Category Archives: environment

Clean-tech discovery: Irish researchers split water into hydrogen and oxygen via new method


Clean-tech discovery: Irish researchers split water into hydrogen and oxygen via new method

CRANN photo depicting the splitting of water via a new method developed by a research team at the institute

Hydrogen gas is being heralded as the next big thing in the race to come up with new greener energy sources. Now, researchers at the Irish nanoscience institute CRANN say they have developed a new method of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen more sustainably via water electrolysis.

The researchers, who are based at the Science Foundation Ireland-funded nanoscience institute CRANN, which is situated on the Trinity College Dublin (TCD) campus, are claiming their discovery will have a “significant” impact in the worldwide race to cheaply and efficiently produce hydrogen gas.

In scientific and clean-tech circles, hydrogen gas has been hailed as one of the main clean-energy sources of the future.

Green hydrogen

Prof Mike Lyons, a principal investigator at CRANN and TCD’s School of Chemistry, has worked with his research team to develop what they are calling new inexpensive materials based on iron and nickel oxide to split water into its components hydrogen and oxygen – a method known as water electrolysis.

Apparently, these materials from iron and nickel oxide are much cheaper, more readily available and more efficient than those used in current electrolysis methods.

Hydrogen gas has been pinpointed as one of the most innovative and greener alternative energy sources of the future. Its production using steam reforming of natural gas is still relatively difficult and unsustainable, however.

In contrast, hydrogen generation by water electrolysis could pave the way for a reliable, environmentally friendly method of large-scale production.

Prof Mike Lyons, principal investigator, CRANN, where he is leading a research team to come up with a more sustainable method for water electrolysis

The researchers at CRANN involved in the water-splitting project believe their methods are the first inexpensive and efficient methods of water electrolysis to be identified worldwide.

Their research has already triggered international interest and recently received ‘Hot Article Status’ in the chemistry journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (PCCP). Hot Article Status, it seems, is given to articles of high impact and high quality.

Prof John Boland, director of CRANN, said the results of nanoscience research is paving the way for revamping a range of industries – from medicine, to technology to energy production.

“Whether it is in lightweight coatings for wind turbines, or new sensors for solar panels, our methods continue to assist in the move to sustainable, alternative and clean energy supply,” he said.

A world first?
Boland believes Lyons and his research team’s method of splitting water is a “world first”.

“It truly has the potential to revolutionise the production of hydrogen gas and bring it one step closer as a realistic energy alternative,” he said.

Lyons has received funding to the value of almost €800,000 from SFI for this research.

“With my team of researchers, we are consistently striving to use well-known research methods to deliver unprecedented results,” he said today.

This method of water electrolysis, explained Lyons, takes the simplest of materials – nickel and iron – and uses them to “ground-breaking” effect.

“Hydrogen is the next clean-energy source and CRANN is leading the international race to find its best method of production,” added Lyons.

As well as his work at CRANN, Lyons also leads the Trinity Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Electrocatalysis Group. He has published two books and more than 110 papers, and has a h-index of 25, which demonstrates the worldwide impact of his research.

via Clean-tech discovery: Irish researchers split water into hydrogen and oxygen via new method – Clean Tech – Clean Tech | siliconrepublic.com – Ireland’s Technology News Service.

What will it take for us to stand up and get angry?


Several subjects are difficult for me to write about. At such times, a long-ago professor’s words comes to mind. He advised young writers to take extra care with emotion-charged topics, cautioning that the message could be lost amid the sentiment. Still, I have to try.

The actions and rhetoric of Exxon, British Petroleum, Chevron, Monsanto, Enbridge and a host of related companies fill me with disgust as does that of numerous government departments and agencies.

The terms fracking, toxic tar sands, genetically modified organisms, carcinogenic chemicals, metallic sulfide mining, acid mine drainage and many others stir fear-filled loathing. I need answers to troubling questions:

• Are the people who run these companies and our government genuinely evil or just exceedingly naïve as they destroy our planet in the name of energy and jobs?

• Why are so many of us, seduced by energy-guzzling lifestyles and the promise of jobs, unwilling to change our wasteful ways? A recent report stated that most people would rather adjust to the negative effects of our actions than change them.

• What are the most effective things people who truly care can do to make a difference before it is too late?

The natural environment, particularly fresh water, is our source of life and livelihood, ultimately more precious than oil and craved by other countries.

Yet in 1953 when the Mackinac Bridge was completed, Enbridge was allowed by our government to run an oil pipeline under the Straits through this incomparably valuable water.

Now, Enbridge wants to increase both the pressure within and poisonous content of the oil flowing through this aging pipeline. The existing pipeline should be removed, not made more vulnerable to a disaster of absolutely unparalleled proportions from which there can be no real recovery.

What happened in 1989 in the exquisitely beautiful Prince William Sound, Alaska, thanks to Exxon can never be undone nor can it in the Gulf, due to the negligence of British Petroleum, or here in Calhoun County, compliments of Enbridge.

Major corporations lie willfully, continually and without compunction. British Petroleum pats itself on the back in its public relations for its “commitment that began two years ago” to the Gulf Coast.

Awfully late isn’t it? Where was its “commitment” from the very beginning of any thought of drilling for oil in the Gulf or anywhere else for that matter? Shame on them and shame on those who are swayed by the verbiage.

Likewise, Chevron brags that it is so concerned about the environment that if it cannot do things right, it won’t do them at all. Yet when this hyperbole began airing, the company had been cited for deliberately violating environmental regulations at one of its major operations in California.

To me, Monsanto is a curse word. What would Rachel Carson, founder of the environmental movement, say if she were alive today? Might her words be a prophetic: “I told you so”?

Genetically modified crops are already linked to health problems while Monsanto intimidates farmers who want to work with heirloom seeds in sustainable settings. It is seeking government approval to allow more toxic “Round-Up” residue on food crops.

Corporate executives and government officials snuggle up and plump pillows in the same bed. It is all so convenient and cozy for deal-making and favor-swapping.

Yet, my anger isn’t just directed at them. It is also at us, the public. We’re being lied to, our world is being poisoned before our eyes and many of us blithely do nothing constructive or corrective. We are not part of the solution, but part of the problem.

On July 14, we have the opportunity to take steps on behalf of change at “Oil & Water Don’t Mix: A Rally for the Great Lakes” to be held at Bridge View Park in St. Ignace, in view of the Mackinac Bridge. (See http://www.oilandwaterdontmix.

com and the report by the National Wildlife Federation, “Sunken Hazard.”)

Without drinkable water, breathable air, and safe food-bearing soil, we cannot live. Can it be put any more directly than that? I am angry. You should be too. But anger isn’t enough. What will we do?

via What will it take for us to stand up and get angry? | Battle Creek Enquirer | battlecreekenquirer.com.

The GMO Danger On Your Dinner Plate


Last year, if you’re like the average American, you ate more than your body weight of a group of foods you didn’t even know you were consuming. Foods that have never been proven safe to eat. Foods that are becoming more and more widespread in our food supply.

These foods consist of genetically modified organisms (GMO), plants that have been created in laboratories and then planted by farmers. The most frightening part about these foods is that they are unlike any other foods that humans have ever eaten before recent times. And they were probably on your dinner plate last night and almost certainly in your snack foods.

The Environmental Working Group, a consumer advocate organization, determined that Americans eat, on average, 193 pounds of GMO foods a year. And the group justifiably asks: “If you were planning on eating your body weight of anything in a year, wouldn’t you want to make sure it was safe to eat?”

