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Conventional Burger: Twice the Bacteria

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In Consumer Reports’ new tests of ground beef, 18 percent of the beef samples from conventionally-raised cows contained dangerous superbugs resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics used to treat illness in humans compared with just 9 percent of beef from samples that were sustainably produced.

Consumer Reports’ investigation comes as food poisonings are striking an estimated 48 million people in the U.S. each year with beef being a top cause of outbreaks. Compounding the issue, Americans often prefer their beef on the rare side. The grinding process used to produce ground beef can distribute bacteria throughout the meat and if it’s not cooked properly through to the center, the potential for getting sick increases.

The full article, “How Safe is Your Beef,” which includes the complete test findings, food labels to look for when shopping for beef, and more, is available at ConsumerReports.org/cro/beefsafety and in the October issue of Consumer Reports, on newsstands September 3rd.

***

IS THERE A RINGER ON THE ORGANIC STANDARDS BOARD?

The Cornucopia Institute has formally asked the USDA to review the appointment of an individual to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) who, the group contends, does not meet the legal qualifications for the position. The 15-member board of organic stakeholders was established by Congress to provide advice to the USDA on organic food and agriculture policy and determine what materials are allowed for use in organics.

Congress set aside four seats on the NOSB for farmers, explicitly defined in the enacting legislation as individuals “who own or operate an organic farming operation.” Cornucopia’s request for review to the USDA states that new NOSB member Ashley Swaffar, a full-time employee of an agribusiness involved in organic food production, neither owns nor operates an organic farm. The government and industry organic watchdog made this determination based on Swaffar’s application materials, submitted to the USDA and obtained via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

“We are extremely disappointed by the USDA’s record of illegally appointing unqualified individuals to various stakeholder positions on the NOSB that fail to match the definitions earmarked by Congress when they established this important panel,” said Will Fantle, Cornucopia’s Research Director. “The USDA has been inappropriately stacking the board with agribusiness executives to amplify the voice of business interests at the expense of other constituencies in the organic sector,” Fantle added.

***

CERTIFIED ORGANIC FOOD MARKET HITS $91 BILLION

It is estimated the certified organic market is worth around US$91 billion globally.

A 2014 global marketplace report shows growth for organic beef and grain jumping by 20 per cent, dairy by 18 per cent, and around 13 per cent for vegetables and beverages in the past two years.

***

TWO NEW BOOKS OF GREAT INTEREST TO ORGANIC FOLKS LIKE US

As a race, human beings could do a lot better at treating our farm animals humanely. You can discover just how far we fall short by getting a copy of Project Animal Farm, a book by Sonia Faruqi (Pegasus Press, New York; 2015; 399 pp.; $27.95).

She’s a Dartmouth graduate who went to work on Wall Street in investment banking. She knew next to nothing about farming. Meat came from the market. Eggs from the market. Cheese and milk from the market. She’d never even been on a farm. Through a weird twist (which I will let you discover if you read the book), she set off on an around-the-world trip to see how farmers treat their animals.

The book is a fascinating read, if you have the stomach for it. She’s a good reporter and she doesn’t leave out the details. But the book is not a screed. There are farms, she found, where animals are treated humanely. As you might guess, these are farms with a purpose greater than just making money.

As Masanobu Fukuoka said in his book, The One-Straw Revolution, the chief aim of any farm should be to produce excellent human beings.

Speaking of Fukuoka-san, one of his followers who lived at his farm has written a fine book about his experiences with this Zen master farmer. It’s called, “One-Straw Revolutionary—The Philosophy and Work of Masanobu Fukuoka,” written by Larry Korn (Chelsea Green Publishing, White River VT, 224 pp., $10.95). The book starts with this quote from Sensei, as Fukuoka-san was called: “There is no big or small on the earth, no fast or slow in the blue sky.”

***

HERE”S A LIVELY LINK FOR YOU BACK-TO-THE-LANDERS

https://www.facebook.com/OrganicHomesteading

***

SEPTEMBER IS ORGANIC MYTH-BUSTING MONTH

In a major drive to educate and inform consumers of the benefits and the facts about organic food, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and dozens of organic brands and industry leaders are uniting online Sept. 1-30 for “Organic Myth-Busting Month,” a 30-day #OrganicFestival on social media aimed at addressing long-held misconceptions surrounding organic.

Whether busting myths that organic isn’t affordable or correcting the misconception that science can’t prove the organic benefit, OTA along with dozens of strategic partners will take to social channels each day during “Organic Month” to tear down organic myths by replacing them with research-supported facts, engaging dialogue and opportunities to get questions answered. The organic truths will be presented as well-designed graphics, ideal for sharing across social channels.
“Why focus an entire month around myth-busting? Despite organic sales and accessibility at all-time highs, consumer confusion about organic benefits remains significant,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO. “Consumers need to know the facts about organic so they can make the smartest choices for themselves and their families. Together, by engaging with consumers, media and influencers with a consistent and clear voice, we can change some misconceptions and bring audiences ‘on the fence’ about organic into the fold.”

To bring focus to the information-packed festival, OTA each week in September will focus on a key area of misconception often spread about organic, deconstructing a related myth each day of that week:

Week #1 (Sept. 1-5): Organic Labeling, addressing the certification process, the integrity of the USDA label and the differences between organic vs. other unregulated claims such as “natural.”

Week #2 (Sept. 6-12): Organic Health, busting myths that organic isn’t better for you, sharing fresh research on organic’s health benefits

Week #3 (Sept. 13-19): Organic Value, revealing the costs behind organic, demonstrating organic is affordable for all – including budget-conscious consumers – and proving organic truly is worth itWeek #4 (Sept. 20-26): Organic Production, illustrating how organic can feed the world, outlining local and small vs. large-scale organic farming, highlighting environmental benefits

Week #5 (Sept. 27-30): Organic Beyond Food, celebrating the lesser-known silos of organic, sharing why organic fiber, home and personal care products are better for your skin and health, revealing the differences between organic and conventional textile production.

***

CORNUCOPIA INSTITUTE: BAN FRACKING WASTEWATER ON ORGANIC FARMS

The Cornucopia Institute has formally called on the USDA to tighten federal standards to prohibit the use of fracking wastewater from oil and gas drilling for irrigation in organic food production. In addition, the Wisconsin-based farm policy research group is also asking the USDA to ban wastewater from the nation’s municipal sewage treatment systems. Solid waste produced by the same facilities is currently prohibited.

***

THE GREEN REVOLUTION HAS FAILED

The Green Revolution, which started in the 1970s and was agribusiness’s attempt to replace indigenous people’s farming methods with high-tech chemical and biotech farming, has failed.

Despite an onslaught of farming technologies, GMOs and chemical fertilizers and pesticides intended to increase the production of food, almost one billion people are now hungry worldwide in addition to the slew of environmental and health problems stemming from the rise in industrial agriculture.

WhyHunger is at the forefront of a growing global movement of peasant farmers, grassroots organizers and NGOs advocating for a turn to agroecology — a sustainable agricultural method reliant on the traditional knowledge of those who cultivate the land — as a model for every community to reclaim ownership of their food supply from exploitative agribusiness.

This information is from Jon Gedney at Shore Fire Media in Brooklyn, NY. For more info, visit www.shorefire.com.

***

ANOTHER PEEK BEHIND THE BIOTECH CURTAIN

The promoters and purveyors of GMOs have spent hundreds of millions of dollars portraying anyone who questions the safety of their products as ignorant, alarmist and “anti-science.”

So they’re no doubt stewing over an article written last week—by a medical doctor and a scientist—outlining in detail why these experts are so concerned about the GMO foods and ingredients that now permeate our food system.

In an article published August 20, in the New England Journal of Medicine, Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., and Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., present rational and reasoned, science-based evidence supporting their recommendations that 1), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) not allow the use of Dow’s Enlist Duo, a toxic combo of glyphosate and 2-4,D, until further study, and 2), that GMOs be labeled.

On the issue of 2,4-D, Dr. Landigran and Dr. Benbrook write: “In our view, the science and the risk assessment supporting the Enlist Duo decision are flawed. The science consisted solely of toxicologic studies commissioned by the herbicide manufacturers in the 1980s and 1990s and never published, not an uncommon practice in U.S. pesticide regulation. These studies predated current knowledge of low-dose, endocrine-mediated, and epigenetic effects and were not designed to detect them. The risk assessment gave little consideration to potential health effects in infants and children, thus contravening federal pesticide law. It failed to consider ecologic impact, such as effects on the monarch butterfly and other pollinators. It considered only pure glyphosate, despite studies showing that formulated glyphosate that contains surfactants and adjuvants is more toxic than the pure compound.”

And on labels?

“Labeling is essential for tracking emergence of novel food allergies and assessing effects of chemical herbicides applied to GM crops.”

To say nothing of the people’s right to know what’s in their food. Monsanto and friends’ current stance is, “You’re an American. You aren’t allowed to know what’s in your food. Don’t get uppity with us.”

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How Stupid Does Coke Think We Are?

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Leading nutrition experts have expressed alarm over a U.S. pressure group led by scientists that downplays the risks of junk food and sugary drinks in favor of exercise in the fight against obesity-–and is funded by Coca-Cola, according to Joanna Walters writing in The Guardian.

The Global Energy Balance Network, a non-profit group promoting research into the causes of obesity, focuses its message on the need for people to increase their physical activity as the key to achieving a healthy weight.

In a video announcing the aims of the organization, Steven Blair, a spokesman for the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) and a professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, says the world needs to be educated about getting the right amount of physical activity.

“Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is ‘Oh, they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ – blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on. And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause,” Blair says in a promotional video issued by the group earlier this year.

The GEBN states on its website that it is supported financially by Coca-Cola, among others. The link to Coca-Cola was highlighted Monday in an article in the New York Times questioning the links between the nonprofit organization and the company.

The GEBN’s posts on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook concentrate heavily on various aspects of the importance of exercise in the weight and health debate, with less attention on food. Its website claims the group wants to be the “voice of science” in research on obesity. But manyprominent scientists have expressed concern over GEBN’s focus and funding.

“You cannot exercise your way out of overeating, that’s kind of a misguided idea,” said Scott Grundy, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Grundy was a member of the expert panel that devised the current clinical guidelines on obesity issued by the US government’s National Institutes of Health. Although they were published in 1998, Grundy said the findings and guidelines are just as accurate and relevant today.

A statement posted on the Coca-Cola website from Ed Hays, the company’s chief technical officer, included this statement: “At Coke, we believe that a balanced diet and regular exercise are two key ingredients for a healthy lifestyle and that is reflected in both our long-term and short-term business actions.”

Coca-Cola contributed $1.5m last year toward the creation of the Global Energy Balance Network and administers its website, according to the New York Times.

Barry Popkin, a professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, compared Coca-Cola funding scientists involved in obesity research to tobacco companies historically “enlisting” experts to become “merchants of doubt” about the harmful effects of cigarettes.

“Essentially, Coke is following the strategy used by the tobacco industry as they tried to create doubt among the general public and also politicians. It was very effective in the fights to regulate cigarettes and we have learned from this that it is essential to address these attempts and uncover what they are very rapidly,” he said. “We must change our diet. First and foremost this is sugary sweetened beverages.”

***

SCOTLAND TO BAN FARMING OF GMO CROPS

Scotland is to ban the growing of genetically modified crops, the country’s rural affairs secretary has announced, the BBC reports. Richard Lochhead said the Scottish government was not prepared to “gamble” with the future of the country’s ($20 billion) food and drink sector.

Lochhead said that Scotland was known around the world for its “beautiful natural environment” and banning the growing of genetically modified crops would protect and further enhance its green status. There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand.”

The move has been broadly welcomed by environment groups. But Scott Walker, chief executive of farming union NFU Scotland, said he was disappointed that the Scottish government had decided that no GM crops should ever be grown in Scotland. “Other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland,” he said.

Huw Jones, professor of molecular genetics at agricultural science group Rothamsted Research, said the announcement was a “sad day for science and a sad day for Scotland.” He said that GM crops approved by the EU were “safe for humans, animals and the environment.”

***

NOT ONLY CAN’T YOU KNOW WHAT’S IN YOUR FOOD, YOU CAN’T KNOW ABOUT EFFORTS TO FIND OUT WHAT’S IN YOUR FOOD, OR ABOUT LAWSUITS TO STOP MONSANTO’S FALSE ADVERTISING ABOUT THE SAFETY OF ROUNDUP

What happens when one courageous attorney and a few citizens try to take down Monsanto? The mainstream media doesn’t cover it, claims Christina Sarich, writing for NaturalSociety.com.

Efforts to publicize a class action lawsuit against Monsanto for falsely advertising its best-selling herbicide Roundup, which was filed in Los Angeles County Court on April 20, 2015, have been rejected or ignored by almost every mainstream media outlet.

It’s no different than Fox, NBC, CNN, or ABC refusing to cover the DARK act that would prevent states from passing laws requiring GMO foods to be labeled, she says.

“You would think that every paper, radio station, and blog would want to spread the news. But wait. . . just six corporations own ALL of the media in America, so there isn’t much luck there. That’s why you have to go to sites like Russia Insider or Al Jazeera to find real news, outside of certain alternative news channels in the US, and even those are white-washed from Facebook pages, and given secondary ratings on Google pages,” she says.

Matthew Phillips, the attorney suing Monsanto in California for false advertising on Roundup bottles, has asked the LA Times, New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, and Reuters, one of the world’s largest news agencies, to report on the lawsuit (Case No: BC 578 942), yet most enforced a total media blackout.

“When I spoke with Phillips over the phone, he said that he has tried posting the suit in Wikipedia’s Monsanto litigation section, but it keeps disappearing. He says that he has also noticed posts on Facebook about this lawsuit get removed,” Sarich said.

If other attorneys were to follow his template-style lawsuit, then suddenly the plaintiff count could extend to all the citizens in the US who have purchased a bottle of Roundup from their local DIY store (Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Ace Hardware, for example) in the last four years, not suspecting it could demolish their gut health.

Another possibility, according to Phillips, is that Monsanto could try to bump the case up to federal court in order to try to side-step a likely adverse judgment. But in this case the class action suit would also be open to residents other than those of just California. This is surely an idea that Monsanto doesn’t want seeded in the American psyche.

Phillips is extremely confident he has the goods on Monsanto in this case, and barring a sold out judge:

“This is a slam-dunk lawsuit that exposes Monsanto for LYING about Roundup. Contrary to the label, Roundup does indeed target and kill enzymes found in humans — in our gut bacteria — and this explains America’s chronic indigestion!”

