Friday, December 31, 2010


15 Foods To Banish From Your Kitchen
posted by Delia Quigley Dec 29, 2010 3:01 pm

Vowing to lose weight, eat better, and start an exercise program come the first of January? Good for you. This is a great time of year to shift away from processed, sugar and fat heavy foods, and raise the quality of your meals. I have found the best way to begin is to clear the temptation foods off the pantry shelves and out of the refrigerator and restock with just what you need to achieve your goals. To this end I have provided a list to identify the foods you should eliminate. You can donate the discarded foods to a local food pantry that will be thrilled to pass them on to families in need. With the shelves empty you can now fill them with the following suggested alternatives.
1. Pasteurized, Homogenized Milk: there’s a raw milk movement steam rolling across this country because of the health issues caused by commercial milk. Buying organic is a better choice, but eliminating milk from your diet would be ideal.
2. White Bread: with nothing to commend it nutritionally, buy organic whole grain bread made without enriched flours and do your intestines a favor.
3. Vegetable Oils: blended from seeds and plants, oils are an important part of your daily diet so choose ones that are non-GMO and grown organically. A few examples to buy are: extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, and ghee (clarified butter).
4. Mac & Cheese box: an inexpensive and quick favorite for children and adults alike, but opt for the organic whole grain or dairy-free version of M&C. Better still make your own from scratch.
5. Canned Soups: most are loaded with sodium and questionable oils. Go instead with low sodium, organic soups in aseptic containers.
6. Peanut Butter with additives: with 16 grams of fat per 2 tablespoons why indulge your senses in dangerous partially hydrogenated fats when you can enjoy real nut butters without the added sugars and salt. Explore the raw nut butters for a nutritious treat.
7. Breakfast Cereal: mostly a waste of time, yet people insist on their morning bowl, so best to buy a whole grain cereal containing little or no sugar and sweeten to taste at the table.
8. Refined White Flour: the refined gluten becomes glue in your intestines causing a huge traffic jam down below. Instead buy whole wheat, spelt, and rice flours or try a packaged gluten free flour mix when making your next batch of pancakes.
9. Velveeta Cheese: anything is better than this pseudo-food product, and if you must eat cheese than opt for a raw, organic variety that retains the natural enzymes. It is good to note that humans can digest a sheep or goat’s cheese better than pasteurized cow’s cheese.
10. Enriched Pasta: if it is enriched it is also refined flour, meaning more glue for your intestines. With so many delicious whole grain pastas now available have fun trying a rice fettuccini or a spelt angel hair for your next dinner.
11. Coffee: this crop is so highly sprayed with toxic pesticides, plus you drink a cup of Joe at least once a day, that you are much better off spending a bit more and buying a fair trade organic brand.
12. Chicken Eggs: begin by watching the documentary Food Inc. and you’ll understand why buying free range, organic eggs from a local farmer is so much better for your health and the health of the laying hens.
13. Instant Grains: actually instant anything should be bagged and put out on the curb for the garbage men to pick up in the morning. Preparing whole grains from scratch is so much easier when you use a rice cooker, a pressure cooker, or a Crockpot.
14. Frozen Dinners: if you are depending on these processed, nutrition depleted meals to see you through the day then wear blinders when shopping. The time it takes a frozen dinner to bake in a real oven (no microwaves, please), you can create a nutritious meal from scratch. If you are not convinced read the ingredients list.
15. White Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners: you won’t have to suffer sugar withdrawals when you replace the sweet taste with raw honey, maple syrup, rice syrup, and the herbal sweetener stevia. And if you don’t know how destructive artificial sweeteners can be for your brain click: to be enlightened, then throw what you have in the trash, period.
Delia Quigley is the Director of StillPoint Schoolhouse, where she teaches a holistic lifestyle based on her 28 years of study, experience and practice. She is the creator of the Body Rejuvenation Cleanse, Cooking the Basics, and Broken Bodies Yoga. Delia's credentials include author, holistic health counselor, natural foods chef, yoga instructor, energy therapist and public speaker. Follow Delia's blogs: and To view her website go to

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Thursday, December 30, 2010


Attack of the Clones: U.K. Approves Food from Clones' Offspring
by Taylor Leake December 10, 2010 07:08 AM (PT)

It's like something out of a bad sci-fi movie: cloned animals giving birth to genetically superior progeny, who populate farms by the thousands, producing vast amounts of milk and meat. Unfortunately, this very scene has already started in the United Kingdom, and the government just gave it the legal go-ahead.

There are more than 100 animals in the U.K. that are the offspring of cloned animals. Most are Holstein cows on dairy farms. And just this week, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said meat and milk from these animals was perfectly fine to sell at grocery stores without special safety checks or — and here's the kicker — any special labeling. Apparently the FSA believes such labels are "unnecessary and disproportionate" and would provide "no significant food safety benefit to consumers." Really?

It was a controversial decision. To start with, there are still serious questions about such a new procedure. These cloned animals have more miscarriages, a higher rate of organ failure, and the offspring of cloned animals have a significantly higher rate of gigantism. Many cloned animals die early in their lives of heart failure, breathing difficulties, or a defective immune system. These disorders are obviously bad for the animals themselves, but it's also unclear if these sickly cows pose potential health risks to consumers. The research is paltry at best, so who knows what health issues may be discovered in the future?

In addition to the health and animal welfare concerns, cloning perpetuates factory farming. Cloned animals and their offspring will typically be raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) conditions, which come with their own set of environmental and health problems.

The lack of a label requirement is particularly galling. Not labeling milk and meat from cloned animals denies consumers"the choice to decide whether they want to eat this food. We have a Government that talks about honest labeling, yet it is saying to consumers that they won’t be able to exercise a choice," says Peter Stevenson of Compassion in World Farming.

If the U.K. is going to allow food producers to sell products of the offspring of cloned animals, they should at the very least label them. People have the right to know how their food is produced. Even if these products turn out to be safe — and it seems far too early to tell that for sure — the animal welfare issues alone are worth a label. If you agree, please sign this petition to the FSA, urging the agency to reconsider its decision not to label products from cloned animals' offspring.



Groundbreaking Study Shows Roundup Link to Birth Defects

* International scientists confirm dangers of Roundup at GMO-Free Regions Conference in Brussels
GMO Free Regions, Sept 16, 2010
Straight to the Source

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world's best-selling weedkiller Roundup, causes malformations in frog and chicken embryos at doses far lower than those used in agricultural spraying and well below maximum residue levels in products presently approved in the European Union. This is reported in research (1) published by a group around Professor Andrés Carrasco, director of the Laboratory of Molecular Embryology at the University of Buenos Aires Medical School and member of Argentina's National Council of Scientific and Technical Research.

Carrasco was led to research the embryonic effects of glyphosate by reports of high rates of birth defects in rural areas of Argentina where Monsanto's genetically modified "Roundup Ready" (RR) soybeans are grown in large monocultures sprayed from airplanes regularly. RR soy is engineered to tolerate Roundup, allowing farmers to spray the herbicide liberally to kill weeds while the crop is growing.

At a press conference during the 6th European Conference of GMO Free Regions in the European Parliament in Brussels Carrasco said, "The findings in the lab are compatible with malformations observed in humans exposed to glyphosate during pregnancy." Reporting of such problems started in 2002, two years after large scale introduction of RR soybeans in Argentina. The experimental animals share similar developmental mechanisms with humans. The authors concluded that the results raise "concerns about the clinical findings from human offspring in populations exposed to Roundup in agricultural fields." Carrasco added, "I suspect the toxicity classification of glyphosate is too low. In some cases this can be a powerful poison."

The maximum residue level (MRL) allowed for glyphosate in soy in the EU is 20 mg/kg. The level was increased 200-fold from 0.1 mg/kg to 20 mg/kg in 1997 after GM RR soy was commercialized in Europe. Carrasco found malformations in embryos injected with 2.03 mg/kg glyphosate. Soybeans can contain glyphosate residues of up to 17mg/kg.

In August 2010 Amnesty International reported that an organized mob violently attacked people who gathered to hear Carrasco talk about his research in the town of La Leonesa, Chaco province. Witnesses implicated local agro-industry figures in the attack.

