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September 19, 2011

Monsanto lobbiest appointed to FDA

It's one of those familiar stories in today's politics where the fox is hired to watch the hen house. Michael Taylor has moved back and forth from private industry jobs to government regulatory agencies. Mr. Taylor has worked for Monsanto in several different capacities and for the government where he pushes Monsantos agenda.

Here's the back story.

"When FDA scientists were asked to weigh in on what was to become the most radical and potentially dangerous change in our food supply -- the introduction of genetically modified (GM) foods -- secret documents now reveal that the experts were very concerned. Memo after memo described toxins, new diseases, nutritional deficiencies, and hard-to-detect allergens. They were adamant that the technology carried "serious health hazards," and required careful, long-term research, including human studies, before any genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could be safely released into the food supply.

If GMOs are indeed responsible for massive sickness and death, then the individual who oversaw the FDA policy that facilitated their introduction holds a uniquely infamous role in human history. That person is Michael Taylor. He had been Monsanto's attorney before becoming policy chief at the FDA. Soon after, he became Monsanto's vice president and chief lobbyist.

This month Michael Taylor became the senior advisor to the commissioner of the FDA. He is now America's food safety czar. What have we done?" says Jeffery Smith.

Some are saying Mr. Taylor had a change of heart and now is ready to do his job with the FDA. But one of his opinions is that more responsibility should go to local and state governments and in this current recession, none of these agencies has the funds to really do an adequate job.

THe revolving door of industy lobbiest to federal czar is really disturbing. i can't imagine that Obama couldn't find and hire an competent lawyer that doesn't have the taint of Monsanto connection, change of heart or not.

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 23, 2011

Monsanto has a new GMO! Sweet corn!

Organic consumers association reports on Monsanto's new frankenfood, made specifically for humans. Here is their article.

Monsanto's New Sweet Corn, Another Unregulated, Unlabeled Frankenfood
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Government regulation of genetically engineered crops, already weak, is increasingly non-existent. The latest example of this new hands-off policy is the commercialization of Monsanto's first flagship product for the produce aisle: genetically engineered sweet corn, containing the Bt toxin and herbicide-resistant genes.

Monsanto's new sweet corn produces Bt toxin, a genetically modified version of an insecticide from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis. Until now, Monsanto's Bt corn and cotton crops have mostly been used in animal feed and highly processed ingredients. Even with this limited exposure, Bt toxin has already been found in the blood of pregnant women and fetuses. No one knows what will happen to people who eat Monsanto's new Bt sweet corn, but Bt crops have proven deadly for grazing animals from livestock to monarch butterflies.

Monsanto's new sweet corn is also "RoundUp Ready," meaning it can tolerate unlimited amounts of Monsanto's herbicide RoundUp. Roundup causes endocrine disruption, damage to DNA, reproductive and developmental toxicity, neurotoxicity, and cancer, as well as birth defects. Many of these effects are found at very low doses, comparable to levels of pesticide residues found in food and the environment. Monsanto's new sweet corn will have a lot more RoundUp on it than non-genetically engineered varieties.

This is outrageous! We've got to fight back against unregulated, unlabeled genetically engineered foods!

Take Action!

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

August 5, 2011

Labeling GMOs has to be a grass roots project

It seems like such a no brainer. Label GMOs and let the consumer decide whether they want the product or not. But so far the lobbying industry funded in large part by Monsanto has successfully fought letting people decide for themselves. The only information you can get on a food product is when the label voluntarily says it has no GMOs. Some people are looking for such a designation when theys shop. But the simpiler solution is to have the GMO products themselves labeled as such.

In California there is a ballot initiative to label GMO products. If you are interested in supporting this initiative or are interested in how to start such a campaign in our own state, you can go to www.labelGMOs.org Nothing is going to happen about this situation, where corporations with a vested interest in keeping information secret control the legislatures, without a large grassroots effort to demand to know what is in your food!

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 15, 2011

No good deed goes unpunished

Here's an article from Time that is at once amusing and distressing.

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A Michigan woman is being charged with a misdemeanor offense and is facing up to 93 days in jail. Her crime? Planting a vegetable garden--in her own yard. Her front yard, that is.

Like many consumers today, Julie Bass, of Oak Park, Mich., appreciates the taste and healthfulness of organic vegetables, but isn't much of a fan of how much going organic costs at the store. So, like many health-minded consumers, she planted a vegetable garden on her property.