Many well-known scientists and professors emeritus have offered to be key witnesses in this suit when it goes to trial. The attorney says he refuses to settle the case and hopes that 49 additional attorneys in 49 states will use his case as an example. “When we allege that Roundup’s targeted enzyme is found in humans, it’s like alleging that the Golden Gate Bridge is found in California,” Phillips said.

Phillips also states that ‘false advertising’ and ‘misleading’ are synonyms in California law, so the fact that Monsanto has stated that the glyphosate in Roundup doesn’t target humans goes beyond just misleading. This misjudgment by Monsanto is a well-known secret among many anti-GM scientists. The enzyme that glyphosate targets is definitely found in humans.

Monsanto states, “Round Up targets an enzyme only found in plants and not in humans or animals.”

EPSP synthase, also known as (3-phosphoshikimate 1-carboxyvinyltransferase) is found in the microbiota that reside in our intestinal tracts, and therefore the enzyme is “found in humans and animals.” It is partly responsible for immunity activation and even helps our gut and our brain communicate with one another.

***

WHY SHOULD INDIAN FARMERS FACE HUNGER AND COMMIT SUICIDE?

Vandana Shiva, a world-renowned spokeswoman for ecological agriculture, wrote the following for EcoWatch on August 16, 2015:

There is no reason why India should face hunger and malnutrition and why our farmers should commit suicide. India is blessed with the most fertile soils in the world. Our climate is so generous we can, in places, grow four crops in a year—compared to the industrialized west where sometimes only one crop is possible per year. We have the richest biodiversity of the world, both because of our diverse climates and because of the brilliance of our farmers as breeders. Our farmers are among the most hardworking, productive people in the world. Yet India faces an emergency in our food and agricultural system. This emergency is man-made.

Firstly, the poor and vulnerable are dying for lack of food. According to the Deccan Herald, Lalita S. Rangari, 36, a Dalit widow and mother of two children of the Gondiya tribal belt, allegedly died due to starvation. Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court have served notice to the government of Maharashtra seeking its reply to the starvation death of the Dalit widow.

Even as India gets richer, we have emerged as the capital of hunger and malnutrition. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 42.5 percent of children under five years old were underweight. This is more than double the African average of 21 percent, which until recently was the face of hunger.

The second tragedy is that our food producers, the small farmers who have provided food to more than a billion Indians and hold the potential to provide healthy food for all, are themselves dying because of agriculture and trade policies which put corporate profits above the rights and well-being of our small farmers. More than 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995, when the rules for the globalization of agriculture of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were implemented, transforming food into a commodity, agriculture into corporate business, and shifting control over seeds and food from farmers to a handful of giant multinational corporations.

The third tragedy is that even those who get food are being denied their right to healthy and nourishing food. The explosion of junk food, of pesticides and toxics in our food, have created a disease epidemic that is a human tragedy and an economic burden. There is an epidemic of diseases related to our lifestyle and food, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, infertility, and cardiovascular diseases.

The recent Maggi noodle scandal highlights the rapid invasion of junk food in the Indian diet. We are what we eat. When we eat food full of toxic chemicals, we pay the price with our health. India has emerged as the epicenter of diabetes.

In extensive studies reported in “Poisons in Our Food” by Navdanya, elevated levels of PCBs, DDE, and DDT have been found in the blood of women suffering from breast cancer. Studies show that 51 percent of all food commodities are contaminated by pesticides.

###




How Stupid Doies Coke Think We Are?

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

Leading nutrition experts have expressed alarm over a U.S. pressure group that downplays the role of junk food and sugary drinks in the epidemic of obesity in America, claiming that exercise is the way to lose weight and fight obesity-–and is funded by Coca-Cola, according to Joanna Walters writing in The Guardian.

The Global Energy Balance Network, a non-profit group promoting research into the causes of obesity, focuses its message on the need for people to increase their physical activity as the key to achieving a healthy weight.

In a video announcing the aims of the organization, Steven Blair, a spokesman for the Global Energy Balance Network (GEBN) and a professor at the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, says the world needs to be educated about getting the right amount of physical activity.

“Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is ‘Oh, they’re eating too much, eating too much, eating too much’ – blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks and so on. And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that that, in fact, is the cause,” Blair says in a promotional video issued by the group earlier this year.

The GEBN states on its website that it is supported financially by Coca-Cola, among others. The link to Coca-Cola was highlighted Monday in an article in the New York Times questioning the links between the nonprofit organization and the company.

The GEBN’s posts on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook concentrate heavily on various aspects of the importance of exercise in the weight and health debate, with less attention on food. Its website claims the group wants to be the “voice of science” in research on obesity. But manyprominent scientists have expressed concern over GEBN’s focus and funding.

“You cannot exercise your way out of overeating, that’s kind of a misguided idea,” said Scott Grundy, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

Grundy was a member of the expert panel that devised the current clinical guidelines on obesity issued by the US government’s National Institutes of Health. Although they were published in 1998, Grundy said the findings and guidelines are just as accurate and relevant today.

A statement posted on the Coca-Cola website from Ed Hays, the company’s chief technical officer, included this statement: “At Coke, we believe that a balanced diet and regular exercise are two key ingredients for a healthy lifestyle and that is reflected in both our long-term and short-term business actions.”

Coca-Cola contributed $1.5m last year toward the creation of the Global Energy Balance Network and administers its website, according to the New York Times.

Barry Popkin, a professor of global nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, compared Coca-Cola funding scientists involved in obesity research to tobacco companies historically “enlisting” experts to become “merchants of doubt” about the harmful effects of cigarettes.

“Essentially, Coke is following the strategy used by the tobacco industry as they tried to create doubt among the general public and also politicians. It was very effective in the fights to regulate cigarettes and we have learned from this that it is essential to address these attempts and uncover what they are very rapidly,” he said. “We must change our diet. First and foremost this is sugary sweetened beverages.”

***

SCOTLAND TO BAN FARMING OF GMO CROPS

Scotland is to ban the growing of genetically modified crops, the country’s rural affairs secretary has announced, the BBC reports. Richard Lochhead said the Scottish government was not prepared to “gamble” with the future of the country’s ($20 billion) food and drink sector.

Lochhead said that Scotland was known around the world for its “beautiful natural environment” and banning the growing of genetically modified crops would protect and further enhance its green status. There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand.”

The move has been broadly welcomed by environment groups. But Scott Walker, chief executive of farming union NFU Scotland, said he was disappointed that the Scottish government had decided that no GM crops should ever be grown in Scotland. “Other countries are embracing biotechnology where appropriate and we should be open to doing the same here in Scotland,” he said.

Huw Jones, professor of molecular genetics at agricultural science group Rothamsted Research, said the announcement was a “sad day for science and a sad day for Scotland.” He said that GM crops approved by the EU were “safe for humans, animals and the environment.”

***

NOT ONLY CAN’T YOU KNOW WHAT’S IN YOUR FOOD, YOU CAN’T KNOW ABOUT EFFORTS TO FIND OUT WHAT’S IN YOUR FOOD, OR ABOUT LAWSUITS TO STOP MONSANTO’S FALSE ADVERTISING ABOUT THE SAFETY OF ROUNDUP

What happens when one courageous attorney and a few citizens try to take down Monsanto? The mainstream media doesn’t cover it, claims Christina Sarich, writing for NaturalSociety.com.

Efforts to publicize a class action lawsuit against Monsanto for falsely advertising its best-selling herbicide Roundup, which was filed in Los Angeles County Court on April 20, 2015, have been rejected or ignored by almost every mainstream media outlet.

It’s no different than Fox, NBC, CNN, or ABC refusing to cover the DARK act that would prevent states from passing laws requiring GMO foods to be labeled, she says.

“You would think that every paper, radio station, and blog would want to spread the news. But wait. . . just six corporations own ALL of the media in America, so there isn’t much luck there. That’s why you have to go to sites like Russia Insider or Al Jazeera to find real news, outside of certain alternative news channels in the US, and even those are white-washed from Facebook pages, and given secondary ratings on Google pages,” she says.

Matthew Phillips, the attorney suing Monsanto in California for false advertising on Roundup bottles, has asked the LA Times, New York Times, Huffington Post, CNN, and Reuters, one of the world’s largest news agencies, to report on the lawsuit (Case No: BC 578 942), yet most enforced a total media blackout.

“When I spoke with Phillips over the phone, he said that he has tried posting the suit in Wikipedia’s Monsanto litigation section, but it keeps disappearing. He says that he has also noticed posts on Facebook about this lawsuit get removed,” Sarich said.

If other attorneys were to follow his template-style lawsuit, then suddenly the plaintiff count could extend to all the citizens in the US who have purchased a bottle of Roundup from their local DIY store (Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Ace Hardware, for example) in the last four years, not suspecting it could demolish their gut health.

Another possibility, according to Phillips, is that Monsanto could try to bump the case up to federal court in order to try to side-step a likely adverse judgment. But in this case the class action suit would also be open to residents other than those of just California. This is surely an idea that Monsanto doesn’t want seeded in the American psyche.

Phillips is extremely confident he has the goods on Monsanto in this case, and barring a sold out judge:

“This is a slam-dunk lawsuit that exposes Monsanto for LYING about Roundup. Contrary to the label, Roundup does indeed target and kill enzymes found in humans — in our gut bacteria — and this explains America’s chronic indigestion!”

Many well-known scientists and professors emeritus have offered to be key witnesses in this suit when it goes to trial. The attorney says he refuses to settle the case and hopes that 49 additional attorneys in 49 states will use his case as an example. “When we allege that Roundup’s targeted enzyme is found in humans, it’s like alleging that the Golden Gate Bridge is found in California,” Phillips said.

Phillips also states that ‘false advertising’ and ‘misleading’ are synonyms in California law, so the fact that Monsanto has stated that the glyphosate in Roundup doesn’t target humans goes beyond just misleading. This misjudgment by Monsanto is a well-known secret among many anti-GM scientists. The enzyme that glyphosate targets is definitely found in humans.

Monsanto states, “Round Up targets an enzyme only found in plants and not in humans or animals.”

EPSP synthase, also known as (3-phosphoshikimate 1-carboxyvinyltransferase) is found in the microbiota that reside in our intestinal tracts, and therefore the enzyme is “found in humans and animals.” It is partly responsible for immunity activation and even helps our gut and our brain communicate with one another.

***

WHY SHOULD INDIAN FARMERS FACE HUNGER AND COMMIT SUICIDE?

Vandana Shiva, a world-renowned spokeswoman for ecological agriculture, wrote the following for EcoWatch on August 16, 2015:

There is no reason why India should face hunger and malnutrition and why our farmers should commit suicide. India is blessed with the most fertile soils in the world. Our climate is so generous we can, in places, grow four crops in a year—compared to the industrialized west where sometimes only one crop is possible per year. We have the richest biodiversity of the world, both because of our diverse climates and because of the brilliance of our farmers as breeders. Our farmers are among the most hardworking, productive people in the world. Yet India faces an emergency in our food and agricultural system. This emergency is man-made.

Firstly, the poor and vulnerable are dying for lack of food. According to the Deccan Herald, Lalita S. Rangari, 36, a Dalit widow and mother of two children of the Gondiya tribal belt, allegedly died due to starvation. Justice Bhushan Gavai and Justice Indu Jain of the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court have served notice to the government of Maharashtra seeking its reply to the starvation death of the Dalit widow.

Even as India gets richer, we have emerged as the capital of hunger and malnutrition. According to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), 42.5 percent of children under five years old were underweight. This is more than double the African average of 21 percent, which until recently was the face of hunger.

The second tragedy is that our food producers, the small farmers who have provided food to more than a billion Indians and hold the potential to provide healthy food for all, are themselves dying because of agriculture and trade policies which put corporate profits above the rights and well-being of our small farmers. More than 300,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1995, when the rules for the globalization of agriculture of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were implemented, transforming food into a commodity, agriculture into corporate business, and shifting control over seeds and food from farmers to a handful of giant multinational corporations.

The third tragedy is that even those who get food are being denied their right to healthy and nourishing food. The explosion of junk food, of pesticides and toxics in our food, have created a disease epidemic that is a human tragedy and an economic burden. There is an epidemic of diseases related to our lifestyle and food, such as diabetes, cancer, hypertension, infertility, and cardiovascular diseases.

The recent Maggi noodle scandal highlights the rapid invasion of junk food in the Indian diet. We are what we eat. When we eat food full of toxic chemicals, we pay the price with our health. India has emerged as the epicenter of diabetes.

In extensive studies reported in “Poisons in Our Food” by Navdanya, elevated levels of PCBs, DDE, and DDT have been found in the blood of women suffering from breast cancer. Studies show that 51 percent of all food commodities are contaminated by pesticides.

###




The Regeneration of Regeneration

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

In 1982, Bob Rodale, son of Rodale Press founder J.I. Rodale (the man who brought the concept of organic gardening and farming to America), was then owner and chairman of that publishing company. In a memo to the staff, he laid out the idea that regeneration was the key not only to organics, but to many of life’s endeavors, including running a big company.

He organized retreats for top editorial people and business staff to explore the idea. He pushed regeneration—the ability of a system to reorganize and improve itself, especially after a setback—as a template for an overhaul of the way we do things. Unfortunately, Bob died in a traffic accident in Moscow in 1990, where he was starting an organic farming magazine for the Russian people.

Now, 33 years later, Ronnie Cummings of the Organic Consumers Association has found regeneration and wrote the following essay—all without mentioning Bob Rodale. I suspect this is not a snub. It’s just that Bob was so far ahead of his time that his trail has grown cold. Cummings says pretty much what Bob was talking about all those years ago. Here’s what he has to say:

“Regenerate—to give fresh life or vigor to; to reorganize; to recreate the moral nature; to cause to be born again.” (New Webster’s Dictionary, 1997)

A growing number of climate, food, environment, health and justice advocates are embracing and promoting a world-changing concept: regeneration.

What is regeneration? And why are so many public figures calling for regeneration or revolution, rather than sustainability or mitigation?

The inconvenient truth, of course, is that our degenerate “profit-at-any-cost” global economy is killing us. The living Earth—our soils, forests and oceans—and the “rhythms of nature” are unraveling. Greed and selfishness have displaced sharing and cooperation. Land grabs, Empire-building, resource wars, and out-of-control consumerism have become the norm.

Catastrophic times demand radical solutions. It’s time for change, big change.

Our heat-trapping, climate-disrupting, fossil fuel-intensive, industrial agriculture, and deforestation-induced CO2 monster in the sky, now approaching 400 parts per million (ppm), is the most serious threat humans have ever faced. Either we take down King Coal and Big Oil and switch to renewable energy, and simultaneously move, literally suck down, several hundred billion tons of excess carbon from the atmosphere and naturally sequester this CO2 in the soil and forests—through regenerative farming, grazing and land use practices—or we are doomed.

