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July 16 2012

Lisa Cerda - Monsanto: A Modern Day Plague

Monsanto’s history is one steeped with controversial products, deadly consequences, massive cover ups, political slight of hand, and culminates as a modern day plague on humanity, a plague that is about to peak to biblical proportions. Created in 1901, the company started producing its first form of poison, the artificial sweetener saccharin. The rise in use of saccharin really began 70 years later. Monsanto had plenty of time for a realistic and long term study on the impact of saccharin on human health. Instead, Monsanto learned how to finagle political support and grow its empire despite the growing consensus that saccharin caused cancer.

No surprise then that the company continued on a path of controversy. Here’s a bullet point history.
•    Contributed to the research on uranium, for the Manhattan Project, during WWII.
•    Operated a nuclear facility for the U.S. government until the late 1980s.
•    Top manufacturer of synthetic fibers, plastics and polystyrene (EPA’s 5th ranked chemical production that generates the most hazardous waste).
•    A top 10 US chemical company.
•    Agriculture pesticides producer.
•    Herbicide producer – herbicides 2,4,5-T, Agent Orange, Lasso, and DDT.

•    Agent Orange (used in Vietnam), had the highest levels of dioxin and contaminated more than 3 million civilians and servicemen of which only partial compensation awarded.
•    Nearly 500,000 Vietnamese children were born deformed and never compensated.
•    Lasso was banned in USA, so weed killer “Roundup” is launched in 1976.
•    A major producer of both dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which generated many law suits and environmental cleanups
•    $180 million settlement for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange
•    Fined $1.2 million for concealing the discharge of contaminated waste water
•    Ordered to pay $41.1 million due to hazardous waste dumping
•    Paid $600 million in settlement claims to more than 20,000 Anniston residents in Abernathy v. United States.
•    Produced GM cattle drug, bovine growth hormone (called rBGH or rBST)
•    Acquiring seed companies from the 1990’s and forward.
•    Monsanto Filed 144 lawsuits against struggling farmers and settled out of court with 700 farmers, for reportedly violating seed patents.  A full time staff of 75 Monsanto employees investigates patent infringement. They are dedicated solely to finding farms that have been contaminated by their unwanted seed. As of 2007, Monsanto was awarded in 57 recorded judgments against farmers a total of $21,583,431.99. Monsanto vs. Farmers.

Read More:

http://wakeup-world.com/2012/07/16/monsanto-a-modern-day-plague/


June 06 2012

High and Dry: Why Genetic Engineering Is Not Solving Agriculture's Drought Problem in a Thirsty World (2012)

High and Dry is the third in a series of reports highlighting genetic engineering’s limitations and demonstrating the importance of increasing public investment in more effective—but often neglected—agricultural technologies. The first two reports in the series are Failure to Yield and No Sure Fix.

Droughts can be devastating to farmers and to the people who depend on the food those farmers produce. The historic Texas drought of 2011 caused a record $5.2 billion in agricultural losses, making it the most costly drought on record.

While extreme droughts capture the most attention, mild and moderate droughts are more common and collectively cause extensive damage. Climate scientists expect the frequency and severity of such droughts to increase as the global climate heats up.

Furthermore, agriculture accounts for the lion's share of water extracted from rivers and wells, setting up conflicts between food production and other uses. Other important organisms, such as fish, also compete with humans for fresh water. So there is a vital need for crop improvements that will increase drought tolerance and water use efficiency (WUE).

Biotechnology companies such as Monsanto have held out the promise that genetic engineering can accomplish these goals, creating new crop varieties that can thrive under drought conditions and reduce water demand even under normal conditions. High and Dry offers an analysis of the prospects for delivering on that promise.

Read More:

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/high-and-dry.html

High and Dry: Why Genetic Engineering Is Not Solving Agriculture's Drought Problem in a Thirsty World (2012)

High and Dry is the third in a series of reports highlighting genetic engineering’s limitations and demonstrating the importance of increasing public investment in more effective—but often neglected—agricultural technologies. The first two reports in the series are Failure to Yield and No Sure Fix.

Droughts can be devastating to farmers and to the people who depend on the food those farmers produce. The historic Texas drought of 2011 caused a record $5.2 billion in agricultural losses, making it the most costly drought on record.

While extreme droughts capture the most attention, mild and moderate droughts are more common and collectively cause extensive damage. Climate scientists expect the frequency and severity of such droughts to increase as the global climate heats up.

