Saturday, July 5, 2014



Federal Support For Potent New Weedkiller Raises Fears About Children's Health

Lynne Peeples Headshot
  Posted: Updated:

In his public plea for the Environmental Protection Agency to reject registration of a potent new weedkiller, Christopher Lish of Olema, California, revisited a decades-old warning from environmental prophet Rachel Carson: "As crude a weapon as the cave man's club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life."

Lois Rose, a registered nurse in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin, posted her own, less ornate caution to the EPA website: "Stop listening to the chemical lobby and start listening to the humans affected by these poisons."

As a federal decision looms over whether to approve Dow AgroSciences' proposed Enlist Duo herbicide -- a mix of 2,4-D and glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller -- challenges from critics across the country have poured in. And children's health advocates are among the most vocal.

More than half a million people shared their thoughts before the EPA closed its public comment period on Monday. Among the submissions was a letter signed by 35 doctors, scientists and researchers, which highlighted human health risks they suggested had been overlooked by the agency -- especially for "young children in residential communities, schools, and daycare centers near the 2,4-D-sprayed fields."

On Wednesday, an environmental nonprofit released a report, including an interactive map, that warns the new weed-killing recipe may soon be sprayed on corn and soy fields within a thousand feet of more than 18,000 U.S. schools. Around 5,600 schools are within 200 feet of fields that could potentially be sprayed, according to the Environmental Working Group's new analysis. The EPA's proposed approval of the double herbicide calls for a 200-foot buffer zone around locations where it is sprayed.

"The analysis is pretty scary," said Mary Ellen Kustin, senior policy analyst with the Environmental Working Group. "To think that there are this many schools so close to fields that may be turned over to this new cropping system."

Inhalation of drifting herbicide is the key concern, Kustin noted, although children may be exposed via other routes such as dust tracked around on shoes, clothes and the like.

Industry representatives, meanwhile, call the group's claims "inflammatory," "specious" and "irresponsible." They suggest the federal government is poised to approve the chemical spray with good reason: The herbicide is safe and a necessary solution for struggling American farmers.
"Regulatory and health and safety organizations worldwide have reviewed the database on 2,4-D and found little concern for adverse effects when the product is used as directed," Garry Hamlin, a spokesman with Dow AgroSciences, told The Huffington Post in an email. He added that the 2,4-D in the company's product has been formulated to reduce volatilization and drift: "This is not your granddad's 2,4-D."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that if Enlist Duo is green-lighted, agricultural use of 2,4-D would at least triple by 2020 to between 77.8 and 176.2 million pounds annually. The latter herbicide was first introduced on the market in 1946 and is also commonly used by homeowners to kill weeds in their lawn -- much to the chagrin of environmental health advocates.

Chensheng Lu, an environmental health expert at the Harvard School of Public Health, is among those not comforted by industry's claims. "The reproductive hazards [of 2,4-D], as well as the concern of cancers, have been well documented," said Lu, one of the signatories on the EPA letter. "The EPA should at least host a scientific advisory panel meeting to gather independent review of Enlist Duo."
To the list of potential health risks for children exposed to even tiny amounts of the double herbicide, Warren Porter, a toxicologist at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and another signatory, added attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma and immune disorders.

The EPA's assessment, he said, misses emerging evidence that certain chemicals in minute amounts can disrupt human hormones and therefore mess with multiple systems in the body. Research suggests both 2,4-D and glyphosate carry that capacity.

"Why should we be supporting some kind of a policy that is going to directly impact the health of our children?" said Porter. "The EPA seems totally in the pocket of Dow right now."

The EPA stated that it will review all comments before its final decision, which is expected sometime late summer or early fall. "Our proposal was based on an extensive assessment," the agency told HuffPost in an email, adding that it had looked at herbicide drift and risks to kids, among critics' concerns.

Another worry is potential interactions between glyphosate and 2,4-D, as well as with other ingredients in Enlist Duo. In its environmental risk assessment, the EPA acknowledges that "there could be additive, synergistic, or interference between the two herbicides," potentially increasing or decreasing the overall toxicity of the product.

Fifty years ago, Rachel Carson wrote in Silent Spring of a pesticide combination that resulted in health risks "up to 50 times as severe as would be predicted on the basis of adding together the toxicities of the two."

The EPA did not include any such potential synergisms in its human health risk assessment. While the potential for drift is discussed, the agency also dismissed it from aggregate exposure calculations, determining it didn't pose a sufficient risk.

In addition to the EPA's verdict on the dual herbicide, Dow AgroSciences also awaits final word from the USDA regarding its herbicide-resistant seeds, the other component of its Enlist system. Corn and soy crops would be genetically modified to withstand exposure to 2,4-D and glyphosate, theoretically leaving only the weeds vulnerable to the chemicals.

