New GMO Wheat May Silence Human Nutritional Genes
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) has developed a type of genetically engineered (GMO) wheat that may silence human genes, which could have truly disastrous health consequences, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola’s website.
Last year, University of Canterbury Professor Jack Heinemann released results from genetic research he conducted on the wheat, which unequivocally showed that molecules created in the wheat, intended to silence wheat genes in order to change carbohydrate content, can match human genes and potentially silence them, too.
Heinemann’s research revealed over 770 pages of potential matches between two genes in the GE wheat and the human genome. Over a dozen matches were “extensive and identical and sufficient to cause silencing in experimental systems,” he said.
Experts warned that eating this GE wheat could lead to significant changes in the way glucose and carbohydrates are stored in the human body, which could be potentially deadly for children and lead to serious illness in adults. Yet despite the seriousness of these findings, regulators are ignoring and dismissing such warnings. According to the Institute of Science in Society, the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has approved at least five such GE food products already.
The biotech industry, led by Monsanto, is increasing its propaganda efforts to reshape its public image, and sway your opinion against the need to label genetically engineered foods. As The Atlantic recently reported. “Given its opposition to the labeling of GM foods… it seems clear that Monsanto wants you to close your eyes, open your mouth, and swallow.”
Many consumers are still in the dark about the very real risks that GE crops pose, both to the environment and human health. This is precisely what the biotech industry wants, even as increasing research demonstrates the many dangers associated with GE foods. For example, one recent study found that rats fed for two years with a type of genetically engineered corn that is prevalent in the US food supply developed massive mammary tumors, kidney and liver damage, and other serious health problems at dietary amounts of about 10 percent. Does 10 percent or more of your diet consist of genetically engineered ingredients? If processed foods form the basis of your diet, then you’re likely consuming far more genetically modified organisms (GMOs) than that, Dr. Mercola says.
Unfortunately, you can’t know for sure how many items in your fridge and pantry might contain GMOs since the U.S. does not require genetically engineered foods to be labeled. With the emergence of gene silencing crops, the need for labeling couldn’t possibly be greater. You can keep GMOs in your diet to a minimum by eating organic food whenever possible.
KIWIFRUIT TO INVADE U.S., PR PERSON CLAIMS
Eva Fedderly kindly wrote to let readers of this blog know that Zespri Organic Kiwifruit is one of the most nutrient-dense foods we have and that it will be reaching our shores within days.
Zespri’s Organic Kiwifruit contains more vitamin C than an orange, more potassium than a banana, has less than 50 calories, and contains lots of fiber, she says. Europeans often eat kiwifruit after meals as a sort of digestif to aid digestion. Also, she says, the kiwifruit is an ideal on-the-go, healthy snack because you can literally just cut it in half and scoop it with spoon! Fancy that.
Well thanks, Eva. I’ll keep an eye peeled for it.
JUDGE RULES CORPORATIONS HAVE NO CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
When it comes to the Constitution, the application of law, and common sense, the Supreme Court of the United States could learn a thing or two from President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca of the Washington County Court of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania.
Judge O’Dell-Seneca overruled a previous decision that made secret a settlement between a Mount Pleasant Township family injured by fracking on a property adjacent to their own, and a large energy corporation. Local newspapers sued to make the information public, and found that the settlement determined that the public’s right to be informed outstripped the corporation’s right to privacy.
In fact, O’Dell-Seneca went much further than that. The judge asserted corporations have no constitutional rights:
“…the Constitution vests in business entities no special rights that the laws of this Commonwealth cannot extinguish. In sum, [corporations] cannot assert [constitutional privacy] protections because they are not mentioned in its text.”
“…it is axiomatic that corporations, companies, and partnerships have no ‘spiritual nature,’ ‘feelings,’ ‘intellect,’ ‘beliefs,’ ‘thoughts,’ ‘emotions,’ or ‘sensations,’ because they do not exist in the manner that humankind exists… They cannot be ‘let alone’ by government, because businesses are but grapes, ripe upon the vine of the law, that the people of this Commonwealth raise, tend, and prune at their pleasure and need.”
The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), provides a great analysis of this case.
Despite the mainstream media’s ostensible blackout on any reporting that calls into question corporate personhood, this recent decision is an important victory for the Move to Amend movement to create a Constitutional Amendment that would deny corporate personhood, an aberrant notion created by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United case.
CELDF Executive Director Thomas Linzey writes that “the ruling represents the first crack in the judicial armor that has been so meticulously welded together by major corporations. And it affirms what many communities already know — that change only occurs when people begin to openly question and challenge legal doctrines that have been treated as sacred by most lawyers and judges.”
Laws follow culture and the legal system adjusts as society’s views shift. This case illustrates that we are collectively beginning to change hearts and minds about the appropriate role of the corporation in society, even amongst those who are entrenched in the current system.
MAJOR OPPORTUNITIES FOR INDOOR FARMING
The organic food and agricultural industries are about to be revolutionized using green LED lighting in greenhouses during winter months.
An article in The Txchnologist magazine (that’s the correct spelling) details a recent study conducted by Purdue University and the implications its findings will have on winter farming. Check out the article by using this link: TXCHNOLOGIST.
The study finds that fans of the local food movement who despair through the winter months at high-priced greenhouse-grown or unripe produce transported over thousands of miles might soon find some relief.
Advanced lighting in greenhouses is successfully using cool and efficient LED systems to grow tomatoes in northern greenhouses through the winter. LED lighting is more energy efficient, and delivers the required amount of light using much less energy.
In an experiment, researchers saw no differences in productivity between plants grown under power-hungry sodium lights and those grown with LEDs. The difference in energy costs was significant, though. Cost for HPS lamps was 403 percent more than that of using vertical LED towers in the study
GMO FUNGUS NOW (AND FOREVER) ON THE LOOSE
The Institute for Responsible Technology reports that a GMO fungus has escaped from a genetic engineering laboratory at Lincoln University in New Zealand.
Before it was genetically modified, Beauveria bassiana was employed as a biological insecticide to control a variety of pests. After its genes were tinkered with, in a classic case of mistaken identity, scientists confused the GMO fungus with its natural strain already present in the environment and the GMO strain was inadvertently released into the wild. As a result, despite constant reassurances given the public that potentially dangerous organisms are contained securely within research labs, this experiment was not conducted within the required and approved genetic modification containment facilities.
The buildings suspected of the leak have been shut down until the severity and extent of the situation are fully understood. Don’t hold your breath, though; almost two weeks after the incident, investigators are still at a loss as to how it occurred. To top that off, both the university and research agency involved had been previously implicated or found responsible for other GE experiment breaches. So much for safeguards and assurances. Tragically, self-propagating genetic pollution is permanent. It cannot be recalled from the environment.
What might the GMO fungus do to the environment and its ecosystems? Who knows? Nothing like it has ever appeared on earth before. But I guess we’ll find out.
SEED-SAVING ILLEGAL IF YOU USE MONSANTO’S SEED
The Supreme Court recently came down on the side of Monsanto in a case that’s resonating through the biotech industry. It ruled that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto’s patent on genetically modified soybeans when he used next-generation seeds to plant his future crops; in essence, the court said, he made copies of a patented invention.
Is Organic Farming the Answer to the Global Warming Crisis?
Scientists atop Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii have announced that for the first time in three million years, atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached 400 parts per million—a level that many scientists consider a tipping point as the earth enters a period of heat and destructive storms, sea rises of from 60 to 80 feet, and other environmental assaults that may change life on earth and wipe out many species, including homo sapiens.
While I firmly believe that all this excess carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases like methane are the result of humanity’s burning of fossil fuels for energy and of short-sighted agricultural practices, a few ideologues say that it’s all part of a natural cycle and mankind has nothing to do with it. To them I say, so what? The science shows we’ve reached 400 ppm and computer models show that to be a very dangerous threshold to cross, no matter where or how the greenhouse gases arise.
If human beings had the political will, we might be able to slow the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide significantly. Here’s how:
1) Use electricity generated by islands of solar panels floating on the electrolytic oceans to dissociate seawater into oxygen and hydrogen, and burn them back together for energy to replace fossil fuels.
2) Farm our lands organically, recycling nutrients back to the land by
composting, and sequestering carbon by burying biochar by the millions
of tons. Biochar is roasted organic matter containing most of its carbon
that will stay buried in the soil for thousands of years, removing it from
uses that create carbon dioxide. Or just google biochar. It’s fascinating.
3) Create a worldwide body to plant trees, shrubs, or whatever will grow to
absorb carbon into plant matter, at the same time curbing the destruction
of forests everywhere in the world.
I could go on, but you get the idea. There is much we could do, if we only had a will. Those who chant “Drill Baby Drill,” who want to develop the fossil fuel resources of the Arctic, who want to burn and sell the sludge from Canadian tar sands brought to the U.S., by the Pipeline XL, who recklessly pursue fracking, and who pump crude oil from the ground around the world—these people are addicted to the money to be made from fossil fuels. They are like cocaine addicts who’ll do anything to get their drugs, or like a heroin addict whose quest for the next fix becomes the meaning of his life until he snuffs it out with an overdose. Only in the case of fossil fuels and the carbon dioxide we dump into the atmosphere, it may be that everyone gets snuffed out along with the addicts.
Analysis Finds Monsanto’s GE Corn
Nutritionally Inferior and High in Toxins
A report given to MomsAcrossAmerica by an employee of De Dell Seed Company (Canada’s only non-GMO corn seed company) offers a stunning picture of the nutritional differences between genetically engineered (GE) and non-GE corn, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola.
Here’s a small sampling of the nutritional differences found in this 2012 nutritional analysis:
• Calcium: GMO corn = 14 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 6,130 ppm (437 times more)
• Magnesium: GMO corn = 2 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 113 ppm (56 times more)
• Manganese: GMO corn = 2 ppm / Non-GMO corn = 14 ppm (7 times more)
GMO corn was also found to contain 13 ppm of glyphosate, compared to zero in non-GMO corn. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “safe” level for glyphosate in American water supplies is 0.7 ppm. In Europe, the maximum allowable level in water is 0.2 ppm. Organ damage in animals has occurred at levels as low as 0.1 ppm… At 13 ppm, GMO corn contains more than 18 times the “safe” level of glyphosate set by the EPA.
Another health hazard associated with glyphosate is its effect on gut bacteria. Not only does it promote the growth of more virulent pathogens, it also kills off beneficial bacteria that might keep such pathogens in check. And as we saw in a recent post on this site, glyphosatr disables an enzyme that is involved with detoxifying health-damaging chemicals in the body, so glyphosate not only damages the body itself, but prevents good bacteria from disarming disease-causing bacteria, and helps other toxins damage the body further.
Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn’t Honey
More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn’t exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News, writes author Andrew Schneider.
The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled “honey.”
The removal of these microscopic particles of pollen would make the honey flunk the quality standards set by most of the world’s food safety agencies.
The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission, and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that’s been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn’t honey. However, the FDA isn’t checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.
Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey – some containing illegal antibiotics – on the U.S. market for years.
Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.
Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation’s premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey.
Bryant, who is director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, found that among the containers of honey provided by Food Safety News:
•76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.
•100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.
•77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.
•100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smuckers, McDonald’s and KFC had the pollen removed.
•Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and “natural” stores like PCC and Trader Joe’s had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.
And if you have to buy at major grocery chains, the analysis found that your odds are somewhat better of getting honey that wasn’t ultra-filtered if you buy brands labeled as organic. Out of seven samples tested, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen. All of the organic honey was produced in Brazil, according to the labels.
“In my judgment, it is pretty safe to assume that any ultra-filtered honey on store shelves is Chinese honey and it’s even safer to assume that it entered the country uninspected and in violation of federal law,” he added.
Richard Adee, whose 80,000 hives in multiple states produce 7 million pounds of honey each year, told Food Safety News that “honey has been valued by millions for centuries for its flavor and nutritional value and that is precisely what is completely removed by the ultra-filtration process.”
“There is only one reason to ultra-filter honey and there’s nothing good about it,” he says.
“It’s no secret to anyone in the business that the only reason all the pollen is filtered out is to hide where it initially came from and the fact is that in almost all cases, that is China,” Adee added.