Furthermore, agriculture accounts for the lion's share of water extracted from rivers and wells, setting up conflicts between food production and other uses. Other important organisms, such as fish, also compete with humans for fresh water. So there is a vital need for crop improvements that will increase drought tolerance and water use efficiency (WUE).

Biotechnology companies such as Monsanto have held out the promise that genetic engineering can accomplish these goals, creating new crop varieties that can thrive under drought conditions and reduce water demand even under normal conditions. High and Dry offers an analysis of the prospects for delivering on that promise.

Read More:

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/high-and-dry.html

High and Dry: Why Genetic Engineering Is Not Solving Agriculture's Drought Problem in a Thirsty World (2012)

High and Dry is the third in a series of reports highlighting genetic engineering’s limitations and demonstrating the importance of increasing public investment in more effective—but often neglected—agricultural technologies. The first two reports in the series are Failure to Yield and No Sure Fix.

Droughts can be devastating to farmers and to the people who depend on the food those farmers produce. The historic Texas drought of 2011 caused a record $5.2 billion in agricultural losses, making it the most costly drought on record.

While extreme droughts capture the most attention, mild and moderate droughts are more common and collectively cause extensive damage. Climate scientists expect the frequency and severity of such droughts to increase as the global climate heats up.

Furthermore, agriculture accounts for the lion's share of water extracted from rivers and wells, setting up conflicts between food production and other uses. Other important organisms, such as fish, also compete with humans for fresh water. So there is a vital need for crop improvements that will increase drought tolerance and water use efficiency (WUE).

Biotechnology companies such as Monsanto have held out the promise that genetic engineering can accomplish these goals, creating new crop varieties that can thrive under drought conditions and reduce water demand even under normal conditions. High and Dry offers an analysis of the prospects for delivering on that promise.

Read More:

http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/science_and_impacts/science/high-and-dry.html

June 04 2012

Tom Philpott - How California Could Force the Rest of the U.S. to Label GMO Foods

In November, California voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing ingredients from genetically modified crops. The initiative made it to the ballot after almost 1 million Californians signed a petition in favor of it—nearly double the 504,760 signatures needed under the state's proposition rules. The campaign that organized the push to get the measure on the ballot focused on possible health effects of GMO foods.

This news will not likely be applauded by my friends over at Crop life America, the main trade group of the GM seed/agrichemical industry. The big GMO crops—corn, soy, sugar beets, and cotton—are processed into sweeteners, fats, and additives used widely by the food industry. Everything from high fructose corn syrup-sweetened Coke to soybean oil-containing Hellman’s would have to bear a label reading something like "Contains GMO ingredients."

That would send a shockwave through the food industry—one that could ultimately be felt on the industrial-scale U.S. farms that have been devoting their land to GMO crops for years, and the companies that profit from selling them patented seeds and matching herbicides. The reason isn't just that California represents an imposing chunk of the U.S. food market. It's also that a food-labeling law that starts in California is unlikely to stay in California.

Read More:

http://www.nationofchange.org/how-california-could-force-rest-us-label-gmo-foods-1338536857

Tom Philpott - How California Could Force the Rest of the U.S. to Label GMO Foods

In November, California voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing ingredients from genetically modified crops. The initiative made it to the ballot after almost 1 million Californians signed a petition in favor of it—nearly double the 504,760 signatures needed under the state's proposition rules. The campaign that organized the push to get the measure on the ballot focused on possible health effects of GMO foods.

This news will not likely be applauded by my friends over at Crop life America, the main trade group of the GM seed/agrichemical industry. The big GMO crops—corn, soy, sugar beets, and cotton—are processed into sweeteners, fats, and additives used widely by the food industry. Everything from high fructose corn syrup-sweetened Coke to soybean oil-containing Hellman’s would have to bear a label reading something like "Contains GMO ingredients."

That would send a shockwave through the food industry—one that could ultimately be felt on the industrial-scale U.S. farms that have been devoting their land to GMO crops for years, and the companies that profit from selling them patented seeds and matching herbicides. The reason isn't just that California represents an imposing chunk of the U.S. food market. It's also that a food-labeling law that starts in California is unlikely to stay in California.

Read More:

http://www.nationofchange.org/how-california-could-force-rest-us-label-gmo-foods-1338536857

Tom Philpott - How California Could Force the Rest of the U.S. to Label GMO Foods

In November, California voters will decide on a ballot initiative that would require labeling of all foods containing ingredients from genetically modified crops. The initiative made it to the ballot after almost 1 million Californians signed a petition in favor of it—nearly double the 504,760 signatures needed under the state's proposition rules. The campaign that organized the push to get the measure on the ballot focused on possible health effects of GMO foods.

