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Former Ag Chem Salesman to Head USDA

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Former Georgia Governor and agricultural chemical salesman Sonny Perdue is Donald Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

 

Trump’s plan to pull a big hood over every aspect of the government continues. The USDA has been told to silence its scientists. The EPA is already on a lockdown that blocks not just any public glimpse into the organization, but blocks grants that are needed to support research and enforcement. The Interior Department has been cut off from social media.

 

The USDA has banned scientists and other employees in its main research division from publicly sharing everything from the summaries of scientific papers to USDA-branded tweets as it starts to adjust to life under the Trump administration, BuzzFeed News has learned.

 

Like many federal agencies, the USDA is responsible for research and enforcement in a great number of areas. The fact sheets it produces include everything from food safety bulletins, to commodities studies, to economic data. This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content.

 

A widely-read summary on farm animal welfare that the USDA regularly posted on its website has been removed. From now on, the agency says, anyone wanting to know the results of its animal welfare program must file a Freedom of Information Request.

 

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COURT ALLOWS CANCER WARNING ON ROUNDUP LABELS

 

California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed-killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat despite an insistence from the chemical giant that it poses no risk to people, a judge has tentatively ruled.

 

California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal, according to the Associated Press.

 

Monsanto had sued the nation’s leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on an international health organization based in France.

 

Monsanto attorney Trenton Norris argued in court that the labels would have immediate financial consequences for the company. He said many consumers would see the labels and stop buying Roundup.

 

“It will absolutely be used in ways that will harm Monsanto,” he said.

 

After the hearing, the firm said in a statement that it will challenge the tentative ruling.

 

Critics take issue with Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, which has no color or smell. Monsanto introduced it in 1974 as an effective way of killing weeds while leaving crops and plants intact.

 

It’s sold in more than 160 countries, and farmers in California use it on 250 types of crops.

 

The chemical is not restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which says it has “low toxicity,” but recommends people avoid entering a field for 12 hours after it has been applied.

 

The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a Lyon, France-based branch of the U.N. World Health Organization, classified the chemical as a “probable human carcinogen.”

 

Shortly afterward, the most populated U.S. state took its first step in 2015 to require the warning labels.

 

St. Louis-based Monsanto contends that California is delegating its authority to an unelected foreign body with no accountability to U.S. or state officials in violation of the California Constitution.

 

Attorneys for California consider the International Agency for Research on Cancer the “gold standard” for identifying carcinogens, and they rely on its findings along with several states, the federal government and other countries, court papers say.

 

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Kristi Kapetan still must issue a formal decision, which she said would come soon.

 

California regulators are waiting for the formal ruling before moving forward with the warnings, said Sam Delson, a spokesman for the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

 

Once a chemical is added to a list of probable carcinogens, the manufacturer has a year before it must attach the label, he said.

 

 

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NIC’S ORGANIC FAST FOOD DEBUTS IN ILLINOIS

 

Nic’s Organic Fast Food, the nation’s first QAI-certified organic drive-thru chain, has announced the opening of its first store at 2101 Plum Grove Rd. in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, in early 2017. Founded by Nicolette and Benjamin Brittsan.

 

Nic’s Organic Fast Food will offer well-known fast food favorites, all certified organic and reasonably priced, from breakfast to organic burgers, organic fries to organic ice cream cones. Everything at Nic’s is grown or raised without agricultural chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, GMO’s, preservatives, artificial flavors, or colors. Meats are humanely raised and sustainably sourced.

 

There is an organic drive-in in California. Amy’s Drive-In in Sonoma County features organic food, but it’s not a chain—at least not yet.

 

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BIG AG FORMS GROUP TO DISCREDIT W.H.O.’S CANCER AGENCY

 

In what’s shaping up to be the most Monsanto-friendly Congress in history—including a president keen to sign off on the pending Monsanto-Bayer merger—chemical companies are redoubling their efforts to keep consumers in the dark, the Organic Consumers Association reports.

 

According to US Right to Know (USRTK), the American Chemistry Council (Monsanto is a member) just this month formed a new group called Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research (CAPHR).

 

Just as the “Safe and Affordable Food Labeling Act” had nothing to do with safe and affordable food labeling (and everything to do with keeping consumers in the dark) this newcomer to the “deflect and deceive” industry propaganda movement is hell-bent on keeping accurate scientific research away from the public.

 

In fact, the group’s primary motive is to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a unit of the World Health Organization made up of independent scientists. In March, 2015, an IARC panel of 17 scientists unanimously concluded that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. Ever since, as US Right to Know’s Carey Gillam reports, Monsanto and friends have been harassing IARC through a series of “demands, threats and legal maneuvers,” including lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives to cut funding for IARC.

 

Gillam reports that the new campaign takes the assault further. On the group’s new twitter account, set up on January 25, CAPHR posted a string of insults against IARC scientists, accusing the experts from prestigious institutions around the world of “making sensational claims,” drawing conclusions “that can’t be trusted,” and using “questionable methodologies.”

 

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A WISE WOMAN SPEAKS TO YOUNG WOMEN

 

On January 21, my wife Susanna and I drove to San Francisco to take part in the Women’s March. It was men and women, young and old, black and white and every shade in between, gay and straight—all the tapestry of America. It felt great to be there, because the Women’s March combined denunciation of the new President’s misogyny along with many other social causes, including the right to clean and wholesome food grown in a sustainable way. You can’t disentangle the organic movement from the movement for social justice.

 

And then I read the following article, written by Sharon Weeks, a retired school teacher in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She has a message and a history lesson for the young women in the movement for social justice who may not have yet learned how and where the Women’s March came from. I think everyone in that tapestry of America I encountered can use this refresher. Here’s Ms. Weeks’ article in its entirety:

 

It came to my attention recently, after the March on Washington, that many young women are completely satisfied with their lives right now. I will refer to this as their “status quo.” But first a crash course in women’s history and a mention of many past marches and the influence they have had. I beg them, and you, to read on.

 

One thing I want to point out, as I am going to discuss women’s rights from more than a hundred years ago to 2017, is what I think these young women are missing. Women’s history has been basically excluded from the classroom text books in public schools. Many people are not aware that a select group of white men, a board of education in Texas, has been charged with the job of editing all of the history textbooks for decades. Their editing is final. (See Bill Moyers, “Messing with Textbooks,” June 2012.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

That is the reason you probably didn’t know that in the 1870s women could not own property, could not sign contracts, could not vote, file law suits, nor have their own money. Under their father’s roof, he had control and that control was passed to her husband upon marriage. A woman running away from violent domestic abuse was hunted down by the law and returned to her husband as she was his property.

 

From the 1840s to 1920 women fought for the vote. The struggle to gain the right to vote began nearly 200 years ago. Attempts to vote in 1870 were turned away. The Supreme Court ruled against them in 1875. In 1916 Alice Paul formed the National Women’s Party. They marched. Over 200 supporters were arrested while picketing the White House. They were beaten with clubs and thrown in prison. Some went on hunger strikes and endured forced feedings. Forty prison guards wielding clubs went on a rampage against 33 women known as the “Night of Terror” on Nov. 15, 1917. (See HBO movie, “Iron Jawed Angels.”)

 

In the 1960s women fought for birth control. It was illegal in many parts of the country then, you see. Margaret Sanger, a pioneer in the struggle for a woman’s right to birth control in an era “when it was illegal to discuss the topic,” was arrested many times for her publications and her New York City clinic.

 

Civil rights marches (1960s)

 

Again people were beaten, drowned and hanged. Because of the media, there was more attention and the marches for these rights were better known. After the Civil War, the 14th and 15th amendments adopted in 1868 and 1878 granted citizenship and suffrage to blacks, but not to women. A suffrage amendment to the federal Constitution was presented to Congress and repeatedly failed to pass.

 

1972: Title IX is a landmark federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination in education. Title IX is not just about sports and it protects all students; the federal government threatened to stop aid to all public schools that did not correct this.

 

1973: Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal and safe. Women stopped dying from abortions. The government is planning to stop funding for Planned Parenthood and tens of thousands of women will not only lose coverage for basic health care, but they will also no longer have access to birth control. That pretty much means there will be more unwanted pregnancies and if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, which seems likely with the appointment of a new Supreme Court judge by this administration, there will be more women dying from abortions again.

 

Gay rights marches

 

Again people were beaten and killed, even when not participating in marches, but while just trying to live their lives like people of color before them. Eventually gains were made and gays were given the right to marry and the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples. LGBT people and their rights are now being subject to reversal.

 

Now it is 2017 and people are marching. Women, their husbands, children and fathers descended upon Washington, D.C., to march for women’s rights. There were people marching in 57 other countries around the world. They marched for women who still make less money than men for the same work; for Muslim women and their families who fear deportation and being sent back to the terribly dangerous places they were trying so hard to flee; for Mexican families who live in fear of being deported and being torn from their children; and to raise awareness for women in other countries who have few, if any, rights.

 

Every march, every right that was fought for, that women died for, was for your “status quo,” for the life you have now, that you take for granted. Please know that every one of these rights that let you live the life you have can be erased with the swipe of a pen. Don’t let all those who died, the fighting and suffering be for naught.

 

Guess what? The Equal Rights Amendment did not pass. It won the two-thirds vote from the House of Representatives in October, 1971. In March of 1972, it was approved by the Senate and sent to the states for ratification. It failed to achieve ratification by 38, or three-quarters, of the states. It was not brought to a vote again.

 

Because of that rejection, sexual equality, with the exception of when it pertains to the right to vote, is not protected by the Constitution. However, in the late 20th century the federal government and all states have passed legislation protecting women’s rights. These protections are not amendments to the Constitution. They, too, can be wiped away with the swipe of a pen.

 

Please don’t be complacent and too comfortable with your life. Be aware of what has happened over the years, decades and literally centuries to get you here. Women fought and died. People march to make other people aware; pay attention, please, lest you lose it all. Lest we all lose it all.

 

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New Rules Add Welfare Protections for Organically Raised Farm Animals

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Things may be looking up for animals raised on organic farms in the U.S., reports Lynne Curry in the journal Civil Eats.

The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) won last-minute approval from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and could make it onto the Federal Register to become law within the week. The OLPP enacts comprehensive animal welfare standards covering living conditions (particularly for poultry), healthcare, slaughter, and transport.

The proposed rules are the product of decades-long conversations involving the Organic Trade Association (OTA), animal welfare and consumer groups and they’re based on formal recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the 15-member public advisory group to the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s National Organic Program comprised of organic producers, environmentalists, and consumer advocates, among others, Curry writes.

The rules aren’t as extensive as some advocates had hoped for, but they are a significant step. “We didn’t get all that we wanted. It was adequate given the state of animal welfare in the organic program,” says Dena Jones, the farm animal program director at the American Welfare Institute. “You can’t go from 0 to 100 miles an hour in five feet.”

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FUTURE OF AG LOOKS CONVENTIONAL TO THESE GUYS

On Wednesday, January 11, President-elect Trump sat down with Bayer CEO Werner Baumann and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant at Trump Tower and had a “productive meeting” on “the future of the agriculture industry” and the pending merger between the two companies.

No doubt including plans for the new mega-company to control the world’s seeds, sell chemical agriculture everywhere, and stamp out brush fires like organic farming.

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INTRUDERS IN THE DUST

Monsanto’s propaganda machine churns out a steady stream of lies and misinformation. One of its most dishonest—but unfortunately, effective—talking points is that the world will go hungry if we stop growing GMO crops, which (oh-by-the-way) can’t be grown without massive amounts of poisonous chemicals.

Fact is, here in the U.S. alone, 13.1 million children under 18 don’t have consistent access to enough food, according to the U.S. (USDA). That number will soar, right along with soaring temperatures, if we don’t stop degrading and poisoning our soil and water, some scientists warn.

A recent article on Mercola.com cites research by bio-ethicisit George Dvorsky. Dvorsky warns that modern industrial agriculture puts us at risk of a 1930s Great Depression-style dust bowl:

Researchers Michael Glotter, Ph.D. and Joshua Elliot, Ph.D., from the University of Chicago, ran computer simulations to predict the effects of a Dust Bowl-like drought on today’s maize, soy and wheat crops.
“We expected to find the system much more resilient because 30 percent of production is now irrigated in the United States, and because we’ve abandoned corn production in more severely drought-stricken places such as Oklahoma and west Texas,” noted Elliott in a press release. “But we found the opposite: The system was just as sensitive to drought and heat as it was in the 1930s,” Dvorsky writes.

Our best way out of this mess? Shift to regenerative practices that stop depleting our soil and fresh water supplies, and start sequestering atmospheric carbon in the soil. Countries that commit to making this transition—for example, France, Germany and Morocco— will be better prepared to deal with global warming. Those that don’t will be left in the dust.

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IS ROUNDUP THE NEW DDT?

Roundup is everywhere. It’s so ubiquitous that some scientists refer to it as the new DDT, says Organic Consumers Association head Ronnie Cummins in his latest blog.
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DDT, despite mounting scientific evidence against its use, stayed on the market for decades. Like Roundup, DDT was proclaimed “perfectly safe” by chemical companies and government regulators. Until it wasn’t.

In the early 1960s, government regulators finally banned most uses of DDT—but only after millions of people had already developed diseases like cancer, infertility, liver and nervous system damage. And 40 years after it was taken off the market, we haven’t yet been able to completely eradicate it from the environment.

Have we learned nothing?

Following on the declaration of a respected scientific panel of the World Health Organization in 2016 that Roundup (active ingredient glyphosate) likely causes cancer, compounded by numerous studies linking Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide to hormone disruption, birth defects, kidney damage, and other diseases, the question we should be asking today is not whether we need more proof that the Biotech Bully of St. Louis is deliberately poisoning us for profit, aided and abetted by indentured scientists, media hacks, and politicians—but rather how do we drive Monsanto’s Roundup and Roundup-tainted foods off the market?

Is glyphosate in your organically-fed body?

Health Research Institute (HRI) is offering glyphosate testing to consumers. For $99, HRI’s lab will test your urine sample for glyphosate and AMPA, a metabolite of glyphosate. (Your liver is in charge of breaking down glyphosate into its metabolite—but as a recent study suggests, making your liver break down glyphosate and process its metabolites may be damaging your liver).

How would you test positive for glyphosate if you’re not eating GMO foods?

Because glyphosate may be in your drinking water. Or on your local park, or golf course, or your kids’ school playground, if those area are sprayed with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. And get this—glyphosate isn’t just sprayed on GMO crops. It’s also used to dry out other crops, like oats, to make harvesting easier. So just because you’re eating “non-GMO” doesn’t mean you’re eating “glyphosate-free.”

To find out if glyphosate is lurking in your body, order the test from HRI. They’ll send you a sample collection kit, along with instruction on how to collect your urine and return it for testing. Request a glyphosate test kit online or call 641-552-6258.

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VERY LOW DOSES OF GLYPHOSATE DAMAGE RATS’ LIVERS

A new study just published in Scientific Reports, an online, open access journal from the publishers of Nature, shows that the glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in rats at very low doses.

The new peer-reviewed study led by Dr. Michael Antoniou at King’s College London using cutting edge profiling methods describes the molecular composition of the livers of female rats administered with an extremely low dose of Roundup weed-killer over a two-year period. The dose of glyphosate from the Roundup administered was thousands of times below what is permitted by regulators worldwide. The study revealed that these animals suffered from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

This study is unique in that it is the first to show a causative link between consumption of Roundup at a real-world environmental dose and a serious disease condition.

Dr. Antoniou stated recently, “The findings of our study are very worrying as they demonstrate for the first time a causative link between an environmentally relevant level of Roundup consumption over the long-term and a serious disease – namely non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Our results also suggest that regulators should reconsider the safety evaluation of glyphosate-based herbicides.

Regulators worldwide accept toxicity studies in rats as indicators of human health risks. Therefore, the results of this latest study may have serious consequences for human health.

NAFLD currently affects 25 percent of the US population. Risk factors include being overweight or obese, having diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglycerides in the blood. Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to NAFLD. However, some people develop NAFLD even if they do not have any risk factors. Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, spider-like blood vessels, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), itching, fluid build-up and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites), and mental confusion. NAFLD can progress to the more serious condition non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which was supposed to finish its 15-year review of glyphosate more than a year ago, and rule on whether to reregister it or ban it, is still twiddling its thumbs.

