Archive for September, 2012

Roundup’s Genetic Roulette and GMO Food Labeling

September 30, 2012

Probably the most important aspect of GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) products is being overlooked. Many of us resist having our natural diversity of plants limited by chemical companies, replacing heirloom seeds with GMO seeds. But there’s a much more ominous problem with GMO/Roundup Ready seeds. The problem lies with understanding the action of the chemical glyphosate (tradename is Roundup) on plants and on us.

 Glyphosate is an herbicide that knocks out the immune system in all plants except the Roundup Ready GMO plants. However, since GMO crops are sprayed with Roundup, GMO plants and plant products also soak up glyphosate. GMO plants will mature and pass the pesticides they’ve soaked up from the soil on to whoever eats GMO foods.

 Recent studies of pregnant and non-pregnant women in Sherbrooke, Quebec found that the women all carried pesticides associated with GMO foods in their blood. The pregnant women also passed them on to their fetuses. Studies are now being conducted to document the incidence of autism, cancers, and other diseases in people who have absorbed high levels of GMO foods. Because glyphosate is an immune system suppressor, it readily passes across the placental barrier to unborn children and may suppress the child’s immune system to ailments from the get-go.

 Normally, our immune systems have built in resistance to a multitude of ailments. Some families have less resistance to certain diseases but glyphosate compromises any immune system. While many of us resist  planting the GMO seed itself, of possibly much more lethal effect is the action of glyphosate on our immune systems.

 Seed saving farmers have gradually developed seeds that generate a natural strong immunity to pathogens that normally live in the soil. These are the seeds that producers of GMO seeds are trying to eliminate and with tragic results in India.  There, Roundup has ruined the soil and destroyed many of the seeds that had been developed over centuries to provide India with thousands of varieties of rice. 250,000 documented Indian Farmers have committed suicide as a result crop losses from planting GMO seed and spraying with Roundup. US and Canadian farmers have also been hard hit.

 Just released, two year studies in France on rats demonstrate the problems that GMO seeds and Roundup spawn. Rats usually live for 10 months – 2 years. Most rat studies done by chemical companies have only been carried out over 90 days (not a life span.) What  French researchers found was that after 3 months on GMO food, rats became irritable, nervous, isolative, combative, and began to develop strange tumors. The controls, those raised on non-GMO food, were calm, well developed, and healthy.

 Of note, these studies were done with the utmost security because what they were learning was clearly a threat to GMO corporations. The study was published on line in September, 2012, in the peer-reviewed journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology. Since then, agrochemical companies have been busy trying to refute the studies, calling the French researchers incompetent and sighting hundreds of 90 day studies to try to disprove them, glossing over the ugly outcomes. Significantly, Russia has just suspended the import of US GMO corn as a result of these studies.

 Time to check with our NH farmers, put naturally grown food by for winter,  and insist on our right to have GMO foods labeled. California has it on their November ballot in Proposition 37. To better understand the importance of our actions, view  The more we care about the food we eat, the less we’ll be shelling out in medical fees, and the more we’ll enjoy robust health.


Arsenic and Old Lace and Food Labeling

September 27, 2012

This week’s news report of arsenic in rice has all the earmarks of fuzzy research that will likely be used in the campaign to prohibit food labeling. Here’s why.

 1. There are presently no guidelines in the US for the maximum limit for organic and inorganic arsenic levels in food products.

2. The report analyzed 65 products of uncooked rice and rice containing foods and beverages purchased in April, May, and August of 2012. They then took 3 or more samples from each for their report and came up with the magical number of 233 that makes it look like a more comprehensive study.

 If Agribusiness corportations can get people riled up about arsenic that is supposedly from pesticides in addition to what naturally occurs in the soil, we can expect them to muddy up the drive to label foods GMO (information readily available) with scare tactics toward an industry they would love to dominate by drumming up an arsenic report (information suspect with too many variables.)

 Arsenic doesn’t all come in the calculated dose of white arsenic we watched added to meals that murdered folks in the movie, “Arsenic and Old Lace.” Those of us who still make applesauce the old way boil up whole apples (arsenic containing seeds and all) in the pot before putting the cooked apples through a sieve or food mill. Arsenic has also been used successfully for years in Homeopathic remedies in minute controlled doses.

 What this kind of report leaves out is the fact that the signs given for arsenic poisoning may also stem from an entirely different problem. Sugar still heads the list of current chemicals that are grossly over consumed to the point of becoming a poison that sometimes kills in the form of obesity and diabetes. In terms of additional public cost, our theatre seats have had to be enlarged at great cost, grocery aisles widened to accommodate go carts, and more. Yet our obesity/cardiac/diabetes problem has been spawned by the Agribusiness, Food, and Drug companies with full cooperation from the FDA.

 Significantly, after rBGH was given to cows to increase milk production, young women and men began to develop huge breasts. Breast reduction surgery continues to thrive in order to deal with the back problems resulting from such pendulous breasts in addition to psychological problems and physical limitations. Once a couple of milk companies decided to go rBGH free and label their containers, people stopped buying rBGH milk. Now, more milk companies have gotten the message and are labeling their product rBGH free. 

The bottom line here continues to be choice. It is clear that once food is labeled GMO, people will choose not to buy it. We can expect reams of research reports coming out in favor of GMO foods only because the multinational agribusinesses are funding selectively sloppy research by academic researchers who have sold out to them. No corporation or group of corporations should have the authority to decide how much information will be made available to us, you and me, in this information age.