This news will not likely be applauded by my friends over at Crop life America, the main trade group of the GM seed/agrichemical industry. The big GMO crops—corn, soy, sugar beets, and cotton—are processed into sweeteners, fats, and additives used widely by the food industry. Everything from high fructose corn syrup-sweetened Coke to soybean oil-containing Hellman’s would have to bear a label reading something like "Contains GMO ingredients."

That would send a shockwave through the food industry—one that could ultimately be felt on the industrial-scale U.S. farms that have been devoting their land to GMO crops for years, and the companies that profit from selling them patented seeds and matching herbicides. The reason isn't just that California represents an imposing chunk of the U.S. food market. It's also that a food-labeling law that starts in California is unlikely to stay in California.

Read More:

http://www.nationofchange.org/how-california-could-force-rest-us-label-gmo-foods-1338536857

Blanch Your Weeds, Study Suggests

You don't need to spray weedkiller to remove the weeds between your paving stones. Six treatments throughout the summer with either boiling water, steam or careful flaming will dispatch even the hardiest of unwanted plants. This is the conclusion of a new PhD project from the University of Copenhagen.

Weeds can be killed off with repeated treatments, but it is important that each treatment is dosed correctly.

Basically, every single plant needs to be burned lightly -- or blanched -- and treated frequently.

However, little is achieved if you just treat the weeds superficially by running quickly over the paving stones. The leaves must collapse completely -- and the plant's stem must also be struck by the flames.

Six times a season

Treatment must be repeated up to six times a season. A regime of fewer treatments encourages grass weeds to regrow, while more treatments are not necessarily more effective:

"We have conducted several kinds of experiments since 2004. Controlled field experiments, experiments where we have planted weeds in hard surfaces and then burned them, as well as experiments with 'real' weeds on stones. We have observed that the treatments work. It does not really matter whether you use flaming, steam or boiling water. However, if we only give a few treatments or if we use low doses, the weeds quickly reappear. Very low doses can even stimulate grass growth. This is also the case with many herbicides," says Anne Merete Rask, PhD from Forest & Landscape, Faculty of Life Sciences at the University ofCopenhagen.

Read More:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120531102340.htm

Alexis Baden-Mayer - G8 Gives Monsanto Power to End Hunger in Africa

At the Group of 8 (G8) meetings this past weekend, President Obama and the leaders of the rest of the world’s richest nations abandoned their governments’ previous commitments to donate $7.3 billion a year to end hunger in Africa, after disbursing only 58 percent of the total pledge of $22 billion and giving less than 6 percent in new money they pledged three years ago.

Instead, rich nations will leave the problem in the hands of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition where private corporations will invest $3 billion over 10 years — Monsanto has committed $50 million – beginning in three countries, Tanzania, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Human-rights activists have questioned the inclusion of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, noting that his authoritarian government has jailed dissidents and banned media access to hunger zones. The Committee to Protect Journalists said in a letter to President Obama that the Ethiopian government “routinely downplays the extent of the crisis by denying journalists access to sensitive areas and censoring independent news coverage.”

Read More:

http://wakeup-world.com/2012/05/31/g8-leaves-monsanto-in-charge-of-ending-hunger-in-africa/

June 01 2012

Exercise and a Healthy Diet of Fruits and Vegetables Extends Life Expectancy in Women in Their 70s

Women in their seventies who exercise and eat healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables have a longer life expectancy, according to research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University studied 713 women aged 70 to 79 years who took part in the Women's Health and Aging Studies. This study was designed to evaluate the causes and course of physical disability in older women living in the community.

"A number of studies have measured the positive impact of exercise and healthy eating on life expectancy, but what makes this study unique is that we looked at these two factors together," explains lead author, Dr. Emily J Nicklett, from the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

Researchers found that the women who were most physically active and had the highest fruit and vegetable consumption were eight times more likely to survive the five-year follow-up period than the women with the lowest rates.

Read More:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100512.htm

Exercise and a Healthy Diet of Fruits and Vegetables Extends Life Expectancy in Women in Their 70s

Women in their seventies who exercise and eat healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables have a longer life expectancy, according to research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Researchers at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins University studied 713 women aged 70 to 79 years who took part in the Women's Health and Aging Studies. This study was designed to evaluate the causes and course of physical disability in older women living in the community.

"A number of studies have measured the positive impact of exercise and healthy eating on life expectancy, but what makes this study unique is that we looked at these two factors together," explains lead author, Dr. Emily J Nicklett, from the University of Michigan School of Social Work.