But you don’t know if these foods are safe to eat, and nobody is planning any research to find out how risky they are. The government doesn’t require international corporations like Monsanto, which make tremendous profits off of these foods, to establish their safety. Other countries are more concerned about these foods than we are. As a matter of fact, the United States is just about alone in not requiring labeling of GMO foods or the performance of safety tests to see whether these bizarre, chemist-created foods are harmless. As a result, about 90 percent of the corn, soy and cotton now produced in the United States are GMO crops. When you eat processed foods like corn chips or breakfast cereal, 70 percent of what you take in has been made from GMO products.

Who stands to profit from this change in our eating habits? Primarily Monsanto, the biotech company that controls 90 percent of all GMO seeds that farmers plant. (For more on agricultural terrorism, go here.

A big reason Monsanto can get away with engineering this profitable threat to health stems from its gargantuan lobbying efforts in Washington. According to a report by Food and Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer organization, Monsanto and other huge food and agricultural biotechnology firms and trade associations lavished more than $540 million in campaign contributions and lobbying efforts on the elected class during the past decade. And their efforts are accelerating.

Food and Water Watch has determined that the annual spending on politicians by these corporations has doubled during that time. These companies employ more than 100 lobbying firms and also have in-house lobbyists who wine and dine politicians and government functionaries to get what they want.

In many cases, the same people who hold high-paying jobs at Monsanto eventually move into positions at the regulatory agencies that are supposed to be protecting us against their abuses of the food system.

Consider the case of Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for Foods for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the past, he has moved from a job at the FDA to a job at a law firm that represented Monsanto. Then he moved to a job at Monsanto, over to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, back to the law firm, over to Monsanto, to a position on a university, to a think tank and then back to the FDA. It’s a pretty cushy career path for Taylor, but a disaster for our protection from questionable food.

While Taylor was doing his second stint at the FDA, the agency adjusted its regulatory policies so GMOs could be introduced into our diet without being tested for toxic effects.

Aside from the possible danger of eating GMO foods that have had genetic material from other species added to their cells, the GMO crops that farmers grow often have been sprayed with unconscionable amounts of pesticides that contaminate our air and water. Residues of these chemicals may also contaminate foods made from these plants.

Many of these GMO crops are “Roundup®-ready.” That means they have been modified genetically to survive massive amounts of the pesticide called Roundup® (also provided by Monsanto). Glyphosate from Roundup® is now being detected in ground water far from the farms at which it is sprayed. Traces are even being found in the urine of city dwellers. It crosses the placental barrier and can be detected in the blood of unborn children.

This technology threatens you, me and the world around us. Roundup®-ready crops have led to the creation of “frankenweeds,” weeds impervious to herbicides. GMO seeds that produce their own pesticides are creating “frankenbugs” that withstand and even thrive on GMO plants.

But this toxic brew is killing off populations of beneficial insects like pollinating honeybees. It has led to what is called colony collapse disorder and a worldwide die-off of bees. GMO crops may also be wiping out monarch butterfly populations.

Right now, the only way for you to avoid GMO foods is to eat organic food. Any other food, even items marked “all-natural,” may contain GMO ingredients. You can get a free shopping guide to help you find non-GMO foods here.

via The GMO Danger On Your Dinner Plate : Personal Liberty Digest™.

Irish Monsanto company pays no tax


Monsanto Finance Holdings Ltd, an Irish-incorporated company with an address on Lower Hatch Street, Dublin, made a profit of €2.5 million in 2012 but paid no tax, according to accounts just filed.

The firm made a profit of €3.69 million in 2011, when it again paid no tax.

Monsanto Finance Holdings is “exempt from all forms of taxation including income, capital gains and withholding taxes as it is tax resident in Bermuda”, the accounts state.

The firm has no employees and its three directors have addresses in Bermuda.

The firm’s balance sheet shows that at the end of August 2012 it had financial assets of €50.8 million. Accumulated profits at that stage were €53.3 million and shareholders’ funds were €103 million. The firm is owned by a Monsanto company based in Switzerland, and is ultimately owed by Monsanto of St Louis, Missouri, US.

via Irish Monsanto company pays no tax – The Irish Times – Fri, Jul 05, 2013.

Reports of sinkholes on strand above Corrib gas pipe tunnel investigated


The Department of Energy has confirmed that it has been investigating reports of “sinkholes” or “depressions” on a north Mayo tidal estuary where the final section of the Corrib gas pipeline is being laid.

Shell E&P Ireland says it has informed “relevant authorities” of the occurrences during tunnel boring machine maintenance, which it says pose “no risk to public safety”.

The company says they are “not sinkholes” but are “shallow temporary depressions of approximately one to two feet in depth”.

However, residents living along the pipeline tunnel route through Sruwaddacon estuary – a special area of conservation (SAC) – say that some of the holes are up to three metres deep and three metres wide.

Unstable sand

Terence Conway of Inver and Shell to Sea said that when the hole occurs, the surrounding sand bears a “blue tinge” and is unstable.

Mr Conway noticed the first in a series of holes on May 20th, again on June 14th, and each day during this first week of July, at Aughoose.

The areas lies above where the 500 tonne boring machine – named Fionnuala by Shell after one of the Children of Lir – has been deployed to dig a 4.9km sub-sea tunnel.

“The contractors for Shell have staff out at 5am on the strand, raking over these holes, but no caution signs have been erected in spite of our requests,” he said.

Warn people

“This is a public strand, and so at one point we put up our own fence to warn people, but it was taken down,” Mr Conway said.

“Adults might be ok, but these are a risk to children. We were told we wouldn’t feel or see this work on the surface at the Bord Pleanála oral hearing nearly three years ago.

“We argued at the hearing that it was not suitable to try to dig a tunnel through an SAC, and one with the particular fluid subsoil here known as dóib.”

The Department of Energy said that the developer had notified it about “depressions in Sruwaddacon.

The department’s consultant tunnelling expert undertook a site review earlier this week, and the “depressions” were being “considered” in this context, it said.

Shell E&P Ireland said that regular “interventions” for maintenance and inspection of the tunnel-boring machine included changing cutter heads.

“This involves the use of compressed air at the front of the machine to protect the workers and to maintain stability at the tunnel face,” it said in a statement to The Irish Times.

via Reports of sinkholes on strand above Corrib gas pipe tunnel investigated – Irish News, World News & More | The Irish Times – Sat, Jul 06, 2013.

Monsanto’s plays deception game on GMOs in Europe


On May 31 world media headlines read “Monsanto backing away from GMO crops in Europe.” But before the world opens the champagne to celebrate the death of GMO, it is worthwhile to look more closely at what was officially said and what not.

The original source for the story is attributed to a German left daily, TAZ which printed excerpts from an interview with an official spokeswoman of Monsanto Germany.

Ursula Lüttmer-Ouazane reportedly told Taz “We’ve come to the conclusion that this has no broad acceptance at the moment.”

Her remarks were circulated worldwide and Reuters interviewed Monsanto corporate spokesman Thomas Helscher who reportedly said, “We’re going to sell the GM seeds only where they enjoy broad farmer support, broad political support and a functioning regulatory system. As far as we’re convinced this only applies to a few countries in Europe today, primarily Spain and Portugal.”

A Monsanto interview with a leftist German paper created the impression around the world that the world’s largest patent-holder of GMO seeds is in full retreat from pushing their GMO seeds, at least in the European Union. The reality is anything but that. Among other things, on June 10 the EU Commission plans to approve a new Monsanto GMO maize sort.