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration won’t test foods for glyphosate residue. Meanwhile, in the EU, where the European Commission has also failed to act, citizens are taking matters into their own hands—by launching a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) inviting the Commission “to propose to Member States a ban on glyphosate, to reform the pesticide approval procedure, and to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use.”

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TAPEWORM FOUND IN ALASKAN WILD-CAUGHT SALMON

A Japanese tapeworm has infected salmon caught off the North Alaskan coast, a new study published by the Center for Disease Control revealed.

The tapeworm, known as Diphyllobothrium nihonkaiense, has caused thousands of infections in the Asia Pacific since 2008, according to the Washington Post. But now, researchers determined people who eat raw salmon caught in North America may be at risk of contracting the tapeworm infections.

An increased popularity of eating raw fish and “global importation” has caused the reemergence of the tapeworm, the study found.

The study concluded, “Salmon from the American and Asian Pacific coasts and elsewhere pose potential dangers for persons who eat these fish raw.”

Researchers studied 64 wild pacific salmons and found the tapeworm in a single pink salmon that was caught near Hope, Alaska.

The main intent of the study, researchers wrote, was “to alert parasitologists and medical doctors about the potential danger of human infection with this long tapeworm resulting from consumption of infected salmon imported (on ice) from the Pacific coast of North America and elsewhere.”

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ENVIRONMENTALISTS BEING TARGETED IN LATIN AMERICA

As you know, supporting organic agriculture and food production is environmental activism. That could mean death if you’re in Latin America.

Isidro Baldenegro Lopez, an award-winning Indigenous environmental activist who fought against deforestation in Mexico, was assassinated last weekend, Proceso reports.

Baldenegro, the 2005 recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize for North America, was found dead outside a relative’s house in Chihuahua. Witnesses claim the murder suspects are linked with known assassins of other Indigenous environmental activists in the region.

Baldenegro will be buried in Coloradas de la Virgen, the land belonging to his native Tarahumara community, which he and his family defended for decades.

In March 2003, he was arrested for 15 months for organizing protests against unregulated logging in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Two decades prior, his father was shot and killed in front of him shortly after, leading to mass protests against logging corporations.

Baldenegro’s story echoes those of countless other Indigenous environmental activists across Latin America who have been killed for defending their native lands, like Berta Caceres and Walter Mendez Barrios.

Murdered in March last year, Caceres was a Honduran Indigenous activist who was killed amid a campaign she led to stop the construction of a hydroelectric dam that threatened to harm lands belonging to her native Lenca people. She was also a recipient of the Goldman Prize.

While Caceres’ death attracted international attention, just days later Walter Mendez Barrios, a Guatemalan environmental activist, was also murdered. He was the leader of the Association of Forest Communities of Peten, which sought to protect Indigenous lands against deforestation led by foreign corporations.

Investigative journalism group Global Witness reports that Latin America had the highest murder rate of environmental activists in 2015, compared to other regions.

While Baldenegro was officially recognized for his work defending his native lands in Mexico, he was widely championed as a hero of Indigenous land rights across the world.

“Baldenegro’s courageous efforts have made him a national and international hero,” the Goldman Prize site writes of the deceased Tarahumara leader.

“He brought world attention to the beautiful, ecologically crucial old-growth forests of the Sierra Madre as well as the survival of the Tarahumara.”

Baldenegro was just 50 years old.

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‘Science’ That’s on the Take vs. Science That Takes Them on

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The New York Times, in an article published on December 31, 2016, documents how scientists are paid by agribusiness corporations for “science” that supports the companies’ agendas. Those of us working in this field of journalism have known about this for decades, but the scope of agribusiness’s propaganda campaigns seldom reaches the general public. The following three paragraphs are from the Times’ article.

 

“The corporate use of academia has been documented in fields like soft drinks and pharmaceuticals. But it is rare for an academic to provide an insider’s view of the relationships being forged with corporations, and the expectations that accompany them.

 

“A review of Syngenta’s strategy shows that Dr. Cresswell’s experience (Dr. James Cresswell of the University of Exeter in England) fits in with practices used by American competitors like Monsanto and across the agrochemical industry. Scientists deliver outcomes favorable to companies, while university research departments court corporate support. Universities and regulators sacrifice full autonomy by signing confidentiality agreements. And academics sometimes double as paid consultants.

 

“In Britain, Syngenta has built a network of academics and regulators, even recruiting the leading government scientist on the bee issue. In the United States, Syngenta pays academics like James W. Simpkins of West Virginia University, whose work has helped validate the safety of its products. Not only has Dr. Simpkins’s research been funded by Syngenta, he is also a $250-an-hour consultant for the company. And he partnered with a Syngenta executive in a consulting venture, emails obtained by The New York Times show.”

 

The article is a scathing indictment of corporate-scientific collusion to excuse corporate greed and excesses. To read the full article, visit the Times’ home page and search for the article headlined, Scientists Loved and Loathed by an Agrochemical Giant.

 

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‘FREE TO PROSPER’ MEANS FREE TO LOOT AND EXPLOIT

 

The following link will take you to a report called “Free to Prosper,” written by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It’s the Trumpist agenda for the next Congress, and if you read through it, you will be horrified. Read especially Section 8 on “Food, Drugs, and Consumer Freedom.” Thanks to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association for bringing this to light. https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/cei_agenda_for_congress_2017_-_final.pdf

 

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SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE MERGER OF BAYER AND MONSANTO

 

Last month shareholders approved the merger of Bayer the Bee-Slayer and Monsanto the Butterfly-Killer. The pesticide giants are on track to merge into one mega-corporation. The merger still has to get through the Justice Department’s scrutiny. And state Attorneys General are pushing for an investigation, according to Friends of the Earth.

 

Senator Bernie Sanders, farmers across the country and people like you are already speaking out against the merger. If this merger goes through, it would be disastrous for pollinators, people and the planet. We could have even MORE crops soaked in dangerous pesticides like bee-killing neonics or glyphosate — key drivers of bee and monarch declines.

 

What’s more, the new corporation would be the biggest seed and pesticide company in the world — giving it unprecedented clout over our food supply.

 

This merger could also set a precedent for other mega-mergers, like Dow merging with Dupont and ChemChina merging with Syngenta. If these six companies consolidated into three, they would control nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market. The good news is, cities and states across the country are passing laws to restrict bee-killing neonics.

 

Meanwhile, the FDA announced it will start testing for glyphosate in our food — which will shine a light on how much this hazardous pesticide is getting into our food supply and endangering our health. Senator Merkley introduced a bill in Congress to create more pesticide-free habitat for bees and butterflies. And garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are helping rapidly shift the gardening industry away from neonics.

But if this merger goes through, Monsanto and Bayer combined will have even more power and money to block our efforts. The new corporation could put even more pressure on our government to delay regulatory action on toxic chemicals, especially under Trump’s corporate-friendly cabinet heads.

 

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CANNABIS CURBS LUNG CANCER GROWTH IN MICE, STUDY SHOWS

 

A Harvard University study from 2007, which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors, found that in just three weeks, doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects, and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more.

 

Harvard researchers tested THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found naturally in cannabis) on cancer cells in labs, and followed that up by studying mice subjects.

 

The lab demonstration found that doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cancer cells. Following the lab test, researchers dosed mice – which were implanted with human lung cancer cells – with THC, and found that in just three weeks, tumors were reduced in both size and weight by roughly 50 percent compared to a control group. Cancer lesions on the lungs were also reduced-–by nearly 60 percent–and there was as a significant reduction in “protein markers” associated with cancer progression.

 

Researchers theorize that THC had such a positive effect on combating tumors because it activates molecules that arrest the cell cycle, and may also interfere with the processes of angiogenesis and vascularization, which lead to cancer growth.

 

Over six years since its original release, this study remains one of the most important cannabis-related studies ever released.

 

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DESPITE PLEDGES TO CUT BACK, FARMS STILL USING ANTIBIOTICS

 

It’s a continuing paradox of the meat industry. Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation’s swine, cattle and poultry, according to Dan Charles, reporting on NPR.

 

The latest figures, released last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, show antibiotic sales for use on farm animals increased by 1 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. The increase was slightly greater – 2 percent — for antibiotics used as human medicine.

 

The FDA and other public health agencies have been pushing farmers to rely less on these drugs. Heavy use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, complicating the task of treating many infections.

 

The poultry industry has made the most ambitious promises to reduce antibiotic use. Perdue Farms says that 95 percent of its chickens already are raised with no antibiotics at all. Tyson Foods, the largest producer, has announced that it is “striving” to end the use of antibiotics that also are used in human medicine. Tyson will continue to deploy a class of antibiotics called ionophores, which can’t be used on humans. The new report, however, doesn’t shed any light on the impact of these moves, because it doesn’t show how much of each drug is used on cattle, swine or poultry.

 

In a statement, David Wallinga, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that “this report further underscores how urgently we need more and stronger government action” to reduce antibiotic use.

 

Some species of bacteria found on cattle have shown increasing levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin, and turkey samples showed a big increase in Salmonella that’s resistant to several different drugs.

 

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Monsanto and the biotechnology industry have a goal. They want to dominate the worlds’ food supply-–for their profit. Regardless of the cost to your health, the environment, family farmers, or the future of biodiversity on our planet.

 

And as the new administration takes shape in the US, it seems pretty clear that we can’t count on our government to protect us any time soon. For example, Trump has tapped Congressman Mike Pompeo to be the head of the CIA.

 

Pompeo was Monsanto’s man on the Hill. He authored what became known as the DARK (Deny Americans’ Right to Know) act, which made it illegal for states to require labeling of GMOs.

 

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‘Science’ That’s on the Take vs. Science That Takes Them on

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

The New York Times, in an article published on December 31, 2016, documents how scientists are paid by agribusiness corporations for “science” that supports the companies’ agendas. Those of us The New York Times, in an article published on December 31, 2016, documents how scientists are paid by agribusiness corporations for “science” that supports the companies’ agendas. Those of us working in this field of journalism have known about this for decades, but the scope of agribusiness’s propaganda campaigns seldom reaches the general public. The following three paragraphs are from the Times’ article, followed by a link to the full story.

“The corporate use of academia has been documented in fields like soft drinks and pharmaceuticals. But it is rare for an academic to provide an insider’s view of the relationships being forged with corporations, and the expectations that accompany them.

“A review of Syngenta’s strategy shows that Dr. Cresswell’s experience (Dr. James Cresswell of the University of Exeter in England) fits in with practices used by American competitors like Monsanto and across the agrochemical industry. Scientists deliver outcomes favorable to companies, while university research departments court corporate support. Universities and regulators sacrifice full autonomy by signing confidentiality agreements. And academics sometimes double as paid consultants.

“In Britain, Syngenta has built a network of academics and regulators, even recruiting the leading government scientist on the bee issue. In the United States, Syngenta pays academics like James W. Simpkins of West Virginia University, whose work has helped validate the safety of its products. Not only has Dr. Simpkins’s research been funded by Syngenta, he is also a $250-an-hour consultant for the company. And he partnered with a Syngenta executive in a consulting venture, emails obtained by The New York Times show.”

The article is a scathing indictment of corporate-scientific collusion to excuse corporate greed and excesses.

***

‘FREE TO PROSPER’ MEANS FREE TO LOOT AND EXPLOIT

The following link will take you to a report called “Free to Prosper,” written by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It’s the Trumpist agenda for the next Congress, and if you read through it, you will be horrified. Read especially Section 8 on “Food, Drugs, and Consumer Freedom.” Thanks to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association for bringing this to light. https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/cei_agenda_for_congress_2017_-_final.pdf

***

SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE MERGER OF BAYER AND MONSANTO

Last month shareholders approved the merger of Bayer the Bee-Slayer and Monsanto the Butterfly-Killer. The pesticide giants are on track to merge into one mega-corporation. The merger still has to get through the Justice Department’s scrutiny. And state Attorneys General are pushing for an investigation, according to Friends of the Earth.

Senator Bernie Sanders, farmers across the country and people like you are already speaking out against the merger. If this merger goes through, it would be disastrous for pollinators, people and the planet. We could have even MORE crops soaked in dangerous pesticides like bee-killing neonics or glyphosate — key drivers of bee and monarch declines.

What’s more, the new corporation would be the biggest seed and pesticide company in the world — giving it unprecedented clout over our food supply.

This merger could also set a precedent for other mega-mergers, like Dow merging with Dupont and ChemChina merging with Syngenta. If these six companies consolidated into three, they would control nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market. The good news is, cities and states across the country are passing laws to restrict bee-killing neonics.

Meanwhile, the FDA announced it will start testing for glyphosate in our food — which will shine a light on how much this hazardous pesticide is getting into our food supply and endangering our health. Senator Merkley introduced a bill in Congress to create more pesticide-free habitat for bees and butterflies. And garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are helping rapidly shift the gardening industry away from neonics.
But if this merger goes through, Monsanto and Bayer combined will have even more power and money to block our efforts. The new corporation could put even more pressure on our government to delay regulatory action on toxic chemicals, especially under Trump’s corporate-friendly cabinet heads.

***

CANNABIS CURBS LUNG CANCER GROWTH IN MICE, STUDY SHOWS

A Harvard University study from 2007, which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors, found that in just three weeks, doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects, and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more.

Harvard researchers tested THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found naturally in cannabis) on cancer cells in labs, and followed that up by studying mice subjects.

The lab demonstration found that doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cancer cells. Following the lab test, researchers dosed mice – which were implanted with human lung cancer cells – with THC, and found that in just three weeks, tumors were reduced in both size and weight by roughly 50 percent compared to a control group. Cancer lesions on the lungs were also reduced-–by nearly 60 percent–and there was as a significant reduction in “protein markers” associated with cancer progression.

Researchers theorize that THC had such a positive effect on combating tumors because it activates molecules that arrest the cell cycle, and may also interfere with the processes of angiogenesis and vascularization, which lead to cancer growth.

Over six years since its original release, this study remains one of the most important cannabis-related studies ever released.

***

DESPITE PLEDGES TO CUT BACK, FARMS STILL USING ANTIBIOTICS

It’s a continuing paradox of the meat industry. Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation’s swine, cattle and poultry, according to Dan Charles, reporting on NPR.

The latest figures, released last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, show antibiotic sales for use on farm animals increased by 1 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. The increase was slightly greater – 2 percent — for antibiotics used as human medicine.

The FDA and other public health agencies have been pushing farmers to rely less on these drugs. Heavy use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, complicating the task of treating many infections.

The poultry industry has made the most ambitious promises to reduce antibiotic use. Perdue Farms says that 95 percent of its chickens already are raised with no antibiotics at all. Tyson Foods, the largest producer, has announced that it is “striving” to end the use of antibiotics that also are used in human medicine. Tyson will continue to deploy a class of antibiotics called ionophores, which can’t be used on humans. The new report, however, doesn’t shed any light on the impact of these moves, because it doesn’t show how much of each drug is used on cattle, swine or poultry.

In a statement, David Wallinga, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that “this report further underscores how urgently we need more and stronger government action” to reduce antibiotic use.

Some species of bacteria found on cattle have shown increasing levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin, and turkey samples showed a big increase in Salmonella that’s resistant to several different drugs.

***

Monsanto and the biotechnology industry have a goal. They want to dominate the worlds’ food supply-–for their profit. Regardless of the cost to your health, the environment, family farmers, or the future of biodiversity on our planet.

And as the new administration takes shape in the US, it seems pretty clear that we can’t count on our government to protect us any time soon. For example, Trump has tapped Congressman Mike Pompeo to be the head of the CIA.

Pompeo was Monsanto’s man on the Hill. He authored what became known as the DARK (Deny Americans’ Right to Know) act, which made it illegal for states to require labeling of GMOs.

###
working in this field of journalism have known about this for decades, but the scope of agribusiness’s propaganda campaigns seldom reaches the general public. The following three paragraphs are from the Times’ article, followed by a link to the full story.

“The corporate use of academia has been documented in fields like soft drinks and pharmaceuticals. But it is rare for an academic to provide an insider’s view of the relationships being forged with corporations, and the expectations that accompany them.

