Food Corruption News StoriesExcerpts of Key Food Corruption News Stories in Major Media
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America's biggest "food forest" is just a short drive from the world's busiest airport, Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson. When the Guardian visits the Urban Food Forest at Browns Mill there are around a dozen volunteers working. Food forests are part of the broader food justice and urban agriculture movement and are distinct from community gardens in various ways. They are typically backed by grants rather than renting plots, usually rely on volunteers and incorporate a land management approach that has a focus on growing perennials. The schemes vary in how they operate in allocating food ... but they are all aimed at boosting food access. Organizers in Atlanta stress that they properly distribute the food to the neighborhoods that the food forest is intended to support and it's not open to the public beyond volunteer workers. Other schemes have areas where the public is free to take what they want. Celeste Lomax, who manages community engagement at the Brown Mills forest and lives in the neighborhood, believes education is key to the forest's success and beams like sunlight when sharing her vision for the fertile soil she tends. "We're using this space for more than just growing food. We have composting, beehives, bat boxes, and this beautiful herb garden where we're teaching people how to heal themselves with the foods we eat. We'll be doing walkthrough retreats and outside yoga. This is a health and wellness place. It's so much more than just free food."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The push for a "green revolution" in Africa ... has spent $1 billion to date, much of it from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. As an annual African farming summit takes place this week in Rwanda, activists, farmers and faith leaders from Seattle to Nairobi are calling on the Gates Foundation and other funders to stop supporting an effort they say has failed to deliver on promises to radically reduce hunger and increase farmer productivity. Critics say the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, founded in 2006 with money from the Gates and Rockefeller foundations, has promoted an industrial model of agriculture that poisons soils with chemicals and encourages farmers to go into debt by buying expensive seeds, fertilizers and pesticides. As a result of that debt, some farmers have had to sell their land or household goods like stoves and TVs, said Celestine Otieno and Anne Maina, both active with organizations in Kenya advocating for ecologically friendly practices. "I think it's the second phase of colonization," Otieno said. A donor-funded evaluation last December ... found "AGRA did not meet its headline goal of increased incomes and food security." Peter Little, director of the global development program at Emory University, puts it another way: "I don't think it's come close to what it promised to do." The criticism ... has clearly stung. This week, AGRA is launching a rebranding that drops the term "green revolution" from the organization's name, to be known from now on by its acronym only.
Note: Read a sobering open letter to Bill Gates written by 50 food sovereignty organizations that reveals how the "Green Revolution" and genetic engineering technologies have done the opposite of reducing hunger and increasing food access. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Eating ultraprocessed foods for more than 20% of your daily calorie intake every day could set you on the road to cognitive decline, a new study revealed. "Fifty-eight percent of the calories consumed by United States citizens ... come from ultraprocessed foods," [Dr. Claudia] Suemoto said. Studies have found they can raise our risk of obesity, heart and circulation problems, diabetes and cancer. In fact, men and women who ate the most ultraprocessed foods had a 28% faster rate of global cognitive decline and a 25% faster rate of executive function decline compared with people who ate the least amount of overly processed food, the study found. "The new results are quite compelling and emphasize the critical role for proper nutrition in preserving and promoting brain health and reducing risk for brain diseases as we get older," said Rudy Tanzi, professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School and director of the genetics and aging research unit at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Tanzi said the key problem with ultraprocessed foods is that they are usually very high in sugar, salt and fat, all of which promote systemic inflammation, perhaps the most major threat to healthy aging in the body and brain. "They also replace eating food that is high in plant fiber that is important for maintaining the health and balance of the trillions of bacteria in your gut microbiome," he added, "which is particularly important for brain health and reducing risk of age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer's disease."
Note: For more information on health and well-being, including major cover-ups that affect your health, visit our Health Information Center and explore key news articles from the major media related to health.
More than 80% of urine samples drawn from children and adults in a US health study contained a weedkilling chemical linked to cancer, a finding scientists have called "disturbing" and "concerning". The report by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that out of 2,310 urine samples, taken from a group of Americans intended to be representative of the US population, 1,885 were laced with detectable traces of glyphosate. This is the active ingredient in herbicides sold around the world, including the widely used Roundup brand. Almost a third of the participants were children. [Lianne] Sheppard co-authored a 2019 analysis of people highly exposed to glyphosate, which concluded there was a "compelling link" between glyphosate and an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Both the amount and prevalence of glyphosate found in human urine has been rising steadily since the 1990s when Monsanto Co. introduced genetically engineered crops designed to be sprayed directly with Roundup, according to research published in 2017. The weedkiller is sprayed directly over genetically engineered crops such as corn and soybeans, and also over non-genetically engineered crops such as wheat and oats as a desiccant to dry crops out prior to harvest. It is considered the most widely used herbicide in history. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a unit of the World Health Organization ... classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen in 2015.
Note: Instead of relying on independent science, the EPA used industry studies to determine that glyphosate was safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs and health from reliable major media sources.
One in three people across America have detectable levels of a toxic herbicide linked to cancers, birth defects and hormonal imbalances, a major nationwide survey has found. Human exposure to the herbicide 2,4-D has substantially risen amid expanding use among farmers despite a multitude of health and environmental concerns, according to the first nationally representative study evaluating the footprint of the chemical. Researchers from George Washington university examined the urine samples of 14,395 people (aged six and older) from all walks of life who take part in the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They looked for biomarkers to the pesticide, and compared the exposure levels detected with the use of 2,4-D from 2001 until 2014. As the pesticide grew in popularity among farmers and gardeners, so did evidence of human exposure, rising from a low of 17% in 2001-02 to a high of almost 40% a decade later. Exposure to high levels of 2,4-D, an ingredient of Agent Orange used against civilians during the Vietnam war, has been linked to cancers including leukemia in children, birth defects and reproductive problems among other health issues. The study, published online in Environmental Health, found exposure was not uniform, with several subgroups including children aged six to 11 and women of childbearing age showing substantially higher levels of 2,4-D in their urine. Overall, the amount of 2,4-D applied in agriculture increased 67% between 2012 and 2020.
Glyphosate, an herbicide that remains the world's most ubiquitous weed killer, raises the cancer risk of those exposed to it by 41%, a new analysis says. Researchers from the University of Washington evaluated existing studies into the chemical – found in weed killers including Monsanto's popular Roundup – and concluded that it significantly increases the risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a cancer of the immune system. "All of the meta-analyses conducted to date, including our own, consistently report the same key finding: exposure to GBHs (glyphosate-based herbicides) are associated with an increased risk of NHL," the authors wrote in a study published in the journal Mutation Research. In 2015 ... the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." Moreover, the chemical has triggered multiple lawsuits from people who believe that exposure to the herbicide caused their non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. In 2017 ... more than 800 people were suing Monsanto; by the following year, that figure was in the thousands. The authors of the University of Washington report analyzed all published studies on the impact of glyphosate on humans. Co-author ... Rachel Shaffer said: "This research provides the most up-to-date analysis of glyphosate and its link with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, incorporating a 2018 study of more than 54,000 people who work as licensed pesticide applicators." The scientists also assessed studies on animals.
Note: Instead of relying on independent science, the EPA used industry studies to determine that glyphosate was safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
There's a hidden ingredient used as a whitener in an array of foods, from candies and pastries to cheeses and gum. It's called titanium dioxide, and while commonly used in the US, it's being banned in the EU as a possible carcinogen. The additive, also known as E171, joins a host of other chemicals that are banned in foods in the European Union but allowed in the US. These include Azodicarbonamide, a whitening agent found in food such as breads, bagels, pizza, and pastries in the US, which has been banned in the EU for more than a decade. Known as the "yoga mat'' chemical because it is often found in foamed plastic, the additive has been linked to asthma and respiratory issues in exposed workers and, when baked, to cancer in mice studies. Potassium bromate, an oxidizing agent often found in bread and dough and linked in animal studies to kidney and thyroid cancers, has been banned in the EU since 1990 but is still commonly used in the US. Brominated vegetable oil is also banned in the EU but is used as an emulsifier in citrus sodas and drinks in the US. Long-term exposure has been linked to headaches, memory loss and impaired coordination. The Food and Drug Administration classifies these food chemicals, and many others prohibited by the EU, as "generally recognized as safe". Chemical safety processes in the EU and US work in starkly different ways. Where European policy tends to take a precautionary approach – trying to prevent harm before it happens – the US is usually more reactive.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
In October 1995 ... the Scottish Office commissioned a research project from the Aberdeen-based Rowett Research Institute into the effect of GM crops on animal nutrition and the environment. This included, for the first time, feeding GM potatoes to rats to see if they had any harmful effects on their guts, bodies, metabolism and health. A former senior Scottish Office official involved in commissioning the project told the Guardian there was "little regard" at the time for research into the human nutritional and environmental consequences of GM foods. Dr Arpad Pusztai, a senior research scientist at the Rowett, beat off 28 other tenders to coordinate the project. The preliminary results of Dr Pusztai's work had begun to show unexpected and worrying changes in the size and weight of the rats' bodily organs. The team found liver and heart sizes were decreasing. Worse still, the brain was getting smaller. There were also indications of a weakening of the immune system. Granada TV's World in Action approached Dr Pusztai and ... with the institute's consent he gave an interview. Dr Pusztai told ITV viewers that he would not eat GM food. He found it "very, very unfair to use our fellow citizens as guinea pigs. We have to find [the results] in the laboratory," he insisted. Two days later Dr Pusztai was summarily suspended and forced to retire by the Rowett Institute's director, Professor Philip James, who had personally cleared the interview with Granada.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs from reliable major media sources.
About 20m acres of cropland in the United States may be contaminated from PFAS-tainted sewage sludge that has been used as fertilizer, a new report estimates. PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of about 9,000 compounds used to make products heat-, water- or stain-resistant. Known as "forever chemicals" because they don't naturally break down, they have been linked to cancer, thyroid disruption, liver problems, birth defects, immunosuppression and more. Dozens of industries use PFAS in thousands of consumer products, and often discharge the chemicals into the nation's sewer system. The analysis ... is an attempt to understand the scope of cropland contamination stemming from sewage sludge, or biosolids. Regulators don't require sludge to be tested for PFAS or closely track where its spread, and public health advocates warn the practice is poisoning the nation's food supply. Sludge is a byproduct of the wastewater treatment process that's a mix of human excrement and industrial waste, like PFAS, that's discharged from industry's pipes. EPA records show over 19bn pounds of sludge has been used as fertilizer since 2016 in ... 41 states. It's estimated that 60% of the nation's sludge is spread on cropland or other fields annually. The consequences are evident in the only two states to consistently check sludge and farms for PFAS contamination. In Maine, PFAS-tainted fields have already forced several farms to shut down.
Note: Read more about the toxic "forever chemicals" accumulating in our environment. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health from reliable major media sources.
Say goodbye to GMOs. The new term for foods created with a boost from science is "bioengineered." As of Jan. 1, food manufacturers, importers and retailers in the U.S. must comply with a new national labeling standard for food that's been genetically modified in a way that isn't possible through natural growth. Consumers will begin to see labels on some foods that say "bioengineered" or "derived from bioengineering," as the new federal standard takes hold. The change has been several years in the making. In 2016, Congress passed a law to establish a national benchmark for the labeling of genetically modified food in an attempt to ... standardize labels across the country. Sonny Perdue, who served as agriculture secretary during the Trump administration, announced the regulations in 2018. But critics say the rules devised by the U.S. Department of Agriculture will actually confuse consumers further and make it harder to know what's in any given product. One advocacy group has even sued the USDA to try to block the new regulations from taking effect. Companies with products that qualify as bioengineered can comply with the new standard in several ways. They can include text on food packages that says "bioengineered food" or "contains a bioengineered food ingredient." They can also use two logos approved by the USDA. Finally, they can include a QR code for consumers to scan or a phone number for them to text that will provide more information about that food item.
Note: Replacing clear package labeling with QR codes is inherently discriminatory. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
"Would you like to sign in with your palm?" That was the question a cheerful Amazon employee posed when greeting me last week at the opening of a Whole Foods Market in Washington's Glover Park neighborhood. For the next 30 minutes, I shopped. Then I simply walked out, no cashier necessary. Whole Foods – or rather Amazon – would bill my account later. More than four years ago, Amazon bought Whole Foods for $13 billion. Now the Amazon-ification of the grocery chain is physically complete. Amazon designed my local grocer to be almost completely run by tracking and robotic tools for the first time. The technology, known as Just Walk Out, consists of hundreds of cameras with a god's-eye view of customers. Sensors are placed under each apple, carton of oatmeal and boule of multigrain bread. Deep-learning software analyzes the shopping activity to detect patterns and increase the accuracy of its charges. The Whole Foods in Glover Park ... has sparked a spirited local debate, with residents sparring on the Nextdoor community app and a neighborhood email list over the store's "dystopian" feeling versus its "impressive technology." Some ... said they had found errors in their bills and complained about the end of produce by the pound. Everything is now offered per item, bundle or box. Some mourned the disappearance of the checkout line, where they perused magazines. Many were suspicious of the tracking tech. "It's like George Orwell's '1984,'" said Allen Hengst, 72, a retired librarian.
In criminal trials, judges routinely rule that certain evidence or testimony does not get presented to the jury. By and large, these rulings to exclude evidence benefit the defendant. In ... cases against animal rights activists, who face hefty charges for removing ailing animals from farms, the typical logic behind keeping evidence from a jury is flipped on its head. The prosecutors, rather than defendants, have sought ... to suppress all mention during trial of animal cruelty. Next month, a Utah judge will hear pretrial motions on the exclusion of evidence in a case against two members of the animal liberation group Direct Action Everywhere. The activists face charges of burglary and theft for removing two suffering piglets from a hog farm in 2017, for which they could be sentenced to more than a decade in prison. The Utah attorney general is seeking to exclude all evidence and testimony relating to the torturous treatment of animals. The activists filmed themselves entering the pork facility; they turned the camera onto the pigs – mother pigs with bloody nipples, pigs with huge open sores, dead and dying piglets on the floor – and filmed themselves removing the piglets. The prosecution argues that ... the activists' commentary on the grim factory conditions and any mention of the company's mistreatment of its animals would be unfairly prejudicial. That a prosecutor would move to preclude real-time footage of the alleged crime speaks to a frantic desire to foreclose any reckoning with the case's crucial context.
Note: Read more about how video evidence of animal cruelty is suppressed to protect factory farms. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Arpad Pusztai spoke for only two and a half minutes during his interview for ITN's World in Action in 1998, but it was enough to end his career. The Hungarian-born expert in lectins, a type of protein, had spent decades working at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen and had almost 300 scientific papers and three books to his name. In the mid-1990s, with big food manufacturers increasingly developing and promoting genetically modified crops, he had been asked to investigate the effect that their products, specifically GM potatoes, could have on rats. His data showed that those being fed GM potatoes experienced stunted organ and brain growth and disturbance to their immune systems. Pusztai ... agreed to discuss his research on television in the hope of attracting new funding. His comments, which were promoted by the programme in a press release headed "new health fears over 'Frankenstein' food", started a media frenzy. Pusztai was suspended and his raw data was seized. According to [author Andrew] Rowell: "All GM work was stopped immediately and Pusztai's team was dispersed. His three PhD students were moved to other areas. He was threatened with legal action if he spoke to anyone. His phone calls and emails were diverted. No one was allowed to speak to him either." In Pusztai's telling ... the Rowett Institute came under pressure from senior figures in the government and the food industry. Two employees told him that the institute had taken calls from the office of Tony Blair, the prime minister.
Note: Read more about this important scientist. And for more on the dangers of GM food, see this important book summary. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and GMOs from reliable major media sources.
Maine voters approved an amendment Tuesday that enshrines the "right to food" – the first of its kind in the United States. The amendment to the state's constitution declares that all people have a "natural, inherent and unalienable right" to grow, raise, produce and consume food of their own choosing as long as they do so within legal parameters. Maine, a state with a bustling agricultural industry, has been at the forefront of the food sovereignty movement, which envisions a food system where producers also have control over how their goods are sold and distributed. The referendum was meant to ensure local communities have more agency over their food supply. "Power over our food supply is concentrated in a few individuals and corporations," [livestock farmer and advocate Heather] Retberg said. "Global companies dominate our food system and policy at the expense of our food self-sufficiency. This concentration of power threatens Mainers' individual rights to grow, raise, harvest, produce, and consume the food of our choosing now and in the future." Maine state Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham, a Republican legislator who sponsored the legislation, has called it the "Second Amendment of food," empowering people to fight hunger and regain command over the food supply in an era of corporate domination. The nonprofit WhyHunger called the vote "a transformative step in ensuring the protection of food as an unequivocal basic human right."
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
More and more people are going hungry, with food bank lines stretching for blocks. One solution has been popping up in cities of all sizes: community fridges. The fridges, usually colorfully painted, can be found in public spaces like sidewalks and storefronts. Volunteers and community members keep them stocked with donated food and other supplies, and people can take what they need – no questions asked. While the pandemic and subsequent economic difficulty may have accelerated their use, community fridges aren't a unique idea; Ernst Bertone Oehninger, the co-founder of Freedge, a network that provides resources and information to community fridge operators around the world, said that he believes he first started hearing about the concept in 2012. Currently, Freedge's database lists nearly 200 fridges in the United States. When it comes to starting a community fridge, organizers described the process as surprisingly easy. The most difficult part, according to Sandra Belat, 24, who is preparing to open a fridge in Denver, Colorado, is securing a location, but the community has been eager to support the initiative. Community fridge organizers are responsible for more than just putting food in fridges: They also need to keep them clean, ensure that the items inside the fridge are safe and healthy and keep the fridges stocked. In addition to food donations, many community fridges are given supplies and financial donations, so the operators can purchase items to put in the fridges.
A handful of powerful companies control the majority market share of almost 80% of dozens of grocery items bought regularly by ordinary Americans, new analysis reveals. A joint investigation by the Guardian and Food and Water Watch found that consumer choice is largely an illusion – despite supermarket shelves and fridges brimming with different brands. In fact, a few powerful transnational companies dominate every link of the food supply chain: from seeds and fertilizers to slaughterhouses and supermarkets to cereals and beers. The size, power and profits of these mega companies have expanded thanks to political lobbying and weak regulation which enabled a wave of unchecked mergers and acquisitions. The size and influence of these mega-companies enables them to largely dictate what America's 2 million farmers grow and how much they are paid, as well as what consumers eat and how much our groceries cost. It also means those who harvest, pack and sell us our food have the least power: at least half of the 10 lowest-paid jobs are in the food industry. Farms and meat processing plants are among the most dangerous and exploitative workplaces in the country. Overall, only 15 cents of every dollar we spend in the supermarket goes to farmers. The rest goes to processing and marketing our food. Less competition among agribusinesses means higher prices and fewer choices for consumers. Just four companies – Walmart, Costco, Kroger and Ahold Delhaize – control 65% of the retail market.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Interviews with more than two dozen experts on pesticide regulation – including 14 who worked at the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, or OPP – described a federal environmental agency that is often unable to stand up to the intense pressures from powerful agrochemical companies, which spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying each year and employ many former EPA scientists once they leave the agency. The enormous corporate influence has weakened and, in some cases, shut down the meaningful regulation of pesticides in the U.S. and left the country's residents exposed to levels of dangerous chemicals not tolerated in many other nations. This reporting has brought to light several instances in which the overlooking, burying, or scuttling of science has had direct consequences for human health. The alarming discoveries include an EPA report warning about the link between the pesticide glyphosate and cancer that never saw the light of day; the failure to consider evidence that a neonicotinoid pesticide causes brain damage; the refusal to investigate evidence that another pesticide that is an ingredient in Roundup may cause cancer ... and the agency's waiving of the vast majority of toxicity tests at the request of industry. The scientists who have identified these hazards described immense pressure from within the agency to overlook the risks they found. And several said they faced retribution for calling attention to the dangers of pesticides.
Darrell Brokenborough opened the bright yellow refrigerator that stood on the sidewalk outside a row home at 308 N. 39th St., smiled and said, "It's full." He balanced on his cane so he could take a closer look at the apples, yogurt, greens, pasta, cheese and chicken inside. On the front of the fridge was written: "Free food" and "Take what you need. Leave what you don't." Philadelphia now has more than 20 of these refrigerators sitting outside homes and restaurants, offering free food to anyone passing by. Volunteers keep the fridges clean and stocked with food donated from grocery stores, restaurants, local farmers and anyone with extra to share. The concept of the community fridge â€• sometimes called a "freedge" â€• has been around for more than a decade, but it exploded during the pandemic as hunger spiked in the United States and worldwide. There are now about 200 of these community fridges in the United States, up from about 15 before the pandemic. "What we're learning is when you do something like this, people will support it. People do have goodness and kindness, and they will bring food," said Michelle Nelson, founder of Mama-Tee.com, which now runs 18 bright yellow fridges in Philadelphia and has been inundated with requests to put more in place throughout the country. Nelson said the effort is part of the movement known as "mutual aid," where people, even those struggling, want to help one another and have a stake in the project.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Last week, the European Parliament made its stance on animal welfare clear by calling for a ban on caged animal farming, after voting overwhelmingly in favor to end the practice. The non-binding resolution hopes to change animal agriculture and reinvent the food supply chain across Europe by removing cages. The Parliament vote – passed by an overwhelming majority voting in favor of the ban, with 558 members in favor to 37 votes against – sought to implement a ban on caged farming across the European Union. The vote followed a European Citizens' Initiative that started three years ago, and which gathered 1.4 million signatures in at least 18 member states in support of animal welfare. Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and one of the citizens leading the 'End the Cage Age' petition told Euronews that some animals never leave their cages during their lifetime: "We have estimated, and this is a very conservative number, that over 300 million animals, farmed animals, spend most of their life or their entire life in cages in Europe, every year." Following the committee's debate regarding the 'End the Cage Age' petition, the parliament decided in favor of the ban that aims to completely dismantle caged animal farming by 2027.
The chemical additive aspartame is very potentially a cancer and brain tumor-causing substance that has no place in our food. The reasons and means by which [Donald] Rumsfeld helped get it approved are nefarious at best, criminal at worst. Dr. John Olney, who founded the field of neuroscience called excitotoxicity, attempted to stop the approval of aspartame with Attorney James Turner back in 1996. The FDA's own toxicologist, Dr. Adrian Gross told Congress that without a shadow of a doubt, aspartame can cause brain tumors and brain cancer. According to the top doctors and researchers on this issue, aspartame causes headache, memory loss, seizures, vision loss, coma and cancer. It worsens or mimics the symptoms of such diseases and conditions as fibromyalgia, MS, lupus, ADD, diabetes, Alzheimer's, chronic fatigue and depression. In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the chemical company that held the patent to aspartame, the active ingredient in NutraSweet. Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president January 21, 1981. Rumsfeld, while still CEO at Searle, was part of Reagan's transition team. This team hand-picked Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., to be the new FDA commissioner. One of Hayes' first official acts as FDA chief was to approve the use of aspartame as an artificial sweetener in dry goods on July 18, 1981. When Searle was absorbed by Monsanto in 1985, Donald Rumsfeld reportedly received a $12 million bonus, pretty big money in those days.
Note: Donald Rumsfeld also made millions on bird flu drugs. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the food system from reliable major media sources.
As people across the globe grappled with higher levels of stress, depression and anxiety this past year, many turned to their favorite comfort foods. But ... the sugar-laden and high-fat foods we often crave when we are stressed or depressed, as comforting as they may seem, are the least likely to benefit our mental health. Instead, whole foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes and fermented foods like yogurt may be a better bet. Historically, nutrition research has focused largely on how the foods we eat affect our physical health, rather than our mental health. But ... a growing body of research has provided intriguing hints about the ways in which foods may affect our moods. A healthy diet promotes a healthy gut, which communicates with the brain through what is known as the gut-brain axis. Microbes in the gut produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which regulate our mood and emotions, and the gut microbiome has been implicated in mental health outcomes. "The gut microbiome plays a shaping role in a variety of psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder," a team of scientists wrote in the Harvard Review of Psychiatry. "Mental health is complex," said Dr. Jacka ... at Deakin University in Australia. "Eating a salad is not going to cure depression. But there's a lot you can do to lift your mood and improve your mental health, and it can be as simple as increasing your intake of plants and healthy foods."
The world's biggest commercial rooftop greenhouse sits atop a former Sears warehouse in a semi-industrial northwestern quarter of Montreal. Early every morning, staff pick fresh vegetables, then bring them downstairs, where they get packed into heavy-duty plastic totes along with the rest of the day's grocery orders. Whatever Lufa doesn't grow in its four greenhouses comes from local farms and producers, mostly from within 100 miles. This is a modern foodie's dream: a tech-forward online shop full of locally grown, pesticide-free, ethically-sourced products at reasonable price points, delivered once a week to either your doorstep or a local pickup point in your neighborhood. Customers - Lufavores, as the company calls them - typically place their orders a few days before delivery through the online store, dubbed "the Marketplace," which Lufa built from scratch in 2012. That's how Lufa's suppliers know how much product to provide: They get forecasts first, then final order numbers, through their Lufa software. Technology is the underpinning of Lufa's success, and the owners know it. "We see ourselves as a technology company, in the sense that we solve with software," [cofounder Lauren] Rathmell, 32, says. "Nothing off-the-shelf can be applied to what we do, because it's so complex. We harvest food ourselves; we gather from farmers and food makers throughout the province; most of it's arriving just in time throughout the night to be packed in baskets for that day, and every order is fully unique."