According to activist and author Vandana Shiva, “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the health crisis, the climate crisis and the crisis of democracy.”

But just what do we mean by Regenerative Agriculture?

The international community has set itself three important goals: to stop the loss of biodiversity, keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, and ensure everyone has the right to adequate food. Without fertile soil, none of these objectives will be achieved.

The loss of the world’s fertile soil and biodiversity, along with the loss of indigenous seeds and knowledge, pose a mortal threat to our future survival. According to soil scientists, at current rates of soil destruction, (i.e. decarbonization, erosion, desertification, chemical pollution), within 50 years we will not only suffer serious damage to public health due to a qualitatively degraded food supply characterized by diminished nutrition and loss of important trace minerals, but we will literally no longer have enough arable topsoil to feed ourselves. Without protecting and regenerating the soil on our four billion acres of cultivated farmland, 14 billion acres of pasture and rangeland, and 10 billion acres of forest land, it will be impossible to feed the world, keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius, or halt the loss of biodiversity.

Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy forests, healthy oceans, rivers and lakes, healthy people, a healthy climate . . . our physical and economic health, our very survival as a species, depends upon whether or not, and how quickly, we can carry out a global campaign of Regeneration.

According to a recent policy proposal by the French government, we need to increase plant photosynthesis and carbon sequestration in global soils by at least 0.4 percent each year if we are to head off runaway global warming.

Tom Newmark of the Carbon Underground explains the basic concept of Regeneration:

There is a technology that exists today that will suck excess CO2 out of the atmosphere. That technology is called photosynthesis. When I look outside my office window I see plants. Through photosynthesis, plants convert sunlight, CO2 and water to carbohydrates and oxygen. Plants are sucking tens of billions of tons of CO2 and creating plant sugars/carbohydrates. Some plant sugars we eat and some pass through the plant and get converted into humus, soil organic matter. This isn’t rocket science. This is a biological fact.

The soil itself is the largest available sink for CO2. There is more carbon currently sequestered in the living soils of the planet (2,700 billion tons), than there is in the entire atmosphere and biotic community combined (plants, and trees).The bad news is that by ripping up the soil through industrial agriculture abuse, we’ve put excess CO2 into the atmosphere.

The good news is that if we farm and ranch in harmony with carbon cycles, we can put carbon back in the soil—quickly. Scientists say that we can get back to 350 ppm in 10 years. All we have to do is increase soil organic matter in all grasslands on the planet by one percent. That is all we need to do to bring it back to 350 ppm. Nature can fix this problem that humans have created.

Along with educating ourselves and our community, we must utilize marketplace pressure to change our degenerate food and farming systems. We must boycott the fossil fuel-emitting, soil-destroying, climate-destructive products of industrial agriculture and the junk food industry. We must support those farmers and businesses whose products regenerate our health, our soils and our forests. Marketplace pressure, public education, and public policy change must go hand-in-hand.

A recent article in the Guardian summarizes Regenerative Agriculture this way:

Regenerative agriculture comprises an array of techniques that rebuild soil and, in the process, sequester carbon. Typically, it uses cover crops and perennials so that bare soil is never exposed, and grazes animals in ways that mimic animals in nature. It also offers ecological benefits far beyond carbon storage: it stops soil erosion, remineralises soil, protects the purity of groundwater and reduces damaging pesticide and fertiliser runoff.

The benefits of raising and grazing beef cattle, sheep, goats, dairy cows, poultry and pigs “in ways that mimic nature” are many. These practices are more humane, they rebuild soil fertility and they sequester carbon in the soil.

But there’s another important benefit to these techniques, one that is driving consumers away from factory farm foods. These practices produce animal products that are qualitatively healthier than CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operations) products, because they are higher in Omega 3 and “good” fats, and lower in animal drug residues and harmful fats that clog arteries, destroy gut health and cause cancer.

Our agricultural soils have lost 25-75 percent of the soil carbon they once held in storage before the onslaught of industrial agricultural and destructive land use practices. The most important task of our generation is Regeneration: to put this dislodged, heat-trapping atmospheric carbon back into the soil and forests, where it belongs.

Unfortunately, the current climate change movement up until now has focused almost exclusively on reducing fossil fuel emissions. There has been little or no mention of the critical role soil and forests play as carbon sinks or repositories for excess CO2 in the atmosphere.

Reducing fossil fuel emissions to zero over the next few decades, as called for by climate activist leaders such as Naomi Klein and 350.org, will solve half the problem, but only half. By the time we reach zero emissions under this “50-percent solution” scenario, even the most optimistic projections are that we’ll get down to 450 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere, a level that will detonate runaway global warming, and catastrophic climate change.

So widespread is this fixation on fossil fuel emissions that even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the upcoming Paris Climate Summit have yet to recognize soil and soil regeneration practices as important carbon sinks. Yet there is a growing body of scientific evidence to support the idea that Regenerative Organic Agriculture, grazing, reforestation and land use practices, scaled up globally, could not only mitigate, but actually, over several decades, reverse global warming.

We need to embrace the regenerative “100-percent solution” if we want to get back down to the safe level of 350 ppm or lower, as soon as possible. And we need to pressure the IPCC and national governments to acknowledge the importance of carbon sequestration through regenerative land use practices.

A number of critics have told me and others that we should not talk about natural sequestration of CO2 in the soil, nor the enormous regenerative potential of organic food, farming and forestry, because this “positive talk” will distract people from the main task at hand, drastically reducing fossil fuel emissions and taking down King Coal and Big Oil. Of course we need to move rapidly away from fossil fuels, extractivism and over-consumption into conservation, sustainable living and renewable energy. We must all become climate activists and radical conservationists.

But we must also become advocates of Regenerative Organic Agriculture and forest/land use.

The large and growing anti-GMO, organic food and natural health movement must begin to think of itself as a movement that can fix not only the world’s health and hunger crisis, but the climate as well. Given that the degenerate GMO, factory farm and industrial food and farming system as a whole (production, chemical crop inputs, processing, transportation, waste, emissions, deforestation, biofuel/ethanol production) is the number one cause of greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing even the transportation, utilities, housing and industry sectors, climate activists need to start thinking of themselves as food, farming and natural health activists as well.

There will be no organic food, nor food whatsoever, on a burnt planet. Nor will there ever be a 90-percent reduction in greenhouse gas pollution without a transformation of our food and farming and land use practices, both in North America and globally.

We must begin to connect the dots between fossil fuels, global warming and related issues, including world hunger, poverty, unemployment, toxic food and farming, extractivism, land grabbing, biodiversity, ocean destruction, deforestation, resource wars, and deteriorating public health. As we regenerate the soil and forests, and make organic and grass-fed food and fiber the norm, rather than just the alternative, we will simultaneously develop our collective capacity to address all of the globe’s interrelated problems.

The extraordinary thing about de-industrializing food and farming, restoring grasslands and reversing deforestation—moving several hundred billion tons of carbon back from the atmosphere into our soils, plants and forests—is that this regeneration process will not only reverse global warming and re-stabilize the climate, but will also stimulate the creation of hundreds of millions of rural (and urban) jobs, while qualitatively increasing soil fertility, water retention, farm yields and food quality.

Regeneration holds the potential not only to restore forests and grasslands, recharge aquifers, restore and normalize rainfall, but also to address and eliminate rural malnutrition, poverty, unemployment and hunger.

So who will carry out this global Regeneration Revolution?

Of course we must continue, and in fact vastly increase, our pressure on governments and corporations to change public policies and marketplace practices. But in order to overturn “business-as-usual,” we must inspire and mobilize a vastly larger climate change coalition than the one we have now. Food, climate, and economic justice advocates must unite our forces so we can educate and mobilize a massive grassroots army of Earth Regenerators: three billion small farmers and rural villagers, ranchers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, urban agriculturalists, and indigenous communities—aided and abetted by several billion conscious consumers and urban activists.

The time is late. Circumstances are dire. But we still have time to regenerate the Earth and the body politic.

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AG-GAG LAW HELD UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Andrew Amelinckx, writing in Modern Farmer magazine, reports that Idaho’s so-called “ag-gag” law was one that opponents said criminalized investigative journalism and meant whistleblowers exposing unsafe or inhumane farming practices could end up in jail. No photos of animal cruelty allowed, in other words, or we’ll put you in the slammer.

The ldaho legislators who penned the law said it was about protecting privacy rights for an important industry in the state. This week, the federal court weighed in on the side of the law’s detractors in no uncertain terms. The court said the law is unconstitutitional, which of course it is, as it criminalizes the basic right of free speech.

“[The statute] seeks to limit and punish those who speak out on topics relating to the agricultural industry, striking at the heart of important First Amendment values,” wrote Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill of the United States District Court for the District of Idaho in his landmark decision.

The judge, in his 29-page decision, said the “effect of the law was to suppress speech by undercover investigators and whistleblowers concerning topics of great public importance: the safety of the public food supply, the safety of agricultural workers, the treatment and health of farm animals, and the impact of business activities on the environment.”

The Idaho statute—similar to seven others in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, North Carolina and Utah—created a new crime, “interference with agricultural production,” that outlawed surreptitiously filming in agricultural facilities as well as misrepresenting your intentions when applying for a job at an agricultural operation, among other activities. These crimes were punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. Those convicted could also be forced to pay up to twice the amount of damages that the facility incurred as a result of the defendant’s actions.

“We think that’s inconsistent with the history of muckraking and journalism in the U.S. We think it’s inconsistent with the First Amendment,” the judge wrote.

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POPE FRANCIS ON SAVING THE NATURAL WORLD

“Where profits alone count, there can be no thinking about the rhythms of nature, its phases of decay and regeneration, or the complexity of ecosystems which may be gravely upset by human intervention…. It is not enough to balance, in the medium term, the protection of nature with financial gain, or the preservation of the environment with progress. Halfway measures simply delay the inevitable disaster.”

– Pope Francis, Papal Encyclical “Laudato Si,” June 18, 2015

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FAMILY OF MURDERED WOMAN ORDERED TO PAY GUN DEALERS

From Daily Kos:

The parents of Jessica Ghawi, a 24-year-old woman gunned down by James Holmes in the 2012 Aurora theater massacre, tried to sue the online ammunition retailer who sold James Holmes the ammunition used in the attack.

The case was dismissed before a trial could take place thanks to the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, or PLCAA, a federal law passed by Congress and signed by George W. Bush in 2005.

The PLCAA provides very broad, blanket immunity from civil lawsuits for both gun manufacturers and gun dealers. Adding insult to extreme injury, a federal judge has issued an order that will likely bankrupt Jessica Ghawi’s parents.

The parents are faced with more than $200,000 in legal costs after a federal judge ordered them to pay attorney’s fees for four ammunition dealers the family attempted to sue. In the ruling, the judge wrote “those who ignore a fire should be responsible for cost of suppressing it before it becomes a conflagration.”

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GETTING RICH OFF THE WAR AGAINST ISIS

As long as we’re being political, let’s check in with Kate Brannen of The Daily Beast, who wrote the following:

For the Middle East, the growth of the self-proclaimed Islamic State has been a catastrophe. For one American firm, it’s been a gold mine.

The war against ISIS isn’t going so great, with the self-appointed terror group standing up to a year of U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.

But that hasn’t kept defense contractors from doing rather well amidst the fighting. Lockheed Martin has received orders for thousands of more Hellfire missiles. AM General is busy supplying Iraq with 160 American-built Humvee vehicles, while General Dynamics is selling the country millions of dollars’ worth of tank ammunition.

SOS International, a family-owned business whose corporate headquarters are in New York City, is one of the biggest players on the ground in Iraq, employing the most Americans in the country after the U.S. Embassy. On the company’s board of advisors: former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz—considered to be one of the architects of the invasion of Iraq—and Paul Butler, a former special assistant to Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld.

The company, which goes by “SOSi,” says on its website that the contracts it’s been awarded for work in Iraq in 2015 have a total value of more than $400 million. They include a $40 million contract to provide everything from meals to perimeter security to emergency fire and medical services at Iraq’s Besmaya Compound, one of the sites where U.S. troops are training Iraqi soldiers. The Army awarded SOSi a separate $100 million contract in late June for similar services at Camp Taji. The Pentagon expects that contract to last through June 2018.

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AND NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS

Here are the latest dispatches from The Organic Center in Washington, D.C.

A recent study published in Sustainable Agriculture Research has found that organic farming methods can be used to reduce water pollution in U.S waterways. Researchers found that nitrate loss via water in the conventional cropping systems was twice as high as nitrate loss from the organic cropping system, and that the organic pasture system lost the least amount of nitrates.

A new study published in Organic Agriculture shows that some organic honey has natural antimicrobial activity that can combat the growth of Clostridium perfringens, a food pathogen bacterium known to cause food spoilage and illness in humans and animals. Overall, this study showed that organic honey has the potential to be used clinically to fight this foodborne bacterium.

A new paper published in the journal Sustainable Agriculture Research examines results from six of the oldest grain crop-based experiments comparing organic and conventional farming methods with the goal of communicating both the benefit of long-term comparison trials and environmental and economic findings for organic agriculture. All of the studies showed an increase in soil health, productivity, water quality, and economic benefits for farmers when they used organic systems.

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SPOKANE SUES MONSANTO FOR SAYING TOXIC CHEMICALS ARE SAFE

The city of Spokane, Washington, has filed a lawsuit against the international agrichemical giant Monsanto, alleging that the company sold chemicals for decades that it knew were a danger to human and environmental health. Marlene Feist, the city’s utilities spokeswoman, called the suit “long-term litigation,” and noted that the city will have to spend $300 million to keep PCBs and other pollutants from entering the Spokane River in coming years.

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LIKE TEA? CHECK OUT BUDDHA TEAS

Buddha Teas, a company based in Carlsbad, California, sells organic sencha green tea, a favorite in Japan, and organic white tea, the least processed of all teas. The ingredients are simple. Sencha green tea contains sencha green tea. Period. White tea contains white tea. Period. That’s the way we like it, and the teas are delicate and delicious.

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Online Petitions–a Rich Source of Data

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I keep getting these emails encouraging me to do useless things, and I’m sure you get them, too. “Tell Monsanto to Stop Poisoning America’s Farmland with Roundup,” one says. “Sign our petition to tell the GOP to stop threatening Medicare,” says another.

