NY Times Runs Monsanto Propaganda as News
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Shame on The New York Times for running biotech propaganda as “news.” Is the Great Grey Lady turning into Fox News?
In a recent article, the following statements, among much else, appear: “If you examine G.M. foods with the microscope cranked up to maximum, there is no meaningful distinction between them and other foods, as far as genes, proteins and molecules are concerned. From a genetic point of view, genes are genes. It doesn’t matter where they come from.”
Oh really? I call balderdash on that statement. And I’m sure any reputable geneticist would call it, too.
“While tangible harm is hard to detect,” the article says, “G.M. farming has been found to produce tangible benefits. A 2014 German review of research…calculated that G.M. technology has reduced pesticide use by 37 percent, increased crop yields by 22 percent and increased farmer profits by 68 percent.”
This is nonsense. Study after study shows that the introduction of GMOs has resulted in a multifold increase in pesticides, especially Monsanto’s profitable Roundup; no significant increase in yields, and therefore an actual drop in farmer profits.
“G.M. crops are becoming more prevalent in the developing world. Their use is permitted across Latin America, Asia and Africa. Brazil is the second-largest producer, after the United States, followed by Argentina. Extensive cultivation of G.M.O.s also occurs in China, Paraguay and South Africa.”
Uh—no. El Salvador has banned all GMO crops. Brazil is in an uproar over them and farmers are dying around the world where Roundup use is heaviest. France has banned the sale of Roundup in garden centers. Russia has controlled GMOs. And the World Health Organization has called Roundup “potentially carcinogenic.” The Inter Press Service News Agency reports that “After the World Health Organization (WHO) declared glyphosate a potential carcinogen, the campaign has intensified in Latin America to ban the herbicide, which is employed on a massive scale on transgenic crops.” The above quote from the Times’ article is just Big Biotech lies.
“Farmers in the developing world planted about 95 million hectares (235 million acres) of G.M. crops in 2014, five times more than in 2003, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications, a nonprofit technology-transfer organization.”
I checked who’s funding the ISAAA. Among others, Bayer CropScience (the folks who brought us neonicotinoid pesticides implicated in bee die-offs) and Monsanto. A founding patron was Norman Borlaug, the founder the Green Revolution that brought chemical agriculture to the Third World and destroyed much of that world’s indigenous knowledge about growing crops in favor of putting its farmers in thrall to Big Ag.
“The developing world is also where a lot of hunger exists, and much hope is being pinned on the success of G.M. crops to alleviate it.”
As pointed out in this blog before, pegging GMOs and Roundup to the ginned up “world food crisis” is part of Monsanto’s plan to get governments to fund its operations and promote its products in their countries. Besides, the United Nations World Food Program makes the case that limited supply isn’t the primary reason for food shortages. Lack of investment in infrastructure that gets food from where it’s grown to where it’s eaten is a bigger culprit, the organization says, as are wastage and war.
And if you think I’m just being cranky about the Times’ article, compare the article’s falsehoods with the following story.
EL SALVADOR: NO TO GMOS! RESULT? RECORD YIELDS
Farmers in El Salvador realize the importance of non-GM food and heritage seed saving. After outperforming Monsanto’s biotech seed with record crop yields, they have also now stopped Monsanto from supplying El Salvador with GMO seeds.
Monsanto’s biotech crops have been linked with kidney disease, liver failure, reproductive problems, and more.
Juan Luna Vides, the director of diversified production for the Mangrove Association, a nongovernmental organization that was created to support a grassroots social movement for environmental conservation in El Salvador, says:
“Remember that Monsanto is together with DuPont, Pioneer, and all the large businesses that control the world’s seed market. Unfortunately, many of the governments in Latin America, and perhaps the world, have beneficiary relationships with these companies.”
Santos Cayetan, a Salvadoran farmer who uses local, GMO-free seeds and also works to grow native corn, said that the difference between using local seed versus Monsanto’s is quite amazing.
“[Native seeds are] always the same, they always produce, and they’re always there,” he said. “[Native seeds] are drought resistant.”
He and other farmers also comment on the fact that local seed has been adapted to the conditions specific to the region, and Monsanto’s seed has not. The local seed grows well even in dry soil. Farmers can also save and re-use seed without having to worry about patent infringement, as well as having to repurchase seed every season since much of the GM seed Monsanto, Pioneer, and others sell is engineered to self-destruct after just one season.
GREEN AMERICA STATEMENT ON SENATE VOTE ON TPA
Following a vote in the US Senate to “fast-track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, Green America’s Director of Food Campaigns, Nicole McCann, issued the following statement:
“The Senate failed the American people today by passing a procedural motion on a “fast-track” bill that limits Congressional authority and oversight over international trade deals like TPP. The Senate voted to fast track pollution and the race to the bottom on regulatory standards that are intended to protect our food system. It’s clear this deal would dismantle regulations on genetically engineered crops around the world and disrupt the democratic process in order to secure corporate profits by large industrial food companies. The TPP would force working Americans to compete with horribly abused sweatshop workers overseas.