Chinese honey has long had a poor reputation in the U.S., where – in 2001 – the Federal Trade Commission imposed stiff import tariffs or taxes to stop the Chinese from flooding the marketplace with dirt-cheap, heavily subsidized honey, which was forcing American beekeepers out of business.
To avoid the dumping tariffs, the Chinese quickly began transshipping honey to several other countries, then laundering it by switching the color of the shipping drums, the documents and labels to indicate a bogus but tariff-free country of origin for the honey.
Most U.S. honey buyers knew about the Chinese actions because of the sudden availability of lower cost honey, and little was said.
The FDA — either because of lack of interest or resources — devoted little effort to inspecting imported honey. Nevertheless, the agency had occasionally either been told of, or had stumbled upon, Chinese honey contaminated with chloramphenicol and other illegal animal antibiotics which are dangerous, even fatal, to a very small percentage of the population.
The U.S. imported 208 million pounds of honey over the past 18 months. Almost 60 percent came from Asian countries – traditional laundering points for Chinese honey. This included 45 million pounds from India alone.
And websites still openly offer brokers who will illegally transship honey and scores of other tariff-protected goods from China to the U.S.
The big grocery chains were no help in identifying the sources of the honey they package in their store brands.
For example, when Food Safety News was hunting the source of nine samples that came back as ultra-filtered from QFC, Fred Myer and King Sooper, the various customer service numbers all led to representatives of Kroger, which owns them all. The replies were identical: “We can’t release that information. It is proprietary.”
US EPA hikes glyphosate limits in food and feed – again
In obedience to a demand from Monsanto, the US EPA is proposing to hike the allowed residue limits — yet again — of the herbicide glyphosate in various food and feed crops, according to GM Watch. The allowed level in teff animal feed will be 100 parts per million (ppm); and in oilseed crops, 40 ppm. Allowed levels in some fruits and vegetables eaten by humans will also rise.
As a comparison, malformations in frog and chicken embryos were documented by Prof Andres Carrasco’s team at 2.03 ppm glyphosate, when injected into the embryos.
The EPA’s move comes shortly after the release of a study showing that glyphosate inhibits the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and leads to the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria. Glyphosate concentrations at 0.1 mg/ml were found to inhibit growth of E. faecalis bacteria. E faecalis suppresses a bacterium called C. botulinum, which is responsible for botulism in cattle. The same concentration of glyphosate did not inhibit growth of C. botulinum. Some poultry and cattle feed samples in Germany were found to have 0.4–0.9 mg glyphosate/kg.
The findings suggest that glyphosate residues in feed may explain the increase in botulism seen in cattle in recent years.
Conclusion: there’s never been a better time to eat organic – and to object on animal welfare grounds to supermarkets’ decision to allow GM animal feed into their supply chains.
FDA Admits Chicken Meat Contains Arsenic
Arsenic is commonly added to poultry feed for the FDA-approved purposes of inducing faster weight gain on less feed, and creating the perceived appearance of a healthy color in meat from chickens, turkeys and hogs. Yet new studies increasingly link these practices to serious human health problems. A lawsuit filed last week seeks to force the FDA to fulfill its mandate to better protect the public from arsenic. The 2009 petition presented abundant science to FDA that arsenic compounds—like those added to animal feed—are directly toxic to animals and humans, but also that they convert to cancer-causing arsenic inside of chickens, in manure-treated soil and in humans. Additional testing since submission of the 2009 petition demonstrates even greater cause for public concern and therefore greater urgency meriting FDA’s prompt attention.
As someone who’s interested in eating organic food, you and millions upon millions of other people have brought worldwide agriculture to a tipping point. It has finally come to the world’s public consciousness that conventional chemical agriculture is an indefensible way to grow food.
The food system hasn’t changed completely yet, but it’s changing and changing fast. Many people now know that industrial agriculture destroys the soil, poisons the environment, produces substandard food, and damages human health. The industrial agricultural system is vast, but it’s beginning to break apart.
I have some perspective on this. It started in 1961 in eastern Pennsylvania, when I was graduating from college and in love with a young woman who was secretary to an executive at a small, local publishing outfit called Rodale Press. It was run by an intense man named J.I. Rodale and published two magazines: Prevention and Organic Farming & Gardening.
Rodale had a genius for understanding the way industrial agriculture goes against nature. He wrote about how it’s based on killing: its tools are pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides, and throw in rodenticides. Yes, ~cide, as in suicide. And so he promoted farming that was just the opposite of chemical agriculture: organic farming (and gardening) that looks to emulate nature rather than thwart her, and by emulating her systems, enhance and augment them.
By 1963, I was working at Rodale Press on Organic Gardening. It was a little, digest-sized magazine with a small but loyal group of readers. “Little old ladies in tennis shoes,” is how we characterized the folks we were writing for. The magazine taught readers how to make compost for fertilizer, how to mulch for weed control, how to deal with insects in non-chemical ways, and how to grow good crops of fruits and vegetables.
When the world woke up to environmentalism in 1970, the magazine was perfectly poised to take a leading role in disseminating the movement’s ideals. Subscriptions shot up from about 200,000 to a million through the 1970s.
But something else was happening. Industrial agriculture became much more aggressive. Big Farms bought up small family farms. Fewer farmers farmed more land, and they did it with ever-more-harmful chemicals, ever-more-dangerous pesticides, greater quantities of chemicals, huge amounts of antibiotics, and finally, the developed genetically engineered foods. The killing machine that is modern chemical agriculture pried open the control panel of life and started doing what monkeys always do: monkeying around. Let’s put a frog gene into alfalfa and see what happens. Let’s take the gene from a bacterium that makes an insect toxin and insert it into corn, making each corn plant into a pesticide manufacturing facility. And on and on.
But the evidence of harm kept building. Now we know that Round Up herbicide causes a whole host of illnesses in humans. Now we know that genetically modified foods can turn not just corn but our own bodies into pesticide manufacturing facilities. Now we know that there are something like 275 human-made chemical compounds in the umbilical cord blood of newborn babies. Now we see the skyrocketing incidence of obesity, diabetes, autism, celiac disease, cancer, and other diseases, and we are tracing their genesis back to the chemicals used in industrial agriculture.
And so all the lies and disinformation that Big Ag can buy are beginning to fall on deaf ears. Industrial agriculture is beginning to be seen for the bloated, money-clogged, pathological, destructive system that it is.
And J.I. Rodale’s tiny cry in the wind of a half century ago has become a maelstrom of public outrage against the chemical giants, the tainted food, the genetic frankenfoods, and the poisoning of life on earth. Organic food production, despite whatever flaws it may have—for nothing is perfect in this world—still returns the precious earth, acre by acre, back to Mother Nature to nourish and to heal.
Lie as the corporations might, industrial agriculture has become indefensible.
SOMETHING TO EAT
Delicious, non-GMO, organic, raw, vegan snacks and superfoods from Navitas Naturals. Check them out at www.navitasnaturals.com. The cacao-goji snacks and the sun-dried dragonfruit slices are wonderful.
SOMETHING NOT TO EAT
Del Monte, one of the world’s largest growers and distributors of pineapples, has developed a genetically modified pineapple that’s currently being grown in Costa Rica, one of the top pineapple-producing countries. It has just received approval by the USDA for eventual sale in the U.S.
The Latest Dirty Dozen from the Environmental Working Group
Fruits and veggies high in pesticide residues include apples, strawberries, grapes, peaches and imported nectarines, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and hot peppers.
Fruits and vegetables low in pesticide residues include asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangoes, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples, English peas and sweet potatoes.
This latter group may not be residue free, but lists foods that are likely to have lower residues than the Dirty Dozen.
Biotech Industry Unveils New Propaganda Campaign
New efforts to force labeling of foods made with genetically modified crops, including a bill introduced by U.S. lawmakers, have struck a nerve with biotech crop developers who say they are rushing to roll out a broad strategy to combat consumer concerns about their products. The big biotech firms are still working out details of their plan, but it will likely have a large social media component, company executives said. The group will focus on conveying what it says are the many benefits of biotech crops.
Sounds like we’ll be getting tweets and Facebook messages, texts and robocalls telling us how safe and beneficial genetically modified crops are. And the messages will most likely not be attributed to Monsanto, DuPont, or Dow Chemical, but rather to some “respected scientist” with an MD or Ph.D after their name and a big, fancy title like, President, “Scientists for Common Sense.” The messages will be friendly, concerned for your health and for world health, and will tell you how science has shown GMO foods to be entirely safe—and more nutritious, too. But make no mistake. Such “scientists” will have been paid handsomely to sweet talk you—Wormtongue you—by you know who.
Once again, ask yourself, “Why don’t they want me to know what’s in my food?”
Majority of EU Countries Support
Partial Ban on Bee-Killing Pesticides
A clear majority of EU countries have supported the European Commission proposal to temporarily ban three pesticides that are scientifically shown to be harmful to bees: imidacloprid and clothianidin, produced by chemical company Bayer, and thiamethoxam, produced by Syngenta, according to environmental reporter Cassady Sharp..
The three pesticides are all neonicotinoids, pesticides that are used to coat seeds before germination, added to soil, or sprayed on plants.
In scientific reports published earlier this year, which triggered the Commission’s proposal, the European Food Safety Authority said the three neonicotinoids posed high acute risks to honeybees in certain crop uses. Extensive peer-reviewed scientific research has linked even low doses of neonicotinoids with neurological and other physiological damage to bees, as well as with disrupted foraging patterns and damage to their immune systems. Partial bans of neonicotinoids are already in place in Italy, France, Germany, and Slovenia, with no significant negative impacts on agricultural production.
Greenpeace European bees campaign coordinator Matthias Wüthrich said: “Bee decline is one of the most obvious and visible effects of a failed industrial farming model, which contaminates our environment and destroys farmers’ smartest natural ally – pollinators. European policymakers should shift funding away from chemical-intensive agriculture and promote ecological farming.”
How can anyone disagree with a movement toward an eco-friendly agriculture that cherishes its pollinators? Oh…that’s right. The companies that make and sell agricultural chemicals. Indefensible.
Why Does the Government Support Agribusiness, Not Organic Farming?
I remember reading that when George W. Bush left office, he had seeded the Federal Government’s bureaucracy with right-wing moles, so they would continue to pursue their reactionary policies even when the new Democratic President took over.
Maybe so, but after watching the performance of the Supreme Court, the U.S. Congress, and the Presidency for the past four-and-something years, I no longer think that secret right-wing moles are much of a problem. The problem is much broader and affects every branch and level of the Federal government. In essence, the government has lost the trust of much of the American public—and justifiably so.
Take the issue of labeling foods containing genetically modified ingredients. The people of the country want it. Almost every other industrialized country in the world requires it. It’s a common sense proposal. Why hasn’t it happened?
Well, government regulations require other ingredients to be on food labels—even the amount of fat, sodium, and other important constituents of food. Why couldn’t the Department of Agriculture simply make the rule? The answer, of course, is that the USDA could make that rule, but it doesn’t want to. And why not? Because the people who run the USDA and the FDA represent agribusiness, not the people of the country.
How so? Because the people who run these governmental agencies use a revolving door set up by the agribusiness corporations for them. As they leave government service, they enter the executive suites of agribusiness and biotech giants, where they are well compensated for having done their jobs well at the government agencies.
Well, then, couldn’t Congress—the representatives of the people—force them to label GMO foods by making a law to require such labeling? And again, the answer is of course the Congress could pass such a law, but it doesn’t and it won’t. Why not? Because the Senators and Representatives don’t represent the people of the United States, they represent giant agribusiness and biotech companies who fuel their re-election campaigns with oodles of cash. Max Baucus, a Senator who chaired the Senate Finance Committee, was known as “Senator K-Street,” because K Street houses the big lobbying firms that spend so much to make sure legislation benefits their clients instead of the public. Not only that, but there’s a revolving door built for Senators and Representatives too, and it revolves right into the suites of the K Street lobbying firms.
Well, isn’t this illegal?
It sure should be, but even if there are no laws preventing this kind of collusion and revolving door stuff, there should be. But who will write such a law, and who will pass it? Why, the very Congresspeople who benefit so handsomely from the collusion and revolving door. And even if it did get passed, it would be sent to a President who could decide to veto it. And why would he (or, some day, she) veto it, if it would benefit the people? Because the President wants to work with the Congress and doesn’t wasn’t to upset their lucrative apple carts.
