Andrew’s Blog

Health Risks from GMO foods and Glyphosate based herbicides Posted on June 10, 2015, 0 Comments

Worm now thrives on GMO Corn designed to kill it Posted on June 03, 2015, 0 Comments

By Zoe Schlanger

One of industrial agriculture’s biggest GMO crops may have just backfired. Scientists have confirmed that corn-destroying rootworms have evolved to be resistant to the Bt corn engineered to kill them.

Bt stands for Bacillus thuringiensis, the name of the genetically modified corn’s “donor” organism. Bacillus thuringiensis is a naturally occurring soil bacterium that produces protein crystals that bind to certain receptors in the rootworm’s intestine, killing it. For years, farmers have planted Bt corn as an alternative to spraying insecticides. Bt corn accounted for three-quarters of all corn planting in 2013. That may have to change.

After finding a cornfield in Iowa in 2011 that was decimated by rootworm despite being planted with the Bt corn, Iowa State University entomologist Aaron Gassmann and his team began to study the pests’ interactions with the genetically modified organism (or GMO) corn in a lab. Their study, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, describes the western corn rootworm’s rapid evolution after feeding on the engineered crop.

But Bt corn is still capable of warding off other pests, so farmers will likely keep planting it. Except now they’ll need to use pesticides to protect their crop from rootworms. As entomologists warned the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012, rootworm resistance means that the environmental advantage of Bt corn—that it could be raised pesticide-free—may disappear.  

“Unless management practices change, it’s only going to get worse,” Gassmann told Wired. “There needs to be a fundamental change in how the technology is used.”

Scientists have predicted for years that this could happen, but warnings were repeatedly ignored by regulators and farmers. It takes millions of dollars to develop seeds like Bt, so engineering an alternative is not an attractive option. Instead, the authors of another study on rootworm Bt resistance, which focuses on Nebraska, take a biodiversity approach.

“Crop rotation is the best tool,” University of Nebraska-Lincoln entomologist Lance Meinke told Farm & Ranch Guide. "Generally, one year of soybeans in a field with resistant western corn rootworms wipes out that population. The beetles will lay eggs that hatch, but when larvae try to feed on soybean plants, they don’t find the nutrients they need and they die.”

Crop rotation can suppress rootworm populations over time, reducing the threat posed by their new Bt resistance.

But as entomologist Elson Shields of Cornell University told Wired, rootworm is just one symptom of a systemwide problem that will likely come back to bite the GMO seed industry’s focus on short-term profit. The next engineered seed trait “will fall under the same pressure,” said Shields, “and the insect will win.”

Original source found here: http://www.newsweek.com/worm-now-thrives-gmo-corn-designed-kill-it-study-says-232276

Monsanto: Extinction Posted on November 28, 2014, 0 Comments

I'm not Roundup ready! Posted on November 14, 2014, 0 Comments

http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416

 

Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases

 

Abstract: Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup®, is the most popular herbicide used worldwide. The industry asserts it is minimally toxic to humans, but here we argue otherwise. Residues are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate's inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Here, we show how interference with CYP enzymes acts synergistically with disruption of the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids by gut bacteria, as well as impairment in serum sulfate transport. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. We explain the documented effects of glyphosate and its ability to induce disease, and we show that glyphosate is the “textbook example” of exogenous semiotic entropy: the disruption of homeostasis by environmental toxins.

Cross These Off Your Shopping List Posted on June 16, 2013, 0 Comments

 

Non GMO and Orgnaic Shopping Guide Posted on May 24, 2013, 0 Comments

 

Download your own copy here: 

http://healthy-family.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/nonGMOshoppingGuide.jpg


A letter to "Dr." Oz (which we should all sign) Posted on December 11, 2012, 0 Comments

 The original article can be found here: http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_26734.cfm

Gary Null: Letter To Dr. OZ

  • Gary Null, December 3, 2012

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's All About Organics page.