No, Monsanto isn’t going to stop doing what it does for a living, just because you sign a petition. And the GOP is never going to give up trying to destroy Medicare and the social safety net. It’s what they do for a living.

What I think is that these useless petitions are put in your inbox in order for you to reveal your contact information when you sign them, whereupon the people creating the useless petitions will bundle them by demographics and sell them to list brokers and other marketers.

Just sayin’.

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HERE’S WHO SPENT HOW MUCH ON LOBBYING IN 2ND QUARTER 2015

You’’ notice that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce outspent every other lobbying group. That’s because the organization has nothing to do with your hometown’s Chamber of Commerce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is a powerful business lobbying group that “has become a fully functional part of the partisan Republican machine” since CEO and president Thomas J. Donohue took office in 1997. Prior to Donohue’s tenure, the Chamber “used to be a trade association that advocated in a bipartisan manner for narrowly tailored policies to benefit its members.” The Chamber’s 2010 budget is approximately $200 million, but as a trade organization, its donors can remain anonymous. The New York Times reported in October, 2010, that half of the Chamber’s $140 million in contributions in 2008 came from just 45 big-money donors, many of whom enlisted the Chamber’s help to fight political and public opinion battles on their behalf (such as opposing financial or healthcare reforms, or other regulations). The Chamber is “dominated by oil companies, pharmaceutical giants, automakers and other polluting industries,” according to James Carter, executive director of the Green Chamber of Commerce.

Organization Quarter 2 Lobbying

U.S. Chamber of Commerce $22,970,000
American Medical Association $12,400,000
Boeing $9,288,000
General Electric $8,460,000
National Association of Realtors $8,180,000
Business Roundtable $6,430,000
National Association of Manufacturers $4,840,000
Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America $4,820,000
American Hospital Association $4,770,000
Google $4,620,000

These data are from Maplight. MapLight is a 501(c)3 research organization that tracks money’s influence on politics.

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YOU THINK MONSANTO CARES ABOUT INDIAN FARMERS’ SUICIDES?

For generations, farmers have saved seeds from year to year — but Monsanto has now made that illegal by genetically modifying and then patenting seeds, and charging farmers outrageous annual royalties to keep using its seeds. Farmers are hopelessly saddled with crippling debt. Since Monsanto’s crops were introduced, over 200,000 farmers in India have committed suicide.

Now, the new Indian government has opened GMO testing on eggplant, corn, rice and chickpeas, which could mean even more royalties across the agricultural industry. The result is a crippling cycle of poverty, from which farmers see no way out.

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‘RESPONSIBLY GROWN’? WHAT’S THAT EVEN MEAN?

The Cornucopia Institute reports that this spring, 17 certified organic farmers signed a letter to Whole Foods Market CEO John Mackey asking him to withdraw the company’s “Responsibly Grown” produce labeling program, at least temporarily. The farmers, all of whom sell produce to the 400+-store high-end grocery chain, objected to having to pay for the grocer’s marketing program and to the fact that non-organic produce could qualify to be labeled “GOOD,” “BETTER,” or even “BEST” under the program.

The Cornucopia Institute supported these growers, as did many other certified organic farmers and consumers around the country. It was a righteous fight – what we called “Robin Hood in reverse.” Here was a corporation, with a market capitalization exceeding $14.5 billion, asking mostly family-scale farmers, some of the best farmers in this industry, to pony up between $5,000 and $20,000 to comply with the program’s reporting requirements and, for some, purchase new equipment. That’s not an inconsequential amount for small- and medium-sized family farms. And the added record-keeping labor could crush some mom-and-pop outfits.

But most of all, the farmers took exception to one corporation hiring its own private scientist, and coming up with a list of good and bad agrichemicals. Most organic consumers don’t want to pick or choose. They buy organic and they shop at stores like Whole Foods because they don’t want to treat their children like laboratory rats.
Not surprisingly, researchers at The Cornucopia Institute, with PhDs in plant pathology and other related disciplines, found that a number of highly disturbing agrichemicals were not on the relatively short list of toxins that Whole Foods prohibits their top-rated conventional produce suppliers from using. So the certified organic farmers who signed the letter to Mr. Mackey had good reason to object when photos taken in several Whole Foods stores showed conventional produce being rated higher than organic.

There is nothing wrong with farmers implementing good employment practices or putting solar panels on the roof of their barn – practices that win them points in Whole Foods’ rating scheme. But the prerequisite – the “ante,” if you will – to get into the Whole Foods’ Responsibly Grown game should be a supplier’s certified organic status.
Quite frankly, how could anyone who knows as much about organics as WFM founder Mr. Mackey, and the other top management at Whole Foods, could ever call conventional food the “BEST”?

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TWO NEW SWEET CORN VARIETIES ARE OPEN POLLINATED

Two new varieties of open-pollinated, super-sweet corn will be available in limited quantities for the 2016 planting season, thanks to ongoing research by Oregon farmer and Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) research partner Jonathan Spero. Open pollination means that the varieties’ seeds produce corn that is true to the parent variety. And that means farmers can save seed from year to year.

According to Spero’s report, breeding and improvement of open-pollinated corn was largely abandoned 60 to 70 years ago, with the introduction of hybrid seed varieties. Most hybrid seeds are the product of traditional breeding techniques, and therefore not considered GMOs. But hybrid offspring do not uniformly resemble the parent plant, and farmers relying on hybrids must purchase new seed every year.

In addition to fostering dependence on seed companies, hybrids do not allow farmers to participate in ongoing crop improvement, which over millennia has resulted in a rich heritage of regionally-adapted crop varieties around the globe.

The commercial release of Top Hat and Tuxana sweet corn seed is a welcome milestone in the movement to revive traditional crop breeding, and increase the selection of organic-friendly varieties whose seed can be saved by farmers. Spero’s sweet corn breeding project was supported by a four-year research grant from OFRF.

Spero expects his new varieties of white and yellow sweet corn to see additional improvements in coming years, as they are planted in new regions and the seed is saved and replanted by numerous farmers and gardeners.

“I have shown how these crop improvements can be made, and new varieties created, without advanced technology or large amounts of money,” Spero said in his report. “Others may see that they too can step up from gardening or farming to plant breeding and crop improvement. It may help return crop improvement and varietal ownership to the farmer.”

In addition to breeding for enhanced sweetness, Spero worked to make Top Hat and Tuxana more competitive against weeds, better able to resist insect pests, and tolerant of lower-fertility soils.

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KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR NOCCIOLATA

We all love Nutella, right? But Nutella isn’t organic. Now here comes Nocciolata, an Italian version of Nutella that’s a delicious mix of ground hazelnuts, cocoa, and milk—and it’s entirely organic. It’s a little more oriented toward the hazelnuts and less toward the chocolate, but it’s great over ice cream. Ask your grocer to stock it.

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ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A REPTILE?

The following was written by William B. Miller, Jr., M.D. I think its subject is one that every person interested in organic food and farming will appreciate. Here’s Dr. Miller:

“Are you smarter than a reptile? In many respects, you certainly are. After all, no reptile is going to read this article. However, our clearly superior intellectual abilities for certain skills has seduced us towards a dismissive attitude towards the surprisingly deep and broad range of analytical gifts of our companion creatures. A growing body of research now indicates that other animals of all sizes and varieties are highly intelligent problem solvers within their own realms. After all, their cognitive skills have enabled them to successfully survive for eons and that may not necessarily prove to be true of we humans.

“Consider termites. They are strikingly social animals and have constructed elaborate societies for 200 million years. They engage in a primitive sort of agriculture, farming varieties of fungus for food. As individuals, they demonstrate remarkable intelligence and an even more surprising group intelligence that enables complicated feats of soil engineering in a diverse range of environments. Within their complex societal structure, termites divide labor between varied types of specialized workers, for example, infant care, manual labor, reproduction or soldiers for the defense of the colony. All of this proceeds via highly evolved and complex patterns of communication and signaling.

“Individual bees are intelligent and can even solve problems that are mathematically based. For example, they effectively decide the Traveling Salesman dilemma of optimizing the most efficient route to visit large numbers of locations in a single day. Bees communicate in a rich symbolic non-verbal language that enables them to transmit abstract concepts to others such as the location of particular flowers over large distances based on angles of the sun. They even seem to understand some rudimentary concepts of medical care utilizing medications within their hives. For example, honeybees colonies have been demonstrated to self medicate with plant resin to combat fungal infections.

“What about ants? They’re no slouches. They can navigate long distances to find food and can communicate its location to others with facility. As individuals, they can seek family members, memorize multiple alternate locations and can integrate a large number sources of information. They are even altruistic and will help other ants in distress.

“Modern research is teaching that intelligence is not directly linked to brain volume. All sizes can be demonstrate high intelligence. Birds have small brains but are terrific problem solvers. They are highly cooperative and exhibit a wide range of highly intelligent behaviors. For example, they use vocal learning. Their songs are a complex language. Did you realize that they give lifelong names to their young? They are even known to mourn the loss of others. Birds also have a gyroscopic sense of geography and can store seeds in thousands of places that they can remember. Can we do that?

“Perhaps you suppose that only humans are capable of understanding analogies. However, crows can use analogies to solve higher order tasks. They understand sharing, can use rudimentary arithmetic and can invent meanings for words. Cockatoos can solve puzzles with at least 5 steps. They can even keep time to music.

“Might fish be intellectually impaired? In fact, fish lead complex social lives and are highly intelligent. In a comparison of the intellectual capacity of primates and fish, who do you think should win? In a food test comparing fish with monkeys, chimpanzees and orangutans, it was the fish that proved more adept at learning the advantages of certain patterns of food choices and were faster at it. And individual fish have personalities. Timid ones stay timid and aggressive ones remain bold. They also demonstrate individually distinguishable levels of curiosity and social ability. Fish can play, have excellent memories and perform complex courtship rituals. And Tusk fish even use tools to open shells for food, an act of intellect, which used to be considered as exclusive to humans but is now known to be widely distributed among species.

“Certainly then, we must be much smarter than microbes. However, if intelligence is construed as using information to solve problems to successfully reproduce and survive in hostile environments, then they might be considered among the most intelligent. Some bacterial strains and even some viruses have survived essentially unchanged in any significant manner for hundreds of millions of years, in part this by using elaborate signaling patterns for communication among themselves and others.

“So what might we make of this widely distributed worldwide intelligence?

“Our intelligence might be of a unique kind, but it is not the only intelligence of consequence on this planet. Ours is just different and suited to the types of problems that we need to solve.

“We have vastly underestimated the intelligence, feelings and complexity of the inner lives of our companion creatures on this planet. The implications are profound for our relationship towards them and our stewardship of the planet we share.

“The ubiquity of refined intelligence requires a thorough re-examination of our evolutionary narrative. Intelligence exists at every scale and underscores every aspect of evolutionary development.

“This emerging understanding teaches us that all cognitive ability starts at the cellular level. All complex creatures must in turn be viewed as integrated collections of intelligent cells, vast collaboratives of cellular intelligence – we in our human package, and they in theirs.

“While our form of collective intelligence may be privileged compared to others, it is not different in its essence. As a species, we would do well to grasp this vital truth.”

Dr. Bill Miller has been a physician in academic and private practice for over 30 years. He is the author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome. He currently serves as a scientific advisor to OmniBiome Therapeutics, a pioneering company in discovering and developing solutions to problems in human fertility and health through management of the human microbiome. For more information: www.themicrocosmwithin.com.

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DARK Days in the United States

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Thursday, July 23, was a dark day indeed. On that day, 275 members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted in favor of H.R. 1599, the DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act. By voting for the DARK Act, these politicians voted against truth and transparency, against science, against the more than century-old right of states to legislate on matters relating to food safety and labeling.

The actual name of the Bill is “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015.” It is nothing of the sort. It says that only the Federal Government can pass GMO labeling laws. And that the laws will be voluntary, not mandatory. And that any food manufacturer using GMOs can opt out of using the labels. So the title of the bill is a giant FU to the 90-percent of Americans who are in favor of mandatory labeling of GMOs.

It seems ironic that in the “land of the free” we cannot democratically oust GMOs, and that our own leaders are now putting up walls to deny us the right to know what is in our food. It really is an abomination and perversion of everything our government “by the people, of the people, and for the people” is supposed to stand for. The passage of the DARK Act in our House of Representatives proves that.

Besides voting for Monsanto and friends, they voted against the producers of non-GMO foods. They voted against “We the people.” The vote included all but a handful of Republicans and 45 Democrats. I suggest you vote them out of office in the next election. No, I think it’s mandatory you vote them out of office in the next election. To do that, you need to know how your representative voted.

You can find out how your representative voted at this link:

https://www.govtrack.us/congress/votes/114-2015/h462

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BEE-HARMING PESTICIDE ‘UBIQUITOUS’ IN ENVIRONMENT

More than 70 percent of pollen and honey samples collected from foraging bees in Massachusetts contained neonicotinoids, a type of insecticide that has been linked to colony collapse disorder, researchers are reporting. The disorder causes adult bees to abandon their hives in winter.

In the new study, published in The Journal of Environmental Chemistry, researchers analyzed 219 pollen samples and 53 honey samples from 62 hives in 10 counties in Massachusetts. Honeybee colonies have experienced significant losses over the last decade, and the effects can be far-reaching: Bees are the prime pollinators of one-third of all crops worldwide.

The researchers wanted to find out whether neonicotinoids are commonly present in pollen and honey, which are the main food sources for bees. The results show that neonicotinoids are ubiquitous in the environment where bees foraged, and therefore could pose risks to honeybee health.

By the way, when environmentalists approached Bayer AG, the German company that makes the neonicotinoid pesticides, and urged them to stop production because of honeybee deaths and the danger to our food supply from that, Bayer AG refused. I hope the executives at Bayer find their money tasty when all the bees are dead and the pollinated crops disappear.

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ANOTHER HERBICIDE IS ‘POSSIBLY CARCINOGENIC’

A group of scientists convened by the World Health Organization has decided that 2,4-D herbicide is “possibly carcinogenic.”

The IARC, the World Health Organization’s cancer agency, says that 2,4-D, the GMO industry’s new herbicide of choice to kill glyphosate-resistant weeds in GMO crop fields, is a “possible” human carcinogen. You can read the IARC’s preliminary report here (you’ll need to register for free access):

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2045%2815%2900081-9/abstract

According to Mother Jones magazine, “this announcement can hardly be welcome news in the Midwest, where farm fields are blanketed in corn and soybeans. Since the advent of crops genetically engineered to withstand glyphosate in the 1990s, farmers there have come to rely heavily on the herbicide that many weed varieties have evolved to resist, causing many headaches and a surge in herbicide use.