And if it is already illegal for this kind of collusion, can’t the Justice Department and Federal prosecutors do anything about it? The answer is that of course they could do something about it, but they won’t. And why not? Well, when the big American and international banks were caught red-handed illegally manipulating interest rates, markets, and committing fraud by selling junk as valuable financial instruments (remember credit default swaps?), Attorney General Eric Holder said that not only were the banks too big to fail, they were too big to prosecute. He explained to reporters that he was not in the business of ruining our financial institutions. Calling his office “the Justice Department” is, I’m sorry to say, Orwellian at best.
But won’t the Supreme Court uphold the Constitution and its provisions for checks and balances that will prevent all these schemes? Oh, that’s right. Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, and Kennedy are the ones who gave us Citizens United, allowing a tsunami of shadowy money into the electoral process—as if enough weren’t already there. How ironic that that case is called Citizens United, when it should be more properly called Citizens Shafted (and that’s a polite way of putting it).
Let’s be frank. We no longer have a country of the people, by the people, and for the people. The top one percent owns the lion’s share of the wealth and the rest of us struggle to get by. That hasn’t happened by accident. It’s happened by hook or crook—mostly crook—as the corporations have amassed power and influence and use it for their own benefit.
The Supreme Court has said that corporations are people. If so, then they are very selfish people and very bad citizens.
Let’s return to the initial issue: why does the government support agribusiness, not organic agriculture? Don’t be a chump. The big money is in selling the chemicals no matter how harmful they are. You ain’t gonna get rich selling compost. And getting rich is the name of the game.
WHY CAN’T WE BE MORE LIKE THE HUNGARIANS?
Almost 1,000 acres of GMO corn have been destroyed throughout Hungary, Ministry of Rural Development deputy secretary Lajos Bognar reports, according to Anthony Gucciardi on the website PlanetSave. The GMO corn has been plowed under, Bognar said. GMO seeds are banned in Hungary. Seed traders are required to make sure that their products are GMO free. But during an investigation, officials found Pioneer Monsanto products among the seeds planted.
SEN. ALAN SIMPSON SPANKED HARD
As long as this edition of Organic Food Guy is addressing politics, I was heartened by an all-American response that a Ms. Patty Myers made to former Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming, who recently called today’s senior citizens “the greediest generation” as he compared Social Security to a milk cow with 310 million teats. Patty is from Montana and she is responding to the former Senator’s plan for deficit reduction that included cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, as well as an increase in taxes. She obviously likes the straight talk. Here’s her open letter to the former Senator:
“Hey Alan, let’s get a few things straight!!!
1. As a career politician, you have been on the public dole (tit) for FIFTY YEARS.
2. I have been paying Social Security taxes for 48 YEARS (since I was 15 years old; I am now 63).
3. My Social Security payments, and those of millions of other Americans, were safely tucked away in an interest bearing account for decades until you political pukes decided to raid the account and give OUR money to a bunch of zero losers in return for votes, thus bankrupting the system and turning Social Security into a Ponzi scheme that would make Bernie Madoff proud.
4. Recently, just like Lucy & Charlie Brown, you and your ilk pulled the proverbial football away from millions of American seniors nearing retirement and moved the goalposts for full retirement from age 65 to age, 67. NOW, you and your shill commission are proposing to move the goalposts YET AGAIN.
5. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying into Medicare from Day One, and now you morons propose to change the rules of the game. Why? Because you idiots mismanaged other parts of the economy to such an extent that you need to steal our money from Medicare to pay the bills.
6. I, and millions of other Americans, have been paying income taxes our entire lives, and now you propose to increase our taxes yet again. Why? Because you incompetent bastards spent our money so profligately that you just kept on spending even after you ran out of money. Now, you come to the American taxpayers and say you need more to pay off YOUR debt. To add insult to injury, you label us greedy for calling bullshit on your incompetence. Well, Captain Bullshit, I have a few questions for YOU:
1. How much money have you earned from the American taxpayers during your pathetic 50-year political career?
2. At what age did you retire from your pathetic political career, and how much are you receiving in annual retirement benefits from the American taxpayers?
3. How much do you pay for YOUR government provided health insurance?
4. What cuts in YOUR retirement and healthcare benefits are you proposing in your disgusting deficit reduction proposal, or, as usual, have you exempted yourself and your political cronies?
It is you, Captain Bullshit, and your political co-conspirators called Congress who are the ‘greedy’ ones. It is you and your fellow nutcase thieves who have bankrupted America and stolen the American dream from millions of loyal, patriotic taxpayers.
And for what? Votes and your job and retirement security at our expense, you lunk-headed leech.
That’s right, sir. You and yours have bankrupted America for the sole purpose of advancing your pathetic political careers. You know it, we know it, and you know that we know it. And you can take that to the bank, you miserable son of a bitch.
P.S. And stop calling Social Security benefits ‘entitlements.’ WHAT AN INSULT!!!! I have been paying in to the SS system for 48 years. It’s my money. Give it back to me the way the system was designed and stop patting yourself on the back like you are being generous by doling out these monthly checks.”
Well played, Patty.
SO, WHAT CAN WE DO?
First, as much as we hate to admit it, Americans must realize that the fix is in, the game is rigged, and the criminals who run our government, our corporations, and our financial system are in cahoots. The checks and balances that are built into our Constitution only work if the executive, legislative, and judicial branches aren’t in cahoots but are watchfully keeping an eye on one another. Right now, the three branches are all star gazing and whistling in the wind as the country and its people are being robbed blind.
So, this means that we the people need to clean house, put the star-gazers and criminals out to pasture or into jail, respectively. George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Don Rumsfeld are all war criminals. You know it. I know it. Everyone around the world knows it. Why haven’t they been prosecuted?
Second, the men and women who have headed our corrupt financial system have been colluding for profit and defrauding the public and institutional investors for years. Why aren’t they being prosecuted? Why do you think we can’t pass a law to mandate background checks so the insane and professional criminals can’t buy military weapons? Why are horribly toxic chemicals allowed in our food supply with no safety testing? Nothing gets done because nobody in the government wants it to get done. It’s the money!
1. We need to start a new political party that stands for restoring American integrity.
2. We need to vote honest people into office and insure their honesty by paying them a decent salary, but disallowing any outside money from donors big or small. Each candidate or incumbent will receive a fund of money to conduct an election or re-election campaign. No other money allowed. Period.
3. Each branch of government will have a special oversight committee to investigate the workings of the other two branches. It will have subpoena power. It will be able to hold people in the other branches in contempt of the Constitution if malfeasance or criminal activity is found. For conviction, two of the three branches must agree on the contempt charge. Upon final conviction, the committee can levy fines, dismissal from service, and jail time if appropriate.
That’s for starters.
Monsanto’s Roundup Triggers Modern Diseases
Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide) may be the culprit behind many of the so-called “diseases of civilization” that have plagued humanity since the last third of the 20th Century and are escalating at alarming rates today. These diseases and conditions include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, birth defects, and more.
That’s the conclusion of two scientists who looked over 286 studies of the biological effects of glyphosate and published their findings in the peer-reviewed journal Entropy in mid-April, 2013. These findings are a bombshell. They are, if confirmed by further scientific studies, the smoking gun that could lead to a total worldwide ban on Roundup and other brands of glyphosate.
“The industry asserts (glyphosate) is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise,” state the authors—independent scientist Anthony Samsel and MIT scientist Stephanie Seneff. They note that residues of the herbicide are found in the main foods of the Western diet: sugar, corn, soy, and wheat. In their search of the literature, the scientists found that glyphosate suppresses and inhibits an enzyme called cytochrome P450, known in scientific shorthand as CYP. Inhibiting enzymes is exactly how glyphosate works as an herbicide, because enzymes are catalysts for all sorts of functions in the plants, and when they are suppressed, the plants die for lack of the ability to function properly. Something of the same effect may be at work in humans who ingest glyphosate on their food.
“Glyphosate’s inhibition of CYP enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals,” they write. “CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics.” A xenobiotic is any substance not normally found in living creatures, such as pesticides, industrial chemicals, pollutants, and drugs. “Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and environmental toxins.” So Roundup, which in 1996 Monsanto said was “safer than table salt” and “practically non-toxic to mammals, birds, and fish,” not only damages our bodies, but enables other toxic compounds to more efficiently do their dirty work in our tissues.
“The negative impact on the body is insidious,” they write, “and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems within the body.”
The authors show how glyphosate harms three crucial bodily functions. First, it interferes with CYP enzymes. Second, it disrupts our intestinal flora’s ability to construct important amino acids that build and repair the body’s cellular tissues. Third, it impairs the movement of sulfate compounds in the blood. These compounds are especially important in the growth of infants, young children, and the developing fetus in pregnant women. Glyphosate acts synergistically with the other two damaging effects—that is, it produces a more serious health effect than the sum of the individual effects.
In conclusion, the study’s authors write: “Given the known toxic effects of glyphosate reviewed here and the plausibility that they are negatively impacting health worldwide, it is imperative for more independent research to take place to validate the ideas presented here, and to take immediate action, if they are verified, to drastically curtail the use of glyphosate in agriculture. Glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and contrary to being essentially non-toxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.” You can read the whole study yourself at Entropy 2013, 15, 1-x manuscripts; doi:10.3390/ e140x000x
Glyphosate is hard to escape in today’s world. Worldwide, annual use of glyphosate is nearing a million metric tons and is projected to reach 1.35 million metric tons within three years, according to Global Industry Analysts, Inc. One of the chief factors driving this growth is the use of Roundup Ready GMO seeds in world agriculture. Monsanto, for instance, derives almost half its revenue from the sale of Roundup, and from Roundup Ready seeds and products.
Check the labels of processed foods at your supermarket. Among the most frequent ingredients are soy and corn products. The alfalfa goes to feed the meat and dairy animals you eat. And there may be glyphosate contamination of the canola oil you use for frying and salad dressings. The answer for us, of course, is to eat organic.
Even the bees know this. Among the 286 studies cited by the authors of the Entropy study is one that appeared in the journal Ecological Applications, Vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 871-881, entitled, “Wild Bees Reject Genetically Engineered Crop—Potential Major Impact on Pollination.” The authors counted the bees working similarly sized stands of organic, conventional, and herbicide-resistant (Roundup Ready) genetically modified canola fields in northern Alberta, Canada. They also studied the number of seeds from each plant, which is an indication of how well the bees pollinated the flowers. “There was no pollination deficit in the organic fields, moderate pollination deficit in the conventional fields, and the greatest pollination deficit in the GM fields. Bee abundance was greatest in organic fields, followed by conventional fields, and lowest in GM fields,” the authors wrote.
Looks like we aren’t yet as smart as the wild bees, although we are better at killing them off with chemicals than they are at getting rid of us. It may turn out, however, that by killing them off we may be sealing our own fate as well because without our pollinators, our food supply disappears.
Big Biotech Plans Big Takeover
From Food Democracy now:
If you thought the Monsanto Protection Act was bad, wait until you hear about big biotech’s plans to permanently silence their critics in a state-by-state battle that strips local democratic decision making and puts America’s farmers, their seed supply, and local agriculture at risk.
Some thought that the Monsanto Protection Act would only last six months, but at Food Democracy Now we know the real problem is that this is a part of a larger effort by the biotech seed and chemical giants to permanently and legally protect their flawed GMO products.
Recently in the Oregon legislature, a dangerous bill, SB 633, passed out of the Rural Communities and Economic Development committee by a vote of 3 to 2. If SB 633 – which is being called Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act – passes the legislature, it will permanently strip Oregon’s farmers and citizens of the right to make local agricultural decisions that protect area farmers, local economies, and organic seed production.
The region of Rogue Valley in Jackson County, a crown jewel of organic, non-GMO, and heritage seed production, is being put at risk of permanent genetic pollution should this bill pass.
Monsanto and the biotech industry are desperate to stop a farmer and citizen-led ballot initiative in Jackson County that would ban the growing of genetically engineered crops in that county. Local farmers and residents have sought a ballot initiative to protect local organic and conventional, non-GMO farmers, and their seed supply, from being contaminated by Monsanto’s GMO pollen.
