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Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Global Ecosystem Washington's Blog

Risk Expert: GMOs Could Destroy the Global Ecosystem Washington’s Blog.

 

Risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb predicted the 2008 financial crisis, by pointing out that commonly-used risk models were wrong.  Distinguished professor of risk engineering at New York University, author of best-sellers The Black Swan and Fooled by Randomness, Taleb became financially independent after the crash of 1987, and wealthy during the 2008 financial crisis.

Now, Taleb is using his statistical risk acumen to take on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Taleb’s conclusion:  GMOs could cause “an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.”

Sound crazy?

Sure it does … but only because we don’t understand statistics, and so we have no handle on what’s risky and what’s not.

Taleb and his 2 co-authors write in a new draft paper:

For nature, the “ruin” is ecocide: an irreversible termination of life at some scale, which could be the planet.

***

Genetically Modified Organisms, GMOs fall squarely under [the precautionary principle, i.e. the rule that we should err on the side of caution if something is really dangerous] not because of the harm to the consumer because of their systemic risk on the system.

Top-down modifications to the system (through GMOs) are categorically and statistically different from bottom up ones (regular farming, progressive tinkering with crops, etc.) There is no comparison between the tinkering of selective breeding and the top-down engineering of arbitrarily taking a gene from an organism and putting it into another. Saying that such a product is natural misses the statistical process by which things become ”natural”. [i.e. evolving over thousands of years in a natural ecosystem, or at least breeding over several generations.]

What people miss is that the modification of crops impacts everyone and exports the error from the local to the globalI do not wish to pay—or have my descendants pay—for errors by executives of Monsanto. We should exert the precautionary principle there—our non-naive version—simply because we would only discover errors after considerable and irreversible environmental damage.

Taleb shreds GMO-boosters – including biologists – who don’t understand basic statistics:

Calling the GMO approach “scientific” betrays a very poor—indeed warped—understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management.

***

It became popular to claim irrationality for GMO and other skepticism on the part of the general public —not realizing that there is in fact an ”expert problem” and such skepticism is healthy and even necessary for survival. For instance, in The Rational Animal, the author pathologize people for not accepting GMOs although ”the World Health Organization has never found evidence of ill effects” a standard confusion of evidence of absence and absence of evidence. Such a pathologizing is similar to behavioral researchers labeling hyperbolic discounting as ”irrational” when in fact it is largely the researcher who has a very narrow model and richer models make the ”irrationality” go away).

In other words, lack of knowledge of basic statistical principles leads GMO supporters astray. For example, they don’t understand the concept that “interdependence” creates  “thick tails” … leading to a “black swan” catastrophic risk event:

Fat tails result (among other things) from the interdependence of components, leading to aggregate variations becoming much more severe than individual ones. Interdependence disrupts the functioning of the central limit theorem, by which the aggregate is more stable than the sum of the parts. Whether components are independent or interdependent matters a lot to systemic disasters such as pandemics or generalized crises. The interdependence increases the probability of ruin, to the point of certainty.

(This concept is important in the financial world, as well.)

As Forbes’ Brian Stoffel notes:

Let’s say each GM seed that’s produced holds a 0.1% chance of — somehow, in the intricately interdependent web of nature — leading to a catastrophic breakdown of the ecosystem that we rely on for life. All by itself, it doesn’t seem too harmful, but with each new seed that’s developed, the risk gets greater and greater.

The chart below demonstrates how, over time, even a 0.1% chance of ecocide can be dangerous.

I cannot stress enough that the probabilities I am using are for illustrative purposes only. Neither I, nor Taleb, claim to know what the chances are of any one type of seed causing such destruction.

The focus, instead, should be on the fact that the “total ecocide barrier” is bound to be hit, over a long enough time, with even incredibly small odds. Taleb includes a similar graph in his work, but no breakdown of the actual variables at play.

Source: Author’s input, based on Taleb, Read, and Bar-Yam paper

Taleb debunks other pro-GMO claims as well, such as:

1. The Risk of Famine If We Don’t Use GMOs. Taleb says:

Invoking the risk of “famine” as an alternative to GMOs is a deceitful strategy, no different from urging people to play Russian roulette in order to get out of poverty.

And calling the GMO approach “scientific” betrays a very poor—indeed warped—understanding of probabilistic payoffs and risk management.

2.  Nothing Is Totally Safe, So Should We Discard All Technology?  Taleb says this is an anti-scientific argument. Some risks are small, or are only risks to one individual or a small group of people.  When you’re talking about risks which could wipe out all life on Earth, it’s a totally different analysis.