Carrasco is also the co-author of a report, "GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?" released on September 16 by a group of international scientists. The report documents a bulk of evidence in scientific studies on the harmful health and environmental impacts of GM RR soy and Roundup.

This report is released together with the testimonies of people who have suffered from such spraying. Viviana Peralta, a housewife from San Jorge, Santa Fe, Argentina was hospitalized together with her baby after Roundup spraying from planes flying near her home. Peralta and other residents launched a lawsuit that resulted in a regional court ban on the spraying of Roundup and other agrochemicals near houses.


(1) Paganelli, A., Gnazzo, V., Acosta, H., López, S.L., Carrasco, A.E. 2010. Glyphosate-based herbicides produce teratogenic effects on vertebrates by impairing retinoic acid signalling. Chem. Res. Toxicol., August 9.

(2) GM Soy: Sustainable? Responsible?" is released on September 16 by Andrés Carrasco and eight other international scientists:

Article Source:

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Seattle-led coalition tells Gates Foundation to change approach
The Seattle Times

Posted by Kristi Heim
December 8, 2010 at 3:04 PM

A coalition of groups led by Seattle-based activists has sent a letter and online petition to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, saying its current approach to agriculture in Africa is unlikely to solve problems of hunger, poverty and climate change, and may make them worse.

The letter, signed by 100 organizations and individuals from 30 countries, was released to coincide with protests at the UN climate talks in Cancun.

Led by the Seattle-based Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ), the coalition said the foundation and its private sector partners are pushing industrialized agriculture and genetically engineered crops at the expense of small farmers and the environment.

The Gates Foundation has made agricultural development one of its priorities in recent years, launching the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) with the Rockefeller Foundation in 2006.

The Gates Foundation spent about $316 million last year on agricultural development, which it says is part of a larger strategy to reduce hunger and poverty by giving small farmers tools and opportunities to boost their productivity and increase incomes.

The groups signing the letter, including environmentalists, academics and groups opposed to genetic engineering of food crops, said they're concerned the foundation's grants are "heavily distorted in favor of supporting inappropriate high-tech agricultural activities, ignoring scientific studies that confirm the value of small-scale agroecological approaches."

"Both the UN climate negotiators and the Gates Foundation must recognize that false solutions such as GMOs and agrofuels that threaten our biodiversity will further Africa's exploitation, not salvation," said Anne Maina, a member of the African Biodiversity Network, a civil society group based in Kenya.

The Gates Foundation responded that it's working comprehensively and with many partners, including African leaders and small farmers.

"Our goal is to help poor farmers grow and sell more so they can feed their families and build better lives," foundation spokesperson Susan Byrnes said. "This is an extremely complex challenge - and there's no silver bullet."

Byrnes said approach is to support seeds, soil, farm management and effective policies. "We're in this for the long haul and only interested in long-term solutions that are sustainable for the economy and the environment."

The petition urged the foundation to redefine its funding priorities in favor of small-scale agroecological agriculture, citing the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), initiated by the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

That report concluded that a radical transformation of world food and farming policies is needed, and reliance on technological fixes, including transgenic crops, is unlikely to address persistent hunger and poverty.

Industrial agribusiness has contributed to the erosion of food and livelihood security in the poorest countries, it said.


US to Vatican: Genetically Modified Food Is a "Moral Imperative"

Wednesday 29 December 2010

by: Mike Ludwig, t r u t h o u t | Report

US to Vatican: Genetically Modified Food Is a "Moral Imperative"
Vatican City. (Photo: Argenberg)

Secret United States diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks detail efforts to promote genetically modified (GM) crops and biotechnology across the globe, including the Vatican, where US diplomats pushed the Roman Catholic Church to support biotech food in developing nations.

Cables from embassies in Spain, Austria and even Pakistan reveal the US diplomats have clearly sided with the biotech industry, even as court cases and public debates over GM food raged in the US and abroad.

In 2005, a US diplomat and a USAID official met with Catholic leaders in Rome to discuss biotech foods, according to a leaked cable. The diplomats reported that Catholic leaders said the science and safety of GM food would soon be a "non-issue" in the Vatican and signaled a cautious acceptance of biotech products despite active opposition among the faithful:

Preoccupation at the Vatican, they said, was tied more to economic arguments, as some fear that widespread use of GMO food in the developing world would subjugate its farmer population and become a form of economic imperialism simply serving to enrich multi-national corporations.

US diplomats pledged to continue pushing GM foods as a "moral imperative" to feed growing populations in order to counter opposition to the biotech food industry among Catholic activists and clergy.

A document drafted by scientists linked to the Vatican and leaked to the press in 2010 suggested the Catholic Church could have a moral obligation to promote GM food crops to combat world hunger, according to the British newspaper The Independent.

Other cables reveal plans to counter anti-GM initiatives across Europe, and in 2008, US diplomats declared the Monsanto MON-810 corn crop in the biotech stronghold of Spain as "under threat" from a campaign to ban GM crops in Europe.

Spain was the first European country to approve the MON-810 corn variety, and by 2009, Spanish farmers were responsible for 75 percent of the MON-810 crop in Europe, according to the leaked cable.

Top Spanish officials warned US diplomats that Spain was under pressure from other European Union (EU) countries to ban MON-810, and Monsanto officials told the diplomats that acceptance of the product was threatened by an agreement between the French government and environmental groups.

Truthout recently reported that, in 2007, the former US ambassador to France wanted to "retaliate" against the French for creating anti-GM momentum in Europe and questioning the safety of MON-810 when the product was up for re-evaluation in the EU.

France suspended cultivation of MON-810 in 2008 despite a EU report that found no new risks associated with the crop. French and independent scientists initiated a rigorous debate with EU scientists over MON-810, and by 2009, bans were in place in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece and Luxembourg.

Additional cables from the Spanish embassy tracked the country's approval of GM corn varieties and identified Spain as a "country worth continuing to target" in efforts to promote acceptance of biotechnology.

MON-810 is engineered to excrete the Bt toxin, which is poisonous to some insect pests. A stacked version of MON-810 is also engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, an herbicide first popularized by Monsanto under the brand name Roundup.


Monday, December 27, 2010


Are Children Prey for Fast Food Companies?

Nov 8 2010, 10:15 AM ET 27

David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Food companies have been in a headlong rush to prevent government from enacting policies that would affect sales of items such as sugar-sweetened beverages and fast food. One of their tactics is for the companies to issue pledges to protect children, saying in so many words, "You can trust us to police ourselves so government can back down."

The marketing of junk food has been the focus of many such pledges. In the U.S., the pledges are made through the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative run by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The two largest fast food companies, McDonald's and Burger King, take part in this initiative. A new report from our group at Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity help answer the question about whether these and other fast food companies have made any meaningful changes.

Charlie Brown kept hoping Lucy would hold the football in place. Government can keep hoping that industry will make meaningful changes, or it can step in.

This study by Yale researchers was the largest ever on the marketing of fast foods to children. A major finding is that the amount of marketing of fast foods to children is going up, not down. The average preschool child sees three ads for fast food, every day. For teens the number is five. Much of the advertising is to create brand loyalty as much as it is to promote certain foods. The companies want people in the door. And once they enter, it is not a pretty sight. A few more of the key findings:

• Only 12 of 3,039 possible kids' meal combinations meet nutrition criteria for preschoolers. Only 15 meet nutrition criteria for older children.

• At McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Taco Bell, employees automatically served French fries or another unhealthy side more than 84 percent of the time. A soft drink or other unhealthy beverage was served at least 55 percent of the time.

• Snacks and desserts often marketed directly to teens contain as many as 1,500 calories, which is five times more than the American Dietetic Association's recommendation of a 200- to 300-calorie snack for active teens.

• McDonald's and Burger King have pledged to reduce unhealthy marketing to children, but children ages six to 11 saw 26 percent more ads for McDonald's in 2009 compared to 2007. The increase for Burger King was 10 percent.

• African American children and teens see at least 50 percent more fast food ads than their white peers. McDonald's and KFC specifically target African American youth with TV advertising, targeted websites, and banner ads.

There is no longer doubt that children and teens need protection. Marketing of both brands and foods is relentless and the nation is paying a terrible price. The industry has had time to prove itself trustworthy, and government can look the other way only so long. Children's health and well-being are essential to the future vitality of the country and their erosion by some food industry practices must be stopped.