“A review of Syngenta’s strategy shows that Dr. Cresswell’s experience (Dr. James Cresswell of the University of Exeter in England) fits in with practices used by American competitors like Monsanto and across the agrochemical industry. Scientists deliver outcomes favorable to companies, while university research departments court corporate support. Universities and regulators sacrifice full autonomy by signing confidentiality agreements. And academics sometimes double as paid consultants.

“In Britain, Syngenta has built a network of academics and regulators, even recruiting the leading government scientist on the bee issue. In the United States, Syngenta pays academics like James W. Simpkins of West Virginia University, whose work has helped validate the safety of its products. Not only has Dr. Simpkins’s research been funded by Syngenta, he is also a $250-an-hour consultant for the company. And he partnered with a Syngenta executive in a consulting venture, emails obtained by The New York Times show.”

The article is a scathing indictment of corporate-scientific collusion to excuse corporate greed and excesses. To read the full article, paste this address into your browser:

***

‘FREE TO PROSPER’ MEANS FREE TO LOOT AND EXPLOIT

The following link will take you to a report called “Free to Prosper,” written by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It’s the Trumpist agenda for the next Congress, and if you read through it, you will be horrified. Read especially Section 8 on “Food, Drugs, and Consumer Freedom.” Thanks to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association for bringing this to light. https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/cei_agenda_for_congress_2017_-_final.pdf

***

SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE MERGER OF BAYER AND MONSANTO

Last month shareholders approved the merger of Bayer the Bee-Slayer and Monsanto the Butterfly-Killer. The pesticide giants are on track to merge into one mega-corporation. The merger still has to get through the Justice Department’s scrutiny. And state Attorneys General are pushing for an investigation, according to Friends of the Earth.

Senator Bernie Sanders, farmers across the country and people like you are already speaking out against the merger. If this merger goes through, it would be disastrous for pollinators, people and the planet. We could have even MORE crops soaked in dangerous pesticides like bee-killing neonics or glyphosate — key drivers of bee and monarch declines.

What’s more, the new corporation would be the biggest seed and pesticide company in the world — giving it unprecedented clout over our food supply.

This merger could also set a precedent for other mega-mergers, like Dow merging with Dupont and ChemChina merging with Syngenta. If these six companies consolidated into three, they would control nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market. The good news is, cities and states across the country are passing laws to restrict bee-killing neonics.

Meanwhile, the FDA announced it will start testing for glyphosate in our food — which will shine a light on how much this hazardous pesticide is getting into our food supply and endangering our health. Senator Merkley introduced a bill in Congress to create more pesticide-free habitat for bees and butterflies. And garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are helping rapidly shift the gardening industry away from neonics.
But if this merger goes through, Monsanto and Bayer combined will have even more power and money to block our efforts. The new corporation could put even more pressure on our government to delay regulatory action on toxic chemicals, especially under Trump’s corporate-friendly cabinet heads.

***

CANNABIS CURBS LUNG CANCER GROWTH IN MICE, STUDY SHOWS

A Harvard University study from 2007, which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors, found that in just three weeks, doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects, and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more.

Harvard researchers tested THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found naturally in cannabis) on cancer cells in labs, and followed that up by studying mice subjects.

The lab demonstration found that doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cancer cells. Following the lab test, researchers dosed mice – which were implanted with human lung cancer cells – with THC, and found that in just three weeks, tumors were reduced in both size and weight by roughly 50 percent compared to a control group. Cancer lesions on the lungs were also reduced-–by nearly 60 percent–and there was as a significant reduction in “protein markers” associated with cancer progression.

Researchers theorize that THC had such a positive effect on combating tumors because it activates molecules that arrest the cell cycle, and may also interfere with the processes of angiogenesis and vascularization, which lead to cancer growth.

Over six years since its original release, this study remains one of the most important cannabis-related studies ever released.

***

DESPITE PLEDGES TO CUT BACK, FARMS STILL USING ANTIBIOTICS

It’s a continuing paradox of the meat industry. Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation’s swine, cattle and poultry, according to Dan Charles, reporting on NPR.

The latest figures, released last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, show antibiotic sales for use on farm animals increased by 1 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. The increase was slightly greater – 2 percent — for antibiotics used as human medicine.

The FDA and other public health agencies have been pushing farmers to rely less on these drugs. Heavy use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, complicating the task of treating many infections.

The poultry industry has made the most ambitious promises to reduce antibiotic use. Perdue Farms says that 95 percent of its chickens already are raised with no antibiotics at all. Tyson Foods, the largest producer, has announced that it is “striving” to end the use of antibiotics that also are used in human medicine. Tyson will continue to deploy a class of antibiotics called ionophores, which can’t be used on humans. The new report, however, doesn’t shed any light on the impact of these moves, because it doesn’t show how much of each drug is used on cattle, swine or poultry.

In a statement, David Wallinga, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that “this report further underscores how urgently we need more and stronger government action” to reduce antibiotic use.

Some species of bacteria found on cattle have shown increasing levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin, and turkey samples showed a big increase in Salmonella that’s resistant to several different drugs.

***

Monsanto and the biotechnology industry have a goal. They want to dominate the worlds’ food supply-–for their profit. Regardless of the cost to your health, the environment, family farmers, or the future of biodiversity on our planet.

And as the new administration takes shape in the US, it seems pretty clear that we can’t count on our government to protect us any time soon. For example, Trump has tapped Congressman Mike Pompeo to be the head of the CIA.

Pompeo was Monsanto’s man on the Hill. He authored what became known as the DARK (Deny Americans’ Right to Know) act, which made it illegal for states to require labeling of GMOs.

###




‘Science’ That’s on the Take vs. Science That Takes Them on

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

The New York Times, in an article published on December 31, 2016, documents how scientists are paid by agribusiness corporations for “science” that supports the companies’ agendas. Those of us working in this field of journalism have known about this for decades, but the scope of agribusiness’s propaganda campaigns seldom reaches the general public. The following three paragraphs are from the Times’ article, followed by a link to the full story.

“The corporate use of academia has been documented in fields like soft drinks and pharmaceuticals. But it is rare for an academic to provide an insider’s view of the relationships being forged with corporations, and the expectations that accompany them.

“A review of Syngenta’s strategy shows that Dr. Cresswell’s experience (Dr. James Cresswell of the University of Exeter in England) fits in with practices used by American competitors like Monsanto and across the agrochemical industry. Scientists deliver outcomes favorable to companies, while university research departments court corporate support. Universities and regulators sacrifice full autonomy by signing confidentiality agreements. And academics sometimes double as paid consultants.

“In Britain, Syngenta has built a network of academics and regulators, even recruiting the leading government scientist on the bee issue. In the United States, Syngenta pays academics like James W. Simpkins of West Virginia University, whose work has helped validate the safety of its products. Not only has Dr. Simpkins’s research been funded by Syngenta, he is also a $250-an-hour consultant for the company. And he partnered with a Syngenta executive in a consulting venture, emails obtained by The New York Times show.”

The article is a scathing indictment of corporate-scientific collusion to excuse corporate greed and excesses. To read the full article, paste this address into your browser:

***

‘FREE TO PROSPER’ MEANS FREE TO LOOT AND EXPLOIT

The following link will take you to a report called “Free to Prosper,” written by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It’s the Trumpist agenda for the next Congress, and if you read through it, you will be horrified. Read especially Section 8 on “Food, Drugs, and Consumer Freedom.” Thanks to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association for bringing this to light. https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/cei_agenda_for_congress_2017_-_final.pdf

***

SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE MERGER OF BAYER AND MONSANTO

Last month shareholders approved the merger of Bayer the Bee-Slayer and Monsanto the Butterfly-Killer. The pesticide giants are on track to merge into one mega-corporation. The merger still has to get through the Justice Department’s scrutiny. And state Attorneys General are pushing for an investigation, according to Friends of the Earth.

Senator Bernie Sanders, farmers across the country and people like you are already speaking out against the merger. If this merger goes through, it would be disastrous for pollinators, people and the planet. We could have even MORE crops soaked in dangerous pesticides like bee-killing neonics or glyphosate — key drivers of bee and monarch declines.

What’s more, the new corporation would be the biggest seed and pesticide company in the world — giving it unprecedented clout over our food supply.

This merger could also set a precedent for other mega-mergers, like Dow merging with Dupont and ChemChina merging with Syngenta. If these six companies consolidated into three, they would control nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market. The good news is, cities and states across the country are passing laws to restrict bee-killing neonics.

Meanwhile, the FDA announced it will start testing for glyphosate in our food — which will shine a light on how much this hazardous pesticide is getting into our food supply and endangering our health. Senator Merkley introduced a bill in Congress to create more pesticide-free habitat for bees and butterflies. And garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are helping rapidly shift the gardening industry away from neonics.
But if this merger goes through, Monsanto and Bayer combined will have even more power and money to block our efforts. The new corporation could put even more pressure on our government to delay regulatory action on toxic chemicals, especially under Trump’s corporate-friendly cabinet heads.

***

CANNABIS CURBS LUNG CANCER GROWTH IN MICE, STUDY SHOWS

A Harvard University study from 2007, which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors, found that in just three weeks, doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects, and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more.

Harvard researchers tested THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found naturally in cannabis) on cancer cells in labs, and followed that up by studying mice subjects.

The lab demonstration found that doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cancer cells. Following the lab test, researchers dosed mice – which were implanted with human lung cancer cells – with THC, and found that in just three weeks, tumors were reduced in both size and weight by roughly 50 percent compared to a control group. Cancer lesions on the lungs were also reduced-–by nearly 60 percent–and there was as a significant reduction in “protein markers” associated with cancer progression.

Researchers theorize that THC had such a positive effect on combating tumors because it activates molecules that arrest the cell cycle, and may also interfere with the processes of angiogenesis and vascularization, which lead to cancer growth.

Over six years since its original release, this study remains one of the most important cannabis-related studies ever released.

***

DESPITE PLEDGES TO CUT BACK, FARMS STILL USING ANTIBIOTICS

It’s a continuing paradox of the meat industry. Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation’s swine, cattle and poultry, according to Dan Charles, reporting on NPR.

The latest figures, released last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, show antibiotic sales for use on farm animals increased by 1 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. The increase was slightly greater – 2 percent — for antibiotics used as human medicine.

The FDA and other public health agencies have been pushing farmers to rely less on these drugs. Heavy use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, complicating the task of treating many infections.

The poultry industry has made the most ambitious promises to reduce antibiotic use. Perdue Farms says that 95 percent of its chickens already are raised with no antibiotics at all. Tyson Foods, the largest producer, has announced that it is “striving” to end the use of antibiotics that also are used in human medicine. Tyson will continue to deploy a class of antibiotics called ionophores, which can’t be used on humans. The new report, however, doesn’t shed any light on the impact of these moves, because it doesn’t show how much of each drug is used on cattle, swine or poultry.

In a statement, David Wallinga, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that “this report further underscores how urgently we need more and stronger government action” to reduce antibiotic use.

Some species of bacteria found on cattle have shown increasing levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin, and turkey samples showed a big increase in Salmonella that’s resistant to several different drugs.

*The New York Times, in an article published on December 31, 2016, documents how scientists are paid by agribusiness corporations for “science” that supports the companies’ agendas. Those of us working in this field of journalism have known about this for decades, but the scope of agribusiness’s propaganda campaigns seldom reaches the general public. The following three paragraphs are from the Times’ article, followed by a link to the full story.

“The corporate use of academia has been documented in fields like soft drinks and pharmaceuticals. But it is rare for an academic to provide an insider’s view of the relationships being forged with corporations, and the expectations that accompany them.

“A review of Syngenta’s strategy shows that Dr. Cresswell’s experience (Dr. James Cresswell of the University of Exeter in England) fits in with practices used by American competitors like Monsanto and across the agrochemical industry. Scientists deliver outcomes favorable to companies, while university research departments court corporate support. Universities and regulators sacrifice full autonomy by signing confidentiality agreements. And academics sometimes double as paid consultants.

“In Britain, Syngenta has built a network of academics and regulators, even recruiting the leading government scientist on the bee issue. In the United States, Syngenta pays academics like James W. Simpkins of West Virginia University, whose work has helped validate the safety of its products. Not only has Dr. Simpkins’s research been funded by Syngenta, he is also a $250-an-hour consultant for the company. And he partnered with a Syngenta executive in a consulting venture, emails obtained by The New York Times show.”

The article is a scathing indictment of corporate-scientific collusion to excuse corporate greed and excesses. To read the full article, paste this address into your browser:

***

‘FREE TO PROSPER’ MEANS FREE TO LOOT AND EXPLOIT

The following link will take you to a report called “Free to Prosper,” written by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. It’s the Trumpist agenda for the next Congress, and if you read through it, you will be horrified. Read especially Section 8 on “Food, Drugs, and Consumer Freedom.” Thanks to Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association for bringing this to light. https://www.organicconsumers.org/sites/default/files/cei_agenda_for_congress_2017_-_final.pdf

***

SHAREHOLDERS APPROVE MERGER OF BAYER AND MONSANTO

Last month shareholders approved the merger of Bayer the Bee-Slayer and Monsanto the Butterfly-Killer. The pesticide giants are on track to merge into one mega-corporation. The merger still has to get through the Justice Department’s scrutiny. And state Attorneys General are pushing for an investigation, according to Friends of the Earth.

Senator Bernie Sanders, farmers across the country and people like you are already speaking out against the merger. If this merger goes through, it would be disastrous for pollinators, people and the planet. We could have even MORE crops soaked in dangerous pesticides like bee-killing neonics or glyphosate — key drivers of bee and monarch declines.

What’s more, the new corporation would be the biggest seed and pesticide company in the world — giving it unprecedented clout over our food supply.

This merger could also set a precedent for other mega-mergers, like Dow merging with Dupont and ChemChina merging with Syngenta. If these six companies consolidated into three, they would control nearly 70 percent of the global pesticide market. The good news is, cities and states across the country are passing laws to restrict bee-killing neonics.

Meanwhile, the FDA announced it will start testing for glyphosate in our food — which will shine a light on how much this hazardous pesticide is getting into our food supply and endangering our health. Senator Merkley introduced a bill in Congress to create more pesticide-free habitat for bees and butterflies. And garden retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s are helping rapidly shift the gardening industry away from neonics.
But if this merger goes through, Monsanto and Bayer combined will have even more power and money to block our efforts. The new corporation could put even more pressure on our government to delay regulatory action on toxic chemicals, especially under Trump’s corporate-friendly cabinet heads.

***

CANNABIS CURBS LUNG CANCER GROWTH IN MICE, STUDY SHOWS

A Harvard University study from 2007, which remains the most comprehensive ever released on THC’s potential to combat tumors, found that in just three weeks, doses of THC were able to cut lung cancer tumor growth in half in mice subjects, and were able to reduce cancer lesions by even more.

Harvard researchers tested THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, which is found naturally in cannabis) on cancer cells in labs, and followed that up by studying mice subjects.

The lab demonstration found that doses of THC inhibited growth and spread in the cancer cells. Following the lab test, researchers dosed mice – which were implanted with human lung cancer cells – with THC, and found that in just three weeks, tumors were reduced in both size and weight by roughly 50 percent compared to a control group. Cancer lesions on the lungs were also reduced-–by nearly 60 percent–and there was as a significant reduction in “protein markers” associated with cancer progression.

Researchers theorize that THC had such a positive effect on combating tumors because it activates molecules that arrest the cell cycle, and may also interfere with the processes of angiogenesis and vascularization, which lead to cancer growth.

Over six years since its original release, this study remains one of the most important cannabis-related studies ever released.

***

DESPITE PLEDGES TO CUT BACK, FARMS STILL USING ANTIBIOTICS

It’s a continuing paradox of the meat industry. Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation’s swine, cattle and poultry, according to Dan Charles, reporting on NPR.

The latest figures, released last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, show antibiotic sales for use on farm animals increased by 1 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. The increase was slightly greater – 2 percent — for antibiotics used as human medicine.

The FDA and other public health agencies have been pushing farmers to rely less on these drugs. Heavy use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, complicating the task of treating many infections.

