half of their population since 1970 and are projected to lose another 50 per cent of their numbers within the next 40 years.

For at least six species, this “half-life” window is fewer than 20 years.

The culprits are familiar.

Agriculture disturbs habitat of grassland birds and introduces pesticides into the landscape. Logging fragments the intact forests birds use as refuelling stations as they migrate. Domestic cats are thought to kill more than two billion birds a year.

“It’s the death of a thousand cuts,” said Kennedy.

At stake is much more than the pleasure of a little bird song. The report says birds are crucial indicators of overall ecosystem health. Healthy forests and prairies need healthy bird populations, said Kennedy. “(They) only function because of that abundance.”

As well, birds — like bees — pollinate plants. And birds eat bugs. Lots of bugs. “We would be bitten by a lot more mosquitoes (with fewer birds).”

There are still up to five billion birds that leave Canada every winter. But Kennedy said the time to start thinking about their future is now, before some species start to decrease. “It’s too late for us to worry when we’re down to the last few hundred.”

The Partners In Flight report reinforces messages from several previous, related studies.
Earlier this year, the North American Bird Conservation Initiative found one-third of all North American bird species need quick help to stop them from disappearing, with more than half of all seabird species on the road to extinction without conservation action.

A 2014 study by the Audubon Society found climate change could cost 126 species more than half their current range by 2050.

A McGill University study in 2015 concluded more than 70 percent of global forests are within a kilometer of a road, field, town or other human disturbance—easily close enough to degrade forest habitat.

It seems that Rachel Carson was prescient indeed when she published Silent Spring in 1962.

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You May Want to Avoid ‘Organic’ Food from China

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The following article was written by Irene Luo and originally published in Epoch Times.

After numerous food scares in China, the Chinese have become disillusioned with the communist regime’s ability to properly regulate the food industry. The answer for some victimized Chinese is now organics—a guarantee that their food products will be produced in an environmentally responsible way and not be grown with pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, or other dangerous chemicals.

Organics, although only a small portion of China’s food market, are on the rise in China, with the consumption of organic food out of total consumption tripling between 2007 and 2012 according to Biofach, the world’s largest organic trade fair. More and more Chinese-produced organic food is being exported to the U.S.

But is China’s “organic” actually safe? And who does the guaranteeing?

It’s not too clear, considering China’s opaque system. Of course, not all organic food from China is problematic, and China is not the only violator of food safety regulations, but with China being the third greatest exporter of agricultural products to the United States, the situation does deserve attention.

Below are some of the major issues with China’s “organic” produce.

1. Environmental pollution in China is severe.

As a result of China’s rapid, largely unregulated industrial growth in the past few decades, China suffers dire environmental pollution. China’s soil and water sources contain large amounts of heavy metals, like lead and cadmium, released by industrial wastewater.

But the “organic” label fails to account for environmental pollution, as the system only certifies a process in which no harmful pesticides, fertilizers, etc. can be added when growing organic produce. But what about the heavy metals already contaminating the water sources and soil in China? According to Mike Adams, a natural health advocate and editor for Natural News, the USDA sets no limits on heavy metal contamination.

Chinese government data in 2011 showed over half of China’s large lakes and reservoirs were too contaminated for human use. And a groundwater pollution report by China’s Ministry of Land and Resources published in April of 2015 found 16 percent of the sampled water to be of “extremely poor” quality.

Furthermore, nearly one-fifth of China’s farmland is polluted, according to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection and Ministry of Land Resources, with heavy metals that seeped into the soil through polluted irrigation water.

2. Fraudulent labeling regularly appears.

Since organic products sell at higher prices, food producers, and not just ones in China, may tack fraudulent “organic” labels on their products for a higher profit. As issues arise in all levels of the supply chain, Chinese authorities and the USDA find it hard to find all the violations. A 2010 USDA report said some producers purposefully avoid the annual certificate renewal process and continued using expired organic labels in order to reduce costs, while other retailers simply mislabeled conventional products as organic.

According to the USDA, out of 23 cases of fraudulent organic certificates between February of 2011 and June of 2013, nine involved Chinese companies. In September 2011, the USDA issued a warning to organic distributors and processors of fraudulent organic certificates on hibiscus, jasmine, and beet root extract powders from a Xi’an company.

In another case, Whole Foods Market had to stop selling Chinese ginger under its “365” label after the ginger was found to contain residues of aldicarb sulfoxide, an agricultural pesticide not approved for use on organic food.

3. Organics are often certified by third-party vendors.

The Chinese Organic Certification Center (COFCC), the agency supposedly in charge of certifying all organics, inspects only 30 percent of organic products, while the rest are certified by private firms, NGOs, and individual inspectors, all of which must be accredited by the Certification and Accreditation Administration (CNCA). But the same 2010 report by the USDA said there was no equivalency in organic standards and certification between the United States and China, as China did not recognize foreign organic standards. Therefore, serious discrepancies can occur between what chemicals and agricultural practices are allowed in organics from China in comparison to organics from United States.

Organics imported to the United States are all supposed to be certified by a USDA-accredited certifier, but as there are not enough certifiers, the USDA outsources to Chinese third parties. But in one instance, the USDA granted conditional accreditations to a certifier based only on paperwork and neglected to physically confirm they complied with all regulations.

4. No strong regulations are in place.

In 2010, the USDA reported that the Chinese regime failed to properly enforce organic standards, and no clear authority was given to any one governmental body, thus allowing abuses and illegal activity to occur. It also cited a Guangzhou Daily report about a consumer who reported fake organic vegetables and was directed to four different government departments before being told that none of them had enough authority to deal with the problem.

5. Corruption is rampant.

In communist-ruled China, authorities control the media and censor internet rumors to cover up food scandals, depriving them of the attention needed for reform to occur. Rather than focusing on eradicating food contamination problems, the Chinese regime spends more time concealing its wrongdoings and promoting a facade of stability and prosperity. Furthermore, an intricate web of corruption ties together the court system, the business and manufacturing sectors, and government officials. Bribes for licenses are common, with unethical practices regularly covered up by a cash offering.

All this is even more reason to buy food from local certified organic farmers and stores that you can trust.

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GATORADE TO LAUNCH A SUGARY ‘ORGANIC’ VERSION

From The New York Times, September 2, 2016, Christopher Mele writes:

“Gatorade, the brightly colored sports drink marketed by professional sports figures in advertising targeted at amateur athletes, is introducing an organic version of its brand.
PepsiCo Inc., the maker of Gatorade, said the new product, which will be sold in select markets beginning this fall, would have seven ingredients: water, organic cane sugar, citric acid, organic natural flavor, sea salt, sodium citrate and potassium chloride.”

How does that ingredient list sound to you? Sounds like junk food to me—pretty much sweetened water with a little flavoring and a nice shot of potassium chloride.

Lindsay Moyer, a senior nutritionist with the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which promotes a food system that is healthier and more nutritious, was also skeptical about the changes.

Gatorade’s G Organic discontinues using the artificial food dyes found in nearly every one of its other drinks, which is “a step forward,” she said, adding, “G Organic is still a sugary drink — essentially, liquid candy — and organic sugar is no healthier than sugar.”

Each 16.9-ounce bottle of G Organic has seven teaspoons of added sugar, which is more than the six-teaspoon daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association, she wrote in an email.

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WIDELY-USED HERBICIDE MAY POSE BREAST CANCER RISK

Atrazine is the second most commonly used herbicide in the U.S. Europe banned it in 2004 due to suspected environmental damage and health concerns.

Tyrone Hayes, a UC Berkeley professor, was hired by Syngenta to investigate the effects of atrazine on amphibians, but the company blocked the publication of his work when they didn’t like the results. Research shows atrazine triggers overproduction of estrogen and underproduction of testosterone, and it has been linked to deformities of the reproductive organs, several types of cancer, and birth defects.

In related reporting, the use of herbicides and chemical fertilizers on corn for cow feed on Vermont dairy farms nearly doubled between 2002 and 2012. These chemicals pose a threat to the environment, water supplies and human health. Up to 80 percent of herbicides used on Vermont dairy farms are atrazine-based — a chemical associated with estrogen overproduction, the feminizing of males, reproductive problems, several cancers (including breast), and birth defects.

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ATTENTION SCOTCH LOVERS: THERE”S NOW AN ORGANIC SINGLE MALT

Benromach Organic is the first Speyside single malt Whisky to be certified “organic” by the UK Soil Association, which means that every step of production – from farm to bottle – is organic. According to its PR, “We can’t guarantee you’ll be able to taste ‘organic,’ but you’ll feel its handcrafted nature with plenty of toffee and spice. The dram is topped with a golden brown color, imparted from maturation in virgin oak casks. It costs about $70 for 750 ml.

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What Else Is in Our Food Besides GMOs?

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You’ve heard a lot in the past few years about consumers’ right to know about GMOs. But what about your “right to know” about irradiated synthetic ingredients in “organic” baby formula? Or about Monsanto’s glyphosate in “100% Whole Grain” Shredded Wheat and “100% Natural” Nature Valley granola bars? And shouldn’t you have the “right to know” if the eggs you bought that had a “pasture-raised” label on them actually came from chickens that never spent a day outdoors, much less on a pasture?

Food manufacturers are lying to you. Every day.

That’s why the Organic Consumers Association is behind five lawsuits against food companies—and why they will soon announce several more.

The OCA has sent us the following information: Junk food makers spend millions of dollars studying consumer preferences. They know what you want—and what you don’t want. They know you don’t want food full of pesticides and hormones and other toxic chemicals. They know you care about the environment, about the welfare of farmers, and about the way animals raised for food are treated.