The fast food industry can do several things to help. One is to steer people toward healthier items, for instance offering fruit and milk as the default choices in kids' meals rather than fries and sugared drinks. Posters inside restaurants can promote healthier items. Healthier foods can be priced more attractively and deals that encourage purchase of large burgers, servings of fires, and sugared beverages can end.

Most important is for companies to remove children and teens from the list of groups to be recruited as loyal customers. It seems unlikely that industry will do so voluntarily—there is simply too much money at stake. More weak and ineffective promises from industry will hurt more than help. Charlie Brown kept hoping Lucy would hold the football in place. Government can keep hoping that industry will make meaningful changes, or it can step in.

There is much government can do. It has the authority to restrict marketing aimed at children and also has sway over what goes into food (for example, a number of cities in the U.S. and the entire country of Denmark have banned trans fats in restaurant foods). It is only a matter of time before government exercises this authority, driven by grave concern over rising health care costs, recognition that children need protecting, and legislators responding to public outrage as people learn just what industry is doing. Children's health is not something to be auctioned off to big food companies.
Source: The Atlantic:

Monday, December 20, 2010


What You Need To Know
About HFCS

Prior to 1966, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was virtually non-existent in Americans' diets. When it came to sweeteners, the number one version on the market was sucrose, or table sugar. But that all changed after the invention of high-fructose corn syrup.

Made from corn starch through a complicated process, HFCS emerged as a cheaper, significantly sweeter, easy to transport and easy to use (especially in beverages, since it's a liquid) alternative to sugar.

Even supposedly "healthy" bottled teas and sports drinks are usually sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.

Today, sweeteners made from corn are the most widely used -- they account for 55 percent of the sweetener market and bring in $4.5 billion in sales each year. And consumption continues to grow. In 2001, the average American consumed almost 63 pounds of HFCS (up from zero in 1966).

In fact, between 1970 and 1990, Americans' intake of HFCS increased more than 1,000 percent - -which is far greater than changes in intake for any other food, according to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup is Everywhere

Soft drinks, fruit juices and other sweet beverages (including sports and energy drinks) are almost always sweetened with HFCS. In fact, HFCS is the only caloric sweetener used in soft drinks.

But, this versatile sweetener doesn't stop there. It's also in countless other products -- many that you wouldn't expect unless you read the label. These include baked goods, cookies, jams and jellies, ketchup, pasta sauce, salad dressing, bread, condiments and many others.

Why HFCS May be Worse for You Than Sugar

High-fructose corn syrup is not the same as the corn syrup you buy to make pies. Whereas regular corn syrup is all glucose, HFCS is composed of roughly half glucose and half fructose.

Says George A. Bray, former director of Louisiana State University's Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, "Fructose is absorbed differently [than other sugars]. It doesn't register in the body metabolically the same way that glucose does."

When glucose is consumed, a set of reactions occur in the body allowing it to be used as energy, and production of leptin, a hormone that helps control appetite and fat storage, is increased. Meanwhile, ghrelin, a stomach hormone, is reduced, which is thought to help hunger go away.

Many experts agree high-fructose corn syrup, particularly in soft drinks, is at least partly responsible for America's obesity epidemic.

When fructose is consumed, however, it "appears to behave more like fat with respect to the hormones involved in body weight regulation," explains Peter Havel, associate professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis. "Fructose doesn't stimulate insulin secretion. It doesn't increase leptin production or suppress production of ghrelin. That suggests that consuming a lot of fructose, like consuming too much fat, could contribute to weight gain."

Many experts have, in fact, suggested that HFCS, particularly those in soft drinks, are at least partly responsible for the obesity epidemic in America.

Drink a Lot of Sweet Drinks? Your Weight May be at Risk

According to an analysis of food consumption patterns from 1967 to 2000 by Bray and colleagues, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Bray said, "In examining this data, the importance of the rising intake of high-fructose corn syrup was obvious. It did not exist before 1970. From that point, there was a rapid rise in this country in its use during the late 1970s and 1980s coincidental with the epidemic of obesity." He goes on:

"Unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion or enhance leptin production. Because insulin and leptin act as key afferent signals in the regulation of food intake and body weight, this suggests that dietary fructose may contribute to increased energy intake and weight gain. Furthermore, calorically sweetened beverages may enhance caloric overconsumption. Thus, the increase in consumption of HFCS has a temporal relation to the epidemic of obesity, and the overconsumption of HFCS in calorically sweetened beverages may play a role in the epidemic of obesity."

Another study, this one by researchers at the Children's Hospital Boston, found that every additional 8-ounce soft drink in a day increased school kids' risks of being obese by 60 percent.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Factory Farm Nation: Map Charts Unprecedented Growth in Factory Farming
Food & Water Watch Analysis Finds Livestock on Factory Farms Grew by 20 Percent in 5 Years

Published on Tuesday, November 30, 2010 by Food & Water Watch

WASHINGTON - Food & Water Watch today unveiled the newest version of its pioneering Factory Farm Map ( that charts the concentration of factory farms across the country and the impacts these massive operations have on human health, communities, and the environment. The interactive map illustrates the geographic shift in where and how food is raised in the U.S. and allows anyone to quickly search for the highest concentration of animals by region, state and county.

Food & Water Watch analyzed U.S. Department of Agriculture Census data from 1997, 2002 and the most current census, 2007, for beef and dairy cattle, hogs, broiler meat chickens and egg-laying operations, and found the total number of livestock on the largest factory farms rose by more than 20 percent between 2002 and 2007-while the number of dairy cows and broiler chickens nearly doubled during the same time, making them the fastest-growing population of factory farmed animals.

Despite the fact that the number of livestock farms across the country has decreased, the Food & Water Watch Factory Farm Map illustrates that big farms are getting bigger, with specific regions and states bearing the brunt of intensive animal production.

"While more and more light is being shed on the ways our food system is broken and consumers are increasingly interested in knowing where their food comes from, there is still a lot of information that's hidden from public view," said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch's executive director. "The purpose of the Factory Farm Map is to provide an easy-to-use tool that anyone can access to learn more about where our food is really coming from."

Key findings in Food & Water Watch's analysis and map show:

* In five years, total animals on factory farms grew by 5 million, or more than 20 percent.
o Cows on factory dairy farms nearly doubled from 2.5 million cows in 1997 to 4.9 million in 2007. Factory dairy farms growth in western states like Idaho, California, New Mexico and Texas shifted the dairy industry away from traditional states like Wisconsin, New York and Michigan.
o Beef cattle on industrial feedlots rose 17 percent from 2002 to 2007 - adding about 1,100 beef cattle to feedlots every day for five years.
o Nationally, about 5,000 hogs were added to factory farms every day for the past decade.
o The growth of industrial broiler chicken production added 5,800 chickens every hour over the past decade.
o Egg laying hens on factory farms increased by one-quarter over the decade.

* The average size of factory farms increased by 9 percent in five years, cramming more animals into each operation.
o In 2007, the average factory-farmed dairy held nearly 1,500 cows and the average beef feedlot held 3,800 beef cattle.
o The average size of hog factory farms increased by 42 percent over a decade.
o Five states with the largest broiler chicken operations average more than 200,000 birds per factory farm.
o Over a decade, average-sized layer chicken operations have grown by 53.7 percent to 614,000 in 2007.

Food & Water Watch released a companion report, Factory Farm Nation, which explains the forces driving factory farms, as well as the environmental, public health, and economic consequences of this type of animal production. The report also examines the causes for industrial-scale livestock and the demise of small and medium farms.

"This map shows the extent to which factory farms have taken over farming and our communities," said Robby Kenner, director of the Academy Award-nominated film Food, Inc. "Through the Factory Farm Map, Food & Water Watch is shining a spotlight on the mega-corporations that need to be held accountable for the damage they're doing to our health, environment and rural economies."

In addition to the map itself, the website ranks the top concentrations of factory farmed livestock nationwide as well as by state and county. It features a newsfeed for monitoring local and national factory farm news and social media tools that allow users to share the map and its data via Facebook, Twitter, email and RSS feed. The Factory Farm Map website includes a widget that bloggers and other websites can embed on their sites and a variety of other online tools for activists to spread the word and encourage local, regional or national action.