The latest study to look at the long-term effects of Roundup, a popular weed killer developed by Monsanto in the 1970s, raises questions about the herbicide's possible contributions to poor health in certain communities. The study, published Tuesday in JAMA, tracked people over the age of 50 in southern California from 1993-1996 to 2014-2016, with researchers periodically collecting urine samples during that time. The percentage of people who tested positive for a chemical called glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, shot up by 500% in that time period. The levels of glyphosate also spiked by 1208% during that time. One trial from the UK, in which rats were fed low levels of glyphosate throughout their lives, found that the chemical contributed to a higher risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver and contributes to inflammation and scarring of the tissue. [Researcher Paul] Mills says that the levels of glyphosate documented in the people in his study were 100-fold greater than those in the rats. While Roundup was developed to eliminate most weeds from genetically modified crops – and thus reduce the amount of pesticides sprayed on them – recent studies have found that many weeds are now resistant to Roundup. That means growers are using more Roundup, which could only exacerbate potential negative health effects on people who consume those products.
Note: Bayer recently agreed to a $10 billion settlement over claims that its glyphosate-containing product RoundUp causes cancer. Meanwhile, Mexico is banning glyphosate and GMO corn. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and GMOs from reliable major media sources.
Mexico is sticking to a plan to stop importing genetically modified corn and a ban on a widely used herbicide, a senior official told Reuters, doubling down on a policy that has pleased green advocates but alarmed industry leaders. The plan announced late last year by executive order aims to replace some 16 million tonnes of yellow corn imported mostly from U.S. farmers and nearly all of it genetically modified, with new, local production by 2024. Victor Suarez, the deputy agriculture minister and a key architect of the order, argued that GMO corn and the herbicide glyphosate are too dangerous and that local output and sustainable "agroecological" practices must be prioritized. He cited studies linking glyphosate to cancer and saying that it harmed pollinators like bees and separately alleged that GMO corn contaminates Mexico's native strains of the grain. "We have to put the right to life, the right to health, the right to a healthy environment ahead of economic and business (interests)," said the former congressman. Mexico is mostly self-sufficient in white corn, used for the country's staple tortillas, but meat producers have for years relied on growing volumes of yellow corn imports to fatten cows, pigs and chickens. Asked if the Dec. 31 decree applied to animal feed as well processed foods that include GMO corn, Suarez said that the law covers all food that "will eventually reach human consumption."
Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with US officials to pressure Mexico into abandoning its intended ban on glyphosate, a pesticide linked to cancer that is the key ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup weedkillers. The moves to protect glyphosate shipments to Mexico have played out over the last 18 months, a period in which Bayer was negotiating an $11bn settlement of legal claims brought by people in the US who say they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure to the company's glyphosate-based products. The pressure on Mexico is similar to actions Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Records show alarm starting to grow in the latter part of 2019 after Mexico said it was refusing imports of glyphosate from China. In denying a permit for an import shipment, Mexican officials cited the "precautionary principle", which generally refers to a policy of erring on the side of caution. Industry executives told US government officials that they feared restricting glyphosate would lead to limits on other pesticides and could set a precedent for other countries to do the same. Mexico may also reduce the levels of pesticide residues allowed in food, industry executives warned. "If Mexico extends the precautionary principle" to pesticide residue levels in food, "$20bn in US annual agricultural exports to Mexico will be jeopardized", [CropLife president Chris] Novak wrote to US officials.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
When a dormant pecan farm in the neighborhoods of south Atlanta closed, the land was soon rezoned and earmarked to become townhouses. But when the townhouses never came to fruition and with the lot remaining in foreclosure, the Conservation Fund bought it in 2016 to develop an unexpected project: the nation's largest free food forest. Thanks to a US Forest Service grant and a partnership between the city of Atlanta, the Conservation Fund, and Trees Atlanta, you'll find 7.1 acres of land ripe with 2,500 pesticide-free edible and medicinal plants only 10 minutes from Atlanta's airport. The forest is in the Browns Mill neighborhood of southeast Atlanta, where the closest grocery store is a 30-minute bus ride away. "Access to green space and healthy foods is very important. And that's a part of our mission," says Michael McCord, a certified arborist and expert edible landscaper who helps manage the forest. The forest is part of the city of Atlanta's larger mission to bring healthy food within half a mile of 85% of Atlanta's 500,000 residents by 2022, though as recently as 2014, it was illegal to grow food on residential lots in the city. Resources like the food forest are a rarity and necessity in Atlanta as 1 in 6 Georgians face food insecurity, 1 in 3 Browns Mill residents live below the poverty line, and 1 in 4 Atlantans live in food deserts. The forest is now owned by the parks department and more than 1,000 volunteers and neighbors are helping to plant, water and maintain the forest.
Sperm counts have been dropping; infant boys are developing more genital abnormalities; more girls are experiencing early puberty; and adult women appear to be suffering declining egg quality and more miscarriages. It's not just humans. Scientists report genital anomalies in a range of species, including unusually small penises in alligators, otters and minks. In some areas, significant numbers of fish, frogs and turtles have exhibited both male and female organs. Experts say the problem is a class of chemicals called endocrine disruptors, which mimic the body's hormones and thus fool our cells. This is a particular problem for fetuses as they sexually differentiate early in pregnancy. Endocrine disruptors can wreak reproductive havoc. These endocrine disruptors are everywhere: plastics, shampoos, cosmetics, cushions, pesticides, canned foods and A.T.M. receipts. They often aren't on labels and can be difficult to avoid. Chemical companies ... lobby against even safety testing of endocrine disruptors, so that we have little idea if products we use each day are damaging our bodies or our children. Still, the Endocrine Society, the Pediatric Endocrine Society, the President's Cancer Panel and the World Health Organization have all warned about endocrine disruptors, and Europe and Canada have moved to regulate them. But in the United States, Congress and the Trump administration seemed to listen more to industry lobbyists than to independent scientists.
A congressional report found many of the products made by the country's largest commercial baby food manufacturers contain significant levels of toxic heavy metals, including arsenic, lead, cadmium and mercury, which can endanger infant neurological development. The report ... from the House Oversight Committee's subcommittee on economic and consumer policy found heavy metals in rice cereals, sweet potato puree, juices and sweet snack puffs made by some of the most trusted names in baby food. Gerber, Beech-Nut, HappyBABY (made by Nurture) and Earth's Best Organic baby foods (made by Hain Celestial Group) complied with the committee's request to submit internal testing documents. Campbell Soup, which sells Plum Organics baby foods, Walmart (its private brand is Parent's Choice) and Sprout Foods declined to cooperate. Although there are no maximum arsenic levels established for baby food ... the FDA has set the maximum allowable levels in bottled water at 10 ppb of inorganic arsenic. Hain ... used many ingredients in its baby foods with as much as 309 ppb of arsenic. Lead levels in baby foods should not exceed 1 ppb. Beech-Nut used ingredients containing as much as 886.9 parts per billion of lead. In addition, Gerber used carrots containing as much as 87 ppb of cadmium and Nurture sold baby foods with as much as 10 ppb of mercury. And even when baby foods tested over companies' internal limits for these heavy metals, they were sold anyway.
Nearly two years ago, researchers from X, the experimental "moonshot factory" at Alphabet, sat down with the head of a food bank in Arizona to begin to better understand one of the conundrums of hunger in the U.S.: As much as 40% of the food supply is wasted, but millions of Americans don't have enough to eat. "We probably have two to four times as much food as we need in the world, but we're not doing a very good job of distributing it to people who really need it," says Emily Ma, the leader of the X team, called Project Delta, which announced today that two early tools it developed will be moving to Google to be fully built. The X team built a prototype of a new matching platform that could automatically consider ... the shelf life of donated food, how it's packaged, what transportation is available, and where it's needed and wanted. Another tool uses computer vision and machine learning to identify food as it's being thrown out so that a restaurant or supermarket deli can better plan future buying decisions to reduce waste: If you're throwing out a lot of onions every week, the software will alert you so you can stop buying as many. Eventually, similar technology could also be used to identify surplus food available for donations, so that information doesn't have to entered manually. "What we're looking to do is, in the automating of this, actually make food much more accessible to everyone," says Ma. "I believe that in the next 10 to 30 years, it is possible to actually almost perfectly match supply and demand," she says.
Ian McKenna was in third grade when he learned that nearly a quarter of the kids at his Austin school weren't getting enough to eat at home. He wanted to help, but local volunteer organizations turned him away, saying he was too young. So he decided to find his own solution. For years, he had been gardening with his mother, and they often distributed their extra vegetables to the neighbors. Why not give the produce to a soup kitchen? "Then I thought, I'm good at gardening," says McKenna, now 16. "Maybe I could try to start a garden that's meant solely to help feed these people who are in need." Better yet, he thought, why not plant a garden at school, so that kids in need could take food home? McKenna persuaded his school to set aside space for a garden, then he asked the community for donations of seeds and equipment. Other students donated their time. Within months, McKenna's garden was producing lettuces, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers and squash for students and their families. Now, seven years later, McKenna's Giving Garden project has expanded to five area schools in addition to his own backyard garden, and he has provided more than 20,000 lb. of organic produce (enough for 25,000 meals) to Austin families and food pantries. When COVID-19 hit the U.S., McKenna redoubled his efforts, cooking up to 100 meals out of his home to distribute to the hungry on the weekends. When social distancing meant that volunteers couldn't work on community garden plots, he started offering online tutorials.
Note: Scroll down near the bottom to read about this inspiring young man. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
The government illegally approved a breed of genetically engineered salmon without assessing the harm the fish might cause if they escaped their confines and interbred with other salmon species, a federal judge ruled. The Food and Drug Administration agreed in 2015, under President Barack Obama's administration, to allow AquaBounty Technologies to produce the fish, which is an Atlantic salmon that has been infused with a growth hormone gene from Pacific salmon, also known as chinook, and DNA from a slithery creature known as an eelpout. But U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria of San Francisco said the FDA had failed to consider or study what would happen if the genetically engineered salmon slipped out and reached waters inhabited by other salmon. "They may directly interact with wild salmon, such as by mating or simply by competing for resources," Chhabria said in a ruling on a lawsuit by environmental, consumer and fishing organizations. "Even if this scenario was unlikely, the FDA was still required to assess the consequences," especially since the agency knew AquaBounty's facilities were likely to grow, he said. "Before starting the country down a road that could well lead to commercial production of genetically engineered fish on a large scale, the FDA should have developed a full understanding – and provided a full explanation – of the potential environmental consequences," Chhabria said. The FDA did not say whether it would appeal the ruling.
Evidence of what appears to be aggressive animal abuse, practices leading to heightened disease risk and cows being passed off as organic at a Texan auctioneers has been presented to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) by undercover welfare investigators. The ... investigation centres on Texan auctioneers, Erath County Dairy Sales (ECDS). Undercover video footage filmed at ECDS between January and March 2020 ... was delivered to the USDA by the US-Brazil based NGO, Strategies for Ethical and Environmental Development (Seed). In one video, the undercover investigator, hired as an animal handler, is told that removing a cowĂ˘â‚Źâ„˘s ear tags, and replacing them with new Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’back tagsĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ that indicate a cow is organic, can triple or quadruple their meat sale value. The investigator said he witnessed the tag switching process. First, a bladed tool was used to remove the ear tags, which are part of the USDAĂ˘â‚Źâ„˘s animal disease traceability framework. These tags were not replaced. Instead, another tag, known as a back tag or sticker, was glued to the cowĂ˘â‚Źâ„˘s back. The stickers indicate the cow is organic and from Texas. A lawyer for California-based NGO, Animal Legal Defense Fund, said she was Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’not too surprisedĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ by the tag switching accusations. Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’We have seen this type of thing before,Ă˘â‚ŹĹĄ said Kelsey Eberly. She fears the practice is Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’more commonĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ than people would expect, mainly Ă˘â‚ŹĹ’because the price premium is so much higherĂ˘â‚ŹĹĄ for organic and better welfare meat and dairy.
Animal agriculture industry groups defending factory farms engage in campaigns of surveillance, reputation destruction, and other forms of retaliation against industry critics and animal rights activists, documents obtained through a FOIA request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reveal. That the USDA possesses these emails and other documents demonstrates the federal government’s knowledge of, if not participation in, these industry campaigns. These documents detail ongoing monitoring of the social media of news outlets, including The Intercept, which report critically on factory farms. They reveal private surveillance activities aimed at animal rights groups and their members. They include discussions of how to create a climate of intimidation for activists who work against industry abuses, including by photographing the activists and publishing the photos online. And they describe a coordinated ostracization campaign that specifically targets veterinarians who criticize industry practices. One of the industry groups central to these activities is the Animal Agriculture Alliance, which represents factory farms and other animal agriculture companies. The group boasts that one of its prime functions is “Monitoring Activism,” by which they mean: “We identify emerging threats and provide insightful resources on animal rights and other activist groups by attending their events, monitoring traditional and social media and engaging our national network.”
Note: Watch an interview with Dr. Crystal Heath, a veterinarian targeted by Animal Agricultural Alliance for her activism against inhumane factory farming practices. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
The level of hunger in U.S. households almost tripled between 2019 and August of this year, according to an analysis of new data from the Census Bureau and the Department of Agriculture. Even more alarming, the proportion of American children who sometimes do not have enough to eat is now as much as 14 times higher than it was last year. The Agriculture Department conducts yearly studies on food insecurity in the U.S., with its report on 2019 released this month. The Census Bureau began frequent household surveys in April in response to Covid-19 that include questions about hunger. The analysis, by the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, found that 3.7 percent of U.S. households reported they sometimes or often had “not enough to eat” during 2019. Meanwhile, the most recent Census data from the end of August of this year showed that 10 percent of households said they sometimes or often did not have enough to eat within the past seven days. Levels of food insecurity in Black and Latino households are significantly higher, at 19 percent and 17 percent, respectively, compared to 7 percent in white households. Remarkably, this increase in hunger has nothing to do with any actual shortage of food. It is purely the result of political decisions.
Note: How much is severe collateral damage like this from the coronavirus lockdown policies being considered? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
It started with a simple message on Facebook on April 29. George Ahearn had heard about farmers in Eastern Washington who were giving away potatoes and onions and wanted to know if someone had a truck he could borrow to haul the discarded crops to Western Washington food banks. The response was immediate and dramatic. A convoy of four trucks, including two with trailers, made the trip east, helping provide quite a bounty for local food banks. “We brought back 9.36 tons when my original goal was 2,000 pounds (one ton),” Aheard said. The effort didn’t end there. EastWest Food Rescue is now a registered nonprofit organization, having delivered more than 2.4 million pounds of crops to more than 160 food banks. Not only is it helping with food security, but the organization is paying the farmers, who saw the market for some of their crops vanish during the coronavirus pandemic. “The whole thing started because of COVID,” said Nancy Balin, who answered Ahearn’s initial request and is now one of three directors of the program. “They immediately lost all the restaurant contracts they had for these restaurant-quality potatoes and onions.” Meanwhile, unemployment was spiking everywhere, along with the need for food. “People who had never needed food before needed food banks, and these farmers have potatoes that they need to get rid of,” Balin said. The goal now is 10 million pounds of food rescued, which Balin said will take $250,000 in donations in addition to hundreds of volunteer hours.
Bayer will pay more than $10 billion to resolve thousands of lawsuits regarding claims that its Roundup herbicide causes cancer, the company announced. Monsanto, bought by Bayer in 2018, lost a lawsuit that same year brought by a school groundskeeper who claimed its weedkiller had caused his non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Since then, thousands of U.S. lawsuits have been filed against the company. The settlement, however, does not contain an admission of wrongdoing or liability. Bayer will pay $8.8 billion to $9.6 billion to settle existing lawsuits and then another $1.25 billion that will cover any potential litigation in the future. Lawsuits allege that Monsanto ignored warnings that its herbicide contained potentially cancer causing chemicals, then concealed the threat to consumers. A jury awarded California groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson nearly $290 million in damages in August 2018 after they found Monsanto failed to warn Johnson and other consumers about the risks posed by its weed-killing products. A judge upheld the decision upon appeal, but lowered the damages to $78 million due to what she considered an overreach in punitive damages decided by the jury. And last year, a California jury awarded a husband and wife more than $2 billion in damages in a suit that claimed Roundup caused their illness. German pharmaceuticals and chemical giant Bayer bought Monsanto in 2018 just months before Johnson won his suit against the company. Bayer eliminated the Monsanto name, but maintained the brands.
Note: The negative health impacts of Roundup are well known. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on health from reliable major media sources.
As scientists specializing in ecology and the environment, we’re studying how milk – an essential yet suffering industry – has been affected by COVID-19. We have documented one solution to the milk distribution crisis: innovative small farmers of New Jersey. Dairy producers are dumping thousands of gallons of milk every day. In Wisconsin, 50% of the state’s dairy products have nowhere to go while typical buyers such as schools and restaurants remain shut down and unable to purchase milk and cheese. In Pennsylvania, where schools buy up to 40% of dairy sales by volume, the pandemic has beleaguered an already-stressed industry that lost 470 farms in 2019. In New Jersey, farms are the fourth-smallest in the United States, averaging 76 acres. The Garden State’s dairy sector is particularly small, comprising only 50 farms and ranking 44th of 50 states in total milk production. But despite their small operations, we see New Jersey’s local entrepreneurial farmers as models of a game-changing strategy. Rather than selling their milk to large dairy processing companies, these vertically structured local farms raise cows, process milk and other foods and sell them directly to consumers at farm-operated markets and restaurants. Unsold items return to farms as feed or fertilizer. This system is highly efficient, even during the current pandemic, because farmers and their customers represent the entire supply chain. These farmers don’t operate alone. They band together in cooperatives, sharing resources for the benefit of all.
By 11 a.m. on a Wednesday in Antioch, California, hundreds of cars are lined up at the Palabra de Dios Community Church. The cars fill the church’s ample parking lot and snake up the neighboring service street ... waiting for food. Most weekdays since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a box truck delivers groceries here: bags of fresh kale, lettuce, and radishes; boxes of apples, limes, and tomatoes; canned beans, pastas, and gallons and gallons of milk and juice. As volunteers from the church unload the truck, others quickly sort the food into single-family grocery boxes to put into each car. “Our intention here is to provide food to those who truly need it,” says Ruben Herrera, pastor of Palabra de Dios. Herrera and his congregation don’t regularly operate a food drive out of the parking lot of their church, but for many churches, nonprofits, and social service providers, the COVID-19 crisis has prompted a rapid reconfiguration of resources and efforts to address the needs of their communities. The truckload of food comes from White Pony Express, a nonprofit aimed at alleviating hunger in Contra Costa County. Over the past six years, the staff members at White Pony Express have built and coordinated a growing food redistribution network, in which they “rescue” food with approaching sell-by dates from grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers markets, and redistribute that food to the county’s low-income residents via food pantries, schools, and community centers.
In recent days, top U.S. government officials have moved to assure Americans that they won't lack for food, despite the coronavirus. In fact, the pandemic has caused entirely different problems: a spike in the number of people who can't afford groceries and a glut of food where it's not needed. Dairy farmers in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Georgia have been forced to dump thousands of gallons of milk that no one will buy. In Florida, vegetable growers are abandoning harvest-ready fields of tomatoes, yellow squash and cucumbers for the same reason. "We cannot pick the produce if we cannot sell it, because we cannot afford the payroll every week," says Kim Jamerson, a vegetable grower. Those crops will be plowed back into the ground. The situation is especially dire for Florida's tomato growers, who sell 80% of their production to restaurants and other food service companies, rather than to supermarkets. Meanwhile, food banks and pantries are having trouble supplying enough food to people who need it, including millions of children who no longer are getting free meals at school and people who've lost jobs in recent weeks. Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, a network of food banks and charitable meals programs, says that these programs normally receive large donations of unsold food from retail stores. In recent weeks, though, as retailers struggled to keep their shelves stocked, "we're seeing as much as a 35% reduction in that donation stream from retail," Babineaux-Fontenot says.
In Wisconsin and Ohio, farmers are dumping thousands of gallons of fresh milk into lagoons and manure pits. An Idaho farmer has dug huge ditches to bury 1 million pounds of onions. And in South Florida, a region that supplies much of the Eastern half of the United States with produce, tractors are crisscrossing bean and cabbage fields, plowing perfectly ripe vegetables back into the soil. Many of the nation’s largest farms ... are being forced to destroy tens of millions of pounds of fresh food that they can no longer sell. The closing of restaurants, hotels and schools has left some farmers with no buyers for more than half their crops. And even as retailers see spikes in food sales to Americans who are now eating nearly every meal at home, the increases are not enough to absorb all of the perishable food that was planted weeks ago and intended for schools and businesses. The amount of waste is staggering. The nation’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, estimates that farmers are dumping as many as 3.7 million gallons of milk each day. A single chicken processor is smashing 750,000 unhatched eggs every week. Many farmers say they have donated part of the surplus to food banks. But there is only so much perishable food that charities ... can absorb. And the costs of harvesting, processing and then transporting produce and milk to food banks or other areas of need would put further financial strain on farms that have seen half their paying customers disappear.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought hunger to millions of people around the world. National lockdowns and social distancing measures are drying up work and incomes, and are likely to disrupt agricultural production and supply routes — leaving millions to worry how they will get enough to eat. Already, 135 million people had been facing acute food shortages, but now with the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. Altogether, an estimated 265 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by year’s end. “We’ve never seen anything like this before,” Mr. Husain said. “It wasn’t a pretty picture to begin with, but this makes it truly unprecedented and uncharted territory.” This hunger crisis, experts say, is global and caused by a multitude of factors linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing interruption of the economic order: the sudden loss in income for countless millions who were already living hand-to-mouth; the collapse in oil prices; widespread shortages of hard currency from tourism drying up; overseas workers not having earnings to send home; and ongoing problems like climate change, violence ... and humanitarian disasters. The curfews and restrictions on movement are already devastating the meager incomes of displaced people. The effects of the restrictions “may cause more suffering than the disease itself,” said Kurt Tjossem ... at the International Rescue Committee.
Farmers around the country have been forced to dump milk and waste fresh produce as schools, restaurants and other institutions remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. In response, supermarket chain Publix launched a new initiative Wednesday to help struggling farmers — and get the food to Americans who need it most. The company's press release said it will purchase fresh produce and milk from farmers impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and donate the goods directly to Feeding America food banks that are in its "operating area." During the first week of the initiative alone, some 150,000 pounds of produce and 43,500 gallons of milk is expected to be donated, the company said. "As a food retailer, we have the unique opportunity to bridge the gap between the needs of families and farmers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic," said Todd Jones, Publix CEO. "In addition to providing much needed produce and milk to food banks, this initiative provides financial support to farmers during this challenging time." In addition to the new initiative, Publix Super Markets Charities recently made donations which totaled $2 million to help Feeding America's member food banks amid the crisis. Feeding America, which is the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., said that before the coronavirus crisis there were 37 million people in the nation who did not have enough food. The number is now expected to increase by an additional 17 million.
A Missouri jury’s $265 million award to peach grower Bill Bader in his lawsuit against herbicide providers Bayer and BASF has raised the stakes for the two companies as at least 140 similar cases head to U.S. courts. A jury in U.S. District Court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, handed Bader, the state’s largest peach farmer, $15 million in actual and $250 million in punitive damages. He sued the companies saying his 1,000-acre orchard was irreparably harmed by herbicide that they produce, which drifted onto its trees from nearby farms. The three-week trial was the first case in the United States to rule on the use of dicamba-based herbicides alleged to have damaged tens of thousands of acres of U.S. cropland. The herbicide can become a vapor and drift for miles when used in certain weather, farmers have claimed. Bayer faces separate multi-billion-dollar litigation over the Roundup weedkiller made by Monsanto, the U.S. firm it took over for $63 billion in 2018. Monsanto made Roundup and dicamba, and Bayer is being sued over both products. Bader Farms, in southern Missouri near the Arkansas border, said it lost many trees when the herbicide containing dicamba was used on nearby soybean and cotton farms and drifted onto its property. The farm said repeated dicamba exposure beginning in 2015 killed or weakened the fruit trees. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency imposed restrictions on the use of dicamba in November 2018 over concerns about potential damage to nearby crops.
More than 12 million pounds of medically important antibiotics sold in this country are not for use in humans; they're for livestock. And the antibiotics are driving the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in the animals that can get passed on to us through food. Yet it's almost impossible to get on the farms to conduct inspections and stop infection outbreaks from spreading, even for public health officials. In 2015, Washington state epidemiologist Scott Lindquist investigated an outbreak of antibiotic resistant salmonella tied to roaster pigs. The salmonella was resistant to antibiotics. Lindquist traced the cause of the outbreak to a slaughterhouse. "We come in and we find the bacteria, essentially everywhere," [said Lindquist]. "So I want to go back to the farms and I wanna sample the pigs at the farm." But to his surprise, Lindquist, who was conducting the investigation, was flatly turned down. Thwarted, he says, by the National Pork Producers Council, the lead lobbying group for the $23 billion pork industry. They sent Lindquist a letter denying him access to the farms. Even federal inspectors have trouble getting on farms. They are not allowed on a farm to look for bacteria that make people sick without the farmer's permission. Farmers started using antibiotics decades ago ... to make animals grow faster with less food. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration told farmers to stop using antibiotics in animals for growth purposes, but ... they are permitted to use them for disease prevention, and there are no reporting requirements.
Through a porthole in a metal tank, I could see a yellow froth churning. It’s a primordial soup of bacteria, taken from the soil and multiplied in the laboratory, using hydrogen extracted from water as its energy source. When the froth was siphoned through a tangle of pipes and squirted on to heated rollers, it turned into a rich yellow flour. This flour is not yet licensed for sale. But the scientists, working for a company called Solar Foods, were allowed to give me some while filming our documentary Apocalypse Cow. Such flours are likely soon to become the feedstock for almost everything. In their raw state, they can replace the fillers now used in thousands of food products. When the bacteria are modified they will create the specific proteins needed for lab-grown meat, milk and eggs. The carbohydrates that remain when proteins and fats have been extracted could replace everything from pasta flour to potato crisps. Research by the thinktank RethinkX suggests that proteins from precision fermentation will be around 10 times cheaper than animal protein by 2035. The result, it says, will be the near-complete collapse of the livestock industry. The new food economy will “replace an extravagantly inefficient system that requires enormous quantities of inputs and produces huge amounts of waste with one that is precise, targeted, and tractable”. Using tiny areas of land, with a massively reduced requirement for water and nutrients, it “presents the greatest opportunity for environmental restoration in human history”.