Dear Dr. Oz,

You may remember when I invited you to appear in a PBS special, Get Healthy Now, along with other medical panelists, in 1999. We have not spoken since, however, my audience and I are very concerned about the inflammatory comments that you made in a recent issue of TIME Magazine. In effect, you stated that there is no basic difference between non-organic, genetically modified produce and organic varieties and that people are wasting their money buying organic foods. You also suggest that individuals who purchase organic foods are taking part in a "snooty" form of "elitism" and that in effect, it's the "99%" just trying to act like the "1%".

This was unexpected as a person with your reputation and resources could easily have found the several hundred to several thousand peer-reviewed articles highlighting the dangers of consuming pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and genetically engineered foods, especially to those people most vulnerable to chemical toxicity or environmentally-induced illnesses, such as children. Also, you could have examined the 40 years of scientific and lay literature on the plight of farm workers who experienced the highest incidence of birth defects and other adverse health consequences as a result of working with toxins in the soil as well as the hundreds of studies confirming the damaging effects of modern commercial meat, poultry and fish production on our health the environment. Additionally, you could have carried out a review of the water and soil conservation literature that shows how the enormous quantities of excess nitrogen released during the production of our commercial, factory farmed foods have contributed to massive fish die-offs and dead zones, the largest of which is at the mouth of the Mississippi river and is larger than the state of New Jersey. And finally, you may want to have a conversation with your wife, who recently used our studios at the Progressive Radio Network along with Jeffrey Smith, the leading critic of GMO foods in the US, to narrate a documentary challenging genetic engineering. Certainly your wife, a dedicated, conscientious and highly educated consumer activist, would be a great resource for you.

My hope is that this information will motivate you to have your staff do their due diligence, research the facts and realize that you are supporting the "1%"- Monsanto, your television network and their sponsors- and that may be a position in need of reevaluation. I will remain optimistic that you will be thoughtful enough to set aside your ego and any special interests that have propagandized you, and that you will seek the truth, speak out and write a rebuttal. I look forward to your communication.

Sincerely,

Gary Null

Vote for the Dinner Party: Is this the year that the food movement finally enters politics? Posted on October 11, 2012, 0 Comments

By Michael Pollan
New York Times Magazine, October 10, 2012

Access the original article here: 

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/magazine/why-californias-proposition-37-should-matter-to-anyone-who-cares-about-food.html?smid=pl-share

 

One of the more interesting things we will learn on Nov. 6 is whether or not there is a “food movement” in America worthy of the name — that is, an organized force in our politics capable of demanding change in the food system. People like me throw the term around loosely, partly because we sense the gathering of such a force, and partly (to be honest) to help wish it into being by sheer dint of repetition. Clearly there is growing sentiment in favor of reforming American agriculture and interest in questions about where our food comes from and how it was produced. And certainly we can see an alternative food economy rising around us: local and organic agriculture is growing far faster than the food market as a whole. But a market and a sentiment are not quite the same thing as a political movement — something capable of frightening politicians and propelling its concerns onto the national agenda.

California’s Proposition 37, which would require that genetically modified (G.M.) foods carry a label, has the potential to do just that — to change the politics of food not just in California but nationally too. Now, there is much that’s wrong with California’s notorious initiative process: it is an awkward, usually sloppy way to make law. Yet for better or worse, it has served as a last- or first-ditch way for issues that politicians aren’t yet ready to touch — whether the tax rebellion of the 1970s (Prop 13) or medical marijuana in the 1990s (Prop 215) — to win a hearing and a vote and then go on to change the political conversation across the country.

What is at stake this time around is not just the fate of genetically modified crops but the public’s confidence in the industrial food chain. That system is being challenged on a great many fronts — indeed, seemingly everywhere but in Washington. Around the country, dozens of proposals to tax and regulate soda have put the beverage industry on the defensive, forcing it to play a very expensive (and thus far successful) game of Whac-A-Mole. The meat industry is getting it from all sides: animal rights advocates seeking to expose its brutality; public-health advocates campaigning against antibiotics in animal feed; environmentalists highlighting factory farming’s contribution to climate change.