What Monsanto really says

A visit to the official website of Monsanto Germany presents an official company press release referring to the media statements, where the essential part says, ”Right now the media is flooded with reports that Monsanto has stopped the marketing of GMO seeds in Germany and the EU. That is not correct…”

Then on the parent website of Monsanto in St. Louis, the following statement appears: “We have a robust business selling high-quality, conventional corn, oilseed rape and vegetable seeds to our farmer customers in Europe. We’ve been telling people in Europe for several years now that we’ll only sell biotech seeds where they enjoy broad farmer support, broad political support and a functioning regulatory system. As Hugh Grant, our CEO told the Financial Times in 2009, ‘Europe’s going to make up its own mind in its own time.’ The only GM trait grown in Europe today is a corn resistant to the European corn borer, an insect that can do considerable damage to crops. Its cultivation accounts for less than 1% of the all corn cultivated in Europe (by hectares).”

A militant against genetically modified organisms flashes the victory sign in Labrihe, near the southwestern French town of Auch, after pulling genetically modified corn from a field planted by US firm Monsanto. (AFP Photo / Pascal Pavani)

A militant against genetically modified organisms flashes the victory sign in Labrihe, near the southwestern French town of Auch, after pulling genetically modified corn from a field planted by US firm Monsanto. (AFP Photo / Pascal Pavani)

Both statements are worth closer attention. First the German statement is a bit different from the US version. It officially denies as false the press reports that they have ceased marketing of GMO seeds in the EU. Second, their statement that they concentrate on breeding and sale of conventional seeds and plant protection chemicals is nothing other than a description of what the present status of Monsanto sales in the EU, nothing more. Because of the limited use so far of Monsanto GMO seeds in the EU, Monsanto business by definition focuses now where it earns money. However the “plant protection chemicals” Monsanto refers to primarily its own Roundup herbicide, which by license agreement with farmers must be sold paired with all Monsanto GMO seeds, but is also the number one weed killer sold in Europe and the world. It has also been proven to be highly toxic even to human embryo cells.

The US statement has interesting important differences. First it gives no hint of any change in Monsanto policy towards spreading GMO seeds in the EU. It states explicitly they will continue to spread GMO seeds in Spain and Portugal, both EU countries. And it quotes chairman Hugh Grant, not to be confused with the Hollywood actor, indicating the company expects the EU to come around on allowing its GMO. And it cites the present status of its GMO corn in the EU. Nothing more. No statement of a stop to GMO in the EU.

And the Monsanto beat goes on, the beat goes on, on, on…

The EU Commission has announced it will meet to vote on approving licensing of a new Monsanto GMO patented maize, SmartStax, on June 10, ten days after the carefully formulated Monsanto FAZ interview. Monsanto shares the patent with Dow AgroSciences. SmartStax supposedly produces six different insecticides. It has been approved by the EUs food safety agency, EFSA despite absence of critical safety tests and Commission approval is reported certain by Brussels sources.

According to Dr. Christopher Then of TestBiotech, SmartStax was given the safety OK from the (Monsanto influenced-w.e.) EFSA, the European food safety body, despite provable lack of serious safety tests by Monsanto/Dow AgroSciences.

Suspicious Timing…

Yet for most of the world who don’t have time to research the official statements of Monsanto but merely glance at a Reuters or TAZ headline, the message has been delivered that Monsanto has given up its EU effort on proliferating its GMO seeds. The timing of the TAZ interview is suggestive of what seems to be a carefully orchestrated Monsanto PR deception campaign. The TAZ original by writer Jost Maurin appeared on the same day, May 31, less than one week after March against Monsanto , a worldwide protest demonstrations against Monsanto, that took place in more than 400 cities in some 52 countries around the world. The TAZ article that was then used as reference for all world media after, appeared under the emotional and factually misleading headline: Sieg für Anti-Gentech-Bewegung: Monsanto gibt Europa auf (Victory for anti-GMO Movement: Monsanto Gives up Europe).

The March against Monsanto was notable in several key respects. Most alarming for Monsanto and the GMO cartel was the fact that it was the first such demonstration not organized by anti-GMO NGOs such as Greenpeace or BUND or Friends of the Earth. In Germany where this author participated as a speaker in one of the events, it was all organized by concerned activists via facebook. But the NGOs who formally oppose GMO were reportedly nowhere to be found as sponsors or even reportedly as active organizers.

That march presented Monsanto and friends with a frightening new element—the danger that that grass roots anti-GMO protest would spread and make life even more difficult for GMO proliferation in Africa, in China, India, Latin America and of course eastern and western Europe. All indications are that the timing of the well-formulated TAZ interview, notably with a left newspaper openly opposed to Monsanto GMO, was an orchestrated attempt to “manage perceptions” and take the headwind out of the sails of the growing anti-GMO sentiment in the EU and abroad. For the moment, Monsanto has gained a tactical victory in propaganda points as the broad public takes the retreat at face value. As one experienced opponent of Monsanto GMO put it in a private e-mail to me, it bears all the hallmarks of a slick PR campaign, “like a Burson & Marsteller tactic that applies to many controversial bad practices and part of why it works is that it takes a long time to build consumer/activist energy and momentum, whereas the PR-company can start on a very short runway …”

What Monsanto has not done is to recall its already commercialized GMO Maize in the EU, that despite damning independent scientific study of some 200 rats over a two year span showing rats fed GMO maize and Monsanto Roundup herbicide showed dramatically more cancer tumors, higher death rates and organ damage compared with non-GMO-fed rats.

Moreover, Monsanto openly admits it is pushing its way deep into the eastern European market for seeds, though mentioning only conventional seeds. Monsanto Vice President for International Corporate Affairs, Jesus Madrazo, stated that the company has been focusing on gaining market share in the conventional corn market in Ukraine, and that Eastern Europe and South America are key growth areas for the company now.

Then in the USA, it has leaked out that Monsanto directly worked with its apparent current favorite US Senator, Roy Blunt, a Republican from Monsanto’s home state of Missouri and one of the major recipients of Monsanto campaign finance, to draft for Blunt an obscure paragraph Blunt got into a spending bill, a bombshell that exempts Monsanto from being sued for any damage its crops or chemicals cause.

Called by opponents the Monsanto Protection Act, many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the Monsanto Protection Act was a part of the spending bill that they were voting on. The Monsanto bill, signed into law by President Obama despite hundreds of thousands of protest petitions not to, essentially gives Monsanto and other GMO purveyors legal immunity, even if future research shows that GMO seeds cause significant health problems, cancer, anything. The federal courts no longer have any power to stop their spread, use, or sales. The only other corporations in the US enjoying such outrageous legal immunity are the pharmaceutical vaccine makers.

What we have is a quite different picture from the slick spin reported by TAZ and from there picked up worldwide uncritically by mainstream media. Monsanto by its own open admission has not ceased marketing its GMO products and herbicides in the EU. It has not ceased imports of its GMO soybeans and GMO corn into the EU where it has managed to escape the EU GMO labeling law.

Monsanto also states it is concentrating on building market share in eastern Europe, where often regulators are more “relaxed” and in the notoriously corrupt Ukraine. They do not deny promoting GMOs there either; rather they state positively their focus on conventional seeds only. Simply put, the geopolitical stakes behind Monsanto and the attempt to control the world’s most vital seeds of life are far too high for the company to raise the white flag of surrender so easily.

A Monsanto precedent

There is a relevant precedent for this Monsanto PR deception campaign. In 1999, after months of growing worldwide anti-Monsanto protest over the fact Monsanto had made a takeover bid to buy Mississippi company, Delta & Pine Land in order to acquire Delta’s patent on a radical new GMO technique known officially as GURTS (Genetic Use Restriction Technology) and popularly as Terminator technology. Delta has won a patent together with the US Government’s USDA for the Terminator. It would force a GMO seed or plant to “commit suicide” after only one harvest, forcing the farmer to return each year to Monsanto to buy new seeds regardless the price or availability.

