Who Are We?
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I don’t recognize America anymore.
Indefinite detention without trial.
Pepper spraying peaceful protesters.
And on the farm, crops that are genetically engineered to resist Round-Up herbicide are promised to reduce herbicide use. But wait—Monsanto, the company that creates the GMO crops, is also the company that sells Round-Up. Would they create crops to reduce the amount of herbicide they sell?
No—not according to Chuck Benbow, a researcher at Washington State University. He points out that in Mississippi, where Round-Up has bred a scourge of superweeds that resist the herbicide, farmers are being told to plow down the weeds in the fall, spray with a residual herbicide so nothing sprouts over the winter in that warm, wet climate, then attack the weeds with more herbicide in the spring.
This is just one reason why the amount of herbicide used on American crops in recent years has spiked. Monsanto has it both ways—selling farmers GMO seeds that can withstand large-scale applications of Round-Up, then selling more Round-Up to try to defeat the superweeds that emerge from an environment soaked year-round in herbicide.
The following is a comment from a reader of an online news site, commenting on the passage of The National Defense Authorization Act by Congress, signed into law by President Obama, that authorizes indefinite detention of American citizens at the President’s say-so, without recourse to the courts. Passage of the NDAA brushes aside 800 years of settled law, dating from the signing of the Magna Carta by King John of England in 1215 that limited the power of the king to imprison citizens outside of the legal boundaries of the law.
“I can imagine our congressmen and women going to grade school, saying the Pledge of Allegiance, singing the national anthem, and learning about this country’s history, both good and bad.
“Then later on I can imagine that they studied, the Constitution in junior high, along with the Bill of Rights, and the Constitutional amendments.
“In high school I can imagine that they studied our system of government, along with the world wars we fought to protect this country and its freedoms.
“Then I can imagine that they went to law school, passed the bar, and took an oath of office to protect this country and its people from all enemies both foreign and domestic. The president even taught Constitutional law.
“So then what the hell happened…?
“They (meaning Congress) must be either stupid, psychotic, or complete traitors, because they turned around and betrayed everything they were taught about this country, and all the sacrifices of every man and women who gave their life to make this country a place of freedom and a better place for the next generation.
“It’s not like someone had a gun to their heads. Or threatened their families. They did it willingly, by choice, so they have no excuse for what they did.”
This note is from Dr. Joseph Mercola’s website (www.mercola.com):
“A new study shows glyphosate (Round-Up herbicide used on GE feed) alters the gut flora in poultry; pathogenic bacteria like salmonella and botulism are strengthened, while beneficial bacteria are weakened, which is a setup for making you sick from poultry consumption.
“Cultivation of GE crops may be a major contributor to the destruction of topsoil by adversely altering soil’s ecological balance and fertility, possibly irreversibly; DNA from GE organisms is not readily broken down by soil microbes, and this foreign DNA can mix with the DNA of these microbes to create bizarre strains, toxins, and otherwise interfere with the biological system that controls soil’s fertility.”
I would add that genes that produce the Bacillus thuringiensis toxin—fatal to caterpillar-like insect larvae—have already been found to cross over into our human gut flora when we consume foods into which these toxin-producing genes have been genetically inserted. This means, in effect, that the beneficial microbes that do us such good in our intestines are turned into little pesticide factories by GMO foods.
Do you see a pattern here? The same greedy, murderous mindset that causes the political problems and abuses of power in the list at the beginning of this column is the mindset that creates destructive, rapacious conventional agriculture, with its abuses of the soil, water, farm plants and animals, and people who work the land and eat the food.
The problem is greed, especially the greed that is at the heart of the military-industrial-agricultural complex. It’s codified into law: corporations exist to provide profits to their shareholders. That’s the bottom line, but it is not a fair or ethical bottom line for the health of this planet and all its creatures.
Mitt Romney famously said, “Corporations are people, my friend.” If so, they are people blinded by greed, so self-centered that they must accumulate as much wealth and power to themselves as possible. But wait—that sounds like the 1 percent who already control the levers of power. Oh—I see. I see.
The greediest are in control. They run the system for themselves. The 99 percent be damned. Income inequality is run amok. The globe is heating up. We are creating the greatest mass extinction of species in the oceans and on the land since an asteroid obliterated the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.
What is the answer?
The organic farmers have it right, at least the agricultural part of it. Protect the soil, and even rebuild its health. Treat the animals right. Don’t use toxins in the fields or add poisons to the food.
An article in the New Yorker recently described groups around the globe that are “re-wilding” areas of the earth to make them nature preserves, pretty much free of human activity, so the areas return to the natural health that existed in the Paleolithic period before human agriculture. The article points out that re-wilding works, and works quickly. Nature is poised to heal our earth if we let her.