Big Food is also feeling beleaguered by its increasingly skeptical and skittish consumers. Earlier this year the industry was rocked when a blogger in Houston started an online petition to ban the use of “pink slime” in the hamburger served in the federal school-lunch program. Pink slime — so-called by a U.S. Department of Agriculture microbiologist — is a kind of industrial-strength hamburger helper made from a purée of slaughterhouse scraps treated with ammonia. We have apparently been ingesting this material for years in hamburger patties, but when word got out, the eating public went ballistic. Within days, the U.S.D.A. allowed schools to drop the product, and several supermarket chains stopped carrying it, shuttering several of the plants that produce it. Shortly after this episode, I received a panicky phone call from someone in the food industry, a buyer for one of the big food-service companies. After venting about the “irrationality” of the American consumer, he then demanded to know: “Who’s going to be hit next? It could be any of us.”

So it appears the loss of confidence is mutual: the food industry no longer trusts us, either, which is one reason a label on genetically modified food is so terrifying: we might react “irrationally” and decline to buy it. To win back this restive public, Big Food recently began a multimillion-dollar public-relations campaign, featuring public “food dialogues,” aimed at restoring our faith in the production methods on which industrial agriculture depends, including pharmaceuticals used to keep animals healthy and speed their growth; pesticides and genetically modified seeds; and concentrated animal feeding operations. The industry has never liked to talk about these practices — which is to say, about how the food we eat is actually produced — but it apparently came to the conclusion that it is better off telling the story itself rather than letting its critics do it.

This new transparency goes only so far, however. The industry is happy to boast about genetically engineered crops in the elite precincts of the op-ed and business pages — as a technology needed to feed the world, combat climate change, solve Africa’s problems, etc. — but still would rather not mention it to the consumers who actually eat the stuff. Presumably that silence owes to the fact that, to date, genetically modified foods don’t offer the eater any benefits whatsoever — only a potential, as yet undetermined risk. So how irrational would it be, really, to avoid them?

Surely this explains why Monsanto and its allies have fought the labeling of genetically modified food so vigorously since 1992, when the industry managed to persuade the Food and Drug Administration — over the objection of its own scientists — that the new crops were “substantially equivalent” to the old and so did not need to be labeled, much less regulated. This represented a breathtaking exercise of both political power (the F.D.A. policy was co-written by a lawyer whose former firm worked for Monsanto) and product positioning: these new crops were revolutionary enough (a “new agricultural paradigm,” Monsanto said) to deserve patent protection and government support, yet at the same time the food made from them was no different than it ever was, so did not need to be labeled. It’s worth noting that ours was one of only a very few governments ever sold on this convenient reasoning: more than 60 other countries have seen fit to label genetically modified food, including those in the European Union, Japan, Russia and China.

To prevent the United States from following suit, Monsanto and DuPont, the two leading merchants of genetically modified seed, have invested more than $12 million to defeat Prop 37. They’ve been joined in this effort by the Grocery Manufacturers Association, whose president declared at a meeting last July that defeating Prop 37 would be the group’s top priority for 2012. Answering the call, many of America’s biggest food and beverage makers — including PepsiCo, Nestlé, Coca-Cola and General Mills — have together ponied up tens of millions of dollars to, in effect, fight transparency about their products.

Americans have been eating genetically engineered food for 18 years, and as supporters of the technology are quick to point out, we don’t seem to be dropping like flies. But they miss the point. The fight over labeling G.M. food is not foremost about food safety or environmental harm, legitimate though these questions are. The fight is about the power of Big Food. Monsanto has become the symbol of everything people dislike about industrial agriculture: corporate control of the regulatory process; lack of transparency (for consumers) and lack of choice (for farmers); an intensifying rain of pesticides on ever-expanding monocultures; and the monopolization of seeds, which is to say, of the genetic resources on which all of humanity depends.

These are precisely the issues that have given rise to the so-called food movement. Yet that movement has so far had more success in building an alternative food chain than it has in winning substantive changes from Big Food or Washington. In the last couple of decades, a new economy of farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture (also known as farm shares) and sustainable farming has changed the way millions of Americans eat and think about food. From this perspective, the food movement is an economic and a social movement, and as such has made important gains. People by the millions have begun, as the slogan goes, to vote with their forks in favor of more sustainably and humanely produced food, and against agribusiness. But does that kind of vote constitute a genuine politics? Yes and no.