The Terminator image threatened to derail the entire fledgling GMO project at the outset such that Rockefeller University President and GMO financial sponsor, Gordon Conway, president of the Rockefeller Foundation, made a rush visit to meet Monsanto’s board and convince them to make what was a tactical retreat in order to limit damage to a very fragile GMO campaign worldwide. Monsanto announced, deceptively it proved, that it would not pursue “commercialization” of Terminator technology and it dropped its takeover bid for patent holder Delta & Pine Land. The anti-GMO NGOs claimed a huge victory and nothing was heard for seven years until, with no fanfare, in 2006 Monsanto announced it was acquiring Terminator patent co-holder Delta & Pine Land. This time there was scarcely a peep from the anti-GMO lobby. They had lost momentum and the deal went ahead.

It remains to be seen if the forces for healthy non-GMO agriculture today prove as gullible as in 1999.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

via Monsanto’s plays deception game on GMOs in Europe : The Canadian National Newspaper.

Study ties air pollution to insulin resistance risk


Children who live in areas with air traffic pollution are threatened by higher risk of insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes in adults, a new study suggests.

According to the study on 400 participants of 10-year-olds conducted by German researchers, air pollutants are oxidizers that can impact on lipids and proteins in the blood.

To measure the participated kids’ glucose and insulin, they were asked for blood sampling.

The findings have demonstrated “insulin resistance climbed by 17 percent for every 10.6 micrograms per cubic meter increase in ambient nitrogen dioxide and by 19 percent for every 6 micrograms per cubic meter increase in particulate matter.”

Birth weight, body mass index (BMI) and exposure to second-hand smoke at home were also taken into account in the research results, according to the study report published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

“Exposure to fine pollution particles that invade the breathing system and get into the heart and blood vessels increases inflammation, which may be linked to insulin resistance,” clarified one of the study authors Joachim Heinrich of the German Research Center for Environmental Health.

Some experts believe that a larger study is required to confirm the possible link between air pollution and insulin resistance.

In the recent study “the measurements of blood insulin levels and estimates of pollution were taken at different times, so the findings should be regarded with caution,” said Jon Ayres, a professor of environmental and respiratory medicine at the University of Birmingham in England.

via Study ties air pollution to insulin resistance risk | EUTimes.net.

MONSANTOpoly, Part 3: Seeds of Destruction | The Everlasting GOP Stoppers


“The nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” 

Franklin D. Roosevelt

n 1937, when Roosevelt wrote to all US governors imploring them to oversee the implementation of the Uniform Soil Conservation Law, America was in the throes of the Dust Bowl.  Overfarming, and its destruction of arable soil, created a chain reaction.  Dust would blow from ruined farmland onto neighboring farms, ruining their soil, and so on.

Today, American agriculture relies on biotechnology.  Many staple crops are predominantly genetically modified.  Eighty-eight percent of corn, 93% of soy, 90% of canola, 90% of sugar beets, 94% of cottonseed, and 75% of Hawaiian papaya are genetically modified, and GM alfalfa was recently deregulated.  Monsanto owns 90% of the world’s GMO seeds, and most GMOs are Roundup Ready, designed to resist Monsanto’s signature herbicide.

Monsanto-RoundupCould Roundup herbicide and Roundup Ready GMOs ever repeat the kind of environmental damage the Dust Bowl wrought? A studypublished in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry says GMOs are safe, concluding that “As few as one copy of RR corn genome or one copy of RR soybean genome was detected in the soil DNA extract.”  The study was conducted at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.  Incidentally, Monsanto’s own website lists two Monsanto facilities in Guelph, Ontario.   According to Google maps,Monsanto’s “Eastern Business Office” is a 15-minute drive from the university, and its “Soybean Research Facility” is a 5-minute walk.  A recent report in the Guelph Mercury reveals that Monsanto and 4 other seed companies “collectively spent just over $780,000 on U of G research last year, most in the area of crop protection.”   It’s a safe bet someone from Monsanto has taken that walk.

Monsanto has monopolized agricultural science, as described in Part 2: Corrupt to the Core.  According toReutersin February, 2009, 26 leading academic entomologists (insect scientists) complained to the EPA that Monsanto has made it impossible to do research on its products, saying, “No truly independent research can be legally conducted on many critical questions regarding the technology.” One scientist said, “It would be nice to have independently verifiable information going into EPA’s decision-making beyond just what the company provides.”

logo_PANWe don’t ‘know’ what Monsanto is doing to the soil.  Given Monsanto’s history, as described in Part 1: Sowing Dependence, this is terrifying.  But independent researchers are discovering alarming evidence of the effects of Monsanto products on the environment.

The key ingredient in Roundup herbicide is glyphosate.  report by thePesticide Action Network UK lists “Independent research findings” that differ from “Monsanto’s claims.”  The report finds that glyphosate is toxic to agriculturally beneficial soil organisms.  It can linger in soil and sediment and can inhibit normal chemical production in plants for months.  It has been found in crops up to a year after application.  It can spread, reach lower soil layers and be “carried by soil particles suspended in run off.”  This chemical isabsorbed by plant root systems where it squeezes enzymes, blocking the production of amino acids and protein synthesis.  It kills plants systemically by depriving their cells of nutrients andblocking their immune response to pathogens.  One expert says, “When you spray glyphosate on a plant, it’s like giving it AIDS.”  What could large quantities of this botanical AIDS do to America’s soil and plant life?

Glyphosate dominates the herbicide market.  In 2007, US farmers used 185 million pounds of glyphosate, double the amount used 6 years earlier.  A Chemical Watch Factsheet says, “Data show that glyphosate use has skyrocketed to more than double the amount used five years ago, with 57 million pounds of glyphosate applied to corn fields in 2010 compared to 23 million pounds in 2005 and 4.4 million in 2000.”

superweed-map-xnytimesThis historically unprecedented explosion of a single herbicidal chemical has resulted in “superweeds,” or weeds resistant to glyphosate, evolving on farms across the United States.  Mother Jonesdescribes them as ‘stampeding’ through the Midwest.  Indeed, a study by Stratus Agri-marketing Inc. showed that between 2010 and 2012, the area infested with superweeds nearly doubled from 32.6 to 61.2 million acres.  The study says that glyphosate-resistance is expanding into new weed species and that nearly half of all US farms have superweeds.  Some states, especially in the South, are overwhelmed by superweeds.  In Georgia, 92% of farms have superweeds.  Across the US, farmers have responded to this mushrooming problem by dumping more Roundup and mixing Roundup with other chemicals.  Nonetheless, Monsanto claims that using Roundup “on Roundup Ready crops has allowed farmers to … decrease the overall use of herbicides.”

The problem with this situation is that it could be creating a potentially catastrophic feedback loop.  Roundup Ready GMO crops are supposed to resist the highly toxic effects of Roundup.  But research done outside of Monsanto’s clique questions whether the GMOs resist Roundup at any volume, or whether the cycle of spraying more Roundup, creating more superweeds, spraying more Roundup, etc. could saturate the soil, killing off important micro-nutrientsand saturating crops with a level of Roundup that Roundup Ready GMOs can’t completely resist, making them susceptible to plant diseases.  Given the lack of oversight explained in Part 2 of our series, if GMO crops were contracting plant diseases that weren’t readily visible, who would even know?

monsanto 2report published in the European Journal of Agronomy explores this possibility.  It says it is “highly probable” that “Roundup Ready® crops are vulnerable to glyphosate toxicity under at least some conditions.  One such condition could arise when the level of glyphosate exceeds the ability of the transgenic enzyme to tolerate it…”  Another condition could be if the “transgene fails” to mimic the original gene the way it is intended to if the plant is damaged. “Both of these scenarios are possible and, if they develop, it is very likely they would enhance the vulnerability of Roundup Ready® plants to fungal diseases following Roundup application.”  The report adds that temporary spikes in “fungal pathogens” have been observed following application of glyphosate and that this could potentially cause root rot in GMO crops.