Read more

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June 23, 2011

Steer manure needs to be well composted to avoid antibiotics

We all know that on feed lots where most of the steer manure is from, the cattle are given large doses of antibiotics. These medicines are supposed to help the animals gain weight quickly. It also helps keep animals penned together closely and standing in their own feces healthy. What I never understood is that the antibiotics are then excreted in the urine and feces, contaminating the manure with antibiotics. And when you or I buy a bag of steer manure and spread it on the garden, we are giving our soil a dose of antibiotics.

These antibiotics can harm the soil by killing the microbs and soil bacteria that make for a healthy garden. That is bad enough. But I just read an article in Science Agogo by Kate Melvile which says some crops absorb the antibiotics in the manure! "The antibiotic was found in the plant leaves and concentrations in the plant tissue increased as the amount of antibiotic present in the manure increased. Worryingly, it also diffused into potato tubers, which suggests that other root crops - such as carrots and radishes - may be particularly vulnerable to antibiotic contamination." In such circumstances we could then be getting a dose of unwanted antibiotic with our vegetables!

So check your steer manure carefully to make sure it is composted. I really doubt there is much supervision over what composting is done. I am going to use only chicken manure after reading up on antibiotic cantamination. They don't feed anitbiotics to chickens.

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June 8, 2011

Organic Consumers has a petition to label GMOs

Getting everyone you meet to join the Millions Against Monsanto campaign should be easy - upwards of 90% of the public already agrees that foods made with genetically modified organisms should be labeled - but if you need some ammunition and inspiration to inspire you to spread the word, look no further than these 10 scary reasons to label GMOs:

#1 Monsanto's Bt-toxin, in its Bt-producing GMO corn and cotton (used in food in the form of cottonseed oil), was found by Canadian doctors in the blood of 93% of pregnant women and 80% of the umbilical blood of their babies.

#2 The authors of the Canadian study conclude that the women and their babies were exposed to Monsanto's GMO Bt-toxin through a "normal" non-organic Canadian diet, including non-organic (so-called "natural" and "conventional") meat, egg, and dairy products from animals fed Bt corn.

#3 Monsanto's GMO "Bt" corn and cotton plants are engineered to produce a insecticide in every cell of the plant that kills insects by breaking open their stomachs.

#4 Mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn had elevated levels of immune system substances that are also higher in humans who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, cancer, allergies, Lou Gehrig's disease, autoimmune disease, and colitis.

#5 Young mice in the same study had elevated T-cells, which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases.

#6 Monsanto's GMO Bt-toxin has properties of known allergens - it actually fails the World Health Organization's allergen screening tests.

#7 Monsanto's GMO Bt-toxin has been found to bind with the small intestines in mice and with intestinal tissue in rhesus monkeys.

#8 In addition to its GMO "Bt" crops which are engineered to produce insecticide, Monsanto also produces GMO "RoundUp Ready" crops, engineered with a bacterial DNA that allows it to survive otherwise deadly doses of its herbicide RoundUp.

#9 In the only human feeding study ever published on GMOs, Monsanto's GMO "RoundUp Ready" soybeans were found to transfer Monsanto's "RoundUp Ready" DNA to the bacteria living inside human intestines.

#10 According to Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible Technology, the transfer of Monsanto's GMO Bt DNA to human digestive bacteria could create a "living pesticide factory" that could be responsible for the "increase in gastrointestinal problems, autoimmune diseases, food allergies, and childhood learning disorders - since 1996 when Bt crops came on the market."

At Organic Consumers

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May 19, 2011

Scientists question modern methods of agriculture

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Science Magazine has an interesting article outlining the way in which modern agricultural practices may have increased productivity, but at the exspense of the health of the soil, water, and humans. We all know the horror storiess of factory faming with animals caged and standing in their own excrement and given antibiotics to prevent infection and increase growth. We know that acres and acres of one crop farming with chemical fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides depletes the soil, contanimates the water and reduces the nutrients in the crop.

In an interview, the lead author, Washington State University professor John Reganold said, "If mainstream, conventional farming systems were sustainable, then we would not have overdrawn aquifers, eroded and degraded soils and polluted surface and ground waters." We also have concerns with farm labor working conditions and animal welfare," Reganold added.

With those concerns in mind, some farms have striven to innovate, cultivating practices such as organic farming, conservation agriculture and grass-fed and other alternative livestock production. Some of these practices aren't abstract or new, of course, none are yet widespread.

Yet when we plant our backyard gardens we can do our part to use compost, till in cover crops, vary the planting in rows and use organic fertilizer and pesticides. Our food will be safer and tastier!