"Whether you live near a factory farm and are subject to the groundwater contamination or air pollution it causes, or live thousands of miles away and eat the meat or eggs from potentially unsafe facilities, very few people are spared the risk that these operations bring," said Hauter. "The Factory Farm Map arms consumers with critical information about how our food is being produced and what we need to do to chart a course to a more sustainable food system."

The Factory Farm Map and the companion report can be found at
© 2010 Food & Water Watch

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

PASS THE Hunger Free Kids Act (S.3307) NOW!!

NOTE: This is a guest post by Jerusha Klemperer, Program Manager for Campaigns & Projects at Slow Food USA. She is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, Civil Eats, Well and Good NYC, and her personal blog Eat Here 2.

A year and a half ago Slow Food USA launched its first ever nation–wide advocacy campaign in an effort to help improve school lunch. The Child Nutrition Act--the piece of legislation that governs the National School Lunch program--was up for reauthorization a few months away. Our network of 230 chapters mobilized itself, beginning with a national day of action on Labor Day 2009. On that day 300 "eat-ins"--public potlucks with a purpose--were held in all 50 states.

In some ways we were conducting a test. Was it possible to coordinate the actions of our 20,000 members towards meaningful legislative change?

One and a half years later we have an answer to half of our question; yes, it is possible to coordinate the actions of our now 200K and growing grassroots network. What about meaningful legislative change? Well, we're not there yet! The bill has been extended twice now and our network (and our staff) has learned a lot about how unpredictable and slow the legislative process can be.

But back to the part about our network--when it comes to giving kids a chance to eat real food at least once a day, it seems our network is willing to do whatever it takes: host potlucks, write letters to Congress, make phone calls, visit legislative offices, you name it. In a tense and sometimes frustrating political climate, grassroots food systems advocacy seems to be alive and well.

Now, as Congress people return post-election for what is called their "lame duck session," urgency mounts. As Rep. George Miller said the other day: "It's this opportunity or we lose it."

We have decided that the most important thing right now is to get an improved school lunch bill passed as soon as possible. We feel that our children have waited long enough and that the several improvements in this bill--including more money per child per meal and improved guidelines for food sold outside the lunch line--represent something worth fighting for.

How you can help: Read more about the latest on this issue on the Slow Food USA blog. Then call Congress to let to let them know that we want the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act (S.3307) passed now, not later. Dial 1-877-698-8228 and enter your zip code to be connected to your Representative.

Slow Food USA is a network of volunteer chapters working to change their local food systems. Slow Food envisions a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it, and good for the planet.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Activists Mobilize to Ban Arsenic in Maryland Poultry Production

New Food & Water Watch Report Warns of Public Health and Environmental Risks of Chemical

WASHINGTON - November 9, 2010 - As part of a movement to ban the use of arsenic in poultry production in Maryland, the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch today partnered with community leaders throughout the state to educate the public about the environmental and public health problems associated with the chemical.

A known poison, arsenic is often added to chicken feed in the form of the compound roxarsone to control the common intestinal disease coccidiosis, to promote growth and as a cosmetic additive. Chronic exposure to arsenic has also been shown to increase the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, neurological deficits and other health problems.

“The FDA approved this drug in 1944 when FDR was president. Since then, science has shown it’s a dangerous, unnecessary contaminant in our food supply,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “Maryland has an opportunity to demonstrate true leadership on this issue by banning the use of arsenic in its poultry facilities.”

The seventh largest broiler-producing state in the U.S., according the 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture, Maryland sold nearly 300 million broiler chickens that year. On the Delmarva Peninsula alone, 1,700 chicken operations raise 11 million chickens per week. Researchers estimate that between 20 and 50 metric tons of roxarsone are applied to crops there every year via poultry waste. Groundwater tests on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay’s Coastal Plains found arsenic in some household wells reaching up to 13 times the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) tolerance limit. Arsenic in chicken litter can convert to more dangerous forms of arsenic than those originally used in feed. This is why a bill to ban arsenic in chicken feed was introduced earlier this year in the Maryland House of Delegates.

“A week ago today, Maryland’s conservation-minded voters turned out in force to send a message that protecting the health of our air, land, water, and residents is an important priority,” said Jen Brock-Cancellieri, deputy director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. “We hope that after reading this report, Maryland’s legislators will continue to speak up for their constituents and support legislation to ban the unnecessary use of arsenic by the poultry industry.”

These concerns are reinforced by a new report on the poultry industry’s use of arsenic also released today by Food & Water Watch. Poison-Free Poultry: Why Arsenic Doesn’t Belong in Chicken Feed exposes the dangerous, widespread use of arsenic in the poultry industry and calls on Congress and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action to update antiquated rules and protect consumers.

“We should be able to eat chicken without consuming harmful additives, but Marylanders are inadvertently exposing themselves and their loved ones to a known carcinogen hidden in a seemingly nutritious meal,” said Jenny Levin, an advocate for Maryland PIRG. “As a proud poultry production state, Maryland should ban the use of arsenic in chicken feed immediately, thereby protecting a valuable industry and the health and trust of its citizens.”

Dr. Keeve Nachman, director of farming for the Future Program at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future notes that “approval of roxarsone for use in poultry and swine production is based on sorely outdated science that ignores both our present-day understanding of arsenic’s toxicity and the potential for arsenic to contaminate soils, water and crops where animal waste is spread.”

Although approved for use in the chicken industry by the FDA over six decades ago, the average American’s annual chicken consumption has since tripled from less than 20 pounds in the 1940s to nearly 60 pounds in 2008. Yet the FDA hasn’t revised its allowed levels for arsenic residues in poultry since 1951.

Additionally, new studies show that arsenic residues may be higher in chicken meat than previously known. USDA data suggests that the typical American is eating between 2.13 and 8.07 micrograms of total arsenic per day through consumption of chicken meat.

“The science shows the use of arsenic in chicken feed is dangerous and that viable alternatives to arsenic exist,“ said Hauter. “The FDA needs to stand up to the big chicken companies and make public health its priority.”

The report outlines the shared responsibility by the FDA, USDA and EPA for fixing a fragmented, antiquated system to regulate arsenic. It concludes with recommendations to these agencies to mitigate the damage already caused by arsenic in livestock feed and calls for a ban on future use of arsenic for livestock production.

“One of the main reasons why we have found such strong demand for the chickens grown on our pasture is that we don’t use arsenic to raise them,” said Ted Wycall, owner of Greenbranch Farm, located on the Eastern Shore. “Consumers are smart; they don’t want to eat food containing arsenic. Pasture-raised poultry is in big demand locally and nationally. Farmers should consider this a tremendous business opportunity; we need more of us doing this.”

The full report can be downloaded here.
Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.
CONTACT: Food & Water Watch Erin Greenfield at (202) 683-2457
or news[at]fwwatch[dot]org

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Monsanto's ongoing humiliation proceeds apace. No, I'm not referring to the company's triumph in our recent "Villains of Food" poll. Instead, I'm talking about a Tuesday item from the Des Moines Register's Philip Brasher, reporting that Monsanto has been forced into the unenviable position of having to pay farmers to spray the herbicides of rival companies.

If you tend large plantings of Monsanto's "Roundup Ready" soy or cotton, genetically engineered to withstand application of the company's Roundup herbicide (which will kill the weeds -- supposedly -- but not the crops), Monsanto will cut you a $6 check for every acre on which you apply at least two other herbicides. One imagines farmers counting their cash as literally millions of acres across the South and Midwest get doused with Monsanto-subsidized poison cocktails.

The move is the latest step in the abject reversal of Monsanto's longtime claim: that Roundup Ready technology solved the age-old problem of weeds in an ecologically benign way. The company had developed a novel trait that would allow crops to survive unlimited lashings of glyphosate, Monsanto's then-patent-protected, broad-spectrum herbicide. It was kind of a miracle technology. Farmers would no longer have to think about weeds; glyphosate, which killed everything but the trait-endowed crop, would do all the work. Moreover, Monsanto promised, Roundup was less toxic to humans and wildlife than the herbicides then in use; and it allowed farmers to decrease erosion by dramatically reducing tillage -- a common method of weed control.