“This past spring, Dow Chemical introduced new genetically modified corn and soybean products designed to solve that problem. They’re engineered to resist not just glyphosate, but also, you guessed it, 2,4-D. And Dow is selling farmers a proprietary herbicide known as Enlist Duo, a combo of glyphosate and 2,4-D, that farmers can apply directly to the crops grown from the new genetically modified corn and soybean seeds. There’s evidence that toxic chemicals do worse things to us when combined than they do solo. That such ‘synergistic’ effects are little studied is hardly comforting.”

***

ROUNDUP 1000X MORE TOXIC THAN GLYPHOSATE ALONE

The Organic Consumers Association reports that Dr. Robin Mesnage of the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at Kings College in London, revealed new data analysis showing Roundup is 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate, its active weed-killing ingredient, alone.

“Glyphosate is everywhere throughout our food chain-–in our food and water. The lack of data on toxicity of glyphosate is not proof of safety, and these herbicides cannot be considered safe without proper testing. We know Roundup…contains many other chemicals which, when mixed together, are 1,000 times more toxic than glyphosate on its own,” Dr. Mesnage said.

In response to the IARC conclusions, Claire Robinson, an editor at GMWatch.org said: “Outside the United Kingdom, the reaction to the WHO IARC report has been dramatic. Some retailers in Switzerland and Germany have removed glyphosate products, France has committed to do so by 2018, and German states are calling for an EU-wide ban. The Danish Working Environment Authority has declared it a carcinogen, El Salvador and Sri Lanka have banned it, and the Colombia government has banned aerial spraying on coca crops.”

***

HUNGARY DESTROYS GMO CORN CROP

Hungary has taken a bold stand against biotech giant Monsanto and genetic modification by destroying 1000 acres of maize found to have been grown with genetically modified seeds, according to Hungarian deputy state secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development, Lajos Bognar.

The GMO maize has been plowed under, said Bognar. Unlike several EU members, GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. During the ministry’s investigation, controllers found Pioneer Monsanto products among the seeds planted.

The free movement of goods within the EU means that authorities will not investigate how the seeds arrived in Hungary, but they will check where the goods can be found, Bognar said. Most farmers complained once they just discovered they were using GMO seeds.

***

WHEN IT COMES TO GMOS, WE SHOULD BE MORE LIKE RUSSIANS

The Vaishnaya Internet News Service (a Russian news service) asks, “Why Is Russia Banning GMOs While the US Keeps Approving Them?”

Unable to resist taking a well-deserved pot-shot at America, the News Service notes that in the U.S., “there have been marches, vocal demonstrations, petitions, and laws banning GMOs, but the US is still lagging in the ‘democratic’ freedoms it has promised its people. Russia, on the other hand, has completely banned GMOs, placing a moratorium on their imports for 10 years. The nation rejects GMOs due to numerous dangers, while the US continues to allow Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, and their bullying kind to contrive a cold war on the American people.”

The VP of Russia’s National Association for Genetic Safety, Irina Ermakova, has said:

“It is necessary to ban GMOs, to impose moratorium (on) it for 10 years. While GMOs will be prohibited, we can plan experiments, tests, or maybe even new methods of research could be developed. It has been proven that not only in Russia, but also in many other countries in the world, GMOs are dangerous. Methods of obtaining the GMOs are not perfect, therefore, at this stage, all GMOs are dangerous. Consumption and use of GMOs obtained in such way can lead to tumors, cancers, and obesity among animals. Bio-technologies certainly should be developed, but GMOs should be stopped. We should stop it from spreading,” Ermakova said.

Here’s another report on the subject, this one from Russian TV: “After US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks showed that the State Department was lobbying worldwide for Monsanto and other similar corporations, a new report based on the cables shows Washington’s shilling for the biotech industry in distinct detail. The August, 2011, WikiLeaks revelations showed that American diplomats had requested funding to send lobbyists for the biotech industry to hold talks with politicians and agricultural officials in ‘target countries’ in areas like Africa and Latin America, where genetically-modified crops were not yet a mainstay, as well as some European countries that have resisted the controversial agricultural practice.”

It should be noted that what passes for journalism in Russia is really opinion, as in this quote, but in this case, the point is well-taken. Our government is indeed shilling for Big Biotech. Even our universities are in the back pocket of these biotech corporations. The annual $500 million budget of Stanford University’s Department of Biological Engineering alone supports dozens of research projects for myriad commercial (biotech) applications.

***

‘INERT INGREDIENTS’ MAY BE AS TOXIC AS THE ACTIVE ONES

The Environmental Protection Agency endangers public health by refusing to require disclosure of falsely characterized “inert” ingredients in pesticides, environmentalists claim in court, the Organic Consumers Association reports.

Three groups, The Center for Environmental Health, Beyond Pesticides, and Physicians for Social Responsibility have sued the EPA and its Administrator Gina McCarthy in Federal Court on Wednesday, under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

“What we’re challenging is EPA’s inaction despite a body of evidence” that inert pesticide ingredients can be just as harmful as active ones, plaintiffs’ attorney Yana Garcia told Courthouse News.

“Chemicals listed as inert are not inert,” she said. “Consumers think the inert ingredients are water or other benign substances used to mix the chemicals, but many are carcinogenic and others have acute impacts and still others have impacts that are currently unknown.”

Though FIFRA includes provisions to protect pesticide manufacturers’ trade secrets, it gives the EPA the authority to disclose ingredients it considers hazardous, Garcia said.

“It remains clear that FIFRA doesn’t let trade secrets trump health. But the EPA is kind of hiding behind this provision in the statute to shirk its responsibility to protect people and the environment” from pesticides, Garcia said.

Pesticide manufacturers and the EPA have identified more than 370 commonly used hazardous inert ingredients, including several known and suspected carcinogens, chemicals that cause reproductive and neurological disorders, and 96 potentially toxic chemicals classified as “high priority for testing,” according to the complaint.

Worse still, the groups say, many of these hazardous ingredients enhance the absorption and inhalation rates of active ingredients, render protective gear such as gloves less effective, and make it difficult to remove pesticides from clothing.

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House Ag Committee Okays the Monsanto Protection Act

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

Well, it’s happened. The DARK (Deny Americans the Right to Know) Act, better known as the ultimate Monsanto Protection Act, aka H.R. 1599, has been voted out of committee with the approval of the House Agriculture Committee.

This is nothing short of a disgusting capitulation to Big Ag by a bunch of bootlicking House members totally hog-tied and bought off by Monsanto and its pals in the agricultural chemical, biotech, big farm, and related industries. It really is awful to read how these toadies gloat and spin this terrible act as though it is the salvation of farming in America and a huge boon to consumers. It is nothing of the kind. It destroys our ability to know what’s in our food. But read it yourself, as reported in the Food Business News. And then write your Representative and your two Senators and give them your feelings about this.

“WASHINGTON — The House Committee on Agriculture on July 14 approved H.R. 1599, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. The bill, which was introduced in March by Representatives Mike Pompeo of Kansas and G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, has evolved through bipartisan discussions between the Agriculture Committee and the Committee on Energy and Commerce Committee.

“The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act is designed to prevent individual states from passing legislation requiring the labeling of food and beverage products containing bioengineered ingredients.

“‘I appreciate the collaborative efforts of the Energy and Commerce Committee in getting this bipartisan legislation completed and approved today,’ said Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. ‘H.R. 1599 is the solution to an urgent and growing problem. The current patchwork system of varied labels interferes with the free flow of goods across the country, posing a real threat to interstate commerce and typically results in inconsistent and confusing information for consumers. Creating a uniform national policy regarding biotechnology labeling is the free market solution that will allow consumers access to meaningful information, create market opportunities for those on the production and processing side, and will facilitate future innovation.’

“Representative Rodney Davis, chairman of the Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research, thanked Mr. Conaway and Mr. Pompeo for their work on the bill.

“’As a parent, I believe it is important to have national and reliable food labels, and this bill does that by allowing for an effective, uniform labeling system that consumers can trust,’ Mr. Davis said. ‘Without a national standard, we risk the spread of misinformation and increased food costs. Just as consumers can go to the grocery store and identify organic products, this bill will allow them to do the same with G.M.O.-free products.’ (Hint: This is a lie. Re-read paragraph two of this article from Food Business News. The legislation says only the Federal government can create a labeling law, and you know what that’s going to be worth. It will not require the label to state what’s in the food, only what’s not in the food. Picture yourself shopping. If the label is required to say, “Contains GMOs” then you have a way of identifying every food with GMOs in the store. They’ll all have labels. Now picture a voluntary label, which is what H.R. 1599 calls for, saying, “Contains No GMOs.” That voluntary label will tell you something about that particular product, but what about all the other products in the store? The label is voluntary. Products with GMOs likely will have no labeling at all. This is what this terrible piece of legislation calls for. The damn thing was written by Monsanto, for goshsakes.)

“The Grocery Manufacturers Association (G.M.A.) praised the passage of the bill: ‘Today’s House Agriculture Committee vote is further evidence of the growing support and momentum in Congress for this bill, and we urge the full House to pass it before the August recess,’ said Pamela G. Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the G.M.A. ‘This critically important bipartisan legislation will ensure that Americans have accurate, consistent information about their food rather than a 50-state patchwork of labeling laws that will only prove costly and confusing for consumers, farmers and food manufacturers.’

“Pamela G. Bailey, president and chief executive officer of the G.M.A.: ‘It is imperative that the House and Senate move quickly to pass the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,’ Ms. Bailey added. ‘It will put a science-based framework in place that provides consumers across the country with uniform food labeling standards.’ (Hint: The phrase “science based framework” is language written by Monsanto and used as a talking point by its minions.)

“The American Soybean Association (A.S.A.) also applauded the House Agriculture Committee for marking up and approving the bill: ‘Consumers continue to demand more transparency and accountability from food producers,’ said Wade Cowan, president of the A.S.A. and a soybean farmer from Brownfield, Texas. ‘This bill ensures that a multi-state patchwork of state regulations is avoided.’ Mr. Cowan said the A.S.A. is now engaged in efforts to garner chamber-wide support for the bill. We’ve seen that the effort to bring clarity to the G.M.O. labeling debate has significant support on both sides of the aisle’” he said. ‘It’s clear that consumers want practical solutions that give them the confidence they want in their food, and this legislation does exactly that. In the coming weeks, we’ll meet with every lawmaker in soybean country to urge them to support this legislation. It’s a bill that moves us closer to a science-based dialogue on food and farm issues, and we will encourage every member of the House to get behind it.’”

***

HOW THE RIGHT SPINS LIES ABOUT CRUCIAL ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES

Okay, so I’ve been reporting and repeating information about how neonicotinoid pesticides have been implicated in the Colony Collapse Disorder that’s been ravaging bee colonies in the U.S. for the last number of years. I haven’t been out there in the field documenting bee deaths, but I have been looking at the science. And it’s pretty clear that neonics, as they’re called, are at least a part of the problem of bee colony collapse. There’s actually quite a bit of scientific work on this, because we’ve known for centuries that if bees fail to pollinate our crops, we won’t have crops.

So today I received this post on my Facebook page: “Bee Experts Dismantle Touted ‘Harvard’ Neonics-Colony Collapse Disorder Study As ‘Activist Science.’”

Oh—bee experts are saying neonics aren’t the cause of colony collapse disorder (CCD) at all? And that a study attributed to Harvard scientists is nonsense? “Activist Science” seems to mean that those opposed to neonics have some sort of political agenda.

Well, where is this information coming from? This article, published by the Genetic Literacy Project at the University of California, Davis (a respected ag school), was written by someone named Jon Entine.

Wow. This is news. Evidently, I’ve been wrong all along. Maybe neonics aren’t the cause of CCD. So here’s an excerpt from Entine’s article:

“Chensheng Lu was in his element last month at a speech before a green group at Harvard Law School. The School of Public Health professor was lecturing on his favorite topic–his only subject these days, as it has become his obsession: why he believes bees around the world are in crisis.” This sounds like a patronizing put-down: “his only subject,” “his obsession,” and “why he believes bees around the world are in crisis.” Is it just Chensheng Lu who believes bees are in crisis. No! There’s a ton of data so starkly troublesome about disappearing bees that it has scientists around the country worried.

“Lu is convinced, unequivocally,” Entine writes, “that a popular pesticide hailed by many scientists as a less toxic replacement for farm chemicals proven to be far more dangerous to humans and the environment, is actually a killer in its own right.

“’We demonstrated that neonicotinoids are highly likely to be responsible for triggering Colony Collapse Disorder in bee hives,’ claimed Lu. The future of our food system and public health, he said, hangs in the balance.

“Lu is the Dr. Doom of bees,” Entine writes. “Not clear to most other experts in the field, is that colony collapse disorder (CCD), which first emerged in 2006, can be directly linked to ‘neonics,’ and also to genetically modified crops. Phased in during the 1990s, neonics are most often used by farmers to control unwanted crop pests. They are coated on seeds, which then produce plants that systemically fight pests.”

This doesn’t sound like journalism. With its argument ad hominem (“the Dr. Doom of bees”), it sounds more like an apology for a very toxic pesticide. What in the world is the University of California, Davis, doing getting mixed up in what seems to be a propaganda piece for the pesticide industry?

So my investigative journalism gene—the one I acquired when I studied journalism at my university—kicked in, and I saw that the article’s author was Jon Entine. So, who is Jon Entine?

Well, he’s executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project, a sister organization of the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS). He’s also a Senior Fellow at the World Food Center Institute for Food and Agricultural Literacy at the University of California, Davis, and is a fellow at the Center for Health and Risk Communication, George Mason University. That’s quite a fistful of bona fides, right? Let’s take a closer look at his affiliations.

The Statistical Assessment Service (STATS) touts itself as a “non-profit, non-partisan organization,” but its funders are not transparent. It is itself an arm, or “sister organization,” of the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), and it is affiliated with the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University. STATS in turn has two “sister organizations”: the Genetic Literacy Project, which promotes GMOs (uh-oh); and EconoSTATS, which promotes privatization and opposes government regulation. Hmmm. Promotes privatization and opposes government regulation. That sure sounds like the conservative agenda.

Oh. Wait—didn’t we find out that Jon Entine is the executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project and its STATS affiliate? Here’s a little more about Mr. Entine, as reported on Natural News:

“Forbes.com contributing writer Jon Entine, long known as a biotech shill and pesticide apologist, committed physical violence against his wife and psychologically traumatized his own daughter, according to court documents now revealed in a comprehensive, five-part investigative article by Natural News. The documents reveal how his wife pleaded for court protection against domestic violence and child abuse and sought a restraining order against Entine to halt him from ‘physically, verbally and or psychologically abusing, annoying, harassing or injuring’ herself or their young female daughter.