Will we let her? Not likely as long as the greediest among us call the shots. How do we get from here to there, where “there” is a place where the most intelligent and life-affirming among us help guide the advance of civilization?
We have already started, just by choosing to eat organic food. Now let us spread that impulse throughout the rest of our social and working lives.
Backlash against General Mills
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When it comes to health and nutrition, few websites are more informed and relevant to folks who like organic food than the one run by Dr. Joseph Mercola. The following led off one of his recent posts:
General Mills, which donated more than $1.1 million to the ‘No on Prop. 37’ campaign to defeat the GE labeling law, recently got backlash from their tactics.
Just one day after General Mills’ Cheerios brand released a Facebook app allowing “fans” to “show what Cheerios means to them,” the app was abruptly pulled due to thousands of angry consumers using it to create anti-GMO statements and lashing out against the company’s treachery.
Two of the first three ingredients in Cheerios and Honey Nut Cheerios are corn starch and sugar—two ingredients that might be genetically engineered (a majority of corn-based ingredients and sugar from sugar beets on the US market is now GE).
The fact that General Mills would rather pay millions to hide that their products contain GE ingredients rather than give you the choice to buy something else, or reformulate their product without GE ingredients is quite telling. And fortunately, people are now starting to see through these shady tactics where actions do not match the words.
Washington state and Vermont are now working on people’s initiatives to get GE labeling laws passed in 2013.
To read more and to tie into Dr. Mercola’s excellent website, visit:
Farmer Jim Goodman, writing in The Progressive this month, reports the disheartening news:
“The Farmers Assurance Provision is the title of a rider, Section 733, inserted into the House of Representatives 2013 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. Somehow, as a farmer, I don’t feel the least bit assured.
“The only assurance it provides is that Monsanto and the rest of the agriculture biotech industry will have carte blanche to force the government to allow the planting of their biotech seeds.
“In addition, the House Agriculture Committee’s 2012 farm bill draft includes three riders – Sections 1011, 10013 and 10014. These amendments would essentially destroy any oversight of new Genetically Engineered (GE) crops by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“If these riders had been in place during the review of GE alfalfa, Monsanto could have requested—no, they could have compelled–the Secretary of Agriculture to allow continued planting of GE alfalfa even though a federal court had ruled commercialization was illegal pending completion of an environmental impact study.
“Essentially, the riders would prevent the federal courts from restricting, in any way, the planting of a GE crop, regardless of environmental, health or economic concerns. USDA’s mandated review process would be, like court-ordered restrictions, meaningless. A request to USDA to allow planting of a GE crop awaiting approval would have to be granted.
“Not only will the riders eviscerate the power of USDA and the authority of the courts, but it will also permanently dismiss any input from other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Fish and Wildlife Service, or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Does Congress really believe it has the right to remove the court’s power of Congressional oversight? Doesn’t that violate the separation of powers guaranteed in the Constitution?
“The trade group behind the riders, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), insists that the riders do not, in any way, reduce regulatory requirements for new GE crops.
“Corporate collusion with government is not new, but this takes it to a new level. By allowing corporations to subvert the Constitution, Congress is saying that corporate influence and profits are more important than the best interests of the people.”
The Organic Center of Washington, DC (www.organic-center.org) has issued the following reports:
A report on testing and analysis of pork chops and ground-pork samples from six U.S. cities has revealed high rates of a bacterium that can cause food poisoning , especially in children, and bacteria resistant to medically important antibiotics, according to Consumer Reports. The report recommends that consumers can minimize such risk by choosing pork and other meat products raised without drugs such as those labeled ‘certified organic.’ The complete report and analysis will be included in the January, 2013, issue of Consumer Reports.
A study published in the Journal of Urology suggests that avoiding non-organic (conventional) dairy products such as butter and cheese during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of hypospadias—a birth defect in boys that affects the penis. J.S. Christensen of the Department of Growth and Reproduction, Rigshospitalet, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues found that women in the case-control study who rarely chose organic foods and used non-organic butter and cheese during pregnancy were twice as likely as those who ate organic food to give birth to a son with hypospadias. Researchers found that women who frequently consumed conventional high-fat dairy products such as milk and butter while rarely eating organic alternatives were 118 percent more likely to produce a boy with hypospadias.
A clinical report published online Oct. 22 by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) provides guidance to parents confused by conflicting marketing messages regarding healthy food choices for their children. Among the benefits of organic foods cited are lower exposure to pesticides known to cause disease, lower exposure to drug-resistant bacteria, higher beneficial nutrient levels such as Vitamin C and total phenols, lower levels of nitrates, lower pesticide exposure to farm workers, and lower overall environmental impact than conventional farming.