“The TPP touches everything and everyone, which is why organizations representing the environment, family farms, civil rights, consumers, labor, LGBTQ, students, and other movements oppose this trade deal. Hundreds of thousands of constituents have flooded phone lines of members’ of the Senate, and loudly voiced their opposition online and on the streets. We thank those Senators who took a stand for fair and responsible trade, and we are deeply disappointed in those who turned their backs on an opportunity to protect our communities from dirty trade deals.”
WHOLE FOODS FACES MISLABELING INVESTIGATION
Weathering a dramatic 14 percent drop in shareholder value, the iconic grocer Whole Foods Market now faces consumer fraud accusations. This comes on the heels of the beleaguered grocer also dealing with a related and escalating protest concerning its new in-house rating system for conventional and Certified Organic produce.
Before these latest controversies, investment analysts had begun questioning Whole Foods’ ability to maintain above average profit margins in an increasingly competitive organic food market. Its new “Responsibly Grown” program for rating produce is seen as an effort to help the company maintain the high prices and margins which had earned the retailer the moniker “Whole Paycheck.”
The Cornucopia Institute, a national farm policy research group that acts as an organic industry watchdog, announced today that it asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate allegations of consumer fraud and mislabeling related to Whole Foods’ ”Responsibly Grown” produce rating program. Based in Cornucopia, Wisconsin, the organization has documented a number of examples where the grocer has labeled products “Good,” “Better” or “Best” when the farms or distributors in question had not met the standards set forth in the company’s recently developed “Responsibly Grown” guidelines.
“Whole Foods is undermining investor and consumer confidence, and their ability to garner premium prices, by playing fast and loose with the very system they are claiming offers their customers produce that meets a higher standard,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at Cornucopia.
Some of the apparent labeling misrepresentations were brought to the attention of the company, and the public, by a group of veteran organic fruit and vegetable farmers. The growers complained that, in an attempt to maintain higher than average marketplace prices, Whole Foods developed a rating protocol that, in some cases, labels conventional produce, grown with petrochemical-based fertilizers and toxic pesticides, as “Best” while presenting Certified Organic produce to their customers either as “Unrated” or with inferior rankings.
HILLARY HIRES MONSANTO LAWYER AS CAMPAIGN AIDE
Hillary Clinton hired a Monsanto lawyer to help her become President.
Jerry Crawford is a lobbyist for big agriculture in the American state of Iowa, and Monsanto is one of his largest clients. He’s also a consultant for politicians, fixing political campaigns to elect candidates most likely to preserve Monsanto’s hold on the state’s farmers, so it can continue to rake in billions in profits a year.
Now, Crawford has been hired by Hillary Clinton to help her win the critical early state of Iowa, in her campaign to become President of the United States.
Since stepping down as Secretary of State, Clinton has spoken out in favor of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and established herself as a friend of the biotech industry. But by hiring one of Monsanto’s lawyers, she’s taken it a step further.
ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST
The massive Earthbound Farm organic produce corporation is expected to be sold to the WhiteWave Foods Company in a $600 million deal that has raised the eyebrows of organic consumers and advocates across the country.
WhiteWave spun off of Dean Foods, Inc. in 2012, the latter a company that has vehemently opposed GMO labeling with anti-labeling campaign donations. The company’s current CEO is Gregg Engles, the former CEO of Dean Foods, adding to distrust of the company among organic watchdog organization leaders like Mark Kastel, the senior farm policy analyst at the Cornucopia Institute. Kastel said that WhiteWave has done much to stretch the definition of “organic food” in an article from Food Safety News.
He later went on to add that WhiteWave’s Horizon dairy label produces virtually all of its milk from massive 10,000-cow operations with the animals living in their own filth, diluting the meaning of the term organic.
Dean Foods is not listed as an owner of WhiteWave anymore, as the PR reps on Earthbound’s Facebook page have pointed out.
But it’s hard not to be suspicious of the influence Dean Foods has, considering that its former CEO is at the helm of WhiteWave, isn’t it?
Dean Foods also notably converted Silk’s flagship soybean products from organic to “natural” without changing the packaging, except to remove the USDA organic symbol. The “natural” soybeans actually contained GMOs according to a Cornucopia Institute investigation.
Pope Francis and the Salvation of the World
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Pope Francis has issued his encyclical on climate change and environmental destruction, to a predictable chorus of derision from conservatives. The gist of the right-wing criticism is that the Pope has stepped out of his religious bounds and is meddling in business, economics, and science. “He should stick to spiritual matters,” said one prominent conservative.