The poultry industry has made the most ambitious promises to reduce antibiotic use. Perdue Farms says that 95 percent of its chickens already are raised with no antibiotics at all. Tyson Foods, the largest producer, has announced that it is “striving” to end the use of antibiotics that also are used in human medicine. Tyson will continue to deploy a class of antibiotics called ionophores, which can’t be used on humans. The new report, however, doesn’t shed any light on the impact of these moves, because it doesn’t show how much of each drug is used on cattle, swine or poultry.

In a statement, David Wallinga, from the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that “this report further underscores how urgently we need more and stronger government action” to reduce antibiotic use.

Some species of bacteria found on cattle have shown increasing levels of resistance to ciprofloxacin, and turkey samples showed a big increase in Salmonella that’s resistant to several different drugs.

***

MONSANTO’S CONGRESSMAN NOW TO HEAD THE CIA

Monsanto and the biotechnology industry have a goal. They want to dominate the worlds’ food supply-–for their profit. Regardless of the cost to your health, the environment, family farmers, or the future of biodiversity on our planet.

And as the new administration takes shape in the US, it seems pretty clear that we can’t count on our government to protect us any time soon. For example, Trump has tapped Congressman Mike Pompeo to be the head of the CIA.

Pompeo was Monsanto’s man on the Hill. He authored what became known as the DARK (Deny Americans’ Right to Know) act, which made it illegal for states to require labeling of GMOs.

###
 




Chemical Agriculture Gets Its Champion

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

The list of corporate cronies who will soon run the new, sad reality show in Washington, DC, gets uglier by the day, writes Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association.

Here’s one appointment that may have escaped your notice, Cummins reports. Under the incoming Trump Administration, the CEO of the company that brought us Napalm, Agent Orange, Chlorpyrifos, 2,4-D, and, along with Monsanto, GMO crops, will head up the “American Manufacturing Council.”

It’s a safe bet that Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, won’t care one whit about how much poison his company unleashes on you and your food. On December 10, President-Elect Donald Trump pulled Dow’s Liveris up on stage at the Deltaplex Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., to announce that the head of the chemical giant will lead Trump’s “American Manufacturing Council.”

As the two men “showered each other with praise,” said a Wall Street Journal report, Liveris reportedly told the crowd, “I tingle with pride listening to you.”

In a list of talking points drafted by Trump’s National Advisory Committee for Agriculture and Rural Issues, this was talking point #10: The Trump-Pence administration will use the best available science to determine appropriate regulations for the food and agriculture sector; agriculture will NOT be regulated based upon the latest trend on social media.

With Dow’s CEO in charge of the “American Manufacturing Council,” there’s no doubt that the so-called “best available science” will be as pro-poison and pro-GMO as it gets.
“We’ve got ideas and we’ve got plans,” Liveris told the cheering crowd in Grand Rapids.

Thanks for pointing this out, Ronnie. I haven’t read a word about it in any other source.

***

EPA PANEL TO DETERMINE GLYPHOSATE’S CARCINOGENICITY

Stefanie Spear of EcoWatch reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) to evaluate “the carcinogenic potential of the herbicide glyphosate,” the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.

For years, Monsanto has claimed that glyphosate is safe, advertising at one time that Roundup was “safer than table salt” and “practically non-toxic.”

However, many studies contradict Monsanto’s assertions. In March, 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.” Then in July, 2016, an IARC scientist, Dr. Kurt Straif, defended the agency’s assessment that glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans. Dr. Straif stated that:

“Our evaluation was a review of all the published scientific literature on glyphosate and this was done by the world’s best experts on the topic that in addition don’t have any conflicts of interest that could bias their assessment.

“They concluded that, yes, glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans based on three strings of evidence, that is clear evidence of cancer in experimental animals, limited evidence for cancer for humans from real-world exposures, of exposed farmers, and also strong evidence that it can damage the genes from any kind of other toxicological studies.”

The SAP meetings now taking place were originally scheduled for mid-October, but the EPA postponed them only a few of days before they were to begin due to “changes in the availability of experts for the peer review panel.”

According to Carey Gillam, research director for U.S. Right to Know, the EPA’s decision to postpone the meetings came after an intense lobbying campaign led by CropLife America, which represents the interests of Monsanto and other agricultural businesses. CropLife initially fought to keep the SAP meetings from happening at all, then said if the meetings were to be held, “any person who has publicly expressed an opinion regarding the carcinogenicity of glyphosate” should be excluded from participating.

In a letter to the EPA, CropLife singled out epidemiologist Dr. Peter Infante, who the lobbying firm felt should be “replaced with an epidemiologist without such patent bias.” As the only epidemiologist slated to be on the panel, CropLife felt that Dr. Infante may have had enhanced influence on the epidemiological evaluation on glyphosate.

Dr. Infante has testified on behalf of plaintiffs suing Monsanto over chemical exposure. Nonetheless, Dr. Infante is one of the leading experts in his field, having spent the better part of a storied career protecting the public from harmful chemicals.

Dr. Infante spent 24 years working for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, where he determined cancer risks to those working on developing toxic chemicals, including arsenic, asbestos and formaldehyde. He has also served as an expert epidemiology consultant for a number of world bodies, including the World Trade Organization and the EPA.

CropLife’s letter to the EPA was sent two days before the agency announced that the glyphosate meetings would be postponed. Many accused the EPA of kowtowing to lobbyists and the businesses they represent. The accusations only grew louder when Dr. Infante’s name was no longer on the list of panelists scheduled for the December meetings.

Dr. Infante told Delta FarmPress that he was “mystified” by the EPA’s decision to remove him from the meetings. “I didn’t choose to leave the panel,” he said. “No … I was removed from the panel. I’m totally mystified by it.”

The EPA’s move was also surprising to environmental advocacy groups, who say it is highly unusual for the agency to remove a panelist from a Scientific Advisory Panel.

“The industry wants to say that our own government scientists, the top ones in their fields, aren’t good enough for these panels,” said Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at the Consumers Union, after the SAP meetings were postponed in October. “If the EPA wants to add extra epidemiologists that is great but why didn’t they do it before? They are doing this because of pressure from industry.”

According to Gillam, “the delay and the maneuvering by industry to influence panel participation does little to bolster consumer confidence for the likelihood of an objective outcome.”

The EPA said it will issue a risk assessment for glyphosate by spring of 2017.

Jeff Cox adds: With Trump’s choice of climate denier Scott Pruitt as the next administrator of the EPA starting January 20, and with Trump’s stated goal of cutting EPA’s budget by 80 percent, it seems certain that glyphosate will get a ringing safety endorsement by the spring of 2017.

***

NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM BEING CO-OPTED BY AGRIBUSINESS

In a letter to the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, The Cornucopia Institute has requested an independent audit of the National Organic Program (NOP), charging a multiplicity of illegal actions and inactions. The Wisconsin-based farm policy research group alleges that the National Organic Program has failed to enforce the laws governing organic agriculture, thereby allowing multinational corporate agribusinesses to squeeze out family-scale farmers, compromising the integrity of the organic label.

If the independent Inspector General responds to Cornucopia’s request, this will not be the first audit that they have performed at the request of the watchdog group. Past audits have been highly critical of the National Organic Program’s accreditation program overseeing organic certification.

“By failing to vigorously enforce the organic standards, USDA political appointees and NOP management have betrayed ethical family farmers and businesses, along with consumer trust,” stated Mark A. Kastel, Cornucopia’s codirector. “The NOP has ceded control of organic rulemaking and enforcement to lobbyists from the nation’s most powerful agribusinesses.”

Cornucopia’s letter cites a number of serious enforcement violations including: allowing soil-less hydroponic/container growing, which substitutes liquid fertilizers for careful stewardship of soil; allowing documented cases of “willful” violations on factory dairies confining livestock instead of grazing; and allowing as many as 200,000 “organic” chickens to be kept in single buildings without outdoor access.

***

ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION WANTS ECO-CONSOLIDATION

“One of our favorite themes at Organic Consumers Association is the need for all of us to move away from single-issue organizing to galvanizing our many movements—peace, social justice, food and farming, campaign finance reform, faith, environment and climate —around a shared determination to stand up to corruption and to defend our basic rights and our common home,” the group announced in a press release.

“If we can break out of our single-issue silos, we will create a movement, indeed a revolution, so powerful that we will succeed in redirecting our financial and human resources toward the regeneration of our soils, our food, our economies, our health. And in so doing, restore climate stability.

OCA says that’s why the Standing Rock protest was so inspirational: “Because it united us.” Five hundred clergy members from 20 different religious groups gathered at the Standing Rock camp. Musicians Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Jason Mraz held a benefit concert. Bill McKibben, 350.org, and other climate groups got involved. The Code Pink peace and human rights activists participated, as did actress and 60s anti-war activist Jane Fonda.
And then there were the thousands of veterans who descended on the Standing Rock camp, vowing to defend the water protectors from any attempt by “law enforcement” to remove them.

Maybe most importantly, indigenous peoples from tribes around the world took notice of Standing Rock and many sent folks to join in the protection of sacred places and clean water.

“At OCA, what started out as a fundraising drive to provide an organic Thanksgiving dinner for the water protectors, turned into something bigger. We knew that our message—that we are all connected, that we are all fighting the same battle, that we are all one movement—resonated when in just two days our members donated $40,000, ten times more than the $4,000 we asked for, to provide food and other supplies for the camp,” wrote Katherine Paul, associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

***

TRUMP CABINET PICKS ARE BAD NEWS FOR FOOD SAFETY GROUPS

“With all eyes on the Trump administration’s likely picks for his Cabinet, we’ve been closely following the nominations of appointees most likely to make an impact on the food movement,” says the Center for Food Safety. “And we won’t sugarcoat this: so far, it’s bad news.”

It’s becoming clear that a Donald Trump presidency means key Administration officials will try to dismantle some of the gains we’ve fought for over the past 20 years, and in some cases will even ally with big corporations.

President-elect Trump has denied climate change, promised to cancel the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and gut the Environmental Protection Agency. His nominees are cut from the same cloth.

For starters, Trump has just nominated oil and gas industry darling Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt sued the EPA to stop vital protections for public health, including crucial regulations against smog and toxic pollutants like mercury and arsenic. Pruitt also supported Oklahoma’s failed “Right to Farm” bill which would have protected corporate and factory farms at the expense of family farmers and animal welfare, and prevented local communities from passing laws to protect their water and public health.

Add to the list Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), nominated for secretary of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Food and Drug Administration. Price has been a consistent opponent of food safety laws while in Congress, voting against the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act. He voted for the DARK Act twice, and voted to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for beef, pork, and chicken.

***

FIRST CROP OF PERIGORD TRUFFLES HARVESTED AND SOLD IN OREGON

Dr. Charles Lefevre, internationally renowned mycologist and co-founder of The Oregon Truffle Festival (Jan. 20-29), has worked with growers across North America since 2000 to plant orchards of oak and hazelnut seedlings inoculated with truffles through his company, New World Truffieres.

His first customer, Pat Long of Corvallis, unearthed the first Perigord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) grown in Oregon in 2013. Last week, Long’s first harvest of this winter season produced enough truffles for a commercial sale to James Beard Award-nominated chef Matt Bennett of Sybaris Bistro in Albany, Oregon, making this the first sizable crop of Perigord truffles grown in the Pacific Northwest. With 12 more weeks of harvests ahead in several Pacific Northwest orchards, Dr. Lefevre anticipates the upcoming cultivated truffle season to be the most productive yet.

“We’re seeing many of our customer’s orchards throughout the United States on the verge of or producing significant quantities of truffles this year,” says Dr. Lefevre. “The large increases in truffle production this year are a clear product of management activities in the orchards, and represent a breakthrough in our ability to farm Perigord truffles in North America. Over the past decade, we have encountered, understood, and finally surpassed the major hurdles complicating truffle production on this continent.”

Because one of the world’s most valuable culinary ingredients are also highly perishable, truffles quickly lose their prized aroma. The aim of cultivating truffles is to provide a source closer to the consumer, so that diners can enjoy truffles at their peak ripeness as they do in Europe where truffles have been historically abundant. Dr. Lefevre has had more success in achieving this goal than any other truffle cultivator in North America, as most of the cultivated truffles on the continent are being produced by his customers. Oregon’s native foraged truffles, particularly Oregon Black and Oregon Winter White truffles, are harvested and prepared by chefs in season each year at the Oregon Truffle Festival. This year, the Oregon-grown Perigord truffles will be served alongside wild Oregon truffles for the first time.

New World Truffieres is an established pioneer in truffle cultivation in North America, as Dr. Charles Lefevre developed his own method for inoculating host tree seedlings with truffle spores while still a graduate student at Oregon State University in 2000. His trees were also the first to produce cultivated Burgundy truffles (British Columbia, 2013) and Bianchetto truffles (Idaho, 2012) in North America and the first to produce cultivated Pecan truffles in the world. Each year since 2007, Dr. Lefevre has gathered international truffle industry experts to share information, research and advances in truffle science at the annual Truffle Growers Forum at the Oregon Truffle Festival, in addition to promoting the North American truffle industry and appreciation through the festival’s myriad seminars, truffle hunts, truffle dog trainings, tastings and dinners featuring some of the West Coast’s most renowned chefs.

###
The list of corporate cronies who will soon run the new, sad reality show in Washington, DC, gets uglier by the day, writes Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association.

Here’s one appointment that may have escaped your notice, Cummins reports. Under the incoming Trump Administration, the CEO of the company that brought us Napalm, Agent Orange, Chlorpyrifos, 2,4-D, and, along with Monsanto, GMO crops, will head up the “American Manufacturing Council.”

It’s a safe bet that Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical, won’t care one whit about how much poison his company unleashes on you and your food. On December 10, President-Elect Donald Trump pulled Dow’s Liveris up on stage at the Deltaplex Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich., to announce that the head of the chemical giant will lead Trump’s “American Manufacturing Council.”

As the two men “showered each other with praise,” said a Wall Street Journal report, Liveris reportedly told the crowd, “I tingle with pride listening to you.”

In a list of talking points drafted by Trump’s National Advisory Committee for Agriculture and Rural Issues, this was talking point #10: The Trump-Pence administration will use the best available science to determine appropriate regulations for the food and agriculture sector; agriculture will NOT be regulated based upon the latest trend on social media.

With Dow’s CEO in charge of the “American Manufacturing Council,” there’s no doubt that the so-called “best available science” will be as pro-poison and pro-GMO as it gets.
“We’ve got ideas and we’ve got plans,” Liveris told the cheering crowd in Grand Rapids.

Thanks for pointing this out, Ronnie. I haven’t read a word about it in any other source.

***

EPA PANEL TO DETERMINE GLYPHOSATE’S CARCINOGENICITY

Stefanie Spear of EcoWatch reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting a Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) to evaluate “the carcinogenic potential of the herbicide glyphosate,” the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.

For years, Monsanto has claimed that glyphosate is safe, advertising at one time that Roundup was “safer than table salt” and “practically non-toxic.”

However, many studies contradict Monsanto’s assertions. In March, 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that glyphosate is a “probable human carcinogen.” Then in July, 2016, an IARC scientist, Dr. Kurt Straif, defended the agency’s assessment that glyphosate probably causes cancer in humans. Dr. Straif stated that:

“Our evaluation was a review of all the published scientific literature on glyphosate and this was done by the world’s best experts on the topic that in addition don’t have any conflicts of interest that could bias their assessment.

“They concluded that, yes, glyphosate is probably carcinogenic to humans based on three strings of evidence, that is clear evidence of cancer in experimental animals, limited evidence for cancer for humans from real-world exposures, of exposed farmers, and also strong evidence that it can damage the genes from any kind of other toxicological studies.”

The SAP meetings now taking place were originally scheduled for mid-October, but the EPA postponed them only a few of days before they were to begin due to “changes in the availability of experts for the peer review panel.”

According to Carey Gillam, research director for U.S. Right to Know, the EPA’s decision to postpone the meetings came after an intense lobbying campaign led by CropLife America, which represents the interests of Monsanto and other agricultural businesses. CropLife initially fought to keep the SAP meetings from happening at all, then said if the meetings were to be held, “any person who has publicly expressed an opinion regarding the carcinogenicity of glyphosate” should be excluded from participating.

