Picture Snob

September 9, 2010

Round up Ready sugar beets are blocked by a court decsion

As you know, Round up ready vegetables are made so that they can withstand heavy applications of Round Up. Putting aside the dangers inherint in geo engineering like crop contamination which might alter organic and natives species, the heavy applications of herbicide affects for years the soil and the water which the surrounding land drains into. Monsanto doesn't care about these problems; Monsanto cares about profits and the more Round up Ready crops are used, the more Round up Monsanto sells. The tobacco industry is the model for such profit motive without concern for the health of the planet and the life on it.

Here's an article from Organic Consumers online weekly Organic Bytes:

Court Blocks Future Crops of Monsanto's Genetically Engineered "RoundUp Ready" Sugar Beets...

The Center for Food Safety has won an important legal victory in the fight to stop the spread of untested and hazardous genetically engineered crops. After ruling that the USDA (under president George W. Bush) shouldn't have approved genetically engineered sugar beets without assessing the Frankencrop's potential to contaminate conventional and organic varieties, a federal judge has blocked future crops of Monsanto's genetically engineered RoundUp Ready sugar beets.

Monsanto's GE sugar beets now comprise 95% of the nation's sugar beet harvest.
The ball is in the USDA's court. The pro-biotech sugar industry is urging the USDA to rush through an Environmental Impact Statement so they can plant a new crop of Monsanto's Roundup Ready sugar beets next year.

The only thing that can stop Monsanto's sugar beets is a massive public outcry. The Center for Food Safety's legal work has given the USDA, under President Obama, the opportunity to do the right thing.

Now's our chance to press Obama's USDA to protect biodiversity and human health from contamination with FrankenGenes that never should have been released into nature or the food system!

You can take action by following the link below:

At Take Action Here


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

August 12, 2010

News from the Organic Consumers Association

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Challenging the Biotech Bullying of the Infamous Chemical Company

Only 26% percent of US consumers are aware that most of the non-organic processed food in the nation is contaminated with gene-spliced DNA, bacteria, and viruses - ingredients derived from Monsanto's genetically engineered crops or from animals given genetically engineered growth hormones, vaccines or feed.

The aim of the Organic Consumers Association's Millions Against Monsanto campaign is to make US consumers aware that Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are hazardous, untested, and unlabeled, and that the chemical fertilizers and pesticides applied to GMO crops are damaging the environment, polluting our water and food, and releasing dangerous greenhouse gases.

The U.S. government has never tested genetically engineered foods to find out whether they are safe for human consumption. Consumers need to know that many scientists are now warning that these foods are damaging the vital organs and fertility of animals, and therefore obviously poisoning humans as well. Monsanto and the food industry have up until now blocked all U.S. legislation to label GMO-tainted foods, because they know that most consumers, if given the choice (as in the EU, where labels are required), would not consume them.

Stand up for the OCA. Stand up against Monsanto.

At Organic Consumers Association

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

July 26, 2010

What's the fuss about GMO's?

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You may have wondered why the uproar about genetically engineered foods. What follows is a lengthy article explaining why GMO's should belabeled as such and why the consumer's right to know has been compromised by the marriage of agribusiness and the FDA. This article is from the Truth in Labeling Coalition.

1) How then does genetically engineered food "differ from other foods in any meaningful or uniform way?"

a) First of all, there could be no more dramatic difference than altering the DNA of a plant. Wide spread and unpredictable changes occur when doing DNA manipulation of plant varieties. We know these changes have a different effect on the body as a result of gene altering procedures. We know altered DNA creates new allergic reactions. We know Bt-toxin is more concentrated.....and that genetically engineered crops have much higher residue of toxic herbicide.