The environmental movement, however, has always been spiritual at its core, including the agricultural and horticultural aspects of the movement that we call organic or Biodynamic farming and gardening. If nature, with its interlocking web of ecologies, isn’t spiritual, then nothing is. For those who believe in a creator spirit, nature is nothing less than that spirit brought to life. For those who don’t believe in a creator spirit, than nature itself represents an ever-increasing river of spirit as evolution continues its revelations.
What Pope Francis is saying in his encyclical is that the rapacious exploitation of the earth’s resources, the ugly and materialistic quest for money, the environmentally-destructive methods of food production and manufacturing, the poisoning of the earth and its creatures, the great extinction of species we are now experiencing due to our economic activities, the apathy about feeding and protecting the poor and vulnerable—all this is profoundly not spiritual. It’s transgressive, against nature. And humanity should, to rescue itself and the world with us, act in unison to correct our destructive ways.
It has always been the aim of the organic method of food production to decipher nature’s laws and imitate them. To raise farm animals in a humane way. To improve the soil as we use it to grow crops. To prevent erosion. To keep waterways clean. To avoid chemicals and toxic substances as we grow food. To respect nature by following its laws. To be kind and generous. To promote health in ourselves and the environment. That’s spirituality applied to the way we feed ourselves.
Once again, the conservatives have missed the point. And I daresay they miss it on purpose, because what Pope Francis is calling for is a radical restructuring of the way we conduct ourselves in the world. And that threatens the right’s constituency, which, of course, is the corporate, banking, and exploitive business models that enrich the 1 percent.
Spirituality isn’t about ghosts. It’s where the truth lives. And the truth is that climate change and the exploitation of the earth is unsustainable and we must change our ways or homo sapiens—along with a lot of other creatures–will die.
THE DARK ACT JUST GOT WORSE
We didn’t think it was possible, but the DARK Act (Deny Americans the Right to Know)–just got even more dangerous than we’d ever imagined, according to Oregon Right to Know.
On top of outlawing GMO labeling nationwide, under a new amendment introduced by Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Ks), the DARK Act, HR 4432, would make it illegal for state and local governments to ban genetically modified crops.
The DARK Act would not only prevent states from making new laws requiring GMO labeling but it would also destroy those requirements in states that already have them. And the new amendment would negate the hard-fought victory to defeat Monsanto by outlawing GMO crops in Jackson County, Oregon.
This bill isn’t about science or safety. It’s a naked power grab by big pesticide, agrichemical, and biotech companies and their industry front groups.
Monsanto and other companies are putting all their weight behind this bill and only a grassroots movement can stop them.
Make sure Congress knows that 90 percent of Americans support GMO labeling. Dial 1-877-796-1949 and you’ll be automatically connected with your Representative in Washington. Tell him or her to vote no on HR 4432.
FRANCE BANS SALES OF ROUNDUP IN GARDEN CENTERS
French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal has announced a ban on the sale of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup from garden centers, a product the UN has warned may be carcinogenic.
The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was in March classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the UN’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
“France must be on the offensive with regards to the banning of pesticides,” Royal said on French television. “I have asked garden centers to stop putting Monsanto’s Roundup on sale” in self-service aisles, she added.
Her announcement comes after French consumer association CLCV asked French and European officials to stop selling glyphosate-based products to amateur gardeners.
Glyphosate, introduced in the 1970s under the brand Roundup but now manufactured generically, is the most-produced weedkiller in the world, according to the IARC.
The agency’s evaluation of glyphosate saw “limited evidence” of a type of cancer called non-Hodgkins lymphoma, as seen in studies in the United States, Sweden and Canada conducted among farm workers since 2001.
The US agribusiness giant Monsanto strongly contested the IARC classification, saying “relevant, scientific data was excluded from review.”
The Obama Administration Is Selling Us down a River of Cash
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Okay—why is a blog devoted to organic food getting involved in the current debate about transnational trade agreements? The answer is that organic farming represents the world as we want it to be: wholesome, clean food grown and distributed by companies concerned about our health and the environment, food of the people, by the people, and for the people. Similarly, international trade agreements should represent this world that we want. And by “we,” I mean We the People.
But the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) would fast-track at least three highly secretive trade deals—specifically the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA), and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)—and potentially more deals. And what does “fast track” even mean?
When you find out (by reading this blog post), you will be aghast. I guarantee it.
Let’s start with something I heard on the PBS News Hour. Judy Woodruff was interviewing the Obama administration’s spokesperson. She said, “Why, if these agreements are such good deals, are they secret?” And he answered, “That’s just not true. They’re not secret at all. Every member of Congress can read the negotiated agreements.”