In a letter to the EPA, CropLife singled out epidemiologist Dr. Peter Infante, who the lobbying firm felt should be “replaced with an epidemiologist without such patent bias.” As the only epidemiologist slated to be on the panel, CropLife felt that Dr. Infante may have had enhanced influence on the epidemiological evaluation on glyphosate.

Dr. Infante has testified on behalf of plaintiffs suing Monsanto over chemical exposure. Nonetheless, Dr. Infante is one of the leading experts in his field, having spent the better part of a storied career protecting the public from harmful chemicals.

Dr. Infante spent 24 years working for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, where he determined cancer risks to those working on developing toxic chemicals, including arsenic, asbestos and formaldehyde. He has also served as an expert epidemiology consultant for a number of world bodies, including the World Trade Organization and the EPA.

CropLife’s letter to the EPA was sent two days before the agency announced that the glyphosate meetings would be postponed. Many accused the EPA of kowtowing to lobbyists and the businesses they represent. The accusations only grew louder when Dr. Infante’s name was no longer on the list of panelists scheduled for the December meetings.

Dr. Infante told Delta FarmPress that he was “mystified” by the EPA’s decision to remove him from the meetings. “I didn’t choose to leave the panel,” he said. “No … I was removed from the panel. I’m totally mystified by it.”

The EPA’s move was also surprising to environmental advocacy groups, who say it is highly unusual for the agency to remove a panelist from a Scientific Advisory Panel.

“The industry wants to say that our own government scientists, the top ones in their fields, aren’t good enough for these panels,” said Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist at the Consumers Union, after the SAP meetings were postponed in October. “If the EPA wants to add extra epidemiologists that is great but why didn’t they do it before? They are doing this because of pressure from industry.”

According to Gillam, “the delay and the maneuvering by industry to influence panel participation does little to bolster consumer confidence for the likelihood of an objective outcome.”

The EPA said it will issue a risk assessment for glyphosate by spring of 2017.

Jeff Cox adds: With Trump’s choice of climate denier Scott Pruitt as the next administrator of the EPA starting January 20, and with Trump’s stated goal of cutting EPA’s budget by 80 percent, it seems certain that glyphosate will get a ringing safety endorsement by the spring of 2017.

***

NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM BEING CO-OPTED BY AGRIBUSINESS

In a letter to the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, The Cornucopia Institute has requested an independent audit of the National Organic Program (NOP), charging a multiplicity of illegal actions and inactions. The Wisconsin-based farm policy research group alleges that the National Organic Program has failed to enforce the laws governing organic agriculture, thereby allowing multinational corporate agribusinesses to squeeze out family-scale farmers, compromising the integrity of the organic label.

If the independent Inspector General responds to Cornucopia’s request, this will not be the first audit that they have performed at the request of the watchdog group. Past audits have been highly critical of the National Organic Program’s accreditation program overseeing organic certification.

“By failing to vigorously enforce the organic standards, USDA political appointees and NOP management have betrayed ethical family farmers and businesses, along with consumer trust,” stated Mark A. Kastel, Cornucopia’s codirector. “The NOP has ceded control of organic rulemaking and enforcement to lobbyists from the nation’s most powerful agribusinesses.”

Cornucopia’s letter cites a number of serious enforcement violations including: allowing soil-less hydroponic/container growing, which substitutes liquid fertilizers for careful stewardship of soil; allowing documented cases of “willful” violations on factory dairies confining livestock instead of grazing; and allowing as many as 200,000 “organic” chickens to be kept in single buildings without outdoor access.

***

ORGANIC CONSUMERS ASSOCIATION WANTS ECO-CONSOLIDATION

“One of our favorite themes at Organic Consumers Association is the need for all of us to move away from single-issue organizing to galvanizing our many movements—peace, social justice, food and farming, campaign finance reform, faith, environment and climate —around a shared determination to stand up to corruption and to defend our basic rights and our common home,” the group announced in a press release.

“If we can break out of our single-issue silos, we will create a movement, indeed a revolution, so powerful that we will succeed in redirecting our financial and human resources toward the regeneration of our soils, our food, our economies, our health. And in so doing, restore climate stability.

OCA says that’s why the Standing Rock protest was so inspirational: “Because it united us.” Five hundred clergy members from 20 different religious groups gathered at the Standing Rock camp. Musicians Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Jason Mraz held a benefit concert. Bill McKibben, 350.org, and other climate groups got involved. The Code Pink peace and human rights activists participated, as did actress and 60s anti-war activist Jane Fonda.
And then there were the thousands of veterans who descended on the Standing Rock camp, vowing to defend the water protectors from any attempt by “law enforcement” to remove them.

Maybe most importantly, indigenous peoples from tribes around the world took notice of Standing Rock and many sent folks to join in the protection of sacred places and clean water.

“At OCA, what started out as a fundraising drive to provide an organic Thanksgiving dinner for the water protectors, turned into something bigger. We knew that our message—that we are all connected, that we are all fighting the same battle, that we are all one movement—resonated when in just two days our members donated $40,000, ten times more than the $4,000 we asked for, to provide food and other supplies for the camp,” wrote Katherine Paul, associate director of the Organic Consumers Association.

***

TRUMP CABINET PICKS ARE BAD NEWS FOR FOOD SAFETY GROUPS

“With all eyes on the Trump administration’s likely picks for his Cabinet, we’ve been closely following the nominations of appointees most likely to make an impact on the food movement,” says the Center for Food Safety. “And we won’t sugarcoat this: so far, it’s bad news.”

It’s becoming clear that a Donald Trump presidency means key Administration officials will try to dismantle some of the gains we’ve fought for over the past 20 years, and in some cases will even ally with big corporations.

President-elect Trump has denied climate change, promised to cancel the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and gut the Environmental Protection Agency. His nominees are cut from the same cloth.

For starters, Trump has just nominated oil and gas industry darling Scott Pruitt to head the EPA. As Oklahoma Attorney General, Pruitt sued the EPA to stop vital protections for public health, including crucial regulations against smog and toxic pollutants like mercury and arsenic. Pruitt also supported Oklahoma’s failed “Right to Farm” bill which would have protected corporate and factory farms at the expense of family farmers and animal welfare, and prevented local communities from passing laws to protect their water and public health.

Add to the list Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), nominated for secretary of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Food and Drug Administration. Price has been a consistent opponent of food safety laws while in Congress, voting against the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act and the Food Safety Modernization Act. He voted for the DARK Act twice, and voted to repeal Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) for beef, pork, and chicken.

***

FIRST CROP OF PERIGORD TRUFFLES HARVESTED AND SOLD IN OREGON

Dr. Charles Lefevre, internationally renowned mycologist and co-founder of The Oregon Truffle Festival (Jan. 20-29), has worked with growers across North America since 2000 to plant orchards of oak and hazelnut seedlings inoculated with truffles through his company, New World Truffieres.

His first customer, Pat Long of Corvallis, unearthed the first Perigord truffle (Tuber melanosporum) grown in Oregon in 2013. Last week, Long’s first harvest of this winter season produced enough truffles for a commercial sale to James Beard Award-nominated chef Matt Bennett of Sybaris Bistro in Albany, Oregon, making this the first sizable crop of Perigord truffles grown in the Pacific Northwest. With 12 more weeks of harvests ahead in several Pacific Northwest orchards, Dr. Lefevre anticipates the upcoming cultivated truffle season to be the most productive yet.

“We’re seeing many of our customer’s orchards throughout the United States on the verge of or producing significant quantities of truffles this year,” says Dr. Lefevre. “The large increases in truffle production this year are a clear product of management activities in the orchards, and represent a breakthrough in our ability to farm Perigord truffles in North America. Over the past decade, we have encountered, understood, and finally surpassed the major hurdles complicating truffle production on this continent.”

Because one of the world’s most valuable culinary ingredients are also highly perishable, truffles quickly lose their prized aroma. The aim of cultivating truffles is to provide a source closer to the consumer, so that diners can enjoy truffles at their peak ripeness as they do in Europe where truffles have been historically abundant. Dr. Lefevre has had more success in achieving this goal than any other truffle cultivator in North America, as most of the cultivated truffles on the continent are being produced by his customers. Oregon’s native foraged truffles, particularly Oregon Black and Oregon Winter White truffles, are harvested and prepared by chefs in season each year at the Oregon Truffle Festival. This year, the Oregon-grown Perigord truffles will be served alongside wild Oregon truffles for the first time.

New World Truffieres is an established pioneer in truffle cultivation in North America, as Dr. Charles Lefevre developed his own method for inoculating host tree seedlings with truffle spores while still a graduate student at Oregon State University in 2000. His trees were also the first to produce cultivated Burgundy truffles (British Columbia, 2013) and Bianchetto truffles (Idaho, 2012) in North America and the first to produce cultivated Pecan truffles in the world. Each year since 2007, Dr. Lefevre has gathered international truffle industry experts to share information, research and advances in truffle science at the annual Truffle Growers Forum at the Oregon Truffle Festival, in addition to promoting the North American truffle industry and appreciation through the festival’s myriad seminars, truffle hunts, truffle dog trainings, tastings and dinners featuring some of the West Coast’s most renowned chefs.

###




GMO Feeding Study May Be Right after All

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

Remember Professor Giles-Eric Seralini and his research team at the University of Caan in France? They provided pictures of rats fed Monsanto GMO corn saturated with Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer. And they almost had their reputations destroyed as a result. Well, Paul Fassa has done his homework and brings us up-to-date on the situation through his blog at REALfarmacy.com. Here’s his story:
Seralini’s study discovered that rats fed GMOs developed tumors and died prematurely. But that wasn’t the purpose of their study. It was set up to examine the long term toxicity potential of eating GMO corn along with its associated exposure to Roundup.
After Seralini’s long term toxicity study results were publicized, with displays of rats showing huge tumors, a tsunami of outrage from pro-GMO scientists and shill journalists got favorable mainstream media (MSM) press.
The hundreds of scientists who defended Seralini’s work were mostly ignored. Many fence sitters were left confused and willing to side with the barking dogs of the biotechnology industry.
This highly publicized media attack on Seralini and his team was the air and sea attack to soften the defense of the tiny GMO truther island. Then the actual landing attack against that island’s real science was embarked by surreptitiously setting up former Monsanto scientist Richard E. Goodman in a newly created biotech editorial position at the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT), an Elsevier publication.
That’s the journal where Seralini’s study, “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,” had been originally peer reviewed and posted. With Goodman steering the landing craft, the editor-in-chief of FCT, Wallace Hayes, removed Seralini’s paper from the journal in 2013, a full year after it was initially peer reviewed and published.
Hayes admitted the study was not fraudulent or inaccurate, but explained that it was inconclusive. Some defending scientists jumped on that one, explaining that peer reviewed published studies are often inconclusive, recommending “further studies.”
Around that same time a Brazilian study proving Monsanto’s Bt corn insecticide starter genes do not disintegrate in mammalian stomachs as claimed by Monsanto, but survive intact to harm mammals’ blood cells was also pulled from FCT.
That study has now been published in another journal. By the way, Seralini’s study was also soon re-published in 2014 by another journal far removed from Monsanto’s invaders: Environmental Sciences Europe.
And by the way again, after some serious howling from international scientists directed at the FCT journal, here’s a 26 February, 2015, update from Scientists for Global Responsibility:
Critical changes have this year been made at the journal, Food and Chemical Toxicolgy, from which the Editor-in-Chief A. Wallace Hayes retracted the important paper by the Seralini team. The Editorial Board of the journal now has a new Editor-in-Chief, José L. Domingo, who has published papers showing that safety of GM crops is not an established fact; and the Editorial Board no longer includes Richard Goodman, the ex-Monsanto employee who became Associate Editor for Biotechnology not long before the Seralini paper was retracted.
Seralini and his research team weren’t completely satisfied with getting their studies republished and defending their work to a mostly uninterested mainstream media. They formed a group called CRIIGEN, the acronym for Comité de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur le Génie Génétique, or Committee for Independent Research and Information on Genetic Engineering, and fought back.
Keep in mind the attacks on Seralini et al focused on the tumors, which had a high visual media impact. But Seralini and team weren’t testing for cancerous effects primarily. Their toxicity analysis focused on long term effects on liver and kidney health, where they did find indisputable evidence of gross harm.
Professor Seralini’s study was a chronic toxicity study, not a full-scale carcinogenicity study. Therefore he conservatively did not do a statistical analysis of the tumors and mortality findings. Instead he simply reported them, without drawing definitive conclusions.
This was in line with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) chronic toxicity protocol, which requires that any “lesions,” including tumors observed, are recorded.
So Seralini and CRIIGEN conspired to attack rather than just defend, which they did with support from many international scientists. They successfully challenged Marianne Magazine and its featured journalist Jean-Claude Jaillet for publicly claiming in 2012 that Seralini and his team were guilty of “scientific fraud in which the methodology served to reinforce predetermined results.”
That same article also reported “researchers around the world” had voiced “harsh words” about Seralini’s long term (two years) toxicity research on rats fed GMO Roundup-tolerant corn. Seralini and CRIIGEN, with the assistance of public attorneys, called notaires in France, Bernard Dartevelle and Cindy Gay, won their suit against Marianne Magazine.

Then after a three year investigation ending on the 25th of November 2015, the High Court of Paris indicted Marc Fellous, one of those charged in the original libel case earlier. He just happened to be the chairman of France’s Biomolecular Engineering Commission who had rubber stamped many genetically modified products for consumption.
Details haven’t been publicly revealed, but apparently Fellous has been charged with forgery and the use of forgery, using a scientist’s signature to “prove” Seralini and company were wrong about their study that concluded that Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn was not safe for consumption until further study was undertaken. Final judgement and sentencing is expected by early 2017.
The court’s investigation discovered that American journalist Henry Miller via notoriously pro-GMO Forbes Magazine had initiated the libelous attacks. This Henry Miller is one of those mercenary attack hacks who has a history of working for industries that are dangerous to the health and welfare of humanity and the planet, including the tobacco industry.
Conclusion: Attacking the lying pro-GMO crowd and fraudulent biotech industry through the court system may be more effective in Europe than here in the States, but it may be the only way to go against all things considered GMO.

***

ORGANIC STANDARDS TO EXCLUDE NEXT GENERATION GMO INGREDIENTS

The National Organic Standards Board has voted unanimously to update U.S. organic standards to exclude ingredients derived from next generation genetic engineering and gene editing, Friends of the Earth reports.
This recommendation to the US Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program will ensure that ingredients derived from new genetic engineering techniques, including synthetic biology, will not be allowed in the production or final product of foods and beverages that are certified organic. Synthetic biology is a new set of genetic engineering techniques that include using synthetic DNA to re-engineer organisms to produce substances they would not normally produce or to edit DNA so as to silence the expression of certain traits.
“The Board’s hard-fought proactive stance on synthetic biology will both help preserve the integrity of organic standards and raise awareness about this virtually unregulated and unlabeled form of genetic engineering,” said Dana Perls, food and technology policy campaigner with Friends of the Earth. “It’s critical that organic standards treat new types of genetic engineering that are rapidly entering our food and consumer products as rigorously as the first generation of GMOs.”
Like “traditional” GMOs, synthetic biology ingredients are entering food and consumer products in absence of adequate health and environmental safety assessment, oversight and labeling. Many are being falsely marketed as “natural.” Products in development include synthetic stevia, saffron, coconut and cacao, meant to replace plant-based ingredients, many of which are currently produced by small farmers in the Global South. There is increasing concern that these farmers’ livelihoods may be displaced by synthetic biology ingredients. Other products include gene-silenced apples, CRISPR waxy corn, and Cibus Canola oil, engineered with gene editing techniques.
“The National Organic Standards Board has made clear that all kinds of genetic engineering are to be excluded from ‘organic.’ The public expects that government to actually assess the new foods that it is permitting on the market,” said Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst, Center for Food Safety. “Unfortunately, the government has failed to update its regulations to adequately assess these new kinds of genetic engineering. When the USDA approves that NOSB recommendations, consumers who want to avoid GMOs will be able to use the Organic Seal to know that the product is not a GMO.”
The Board’s announcement follows a growing trend of companies stating that they will not use ingredients produced via synthetic biology. The Non-GMO Project, North America’s only third party verification program for non-GMO food and products, recently updated its standards so as to include synthetic biology and new gene editing techniques. Companies such as Ben and Jerry’s (BJICA: US), Three Twins Ice Cream, Straus Family Creamery, Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss, Nestlé (NSRGY: OTC US), and General Mills (NYSE: GIS) have committed to “…not source vanilla flavor produced through synthetic biology,” a product that is designed to replace natural vanillin flavoring from vanilla beans. Synthetic biology vanilla flavoring, introduced by Evolva (SWX: EVE) and International Flavors and Fragrances (NYSE: IFF) in 2014, is the first major synthetic biology ingredient to enter food and beverages, marketed as “natural vanillin.” Other companies that have pledged to avoid synthetic biology ingredients entirely include Nutiva and Dr. Bronner’s.
Synthetic biology employs a new set of genetic engineering techniques that involve artificially constructing or “editing” genetic material such as DNA in order to create new forms of life, or to attempt to “reprogram” existing organisms. Despite growing concerns about the possible impacts of synthetic biology organisms on human health and the environment and a lack of independent safety assessment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed synthetic biology vanilla, DuPont’s CRISPR waxy corn and other similarly created food and cosmetic ingredients to enter the market without regulation. Existing regulations that identify GE crops and food ingredients as “Generally Regarded As Safe” use an outdated process with minimal testing requirements that rely on companies to self-evaluate the safety of their products.