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

April 28, 2011

Johnny's Seeds Interactive Tool Kit provides precision planting tips

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Johnny's Interactive tool kit gives the gardener a way to plan their garden with some precision. There is a calculator that can give you the amount of seed and the tools you will need for a given amount of space. A harvest date calcuator can determine how many crops you might have by a certain date so you can plan for an event. A calculator for seed starting tells you when it's safe to plant outside and another calculator tells you when to plant for the fall harvest and still another for succession plantings so you will have your favorite crops ripening all summer and fall.

There is a growers library with available downloads of tons of gardening information, growing guides, manuals and charts. If it's flowers your interested in, they have a chart that tells you the best flowers for your situation, planting and growing information. And there is another chart of the same kind for herbs.

If you really would like to be more precise with your gardening, this tool kit will be a great aid in that endeavor.

At Johnny's Interactive tool kit

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April 15, 2011

National Heirloom Exposition is in Santa Rosa in September

If you're really serious about heirloom plants and saving seed, this exposition is for you.
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Farmers, gardeners, chefs, and food organizations will likely see the largest event for heritage agriculture ever. There will be 1000 varieties of heirloom produce on display and 200 exhibitors. You can purchase organic, natural and original food products, art and other items or learn from renowned speakers, writers and famrers.

There will be workshops on the collecting, conserving and sharing heirtage seeds as well as movies, tours, and educational seminars. All profits from the event will be donated to various school gardens and real food education programs

The exposition will also have a poultry and livestock show with dozens of breeds of heritage chickens and small livestock. If you have seed or animals, you can bring them to the exhibit.

At Heirloom Expo

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April 11, 2011

A peer reviewed study underlines the dangers of Monsanto GMOs and Roundup

An article from Organic Bytes reports that Don M. Huber, Ph.D., emeritus soil scientist of Purdue University, wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack about a newly discovered virulent pathogen that proliferates in soil treated with Monsanto's Roundup herbicide.

The Monsanto pathogen is taken up by plants, transmitted to animals via their feed, and is passed on to human beings by the plants and meat they consume. The pathogen has yet to be described or named, though that work is almost complete.

At a March 24 seminar sponsored by Knox County Extension and the Center for Rural Affairs in Nebraska, Dr. Huber said that all the research and data would be published in a matter of weeks.

In his presentation, Dr. Huber summarized 117 peer-review scientific studies that show the hazards associated with Monsanto's Roundup herbicide and the "Roundup Ready" GMO crops that have increased its use:

* Compromised plant defense mechanisms; plants more susceptible to disease.
* Reduced availability and uptake of essential nutrients.
* Increased virulence of pathogens that attack plants.
* Lower yields.

Huber warned that ignoring these emerging realities may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious. He said it could also, and apparently already is, compromising the health and well-being of animals and humans.

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April 4, 2011

Even the Mayo clinic supports home gardening


By Jennifer Nelson and Katherine Zeratsky
Mayo Clinic, March 23, 2011

Gentle breezes. Sunlight. Bird songs. I can actually see the ground peaking out under the snow. And did I mention -- the return of daylight saving time? Spring is almost here.

All winter I've been thinking about gardening. I want to grow edible things, and I'm not the only one. A survey of over 100 million U.S. households revealed that spending for vegetables and fruits now surpasses spending for lawns, trees, shrubs -- and even flowers. The same survey unearthed the following trends among gardeners:

53 percent grow vegetables in their gardens
90 percent plan to eat the produce fresh
66 percent will share with friends
36 percent will can or preserve produce
24 percent will donate food to others
Another survey, this one by the National Gardening Association, looked at the main reasons people grow gardens:

58 percent desire better tasting food
54 percent want to save money on food bills
51 percent want better quality food
48 percent want to grow food they know is safe
I'm ready to get my hands dirty. I'm going to plant a garden because I want to better understand the labor that goes into producing food, and be more thankful for how plants nourish my body and soul.

I'll start small -- some herbs in pots (cilantro, basil, dill and rosemary), leaf lettuce and spinach, a few spring onions, and some beets. I fondly remember my father's garden -- he grew the best tomatoes. Maybe I'll plant a couple of those too. What about you? What will you be growing and why?

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March 16, 2011

Organic beats chemical fertilizers in productivity

This really interesting news from Organic Consumers Association.

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UN: Organic Ag Can Double Food Production in 10 Years
"To feed 9 billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available. Today's scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live - especially in unfavorable environments.

"To date, agroecological projects have shown an average crop yield increase of 80% in 57 developing countries, with an average increase of 116% for all African projects. Recent projects conducted in 20 African countries demonstrated a doubling of crop yields over a period of 3-10 years."