Note: The above article was written by George Monbiot. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Effective management appears to be the main reason these stocks are at sustainable levels or successfully rebuilding. That is the main finding of an international project led by the University of Washington to compile and analyze data from fisheries around the world. The results were published Jan. 13 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “There is a narrative that fish stocks are declining around the world, that fisheries management is failing and we need new solutions — and it’s totally wrong,” said lead author Ray Hilborn. “Fish stocks are ... increasing in many places, and we already know how to solve problems through effective fisheries management.” The team’s database includes information on nearly half of the world’s fish catch, up from about 20% represented in the last compilation in 2009. Still, most of the fish stocks in South Asia and Southeast Asia do not have scientific estimates of health and status available. Fisheries in India, Indonesia and China alone represent 30% to 40% of the world’s fish catch that is essentially unassessed. This analysis found that more intense management led to healthy or improving fish stocks, while little to no management led to overfishing and poor stock status.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles from reliable major media sources.
One of the most powerful Big Food lobbyists wants to change its image. The Grocery Manufacturers Association ... is planning to change its name to the Consumer Brands Association in 2020, a sign the group is trying to distance itself from past troubles. In the past two years, food companies like Campbell, Kraft Heinz, Nestle, Hershey and Unilever have left the GMA, amid disputes. Among the issues that were fiercely debated were how and when to disclose the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The organization says each of the former members left for individual reasons, but the common thread was a failure by the organization to adapt as consumer sentiments and trends were evolving. “Gone are the days when we could have one face to policymakers and a different one to consumers,” said GMA President and CEO Geoff Freeman. ″Policymakers have little to no influence on the decisions consumers make,” he said. The organization’s agenda is based on the industry’s realization that it must react to consumers’ demands, rather than fight them, Freeman said. The new name more clearly identifies the companies in its membership: branded names in food, beverage, personal care and household products. GMA wants to fix what it believes is a broken system to help address the country’s recycling crisis. The U.S. does not have uniform recycling laws, which has led to contamination of shipments meant for recycling. Exacerbating this issue, China ... has begun to refuse America’s garbage.
Note: In 2016, the Grocery Manufacturers Association was forced to pay $18 million in damages for violating Washington State law in its opposition to a GMO labeling initiative. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
In the 1960s, the sugar industry funded research that downplayed the risks of sugar and highlighted the hazards of fat, according to a newly published article in JAMA Internal Medicine. The article draws on internal documents to show that an industry group called the Sugar Research Foundation wanted to "refute" concerns about sugar's possible role in heart disease. The SRF then sponsored research by Harvard scientists that did just that. The result was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1967, with no disclosure of the sugar industry funding. There's no evidence that the SRF directly edited the manuscript published by the Harvard scientists in 1967, but there is "circumstantial" evidence that the interests of the sugar lobby shaped the conclusions of the review, the researchers say. The documents in question are five decades old, but the larger issue is of the moment, as Marion Nestle notes in a commentary in the same issue of JAMA Internal Medicine: "Is it really true that food companies deliberately set out to manipulate research in their favor? Yes, it is, and the practice continues. In 2015, the New York Times obtained emails revealing Coca-Cola's cozy relationships with sponsored researchers who were conducting studies aimed at minimizing the effects of sugary drinks on obesity. More recently, the Associated Press obtained emails showing how a candy trade association funded and influenced studies to show that children who eat sweets have healthier body weights than those who do not."
Note: Read more on the sugar industry's manipulation of science. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Chung Sun-hee finely crushes eggshells, dries and saves her coffee grounds, and separates large vegetable offcuts into smaller pieces. Later, the 55-year-old professional translator will bury them in her backyard, in rotating plots. Chung is one of a growing number of city dwellers who are getting into urban farming, not just to grow their own vegetables, but also as an exercise in waste reduction. Her new habits reflect a larger change underway in South Korea’s densely populated capital. Once a city where unsightly and foul-smelling landfills loomed over entire neighborhoods, Seoul now operates one of the most rigorous food waste recycling programs in the world. The South Korean government banned sending food to landfills in 2005 and, in 2013, also prohibited the dumping of garbage juice (leftover water squeezed from food waste) into the sea. Today, a staggering 95 percent of food waste is recycled ― a remarkable leap from less than 2 percent in 1995. On Chung’s street, residents emerge at dusk to deposit small yellow bags into designated waste collection buckets. Since 2013, South Koreans have been required by law to discard food waste in these biodegradable bags, priced according to volume and costing the average four-person family about $6 a month. This tax pays for roughly 60 percent of the cost of collecting and processing the city’s food waste, according to government data.
According to FDA estimates, the United States wastes 30 to 40% of its food. That's hard to swallow when you consider that one in 10 US households faced food insecurity in 2018. That means roughly 14 million families are struggling to put meals on the table while approximately 30 million tons of food are trashed. For 29 years Forgotten Harvest, a nonprofit in Detroit, has been rescuing food destined for landfills and redirecting it to the hungry. Forgotten Harvest CEO Kirk Mayes says it's taken that long to develop the logistics for his program, which now rescues and delivers 130,000 pounds of food a day. "This operation is set up so that our fleet of about 27 trucks and our drivers can leave our warehouse in the morning and go to about 12 to 14 different stops ... for our donations." Mayes says. Drivers collect food from local bakers and butchers and national chains, he says. "And then these drivers redistribute the food to three to four community partners on a daily basis." A rotating army of 16,000 volunteers makes this daily event happen. "At our warehouse, our volunteers are working with commodities that are coming off of our farm and from other commodity partners like the food manufacturers and other farms and donations," Mayes says. "All this (food) is inspected, sorted and set to go out." The result? Last year Forgotten Harvest redistributed 41 million pounds of food, Mayes says. That's 41 million pounds that filled stomachs instead of landfills.
About a half a dozen journalists were in a northern California courtroom to cover a third lawsuit alleging that Monsanto’s pesticide glyphosate causes cancer. [Sylvie] Barak told others that she was a freelancer for the BBC. When journalists searched the internet for Barak, they noticed that her LinkedIn account said she worked for FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm that Monsanto and Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, had engaged for consulting. Monsanto has also previously employed shadowy networks of consultants, PR firms, and front groups to spy on and influence reporters. And all of it appears to be part of a pattern at the company of using a variety of tactics to intimidate, mislead and discredit journalists and critics. In the latest example of Monsanto’s efforts to track journalists, The Guardian reported in August on internal documents from the company’s “fusion center,” which worked to discredit reporters and nonprofits via third-party actors. In the California trial, the reporter who first identified Barak as an FTI plant said she ... saw an uptick in Monsanto’s industry partners contacting her as she covered the trial. A guy named Jay Byrne ... contacted her on social media to discuss how GMO criticism was part of a Russian influence campaign; when she Googled Byrne, she learned he is Monsanto’s former director of communications. In a January deposition, a Monsanto representative said that in 2016 the company spent “around $16 or 17 million” on activities to defend glyphosate.
Note: Major lawsuits are now unfolding over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of glyphosate. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
When the Indian government bowed to powerful food companies last year and postponed its decision to put red warning labels on unhealthy packaged food, officials also sought to placate critics of the delay by creating an expert panel to review the proposed labeling system, which would have gone far beyond what other countries have done in the battle to combat soaring obesity rates. But the man chosen to head the three-person committee, Dr. Boindala Sesikeran, a veteran nutritionist and former adviser to Nestle, only further enraged health advocates. That’s because Dr. Sesikeran is a trustee of the International Life Sciences Institute, an American nonprofit with an innocuous sounding name that has been quietly infiltrating government health and nutrition bodies around the world. Created four decades ago by a top Coca-Cola executive, the institute now has branches in 17 countries. It is almost entirely funded by Goliaths of the agribusiness, food and pharmaceutical industries. The organization, which championed tobacco interests during the 1980s and 1990s in Europe and the United States, has more recently expanded its activities in Asia and Latin America, regions that provide a growing share of food company profits. It has been especially active in China, India and Brazil, the world’s first, second and sixth most populous nations. In addition to its far-flung offices, ILSI runs a research foundation and an institute focused on health and environmental issues that is largely funded by the chemical industry.
Note: Check out a great article on how lobby groups like this cause the media to become industry lapdogs. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Among the heavily trafficked streets of Atlanta, a massive urban food forest is growing to provide fresh produce for the public. But what exactly is a food forest? In the fight against food deserts - low income areas that lack access to fresh, whole foods - a food forest is a public space in the city where fresh produce will grow in trees, bushes, plants, and community garden beds for the community to enjoy. And at 7.1 acres, the site in Atlanta will become the city's first and the nation's largest. In the Lakewood-Browns Mill community, which will house the Urban Food Forest, more than a third of the population lives below the poverty line, according to the USDA, who has assisted in the project. "Residents still talk about the land's former owners, who left excess produce from their farm on fence posts for neighbors to claim and enjoy," the USDA said. "Now this land will celebrate that history and make new memories for the community." A city ordinance passed in the beginning of the month grants money for the city to purchase the plot from the Conservation Fund, which currently owns and has helped develop the land. In addition to community outreach and education, the forest is meant to make strides in the city's goal of putting 85% of residents within a half mile of fresh food by 2021.
America’s agricultural landscape is now 48 times more toxic to honeybees, and likely other insects, than it was 25 years ago, almost entirely due to widespread use of so-called neonicotinoid pesticides, according to a new study published today in the journal PLOS One. This enormous rise in toxicity matches the sharp declines in bees, butterflies, and other pollinators as well as birds, says co-author Kendra Klein. “This is the second Silent Spring. Neonics are like a new DDT, except they are a thousand times more toxic to bees than DDT was,” Klein says. Using a new tool that measures toxicity to honey bees, the length of time a pesticide remains toxic, and the amount used in a year, Klein and researchers from three other institutions determined that the new generation of pesticides has made agriculture far more toxic to insects. Honey bees are used as a proxy for all insects. The study found that neonics accounted for 92 percent of this increased toxicity. Neonics are not only incredibly toxic to honeybees, they can remain toxic for more than 1,000 days in the environment, said Klein. Some scientists have been warning that there is an “insect apocalypse” underway. A global analysis of 452 species in 2014 estimated that insect abundance had declined 45 percent over 40 years. Not only do bees, butterflies, and other insects pollinate one-third of all food crops, declining insect numbers can also have catastrophic ecological repercussions.
In a direct challenge to California regulators and Bay Area environmentalists, the Trump administration Thursday ordered companies to ignore state requirements that businesses warn customers if their products contain glyphosate, a weed killer that has been linked to cancer. The decision flies in the face of three California court rulings against Monsanto, which markets the chemical as Roundup. The agricultural giant faces more than 13,000 suits nationwide by users of Roundup, the world’s best-selling herbicide. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it would no longer approve labels saying glyphosate is known to cause cancer. The state requires companies to warn customers about chemicals known to cause cancer under the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act. Glyphosate was classified as a probable human carcinogen in 2015 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization. Lawyers for sick clients who were awarded tens of millions of dollars after suing Monsanto introduced evidence that glyphosate can cause genetic damage that leads to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. They claimed Monsanto ignored that information and published information “ghost written” by staffers denying the toxicity of the chemical. Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith said there was clear evidence that Monsanto, after learning of the dangers, “made efforts to impede, discourage or distort scientific inquiry” by regulators.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Monsanto operated a “fusion center” to monitor and discredit journalists and activists, and targeted a reporter who wrote a critical book on the company, documents reveal. The records reviewed by the Guardian show Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company’s weedkiller and its links to cancer. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, also monitored a not-for-profit food research organization through its “intelligence fusion center”, a term that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism. The documents, mostly from 2015 to 2017, were disclosed as part of an ongoing court battle on the health hazards of the company’s Roundup weedkiller. Monsanto planned a series of “actions” to attack a book authored by Gillam prior to its release, including ... directing “industry and farmer customers” on how to post negative reviews. Monsanto paid Google to promote search results for “Monsanto Glyphosate Carey Gillam” that criticized her work. Monsanto “fusion center” officials wrote a lengthy report about singer Neil Young’s anti-Monsanto advocacy. The internal records don’t offer significant detail on the activities or scope of the fusion center, but ... government fusion centers have increasingly raised privacy concerns surrounding the way law enforcement agencies collect data, surveil citizens and share information.
A northwest Indiana dairy farm has fired four employees seen in a graphic undercover video released Tuesday by an animal welfare organization showing animals being abused. Following an investigation into the abuse, at least three retailers announced Wednesday that they would remove all Fairlife products from their shelves. The Coca Cola Corporation, which distributes the brand, said it was in talks to have sourcing from the farm in question discontinued. The Animal Recovery Mission called it the “largest undercover dairy investigation in history” and said the video documents “systemic and illegal abuse” at Fair Oaks Farms in Indiana. ARM said an investigator spent three months undercover at the Prairies Edge North Barn after being hired as a calf care employee. The group noted that Fair Oaks Farms North Barn was not targeted, but rather the barn was the first farm to hire the investigator, who had applied to multiple dairy farms in Jasper and Newton Counties in Indiana. “Employees were observed slapping, kicking, punching, pushing, throwing and slamming calves,” ARM said in a statement. “Calves were stabbed and beaten with steel rebars, hit in the mouth and face with hard plastic milking bottles, kneed in the spine, burned in the face with hot branding irons, subjected to extreme temperatures, provided with improper nutrition, and denied medical attention.” The footage was released on social media (warning: footage is graphic) Tuesday, where it has since garnered more than 100,000 views on Facebook and more than 1 million views on Vimeo.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the food industry from reliable major media sources.
South-east Asia is battling to contain the spread of highly contagious African swine fever, known as “pig Ebola”, which has already led to the culling of millions of pigs in China and Vietnam. African swine fever, which is harmless to humans but fatal to pigs, was discovered in China in August, where it has caused havoc, leading to more than 1.2m pigs being culled. China is home to almost half of the world’s pigs. There is no vaccination for African swine fever, which causes pigs to internally haemorrhage until they die, so the only option to contain the disease is to kill any contaminated animals. Some estimates say that in China up to 200m animals may eventually be slaughtered. The virus can last for several weeks on anything from clothes to vehicles, allowing for it to easily travel long distances. “This is the biggest animal disease outbreak we’ve ever had on the planet,” said Dirk Pfeiffer, a veterinary epidemiologist. Currently the battle to contain the disease is being lost. “There are concerns that the disease will continue to spread across the countries in south-east Asia,” said Dr Wantanee Kalpravidh, regional manager for UNFAO, who said they believed the swine fever cases being reported by governments in the region were “underestimates”. Wantanee said problems included the lack of compensation for pig farmers in south-east Asia whose herds were culled, giving them little reason to report a disease outbreak, and fears that banning movement of pigs and pork across borders would only create a “black market”.
"Ultraprocessed" describes many foods, including pre-prepared dishes found in grocery store freezers, packaged baked goods, dehydrated soups, ice cream, sugary cereals and fizzy beverages. Two separate studies published Wednesday in The BMJ link eating the popular factory-made fare with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and an increased risk of early death. Previous studies have associated highly processed food consumption with higher risks of obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and even some cancers. "Ultraprocessed foods already make up more than half of the total dietary energy consumed in high-income countries such as USA, Canada and the UK," [said] Maira Bes-Rastrollo, senior author of one study. "Products in this category are rich in poor quality fat, added sugar and salt, along with low vitamin density and fiber content, and they "are economically profitable (low cost ingredients), very palatable and convenient," said Bes-Rastrollo. Worst of all, she explained, they are replacing unprocessed or minimally processed foods and freshly prepared meals in our diets. Bes-Rastrollo and her colleagues also collected information on lifestyle, demographic factors, physical activity, weight and health. Analyzing the data, the team found that a higher consumption of heavily processed foods - more than four servings each day - was associated with a 62% increased risk for early death due to any cause relative to those who ate these foods less frequently.
Soon, soybeans will be bred to yield stable oil without the addition of dangerous trans fats. Lettuce will be grown to handle warmer, drier fields. Wheat to contain less gluten. And pigs bred to resist deadly viruses. Ten years ago, such genetic changes would have been considered science fiction – or so far off into the future of breeding as to be almost unimaginable. But gene editing, particularly with a tool called Crispr-Cas9, has made it much easier and more efficient to tinker with the genomes of plants and animals. The first Crispr-edited products will begin reaching the market this year, and researchers believe it’s only a matter of time before US grocery shelves could be filled with gene-edited produce, grains and meat. The technology will be subject to stringent health and environment review, as well as labeling requirements in the EU, but not in the US. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement last March saying it would not regulate crops whose genetic changes could have been produced with conventional breeding. The European court of justice, by contrast, ruled last summer that gene-edited crops should be regulated as GMOs. The scientific challenges have been largely settled. But political and social ones remain. Jennifer Kuzma, co-director of the Genetic Engineering and Society Center at North Carolina State University, said US consumers are willing to pay 20% more to avoid GMO foods, and nearly half of the public reports actively avoiding genetically modified ingredients and food.
Note: Read an excellent addendum to this important article by GMO expert Jeffrey Smith recommending caution in these little-tested new products. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs and food system corruption from reliable major media sources.
Your diet may have more impact on your cancer risk than you might think, a new study has found. An estimated 80,110 new cancer cases among adults 20 and older in the United States in 2015 were attributable simply to eating a poor diet, according to the study, published in the JNCI Cancer Spectrum. "This is equivalent to about 5.2% of all invasive cancer cases newly diagnosed among US adults in 2015," said Dr. Fang Zhang ... who was first author of the study. "This proportion is comparable to the proportion of cancer burden attributable to alcohol," she said. The researchers evaluated seven dietary factors: a low intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and dairy products and a high intake of processed meats, red meats and sugary beverages, such as soda. "Low whole-grain consumption was associated with the largest cancer burden in the US, followed by low dairy intake, high processed-meat intake, low vegetable and fruit intake, high red-meat intake and high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages," Zhang said. You may protect yourself from cancer by avoiding ultraprocessed foods and instead choosing organic foods, research has shown. People who frequently eat organic foods lowered their overall risk of developing cancer, according to a study published last year in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Specifically, those who primarily ate organic foods were more likely to ward off non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer than those who rarely or never ate organic foods.
Our food and our health are deeply connected. American healthcare spending has ballooned to $3.5tn a year, and yet we are sicker than most other developed countries. Meanwhile, our food system contains thousands of chemicals that have not been proven safe and many that are banned in other countries. Instead of potentially hazardous substances being banned from our food, as they are in, say, Europe, chemicals of concern are typically considered innocent until proven guilty. As a result, we are the guinea pigs in our own experiment. For decades we’ve operated on the principle that if we can selectively kill off the unwanted parts of the natural world, we can control our futures. Farmers operate that way, but also homeowners, highway crews and landscapers. We spread herbicides, fungicides, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones and various other toxins which kill everything around. Even good things. We’re becoming aware of the loss of what we can see: bees, butterflies, the diverse plant life of our ecosystems. We also need to worry about the invisible microbiome and fungi in the soil that nurture life above, store carbon and absorb water. By trying to control crops with herbicides, antibiotics and pesticides, we’ve actually bred bugs, weeds and diseases that are resistant to our control. And our chemical onslaught will have long-term effects. Our fertilizers and pesticides leach into groundwater and streams, head out to sea and create dead zones. They also leach into our drinking water.
It may sound odd, but in America, your loaf of bread can contain ingredients with industrial applications – additives that also appear in things like yoga mats, pesticides, hair straighteners, explosives and petroleum products. Some of these chemicals, used as optional whiteners, dough conditioners and rising agents, may be harmful to human health. Potassium bromate, a potent oxidizer that helps bread rise, has been linked to kidney and thyroid cancers in rodents. Azodicarbonamide (ACA), a chemical that forms bubbles in foams and plastics like vinyl, is used to bleach and leaven dough – but when baked, it, too, has been linked to cancer in lab animals. Other countries, including China, Brazil and members of the European Union, have weighed the potential risks and decided to outlaw potassium bromate in food. India banned it in 2016, and the UK has forbidden it since 1990. Azodicarbonamide has been banned for consumption by the European Union for over a decade. But despite petitions from several advocacy groups – some dating back decades – the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still considers these to be Gras or “generally recognized as safe” to eat, though plenty of experts disagree. The FDA does not review every additive that makes its way into food. Instead, companies can rely on their own experts to determine what’s safe and what isn’t. And once something was determined as Gras, [medical toxicologist Ryan] Marino said, “there is not often any financial incentive for additional testing”.
A widely used pesticide could be placing frog populations in danger by diminishing their ability to reproduce properly. Not only does exposure to the chemical linuron – a potato herbicide – reduce male frog fertility, it skews the sex ratios of growing tadpoles significantly towards females. The devastation pesticides have caused to insect populations has been well documented, with German scientists warning of an “ecological Armageddon” when they found numbers had plummeted by 75 per cent in the country’s nature reserves. Knock-on effects further up the food chain are thought to be behind the disappearance of many bird species from the European countryside. But pesticides can have toxic effects on other animals too, and there has been a distinct lack of research into their effects on amphibians. To improve this situation, ecotoxicologist Dr Cecilia Berg of the University of Uppsala and a team of ... researchers set out to investigate the effects of linuron in the West African clawed frog. They found that the tadpoles grew ovaries substantially more than they grew testicles, an effect the team attributed to the endocrine disrupting – or hormone disrupting – properties of linuron, which could hinder production of testosterone. The male frogs exposed to the chemicals as tadpoles were less fertile and had certain feminine characteristics. While linuron is not licensed for use in the UK ... it is widely used in other parts of the European Union (EU) and North America.
Note: Don't forget that humans drink the water contaminated by these chemicals, too. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Atrazine, a weed killer widely used in the Midwestern United States and other agricultural areas of the world, can chemically "castrate" male frogs and turn some into females. New research suggests the herbicide may be a cause of amphibian declines around the globe, said biologists at the University of California-Berkeley. Researchers found that long-term exposure to low levels of atrazine - 2.5 parts per billion of water - emasculated three-quarters of laboratory frogs and turned one in 10 into females. Scientists believe the pesticide interferes with endocrine hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone. "The effects of atrazine in the long term have been shown to demasculinize or chemically castrate [frogs], combined with complete feminization of some animals," said lead researcher Tyrone B. Hayes, a biologist and herpetologist. Hayes found that 10 percent of the exposed genetic male frogs developed into functional females who copulated with unexposed males and produced viable eggs. The other 90 percent of the exposed male frogs expressed decreased libido, reduced sperm count and decreased fertility, among other findings. Tens of millions of pounds of atrazine are used each year in the United States. Syngenta estimates that 60 million pounds were used during 2008, most of it on corn. A 2006 study by the U.S. Geological Survey found atrazine in approximately 75 percent of stream water and about 40 percent of all groundwater samples from agricultural areas tested between 1992 and 2001.
Note: Don't forget that humans drink the water contaminated by these chemicals, too. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
The Environmental Protection Agency is pulling from the market a dozen products containing pesticides known to be toxic to a linchpin of the U.S. food system — the honeybee. The agency announced Monday it has canceled the registrations of 12 pest-killing products with compounds belonging to a class of chemicals known as neonicotinoids, as part of a legal settlement. For years, beekeepers and wildlife conversationalists alike have voiced concern that the widespread use of neonics, as the chemicals are commonly called, is imperiling wild and domesticated bees crucial to pollinating commercial fruit, nut and vegetable crops. The decision follows five years of litigation in which the beekeepers and environmentalists pressed the agency to mount a response to the use of neonics as regulators in Europe and Canada have taken steps toward banning the chemicals. Finally, at the end of 2018, three agribusinesses - Bayer, Syngenta and Valent - agreed to let the EPA pull from shelves the 12 pesticide products used by growers ranging from large-scale agricultural businesses to home gardeners. The legal settlement also compels the EPA to analyze the impacts of the entire neonic class on endangered species. Rebecca Riley, legal director of the nature program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that the agency has failed often in the past to adequately consider the potential impact of its pesticide approvals on endangered animals — something every federal agency is supposed to do.