3. Assuming that Nature Is Always Good Is Anti-Scientific.  Taleb says that statistical risk analysis don’t use assumptions such as nature is “good” or “bad”. Rather, it looks at the statistical evidence that things persist in nature for thousands of years if they are robust and anti-fragile.  Ecosystems break down if they become unstable.

GMO engineers may be smart in their field, but they are ignorant when it comes to long-run ecological reality:

We are not saying nature is the smartest pos­sible, we are saying that time is smarter than GMO engineers. Plain statistical significance.

3.  People Brought Potatoes from the Americas Back to Europe, Without Problem.  Taleb says that potatoes evolved and competed over thousands of years in the Americas, and so proved that they did not disrupt ecosystems. On the other hand, GMOs are brand spanking new … created in the blink of the eye in a lab.

4.

As if “ecocide”isn’t enough, there are many other reasons to oppose GMO foods … at least without rigorous testing, including decreased crop yieldincreased pesticide requirements, and potentiallysevere health effects.

On the plus side?  A few companies will make a lot of money.

Activist Post: Roundup Weedkiller Found In 75% of Air and Rain Samples, Gov’t Study Finds

Activist Post: Roundup Weedkiller Found In 75% of Air and Rain Samples, Gov’t Study Finds.

The GM farming system has made exposure to Roundup herbicide a daily fact of our existence, and according to the latest US Geological Survey study its probably in the air you are breathing…

Sayer Ji
Activist Post

A new study from the U.S. Geological Survey, accepted for publication online ahead of print in the journal Enviromental Toxicology and Chemistry, titled, “Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: A comparison between 1995 and 2007,”[i]reveals that Roundup herbicide (aka glyphosate) and its still-toxic degradation byproduct AMPA were found in over 75% of the air and rain samples tested from Mississippi in 2007.

The researchers evaluated a wide range of pesticides currently being used through weekly composite air and rain sampling collected during the 1995 and 2007 growing seasons in the Mississippi Delta agricultural region.

The researchers discovered the following:

  • Thirty-seven compounds were detected in the air or rain samples in 2007; 20 of these were present in both air and rain.
  • Glyphosate was the predominant new herbicide detected in both air (86%) and rain (77%) in 2007, but were not measured in 1995.
  • Decreased overall pesticide use in 2007 relative to 1995 generally resulted in decreased detection frequencies in air and rain, but observed concentration ranges were similar between years even though the 1995 sampling site was 500 m from active fields while the 2007 sampling site was within 3 m of a field.
  • Mean concentration of detections were sometimes greater in 2007 than in 1995 but the median values were often lower.
  • Seven compounds in 1995 and five in 2007 were detected in ≥50% of both air and rain samples. Atrazine, metolachlor, and propanil were detected in ≥50% of the air and rain samples in both years.
  • Total herbicide flux in 2007 was slightly greater than in 1995, and was dominated by glyphosate.

According to the report, 2 million kilograms of glyphosate were applied statewide in 2007, or 55% of the total herbicide flux for that year (~129 μg/m2), leading them to state the high prevalence of glyphosate in air and water “was not surprising.”  Even though glyphosate was only tested in 2007, based on the 1995 figures on glyphosate use (147,000 kg state-wide) the researchers estimated that glyphosate added 3% of the total herbicide flux for 1995, or approximately 7 micrograms per centimeter (~7 μg/m2) per sample. This estimate, if correct, reveals that there has been an ~ 18 fold increase in glyphosate concentrations in air and water samples in only 12 years (1995-2007).    

The researchers pointed out that, “the 2007 weekly air concentration pattern for glyphosate was similar to those of other commonly detected herbicides in both 1995 and 2007 in that the highest concentrations occurred in April and May. However, there were detectable concentrations of glyphosate over the entire growing season, which is consistent with how glyphosate is used on GM crops, including for post-emergent weed control throughout the growing season.”  The longer period of exposure adds to growing concern that this ubiquitous toxicant represents an unavoidable body burden and that even small daily environmental exposures may be causing significant harm through their cumulative and synergistic effects with other toxicants.