IMPROVING PLANT GROWTH BY IMPROVING PHOTOSYNTHESIS
A decade ago, The New York Times reports, agricultural scientists at the University of Illinois suggested a bold approach to improve the food supply: tinker with photosynthesis, the chemical reaction powering nearly all life on Earth.
The idea was greeted skeptically in scientific circles and ignored by funding agencies. But one outfit with deep pockets, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, eventually paid attention, hoping the research might help alleviate global poverty.
Now, after several years of work funded by the foundation, the scientists are reporting a remarkable result.
Using genetic engineering techniques to alter photosynthesis, they increased the productivity of a test plant — tobacco — by as much as 20 percent, they said Thursday in a study published by the journal Science. That is a huge number, given that plant breeders struggle to eke out gains of 1 or 2 percent with more conventional approaches.

The scientists have no interest in increasing the production of tobacco; their plan is to try the same alterations in food crops, and one of the leaders of the work believes production gains of 50 percent or more may ultimately be achievable. If that prediction is borne out in further research — it could take a decade, if not longer, to know for sure — the result might be nothing less than a transformation of global agriculture.
The findings could also intensify the political struggle over genetic engineering of the food supply. Some groups oppose it, arguing that researchers are playing God by moving genes from one species to another. That argument has gained some traction with the public, in part because the benefits of gene-altered crops have so far been modest at best.
But gains of 40 or 50 percent in food production would be an entirely different matter, potentially offering enormous benefits for the world’s poorest people, many of them farmers working small plots of land in the developing world.
“We’re here because we want to alleviate poverty,” said Katherine Kahn, the officer at the Gates Foundation overseeing the grant for the Illinois research. “What is it the farmers need, and how can we help them get there?”
One of the leaders of the research, Stephen P. Long, a crop scientist who holds appointments at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and at Lancaster University in England, emphasized in an interview that a long road lay ahead before any results from the work might reach farmers’ fields.

But Dr. Long is also convinced that genetic engineering could ultimately lead to what he called a “second Green Revolution” that would produce huge gains in food production, like the original Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, which transferred advanced agricultural techniques to some developing countries and led to reductions in world hunger.
The research involves photosynthesis, in which plants use carbon dioxide from the air and energy from sunlight to form new, energy-rich carbohydrates. These compounds are, in turn, the basic energy supply for almost all animal cells, including those of humans. The mathematical description of photosynthesis is sometimes billed as “the equation that powers the world.”
For a decade, Dr. Long had argued that photosynthesis was not actually very efficient. In the course of evolution, several experts said, Mother Nature had focused on the survival and reproduction of plants, not on putting out the maximum amount of seeds or fruits for humans to come along and pick.
Dr. Long thought crop yields might be improved by certain genetic changes. Other scientists doubted it would work, but with the Science paper, Dr. Long and his collaborator — Krishna K. Niyogi, who holds appointments at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — have gone a long way toward proving their point.
Much of the work at the University of Illinois was carried out by two young researchers from abroad who hold positions in Dr. Long’s laboratory, Johannes Kromdijk of the Netherlands and Katarzyna Glowacka of Poland.
No one plans to eat tobacco, of course, nor does the Gates Foundation have any interest in increasing the production of that health-damaging crop. But the researchers used it because tobacco is a particularly fast and easy plant in which to try new genetic alterations to see how well they work.
In a recent interview here, Dr. Kromdijk and Dr. Glowacka showed off tiny tobacco plants incorporating the genetic changes and described their aspirations.
“We hope it translates into food crops in the way we’ve shown in tobacco,” Dr. Kromdijk said. “Of course, you only know when you actually try it.”
In the initial work, the researchers transferred genes from a common laboratory plant, known as thale cress or mouse-ear cress, into strains of tobacco. The effect was not to introduce alien substances, but rather to increase the level of certain proteins that already existed in tobacco.
When plants receive direct sunlight, they are often getting more energy than they can use, and they activate a mechanism that helps them shed it as heat — while slowing carbohydrate production. The genetic changes the researchers introduced help the plant turn that mechanism off faster once the excessive sunlight ends, so that the machinery of photosynthesis can get back more quickly to maximal production of carbohydrates.
It is a bit like a factory worker taking a shorter coffee break before getting back to the assembly line. But the effect on the overall growth of the tobacco plants was surprisingly large.

When the scientists grew the newly created plants in fields at the University of Illinois, they achieved yield increases of 13.5 percent in one strain, 19 percent in a second and 20 percent in a third, over normal tobacco plants grown for comparison.

Because the machinery of photosynthesis in many of the world’s food crops is identical to that of tobacco, theory suggests that a comparable manipulation of those crops should increase production. Work is planned to test that in crops that are especially important as dietary staples in Africa, like cowpeas, rice and cassava.

Two outside experts not involved in the research both used the word “exciting” to describe it. But they emphasized that the researchers had not yet proved that the food supply could be increased.

“How does it look in rice or corn or wheat or sugar beets?” said L. Val Giddings, a senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation in Washington and a longtime advocate of gene-altered crops. “You’ve got to get it into a handful of the important crops before you can show this is real and it’s going to have a huge impact. We are not there yet.”

Barry D. Bruce of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, who studies photosynthesis, pointed out that the genetic alteration might behave differently in crops where only parts of the plant, such as seeds or fruits, are harvested. In tobacco, by contrast, the entire aboveground plant is harvested — Dr. Bruce called it “a leafy green plant used for cigars!”

Dr. Bruce also noted that, now that the principle has been established, it might be possible to find plant varieties with the desired traits and introduce the changes into crops by conventional breeding, rather than by genetic engineering. Dr. Long and his group agreed this might be possible.

The genetic engineering approach, if it works, may well be used in commercial seeds produced by Western agricultural companies. One of them, Syngenta, has already signed a deal to get a first look at the results. But the Gates Foundation is determined to see the technology, assuming its early promise is borne out, make its way to African farmers at low cost.

The work is, in part, an effort to secure the food supply against the possible effects of future climate change. If rising global temperatures cut the production of food, human society could be destabilized, but more efficient crop plants could potentially make the food system more resilient, Dr. Long said.

“We’re in a year when commodity prices are very low, and people are saying the world doesn’t need more food,” Dr. Long said. “But if we don’t do this now, we may not have it when we really need it.”

Okay—this is a very nice summary of the work to date. But several things.
If the plants to be transformed into super photo synthesizers are to be eaten by human beings, health safety tests would have to be performed. This is especially important because of the falsehoods present in this article. To wit, this paragraph: “But Dr. Long is also convinced that genetic engineering could ultimately lead to what he called a ‘second Green Revolution’ that would produce huge gains in food production, like the original Green Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, which transferred advanced agricultural techniques to some developing countries and led to reductions in world hunger.”
That Green Revolution “transferred advanced agricultural techniques to some developing countries,” but what that meant was that indigenous agriculture—the inherent knowledge of the people—was brushed aside so that modern agriculture, with its chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and so on, could replace it, with millions of poor people thrown into servitude to Big Ag from America. In the final analysis, that first Green revolution was a total failure and disaster for the indigenous people, and a temporary source of money for Big Ag.
I think we’ll soon see that Monsanto and its allies will be rebranding the old Green Revolution agriculture as “American agriculture,” as the Organic Consumers Association has suggested. Once Big Ag becomes “American agriculture,” then the people who oppose it become, by default, “anti-American,” nicht Wahr?
###




Biotech Bullies Now Rule

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States doesn’t bode well for America and the world in many ways. In the following essay, Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association goes over what the election might mean for us in the organic community.

 

Monsanto and its minions are rushing to tighten their control over our food and farming system. Emboldened by the prospect of another pro-industrial-agriculture administration, they’re plowing ahead—with total disregard for public health, and blanket dismissal of the warnings pouring in from independent scientists.

 

Politico, which obtained a list of Trump’s talking points on agriculture, reports that the list includes a “sweeping promise” to “defend American agriculture against its critics, particularly those who have never grown or produced anything beyond a backyard tomato plant.” From Politico:

 

The document . . . offers a host of policy pledges—from suggesting a shift back to conventional agriculture, to promises for the Trump White House to be an “active participant” in writing the next Farm Bill, to fighting the so-called good food movement and undoing Obama-era agricultural and environmental policies.

 

Pair that news with Trump’s EPA transition team pick, climate-denier Myron Ebell who says “pesticides aren’t bad for you,” and the future for organic regenerative agriculture—and your health—looks bleak.

 

We don’t need to guess or wonder. The incoming Trump administration will not be a friend to those of us committed to a healthy, pollution-free, regenerative, climate-friendly future.

 

Where does that leave us? Working at the state and local level to elect candidates and to pass public health and climate policies in line with the obvious truth, which is that we can’t go on poisoning ourselves and our ecosystem—and still go on.

 

It also will require that we expand food testing, and expose the long list of the dangerous chemicals in our food so we can put our consumer power to good use. Once a critical mass of consumers knows exactly what kinds of—and how much—poison we’re being fed, we will force Big Food to clean up its act, or go broke. At which point, it won’t much matter what Monsanto’s minions are up to in Congress. Because the market for their products will shrivel up faster than a glyphosate-drenched weed.

 

 

***

 

TRUMP’S AG ADVISORY COMMITTEE: WHO’S WHO OF AGRIBUSINESS

 

Donald J. Trump has announced his new Agricultural Advisory Committee. It press release states, “The men and women on the committee will provide pioneering new ideas to strengthen our nation’s agricultural industry as well as provide support to our rural communities. Mr. Trump understands the critical role our nation’s agricultural community plays in feeding not only our country, but the world, and how important these Americans are to powering our nation’s economy.

 

“The formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of these individuals’ diverse skill sets and ideas that can improve the lives of those in agricultural communities. Mr. Trump has received widespread support from voters who understand he is the only candidate with the best interests of the agricultural community at the heart of his policies.

 

“Mr. Trump said, ‘The members of my agricultural advisory committee represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities. Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day. I’m very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving those who serve all Americans from the White House.’”

 

Executive board members will convene on a regular basis. The more than 60 advisory board members include:

 

Charles Herbster–National Chairman of the Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee for the Donald J. Trump Campaign for President.

 

Sam Clovis– National Chief Policy Advisor for the Donald J. Trump Campaign for President.

 

Rebeckah Adcock–CropLife, Senior Director, Government Affairs.

 

Robert Aderholt–Congressman from Alabama; Chairman, Subcommittee on Agriculture.

 

Jay Armstrong–Kansas Wheat Commission; Chairman, Farm Foundation.

 

Gary Black– Commissioner of Agriculture, Georgia.

 

John Block– Former Secretary of Agriculture.

 

Mike Brandenburg–State Legislator, North Dakota.

 

Terry Branstad–Governor of Iowa.

 

Sam Brownback–Governor of Kansas.

 

Chuck Conner–CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

 

Mike Conaway–House Agriculture Committee Chairman.

 

Jack Dalrymple–Governor of North Dakota.

 

Dennis Daugaard–Governor of South Dakota.

 

Rodney Davis–Congressman from Illinois; House Agriculture Committee and Subcommittee Chair of Bio Tech.

 

Mary Fallin–Governor of Oklahoma.

 

Eddie Fields–Senator, Oklahoma; Chair Senate Ag and Rural Development.

 

Steve Foglesong–Former President National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

 

Jim Gilmore–Former Governor Virginia; Chairman of Report on Terrorism and Agro-Terrorism.

 

Bob Goodale–Former CEO of Harris Teeter.

 

Bob Goodlatte–Congressman, Virginia; Former Chairman House Agriculture Committee.

 

Ron Heck–Iowa farmer and Past President of the American Soybean Assn.

 

Mike McCloskey CEO Fair Oaks Farms- one of largest dairies in U.S.

 

Beau McCoy State Senator; Nebraska Nat. Chr. Council State Govts

 

Ted McKinney Former Director of Global Corp. Affairs for Elanco Animal Health

 

Sid Miller Commissioner of Agriculture, Texas

 

Jim Moseley Former consultant on agriculture at EPA; Former Deputy Secretary of USDA

 

Garry Niemeyer–Former President National Corn Growers.

 

Sonny Perdue–Former Gov. Georgia.

 

Rick Perry–Former Gov. Texas.

 

Pat Roberts–U.S. Senator Kansas.

 

Marcus Rust–CEO Rose Acre Farms, second largest egg producer in U.S.

 

Kip Tom–CEO, Tom Farms LLC, largest agri-business farm operator in Indiana; Operates farms in South America.

 

Johnny Trotter–CEO of BarG, 125,000 head of cattle feedlot operation and farms 10,000 acres in TX.

 

Steve Wellman–Former President of the American Soybean Association.

 

***

 

REPORT SHOWS U.S. FOOD SUPPLY CONTAMINATED WITH GLYPHOSATE

 

Food Democracy Now! and the Detox Project are releasing a 26-page report that shows that America’s food supply is contaminated with alarming levels of glyphosate residues.

 

As the main active ingredient in Monsanto’s bestselling weedkiller, Roundup, both Roundup and glyphosate have been linked to a host of negative health impacts, including birth defects, reproductive problems, lowered immune response, irritable bowel syndrome, harmful imbalances in gut microflora, and cancer.

 

The report details the latest independent peer reviewed science that conclusively shows that Roundup and glyphosate are significantly more harmful at much lower levels than previously thought and outlines the significant flaws in the U.S. regulatory system that has left the American public exposed to high levels of a toxic chemical, which last year the World Health Organization linked to cancer.

 

Food Democracy Now! and the Detox Project are demanding that the EPA Inspector General’s office launch a non-partisan investigation into glyphosate’s likely negative human health impacts reviewing the latest scientific research; halt the use of Roundup on important food crops, and uncover possible misconduct between U.S. regulators and the chemical industry they are supposed to regulate.

 

Using an independent FDA-registered laboratory, scientists found alarming levels of glyphosate residues in many popular American food products, including General Mills’ Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, Special K and Frosted Flakes, and PepsiCo’s Doritos, Ritz Crackers and Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips, as part of a unique testing project designed to reveal pesticide exposure at real world levels.

 

Even more disturbing is that the highest glyphosate levels were found in General Mills’ Cheerios, one of the first foods that American mothers commonly feed their young children when they begin eating solid foods. Glyphosate residues for Cheerios, measured at 1,125.3 parts per billion (ppb), were simply off the chart and much higher than the 28 other food products tested.

 

New scientific evidence shows that possible harm from glyphosate can begin at much lower levels, even as low as 0.1 ppb. Credible independent peer reviewed studies published in 2014 and 2015 found that rats exposed to 0.1 ppb of Roundup and 0.05 ppb of glyphosate could cause severe organ damage and alter gene function of over 4,000 genes in the livers and kidneys of rats. These new findings should be a wake-up call for all Americans regarding unacceptable levels of pesticide residues in our nation’s food.

 

This report comes after more than a year and a half investigation into the massive U.S. regulatory failures that have left the American public not only in the dark about glyphosate contamination in our food supply, but also regularly exposed to levels of this toxic weedkiller that emerging science is now demonstrating to be more hazardous to human health than previously thought.