Just Gimme Some Truth
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The email seems so innocent. It’s from “SafeFruitsandVeggies.com,” and the headline reads, “New Peer-Reviewed Paper Reinforces Including Fruits and Veggies in Holiday Meal Plans,” with the sub-head, “A Resource for Science Based Information about Pesticide Residues.” The peer-reviewed paper itself is entitled, “Estimation of Cancer Risks and Benefits Associated with a Potential Increased Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables,” and appeared in the December, 2012, issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology.
Who can argue with any of this? A peer-reviewed paper—wow. That means that food scientists have gone over the study and validated it as meeting the requirements of good science. And of course fruits and veggies are a big part of any healthy diet. And who doesn’t want his fruits and veggies to be safe? And the website is a resource for “science-based information” about pesticide residues. Well, what else could it be based on? Creationism? Snake handling?
Excuse me, but I’ve been reading the propaganda of the pesticide industry for decades and this smells like a rat to me—a pesticide-drenched, dead rat. So I looked a little further into this study. Here’s the “science based” conclusion: “The study concluded that an estimated 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented if half of all Americans increased their consumption of fruits and veggies by a single serving.” It did add that the single serving would cause at least 10 new cancer cases from pesticide residues on the produce, but concluded that the benefit-to-risk ratio was so heavily weighted toward the benefits that “Consumers should not be concerned about cancer risks from consuming conventionally grown fruits and vegetables.” Except, of course, for the unlucky 10 people who get cancer. And to be a valid scientific study, shouldn’t it also determine how many people get cancer from eating an organic extra serving? But there’s no data on that.
The peer-reviewed paper’s lead author is Richard Reiss of Exponent, a scientific and engineering consulting firm in Alexandria, Virginia. Here’s how the firm describes itself on its website: “When a major disaster strikes, the media is soon not far behind, and an affected client needs answers now. Our multidisciplinary team of scientists, physicians, engineers and business consultants will perform either in-depth scientific research and analysis, or very rapid-response evaluations, to provide our clients with the critical information they need.” Crises it has worked on include, ”The grounding of the Exxon Valdez, the walkway collapse at the Kansas City Hyatt, and the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.” And, dare I add, the encroachment of organic food on very lucrative agribusinesses around the world. In other words, this firm will sell you the lipstick to put on your pig.
So who is “SafeFruitsandVeggies.com?” I could find no citations for any such group, but on its website there is a button for “Ask the Experts.” If you click it, up comes a number of videos that you can launch, including one that asks the question, “Is organic farming better for the environment than conventional farming?” If you launch the video, you are shown a farmer called Rod Brags of Soledad, California, who claims to grow both organic and conventional produce. He tells you that because organic fields are fertilized with tons of fertilizer, and conventional fields are fertilized with just a few hundred pounds of chemicals, that there’s a real environmental cost to organic farming just for having to haul all that compost around, and that therefore conventional farming is better for the environment. Some of the other questions that the “experts” answer include, “Is organically grown produce a healthier choice than conventionally grown produce?” and “Should pregnant women be concerned about low levels of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables?” And, as one would by now expect, the answer is no in both cases. In fact, the experts include people who are listed as authors of the peer-reviewed paper. One of them is Carl L. Keen of the Department of Nutrition and Internal Medicine at the University of California, Davis. According to this guy, not only should pregnant women not be concerned about pesticide residues, those folks pushing organic food are needlessly scaring pregnant women from eating more fruits and vegetables and therefore are harming their chances of having a positive birth outcome.
So—who is behind “SafeFruitsandVeggies.com”?
I found that the peer-reviewed paper was mostly paid for by the Alliance for Food and Farming. And who are they? Well, SourceWatch is a progressive organization that shines light on front groups to expose who is behind them. Here’s what SourceWatch had to say about the Alliance for Food and Farming: “The Alliance for Food and Farming acts as a front group for the fruit and vegetable industry, claiming the safety of numerous pesticides. According to its website, the group ‘was formed in 1989 and currently has a membership of approximately 50 agricultural groups representing a wide range of organizations including commodity boards, major farm groups and individual grower/shippers.’ It was registered as a non-profit in 1997 and therefore does not disclose its member organizations. In July, 2010, the Alliance for Food and Farming held a webinar and released a paper aiming to ‘debunk’ the Environmental Working Group’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ list of the most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables.”