“Jon Entine has professional ties to Monsanto, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Proctor & Gamble, and other similar corporations. He is a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a research fellow at George Mason University, and was a paid lecturer at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Entine is a key ‘attack operative’ for the biotech industry, well known for authoring wildly defamatory character assassination articles to target GMO skeptics and scientists who disagree with the biotech industry’s contrived safety claims.

“With the help of Forbes.com and the American Enterprise Institute — both key players in attacking and smearing GMO skeptics and scientists — Entine has been instrumental in viciously smearing the reputations of numerous scientists, activists, independent journalists, and environmentalists, usually through the use of wildly fraudulent smear tactics and the wholesale fabrication of false ‘facts.’

“It turns out that Jon Entine has been leading a double life. In one life, he presents himself as an upstanding, award-winning journalist and research fellow with a well-credentialed resume. But in his secret life, Jon Entine is described by his own wife as a belligerent, violent, mentally unstable individual who committed acts of violence against his wife, psychologically traumatized his own daughter, installed surveillance equipment to spy on his wife’s activities, attempted to compel his wife’s therapist to testify against her in court, interfered with his wife’s professional activities, and engaged in a bizarre series of other reprehensible activities.”

Well—enough. You begin to get a picture of Mr. Entine. But why would he want to spread disinformation about neonics, their effect on bees, and GMO crops? Well, there was that reference about the link to Monsanto, and his being an attack operative for the biotech industry.

Let’s go back and look more closely at STATS, the sister organization of the Genetic Literacy Project and the Center for Media and Public Affairs. STATS promotes itself as a disinterested, non-partisan guardian of scientific and statistical integrity to media outlets. It has been surprisingly successful in this guise, with many media outlets citing STATS information as the gospel truth. If STATS gives it the okay, it must be okay, right?

From its inception, however, STATS has repeatedly attacked environmentalists, civil libertarians, feminists, and other “liberals.” The first director of STATS, David Murray, was not a statistician at all. His academic training was in anthropology, but he was often described in the media as a “statistician” when he commented on various topics.

As for funding, is it any surprise that we find, among others, the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation (which is funding an array of Republican and right-wing ideological interests, including the Tea Party via front groups like Freedomworks)?

The Genetic Literacy Project is affiliated with The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA), too. It’s a U.S.-based, tax-exempt, nonprofit 501(c)(3) media watch organization. On its website, CMPA claims to be politically neutral: “The Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) is a nonpartisan research and educational organization which conducts scientific studies of news and entertainment media. CMPA’s goal is to provide an empirical basis for ongoing debates over media coverage and impact through well-documented, timely, and readable studies.” Guess who dug up the seed money for the CMPA? Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson.

CMPA also runs the Statistical Assessment Service (STATS), described on the front page of its website as a sister organization, and which is considered a front organization.

CMPA: out of the total of $3,323,416 in its foundation grants, nearly all of it ($2,693,916) came from the John M. Olin, Scaife, and Smith Richardson foundations. In other words, CMPA received 81 percent of its foundation funding from those donors. Here is a sample of other right-wing causes funded by these same donors:

John M. Olin Foundation funds the American Enterprise Institute and the Project for the New American Century. The Scaife Foundation funds the American Enterprise Institute, Heritage Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Hudson Institute. All of them are ideologically far right organizations devoted to advancing radical conservative causes.

According to Salon journalist Joe Conason, “The IRS form 990 returns filed by the CMPA redacts (eliminates) the names of all the individuals and organizations that contribute to it, thereby concealing them from public scrutiny. But the watchdogs at Media Transparency have collated the 990 returns filed by conservative foundations, which disclose their contributions.” And it turns out that, yes indeed, the Genetic Literacy Project, the CMPA, and STATS are all supported by the same few conservative foundations.

So how does this all work out in the public media that supposedly informs America?

Here’s one headline widely reported in news media across America a few years ago: “Fox News Gives Most Balanced Coverage.”

The Huffington Post reported in December, 2007, that “a study released this month by the Center for Media and Public Affairs (CMPA) at George Mason University found that Fox News Channel’s evening coverage was more ‘balanced’ than that of the broadcast networks.” Yet, one only had to look at the money behind the CMPA study to see that the results were tainted from the start. Journalists! Start doing your due diligence.

The CMPA staff includes President Robert Lichter, who is a paid contributor to the Fox News Channel. During the mid-1980′s he held the DeWitt Wallace Chair in Mass Communication at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. In addition, according to the CMPA website, he has taught at Princeton University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and George Mason University, and he was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Politics and Psychology at Yale University, a Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at Smith College.

All these positions at some of America’s finest institutions of higher learning would be laudable, if it weren’t for the fact that this arch-conservative is part of a campaign that has, as one of its aims, to discredit scientists who show that neonicotinoid pesticides are destroying our bee populations. You might almost think that people at institutions like Princeton and Yale are behind the conservative assault on scientific inquiry into environmental problems. Perish the thought!

So the question comes down to this. Once we peer behind the curtain and see the Wizard of Oz for who he really is, of what value to the conservative corporatists is the discrediting of a pesticide that’s killing our bees?

Let me venture a guess.

If the public gets the idea that a pesticide is bad for us, the public might demand that pesticides be regulated or removed from the environment. And who makes pesticides? Well, Bayer Crop Science makes neonicotinoids. Monsanto makes Roundup. Syngenta, Dow, and many others make toxic agricultural chemicals. And they are VERY profitable.

And so, I get this seemingly innocuous Facebook post telling me that bee die-off isn’t really due to neonics. And when I wend my way back through the maze of front groups and phony organizations and propagandizing smokescreens, I always come back to the same people. And they are the arch-conservatives who have stolen the American dream from working folks and the middle class and hidden it in their safety deposit boxes in the Cayman Islands.

Wake up, America. You’re being had!

***

MONSANTO TAKES UMBRAGE AT WHO ROUNDUP CANCER REPORT

Reuters is reporting that Monsanto is demanding a sit-down with members of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This international scientific body is being called on the carpet for reporting that Monsanto’s Roundup, the world’s most widely sold herbicide, which is inextricably linked to the majority of their genetically engineered products, is probably carcinogenic to humans. In a DO-YOU-KNOW-WHO-WE-ARE? moment, Monsanto’s vice president of global regulatory affairs Philip Miller said the following in an interview:

“We question the quality of the assessment. The WHO has something to explain.”

Evidence for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate comes from a peer-reviewed study published in March of 2015 in the respected journal The Lancet Oncology.

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, currently with the highest production volumes of all herbicides. It is used in more than 750 different products for agriculture, forestry, urban, and home applications. Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties. Glyphosate has been detected in air during spraying, in water, and in food.

Glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption. Soil microbes degrade glyphosate to aminomethylphosphoric acid (AMPA). Blood AMPA detection after poisonings suggests intestinal microbial metabolism in humans. Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro. One study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) in residents of several communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations.

Recently, Monsanto’s Dr. William “Bill” Moar presented the latest project in their product pipeline dealing with RNA. Most notably, he spoke about Monsanto’s efforts to educate citizens about the scientific certainty of the safety of their genetically engineered products. The audience was mostly agricultural students, many of whom were perhaps hoping for the only well-paid internships and jobs in their field.
One student asked what Monsanto was doing to counter the “bad science” around their work. Dr. Moar, perhaps forgetting that this was a public event, then revealed that Monsanto indeed had “an entire department” (waving his arm for emphasis) dedicated to “debunking” science which disagreed with theirs. This is the first time that a Monsanto functionary has publically admitted that they have such an entity which brings their immense political and financial weight to bear on scientists who dare to publish against them. The Discredit Bureau will not be found on their official website.

The job of Monsanto’s Discredit Bureau is to attack the unimpeachably respected Lancet and the international scientific bodies of WHO and IARC. However, they have no choice but to attack, since the stakes are so very high for them. Glyphosate is their hallmark product upon which the majority of their profits are based. Make no mistake, this is extremely bad news for Monsanto.

But their enablers are coming to the rescue.

In a growing number of cases, USDA managers are interfering, intimidating, harassing, and in some cases punishing civil service scientists for doing work that has inconvenient implications for industry and could have direct policy/regulatory ramifications. For example, in recent months USDA scientists have been subjected to:

• Directives not to publish data on certain topics of particular sensitivity to industry;

• Orders to rewrite scientific articles already accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal to remove sections which could provoke industry objections;

• Summons to meet with Secretary Vilsack in an effort to induce retraction of a paper that drew the ire of industry representatives;

• Orders to retract a paper after it had been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The paper could only be published if the USDA scientist removed his authorship thus leaving only the names of authors unassociated with USDA;

• Demotion from supervisory status and a reprimand after the scientist provided testimony before Congress that did not reflect agency preferences;

• Disruptive and lengthy internal investigations to search out any irregularity that could be used for management leverage against the targeted scientist;

• Suspensions without pay and other disciplinary actions for petty matters, such as minor irregularities in travel paperwork;

• Inordinate, sometimes indefinite, delays in approving submission for publication of scientific papers that may be controversial;

• Restrictions on topics that USDA scientists may address in conference presentations; and

• Threats by USDA managers to damage the careers of scientists whose work triggers industry complaints.

At least 10 USDA scientists have been investigated or faced other consequences arising from research that called into question the safety of certain agricultural chemicals.

There have been mounting complaints over the last year from USDA scientists claiming they have been ordered to retract studies, water down findings, remove their names from authorship and experienced delays in approvals for publication of research papers. These ten USDA scientists are laying their careers on the line. Although they are not identified by name in the petition for fear of retaliation, they will be instantly recognizable to Secretary Vilsack from the list of specific complaints. Their bravery characterizes the highest calling of scientific integrity.

Science is not a shining citadel on a hill founded on unassailable objective facts and data. Science is a human endeavor subject to human frailties and failings. Science, increasingly divorced from integrity and accountability, becomes subverted when it is manipulated and orchestrated by multinational corporations whose sole aim is global market share to increase profits.

Recently, companies “such as Monsanto” were implicated in a watchdog group’s petition to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on behalf of anonymous scientists within the agency who say their research is suppressed when it upsets powerful agrichemical interests.

The allegations enraged the industry’s critics, who have been busy touting recent reports linking popular herbicides often used in tandem with genetically engineered crops, or GMOs, to cancer and antibiotic resistance.

Monsanto holds up the sheer abundance of their own well-funded studies citing the safety of glyphosate, done over the past 20 years, which is a short period of time in scientific inquiry, particularly when dissenting research is actively suppressed. They also hold up the findings of regulatory bodies, particularly in the United States where the revolving door between agrochemical corporations and government spins at high speed.

Critics of the agrochemical industry have often cited the history of these corporations who rush their products to market with protestations of safety only to discover down the road that they have become persistent ecological and health nightmares. We are seeing the end of that road for Glyphosate.

***

ICE

About a year ago, the PR people for a new company that produces a drink called ICE asked me if I wanted to have a sample. They said the drink was made from mountain stream water, was low in calories, slightly sparkling, and refreshing. So I said okay, meaning to tout it in this blog if I liked it.

It was a very fine product, I thought. Not sweet. Clean tasting. So I wrote about it. Although it was made with city water in Preston, Washington, the city water itself comes from a lake fed by mountain streams.

I was in my local market the other day and I was thirsty. I spied ICE in a cold case, but now it was all colored and fruit flavored. I bought a bottle anyway, and when I opened it, was astonished to find that it was cloyingly sweet. What happened? I immediately thought that the company must have had focus groups trying the drink, and they urged the company to sweeten it. Yuck. Its lack of sweetness was what I liked about it. And it wasn’t only way too sweet, it had generic fruit flavorings. I wondered how much sugar it contained and looked at the label. It had no sugar, no calories. It did have sucralose, an artificial sweetener better known as Splenda.

Sucralose is a non-nutritive sweetener. The majority of ingested sucralose is not broken down by the body, so it has no calories. In the European Union, it is also known as E955. Sucralose is about 320 to 1,000 times as sweet as table sugar, twice as sweet as saccharin, and three times as sweet as aspartame. It is stable under heat and over a broad range of pH conditions. Therefore, it can be used in baking or in products that require a longer shelf life.

ICE now also contains maltodextrin. Several studies have linked maltodextrin consumption to the suppression of “good bacteria” in the digestive system. These bacteria are the foundation of strong immune systems, so suppressing them is asking for trouble. This potentially puts people who consume a lot of the additive at risk for bacterial infections such as salmonella or E.coli. Despite being only slightly sweet, if at all, maltodextrin is a carbohydrate. It will affect your blood sugar. This is an important thing for people with diabetes to remember. Maltodextrin has the same amount of carbohydrates as table sugar, and its glycemic index is higher than table sugar: 106-136.

In this age of over-information, it should come as no surprise that there’s misleading and conflicting information when it comes to maltodextrin. Product labels aren’t required to mention how much of the additive is included. Instead, it’s added to the total carbohydrate count.

Though some vouch for it as a good option for people with diabetes, it can affect blood sugar even more dramatically than table sugar, and should be counted towards your daily carbohydrate load.

Too bad about ICE. If you bought some on my recommendation, I’m sorry. But the product changed drastically from when I sampled it last year until now. It’s an example of a good product gone bad.

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CHIPOTLE MEXICAN GRILL PICKS BEST GAME NAME EVER

Although Chipotle Grill isn’t strictly organic, the chain does make an effort to use good ingredients. I always wondered when someone was going to start an organic fast food chain and make a jillion dollars. Well, Chipotle is heading in that direction. But what struck me about the chain’s latest effort to help customers understand its good ingredients is the name it chose for a new interactive game. Here’s the press release from its PR company:

DENVER – On July 21, Chipotle Mexican Grill will launch “Friend or Faux” – an integrated marketing campaign and interactive digital experience that invites consumers to learn about the differences between Chipotle’s ingredients and those commonly used to make fast food. The “Friend or Faux” game is optimized for mobile and desktop use, and will be accessible by visiting www.chipotle.com/friendorfaux. The campaign will be supported by extensive online advertising.

“Friend or Faux” reinforces Chipotle’s commitment to serving real, high quality ingredients raised with respect for farmers, the environment, animals, and consumers, while taking a progressive approach to continue conversations about where food comes from and how it is prepared.