But rather than produce the food consumers want, companies like General Mills, Post, Earth’s Best, Handsome Brook—even a company that calls itself The Honest Co.—use false and misleading labels to trick you into thinking you’re buying the food you want.
And then they charge you a premium for it!

OCA announces our latest lawsuit, against Handsome Brook Farm. This egg producer was started by a husband and wife, on a “bucolic” farm in New York, according to a recent article in Forbes. When the company started out, its eggs probably came from “pasture-raised” chickens.

But like a lot of small companies, Handsome Brook has grown. According to Forbes, the company has contracts with 75 farms in six states, and its eggs are sold in more than 4,500 stores—including Kroger, Publix, Wegmans, and Sprouts Farmers Market.

Handsome Brook still labels its eggs “pasture-raised.” But it’s not true. And by lying about it, Handsome Brook is cheating you, and its competitors—those companies that are doing the right thing.

We’ve also recently sued Post Holdings (maker of Shredded Wheat), and General Mills and its subsidiary, Nature Valley, for claiming that their products that test positive for Monsanto’s glyphosate are “100% natural.”
In April, we sued two baby formula makers—The Honest Co. and Earth’s Best—for stating that some of their infant formula brands are “organic” when they in fact contain ingredients not allowed under federal organic standards.

Last month, we forced Colgate-Palmolive to take down a webpage that intentionally misled consumers into thinking Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, owned by Colgate, was organic. Fortunately, we didn’t need to sue—one letter from our attorney was enough to end the deception.

If Big Food companies refuse to label properly, OCA will sue them. You can support OCA by visiting its website (www.organicconsumers.org) for more information and how to donate.

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35 WEED SPECIES NOW RESISTANT TO ROUNDUP

When nature is assaulted, she responds. If humans apply toxic chemicals to kill weeds, nature changes the structure of the weeds to resist the chemicals. That’s what’s happened with glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, Monsanto’s weed killer that has engulfed American farmland since the introduction of Roundup-resistant GMO crops 20 years ago, which allowed farmers to really pour on the Roundup. But the more of this herbicide you pour on the soil, the faster nature responds by making weeds resistant to it.

“After two decades of planting glyphosate-tolerant crops, resistant weeds have overtaken farm fields across the U.S., leaving farmers to battle an increasingly difficult situation,” according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. “At least 35 weed species are now resistant to glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup.

“Studies have also linked glyphosate to increases in Sudden Death Syndrome (SDS), a deadly plant disease that causes plants to turn yellow and die — including crops that have never been sprayed with the herbicide but were planted in a field that received an application the previous season.”

In an effort to skirt disaster, Monsanto developed a new breed of genetically engineered seeds tolerant to other pesticides besides Roundup. This, they claim, is the answer to rising weed resistance — a side effect the company said would not occur from the use of their GE seeds in the first place.

There’s every reason to believe this next generation of GMO seeds will likely boost weed resistance, continue driving the increase in pesticide use, and make our food even more toxic.

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CALIFORNIA FARM AWARDED TOP ANIMAL WELFARE CERTIFICATION

The flock of laying hens at Browns Valley Farm near Marysville, California, is now certified as Animal Welfare Approved. This certification and food label lets consumers know these animals are raised in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S. and Canada, using sustainable agriculture methods on an independent family farm. Look for the AWA seal on your organic products.

Like other AWA farmers across the country, Dan and Asunta Presson recognize the growing consumer interest in how animals are raised on farms. Managing animals outdoors on pasture or range has known benefits for animals, consumers, and the environment. The Pressons raise Certified AWA laying hens on 15 acres of pasture and woodland in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

Asunta’s Browns Valley Farm’s 150 Rhodes Island Reds and Golden Sex Links chickens are free to move back and forth between the grasslands and wooded areas, where they feed on vegetation, grass seeds and insects, and can perform natural behaviors like running and dust bathing. The Pressons believe pasture-based management is not only better for the animals and the environment, but results in healthier, better tasting eggs for their customers. Scientific research shows that pasture-raised eggs contain three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene, and twice the amount of omega 3 fatty acids as industrial eggs.

The Pressons are proud to be Certified AWA and hope it will highlight their high-welfare, sustainable farming practices: “After learning about AWA at a sustainable farming conference, we knew it was the right certification for our farm,” they explain. “The AWA logo also assures our customers that we really are raising our chickens according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture.”

AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther says, “The accountability and integrity offered by Animal Welfare Approved farmers like Dan and Asunta are unmatched in food production. We’re glad to have Asunta’s Browns Valley Farm in the AWA family.”

Certified AWA pasture-raised eggs from Asunta’s Browns Valley Farm are available at Briar Patch Coop Market in Grass Valley, and New Earth Market and Sunflower Natural Foods in Yuba City.

Called a “badge of honor for farmers” and the “gold standard,” AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. All AWA standards, policies and procedures are available on the AWA website, making it the most transparent certification available. AWA’s Online Directory of AWA farms, restaurants and products enables the public to search for AWA farms, restaurants and products by zip code, keywords, products and type of establishment. AWA has also launched AWA Food Labels Exposed, a free smartphone app guide to commonly used food claims and terms, available to download from the App Store or Google Play. A printable version is also available for download at www.AnimalWelfareApproved.org.
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ZIKA SPRAYING DECIMATING BEE COLONIES

The first video, taken by a new bee keeper in Naples, Florida, shows a thriving hive. The second video, taken three days later, shows a mostly dead hive. The area was sprayed for Zika-carrying mosquitoes the day before the second video.

The poison they are using, Dibrom, is contains an organophosphate neurotoxin.

The Huffington Post has even done articles on the studies that show the spray can cause autism and microcephaly–the shrunken head syndrome attributed to the virus.

In tangential news, Florida Governor Rick Scott’s wife owns part of the mosquito spray company. One doctor claims that the microcephaly isn’t caused by Zika, but rather by the pesticide. Over 40 million people in the Southeast live in Zika-prone areas. Dibrom is morbid spelled backwards. It’s banned in many nations around the world. And it’s up for its 10-year renewal by EPA this year.

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HAVE YOU HEARD OF GENE DRIVES? HERE’S WHAT TO KNOW

As thousands of government representatives and conservationists convene in Oahu for the 2016 World Conservation Congress, international conservation and environmental leaders are raising awareness about the potentially dangerous use of gene drives—a controversial new biotechnology intended to deliberately cause targeted species to become extinct.

Members of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), including NGOs, government representatives, and scientific and academic institutions, overwhelmingly voted to adopt a de facto moratorium on supporting or endorsing research into gene drives for conservation or other purposes until the IUCN has fully assessed their impacts.

A long list of environmental leaders, including Dr. Jane Goodall, genetics professor and broadcaster Dr. David Suzuki, Dr. Fritjof Capra, entomologist Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, Indian environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva, and organic pioneer and biologist Nell Newman have lent their support to an open letter: “A Call for Conservation with a Conscience: No Place for Gene Drives in Conservation.”

The letter states, in part: “Gene drives, which have not been tested for unintended consequences, nor fully evaluated for ethical and social impacts, should not be promoted as conservation tools.”

“Gene drives are basically a technology that aims for a targeted species to go extinct,” explains ecologist and entomologist Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, president of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER). “While this may appear to some conservationist professionals to be a ‘good’ thing and a ‘silver bullet’ to handle complicated problems, there are high risks of unintended consequences that could be worse than the problems they are trying to fix.”

Both the leading developers of the technology and also those concerned about gene drives will be attending the Oahu Congress and holding events to raise awareness, hype promises, or highlight the potential hazards of gene drives.

One near-term gene drive proposal, promoted by U.S.-based non-governmental organization Island Conservation, intends to release gene drive mice on islands to eradicate the exploding mouse populations. Another, led by the University of Hawaii, would develop gene drive mosquitoes for use in Hawaii to combat avian malaria which affects honeycreeper birds. The debate around gene drives is likely to resurface later this year at the negotiations of the United Nations Biodiversity Convention in Cancun Mexico in December.

“Gene drives, also known as ‘mutagenic chain reactions,’ aim to alter DNA so an organism always passes down a desired trait, hoping to change over time the genetic makeup of an entire species,” explains Dr. Vandana Shiva. “This technology would give biotech developers an unprecedented ability to directly intervene in evolution, to dramatically modify ecosystems, or even crash a targeted species to extinction.”

“Genetic extinction technologies are a false and dangerous solution to the problem of biodiversity loss,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth. “There are real, sustainable, community-based conservation efforts that should be supported. We are concerned that genetic extinction technologies will allow new destructive agricultural practices and even use by the military. Speculative conservation claims are at best an unfounded diversion or smokescreen. We support those in the IUCN who recognize the gravity of irreversible and irresponsible technologies such as gene drives.”

Signatories of the letter, which include indigenous organizations and legal experts, raised legal and moral questions, citing an “ethical threshold that must not be crossed without great restraint.”

Some of the signing organizations will be holding a Knowledge Café event as part of the IUCN World Conservation Congress at 8:30 am HST (11:30 a.m. PDT; 2:30 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, September 5. The event will be live streamed at www.synbiowatch.org/gene-drives.

A short briefing outlining concerns about gene drives prepared by the Civil Society Working Group on Gene Drives is available at www.synbiowatch.org/2016/08/reckless-driving/.

A copy of the letter “A Call for Conservation with a Conscience: No Place for Gene Drives in Conservation” and a complete list of signatories is available at http://www.synbiowatch.org/gene-drives-letter/.

More details about the Island Conservation Project to release gene drive mice are available in this article: http://baynature.org/article/re-coding-conservation/. Plans to develop gene drives for Hawaii are being developed by the lab of Dr. Floyd A, Reed of Hawaii University: http://hawaiireedlab.com/wpress/?p=2270.