So, what is the toxicological significance of the discovery of glyphosate in most air samples tested? In the month of August, 2007, if you were breathing in the sampled air you would be inhaling approximately 2.5 nanograms of glyphosate per cubic meter of air. It has been estimated the average adult inhales approximately 388 cubic feet or 11 cubic meters of air per day, which would equal to 27.5 nanograms (billionths of a gram) of glyphosate a day.  Of course, when one considers the presence of dozons of other agrichemicals found alongside glyphosate in these samples, the interactions between them are incalculably complex and produce far more harm together than glyphosate alone (i.e. synergistic toxicity). Also, now that recent cell research has shown that glyphosate may act as an endocrine disrupter exhibiting estrogenic-likecarcinogenicity within the part-per-trillion range, there is all the more reason to raise the red flag of the precautionary principle — especially since inhaled toxicants evade the elaborate detoxification mechanisms of ingested toxicants which must pass through the microbiome, intestinal lining and liver before entering the blood and only a long time later the lung far downstream.

This study brings to the surface the extent to which GM farming has altered our daily exposure to chemicals, such that even the rain and air we now breath contains physiologically relevant levels of glyphosate ‘fall out’ from the war against any plant not part of the monocultured, genetically engineered system of production. With a significant body of research now available today showing that glyphosate and its components are far more toxic than believed at the time of its widespread approval, the implications of ubiquitous glyphosate exposure should be carefully considered.

Ultimately, findings like these reveal just how illusory is the perception of choice and health freedom when it comes to the GM/non-GMO debate, and the consumer’s right to avoid harm from GMOs by refusing to buy or consume them. Not only are consumers in the U.S. not allowed to know what is in their food with accurate and truthful labeling of ingredients, we now know thatbiopollution from GMOs produces uncontrollable and irreversible changes in the genomes of affected organisms when their transgenes escape into them, and we know that even beyond their genomic/proteomic differences the contamination of GM foods with herbicides like Roundup(glyphosate) makes them non-substantially equivalent in chemical composition to their non-contaminated alternatives. The reality is that the environment is becoming so saturated with the ‘fall out’ from the ever-expanding GM agricultural/agrichemical farming grid that even if you somehow find a way to avoid eating contaminated food, you will be forced to have to deal with its adverse health effects, as long as you need air to breath and water to drink. Ultimately, unless our food production system moves through its present chemical war-modeled phase of GM monoculturing, even non-GM food will end up being contaminated with these chemicals and transgenes, because nothing ‘natural’ lives in a vacuum – and if it does, then it really shouldn’t be called “organic,” and maybe shouldn’t even be called food.

Notes:

[i] Michael S Majewski, Richard H Coupe, William T Foreman, Paul D Capel. Pesticides in Mississippi air and rain: A comparison between 1995 and 2007. Environ Toxicol Chem. 2014 Feb 19. Epub 2014 Feb 19. PMID: 24549493

This article first appeared at GreenMedInfo.  Please visit to access their vast database of articles and the latest information in natural health. 

…and now for something completely different…

Activist Post: Supreme Court Gives Monsanto Full Ability to Sue Farmers

Activist Post: Supreme Court Gives Monsanto Full Ability to Sue Farmers.

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Do you remember the 2011 lawsuit from the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association 80+ plaintiffs (farmers and small businesses) against Monsanto? They were fighting biotech giant Monsanto’s ability to sue them for patent infringement when genetically modified seeds inadvertently appear in organic/conventional fields.

Yes, were talking about the wind or insects carrying GM seeds onto another farm, which to them is considered contamination. But instead of the ability for the farmers to sue for a ruined field, they can be cleaned out in court for not having permission to plant patented seeds. Monsanto workers have been found trespassing and gathering evidence on farmers’ properties. The lawsuit had sought protection from this overreach, as Monsanto has filed 140 of these suits and settled 700 without suing.

Organic farmer and President of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), Jim Gerritsen, had said:

Our farmers want nothing to do with Monsanto. We are not customers of Monsanto. We don’t want their seed. We don’t want their gene-spliced technology. We don’t want their trespass onto our farms. We don’t want their contamination of our crops. We don’t want to have to defend ourselves from aggressive assertions of patent infringement because Monsanto refuses to keep their pollution on their side of the fence. We want justice.

And later:

We don’t think it’s fair that Monsanto can trespass onto our farm, contaminate and ruin our crops and then sue us for infringing on their patent rights.

A June 2013 ruling of the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, DC conceded to the plaintiffs’ argument that contamination from Monsanto seeds would occur, but ultimately dismissed them: “because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not ‘take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land).” (source)

As Rady Ananda points out, a “trace amount” in this ruling, only means less than one percentcontamination of a crop! Those are not the percentages of contamination in the real world – i.e. Monsanto can sue, sue, sue. Furthermore, less than one percent contamination still leaves the integrity of an organic crop ruined. It does not settle the issue of Monsanto trespassing on private land to take samples for infringement cases.