Researchers found that the women who were most physically active and had the highest fruit and vegetable consumption were eight times more likely to survive the five-year follow-up period than the women with the lowest rates.

Read More:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100512.htm

May 31 2012

Blogger: State Agency Censored Online Health Food Advice Column

Steven Cooksey says all he wanted to do was help other diabetics get healthy, but a North Carolina agency tried to censor his online healthy food advice column, saying he was not a licensed dietitian.

Cooksey filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court, saying the state violated his free speech rights.

“When did it become illegal to tell people to eat meats and vegetables?” Cooksey said in an interview with The Associated Press. “How is it illegal to tell people not to eat grains? We’re talking about healthy eating. This is wrong.”

Read More:

http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2012/05/30/blogger-state-agency-censored-online-health-food-advice-column/

 

Blogger: State Agency Censored Online Health Food Advice Column

Steven Cooksey says all he wanted to do was help other diabetics get healthy, but a North Carolina agency tried to censor his online healthy food advice column, saying he was not a licensed dietitian.

Cooksey filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court, saying the state violated his free speech rights.

“When did it become illegal to tell people to eat meats and vegetables?” Cooksey said in an interview with The Associated Press. “How is it illegal to tell people not to eat grains? We’re talking about healthy eating. This is wrong.”

Read More:

http://charlotte.cbslocal.com/2012/05/30/blogger-state-agency-censored-online-health-food-advice-column/

 

Joanna Blythman - Vandals! No, not protesters trashing crops but the GM lobby still trying to force increasingly discredited Frankenstein Food down our throats

Genetic modification was supposed to be the ground-breaking science of the future. Its magic wand would feed the world and make toxic pesticides redundant.

But, in reality, it has dismally failed to live up to the expectations of its cheerleaders.

The high crop yields the GM lobbyists promised us just haven’t happened. Farmers are having to use more pesticide, not less, on their GM crops.

Thanks to GM, vigorous new superweeds stalk the fields in countries such as the U.S., where controversial GM crops have been forced onto the market — against the wishes of citizens — at the behest of profit-driven corporations.

What’s more, we now have evidence that GM crops can cross-pollinate with non-GM crops, contaminating land for miles around.

Read More:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151380/GM-lobby-trying-force-increasingly-discredited-Frankenstein-Food-throats.html

Joanna Blythman - Vandals! No, not protesters trashing crops but the GM lobby still trying to force increasingly discredited Frankenstein Food down our throats

Genetic modification was supposed to be the ground-breaking science of the future. Its magic wand would feed the world and make toxic pesticides redundant.

But, in reality, it has dismally failed to live up to the expectations of its cheerleaders.

The high crop yields the GM lobbyists promised us just haven’t happened. Farmers are having to use more pesticide, not less, on their GM crops.

Thanks to GM, vigorous new superweeds stalk the fields in countries such as the U.S., where controversial GM crops have been forced onto the market — against the wishes of citizens — at the behest of profit-driven corporations.

What’s more, we now have evidence that GM crops can cross-pollinate with non-GM crops, contaminating land for miles around.

Read More:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151380/GM-lobby-trying-force-increasingly-discredited-Frankenstein-Food-throats.html

Joanna Blythman - Vandals! No, not protesters trashing crops but the GM lobby still trying to force increasingly discredited Frankenstein Food down our throats

Genetic modification was supposed to be the ground-breaking science of the future. Its magic wand would feed the world and make toxic pesticides redundant.

But, in reality, it has dismally failed to live up to the expectations of its cheerleaders.

The high crop yields the GM lobbyists promised us just haven’t happened. Farmers are having to use more pesticide, not less, on their GM crops.

Thanks to GM, vigorous new superweeds stalk the fields in countries such as the U.S., where controversial GM crops have been forced onto the market — against the wishes of citizens — at the behest of profit-driven corporations.

What’s more, we now have evidence that GM crops can cross-pollinate with non-GM crops, contaminating land for miles around.

Read More:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2151380/GM-lobby-trying-force-increasingly-discredited-Frankenstein-Food-throats.html

Groundwater Depletion in Semiarid Regions of Texas and California Threatens US Food Security

The nation's food supply may be vulnerable to rapid groundwater depletion from irrigated agriculture, according to a new study by researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere.

The study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, paints the highest resolution picture yet of how groundwater depletion varies across space and time in California's Central Valley and the High Plains of the central U.S. Researchers hope this information will enable more sustainable use of water in these areas, although they think irrigated agriculture may be unsustainable in some parts.