There was just one problem, which the Union of Concerned Scientists pointed out as early as 1993, New York University nutritionist and food-politics author Marion Nestle recently reminded us. When farmers douse the same field year after year with the same herbicide, certain weeds will develop resistance. When they do, it will take ever-larger doses of that herbicide to kill them -- making the survivors even hardier. Eventually, it will be time to bring in in the older, harsher herbicides to do the trick, UCS predicted.

At the time and for years after, Monsanto dismissed the concerns as "hypothetical," Nestle reports. Today, Roundup Ready seeds have conquered prime U.S. farmland from the deep South to the northern prairies -- 90 percent of soybean acres and 70 percent of corn and cotton acres are planted in Roundup Ready seeds. Monsanto successfully conquered a fourth crop, sugar beets, gaining a stunning 95 percent market share after the USDA approved Roundup Ready beet seeds in 2008. But recently, as I reported here, a federal judge halted future plantings of Roundup Ready beets until the USDA completes an environmental impact study of their effects.

Given what happened to other Roundup Ready crops, it's hard to imagine that the USDA can come up with an environmental impact study that will exonerate Monsanto's sugar beet seeds. Today, there are no fewer than 10 weed species resistant to Roundup, thriving "in at least 22 states infesting millions of acres," The New York Times recently reported. And the ways farmers are responding to them are hardly ecologically sound: jacked-up application rates of Roundup, supplemented by other, harsher poisons.

And as Monsanto's once-celebrated Roundup Ready traits come under fire, there's another Roundup problem no one's talking about: Roundup itself, once hailed as a an ecologically benign herbicide, is looking increasingly problematic. A study by France's University of Caen last year found that the herbicide's allegedly "inert" ingredients magnify glyphosate's toxic effects. According to the study, "the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death" at levels commonly used on farm fields.

Moreover, the annual cascade of Roundup on vast swaths of prime farmland also appears to be undermining soil health and productivity, as this startling recent report shows.

Meanwhile, the endlessly repeated claim that Roundup Ready technology saves "millions of tons" of soil from erosion, by allowing farmers to avoid tilling to kill weeds, appears to be wildly trumped up. According to Environmental Working Group's reading of the USDA's 2007 National Resource Inventory, "there has been no progress in reducing soil erosion in the Corn Belt since 1997." (The Corn Belt is the section of the Midwest where the great bulk of Roundup Ready corn and soy are planted.) "The NRI shows that an average-sized Iowa farm loses five tons of high quality topsoil per acre each year," EWG writes.

In short, Monsanto's Roundup Ready technology is emerging as an environmental disaster. The question isn't why a judge demanded an environmental impact study of Roundup Ready sugar beets in 2010; it's that no one did so in 1996 before the technology was rolled out. After all, the Union of Concerned Scientists was already quite, well, concerned back then.

As I wrote in June, rather than spark a reassessment of the wisdom of relying on toxic chemicals, the failure of Roundup Ready has the U.S. agricultural establishment scrambling to intensify chemical use. Companies like Dow Agriscience are dusting off old, highly toxic poisons like 2, 4-D and promoting them as the "answer" to Roundup's problems.

In a better world, farmers would be looking to non-chemical methods for controlling weeds: crop rotations, mulching, cover crops, etc. Instead, they're being paid by Monsanto to ramp up application of poisons. Perhaps the USDA's main research arm, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will rise to the occasion by funding research in non-chemical weed-control methods? Not likely, since the Obama administration tapped a staunch Monsanto man to lead that crucial agency.

But instead of true innovation, we have the spectacle of Monsanto paying farmers to dump vast chemical cocktails onto land that not only feeds us, but also drains into our streams and rivers.


Time to End War Against the Earth

by Vandana Shiva
Published on Sunday, November 7, 2010 by The Age (Australia)

When we think of wars in our times, our minds turn to Iraq and Afghanistan. But the bigger war is the war against the planet. This war has its roots in an economy that fails to respect ecological and ethical limits - limits to inequality, limits to injustice, limits to greed and economic concentration.

A handful of corporations and of powerful countries seeks to control the earth's resources and transform the planet into a supermarket in which everything is for sale. They want to sell our water, genes, cells, organs, knowledge, cultures and future.

Vandana Shiva The continuing wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and onwards are not only about "blood for oil". As they unfold, we will see that they are about blood for food, blood for genes and biodiversity and blood for water.

The war mentality underlying military-industrial agriculture is evident from the names of Monsanto's herbicides - ''Round-Up'', ''Machete'', ''Lasso''. American Home Products, which has merged with Monsanto, gives its herbicides similarly aggressive names, including ''Pentagon'' and ''Squadron''.This is the language of war. Sustainability is based on peace with the earth.

The war against the earth begins in the mind. Violent thoughts shape violent actions. Violent categories construct violent tools. And nowhere is this more vivid than in the metaphors and methods on which industrial, agricultural and food production is based. Factories that produced poisons and explosives to kill people during wars were transformed into factories producing agri-chemicals after the wars.

The year 1984 woke me up to the fact that something was terribly wrong with the way food was produced. With the violence in Punjab and the disaster in Bhopal, agriculture looked like war. That is when I wrote The Violence of the Green Revolution and why I started Navdanya as a movement for an agriculture free of poisons and toxics.

Pesticides, which started as war chemicals, have failed to control pests. Genetic engineering was supposed to provide an alternative to toxic chemicals. Instead, it has led to increased use of pesticides and herbicides and unleashed a war against farmers.

The high-cost feeds and high-cost chemicals are trapping farmers in debt - and the debt trap is pushing farmers to suicide. According to official data, more than 200,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997.

Making peace with the earth was always an ethical and ecological imperative. It has now become a survival imperative for our species.

Violence to the soil, to biodiversity, to water, to atmosphere, to farms and farmers produces a warlike food system that is unable to feed people. One billion people are hungry. Two billion suffer food-related diseases - obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cancers.

There are three levels of violence involved in non-sustainable development. The first is the violence against the earth, which is expressed as the ecological crisis. The second is the violence against people, which is expressed as poverty, destitution and displacement. The third is the violence of war and conflict, as the powerful reach for the resources that lie in other communities and countries for their limitless appetites.

When every aspect of life is commercialized, living becomes more costly, and people are poor, even if they earn more than a dollar a day. On the other hand, people can be affluent in material terms, even without the money economy, if they have access to land, their soils are fertile, their rivers flow clean, their cultures are rich and carry traditions of producing beautiful homes and clothing and delicious food, and there is social cohesion, solidarity and spirit of community.

The elevation of the domain of the market, and money as man-made capital, to the position of the highest organizing principle for societies and the only measure of our well-being has led to the undermining of the processes that maintain and sustain life in nature and society.

The richer we get, the poorer we become ecologically and culturally. The growth of affluence, measured in money, is leading to a growth in poverty at the material, cultural, ecological and spiritual levels.

The real currency of life is life itself and this view raises questions: how do we look at ourselves in this world? What are humans for? And are we merely a money-making and resource-guzzling machine? Or do we have a higher purpose, a higher end?

I believe that ''earth democracy'' enables us to envision and create living democracies based on the intrinsic worth of all species, all peoples, all cultures - a just and equal sharing of this earth's vital resources, and sharing the decisions about the use of the earth's resources.

Earth democracy protects the ecological processes that maintain life and the fundamental human rights that are the basis of the right to life, including the right to water, food, health, education, jobs and livelihoods.

We have to make a choice. Will we obey the market laws of corporate greed or Gaia's laws for maintenance of the earth's ecosystems and the diversity of its beings?

People's need for food and water can be met only if nature's capacity to provide food and water is protected. Dead soils and dead rivers cannot give food and water.

Defending the rights of Mother Earth is therefore the most important human rights and social justice struggle. It is the broadest peace movement of our times.

This is an edited version of Dr Vandana Shiva's speech at the Sydney Opera House last night.
© 2010 The Age

Vandana Shiva is an Indian feminist and environmental activist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology.

Friday, November 5, 2010


New Report Refutes Industry Argument that Genetically Modified Salmon will Feed Hungry World Populations
BRUSSELS - November 4, 2010 - Food & Water Europe released a report today outlining why the genetically engineered (GE) salmon currently being considered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approval as a human food will not alleviate global hunger.