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After the federal court threw out the 2011 lawsuit based on Monsanto’s assurances, OSGATA plaintiffs petitioned the Supreme Court:

However, Petitioners risk being contaminated in amounts much greater than 1%, and thus remain compelled to forgo full use of their land and adopt genetic testing of their seed supplies in order to avoid being accused of patent infringement by Respondents.

When the plaintiffs asked Monsanto to pledge not to sue, the company responded: “A blanket covenant not to sue any present or future member of petitioners’ organizations would enable virtually anyone to commit intentional infringement.”

The Supreme Court would not hear the case* on Monday, thereby sealing the previous decisions in the district and federal courts. Monsanto can sue with full immunity if one percent or more of a farmer’s crop contains their patented seeds.

Kyle McClain, Monsanto’s chief litigation counsel told Reuters:

Monsanto never has and has committed it never will sue if our patented seed or traits are found in a farmer’s field as a result of inadvertent means.

The lower courts agreed there was no controversy between the parties, and the Supreme Court’s decision not to review the case brings closure on this matter.

Image by Thierry Ehrmann, licensed under Creative Commons

* Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, et al., v. Monsanto Company, et al. Supreme Court Case No. 13-303

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

Recent posts by Heather Callaghan:

Activist Post: No-Brainer Course In Derailing The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Activist Post: No-Brainer Course In Derailing The Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

If you don’t know what it is yet – that means it’s working. The secrecy, that is. But once Pandora’s Box is opened, there’s no putting anything back. It will go down in history as one of the worst, oppressive plagues to saturate the planet.

Like Spider Man trying to stop a train from going over with nothing but his strength and shooting threads; we are going to need all the Web we can get to stop the fast-tracking Trans-Pacific Partnership from running over us. Perhaps more aptly, it is a tangled web we’ll be left trapped in as prey if we do nothing.

Here’s a crash-course and the easiest approach – all guesswork removed. But first, here’s a sampling of what you can kiss goodbye if this mammoth piece of legislation goes through…

What’s left of our jobs, food safety, Internet freedom, natural medicine, small farming, choice in medicine, financial regulation, privacy and more. Basically, all your rights. It permeates every area of your life, it’s been ramrodded through the Senate, and the media is not saying anything. It grants the likes of Monsanto, Wall Street and other huge entities full reign with immunity.

Kiss any last American sovereignty goodbye and say hello to your new global crypto-corpocracy complete with international tribunals and the end of domestic law – from your newly refurbished prison cell, of course. After all, you clicked on the wrong Internet link! And your ISP was watching and reported you. In the near future, this article could be enough to jail me, ban my whole family from the Internet, have computers seized and delete the website. No more videos that piece other clips together, or anything that hints at “infringement,” no more fair use, so no more non-corporate news.

It’s been shrouded in secrecy, especially from the People and Congress, planned behind closed doors for years, and proponents are searching for sponsors to have the President push it through now that Congress is back from recess.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership n. 1. A “free trade” agreement that would set rules on non-trade matters such as food safety, internet freedom, medicine costs, financial regulation, and the environment. 2. A binding international governance system that would require the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and any other country that signs on to conform their domestic policies to its rules. 3. A secret trade negotiation that has included over 600 official corporate “trade advisors” while hiding the text from Members of Congress, governors, state legislators, the press, civil society, and the public.

Here’s your crash course link on the TPP. You’ll be ready for take-off in no time. They’ve made it that simple:

Expose the TPP

After being mind-blown and catching your breath, you can do the absolute easiest thing there is to do by using Twitter with the hashtag #NOFastTrackTPP (but wait, there’s more).

Don’t use social media? No problem, scroll down. For social media users, here are the easiest things you can do, besides sharing memes and links on Facebook. Share things to Reddit andStumbleUpon. Everyone should call their reps (below).

See the Twitter storm event – still going. Pull any memes – share. Only use this hashtag for social media:  #NOFastTrackTPP. Using other hashtags and adding more will split the trends.

Next, Tweet your little heart out to your reps and others. Easily find them by clicking the “Discover” button and typing “congressman” in the search. All their Twitter names appear. Find celebrities, they often re-tweet. Example: @repfitzpatrick or @RepBera

Example Tweet:

@RepBera NO to Fast Track Authority and TPP, or we will not re-elect!! ‪#‎NoFastTrackTPP‬

Here’s another: “Do NOT sponsor FastTrack! Vote NO on TPP! ‪#‎NoFastTrackTPP‬”

Some reps have stood against the TPP, so first you might want to see this:

Spank or Thank?