 

New independent research shows that harm from Monsanto’s Roundup and glyphosate-based herbicides can begin at much lower levels than previously thought. The new research shows that endocrine disrupting chemicals can disrupt basic hormone functions at ultra-low levels. U.S. regulations must reflect latest scientific research to protect our health and that of our children.

 

In addition, glyphosate is also patented as an antimicrobial agent. This has raised alarm among scientists who believe that low level exposure to glyphosate can negatively disrupt beneficial bacteria in the gut biome the way it does in the soil, leading to whole host of human health problems that doctors are just beginning to understand.

 

For the past 20 plus years, U.S. regulators have refused to test for glyphosate residues even though it’s the most widely used weedkiller in the U.S. and its use has exploded in the past two decades due to the widespread adoption of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMO crops. Today more than 300 million pounds of glyphosate-based weedkillers are sprayed across U.S. farmland, public parks and lawns and home gardens. Use of Roundup has become so pervasive that 75 percent of rainwater samples in the Midwest tested positive for glyphosate, according to Food Democracy Now!

 

On March 20, 2015, 17 leading scientific experts from the World Health

Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans,” which should have served as a call-to-action for U.S. regulators. Instead, the U.S. EPA issued a final report that agreed with Monsanto’s rebuttal, which called the IARC’s report “junk science.” This is why Food Democracy Now! is calling for an investigation of possible regulatory misconduct at the EPA by the EPA’s inspector general.

 

Currently, U.S. regulators allow what is considered a very high level of daily glyphosate residue in America’s food. In the U.S., the EPA set the daily acceptable intake (ADI) limit at 1.75 parts per million (ppm) per kilogram of bodyweight per day in the U.S., versus a more responsible level at 0.3 ppm in the European Union based on their review of the same studies submitted to the EPA. That’s six times the European level now allowed in the U.S. food supply.

 

The U.S. government’s continued reliance on Monsanto-funded science and their refusal to consider the most current independent peer reviewed scientific research is alarming, especially considering the fact that the regulators at the FDA are currently reviewing a 15-year re-approval of Monsanto’s Roundup and glyphosate-based herbicides based on out-of-date science.

 

You can share this report by following this link: http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/2047?t=15&akid=1946.101853._11J9w

 

What else you’ll find in the report:

 

  1. Levels of glyphosate residues found in popular American foods.
  2. A summary of what the latest independent scientific research says about the safety of Roundup and glyphosate.
  3. A detailed analysis of why the current U.S. EPA’s acceptable daily intake (ADI) is much too high.
  4. Evidence that regulators in Europe considered the U.S. ADI to be “very high” and “far outside the range” of what chemical companies other than Monsanto submitted for safety approvals.
  5. Scientific evidence that refutes Monsanto’s claim that glyphosate does not accumulate in the human body.
  6. A call to action-–to investigate regulatory collusion at the EPA, end the practice of pre-harvest spraying of Roundup on food crop, and a call to release all the scientific data submitted by Monsanto for safety assessments.

 

Editor’s addendum: I don’t want to sound defeatist, but with Trump’s climate change denier Myron Ebell set to head up the EPA, I think there’s not much chance that glyphosate poisoning will be remediated so long as agribiz and biotech rules in Washington. The answer, of course, is to eat organic food. –J.C.

 

###

 

 

 




Biotech Bullies Rule

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

The election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States doesn’t bode well for America and the world in many ways. In the following essay, Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association goes over what the election might mean for us in the organic community.

 

Monsanto and its minions are rushing to tighten their control over our food and farming system. Emboldened by the prospect of another pro-industrial-agriculture administration, they’re plowing ahead—with total disregard for public health, and blanket dismissal of the warnings pouring in from independent scientists.

 

Politico, which obtained a list of Trump’s talking points on agriculture, reports that the list includes a “sweeping promise” to “defend American agriculture against its critics, particularly those who have never grown or produced anything beyond a backyard tomato plant.” From Politico:

 

The document . . . offers a host of policy pledges—from suggesting a shift back to conventional agriculture, to promises for the Trump White House to be an “active participant” in writing the next Farm Bill, to fighting the so-called good food movement and undoing Obama-era agricultural and environmental policies.

 

Pair that news with Trump’s EPA transition team pick, climate-denier Myron Ebell who says “pesticides aren’t bad for you,” and the future for organic regenerative agriculture—and your health—looks bleak.

 

We don’t need to guess or wonder. The incoming Trump administration will not be a friend to those of us committed to a healthy, pollution-free, regenerative, climate-friendly future.

 

Where does that leave us? Working at the state and local level to elect candidates and to pass public health and climate policies in line with the obvious truth, which is that we can’t go on poisoning ourselves and our ecosystem—and still go on.

 

It also will require that we expand food testing, and expose the long list of the dangerous chemicals in our food so we can put our consumer power to good use. Once a critical mass of consumers knows exactly what kinds of—and how much—poison we’re being fed, we will force Big Food to clean up its act, or go broke. At which point, it won’t much matter what Monsanto’s minions are up to in Congress. Because the market for their products will shrivel up faster than a glyphosate-drenched weed.

 

 

***

 

TRUMP’S AG ADVISORY COMMITTEE: WHO’S WHO OF AGRIBUSINESS

 

Donald J. Trump has announced his new Agricultural Advisory Committee. Its press release states, “The men and women on the committee will provide pioneering new ideas to strengthen our nation’s agricultural industry as well as provide support to our rural communities. Mr. Trump understands the critical role our nation’s agricultural community plays in feeding not only our country, but the world, and how important these Americans are to powering our nation’s economy.

 

“The formation of the board represents Donald J. Trump’s endorsement of these individuals’ diverse skill sets and ideas that can improve the lives of those in agricultural communities. Mr. Trump has received widespread support from voters who understand he is the only candidate with the best interests of the agricultural community at the heart of his policies.

 

“Mr. Trump said, ‘The members of my agricultural advisory committee represent the best that America can offer to help serve agricultural communities. Many of these officials have been elected by their communities to solve the issues that impact our rural areas every day. I’m very proud to stand with these men and women, and look forward to serving those who serve all Americans from the White House.’”

 

Executive board members will convene on a regular basis. The more than 60 advisory board members include:

 

Charles Herbster–National Chairman of the Agricultural and Rural Advisory Committee for the Donald J. Trump Campaign for President.

 

Sam Clovis– National Chief Policy Advisor for the Donald J. Trump Campaign for President.

 

Rebeckah Adcock–CropLife, Senior Director, Government Affairs.

 

Robert Aderholt–Congressman from Alabama; Chairman, Subcommittee on Agriculture.

 

Jay Armstrong–Kansas Wheat Commission; Chairman, Farm Foundation.

 

Gary Black– Commissioner of Agriculture, Georgia.

 

John Block– Former Secretary of Agriculture.

 

Mike Brandenburg–State Legislator, North Dakota.

 

Terry Branstad–Governor of Iowa.

 

Sam Brownback–Governor of Kansas.

 

Chuck Conner–CEO, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.

 

Mike Conaway–House Agriculture Committee Chairman.

 

Jack Dalrymple–Governor of North Dakota.

 

Dennis Daugaard–Governor of South Dakota.

 

Rodney Davis–Congressman from Illinois; House Agriculture Committee and Subcommittee Chair of Bio Tech.

 

Mary Fallin–Governor of Oklahoma.

 

Eddie Fields–Senator, Oklahoma; Chair Senate Ag and Rural Development.

 

Steve Foglesong–Former President National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

 

Jim Gilmore–Former Governor Virginia; Chairman of Report on Terrorism and Agro-Terrorism.

 

Bob Goodale–Former CEO of Harris Teeter.

 

Bob Goodlatte–Congressman, Virginia; Former Chairman House Agriculture Committee.

 

Ron Heck–Iowa farmer and Past President of the American Soybean Assn.

 

Mike McCloskey CEO Fair Oaks Farms- one of largest dairies in U.S.

 

Beau McCoy State Senator; Nebraska Nat. Chr. Council State Govts

 

Ted McKinney Former Director of Global Corp. Affairs for Elanco Animal Health

 

Sid Miller Commissioner of Agriculture, Texas

 

Jim Moseley Former consultant on agriculture at EPA; Former Deputy Secretary of USDA

 

Garry Niemeyer–Former President National Corn Growers.

 

Sonny Perdue–Former Gov. Georgia.

 

Rick Perry–Former Gov. Texas.

 

Pat Roberts–U.S. Senator Kansas.

 

Marcus Rust–CEO Rose Acre Farms, second largest egg producer in U.S.

 

Kip Tom–CEO, Tom Farms LLC, largest agri-business farm operator in Indiana; Operates farms in South America.

 

Johnny Trotter–CEO of BarG, 125,000 head of cattle feedlot operation and farms 10,000 acres in TX.

 

Steve Wellman–Former President of the American Soybean Association.

 

***

 

REPORT SHOWS U.S. FOOD SUPPLY CONTAMINATED WITH GLYPHOSATE

 

Food Democracy Now! and the Detox Project are releasing a 26-page report that shows that America’s food supply is contaminated with alarming levels of glyphosate residues.

 

As the main active ingredient in Monsanto’s bestselling weedkiller, Roundup, both Roundup and glyphosate have been linked to a host of negative health impacts, including birth defects, reproductive problems, lowered immune response, irritable bowel syndrome, harmful imbalances in gut microflora, and cancer.

 

The report details the latest independent peer reviewed science that conclusively shows that Roundup and glyphosate are significantly more harmful at much lower levels than previously thought and outlines the significant flaws in the U.S. regulatory system that has left the American public exposed to high levels of a toxic chemical, which last year the World Health Organization linked to cancer.

 

Food Democracy Now! and the Detox Project are demanding that the EPA Inspector General’s office launch a non-partisan investigation into glyphosate’s likely negative human health impacts reviewing the latest scientific research; halt the use of Roundup on important food crops, and uncover possible misconduct between U.S. regulators and the chemical industry they are supposed to regulate.

 

Using an independent FDA-registered laboratory, scientists found alarming levels of glyphosate residues in many popular American food products, including General Mills’ Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran, Special K and Frosted Flakes, and PepsiCo’s Doritos, Ritz Crackers and Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips, as part of a unique testing project designed to reveal pesticide exposure at real world levels.

 

Even more disturbing is that the highest glyphosate levels were found in General Mills’ Cheerios, one of the first foods that American mothers commonly feed their young children when they begin eating solid foods. Glyphosate residues for Cheerios, measured at 1,125.3 parts per billion (ppb), were simply off the chart and much higher than the 28 other food products tested.

 

New scientific evidence shows that possible harm from glyphosate can begin at much lower levels, even as low as 0.1 ppb. Credible independent peer reviewed studies published in 2014 and 2015 found that rats exposed to 0.1 ppb of Roundup and 0.05 ppb of glyphosate could cause severe organ damage and alter gene function of over 4,000 genes in the livers and kidneys of rats. These new findings should be a wake-up call for all Americans regarding unacceptable levels of pesticide residues in our nation’s food.

 

This report comes after more than a year and a half investigation into the massive U.S. regulatory failures that have left the American public not only in the dark about glyphosate contamination in our food supply, but also regularly exposed to levels of this toxic weedkiller that emerging science is now demonstrating to be more hazardous to human health than previously thought.

 

New independent research shows that harm from Monsanto’s Roundup and glyphosate-based herbicides can begin at much lower levels than previously thought. The new research shows that endocrine disrupting chemicals can disrupt basic hormone functions at ultra-low levels. U.S. regulations must reflect latest scientific research to protect our health and that of our children.

 

In addition, glyphosate is also patented as an antimicrobial agent. This has raised alarm among scientists who believe that low level exposure to glyphosate can negatively disrupt beneficial bacteria in the gut biome the way it does in the soil, leading to whole host of human health problems that doctors are just beginning to understand.

 

For the past 20 plus years, U.S. regulators have refused to test for glyphosate residues even though it’s the most widely used weedkiller in the U.S. and its use has exploded in the past two decades due to the widespread adoption of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready GMO crops. Today more than 300 million pounds of glyphosate-based weedkillers are sprayed across U.S. farmland, public parks and lawns and home gardens. Use of Roundup has become so pervasive that 75 percent of rainwater samples in the Midwest tested positive for glyphosate, according to Food Democracy Now!

 

On March 20, 2015, 17 leading scientific experts from the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared glyphosate “probably carcinogenic to humans,” which should have served as a call-to-action for U.S. regulators. Instead, the U.S. EPA issued a final report that agreed with Monsanto’s rebuttal, which called the IARC’s report “junk science.” This is why Food Democracy Now! is calling for an investigation of possible regulatory misconduct at the EPA by the EPA’s inspector general.

 

Currently, U.S. regulators allow what is considered a very high level of daily glyphosate residue in America’s food. In the U.S., the EPA set the daily acceptable intake (ADI) limit at 1.75 parts per million (ppm) per kilogram of bodyweight per day in the U.S., versus a more responsible level at 0.3 ppm in the European Union based on their review of the same studies submitted to the EPA. That’s six times the European level now allowed in the U.S. food supply.

 

The U.S. government’s continued reliance on Monsanto-funded science and their refusal to consider the most current independent peer reviewed scientific research is alarming, especially considering the fact that the regulators at the FDA are currently reviewing a 15-year re-approval of Monsanto’s Roundup and glyphosate-based herbicides based on out-of-date science.

 

You can share this report by following this link: http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/2047?t=15&akid=1946.101853._11J9w

 

What else you’ll find in the report:

 

  1. Levels of glyphosate residues found in popular American foods.
  2. A summary of what the latest independent scientific research says about the safety of Roundup and glyphosate.
  3. A detailed analysis of why the current U.S. EPA’s acceptable daily intake (ADI) is much too high.
  4. Evidence that regulators in Europe considered the U.S. ADI to be “very high” and “far outside the range” of what chemical companies other than Monsanto submitted for safety approvals.
  5. Scientific evidence that refutes Monsanto’s claim that glyphosate does not accumulate in the human body.
  6. A call to action-–to investigate regulatory collusion at the EPA, end the practice of pre-harvest spraying of Roundup on food crop, and a call to release all the scientific data submitted by Monsanto for safety assessments.

 

Editor’s addendum: I don’t want to sound defeatist, but with Trump’s climate change denier Myron Ebell set to head up the EPA, I think there’s not much chance that glyphosate poisoning will be remediated so long as agribiz and biotech rules in Washington. The answer, of course, is to eat organic food. –J.C.

 

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A Website to Enhance and Protect the Health of Mother Earth

Organic Lifestyle Comments (0)

It It was really heartening to hear that at recent meetings in Europe, the idea was brought forth that the many-faceted movements and groups concerned with the health of the environment, the health of our food and farming systems, the health of the ecological web of life on our planet, and the mental and spiritual health of the human beings on this plant need to coalesce into a meta-movement that includes them all.

Is there really any difference between the Native Americans who are standing up for pure water and conservationists who want to protect our rivers and oceans? Is there any fundamental difference between those who want to stop chemical corporations from polluting the land and waters of the earth from those folks who want to purchase organic food because they know it won’t contain agricultural chemicals, antibiotics, and GMOs? And is there any difference between those who want to arrest and reverse climate change and those who want to convert our energy systems from carbon-based exploitation of fossil fuels to renewable, clean energy sources? I could name a hundred NGOs that want rational environmental change and whose purposes dovetail with all these others.

We need to get together.

What would that look like if all of us banded together to promote environmental improvement? First of all, we’d need to coalesce around a single idea that connects us all. Very simply, that idea is health. The word “health” contains the word “heal,” and the aim of all our groups is to heal the sores, cankers, and diseases caused by rapacious modern industry. The diseases show up in disruptions to the planet’s healthy ecosystems, in the participants in the environmental web of life, in the mutated amphibians, sick waterfowl, and disappearing species of the great extinction we’re going through. The word “health” is also related to the word “whole.” In this case, wholeness refers to the situation where all available environmental niches are filled with functioning participants. In other words, where a natural system is most biodiverse, it is most healthy.

Biodiversity is the key to health. Any ecosystem has a set of trophic niches ready to be filled. A trophic niche is a place in the system that not only has food for a creature, but a beneficial role for that creature to play. That’s why the die-off of creatures in the great “Sixth Extinction” we’re going through is so destructive. Every unfilled trophic niche in an ecosystem is an opportunity for a disruptive creature or organism to fill it and take over, causing great harm.