Weeds, however, may evolve to withstand exposure, as farmers learned after years of employing Monsanto's genetically engineered Roundup Ready seeds. Repeated application of a herbicide can literally weed out the weak weeds, giving the rare resistant ones the opportunity to reproduce and eventually dominate.

More than 70 million acres of farmland in the U.S. are now infested with glyphosate-resistant "superweeds." And that number is rising.

"As a farmer located in Iowa, I look forward to approval of this herbicide option," wrote Fred Wirtz of West Bend, Iowa, in a comment posted on the EPA's website. "Weed resistance to gly[ph]osate and other herbicides is becoming an increasing concern, and this will provide a valuable additional option to protect the crop."

Approval of Enlist Duo should keep farmers from unleashing other -- potentially more toxic -- herbicides, as well as larger quantities of Roundup, said Dow's Hamlin.
Mike Owen, a weed expert at Iowa State University, agreed that the product would be a useful tool for farmers.

While he was among those who first warned of the likelihood of Roundup resistance in the early 1990s, Owen is hopeful that more stringent restrictions included on the Enlist Duo product label will result in more sustainable use. Dow AgroSciences provides specifics on application rates and advises rotating use of Enlist Duo with other herbicides and non-chemical practices such as mechanical cultivation.

Diversifying crops and methods to manage weeds, Owen emphasized, is the real key to getting off what many now call the "pesticide treadmill." He pointed to one factor thwarting that effort: the growing size of the average American farm. "There are fewer farmers farming larger areas over greater distances," Owen said. "And many want to spray one herbicide over all their acres."
Dow AgroSciences also advises on appropriate spray nozzles and weather conditions, among other factors that affect drift. The label, for example, warns applicators not to spray "at wind speeds greater than 15 mph" or in "areas of temperature inversions."

But even if a farmer perfectly adheres to all the label's directions, there is still the chance of dangerous drift, said Porter of the University of Wisconsin. And again, young children may be particularly vulnerable to any toxic effects.

"If the wind is blowing, or even if not, stuff is going to move in all dimensions," said Porter. "They could be well outside the buffer zone, but still get a dose that could affect their immune system, their endocrine system, their nervous system."

"We may be loading ourselves up for some very long-term consequences," he added, noting other new research that hints at the potential for a chemical's harm to be passed down through the generations. "I think we have to be really careful."

Friday, July 4, 2014


Monsanto-2.0Monsanto’s GMO Food and its Dark Connections to the “Military Industrial Complex”

Monsanto, the world’s largest genetically modified (GM/GMO) seed producer, has been at the centre of controversy for decades as evidence of the harmful effects on humans of GM foods continues to mount.  Joined with the likes of DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred International and Syngenta, Monsanto and partners comprise the corporate nexus of Big-Agri, where the control over our food supply is increasingly transferred into the hands of private trans-national corporations as opposed to local farmers and governments.
A US peer-reviewed study conducted last year which was published in the scientific journal Entropy, linked Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup – which is the most popular weed killer in the world – to infertility, cancers and Parkinsons Disease amongst other ailments. The authors of the study were Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. and a former private environmental government contractor. The main ingredient in Roundup is the “insidious” glyphosate, which the study found to be a deeply harmful chemical:
“Glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body [...] Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease” (Samsel and Seneff, 2013).
The Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT) Jeffrey M. Smith has discovered a link between gluten disorders and GM foods in a study he conducted last year. Gluten disorders have sharply risen over the past 2 decades, which correlates with GM foods being introduced into the food supply. Smith asserts that GM foods – including soy and corn – are the possible “environmental triggers” that have contributed to the rapid increase of gluten disorders that effect close to 20 million American’s today:
“Bt-toxin, glyphosate, and other components of GMOs, are linked to five conditions that may either initiate or exacerbate gluten-related disorders [...] If glyphosate activates retinoic acid, and retinoic acid activates gluten sensitivity, eating GMOs soaked with glyphosate may play a role in the onset of gluten-related disorders” (Smith, 2013).
One of the more damming studies on the safety of GM foods was led by biologist Dr. Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen, which was the first study to examine the long term affects on rats that had consumed Monsanto’s GM corn and its Roundup herbicide. The study was conducted over a 2 year period – which is the average life-span of a rat – as opposed to Monsanto’s usual period of 90 days. The peer-reviewed study found horrifying effects on the rats health, with a 200% to 300% increase in large tumours, severe organ damage to the kidney and liver and 70% of female participant rats suffered premature death. The first tumours only appeared 4 to 7 months into the research, highlighting the need for longer trials.