Many farmers in developing nations can double food production within a decade by shifting to ecological agriculture from use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, a U.N. report showed on Tuesday.

Insect-trapping plants in Kenya and Bangladesh's use of ducks to eat weeds in rice paddies are among examples of steps taken to increase food for a world population that the United Nations says will be 7 billion this year and 9 billion by 2050.

"Agriculture is at a crossroads," according to the study by Olivier de Schutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food, in a drive to depress record food prices and avoid the costly oil-dependent model of industrial farming.

"Agroecology" could also make farms more resilient to the projected impact of climate change including floods, droughts and a rise in sea levels that the report said was already making fresh water near some coasts too salty for use in irrigation.

So far, eco-farming projects in 57 nations had shown average crop yield gains of 80 percent by tapping natural methods for enhancing soil and protecting against pests, it said.

Recent projects in 20 African countries had resulted in a doubling of crop yields within three to 10 years. Those lessons could be widely mimicked elsewhere, it said.

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March 3, 2011

The truth behind the Monsanto contract with farmers-- it's all your problem

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Sorry to keep harping on this, but this is really important!

This is an article by Cassandra Anderson for Truthout.com

Farmers like genetically modified (GM) crops because they can plant them, spray them with herbicide and then there is very little maintenance until harvest. Farmers who plant Monsanto's GM crops probably don't realize what they bargain for when they sign the Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement contract. One farmer reportedly 'went crazy' when he discovered the scope of the contract because it transfers ALL liability to the farmer or grower.

Monsanto's Technology Stewardship Agreement shifts responsibility to growers for any and all losses, injury or damages resulting from the use of Monsanto seeds. There is no expiration date on the contract. The grower may terminate the contract, but: "Grower's responsibilities and the other terms herein shall survive..."

This includes contamination of other farms. Growers are purchasing seed for Spring planting right now. Alfalfa, America's 4th largest crop, is a particular problem because it is a perennial plant and the seeds may lie dormant in the ground for 10-20 years, and WILL contaminate non-GM plants. Contaminated alfalfa cannot be recalled from the environment. The liability burden can follow the grower for decades. Farmers must be made aware of the danger of being sued before they plant GM crops (especially alfalfa because it is used for cattle feed and will affect dairy farmers).

Currently, Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh, who lost his organic certification due to contamination, is suing his GM crop-growing neighbor for the GM contamination.

The Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement has another clause that farmers will find disturbing: it appears that the growers agree that in order to sell their farm, the new purchaser must also sign a Monsanto Technology Stewardship Agreement. According to a top real estate broker, the contract places a covenant, condition or restriction (CCR) on the farmer's land.

For more information about the perils of contamination, please go to MorphCity.com to read the interview with alfalfa seed grower Phil Geertson who opposed Monsanto in the GM case heard in the Supreme Court last summer. Geertson said that Monsanto's GM seeds are more expensive and after a few years, weeds can become tolerant to Roundup Ready and other glyphosate herbicides so farmers must return to conventional farming practices anyway. Therefore, there is no benefit to planting GM crops.

You can alert farmers to the hazard of growing GM crops and how growers can be hurt by Monsanto's contract, if you would like to take action in opposing GM crops. Please share this article and video.

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

March 2, 2011

Garden's Alive catalog arrives with a $25 gift coupon

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This Organic Garden kit includes all you need to grow a productive garden this season, except the wood and the topsoil. The finished bed is approximately 4 ft. by 4 ft. and it is easy to tend as you put a weed barrier down on the location you have chosen before you build the box.

With the soil admendments you get with the dit you will conserve nutrients and water. The topsoil and premium compost equals humus-rich, moisture-balancing soil in which plants thrive. Such beds warm up earlier in the season.

So if you've never gardened organically this kit ensures that you start with organic and recycled materials. The kit includes: four stacking joints, one weed barrier mat, two 16-qt. bags of Gardener's GoldTMPremium Compost, one vine support (folds for easy storage), one pkg. of Green GuardTMPlant Growth Enhancer and one 2-lb. bag of Garden RichTMFertilizer (a terrific vegetable garden fertilizer made of GMO-free plant by-products, minerals and trace elements-available only with this garden!).

You will need to buy four timbers (2" x 6" x 4') and your own topsoil, then plant your own transplants. No need to till up the ground- simply lay down the weed barrier mat. Then start your easy-to install garden in whatever sunny location suits you best.

At Gardens Alive

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