The global obesity epidemic continues, and a new report shows that about two billion people worldwide are overweight or obese. That’s about 30% of the world’s population. The new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that about a third of the global population—including adults and children—exceed a healthy weight. About 10% of people in the world are obese, according to the findings. Studies have linked overweight and obesity to a higher risk for health complications like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, depression, respiratory problems, major cancers and more. The study authors looked at data from people in 195 countries and territories from 1980 through 2015. They found that in 2015, there were 107 million children and 603 million adults with obesity. Having a high body mass index accounted for 4 million deaths in 2015, and more than two thirds of these deaths were from heart disease. Since 1980, obesity rates in 70 countries have doubled, the study found, and the rate of childhood obesity has increased faster in many countries than the adult obesity rate. Several factors have contributed to the growing obesity epidemic, including greater access to fast food, larger portion sizes and ubiquitous processed food. Emerging science also suggests that chemicals from food and household products may have an effect.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
American shoppers are reaching for healthier, more environmentally and animal-friendly meat products, with 39 percent saying “all-natural” is the most important claim when purchasing red meat. But there’s one problem: The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that when it comes to meat and poultry, the term “natural” means only that the product has no artificial ingredients and has been minimally processed. It doesn’t mean anything when it comes to antibiotics, hormones or preservatives. Companies such as Tyson Foods Inc., Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. and Hormel Foods Corp. have been snapping up smaller, outwardly progressive competitors. At the same time, however, some of the major meat companies have been offering their own products as “natural,” replete with labels featuring blue skies and green fields. On April 8, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia - a jurisdiction with stringent consumer protection laws - dismissed a lawsuit by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) alleging Hormel was misleading consumers. The court held that as long as manufacturer labels are approved by the USDA, the advertising can use the “natural” claims. In statements disclosed in the filing, a company executive said the same pigs it uses to make its famous Spam brand meat product are also used in Natural Choice pork products. Those pigs are often given antibiotics and are rarely allowed outdoors. “It’s a massive attempt to manipulate and dupe the consumer,” said David Muraskin, a food project attorney.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A federal jury dealt a huge blow to Monsanto, saying its popular weedkiller Roundup was a substantial factor in causing a California man's cancer. It's the second time in eight months that a jury has reached such a decision. But Edwin Hardeman's case against Monsanto is the first to be tried in federal court. And thousands of similar cases are still pending at the federal or state level. But this trial isn't over yet. While the first phase focused on whether Roundup caused Hardeman's cancer, the second phase ... focuses on whether Monsanto is liable. It's unclear how much the jury might award Hardeman in damages, if anything at all. But last August, in the first state trial over whether Roundup can cause cancer, California jurors awarded former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson $289 million in punitive and compensatory damages. A judge later reduced the total award to $78 million. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients who used Roundup started suing Monsanto by the hundreds after a World Health Organization report ... said glyphosate is "probably carcinogenic to humans." While debate continues over whether glyphosate is safe, parts of the country are limiting or banning it, said the US Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. "Following the state court decision last year, we saw a huge uptick in local ordinances that would regulate the use of Roundup on playgrounds, schoolyards and public parks," said PIRG's Kara Cook-Schultz, who leads a campaign to ban Roundup.
Note: Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.
Launched in 2017 by the Geisinger Health System at one of its community hospitals, the Fresh Food Farmacy provides healthy foods - heavy on fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-sodium options - to patients in Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, and teaches them how to incorporate those foods into their daily diet. Geisinger’s program is one of a number of groundbreaking efforts that finally consider food a critical part of a patient’s medical care - and treat food as medicine that can have as much power to heal as drugs. People’s health is the sum of much more than the medications they take and the tests they get - health is affected by how much people sleep and exercise, how much stress they’re shouldering and, yes, what they are eating at every meal. Food is becoming a particular focus of doctors, hospitals, insurers and even employers who are frustrated by the slow progress of drug treatments in reducing food-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and even cancer. They’re also encouraged by the growing body of research that supports the idea that when people eat well, they stay healthier and are more likely to control chronic diseases and perhaps even avoid them altogether. “When you prioritize food and teach people how to prepare healthy meals, lo and behold, it can end up being more impactful than medications themselves,” says Dr. Jaewon Ryu, interim president and CEO of Geisinger. “That’s a big win.”
The inner-workings of a beef processing plant in Dakota Dunes, South Dakota, might not sound like compelling national news, but in 2012, ABC changed that with two little words: “pink slime.” As you probably recall, the news outlet questioned Beef Products, Inc. (BPI) about its ground beef filler known as “lean finely textured beef” (LFTI), utilizing the pejorative term “pink slime” in the process. The backlash from the report hit BPI’s bottom line hard, despite the fact that they maintained that LFTI is safe and made from 100 percent beef, and so the South Dakotan company sued ABC News. The news organization eventually settled out of court ... paying nine figures to BPI to end the whole mess. BPI survived the ordeal and are back in the news again for – guess what – lean finely textured beef. But don’t call it “LFTI.” And definitely don’t call it “pink slime.” According to Beef Magazine, the USDA has given its approval for BPI to call “lean finely textured beef” simply “ground beef.” “We approached USDA about the possibility of reclassifying our product,” Nick Ross, BPI vice president of engineering, [said] “After reviewing BPI’s submission of a new product and new production process, [the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)] determined that the product meets the regulatory definition of ground beef ... and may be labeled accordingly,” a FSIS spokesperson [confirmed]. But for consumers, the change won’t really mean that much.
A new peer-reviewed study shows that eating a completely organic diet - even for just one week - can dramatically reduce the presence of pesticide levels in people, a finding that was characterized as "groundbreaking" by critics of an industrial food system that relies heavily on synthetic toxins and chemicals to grow crops and raise livestock. The study ... found that switching to an organic diet significantly reduced the levels of synthetic pesticides found in all participants. "This study shows that organic works," said study co-author Kendra Klein, PhD. The study tested the urine of four diverse American families ... after eating their typical diet of conventional food for six days and then after a controlled diet of all organic food for six days. The pesticide and pesticide metabolite levels detected in participants dropped by an average 60.5 percent after just six days of eating the all-organic diet. Specifically, the testing showed significant reductions in pesticides associated in the past with increased risk of autism, cancers, autoimmune disorders, infertility, hormone disruption, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's disease. "This important study shows how quickly we can rid our bodies of toxic pesticides by choosing organic," said [study co-author] Sharyle Patton. "Congratulations to the families who participated in the study and their willingness to tell their stories in support of creating a food system where organic is available to all."
Note: Watch an engaging video on this study at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
You can protect yourself from cancer by eating organic. Those who frequently eat organic foods lowered their overall risk of developing cancer, a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine finds. Specifically, those who primarily eat organic foods were more likely to ward off non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer compared to those who rarely or never ate organic foods. A team of researchers looked at the diets of 68,946 French adults. More than three-quarters of the volunteers were women, in their mid-40s on average. Comparing the participants' organic food scores with cancer cases, the researchers calculated a negative relationship between high scores (eating the most organic food) and overall cancer risk. Those who ate the most organic food were 25% less likely to develop cancer. Specifically, they were 73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 21% less likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer. Even participants who ate low-to-medium quality diets yet stuck with organic food experienced a reduced risk of cancer, the authors found. The authors theorize a "possible explanation" for the negative relationship between organic food and cancer risk stems from the "significant" reduction of contamination that occurs when conventional foods are replaced by organic foods. The new findings are consistent with those of the International Agency for Research in Cancer, which found pesticides are cancer causing in humans
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food corruption from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Chickens slowly freezing to death, being boiled alive, drowned or suffocating under piles of other birds are among hundreds of shocking welfare incidents recorded at US slaughterhouses, according to previously unpublished reports. An investigation by the Guardian and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism looked at hundreds of inspection logs from the USDA detailing incidents in poultry plants across the country. Inspectors recorded numerous incidents where: chickens suffocated to death beneath other chickens when they piled up on a conveyor belt that had stopped due to a mechanical failure; chickens drowned after entering the scalding tank while conscious; thousands of birds died of heat stress ... or alternatively, freezing to death. In one incident in January, more than 34,000 chickens froze to death while being kept overnight outside a slaughterhouse in a truck. The ... findings have fuelled concerns that a post-Brexit trade deal with the US could see the UK flooded with chicken produced to lower welfare standards. This follows last year’s transatlantic row over chlorinated chicken, which prompted political interventions in both countries. The violations were witnessed between 2014 and this year at some of the largest poultry processors in the country as part of the national inspection system.
Near Tampa Bay, Florida, I watched airboats move up and down the river banks, spraying massive plumes of weedkiller. The main active ingredient in that mist ... is glyphosate. It is now an ingredient in more than 750 products, including ... Monsanto’s Roundup. This August, the jury in a civil trial found Monsanto, which was acquired [by] Bayer, guilty of causing the cancer of Dewayne Johnson, a school groundskeeper. Roughly 8,700 similar cases against Monsanto are also before the courts. Almonds, carrots, quinoa, soy products, vegetable oil, corn and corn oil, canola seeds used in canola oil, beets and beet sugar, sweet potatoes – these are just some of the foodstuffs which typically contain high levels of glyphosate. Research released in August by the non-profit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that Cheerios, Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and at least 29 other popular breakfast foods contained what the EWG considers unsafe quantities of the herbicide. The environmental group has been urging public action to get the EPA to revise its outdated standards, which currently fail to protect the public from glyphosate in foods. Levels of glyphosate in the bodies of people in some areas appear to have jumped over 1,300% in the past 20 years. Unlike pharmaceuticals, which have to go through relatively rigorous (if imperfect) testing before being released on the marketplace, the vast majority of chemicals like glyphosate will never be adequately tested for their effects on ecosystems or human beings.
The unstated goal of most company-sponsored studies is to increase the bottom line. “It’s marketing research, not science,” [New York University professor Dr. Marion Nestle] said. Noting that nutrition research, especially that funded by industry, “requires careful interpretation,” she suggests an approach that all consumers would be wise to follow: “Whenever I see studies claiming benefits for a single food, I want to know three things: whether the results are biologically plausible; whether the study controlled for other dietary, behavioral, or lifestyle factors that could have influenced its result; and who sponsored it.” “Fifty years of research has demonstrated the influence of pharmaceutical companies on physicians’ behavior — even giving doctors pads or pens printed with the brand name of a drug can prompt doctors to ignore a generic or competing brand,” Dr. Nestle [said]. However ... while there have been thousands of studies of conflicts of interest among physicians who publish drug studies and those who prescribe industry-touted medications, she could identify only 11 such studies of the influence of industry funding on the outcome of food and beverage research in relation to health. Consumers who are not scientifically savvy can be easily misled by the findings of studies, especially when they emanate from a prestigious institution or professional association. Dr. Nestle says such organizations need to pay closer attention to both blatant and potential conflicts of interest lest they be caught touting sloppy science.
Note: Dr. Marion Nestle recently published a book on this topic titled, "Unsavory Truth: How Food Companies Skew the Science of What We Eat." Read more about the bias in industry-funded nutrition research in this article. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in science and in the food system.
The Pentagon is studying whether insects can be enlisted to combat crop loss during agricultural emergencies. The bugs would carry genetically engineered viruses that could be deployed rapidly if critical crops such as corn or wheat became vulnerable to a drought, a natural blight or a sudden attack by a biological weapon. The concept envisions the viruses making genetic modifications ... during a single growing season. The program, funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), has a warm and fuzzy name: “Insect Allies.” But some critics find the whole thing creepy. A team of skeptical scientists and legal scholars published an article in the journal Science on Thursday arguing that the Insect Allies program opens a “Pandora’s box" and involves technology that “may be widely perceived as an effort to develop biological agents for hostile purposes and their means of delivery.” The authors ... contend that Insect Allies could potentially be interpreted as a violation of an international treaty called the Biological Weapons Convention. “We argue that there is the risk that the program is seen as not justified by peaceful purposes,” [said] co-author Silja Voeneky, a professor of international law. She said the use of insects as a key feature of the program is particularly alarming, because insects could be deployed cheaply and surreptitiously by malevolent actors.
Those who frequently eat organic foods lowered their overall risk of developing cancer, a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine finds. Specifically, those who primarily eat organic foods were more likely to ward off non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer compared to those who rarely or never ate organic foods. Researchers looked at the diets of 68,946 French adults. These volunteers were categorized into four groups depending on how often they reported eating 16 organic products. Follow-up time ... lasted slightly more than four and a half years on average, and during that time, the study volunteers developed a total of 1,340 cancers. Comparing the participants' organic food scores with cancer cases, the researchers calculated a negative relationship between high scores (eating the most organic food) and overall cancer risk. Those who ate the most organic food were 25% less likely to develop cancer. They were 73% less likely to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma and 21% less likely to develop post-menopausal breast cancer. Even participants who ate low-to-medium quality diets yet stuck with organic food experienced a reduced risk of cancer. A "possible explanation" ... stems from the "significant" reduction of contamination that occurs when conventional foods are replaced by organic foods. The new findings are consistent with those of the International Agency for Research in Cancer, which found pesticides are cancer causing in humans.
In 1970, only 1 child in 10,000 was diagnosed with autism. Today, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number is 1 in 59. There are two camps in the autism world. One camp holds that ... autism is a genetic condition, something like Down syndrome. However, despite decades of intensive research, no “autism gene” or combination of autism genes has yet been discovered. The second camp argues that ... environmental triggers like pesticides, certain foods, allergens, vaccines, and even stress can trigger an immune reaction in the child’s body which impacts the brain and can cause symptoms of autism. The environmental camp extends to researchers who seek a connection between pesticides and autism. Recently research published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that maternal exposure to the pesticide DDT is associated with autism in her infant. A recent book in the camp of environmental causes for autism is J. B. Handley’s controversial How to End the Autism Epidemic. In 2004, Handley’s son was diagnosed with severe autism. He and his wife Lisa were told that their son would probably be institutionalized. When the Handleys asked if making changes in their son's diet would help, their doctor, a world famous autism expert, replied that this was merely a placebo for parents. Wanting to try every alternative for their son, the Handleys found Bay Area physician Dr. Lynne Mielke. The boy's symptoms improved significantly with dietary interventions.
A California judge has rejected Monsanto’s appeal to overturn a landmark jury verdict which found that its popular herbicide causes cancer. Dewayne “Lee” Johnson, a father of three and former school groundskeeper ... won a $289m award over the summer after alleging that his exposure to Roundup weedkiller gave him cancer. Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, the German pharmaceutical company, filed an appeal of the verdict, which said the company was responsible for “negligent failure”, knew or should have known that its product was “dangerous”, and had “acted with malice or oppression”. San Francisco superior court judge Suzanne Bolanos ... has ruled to reduce punitive damages from $250m to $39m. The August verdict was a major victory for campaigners who have long fought Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world. Studies have repeatedly linked the glyphosate chemical ... to non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer. Internal Monsanto emails uncovered in the litigation suggested that the corporation has repeatedly worked to stifle critical research over the years while “ghost-writing” scientific reports favorable to glyphosate. Thousands of plaintiffs across the country have made similar legal claims, alleging that glyphosate exposure caused their cancer or resulted in the deaths of their loved ones. Last week, four jury members spoke to the Guardian about the judge questioning their unanimous decision, urging her to allow the verdict to stand.
Note: The EPA continues to use industry-sponsored studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal also found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.
A San Francisco Superior Court jury awarded a historic $289 million verdict against the agrochemical conglomerate Monsanto. A California judge is considering taking away that jury award for punitive damages. When we learned that Dewayne “Lee” Johnson had taken Monsanto to court saying he got his terminal non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma from on-the-job exposure to Monsanto’s ubiquitous weed killer, Roundup, we were so captured by Johnson’s battle that we traveled to San Francisco to watch the trial. Johnson’s was the first of some 4,000 similar claims headed for courts across America. The judge appeared to be bending over backward to help Monsanto. Johnson’s jury heard evidence that, for four decades, Monsanto maneuvered to conceal Roundup’s carcinogenicity by capturing regulatory agencies, corrupting public officials, bribing scientists, ghostwriting science and engaging in scientific fraud. The jury found that these activities constituted “malice, fraud and oppression” warranting $250 million in punitive damages. We were among the many who applauded. However, California judges have the power to reduce, or even eliminate, a jury award. The jurors would be shocked to know that the product of their weeks of careful consideration ... could be thrown out at the whim of a judge who disagrees with the verdict. If a judge intervenes to alter their verdict, then what, after all, is the point of having jurors?
Note: The EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal also found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.
The epiphany that mushrooms could help save the world's ailing bee colonies struck Paul Stamets while he was in bed. In 1984, Stamets had noticed a "continuous convoy of bees" traveling from a patch of mushrooms he was growing and his beehives. The bees actually moved wood chips to access his mushroom's mycelium, the branching fibers of fungus. Decades later, he and a friend began a conversation about bee colony collapse that left Stamets ... puzzling over a problem. Bees across the world have been disappearing at an alarming rate. Parasites like mites, fast-spreading viruses, agricultural chemicals and lack of forage area have ... threatened wild and commercial bees alike. Waking up one morning, "I connected the dots," he said. "Mycelium have sugars and antiviral properties," he said. What if it wasn't just sugar that was useful to those mushroom-suckling bees so long ago? Research published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports ... describes how bees given a small amount of his mushroom mycelia extract exhibited remarkable reductions in the presence of viruses associated with parasitic mites that have been attacking, and infecting, bee colonies for decades. To test Stamets' theory, the researchers ... separated two groups of mite-exposed bees into cages, feeding one group sugar syrup with a mushroom-based additive and the other, syrup without the additive. For several virus strains, the extract "reduced the virus to almost nothing," said [researcher] Brandon Hopkins.
Within the Defense Department, one agency’s recent project sounds futuristic: millions of insects carrying viruses descend upon crops and then genetically modify them to withstand droughts, floods and foreign attacks. But in a warning published Thursday in the journal Science, a group of independent scientists and lawyers objected. They argue that the endeavor is not so different from designing biological weapons - banned under international law since 1975 - that could swarm and destroy acres of crops. “Once you engineer a virus that spreads by insect, it is hard to imagine how you would ever control it,” said Guy Reeves, a researcher ... who contributed to the critique. “You haven’t just released a transmissible virus - you’ve released a disease,” he added. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa ... launched the Insect Allies research program in 2016, budgeting $45 million over four years to transform agricultural pests into vectors that can transfer protective genes into plants within one growing season. The critics said publishing the new research findings could establish “preliminary instruction manuals” for developing offensive biological weapons. Foreign military programs are often “driven by perception of competitors’ activities,” the critics warn, and “the mere announcement of this program may motivate other countries to develop their own capabilities in this arena — indeed, it may have already done so.”
A major pediatricians’ group is urging families to limit the use of plastic food containers, cut down on processed meat during pregnancy and consume more whole fruits and vegetables rather than processed food. The American Academy of Pediatrics issued the guidelines. Certain chemicals that enter foods may interfere with the body’s natural hormones in ways that may affect long-term growth and development. Among the chemicals that raised particular concern are nitrates and nitrites, which are used as preservatives, primarily in meat products; phthalates, which are used to make plastic packaging; and bisphenols, used in the lining of metal cans. Also of concern to the pediatricians are perfluoroalkyl chemicals, or PFCs, used in grease-proof paper and packaging, and perchlorates, an antistatic agent used in plastic packaging. “Avoiding canned food is a great way to reduce your bisphenol exposure in general, and avoiding packaged and processed food is a good way to avoid phthalates exposures,” [guidelines author] Dr. Trasande said. He also suggested wrapping foods in wax paper in lieu of plastic wrap. The A.A.P. statement was particularly critical of a regulatory process by which the F.D.A. designates food additives “generally recognized as safe,” citing a ... review of the program that determined “the F.D.A. is not able to ensure the safety of existing or new additives through this approval mechanism.”
The Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus, which is an actual thing, held a bipartisan twilight event that involved the release of 50 monarch butterflies into the darkening sky. This was a nice moment. As Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Ohio, said, "We should all be able to agree on butterflies." The CPPC is serious business. Between the destruction of monarch habitats ... and the ongoing mystery of colony collapse among the bees, American agriculture is endangered. In 2017, according to the Center For Biological Diversity, the overwintering population of monarchs dropped by a third. The butterfly's dramatic decline has been driven in large part by the widespread planting of genetically engineered crops. The vast majority of U.S. corn and soybeans are genetically engineered for resistance to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide, a potent killer of milkweed, the monarch caterpillar's only food. The dramatic surge in the use of Roundup ... has virtually wiped out milkweed plants in the Midwest's corn and soybean fields. Overall monarchs have declined by more than 80 percent over the past two decades. In the mid-1990s the population was estimated at nearly one billion butterflies, but this year’s population is down to approximately 93 million butterflies. The [Trump] administration is determined to defang the Endangered Species Act while a review of the monarch's status under the ESA is pending.
Note: Recently, Monsanto's Roundup herbicide was also linked to the rapid decline of bee populations by a major study. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and GMOs.
Dewayne Johnson tries not to think about dying. Doctors have said the 46-year-old cancer patient could have months to live. The father of three and former school groundskeeper has been learning to live with the gift and burden of being in the spotlight in the month since a California jury ruled that Monsanto caused his terminal cancer. The historic verdict against the agrochemical corporation, which included an award of $289m, has ignited widespread health concerns about the world’s most popular weedkiller. Johnson ... was the first person to take Monsanto to trial on allegations that the global seed and chemical company spent decades hiding the cancer risks of its herbicide. He is also the first to win. The groundbreaking verdict further stated that Monsanto “acted with malice” and knew or should have known that its chemicals were “dangerous”. The chemical that changed Johnson’s life is glyphosate, which Monsanto began marketing as Roundup in 1974. The corporation presented the herbicide as a technological breakthrough that could kill nearly every weed without posing dangers to humans or the environment. Roundup products are now registered in 130 countries. Glyphosate can be found in food, water sources and agricultural workers’ urine. Research ... has repeatedly raised concerns about potential harms linked to the herbicide. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s international agency for research on cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”.
Note: The EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal also found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.
Indoor vertical farming startup Bowery is in the process of building a second facility which it claims will be the most technologically sophisticated indoor farm in the world. The operation will be in Kearny, N.J., and grow 30 times more produce than its current indoor farm that’s located nearby, and supply 100 types of leafy greens and herbs. Bowery is applying robotics, machine learning, and predictive analytics to the agriculture sector, a segment of the economy that has been slow to adopt technology and digital advancements. “Software is the brains of the farm,” says Bowery CEO and founder Irving Fain. Small adjustments—water flow, light intensity, temperature, humidity—can then be made in response to data inputs to impact outcomes like taste and flavor, such as growing a mustard green that’s got a spicier pick. “These changes get pushed out automatically into our system,” says Fain. “The precision and level of control is unparalleled.” Fain says that Bowery is more than 100 times more efficient than a square foot of farmland, in large part because the startup can grow 365 days a year. Bowery doesn’t use any pesticides or agri-chemicals. Normally out in a field that would lead to reduction in yield, but Bowery has more crop cycles per year, grows twice as fast as a field, and has higher yield per crop cycle, says Fain. “It’s a better product for us and better way of growing and less destructive to the earth,” says Fain. “We’re using technology to grow the purest food possible.”
It’s been three weeks since a San Francisco jury found that exposure to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides contributed to former school groundskeeper Dewayne “Lee” Johnson’s terminal cancer and awarded a stunning $289 million in damages. During that time, we’ve seen repeated assertions from the pesticide giant and its allies that, in fact, the jury was wrong. Corporate assurances of safety leave out one important word - a word that is critically important to anyone who wants to make an informed decision about the cancer risk associated with ... glyphosate-based herbicides. That word is “independent.” Truly independent research has shown that there is reason for concern. Independent and peer-reviewed works ... convinced the cancer research arm of the World Health Organization to determine that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen. In the wake of that WHO finding, California added glyphosate to the state’s list of cancer-causing chemicals. Monsanto’s response to that 2015 classification was more manipulated science. An “independent review” of glyphosate showed up in a peer-reviewed scientific journal decrying the IARC classification. The review not only was titled as being independent, but declared that no Monsanto employee had any involvement in the writing of it. Yet the company’s internal emails, turned over in discovery associated with the litigation, revealed that a Monsanto scientist in fact aggressively edited and reviewed the analysis prior to its publication.
Note: The EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal also found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
A jury ordered chemical giant Monsanto to pay $289 million Friday to a school groundskeeper who got terminal cancer after using Roundup, one of the world's most popular weed killers. The Superior Court jury [found] that Dewayne Johnson's non-Hodgkin lymphoma was at least partly due to using glyphosate, the primary ingredient in Roundup. Johnson regularly used glyphosate to spray fields while working as a groundskeeper. Monsanto "acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct," Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos announced in court. Hundreds of lawsuits claiming Roundup causes cancer have been given the green light to proceed to trial. Cancer victims and families presenting cases say Monsanto knew about the ingredient's risk for years, but failed to warn buyers. Johnson's doctors testified he is unlikely to live past 2020. The 46-year-old Bay-area resident worked for a California county school system and applied the weed killer up to 30 times per year as part of his pest-control responsibilities. During that time, he mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of the chemical. “Today the jury confirmed what we have known since our investigation began — that Monsanto knew Roundup contained cancer-causing ingredients and failed to take this product off the shelf and protect consumers. The company chose corporate profit and greed above humanity,” said Micah Dortch of the Potts Law Firm.
Note: The EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
In New Prague, Minn., population around 7,600, Kendra and Paul Rasmusson [opened a grocery] store that is largely unstaffed. The couple’s young daughter has epilepsy, and they discovered early on that a healthy diet could help her feel better. They couldn’t find enough local, organic items at the big-box store close to town. So ... they opened Farmhouse Market. The numbers wouldn’t work if they were to run it in a traditional way. Inspired by a nearby 24-hour fitness center, they had an idea: Why not create a store that didn’t need staff, for shoppers who wanted organic [food] from local farmers? Members pay $99 a year and use a key card to open the door. They can shop anytime they want. Local farmers, beekeepers and other suppliers have cards, too, so they can restock their supplies at midnight if they want. In Baltimore, the Salvation Army market is tackling an urban version of the grocery-store drought. The DMG Foods was built in the front of a Salvation Army distribution center in a neighborhood where families in public housing mix with Johns Hopkins students and older people who grew up there. The cheery store, whose name is an abbreviation of the organization’s motto, Doing the Most Good, feels a little bit like what Amazon would ship if you typed “grocery store” into the search bar. And in a way, that’s what [founder Maj. Gene]. Hogg did. “We didn’t do this to make money selling groceries,” Mr. Hogg said. “We did this so people could have a neighborhood grocery store with fresh food.”