So I was waiting for Judy to follow up with the obvious question any responsible journalist should ask: “Only members of Congress? Not the public?” But she didn’t ask the question. So let me explain:
Right now, TiSA and T-TIP text are completely secretive and unavailable for even members of Congress to read, while the TPP text is available for members to review—although they need to go to a secret room inside the Capitol where only members of Congress and certain staffers with high-level security clearances, who can only go when members are present, can read the bill.
So only Congresspeople can read the TPP part of the agreement, but not the other parts. And the public can’t read any of it.
Isn’t this completely backwards in a supposedly democratic society? If only Congress can read the bill, that means that lobbyists and the guys with big bags of money are the only ones who get to whisper in the ears of our Congressional representatives. And those whispers tend to be to the choir, since we know Congress is already bought and sold by huge transnational corporations. So that means that Congresspeople will have already made up their minds to support the agreements, because then they can get the bags of money they need to get re-elected.
Hold on here! Aren’t we supposed to be a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? Shouldn’t it be that We the People get to read the bill, make up our minds, and then instruct our Congresspeople to vote according to our wishes? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Aren’t our Congressional representatives there to apply the will of the people? Do I have this wrong? Or are they there to apply the will of corporate America TO the people?
So the White House spokesman went on to say that after the bill is passed, there will be a 60-day period in which the public can read the final draft and comment, and that if Congress then so chooses, it can make changes based on the will of the people. But this is completely disingenuous because the White House wants the agreements fast tracked. What does fast tracked mean?
It means that once the bill is passed and signed, Congress isn’t allowed to make any changes, no matter what the people say after they read the bill and comment in the 60-day period. In other words, the White House is lying to us.
I say it’s time to get out the tar and feathers and ride these anti-democratic, anti-American, four-flushing political criminals out of town on a rail. And then remember that the Constitution begins with the words We the People. The TPA, TPP, TiSA, and T-TIP are agreements that give away the country to the big corporate interests. This isn’t the organic way, and it’s not the way this country is supposed to work.
If you’re aghast, I’m even more aghast. We are being sold down the river.
THAT NICE SMELL YOU’RE SMELLING MIGHT HURT YOU
SC Johnson, the maker of Glade air fresheners, has decided to tell consumers more about the chemicals they are breathing, according to The New York Times.
The company recently disclosed ingredients in the fragrances used in more than 200 of its air fresheners, candles and scented oils on its website. Companies have increasingly responded to safety concerns not from government regulators, but from customers who demand to know more about everyday products like moisturizers and cleaning products.
Kelly Semrau, the SC Johnson senior vice president for global corporate affairs, said, “We just feel that transparency in this area is the right thing to do.”
Customers have already been able to see specific dyes, waxes and other ingredients used in Glade’s various air fresheners and candles. But the chemicals behind scents like “Aruba wave” and “Hawaiian breeze” have largely been a mystery. Some of the ingredients for Aruba wave, for instance, include 2-t-butylcyclohexyl acetate, 2,6-dimethyl-7-octen-2-ol, allyl caproate, benzyl salicylate, ethyl 2,2-dimethyl hydrocinnamyl and ethyl hexanoate.
“Fragrance disclosure is a really big deal and consumers have been asking for it for a really long time,” said Janet Nudelman, the director of program and policy for the Breast Cancer Fund.
Typically, a fragrance is listed simply as “fragrance,” even though each fragrance could contain hundreds of individual chemicals. SC Johnson buys its fragrances from fragrance houses, which are known for closely guarding the formulas of their scents.
Fragrance ingredients also are often exempted from the disclosure requirements that apply to other chemicals, like those used in cosmetic products like perfumes and lipsticks.
SC Johnson will disclose ingredients in two ways. When there are more than 20 chemicals in a fragrance, it will disclose the top 10, or it will disclose the highest concentrations down to 0.09 percent of the formula, “whichever provides the most information,” the company said in a statement.
“It’s a good first step but it doesn’t go far enough,” Ms. Nudelman said, saying that many of the chemicals her group is concerned about have effects at much lower doses than what SC Johnson is disclosing.
A handful of Glade products are excluded from the new policy. Ms. Semrau said that those products’ scents came from companies that SC Johnson no longer worked with and they would be phased out. The company said it planned to expand its fragrance disclosures to other brands, including Pledge, Windex, Shout, and Scrubbing Bubbles.
MONSANTO BUYS UP HEIRLOOM SEED SUPPLIERS
The NM Tree and Garden Center located in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, has discovered that Monsanto is buying heirloom seed companies, according to Maddy Harland, writing in Permaculture. It’s also buying the trademarks to a number of heirloom seeds. This means that you may think you are supporting an heirloom seed company but in reality the company is owned by Monsanto. The seeds themselves are still non-GMO and heirloom and they can be saved at the end of the harvest and sown next season, but you are still giving money to Monsanto.