Already, Monsanto’s lobbyists are crawling through the Oregon capital trying to round up votes before the truth can come out publicly that they’re working overtime to undermine America’s basic democratic rights once again. But we won’t let them get away with it.
Ominously, the Monsanto Protection Act, Section 735 of the continuing resolution, H.R. 933, that passed last month in Washington DC and prompted endless controversy, is now being cited as supporting evidence for the Oregon seed preemption bill. In an email to an Oregon constituent from Senator Arnie Roblan (D-Coos Bay), the bill’s chief sponsor and chair of the committee that just passed the bill, he makes clear he’s doing the bidding of Monsanto and the biotech seed industry.
According to Senator Roblan’s office:
“In essence, one reviewer of the act noted that ‘Even if the courts find that a (genetically engineered) crop shouldn’t be planted until more research is done about its safety, no one could stop that crop from being planted, even temporarily’ because Federal Law supersedes state law and most definitely, local Ordinance,” wrote Roblan’s office.
Under current Oregon law, local citizens have the right to make democratic decisions concerning local agricultural practices through ballot initiatives. And Oregon’s Monsanto Protection Act is seen as another corporate handout to agribusiness to protect biotech seed and chemical monopolies like Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta from the growing number of American farmers and citizens who have become concerned about the flaws of genetically engineered crops and outraged over the undemocratic lobbying practices that these giant multinational companies use to deceptively garner growth in the marketplace at the expense of human and environmental health and farmers’ livelihoods.
Last month, because more than 300,000 Food Democracy Now members stood strong against Monsanto, they have forced one U.S. Senator to publicly apologize, and the hometown newspaper of Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), the alleged man behind the original Monsanto Protection Act, issued a blistering editorial against him and members of Congress who voted for the continuing resolution in which the act was contained.
When Mom Gets Angry, Watch Out
Moms Across America is planning a million mothers’ march this July 4 to insist that GMO food be labeled as such. The organization says these mothers are angry at being told they have no right to know what’s in the food they feed to their families. It does seem idiotic that Big Ag, Big Chem, and Big Food take the position that it’s better if you don’t know what you’re eating, but they have enough money to throw at opponents to scuttle labeling laws. Well, as the famous newscaster once said, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any mo’.” Join with the mothers at http://www.momsacrossamerica.com/the_uprising
Superbugs Invade America’s Meat Counters
A new Environmental Working Group analysis shows most store-bought meat in 2011 contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
EWG’s analysis of data buried in the federal government’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System has found that store-bought meat tested in 2011 contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81 percent of raw ground turkey, 69 percent of raw pork chops, 55 percent of raw ground beef and 39 percent of raw chicken parts.
“Consumers should be very concerned that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of most American supermarkets,” said EWG nutritionist Dawn Undurraga, the report’s principal author. “These organisms can cause foodborne illnesses and other infections. Worse, they spread antibiotic-resistance, which threatens to bring on a post-antibiotic era where important medicines critical to treating people could become ineffective.”
EWG researchers found that 53 percent of raw chicken samples were tainted with an antibiotic-resistant form of E. coli, a microbe that normally inhabits feces and can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and pneumonia. The extent of antibiotic-resistant E. coli on chicken is alarming because bacteria readily share antibiotic-resistance genes.
As well, EWG found that antibiotic resistance to salmonella is growing fast: of all salmonella microbes found on raw chicken sampled in 2011, 74 percent were antibiotic-resistant, compared to less than 50 percent in 2002.
A significant contributor to the looming superbug crisis is the unnecessary antibiotic usage by factory farms that produce most of the 8.9 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. every year. Industrial livestock producers routinely give healthy animals antibiotics to get them to slaughter faster or prevent infection in crowded, stressful and often unsanitary living conditions.
Pharmaceutical makers have powerful financial incentives to encourage abuse of antibiotics in livestock operations. In 2011, they sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for use on domestic food-producing animals, up 22 percent over 2005 sales by weight, according to reports complied by the FDA and the Animal Health Institute, an industry group. Today, pharmaceuticals sold for use on food-producing animals amount to nearly 80 percent of the American antibiotics market.
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Tips for the Organic Minded
You know how good olive oil is for you, right? The healthy Mediterranean diet is rich in the stuff. But did you also know that most olive oil sold in this country is rancid junk? It’s true—whole books have been written about the olive oil scams and frauds in our marketplace. And did you also know that one of the world’s finest—if not the finest—olive oils is produced in the California gold country, in a little town named Oregon House? It’s Apollo Olive Oil, given an award as one of the world’s Top 10 olive oils by I Maestri Oleari, the Italian masters of oil. Its Barouni—a type of olive native to Tunisia—just won Best of Show at the Los Angeles olive oil competition. As well it should have, because this year’s oil contains triple the antioxidants of even the best extra virgin oils, and like all Apollo’s oils, it’s organic. It contains a boatload of antioxidants because the good folks at Apollo crush and expel the oil from their fruit just minutes after picking, and they do it in a chamber flooded with nitrogen gas to keep oxygen away from the crushed fruit. Rancidity is the result of oxidation of the oil, which starts as soon as the fruit is picked. Apollo’s oil has an incredibly fresh and pure taste that shows the three major quality points of any good extra virgin oil—bitterness (yes, that’s a quality point), pungency (that peppery taste in the back of the throat), and fruitiness (it tastes like olives). The best way to avoid rancid junk oil is to know what the good stuff tastes like. Investigate further at www.ApolloOliveOil.com.
Another tip: If you or your family members are having a hard time becoming less meat-centric at the dinner table, author Lora Krulak has a book for you: “Veggies for Carnivores—Moving Vegetables to the Center of the Plate.” She doesn’t suggest giving up meat, but does show you how to prepare more and better-tasting vegetable dishes where meat isn’t the star of the show. It’s full of ideas for getting more veggies into the diet. Purchase on Amazon or from the publisher at www.changinglivespress.com.
Another tip: What do apples, cucumbers, eggplants, potatoes, and pears have in common? Their skins have more nutrients than their flesh and so, whenever possible, you should eat their skins as well as the interiors. Wash them well first, and always buy organic.
And finally, one more tip: Good old Mother Earth News has given birth to Mother Earth Living, a magazine about healthy, organic living. It’s chock-a-block with useful stories with titles like, “Why It’s Still Smart to Buy Organic,” “Natural Pain Relievers,” “The Farm Effect,” (about how living with the teeming microbes on an organic farm boosts your immune system), and much more. Check it out online, where you can also subscribe, at www.motherearthliving.com.
Toward a Cruelty-Free Food Supply
There’s a good chance you’ve never personally seen a factory farm, or as the industry calls them, Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs). With good reason. The poultry, pork, beef and dairy industries know you’d be so appalled, you’d never buy another chicken wing or gallon of milk produced using their reckless, poisonous and senselessly inhumane methods, according to the Organic Consumers Association.
A River of Waste is a documentary that uncovers the ugly truth about factory farms in the U.S., their flagrant disregard for human health and safety, their reckless destruction of the environment, and their unconscionable treatment of animals.
(As an aside, some farm states are passing “Ag Gag” laws which criminalize documenting, photographing, videographing, or in other ways revealing what goes on at factory farms.)
The Worldwatch Institute calls factory farms “mini Chernobyls” because of the endless amounts of pollution they spew into the air, groundwater and soil. The American Public Health Association has called for a moratorium on new factory farm facilities. But realistically, the only way we’ll end factory farming is when we, as consumers, stop buying their products. You can watch the documentary at http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_27309.cfm which should help you decide to never buy anything produced on a factory farm again.
Sprouts Help Your Body Get More Nutrients from Your Food
Sprouts can contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables, allowing your body to extract more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fats from the foods you eat, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola.
The content of vitamins and essential fatty acids increases dramatically during the sprouting process. Depending on the sprout, nutrient content can increase as much as 30 times the original value within just a few days of sprouting, and minerals bind to protein during sprouting, making them more bioavailable.
Additionally, the sprouting process deactivates many of the anti-nutrients that are in the seeds—compounds that keep them from premature sprouting and lock up their nutrients until the proper sprouting conditions are met.
GE Trees Post Threat to World’s Ecosystems
“A Silent Forest: The Growing Threat from Genetically Engineered Trees” is a documentary that discusses how trees are being genetically altered to give them unnatural characteristics, such as the ability to kill insects, tolerate toxic herbicides, grow abnormally fast, or have decreased lignin for the convenience of the paper industry. These alterations may impact ecological systems on a grand scale, with potentially catastrophic effects,
Trees can live for decades and even centuries in the wild; once GE trees escape the confines of their plantation, they could prove to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate. Even worse, trees—including genetically altered ones–are able to spread their seeds and pollen for hundreds and even thousands of miles, making native forests vulnerable to cross-contamination, which poses an enormous threat to worldwide ecosystems. The biotech industry and U.S. government are rushing ahead without performing appropriate safety studies, doing everything they can to hasten the approval of GE technology, including, as we saw with the Monsanto Protection Act, placing biotech corporations beyond the reach of the courts and the law. And speaking of the Monsanto Protection Act, read on:
Monsanto Protection Act Puts Biotech Companies above the Federal Courts
Not even the U.S. government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest, or distribution of any GM seed, writes John Vidal in The Guardian, UK.
“Monsanto and the biotech industry wield legendary power,” Vidal writes. “A revolving door allows corporate chiefs to switch to top posts in the Food and Drug Administration and other agencies; American embassies around the world push GMO technology onto dissenting countries; government subsidies back corporate research; federal regulators do largely as the industry wants; the companies pay millions of dollars a year to lobby politicians; conservative think tanks combat any political opposition; the courts enforce corporate patents on seeds; and the consumer is denied labels and information about his or her food.
“But even people used to the closeness of the U.S. administration and food giants like Monsanto have been shocked by the latest demonstration of the GM industry’s political muscle. Little-noticed in Europe or outside the U.S., President Barack Obama has signed what has become widely known as ‘the Monsanto Protection Act.’
“The key phrases were added to the bill by the Missouri Republican senator Roy Blount, who is the biggest recipient of Monsanto’s political funds. (The actual wording was written by Monsanto itself and added by Blount as a rider to the Continuing Resolution that funds the government through September).
“According to an array of food and consumer groups, organic farmers, civil liberty and trade unions and others, the Monsanto Protection Act hijacks the Constitution, sets a legal precedent, and puts Monsanto and other biotech companies above the federal courts. It means, they say, that not even the U.S. government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems.
“The backlash has been furious. Senator Barbara Mikulski, chair of the powerful Senate appropriations committee which was ultimately responsible for the bill, has apologized. A Food Democracy Now petition has attracted 250,000 names and sections of the liberal press and blogosphere are outraged. ‘This provision is simply an industry ploy to continue to sell genetically engineered seeds even when a court of law has found they were approved by U.S. department of agriculture illegally,’ says one petition. ‘It is unnecessary and an unprecedented attack on U.S. judicial review. Congress should not be meddling with the judicial review process based solely on the special interest of a handful of companies.’
“Remarkably, though, it has also offended the Conservative right and libertarians. Freedom Works, the conservative think tank that helped launch the Tea Party, says corporations should ‘play by the rules of the free market like everyone else, instead of hiring insider lobbyists to rewrite the rules for them in Washington.’ Dustin Siggins, a blogger for the Tea Party Patriots, has called it a ‘special interest loophole’ for friends of Congress. ‘We are used to subsidies, which give your tax dollars to companies to give them advantages over competitors. We are used to special interest tax loopholes and tax credits, which provide competitive and financial benefits to those with friends in Congress. And we are familiar with regulatory burden increases, which often prevent smaller companies from competing against larger ones because of the cost of compliance. This is a different kind of special interest giveaway altogether. This is a situation in which a company is given the ability to ignore court orders, in what boils down to a deregulation scheme for a particular set of industries,’ he wrote.
“Even Monsanto appears a touch embarrassed. The company whose seeds make up 93 percent of U.S. soybeans, 88 percent of cotton, and 86 percent of corn–and which has just announced a 22 percent increase in earnings, has sought to align itself with others in the industry, even though it is far and away the main beneficiary. In a press release, Monsanto says, ‘We are pleased to join major grower groups in supporting the Farmer Assurance Provision (the name of the Monsanto Protection Act in the legislation), including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Seed Trade Association, the American Soybean Association, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Cotton Council, and several others.’