It’s easy to dismiss voting with your fork as merely a lifestyle choice, and an elite one at that. Yet there is a hopeful kind of soft politics at work here, as an afternoon at any of America’s 7,800-plus farmers’ markets will attest. Money-for-food is not the only transaction going on at the farmers’ markets; indeed, it may be the least of it. Neighbors are talking to neighbors. Consumers meet producers. (Confirming the obvious, one social scientist found that people have 10 times as many conversations at the farmers’ market as they do at the supermarket.) City meets country. Kids discover what food is. Activists circulate petitions. The farmers’ market has become the country’s liveliest new public square, an outlet for our communitarian impulses and a means of escaping, or at least complicating, the narrow role that capitalism usually assigns to us as “consumers.” At the farmers’ market, we are consumers, yes, but at the same time also citizens, neighbors, parents and cooks. In voting with our food dollars, we enlarge our sense of our “interests” from the usual concern with a good value to, well, a concern with values.

This is no small thing; it has revitalized local farming and urban communities and at the same time raised the bar on the food industry, which now must pay attention (or at least lip service) to things like sustainable farming and the humane treatment of animals. Yet this sort of soft politics, useful as it may be in building new markets and even new forms of civil society, has its limits. Not everyone can afford to participate in the new food economy. If the food movement doesn’t move to democratize the benefits of good food, it will be — and will deserve to be — branded as elitist.

That’s why, sooner or later, the food movement will have to engage in the hard politics of Washington — of voting with votes, not just forks. This is an arena in which it has thus far been much less successful. It has won little more than crumbs in the most recent battle over the farm bill (which every five years sets federal policy for agriculture and nutrition programs), a few improvements in school lunch and food safety and the symbol of an organic garden at the White House. The modesty of these achievements shouldn’t surprise us: the food movement is young and does not yet have its Sierra Club or National Rifle Association, large membership organizations with the clout to reward and punish legislators. Thus while Big Food may live in fear of its restive consumers, its grip on Washington has not been challenged.

Yet. Next month in California, a few million people will vote with their votes on a food issue. Already, Prop 37 has ignited precisely the kind of debate — about the risks and benefits of genetically modified food; about transparency and the consumer’s right to know — that Monsanto and its allies have managed to stifle in Washington for nearly two decades. If Prop 37 passes, and the polls suggest its chances are good, then that debate will most likely go national and a new political dynamic will be set in motion.

It’s hard to predict exactly how things will play out if Prop 37 is approved. Expect the industry to first try to stomp out the political brush fire by taking the new California law to court on the grounds that a state cannot pre-empt a federal regulation. One problem with that argument is that, thanks to the bio-tech industry’s own lobbying prowess, there is no federal regulation on labeling, only an informal ruling, and therefore nothing to pre-empt. (I believe this is what is meant by being hoist with your own petard.) To avoid having to slap the dread letters on their products, many food companies will presumably reformulate their products with non-G.M. ingredients, creating a new market for farmers and for companies selling non-G.M. seed. The solidarity of Monsanto and companies like Coca-Cola — which reaps no benefit from using G.M. corn in its corn syrup — might then quickly crumble. Rather than deal with different labeling laws in different states, food makers would probably prefer to negotiate a single national label on G.M. foods. Consumer groups like the Just Label It campaign, which has collected 1.2 million signatures on a petition to force the F.D.A. to label G.M. foods, thus far to no avail, would suddenly find themselves with a seat at the table and a strong political hand.

One person in Washington who would surely take note of the California vote is President Obama. During the 2008 campaign, he voiced support for many of the goals of the food movement, including the labeling of G.M. food. (“We’ll let folks know whether their food has been genetically modified,” he declared in an Iowa speech in 2007, “because Americans should know what they’re buying.”) As president he has failed to keep that promise, but he has taken some positive steps: his U.S.D.A. has done much to nurture the local-food economy, for example. Perhaps most important, Michelle Obama began a national conversation about food and health — soft politics, yes, but these often help prepare the soil for the other kind. Yet on the hard issues, the ones that challenge agribusiness-as-usual, President Obama has so far declined to spend his political capital and on more than one occasion has taken Monsanto’s side. He has treated the food movement as a sentiment rather than a power, and who can blame him?