The IUCN Motion on Synthetic Biology and Conservation (motion No. 95) was supported by 71 Governments and 355 NGOs (out of a total of 544 votes cast). It includes the following amendment on gene drives: “CALLS UPON the Director General and Commissions with urgency to assess the implications of gene drives and related techniques and their potential impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity as well as equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources, in order to develop IUCN guidance on this topic, while refraining from supporting or endorsing research, including field trials, into the use of gene drives for conservation or other purposes until this assessment has been undertaken.”

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MEET BJORN LOMBORG, BUT HOLD YOUR NOSE

An Op-Ed entitled, “Organic food is great business, but a bad investment,” by Bjorn Lomborg published recently in USA Today has prompted a letter to the editor from The Organic Center that appeared in a subsequent edition. In the response published in the Opinion section, The Center’s Director of Science Programs, Dr. Jessica Shade, points out that the Op-Ed ignored the scientific evidence supporting the multitude of benefits of choosing an organic diet. Her letter calls out inaccuracies in the piece and cites the most up-to-date scientific literature demonstrating that organic food has an advantageous nutritional profile and allows consumers to avoid exposure to dangerous chemicals and antibiotic-resistant bacteria while supporting a healthy environment.

And who is Bjorn Lomborg? He’s a guy who says that the best way to help poor people is to convince the world to ignore the threat of climate change.

Among other activities, Lomborg runs the Copenhagen Consensus Center (CCC). Though long associated with his native Denmark, it actually registered as a US-based non-profit organization back in 2008. Lomborg took a cool $775,000 in pay from the CCC in 2012.

The only income for the CCC in its first year in the US came in the form of a $120,000 grant from the New York-based Randolph Foundation. The foundation gave CCC another $50,000 in 2012.

The Randolph Foundation’s long-time president and director is Heather Higgins, a former Wall Street Journal editorial writer who is Chairman of the Independent Women’s Forum, which is predominately funded by conservative U.S. foundations, including the Koch brothers’ Claude R. Lambe Foundation. She’s also a board member of the right-wing Philanthropy Roundtable, which awarded Charles G. Koch the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.

Randolph’s board of trustees include Polly Freiss, the daughter-in-law of conservative businessman Foster Freiss, who helped bankroll Senator Rick Santorum in the 2012 GOP presidential primary and backs climate denialist news outlets like The Daily Caller. As ThinkProgress has documented, Foster and Polly Freiss — and Heather Higgins — all attended the Koch brother’s secretive 2010 conservative strategy meeting in Aspen.

The tax records of the Kansas-based Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation show it gave the CCC two $150,000 grants — one in 2011 and another in 2012. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is part of the Koch-funded group dedicated to “educating state and Federal judges,” as the Voter’s Legislative Transparency Project (VLTP) put it in a 2012 expose.

As VLTP explained, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other Koch-backed groups are “interfering with our judicial processes by filing hundreds of ‘Amicus Briefs’ to state and federal courts in pending cases.”

Of course, somebody has to educate all the judges to appreciate the conservative arguments in those briefs — judges who, you won’t be surprised to learn, often decide against the Environmental Protection Agency and for ExxonMobil and Chevron USA.

That’s why we need all expense-paid trips for those judges to plush resorts for seminars run by academic centers like Northwestern University’s Northwestern Law Judicial Education Program and George Mason University’s Law and Economics Center.

Who funds those centers? For Northwestern, funders include the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation Donors Trust and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. For GMU — whose judicial seminars were featured by ABC in a 20/20 expose— those two foundations were joined in the past by the Randolph Foundation.

So Bjorn Lomborg is funded by foundations that are part of the Koch empire of influence. And Lomborg is a big-time pundit who argues for inaction on climate change, who writes articles like “The Poor Need Cheap Fossil Fuels” and “Organic food is great business, but a bad investment,” and who asserts “global warming has mostly been a net benefit so far” and will be for decades.

Look, anyone who tries to delegitimize organic agriculture and foodstuffs has a secret agenda going on. After all, organics is simply a benign, sustainable, non-toxic way to grow our food and keep us free from toxic chemicals. What’s not to love? Lomborg’s agenda is to discredit organics on behalf of conservative billionaires like the Koch brothers, who make their billions from fossil fuels and other environmentally sketchy sources. What does Lomborg get in return? Three quarters of a million dollars ain’t bad.

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LIKE RUSSIAN FOOD? TRY POPKOFF’S

I tried several Russian food favorites recently and was impressed. Pelmeni and vareniki are savory stuffed pierogies, made in San Francisco and flash frozen. They take five minutes to cook and are delicious. The vegetables are all locally grown in the Bay Area and the meats are antibiotic- and hormone-free. There are no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives in any of the products. For more info, visit www.popkoffs.com

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Why Organic Farming Will Save the World

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Very simple. Anyone can see that chemical-based agriculture using toxic compounds to kill weeds and insects and energy-intensive chemical fertilizers to grow crops is just not sustainable.

The world’s soils are eroding and in terrible shape. The air is a dump for carbon dioxide and other harmful gases that are causing climate change. Chemically-contaminated food is causing disease, and if that isn’t bad enough, the very nature of our food is being manipulated by genetic engineers. The whole set-up is designed to separate us from our money as we do what we must to feed ourselves and our families, despite the negative consequences on the plants, animals, people, and ecosystems. Conventional agribusiness has produced a confluence of unforeseen damages to the earth.

Here’s why organic agriculture will save the world: it is sustainable. It’s modeled on the natural processes of life that tend toward the development of wholesome ecosystems that have reached sustainability. It recycles. It takes, but it gives back. Organic farming actually improves the soil as it grows crops and animals. Because it uses nature’s systems, it sequesters carbon, keeping it in the soil and preventing it from forming greenhouse gases. It cherishes life and encourages biodiversity (the key to good health). It enables a deep understanding of the value of nature’s principles. It produces a confluence of unforeseen benefits to the earth.

What stands between us—the community of people who want our world to be clean, wholesome, and natural—and the businesses who use conventional, toxic farming methods?

The answer is our government and its entanglement with corporate agribusiness. The core problem is that bought-and-sold legislators and bureaucrats and their corporate cronies are running a huge scam and wallowing in money because of it.

You want your food to be labeled if it contains GMOs? No—you don’t get to know that. And what’s that you say? How many chemicals are in the environment and the food supply? Well, approximately 60,000, but the EPA and FDA have only tested a few thousand for safety. And that’s because those bureaus aren’t there to protect you, they’re there to protect agribusiness.

Big Ag, Big Chem, Big Pharma, and Big Biotech are running con games and we are all the marks. This is because those businesses thrive on profit as their top priority. There’s nothing wrong with making a profit, unless you do it by creating a confluence of damages to the earth and its inhabitants. You who think you can’t afford organic food because it’s too expensive, agribusiness makes you pay to be poisoned.

Study after study shows that organic farming produces yields essentially equal or even better than the yields of crops grown conventionally. So the criticism that half the world will starve if we go organic has long proven to be nonsense.

Far from it. Converting farming to organics will feed the world both through benign corporate organic farms, but also through small farms and gardeners; that is, restoring traditional farming to indigenous peoples, skills that have been taken away by scams like The Green Revolution, Golden Rice, and Monsanto’s schemes to control the world’s food supply.

To make an organic agriculture possible, all we need in America are legislators, bureaucrats, and businesspeople who have the best interest of the earth and its inhabitants as a first priority instead of the bottom line. Denmark and Germany are converting to 100 percent organic farming. They have legislators who back this.

Don’t forget to vote.

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WHAT’S IN YOUR TOOTHPASTE?

The Cornucopia Institute is a national food and farm policy watchdog group working to uphold the integrity of organic, local, and other forms of alternative agriculture. Here is an executive summary from the Institute regarding problems with some of the major toothpastes. If you want more details, including a chart of safe vs. suspect toothpastes, visit their website at www.cornucopia.org. They write:

Carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, allergens, irritants, and other toxic chemicals do not belong in cosmetics or personal care products. Yet, they may all be found in toothpastes and other oral health products, even in those marketed as “natural.” The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), does not systematically assess the safety of personal care products. Rather, the $71 billion cosmetics industry reviews, assesses, and evaluates its own products—self-regulating in the absence of strong or meaningful federal regulatory oversight.

The U.S. lags behind many other countries in cosmetic safety, allowing the use of hazardous chemicals banned in Canada, Japan, and Europe. Just 11 of more than 12,000 ingredients used in cosmetics are restricted for use in the U.S., while more than 1,300 chemicals have been prohibited in cosmetics sold throughout Europe.
Every day the average man uses five to seven personal care products, containing 85 unique ingredients. The average woman uses nine to 12 products daily, containing 168 unique ingredients, while the average teenage girl will use up to 17 products each day, containing more than 200 unique ingredients. But outdated, obsolete, and overall toothless regulations, as well as a glaring lack of public information, imply that millions of Americans are kept in the dark about the safety of personal care products used on our bodies and in our mouths.

The law governing cosmetics was passed in 1938 and, despite the development of a plethora of synthetic compounds commonly used in personal care items, has not been significantly amended since it was enacted. In fact, compared to its authority to oversee pharmaceuticals and food products, the FDA is virtually powerless when it comes to regulating cosmetics.

The FDA has no power to review products before they go on the market. Companies do not have to list all of the ingredients in their products, nor are they required to register their manufacturing facilities with the government or report “adverse events,” making it difficult for regulators to identify potential problems. Essentially, the cosmetics industry regulates itself.