Monsanto is also buying trademarks, so that no matter where you buy certain seeds, they get money from it.
In Europe we have witnessed a proactive corporate program to buy up ethical/organic companies. Estée Lauder now owns The Body Shop and has a poor record for animal testing. Green and Black fair trade chocolate was bought in 2006 by Cadbury, who was then acquired by Kraft Foods, one of the huge food multi-nationals. Rachel’s Organic, founded by Welsh farmers, is now a subsidiary of French company Lactalis.
This is a deliberate strategy–so much so that Triodos Bank actually has a European fund to help small organic companies stay independent and resist being bought up.
Why are small organic/heirloom marques being acquired by the big global corporations? First, there is a commercial market for them. Second, what you own you can control. Third, if you are a vast industrial corporation and own one of these companies, you can marginalize its market if you wish.
Europe may have opened the gates to Monsanto to grow genetically modified crops. Due to an accepted proposal by the EU Environment Council, GM crops could be planted across Europe as soon as next year.
Even worse, the proposal could give Monsanto and other biotech giants the power to overturn decisions made by democratically-elected governments to ban GM crops.
Here’s what the Council’s website says about the proposal: “The draft directive on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) provides a legal basis for member states to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of GMOs on their territory for reasons other than health or environment considerations.
“The proposal, presented by the Commission in July, 2010, applies to GMOs that are authorized or under authorization at EU level. Possible grounds that can be used by member states to ban or restrict GMOs include: socioeconomic reasons, land use and town planning, agricultural policy objectives and public policy issues.”
So it sounds as though member nations can restrict or allow GMOs at their discretion, while the EU’s Environment Council takes its hands off the issue.
UNITED STATES NOW AN OLIGARCHY RATHER THAN A DEMOCRACY
From The Telegraph, UK, as reported by Zachary Davies Boren:
The US government no longer represents the interests of the majority of the country’s citizens, but is instead ruled by the rich and powerful, a new study from Princeton and Northwestern universities has concluded.
The report, entitled Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, used extensive policy data collected from between the years of 1981 and 2002 to empirically determine the state of the US political system.
After sifting through nearly 1,800 US policies enacted in that period and comparing them to the expressed preferences of average Americans (50th percentile of income), affluent Americans (90th percentile) and large special interests groups, researchers concluded that the United States is dominated by its economic elite.
The peer-reviewed study, which will be taught at these universities in September, says: “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”
Researchers concluded that US government policies rarely align with the preferences of the majority of Americans, but do favor special interests and lobbying organizations: “When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.”
The positions of powerful interest groups are “not substantially correlated with the preferences of average citizens,” but the politics of average Americans and affluent Americans sometimes do overlap. This is merely a coincidence, the report says, with the interests of the average American being served almost exclusively when it also serves those of the richest 10 per cent.
The theory of “biased pluralism” that the Princeton and Northwestern researchers believe the US system fits, holds that policy outcomes “tend to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations.”
The study comes in the wake of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, a controversial Supreme Court decision which allows wealthy donors to contribute to an unlimited number of political campaigns.
Jeff here now: So much for our government of the people, by the people, and for the people. We can see pretty clearly now what the game is: corporate control of the economy, the government, and most important of all, the military. Why the military? Because the military sucks all the money, resources, and energy out of the country and its people and creates endless war. The endless war enriches the oligarchs, who control the economy and the government. Our country is being looted right under our noses.
Now where did I put those feathers, and who has the tar?
ARE SEX LUBRICANTS CAUSING A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS?
The following article was written for this blog by Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, a company that manufactures organic personal lubricants for sexual purposes. In it, she describes problems with conventional products and why organic and non-toxic versions of these products may be the answer. I checked her lubricant, and it’s based on organic aloe leaf gel and natural substances such as xanthan gum, agar, lactic acid, and natural flavors. But it also contains potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate, two manufactured chemical preservatives. To her credit, the package says, “95 percent organic” and doesn’t purport to be something other than what it is. Here’s what she has to say:
Initially, the business was spawned because there seemed to be a need in America for all natural or organic products for those allergic to products containing petrochemicals.
One of the missions of our company was to develop alternatives to keep America’s love life intact. But it turned out to be a much larger call to action, and the research we conducted and subsequent statistics proved that millions of American women are sick due to the petrochemicals used in traditional vaginal lubricants. As it turns out, these chemical-based products increase the likelihood of getting vaginosis, STDs, and HIV.
Good Clean Love was born, and offered women healthy alternatives for vaginal lubrication. Now our mission is to educate these women to understand the benefits of using natural and organic products as opposed to traditional over-the-counter products that dominate the market in a $219 million dollar industry.