Okay, so SafeFruitsandVeggies.com is a front for the Alliance for Food and Farming, which is a front for the agricultural pesticide and chemical industry. And who are the industry participants, who must not be named? Well, that “peer-reviewed and science based” paper touted on SafeFruitsandVeggies is not only supported by the Alliance for Food and Farming, but also by the Produce Marketing Association. Okay—so who is the Produce Marketing Association? I typed that name into SourceWatch’s search box, and up came “The Alliance for Better Foods.” Okay—so who is the Alliance for Better Foods? According to SourceWatch, “The Alliance for Better Foods was created to promote public acceptance and to oppose labelling of genetically modified foods. It is run by the Washington office of BSMG Worldwide, a full service PR firm whose clients include Monsanto, the Chemical Manufacturers Association, Procter & Gamble, Phillip Morris, and numerous other large food, chemical, and pharmaceutical corporations. On its website, the group states that it ‘supports biotechnology as a safe way to provide for a more abundant, nutritious, and higher quality food supply.’ The Alliance encourages fact-based discussion about development in plant biotechnology.”
And you know what’s fun? If you put the Alliance for Better Food into SourceWatch’s search box, up comes the “Alliance for Food and Farming.” Are you beginning to see a pattern here? This whole world of “science-based information” and “safe fruits and vegetables” and alliances for better food and farming, and all the rest…it’s all a Potemkin Village—false fronts fronting other false fronts, and all of them fronting Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Bayer, Syngenta, the Chemical Manufacturers, the genetic engineers, the cigarette makers, the poisoners-for-profit worldwide.
The world of business is built on marketing, and marketing is built on shading and evading the truth, on hyperbole, and on false promise. Have you heard John Lennon singing, “All I want is some truth”? I think he was expressing his dismay at the manipulative imagery from all segments of human endeavor that fills our social space these days.
Oh, and by the way, the Alliance for Better Food is run by BSMG Worldwide, the full-service PR firm, also known as lobbyists for Big Ag who have the big shots in Washington stuffed into their pockets. Don’t believe me? I checked into BSMG Worldwide and associated PR and marketing firms, and even these firms are fronts for (you are not going to believe this) the Core Strategy Group.
And here we’ve arrived at the cold, dark heart of the agricultural-military-industrial-corporate-political complex that really runs not only America, but global corporatism and its political henchmen in countries around the world. Want a glimpse into this world? Put www.corestrategygroup.com into your search engine and hold onto your hats. The Group’s chairman is Scott Miller, who was a founder and president of Sawyer/Miller Group, an advertising and marketing firm whose clients include or have included Corazon Aquino, Vaclav Havel, Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Miller Brewing, Boris Yeltsin, Drexel Burnham Lambert, Kim Dae Jung, Goldman-Sachs, Apple Computer, Virgilio Barco, USA for Africa/Hands Across America, Lech Walesa, and The Better World Foundation.
Sawyer/Miller also advised over 40 U.S. candidates for Governor or Senator and several Presidential campaigns. At Core Strategy Group, Miller has worked on developing communications, marketing, and branding strategies for clients like McDonalds, Verizon, CitiGroup, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Google, News Corp., The Tribune Company, Highfields Capital, Rio Tinto, Cox Newspapers, The Newspaper Association of America, Knight-Ridder, The Southern Company, The Home Depot, and The Walt Disney Company. He has also helped develop strategy for the successful political campaigns of Kim Dae Jung and Vicente Fox. In the 2004 U.S. election, Miller worked as a strategist for the Bush-Cheney campaign and the National Republican Senate Campaign Committee.
Notice the confluence of business and politics in the portfolio of this master advertising and PR wizard?
Do you see now why the public is so swamped with phony stories about how organic farming is bad for the environment and how warning pregnant women about the presence of pesticide residues in their food simply scares them away from eating properly, and as one headline in my local paper recently shouted: “Organic Food May Kill You.” This headline was written because of an article written by Dennis Avery of the right-wing Hudson Institute that began, “According to recent data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, people who eat organic and natural foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli bacteria.” However, according to Robert Tauxe, M.D., chief of the food borne and diarrheal diseases branch of the CDC, there is no such data on organic food production in existence at their centers and he says Avery’s claims are “absolutely not true.” Following in his father’s footsteps, Dennis Avery’s son Alex distorted a study from the Journal of Food Protection that showed that organic food does not contain more pathogens than conventionally grown, contrary to Avery’s claims. He instead declared that the study showed the opposite. Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, the study’s chief author and faculty member at the University of Minnesota, was not surprised to learn that the Hudson Institute, with its long record of support for and the backing of agribusiness giants like Monsanto and DuPont, was trying to use the independently funded University of Minnesota data to discredit organic farming.