“The company’s friends are now on the defensive, seeking to blame ‘activists.’ Here is John Entine, director of the Genetic Literacy Project, and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the pro-business, anti-regulation think tank: ‘The legislation does not, as critics allege, allow farmers or Monsanto to sell seeds proven to be harmful. Rather, it provides legal consistency for farmers and businesses so that they will not be jerked around by temporary findings by competing court systems as activist challenges make their way up the legal food chain.’
“The only good news, say the opponents, is that because the Monsanto Protection Act was part of the much wider spending bill, it will formally expire in September. The bad news however is that the precedent has been set and it is unlikely that the world’s largest seed company and the main driver of the divisive GM technology will ever agree to give up its new legal protection. The company, in effect, now rules.”
How Monsanto Corrupts Regulators and Consolidates Its Power
One last report on the Monsanto Protection Act. Why all my focus on this one law? Because it sets Monsanto—of all companies—above the laws of the United States and outside the reach of the Constitution. If Congress can do this with Monsanto, who can’t they do it with? And that means we are no longer a country of laws, but a country of men (and a smattering of women legislators) who are bought by and beholden to the corporatocracy that has set itself above the law.
To wit: Monsanto may now plant genetically modified seeds even if a court of law orders them to stop. Yes, it has caused outrage from the left, the middle, and the right, but the newfound public outrage over the Monsanto Protection Act ignores the fact that Monsanto has already been above the law for decades, writes Aviva Shen in ThinkProgress.
“The Monsanto Protection Act is merely a drop in the bucket of government-embedded protections the agricultural giant already enjoys,” Shen writes. “The company has spent decades packing the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency with its own members. A new Food and Water Watch report maps out the many ways the company stacks the regulatory deck in its favor:
“Monsanto’s board members have worked for the EPA, advised the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and served on President Obama’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. They presided over multiple universities in various senior positions, including South Dakota State University (with whom Monsanto has a significant research agreement), Arizona State’s Biodesign Institute, and Washington University in St. Louis…The prevalence of Monsanto’s directors in these highly influential positions begs a closer look at how they’re able to push the pro-GE agenda within the government and influence public opinion.
“An extended list of policymakers with Monsanto histories is available here.
“Monsanto insists that its revolving door is in overdrive because Monsanto employees are simply the best qualified for positions in these agencies, and certainly don’t hold onto their loyalty to the company in their new roles. (Yeah, right.)
“Yet it’s hard to ignore how Monsanto has benefited from these connections. The USDA has never denied a single application for Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops. USDA chief Tom Vilsack briefly considered limiting Monsanto’s alfalfa planting to protect organic crops from contamination, but deregulated it entirely instead. In another win for the company, their controversial growth hormone for cows was approved under Michael Taylor, a former Monsanto chief lobbyist-turned-USDA-administrator-turned-FDA Deputy Commissioner, even though the hormone was banned in the European Union, Japan, Australia, and Canada over health concerns. The hormone was approved in the U.S. after Monsanto employee Margaret Miller oversaw a report backing its safety, then took a job at the FDA and promptly approved her own report. And Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a Monsanto lawyer, will help decide a challenge to Monsanto’s GMO patents this year.
“The controversy behind the Monsanto Protection Act is a case study in Monsanto’s cozy relationship with regulators. In 2010, a federal judge chided the USDA for violating environmental law by rushing through approval of Monsanto’s genetically engineered Round Up Ready sugar beets. The judge ordered a halt on all planting of the beets until an environmental study was completed. Ignoring the court, the USDA deregulated the beets anyway, claiming that the delay would result in a sugar shortage.
“That’s because Monsanto controls 95 percent of the sugar beet market, making it virtually impossible for farmers to find alternatives. Industry consolidation among a handful of corporations has driven up seed prices and stifled innovation by smaller firms. It’s no wonder, then, that a massive beet shortage would have occurred if Monsanto’s beets had been delayed for a couple years of environmental review. With the help of complacent federal regulators, Monsanto is the only game in town.
“Despite having the full force of the government behind them, Monsanto’s products aren’t working. Their herbicide-resistant genes–the major selling point for their sugar beets, corn, soybean, and alfalfa crops–are actually breeding superweeds and superworms that have evolved to overpower the chemicals. When these GM crops were first introduced, Monsanto argued that the gene would let farmers cut down on the use of toxic pesticides and herbicides on their crops. As it turns out, farmers who’ve planted the GMO seeds have increased their use of these toxic chemicals threefold since the introduction of the GMO seeds, and have recently started applying even heavier doses of the chemicals to combat these new strains of pests. Though their products aren’t working, Monsanto has reaped abundant monetary benefits from its own failure. The company recently announced huge profits, largely due to a 37 percent increase in herbicide sales.”
Pesticide Makers Spend Millions to Deny Role in Bee Deaths
I have five apple trees in a small orchard behind my house. Yesterday, as I wandered through the orchard, enjoying the sight and smell of the pink-white apple blossoms, I noticed that there were no honeybees buzzing among the flowers. How can this be? I thought. But deep in my heart I knew the answer.
The chemical pesticide lobby is waging a multi-million dollar battle to prevent regulation of chemicals linked to the dramatic escalation in the deaths of pollinating bees over the past year.
According to Christina Wilkie, writing in the Huffington Post, CropLife America, the trade association that represents more than 90 of the world’s biggest agro-chemical manufacturers, spent nearly $2.5 million last year lobbying against bills that sought to increase oversight of chemical manufacturing and transfer, strengthen drinking water standards and fund research into the effects of pesticides on humans.
The lobbying expenses are part of an ongoing lobbying blitz launched in 2010 by the pesticide industry to fight any efforts by the Obama administration to regulate pesticides. Since 2008, Croplife America has poured $11.2 million into lobbyists, and another $643,000 into a PAC that backs congressional candidates sympathetic to the chemicals industry.
One class of pesticides that has international scientists and beekeepers increasingly worried are called neonicotinoids — a chemical cousin of nicotine. Last week a group of beekeepers and environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the EPA over its approval of certain neonics, as they are known.
CropLife argues that neonics are safe, and CropLife America president Jay Vroom told The New York Times this week that science “supports the notion that the products are safe and are not contributing in any measurable way to pollinator health concerns.” In 2011, Vroom earned $826,146 in salary and benefits from Croplife and its related entities.
The current chairman of Croplife America is John Croshniak, a pesticide specialist at the chemical giant DuPont. The former chairman, who stepped down in 2011, is Bill Bucknell, a senior executive in the pesticides division of Bayer, another one of the world’s largest chemical manufacturers of neonics.
How Organic Farming and Gardening
Represent New Heights of Human Achievement
There are about 10 trillion cells in the human body—cells that started out as one-celled creatures making their way alone in the world. As time went by, certain cells learned to cooperate, and use their special skill to augment the special skill of the other cells. And so simple organisms such as sponges came into being.
More time passed, and more and more cells joined in the cooperative venture, and so evolved fishes, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and eventually human beings. But a funny thing happened as more and more cells cooperated in the grand adventure of evolution. Self-awareness began to dawn. And then awareness, and then full consciousness, and then human consciousness, which is not only aware of itself and its surroundings, but is aware that it is aware.
Humans, working cooperatively, have achieved great things—the cathedral of Chartres, the U.S. Constitution, the immense edifice of science itself, where cooperative effort is studded with strikes of intellectual lightning from individuals (think E=mc2, or Newtonian mechanics).
Organic farming and gardening represent a further evolution, this time in the realm of feeding ourselves. Human organic growers cooperate not only with each other, but with Nature herself, to produce clean, wholesome, and nutritious food in such a way that all the creatures of the farm and garden are respected, cared about, and encouraged to thrive.
What happens, then when a cooperative human effort cooperates as a whole with something as fundamental as Nature? We are lucky to be alive to witness this now, because what happens is just emerging, and as we can see, when this cooperative effort is sincere, it is good, it is true, and it is beautiful.
Organic Beauty Products
The folks at Organic Beauty Now (www.organicbeautynow.com) have brought together a group of body care products made without the usual harsh, toxic chemicals. Ingredients are mainly organic or Biodynamic certified and cruelty free. Check out the website if you’re interested in these things. Me? I’m a guy. Unscented plain soap and water and maybe Weleda toothpaste is about as far as I go.
Monsanto Writes Its Own Rules, Prompts Outrage
While Monsanto executives may be rejoicing behind the closed doors of their corporate offices, they have also just stabbed themselves in the heart with the blatant and cocky decision to go through with the Monsanto Protection Act. Obama’s social media profiles are being blown up with thousands of enraged activists and concerned citizens who are demanding answers, writes Anthony Gucciardi in Natural Society.
Thanks to the alternative news covering every angle of the Protection Act and the absurd fact that Monsanto actually wrote the rider itself, people have now come to fully understand just how deep the corruption goes when it comes to Monsanto’s Big Food monopoly. And it doesn’t exempt the President.
It’s a well known fact that the Obama family actually eats from the White House organic garden and has full time staffers who maintain and harvest organic produce that comes from the garden. Many high level politicians actually refuse to eat anything but organic, as they are fully aware of what’s in ‘conventional’, GMO-loaded items. Yet, despite this knowledge, they are quite eager to push Monsanto’s GMOs and ruthless business model on the citizens of the United States.
Scanning just a few comments amid the thousands calling out Obama for his signature on the spending bill that contained the Monsanto Protection Act, we find seriously frustrated activists and voters who can’t believe what they are seeing. Even many Obama campaigners who came to the realization that Obama didn’t represent what they thought he did. One specifically mentions how Obama promised to label GMOs in 2007 upon his election as President–a promise that never came to fruition. In fact, no real attempts have been made at all by the administration.
Overall, the decision to go with such a major act of corruption has jump started a massive movement to hold politicians and corporations accountable for their betrayal of the U.S. public, Gucciardi writes.
GMO Wheat Could Damage Crucial Human Enzymes
Experts in the biotechnology field say that genetically altered (GMO) wheat currently in development could potentially silence human genes if ingested, resulting in premature death and risk of passing the defect on to future generations.
The wheat, developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), is engineered to turn off undesirable genes in the grains permanently.
However, the wheat genes intended to be silenced are a match for the human GBE gene sequence, according to Professor Jack Heinemann of the University of Canterbury’s Centre for Integrated Research in Biosafety in New Zealand, who published a report: (http://www.inbi.canterbury.ac.nz/Documents/Reports%20and%20others/Heinemann-Report-20120828.pdf) on the experimental wheat.
“Through ingestion, these molecules can enter human beings and potentially silence our genes,” says Heinemann.
GBE dictates glycogen storage in humans. Children who are born without this enzyme tend to die by the age of about five. Adults with malfunctioning GBE genes can experience cognitive impairment, pyramidal quadriplegia, peripheral neuropathy, and neurogenic bladder.
The real danger behind this genetically modified variety of wheat is that scientists used double stranded RNA, or dsRNA, to achieve their desired results. Heinemann describes the dsRNAs present in modified wheat as “remarkably stable in the environment.”
The dsRNA is able to withstand processing and cooking, and can also survive the human digestive system and enter into the blood stream. It then circulates through the body, where it amplifies into more and different dsRNAs and alters gene expression.
These altered genes can be passed on to later generations, assuming the consumer doesn’t die of cancer or liver damage before procreating.
Using dsRNA to silence genes is not without precedent. Monsanto, the world’s largest manufacturer of bioengineered seeds, has published research in the past about how to commercially exploit the fact that dsRNA survives digestion in insects.
The company genetically engineered plants to produce dsRNA, which insects ingest when they eat the plant; the dsRNA survives digestion in the insect and then silences genes in the insect to stunt its growth and kill it.
While not yet commercialized, the GM wheat is currently undergoing field tests in Australia. If approved, it will likely be grown alongside conventional wheat and sold unlabeled to consumers.
What Energy Crisis?
The organic perspective cuts through the smoke and breaks the mirrors to reach the true heart of the matter. Conventional food production spokespeople would have you believe that if farming went organic, half the world’s people would starve to death, that to produce bountiful crops you have to kill all the insects and weeds on the farmland, and that organic farming is a throw-back to the early days of agriculture before our modern technologies came into existence.