Lubrication is a fact of life. In any relationship where working parts are at play, whether it is an engine, a dinner party, or an evening of love, everything works better when it is “well oiled.” Lubrication allows for glide, ease, and effectiveness. When lubrication is working well, it is invisible, a thought we don’t have. When it isn’t working, we know it immediately, although not always by its name. An engine without oil locks up in minutes; awkward silence and uncomfortable gazing down into the lap is immediately recognizable.
The competitive lubricant market is saturated with choices, but when you look beyond the packaging and brand hype to the ingredient panel, it quickly becomes clear that over 95 percent of OTC and adult lubricants are made with petrochemical ingredients including propylene glycol, used in products like anti-freeze and brake fluid, and polyethylene glycol, used in laxatives and oven cleaners. These are largely preserved with methyl- and propyl-parabens, which have been shortlisted as potential carcinogens and are not allowed in the EU.
When Good Clean Love first began making lubricants, we learned that petrochemical ingredients contained in competitors’ products were making women sick. I initially thought the illness was due to a sensitivity or allergy that was exacerbated by other issues like vaginal dryness or pain with sex.
Fast forward 10 years, and we discover that new lubricant studies commissioned by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to create a buffer gel for the prevention of HIV shocked the biophysicists who conducted and analyzed the studies.
What did they find? The petrochemical lubricants that dominate the market are damaging the genital and rectal tissue they are intended to protect. The problem is a biophysical issue, not an allergic sensitivity. For example, warming jelly’s cellular weight is 30 times that of skin cells. The warming jelly literally squeezes human tissue cells to death. The warming sensation you feel is actually the skin cells shriveling up and falling off the tissue, causing small tears and compromising the natural immune functions of the genital walls.
The most disturbing result of the use of hyperosmolar lubricants, as these products are called, is that women who use them are 13 times more likely to contract bacterial vaginosis compared to women using nothing at all (citation below). This is a public health crisis because the number of women impacted by BV is staggering. Depending on ethnicity, between 29 and 51 percent of all women are walking around with BV. Worse still, 84 percent don’t know that they have it. Yet as silent as this condition can be, the impact it has on susceptibility to other more lethal STDs and HIV is even more alarming. Women with BV are 60 percent more likely to contract other sexually transmitted illnesses, including HIV, than women without the infection. And although researchers aren’t clear about the mechanism of HIV transmission, women with BV are three times more likely to transmit the disease to their male partners.
Personal lubricants may be the last frontier of health care products to experience it, but there is a revolution afoot and there are many brands of organic and all-natural products that are entering the market to replace the dangerously toxic effects of conventional chemistry.
Take care of the most sensitive tissue in your body by reading labels and paying attention to your body’s adverse reactions. Good sex isn’t about feeling the burn; it is about feeling the warmth of someone you love. Choose wisely and realize that the body can teach the mind, and arousal and sexual enhancement may be as close as the bottle on your night stand.
About the author: Wendy Strgar is the founder of GoodCleanLove – a website that sells organic and natural sexual intimacy products, and also a source of medical research for women and men’s sexual health. She is the author of the book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy. Her blog www.makinglovesustainable.com was named as the best sex/relationship blog by Intent.com for 2011 and has been listed many times as one of the best 100 relationship blogs on the web.
Citations: Marrazzo et al. reported lubricant was associated with an almost two-fold increased risk for diagnosis of BV by Amsel criteria.5 In a study of 396 women2, the research group found that among African American women, lubricant use was associated with a three-fold increased risk for disruption of vaginal microbiota as defined by Gram’s stain smear (p-value for interaction on ethnicity: <0.05). 2. Ravel J, Gajer P, Abdo Z, et al. Vaginal microbiome of reproductive-age women. ProcNatlAcadSciUSA 2011;108 Suppl 1:4680-7. 5. Marrazzo J, Thomas KK, Agnew K, Ringwood K. Prevalence and risks for bacterial vaginosis in women who have sex with women. Sex Transm Dis 2010;37:335-9. ###
Big Ag Eyes Africa
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In the 1960s and 1970s, an agricultural scientist named Norman Borlaug began what he called The Green Revolution, to bring modern farming methods to indigenous people around the globe. The media at the time hailed him as a savior of starving people everywhere. He won international fame and prizes as a great humanitarian.
But what Borlaug really did was bring industrial agriculture to peasant cultures around the world, introducing them to chemical fertilizers, pesticides, fossil-fuel-powered heavy equipment, soil-destroying plowing techniques, and all the other problems of modern agriculture. Now the farmers no longer farmed using their traditional methods. Now their efforts resulted in money, much of which had to be paid to international corporations for the tools and chemicals needed to farm in the modern way.