A former school groundskeeper, diagnosed with terminal cancer, told a San Francisco jury Monday that he called a Monsanto Co. hotline twice - once before his diagnosis, once after - and asked whether the herbicide he was spraying on the job, the most widely used weed killer in the world, could cause harm to humans. Both times ... the person at the other end of the line listened to his account of being accidentally doused with the herbicide glyphosate, and said someone would call him back. No one ever did. “I would never have sprayed the product around school grounds or around people if I thought it would cause them harm,” Johnson told a Superior Court jury. Johnson ... was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in October 2014 and with ... a more aggressive form of the cancer in March 2015. Even after the latter diagnosis, Johnson said he continued to spray Monsanto’s product, a high-concentration brand of glyphosate called Ranger Pro, until he became convinced that it was dangerous and refused to use it in his final months on the job. His damage suit, now into its third week, is the first of about 4,000 nationwide to go to trial against Monsanto, now a subsidiary of Bayer. In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. [Johnson] said ... a supervisor told him the product was safe as long as he wore long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes and socks.
Note: As major lawsuits like this one against Monsanto unfold, the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
More than 40 nations are proposing to boost their 'bioeconomy' - the part of the economy based in biology and the biosciences. Around US$2 trillion of products in agriculture and forestry, food, bioenergy, biotechnology and green chemistry were exported worldwide in 2014, amounting to 13% of world trade, up from 10% in 2007. These sectors are central to at least half of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), from food security to ensuring energy access and health. But conflicting national priorities make it hard to align bioeconomy policies to meet the SDGs on a global scale. Ecological sustainability is a prime concern in rich and industrializing countries; inclusive rural development and equitable sharing of resources is central in developing countries. Decisions made in one place may be felt elsewhere. A global bioeconomy must rebuild natural capital and improve the quality of life for a growing world population. It should balance managing common goods, such as air, water and soil, with the economic expectations of people. Three types of innovation will be needed: technological (such as systems to reduce emissions), organizational (changes in institutional behaviour) and social (such as job creation).
Note: For an excellent, more recent discussion on the global bioeconomy, see this informative article.
Monsanto has long worked to “bully scientists” and suppress evidence of the cancer risks of its popular weedkiller, a lawyer argued on Monday in a landmark lawsuit against the global chemical corporation. “Monsanto has specifically gone out of its way to bully ... and to fight independent researchers,” said the attorney Brent Wisner, who presented internal Monsanto emails that he said showed how the agrochemical company rejected critical research and expert warnings over the years while pursuing and helping to write favorable analyses of their products. Wisner ... is representing DeWayne Johnson, known also as Lee, a California man whose cancer has spread through his body. The father of three ... is the first person to take Monsanto to trial over allegations that the chemical sold under the Roundup brand is linked to cancer. Thousands have made similar legal claims across the US. The suit centers on glyphosate ... which Monsanto began marketing as Roundup in 1974, presenting it as a technological breakthrough that could kill almost every weed without harming humans. Studies have suggested otherwise, and in 2015, the World Health Organization’s international agency for research on cancer (IARC) classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. Glyphosate has been found in food, a variety of water sources, and the urine of agricultural workers. A number of countries have policies banning or restricting the sale and use of glyphosate.
Note: For more, see this article from the San Francisco Chronicle. As major lawsuits like this one against Monsanto unfold, the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Evidence that Roundup weed killer can cause cancer seems "weak," but experts can still make that claim at trial, a U.S. judge ruled Tuesday. The decision by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco allows hundreds of lawsuits against Roundup's manufacturer, Monsanto, to move forward. The lawsuits by cancer victims and their families say the agrochemical giant long knew about Roundup's cancer risk but failed to warn them. The judge wanted to determine whether the science behind the claim that Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma had been properly tested and met other requirements to be considered valid. Before issuing his ruling, Chhabria spent a week in March hearing dueling testimony from epidemiologists. He peppered them with questions about potential strengths and weaknesses of research on the cancer risk of glyphosate. Beate Ritz, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, testified for the plaintiffs that her review of scientific literature led her to conclude that glyphosate and glyphosate-based compounds such as Roundup can cause non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Ritz said a 2017 National Institute of Health study that found no association between glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma had major flaws. A federal judge in Sacramento in February blocked California from requiring that Roundup carry a label stating that it is known to cause cancer.
Note: As major lawsuits like this one against Monsanto unfold, the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
German conglomerate Bayer on Thursday closed its $63 billion merger with Monsanto after getting the required nod from U.S. and EU regulators. The closing sets the stage for the ... brand name "Monsanto" to be dropped by Bayer. Monsanto's agricultural biotechnology research and development operations that are going to Bayer are the largest in the world. "The entire business is essentially going over to Bayer intact," said ... analyst Seth Goldstein. "Taking away the Monsanto name is more of a branding. It should allow for easier PR for Bayer." The annual Harris Poll of corporate reputation ratings among America's "100 most visible companies" has regularly shown Monsanto rank toward the lower end of the list. Monsanto ranked 97 on the list of 100 companies in 2017 and survey results this year put it at 95. Monsanto has spent upwards of $100 million in some years on advertising costs. Some of the corporate efforts have been in direct response to social media attacks ... against genetically modified organisms. Monsanto also has faced protests over the American company's Roundup herbicide product containing glyphosate. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic" back in 2015. "It's not a surprise Bayer is dropping the Monsanto name since the brand has so many issues and there was international rejection of GMOs," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety.
Note: Monsanto has become the target of a negative publicity campaign for very good reasons because of it's huge support of GMOs and RoundUp. Now, Bayer is hoping to erase this negative image, yet they are far from a responsible company. See this post documenting how Bayer collaborated with the Nazis to kill Jews and much more. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the corporate world and in the food system.
Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is ... associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup, is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.
Note: As this is from a scientific journal, the language may not be easy to follow, yet the link between RoundUp, which contains glyphosate, and gluten intolerance is clear. This chart from the article shows how increasing incidence of thyroid cancer relates to increasing use of glyphosate on corn and soy crops in the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
At the age of 46, DeWayne Johnson is not ready to die. But with cancer spread through most of his body, doctors say he probably has just months to live. Now Johnson, a husband and father of three in California, hopes to survive long enough to make Monsanto take the blame for his fate. Johnson will become the first person to take the global seed and chemical company to trial on allegations that it has spent decades hiding the cancer-causing dangers of its popular Roundup herbicide products – and his case has just received a major boost. Last week Judge Curtis Karnow issued an order clearing the way for jurors to consider not just scientific evidence related to what caused Johnson’s cancer, but allegations that Monsanto suppressed evidence of the risks of its weed killing products. “The internal correspondence noted by Johnson could support a jury finding that Monsanto has long been aware of the risk that its glyphosate-based herbicides are carcinogenic ... but has continuously sought to influence the scientific literature to prevent its internal concerns from reaching the public sphere and to bolster its defenses in products liability actions,” Karnow wrote. Johnson’s case ... is at the forefront of a legal fight against Monsanto. Some 4,000 plaintiffs have sued Monsanto alleging exposure to Roundup caused them, or their loved ones, to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).
Note: As major lawsuits like this one against Monsanto begin to unfold, the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. A recent independent study published in a scientific journal found a link between glyphosate and gluten intolerance. Internal FDA emails suggest that the food supply contains far more glyphosate than government reports indicate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Foodmakers will soon be required to disclose when their products contain genetically modified ingredients - but those labels may not be as obvious, or as comprehensive, as consumers expected. A proposed rule released by the Agriculture Department ... instructs foodmakers to use the term “bioengineered” to label such foods instead of “genetically modified.” The proposed rule ... will now undergo a public comment period and could be finalized as early as this summer. Congress passed a mandatory-labeling law in 2016. Food companies will have three options for disclosing the ingredients, the USDA said: a one-sentence label declaration, such as “contains a bioengineered food ingredient”; a standardized icon, such as the one used in the National Organic Program; or a QR code or other digital marker that directs shoppers to a website for more information. Under one plan, the USDA said it would exempt highly refined sugars and oils, such as those made from genetically modified corn, soybeans and sugar beets, from labeling. This would effectively exempt as much as 70 percent of covered food products from GMO labeling. Under another plan, the USDA would exempt products containing ingredients from mixed sources that were less than 5 percent genetically modified by weight. That ... is significantly higher than the 0.9 percent threshold observed by China, Russia and the European Union.
US government scientists have detected a weedkiller linked to cancer in an array of commonly consumed foods, emails obtained through a freedom of information request show. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been testing food samples for residues of glyphosate, the active ingredient in ... widely used herbicide products, for two years, but has not yet released any official results. Documents obtained by the Guardian show the FDA has had trouble finding any food that does not carry traces of the pesticide. “I have brought wheat crackers, granola cereal and corn meal from home and there’s a fair amount in all of them,” FDA chemist Richard Thompson wrote to colleagues in an email last year regarding glyphosate. That internal FDA email ... is part of a string of FDA communications that detail agency efforts to ascertain how much of the popular weedkiller is showing up in American food. Glyphosate is best known as the main ingredient in Monsanto Co’s Roundup brand. More than 200m pounds are used annually by US farmers. Thompson’s detection of glyphosate ... will probably not be included in any official report. Separately, FDA chemist Narong Chamkasem found “over-the-tolerance” levels of glyphosate in corn, detected at 6.5 parts per million, an FDA email states. The legal limit is 5.0 ppm. An illegal level would normally be reported to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but an FDA supervisor wrote to an EPA official that the corn was not considered an “official sample”.
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
The European Union has made a key breakthrough to completely ban pesticides that harm bees and their crop pollination. The 28 member states got a large majority backing the ban on the three prevalent neonicotinoid pesticides which will take effect at the end of the year. The decision builds on a limited ban which has been in effect since 2013. Antonia Staats of the Avaaz campaign group on Friday called it a “beacon of hope for bees. Finally our governments are listening.” Over the past several years, there’s been an alarming drop in bee populations and there were fears it would start to seriously affect crop production since bees are necessary for the spread of pollen and reproduction.
Note: Neonicotinoid pesticides have been found to negatively impact bee reproduction. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
At least one-third of early deaths could be prevented if everyone moved to a vegetarian diet, Harvard scientists have calculated. Dr Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School said the benefits of a plant-based diet had been vastly underestimated. "Looking at the question of how much could we reduce mortality shifting towards a healthy, more plant based diet, not necessarily totally vegan ... our estimates are about one third of deaths could be prevented," [he said]. “That’s not even talking about physical activity or not smoking, and that’s all deaths, not just cancer deaths. That’s probably an underestimate as well as that doesn’t take into account the fact that obesity is important and we control for obesity." Dr Neal Barnard, president of the Committee for Responsible Medicine also said people need to wake up to the health benefits of vegetarianism and veganism. “I think we’re underestimating the effect,” he told delegates. “I think people imagine that a healthy diet has only a modest effect and a vegetarian diet might help you lose a little bit of weight. But when these diets are properly constructed I think they are enormously powerful. A low-fat vegan diet is better than any other diet I have ever seen for improving diabetes. With regards to inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis we are seeing tremendous potential there too. Partly because of things we are avoiding and cholesterol but also because of the magical things that are in vegetables and fruits.”
There has been a global shift away from meat in recent years. A full 70% of the world population reportedly is either reducing meat consumption or leaving meat off the table altogether. This is from a report at GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company that works with 4,000 of the world’s largest companies. Fiona Dyer, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: ‘The shift toward plant-based foods is being driven by millennials, who are most likely to consider the food source, animal welfare issues, and environmental impacts when making their purchasing decisions.’ While millennials are one of the key drivers of this global shift away from consuming animal products, the plant-based movement appears to be bigger than any one generation. Celebrities, athletes, and even entire companies including Google and countries such as China are backing the movement to eat more plants. When the World Health Organization connected processed meats, like bacon and ham, to cancer, it sent shock waves through the food world. It also gave mainstream health organizations even more ammunition to encourage healthier dietary guidelines. Kaiser Permanente, the largest healthcare organization in the U.S., and the American Institute for Cancer Research are now recommending a plant-centric diet to combat heart disease and other common killers.
Organic shoppers might notice additional labels this summer. Farmers and scientists from around the country met in Vermont late last month to create the standards for an additional organic certification program, which they plan to roll out nationally to between 20 to 60 farms as a pilot. Under the current U.S. Department of Agriculture program, the organic label means that your tomato has been produced without synthetic substances - with some exceptions - and without certain methods, like genetic engineering. The additional label ... would indicate that a tomato, for example, has been grown in soil, and that meat and dairy products came from farms that pasture their animals. An inspector would certify that the farm has complied with the new standards, and the farms - not distributors - would add the label. The move comes five months after the National Organic Standard Board ... voted against a proposal to exclude from the USDA's organic certification program hydroponics - raising plants with water but no soil - and aquaponics, in which plants and aquatic animals, such as fish, are grown within one system. The group creating the new label, which calls itself the Real Organic Project, said it has not abandoned the National Organic Program. "Some of the cornerstones of what organic means are being taken away, and we're concerned," said Dave Chapman, a member of the executive and standards board of the Real Organic Project.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
“The world isn’t short of water, it’s just in the wrong place, and too salty," says Charlie Paton – so he's spent the past 24 years building the technology to prove it. Paton is the founder of Seawater Greenhouse, a company that transforms two abundant resources – sunshine and seawater – into freshwater for growing crops in arid, coastal regions such as Africa’s horn. His latest project [is] in Somaliland (an autonomous but internationally unrecognised republic in Somalia). On a 25-hectare plot of desert land close to the coastline, he’s building the region’s first sustainable, drought-resistant greenhouse. Using solar power to pump in seawater from the coastline and desalinate it on site, Paton is generating freshwater to irrigate plants, and water vapour to cool and humidify the greenhouse interior. Less than a year after its launch, this improbable desert oasis produced its first harvest of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes. This year he plans to build an on-site training centre to teach local farmers how to grow greenhouse vegetables. The structure’s modular design will enable farmers to adopt their own one- to five-hectare plots – the dream being a network of connected, drought-resistant farms running across the country. “One of the exciting things is that it can work all the way along our long Red Sea coastline, bringing new sources of income in arid, pastoral areas,” Shibeshi says. “If you have a greenhouse, you aren’t worried about whether there’s rain or no rain.”
Bird populations across the French countryside have fallen by a third over the last decade and a half, researchers have said. Dozens of species have seen their numbers decline, in some cases by two-thirds, the scientists said in a pair of studies – one national in scope and the other covering a large agricultural region in central France. “The situation is catastrophic,” said Benoit Fontaine, a conservation biologist at France’s National Museum of Natural History and co-author of one of the studies. A migratory song bird, the meadow pipit, has declined by nearly 70%. The museum described the pace and extent of the wipe-out as “a level approaching an ecological catastrophe”. The primary culprit, researchers speculate, is the intensive use of pesticides on vast tracts of monoculture crops, especially wheat and corn. The problem is not that birds are being poisoned, but that the insects on which they depend for food have disappeared. Recent research ... has uncovered similar trends across Europe. Flying insects have declined by 80%, and bird populations has dropped by more than 400m in 30 years. Despite a government plan to cut pesticide use in half by 2020, sales in France have climbed steadily, reaching more than 75,000 tonnes of active ingredient in 2014, according to European Union figures. “What is really alarming, is that all the birds in an agricultural setting are declining at the same speed, even ’generalist’ birds,” which also thrive in other settings such as wooded areas, said [ecologist Vincent] Bretagnolle.
Note: A United Nations report recently noted that pesticides have produced “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”, and condemned the pesticide industry for aggressively promoting lies about the usefulness of their products. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Shocking hygiene failings have been discovered in some of the US’s biggest meat plants, as a new analysis reveals that as many as 15% (one in seven) of the US population suffers from foodborne illnesses annually. A joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) and the Guardian found that hygiene incidents are at numbers that experts described as “deeply worrying”. US campaigners are calling once again for the closure of a legal loophole that allows meat with salmonella to be sold in the human supply chain, and also warn about the industry’s push to speed up production in the country’s meat plants. Unpublished US- government records highlight numerous specific incidents including: Diseased poultry meat that had been condemned found in containers used to hold edible food products; Pig carcasses piling up on the factory floor after an equipment breakdown, leading to contamination with grease, blood and other filth; Meat destined for the human food chain found riddled with faecal matter and abscesses filled with pus; High-power hoses being used to clean dirty floors next to working production lines containing food products; Factory floors flooded with dirty water after drains became blocked by meat parts and other debris; Dirty chicken, soiled with faeces or having been dropped on the floor, being put back on to the production line after being rinsed with dilute chlorine.
Note: Read more on the unsafe and unethical high speed slaughterhouses on track for USDA approval. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A US court will today hear a request from Monsanto for access to a huge batch of internal communications by Avaaz, in a move that the campaign group says could have grave repercussions for online activism and data privacy. Monsanto is seeking the release of all lobby documents ... where the firm or its herbicide ingredient glyphosate have been mentioned. Avaaz says this would include personal information about its employees, as well as the email addresses of more than four million signatories to petitions against Monsanto’s GM and glyphosate policies. A victory for Monsanto in today’s hearing would cost the online advocacy group thousands of person-hours of work time, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Avaaz’s lawyers. It could even raise the prospect of a migration out of online activism by campaigners concerned about corporate surveillance. Monsanto’s [request] demands all documents Avaaz employees have created, maintained, received, sent or copied, where these involve discussion about glyphosate, Monsanto, or the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which found glyphosate to probably be carcinogenic. Monsanto filed its request shortly after a bitter EU regulatory battle ended with its license for glyphosate – the core ingredient in Roundup – being extended by just five years, rather than the 15 years originally sought.
Note: Read more on Avaaz and the power of online activism. Major lawsuits are beginning to unfold over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of its products, most notably Roundup. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.
If you care about animal welfare or food safety, this news will concern you: the nationwide expansion of a risky US Department of Agriculture (USDA) high-speed slaughter program is imminent. There is still time to stop it. The USDA is now accepting public comments on its proposed rule that it euphemistically dubbed the “Modernization of Swine Slaughter Inspection”. As a former undercover investigator who worked inside a pig slaughterhouse operating under the pilot project that was, at the time, called HIMP, I’ve seen firsthand the hazardous and cruel nature of this controversial program. This expanded program ... would allow facilities to increase slaughter speeds, while reducing the number of trained government inspectors on the lines. The result is problems that can – and do – go unnoticed. For nearly six months, I worked undercover inside Quality Pork Processors (QPP). An exclusive Hormel Foods supplier, QPP kills about 1,300 pigs every hour operating under the high-speed pilot program. I documented pig carcasses covered in feces and abscesses being processed for human consumption, and workers ... beating, dragging, and electrically prodding pigs to make them move faster. NSIS may also allow higher numbers of sick and injured pigs too weak even to stand (known as “downers”) to be slaughtered for food. In 2016, a letter from 60 members of Congress to the USDA stated “the available evidence suggests the hog HIMP will undermine food safety.”
Note: The above was written by Scott David, a former undercover investigator at Compassion Over Killing, a national animal protection organization. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the food system.
As Georgia’s top public health official, Brenda Fitzgerald led the fight against childhood obesity in a state with one of the highest rates in the country. The program there, funded in part by the Coca-Cola Foundation, emphasizes exercise and makes little mention of the problems with sugary soft drinks - putting the effort at odds with research and the positions of many experts. Now that Fitzgerald is director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - the country’s top public health official - some public health advocates are concerned that she could incorporate Georgia's approach into the national battle against obesity. “We hope Dr. Fitzgerald, as head of CDC, avoids partnering with Coke on obesity for the same reason she would avoid partnering with the tobacco industry on lung cancer prevention,” said Jim O’Hara, director of health promotion policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Public health advocates and researchers have characterized Coca-Cola’s strategy as deflecting public attention from the links between sugary drinks and a host of health problems, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease, by focusing on exercise and offering grants “to buy friends and silence potential critics,” O’Hara said. Nationally, there has been growing public concern about beverage companies using philanthropy to fend off public health and regulatory policies that aim to limit soda consumption. CDC itself was criticized in 2016 for two officials' connections to Coca Cola.
Note: For more on the close ties between Coca Cola and the government, read this revealing article. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the food system.
It was 1956. Papers had run a photograph of President Dwight D. Eisenhower sweetening his coffee with saccharin, with the news that his doctor had advised him to avoid sugar if he wanted to remain thin. The [sugar] industry responded with a national advertising campaign. The ads explained that there was no such thing as a “fattening food”: “All foods supply calories and there is no difference between the calories that come from sugar or steak or grapefruit or ice cream.” More than 60 years later, the sugar industry is still making the same argument, or at least paying researchers to do it for them. The stakes have changed, however, with a near tripling of the prevalence of obesity in the intervening decades and ... an almost unimaginable 655 percent increase in the percentage of Americans with diabetes diagnoses. When it comes to weight gain, the sugar industry and purveyors of sugary beverages still insist, a calorie is a calorie, regardless of its source. The assumption ignores decades of medical science, including much of what has become textbook endocrinology (the science of hormones and hormone-related diseases) and biochemistry. Different carbohydrates, like glucose and fructose, are metabolized differently, leading to different hormonal and physiological responses. Fat accumulation and metabolism [are] influenced profoundly by these hormones. In light of this research, arguing today that your body fat responds to everything you eat the exact same way is almost inconceivably naďve.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
There are few federal food policies as contentious as the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, developed every five years after a report by the independent U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. The guidelines [are] used to develop approaches to everything from food labeling regulations to school lunch menus and food stamp benefits. Following the 2015 committee report, which had recommended that Americans reduce their consumption of red and processed meat and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, the food and beverage industry scrambled to respond. But newly released emails suggest a broader strategy for shaping policy. The chain, which began with a mass email from the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC), an industry-funded group, included a conversation between two former executives of Coca-Cola Co. and of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), also an industry-funded group. These emails lay out “what appears to be the food industry’s roadmap for dealing with scientific challenges,” said Gary Ruskin ... an author of a report on the significance of the emails. The emails “reveal deliberate use of [the tobacco industry’s] ‘playbook’ tactics: cast doubt on the science, influence reporters, use front groups (e.g., ILSI and IFIC) to undermine concerns about the harmful effects of sugary drinks and head off dietary guidelines raising such concerns, and regulation,” said Marion Nestle, a professor ... at New York University and author of Food Politics and Soda Politics.
In June, Dr. Barbara Bowman, a high-ranking official within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unexpectedly departed the agency, two days after information came to light indicating that she had been communicating regularly with - and offering guidance to - a leading Coca-Cola advocate seeking to influence world health authorities on sugar and beverage policy matters. Now, more emails suggest that another veteran CDC official has similarly close ties to the global soft drink giant. Michael Pratt, Senior Advisor for Global Health in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC, has a history of promoting and helping lead research funded by Coca-Cola. Pratt also works closely with the nonprofit corporate interest group set up by Coca-Cola called the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), emails obtained through Freedom of Information requests show. His work ... includes a position as a professor at Emory University, a private research university in Atlanta that has received millions of dollars from the Coca-Cola Foundation and more than $100 million from famed longtime Coca-Cola leader Robert W. Woodruff. Coca-Cola’s financial support for Emory is so strong that the university states on its website that “it’s unofficially considered poor school spirit to drink other soda brands.” The mission of the CDC is protecting public health. It is problematic for agency officials to collaborate with a corporate interest that has a track record of downplaying the health risks of its products.
Note: For more on the close ties between Coca Cola and the government, read this revealing article. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the food system.
Norway’s doomsday agricultural seed vault will get a $13 million upgrade to better protect world food supplies. The work on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located nearly 400 feet beneath the earth’s surface inside a coal mine, was announced ... as the international facility celebrated its 10th anniversary and its holding of more than 1 million seed samples. The facility, which is fully funded by the Norwegian government, offers any government access to seeds in case of natural or man-made disaster. The concept was successfully tested in 2015, with a seed withdrawl to help Syria re-establish crops wiped out by the country’s civil war. The upgrades will include a concrete access tunnel, a service building for emergency power and refrigerating units, as well as other electrical equipment that will emit heat through the tunnel. The decision to upgrade to the access tunnel comes nearly one year after the vault’s entryway flooded due to unprecedented melting of the area’s permafrost. Though the flooding did not damage any seeds, it served as a jarring reminder of the growing effects of climate change. The vault was designed to take advantage of the location’s permafrost as a permanent feature offering natural cooling protection for the seeds.
The future of urban agriculture might require farmers to think inside the box. Farmers ... are growing vegetables here in converted freight shipping containers equipped with the latest hydroponics and automated systems equipment. They are provided by a Boston-based firm, Freight Farm. Freight Farms started in 2010 with the goal of bringing viable, space-efficient farming techniques to all climates and skill levels year-round. It recently expanded to Arizona. [Mark] Norton of Picked Fresh Farms isn’t what most people would picture as a farmer. The closest anyone has come to farming in his family was his grandfather, who farmed as a child, but that didn’t deter Norton. “If I can get a better environment, better food, help people with their food, and still help people with their health, that’s where it all fits,” Norton said. “It aligns with my core values.” He recently had one of his first successful harvests of lettuce, but he’s already looking to the future, with a 10-year goal to expand to 10 containers. In a year, [each] 320-square-foot container can produce the equivalent of a three-acre farm. It also saves water, using ... 95% less than traditional farms. The water is delivered in a nutrient-rich system based on hydroponics, a method to grow plants without soil. Norton prides himself in using no GMOs, no pesticides and no herbicides. The environment is controlled, so there’s no reason for it. The container can put out 50 to 100 pounds of lettuce a week.