All of these ideas are completely false. Organic farm yields are very close to or exceed the yields of conventional farms. Organic farms prove that you don’t have to kill all the insects and weeds to grow crops. And organic farming today is a highly sophisticated method of farming that calls on the latest scientific advances in animal husbandry, plant science, plant pathology, entomology, ecology, meteorology, soil science, hydrology, marketing, and more. And the organic crops tend to be more nutritious than their conventional counterparts.
But even those revelations don’t cut to the chase. Here’s the crux of the matter: how is it that when we take a walk in the countryside, we see perfectly healthy meadows and forests that are chock full of all kinds of insects and plants, birds and burrowing animals, and many other forms of life—how can this wild nature be so healthy when no one is killing all the bugs and weeds or spreading chemical fertilizers to make the plants grow?
The answer, of course, is that nature knows what it is doing. Conventional growers don’t trust nature. They are fearful that without human help, nature will somehow fail. For example, I have a friend who’s a beekeeper. He knows that the nectar of the flowers of the California buckeye tree—a beautiful tree when it’s in full bloom—is toxic to honeybees. So this man has cut down all the California buckeyes on his property. As if the honeybees are going to go straight to the buckeyes and commit suicide. Give the bees—and nature—some credit. Every critter knows instinctively what foods to ingest and what foods to avoid, except maybe foolish human mushroom pickers who try a few mushrooms they aren’t familiar with. An organic beekeeper would know that bees will avoid poisonous nectar. He or she would trust nature. The organic method, in fact, is built on the idea of discovering nature’s principles and working with them rather than trying to defeat them.
All this is by way of saying that we can turn this ability to cut to the chase toward other aspects of society besides farming and gardening. As, for instance, the so-called energy crisis. We definitely have a crisis, what with easily measurable increases in the carbon dioxide content of the air from the fossil fuels we burn. Despite the climate change deniers, a huge preponderance of evidence shows the drastic effects of extreme weather events caused by climatic changes brought about by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. And the future looks grim, because as the oceans continue to warm, methane—a strong greenhouse gas—will be released from the ocean floor where a huge amount of it is stored. It’s also stored in and under the permafrost of the arctic region, which is also warming and will eventually send its methane into the atmosphere, causing a swift and irreversible spike in the earth’s temperature.
Is the sky falling? Yes, if we let it. But Exxon, Chevron, Shell, BP, and the other corporations that deal fossil fuels to our internal combustion engines claim that there’s no real alternative. We need oil. We need fracking for natural gas. We need the dirty sludge from Canada’s shale oil deposits. All other alternatives are just too expensive, they say.
Here’s where a little organic thinking comes in. Remember in high school chemistry when you set up a little hydrolysis experiment? All you needed was a beaker of electrolyte solution—salt water would do quite nicely—a source of electrical current, and two poles. Turn on the electricity and from the positive pole oxygen comes bubbling. From the negative pole, hydrogen. You captured some of each and, remember? You’d touch a match to a test tube full of hydrogen and get that “hydrogen bark” as the gas burned, forming water. No pollution, just separating water into its two elements, which burned together to form water again.
What if you could scale this process up? How big a scale could you get? Well, let’s see. Over 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by an electrolyte solution, the vast amount of salt water we call the oceans. So you could set up a system in ocean water to separate oxygen and hydrogen. But where would you get the electricity to power the electrolysis? Well, solar panels produce electricity. But where would you get the open space to put the panels in quantities large enough to make fuel for the whole world? Well, over 70 percent of the earth’s surface is covered with electrolyte solution and there’s no shade in the open ocean—the sun is blazing there every day.
But is solar energy sufficient for our needs? Well, the sun lavishes an astonishing 8.2 million “quads” of BTU energy per year on the earth. A “quad BYU” refers to one quadrillion British Thermal Units of energy, a common term used by energy economists. The entire human race currently uses about 400 quads of energy (in all forms) per year. Put another way, the solar energy hitting the earth every year exceeds the total energy consumed by humanity annually by a factor of over 20,000.
So we are practically swimming in oceans of electrolyte, with a burning star incessantly pouring immense amounts of energy upon us. What am I missing here? Why are we digging and pumping toxic hydrocarbons from the earth and fouling the planet when the answer is all around us?
We could gather and compress the oxygen and hydrogen and ship it to where it’s needed to run our power grids, our automobiles, our everything. Or, to consolidate things, the gases could be taken to central power plants to drive turbines that produce electricity that, among many other things, refills car batteries with power. When our electric cars run low, we pull into a station where the depleted batteries are switched with charged ones, and off we go.
The neat thing is that when the gases are burned to produce energy, there’s no pollution. They simply form water vapor which floats off in the air to descend as life-giving rain somewhere in the world.
Could we actually do this? You bet. And we haven’t even talked about hydroelectric power, wind farms, or the energy available from the oceans’ constant waves, or the energy just a few thousand feet below our feet in the hot lava of the inner earth. Or, solar power we could collect on land. Why don’t we use these things? Well, why isn’t all farming organic?
Cut to the chase on that question.
Obama Signs the Monsanto Protection Act into Law
So Obama signed the Continuing Resolution that contains the Monsanto Protection Act. This law now makes it illegal for anyone to sue Monsanto, or for the USDA, EPA, or FDA to prevent Monsanto, from introducing GMO crops into agriculture, even without any scientific evidence for their safety. Okay, we can all agree this is a horrible law. Of all corporations to put beyond the reach of the legal system, Monsanto has to be the worst. But I have another question. Does the Congress—the legislative branch of the government—have the right to tell the judicial branch what it may do and not do? I thought we had three separate and EQUAL branches of our government. If Congress can put one corporation beyond the reach of the law, what corporation CAN’T it put beyond the reach of the law? Why can’t it put people beyond the reach of the law? This deal is—let me put it in simple language—fucked. This should not stand. This should be challenged immediately. Monsanto above the law? Give me a break.
As an addendum to this business, here’s a note just in from Antony Gucciardi of Natural Society:
“It should come as no surprise to find out that Monsanto actually authored the wording of its own Monsanto Protection Act.
“Quite frankly I think it’s important to understand that the entire Senate passed the bill containing the Protection Act, but the politician who actually gave Monsanto the pen in order to write their very own legislation is none other than Roy Blount, a Republican Senator from Missouri. He admits to colluding with Monsanto.
“This is one of the most blatant offenses against the citizens of the United States I’ve seen in a long time. A population that Blunt swore to serve. It’s not for the United States public at all, and it’s a serious matter that I don’t think is properly understood. The passing of this bill into law means that Monsanto is now immune from federal courts regarding any suspension or action on their crops that have been deemed to be dangerous to the people (or the environment).
“This effectively gives Monsanto power over the entire judicial branch of the United States government. Food Democracy Now, a major activist organization that organized signatures to fight the Monsanto Protection Act, described the rider:
“’The Monsanto Protection Act would force the USDA to allow continued planting of any GMO crop under court review, essentially giving backdoor approval for any new genetically engineered crops that could be potentially harmful to human health or the environment.’
“Sounds like a great idea, right?”
Wild Bees Do a Better Job Pollinating Crops than Domesticated Honeybees
Sarah Yang writes on Green Blog that fields with diversified, organic crops get more buzz from wild bees. So concludes a synthesis of 39 studies on 23 crops around the world published March 11 in the journal Ecology Letters.
The study found that wild bees were more abundant in organic farming systems.
Many of the study’s authors also co-authored a study published March 1 in Science that found that fruit and vegetable production increased when wild pollinators-–as opposed to domesticated honeybees who are trucked into a site to work the crops–were more abundant. The Ecology Letters study showed that wild bees helped crop yield, and the Science study shows that organic crops in a diversified farming system help wild bees.
All around the world, there are indigenous people who grow up with the land, know the land, and know how to encourage the land to produce the crops that make their unique local foods and cuisines. The wild bees of any place on earth are those bees that have grown up in that area, who know the plants, who know the forces and energies that affect the plants, and the unique nectars that the plant flowers exude.
Farmers who are brought in to work the land may not know the territory.
They might not know the native plants. And so they might scrape the soil clean and plant what they want to grow. They are the mercenaries of the farming world.
Local farmers who have grown up on the land and know the plants, the climate, the environment, and the indigenous animals, have the same kind of relationship with the local ecosystem as the wild bees. Of course they can take better care of the land. The domesticated honeybees brought to a farm to pollinate crops can’t possibly know what the wild bees know, and therefore can’t possibly be as effective.
Now comes this reporting from Michael Wines in The New York Times for March 29:
“BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A mysterious malady that has been killing honeybees en masse for several years appears to have expanded drastically in the last year, commercial beekeepers say, wiping out 40 percent or even 50 percent of the hives needed to pollinate many of the nation’s fruits and vegetables.
“A conclusive explanation so far has escaped scientists studying the ailment, colony collapse disorder, since it first surfaced around 2005. But beekeepers and some researchers say there is growing evidence that a powerful new class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids, incorporated into the plants themselves, could be an important factor.
“The pesticide industry disputes that.”
The crucial words here are “incorporated into the plants themselves.” You know what that means. It means that certain crops have been genetically modified to produce insecticide in each of the plants’ cells. Now our honeybees are flying into fatal forests of field crops, where to harvest nectar or pollen means death. Oh, but the pesticide industry disputes that.
Monsanto Market Grab Blamed for Farmer Suicides
Monsanto tries to hide its real objective, but it’s becoming more and more obvious that genetic engineering is simply a means to patent seed so the company can corner the world market on the earth’s most valuable farm crops. But this tactic is sowing bankruptcy, despair, and suicide among local farmers in places like India. A group in India called Fibers of Freedom is resisting. Here’s their current report:
Monsanto’s control has resulted in the ruination of many farmers in India who are forced to buy Monsanto’s patented seed. Monsanto India’s website shows pictures of smiling, prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. This is a desperate attempt by Monsanto and its PR machinery to delink the epidemic of farmer suicides in India from the company’s growing control over cotton seed supply–95 per cent of India’s cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto.
Monsanto’s concentrated control over the seed sector in India as well as across the world is what connects farmer suicides in India to attempts by farmers in Canada, the U.S., and Brazil to sue Monsanto for billions of dollars unfairly collected as royalties on patented seeds.
Monsanto’s seed monopolies and the collection of superprofits in the form of royalties have created a context for debt, suicide, and agrarian distress that is driving the farmer suicide epidemic in India. This squeeze on farmers has been intensified with the introduction of Monsanto’s Bt cotton, a genetically modified form of cotton whose cells express a toxin that kills bollworms. That is why most suicides are in the cotton belt. The agricultural ministry of India in January, 2012, had this to say to the cotton-growing states in India: “Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”
The highest acreage of Bt cotton is in Maharashtra and this is also where the highest number of farmer suicides are. Monsanto’s royalty extraction, and the high costs of seed and chemicals have created a debt trap. According to Government of India data, nearly 75 per cent rural debt is due to purchase inputs; that is, the cost of seed and chemicals. As Monsanto’s profits grow, farmers’ debt grows. It is in this systemic sense that Monsanto’s seeds are seeds of suicide.
The ultimate seeds of suicide are Monsanto’s sterile seeds, called ‘Terminator Technology’ by the media, in which seed produced by a crop will not produce viable offspring. The Convention on Biological Diversity has banned its use in India, otherwise Monsanto would be collecting even higher profits from seed.
We have started Fibres of Freedom in the heart of Monsanto’s Bt cotton/suicide belt in Vidharba. We have created community seed banks with indigenous seeds and helped farmers go organic. No GMO seeds, no debt, no suicides. You can now buy Fibers of Freedom cotton clothing in stores and online. Learn more at http://www.fibres-of-freedom.com.
Why Organic Food Is More Nourishing than Conventional
Organically grown food, whether on a farm or in a garden, develops in a soil seething with life—as many as a trillion one-celled organisms in each handful of soil. That’s because organic farmers and gardeners feed the life in the soil with actively decaying organic matter, or as we call it for short, compost. Compost is simply organic matter that is well on its way to complete decomposition. The job is finished by the microorganisms in the soil.