It was The Green Revolution that gave Monsanto the idea for its take-over of the world’s seed supply by genetically altering and patenting seed, forcing farmers to buy their seed or pay steep fines for violating their patents, and pushing today’s farmers to use Roundup to suppress weeds.
Yet, sharing and saving seed is still a crucial part of traditional farming all over Africa, writes Heidi Chow, who works on Global Justice Now’s campaign to challenge the corporate take-over of Africa’s food systems as well as supporting the global movement for food sovereignty. She writes that governments, backed by multinational seed and chemical companies, are imposing oppressive seed laws that attack the continent’s main food producers and open the way to industrial agribusiness. Some are even calling it “the second Green Revolution.”
But Ghana’s women farmers are having none of it.
The corporate agenda for seeds is one where farmers are treated as passive consumers of corporate-controlled seed instead of indispensable knowledge bearers of seed varieties and protectors of seed diversity.
“My mother gave me some seeds to plant. And I’m also giving those seeds to my children to plant,” Esther Boakye Yiadom explained to Ms. Chow.
“So that is ongoing, every time we transfer to our children. And that is how all the women are doing it. We don’t buy, we produce it ourselves. I am having tomatoes and I don’t have okra. And another woman has okra. I’ll go to her and then beg for some of her okra seeds to plant.
“And then if another person also needs tomatoes from me and I have it, I’ll have to give to the person. Because you know every season changes, because maybe mine will not do well. But that person’s will do well. So next season we can get to plant. That’s why we exchange them.”
An oppressive new law–dubbed the Monsanto Law–in Ghana would bolster the power of multinational seed companies while restricting the rights of small farmers to keep and swap their seeds.
This bill will see the control of seeds being transferred away from small farmers and into the hands of large seed companies.
Today just 10 corporations control more than 75 percent of the world’s commercial seed market, although in Africa an estimated 80 percent of all seeds still come from farmer-managed seed systems–where farmers save, select and swap their own traditional or indigenous seed varieties.
Farmer-managed seed systems help to protect bio-diversity as farmers keep a wide variety of seeds. Seeds are selected both to maintain yield but also to preserve traits that respond to different climatic conditions, have certain tastes, appearance, and storability.
Commercial seeds, by comparison, are produced for high input mono-cropping farming systems and designed to produce high yields through the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Just like The Green Revolution—only on steroids.
The proposed legislation is one of the commitments that the Ghanaian government has made to be part of the G7’s New Alliance.
The G7 New Alliance claims to address food security and nutrition in Africa, but the scheme has been widely condemned by African civil society and farmers’ groups as a “new wave of colonialism.”
Instead of supporting small farmers across Africa, the scheme facilitates a grab for resources–such as land and seed–for multinational corporations that see Africa as the last frontier for untapped markets.
The Monsanto Law is a clear example of how this New Alliance is making it easier for large seed companies to get a foothold in Ghana at the expense of small farmers, and will reduce food security as farmers are restricted from saving and preserving seeds.
The proposed seed legislation will also help open the doors to GMO crops in Ghana, which is currently being fought in the courts as campaigners challenge the application for authorization of Bt rice and cowpeas.
WHAT IS THE NEW ALLIANCE?
The UK government claims the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition will lift 50 million people in Africa out of poverty by 2022. That’s what they said about Borlaug’s Green Revolution in the 1970s, but it failed, leaving millions of small farmers in thrall to the agribusiness giants. This New Alliance will also benefit multinational companies at the expense of small-scale farmers and is likely to increase poverty and inequality in Africa.
Launched in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition provides aid money from rich countries like the US and the UK, and helps big business invest in the African agricultural sector. But in return, African countries are required to change their land, seed and trade rules in favor of big business.
The New Alliance will make it easier for big corporations to grab land in Africa; prevent farmers from breeding, saving and exchanging seeds; heavily promote chemical fertilizers and pesticides, which increase farmers’ risk of debt as well as damaging the environment and farmers’ health; replace family farms with low paid, insecure jobs, and prevent countries from restricting crop exports, even at times of domestic shortage
Much of the aid money and investment promised as part of the New Alliance prioritizes crops for export, including tobacco, palm oil, and biofuel crops, rather than supporting small farmers to grow food crops sustainably for local consumption.
Ten African countries have signed up to the New Alliance: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Benin, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal. Around 50 multinational companies including Monsanto, Cargill and Unilever, and around 100 African companies, are also involved.
Jill Richardson, an organic food activist, wrote that “The G7 scheme does nothing to address the problems that are at the core of hunger and malnutrition but will serve only to further poverty and inequality.” She went on to tell stories of African peasant farmers who made more money by switching to organic farming than by using synthetic fertilizer.