Mental and spiritual health likewise flow from an attunement with nature. We are all the children of nature; Gaia—the living organism that is the earth–is our mother. We do not know better than nature how to conduct ourselves. Our task is to understand nature—her laws, tendencies, energies, directions, movements—and pattern our social and economic systems on her. If you take notice, nature’s arrangements are all sustainable. Everything else is, by definition, unsustainable and will eventually collapse.

So yes, let’s erect the big tent under which all those people and organizations working for the health of the planet and those creatures who live on it can find a home. Together we can assail the forces working against that goal. We don’t have much time. Climate change is fast upon us. Species extinction is progressing rapidly. Huge multinational corporations are taking over world agriculture and poisoning the earth. If we stay separated into little fiefdoms, caring only about our own narrow interests, we will not succeed.

But together we will prevail. Hence I’ve registered www.gaiashealth.com as the umbrella and big tent under which any and all organizations and individuals who are working to promote the health of the planet and its creatures can shelter.

I will be working to have Gaia-friendly institutions around the world gather at this website. If you want to help out, simply nominate organizations, institutions, and individuals you know are working to protect and enhance the health of Mother Earth.

***

KEEPING AN EYE ON THE ORANGE ONE

With the election of Donald Trump as President, we can only hope that his campaign promises were just rhetoric and that he really doesn’t plan to abrogate the Climate Change Agreement, revoke the nuclear deal with Iran, lend government support to increased use of fossil fuels, and so many others.

But until we see otherwise, we can only believe that he meant what he said regarding these environmental treaties and issues. For progressives, his election and Republican control of Congress appears to be the recipe for an unmitigated disaster.

It therefore behooves the environmentally concerned to watch the actions of Trump, Congress, and the future right-wing Supreme Court carefully. On November 11, Trump gave us a clue as to his policies on the environment. In looking for someone to follow through on his campaign vow to dismantle one of the Obama administration’s signature climate change policies, Trump probably could not have found a better candidate for the job than Myron Ebell.

According to The New York Times, “Mr. Ebell, who revels in taking on the scientific consensus on global warming, will be Mr. Trump’s lead agent in choosing personnel and setting the direction of the federal agencies that address climate change and environmental policy more broadly.

“Mr. Ebell, whose organization is financed in part by the coal industry, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the linchpin of that policy, the Clean Power Plan. Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the plan is a far-reaching set of regulations that, by seeking to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation, could result in the closing of many coal-burning power plants, among other effects.”

And what will Ebell be doing in the Trump administration? He’s been picked to head up the EPA.

***

HYDROPONIC IMPORTS BEING SOLD AS ORGANIC

An organic industry watchdog contends the USDA has quietly allowed a flood of hydroponically-produced fruits and vegetables, largely imported, to be illegally labeled and sold as “organic.”

This produce is generally grown under artificial lighting, indoors, and on an industrial scale. The Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute has filed a formal legal complaint against some of the largest agribusinesses involved in the practice and their organic certifying agents.

The controversy will come to a head in mid-November, when the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is expected to vote at its semiannual meeting in St. Louis on whether or not hydroponic operations (growing without soil) should be legalized for organic certification. This vote comes six years after the NOSB initially reaffirmed that hydroponics and aquaponics should be prohibited under the organic label.

Disregarding that prohibition, the USDA has allowed over 100 foreign and domestic soil-less operations to become certified organic, creating unfair competition for soil-based U.S. growers. The U.S. is an outlier in international commerce as most countries prohibit the organic certification of soil-less hydroponic produce, including the 28 countries of the European Union (EU), Mexico, Japan, and Canada.

“Astute consumers have turned to organics to procure fruits and vegetables for their family knowing that certified farmers do a better job of stewarding the land by nurturing the complex biological ecosystem in the soil, which creates nutrient-dense, superior food,” said Mark Kastel, senior farm policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. “Hydroponic and container systems rely on liquid fertilizers developed from conventional crops or waste products. Suggesting that they should qualify for organic labeling is a specious argument.”

The Cornucopia complaint specifically targets two of the giants in U.S. hydroponic production, the organic berry behemoth, Driscoll’s, and a major tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper producer, Wholesum Harvest. Both agribusinesses have production in the U.S. and Mexico and are certified by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Quality Assurance International (QAI), respectively.

Pioneers of the organic movement, including the “Agrarian Elders” and other diversified farmers, are incensed by the rise of “organic” hydroponics and are leading the “Keep the Soil in Organic” movement. They are witnessing firsthand the displacement of domestic organic produce with hydroponic versions.

These organic farmers argue that organic agriculture has always been entirely centered on the biological complexity found in properly managed, fertile soil. Iconic farmer and author, Eliot Coleman, of Maine explains, “The phrase ‘organic hydroponic’ is an oxymoron—a figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear in conjunction. Hydroponic growers produce crops in sterile surroundings and douse plant roots with liquid nutrients that can never begin to duplicate the biological complexity of fertile soil.”

In addition, organic hydroponic produce, whether imported or grown by giant agribusinesses in the U.S., is not identified in the marketplace. Consumers have no way of knowing if the berries, tomatoes, peppers, or cucumbers they are purchasing are truly organic.

The Cornucopia Institute has engaged the public by distributing a proxy letter to organic stakeholders (available as a download through the hydroponics link in the projects tab on their website). The organization says it has already received thousands of originally signed letters which they will hand deliver to the NOSB at their St. Louis meeting starting November 16.

“There is a higher authority than the USDA, or even the federal courts, in these matters,” said Kastel, “and that’s the community of organic farmers, and their loyal customers who vote every day in the marketplace with their dollars. They are clearly voicing their opposition to the faux organic production that is flooding the marketplace.”

What’s not even mentioned is the energy needed to power artificial lighting to grow crops hydroponically. Crops grown outdoors have a free, sustainable, and very powerful light source: the sun.

***

ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT BACTERIA IN CONVENTIONAL POULTRY

A new study published in the scientific journal Clinical Infectious Diseases has found evidence that an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus can be transmitted to consumers via grocery store poultry meat. Robert Skov, a lead researcher on the paper, said in a statement, “At present, meat products represent only a minor transmission route for MRSA to humans, but our findings nevertheless underscore the importance of reducing the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals as well as continuing surveillance of the animal-food-human interface.”

***

ORGANIC FARMING BOOSTS YIELDS, UPS PEST CONTROL

Organic farming increases biological control of pests and yields in barley
A recent study published in Landscape Ecology has reaffirmed that organic farming leads to greater yields and pest control by supporting natural predators, and demonstrated that these benefits associated with organic farming are maintained regardless of the surrounding landscape.

***

LESS ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT E. COLI IN ORGANIC PIGS

A study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE tested swine from four different European countries—Denmark, France, Italy, and Sweden—and found that those raised on organic farms consistently harbored less antibiotic-resistant E. coli than swine raised on conventional farms. “For all four countries, resistance was substantially lower in organic than conventional pigs…This knowledge, together with a continued effort to improve animal health and thereby reduce the overall need for antibiotics, would be valuable to reduce antibiotic resistance without compromising animal welfare,” the authors concluded.

###
was really heartening to hear that at recent meetings in Europe, the idea was brought forth that the many-faceted movements and groups concerned with the health of the environment, the health of our food and farming systems, the health of the ecological web of life on our planet, and the mental and spiritual health of the human beings on this plant need to coalesce into a meta-movement that includes them all.

Is there really any difference between the Native Americans who are standing up for pure water and conservationists who want to protect our rivers and oceans? Is there any fundamental difference between those who want to stop chemical corporations from polluting the land and waters of the earth from those folks who want to purchase organic food because they know it won’t contain agricultural chemicals, antibiotics, and GMOs? And is there any difference between those who want to arrest and reverse climate change and those who want to convert our energy systems from carbon-based exploitation of fossil fuels to renewable, clean energy sources? I could name a hundred NGOs that want rational environmental change and whose purposes dovetail with all these others.

We need to get together.

What would that look like if all of us banded together to promote environmental improvement? First of all, we’d need to coalesce around a single idea that connects us all. Very simply, that idea is health. The word “health” contains the word “heal,” and the aim of all our groups is to heal the sores, cankers, and diseases caused by rapacious modern industry. The diseases show up in disruptions to the planet’s healthy ecosystems, in the participants in the environmental web of life, in the mutated amphibians, sick waterfowl, and disappearing species of the great extinction we’re going through. The word “health” is also related to the word “whole.” In this case, wholeness refers to the situation where all available environmental niches are filled with functioning participants. In other words, where a natural system is most biodiverse, it is most healthy.

Biodiversity is the key to health. Any ecosystem has a set of trophic niches ready to be filled. A trophic niche is a place in the system that not only has food for a creature, but a beneficial role for that creature to play. That’s why the die-off of creatures in the great “Sixth Extinction” we’re going through is so destructive. Every unfilled trophic niche in an ecosystem is an opportunity for a disruptive creature or organism to fill it and take over, causing great harm.

Mental and spiritual health likewise flow from an attunement with nature. We are all the children of nature; Gaia—the living organism that is the earth–is our mother. We do not know better than nature how to conduct ourselves. Our task is to understand nature—her laws, tendencies, energies, directions, movements—and pattern our social and economic systems on her. If you take notice, nature’s arrangements are all sustainable. Everything else is, by definition, unsustainable and will eventually collapse.

So yes, let’s erect the big tent under which all those people and organizations working for the health of the planet and those creatures who live on it can find a home. Together we can assail the forces working against that goal. We don’t have much time. Climate change is fast upon us. Species extinction is progressing rapidly. Huge multinational corporations are taking over world agriculture and poisoning the earth. If we stay separated into little fiefdoms, caring only about our own narrow interests, we will not succeed.

But together we will prevail. Hence I’ve registered www.gaiashealth.com as the umbrella and big tent under which any and all organizations and individuals who are working to promote the health of the planet and its creatures can shelter.

I will be working to have Gaia-friendly institutions around the world gather at this website. If you want to help out, simply nominate organizations, institutions, and individuals you know are working to protect and enhance the health of Mother Earth.

***

KEEPING AN EYE ON THE ORANGE ONE

With the election of Donald Trump as President, we can only hope that his campaign promises were just rhetoric and that he really doesn’t plan to abrogate the Climate Change Agreement, revoke the nuclear deal with Iran, lend government support to increased use of fossil fuels, and so many others.

But until we see otherwise, we can only believe that he meant what he said regarding these environmental treaties and issues. For progressives, his election and Republican control of Congress appears to be the recipe for an unmitigated disaster.

It therefore behooves the environmentally concerned to watch the actions of Trump, Congress, and the future right-wing Supreme Court carefully. On November 11, Trump gave us a clue as to his policies on the environment. In looking for someone to follow through on his campaign vow to dismantle one of the Obama administration’s signature climate change policies, Trump probably could not have found a better candidate for the job than Myron Ebell.

According to The New York Times, “Mr. Ebell, who revels in taking on the scientific consensus on global warming, will be Mr. Trump’s lead agent in choosing personnel and setting the direction of the federal agencies that address climate change and environmental policy more broadly.

“Mr. Ebell, whose organization is financed in part by the coal industry, has been one of the most vocal opponents of the linchpin of that policy, the Clean Power Plan. Developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the plan is a far-reaching set of regulations that, by seeking to reduce carbon emissions from electricity generation, could result in the closing of many coal-burning power plants, among other effects.”

And what will Ebell be doing in the Trump administration? He’s been picked to head up the EPA.

***

HYDROPONIC IMPORTS BEING SOLD AS ORGANIC

An organic industry watchdog contends the USDA has quietly allowed a flood of hydroponically-produced fruits and vegetables, largely imported, to be illegally labeled and sold as “organic.”

This produce is generally grown under artificial lighting, indoors, and on an industrial scale. The Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute has filed a formal legal complaint against some of the largest agribusinesses involved in the practice and their organic certifying agents.

The controversy will come to a head in mid-November, when the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is expected to vote at its semiannual meeting in St. Louis on whether or not hydroponic operations (growing without soil) should be legalized for organic certification. This vote comes six years after the NOSB initially reaffirmed that hydroponics and aquaponics should be prohibited under the organic label.

Disregarding that prohibition, the USDA has allowed over 100 foreign and domestic soil-less operations to become certified organic, creating unfair competition for soil-based U.S. growers. The U.S. is an outlier in international commerce as most countries prohibit the organic certification of soil-less hydroponic produce, including the 28 countries of the European Union (EU), Mexico, Japan, and Canada.

“Astute consumers have turned to organics to procure fruits and vegetables for their family knowing that certified farmers do a better job of stewarding the land by nurturing the complex biological ecosystem in the soil, which creates nutrient-dense, superior food,” said Mark Kastel, senior farm policy analyst at The Cornucopia Institute. “Hydroponic and container systems rely on liquid fertilizers developed from conventional crops or waste products. Suggesting that they should qualify for organic labeling is a specious argument.”

The Cornucopia complaint specifically targets two of the giants in U.S. hydroponic production, the organic berry behemoth, Driscoll’s, and a major tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper producer, Wholesum Harvest. Both agribusinesses have production in the U.S. and Mexico and are certified by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Quality Assurance International (QAI), respectively.

Pioneers of the organic movement, including the “Agrarian Elders” and other diversified farmers, are incensed by the rise of “organic” hydroponics and are leading the “Keep the Soil in Organic” movement. They are witnessing firsthand the displacement of domestic organic produce with hydroponic versions.

These organic farmers argue that organic agriculture has always been entirely centered on the biological complexity found in properly managed, fertile soil. Iconic farmer and author, Eliot Coleman, of Maine explains, “The phrase ‘organic hydroponic’ is an oxymoron—a figure of speech in which contradictory terms appear in conjunction. Hydroponic growers produce crops in sterile surroundings and douse plant roots with liquid nutrients that can never begin to duplicate the biological complexity of fertile soil.”

In addition, organic hydroponic produce, whether imported or grown by giant agribusinesses in the U.S., is not identified in the marketplace. Consumers have no way of knowing if the berries, tomatoes, peppers, or cucumbers they are purchasing are truly organic.

The Cornucopia Institute has engaged the public by distributing a proxy letter to organic stakeholders (available as a download through the hydroponics link in the projects tab on their website). The organization says it has already received thousands of originally signed letters which they will hand deliver to the NOSB at their St. Louis meeting starting November 16.

“There is a higher authority than the USDA, or even the federal courts, in these matters,” said Kastel, “and that’s the community of organic farmers, and their loyal customers who vote every day in the marketplace with their dollars. They are clearly voicing their opposition to the faux organic production that is flooding the marketplace.”

What’s not even mentioned is the energy needed to power artificial lighting to grow crops hydroponically. Crops grown outdoors have a free, sustainable, and very powerful light source: the sun.

***

ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANT BACTERIA IN CONVENTIONAL POULTRY

A new study published in the scientific journal Clinical Infectious Diseases has found evidence that an antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria Staphylococcus aureus can be transmitted to consumers via grocery store poultry meat. Robert Skov, a lead researcher on the paper, said in a statement, “At present, meat products represent only a minor transmission route for MRSA to humans, but our findings nevertheless underscore the importance of reducing the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals as well as continuing surveillance of the animal-food-human interface.”

***

ORGANIC FARMING BOOSTS YIELDS, UPS PEST CONTROL

Organic farming increases biological control of pests and yields in barley
A recent study published in Landscape Ecology has reaffirmed that organic farming leads to greater yields and pest control by supporting natural predators, and demonstrated that these benefits associated with organic farming are maintained regardless of the surrounding landscape.

***

LESS ANTIBIOTIC-RESISTANT E. COLI IN ORGANIC PIGS

A study published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE tested swine from four different European countries—Denmark, France, Italy, and Sweden—and found that those raised on organic farms consistently harbored less antibiotic-resistant E. coli than swine raised on conventional farms. “For all four countries, resistance was substantially lower in organic than conventional pigs…This knowledge, together with a continued effort to improve animal health and thereby reduce the overall need for antibiotics, would be valuable to reduce antibiotic resistance without compromising animal welfare,” the authors concluded.

###