GE Salmon Will Not Feed the World outlines several reasons why this transgenic fish is likely to be more expensive to produce than perceived, as well as problematic for the environment, fishing communities and consumers. The report was released a day after Scottish MP Rob Gibson motioned to petition the Scottish Government to monitor the FDA’s approval process, noting that escapees are likely to occur through time and could easily reach the shores of Scotland, “altering forever the genetic integrity of wild Atlantic salmon and of quality Scottish farmed salmon.”

“The company producing this experimental fish, AquaBounty, is the only one who will be profiting from it, despite misleading claims that this product could be a means to feed growing populations around the world,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Europe.

Since GE salmon can require large amounts of food, display deformities and likely have higher oxygen demands, they can be costly to produce. These projected costs, combined with the various potential human health and ecological concerns associated with GE fish, will not likely add up to a more financially advantageous product for growers or consumers.

Furthermore, farmed salmon in general may not be as nutritious or safe as wild salmon. They contain on average 35 percent fewer omega-3 fatty acids – which are important for human health, but not produced by the body. Also, farmed salmon often contain higher levels of contaminants in their fat (which they can have more of than wild salmon), including 10 times the amount of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). GE salmon are also known to have higher levels of insulin-like growth factor 1, which has been associated with increased risk of certain types of cancer.

These worrying food safety issues are compounded by the environmental damage GE salmon would add to the already unsustainable salmon farming industry. The small, wild fish used in salmon feed are a major food source for marine mammals, birds and larger fish as well as low-income, food insecure populations around the world. In 2006, the aquaculture sector alone consumed nearly 90 percent of small prey fish captured worldwide. GE salmon may require about five times the amount of feed as a non-altered salmon to grow faster. This will further exacerbate the decline of available wild fish for marine wildlife and people in countries that need it most. If fish are not used in feed, it is entirely likely that the fish would be fed on industrial soya—which is associated with serious environmental and human rights impacts as well. Escapes of GE salmon into the wild could also threaten wild salmon, by competing for food, habitat and mates.

“GE salmon is an inefficient way to produce food that comes with more costs than benefits,” says Hauter. “We should be concerned about protecting consumers and our wild fish populations rather than pushing forward to approve this potentially dangerous product.”

Read the report –
Food & Water Europe is a program of Food & Water Watch, Inc., a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, D.C., working to ensure clean water and safe food in Europe and around the world. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

CONTACT: Food & Water Watch Europe
Eve Mitchell, +44 (0)7962 437 128 or +44 (0)1381 610 740, emitchell(at)
Gabriella Zanzanaini, +32 (0)488 409 662, gzanzanaini(at)

Monday, November 1, 2010


The Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies published research findings in late September showing an insecticidal protein, called Cry1Ab, inserted into genetically modified corn to fight insect predation, was found in US waterways.

The Cary Institute announced the publication of their research results in late September, but only a small handful of media outlets picked up on the story. The researchers found streams near corn fields containing corn genetically modified to contain Bt contained the pesticidal bacteria, and they were able to determine that the pesticide contamination came directly from the GM corn. The results of the research, Occurrence of maize detritus and a transgenic insecticidal protein (Cry1Ab) within the stream network of an agricultural landscape was published in September by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).
Monsanto acknowledged the research in a simple statement that said

"On September 27, 2010, an article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) reported the presence of corn leaves and other plant material in streams close to corn fields, and detection of the protein Cry1Ab which is present in Bt corn. Previous studies have already reported this observation.
The results of this study are neither new nor surprising. Cry1Ab protein is expected to be present in degrading corn residues in aquatic systems near corn fields. The study did not suggest that concentrations of Cry1Ab detected have any effect on non-target organisms.
Monsanto takes the safety and stewardship of our products seriously. Our scientists review every new publication related to the safety of our products, promptly and carefully."

Bt or "Bacillus thuringiensis ... is a naturally occurring, soil borne organism that has gained recent popularity for its ability to control certain insect pests in a natural, environmentally friendly manner." Bt corn first was planted in 1996 in the USA, and since then, said a study by Indiana University researchers, has been enormously beneficial for farmers.
While Bt itself appears to be safe for many animals, there have been concerns raised about transgenic Bt -- the Bt inserted into the genes of plants since then, according to a 1998 research paper prepared by scientists from the Swiss Federal Research Station for Acroecology and Agriculture. That paper said a definitive conclusion on the safety of transgenic Bt was not possible at the time. Many subsequent studies have concluded that transgenic Bt does not pose a threat.
However, some studies have shown the protein Cry1Ab poses a threat to some living creatures, usually called "non-target organisms," such as butterflies and honey bees reported The Bioscience Resource Project.
Leaving aside safety issues, the real issue, said lead researcher for the Cary Institute report, Dr. E.J. Rosi-Marshall was the fact that

“... corn crop byproducts can be dispersed throughout a stream network, and that the compounds associated with genetically-modified crops, such as insecticidal proteins, can enter nearby water bodies.”

As the researchers point out,

"... Genetically-modified plants are a mainstay of large-scale agriculture in the American Midwest, where corn is a dominant crop. In 2009, more than 85% of U.S. corn crops were genetically modified to repel pests and/or resist herbicide exposure. Corn engineered to release an insecticide that wards off the European corn borer, commonly referred to as Bt corn, comprised 63% of crops. The tissue of these plants has been modified to express insecticidal proteins, one of which is commonly known as Cry1Ab."

The researchers assessed 217 streams in Indiana, finding

"... dissolved Cry1Ab proteins from Bt corn present in stream water at nearly a quarter of the sites, including headwater streams. Eighty-six percent of the sampled sites contained corn leaves, husks, stalks, or cobs in their channels; at 13% of these sites corn byproducts contained detectable Cry1Ab proteins. The study was conducted six months after crop harvest, indicating that the insecticidal proteins in crop byproducts can persist in the landscape."

More than that, however, the researchers said the streams with the Cry1Ab

"... were located within 500 meters of a corn field ... Furthermore, given current agricultural land use patterns, 91% percent of the streams and rivers throughout Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana —some 159,000 miles of waterways—are also located within 500 meters of corn fields."

Ultimately, why should anyone care about a substance that has largely been scientifically proven to be save for most living beings? As the Cary Institute points out,

"... These corn byproducts may alter the health of freshwaters. Ultimately, streams that originate in the Corn Belt drain into the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes."

Research on the effects of Cry1Ab on waterways and animals living in streams, rivers and lakes is lacking. However, early research conducted in Canada showed some accumulation of Cry1Ab in fresh water mussels. No one knows what effects this contamination might have.

Read more:


Monsanto has no magic cure for its woes as company flounders
By Stephanie Dearing.
Monsanto is under the gun on a number of different issues, and the company has no magic elixir or engineered fix to halt the corporation's plummet from its recent position as Forbe's Company of the Year.
Major cracks have formed in the Monsanto facade this past year. Dropping fortunes appear to be the result of a combination of factors, including 'super weeds,' the high cost of Monsanto seeds and inputs and competition on the herbicide front from China. Could Monsanto could be in a dive so precipitous it won't be able to recover?
Glyphosphate-resistant weeds have proven to be a major Achilles heel for Monsanto. Glyphosphate is the key ingredient in the corporation's main product, the herbicide it calls Roundup. Obviously a field full of resistant 'super weeds' is not good business for a farmer, and Monsanto recently announced it would issue millions in rebates to farmers who use other herbicides.
Stephen P. Bowles summarized the glyphosphate issue in a research paper on glyphosphate resistance, published in PNAS earlier this year.

"... History shows that threats to food production have major repercussions, including famine, war, and civil unrest. A major threat to food production occurs every single growing season, when wild plant species (weeds) infest crop fields. Humans have battled since the dawn of agriculture to control weeds and to minimize their negative influence on food production. Modern herbicides have largely replaced human labor as the primary tool for weed control, and this has contributed significantly to the productivity of world cropping. However, despite the success of herbicides, weeds remain a primary challenge to food production, in part because selection pressure from herbicides has resulted in the evolution of herbicide resistance in weeds."