– OR –

Use a general message for everyone: “I will NEVER support the Trans-Pacific Partnership#NOFastTrackTPP”

Want to jump into the Twitter storm? Easy. Sign up at Twitter, it runs you through a few-second tour and you can figure out the rest, see Help, or ask friends. Use the hashtag #NOFastTrackTPP on Facebook statuses.

Non-Social Media Users:

Find all your representatives’ info/forms in one-click. Just click on your state:
Contacting the Congress

Or use this:
Call President Obama: 202-456-6213
Call your Representative: 202-225-3121
or Toll Free (877) 762-8762

E A S Y  S C R I P T:

(Breathe and talk slowly. You will do just fine. Be polite and confident.)

“Hi, this is (your full name). I am a constituent of Rep/Senator (name). I live in (name of city). I am calling to request that Rep/Sen (name) vote NO on Fast Track Authority. It is important to me that Congress follows the Constitutional directive to negotiate international trade and that all trade agreements are given full consideration, debate and amendments as needed.

Do you know Rep/Sen (name) position on Fast Track Authority? Will he/she vote Yes or No? (wait for an answer)

Do you know Rep/Sen (name) position on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement? Will he/she vote Yes or No? (wait for an answer)

(regardless of their response, just continue)

Once again, I am requesting that Rep/Sen (name) vote NO on Fast Track Authority and NO on the TPP! Please be sure he/she gets my message. Thank you.”

Go to the Crash-Course site and print off PDFs to share. Actually, that whole website is designed to help you take action, online and off. You can still share the hashtag in any way you choose – it gets the point across fast.

URGENT:

If you can target these two reps, you could stop the fast-track today:

1) MIKE QUIGLY (IL-05)
D.C. 202-225-4061
District: (773) 267-5926
Twitter: @RepMikeQuigley
https://www.facebook.com/repmikequigley

2) GREG MEEKS (NY-05)
D.C. (202) 225-3461
District: 347-230-4032 & 718-725-6000
Twitter: Gregory Meeks
https://www.facebook.com/gregorymeeksny05

Lastly, if you have done something, no matter how small to derail the TPP fast track – THANK YOU!!

Special thanks also to Andrew Pontbriand, Emily Laincz and Nick Bernabe for their tireless organizing, efforts and information  – and to all those who joined them. Without them, this article wouldn’t be – nor will it with the TPP!

The smallest action is bigger than the greatest intention.

 

Heather Callaghan is a natural health blogger and food freedom activist. You can see her work at NaturalBlaze.com and ActivistPost.com. Like at Facebook.

Recent posts by Heather Callaghan:

Unease among Brazil’s farmers as Congress votes on GM terminator seeds | Global development | theguardian.com

Unease among Brazil’s farmers as Congress votes on GM terminator seeds | Global development | theguardian.com.

Unease among Brazil’s farmers as Congress votes on GM terminator seeds

Environmentalists warn approval could shatter global agreement not to use technology, with devastating repercussions
Brazil national congress

Brazil’s national Congress is under pressure from landowning groups to green light GM ‘terminator’ seeds. Photograph: Ruy Barbosa Pinto/Getty Images/Flickr RF

Brazil is set to break a global moratorium on genetically-modified “terminator” seeds, which are said to threaten the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world.

The sterile or “suicide” seeds are produced by means of genetic use restriction technology, which makes crops die off after one harvest without producing offspring. As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds for each planting, which reduces their self-sufficiency and makes them dependent on major seed and chemical companies.

Environmentalists fear that any such move by Brazil – one of the biggest agricultural producers on the planet – could produce a domino effect that would result in the worldwide adoption of the controversial technology.

Major seed and chemical companies, which together own more than 60% of the global seed market, all have patents on terminator seed technologies. However, in the 1990s they agreed not to employ the technique after a global outcry by small farmers, indigenous groups and civil society groups.

In 2000, 193 countries signed up to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which recommended a de facto moratorium on this technology.

The moratorium is under growing pressure in Brazil, where powerful landowning groups have been pushing Congress to allow the technology to be used for the controlled propogation of certain plants used for medicines and eucalyptus trees, which provide pulp for paper mills.

The landowning groups want to plant large areas with fast growing GMtrees and other non-food GM crops that could theoretically spread seeds over wide areas. The technology, they argue, would be a safeguard, ensuring that no second generation pollution of GM traits takes place. They insist that terminator seeds would only be used for non-food crops.