Until now. Over the last four years I’ve had occasion to speak to several people who have personally lobbied the president on various food issues, including G.M. labeling, and from what I can gather, Obama’s attitude toward the food movement has always been: What movement? I don’t see it. Show me. On Nov. 6, the voters of California will have the opportunity to do just that.

Michael Pollan is the author of ‘‘Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation,’’ which will be published in April by Penguin Press.”

BUYER BEWARE: A list of Monsanto vegetable seeds Posted on February 26, 2012, 2 Comments

Beans: Aliconte, Brio, Bronco, Cadillac, Ebro, Etna, Eureka, Festina, Gina, Goldmine, Goldenchild, Labrador, Lynx, Magnum, Matador, Spartacus, Storm, Strike, Stringless Blue Lake 7, Tapia, Tema

Broccoli: Coronado Crown, Major, Packman

Cabbage: Atlantis, Golden Acre, Headstart, Platinum Dynasty, Red Dynasty

Carrot: Bilbo, Envy, Forto, Juliana, Karina, Koroda PS, Royal Chantenay, Sweetness III

Cauliflower: Cheddar, Minuteman

Cucumber: Babylon, Cool Breeze Imp., Dasher II, Emporator, Eureka, Fanfare HG, Marketmore 76*, Mathilde, Moctezuma, Orient Express II, Peal, Poinsett 76, Salad Bush, Sweet Slice, Sweet Success PS, Talladega

Eggplant: Black Beauty, Fairytale, Gretel, Hansel, Lavender Touch, Twinkle, White Lightening

Hot Pepper: Anaheim TMR 23, Ancho Saint Martin, Big Bomb, Big Chile brand of Sahuaro, Caribbean Red, Cayenne Large Red Thick, Chichen Itza, Chichimeca, Corcel, Garden Salsa SG, Habanero, Holy Mole brand of Salvatierro, Hungarian Yellow Wax Hot, Ixtapa X3R, Lapid, Mariachi brand of Rio de Oro, Mesilla, Milta, Mucho Nacho brand of Grande, Nainari, Serrano del Sol brand of Tuxtlas, Super Chile, Tam Vera Cruz

Lettuce: Braveheart, Conquistador

Melon: Early Dew, Sante Fe, Saturno

Onion: Candy, Cannonball, Century, Red Zeppelin, Savannah Sweet, Sierra Blanca, Sterling, Vision

Pumpkin: Applachian, Harvest Moon, Jamboree HG, Orange Smoothie, Phantom, Prize Winner, Rumbo, Snackface, Spirit, Spooktacular, Trickster

Spinach: Hellcat

Squash: Ambassador, Canesi, Clarita, Commander, Dixie, Early Butternut, Gold Rush, Grey Zucchini, Greyzini, Lolita, Papaya Pear, Peter Pan, Portofino, President, Richgreen Hybrid Zucchini, Storr’s Green, Sungreen, Sunny Delight, Taybelle PM

Sweet Corn: Devotion, Fantasia, Merit, Obession, Passion, Temptation

Sweet Pepper: Baron, Bell Boy, Big Bertha PS, Biscayne, Blushing Beauty, Bounty, California Wonder 300, Camelot, Capistrano, Cherry Pick, Chocolate Beauty, Corno Verde, Cubanelle W, Dumpling brand of Pritavit, Early Sunsation, Flexum, Fooled You brand of Dulce, Giant Marconi, Gypsy, Jumper, Key West, King Arthur, North Star, Orange Blaze, Pimiento Elite, Red Knight, Satsuma, Socrates, Super Heavyweight, Sweet Spot

Tomato: Amsterdam, Beefmaster, Betterboy, Big Beef, Burpee’s Big Boy, Caramba, Celebrity, Cupid, Early Girl, Granny Smith, Health Kick, Husky Cherry Red, Jetsetter brand of Jack, Lemon Boy, Margharita, Margo, Marmande VF PS, Marmara, Patio, Phoenix, Poseidon 43, Roma VF, Royesta, Sun Sugar, Super Marzano, Sweet Baby Girl, Tiffany, Tye-Dye, Viva Italia, Yaqui

Watermelon: Apollo, Charleston Grey, Crimson Glory, Crimson Sweet, Eureka, Jade Star, Mickylee, Olympia

Always buy ORGANIC and check with the seed seller to determine the source of the seed...