b) Second, genetic engineering is radically different from natural breeding. In contrast to the statements of biotech advocates, Food and Drug Administration scientists and others affirm that genetic modification is not just an extension of the conventional breeding techniques that have been used by farmers for millennia. Genetic engineering transfers genes across natural species barriers, using imprecise laboratory techniques that bear no resemblance to natural breeding. Furthermore, the technology is based on outdated concepts of how genes and cells work. Gene insertion is done by shooting genes from a "gene gun" into a plate of cells or by using bacteria to invade the cell with foreign DNA. The altered cell is then cloned into a plant. These processes create massive collateral damage, causing mutations in hundreds or thousand of locations throughout the plant's DNA. Natural genes can be deleted or permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their levels of expression. [This information is from the book Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods, by Jeffrey Smith, published in 2007 as a result of a two-year collaboration with more than 30 scientists.]

c) Third, Monsanto holds a patent on their genetically engineered corn, soy, cotton, and canola seed. They must "differ' significantly since they have patented those differences!

"DIFFERENT SAFETY CONCERNS"

1) A "different safety concern" is the concern by farmers that their crops may become contaminated by genetically engineered plants and the consumer's food supply may become contaminated.

a) Many public health and consumer groups are concerned that genetically modified crops have already contaminated native and related species, and that transgenic seeds are spreading nationwide, creating an adventitious presence in the food supply. In California, voters in four (4) counties: Mendocino, Marin, Santa Cruz and Trinity; have gone to the ballot box to ban the growing of genetically engineered crops. The "different safety concern" is obvious - people don't trust growing and eating food which is genetically engineered and has not had long term safety testing.

b) A number of court cases - the most recent involving sugar beets - have highlighted the need for an Environmental Impact Statement before growing genetically engineered crops. A 2007 federal court ruled that the USDA broke the law by approving genetically engineered alfalfa without an Environmental Impact Statement. In 2009, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision, ruling that the planting of GE alfalfa can cause potentially irreversible harm to organic and conventional crops.

c) Ecological effects must be considered as well. Since 99% of genetically engineered crops tolerate and/or produce insecticides, bee colony collapse disorder and a large number of butterfly deaths may be related to genetically engineered crops. This could be the gravest danger - eliminating the earth's pollinators.

THE "GREATER SAFETY CONCERNS"

The greatest safety concern of all, the harm and damage to human health and life itself.

a. Deadly epidemic caused by genetically engineered food supplement. One hundred (100) Americans were killed by L-tryptophan, a contaminated food supplement in the 1980's. It caused sickness in another 4,000 to 8,000 American citizens. It took years to detect, even though the symptoms were unique, acute and speedy. The Food and Drug Administration needs an approval process that does long term testing, prior to any use of genetically engineered products.

b. Consumer concern about genetically engineered food in Europe reached its peak in 1999; in less than a week all major food manufacturers removed genetically engineered ingredients from their products. United States manufacturers currently "label" for export to Europe. Most industrialized nations in the world such as the European Union, Australia and Japan regulate genetically engineered foods to protect human health and the environment, and ensure the free movement of safe products. Food safety (or lack of) in the United States has led to an epidemic of unsafe foods. Illnesses such as cancer have the highest incidence of occurrence in the United States.

c. Study proves three Monsanto corn varieties pose health hazard. The International Journal of Biological Sciences has just completed a study which demonstrates the toxicity of three (3) genetically engineered corn varieties (MON810, MON863, and NK603) which are in considerable use in the United States. To cite Gilles-Eric Seralini, a member of the Commission for Biotechnology Reevaluation, and a molecular biologist at the University of Caen: "For the first time in the world, we have proven that genetically engineered foods are neither sufficiently healthy or proper to be commercialized. Each time, for all three genetically modified organisms, the kidneys and liver which are the main organs that react to a chemical food poisoning, had problems." By problems, the study pointed to a build up of abnormal structural changes in various organs, which included the liver, spleen, and pancreas, as well as different levels of damage to heart, adrenal glands, and the haematopoietic system.