It’s impossible for the average consumer to evaluate all the chemical ingredients in, and potentially harmful effects of, cosmetics and personal care products. The Cornucopia Institute’s research on toothpaste uncovered some interesting information:

■ When potentially toxic chemical ingredients are present in toothpaste and mouthwash, they are likely to pass directly and quickly into the bloodstream, even if the product is not swallowed. This is because the membrane lining of the mouth (oral mucosa) has an absorption efficiency of more than 90 percent, according to the Physician’s Desk Reference Handbook.

■ A label containing the word “natural” does not necessarily mean a toothpaste is free of potentially harmful ingredients.

■ Some prominent “natural” brands are manufactured by companies that primarily sell mass-marketed brands. For example, Tom’s of Maine is owned by Colgate-Palmolive, the company that also makes Colgate toothpastes.

■ Toothpastes sold in Europe have different, safer formulations than the same products made by the same companies and sold in the U.S., to accommodate stricter EU cosmetics laws.

■ The American Dental Association is heavily subsidized by the cosmetic industry, creating a conflict of interest. Its seal does not guarantee the safety of toothpastes, or other oral products, or the quality of the ingredients in these products.

■ The drive to maximize profit margins focuses investments in advertising and packaging, rather than safe and high quality ingredients.

■ Many ingredients in toothpastes are synthetics derived from petroleum or from heavily processed and synthesized natural ingredients. In their final formulation, they may differ greatly from the natural parent compound (e.g., coconut oil) or may even become potentially toxic.

■ Toothpaste ingredient labels are often unintelligible, with difficult-to-pronounce ingredients that only a cosmetics chemist could decipher or understand.

■ Some toothpastes may contain contaminated ingredients. In addition, toxic compounds may be formed by the interaction of ingredients under certain conditions or may be released slowly over time.

■ The average American will use approximately 20 gallons of toothpaste over his or her lifetime.

■ Children are at greater risk of exposure, because they tend to ingest more toothpaste than adults; in addition, their exposure will be greater than adults’ in terms of amount of toothpaste used per body weight.

■ Toothpastes specifically targeted to children often contain artificial colors (food dyes), which have been linked to hyperactivity and related behavioral problems in children. Some such ingredients also pose a risk of cancer and allergic reactions.

When it comes to cosmetics, especially the personal care products we put in our mouths, it would be easy to assume that the companies selling them, and the governments regulating them, would ensure their safety. However, the cosmetic industry, aided by a lack of government oversight, has become quite similar to the processed junk food industry—using cheap and potentially toxic ingredients to manufacture questionable products that are marketed under faddish and misleading health claims. Several third-party certifications do exist that help assure the quality of toothpaste ingredients and the safety of certified products.

The report available on the Institute’s website explains how the cosmetics industry is regulated and highlights specific toothpaste ingredients to avoid. It discusses organic brands and provides consumers with recipes to make your own safe and effective toothpastes.
In addition, The Cornucopia Institute has created a web-based scorecard, designed to help consumers determine the safest toothpastes with the least objectionable ingredients.

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VERMONT DAIRIES USE LOTS OF CHEMICALS

Te following commentary is by Will Allen and Michael Colby, who are co-founders, along with Kate Duesterberg, of Regeneration Vermont, a new nonprofit educational and advocacy organization that is working to halt the catastrophic consequences of Vermont’s adoption of degenerative, toxic, and climate-threatening agricultural techniques. The Vermont Digger posted their report. Here’s an exerpt:

“The great divide between the well-marketed image of Vermont dairy farming and its stark and toxic realities is becoming harder and harder to ignore. The marketing shows healthy cows grazing on lush pastures. But the reality is cows on concrete, being fed a diet of GMO-corn and the toxic residues from the hundreds of thousands of pounds of herbicides sprayed annually on the corn and hay fields.

“Instead of addressing the toxic legacy of the very non-organic dairying that dominates our agriculture, Vermont’s two giant diary corporations, Cabot Creamery and Ben & Jerry’s, and the state’s agricultural agency that acts more as their protector than regulator, continue to hide behind the myth and the marketing. It’s a head-in-the-sand approach that is bankrupting farmers, poisoning our rivers and lakes, accelerating climate change, and producing dairy products that may contain those same toxic residues that are so abundantly fed to the cows.

“Vermont can do better, much better. And it has to start with addressing the cold, hard facts. Thankfully, Vermont farmers are required to report their pesticide, herbicide and fertilizer usage every year to the state’s Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets (AAFM). And while some in the agency and within the agricultural community still try to spin the numbers to keep the myths alive, the reality can’t be ignored: Vermont is farming with more and more toxic chemicals.

“From 1999 to 2012, according to AAFM data, Vermont’s dairy farmers applied more than 2,533,329 pounds of metolachlor, atrazine and simazine to their cornfields. All three of these chemicals are probable human carcinogens, birth defect progenitors, endocrine disruptors and persistent water polluters. So, at a time when numerous Lake Champlain beaches are being closed because of dairy farm pollution from phosphorus and nitrogen, these toxic chemicals are being used more aggressively, thus contributing to the threatening mix that dominates the northern part of the lake and many of our other waterways.”
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MONSANTO BUYS UP HEIRLOOM SEED SUPPLIERS

Maddy Harland, writing in Permaculture magazine, reports that Monsanto is buying up heirloom seed companies and trademarks.

The NM Tree and Garden Center located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, for instance, has discovered that Monsanto is buying seed companies and the trademarks for a number of heirloom seeds. This means that you may think you are supporting an heirloom seed company but in reality the company is owned by Monsanto.

The good news is that the seeds themselves are still non-GMO, heirloom, and open-pollinated so they can be saved at the end of the harvest and sown next season, and they will come true to type. But it raises the question, why would Monsanto buy up seed companies that sell seeds that can be saved and planted out next season? Isn’t Monsanto all about GMO patented seeds, suing farmers why try to save seed, and cornering the market on the world’s farm seed supply?

Could the answer be that pretty soon you won’t find those heirloom seeds and trademarks anywhere? Monsanto’s a company that doesn’t like competition.

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Beyond GMO Labeling

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The following is from the Institute for Responsible Technology:

As you may know by now, Congress passed legislation (S.764) that wipes out Vermont’s excellent GMO labeling law and substitutes a fake national GMO labeling regime. President Obama signed the bill into law July 29th. This sham labeling bill excludes most processed foods from requiring a label; defines genetic engineering so narrowly, that most GMOs on the market don’t qualify, and gives the USDA two years to come up with additional criteria for labeling, which will likely contain even more loopholes.

For products that will require labeling, companies can avoid actually stating on the package that it contains GMOs. Rather, they can force consumers to go on a wild goose chase by calling a listed 800 number to find the answer, or using their smart phones—if they have one—to scan a QR code and then navigate a website.

And to make this law even more irrelevant, if companies decide to ignore the labeling requirements altogether, there is no enforcement or penalty.

Although this is clearly a defeat in our campaigns for getting mandatory labeling in the United States, we are still winning the bigger, more important effort to eliminate GMOs from the market altogether.

Labeling GMOs was never the end goal for us. It was a tactic. Labels make it easier for shoppers to make healthier non-GMO choices. When enough people avoid GMOs, food companies rush to eliminate them. Labeling can speed up that tipping point—but only if consumers are motivated to use labels to avoid GMOs. Therefore, if mandatory labels had been put into place, we would still be required to educate and motivate consumers.

The good news is that the tipping point is already underway based on the voluntary non-GMO labels being put on packages. Major food companies already realize that making non-GMO claims gives them a competitive edge. Why else would Nestles dedicate time during their extremely expensive TV commercials to brag that their coffee creamer is non-GMO? Why else would Dannon announce that their feed for dairy cows will be non-GMO within three years? And why else would Del Monte, Campbell’s, Hershey’s, Post, General Mills, Red Gold, Applegate, and so many others make similar non-GMO commitments? They are scrambling to get the non-GMO sales advantage before their competitors. The flood gates are opening. We are totally winning. Let that sink in.

This major shift in the marketplace has come about due to compelling, behavior-change messaging. And that’s IRT’s specialty. It involves accurately conveying the health dangers of GMOs in compelling ways, and exposing the lies, cover-ups, and outrageous behavior of the pro-GMO forces.

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SUPERFOOD OF THE FUTURE: COCKROACH MILK?

An international team of scientists has just sequenced a protein crystal located in the midgut of cockroaches. The reason?

It’s more than four times as nutritious as cow’s milk and, the researchers think it could be the key to feeding our growing population in the future.

Although cockroaches don’t actually produce milk, Diploptera punctate, which is the only known cockroach to give birth to live young, has been shown to pump out a type of “milk” containing protein crystals to feed its babies.

The fact that an insect produces milk is pretty fascinating – but what fascinated researchers is the fact that a single one of these protein crystals contains more than three times the amount of energy found in an equivalent amount of buffalo milk (which is also higher in calories then dairy milk).

Clearly milking a cockroach isn’t the most feasible option, so an international team of scientists headed by researchers from the Institute of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in India decided to sequence the genes responsible for producing the milk protein crystals to see if they could somehow replicate them in the lab.

“The crystals are like a complete food–they have proteins, fats and sugars. If you look into the protein sequences, they have all the essential amino acids,” said Sanchari Banerjee, one of the team, in an interview with the Times of India.

Not only is the milk a dense source of calories and nutrients, it’s also time released. As the protein in the milk is digested, the crystal releases more protein at an equivalent rate to continue the digestion.

“It’s time-released food,” said Subramanian Ramaswamy, who led the project. “If you need food that is calorifically high, that is time released, and food that is complete, this is it.”