It’s all baloney and it’s everywhere, fueled by as much money as it takes to accomplish the goal (see Prop 37 in California’s November, 2012, election where enough California citizens were lied to about the horrors of labelling GMO foods that the measure failed). A look at the Core Strategy Group’s website sums up its approach: “We play to win.”
Okay—but does the science based, peer-reviewed paper have any validity? It says that consumers shouldn’t be worried about pesticide residues on conventional fruits and vegetables and any possible link to cancer. Is it right about that? Let’s take a look at the science.
Many studies have examined the effects of pesticide exposure on the risk of cancer. Associations have been found with leukemia, lymphoma, brain, kidney, breast, prostate, pancreas, liver, lung, and skin cancers. Increased rates of cancer have been found among farm workers who apply these chemicals. A mother’s exposure to pesticides during pregnancy is associated with an increase in her child’s risk of leukemia, Wilms’ tumor, and brain cancer.
And it’s not only cancer. Pesticides can be mutagens, teratogens, and cause a wide range of neurological and developmental problems, especially affecting young children.
Concerns regarding conflicts of interest regarding the research base have also been raised. A number of researchers involved with pesticides have undisclosed ties to industry, including Richard Doll of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in England and Hans-Olov Adami of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden.
Hmmm. Undisclosed ties to industry. Kind of like the happy little report that encourages us to eat more fruits and vegetables and assures us that their contamination with pesticides won’t harm us at all, because of studies that are peer-reviewed and science based—not like those airy-fairy people who worry that conventional produce may be poisoning us.
But here’s the question: Does free speech include the right to pursue a hidden, corporate, profit-oriented agenda behind a smokescreen of innocuous or actively false information designed to lull people into believing these lies? Should propaganda that’s part of a hidden and destructive agenda be allowed into the serious marketplace of ideas? Should corporations be allowed to trick the public into believing information that is not in its interest, and in fact, is designed to feather the corporations’ nests even if it harms the public and the environment? Is every form of trickery and chicanery okay, whether it’s ethical and moral or not—and let the public beware or pay the consequences? We have truth in advertising laws, shouldn’t we require truth in propaganda—or does propaganda actually exist to bend the truth toward the entity paying the propagandists?
My personal feeling is that free speech, unless it–as Justices Holmes and Brandeis said–poses a “clear and present danger” to the public weal, is inviolable. But aren’t toxic chemicals on conventional fruits and vegetables, genetically modified organisms, routine antibiotics in meat, Monsanto’s hormones in milk, and all the rest of it dangerous? Consider: ever heard of the drugs oestradiol-17, zeranol, trenbolone acetate and melengestrol acetate? Probably not. That’s because conventional meat producers aren’t required to tell you that these synthetic growth hormones–linked to increased risk of breast and prostate cancers in humans–are routinely injected or implanted into animals raised for meat in the U.S. The European Commission has banned the use of these drugs in animals raised for human consumption in Europe, and forbids the import of meat containing these hormones from the US. But here in this country? The FDA not only allows these and other antibiotics and hormones to be routinely injected, implanted, or laced into farm or feedlot animals raised for meat, dairy, or eggs, but it also doesn’t require meat producers to tell you which drugs they use, or in what quantities. Isn’t that a clear and present danger to our health?
Ah—but there can never be answers to this question because double blind studies—true scientific studies—would require that one group of people be fed pesticide-laden conventional foodstuffs while a second group is fed organic food. And that would be unethical because the conventional food group would be put at risk of developing those cancers and other diseases that corporate propaganda says don’t exist. And so we must rely on studies of mice and rats, and as the corporate propagandists always end up saying, “Rats and mice aren’t people, and you can’t extrapolate results from one species to another.”
I guess the only answer is that we have to rely on the good will and truthfulness of Monsanto, Dow, DuPont, Syngenta, BASF, Archer-Daniels-Midlands, Cargill, General Mills, the Grocery Manufacturers of America, Phillip Morris, Pepsi, the Alliance for Better Food, Coca-Cola, and others of their ilk. Obviously our welfare is more important than their bottom lines.
This from the Pesticide Action Network of North America, whose information-packed website is www.panna.org and well worth a visit:
“Seed and chemical giant DuPont just hired a fleet of ex-police officers to patrol the farmlands of North America.
“The second-largest seed company used to rely on their partner/competitor Monsanto to play the industry ‘bad cop’ when it came to seed policing. But now DuPont executives have made it clear that they are not afraid to make some enemies as they protect the company’s intellectual property interests in genetically engineered seeds. And they’ve hired an “agro-protection” company staffed by former police officers to do it.