CITIZENS' RIGHT TO KNOW

Montana's United States Senator, Jon Tester states..... "Unlabeled GMO's in our food works against what I have learned in my 30 years as a family farmer. Agriculture should be sustainable, food should be healthy and safe, and people deserve to know what they're eating." ....... (From the forward to Genetic Roulette, the Documented Health Risks of Eating Genetically Engineered Foods by Jeffrey M. Smith. There is nothing more important in modern society than "the right to know," for without that information, citizens cannot exercise their "freedom of choice," and isn't that what it is all about: "FREEDOM!" It has been alleged that the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture intentionally withheld "labeling" for fear the public would be "concerned." Labeling will occur, not "if," but when. Already the Department of Agriculture is debating the labeling of "cloned" meat and poultry. Cloning, which simply replicates the DNA, is much less risky than the genetically engineered plant varieties, which transfer genes across natural species barriers, and injects bacteria and virus into the cells. Section 5...Federal Trade Commission...Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices.....By withholding information and not properly labeling genetically engineered foods, the government has practiced "unfair and deceptive acts" against the American people and the Federal Trade Commission should act to correct these practices.

At GMO Labeling

Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

July 19, 2010

Organic produce is proven healthier!

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This article from Prevention Online magazine makes the point that the nutritional value of produce farmed commercially has been declining for years and continues to do so. The reason for this is that commercially farmed produce is not stressed. It is given food and water to encourage fast growth and large fruit. In the process, the nutritional value drops. Organic grown vegetables grow at a more natural rate and because they are stressed, they produce phytochemicals,

Using USDA data, a study found that broccoli, for example, had 130 mg of calcium in 1950. Today, that number is only 48 mg. What's going on? The researcher believes it's due to the farming industry's desire to grow bigger vegetables faster. The very things that speed growth -- selective breeding and synthetic fertilizers -- decrease produce's ability to synthesize nutrients or absorb them from the soil.

"By avoiding synthetic fertilizers, organic farmers put more stress on plants, and when plants experience stress, they protect themselves by producing phytochemicals," explains Alyson Mitchell, PhD, a professor of nutrition science at the University of California, Davis. Her 10-year study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that organic tomatoes can have as much as 30 percent more phytochemicals than conventional ones.

Not only healthier, but organic produce tastes so much better.

So keep up the mulching, composting, and organic fertilizing! And if you can't produce all your vegies, visit the local farmer's market where you can probably get organic produce more cheaply that in the store.

At Prevention Online

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

July 2, 2010

Organic Gardening Magazine--a new face on an old standby


200_rasp.jpgA featured article this month on raspberries in Organic Gardening Magazine

I haven't looked at Organic Gardening Magazine for years until a friend recently turned me onto one. Wow! What a transformation! It was one of the few magazines I ordered when I first got my place in the country and I poured over each edition taking to heart all the hints and ideas I could use.

This magazine and it's online edition is filled with great gardening techniques and ideas. Although eatable flowers may not be of interest to you, how to keep a peach tree free of disease is a great aid to a garderner. They have articles on landscaping, compost and soil, organic living and organic solutions. One very interesting article I found was a soil test you can do on you garden soil with includes 10 easy steps. This is something you can do in your own garden to determine how healthy your soil is. The online composting section has about twenty articles to peruse with plenty of tips and problem solving.

I was amazed with the Organic living section. Here you will find delicious recipes to use with your garden produce. What a great addition to any gardening magazine. The landscaping section has a good ariticle on how to keep grass from creeping into your ornamental beds.

Both the online and the magazine itself are a great buy for any organic gardener. It will keep you inspired and filled with new ideas and energy.

At Organic Gardening Magazine

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

May 20, 2010

Why does the American Cancer Society object to naming environmental causes of cancer?

After the President's Cancer Panel issued a warning that chemicals and their lack of regulation is a major cause of cancer, the American Cancer Society has criticized the report, saying the warnings were overstated. This is the main reason I no longer give to the Cancer Society. They seem much too wedded to the idea that is it all a matter of lifestyle change.

Of course it is true if you eat less fat, more vegetables, and more particularly stop smoking, you reduce your risk of cancer. I have a cousin who sells life support and health equipment and he looks at smoking statistics and opens his business where there are many smokers. He knows they will be needing oxygen, repirators and all the other paraphanlia that goes with failing lungs and heart.