From the genetically modified horse’s mouth: Posted on February 23, 2012, 0 Comments

"Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food, our interest is in selling as much as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA's job."

--Phil Angell
Director of Communications for Monsanto as quoted in the NYTimes, October 25, 1998

How to identify Genetically Modified produce Posted on January 14, 2012, 1 Comment

Over 80% of processed food contains genetically modified (GM) ingredients. When you're shopping for produce, here's how to tell if your food has been tampered with by folks who can't see the future due to focusing on their funds:

--GM produce has a 5 digit PLU code on the sticker which starts with the number 8.
--ORGANIC produce has a 5 digit PLU, too. But the first number will be a 9.

And for those who are more inclined to remember things when put in verse, try this:
Don't put an 8 on your plate or you'll hate your fate because of what you ate.

365 Ways #359–Frankenfish Posted on December 26, 2010, 0 Comments

#359--With 91% of Americans opposed to the introduction of Genetically Engineered (GE) seafood and meat into the U.S. food supply, you would think that our government would nip this potential catastrophe in the bud. But common sense walks when money talks. Research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the release of just sixty GE fish into a wild population of 60,000 would lead to the extinction of the wild population in less than forty fish generations. Yet despite this evidence, the FDA is in the process of approving the FIRST EVER GE animal intended for human consumption. Produced (not raised) by a company called AquaBounty, AquAdvantage Salmon is a "fish" which has been modified to produce growth hormone year-round in an effort to grow at twice the normal rate. Sounds like cancer, right? But who's listening to what we think?

Well, perhaps the FDA will if you send them your comments. And your congressman needs your vote. Forty of them have already heard your voice and the voice of reason, demanding the FDA address critical flaws in its approval process. Restaurants, grocery stores, and food companies all listen to consumer demand. So if you're concerned with the lack of scientific evidence demonstrating the safety of GE salmon on human health or the environmental impact this experiment could have on our entire ecosystem, let your voice be heard. Go to http://ge-fish.org/ and get involved.

365 Ways #302–Seeds of Death Posted on November 28, 2010, 0 Comments

#302--"I have held in my hand the germ of a plant engineered to grow, yield its crop, and then murder its own embryos, and there I glimpsed the malevolence that can lie in the heart of a profiteering enterprise."

--Barbara Kingsolver speaking about plants that have been genetically modified to produce sterile seeds. This would prevent farmers from replanting seeds harvested from their own crops thus forcing them to buy new seeds each year from companies like Monsanto. And though few farmers would knowingly choose to purchase these suicide seeds, cross contamination is inevitable and likely to result in massive food shortages and increased starvation rivaled only by the increased profits of companies we allow to play God at the risk of our future.

365 Ways #285–It’s working Posted on November 19, 2010, 0 Comments

#285--More and more people are becoming conscious. In less than a year, Monsanto has gone from being named “Company of the Year” by Forbes Magazine to getting its ass handed to it in the stock market. The awake among us cannot claim sole credit for that accomplishment, however. Monsanto itself is due some of the acclaim in this regard. Their lack of foresight has led to superweeds which are resistant to their flagship herbicide Roundup. And the soil pathogens promoted by the overuse of this toxic cocktail has led to an increase in plant disease. Both of these environmental fiascos have created animosity toward the company among their target consumers: farmers. Add to that the predictable failure of many of their GM crops and increasing public concern over the health repercussions of consuming genetically modified foods, and it seems the momentum is shifting--from greed to green.

Keep it up.