“The practice of seed saving has been used by generations of farmers to save on financial inputs. But once the Big 6 started genetically modifying and patenting traits in their seeds, farmers have been legally forbidden from replanting or reselling certain varieties of the most popular seeds.
“One of those restricted varieties, RoundUp Ready soybeans, is produced as a highly profitable collaboration between Monsanto and DuPont. Monsanto long ago started monitoring, investigating and suing farmers if they were suspected of replanting seeds.
“A big shift in the industry is coming with the patent expiration of the primary genetic modification in soybean seeds — their resistance to RoundUp. Monsanto’s approach will be to quickly introduce a new generation of patented RoundUp Ready seeds to the market.
“DuPont, however, has made it clear that other patented traits in the RoundUp Ready soybeans allow the company to continue enforcing its ‘no seed-saving’ policy. DuPont has contracted Saskatoon, a Saskatchewan-based “agro-protection” company to monitor farmer soybean operations. The private inspectors will examine planting and purchasing records at farms and take plant cuttings, looking to expose unlicensed use of RoundUp Ready seeds.
Charles Benbrook of Washington State University’s Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resources puts it this way:
“Farmers are never going to get cheap access to these genetically engineered varieties. The biotech industry has trumped the legitimate economic interests of the farmer again by raising the ante on intellectual property.
“So far, the company has 45 agents on the ground in Canada, and is planning to add 35 in the U.S. next year.”
So what does all this have to do with organic food enthusiasts? All these patented seeds are genetically modified (GMOs) and are not allowed in organic production. But when nearby fields are planted to GMO crops, there is no way to keep the pollen from contaminating the organic crops, meaning that Monsanto and its pals can sue the organic farmers for copyright infringement for growing out the contaminated crops. Fair? No way. Happening? Way.
For more information and historical perspective of the take-over of America’s institutions by corporatists, follow this link: http://www.prwatch.org/news/2011/08/10984/lewis-powell-memo-corporate-blueprint-dominate-democracy
Did Prop 37 Really Lose?
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Some statisticians are finding “anomalies” in the voting records of nine California districts, discrepancies that can’t be attributed to chance. Not only that, but vote totals in support of Prop 37, the ballot measure that would have required GMO foods to be labelled, went over 6 million during a count in early December, but the next day had been mysteriously reduced to under 6 million.
Vote fraud? It’s a moot point, since the California Secretary of State is ready to certify No on 37 as the winner, despite Food Democracy Now’s protestations.
As George Bush might have said to Al Gore in 2000, “It makes no difference that you won. You lose.”
Could increasing rates of food allergies in the U.S. be due to pesticides in the food supply? More specifically, to dichlorophenols, a class of herbicides that includes 2,4 D? According to a 2008 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an 18 percent increase in food allergies was seen between 1997 and 2007. Approximately 15 million people have food allergies, with 8 percent of children affected.
You remember 2,4 D? It was one of the components of the defoliant Agent Orange that the U.S. military used to defoliate jungles in Vietnam so we could more easily see the enemy’s troop movements. Thousands of U.S. soldiers—to say nothing of Vietnamese citizens—were irreparably harmed by the toxic compound, although the U.S. government denied it for years before finally settling vets’ health claims.
Turns out 2,4 D not only zaps weeds, but it has a strong antibacterial effect.
According to Mike Barrett at Natural Society, researchers at the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology sought to find out if there’s a link between dichlorophenols and food allergies. So they measured the presence of dichlorophenols in urine of the study’s food-allergic subjects.
“We wanted to see if there was an association between certain pesticides and food allergies, and we were specifically interested in dichlorophenols because those were the ones that had this antibacterial effect. When researchers compared bacteria from the bowel in healthy kids versus bacteria in the bowel of kids that have allergies, they noticed a big difference,” said lead researcher Dr. Elina Jerschow. “This chemical is commonly found in pesticides used by farmers and consumer insect and weed control products, as well as in tap water…other dichlorophenol sources, such as pesticide-treated fruits and vegetables, may play a greater role in causing food allergy.”
New scientific studies are making it very clear that digestive problems such as food allergies, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease, leaky gut syndrome, and irritable bowel syndrome are a consequence of an impaired intestinal flora. The more diverse the ecosystem of bacteria, yeasts, and other microbes in the bowel, the healthier the ecosystem and the less likely digestive problems will develop.
Are the toxic agricultural chemicals in conventional food damaging the ecology of the intestinal flora of people who consume this food, thus causing food allergies and other digestive problems? Dr. Jerschow’s work seems to indicate that they are.