"We're already seeing changes in both areas," said Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at The University of Texas at Austin's Bureau of Economic Geology and lead author of the study. "We're seeing decreases in rural populations in the High Plains. Increasing urbanization is replacing farms in the Central Valley. And during droughts some farmers are forced to fallow their land. These trends will only accelerate as water scarcity issues become more severe."

Three results of the new study are particularly striking: First, during the most recent drought in California's Central Valley, from 2006 to 2009, farmers in the south depleted enough groundwater to fill the nation's largest human-made reservoir, Lake Mead near Las Vegas -- a level of groundwater depletion that is unsustainable at current recharge rates.

Second, a third of the groundwater depletion in the High Plains occurs in just 4% of the land area. And third, the researchers project that if current trends continue some parts of the southern High Plains that currently support irrigated agriculture, mostly in the Texas Panhandle and western Kansas, will be unable to do so within a few decades.

Read More:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120528154857.htm

May 25 2012

John Atcheson - 'Faster Than We Thought': An Epitaph for Planet Earth

Sometime later this Century, a writer will sit down and attempt to document how his or her grandparents’ generation could have all but ignored the greatest disaster humanity has ever faced.

It won’t be a pleasant world she lives in. Cities and countries will be locked in an expensive battle with rapidly rising seas; but after spending trillions of dollars, most of the world’s ports will have been abandoned anyway.

Up to seventy percent of the planet’s species will be wiped out.  Gone. Vanished. Kaput. Songbirds will no longer serenade us.  Butterflies will no longer dazzle us.  The boreal forests – the largest belt of green in the world – will be gone. 

Brutal heat waves will be the norm. Off-the-chart hurricanes and storms will be the rule.  Deserts will have expanded.  Haboobs, giant black blizzards of dust will sweep across vast portions of the US’s high plains and the southwest. The Amazon rainforest will be a shrunken, wizened remnant of a once vast source of life. 

The once bountiful seas will be acidic crypts in which jellyfish and other primitive forms spread in vast sheets across the surface, covering the rotting hulks of the fish we used to eat. 

Agricultural productivity will collapse, famine will be widespread. 

Read More:

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/23-5

May 10 2012

Soybeans Soaked in Warm Water Naturally Release Key Cancer-Fighting Substance

Soybeans soaking in warm water could become a new "green" source for production of a cancer-fighting substance now manufactured in a complicated and time-consuming industrial process, scientists are reporting in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Hari B. Krishnan and colleagues explain that the substance, Bowman-Birk Protease Inhibitor (BBI), has shown promise for preventing certain forms of cancer in clinical trials. Those human tests resulted from evidence of BBI's beneficial effects, including indications that BBI derived from the large amounts of soybeans in traditional Japanese diets might underpin low cancer mortality rates in Japan. However, the current method of extracting BBI from soybeans is time-consuming and involves harsh chemicals. The scientists set out to see if there might be a greener and more environmentally friendly way of obtaining BBI.

They found that soybean seeds incubated in water at 122 degrees Fahrenheit naturally release large amounts of BBI that can easily be harvested from the water. The protein appeared to be active, with tests showing that it stopped breast cancer cells from dividing in a laboratory dish. "The abundance of BBI in soybean seed exudates by incubating the seeds in warm water provides a simple and alternative method to isolate this low molecular weight protein," the researchers said.

Read More:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120509123858.htm

Soybeans Soaked in Warm Water Naturally Release Key Cancer-Fighting Substance

Soybeans soaking in warm water could become a new "green" source for production of a cancer-fighting substance now manufactured in a complicated and time-consuming industrial process, scientists are reporting in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Hari B. Krishnan and colleagues explain that the substance, Bowman-Birk Protease Inhibitor (BBI), has shown promise for preventing certain forms of cancer in clinical trials. Those human tests resulted from evidence of BBI's beneficial effects, including indications that BBI derived from the large amounts of soybeans in traditional Japanese diets might underpin low cancer mortality rates in Japan. However, the current method of extracting BBI from soybeans is time-consuming and involves harsh chemicals. The scientists set out to see if there might be a greener and more environmentally friendly way of obtaining BBI.

They found that soybean seeds incubated in water at 122 degrees Fahrenheit naturally release large amounts of BBI that can easily be harvested from the water. The protein appeared to be active, with tests showing that it stopped breast cancer cells from dividing in a laboratory dish. "The abundance of BBI in soybean seed exudates by incubating the seeds in warm water provides a simple and alternative method to isolate this low molecular weight protein," the researchers said.

Read More:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120509123858.htm

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