Initially, Monsanto paid lip service to the topic of glyphosphate resistance, but even this summer, the corporation was still downplaying the extent of the problem. CBC News reported Monsanto said 'resistance was often overstated.' At the same time, Monsanto was offering American farmers a $12 per acre rebate for using competitors' herbicides.
Monsanto made the rebate official this month after experimenting with it over the summer. Farmers in the United States growing cotton and soybeans are eligible for rebates of either $3 or $20 per acre -- that is, if the farmers follow Monsanto's directions for integrated management outlined in Monsanto's Roundup Ready Weed Management Plus Platform. When announcing the program, Monsanto said

""We have talked with farmers, weed scientists and others in the industry to develop a set of best management recommendations to control glyphosate-resistant weeds where they exist and reduce the risk of developing these weeds on other fields where farmers are growing Roundup Ready crops. The Roundup Ready PLUS platform was designed to improve on-farm productivity, sustain the benefits of conservation tillage and provide effective weed management. We have assembled a set of recommendations, products and incentives packaged together to bring solutions to the farm."
The Roundup Ready PLUS platform provides weed management recommendations for Roundup Ready crops for each farm situation, by pairing crop protection products from Monsanto and other companies."

But not all farmers are pleased with the new program. Some farmers, reported AgFax, have panned the deal, saying (in part)

"... Monsanto has helped somewhat in weed resistance management by rebating a small amount ($2.50/ac or so) for each of several herbicides if they are applied. However, it would require that a producer use all five herbicides on the list in order to get a total of $12.50/ac in return.
And there is no consideration for rates. Cotoran and diuron, for instance, must be used at the highest labeled rates for most of our soil types where cotton is grown in our area, yet the same amount of $ is allocated per acre regardless. The $2.50/ac rebate for Cotoran would be less than 20% of the cost of a efficacious rate of that herbicide for many of our acres. We appreciate the thought, but we need more bucks if Monsanto truly wants to help with resistance management in our area."

Why is Monsanto backing down from its denial of glyphosphate resistance? As Joseph Mendelson noted in 1998, writing for The Ecologist,

"... Monsanto has built much of its corporate empire upon the back of one chemical - glyphosate. Introduced almost 25 years ago, glyphosate, marketed mainly as the herbicide Roundup, is Monsanto's key agri-chemical product."

Monsanto lost money on its sales of Roundup in the third quarter of 2010, but optimistically predicts the company will make $550 to $600 million from Roundup sales in 2011. Profits from Roundup sales in the 4th quarter of 2009 were $322 million.
Monsanto developed Roundup in 1974, and has been designing crops to be Roundup ready ever since. The herbicide has been hailed as a breakthrough product for agriculture, and Monsanto claims its products create many benefits for farmers and the environment, as well as human health, although there is at least one study claiming Roundup causes liver cell death.
Monsanto's financial fortunes are facing increased pressure from issues such as the US Department of Justice's investigation into Monsanto for allegations that the company has monopolized the seed market with its Roundup ready seeds, said St. Louis Public Radio. In addition, a number of other states are looking into Monsanto's soy beans, and West Virginia just filed a law suit against Monsanto for not backing up its claims about the superiority of its soybeans. At the same time, those who care were rocked by the revelation that the Gates Foundation holds 500,000 shares in Monsanto.
Last year, Forbes named Monsanto "Company of the year," which journalist Robert Langreth said in his Forbes blog was a big mistake.
Zack's just rated Monsanto as "... Underperform Recommendation in line with the stock’s current Sell rating, equivalent to a Zacks #4 Rank." Zack's is confident Monsanto will climb out of this deepening hole, primarily due to the GE corn, SmartStax. Zack's issued its rating for Monsanto on October 20, saying

"... We believe this will continue for a substantial period of time based on the slower market recovery. Further, an intensely competitive environment and Monsanto's huge dependence on a few large customers can lead to risk.
Monsanto also faces foreign currency risk since a significant portion of its income comes from outside the U.S. Thus, we downgraded our recommendation on the stock from Neutral to Underperform...

Addendum: Earlier this month, Monsanto told the New York Times the company was taking steps to deal with the growing discontent farmers have expressed with Monsanto's products. One of those steps was the rebate program for integrated weed management to fight glyphosphate resistance, and another step is the lowering of the price of SmartStax corn. The corporation is even going so far as to offer seeds that are less genetically engineered, reported the New York Times.

Read more:

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Six multinational companies dominate the agricultural input market, and they’re in cahoots.

Market share pesticide companiesWhen a handful of corporations own the world’s seed, pesticide and biotech industries, they control the fate of food and farming. Between them, Monsanto, Dow, BASF, Bayer, Syngenta and DuPont control the global seed, pesticide and agricultural biotechnology markets. This kind of historically unprecedented power over world agriculture enables them to:

* control the agricultural research agenda;
* dictate trade agreements & agricultural policies;
* position their technologies as the “science-based” solution to increase crop yields, feed the hungry and save the planet;
* escape democratic & regulatory controls;
* subvert competitive markets;

…and in the process, intimidate, impoverish and disempower farmers, undermine food security and make historic profits - even in the midst of a global food crisis.

Sample Cartel Agreements

Monsanto & BASF announce a $1.5 billion R&D collaboration involving 60/40 profit-sharing. (March 2007)

Monsanto & Dow Agrichemicals join forces to develop the first-ever GE maize loaded with 8 genetic traits, for release in 2010. (Sept. 2007)

Monsanto & Syngenta call a truce on outstanding litigation related to global maize & soybean interests, forge new cross-licensing agreements. (May 2008)

Syngenta & DuPont announce a joint agreement, broadening each company's pesticide product portfolios (June 2008) Source: ETC report, “Who Owns Nature?"

What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain. —Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto's agricultural sector

According to the UN, corporate concentration of the agricultural input market “has far-reaching implications for global food security, as the privatization and patenting of agricultural innovation (gene traits, transformation technologies and seed germplasm) has been supplanting traditional agricultural understandings of seed, farmers' rights, and breeders' rights.”


Int'l rules adopted on redress for damage caused by GM crops

(Mainichi Japan) October 16, 2010

NAGOYA (Kyodo) -- Parties gathered at biological diversity talks in the central Japan city of Nagoya adopted on Friday a supplement to the biosafety protocol that sets redress rules for damage caused to ecosystems by the movements of genetically modified crops.

The move came on the final day of the fifth meeting on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, which began Monday as the official start of three weeks of international talks on the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The "Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on Liability and Redress" holds business operators liable for bringing in genetically modified living organisms across national borders in case such organisms cause damage to ecosystems and human health. It also sets new rules for allowing countries to call on the operators to take restorative measures or pay for the costs of such measures.

Under the rules, countries will be able to call on the operators -- including owners, developers, producers, exporters, importers and transporters -- to take preventive measures if there is a good chance that the relevant organisms may cause damage.

For possible damage that may be caused through the movements of genetically modified living organisms, countries can legally mandate financial measures, such as insurance and funds, while being in step with other international laws.

Talks on compensatory measures for damage caused to ecosystems by genetically modified living organisms began in earnest in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in 2004, the reason the new supplementary protocol has included the capital's name in it.

The protocol will be opened for signatures at the U.N. headquarters from next March. The accord takes effect 90 days after 40 countries and regions ratify it.

Japan hopes to ratify it in autumn next year or later after obtaining parliamentary approval, government officials said. No law needs to be revised domestically to implement the protocol, according to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry.

The 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, or COP10, will be held in the city from Oct. 18 to 29 to set new goals for the preservation of biodiversity. It will also seek to forge an accord on how to share benefits from the use of genetic resources, but developing and industrialized countries are divided over the matter.


First steps toward global Monsanto liability?
Pesticide Action Network's picture
Wed, 2010-10-20 14:15
Pesticide Action Network (PAN)

Last week, countries gathered in Japan hammered out a global agreement to hold corporations liable for genetically modified (GM) organism pollution of ecosystems.

According to the The Mainichi Daily News, a "biosafety protocol" was adopted to set "redress rules for damage caused to ecosystems by the movements of genetically modified crops."The move came at the end of the fifth meeting on the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, kicking off international talks on the Convention on Biological Diversity. The new rules, which bolster mechanisms to hold agricultural biotech corporations like Monsanto liable, will be opened for ratification next spring.