It’s important to point out that this dense protein source is definitely never going to be for those trying to lose weight, and probably isn’t even required for most western diets, where we are already eating too many calories per day.

But for those who struggle to get the amount of calories required per day, this could be a quick and easy way to get calories and nutrients.

“They’re very stable. They can be a fantastic protein supplement,” said Ramaswamy.

Now that the researchers have the sequence, they are hoping to get yeast to produce the crystal in much larger quantities–making it more efficient (and less gross) than extracting crystals from cockroach’s guts.

The research was published in IUCrJ, the journal of the International Union of Crystallography.

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DO ORGANIC WINES TASTE BETTER?

W. Blake Gray, writing in Wine-Searcher, reports that California wines made from certified organic or biodynamic grapes taste better than wines made from conventionally farmed grapes, according to a major academic.

“To any people who are mocking organic or biodynamic wines, now we can say they are better and we can prove it,” Grgich Hills vice president of vineyards and production Ivo Jeramaz told Wine-Searcher.

To be exact, the study shows that ratings in three major publications-–Wine Advocate, Wine Spectator, and Wine Enthusiast-–are four points higher on average for eco-certified wines compared to control group wines from the same regions and same vintages.

Four points on average is a huge difference: bigger than the standard deviation in two of the three publications. In less mathematical terms, it’s like saying the eco-certified wines were an entire grade higher.

So it will be interesting to see how the mainstream press and the public picks up on the study, which is titled: “Does Organic Wine Taste Better? An Analysis of Experts’ Ratings.”

“Consumers have still a negative view of organic wines,” Magali Delmas, one of three co-authors of the study, told Wine-Searcher. “The experts and the winemakers have a different opinion. It’s nice to be able to show that.”

The study analyzed a huge number of ratings of California wines: 74,000 total over the vintages between 1998 and 2009. Eco-certified wines were a tiny minority: just 1.1 percent of the total, because less than 2 percent of California’s vineyards are certified organic or biodynamic, according to the study.

Delmas, a professor of environmental economics at UCLA, said the publications did not want to cooperate, but their ratings were already published.

“If Wine Spectator had wanted to work with us, it would have helped,” Delmas said. “It was very, very time-consuming.”

Delmas and her co-authors were extremely thorough in investigating whether the reviewers at the publications liked eco-certified wines better, even counting the number of positive and negative words in each review. Eco-certified wines had more positive words and fewer negatives than conventional wines.

Six years ago, Delmas was one author of a study limited to Wine Spectator that determined that wines made from organically grown grapes got higher ratings and their prices were lower. Subsequent studies have shown that while consumers pay a premium for organically certified fruits and vegetables, they do not do so for wine.

A major reason is label confusion. “Organic wine,” in the US, must be made without added sulfites, and is thus susceptible to spoiling. Delmas did not consider “organic wines” as part of the eco-certified group for this year’s study, instead including only wines made from certified organically grown or biodynamically grown grapes that were not labeled as “organic wine.” But the study did include single-vineyard wines from certified organic or biodynamic vineyards that did not list “made from organically grown grapes” on the label.

Chappellet is a case in point for a winery that could use the designation on some of its wines, but chooses not to. Chappellet’s estate vineyard on Pritchard Hill in Napa Valley is certified organic, but it buys grapes that are not for its non-estate wines.

“We’ve always felt that the grapes from organically grown vineyards were better,” winemaker Phillip Corallo-Titus told Wine-Searcher. “We’ve really just done it for ourselves and the people who buy our wine. It’s been a belief that the Chappellets have that as stewards of the land, we should farm organically. We never really made a decision that it was something we needed to advertise. We do it for ourselves. We do it because we want to.”

None of the three magazines whose scores were surveyed can be called advocates of organic farming. And two of them, Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, say they score their wines through blind tasting.

“I remember reading [Wine Advocate critic Robert] Parker and him saying: ‘I taste wine and I score. I don’t care how they farm,’” Jeramaz told Wine-Searcher. “If in a blind tasting, it’s confirmed, then people want to see more organic wine.”

In 1991, the TV show 60 Minutes did a segment on the so-called French paradox – that French people had lower rates of heart attacks than Americans – and concluded that drinking red wine was keeping French hearts healthy. Red wine sales in the US immediately rose. But that was a health issue, not one of taste.

Aron Weinkauf, winemaker at Spottswoode, which was one of the first Napa estate vineyards to be certified organic, told Wine-Searcher he doesn’t think the study will have much impact.

“There are plenty of non-organic 100-point wines,” Weinkauf said. “But a study like that is certainly great. I hope it does well for organics and biodynamics. Farming organically as long as we have, we believe it contributes to better quality of soil and better quality wine.”

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GROWING FOOD ORGANICALLY SOLVES MANY PROBLEMS AT ONCE

A new report released by The Organic Center reviews almost 100 scientific studies demonstrating that the best choice consumers can make to combat antibiotic resistance and protect themselves from antibiotic-resistant bacteria is to choose organic food.

Antibiotic resistance has been described as one of the most pressing human health concerns today and contributes to thousands of deaths each year. While the use of antibiotics in conventional agricultural practices has been implicated as an important contributor to this growing crisis, research also demonstrates that livestock production without the use of antibiotics, such as in organic agriculture, is an important part of the solution.

This review paper takes an in-depth look at everything from mechanisms by which resistance develops in bacteria and the role that modern day agricultural practices play in exacerbating the problem, to how organic agriculture provides a simple and effective means to combat the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and to protect the health of consumers.

The Organic Center also hosted a webinar in late July updating donors on their projects, including a guest presentation from Dr. John Quinn of Furman University about his collaborations with The Center.

Dr. Quinn discussed his research showing increased biodiversity on organic farms and his work developing a quick, straight-forward method for farmers to calculate on-farm biodiversity through the Healthy Farm Index. He is currently working with The Center on a companion tool specifically designed to help organic growers increase their on-farm biodiversity based on the new National Organic Program guidance on natural resources and biodiversity conservation.

The Organic Center will also be participating in a study trip to Germany on organic food production and trade, organized by the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Midwest to deepen transatlantic exchange. Site visits will include the FiBL Research Institute of Organic Agriculture; Hessian Ministry of the Environment, Climate Protection, Agriculture and Consumer Protection; IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements), and the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture.

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SOME BREAKING RESEARCH ON ORGANICS AND TOXIC CHEMICALS

A new study published in Biological Control has found that beneficial predators and parasitoids are more effective at controlling agricultural pests on organic farms than they are on conventional farms. The results demonstrated that organic farms host higher levels of beneficial insects, which can be an effective form of pest control.

A large group of leading scientific experts, medical experts, and children’s health advocates has joined forces in a call to action to reduce common chemical exposures shown to interfere with the brain development of fetuses and children.

Newly released results from long-term field studies conducted by the Swiss Research Institute FiBL suggest that organic farming in tropical regions can be as productive as conventional farming while providing greater economic benefit.

A recently published article in the scientific journal Nature Communications has found that contaminated pollen from wild plants near land cultivated for corn and soy production is a source of pesticide exposure throughout the entire season. Researchers found that agricultural pesticides as well as insecticides used for the control of mosquitoes and other pests contaminated wild flower pollen.

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Brits Say Americans Ignorant about GMOs

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A British publication called FoodBev Media Ltd., recently spread this headline across the top of its front page: “Majority of US Consumers ‘Lack Understanding’ of GMOs.”

The article begins: “Almost 60 percent of American consumers have ‘a fair or poor understanding’ of GMO foods, despite generally supporting a recently approved bill to introduce mandatory labeling of GMOs in the US.”

I’d like to unpack this article to show you the “man behind the curtain” whose subtle and blatantly egregious lies impugn American intelligence. Let’s start with the next paragraph:

“That is the finding of a new piece of research, which has also shown that a majority of Americans are unaware of the scientific consensus that genetically modified foods are safe to consume. The study was conducted by researchers from the Department of Life Sciences Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.”

Maybe the majority of Americans are unaware of the scientific consensus because it doesn’t exist. Big food, biotech, and agriculture keep claiming that there’s a consensus, but, as last week’s issue of organicfoodguy showed, it’s bogus. Scientists around the world warn of the dangers of GMOs. Farmers as well as governmental agencies through Europe and Russia, and now Africa, South America, Central America, and Asia are fighting back against Monsanto’s patented GMO seeds. But back to the article:

“The vast majority of Americans-–88 percent-–said they support the mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs, and 91 percent agreed that people have the right to know when they buy or eat products that contain genetically modified ingredients.”

That is true, but if the majority of American consumers lack understanding of GMOs, how come they overwhelmingly want to know which foods contain them? In order to select them to take home for the kids? To make sure the family gets its daily dose of GMOs? No. They want GMO food labeled so they can avoid it. And let’s go back and look at this article’s lead paragraph again. It says, “60 percent of American consumers have ‘a fair or poor understanding’ of GMO foods, despite generally supporting a recently approved bill to introduce mandatory labelling of GMOs in the US.” That bill sits on President Obama’s desk as I write this. Big food, biotech, and chemical ag have sold that bill as pro-labeling legislation, but it’s anything but. It is known as the Monsanto Dream Act because it gives Monsanto everything it dreams about, and it’s also called the DARK Act because DARK stands for “Deny Americans the Right to Know.” It does not require mandatory labeling. That’s a lie. It’s entirely voluntary. And instead of requiring that the food be labeled, it allows food manufacturers to hide the presence of GMOs behind QR codes, so that to find out if a food contains GMOs, you have to scan the code with your smartphone, then paw through a website to see if it contains GMOs—and again, it’s up to the manufacturer to decide whether it wants to put that info on the website. This scheme does everything except shout at consumers, “Shut the F*** Up!” But back to the article:

“Fewer than one in five respondents out of a total of more than 1,000 were aware of research that said there was ‘no substantiated evidence of a difference in risks to human health between currently commercialized genetically engineered crops and conventionally bred crops.’”