Reuters says entomologists are finding that GMO corn engineered to resist rootworms harvested in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and South Dakota showed “damage and disease.”  Other scientists “say there are indications of increased root fungal disease as well as nutrient deficiencies in Roundup Ready crops. They say manganese deficiency in soybeans in particular appears to be an issue in key farming areas that include Indiana, Michigan, Kansas and Wisconsin.”  Another scientist says glyphosate appears to affect microbes associated with the growth of plant roots.

Advocates have done what they can to alert the USDA to the observed increase in soil degradation and plant disease.  According to GristThe USDA’s research arm, NIFA, is run by Roger Beachy, “a man with long-time links to the ag-biotech industry and an openly hostile attitude toward organic farming.”  Under his guidance, the NIFA’sresponse to these kinds of alarming findings has been “subdued.”

Apart from ensuring regulators’ indifference, Monsanto forces its products onto America’s farms through cynical manipulation of patents, farmers’ contracts, seed monopolization and seed propagation.  In the documentary,Seeds of DeathDaniel Ravicher, Executive Director of the Public Patent Foundation, says that although Monsanto tells the USDA and FDA that its GMOs are no different from natural food, it tells the Patent Office, “‘We’ve invented something brand new.  It’s radically different and it’s so inventive we deserve not just one patent, we deserve entire portfolios of dozens and dozens of patents.’”

These patents, combined with Monsanto’s farmer contracts, lock farmers into using ever more Monsanto GMO crops and herbicide.  A Western Organization Resource Councils Factsheet explains how Monsanto’s contracts describe an almost feudalistic relationship between Monsanto, or its proxy seed companies, and the farmer.  The factsheet says a farmer accepts the terms of the contract simply by opening a bag of Monsanto seed.  The farmer waives all Privacy Act rights, and agrees to allow Monsanto full access to their records.  Monsanto will only honor its obligations if the farmer uses Monsanto seeds and herbicides together.  The farmer cannot save or share any seeds.  The farmer assumes all liability, Monsanto assumes none.  Monsanto will pursue damages and fees in any violation of the contract.  Monsanto arbitrates any disputes, the contract has no time limit, and does not expire even if a farmer discontinues using Monsanto products.

Monsanto has gobbled up dozens of seed companies, running a virtual seed monopoly in many agricultural areas of the country.  The patents, contracts and seed monopolization ensnare farmers as consumers of Monsanto’s agricultural monopoly.  In the documentary, GM Crops Farmer to FarmerMichael Hart, UK farmer and international family farming advocate, interviews several farmers across the US.  In North Dakota, he talks to Rodney Nelson, who says he tried to grow organic soybeans to export to Japan.  Nelson bought conventional seeds, but they were increasingly contaminated with GMO seeds.  He says about 50% of his loads were being rejected because of contamination.  He couldn’t buy seeds without contamination and the seed companies told him that contamination was inevitable.  He says, “We didn’t have any choice but to go back and start planting Roundup Ready crops.  There was no choice.”  He also says that for farmers who use GM crops, Monsanto has a “rewards program” that insures damaged seeds will be replaced at a discount.  If farmers use conventional seeds, then they’re on their own.  “They’re forcing you to use their chemical,” he concludes.

In Nebraska, Corky Jones sprays a cocktail of several herbicides several times to kill his weeds.  Referring to Monsanto’s claim that a single pass of Roundup kills all weeds, Jones says, “We’ve heard the ‘single pass’ for so long.  Well, you won’t hear that from an actual producing farmer.  He knows by now that that’s a fallacy.”  Hart asks him why American farmers don’t go back to conventional seeds.  Jones says the seed company only supports GM crops.  Hart asks, “so it’s availability that’s the issue?”  Jones replies, “That is right.  That is right.”

roundup-ready-crops

Hart speaks to a farmer who chooses not to reveal his location or identity.  The anonymous farmer says that glyphosate is marketed at a low price, and then once everyone is using is, the price goes up “once they’ve got everybody trapped.”  He says the same thing happened with corn seed, and the price tripled in 2 years.  “Once this all happened, all research and technology on any other herbicides just completely came to a halt.  So if the system gets to the point where it’s at now and if it continues to deteriorate, where it doesn’t control the problem weeds that we have, there hasn’t been any new research and development hardly done on any new products in ten years.  We don’t have any alternatives, other than to put on more glyphosate.”

Hart asks the anonymous farmer whether he would suggest to UK and European farmers to start using GMO crops.  He says, “I would not.  For the first few years, it’ll be cheap and economical, and once everybody has switched to it, you’ll lose your choices, you’ll no longer have a choice to raise conventional products, and you’ll get yourself into a trap where you’re paying royalty fees to companies that own traits and chemicals and they’ll continue to raise those fees every year.  Even if you didn’t buy glyphosate-tolerant canola, somebody spilled some on the road, or it cross-pollinated and you’ll end up with some in your field and they’ll own that and you won’t be able to keep seeds back any longer.”  Michael Hart says farmers could then possibly end up in court.  He replies, “Not possibly.  You’ll end up in court.”

Ravicher says that Monsanto has brought 140 lawsuits against farmers, including “those farmers who wanted nothing to do with Monsanto’s genetically modified seed.”  The documentary Food Inc. explains how Indiana seed-cleaner Moe Parr was sued by Monsanto, he says, “on the basis that I’m ‘encouraging the farmer to break the patent law’ by cleaning their own seed.”  Another anonymous farmer says he settled out of court because he couldn’t afford the legal costs of fighting Monsanto, which were in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Troy Roush, Vice President of American Corn Growers Association says that Monsanto sends investigators around the country, looking for people either saving seeds or growing GMO crops on their land, whether they knew it or not, to sue them.

GMOs-Seeds-of-Death300Roush also explains that “public plant breeding is a thing of the past.  There virtually are no public seeds anymore.”  The reason that public seeds are disappearing is that Monsanto has monopolized seeds and the land-grant colleges that used to breed crops as a public service.  In the documentary, Seeds of Death, Mark Dunau, owner of Mountain Dell Farm in New York, says that GMOs “have completely blown out conventional breeding in our land-grant colleges.  And we only in this country have 10% of the vegetable seeds that were available to our forebears 100 years ago.  Our seed stock is going down the toilet and we can’t even use our land-grant colleges to breed in the standard way because there’s no money for it.  And that is a huge, huge, huge threat to the future of agriculture, to lose the skill of breeding standard, which is, in fact, what all that food you see on your grocery shelves.  All those vegetables came from thousands of years of farmers sharing their seeds.”

Another aspect of Monsanto’s strategy, whether by design or by accident, is how its seeds spread.  Monsanto was reported to have “pulled the plug” on GMO wheat in 2004.  The wheat was never approved for commercial use, but was recently found growing in Oregon fields nearly a decade later.  In GM Crops Farmer to Farmer, Todd Leake in North Dakota says it’s becoming impossible to grow only organic crops.  He says that no matter how much you try to segregate GMO and conventional crops, it’s impossible to prevent cross-pollination.  In cases where patented seed contamination goes to court, the burden of proof is always on the farmer, not on Monsanto.  Monsanto has recently won an important case against a farmer who accidentally used Monsanto seed, and won another case in which organic farmers sued Monsanto for contaminating their organic crops with GMO crops.  Collectively, the American justice system has determined that when it benefits Monsanto, seed contamination is allowed and when it doesn’t benefit Monsanto, contamination is illegal.