At stake, according to the Japan Times: "Seventy-five percent of the food crop varieties we once grew have disappeared from our fields in the last 100 years. Of the 7,000 species of plants that have been domesticated over the history of agriculture, a mere 30 account for 90 percent of all the food that we eat every day.”
GM corn poised to pollute Mexican maize fields

The rules can’t come too soon for nations like Mexico, where Monsanto and DuPont have just finished a first year of GM corn trials. According to Mica Rosenberg, reporting for Reuters in Scientific American, the corporations have declared the tests successful, and seek to subsidize farmers in two northern Mexico states to use the GM corn seeds next year.

According to Rosenberg, agricultural biotech giants “see a market for the some 5 million acres in Mexico now planted with hybrid seeds bought each year by farmers eager to adopt the latest trends.” The balance of Mexico’s 20 million acres planted to corn are farmed by subsistence farmers who cannot afford to pay for patented seed. (In this way, GM corn drives an even larger wedge between the commercial, large-scale corn growers of the north, and the indigenous and subsistence farmers of the south.) Moreover, the GM corn is not being sought by small farmers seeking to feed their families or communities, but rather pushed by industrial agricultural interests seeking to compete in a global market for animal feed.

Farmers throughout Mexico are expressing serious concern about GM pollution of the nation’s staple and spiritual crop, aware also of their particular location in the "center-of-origin" of corn. Indigenous groups say corn, revered in pre-colonial Mexico by the Mayans and the Aztecs as a god, has sustained generations of farmers who save their red, blue, white and multi-colored corn seeds using techniques passed down for generations. Mexico holds amongst the most diverse portfolio of corn genes the world over, a stable of resources for resilience against pests, drought and a changing climate. "My grandparents taught my family the process of saving seeds.... [The worry is] we will lose our native corn," said Alejandro Nevarez, a Tarahumara agronomist in the state of Chihuahuaha.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


UN Says Global Farm Methods 'Recipe for Disaster'
Published on Saturday, October 16, 2010 by Agence France Presse

GENEVA - The United Nations top official on the right to food has called for wholesale changes in farming methods to safeguard the environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat.

[A farmer holds a bunch of cassava roots dug up from his farm in Oshogbo, in Nigeria's Osun State in August. The United Nations top official on the right to food has called for wholesale changes in farming methods to safeguard the environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat. (AFP/Pius Utomi Ekpei) ]A farmer holds a bunch of cassava roots dug up from his farm in Oshogbo, in Nigeria's Osun State in August. The United Nations top official on the right to food has called for wholesale changes in farming methods to safeguard the environment and ensure everyone has enough to eat. (AFP/Pius Utomi Ekpei)
Olivier De Schutter, the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, said in a statement to mark World Food Day that there is currently "little to rejoice about," and "worse may still be ahead."

"As a result of climate change, the yields in certain regions of sub-Saharan Africa are expected to fall by 50 percent by 2020 in comparison to 2000 levels. And growing frequency and intensity of floods and droughts contribute to volatility in agricultural markets."

"Current agricultural developments are ... threatening the ability for our children's children to feed themselves," he said. "A fundamental shift is urgently required if we want to celebrate World Food Day next year," he added.

De Schutter said the emphasis on chemical fertilisers and a greater mechanisation of production was "far distant from the professed commitment to fight climate change and to support small-scale, family agriculture."

In addition, "giving priority to approaches that increase reliance on fossil fuels is agriculture committing suicide," he said.

"Agriculture is already directly responsible for 14 percent of man-made greenhouse gas emissions -- and up to one third if we include the carbon dioxide produced by deforestation for the expansion of cultivation or pastures.

De Schutter said that pursuing the current approach would be "a recipe for disaster."

Instead there should be a global promotion of low-carbon farming, he said, adding that "agriculture must become central to mitigating the effects of climate change rather than a large part of the problem."

"Low-technology, sustainable techniques may be better suited to the needs of the cash-strapped farmers working in the most difficult environments," De Schutter said.

"They represent a huge, still largely untapped potential to meet the needs and to increase the incomes of the poorest farmers."

Climate change and agricultural development must be thought of together, instead of being dealt with in isolation from one another, De Schutter urged.

"To do so, we need to resist the short-termism of markets and elections. Development of longer-term strategies through inclusive and participatory processes could and should clearly identify measures needed, a clear time line, and allocation of responsibilities for action."

"What today seems revolutionary will be achievable if it is part of a long-term, democratically developed plan, one that will allow us to develop carbon-neutral agriculture and to pursue everyones enjoyment of the right to food through sustainable food production systems."

The 30th celebration of World Food Day on Saturday has the slogan: "United against hunger."

The main issues in focus are rapidly increasing demand for food commodities and changing climates that affect abilities to produce food.
© 2010 AFP

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Natural Solutions Foundation
The Voice of Global Food and Health Freedom™


FACT: Genetically Modified Plants and animals (GMOs) contain foreign DNA whose impact is not subject to safety evaluation by the FDA or any other government agency
FACT: GMOs contain genetic markers which confer antibiotic resistance to the GMO AND to the environment, helping to create the new plague, antibiotic resistant “super bugs” in animals, humans and the environment
FACT: The FDA, supposedly our health watchdog for foods and drugs, regularly bases its approvals not on scientific data, but on personal conflicts of interest which are permitted under current rules.
FACT: The FDA is not permitted to examine safety data after initial, company-generated preliminary indication that a GMO is safe
FACT: Acknowledging consumer revulsion at the thought of eating GMOs, the FDA forbids labeling items, or ingredients, as GMO “to prevent consumers from making an error since FDA regards all GMOs as “substantially equivalent” to unmodified foods
FACT: There is no scientific basis for the concept of “substantially equivalent”
FACT: Every single independent scientific analysis of GMO impact on health, immune function, allergic status, fertility, organ function and status, reproductive impact or any other function shows that GMOs impair fertility, organ function, fetal and neonatal survival, immune function and a host of other parameters
FACT: GMO genetic material infects the DNA of other plants and animals, animals (including humans) who ingest it and the bacteria on which animals depend for life support both in their guts and in the rest of the biosphere
FACT: The US Department of Agriculture (USDA)has stated that it does not know where, or what, more than 95% of the GMO field trials being conducted are.
FACT: Bayer Crop Sciences, responsible for contamination of almost all rice fields in the US with GMO rice, has stated that it is not possible to contain GMO DNA from invading other fields and organisms.
FACT: GMO genes dominate natural ones and insert themselves into native DNA in wild and unpredictable ways so that novel proteins are produced whose impact is nearly totally unknown
FACT: Once GMOs contaminate native DNA, there is no known way to remove it
FACT: Virtually all GMO plants are modified to tolerate high levels of the toxic chemicals which their modifiers manufacture, increasing the use of these chemicals up to 400% and leading to super bugs and super weeds which are highly destructive to the environment and to crops
FACT: The same companies which modify foods and other organisms and make the chemicals they have been made resistant to also make drugs to treat the diseases that follow from them
FACT: GMO-related agrochemicals (such as very high doses of BT from BT corn) contaminate the ecosystem months to years after the crop has been harvested

Even politicians, generally some of the most obtuse and self-interested people on the planet, had a belly full of GMOs today. Democrats in the House and the Senate both urged the FDA to reject their approval of genetically modified salmon, hatched in the US and nurtured offshore. Even the members of the US Congress, generally so Big Biotech compliant, noted that the review process the FDA followed was flawed. What a “flawed process” means is that a dangerous drug (or, in this case, Frankenfood) would be put into the market. Only later would the dangers be noted and the product removed, in the case of a drug. But drugs are labeled while FDA-approved Frankenfood is never labeled. Thus, the cancer, infertility, loss of babies and other preventable tragedies it can cause will never be identified, allowing the contaminators to continue their deceptive campaign to convince us that, sick and dying as we are from our food, the US food supply is the safest in the world.

On the contrary, with every new DNA-modified food, our food supply becomes more deadly. Aunt Gertrude’s cancer? Was that from GMOs? How about the baby the Polly and Henry lost last year? The Lupus that has crippled Elizabeth? Who knows if they are unlabeled? And if they are permitted, in the face of evidence that they are dangerous, the question must be asked “WHY?”

The answer is both simple – “Greed”, and complex – “Genocide”

Take your pick. Protect us from greed, protect us from genocide. Either way, ban GMOs now and take back clean, unadulterated food while we still can.

Yours in health and freedom,
Dr. Rima
Rima E. Laibow, MD
Medical Director
Natural Solutions Foundation