Christine Sheppard fantasizes about her life before cancer. For 12 years, Sheppard had no idea what might have caused her non-Hodgkin's lymphoma - until IARC [The World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer] reported that glyphosate, the key ingredient in the popular weed killer Roundup, is "probably carcinogenic to humans". That's the same herbicide Sheppard said she sprayed on her coffee farm in Hawaii for five years. Sheppard is one of more than 800 cancer patients suing Monsanto, the maker of Roundup, claiming the company failed to warn consumers about the risk of cancer associated with Roundup products. Recently unsealed court documents appear to show Monsanto mounting its effort to discredit the IARC report before it was even released. A month before the IARC report came out in 2015, Monsanto executive William F. Heydens sent an internal email [that] suggested ghostwriting parts of an "overall plausibility paper" to save money. After the report [was released] Heydens sent an email to Monsanto's US agency lead. Dan Jenkins, Monsanto's US agency lead ... suggested talking to Jess Rowland, then chairman of the EPA's Cancer Assessment Review Committee. But the next day, Jenkins said Rowland called him. "(Rowland) told me no coordination is going on and he wanted to establish some, saying 'If I can kill this I should get a medal,'" Jenkins wrote, as shown in the plaintiffs' motion to compel the deposition of Rowland.
Note: Read more on Monsanto's fake research and influence over EPA regulators. The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
A whistle-blower who once worked for Monsanto walked away with a handsome payout for alerting regulators to accounting improprieties within the company, according to Reuters. Regulators will reportedly award the former executive with $22 million in connection with the $80 million settlement agreement Monsanto made with the S.E.C. over an incentive program the company ran to promote its trademark weed killer, Roundup. The $22 million payout is the second-highest sum the S.E.C. has given so far to a whistle-blower, behind a $30 million award paid in September 2014. The regulatory agency enacted a program to sweeten the idea of reporting impropriety in 2011, as part of the Dodd-Frank reforms. With between 10 and 30 percent of penalties or settlement agreements made with the government on the line, Wall Streeters and company insiders have all but lined up to tip off the S.E.C. Between September 2014 and September 2015 alone, the agency says 4,000 people forked over information, and more than 30 of them have pocketed a collective $85 million over the last five years.
Note: Monsanto lied to regulators and investors about RoundUp's profitability for three years. Major lawsuits are beginning to unfold over Monsanto's lies on the dangers of Roundup. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
A noted plant scientist who spent much of his career at Purdue University sent a letter to the USDA informing the agency that he'd discovered a mysterious new disease-causing organism in Monsanto's (MON) genetically engineered Roundup Ready corn and soybeans. Now, that scientist - Don Huber - has written a follow-up letter ... and appears in a videotaped interview where he presents an even scarier picture of the damage he claims Monsanto's herbicide chemical glyphosate (the main ingredient in Roundup) is doing to both plants and the animals who eat them. Use of glyphosate has soared thanks to widespread use of Monsanto's soy and corn seeds, which are genetically modified to survive its effects. The problem with glyphosate, Huber says, is that it effectively "gives a plant AIDS," weakening its defenses and making it more susceptible to pathogens, such as the one his team discovered. The scientists have taken to calling the bug "the electron microscope (EM) organism," since it can only be seen with an electron microscope. Huber claims that the double whammy of weakened defenses and the new EM organism have contributed to "unexplained epidemics" of disease on farms. He's heard from cattle farmers who are struggling because they're experiencing a 15% infertility rate and 35% rate of spontaneous abortions among their herds. When the farmers switch to non-GE soy and corn for feed, the problems decline dramatically.
A reputable-sounding nonprofit organization released a report attacking the organic food industry in April 2014. The 30-page report by Academics Review, described as “a non-profit led by independent academic experts in agriculture and food sciences,” found that consumers were being duped into spending more money for organic food. The [group's] press release ends on this note: “Academics Review has no conflicts-of-interest associated with this publication, and all associated costs for which were paid for using our general funds without any specific donor’ influence or direction.” What was not mentioned in the report, the news release or on the website: Executives for Monsanto Co., the world’s leading purveyor of agrichemicals and genetically engineered seeds, along with key Monsanto allies, engaged in fund raising for Academics Review, collaborated on strategy and even discussed plans to hide industry funding, according to emails obtained by U.S. Right to Know. Jay Byrne, former head of communications at Monsanto ... offered to act as a “commercial vehicle” to help find corporate funding for Academics Review. In March 2016, Monica Eng reported ... on documents showing that Monsanto paid Professor Bruce Chassy more than $57,000 over a 23-month period to travel, write and speak about GMOs - money that was not disclosed to the public. The money was part of at least $5.1 million in undisclosed money Monsanto sent through the University of Illinois Foundation.
Note: Monsanto has reportedly pushed fake science in other circumstances as well. Major lawsuits are beginning to unfold over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of its products, most notably Roundup. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
No food fit for human consumption will be wasted by Tesco's UK stores by the end of February, the retail giant says. Chief executive Dave Lewis told the Daily Telegraph food waste had been "talked about for years" as he unveiled the plans for all 2,654 stores. Urging other chains to follow suit, he said edible food should be used for people, not go to waste. Tesco, with all major UK supermarkets, has signed a commitment to cut food waste by one-fifth within a decade. The voluntary agreement is known as the Courtauld Commitment 2025. Mr Lewis ... said the contrast between the amount of wasted food in the UK and the situation in countries suffering food shortages was "really stark". He said: "Last year we sold 10 million tons [10.2 million tonnes] of food to the British public. But even if our waste is just 0.7% of the food, that's still 70,000 tons [71,100 tonnes] of food. Tesco says it cuts waste by selling surplus groceries with "reduced to clear" stickers and [by using] an app, FoodCloud, to scan and upload surplus food that stores have at the end of the day, which is shared with registered charities that collect the food. "That goes a long way in reducing charities' bill burdens, so they can spend the money on ... providing much more needed services," Mr Lewis said. "Food waste has been talked about for years but if Tesco can make this work, with all of our different stores across the country, then why can't everybody," he added.
The sugar industry funded animal research in the 1960s that looked into the effects of sugar consumption on cardiovascular health - and then buried the data when it suggested that sugar could be harmful, according to newly released historical documents. Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine at U.C.S.F. and an author of the new report, said that even though the newly discovered documents are 50 years old, they are important because they point to a decades-long strategy to downplay the potential health effects of sugar consumption. “This is continuing to build the case that the sugar industry has a long history of manipulating science,” Dr. Glantz said. The documents described in the new report are part of a cache of internal sugar industry communications that Cristin E. Kearns, an assistant professor at the U.C.S.F. School of Dentistry, discovered in recent years. Last year, an article in The New York Times highlighted some of the previous documents that Dr. Kearns had uncovered, which showed that the sugar industry launched a campaign in the 1960s to counter “negative attitudes toward sugar” in part by funding sugar research that could produce favorable results. The campaign was orchestrated by John Hickson, a top executive at the sugar association who later joined the tobacco industry. Mr. Hickson secretly paid two influential Harvard scientists to publish a major review paper in 1967 that minimized the link between sugar and heart health and shifted blame to saturated fat.
Note: Read more about the sugar industry conspiracy. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the food system and in the scientific community.
More than four decades ago, a study in rats funded by the sugar industry found evidence linking the sweetener to heart disease and bladder cancer. The results of that study were never made public. Instead, the sugar industry pulled the plug on the study and buried the evidence, said senior researcher Stanton Glantz, a professor of medicine and director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education. Glantz likened this to suppressed Big Tobacco internal research linking smoking with heart disease and cancer. "This was an experiment that produced evidence that contradicted the scientific position of the sugar industry," Glantz said. "It certainly would have contributed to increasing our understanding of the cardiovascular risk associated with eating a lot of sugar, and they didn't want that." Researchers at the University of Birmingham in England conducted Project 259 between 1967 and 1971, comparing how lab rats fared when fed table sugar versus starch. The scientists specifically looked at how gut bacteria processed the two different forms of carbohydrate. Early results in August 1970 indicated that rats fed a high-sugar diet experienced an increase in blood levels of triglycerides, a type of fat that contributes to cholesterol. Rats fed loads of sugar also appeared to have elevated levels of beta-glucuronidase, an enzyme previously associated with bladder cancer in humans, the researchers said.
Note: Read more about the sugar industry conspiracy. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the food system and in the scientific community.
Opposition from France and Italy doomed a European Union vote on Thursday to reauthorize the world’s most popular weedkiller, glyphosate, a decision that came hours after Arkansas regulators moved to ban an alternative weedkiller for much of 2018. The decisions are a double blow to the agrochemical industry and particularly to the chemicals giant Monsanto. The effort to reauthorize the weedkiller failed to receive a majority even though regulators were seeking only a five-year reauthorization instead of the typical 15, amid controversy and disputes about cancer risk that have made glyphosate’s future in Europe uncertain. Its approval in the region expires in mid-December. In Arkansas, regulators voted on Wednesday to ban the use of another major weedkiller, dicamba ... amid widespread reports of crop damage. Dicamba has been around for decades, but new versions have been developed by Monsanto, BASF and DuPont as an alternative to Roundup. Taken together, the decisions reflect an increasing political resistance to pesticides in Europe and parts of the United States, as well as the specific shortcomings of dicamba. Dicamba has damaged more than 3.6 million acres of soybean crops in 25 states. The European Union’s decision followed years of haggling and delay. But glyphosate ... has been plunged into controversy since the International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, declared it a probable carcinogen in 2015.
Note: Monsanto was recently banned from the European parliament after shunning important hearings with regulators. This company's use of scientists as industry puppets, its lies to regulators and the public and its massive lobbying campaign have not kept information on the risks and dangers of its products from getting out. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
There’s the much-criticised battery hen egg, and then the pricier organic and free-range varieties. But for the truly ethically committed, how about the carbon-neutral egg, laid in what has been billed as the world’s most environmentally friendly farm? Dutch stores are now selling so-called “Kipster eggs” laid at a shiny new farm. The intention is to rethink the place of animals in the food chain, according to Ruud Zanders, the poultry farmer and university lecturer behind the farm. Mass-producing farms, even those that have moved on from cages, produce extremely cheap eggs at a heavy cost to the environment and the welfare of the animals laying them. The cost-cutting model is blamed by many for the regular food scares in northern Europe, including the recent enforced destruction of millions of eggs due to contamination by the toxic insecticide fipronil. The organic and free-range varieties, where farmers prioritise the welfare of the chickens, often sell at a higher price – but again at a cost to the wider environment, feeding the chickens expensive imported corn that could be better used to feed people. “It makes no sense for us to be competing with animals for food,” Zanders said. “And 70% of the carbon footprint in eggs is accounted for by the feed for the chickens.” Zanders’s selling point is that his farm has the highest welfare standards – as endorsed by Dutch animal activist group Animals Awake – matched with the lowest possible environmental cost. By using waste food as feed, the farm is ... cutting deeply into its carbon footprint.
Monsanto is under fire because the company's herbicide, Roundup (active ingredient: glyphosate), is suspected of being carcinogenic. The longstanding dispute about glyphosate has been brought to a head by the release of explosive documents. Monsanto's strategies for whitewashing glyphosate have been revealed in internal e-mails, presentations and memos. Even worse, these "Monsanto Papers" suggest that the company doesn't even seem to know whether Roundup is harmless to people's health. "You cannot say that Roundup is not a carcinogen," Monsanto toxicologist Donna Farmer wrote in one of the emails. "We have not done the necessary testing on the formulation to make that statement." The email ... is one of more than 100 documents that a court in the United States ordered Monsanto to provide as evidence after about 2,000 plaintiffs demanded compensation from Monsanto in class-action suits. They claim that Roundup has caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of lymph node cancer. "The Monsanto Papers tell an alarming story of ghostwriting, scientific manipulation and the withholding of information," says Michael Baum, a partner in [a] law firm ... bringing one of the US class actions. Monsanto ... also behaved irresponsibly when it comes to the question of Roundup's absorption into the body. Back in 2002, the company's experts discovered that "between 5 and 10 percent" of the substance penetrated the skin of rats. As a consequence, the author of the email wrote: "We decided thus to STOP the study."
Note: Monsanto was recently banned from the European parliament after shunning important hearings with regulators. This company's use of scientists as industry puppets, its lies to regulators and the public and its massive lobbying campaign have not kept information on the risks and dangers of its products from getting out. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
The latest study to look at the long-term effects of Roundup, a popular weed killer developed by Monsanto in the 1970s, raises questions about the herbicide’s possible contributions to poor health. The study ... tracked people over the age of 50 in southern California from 1993-1996 to 2014-2016, with researchers periodically collecting urine samples. The percentage of people who tested positive for a chemical called glyphosate, which is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, shot up by 500% in that time period. The levels of glyphosate also spiked by 1208% during that time. Exactly what that means for human health isn’t quite clear yet. One trial from the UK, in which rats were fed low levels of glyphosate throughout their lives, found that the chemical contributed to ... a condition in which fat accumulates in the liver and contributes to inflammation and scarring of the tissue. [Researcher Paul] Mills says that the levels of glyphosate documented in the people in his study were 100-fold greater than those in the rats. Mills says the findings should make people more aware of what they are ingesting along with their food. While Roundup was developed to eliminate most weeds from genetically modified crops - and thus reduce the amount of pesticides sprayed on them - recent studies have found that many weeds are now resistant to Roundup. That means growers are using more Roundup, which could only exacerbate potential negative health effects on people who consume those products.
Note: Glyphosate is the most heavily used agricultural chemical in human history. According to a recent UN report, "the assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
FBI agents are devoting substantial resources to a multistate hunt for two baby piglets that the bureau believes are named Lucy and Ethel. The two piglets were removed over the summer from the Circle Four Farm in Utah by animal rights activists who had entered the Smithfield Foods-owned factory farm to film the brutal, torturous conditions in which the pigs are bred. The rescue of these two particular piglets has literally become a federal case - by all appearances, a matter of great importance to the Department of Justice. On the last day of August, a six-car armada of FBI agents in bulletproof vests ... descended upon two small shelters for abandoned farm animals. Subsequent events confirmed that this show of FBI force was designed to intimidate the sanctuaries, which played no role in the rescue. Obviously, the FBI and Smithfield - the nation’s largest industrial farm corporation - don’t really care about the missing piglets. What they care about is the efficacy of a political campaign intent on showing the public how animals are abused at factory farms, and they are determined to intimidate those responsible. Deterring such campaigns ... is, manifestly, the only goal here. What made this piglet rescue particularly intolerable was an article that appeared in the New York Times days after the rescue, which touted the use of virtual reality technology by animal rights activists to allow the public to immerse in the full experience of seeing what takes place in these companies’ farms.
Note: Those who expose at wrongdoing at factory farms are increasingly treated more harshly by US law than the companies perpetrating this wrongdoing. When activist drone footage exposed toxic cesspools around Smithfield Farms in 2014, North Carolina responded with legislation designed to silence whistle-blowers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the food system.
A new scientific study has found "dramatic" and "alarming" declines in insect populations. In German nature reserves, flying insect populations have declined by more than 75% over the duration of the 27-year study. "The flying insect community as a whole... has been decimated over the last few decades," said the study. "Loss of insect diversity and abundance is expected to provoke cascading effects on food webs and to jeopardize ecosystem services." Co-author Caspar Hallman said he and his colleagues were "very, very surprised" by the results. "These are not agricultural areas, these are locations meant to preserve biodiversity, but still we see the insects slipping out of our hands," he told CNN. Entomologists have long had evidence of the decline of individual species, said [researcher] Tanya Latty. However, few studies have taken such a broad view of entire insect populations. Latty says the importance of insects - which make up around 70% of all animal species - is underestimated. "Insects pollinate the crops we eat, they contribute to pest control. They're even crucial in waste control - most of the waste in urban areas is taken care of by ants and cockroaches." Insects, she says, are "crucial" to biodiversity, and "we exist because of biodiversity." Indeed, "ecosystem services provided by wild insects have been estimated at $57 billion annually in the USA," the study says, quoting an earlier study. Some 80% of wild plants rely on insects for pollination; 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source, according to the study.
The largest dead zone ever recorded in the U.S. has appeared at the mouth of the Mississippi River. According to scientists, it's primarily caused by fertilizer and sewage that wash off farmland in the river's watershed and eventually make their way to the sea. Scientists announced this month the dead zone measures nearly 9,000 square miles – about the size of New Jersey. Underwater video recorded Tuesday afternoon shows the transition from life to death as green fades to black. It becomes so dark, divers need flashlights to find their way around. The abyss stretches over an enormous portion of the Gulf. "This is the largest one we've ever measured. And the northern Gulf of Mexico dead zone is the second largest human-caused dead zone in the ocean," said Nancy Rabalais, the nation's foremost expert on dead zones. She's been measuring oxygen levels in the Gulf since 1985. Dead zones happen when agricultural runoff sends nitrogen-rich fertilizer downstream into the sea. The fertilizer feeds harmful amounts of algae at the surface that eventually die and sink to the bottom. Bacteria feast on the dead algae, removing oxygen from the water. "The solution lies upstream in the watershed with better agricultural management practices - a switch to crops that have deeper roots and don't need as much fertilizer," Rabalais said.
The world desperately needs joined-up action on industrial farming if it is to avoid catastrophic impacts. Philip Lymbery, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and the author of Farmageddon and more recently Deadzone, said: “Every day there is a new confirmation of how destructive, inefficient, wasteful, cruel and unhealthy the industrial agriculture machine is. We need a total rethink of our food and farming systems before it’s too late.” His comments came on the eve of Compassion’s Livestock and Extinction conference in London which will bring together scientists, campaigners, UN representatives and multinational food corporations [to] connect up the many impacts that factory farming has on our planet. Lymbery argues that factory farming is not – as some contend – an efficient, space-saving way to produce the world’s food but rather a method in which the invisible costs are actually far higher than the savings. “Factory farming is shrouded in mythology,” he said. “One of the myths is that it’s an efficient way of producing food when actually it is highly inefficient and wasteful. Antibiotic use is another red flag area. There is now overwhelming evidence that the routine prophylactic use of antibiotics is leading to the rise of antibiotic resistant superbugs, and the World Health Organisation has issued warnings that if we don’t do something to curb antibiotic use in both human and animal medicine we will face a post-antibiotic era where currently treatable diseases will once again kill.”
The idea that pesticides are necessary to feed the world’s fast-growing population is “inaccurate and misleading”, a UN report has warned. The document, which is expected to be presented to the UN Human Rights Council this week, strongly denounced the “aggressive promotion” of pesticides by the industry as experts found the chemicals had “catastrophic impacts on the environment, human health and society as a whole”. [These impacts] have been exacerbated by corporations’ “systematic denial”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and by having “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions globally”. Lobbyists have often defended pesticides as being necessary to increase yields as the world is facing threats of climate change impact. But the report debunks this idea. “The assertion promoted by the agrochemical industry that pesticides are necessary to achieve food security is not only inaccurate, but dangerously misleading. In principle, there is adequate food to feed the world; inequitable production and distribution systems present major blockages that prevent those in need from accessing it.” The report notes that while pesticides have “not succeeded in eliminating worldwide hunger”, studies indicate that food can contain “a cocktail of pesticides”. Washing has no effect on modern pesticides.
Note: Pesticide giant Monsanto was recently banned from the European parliament after shunning important hearings with regulators. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Monsanto lobbyists have been banned from entering the European parliament after the multinational refused to attend a parliamentary hearing into allegations of regulatory interference. It is the first time MEPs have used new rules to withdraw parliamentary access for firms that ignore a summons to attend parliamentary inquiries or hearings. Monsanto officials will now be unable to meet MEPs, attend committee meetings or use digital resources on parliament premises in Brussels or Strasbourg. While a formal process still needs to be worked through, a spokesman for the parliament’s president Antonio Tajani said that the leaders of all major parliamentary blocks had backed the ban in a vote this morning. MEPs had been incensed at a Monsanto decision to shun a hearing organised by the environment and agriculture committees, with academics, regulators and campaigners, on 11 October. The meeting is expected to hear allegations that Monsanto unduly influenced regulatory studies into the safety of glyphosate, a key ingredient in its best-selling RoundUp weedkiller. “Those who ignore the rules of democracy also lose their rights as a lobbyist in the European parliament,” said the Green party president Philippe Lamberts. “US corporations must also accept the democratic control function of the parliament. Monsanto cannot escape this.” Monsanto spends between €300,000-€400,000 (Ł260,000 - Ł350,000) annually on lobbying in Brussels.
Note: Monsanto's use of scientists as industry puppets, its lies to regulators and the public and its massive lobbying campaign have not kept information on the risks and dangers of its products from getting out. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
When researchers collected honey samples from around the world, they found that three-quarters of them had a common type of pesticide suspected of playing a role in the decline of bees. That demonstrates how pervasive a problem the much-debated pesticide is for honeybees, said authors of a study published ... in the journal Science. "What this shows is the magnitude of the contamination," said study lead author Edward Mitchell ... adding that there are "relatively few places where we did not find any." Over the past few years, several studies - in the lab and the field - link insecticides called neonicotinoids ... or neonics, to reduced and weakened honeybee hives. Neonics work by attacking an insect's central nervous system. As part of a citizen science project, the Swiss researchers asked other experts, friends and relatives to ship them honey samples. More than 300 samples arrived and researchers tested 198 of them for five of the most common types of neonics. Overall, 75 percent of the samples had at least one neonic, 45 percent had two or more and 10 percent had four or more. Results varied by region. In North America, 86 percent of samples had the pesticide; Asia, 80 percent; Europe, where there's a partial ban, 79 percent; Africa 73 percent; the Australian region, 71 percent and South America, 57 percent. The study found that nearly half of the honey samples exceeded a level of the pesticide that some previous research said weakens bees.
Note: CNN News reported in 2010 that pesticide manufacturer Bayer covered up the link between its neonicotinoids and massive bee die-offs. Read more about how these pesticides sicken bees and harm food crops. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The world's first lab-grown burger has been cooked and eaten at a news conference in London. Scientists took cells from a cow and, at an institute in the Netherlands, turned them into strips of muscle that they combined to make a patty. Prof Mark Post, of Maastricht University, the scientist behind the burger, remarked: "It's a very good start." The professor said the meat was made up of tens of billions of lab-grown cells. Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, has been revealed as the project's mystery backer. He funded the Ł215,000 ($330,000) research. Stem cells are the body's "master cells", the templates from which specialised tissue such as nerve or skin cells develop. Most institutes working in this area are trying to grow human tissue for transplantation to replace worn-out or diseased muscle, nerve cells or cartilage. Prof Post is using similar techniques to grow muscle and fat for food. He starts with stem cells extracted from cow muscle tissue. These are cultured with nutrients and growth-promoting chemicals to help them develop and multiply. Three weeks later, there are more than a million stem cells, which are put into smaller dishes where they coalesce into small strips of muscle. These strips are collected into small pellets, which are frozen. When there are enough, they are defrosted and compacted into a patty just before being cooked. At the moment, scientists can only make small pieces of meat; larger ones would require artificial circulatory systems to distribute nutrients and oxygen.
Supermarket tomatoes may look delicious — smooth, red and unblemished — but for the most part, they taste like nothing at all. [Barry] Estabrook is the author of a new book, Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit. It lays out why supermarket tomatoes tend to taste so bad - and how they got that way. The tomatoes you see in those supermarkets have been bred for high yields and durability, not flavor. There's an even darker side to the modern commercial tomato, too. Up until recently, workers on many of Florida's vast industrial tomato farms were basically slaves. "People being bought and sold like animals," Estabrook says. "People being shackled in chains. People being beaten for either not working hard enough, fast enough, or being too weak or sick to work. People actually being shot and killed for trying to escape. That sounds like 1850's slavery to me." The situation is beginning to improve, he adds. It began with a group of tomato pickers called the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. The group had been lobbying since the early 1990s for a plan that included a pay raise and some basic workers' rights. "What they started concentrating on was the end-customers," Estabrook says. "They started, actually, with the Taco Bell restaurant chain." After four years of protests and boycotts, Taco Bell agreed to sign on and support the group's plan. Other chains soon followed, and even the powerful Florida tomato growers' committee came on board.
Note: In 2015, Wal-Mart became the most influential corporation to join the initiative promoted by Coalition of Immokalee Workers. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Gulping down an artificially sweetened beverage not only may be associated with health risks for your body, but also possibly your brain, a new study suggests. Artificially sweetened drinks, such as diet sodas, were tied to a higher risk of stroke and dementia in the study, which was published in the American Heart Association's journal Stroke. The researchers analyzed how many sugary beverages and artificially sweetened soft drinks each person in the two different age groups drank, at different time points, between 1991 and 2001. Then, they compared that with how many people suffered stroke or dementia over the next 10 years. Compared to never drinking artificially sweetened soft drinks, those who drank one a day were almost three times as likely to have an ischemic stroke, caused by blocked blood vessels, the researchers found. They also found that those who drank one a day were nearly three times as likely to be diagnosed with dementia. Separate previous studies have shown an association between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and adverse health effects, such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, and possibly even heart failure.
Note: Explore lots more about the risks and dangers of aspartame in this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Six years ago, Tony Hillery was volunteering at a New York City public school in Harlem. In the lunchroom one day, he met a kindergartner who told him that tomatoes grew in the supermarket. "It was a real conversation, and she was adamant," he recalled. "And then I did an informal poll with the other students, and they agreed. They had no idea what is healthy food or where it comes from." Many students lived at or below the poverty line, he said, and lacked affordable, fresh food. But Hillery was shocked to find that many children couldn't properly identify vegetables. Across the street from the school was an abandoned community garden, and Hillery had an idea. He made a few calls, registered it with the city and turned it into what has become a thriving urban farm. "I got this big patch of dirt in the middle of Harlem, and I had never planted anything prior to then," he said. Today, his nonprofit, Harlem Grown, has 10 urban farms throughout the neighborhood. Hillery and his staff teach children how to grow food from seed to harvest and cook healthy meals using the fruits of their labor. Yet Hillery insists that urban farming is the hook to engage the youth. Then his group further enriches their lives through mentoring and exposure to higher education and possible career paths. "The whole world can come through this little farm," said Hillery, whose programs reach more than 4,000 young people a year. "Poverty is just lack of access. We bring that access and that opportunity here to them."