Food First also criticized the New Alliance. “There’s a good reason why the 45 members of the New Alliance don’t want to hear from the people actually growing the food in Africa… farmers would say that Africa is actually a rich continent and it is the continued extraction of wealth by foreign corporations that causes poverty and hunger–that the first Green Revolution (Borlaug’s) did not bypass Africa; it failed. A new one spearheaded by the same institutions presently spreading GMOs and land grabbing throughout the continent will do more harm than good.”
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy was even harsher, calling the New Alliance “a sad excuse for an aid program.” They wrote: “How bad is this idea? Money is money, right? Wrong! The private sector is not just like government, only a little different. It is ENTIRELY different. Corporations are accountable to their shareholders, obliged to make a profit. They are not charities. They are bound by law, but not by the public interest… Corporations are not parties to the human rights covenants that oblige most governments to realize the universal human right to food.”
Oxfam International was also critical the new effort with a release titled, “G7 Food Security Alliance Answers Question Hungry People Have Not Asked.” They say that the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition “focuses too heavily on the role of the private sector to tackle the complex challenges of food insecurity in the developing world.” Instead, they called on G7 leaders to “keep the promises they have already made to help developing countries invest in sustainable solutions to hunger and poverty.” They add that “While there is a positive role for the private sector in the fight against global hunger, the plan’s top down approach does not reflect what many people in poor countries say they want or need” and that this new effort is “passing the buck on global hunger.”
It’s worse than passing the buck on global hunger. It’s part of Big Agribusiness’s plan to control the world’s food supply and bring the world’s farmers, big and small, to heel.
AND LOOK WHO’S TRAVELING TO AFRICA
On their nine-day trip to Africa, Bill and Chelsea Clinton are traveling with 20 wealthy donors and foundation supporters, a group that includes fundraisers for Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and others who are expected to give generously to her campaign.
The trip, which marks Bill Clinton’s 12th visit to Africa, includes stops in Tanzania, Kenya, Liberia and Morocco. It’s designed to highlight the Clinton Foundation’s work on economic development and climate change, as well as on the empowerment of women and girls. It will culminate in a lavish conference in Marrakesh with the King of Morocco, funded by donors including a Moroccan-government-owned phosphate company, which POLITICO reported donated $1 million.
Hmmm—a phosphate company. Phosphorus is one of the three major fertilizers used in conventional agriculture, along with nitrogen and potassium. It’s also worth noting that among the donors invited to come along on the Africa trip is Beverly Dale, formerly of the biotechnology (GMO) industry.
POPE FRANCIS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
Pope Francis has made the religious case for tackling climate change, calling on his fellow Christians to become “Custodians of Creation” and issuing a dire warning about the potentially catastrophic effects of global climate change.
Speaking to a massive crowd in Rome, the first Argentinian pope delivered a short address in which he argued that respect for the “beauty of nature and the grandeur of the cosmos” is a Christian value, noting that failure to care for the planet risks apocalyptic consequences.
“Safeguard Creation,” he said. “Because if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us! Never forget this!”
The pope centered his environmentalist theology around the biblical creation story in the book of Genesis, where God is said to have created the world, declared it “good,” and charged humanity with its care. Francis also made reference to his namesake, Saint Francis of Assisi, who was a famous lover of animals, and appeared to tie the ongoing environmental crisis to economic concerns—namely, instances where a wealthy minority exploits the planet at the expense of the poor.
“Creation is not a property, which we can rule over at will; or, even less, is the property of only a few: Creation is a gift, it is a wonderful gift that God has given us, so that we care for it and we use it for the benefit of all, always with great respect and gratitude,” Francis said.
Francis also said that humanity’s destruction of the planet is a sinful act, likening it to self-idolatry.
JUDGE RULES VERMONT GMO LABEL LAW IS LEGAL
A Vermont law that could make the state the first in the country to require labeling of genetically modified food has been allowed by a federal judge to stand for now, despite opposition by food industry groups.
U.S. District Court Judge Christina Reiss in Burlington ruled against the Grocery Manufacturers’ Association and other industry groups in their request for a preliminary order to block the law from going into effect as scheduled on July 1, 2016.
MEASLES ATTACKS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM, LEAVES KIDS VULNERABLE
Scientists have known that measles attacks the immune system, but only recently have discovered how hard and thoroughly it damages it, according to a study published in Science magazine’s May 8, 2015, issue.
Johns Hopkins University epidemiologists studied children from England, Wales, Denmark, and the United States who had contracted measles and found that their mortality rate from other infectious diseases was significantly higher than among children who had been vaccinated against measles.
The scientists said that monkey studies suggest that the measles virus erases the immune system’s memory, so that children who had the disease were less able to ward off other diseases. “Measles is much worse than people thought,” says Michael Mina, an immunologist at Emory University in Atlanta. “It has these long term consequences and has gone under the radar for decades.” The published study says that the damage to children’s immune systems lasts for up to three years.