Initially the study was published in the September issue of Food and Chemical Toxicology, but was then later retracted after the publisher felt the study was “inconclusive”, although there was no suspicion of fraud or intentional deceit. Dr. Seralini strongly protested the decision and believed “economic interests” were behind the decision as a former Monsanto employee had joined the journal. Monsanto is infamous for employing swaths oflobbyists to control the political, scientific and administrative decisions relating to the organisation, and this incident was a major whitewash by the GM producer to stop the barrage of negative media reports relating to the toxic effects of their products. The study led by Dr. Seralini was later published in a less well renowned journal, the Environmental Sciences Europe, which reignited the fears of GM foods safety.

France has recently implemented a ban on Monsanto produced maize (MON810) – a different variety of the Monsanto GM corn that was discussed in the study above (NK603) – citing environmental concerns as the reason for the ban. France joins a list of countries including Italy and Poland who have imposed bans on GM corn over the past few years. Additionally, Russian MPs have introduced a draft into parliament which could see GM producers punished as terrorists and criminally prosecuted if they are deemed to have harmed the environment or human health. In India, many of the GM seeds sold to Indian farmers under the pretext of greater harvests failed to deliver, which led to an estimated 200,000 Indian farmers committing suicide due to an inability to repay debts.
There is growing evidence to support the theory that bee colonies are collapsing due to GM crops being used in agriculture, with America seeing the largest fall in bee populations in recent years. Resistance to Monsanto and GM foods has been growing in recent years after the launch of the worldwide ‘March Against Monsanto’ in 2012, which organises global protests against the corporation and its toxic products within 52 countries. Monsanto was also voted the ‘most evil corporation’ of 2013 in a poll conducted by the website Natural News, beating the Federal Reserve and British Petroleum to take the top position.

Monsanto Produced and Supplied Toxic Agent Orange
Researching Monsanto’s past reveals a very dark history that has been well documented for years. During the Vietnam War, Monsanto was contracted to produce and supply the US government with a malevolent chemical for military application. Along with other chemical giants at the time such as Dow Chemical, Monsanto produced the military herbicide Agent Orange which contained high quantities of the deadly chemical Dioxin. Between 1961 and 1971, the US Army sprayed between 50 and 80 million litres of Agent Orange across Vietnamese jungles, forests and strategically advantageous positions. It was deployed in order to destroy forests and fertile lands which provided cover and food for the opposing troops. The fallout was devastating, with Vietnam estimating that 400,000 people died or were maimed due to Agent Orange, as well as 500,000 children born with birth defects and up to 2 million people suffer from cancer or other diseases. Millions of US veterans were also exposed and many have developed similar illnesses. The consequences are still felt and are thought to continue for a century as cancer, birth defects and other diseases are exponential due to them being passed down through generations.

Today, deep connections exist between Monsanto, the ‘Military Industrial Complex’ and the US Government which have to be documented to understand the nature of the corporation. On Monsanto’s Board of Directors sits the former Chairman of the Board and CEO of the giant war contractor Lockheed Martin, Robert J. Stevens, who was also appointed in 2012 by Barack Obama to the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. As well as epitomising the revolving door that exists between the US Government and private trans-national corporations, Stevens is a member of the parallel government in the US, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). A second board member at Monsanto is Gwendolyn S. King, who also sits on the board of Lockheed Martin where she chairs the Orwellian ‘Ethics and Sustainability Committee”. Individuals who are veterans of the corporate war industry should not be allowed control over any populations food supply! Additionally, Monsanto board member Dr. George H. Poste is a former member of the Defense Science Board and the Health Board of the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the CFR.

Bill Gates made headlines in 2010 when The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation bought 500,000 Monsanto shares worth a total of $23 million, raising questions as to why his foundation would invest in such a malign corporation. William H. Gates Sr. – Bill’s father – is the former head of Planned Parenthood and a strong advocate of eugenics– the philosophy that there are superior and inferior types of human beings, with the inferior type often sterilised or culled under the pretext of being a plague on society. During his 2010 TED speech, Bill Gates reveals his desire to reduce the population of the planet by “10 or 15 percent” in the coming years through such technologies as “vaccines”:
“The world today has 6.8 billion people. That’s heading up to about 9 billion. Now if we do a really good job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent” (4.37 into the video).

In 2006, Monsanto acquired a company that has developed – in partnership with the US Department of Agriculture – what is popularly termed terminator seeds, a future major trend in the GM industry. Terminator Seeds or suicide seeds are engineered to become sterile after the first harvest, destroying the ancient practice of saving seeds for future crops. This means farmers are forced to buy new seeds every year from Big-Agri, which produces high debts and a form of servitude for the farmers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


(Shutterstock*)Aversion to GMO Foods Higher Than Ever, and Growing

By  J. D. Heyes, contributing writer to Natural News
Most likely led by states like Vermont and others pushing for labeling of genetically modified organisms in food, aversion to GMOs in what we buy for our families to eat is now higher than ever, and is continuing to grow.
The drive to eat healthier, followed by parents’ growing concerns about feeding GMO foods to their kids, is driving the awareness and antipathy, says the Organic Trade Association in a new report.
“Of all the thoughts that race through the mind of a mom or dad as they do the weekly grocery shopping and decide whether to put an organic or non-organic item in the shopping cart, the desire to stay away from foods that have been genetically modified has never been greater,” the group said in a press release.
Avoiding GMOs both for themselves and their children is fast becoming a primary reason why more parents are selecting organic foods for their families, the trade group said in its report, “U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs 2014 Tracking Study,” which is a survey of more than 1,200 households around the nation that have at least one child living in them under the age of 18.