Monsanto claims that its products improve farm yield.  But a major study by the Union of Concerned Scientists entitled Failure to Yield demonstrates that 20 years of GMO farming have resulted in no significant change in farming yield.  Monsanto has no real interest in improving yield, in saving farmers time, labor or money, in feeding the world or advancing scientific progress, as it claims.  Monsanto’s only interest is in profit.

In pursuit of profit, the MONSANTOpoly traps farmers into frighteningly lopsided contracts.  It uses patent law and the courts to sue any farmers that don’t do what Monsanto wants.  Monsanto monopolizes seeds, seed research and seed production, leaving farmers no choice but to use Monsanto products.  Even when farmers try to avoid GMOs, contamination can force farmers into using Monsanto products, or force them out of business.  This system has created an overreliance on a single chemical product.  Glyphosate is creating a rash of superweeds across America.  In turn, farmers have little choice but to dump more glyphosate.  Evidence shows that this is sickening crops and destroying the nutrients in the soil.  Monsanto is threatening American agriculture with a chemical Dust Bowl.

Next up, Part 4: Harvesting Disease will explore what happens when Monsanto products work their way from the crops up the food chain and into your body…..To Follow

READ Part 1: Sowing Dependence

READ Part 2: Corrupt To The Core

Cover Photo Credit: James Insogna Striking Photography

by Marc Belisle | Staff Writer | The Everlasting GOP Stoppers

via MONSANTOpoly, Part 3: Seeds of Destruction | The Everlasting GOP Stoppers.

MONSANTOpoly, Part 2: Corrupt to the Core


red-barn-stormy-sky-rustic-dreams-gary-heller

MONSANTOpoly, Part 2: Corrupt to the Core

Published On June 20, 2013 | By james |

by Marc Belisle

“Follow the money.”

– ‘Deep Throat,’ All the President’s Men

Bush Sr. kept his word to help out Monsanto as described in Part 1: Sowing Dependence.  In 1992, he deployed Vice President Dan Quayle to announce that the US government’s policy on genetically modified foods is that they are no different from other foods and don’t require any special regulation or even labeling.  Americans have been buying foods genetically modified by Monsanto ever since, whether they realize it or not.

Americans also may not realize that they have a government politically modified by Monsanto, through the revolving door.  The threshold between Monsanto’s management, legal and communications teams and the federal government, particularly regulatory agencies, is less of a secret passage and more of an industrial cargo bay.  Since Reagan, dozens of top Monsanto people have held important positions in every administration, particularly in the FDA, USDA and EPA, but also in Justice, Energy, Commerce, Labor, Defense, Homeland Security, the FBI, international trade negotiation delegations, and White House advisory roles, and many have gone back and forth.

Revolvind Door TaylorOne of the key players who revolves around and around is Michael R. Taylor.  According to The Huffington Post, Taylor wrote the policy that Dan Quayle announced in 1992.  Anarticleposted privately whose author claims it was published in The Ecologist but was removed after Monsanto threatened The Ecologist, disclosed the now publically available information that Taylor worked for ten years as a corporate attorney for King & Spalding, a firm advising Monsanto.  There, he wrote a report on ways Monsanto could skirt laws to use Bovine Growth Hormone (BGH) without having to label the milk.  In 1991, he left the law firm to work in the FDA as Deputy Commissioner for Policy.  In the documentary Genetic RoulettePublic Interest Attorney Steven M. Druker and author Jeffrey M. Smith claim that after a lawsuit forced the release of 44,000 secret internal FDA memos, it became apparent that while Taylor helmed FDA policy, the FDA hid its own scientific findings on the potential dangers of BGH and other GMOs, overruled its scientists, claimed that “scientific consensus” supported BGH when the opposite was true, and approved BGH to be marketed without labeling, circumventing the FDA’s normal testing regime.  Meanwhile, BGH was being banned in Canada, Japan, Australia and all EU countries.  According to the Cancer Prevention Coalition, BGH is linked to colon, prostate and breast cancer.

Taylor wasn’t the only Monsanto hand on the FDA’s deck while BGH was being approved.  According to Think Progress, “The hormone was approved in the US after Monsanto employee Margaret Miller oversaw a report on its safety, took a job at the FDA, and promptly approved her own report. Another Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddiqui, later wrote the USDA’s organic food standards, allowing irradiated and genetically modified foods to label themselves as organic.”

Taylor continues to switch public and private hats to this day.  From 1994 to 1996, Taylor was Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service at the USDA.  From 1996 to 2000, Taylor worked as Monsanto’s Vice President for Public Policy.  In 2009, President Obama returned him to the FDA as a senior advisor, and in 2010, he wasappointed Deputy Commissioner for Foods.

Monsanto’s response to critics’ charges that it has undue influence on the government is that they “ignore the simple truth that people monsanto_corruption 2regularly change jobs to find positions that match their experience, skills and interests.”  This is true enough, but most people applying for a job couldn’t write in their cover letter: “I worked for you a few years back.  While I was there, I advocated for an uncritical blanket approval of a biologically unprecedented change to the food chain.  In my current job, I implemented that change, which I understand has been quite a boon for your stock shares.  I hope you remember me.”

The overall effect of the revolving door has been to intimidate and sideline those within government outside of Monsanto’s fold who favor a methodical approach to biotechnology.  In the documentary, “The World According to Monsanto,” Dan Glickman, Bill Clinton’s Agriculture Secretary from 1995-2000, says,

“In the early years that I was involved in the regulation of biotechnology … there was a general feeling in agribusiness and inside our government in the US if you weren’t marching lockstep forward in favor of rapid approvals of biotech products, rapid approvals of GMO crops, then somehow you were anti-science and anti-progress.  I think there were a lot of folks in industrial agriculture who didn’t want as much analysis as probably we should have had because they had made a huge amount of investments in the product. … I had a lot of pressure on me not to push the issue too far.  But I would say even when I opened my mouth in the Clinton Administration I got slapped around a little bit by not only the industry but also some of the people even in the Administration.  In fact, I made a speech once … saying we needed to more thoughtfully think through the regulatory issues on GMOs and I had some people within the Clinton Administration, particularly in the US Trade area that were very upset with me.  They said, ‘how could you in Agriculture be questioning our regulatory regime?’”

The huge amount of investments Glickman refers to have certainly paid off.  Monsanto is ranked 206th on the Fortune 500 list.  Its profits last year were over $2 billion, more than a 14% increase in a year, so it has plenty of money to diversify its investments into things like a big chunk of Congress.  In 2012, Monsanto made contributionsranging from $1,000 to $13,000 to 61 House candidates ad 27 Senate candidates.  The total contributions were $384,500.  However, if donations to and from PACs and other proxies are includeddonations may be over $1 million.  Eight legislators own stock in Monsanto and two are former Monsanto advisors.  Additionally, in the decade from 2002 to 2012, Monsanto spent $52.5 million on lobbying.

Monsanto’s investment in Congress matured this March when, without any hearings, Congress passed a bill to prevent a government shutdown that included an unrelated rider.  The NY Daily News explains that the rider

“would seem to place the commercial concerns of Monsanto, the world’s largest producer of genetically modified crops and seeds, above the authority of U.S. judicial system.

In effect, the provision, which opponents call the Monsanto Protection Act, would limit the ability of judges to stop Monsanto or the farmers it sells genetically modified seeds from growing or harvesting those crops even if courts find evidence of potential health risks.”