In a marketing-driven industry where new menu items are often used to drive customer traffic and proliferation of menu items is the norm, cheap, heavily processed foods that include thousands of additives and artificial ingredients have become common. Chipotle has chosen a different path, focusing instead on making food with great quality ingredients prepared using classic cooking techniques. Through this campaign, Chipotle will showcase the limited number of ingredients it uses to make its food (just 68 ingredients in total), and contrast that with the long and complex ingredient lists on which many fast food brands have become so reliant.

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Would Bernie Make an Organic-Minded President?

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He might.

Bernie is a member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, both important committees for the environment, green jobs, and wise use of natural resources. His home state of Vermont was the first state in the country to pass a GMO labeling law, and support of labeling is definitely a litmus test for any politician who wants the organic vote.

And yes, there is an organic vote. Millions upon millions of people in this country want a food supply that’s safe and wholesome, and the kind of clean environment from which it comes. Part of the shift America needs to make to reverse climate change is to farm in a way that recycles nutrients, and sequesters carbon in the soil. That’s organic farming. Senator Sanders has been a leading voice on climate change in the government.

Sanders is not only a leading progressive voice on climate change, but also income inequality and campaign finance reform. He rose to national prominence on the heels of his 2010 filibuster of the proposed extension of the Bush-era tax rates for the wealthy. Sanders is also outspoken on civil liberties issues, and has been particularly critical of mass surveillance policies such as the Patriot Act.

Sanders considers global warming a serious problem. Along with Senator Barbara Boxer, Sanders introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 on January 15, 2007. In a July 26, 2012, speech on the Senate floor, Sanders addressed claims made by Senator Jim Inhofe: “The bottom line is when Senator Inhofe says global warming is a hoax, he is just dead wrong, according to the vast majority of climate scientists.” He was Climate Hawks Vote’s top-rated senator on climate leadership in the 113th Congress.

Believing that “[we need to] transform our energy system away from fossil fuel,” Sanders voted against the Keystone Pipeline bill, saying, “Unless we get our act together, the planet that we’re going to be leaving to our kids and grandchildren will be significantly less habitable than the planet we have right now…I think it’s a good idea for the president, Congress, and the American people to listen to the overwhelming amount of scientists who tell us loudly and clearly that climate change is one of the great planetary crises that we face.” This all sounds liberal and organic to me. But it’s no cynical ploy to win hearts, minds, and pocketbooks of the rich. Sanders has been speaking truth to power for decades. He is truly incorruptible.

Bernie Sanders’ integrity and honesty were earned over many years of standing up for the working and middle classes in this country. He has earned the trust of the American people. You can’t buy this. Bernie has millions of supporters, and supporters vote, dollars don’t. You want to get big money out of electoral politics? Vote for Bernie next year. If any candidate of either party is going to support organic farming and wholesome food production, it’s Bernie.

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MONSANTO KNEW ALL ALONG HOW TOXIC ROUNDUP IS

Internal Monsanto documents reveal the company knew over 30 years ago that glyphosate, the active ingredient in its Roundup herbicide, caused adenomas and carcinomas in rats its scientists studied, according to Anthony Samsel, PhD. Research shows, he said, that Roundup, in addition to chelating vitamins and minerals, making them nutritionally unavailable, disrupts intestinal bacteria that manufacture amino acids, the building blocks of proteins.

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THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET GOES (MOSTLY) VEGETARIAN

The Mediterranean Diet gets the (mostly) vegetarian treatment in “Living the Mediterranean Diet,” by Rick Nigro and Ray Ewald (Ulysses Press, $21.95).

Combining the healthful diets of the Mediterranean countries with many plant-based recipes is a double dose of goodness, especially when the ingredients are organic. There are some seafood and chicken dishes, too, for us omnivores. And these recipes look wonderful. The Watermelon Gazpacho recipe alone is worth the price of the book. It combines watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, celery, mint, ginger, jalapeno chili, lime juice, red onion, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper.

Some other recipes: butternut squash and pomegranate hummus, farfalle pasta with sunflower seed pesto, wild salmon with dill-yogurt sauce, eggplant and Kalamata olive rolls, whole roasted apple-rosemary chicken, and…you get the idea. It’s available on Amazon.

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LATEST REPORTS FROM THE ORGANIC CENTER

A new study has found that exposure to pyrethroid pesticides may make some people more susceptible to Parkinson’s disease if they have a common gene. Researchers found that Parkinson’s disease risk significantly increased for individuals with the common gene who were exposed to pyrethroid pesticides. Individuals with the common gene but who were not exposed to pyrethroids did not have an increased risk for developing Parkinson’s. This study is one of the first to find a link between pesticide exposure and genetic risk for Parkinson’s.

A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences shows that organic farming is more profitable to farmers than conventional farming. While this study did not include environmental costs or benefits of conventional or organic farming in the economic analysis, the authors note, “If we also put a price on the negative externalities caused by conventional farming, such as soil erosion or nitrate leaching into groundwater, then organic agriculture would become even more profitable because its environmental footprint has been shown to be less than that of conventional agriculture.” They added, “We found that, in spite of lower yields, organic agriculture was significantly more profitable than conventional agriculture, and has room to expand globally. Moreover, with its environmental benefits, organic agriculture can contribute a larger share in sustainably feeding the world.”

The Agricultural Health Study investigated the relationship between the use of the organophosphate pesticide diazinon and cancer risk in pesticide applicators. A recent study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that exposure to diazinon significantly increases the risk of lung cancer in applicants who used the pesticide the most. Organic regulations protect farm workers health because synthetic toxic pesticides are prohibited.

A recent study published in Agronomy for Sustainable Development has confirmed that organic farming is beneficial for soil organisms. The study compared soil organisms among fields that had been managed using different farming practices for 14 years as part of a long-term study. The scientists found that abundances of larger soil animals increased from 100 to 2,500 percent and microorganisms increased from 30 to 70 percent over the conventional field, with conservation agriculture demonstrating the healthiest and most diverse soils.

A new study in the Journal of Applied Ecology has found that tachinid parasitoids, a group of flies that prey on crop pests, are positively affected by organic farming. Organic farms had both higher abundance and species richness of parasitoids than conventional farms. “To restore parasitoid diversity, the promotion of organic agriculture should aim to increase both the total extent of organic farming and the connectivity of individual farms. As the benefits of organic farming to biodiversity clearly spread beyond individual farm boundaries, any assessment of organic farming should consider these positive externalities,” the authors concluded.

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SOIL BASICS IN E-BOOK FORM NOW AVAILABLE

There’s a new book from Organic Connections magazine titled, “Soil and Your Health,” that you can download for free. Here’s a link to the download site:

http://organicconnectmag.com/download-soil-and-your-health/?utm_source=FIG&utm_medium=pr&utm_campaign=fig-soil

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HOW BIG FOOD, AG, AND BIOTECH FRONT GROUPS MANIPULATE US

A new report sheds light on the covert tactics used to shape public opinion about what we eat, according to Anna Lappe in “Spinning Food,” a new report detailing the way public opinion about food and farming is manipulated in favor of big corporations.

“At the turn of the last century,” she writes, “the father of public relations, Edward Bernays, launched the Celiac Project, whose medical professionals recommended bananas to benefit celiac disease sufferers. Those pitched on the sweet fruit’s miraculous properties didn’t know the project was actually created for the United Fruit Co., the largest trader of bananas in the world.

“The creation of front groups — independent-sounding but industry-backed organizations — as a public relations strategy dates at least as far back as Bernays’ day. But a new report by Kari Hamerschlag, a senior program manager at the environmental nonprofit Friends of the Earth; Stacy Malkan, a co-founder of the food industry watchdog U.S. Right to Know; and me (Anna Lappe is a food activist) shows that such tactics are continuing with ever more scope and scale today.

“The report exposes the growth of food-industry-sponsored front groups and other covert communication tactics in the past few years. While food industry spin is not new, we’re seeing an unprecedented level of spending and deployment of an ever wider array of PR tactics. We argue this rise of industrial food spin is a direct response to mounting public concerns about industrial agriculture as well as a growing interest in sustainable food and groundswell for organic products.

“Increasingly, the American public is raising questions about toxic chemicals used in farming, routine antibiotics used in livestock production and genetic engineering in agriculture. The booming organic food business is one sign: Sales of organic food and products in the United States are projected to jump from $35 billion in 2013 to $170 billion in 2025 — a direct threat to the profits of the processed food, animal agriculture, and chemical industries engaging in such spin. According to a recent Fortune article, since 2009 the 25 biggest food and beverage companies — selling nonorganic processed and junk food — lost an equivalent of $18 billion in market share. ‘I would think of them like melting icebergs,’ the article quotes Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow as saying. ‘Every year they become a little less relevant.’

“In the face of this threat, we argue that the industrial food sector — from the biotech behemoths to the animal agriculture industry — is working overtime to defuse these concerns with well-funded communication efforts and a rash of new front groups. From 2009 to 2013, just 14 of these front groups spent $126 million to shape the story of food while presenting the veneer of independence. There’s the Alliance to Feed the Future, which produces Common Core–vetted curricula on healthy food for public schools. Its members include the Frozen Pizza Institute and the Calorie Control Council, which promotes the benefits of Olestra and saccharin, among other artificial sweeteners and fats. You don’t need to be an expert in food security to be skeptical about advice for how to feed the world from the trade council for fake sugar and fat.

“We detail groups such as the U.S. Farmers and Rancher’s Alliance (USFRA) — whose goal, it says, is ‘to enhance U.S. consumer trust in modern food production to ensure the abundance of affordable, safe food’ and whose lead partners include animal pharmaceutical company Elanco, biotech giant Monsanto and chemical companies DuPont, Dow and Syngenta. Among the USFRA’s communication priorities since its launch in 2011 has been to combat growing public concern about the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture. Its Antibiotics Working Group has developed educational materials, hosted public conversations and trained media representatives to downplay the risks of antibiotics. But the group’s messages contradict well-documented evidence of the widespread misuse of routine antibiotics. Today 70 percent of medically important antibiotics sold in the United States are used not in humans, according to the Food and Drug Administration, but in livestock animal production to promote growth or prevent disease, leading to the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

“But it’s not just front groups. We describe a plethora of other communication tactics, many of them so under-the-radar that often people don’t realize the stories are being crafted behind the scenes. We describe how the industrial food sector targets female audiences and co-opts female bloggers, how industry groups pay for advertisements to look like editorial content and how the industry infiltrates social media. In one example, the Biotechnology Industry Organization hired PR firm Ketchum to develop GMOAnswers.com, populated with industry-approved answers about genetically modified organisms. The firm even won a prestigious advertising award for this campaign, particularly for its success in tracking negative tweets about GMOs and engaging users directly, urging them to visit the website.

“The trade groups for the industrial food sector also reach into their deep pockets to shape how the media report on our food system. In our analysis, we found that just four major trade associations for the chemical, biotech and animal agriculture sectors had expenses totaling half a billion dollars from 2009 to 2013, including communications and marketing campaigns.

“These are just some of the tactics we describe. While it is far from a comprehensive documentation of every front group or tactic, we hope the report inspires everyday Americans, public officials, and journalists to be critical consumers of the stories we hear about food and farming. Particularly at a time when mainstream media outlets are hemorrhaging, cutting back on the resources available for the investigative pieces essential to accurate reporting on and exposing industry malfeasance, it’s increasingly important that we know where our food information comes from and who is behind it. There’s new indication of the importance of this every day. Consider how the food industry is already busy pushing back in the media against the sound recommendations from the scientific advisory committee for the government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans, set to be finalized later this year.

“We must ensure these PR strategies don’t leave us in the dark about the real story of our food. Because as we debate one of the biggest questions of our time — how to feed ourselves safely and sustainably — it’s essential we base critical policy decisions and consumer choices on substance, not spin.”

You can learn more about Spinning Food by following this link: http://www.foe.org/news/archives/2015-06-new-report-exposes-how-front-groups-shape-story-of-food

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CAN A TEST KITCHEN BE TOO CREATIVE?

Hey, this burger shack is offering cricket and beef jerky milkshakes. Better get yours before they run out. Here’s info from its PR person, Amanda Quinn:

“Wayback Burgers has announced the launch of two new, unique, high-protein milkshakes made with crickets and beef jerky: the Oreo Mud Pie Cricket Milkshake and the Jerky Milkshake!

“The new Jerky Milkshake masterfully captures the essence of the fabulously dehydrated meat, in milkshake form. Oreo Mud Pie Cricket Protein Milkshake is made with hand-dipped vanilla bean ice cream, Oreo Cookie Crumbles, Peruvian Chocolate Cricket Protein powder (chirp!), chocolate and coffee flavors masterfully blended to deliver 24 grams of protein. The milkshakes will be available at all locations nationwide July 1 – September 30.”

When are they going to offer a Soylent Green Milkshake?

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GMO Corn Found to Be Toxic (Duh)

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A team of Egyptian scientists has found that Monsanto’s GMO (Bt toxic) corn is not substantially equivalent to its non GMO parent as Monsanto claims.

While Monsanto also insists there is no evidence of toxicity in its voluntary safety assessments, these independent scientists tell us otherwise. By the 91st day of their studies, they found evidence of kidney, liver, and intestinal toxicity, as well as male infertility in laboratory animals fed the GMO corn.

The results were published in the Journal of American Science 2012; 8(9).

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MONSANTO USES DECEIT TO FURTHER THE DARK ACT

The following is part of a letter sent to organic activists by Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association.

“When the first email came in describing Monsanto’s latest campaign of trickery and deception, I thought it sounded far-fetched,” Cummins writes. “But then other activists chimed in, and I realized it was true.

“According to reports from our activists on the ground in California, Washington State, and Oregon, Monsanto is organizing its own powerful ‘astroturf’ movement.” (An astroturf movement is a fake grass roots movement used to achieve political goals.)

“It’s no amateur campaign.

“In a detailed email, with pdf images of documents sent to one of our activists from a Monsanto astroturf leader, we’ve learned that Monsanto is calling moms who are pro-labeling, pretending to be on their side, then rushing overnight documents to them that include letters containing their personal stories, addressed to their members of Congress, asking them to support H.R. 1599.

“It’s a direct attempt to deceive and confuse busy moms, and deluge Congress members with letters of support for a federal bill that would not only ban labeling forever, but also preempt bans on GMO crops, preclude pre-market safety testing of GMO foods,, and take away food companies’ right to voluntarily obtain independent GMO-free certification.

“Monsanto is spending millions to create its fake grassroots movement. We need to fight back. Because if Congress passes H.R. 1599, the Mother of all Monsanto Protection Acts, the GMO labeling movement will effectively be shut down.

“For decades, I’ve been working to defend our soil and our food from the onslaught of Monsanto’s toxic chemicals. By now, you’d think that nothing would surprise me.
And yet . . . this fight has now moved to defending not only our health and the right to know what’s in our food, but our very democracy.