‘Each Year We Are Seeing Increases’

Nearly one-quarter of parents who buy organic foods said they did so to steer clear of GMOs, which is one of the top reasons they selected organic, and that is the largest amount in the four years since the survey has been taken, said the group. That’s up significantly from 16 percent of parents who said the same thing in last year’s survey.
Of the 15 reasons for buying organic that parents were asked to rate, not buying GMOs showed the biggest jump from attitudes in 2013, the group found.
“Each year we see an increase in parents’ self-described knowledge of organic topics. Parents have become more informed about the benefits of organic, and they have also become more aware of the questions surrounding GMOs. That heightened awareness is being reflected in their buying decisions,” said OTA CEO and Executive Director Laura Batcha.
In its press release, the OTA noted:
Demand for organic products is booming, with sales in the United States jumping to $35.1 billion in 2013, a 12 percent hike from the previous year and a new record. OTA’s survey shows that eight out of ten American families now make organic products a part of their grocery list if not all the time, at least sometimes.
Indeed, as more parents get better educated on organic issues (seven in 10 parents in the survey told OTA they feel “extremely well informed” or “know quite a bit” about organic foods) they have become more familiar with the term GMO. In fact, the group said 73 percent of parents, whether they were buying organic foods or not, knew what “GMO” stood for.

And Parents Don’t Mind Paying More for Organic, Either

OTA’s Gwendolyn Wyard, Regulatory Director for Organic Standards & Food Safety, however, emphasized that while parents can be assured when buying an organic product with the USDA Organic seal that it will always be non-GMO, products with only the non-GMO label are not necessarily organic.
She further noted that the non-GMO assurance is another great characteristic of buying organic food, and that the organic seal itself relates a host of other benefits that parents seem to value, such as no artificial colors, no preservatives and no synthetic hormones.
“Parents have apparently caught on. The big decider when purchasing organic products appears to be the USDA Organic seal, with nearly three-quarters of parents saying they actively seek out that organic seal,” the group said.
OTA adds in a separate release that parents are also increasingly willing to pay more for organic foods. In a separate report, the group found that 47 percent of respondents said that half or more of their weekly grocery purchase consists of organic foods, even though they cost more.


Oregon proponents of GMO labeling say expect ballot measure to qualify

PORTLAND Ore. Tue Jul 1, 2014 9:21pm EDT

(Reuters) - Advocates of mandatory labeling of genetically engineered crops in Oregon said they had collected more than enough signatures to qualify a measure for the November ballot, and planned to submit them on Wednesday to state officials. 

The statewide ballot measure, if it passes, would require labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients intended to make them resistant to disease and insects, beginning in January 2016.

“We’ve done this in a very short period of time,” Oregon Right to Know spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said of the 150,000 signatures collected since the group won a court challenge in May to seek the ballot measure. “We’re really pleased with how well our signature gathering has gone.” 

The group needs 87,213 valid signatures by Thursday to get its measure on the ballot. 
GMO labeling advocates say there are concerns about the safety and environmental impact of genetically engineered crops, and labels would help consumers distinguish products containing GMOs so they can avoid them if they wish.

But the move away from GMOs has upset the food and agriculture industries, including makers of genetically modified corn, soybeans, canola and other crops widely used in packaged foods. They say their products are safe and that mandatory labels will confuse consumers and increase costs.

Scott Dahlman, executive director of Oregonians for Food and Shelter, said in a statement he expected a broad base of opposition if the initiative qualified. Oregonians voted against GMO labeling in 2002. 

"This is a costly and misleading initiative that would hurt thousands of Oregon family farmers and small store owners, cost Oregon taxpayers millions of dollars and increase grocery bills for Oregon families by hundreds of dollars each year," he said. 

Voters in two small Oregon counties in May approved ballot measures to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops within their boundaries. Kaushik said those votes showed there was widespread interest and concern over GMOs. 

“People feel like they have a right to know whether the food they’re buying in grocery stores for their families is engineered in a lab or not,” he said. 

Consumer sentiment has pushed a growing number of U.S. food companies to start using non-genetically modified ingredients because of the consumer backlash against GMOs. Vermont in May became the first state to mandate GMO labeling. 

(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Peter Cooney)