Well, this seething life produces many benefits to the plants growing in such a soil. First of all, the microorganisms replicate, grow, and die off rapidly, usually within a few days. When they die, the liquid contents of their cells spills into the soil. These cell contents are mildly acidic, and react with particles of clay, silt, and sand, dissolving their surfaces and producing soluble salts of the minerals in those bits of rock. These soluble salts are absorbed by the plants’ roots and used to build the plants’ cells. They provide the growing plants with the macronutrients of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen, but also of the many trace mineral micronutrients found in the rocks that are released for plant use by the acidic cell contents of the soil life.
And so the plants have the full range of nutrients they need to build their cells, as opposed to conventional farms and gardens, where the soil is simply a substance to prop up plants, where the life in the soil is usually not fed, and where only the macronutrients are used as fertilizer.
Many people think organic farming and gardening is all about not using harsh chemicals to kill pests and control diseases, but that’s only a part of the picture, and not the biggest part at that. The biggest part of the organic method is to feed that soil life until the soil itself has come furiously alive, with myriad natural soil systems spinning out health and vibrant, sturdy plant growth.
Because organic food is grown in a lively, nutrient-rich environment, it can construct all the molecules called for by its genes. For example, a conventional soil might be depleted of sulphur. With too little sulphur, the plants, especially members of the cabbage family, may not be able to manufacture the sulphur-containing amino acids, such as cysteine. When we eat such plants, our bodies then don’t have enough cysteine to create N acetyl cysteine (NAC), possibly the most important compound in our bodies for warding off a huge range of diseases and health problems. But cabbage family members (broccoli, cauliflower, radishes, turnips, rutabagas, napa cabbage, bok choy, kale, kohlrabi, and many others) grown in organic soils that are rich in the whole panoply of needed nutrients, have plenty of sulphur to work with.
This is a big, broad subject that I will return to again and again over the coming months. But the bottom line is simple: organic soils are rich in nutrients because they are alive and thriving. And so are the plants that grow in them. And so are the humans who eat those plants.
The following may be copied and reprinted in order to educate people about the dangers of genetically modified foods. It was written by the good folks at GM Watch (www.gmwatch.org), a non-profit that tries to counter the propaganda and lies of the biotech industry.
10 Reasons Why We Don’t Need GM Foods
By GM Watch, 20 March 2013
Genetically modified (GM) foods are often promoted as a way to feed the world. But this is little short of a confidence trick. Far from needing more GM foods, there are urgent reasons why we need to ban them altogether.
1. GM foods won’t solve the food crisis
A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production is the major cause of the increase in food prices. Biofuels are crops grown for fuel rather than food. GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels – while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as a PR opportunity to promote GM foods!
“The climate crisis was used to boost biofuels, helping to create the food crisis; and now the food crisis is being used to revive the fortunes of the GM industry.” – Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent, The Independent (UK)
“The cynic in me thinks that they’re just using the current food crisis and the fuel crisis as a springboard to push GM crops back on to the public agenda. I understand why they’re doing it, but the danger is that if they’re making these claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world, that’s bullshit.” – Prof. Denis Murphy, head of biotechnology, University of Glamorgan, Wales
2. GM crops do not increase yield potential
Despite the promises, GM has not increased the yield potential of any commercialised crops. In fact, studies show that the most widely grown GM crop, GM soya, has suffered reduced yields.
A report that analyzed nearly two decades worth of peer reviewed research on the yield of the primary GM food/feed crops, soybeans and corn (maize), reveals that despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase US crop yields. The author, former US EPA and US FDA biotech specialist Dr. Gurian-Sherman, concludes that when it comes to yield, “Traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down.”
“Let’s be clear. As of this year , there are no commercialized GM crops that inherently increase yield. Similarly, there are no GM crops on the market that were engineered to resist drought, reduce fertilizer pollution or save soil. Not one.” – Dr. Doug Gurian-Sherman
3. GM crops increase pesticide use
US government data shows that in the US, GM crops have produced an overall increase, not decrease, in pesticide use compared to conventional crops.
“The promise was that you could use less chemicals and produce a greater yield. But let me tell you none of this is true.” – Bill Christison, President of the US National Family Farm Coalition
4. There are better ways to feed the world
A major UN/World Bank-sponsored report compiled by 400 scientists and endorsed by 58 countries concluded that GM crops have little to offer global agriculture and the challenges of poverty, hunger, and climate change, because better alternatives are available. In particular, the report championed “agroecological” farming as the sustainable way forward for developing countries.
5. Other farm technologies are more successful
Integrated Pest Management and other innovative low-input or organic methods of controlling pests and boosting yields have proven highly effective, particularly in the developing world. Other plant breeding technologies, such as Marker Assisted Selection (non-GM genetic mapping), are widely expected to boost global agricultural productivity more effectively and safely than GM. 
“The quiet revolution is happening in gene mapping, helping us understand crops better. That is up and running and could have a far greater impact on agriculture [than GM].” – Prof John Snape, head of the department of crop genetics, John Innes Centre.
6. GM foods have not been shown to be safe to eat
Genetic modification is a crude and imprecise way of incorporating foreign genetic material (e.g. from viruses, bacteria) into crops, with unpredictable consequences. The resulting GM foods have undergone little rigorous and no long-term safety testing. However, animal feeding tests have shown that GM foods have toxic effects, including abnormal changes in organs, immune system disturbances, accelerated aging, and changes in gene expression. Very few studies have been published on the direct effects on humans of eating a GM food. One such study found unexpected effects on gut bacteria, but was never followed up.
It is claimed that Americans have eaten GM foods for years with no ill effects. But these foods are unlabeled in the US and no one has monitored the consequences. With other novel foods like trans fats, it has taken decades to realize that they have caused millions of premature deaths.
“We are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences.” – Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist.
7. People don’t want GM foods – so they’re hidden in animal feed
As a spokesperson for Asgrow, a subsidiary of Monsanto, said, “If you put a label on genetically engineered food, you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” The GM industry has gotten around the problem of consumer rejection of GM foods by hiding them in animal feed. Meat, eggs and dairy products from animals raised on the millions of tons of GM feed imported into Europe do not have to be labelled. Some studies show that contrary to GM and food industry claims, animals raised on GM feed ARE different from those raised on non-GM feed. Other studies show that if GM crops are fed to animals, GM material can appear in the resulting products and affect the animals’ health. So eating these “stealth GMOs” may affect the health of consumers.
8. GM crops are a long-term economic disaster for farmers
A 2009 report showed that GM seed prices in America have increased dramatically, compared to non-GM and organic seeds, cutting average farm incomes for US farmers growing GM crops. The report concluded, “At the present time there is a massive disconnect between the sometimes lofty rhetoric from those championing biotechnology as the proven path toward global food security and what is actually happening on farms in the US that have grown dependent on GM seeds and are now dealing with the consequences.”
9. GM and non-GM cannot co-exist
GM contamination of conventional and organic food is increasing. An unapproved GM rice that was grown for only one year in field trials was found to have extensively contaminated the US rice supply and seed stocks. In Canada, the organic oilseed rape industry has been destroyed by contamination from GM rape. In Spain, a study found that GM maize “has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivations of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible”.
The time has come to choose between a GM-based, or a non-GM-based, world food supply.
“If some people are allowed to choose to grow, sell and consume GM foods, soon nobody will be able to choose food, or a biosphere, free of GM. It’s a one way choice, like the introduction of rabbits or cane toads to Australia; once it’s made, it can’t be reversed.” – Roger Levett, specialist in sustainable development.
10. We can’t trust GM companies
The big biotech firms pushing their GM foods have a terrible history of toxic contamination and public deception. GM is attractive to them because it gives them patents that allow monopoly control over the world’s food supply. They have taken to harassing and intimidating farmers for the “crime” of saving patented seed or “stealing” patented genes – even if those genes got into the farmer’s fields through accidental contamination by wind or insects.
“Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use, and cannot sell.” – Tom Wiley, North Dakota farmer
1. Donald Mitchell, 2008. A Note on Rising Food Prices. World Bank. http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Environment/documents/2008/07/10/Biofuels.PDF
2. Daniel Howden, 2008. Hope for Africa lies in political reforms. The Independent, 8 September. http://www.independent.co.uk:80/opinion/commentators/daniel-howden-hope-for-africa-lies-in-political-reforms-922487.html
3. Rob Lyons, 2008. GM: it’s safe, but it’s not a saviour. Spiked Online, 7 July. http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/5438/
4. Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo and William D. McBride, 2002. The adoption of bioengineered crops. US Department of Agriculture Report, May. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aer810/aer810.pdf
5. R.W. Elmore et al., 2001. Glyphosate-resistant soyabean cultivar yields compared with sister lines. Agronomy Journal 93, 2001: 408-412.
6. Doug Gurian-Sherman, 2009. Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops. Union of Concerned Scientists. http://tiny.cc/eqZST
7. Doug Gurian-Sherman, 2008. Genetic engineering – A crop of hyperbole. The San Diego Union Tribune, 18 June. http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080618/news_lz1e18gurian.html
8. Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., 2009. Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years. The Organic Center, November. http://www.organic-center.org/science.pest.php?action=view&report_id=159
9. Bill Christison, 1998. Family Farmers Warn of Dangers of Genetically Engineered Crops. In Motion magazine, 29 July. http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/genet1.html
10. N. Beintema et al., 2008. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: Global Summary for Decision Makers (IAASTD). http://www.agassessment.org/index.cfm?Page=IAASTD%20Reports&ItemID=2713
11. N. Beintema et al., 2008. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: Global Summary for Decision Makers (IAASTD). http://www.agassessment.org/index.cfm?Page=IAASTD%20Reports&ItemID=2713
12. B.C.Y. Collard and D.J. Mackill, 2008. Marker-assisted selection: an approach for precision plant breeding in the twenty-first century. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 363: 557-572.
13. J.R. Witcombe et al., 2008. Breeding for abiotic stresses for sustainable agriculture. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci 363: 703-716.
14. John Snape, 2002. Gene mapping the friendly face of GM technology. Farmers Weekly, 1 March: 54.
15. – Memorandum to Linda Kahl on the Flavr Savr tomato (Pathology Review PR-152; FDA Number FMF-000526): Pathology Branch’s evaluation of rats with stomach lesions from three four-week oral (gavage) toxicity studies (IRDC Study Nos. 677-002, 677-004, and 677-005) and an Expert Panel’s report. F.A. Hines. US Department of Health & Human Services, 1993.
- Witness Brief – Flavr Savr tomato study in Final Report (IIT Research Institute, Chicago, IL 60616 USA) cited by Dr Arpad Pusztai before the New Zealand Royal Commission on Genetic Modification: New Zealand Royal Commission on Genetic Modification, 2000.
- V.E. Prescott, P.M. Campbell, A. Moore, et al. 2005. Transgenic expression of bean alpha-amylase inhibitor in peas results in altered structure and immunogenicity. J Agric Food Chem 53: 9023-9030.
- M. Malatesta, M. Biggiogera, E. Manuali, M.B.L. Rocchi, B. Baldelli, G. Gazzanelli, 2003. Fine structural analyses of pancreatic acinar cell nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. European Journal of Histochemistry 47: 385-388.
- M. Malatesta et al., 2002. Ultrastructural morphometrical and immunocytochemical analyses of hepatocyte nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Cell Struct Funct 27: 173-180
- L. Vecchio et al., 2004. Ultrastructural analysis of testes from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Eur J Histochem 48: 448-454
- M. Malatesta et al., 2008. A long-term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean: effects on liver ageing. Histochem Cell Biol 130: 967-977
- S.W. Ewen and A. Pusztai, 1999. Effects of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine. The Lancet 354: 1353-1354
- Séralini, G.-E. et al., 2007. New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol 52: 596-602.
- R. Tudisco R, P. Lombardi, F. Bovera et al., 2006. Genetically modified soya bean in rabbit feeding: Detection of DNA fragments and evaluation of metabolic effects by enzymatic analysis. Animal Science 82:193-199.
- F.B. Brasil, L.L. Soares, T.S. Faria et al., 2009. The impact of dietary organic and transgenic soy on the reproductive system of female adult rat. Anat Rec (Hoboken) 292: 587-594.
- A. Pusztai, S. Bardocz, 2006. GMO in animal nutrition: Potential benefits and risks. In: R. Mosenthin, J. Zentek, T. Zebrowska, eds. 2006. Biology of Nutrition in Growing Animals 4: 513-540.