There is such research, but it’s a pack of lies produced by scientists paid by Monsanto and other like-minded corporations to reach that conclusion. Look, if I take a cat and insert fish genes into its DNA, it is not substantially equivalent to a plain cat. And there is no research, which I pointed out in last week’s blog, that has assessed the risk of ingesting GMOs on human health, because to do such research would violate international treaty against experimenting on human beings. There have been a lot of animal studies, however, and they are so horrifying that the World Health Organization has warned the world that Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide that is used in conjunction with its GMO seeds, is very likely cancer-causing. And again, see last week’s blog that compared pigs fed GMO feed with pigs fed organic food, and note the inflamed and swollen internal organs researchers found in the GMO pigs. So the one-in-five respondents who said they were aware of research showing no risk from GMO foods are just telling the questioners what they think the questioners want to hear. Such research has never been done.

“Nearly half—48 percent–went so far as to say they disagreed that genetically modified foods posed no risk to human health. Only 39 percent of people agreed that GMO crops were safe to eat, while 27 percent disagreed.”

Wait. What? So 48 percent “went so far” as to disagree with the claim that GMOs are safe to eat; 39 percent agreed they were safe to eat; 27 percent disagreed with the claim that GMO are safe to eat. Why those numbers total 114 percent. Why, those ignorant Americans can’t even add up to 100 percent, and which is it—48 or 27 percent who disagreed with the claim that GMOs are safe?

“The labeling bill, approved by Congress earlier this month, calls for the use of on-pack text, a symbol designed by the US Department of Agriculture, or a digital QR code to designate foods containing GMOs.”

Again, this article doesn’t mention that these options are all voluntary. Food manufacturers don’t have to put any information of the wrapper or on a website to signal the inclusion of GMOs. Unless they want to. But as a Monsanto exec once said, “Putting a GMO label on a food would be like putting a skull and crossbones on it.” How many food manufacturers are going to say, “Step right up and getcha GMOs?” But back to the article:

“William Hallman, a visiting scholar at the Annenberg Public Policy Center and professor of human ecology at Rutgers University, said that the bill could help consumers to improve their understanding of genetically modified foods. ‘One potential advantage of using a QR code is that consumers could be linked to much more information about genetically modified ingredients, and how they are produced and regulated, than could ever be printed on a product label,’ he said.”

Really, Professor Hallman? Those consumers fortunate enough to have a smartphone, and with enough time on their hands to scan the QR codes of every item in their shopping cart, will then spend time boning up on industry propaganda about how wonderful and safe GMOs are? Do you really believe that?

The only boning going on around here is the one given to the American public by Big Food, Big Biotech, Big Chem, and Big Ag.

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63 Senators Who Need to Get the Heave-Ho

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The votes of 63 Senators who on July 7 passed the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act effectively prevent the public from knowing whether our food contains genetically modified ingredients.

In other words, these Senators don’t represent the 92 percent of Americans who say they want foods made with GMOs to be labeled, they represent Monsanto, the Grocery Manufacturers of America, Big Biotech, Big Ag, and the agricultural chemical industry. Bernie Sanders, who opposed the DARK Act, estimates that lobbyists spent $400 million to get this bill passed.

Since these Senators don’t really represent the people who voted them into office, let me suggest that the people vote them out of office and replace them with Senators who will actually represent the will of the people. That’s how our system is supposed to work. But as we see all too plainly, that’s not how it works.

The Roberts-Stabenow bill will now go back to the U.S. House, which in July, 2015, passed its own version of the DARK Act. If the House and Senate reach an agreement on the final wording, which is almost certain, Congress will vote on legislation to keep you in the dark. That bill will then land on President Obama’s desk. I just spent the better part of an hour online, trying to find out which Senators voted for the DARK Act so I could give you a URL so you could see how your Senators voted. Guess what? I came up empty-handed. Senate votes are routinely listed on line. But not this one. What does that tell you? As Dylan said, “Look out kids, they keep it all hid.”

You might want to encourage the President to veto it, although news reports say he will sign it. And that after his campaign promises to label GMOs. Remember them? His email address is president@whitehouse.gov.

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WHAT MORE CAN YOU DO?

Well, it’s pretty much game over for labeling GMOs unless Obama casts a veto, but there is something all of us can do: make sure the food we purchase is GMO- free.

Genetic modifications are prohibited in organic food, so if a food is organically grown, you can be assured it has no GMOs. Unless someone is cheating. In this era of mistrust, mistrust is warranted. Whole Foods Market, Stonyfield Farms, Organic Valley—even Senator Al Franken—backed the Roberts-Stabenow DARK Act. All the more reason to buy your organic products from regional or local producers. They have to live with their customers and are less likely to cheat. The big guys like Whole Foods, Stonyfield, and Organic Valley are huge companies owned by corporate behemoths who don’t have to live with their customers and do make products with GMO ingredients. Stay within your foodshed and eat organic.

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CDC EXEC RESIGNS OVER AID TO COCA-COLA ADVOCATE

Email evidence shows a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) executive aided a Coca-Cola representative in efforts to influence World Health Organization (WHO) officials to relax sugar limits.

Last year, WHO announced soda is a key contributor to child obesity, suggesting restrictions on sugary beverages.

Two days after Barbara Bowman, Ph.D., director of the CDC’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention (DHDSP), was exposed for offering guidance to a leading Coca-Cola advocate, Bowman resigned from her post. Buh-bye Barbara.

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USDA ORGANIC FARM ANIMAL WELFARE RULES CALLED A ‘GIVE-AWAY’

Organic industry watchdog The Cornucopia Institute, marking the July 14 close of a 90-day public comment period on proposed USDA rules for animal welfare on organic farms, criticized the USDA rules as a “giveaway” to factory farm interests masquerading as organic. The Institute advised consumers to reaffirm their support for authentic organic family-scale farmers by “taking the law into their own hands” and seeking out truly organic eggs, produced humanely.

To that end, Cornucopia relaunched its Scrambled Eggs report and organic egg brand scorecard. Based on six years of research, it rates various organic brands on how their eggs are produced in accordance with federal organic standards and consumer expectations. It profiles exemplary management practices employed by many family-scale organic farmers engaged in egg production, while spotlighting abuses at so-called “factory farms,” some of which confine hundreds of thousands of chickens in industrial buildings and market these eggs to consumers as “organic.”

The proposed USDA animal welfare rule has been one of the biggest controversies in the history of the organic movement, prompting comments from over 5,000 citizens, lobbyists, and organic stakeholders.

The USDA allows up to two million “organic” birds to be confined on giant concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Advocates say federal law clearly requires “access to the outdoors.” But analysis by Cornucopia finds the options presented in the USDA’s draft rule would confine birds to as little as one square foot indoors and only require farms to provide two square feet of “pasture” outdoors, half of which could be covered with concrete.

“At best, the USDA proposal delays enforcement for five to seven years allowing continued factory farm confinement production,” states Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute. “Families with growing children to feed can’t wait that long for nutritionally superior food, and more and more are seeking the guidance provided in our Scrambled Eggs report and scorecard, separating phony industrial production from truly exemplary organic eggs.”

The report, organic egg scorecard, and full version of this release are posted on www.cornucopia.org.

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STINGING NETTLES

Antonio: He sow’d it with nettle seed. The Tempest, Act 1, sc. 2.

My four-year-old son was just trying to be helpful by picking up his naked, two-year-old sister and carrying her across a patch of stinging nettles on our isolated property in Pennsylvania. He stumbled and dropped her. She started to cry. I ran to her and carried her out of the nettles and down toward the springhouse where the jewelweed grew. I crushed the jewelweed’s stems to get the juice to run, and smeared it over that child’s body. The crying stopped. Old-time lore has it that the best remedies for hurts such as stinging nettles, bee stings, and mosquito bites can usually be found close to the source of the trouble. Old-time lore says that jewelweed is the remedy for stinging nettles, and the old lore is correct.

Shakespeare knew the stinging nettle, and his references to the plant (and hundreds more) are gathered in a wonderful old book entitled, “The Plant-Lore and Garden-Craft of Shakespeare,” by Rev. Henry N. Ellacombe, M.A., of Oxford College, published by Satchell & Co., London, in 1884. Google it and you can find it in its entirety online.

Ellacombe writes: “Stinging nettles are much used in the neighborhood of London to pack plums and other fruit with bloom on them, so that in some market gardens (nettles) are not only not destroyed, but encouraged and even cultivated. And this is an old practice; Lawson’s advice in 1683 was—‘For the gathering of all other stone fruit, as nectarines, apricocks, peaches, Pear-plums, Damsons, Bullis, and such like,…in the bottom of your large sieves where you put them, you shall lay nettles, and likewise in the top, for that will ripen those that are most unready. (“New Orchard,” p. 96)’”

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PASTA FOR THAT SLIMMING DIET

Pasta, say Italian scientists, isn’t “fattening.” In fact, says a study published in the journal Nutrition & Diabetes, pasta actually makes you thinner and less prone to obesity.

The study was carried out as a part of Italy’s Moli-Sani project, a long-term, large-scale study of 25,000 people in the Molise region of south-central Italy. The Moli-Sani project studies health as affected by both genetics and environment (the Molise region was chosen because it has a mix of diets, lifestyles, and terrains, from sea to mountain). Participants are contacted every three years to track their progress. Another source was the Italian Nurses’ Health Study.