Their efforts to force a bill to this effect through Congress, ongoing since 2007, have been slowed due to resistance from environmentalists.

The proposed measure has been approved by the legislature’s agricultural commission, rejected by the environmental commission, and now sits in the justice and citizenship commission. It is likely to go to a full Congressional vote, where it could be passed as early as next Tuesday, or soon after the Christmas recess.

Environment groups say there would be global consequences. “Brazil is the frontline. If the agro-industry breaks the moratorium here, they’ll break it everywhere,” said Maria José Guazzelli, of Centro Ecológico, which represents a coalition of Brazilian NGOs.

This week they presented a protest letter signed by 34,000 people to thwart the latest effort to move the proposed legislation forward. “If this bill goes through, it would be a disaster. Farmers would no longer be able to produce their own seeds. That’s the ultimate aim of the agro-industry,” she said.

The international technology watchdog ETC, which was among the earliest proponents of a ban on terminator technology in the 1990s, fears this is part of a strategy to crack the international consensus.

“If the bill is passed, [we expect] the Brazilian government to take a series of steps that will orchestrate the collapse of the 193-country consensus moratorium when the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meets for its biennial conference in Korea in October 2014,” said executive director Pat Mooney.

But Eduardo Sciarra, Social Democratic party leader in the Brazilian Congress, said the proposed measure did not threaten farmers because it was intended only to set controlled guidelines for the research and development of “bioreactor” plants for medicine.

“Gene use restriction technology has its benefits. This bill allows the use of this technology only where it is good for humanity,” he said.

The technology was developed by the US Department of Agriculture and the world’s largest seed and agrochemical firms. Syngenta, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Monsanto and DuPont together control more than 60% of the global commercial seed market and 76% of the agrochemical market. All are believed to hold patents on the technology, but none are thought to have developed the seeds for commercial use.

Massive protests in the 1990s by Indian, Latin American and south-east Asian peasant farmers, indigenous groups and their supporters put the companies on the back foot, and they were reluctantly forced to shelve the technology after the UN called for a de-facto moratorium in 2000.

Now, while denying that they intend to use terminator seeds, the companies argue that the urgent need to combat climate change makes it imperative to use the technology. In addition, they say that the technology could protect conventional and organic farmers by stopping GM plants spreading their genes to wild relatives – an increasing problem in the US, Argentina and other countries where GM crops are grown on a large scale.

A Monsanto spokesman in Brazil said the company was unaware of the developments and stood by a commitment made in 1999 not to pursue terminator technology. “I’m not aware of so-called terminator seeds having been developed by any organisation, and Monsanto stands firmly by our commitment and has no plans or research relating to this,” said Tom Helscher.

On its website, however, the company’s commitment only appears to relate to “food crops”, which does not encompass the tree and medicinal products under consideration in Brazil.

• Additional research by Anna Kaiser

Background to a controversy

Ever since GM companies were found to be patenting “gene-use restriction” or “terminator” technologies in the 1990s, they have been accused of threatening biodiversity and seeking to make farmers dependent on big industry for their livelihoods.

In many developing countries, where up to 80% of farmers each year choose their best plants and save their own seed, terminator technology is a byword for all genetic modification, raising fears that sterile GM strains could contaminate wild plants and regular crops – with devastating consequences.

The GM companies, which claimed in the 1990s that they wanted to introduce the seeds only to stop farmers stealing their products, were forced to shelve the technology in the face of massive protests in India, Latin Amercia and south-east Asia.

In the face of growing international alarm, the 193 countries signed up to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity unanimously agreed in 2000 that there should be a de facto international moratorium. This was strengthened at the Conference of the Parties in 2006, under the presidency of Brazil.

Since then, the moratorium has held firm. But the GM companies have shifted their arguments, saying that gene-use restriction technologies now allow seeds to reproduce, but could “switch off” the GM traits. This, they argue, would reduce the possibility of the seeds spreading sterility. In addition, they say the technology could protect organic and conventional farmers from the spread of transgenes to wild relatives and weeds, which plagues GM farmers in the US and elsewhere.

The fear now is that the global moratorium could quickly unravel if Brazil, one of the most important agricultural countries in the world, overturns its national law to ban terminator technology. Other countries, pressed strongly by the powerful GM lobby, would probably follow, leading inevitably to more protests.

 

Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance Washington’s Blog

Monsanto, the TPP, and Global Food Dominance Washington’s Blog.

By Ellen Brown.

Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s.  ”Control food and you control the people.”

Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.

 

Profits Before Populations

According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.

Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.

Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.

The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked the US LAST out of 17 developed nations for overall health.

Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries—including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia—GMOs are totally or partially banned; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.

A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis.

Roundup’s Insidious Effects

Roundup-resistant crops escape being killed by glyphosate, but they do not avoid absorbing it into their tissues. Herbicide-tolerant crops have substantially higher levels of herbicide residues than other crops. In fact, many countries have had to increase their legally allowable levels—by up to 50 times—in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops. In the European Union, residues in foods are set to rise 100-150 times if a new proposal by Monsanto is approved. Meanwhile, herbicide-tolerant “super-weeds” have adapted to the chemical, requiring even more toxic doses and new toxic chemicals to kill the plant.

Human enzymes are affected by glyphosate just as plant enzymes are: the chemical blocks the uptake of manganese and other essential minerals. Without those minerals, we cannot properly metabolize our food. That helps explain the rampant epidemic of obesity in the United States. People eat and eat in an attempt to acquire the nutrients that are simply not available in their food.

According to researchers Samsell and Seneff in Biosemiotic Entropy: Disorder, Disease, and Mortality(April 2013):

Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology . . . . Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. 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.

More than 40 diseases have been linked to glyphosate use, and more keep appearing. In September 2013, the National University of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, published research finding that glyphosate enhances the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxin B1, one of the most carcinogenic of substances. A doctor from Chaco, Argentina, told Associated Press, “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before.” Fungi growths have increased significantly in US corn crops.

Glyphosate has also done serious damage to the environment. According to an October 2012 report by the Institute of Science in Society:

Agribusiness claims that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops will improve crop yields, increase farmers’ profits and benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. Exactly the opposite is the case. . . . [T]he evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant crops have had wide-ranging detrimental effects, including glyphosate resistant super weeds, virulent plant (and new livestock) pathogens, reduced crop health and yield, harm to off-target species from insects to amphibians and livestock, as well as reduced soil fertility.

Politics Trumps Science

In light of these adverse findings, why have Washington and the European Commission continued to endorse glyphosate as safe? Critics point to lax regulations, heavy influence from corporate lobbyists, and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control than protecting the health of the people.

In the ground-breaking 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger. Along with oil geopolitics, they were to be the new “solution” to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. In line with that agenda, the government has shown extreme partisanship in favor of the biotech agribusiness industry, opting for a system in which the industry “voluntarily” polices itself. Bio-engineered foods are treated as “natural food additives,” not needing any special testing.

Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, confirms that US Food and Drug Administration policy allows biotech companies to determine if their own foods are safe. Submission of data is completely voluntary. He concludes:

In the critical arena of food safety research, the biotech industry is without accountability, standards, or peer-review. They’ve got bad science down to a science.

Whether or not depopulation is an intentional part of the agenda, widespread use of GMO and glyphosate is having that result. The endocrine-disrupting properties of glyphosate have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and arrested sexual development. In Russian experiments, animals fed GM soy were sterile by the third generation. Vast amounts of farmland soil are also being systematically ruined by the killing of beneficial microorganisms that allow plant roots to uptake soil nutrients.

In Gary Null’s eye-opening documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOsDr. Bruce Lipton warns, “We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet. . . . Human behavior is undermining the web of life.”

The TPP and International Corporate Control

As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the details. According to Barbara Chicherio in Nation of Change:

The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . .

The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique.  If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.

. . . They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.

Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup.” He warned:

No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect it . . . .

If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued . . . .

Return to Nature: Not Too Late

There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families, Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas(cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre, author of the best-selling Ringing Cedars Series:

Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction.” But first, we need to urge our representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our health, our finances and our environment are at stake.

____________________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.

 

Can’t Make Enough Food? Make Fewer People – Bloomberg

Can’t Make Enough Food? Make Fewer People – Bloomberg. (source)

Solve the world’s future food needs? That’s easy. Make more food or make fewer people. Pick one.

Lester Brown, founder of the Earth Policy Institute and author of a new memoir, Breaking New Ground, suggests we think about fewer people.

Water resources from Asia to the U.S. Great Plains are being depleted. Rising affluence in developing counties is creating demand for grain-fed meat. Plant yields themselves are approaching the limits of what photosynthesis can bear, Brown said on a press call yesterday. In China, which eats half of the world’s pork, people who now eat about 120 pounds of meat a year are adopting diets more like that of Americans, where consumption is over 200 pounds annually. As the nation’s middle class grows to nearly a billion people by mid-century, the food system will become severely strained, he said.