- G.E. Séralini, D. Cellier, J. Spiroux de Vendomois, 2007. New analysis of a rat feeding study with a genetically modified maize reveals signs of hepatorenal toxicity. Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology 52: 596-602.
- A. Kilic, M.T. Akay, 2008. A three generation study with genetically modified Bt corn in rats: Biochemical and histopathological investigation. Food Chem Toxicol 46: 1164-1170.
- J.S. de Vendomois, F. Roullier, D. Cellier, G.E. Séralini, 2009. A comparison of the effects of three GM corn varieties on mammalian health. Int J Biol Sci 5:706-726.
- A. Finamore, M. Roselli, S. Britti S et al., 2008. Intestinal and peripheral immune response to MON810 maize ingestion in weaning and old mice. J Agric Food Chem 56: 11533-11539.
- A. Velimirov, C. Binter, J. Zentek, 2008. Biological effects of transgenic maize NK603xMON810 fed in long term reproduction studies in mice. Familie und Jugend Report, Forschungsberichte der Sektion IV Band 3/2008.
- M. Trabalza-Marinucci, G. Brandi, C. Rondini, et al., 2008. A three-year longitudinal study on the effects of a diet containing genetically modified Bt176 maize on the health status and performance of sheep. Livestock Science 113: 178-190.
16. T. Netherwood et al., 2004. Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract. Nature Biotechnology 22: 204-209.
17. Paula Hartman Cohen, 2006. Trans Fats: The story behind the label. Harvard Public Health Review. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/review/rvw_spring06/rvwspr06_transfats.html
18. Anil Netto,2000. Consumer groups for mandatory labelling of GM food. IPS News, 13 March. http://www.twnside.org.sg/title/groups.htm
19. Jack A. Heinemann, PhD, 2009. Report on animals exposed to GM ingredients in animal feed. Prepared for the Commerce Commission of New Zealand, 24 July. http://bit.ly/4HcJuJ
20. – R. Sharma et al., 2006. Detection of transgenic and endogenous plant DNA in digesta and tissues of sheep and pigs fed Roundup Ready canola meal. J Agric Food Chem 54: 1699-1709.
- R. Mazza et al., 2005. Assessing the transfer of genetically modified DNA from feed to animal tissues. Transgenic Res 14: 775-784.
- A. Agodi et al., 2006. Detection of genetically modified DNA sequences in milk from the Italian market. Int J Hyg Environ Health 209: 81-88.
- T. Ran, L. Mei, W. Lei, L. Aihua, H. Ru, S. Jie, 2009. Detection of transgenic DNA in tilapias (Oreochromis niloticus, GIFT strain) fed genetically modified soybeans (Roundup Ready). Aquaculture Research 40: 1350-1357.
21. – R. Tudisco, V. Mastellone, M.I. Cutrignelli, et al., 2010. Fate of transgenic DNA and evaluation of metabolic effects in goats fed genetically modified soybean and in their offsprings. Animal 4: 1662-1671.
- Jack A. Heinemann, PhD, 2009. Report on animals exposed to GM ingredients in animal feed. Prepared for the Commerce Commission of New Zealand, 24 July. http://bit.ly/4HcJuJ
22. Charles Benbrook, 2009. The magnitude and impacts of the biotech and organic seed price premium. The Organic Center, December. http://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/Seeds_Final_11-30-09.pdf
23. E. Neal Blue, 2007. Risky business: Economic and regulatory impacts from the unintended release of genetically engineered rice varieties into the rice merchandising system of the US. Report for Greenpeace. http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/risky-business.pdf
24. Soil Association, 2002. Seeds of doubt: North American farmers’ experience of GM crops. http://www.soilassociation.org/seedsofdoubt
25. R. Binimelis, 2008. Coexistence of plants and coexistence of farmers: Is an individual choice possible? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 21: 437-457.
26. Roger Levett, 2008. Choice: Less can be more. Food Ethics magazine 3: 11. http://www.foodethicscouncil.org/node/384
27. See, for example, Marie-Monique Robin’s documentary film, Le Monde Selon Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto), ARTE, 2008; and the website of the NGO, Coalition Against Bayer-Dangers, www.cbgnetwork.org
28. – BBC News Online 2000. GM firm sues Canadian farmer, 6 June. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/779265.stm
- Center for Food Safety, 2007. Monsanto vs. US Farmers: November 2007 Update. Washington, DC and San Francisco, CA, November.
29. Stephen Leahy, 2004. Monsanto “seed police” scrutinize farmers. InterPress Service, 15 January. http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0115-04.htm
Now for some really bad news:
Monsanto lobbyists have now generated a rider to a new Congressional appropriations bill that puts Monsanto above the federal government. The Bill, with the rider intact, has passed both houses of Congress. The only way to stop it now is to call the White House (202 456 1111) and ask President Obama to veto the bill.
If it’s signed into law, Monsanto would have complete immunity from federal courts when it comes to their ability to act against any new Monsanto GMO crops that are suspected to be endangering the public or the environment (or considered to be planted illegally by the USDA). We’re talking about courts that literally can do nothing to Monsanto if it’s found that their newest creation may be promoting cancer, for example. Monsanto could continue planting the food abomination all it wants without court review.
Food Democracy Now explained that “The Monsanto Protection Act strips judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops.”
Now for some good news. James Andrews, writing for Food Safety News for 21 March 2013, reports that a collection of supermarket chains has pledged not to sell a breed of salmon slated to become the first genetically engineered (GE) animal to reach store shelves.
The companies, including Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s and Aldi, together comprise more than 2,000 retail store locations – a little more than 5 percent of the total number of supermarkets in the U.S. They came together to make the pledge as part of the “Campaign for GE-Free Seafood,” led by a coalition of environmental and consumer groups that includes Friends of the Earth, Consumers Union and the Center for Food Safety.
Here’s a Million Dollar Idea for the Taking
Oftentimes around noon I set out to run errands, do business in town, or otherwise find myself on the road. The question quickly becomes: “Where to have lunch?”
I like burgers as much as the next guy, but I’m certainly not going to eat the crap served by McDonald’s, Burger King, Five Guys, Crap in the Box—uh, excuse me, Jack in the Box—or even In-N-Out Burger, as enticing as the latter may be. And the reason is simple. The meat isn’t organic and along with beef, I don’t fancy eating all the “extras” that come with conventional beef, like hormones and antibiotics, among other chemicals.
I think about mom and pop burger shops in Santa Rosa, my home town, but they don’t serve organic beef either, and who knows what kind of meat their wholesaler sells them?
But what if there were an organic fast food joint that served burgers made from organic, grass fed beef? I’d be there in a minute. What if they also had a veggie burger for the vegetarians among us? They wouldn’t have to have “health food.” But what food they did serve—quickly and without a lot of excess packaging—would be organic, for—you know—the many millions of us who want to eat food uncontaminated by chemicals, raised on organic farms where the land is properly cared for, where things are clean and wholesome. Yes, there could be organic milkshakes. Fresh fruit, too. Why not? That burger could have an organic bun and organic onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and ketchup if you like your burger California style.
What I’m saying is that it really surprises me that someone hasn’t started a chain of organic fast food joints that cater to the good food drive-through crowd for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I certainly can’t be the only person in America who wants to eat organically grown and raised food whenever possible. I’m sure there are tens of millions of us. And growing numbers every day. C’mon entrepreneurs. When do we get to go to the Big O for lunch?
This from Science Daily:
Contaminated water used to dilute pesticides could be responsible for viruses entering the food chain, scientists warn.
Human norovirus (hNoV), also known as the winter vomiting bug, is one of the most common stomach bugs in the world. The virus is highly contagious, causing vomiting and diarrhea, and the number of affected cases is growing. Currently there is no cure; sufferers have to let the virus run its course for a few days.
The consumption of fresh produce is frequently associated with outbreaks of hNoV but it remains difficult to identify where in the supply chain the virus first enters production.
A new study, published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, investigated whether contaminated water used to dilute pesticides could be a source of hNoV. Farmers use various water sources in the production of fresh fruits and vegetables, including well water and different types of surface water such as river water or lake water — sources which have been found to harbor hNoV.
To test this theory, eight different pesticides were analyzed in the study; each was diluted with hNoV contaminated water. The researchers tested whether traces of the virus were present in the samples after the two elements were combined. Results showed that pesticides did not counteract the ability of the contaminated water to sicken people who ingested it.
The authors conclude that the application of pesticides on fresh produce may not only be a chemical hazard, but may in fact also be a microbiological risk factor; both having consequences on public health.
This from Dr. Joseph Mercola:
The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) and the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) have filed a petition with the FDA requesting the agency “amend the standard of identity” for milk and 17 other dairy products.
This was done to provide for the use of any sweetener as an optional ingredient — including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame — to deceive you by not having to indicate its use on the label.
It’s a move that could endanger your health for decades to come, and disproportionally harm underprivileged children who rely on school lunches for the bulk of their nutrition.
If the amendment goes through, that would mean anytime you see the word “milk” on the label, it could include aspartame, sucralose, or any other dangerous artificial sweetener, but you could never be quite sure, since there will be no mention of it — not by listing the artificial sweetener used, nor with a no- or low-calorie type label, which is a tip-off that the product might contain a non-nutritive sweetener.
The IDFA and NMPF claim the proposed amendments would “promote more healthful eating practices and reduce childhood obesity by providing for lower-calorie flavored milk products” since many children are more inclined to drink flavored milk products than unflavored milk.
How can anyone believe a fat free, hormone-laced pasteurized milk-like product from cows raised on genetically engineered corn, flavored with artificial flavors, colors and chemical sweeteners might actually do a growing body good? The nutritional illiteracy within these governmental agencies is staggering… yet they’re responsible for making decisions that affect over 30 million school children across the US on a daily basis.
From Food Democracy Now:
Like a zombie rising from the dead, the “Monsanto Protection Act” is back and alive in the U.S. Senate and we need your help to stop it!
Biotech lobbyists have succeeded in slipping the dangerous biotech rider (Sec. 735) into the Senate Continuing Resolution spending bill in an effort to strip federal courts of their authority to halt the sale and planting of any potentially hazardous GMO crop.
If approved, the Monsanto Protection Act would force the USDA to allow continued planting of any GMO crop under court review, essentially giving backdoor approval for any new genetically engineered crops that could be potentially harmful to human health or the environment.
Clearly Monsanto and the biotech industry are getting desperate and want to try an end run around a growing movement of farmers and citizens who are rejecting their products and calling for GMO labeling, in an effort to make sure their new GMO crops can evade any serious scientific or regulatory review.
For the past year, Food Democracy Now! and our allies have been able to hold them off, but we need your help today!
The Monsanto Protection Act could pass as early as this coming week and we need your help today. Click here to stop the Monsanto Protection Act and tell your member of Congress to stand up for your rights.
Here’s an editorial on labeling GMO foods from The New York Times, March 15, 2013:
Whole Foods Market caused a stir last week when it announced that it would require all products sold in its stores in the United States and Canada to carry labels indicating whether they contain genetically modified ingredients by 2018. Food advocacy groups hailed its action as a possible “game changer” that would push the entire food industry to adopt similar labels.
Any private company has the right to require its suppliers to meet labeling standards it chooses to set, and consumers have a right to know what’s in the food they are buying. But there is no reliable evidence that genetically modified foods now on the market pose any risk to consumers.
The Food and Drug Administration says it has no basis for concluding that foods developed by bioengineering techniques present different or greater safety concerns than foods developed by traditional plant breeding. Nevertheless, bills are pending in several states to require mandatory labeling of genetically modified ingredients (a referendum to compel such labeling was narrowly defeated in California last November). For now, there seems little reason to make labeling compulsory.
Consumers can already find products free of genetically engineered ingredients, with labels voluntarily placed by the manufacturers.
For those who want to avoid such ingredients, the surest way is to buy products certified as “organic” under federal standards. They contain no genetically engineered ingredients, or at most inadvertent trace amounts.
The Times has it right about organic food, but has it completely wrong when it flatly states that there’s no reliable evidence that genetically modified foods now on the market pose any risk to consumers. If the newspaper’s fact checkers missed the evidence, then it’s not the evidence that’s not reliable, it’s the fact checkers.