Note: Don't miss the video of this incredible project at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Documents released Tuesday in a lawsuit against Monsanto raised new questions about the company’s efforts to influence the news media and scientific research and revealed internal debate over the safety of its highest-profile product, the weed killer Roundup. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is the most common weed killer in the world. The documents underscore the lengths to which the agrochemical company goes to protect its image. Documents show that Henry I. Miller ... a vocal proponent of genetically modified crops, asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that largely mirrored one that appeared under his name on Forbes’s website in 2015. An academic involved in writing research funded by Monsanto, John Acquavella, [wrote] in a 2015 email to a Monsanto executive, “I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication.” He also said of the way the company was trying to present the authorship: “We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.” Mr. Miller’s 2015 article on Forbes’s website was an attack on the findings of ... a branch of the World Health Organization that had labeled glyphosate a probable carcinogen. The documents also show that A. Wallace Hayes, the former editor of a journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, has had a contractual relationship with Monsanto. In 2013, while he was still editor, Mr. Hayes retracted a key study damaging to Monsanto that found that Roundup, and genetically modified corn, could cause cancer and early death in rats.
Few science writers have worked as hard as Keith Kloor to impact public opinion on genetically modified organism (GMO) agriculture. An adjunct professor at New York University and former editor for Audubon and blogger for Discover, Kloor has spent years championing GMO products and portraying skeptics and critics as scientifically illiterate quacks. His curious form of advocacy includes bitter attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. Kloor’s targets have included Jake Tapper of CNN; Michael Pollan, professor of journalism at UC-Berkeley; Tom Philpott of Mother Jones; Mark Bittman, the noted food columnist; Glenn Davis Stone, Guggenheim Fellow and professor of archaeology at Washington University; Nassim Taleb, professor of risk engineering at NYU; Marion Nestle, professor of food science at NYU; and Charles Seife, professor of science journalism at NYU. The public has known for some time that Keith Kloor loves GMOs. What they haven’t known, until now, is how hard he’s worked with industry-funded “experts” to present corporate talking points as journalism and then try to cover his tracks. An avalanche of documents released through court proceedings and freedom of information requests point to a coordinated effort by corporate front groups, scientists secretly funded by agrichemical industry giants, and allied reporters attempting to portray themselves as arbiters of scientific expertise while condemning critics of GMO technology as “antiscience.”
Note: The above article provides an in-depth view of Monsanto's corruption of mass media. This company's use of scientists as industry puppets, its lies to regulators and the public and its massive lobbying campaign have not kept information on the risks and dangers of GMOs from getting out.
All slaughterhouses in England will be fitted with compulsory CCTV under plans to be unveiled on Friday by environment secretary Michael Gove, as part of a series of measures to bolster welfare standards and enforce laws against animal cruelty. The government will also raise standards for farm animals and domestic pets by modernising statutory animal welfare codes to reflect enhancements in medicines, technological advances and the latest research and advice from vets. The codes will remain enshrined in law and the first to be updated will cover chickens bred for meat. Animal welfare groups have been calling for compulsory cameras – backed by an independent monitoring system for years, while the Farm Animal Welfare Committee, British Veterinary Association, Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the RSPCA have also all backed slaughterhouse CCTV. Between 2009 and 2016, the animal welfare group Animal Aid secretly filmed inside 11 randomly chosen UK slaughterhouses. Their undercover researchers found clear evidence of cruelty and law-breaking in 10 of those 11. UK supermarkets have also backed compulsory CCTV, with the vast majority now insisting that their suppliers have it.
As the U.S. growing season entered its peak this summer, farmers began posting startling pictures on social media: fields of beans, peach orchards and vegetable gardens withering away. The photographs served as early warnings of a crisis that has damaged millions of acres of farmland. New versions of the herbicide dicamba developed by Monsanto and BASF, according to farmers, have drifted across fields to crops unable to withstand it. As the crisis intensifies, new details provided to Reuters ... demonstrate the unusual way Monsanto introduced its product. The approach, in which Monsanto prevented key independent testing of its product, went unchallenged by the Environmental Protection Agency and nearly every state regulator. Typically, when a company develops a new agricultural product, it commissions its own tests and shares the results and data with regulators. It also provides product samples to universities for additional scrutiny. In this case, Monsanto denied requests by university researchers to study its XtendiMax with VaporGrip for volatility - a measure of its tendency to vaporize and drift across fields. Monsanto provided samples of XtendiMax before it was approved by the EPA. However, the samples came with contracts that explicitly forbade volatility testing. Arkansas blocked Monsanto’s product because of the lack of extra volatility testing ... but approved BASF’s [product]. Thirty-three other states - every other state where the products were marketed - approved both products.
Note: A new project called "The Poison Papers" lays out a 40-year history of deceit and collusion involving the chemical industry and the regulatory agencies that were supposed to be protecting human health and the environment. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Glyphosate, an herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto Co's popular Roundup weed killer, will be added to California's list of chemicals known to cause cancer effective July 7, the state's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) said on Monday. Monsanto vowed to continue its legal fight against the designation, required under a state law known as Proposition 65. The listing is the latest legal setback for the seeds and chemicals company, which has faced increasing litigation over glyphosate since the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer said that it is "probably carcinogenic" in a controversial ruling in 2015. Dicamba, a weed killer designed for use with Monsanto's next generation of biotech crops, is [also] under scrutiny in Arkansas after the state's plant board voted last week to ban the chemical. OEHHA said the designation of glyphosate ... will proceed following an unsuccessful attempt by Monsanto to block the listing in trial court. Listing glyphosate as a known carcinogen ... would require companies selling the chemical in the state to add warning labels to packaging. Monsanto and other glyphosate producers would have roughly a year from the listing date to re-label products or remove them from store shelves if further legal challenges are lost.
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Major lawsuits are building over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public about the safety of glyphosate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food industry corruption and health.
[Dave] Rauch worked for 31 years at Trader Joe’s, the last 14 as a president. He helped grow the small retail chain in California into a grocery store with a national presence. He retired in 2008. But Rauch wasn’t really ready to call it quits. He started growing another food store – Daily Table, located in a low-income neighborhood of Boston. “I failed retirement,” says Rauch, his eyes crinkling when he smiles. Since it opened two years ago, Daily Table has been a pioneer in its approach to food waste, food deserts, hunger, and obesity. It’s a nonprofit grocery store, selling healthy food at bargain prices. The food that Daily Table sells is excess food – either donated by various organizations or bought at steep discounts from big-name companies looking to unload items that are close to their expiration dates. The items are resold at a fraction of retail prices – and yes, they still haven’t reached their expiration dates. Daily Table looks like a Trader Joe’s. [The store is filled with] stacks of organic cereal, produce piled high on display tables, and in a refrigerated section, precooked meals and fresh salads made on-site. As many as 49 million Americans are food insecure, says Rauch, citing a common statistic. The data have frustrated him. “We’re one of the richest nations in the history of food production,” he says. “It just seemed so incongruous to me.” To get excess healthy food into the hands of those in need, Rauch searched for “inefficiencies in the system.” He found them and channeled what he learned into Daily Table.
Mike Miles hadn’t had a stable job in years. This wasn’t due to a poor work ethic. Because Miles had a criminal record, he was always cut loose when it came time to let staff go. “It was like walking on eggshells. You just never knew when you’d be gone,” he recounted. After his release from prison in 2007, Miles struggled to find stability. It wasn’t until October 2015 ... that a cousin told Miles about Lancaster Food Company, a local business that ... focuses on hiring formerly incarcerated people. Miles submitted an application. He got an interview. And, soon after that, he began a new job, encompassing everything from food production to maintenance, not to mention a livable wage of $15 an hour. He says it’s the best job he’s ever had. Miles’ scenario is rare in Lancaster, where the poverty rate holds steady at 30 percent. This figure riled Charlie Crystle, Lancaster’s co-founder and CEO. He believes that food production is a key way to “meet people where they are,” referring to former offenders who may lack a high school or college degree. Lancaster produces products like bread and maple syrup, all of it USDA certified organic. Crystle says he wants to inspire other companies and entrepreneurs to rethink their current practices and ignite conversations around minimum wage and employment opportunities for everyone, including ex-offenders. Not one employee has quit. According to Mike Miles, having a steady job has given him new courage.
In the last couple of years, the poultry industry has sharply reduced its use of antibiotics, responding to concerns among public health officials and regulators about the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. But ... Sanderson Farms, the country’s third-largest poultry producer, has started an advertising campaign to defend its continued use of antibiotics. The ads feature two blue-collar men, Bob and Dale, in plaid shirts and baseball caps talking about the labels on chicken. “The ones that say ‘raised without antibiotics,’ ” Dale says in one of the ads, “That’s just a trick to get you to pay more money.” Sanderson’s marketing campaign ... is likely to intensify the already fierce fight over the use of antibiotics in agriculture. Consumers, advocacy groups and corporate customers like McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A have said they will buy only chicken raised without the antibiotics used to treat humans. Those commitments and others ... have persuaded four of the five large American poultry producers to begin reducing their reliance on antibiotics. But not Sanderson. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly expressed concern that the use of antibiotics in animal husbandry is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In a 2013 report, the agency linked two of 18 antibiotic-resistant bacteria to the use of antibiotics in animals.
Antibiotic resistance is a problem both for people and for livestock. But how can we be sure that the two are connected and that resistance is exacerbated by on-farm antibiotic use? In 1975 the Animal Health Institute asked this very question and recruited Tufts University biologist Stuart Levy to find out. Levy and his colleagues fed low doses of the antibiotic tetracycline to a group of 150 chickens. Within a week, almost all the E. coli bacteria in their intestines were tetracycline-resistant. Three months in ... the chickens were also resistant to four other types of antibiotics. After four months, the ... chickens on the farm that had not been fed tetracycline also harbored resistance to the drug. In 1977, soon after Levy's study was published, the FDA announced that it was considering banning several antibiotics from animal feed over safety concerns. In the 39 years since, the industry has fought hard against these plans by arguing there was no definitive proof of harm. These arguments ultimately caused the FDA to [pursue] voluntary guidances instead. Several members of the U.S. Congress, including New York State Representative and microbiologist Louise Slaughter, have introduced bills to more tightly regulate antibiotic use on farms. Slaughter has pushed for her Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act for more than a decade. It has been supported by 454 organizations, including the American Medical Association. But ... the bill never reaches a vote.
Globally, millions of people suffer from depression, an estimated 300 million to be exact. In fact, major depression constitutes one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. For decades, people have correlated healthy eating with feeling better, including in the area of mental health. However, many people who do not eat well also have outside stress factors, such as a busy schedule or low income. Health professionals can easily attribute any depression in these groups to these outside factors strained by a poor diet. However, one study set out to evaluate the direct link between diet and depression. The researchers ... observed 67 patients with moderate to severe depression. Patients [in the control group] received social support rather than switching their eating habits. The other patients then received a series of seven one-hour dietary counseling sessions where they were advised to eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. After the trial period, the researchers found that over 30 percent of the patients had gone into remission with their depression. Only 8 percent of the control group actually experienced this same improvement. The participants that showed the most remarkable results had improved their diet the most. According to the research, diet and depression do go hand in hand. Those suffering from depression should eliminate processed foods as much as possible. Instead, they should replace them with a plant-rich diet alongside lean, quality meats.
Note: Read an essay by Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Seeds of Deception, that describes how replacing processed foods with healthy, non-GMO meals at an Appleton Wisconsin high school led to dramatic improvements in the mood and behavior of students. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food industry corruption and health.
A study in the journal Stroke showed a correlation between drinking diet soda and both stroke and dementia: people who drank at least one diet soda a day were three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia as those who avoided the beverages. Previous research had already uncovered a possible link with higher stroke risk. The findings in this study add some support to those results. The link with dementia, however, is new, and at minimum is enough cause for concern that it's worth studying further. Why might diet sodas contribute to these risks? Diet sodas are designed to trick the brain into thinking it’s getting an extra dose of glucose (the brain’s fuel), but eventually the trick is on us because the brain adapts to not receiving the added glucose by overcompensating in other ways (leading to a variety of effects still under investigation). Diet sodas could imbalance the bacterial jungle in our guts - the microbiome - causing unpredictable results. Since there’s a bacterial superhighway from gut to brain, which we know interacts with key neurotransmitters, this theory may eventually tell us more of a much bigger brain story. This study didn’t narrow down the exact types of artificial sweeteners that were consumed, so it’s an open question how one may have affected the brain differently than another. In the meantime, curtailing how much of any artificial sweetener you ingest, along with added sugar, is a reasonable position to take.
Note: Artificial sweeteners have also been connected with blood sugar level spikes, obesity, and diabetes. There is undeniable evidence that aspartame is toxic to the human body. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food industry corruption and health.
The vast majority of milk we drink is pasteurized – heat-treated to kill off harmful pathogens. Raw milk, on the other hand, goes straight from udder to bottle. Fans call it milk as nature intended: nutrient-rich and full of probiotics, the good kind of bacteria. Some fans go further, calling it a superfood that aids digestion, boosts the immune system and treats asthma, eczema and allergies. Due to concerns about safety, retail sales of raw milk are prohibited in about 20 states. Something called a “herd-share” scheme ... lets people buy an “interest” in a group of dairy cows. “As a part-owner, you’re entitled to what that cow produces,” [food blogger Jennifer McGruther] explains. “It’s difficult for the state to say you can’t drink the milk from cows you own.” The US government estimates that 3.2% of people now drink it. But ... pasteurization is the norm for a reason – it’s highly effective at killing things such as E coli, salmonella, campylobacter and listeria. Raw milk, on the other hand, relies heavily on the skill of the farmer and the cleanliness of the operation to avoid contamination. A study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says raw milk illnesses have spiked as more people drink it. Between 2009 and 2014, raw milk and raw milk cheese caused the vast majority (96%) of all illnesses linked to contaminated dairy products. Several European studies and observations of Amish farm children do suggest those who drink raw milk have less asthma and fewer allergies.
Note: A 2012 mercola.com article on the raw milk debate suggests that US regulators are against raw milk because it can not be safely produced by large factory farms. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food industry corruption and health.
When her eldest son was in elementary school in the Oakland Unified School District, Ruth Woodruff became alarmed by the meals he was being served at school. A lot of it was frozen, processed foods, packed with preservatives. So in late 2008, she and a group of parents got together to urge the school district to reconsider how and where it was buying the food it served students. Now, five years after the district responded by overhauling the menus at its 100-plus schools - serving less meat and adding more fruits and vegetables - a new report has revealed some surprising results. The study by the environmental nonprofit, Friends of the Earth (FOE), found that the district’s Farm to School initiative not only provided its 48,000 or so students with access to healthier foods, but that between 2012 and 2015 its overall food costs declined and its carbon footprint shrank. The [Farm to School] program saves the district money because cooks prepare school meals from scratch. The lunch menu in OUSD schools transformed from a smorgasbord of processed foods to local, organic options. School cooks season and roast antibiotic-free chicken in-house, instead of heating up pre-cooked drumsticks. They also substitute frozen vegetables with fresh sides, like carrot salads made from scratch. In addition to a healthier menu, students get to go on field trips to local farms and take cooking classes through the program.
A shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans sailed late last year from Ukraine to Turkey to California. Along the way, it underwent a remarkable transformation. The cargo began as ordinary soybeans. They were fumigated with a pesticide [and] priced like ordinary soybeans. But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them to Stockton, Calif., arrived in December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch - the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation - boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain. About 21 million pounds of the soybeans have already been distributed to customers. The multimillion-dollar metamorphosis of the soybeans, as well as two other similar grain shipments in the past year examined by The Post, demonstrate weaknesses in the way that the United States ensures that what is sold as “USDA Organic” is really organic. The three shipments, each involving millions of pounds of “organic” corn or soybeans, were large enough to constitute a meaningful proportion of the U.S. supply of those commodities. All three were presented as organic, despite evidence to the contrary. USDA officials say that their system for guarding against fraud is robust. The system suffers from multiple weaknesses: Farmers hire their own inspection companies; most inspections ... lack the element of surprise; and testing for pesticides is the exception rather than the rule.
Note: Sign an online petition to stop an Oregon county from forcing a well-established organic farm to spray their gardens with Monsanto's poisonous Roundup. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the food system and in the corporate world.
The High Plains dairy complex reflects the new scale of the U.S. organic industry: It is big. The complex is home to more than 15,000 cows, making it more than 100 times the size of a typical organic herd. It is the main facility of Aurora Organic Dairy, a company that produces enough milk to supply the house brands of Walmart, Costco and other major retailers. But a closer look at Aurora and other large operations highlights critical weaknesses in the unorthodox inspection system that the Agriculture Department uses to ensure that “organic” food is really organic. The critical issue is grazing. Organic dairies are required to allow the cows to graze daily throughout the growing season. The cows are supposed to be grass-fed, not confined to barns and feedlots. But during visits by The Washington Post to Aurora’s High Plains complex across eight days last year, signs of grazing were sparse, at best. During most Post visits the number of cows seen on pasture numbered only in the hundreds. The milk from Aurora also indicates that its cows may not graze as required by organic rules. Testing ... by Virginia Tech scientists shows that on a key indicator of grass-feeding, the Aurora milk matched conventional milk, not organic. The inspectors who visited Aurora’s High Plains dairy and certified it as “USDA Organic” ... conducted the annual audit well after grazing season, [and] would not have seen whether the cows were grazing as required, a breach of USDA inspection policy.
Residents in North Carolina are fighting back against one of the state's most prominent industries: hog farming. But the legislation may not be on their side - a group of lawmakers in the state passed House Bill 467 last week, legislation that limits how much residents can collect in damages from hog farms. Hog farms in North Carolina dispose of pig feces and urine by spraying it, untreated, into the air where residents live. In response, nearly 500 of those residents ... from eastern North Carolina, brought a class action suit against Murphy-Brown, the state's largest producer of hogs. The lawsuit has now made its way to federal court. Residents have said the process of waste disposal has caused health problems. Much of the waste disposal affects low-income residents and black communities. "It can, I think, very correctly be called environmental racism or environmental injustice that people of color, low-income people bear the brunt of these practices," [University of North Carolina professor] Steve Wing ... said. "I shut my hog operation down, and I got out of it. And I ... just couldn't do another person that way, to make them smell that," Don Webb, a former pig factory farm owner, told Democracy Now. "You get stories like, 'I can't hang my clothes out.' Feces and urine odor comes by and attaches itself to your clothes." HB 467 ... was passed by both houses of the North Carolina Legislature. The bill would prevent people from recovering damages like those for healthcare bills and pain and suffering.
Note: In 2014, video footage of toxic cesspools around North Carolina farms exposed shockingly lax agricultural waste disposal standards. In response, the North Carolina Legislature passed a law to prevent whistle-blowers from exposing corporate wrongdoing. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.
Rick Friday has been giving farmers a voice and a laugh every Friday for two decades through his cartoons in Farm News. Now the long-time Iowa farm cartoonist [says] he has been fired. Friday announced ... that his job was over after 21 years in a Facebook post that has since gone viral: "I am no longer the Editorial Cartoonist for Farm News due to the attached cartoon which was published yesterday. Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus, resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of its Friday cartoons after ... over 1,090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa. "I did my research and only submitted the facts in my cartoon. The cartoon features two farmers talking about farming profits. The first says, "I wish there was more profit in farming." The second farm[er] answers, "There is. In year 2015 the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and John Deere combined made more money than 2,129 Iowa farmers." Friday received an email from his editor at Farm News cutting off their relationship a day after the cartoon was published. Friday’s editor said a seed dealer pulled their advertisements with Farm News as a result of the cartoon, and others working at the paper disagreed with the jokes made about the agriculture corporations.
People rely on unbiased research to find out important statistics about all facets of nutrition. However, recent research from the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney suggests there is bias in industry-funded research studies ... the full extent of which is still unknown. [Professor Lisa] Bero and her team reviewed 775 reports in the medical literature ... to determine whether nutrition studies funded by the food industry were "associated with outcomes favourable to the sponsor". "Most of the studies only looked at the [author's interpretation] of the research. If it were industry sponsored, they were more likely to have a conclusion that favoured the industry sponsor," Bero said. This latest paper [follows] Bero's previous study which found nutrition studies funded by artificial sweetener companies are more likely to lead to favourable results. So, what happens if more industry sponsored nutrition studies are proven to be biased? "If you look at other areas where the effects of industry sponsorship have been shown, like in the pharmaceutical research area and the tobacco research area, people have actually applied more consistent quality criteria," Bero said. "You'd also want to try to make sure that all the data is being published. In the nutrition area they don't have things like clinical trial registries like they do for drug studies, for example. So if you have a study that's unfavourable or parts of it are unfavourable, it's hard to tell if ... all of it has gotten published. That's a huge bias in the pharmaceutical and tobacco studies."
People who drink diet sodas daily have three times the risk of stroke and dementia compared to people who rarely drink them, researchers reported Thursday. It's yet another piece of evidence that diet drinks are not a healthy alternative to sugary drinks, and suggests that people need to limit both, doctors said. The researchers, led by Matthew Pase ... and colleagues, studied more than 4,000 people for their report, published in the journal Stroke. "We found that those people who were consuming diet soda on a daily basis were three times as likely to develop both stroke and dementia within the next 10 years as compared to those who did not consume diet soda," Pase told NBC News. "Our study provides further evidence to link consumption of artificially sweetened beverages with the risk of stroke," the team wrote. "To our knowledge, our study is the first to report an association between daily intake of artificially sweetened soft drink and an increased risk of both all-cause dementia and dementia because of Alzheimer's disease." The team did not find the same risk for sugar-sweetened beverages. But they found other troubling signs. "Those who more frequently consume sugary beverages such as fruit juices and sodas had greater evidence of accelerated brain aging such as overall smaller brain volumes, they had poorer memory function and they also had smaller hippocampus, which is an area of the brain important for memory consolidation," Pase said.
Note: Previous research has linked diet soda with abdominal fat gain, as well as found a variety of serious health risks to be associated with the popular artificial sweetener aspartame. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Of the many pesticides that American farmers have embraced in their war on bugs, neonicotinoids are among the most popular. One of them, called imidacloprid, [boasts] sales of over $1 billion a year. A 2016 study suggested a link between neonicotinoid use and local pollinator extinctions. As the bee debate raged, scientists studying the country’s waterways started to detect neonicotinoid pollutants. In 2015, the U.S. Geological Survey collected water samples from streams throughout the United States and discovered neonicotinoids in more than half of the samples. And on Wednesday, a team of [researchers] at the USGS and University of Iowa reported that they found neonicotinoids in treated drinking water. It marks the first time that anyone has identified this class of pesticide in tap water. The Environmental Protection Agency has not defined safe levels of neonicotinoids in drinking water. The pesticides ... work their way into plant tissue rather than just coating the leaves and stems. Neonicotinoids can slip past sand [water filtration systems] because they ... dissolve very readily in water. The research team looked at how effectively the university’s sand filtration system ... blocked the three neonicotinoids studied. The university’s sand filter removed 1 percent of the clothianidin, 8 percent of imidacloprid and 44 percent of thiamethoxam.
Residues of many types of insecticides, fungicides and weed killing chemicals have been found in roughly 85 percent of thousands of foods tested. Data released ... by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows varying levels of pesticide residues in everything from mushrooms to potatoes and grapes to green beans. One sample of strawberries contained residues of 20 pesticides. Notably, the agency said only 15 percent of the 10,187 samples tested were free from any detectable pesticide residues. That’s a marked difference from 2014, when the USDA found that over 41 percent of samples were “clean” or showed no detectable pesticide residues. Prior years also showed roughly 40-50 percent of samples as free of detectable residues. Absent from the USDA data was any information on glyphosate residues, even though glyphosate has long been the most widely used herbicide in the world. The Food and Drug Administration also annually samples foods for residues of pesticides. The most recent public residue report issued by the FDA shows that violation rates for pesticide residues have been climbing in recent years.
Concerns about the world’s most widely used herbicide are taking a new twist. Researchers looking at exposure to the herbicide known as glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup-branded herbicides, said they tested and tracked 69 expectant mothers and found that the presence of glyphosate levels in their bodily fluids correlated with unfavorable birth outcomes. Glyphosate ... has become the subject of hot debate over the last few years because of research that links the herbicide to types of cancer and other health ailments. Monsanto is being sued by hundreds of people who claim they or their loved ones developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma because of exposure to glyphosate-based Roundup. Documents discovered in the course of the litigation indicate the company may have manipulated scientific research to hide evidence of harm. The team that presented their report Wednesday ... collected the data over two years, from 2015-2016, and found that higher glyphosate levels in women correlated with significantly shorter pregnancies and with lower adjusted birth weights. [Paul Winchester, who led the study], said he was surprised to see such a high percentage of women tested showing glyphosate in their urine. He was sharply critical of the U.S. government, which routinely skips testing for glyphosate residues in food.
Note: Major lawsuits are building over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of glyphosate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and health.
A new report issued by the National Academy of Sciences says U.S. regulatory agencies need to prepare for new plants, animals, and microbes that will be hitting the market in the next five to 10 years. The new products ... could overwhelm regulatory agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. Changes in the vast communities of microorganisms that live in and outside the human body may contribute to diseases, but scientists don’t yet understand all these complex relationships. That isn’t stopping companies trying to develop genetically engineered bacteria to treat a whole range of medical conditions. Ingested in pills, these living microorganisms could end up in wastewater and possibly drinking water. Early this year, the FDA proposed new regulations requiring researchers to get approval for gene editing in cattle, pigs, dogs, and other animals. This week, startup Memphis Meats announced plans to start selling chicken grown from cultured animal cells. The company is among a handful of startups aiming to develop animal-like proteins that don’t require traditional agricultural methods. Lab-made meat falls into a regulatory gray area. Gene drives [promote] an engineered gene’s spread through an entire population. [The technique] is being considered to eliminate invasive rodents on islands and to wipe out mosquitoes that transmit malaria. The idea is that organisms would inherit self-limiting genes that drive them toward extinction. But a gene drive has never been tried in the wild.