“We have seen that consumption of pasta, contrary to what many think, is not associated with an increase in body weight, rather the opposite,” lead author George Pounis said in a press release.

The study consisted of 14,402 participants who recorded their own diets and a were given a series of telephone interviews to train the participants. Their reported diets were transformed into actual weights of various foods and raw ingredients, and then pasta consumption was calculated in grams per day.

Participants’ weight, height, waist, and hip circumference were also measured, or self-reported, and their level of physical activity assessed. The results showed that as a part of the traditional Mediterranean diet, eating pasta isn’t all that bad: “Our data show that enjoying pasta according to individuals’ needs contributes to a healthy body mass index, lower waist circumference and better waist-hip ratio.”

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MONSANTO, BAYER, AND THE PUSH FOR CORPORATE CANNABIS

The following is by Ellen Brown, originally published on The Web of Debt Blog on
July 11, 2016. It’s a brilliant piece of investigative journalism. As our communities and social networks push for the legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational uses, and as money begins to flow through the cannabis business, the big corporations are taking notice, Brown writes, and developing strategies for taking over the industry, as they have done with conventional food-producing agriculture worldwide. The organic community has gathered strength and is pushing back on Big Ag, Big Biotech, and Big Pharma. Our community needs to be aware of the situation with cannabis and push back there, also.

She warns voters in California not to be fooled by the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” that will appear on the ballot, presumably in November. Here’s her article in its entirety:

California’s “Adult Use of Marijuana Act” (AUMA) is a voter initiative characterized as legalizing marijuana use. But critics warn that it will actually make access more difficult and expensive, squeeze home growers and small farmers out of the market, heighten criminal sanctions for violations, and open the door to patented, genetically modified (GMO) versions that must be purchased year after year.

The health benefits of cannabis are now well established. It is a cheap, natural alternative effective for a broad range of conditions, and the non-psychoactive form known as hemp has thousands of industrial uses. At one time, cannabis was one of the world’s most important crops. There have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US, compared to about 30,000 deaths annually from alcohol abuse (not counting auto accidents), and 100,000 deaths annually from prescription drugs taken as directed. Yet cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance (“a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse”), illegal to be sold or grown in the US.

Powerful corporate interests no doubt had a hand in keeping cannabis off the market. The question now is why they have suddenly gotten on the bandwagon for its legalization. According to an April 2014 article in The Washington Times, the big money behind the recent push for legalization has come, not from a grassroots movement, but from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Big Ag and Big Pharma.

Leading the charge is George Soros, a major shareholder in Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company and producer of genetically modified seeds. Monsanto is the biotech giant that brought you Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, dioxin-based pesticides, aspartame, rBGH (genetically engineered bovine growth hormone), RoundUp (glyphosate) herbicides, and RoundUp Ready crops (seeds genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate).

Monsanto now appears to be developing genetically modified (GMO) forms of cannabis, with the intent of cornering the market with patented GMO seeds just as it did with GMO corn and GMO soybeans. For that, the plant would need to be legalized but still tightly enough controlled that it could be captured by big corporate interests. Competition could be suppressed by limiting access to homegrown marijuana; bringing production, sale and use within monitored and regulated industry guidelines; and legislating a definition of industrial hemp as a plant having such low psychoactivity that only GMO versions qualify. Those are the sorts of conditions that critics have found buried in the fine print of the latest initiatives for cannabis legalization.

Patients who use the cannabis plant in large quantities to heal serious diseases (e.g. by juicing it) find that the natural plant grown organically in sunlight is far more effective than hothouse plants or pharmaceutical cannabis derivatives. Letitia Pepper is a California attorney and activist who uses medical marijuana to control multiple sclerosis. As she puts it, if you don’t have an irrevocable right to grow a natural, therapeutic herb in your backyard that a corporation able to afford high license fees can grow and sell to you at premium prices, isn’t that still a war on people who use marijuana?

Monsanto has denied that it is working on GMO strains. But William Engdahl, author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, presents compelling circumstantial evidence to the contrary. In a March 2014 article titled “The Connection Between the Legalization of Marijuana in Uruguay, Monsanto and George Soros”, Engdahl observes that in 2014, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana. Soros is a major player in Uruguay and was instrumental in getting the law passed. He sits on the board of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the world’s most influential organization for cannabis legalization. The DPA is active not only in the US but in Uruguay and other Latin American countries. Engdahl writes:

Studies show that Monsanto without much fanfare conducts research projects on the active ingredient in marijuana, namely THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), in order to genetically manipulate the plant. David Watson of the Dutch company Hortapharm has since 1990 created the world’s largest collection of Cannabis seed varieties. In 1998, the British firm GW Pharmaceuticals signed an agreement with Hortapharm that gives GW Pharma the rights to use the Hortapharm cannabis for their research.

In 2003 the German Bayer AG then signed an agreement with GW Pharmaceuticals for joint research on a cannabis-based extract. In 2007, Bayer AG agreed to an exchange of technology with . . . Monsanto . . . . Thus Monsanto has discreet access to the work of the cannabis plant and its genetic modification. In 2009 GW Pharmaceuticals announced that it had succeeded in genetically altering a cannabis plant and patented a new breed of cannabis.

Monsanto could have even greater access to the Bayer/GW research soon. In March 2016, Monsanto approached the giant German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer AG with a joint venture proposal concerning its crop science unit. In May, Bayer then made an unsolicited takeover bid for Monsanto. On May 24th, the $62 billion bid was rejected as too low; but negotiations are continuing.

The prospective merger would create the world’s largest supplier of seeds and chemicals. Environmentalists worry that the entire farming industry could soon be looking at sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides. Monsanto has sued hundreds of farmers for simply saving seeds from year to year, something they have done for millennia. Organic farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to prevent contamination of their crops by Monsanto’s GMOs.

In Seeds of Destruction, Engdahl quotes Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon’s Secretary of State. Kissinger notoriously said, “Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people.” Engdahl asserts that the “Green Revolution” was part of the Rockefeller agenda to destroy seed diversity and push oil- and gas-based agricultural products in which Rockefeller had a major interest. Destruction of seed diversity and dependence on proprietary hybrids was the first step in food control. About 75% of the foodstuffs at the grocery store are now genetically manipulated, in what has been called the world’s largest biological experiment on humans.

Genetic engineering is now moving from foodstuffs to plant-based drugs and plant-based industrial fibers. Engdahl writes of Monsanto’s work in Uruguay:

Since the cultivation of cannabis plants in Uruguay is allowed, one can easily imagine that Monsanto sees a huge new market that the Group is able to control just with patented cannabis seeds such as today is happening on the market for soybeans. Uruguay’s President Mujica has made it clear he wants a unique genetic code for cannabis in his country in order to “keep the black market under control.”

Genetically modified cannabis seeds from Monsanto would grant such control. For decades Monsanto has been growing gene-soybean and GM maize in Uruguay too. George Soros is co-owner of agribusinesses Adecoagro, which planted genetically modified soybeans and sunflowers for biofuel.

Other commentators express similar concerns. Natural health writer Mike Adams warns:

[W]ith the cannabis industry predicted to generate over $13 billion by 2020, becoming one of the largest agricultural markets in the nation, there should be little doubt that companies like Monsanto are simply waiting for Uncle Sam to remove the herb from its current Schedule I classification before getting into the business.

In a 2010 article concerning Proposition 19, an earlier legalization initiative that was defeated by California voters, Conrad Justice Kiczenski noted that criminalization of cannabis as both industrial hemp and medical marijuana has served a multitude of industries, including the prison and military industry, the petroleum, timber, cotton, and pharmaceutical industries, and the banking industry. With the decriminalization of cannabis, he warned:

The next stage in continuing this control is in the regulation, licensing and taxation of Cannabis cultivation and use through the only practical means available to the corporate system, which is through genetic engineering and patenting of the Cannabis genome.

AUMA: Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?

Suspicions like these are helping to fuel opposition to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), a 2016 initiative that would rewrite the medical marijuana laws in California. While AUMA purports to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the bill comes with so many restrictions that it actually makes acquisition more difficult and expensive than under existing law, and makes it a criminal offense for anyone under 21. Critics contend that the Act will simply throw access to this medicinal wonder plant into the waiting arms of the Monsanto/Bayer/petrochemical/pharmaceutical complex. They say AUMA is a covert attempt to preempt California’s Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215, which was passed in 1996 by voter initiative.

Prop 215 did not legalize the sale of marijuana, but it did give ill or disabled people of any age the right to grow and share the plant and its derivatives on a not-for-profit basis. They could see a doctor of their choice, who could approve medical marijuana for a vast panoply of conditions; and they were assured of safe and affordable access to the plant at a nearby cooperative not-for-profit dispensary, or in their own backyards. As clarified by the 2008 Attorney General’s Guidelines, Prop 215 allowed reimbursement for the labor, costs and skill necessary to grow and distribute medical marijuana; and it allowed distribution through a “storefront dispensing collective.” However, the sale of marijuana for corporate profit remained illegal. Big Pharma and affiliates were thus blocked from entering the field.

At the end of 2015 (effective 2016), the California state legislature over-rode Prop 215 with MMRSA – the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act of 2015/16 – which effectively rewrites the Health Code pertaining to medical marijuana. Opponents contend that MMRSA is unconstitutional, since a voter initiative cannot be changed by legislative action unless it so provides. And that is why its backers need AUMA, a voter initiative that validates MMRSA in its fine print. In combination with stricter California Medical Association rules for enforcement, MMRSA effectively moves medical marijuana therapy from the wholistic plant to a pharmaceutical derivative, one that must follow an AUMA or American Pharmaceutical Association mode of delivery. MMRSA turns the right to cultivate into a revocable privilege to grow, contingent on local rules. The right to choose one’s own doctor is also eliminated.