There’s another wrinkle to this story. You’ll remember that for years, Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready corn and other farm seeds, genetically engineered to resist the glyphosate herbicide, have been widely used in millions upon millions of acres of conventional corn. This has put evolutionary pressure on the weeds in cornfields to evolve glyphosate tolerance, until now America’s fields are overrun with superweeds that are also tolerant of the herbicide. But fear not, American farmers, here comes Dow Agroscience to the rescue with its 2,4 D ready soy and corn. That 2,4 D stuff, more toxic to the weeds (but not the genetically engineered food crops) than glyphosate, will kill those superweeds. All your problems will be solved.
Until the superduperweeds start to show up.
If you needed another good reason to avoid conventional food, this is it.
It may not carry the USDA Organic Seal, but Jamon Iberico de Bellota, a top quality Spanish ham from a special breed of black-footed pig, is from free-range pigs that roam oak forests along the border between Spain and Portugal, and eat only acorns during the last period of their lives before slaughter. It is also known as Jamon Iberico de Montanera. The exercise and diet have a significant impact on the flavor of the meat; the ham is salted for several weeks, then rinsed and air cured for 36 months. The firm, dark meat is lightly marbled with fat that’s mostly oleic acid—a monounsaturated fat that’s heart-healthy, lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad kind) and raises HDL cholesterol (the good kind).
Had some at a tapas bar recently. It’s a fabulously delicious food. Just sayin’. 
Time to Boycott Traitor Food Companies
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The Organic Consumers Association says it’s time to boycott the companies whose dirty money confused and scared millions of California voters into voting No on Prop 37. “It’s time to plaster their Facebook pages with this message: We won’t support you until you support us. It’s time to call their consumer hotlines, complain to their store managers. It’s time to tarnish their organic and natural images, to expose their hypocrisy and greed,” OCA says. It was their money that created those lying TV ads that told people Prop 37 would hike their food bills, among other falsehoods.
Here are the brands to boycott, and their donations to No on 37.
• PepsiCo (Donated $2.5M): Naked Juice, Tostito’s Organic, Tropicana Organic
• Kraft (Donated $2M): Boca Burgers and Back to Nature
• Safeway (Member of Grocery Manufacturers Association, which donated $2M): “O” Organics
• Coca-Cola (Donated $1.7M): Honest Tea, Odwalla
• General Mills (Donated $1.2M): Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Larabar
• Con-Agra (Donated $1.2M): Orville Redenbacher’s Organic, Hunt’s Organic, Lightlife, Alexia
• Kellogg’s (Donated $791k): Kashi, Bear Naked, Morningstar Farms, Gardenburger
• Smuckers (Donated $555k): R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz Organic
• Unilever (Donated $467k): Ben & Jerry’s
• Dean Foods (Donated $254k): Horizon, Silk, White Wave.
YONKERS, NY — In testing and analysis of pork chop and ground-pork samples from six U.S. cities, Consumer Reports found high rates of Yersinia enterocolitica, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning, especially in children. The majority of the yersinia and several other bacteria were resistant to medically important antibiotics that Consumer Reports tested.
In factory farm operations, “antibiotics are routinely fed to healthy animals at low levels. This practice promotes the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria which are a major public health concern,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports. “Infections caused by resistant bacteria are more difficult to treat and can lead to increased suffering and costs.”
A separate test for ractopamine, a drug used to promote growth and leanness in pigs, found very low levels. Although approved for use in the United States, but not in organic pork production, the drug is banned in China and Taiwan and in all of the European Union. Several countries had safety concerns about ractopamine, which is similar to drugs used to treat asthma.
“No drugs, including ractopamine and antibiotics, should be fed routinely to healthy animals for growth promotion and to prevent disease. These practices are harmful to public health, which is why they are banned in Europe,” said Dr. Michael Hansen, senior scientist for Consumer Reports.
As for what consumers can do, Consumer Reports had this among its recommendations for safety: “Choose pork and other meat products labeled ‘certified organic,’ which means the animal was raised without antibiotics or ractopamine.
The complete report and analysis can be found in the January, 2013, issue of Consumer Reports and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.
In a recent newsletter, the Kaiser Permanente company discussed the numerous dangers of GMOs and how to avoid them.
The newsletter states, “Despite what the biotech industry might say, there is little research on the long-term effects of GMOs on human health. Independent research has found several varieties of GMO corn caused organ damage in rats. Other studies have found that GMOs may lead to an inability in animals to reproduce.”
The newsletter then goes on to tell readers how they can avoid GMOs in their food through buying organic. It is important to remember the organic label meanings when shopping organic, however, which the newsletter unfortunately does not do. Make sure you know which level of organic you are consuming:
Products labeled “100 percent organic” are made with 100 percent organic ingredients and are the highest quality organic products you can purchase. No GMOs are allowed.