 Time to keep a wary eye peeled and speak up for our right to choose. This is just one right among many that we need to claim, which is why townspeople throughout the US are gathering  in their towns to form and pass Rights Based Ordinances for sustainable energy, water and food systems. For more information, check out the Web at

 Note: Arsenic in drinking water is another story. The FDA does have a maximum limit guideline of 10 ppb (parts per billion) of arsenic for drinking water. To date, the American Cancer Society states that Albuquerque, NM is the only urban area in the US with substantial natural concentrations of arsenic in the drinking water. The West has to keep a closer eye peeled because so much of their water comes from ground sources, which we know are grossly contaminated from agricultural pesticide runoff.


The Value of Unwinding

September 13, 2012

Each of us needs some regular activity that stabilizes. Meditation is frequently offered as a sure bet for Americans to calm down and be centered. And for many, it is. 

I was once on that path, went to an Ashram where I sat for two weeks, several hours at a stretch, in a cross-legged position. I was guided to do a continual body scan, only allowing my attention to register any pain I was feeling when I reached that point in the scan (usually a leg or foot). After about a month of practice, I was able to sit pain-free for long periods. 

Guess what happened then? My mind resumed being just as hyperactive and ruminant as ever and I realized that sitting meditation was not my route to unwind and be centered.

 Each of us has to figure out what does the trick for us. Some people run, knit, paint, sculpt, or work with wood. Some sew, pray, do yoga or tai chi, sing, golf, or play an instrument. Many of us use a combination of outlets.

 I head for a hiking trail in the woods, preferably with the sound of running water. No surprise for those of us who worry about the environment. I relax when I see nature’s copacetic interactions. I marvel at the immense diversity of plants that all seem to get along, even help each other by providing necessary shade or water. Something softens when I see a plush bed of moss spread over a rough granite boulder or several different mosses gathering collectively. I see the fungi doing their recycling on the stumps of trees or making a secure mat for mosses and seedlings to anchor themselves.

 This morning, the path opened to a quiet pond, to well worn resting spots where others have stopped. Vireos were singing, as though keeping track of everyone who enters the woods with their call of, “Here I am. Where are you?” So there’s always a sense of belonging, being welcomed, whether it’s the vireo or the stocky frogs that pause to check who goes there.

 We live in times where the decisions we make will  impact the lives of people to come. Haven’t such times always existed? Yet, now we know that our actions impact the whole world. If we are to keep level heads and get along with each other as many roads cross, it’s crucial that we bring a clear and positive attitude to the table.

Hopefully, we’ll give priority time to whatever form of  unwinding clears our heads, keeps us awake, and energizes healthy natural interactions with each other so that we are able to share the same page in current events.

Organic vs Conventional Farming and The Right to Food Labeling

September 7, 2012

Hot on the news this week is the Stanford study, which reportedly finds little evidence of health benefits from organic foods over conventional foods. This study is a wonderful example of the way both it and the media can twist information to rile up public opinion. The most important reason for choosing organic produce isn’t about nutrients. It’s about choice. It doesn’t matter whether a person chooses organic foods for psychological, ecological, philosophical, spiritual, or health reasons. The fact is that we all should have the right to choose whether to eat organically or conventionally or some combination of the two modes.

  The Stanford report will likely be used to justify not labeling foods GMO (Genetically Modified Organism). Because people refuse to buy GMO labeled food in Europe, the US agribusiness corporations have a vested interest in pouring  millions into their drive to prevent labeling of GMO foods here in the US.

 Organic farms do vary, depending on the quality of compost and amendments they add to their soil and seed choices. Conventional farms also vary, depending on how intensively they use chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, and GMO seed. There are many combinations and variations on the spectrum between organic and conventional. Farmer’s markets include many choices, but give us the advantage of talking with the farmers about their practices and exercising our right to choose. 

The Stanford report did show that germs from nonorganic meats had a 33% higher risk of being resistant to multiple antibiotics, clearly a health challenge. Also, Organic products had a 30% lower risk of containing pesticides. The testing periods for study subjects were from 2 weeks to 2 years (not exactly rigorous research.) While the report stated that researchers did not use any outside funding for the study, this report would go a long way toward preventing future research that justifies food labeling.

 Our university science departments currently receive tremendous sums for buildings and research from private agribusiness corporations with silencer strings attached to any research outcomes. The main string is the clause that says no report can be published without approval of whatever corporation is doing the funding. University researchers who want to study farming practices find themselves restricted to study only what supports Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, or some other corporate interest.

 Unfortunately, research discouraging food labeling coming from our land grant universities cites prohibitive costs in regulating food production practices. That is, costs for practices that have artfully proliferated when there was scant governmental support of research to prevent them in the first place. As far back as 1935, congress was alerted to the potential harm of long term additions of chemicals to the soil, and chose not to pursue the problem that has mushroomed out of control today. 

After years of watching common citizens rallying for their rights in other countries, US citizens are now regularly seen in the World News rallying for our rights. In California, following a well organized grassroots campaign, voters have put the choice for food labeling on their November ballot.

 What’s different about today is the realization that we are so interconnected with the rest of the world. We all have basic human rights that are being compromised and we have the responsibility to rally to put those rights in place.