However, to deny the importance of chemicals as a cause of cancer is to shut your mind to the impact they have on our lives and our health. And for some reason the American Cancer Society does this. They sound somewhat like the tobacco companies when the report of the damages of smoking were published. They say there hasn't been enough research.

However, the President's Panel recommends these precautions that you can take to reduce your exposure to chemicals and they are well worth following:

  • Protecting children by choosing foods, house and garden products, toys, medicines and medical tests that will minimize exposure to toxic substances.
  • Filtering tap water, and storing water in stainless steel, glass or other containers to avoid exposure to BPA and other plastic components that some studies have linked to health problems.
  • Buying produce grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, or washing it thoroughly to remove them.
  • Buying meat free of antibiotics and added hormones, and avoiding processed, charred and well-done meat.
Marilyn Renaker at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

May 18, 2010

Your Organic Garden is getting a big boost

I just read this in the New York Times: The President's Cancer Panel is the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream, so it is astonishing to learn that it is poised to join ranks with the organic food movement and declare: chemicals threaten our bodies.

It's about time someone made the connection official, I think. I've been saying that for years and worrying and fretting about my grandchildren's highly exposed life in Boston. The lawns there have little flags warning it is not safe for pets or children to play on them. How insane is that? When I work at the local school, the lunch served there makes me understand how you can be fat and undernurished at the same time.

I have friends who don't eat organically because it is more expensive and they haven't room to grow their own vegetables. Growing organically is more labor intensive. The wine grapes grown in our valley where organic until an industry person come in for a consultation and told the owners how much cheaper it was to spray Roundup rather than covercrop and till. "Why you can't even start up the tractor for that price!" Our county had an ordinance against spraying herbicides. The Forest Service was planning on using Agent Orange on their tree plantations, sprayed from helicopters until the local people concerned about their water supplies, objected. The Forest Service and PGE honored this ordinance, but not private companies. The ordinance was unenforceable and was down graded to a resolution under Reagan. Courts ruled that counties could not have stricter regulations than the state and the farm lobby in the valley fought for spraying.

So it has been a very disheartening time for the organic movement with constant assaults on labeling. The Bush administration wanted GMOs to be labeled organic. So to see a government commission ready to say that chemicals and environmental pollution are main causes of cancer is a very encouraging change.

Read more at New York Times

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

February 7, 2009

Interview with Wes Jackson, President, Land Institute

Here's a link to an interview with one of the gardening and farming leaders in this country, Wes Jackson. Robert Jensen of the Organic Consumers Association asked him lots of questions relating to agriculture, food, soil and the economy. One of my favorite quotes from Wes is "(I)f our agriculture is not sustainable then our food supply is not sustainable, and food is an issue as close to every one of us as our own stomachs."

read the article

If every one of us can convince one person to start a little backyard garden, we will do more to help this country than the trillion dollar stimulus package.

Mary Ellen at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 5, 2009

50-Year Farm Bill - NY Times Op-Ed

Here is an article written by Wes Jackson, President of the Land Institute, and Wendell Berry, America's foremost author on agrarian living and sustainable farming practices. This was printed on January 4, 2009. They discuss the condition of this nation's soil and how a nation's solvency is related to the health of its soil. They also make the point that the government can prop up a failing paper money system but they cannot create more food out of thin air.

50-Year Farm Bill

Mary Ellen at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 9, 2008

Worcester, MA to cut down 4,500 trees

The Asian longhorned beetle has been hard at work in the Worcester area. We first mentioned this destructive bug in August and it looks like it has devastated a 63-mile area in Central Mass. Inspect your own trees and keep an eye out for dime-sized exit holes from which the beetle larvae emerge after wintering in the center of the tree.

Carolyn Y. Johnson, Globe Staff, writes that some trees have over 100 exit holes in them. There may be even more trees coming down in the future because USDA officials recommended removing a total of about 20,000 trees - both infested and at risk of infestation. For now, Worcester is starting with 4,500 and will take down some "at risk" trees and inspect them. In addition to the loss of bird habitats, fall foliage and shade is the $30+ million dollars it will cost for just the first year of beetle eradication.

Read the full article here.

Mary Ellen at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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