Imagine if Congress passed an “Auto Protection Act” stipulating that courts couldn’t stop manufacturers from selling cars even if they were shown to have faulty brakes.  According to Mother Jones, the bill was written by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo), who happens to be one of the largest recipients of Monsanto donations.  A 2006 report by Public Citizen says Blunt is “a legislative leader who not only has surrendered his office to the imperative of moneyed interests, but who has also done so with disturbing zeal and efficiency.”

clarence-thomas

SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas

Since you can’t rely on Congress or the White House, if you have a problem with Monsanto, you’ll have to take them all the way to the Supreme Court.  There, your case will likely be decided by former Monsanto lawyer and Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, who, in 2010, penned the majority opinion inMonsanto Co. v. Geertson Seed Farms, a key case that allowed Monsanto to prevent its individual farmers from saving their own seeds.  In the same case, future Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan inexplicably advocated on behalf of Monsanto in her capacity as Solicitor General, even though the government was not a defendant in the case.  Thomas has joined the majority in finding for Monsanto in at least two other cases.

Through contributions, lobbying and aggressive staffing rotations in both parties and all three branches, Monsanto keeps the federal government in check and holds it in balance.  But that’s not the limit of Monsanto’s power.  Monsanto has also cultivated a great deal of influence over universities.  A report published in Salon shows that in universities with agriculture departments around the country, Monsanto funds research, funds professorships, donates to schools, and also has revolving door influence in university hierarchy, just as it does in the federal government.  For example, the report states that South Dakota State’s president is on Monsanto’s board of directors.  Professors and students outside of the Monsanto sphere are sidelined just as Secretary Glickman was in the Clinton Administration.  In the report, one anonymous PhD student at a land-grant university was told more than once that she should study something Monsanto would fund.  She wanted to research organic agriculture in farmers markets.  Her academic adviser told her that her “best bet was to write a grant for Monsanto or the Department of Homeland Security to fund my research on why farmer’s markets were stocked with ‘black market vegetables’ that ‘are a bioterrorism threat waiting to happen.’”

The Salon report describes a peer-reviewed study that found that corporate-funded nutrition research is 4-8 times more likely to reach conclusions favorable to the funder.  And the Salon report cites evidence that any scientist who reaches conclusions Monsanto doesn’t like can expect to be told to find new funding.  In Genetic Roulette, authorEric Holt-Giminez argues that Monsanto uses its influence to deny tenure to professors critical of GMOs, and scientist Elaine Ingham describes how after speaking to the UN about dangers posed by GMOs, she was told that if she wasn’t “heart and soul into this technology” then she “didn’t belong at Oregon State University.”  She claims that Monsanto seeks to shred the credibility and reputation of any scientist who criticizes GMOs.

But research on GMOs is extremely difficult to even begin in the first place.  According to Jeremy Bloom, Monsanto systematically blocks funding for research on its crops and denies the use of any of its seeds for research purposes.  The government doesn’t do much research on the risks of GMO crops either.  According to Dean DellaPenna in National Geographic, “only one percent of USDA biotech research money goes to risk assessment.”

Monsanto also allegedly has critical news reports removed from mainstream media.  According to a report,corroborated by Jeffrey Smith in the Huffington Post, a team of investigative journalists, Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, working for a Fox News station in Florida had just completed filming an expose on the dangers posed by BGH.  Just before the report was to air, a Monsanto lawyer in New York faxed a letter Researchers with Genetically Modified Cornwarning of “dire consequences for Fox News” if the report aired.  Akre claims that Fox was worried about getting sued and losing advertising.  Wilson claims that his manager asked him if he’d ever tell anyone if the story was pulled.  He says management told them to make certain changes to the report in accordance with the way the lawyers wanted it written, regardless of what their research showed.  Wilson says he refused to make the changes.  The management threatened to fire him, and he threatened to report them to the FCC.  Wilson says that management then offered him hush money.  Akre says, “He was going to offer us the rest of our year’s salary if we agreed not to talk about what Monsanto had done, to not talk about the Fox corporate response in suppressing the story, and to not talk about the story, not talk about BGH, again, anywhere.”  They refused the money and were told to rewrite the story with the lawyers present.  Akre says the lawyers replaced words like “cancer” with phrases like “human health implications.”  Akre says anything critical of Monsanto was either removed or minimized.  The reporters claim they were made to rewrite the piece 83 times.  They believed the lawyers were stalling for a window in their contracts.  Then Fox announced the journalists were fired.  The journalists took Fox to court and were initially granted whistleblower status, but on appeal they lost this status and ultimately lost their legal case on the grounds that falsifying news reports is not against the law.

Monsanto’s influence is astounding.  The corporation wields political, financial, legal and communications power, along with donations, creative staffing, alleged threats, intimidation and bribery, and alleged censorship to great effect.  The evidence shows that, ultimately, Monsanto’s business interests were not simply deregulated.  Since the Reagan Administration, Monsanto has built its own regime of strict regulation over government, academia and media, to ensure that they serve its corporate interests, or are neutralized.  In every relevant sphere of society, critics allege that Monsanto infiltrates institutions, sidelines those outside of its circle, rams through its agenda, blocks research and undermines critical inquiry of its products and actions, threatens its critics and silences dissent.  One reason the Monsantopoly must stack the deck in its favor so thoroughly is because of what would happen if well-funded large-scale research informed the public of what Monsanto’s products do to the environment, farms and farmers.

Next up, Part 3: Seeds of Destruction will look at what Monsanto has done to America’s amber waves of grain.

via

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Photo Essay: Mexico Celebrates World Day Against Monsanto


By Andalusia KnollUpside Down World | Photo Essay

Autonomy is Sown! A nutrition group from the Escuela de Cultura Popular de los Martires de 68 displays posters celebrating the autonomy of indigenous Zapatista communities for whom corn is an essential crop.

Autonomy is Sown! A nutrition group from the “Escuela de Cultura Popular de los Martires de ’68” displays posters celebrating the autonomy of indigenous Zapatista communities for whom corn is an essential crop.

In front of the National Palace of Fine Parts a protestor declares We are people of corn.

In front of the National Palace of Fine Parts a protestor declares “We are people of corn.”

Street Art celebrating Mexico’s staple food: Corn.

Street Art celebrating Mexico’s staple food: Corn.

Mexico is on the verge of becoming the first country to allow its basic grain, Corn, to be produced with GMO seeds that are the property of transnational companies like Monsanto.

“Mexico is on the verge of becoming the first country to allow its basic grain, Corn, to be produced with GMO seeds that are the property of transnational companies like Monsanto.”

A group of youth in resistance celebrate native corn with live Son Jarocho music and colorful cardboard corn.

A group of “youth in resistance” celebrate native corn with live Son Jarocho music and colorful cardboard corn.

Urban Farmers transported their crops via bike emphasizing the importance of sustainable agriculture without GMO seeds.

Urban Farmers transported their crops via bike emphasizing the importance of sustainable agriculture without GMO seeds.

We will defend our corn!

We will defend our corn!

The thousands of protesters marched down principal avenues in Mexico City to arrive at The Monument of the Revolution.

The thousands of protesters marched down principal avenues in Mexico City to arrive at The Monument of the Revolution.

Don't allow your seeds and biodiversity to be reduced to a monoculture that will converted into merchandise administered by a monopoly.

“Don’t allow your seeds and biodiversity to be reduced to a monoculture that will converted into merchandise administered by a monopoly.”

We are not your #$%$* science experiment. A genuine concern about the scientific effects of GMO crops was a common thread in protesters signs.