“This tightening food situation is affecting the world’s poor in a way that is not reassuring at all,” he said.

The key to feeding people, Brown suggests, is by trying to manage population growth. Leaders need to ensure the planet’s capabilities aren’t overwhelmed, he said.

“The population issue hasn’t been on the table, but it needs to be,” he said. “We need to be dealing with basic social questions.”

The world may struggle to grow and trade itself out of its hunger problem, so population management better get started, Brown said: About 842 million people experienced chronic hunger over the past three years.

Large agricultural companies bet growth and trade will move along reliably enough to feed the world. Gathered in Des Moines for the annual World Food Prize, representatives from Monsanto, DuPont, Deere and others say that shipping food from regions where technology is creating a surplus to areas where productivity is struggling to keep up can keep the world fed as the global population zooms past 9 billion by 2050.

study released today sponsored by the Global Harvest Initiative, a consortium of businesses and nonprofits, says uneven growth in global crop production will make export flows more crucial. Production in Brazil, already the world’s biggest grower and shipper of soybeans, will increasingly be used to feed China. By 2030 the Asian giant will be able to meet only 72 percent of its own food needs.

Brazil, which has invested heavily in agricultural research and development, will grow twice as much food as it needs by then, according to the Global Harvest Initiative. Sub-Saharan Africa, the world’s most famine-prone region, will struggle the most with feeding an expanding population. Latin and South America will become an even more important breadbasket, the group said.

Key to meeting global food needs are technology and trade, according to the initiative, including genetically modified organisms.

“Removing barriers to regional and global trade is going to be imperative,” said Erica Seitzer, a Dupont Co. employee on loan to the initiative, highlighting better crop technology and improved land and water management as a way to grow more food on finite land.

Judging by the aggregate needs — we’ll need 60 percent more calories in 2050 than today, according to the World Resources Institute — both options are on the kitchen table.

Analysis and commentary on The Grid are the views of the author and don’t necessarily reflect the views of Bloomberg News.

 

Why I Won’t Be Charitable When The SHTF | The Daily Sheeple

Why I Won’t Be Charitable When The SHTF | The Daily Sheeple. (FULL ARTICLE)

I have learned a great deal since I came on board here at The Daily Sheeple. I have read and listened to the opinions of many who are far further down the line of preparedness than I am, and although it may make me unpopular, I disagree with a some of what they say.

Of course agreeing or disagreeing with someone is purely personal choice. I am not saying they are wrong, just that I disagree with them.

Take for instance the charity aspect of prepping.

Many of the big names in prepping advocate that we should show solid Christian values in times of crisis and lay aside some essential items to give away to those that pass through who are less fortunate that ourselves.

NOT A CHANCE.

It has nothing to do with the fact that I have prepared, that I have scrimped and saved, and they possibly have not. It has nothing to do with greed on my part and to hell with all others. It has to do with the survival of my family.

A great deal is made on all prepping sites about OPSEC. Keeping low and not attracting attention, and this is where the trouble starts.

I know for a fact that if I had been given food, water and maybe a few other essential items by someone I passed along the way I would remember them.

I know that if the survival of my children was at stake and I couldn’t provide for them I would revisit the person that had assisted me in the hope of getting more supplies.

I know I would do anything I had to do to feed my kids, to keep them alive. Now if I could trade something, work for the food I would certainly do so. What happens though if the answer is no, we’re fine thanks, off you go?

Think about this….

 

Thousands march against GMOs, Monsanto across Canada – British Columbia – CBC News

Thousands march against GMOs, Monsanto across Canada – British Columbia – CBC News. (FULL ARTICLE)

Organizers say more than 400 demonstrations took place around the world on Saturday, in an effort to call attention to what the protesters claim are dangers posed by genetically modified food and the food giants that produce it.

The “Occupy Monsanto” group focused their efforts on one corporation — Monsanto, a leading producer of genetically engineered seed.

Rallies were held across Canada and the United States, in Europe, Australia, Brazil, Colombia and South Africa, among others.

Genetically modified plants or organisms, commonly called GMOs, are often created to resist disease and eliminate the need for pesticides.

In Vancouver, where nearly 4,000 people marched through downtown streets, organizer Lili Dion called on the public to educate themselves.

“I want people to ask questions,” she said. “A lot of people, it’s surprising, don’t know what GMOs are, or the lack of testing and how much it is in our food. So I just want people to ask questions… do your own research.”…

 

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