Critics note that of the hundreds of millions in tax revenues that AUMA is expected to generate from marijuana and marijuana-related products, not a penny will go to the California general fund. That means no money for California’s public schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure. Instead, it will go into a giant slush fund controlled by AUMA’s “Marijuana Control Board,” to be spent first for its own administration, then for its own law enforcement, then for penal and judicial program expenditures.

Law enforcement and penalties will continue to be big business, since AUMA legalizes marijuana use only for people over 21 and makes access so difficult and expensive that even adults could be tempted to turn to the black market. “Legalization” through AUMA will chiefly serve a petrochemical/pharmaceutical complex bent on controlling all farming and plant life globally.

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109 Nobel Prize Winners Are a Bunch of Ninnies

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Genetically modified organisms and foods are a safe way to meet the demands of a ballooning global population, 109 Nobel laureates wrote in a letter posted online and officially unveiled at a news conference on June 30 in Washington, D.C.

Opponents, they say, are standing in the way of getting nutritious food to those who need it.

“Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than those derived from any other method of production,” the group of laureates wrote. “There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption. Their environmental impacts have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity.”

Gee—a hundred and nine laureates coincidentally came out with this piece of propaganda just before the Senate was getting ready to vote on GMO labeling. Not only that, but these statements prove you can win a Nobel Prize and still be a dummy. Anyone who’s halfway familiar with Big Biotech and its genetically modified seeds knows that the above statements are nonsense.

Let’s look at the statements sentence by sentence.

#1: “Scientific and regulatory agencies around the world have repeatedly and consistently found crops and foods improved through biotechnology to be as safe as, if not safer than, those derived from any other method of production.”

If this statement were true, it would mean that scientific experiments have been conducted to test the safety of genetically modified foods on human beings. But not one such test has ever been conducted, because doing so would violate the Nuremberg Code, set up after World War II when Nazi doctors who experimented on prisoners were prosecuted. Here’s the Code:

o Required is the voluntary, well-informed, understanding consent of the human subject in a full legal capacity.

o The experiment should aim at positive results for society that cannot be procured in some other way.

o It should be based on previous knowledge (like, an expectation derived from animal experiments) that justifies the experiment.

o The experiment should be set up in a way that avoids unnecessary physical and mental suffering and injuries.

o It should not be conducted when there is any reason to believe that it implies a risk of death or disabling injury.

o The risks of the experiment should be in proportion to (that is, not exceed) the expected humanitarian benefits.

o Preparations and facilities must be provided that adequately protect the subjects against the experiment’s risks.

o The staff who conduct or take part in the experiment must be fully trained and scientifically qualified.

o The human subjects must be free to immediately quit the experiment at any point when they feel physically or mentally unable to go on.

o Likewise, the medical staff must stop the experiment at any point when they observe that continuation would be dangerous.

That’s right—there are no scientific studies showing GMO foods are “safe, or safer than” those derived from any other method of production. The statement is false and those 109 laureates should hang their heads in shame.

#2: “There has never been a single confirmed case of a negative health outcome for humans or animals from their consumption.”

As we’ve just seen, there have been no scientific studies of negative health outcomes on humans who have eaten GMO foods—but there is a ton of anecdotal evidence. As for animals, here’s a summary of a scientific study done by Dr. Judy Carman, an Australian researcher, on two groups of pigs (chosen because their digestive systems are similar to humans), one group fed non-GMO feed, and the other fed GMO feed. She writes:

“We found that, on average, the weight of the uterus of pigs fed the GM diet, as a proportion of the weight of the pig, was 25 percent higher than the control pigs. We found that this biologically significant finding was also statistically significant. We list some of the pathologies that could be occurring in these uteri in the paper.

“Some of the investigators had also previously seen higher rates of intestinal problems in pigs fed a GM diet, including inflammation of the stomach and small intestine, stomach ulcers, a thinning of intestinal walls and an increase in haemorrhagic bowel disease, where a pig can rapidly ‘bleed-out’ from their bowel and die.

“We weren’t able to look inside the intestines, due to the amount of food in them, but we were able to look inside the stomach. We found that the level of severe inflammation in stomachs was markedly higher in pigs fed the GM diet. Pigs on the GM diet were 2.6 times more likely to get severe stomach inflammation than control pigs. Males were more strongly affected. While female pigs were 2.2 times more likely to get severe
stomach inflammation when on the GM diet, males were 4 times more likely. These findings are both biologically significant and statistically significant.

“We found that these key findings were not reflected in the standard biochemistry tests that are done in GM feeding studies, probably because standard biochemistry tests provide a poor measure of inflammation and matters associated with uterus size.”

Additionally, there is a book entitled, “Genetic Roulette,” that details other studies on the health effects of GMO feed on animals. A summary in the book states, “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified (GM) food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.”

So statement #2 from the Nobel laureates is just another lie.

#3: “Their environmental impacts (of GMOs) have been shown repeatedly to be less damaging to the environment, and a boon to global biodiversity.”

Where to begin with this one? How about we go back to why genetic engineering was applied to human food crops to begin with. The initial research and development came from Monsanto, when the company found herbicide-resistant microbes on its property living in a toxic wastewater pond contaminated with glyphosate herbicide, the chief ingredient in Roundup. Genetic tinkering was in its infancy, but Monsanto managed to get the gene for herbicide resistance into corn seed—and GMOs were on their way. Why? Because now fields of corn could be flooded with Roundup without harming the corn crop and Monsanto could sell much, much more of its profitable herbicide than before.

Today, Newsweek magazine reports, “the world is awash in glyphosate. It has now become the most heavily-used agricultural chemical in the history of the world, and many argue that’s a problem, since the substance comes with concerning albeit incompletely-determined health effects.

“A study published in the journal Environmental Sciences Europe reveals that Americans have applied 1.8 million tons of glyphosate since its introduction in 1974. Worldwide, 9.4 million tons of the chemical have been sprayed onto fields. That’s enough to spray nearly half a pound of Roundup on every cultivated acre of land in the world.

“It’s troubling, considering that in March 2015 the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer unanimously determined that glyphosate is ‘probably carcinogenic to humans.’”

So the laureates’ statement is laughable. “Less damaging to the environment” than what? An organic farm field? Really?

“A boon to global biodiversity?” What are these 109 laureates talking about? Herbicides do not contribute to biodiversity. By their very nature, they contribute to the opposite—they kill weeds, and weeds are part of the biological diversity of the world. They also provide beneficial insects with food, nectar, and habitat. So not only do herbicides kill off weeds, they reduce the number of beneficial insects. Roundup is being banned in European countries now because of its negative effects on the environment. So statement #3 is just another lie—and a whopper at that.

Most of the laureates got the Nobel Prizes in chemistry and physics—not biology. They have been sold a bill of goods and they truly don’t know what they’re talking about. Not only should they hang their heads in shame, they should do some independent research and apologize to the world for their ignorance.

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A CALL FOR ACTION ON TOXIC CHEMICALS

Every day, children and adults are exposed to a variety of chemicals found in common household items. Now a growing body of research suggests that many of these chemicals — which are used to make plastic more flexible, to protect fruits and vegetables from insect damage, and upholstery less flammable — may also pose a threat to the developing brain, according to Roni Caryn Rabin, writing in The New York Times on July 1.

“While the link between early chemical exposure and neurodevelopment disorders in children remains a matter of scientific debate,” she writes, “a unique coalition of top doctors, scientists and health advocates is calling for more aggressive regulation. The goal is to protect expectant mothers, infants and children from neurotoxic chemicals by stepping up efforts to curb air pollution, remediate old lead pipes, phase out certain pesticides, ban endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in food packaging and plastics, and come up with a plan for getting rid of furniture laden with fire retardants.

“Most chemicals in use today were not adequately tested for safety before being allowed on the market, said Dr. Jeanne Conry, an obstetrician-gynecologist and a past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is part of the coalition.

“’Before we can prescribe medicine, we have to prove it’s safe,’ she said. ‘So how come with the chemical industry, we assume everything is safe and have to prove there’s harm?’

“The coalition recently endorsed a first-of-its-kind consensus statement called Project Tendr, which stands for Targeting Environmental NeuroDevelopmental Risks. The statement was published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives, and related articles are being published over the next few months in endocrinology, nursing, pediatrics and epidemiology journals.

“’We as a society should be able to take protective action when scientific evidence indicates a chemical is of concern, and not wait for unequivocal proof that a chemical is causing harm to our children,’ the statement says.”

You can read the entire statement on the Environmental Health Perspectives site by visiting: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/ehp358/

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ORGANIC FAST FOOD WITH EVERYTHING UNDER $5

Kimbal Musk, entrepreneur and younger brother of tech guru Elon Musk, has revealed that he will be opening a healthy fast food restaurant where everything will cost less than $5.

The restaurant, called The Kitchenette, will open in Memphis, Tennessee, in August, 2016, at Shelby Farms Park, a 4,500-acre urban park and conservancy.

Musk made millions with his brother in Silicon Valley before going to culinary school. He currently helps run two other restaurant chains, The Kitchen and Next Door. Musk plans to work with local organic farmers to keep the costs low. He plans to serve sandwiches, soups, and salads that are ready to go.

“People are overweight and starving at the same time. It’s a tragedy for both the individual and society,” Musk told Tech Insider. Musk joins a growing number of restaurateurs that are focused on delivering a healthy product for cheap.

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