Labeled “organic” products are to contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients overall. No GMOs are allowed.
“Made with organic ingredients” is the lowest form of organic content. Food with this label are only required to contain 70 percent organic ingredients, meaning that the remaining 30 percent can be conventional. The conventional items, however, are not allowed to contain GMOs. These products don’t qualify for the USDA seal, whereas the previous two do.
Here’s something more from the Organic Consumers Association—bless their hearts:
“With the elections over, Monsanto is back, pushing a rider to the FY 2013 Agricultural Appropriations Bill (the Farm Bill) that, if passed, would grant the biotech engineering giant immunity from Federal law.
“The so-called ‘Monsanto Rider’ would require the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a temporary permit for planting or cultivating a genetically engineered crop, even if a federal court has ordered the planting be halted until an Environmental Impact Statement is completed.
“Right now, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are drafting an omnibus appropriations bill behind closed doors, in the hope of passing it before January. The public won’t know what’s in the bill until it’s ready for a vote. And when the bill does hit the floor, amendments won’t be allowed.
“Monsanto is counting on a sleepy public, distracted by the holidays, to let them slip this latest outrageous power grab through Congress. Don’t let them do it! Contact your member of Congress and urge them to stop Monsanto’s rider.”
Now for some good news: Australia’s largest supermarket chain, Coles, will as of January 1 stop selling company branded pork and eggs from animals kept in factory farm conditions. As an immediate result, 34,000 mother pigs will no longer be kept in stalls for long periods of their lives, and 350,000 hens will be freed from cages.
Now for some bad news: In the United States, factory egg farms cram more than 90 percent of the country’s 280 million egg-laying hens into barren cages so small the birds can’t even spread their wings. Each bird spends her entire life given less space than a sheet of paper. And between 60 to 70 percent of the more than five million breeding pigs in the United States are kept in crates too small for them to so much as turn around in.
There are laws against cruelty to animals in the United States, but most states exempt animals destined for human consumption. The result is that the animal agriculture industry routinely does things to animals that, if you did them to a dog or a cat, would get you put in jail.
Worried that consumers are starting to find out the truth about treatment of modern farm animals and will demand further changes, industry leaders are pushing for “ag gag” laws that would hide factory farming and slaughterhouse abuses from public scrutiny. Recently passed laws in Iowa and Utah threaten jail time for anyone working undercover and taking pictures or video of animals in factory farms without permission.
Now for some further good news: organic farm animals are required by law to be raised cruelty-free and given room to express their instincts. Want to take action? Join the Food Revolution Network, an online community dedicated to healthy, sustainable, humane and delicious food for all. Or join the Humane Society’s campaign for farm animal protection, or Farm Sanctuary’s work for animal welfare legislation.
For years scientists have known that the routine use of antibiotics in meat, milk, and egg-producing farm animals has caused the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria—an increasing public health problem. But they never found the resistance developing in the guts of the farm animals. Where was it coming from?
Now Food Safety News reports that scientists have found out where the resistance is coming from. When manure from animals routinely treated with antibiotics is spread on farm fields, bacteria and other microbes in the manure and in the soil develop resistance. It stands to reason: When soil microbes, of which there are trillions in each cup of soil, and pathogens like salmonella are repeatedly attacked and killed by antibiotics in the manure, only the resistant survive. These proliferate and pretty soon, the microbes are antibiotic resistant. If they then infect farm animals or humans, our once-potent antibiotics no longer work.
For a more complete look at this phenomenon, visit:
You know how people who dislike President Barack Obama have cast aspersions on his father’s Kenyan nationality, as if there’s something backward about Kenya?
Well, maybe it’s the United States, where people are prevented from knowing when GMOs are in their food, that’s backward, while Kenya seems like a sterling example of a progressive attitude toward genetically modified food.
Kenya’s Public Health Minister, Beth Mugo, has directed all Public Health Officers at all ports of entry and all other government regulators to enforce a ban on importation of genetically modified foods in the country.
“The government has decided that all GMO food imports are completely banned. All relevant government agencies have according been instructed to immediately comply with this directive and enforce the ban on importation of all GMO foods,” she said. “The protection of the consumer and assurance to the public on the safety of food is extremely important in making decisions about food importation, distribution and consumption. Where there is apprehension and uncertainty with regard to the safety of food products, precautionary measures to protect the health of the people must be undertaken.”
She threatened legal action against those who do not comply with the directive.
I wish we in the United States were as advanced as the Kenyans.