We are not your #$%$* science experiment. A genuine concern about the scientific effects of GMO crops was a common thread in protesters signs.

My pride is my roots, my corn.

“My pride is my roots, my corn.”

Protestors weren't just saying not in my backyard but instead stating that they want Monsanto kicked off the planet.

Protestors weren’t just saying “not in my backyard” but instead stating that they want Monsanto kicked off the planet.

Corn husks usually serve as wrappers for one of Mexican's most popular street foods, tamales. In the anti-Monsanto march husks served as adornment for all kinds of costumes.

Corn husks usually serve as wrappers for one of Mexican‘s most popular street foods, tamales. In the anti-Monsanto march husks served as adornment for all kinds of costumes.

We want a Mexico free of GMO food. Leave Monsanto!

“We want a Mexico free of GMO food. Leave Monsanto!”

Protesters sport corn husks to emphasize the importance of native corn for the Mexican diet.

Protesters sport corn husks to emphasize the importance of native corn for the Mexican diet.

The protest against Monsanto was truly inter-generational with whole families participating from the youngest members to the oldest.

The protest against Monsanto was truly inter-generational with whole families participating from the youngest members to the oldest. “Did you know that the ‘gringa’ Transnational company Monsanto will be able to freely operate in Mexico? Look at how their seeds have affected lab rats. How will they affect us?”

A group of enthusiastic dancers stripped down to the basics - corn. Jubilantly celebrating the crop they took to the street in front of the Alameda.

A group of enthusiastic dancers stripped down to the basics – corn. Jubilantly celebrating the crop they took to the street in front of the Alameda.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

ANDALUSIA KNOLL

Andalusia Knoll is a multimedia journalist based in Mexico City. She is a frequent contributor to Free Speech Radio News, The Real News Network  and Toward Freedom and collaborates with various independent media collectives throughout Mexico. You can follow her on Twitter at @andalalucha.

Scientists Discover Bt Toxins Found In Monsanto Crops Damage Red Blood Cells


Studies are showing that Bt toxins found in Monsanto crops are harmful to mammalian blood by damaging red blood cells and more. RBC’s are responsible for delivering oxygen to the body tissues through blood flow.

Bacillus thuringensis (Bt) is a bacterium commonly used as a biological pesticide. It is a microorganism that produces toxic chemicals. It occurs naturally in the environment, and is usually isolated from soil, insects and plant surfaces. Prior to this study, Bt was thought to be toxic only to insects,  but recent studies are proving otherwise.

Dr. Mezzomo and his team of Scientists from the Department of Genetics and Morphology and the Institute of Biological Sciences, at University of Brasilia recently published a study that involved Bacillus thuringensis (Bt toxin) and its effects on mammalian blood. According to the study, the “Cry” toxins that are found in Monsanto’s GMO crops like corn and soy, are much more toxic to mammals than previously thought. The study was published in the Journal of Hematology and Thromboembolic Diseases(1).

We do not support animal testing, and think it is unnecessary. It should really be a no brainer that GMO crops cause significant damage to human health. Studies that don’t require animal testing have already proven the dangers of GMO consumption. This study unfortunately required the use of Swiss Albino Mice if Bt was to be properly examined. At the same time, most of us know that the existence of GMOs is completely unnecessary.

Advances in genetic engineering promise the expression of multiple Cry toxins in Bt-plants, known as gene pyramiding. Therefore, studies on non-target species are requirements of international protocols to verify the adverse effects of these toxins, ensuring human and environmental biosafety.

Due to its growing use in agricultural activities, Bt presence hasalready been detected in different environmental compartments such as soil and water. Consequently, the bioavailability of Cry proteins has increased, and for biosafety reasons their adverse effects might be studied, mainly for non-target organisms. Studies are therefore needed to evaluate Bt toxicity to non-target organisms;  the persistence of Bt toxin and its stability in aquatic environments; and the risks to humans and animals exposed to potentially toxic levels of Bt through their diet.(1)

Thus, we aimed to evaluate, in Swiss albino mice, the hematotoxicity and genotoxicity of four Bt spore-crystals…

Scientists tested levels ranging from 27 mg to 270 mg over a seven day period, it was remarkably evident that the Cry toxins were hemotoxic, even at the lowest doses administered. Hemotoxins destroy red blood cells, disrupt blood clotting and cause organ degeneration and tissue damage.

The number of RBC’s, (red blood cells) as well as their size, were significantly reduced, and so were the levels of hemoglobin for oxygen to attach to. Every factor regarding RBC’s indicated some level of damage for all levels of toxin administered and across all cry proteins. The tests clearly demonstrated that Cry proteins resulting from the Bt toxin were cytotoxic (quality of being toxic to cells) to bone marrow cells. Studies contiually show that these proteins kill blood cells bytargeting the cell membranes of RBC’s.

Cry1Ab (the protein produced in common Bt corn and soy) induced microcytic hypochromic anemia in mice, even at the lowest tested dose of 27 mg/Kg, and this toxin has been detected in blood of non-pregnant women, pregnant women and their fetuses in Canada, supposedly exposed through diet [34]. These data, as well as increased bioavailability of  these MCA in the environment, reinforce the need for more research, especially given that little is known about spore crystals’ adverse effects on non-target species (1)

Dr. Mezzomo and his team are not the only group of scientists to discover the harmful effects of Bt toxins. Professor Joe Cummins, Professor Emeritus of Genetics at the University of Western Ontario has also studied it (2)(3)(4). He concluded that that there is sufficient evidence  that the Bt toxin will impact directly on human health through damaging the ileum, which is the final section of the small intestine that is responsible for the absorption of vitamin B12. He also points out that the Bt cry toxin gene has not been proven to be the same as the natural bacterial gene. As mentioned in the first paragraph, it occurs naturally in the environment, usually isolated from soil, insects and plant surfaces.

It seems that everyday brings forth new information regarding GMO’s. We have so much evidence that points to just how harmful these foods are, yet they continue to be mass produced and the corporations that develop them are constantly protected. The truth still remains, you still have a choice as to what you put into your body. I encourage everybody reading this to further their research, most ‘industries’ we have on the planet today really aren’t necessary, we are just made to believe that they are.

Sources:

http://gmoevidence.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/JHTD-1-104.pdf (1)

http://www.gefree.org.nz/assets/pdf/joecummins.pdf(4)

http://www.biotech-info.net/bt_cummins.html(2)

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Bt-toxin.php(3)

http://occupymonsanto360.org/2013/05/06/new-study-proves-bt-toxins-in-gmos-toxic-to-mammalian-blood/

http://www.nationofchange.org/new-study-proves-bt-toxins-gmos-toxic-mammalian-blood-136793695

via Scientists Discover Bt Toxins Found In Monsanto Crops Damage Red Blood Cells.

Workers at U.S. nuclear site exposed — Levels “well above threshold for a High Contamination Area” #Hanford


 

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Two Pacific Northwest National Laboratory employees inhaled small amounts of radioactive tritium while doing work in the Hanford 300 Area last month. […]

Tritium inadvertently spread outside the fume hood, including along the routes to radiological trash disposal.

“Contamination levels on the floor immediately adjacent to the fume hood were well above the threshold for a High Contamination Area,” according to the defense board staff report. […]

The event is still under investigation and it’s too soon to say if any changes will be made to laboratory procedures, [PNNL spokesman Greg Koller] said.

Title: PNNL staffers exposed to radioactive tritium in Richland

Source: The Bellingham Herald

Author: Annette Cary

via Workers at U.S. nuclear site exposed — Levels “well above threshold for a High Contamination Area” #Hanford.

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