“H.R. 1599 takes ‘attack on democracy’ to new heights. The Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which is part of the Bill of Rights, was ratified on December 15, 1791. It outlines the principle of federalism, the basis for the original Constitution, by stating that the federal government possesses only those powers delegated to it by the Constitution. All remaining powers are reserved for the states or the people.
States’ rights, and your rights, will be obliterated if Congress passes H.R. 1599. Monsanto will stop at nothing to pass this bill.”

H.R. 1599 is known among organic activists as the DARK Act, or Deny Americans the Right to Know.

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SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND CATHOLIC CARDINAL TEAM UP ON CLIMATE CHANGE

From The Guardian:

She is one of the world’s most high-profile social activists and a ferocious critic of 21st-century capitalism. He is one of the pope’s most senior aides and a professor of climate change economics. But this week the secular radical will join forces with the Catholic cardinal in the latest move by Pope Francis to shift the debate on global warming.

Naomi Klein and Cardinal Peter Turkson are to lead a high-level conference on the environment, bringing together churchmen, scientists and activists to debate climate change action. Klein, who campaigns for an overhaul of the global financial system to tackle climate change, told the Observer she was surprised but delighted to receive the invitation from Turkson’s office.

“The fact that they invited me indicates they’re not backing down from the fight. A lot of people have patted the pope on the head, but said he’s wrong on the economics. I think he’s right on the economics,” she said, referring to Pope Francis’s recent publication of an encyclical on the environment.

Release of the document earlier this month thrust the pontiff to the centre of the global debate on climate change, as he berated politicians for creating a system that serves wealthy countries at the expense of the poorest.

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A NOTE ON CHARLESTON FROM A VISITING IRISHMAN

The following appeared in the comments column accompanying a news story on the Charleston massacre in The New York Times. I think it bears repeating here:

“I am Irish. For many years in my native land the Rev. Ian Paisley spouted bigoted hatred about Catholics in Northern Ireland, but then claimed innocence when some militant sectarian group massacred Catholics. Speech was not murder, he said. He would never condone killing, he said. Then he went right back to feeding the attitudes that spawned the killing. Few were fooled.

“We should not be fooled in America today.

“In this country the ‘mainstream’ right-wing has made an industry of demonizing African-Americans as ‘thugs’ and criminals – just look at the divergence in tone between the recent coverage of Ferguson or Baltimore and the (mostly white) biker massacre in Waco, TX. For decades, white America has been told that black Americans are lazy leeches, dependent on hand-outs funded by your hard-earned taxes to bankroll their immoral lifestyles.

“The first black president was greeted by the right not only with diehard obstructionism but a chorus of color-coded abuse (‘lazy,’ ‘food-stamp president,’ etc.) and questions about his very American-ness: he was ‘not one of us,’ a foreigner adhering to a foreign religion who has no right to be president.

“The siren song of racial hate relentlessly put out by the ‘mainstream’ right finds echo in the gunshots that rang out in Charleston.

“Rightists will, of course, deny the connection, the way Paisley did. But we are not fooled.”

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HOUSE VOTES TO REPEAL COUNTRY-OF-ORIGIN FOOD LABELS

Big Ag’s allies in the House of Representatives recently voted to repeal the rules for mandatory country-of-origin food labels (COOL) for chicken, pork and beef, according to Amanda Byrnes at Food & Water Watch.

Consumer and family farm advocates fought for years to make this labeling mandatory to ensure our right to know where our food comes from. Now it’s up to the Senate to block Big Ag’s attempts to take away our right to know. Send your senators a message: Protect mandatory country-of-origin labeling.

The House vote followed last month’s World Trade Organization (WTO) decision that said labeling which country Americans’ food comes from is a “trade barrier.”
Rather than wait to see how the WTO’s decision plays out, the House acted to repeal our popular, common-sense labels.

And now the Senate has a bad bill of its own that would make country-of-origin labeling for most beef and pork voluntary. A voluntary labeling program effectively means no labeling, since most meat companies and retailers don’t want to provide this information. We fought for years to make labeling mandatory for exactly that reason. Make sure your senators know that you want country of origin labels to stay — and that you want them to be mandatory.

Big food companies are concerned that people prefer locally produced food to food produced halfway around the world, and they’ve been challenging our labeling laws for years. When the World Trade Organization issued its most recent ruling on country-of-origin labels, it decided that our labels negatively impact livestock imports from Canada and Mexico, even though these imports are at higher levels now than before COOL went into effect.

Despite the questionable merits of the WTO decision, Big Ag’s allies in Congress are using it as an excuse to push even harder to get rid of country of origin food labeling. That’s why it’s so important for your senators to hear from you. Demand that your senators say NO to repealing or weakening COOL.

Country-of-origin labels are popular with consumers and farmers alike. And our senators need to stand up for us instead of caving in to corporate interests. If you don’t think that foreign corporate interests should have veto power over our domestic laws, make it clear to your senators that you want our common-sense food labels protected.

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A SIMPLE AND INGENIOUS WINE KEEPER

Oxygen is the enemy of wine. Open a bottle, especially a well-aged bottle, and the wine you don’t drink tonight will start to lose quality within a day or two. By day four or five, cook with it.

Then along comes an invention called Savino (save vino, get it?) that keeps air away from your leftover wine. It’s a food-grade plastic cylinder with a float that exactly fits the interior when it contains wine, functioning like an airlock. So no matter how much or how little wine you want to preserve, the float protects it. Place the device in the fridge and it will keep the wine fresh twice as long.

It’s available on Amazon for $16.

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NY Times Runs Monsanto Propaganda as News

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Shame on The New York Times for running biotech propaganda as “news.” Is the Great Grey Lady turning into Fox News?

In a recent article, the following statements, among much else, appear: “If you examine G.M. foods with the microscope cranked up to maximum, there is no meaningful distinction between them and other foods, as far as genes, proteins and molecules are concerned. From a genetic point of view, genes are genes. It doesn’t matter where they come from.”

Oh really? I call balderdash on that statement. And I’m sure any reputable geneticist would call it, too.

“While tangible harm is hard to detect,” the article says, “G.M. farming has been found to produce tangible benefits. A 2014 German review of research…calculated that G.M. technology has reduced pesticide use by 37 percent, increased crop yields by 22 percent and increased farmer profits by 68 percent.”

This is nonsense. Study after study shows that the introduction of GMOs has resulted in a multifold increase in pesticides, especially Monsanto’s profitable Roundup; no significant increase in yields, and therefore an actual drop in farmer profits.

“G.M. crops are becoming more prevalent in the developing world. Their use is permitted across Latin America, Asia and Africa. Brazil is the second-largest producer, after the United States, followed by Argentina. Extensive cultivation of G.M.O.s also occurs in China, Paraguay and South Africa.”

Uh—no. El Salvador has banned all GMO crops. Brazil is in an uproar over them and farmers are dying around the world where Roundup use is heaviest. France has banned the sale of Roundup in garden centers. Russia has controlled GMOs. And the World Health Organization has called Roundup “potentially carcinogenic.” The Inter Press Service News Agency reports that “After the World Health Organization (WHO) declared glyphosate a potential carcinogen, the campaign has intensified in Latin America to ban the herbicide, which is employed on a massive scale on transgenic crops.” The above quote from the Times’ article is just Big Biotech lies.

“Farmers in the developing world planted about 95 million hectares (235 million acres) of G.M. crops in 2014, five times more than in 2003, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, a nonprofit technology-transfer organization.”

I checked who’s funding the ISAAA. Among others, Bayer CropScience (the folks who brought us neonicotinoid pesticides implicated in bee die-offs) and Monsanto. A founding patron was Norman Borlaug, the founder the Green Revolution that brought chemical agriculture to the Third World and destroyed much of that world’s indigenous knowledge about growing crops in favor of putting its farmers in thrall to Big Ag.

“The developing world is also where a lot of hunger exists, and much hope is being pinned on the success of G.M. crops to alleviate it.”

As pointed out in this blog before, pegging GMOs and Roundup to the ginned up “world food crisis” is part of Monsanto’s plan to get governments to fund its operations and promote its products in their countries. Besides, the United Nations World Food Program makes the case that limited supply isn’t the primary reason for food shortages. Lack of investment in infrastructure that gets food from where it’s grown to where it’s eaten is a bigger culprit, the organization says, as are wastage and war.

And if you think I’m just being cranky about the Times’ article, compare the article’s falsehoods with the following story.

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EL SALVADOR: NO TO GMOS! RESULT? RECORD YIELDS

Farmers in El Salvador realize the importance of non-GM food and heritage seed saving. After outperforming Monsanto’s biotech seed with record crop yields, they have also now stopped Monsanto from supplying El Salvador with GMO seeds.

Monsanto’s biotech crops have been linked with kidney disease, liver failure, reproductive problems, and more.

Juan Luna Vides, the director of diversified production for the Mangrove Association, a nongovernmental organization that was created to support a grassroots social movement for environmental conservation in El Salvador, says:

“Remember that Monsanto is together with DuPont, Pioneer, and all the large businesses that control the world’s seed market. Unfortunately, many of the governments in Latin America, and perhaps the world, have beneficiary relationships with these companies.”

Santos Cayetan, a Salvadoran farmer who uses local, GMO-free seeds and also works to grow native corn, said that the difference between using local seed versus Monsanto’s is quite amazing.

“[Native seeds are] always the same, they always produce, and they’re always there,” he said. “[Native seeds] are drought resistant.”

He and other farmers also comment on the fact that local seed has been adapted to the conditions specific to the region, and Monsanto’s seed has not. The local seed grows well even in dry soil. Farmers can also save and re-use seed without having to worry about patent infringement, as well as having to repurchase seed every season since much of the GM seed Monsanto, Pioneer, and others sell is engineered to self-destruct after just one season.

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GREEN AMERICA STATEMENT ON SENATE VOTE ON TPA

Following a vote in the US Senate to “fast-track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, Green America’s Director of Food Campaigns, Nicole McCann, issued the following statement:

“The Senate failed the American people today by passing a procedural motion on a “fast-track” bill that limits Congressional authority and oversight over international trade deals like TPP. The Senate voted to fast track pollution and the race to the bottom on regulatory standards that are intended to protect our food system. It’s clear this deal would dismantle regulations on genetically engineered crops around the world and disrupt the democratic process in order to secure corporate profits by large industrial food companies. The TPP would force working Americans to compete with horribly abused sweatshop workers overseas.

“The TPP touches everything and everyone, which is why organizations representing the environment, family farms, civil rights, consumers, labor, LGBTQ, students, and other movements oppose this trade deal. Hundreds of thousands of constituents have flooded phone lines of members’ of the Senate, and loudly voiced their opposition online and on the streets. We thank those Senators who took a stand for fair and responsible trade, and we are deeply disappointed in those who turned their backs on an opportunity to protect our communities from dirty trade deals.”

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WHOLE FOODS FACES MISLABELING INVESTIGATION

Weathering a dramatic 14 percent drop in shareholder value, the iconic grocer Whole Foods Market now faces consumer fraud accusations. This comes on the heels of the beleaguered grocer also dealing with a related and escalating protest concerning its new in-house rating system for conventional and Certified Organic produce.

Before these latest controversies, investment analysts had begun questioning Whole Foods’ ability to maintain above average profit margins in an increasingly competitive organic food market. Its new “Responsibly Grown” program for rating produce is seen as an effort to help the company maintain the high prices and margins which had earned the retailer the moniker “Whole Paycheck.”

The Cornucopia Institute, a national farm policy research group that acts as an organic industry watchdog, announced today that it asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate allegations of consumer fraud and mislabeling related to Whole Foods’ ”Responsibly Grown” produce rating program. Based in Cornucopia, Wisconsin, the organization has documented a number of examples where the grocer has labeled products “Good,” “Better” or “Best” when the farms or distributors in question had not met the standards set forth in the company’s recently developed “Responsibly Grown” guidelines.

“Whole Foods is undermining investor and consumer confidence, and their ability to garner premium prices, by playing fast and loose with the very system they are claiming offers their customers produce that meets a higher standard,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at Cornucopia.

Some of the apparent labeling misrepresentations were brought to the attention of the company, and the public, by a group of veteran organic fruit and vegetable farmers. The growers complained that, in an attempt to maintain higher than average marketplace prices, Whole Foods developed a rating protocol that, in some cases, labels conventional produce, grown with petrochemical-based fertilizers and toxic pesticides, as “Best” while presenting Certified Organic produce to their customers either as “Unrated” or with inferior rankings.

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HILLARY HIRES MONSANTO LAWYER AS CAMPAIGN AIDE

Hillary Clinton hired a Monsanto lawyer to help her become President.

Jerry Crawford is a lobbyist for big agriculture in the American state of Iowa, and Monsanto is one of his largest clients. He’s also a consultant for politicians, fixing political campaigns to elect candidates most likely to preserve Monsanto’s hold on the state’s farmers, so it can continue to rake in billions in profits a year.

Now, Crawford has been hired by Hillary Clinton to help her win the critical early state of Iowa, in her campaign to become President of the United States.

Since stepping down as Secretary of State, Clinton has spoken out in favor of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and established herself as a friend of the biotech industry. But by hiring one of Monsanto’s lawyers, she’s taken it a step further.

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ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

The massive Earthbound Farm organic produce corporation is expected to be sold to the WhiteWave Foods Company in a $600 million deal that has raised the eyebrows of organic consumers and advocates across the country.

WhiteWave spun off of Dean Foods, Inc. in 2012, the latter a company that has vehemently opposed GMO labeling with anti-labeling campaign donations. The company’s current CEO is Gregg Engles, the former CEO of Dean Foods, adding to distrust of the company among organic watchdog organization leaders like Mark Kastel, the senior farm policy analyst at the Cornucopia Institute. Kastel said that WhiteWave has done much to stretch the definition of “organic food” in an article from Food Safety News.

He later went on to add that WhiteWave’s Horizon dairy label produces virtually all of its milk from massive 10,000-cow operations with the animals living in their own filth, diluting the meaning of the term organic.

Dean Foods is not listed as an owner of WhiteWave anymore, as the PR reps on Earthbound’s Facebook page have pointed out.

But it’s hard not to be suspicious of the influence Dean Foods has, considering that its former CEO is at the helm of WhiteWave, isn’t it?

Dean Foods also notably converted Silk’s flagship soybean products from organic to “natural” without changing the packaging, except to remove the USDA organic symbol. The “natural” soybeans actually contained GMOs according to a Cornucopia Institute investigation.

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