Note: A recent Nature article makes it clear that engineered 'gene drives' are extremely risky and can not be safely contained. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
Emails released as part of a federal lawsuit against Monsanto suggest the agriculture supplier cozied up to an EPA regulator and sought to whitewash studies to ignore potential cancer-causing effects of an herbicide found in weed-killer. NPR reports the emails show the company asked scientists to co-sign safety studies on glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, after the International Agency for Research on Cancer found glyphosate may cause cancer. The emails show company representative William Heydens suggesting the company "ghost-write" a finding. He wrote, according to NPR, "we would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak." The emails ... also show EPA regulator Jess Rowland boasting in a 2015 email to Monsanto that, "If I can kill this I should get a medal," referring to a Monsanto effort to stop a government investigation into glyphosate. CBS reported another email from a Monsanto employee to an EPA director said, "I doubt EPA and Jess can kill this, but it's good to know they are going to actually make the effort." The company defended the relationship in an interview with Bloomberg. Rowland ... has left the EPA's pesticide division and is involved in about two dozen lawsuits related to the company not disclosing potential cancer-causing hazards of glyphosate.
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Major lawsuits are beginning to unfold over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of glyphosate. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
The reputation of Roundup, whose active ingredient is the world’s most widely used weed killer, took a hit on Tuesday when a federal court unsealed documents raising questions about its safety and the research practices of its manufacturer, the chemical giant Monsanto. Monsanto’s internal emails and email traffic between the company and federal regulators ... suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics and indicated that a senior official at the Environmental Protection Agency had worked to quash a review of Roundup’s main ingredient, glyphosate, that was to have been conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services. The files were unsealed by Judge Vince Chhabria, who is presiding over litigation brought by people who claim to have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma as a result of exposure to glyphosate. The litigation was touched off by a determination made nearly two years ago by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization, that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen. Court records show that Monsanto was tipped off to the determination by a deputy division director at the E.P.A., Jess Rowland, months beforehand. That led the company to prepare a public relations assault on the finding well in advance of its publication. Last year, a review by The New York Times showed how the [chemical] industry can manipulate academic research or misstate findings.
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Major lawsuits are beginning to unfold over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of glyphosate. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Gorging on bacon and burgers? Turning up your nose at fish, nuts or vegetables? These are among food habits that new research links with deaths from heart disease, strokes and diabetes. Overeating or not eating enough of ... 10 foods and nutrients contributes to nearly half of U.S. deaths from these causes, the study suggests. “Good” foods that were under-eaten include: nuts and seeds, seafood rich in omega-3 fats including salmon and sardines; fruits and vegetables; and whole grains. “Bad” foods or nutrients that were over-eaten include salt and salty foods; processed meats including bacon, bologna and hot dogs; red meat including steaks and hamburgers; and sugary drinks. The research is based on ... data showing there were about 700,000 deaths in 2012 from heart disease, strokes and diabetes and on an analysis of national health surveys that asked participants about their eating habits. Most didn’t eat the recommended amounts of the foods studied. The 10 ingredients combined contributed to about 45 percent of those deaths. For example ... excess salt can increase blood pressure, putting stress on arteries and the heart. Nuts contain healthy fats that can improve cholesterol levels, while bacon and other processed meats contain saturated fats that can raise levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol. In the study, too much salt was ... linked with nearly 10 percent of the deaths. Overeating processed meats and undereating nuts and seeds and seafood each were linked with about 8 percent of the deaths.
Note: This study referenced above can be found here, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For a most excellent book by an MD who learned of deep cover-ups related to food and health, don't miss "How Not to Die," by Dr. Michael Greger. This book could quite literally save your life. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
The European Parliament is concerned about food safety and human health. They asked a group of experts ... to review the possible health advantages of organic food and organic farming. Our report reviews existing scientific evidence regarding the impact of organic food on human health. The most important information in this report is about pesticides in food. In conventional food, there are pesticide residues that remain in the food even after it’s washed. Organic foods are produced virtually without pesticides. Three long-term birth cohort studies in the U.S. suggest that pesticides are harming children’s brains. Women’s exposure to pesticides during pregnancy ... was associated with negative impacts on their children’s IQ and neurobehavioral development. Also, one of the studies looked at structural brain growth ... and found that the gray matter was thinner in children the higher their mothers’ exposure to organophosphates, which are used widely in pesticides. Pregnant and breastfeeding women, and women planning to become pregnant, may wish to eat organic foods as a precautionary measure because of the significant and possibly irreversible consequences for children’s health. We know that the overly prevalent use of antibiotics in farm animals is a contributing factor in the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria - a major public health threat because this resistance can spread from animals to humans. On organic farms, the preventive use of antibiotics is restricted.
A delegation of independent scientists urged the EPA to ban RoundUp, Monsanto’s flagship herbicide. Providing testimony that it poses an unreasonable risk to humans, animals, and the environment, scientists spoke at a closed meeting with EPA [officials]. The scientists explained the physiological reasons why exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is linked to autism, Alzheimer’s, cancer, birth defects, obesity, gluten intolerance, among other health issues. 300 million pounds of RoundUp are sprayed each year on corn, soy, sugar beets, canola, and weeds in the United States alone. $5 billion, or half Monsanto’s annual sales, comes from glyphosate-containing products. Dr. Stephen Frantz, Pathobiologist Research Scientist led the team. “When a cell is trying to form proteins, it may grab glyphosate instead of glycine to form a damaged, mis-folded protein. After that it’s medical chaos ... with many diseases and disorders as a result.” Moms Across America founder Zen Honeycutt was a participant at the meeting. Her son had been a casualty of processed foods, diagnosed with autism until his mother switched to an all-organic diet. “Mothers and caretakers are seeing their loved ones get sick on GMOs and glyphosate/herbicide sprayed foods and get better when they avoid them. Because glyphosate is contaminating our urine, water, breast milk and nearly all our foods, we are systematically causing sickness throughout America.”
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Lawsuits are building over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public about the safety of glyphosate. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed killer Roundup as a possible cancer threat even though the chemical giant insists it poses no risk to people, a judge tentatively ruled Friday. California would be the first state to order such labeling if it carries out the proposal. Monsanto had sued the nation's leading agricultural state, saying California officials illegally based their decision for carrying the warnings on findings by an international health organization based in France. Critics take issue with Roundup's main ingredient, glyphosate. It is sold in more than 160 countries, and farmers in California use it on 250 types of crops. The chemical is not restricted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a Lyon, France-based branch of the U.N. World Health Organization, classified the chemical as a “probable human carcinogen.” Shortly afterward, the most populated U.S. state took its first step in 2015 to require the warning labels. Once a chemical is added to a list of probable carcinogens, the manufacturer has a year before it must attach the label. Dozens nationwide ... are suing Monsanto, claiming the chemical gave them or a loved one cancer.
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. More lawsuits are building over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public about the safety of glyphosate. Yet the EPA used industry studies while ignoring independent studies to declare Roundup safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Corporate spin is nothing new. Whether it’s cigarettes or sugar-laden sodas, the companies that make billions from such products employ a variety of strategies to promote the good and bury the bad. But the tactics being unveiled by Monsanto and surrogates over glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide and the lynchpin for the success of genetically engineered crops, are noteworthy for the depths of their deception. The latest move, the formation of a group called “Campaign for Accuracy in Public Health Research”, (CAPHR) clearly promotes an agenda opposite to that which its name implies. Formed this month by the American Chemistry Council, whose membership includes Monsanto and other chemical industry titans, the group’s express purpose is to discredit the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a unit of the World Health Organization. An IARC scientific team declared in March 2015 that glyphosate was a probable human carcinogen after reviewing an extensive body of published research on the subject. Monsanto and friends have been harassing IARC ever since through a series of demands, threats and legal maneuvers, including lobbying the U.S. House of Representatives to cut funding for IARC. The new campaign takes the assault further. Embedded in the industry’s truth-twisting tactics is the characterization of anyone who gives credence to scientific research showing problems with glyphosate, or the GMOs that go with it, as “anti-science.”
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Big lawsuits are building over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public about the safety of glyphosate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMOs and the corruption of science.
Greg Peterson's 1950s tract home looks like any other house on his block in Phoenix, with one notable difference: Practically everything in his yard is edible. Mr. Peterson calls his oasis of bounty on one-third of an acre "The Urban Farm." Once an anomaly among the manicured lawns in his neighborhood, Peterson's place has been so convincing an example over the past decade that scores of other suburban dwellers have traded decorative bushes for raised vegetable beds and straw-filled chicken coops. Slowly, across the past decade, more Americans like Peterson have been proving that growing and preserving food is possible in all kinds of populated settings. Whether it is a tilapia farm in garden tubs in Kansas City, Mo., beekeeping in Chicago, or jars of homemade pickles in an apartment pantry in Austin, Texas, urban homesteaders are rebelling against the industrial food system by shouldering more of the responsibility for producing their own food. "There is a population and culture that is finally saying that all this processed stuff is not good and the only way we can guarantee that food we use is safe is to grow it ourselves," says Joyce Miles, a family and consumer science expert. These advances come in the midst of a struggling economy, a changing climate, a global food system in peril, rising food prices, concern over lax food safety, and dwindling resources. For homesteaders, cultivating a corner of the yard ... into a tangle of edible things has become one small way to regain purpose and control in an unpredictable time.
Note: Watch this inspiring video of an urban farm helping to break the cycle of violence and poverty in Kansas city.
Monsanto Co. and officials within the Environmental Protection Agency are fighting legal efforts aimed at exploring Monsanto’s influence over regulatory assessments of the key chemical in the company’s Roundup herbicide, new federal court filings show. The revelations are contained in a series of filings made ... as part of litigation brought by more than 50 people suing Monsanto. The plaintiffs claim they or their loved ones developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) after exposure to Roundup herbicide, and that Monsanto has spent decades covering up cancer risks linked to the chemical. Lawyers for the plaintiffs want the court to lift a seal on documents that detail Monsanto’s interactions with former top EPA brass Jess Rowland regarding the EPA’s safety assessment of glyphosate, which is the key ingredient in Roundup. They also want to depose Rowland. But Monsanto and the EPA object to the requests. The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) declared in March 2015 that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen, with a positive association found between glyphosate and NHL. Monsanto has been fighting to refute that classification. Rowland has been key in Monsanto’s efforts to rebut the IARC finding. He chaired the EPA’s Cancer Assessment Review Committee (CARC) that issued an internal report in October 2015 contracting IARC’s findings. That 87-page report, signed by Rowland, determined that glyphosate was “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. More lawsuits are building over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public about the safety of glyphosate. Yet the EPA used industry studies while ignoring independent studies to declare Roundup safe. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Last August, a group of six young Indians took to the streets of Delhi with one simple aim: to feed the homeless. Overnight, they drove to restaurants, collected unsold food, re-packaged it and gave it to around 100 people sleeping rough in the capital. Friends, colleagues and strangers soon joined them on drives and their numbers began to swell. In less than a few months, a nationwide volunteer movement known as the Robin Hood Army (RHA) had emerged, on a mission to curb food waste and stamp out hunger. Founders Ghose and Anand Sinha, also 27, were inspired by Refood International, an organisation based in Portugal. “Using a hyperlocal model, they collect excess food and give it to those who need it. But every community has their own Refood chapter,” explains Ghose. “I realised it was something that can be very easily done in India, where the need would be much more.” The movement gained huge momentum after the launch of its social media campaign, and now boasts a 500-strong volunteer base spread out across 13 cities. In April, the group also began operations in neighbouring Pakistan. The Robin Hood Army’s ideology revolves around decentralisation. Small teams, mostly young professionals, become responsible for specific areas; they scout for local restaurants, convince them to donate surplus food, identify clusters of people in need - such as the homeless and orphanages - and carry out weekly distributions.
In a country where billions of pounds of food get wasted every year, one app is connecting the dots between those who have excess food and those who need it. Copia, a food recovery app, collects surplus food from companies and distributes it to organizations that serve people in need. Companies can use the app to order a food pickup after an event, for instance, and Copia will come retrieve the fare and drop it off at a local pantry, shelter or soup kitchen. “Hunger is the world’s dumbest problem, especially in the world’s wealthiest country,” Komal Ahmad, the app’s founder, said. “It’s a distribution problem. We get food from those who have it to those who need it.” Food waste is a huge issue in the United States: 31 percent of the available food supply, or 133 billion pounds, went uneaten in 2010. This is in a country in which almost 50 million Americans ... live in food insecure households. “Hunger is pervasive,” said Margarette Purvis, President of Food Bank of NYC. “It’s a horrible thing that is hidden in every city.” So far Copia has collected more than eight hundred thousand pounds of food, connecting it to seven hundred thousand people. Ahmad is hoping ... to potentially use the technology to distribute other much-needed items like medicine. “Next, we want to use the platform to redistribute food to Syrian migrants in our country,” Ahmad said. If you want to help, you can get businesses you work with to use the app. But Purvis suggested something more: go volunteer at a local food pantry.
Paraquat, one of many pesticides that can’t be used in Europe but is sold in the United States and elsewhere, has been linked to Parkinson’s disease in a growing body of research. The [paraquat factory in Huddersfield, England] recently celebrated its centennial. Paraquat [is] one of the world’s most enduring weed killers - but not one that can be purchased in ... Britain or across the Channel in the rest of the European Union. So it will be sent to the United States, or another part of the globe that still allows paraquat to be sprayed on weeds. Now regulators in the United States are grappling with a wave of research linking paraquat to ... Parkinson’s disease. In a recent ... regulatory filing, the Environmental Protection Agency said, “There is a large body of epidemiology data on paraquat dichloride use and Parkinson’s disease.” The agency is weighing whether to continue allowing the chemical to be sprayed on American cropland, although a decision is not expected until 2018. In the meantime, many of the nations that ban paraquat and other chemicals whose use is contentious still allow them to be manufactured as long as they are exported to faraway fields. Even the government of China, a nation not known for environmental regulation, said in 2012 that it would phase out paraquat “to safeguard people’s lives.” As Europe and China move away from paraquat, its use is rebounding in the United States. That is particularly true for soybean fields, where the number of pounds used is up more than fourfold over the past decade.
Note: Paraquat is manufactured by Syngenta, a Swiss company known for manipulating international trade deals. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.
The worst drought in three decades has left almost 20 million Ethiopians - one-fifth of the population - desperately short of food. And yet the country’s mortality rate isn’t expected to increase: In other words, Ethiopians aren’t starving to death. I’ve studied famine and humanitarian relief for more than 30 years, and I wasn’t prepared for what I saw during a visit to Ethiopia last month. I saw imported wheat being brought to the smallest and most remote villages. Water was delivered to places where wells had run dry. Malnourished children were being treated in properly staffed clinics. Compare that to the aftermath of the 1984 drought, which killed at least 600,000 people, [and] caused the economy to shrink by nearly 14 percent. How did Ethiopia go from being the world’s symbol of mass famines to fending off starvation? Peace, greater transparency and prudent planning. Ethiopia’s success in averting another disaster is confirmation that famine is elective because, at its core, it is an artifact and a tool of political repression. After countries have passed a certain threshold of prosperity and development, peace, political liberalization and greater government accountability are the best safeguards against famine. So is the era of great famines finally over? Let’s just say it could be. Famine isn’t caused by overpopulation, and as Ethiopia’s experience shows, it’s not a necessary consequence of drought. Politics creates famine, and politics can stop it.
Every year, more restaurants and food companies announce that they will sell only meat produced with minimal or no use of antibiotics. And every year, despite those pledges, more antibiotics are administered to the nation's swine, cattle and poultry. According to the latest figures, released this week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, antibiotic sales for use on farm animals increased by 1 percent in 2015, compared to the previous year. The increase was slightly greater – 2 percent — for antibiotics used as human medicine. The FDA and other public health agencies have been pushing farmers to rely less on these drugs. Heavy use of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture has led to the emergence of drug-resistant bacteria, complicating the task of treating many infections. But the FDA finds a glimmer of good news in the latest figures, pointing out that the rate of increase has slowed. In the previous year, antibiotic use had increased by 4 percent, and a total of 22 percent from 2009 to 2014.
The sugar industry paid scientists in the 1960s to play down the link between sugar and heart disease and promote saturated fat as the culprit instead, newly released historical documents show. The internal sugar industry documents ... published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, suggest that five decades of research into the role of nutrition and heart disease, including many of today’s dietary recommendations, may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry. A trade group called the Sugar Research Foundation ... paid three Harvard scientists the equivalent of about $50,000 in today’s dollars to publish a 1967 review of research on sugar, fat and heart disease. The studies used in the review were handpicked by the sugar group, and the article, which was published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, minimized the link between sugar and heart health and cast aspersions on the role of saturated fat. The food industry has continued to influence nutrition science. For many decades, health officials encouraged Americans to reduce their fat intake, which led many people to consume low-fat, high-sugar foods that some experts now blame for fueling the obesity crisis. Today, the saturated fat warnings remain a cornerstone of the government’s dietary guidelines, though in recent years the American Heart Association, the World Health Organization and other health authorities have also begun to warn that too much added sugar may increase cardiovascular disease risk.
On its website, Kellogg touted a distinguished-sounding "Breakfast Council" of "independent experts" who helped guide its nutritional efforts. Nowhere did it say this: The maker of Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes paid the experts and fed them talking points. The company paid the experts an average of $13,000 a year, prohibited them from offering media services for products "competitive or negative to cereal" and required them to engage in "nutrition influencer outreach" on social media or with colleagues, and report back on their efforts. For Kellogg, the breakfast council - in existence between 2011 and this year - deftly blurred the lines between cereal promotion and impartial nutrition guidance. The company used the council to teach a continuing education class for dietitians, publish an academic paper on breakfast, and try to influence the government's dietary guidelines. One of the breakfast council's most notable achievements was publishing a paper defining a "quality breakfast" in a nutrition journal. Kellogg touted the paper in its newsletter as being written by "our independent nutrition experts." Dietitians could earn continuing education credits from the publisher for taking a quiz about the paper. Kellogg didn't describe its own role in overseeing editing and providing feedback, such as asking for the removal of a line saying a recommendation that added sugar be limited to 25 percent of calories might be "too high."
Older healthy women who consume two or more diet drinks per day are at higher risk for heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular problems, according to a new study. These women were ... 50 percent more likely to die from a disease associated with heart problems than women who rarely - or never - drank artificially flavored beverages. The study of 59,614 post-menopausal women ... is, thus far, the largest study conducted on heart health and diet beverage consumption. Over the last decade, an increased awareness of the dangers of refined sugar has led the popularity of diet beverages. Between 1999 and 2010, diet drink consumption increased from 17.8 percent to 21.2 percent for women and 13.9 percent to 19.0 percent for males, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently about 1 in 5 Americans drink some type of diet beverage each day. However, other research suggests one's intentions to avoid refined sugar from beverages may still result in many of the same health problems. Studies have found diet drinks can elevate one's risk for metabolic syndrome, which is associated with weight gain and an increased risk for diabetes. And other researchers believe artificial sweeteners may activate reward centers in the brain, which causes people to overeat.
Note: There has been a huge cover-up around the dangers of aspartame, the sugar substitute used in most diet drinks. Find loads of solid evidence about this on this webpage. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
The Nunatsiavut government in Labrador has released a study from a Harvard mercury researcher on the effects of the newly constructed Muskrat Falls dam. The study showed that water flooding the reservoir behind the dam would contain methylmercury levels “to the point that they exceed regulatory thresholds for exposure,” building up over time in fish and other game consumed by the native population. Muskrat Falls will affect three peoples - the Innu, the Nunatsiavut and the NunatuKavut - who will have to alter their diets, and as such their cultures. Methylmercury ... can lead to intellectual impairments and immune system problems. Some of the hydroelectric dams have already disrupted the hunting and fishing traditions of the Cree living nearby. Muskrat Falls echoes what the Canadian historian James Daschuk has called “the politics of starvation.” In his 2013 study, “Clearing the Plains,” Mr. Daschuk argued that famine was a conscious settlement strategy to “create ecological conditions in which disease exploded.” Nutritional questions have always been cultural questions for the indigenous peoples of Canada. Hunting and fishing are more than a traditional way of life. The land is the connection to the larger world and to history. High methylmercury levels would render the land untrustworthy. If you cannot trust the land, what can you trust?
Note: A recent BBC article described Canada's treatment of First Nation peoples as "cultural genocide" after an official inquiry found thousands of indigenous children had died and been buried in unmarked graves after being forcibly relocated to residential schools. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
Genetic modification in the United States and Canada has not accelerated increases in crop yields or led to an overall reduction in the use of chemical pesticides. The promise of genetic modification was twofold: By making crops immune to the effects of weedkillers and inherently resistant to many pests, they would grow so robustly that they would become indispensable to feeding the world’s growing population, while also requiring fewer applications of sprayed pesticides. Twenty years ago, Europe largely rejected genetic modification at the same time the United States and Canada were embracing it. Comparing results on the two continents ... shows how the technology has fallen short of the promise. The United States and Canada have gained no discernible advantage in yields - food per acre - when measured against Western Europe. Also, a recent National Academy of Sciences report found that “there was little evidence” that the introduction of genetically modified crops in the United States had led to yield gains beyond those seen in conventional crops. At the same time, herbicide use has increased in the United States. And the United States has fallen behind Europe’s biggest producer, France, in reducing the overall use of pesticides, which includes both herbicides and insecticides. Pesticides are toxic by design ... and have been linked to developmental delays and cancer. The same companies make and sell both the genetically modified plants and the poisons.
Note: Explore over 40 scientific studies that have demonstrated the health dangers of GM foods. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and the GMO controversy.
The Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has been slapped with a $6 million civil penalty, which will be trebled due to its "intentional violations of state law" for laundering money in a 2013 Washington state initiative campaign. If the ... $18 million in total damages holds up on appeal, it may be the highest fine for campaign finance violations in the history of the United States. The grocery lobby group poured more than $11 million into the "No on 522" committee, which fought and narrowly defeated an initiative to require labeling of genetically modified foods and seeds sold to consumers in the state. What prompted the massive award? The GMA established what it called a "defense of brands account." It collected money to defeat the Washington initiative while shielding the identities of major food manufacturers (e.g. Pepsico, Coca-Cola, General Mills, General Foods) who were putting up millions of dollars in support. The GMA, its members and other sources had spent $43 million in 2012 to defeat California's Proposition 37, which would have required all packaged food products to identify genetically modified organisms. "While successfully defeating Prop. 37, certain individual member companies of GMA and some GMA staff received negative responses from the public because of their opposition to Prop. 37," Judge Hirsch wrote in her ruling. Hence, an elaborate scheme was hatched - and approved by the GMA's board - to conceal individual donors.
Note: Read a more in-depth, revealing article on this on mercola.com. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and the GMO controversy.
Bee colonies have been dying off in high numbers, with suspicion falling on agricultural pesticides like herbicides and fungicides, as main factors behind the declines. Now, a new study out of the University of Maryland is the first to look at how a “cocktail” of all of various pesticides could be impacting bee colonies over time. “Our results fly in the face of one of the basic tenets of toxicology: that the dose makes the poison,” study senior author Dennis van Engelsdorp, an assistant professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, said. “We found that the number of different compounds was highly predictive of colony death, which suggests that the addition of more compounds somehow overwhelms the bees’ ability to detoxify themselves.” The study looked at 91 honey bee colonies that were owned by three migratory commercial beekeepers over one farming season. The research team examined 93 pesticide compounds that were found in the colonies throughout the season. These compounds were found building up in the bees’ wax in processed pollen, [as well as] in the bodies of nurse bees. The researchers ... measured three key things: the total number of pesticides, the total number of pesticides that were above a minimum level of toxicity, and each colony’s “hazard quotient,” which factors in the hazard posed by the total toxicity of all pesticides present in the colony. What did the researchers find? Unfortunately, all three measures corresponded with a higher probability of colony death or the loss of the queen bee.
Note: This study was published in Nature Scientific Reports, and found that some compounds regarded as "bee-safe" could be a major contributors to honey bee colony losses. Prior to this, neonicotinoid pesticides were found to be connected to colony collapse disorder. Bayer, a major manufacturer of this pesticide, attempted to cover up the connection between its products and the massive die off of bees.
Testing for residues of an herbicide developed by Monsanto Co. that has been linked to cancer has turned up high levels in honey from the key farm state of Iowa, adding to concerns about contamination. The Food and Drug Administration began glyphosate residue testing in a small number of foods earlier this year after the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen. Research by FDA chemist Narong Chamkasem and John Vargo, a chemist at the University of Iowa, shows that residues of glyphosate - the chief ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup herbicide - have been detected [in honey] at ... more than 10 times the limit of 50 ppb allowed in the European Union. “According to recent reports, there has been a dramatic increase in the usage of these herbicides, which are of risk to both human health and the environment,” Chamkasem and Vargo stated in their laboratory bulletin. Because there is no legal tolerance level for glyphosate in honey in the United States, any amount could technically be considered a violation, according to statements made in FDA internal emails, obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. The Environmental Protection Agency may soon move to set a tolerance, however. The agency has set tolerance levels for glyphosate residues in many foods the EPA expects might contain residues of the weed killer.
Government testing for residues of an herbicide that has been linked to cancer has been put on hold, slowing the Food and Drug Administration’s first-ever endeavor to get a handle on just how much of the controversial chemical is making its way into U.S. foods. The FDA ... launched what it calls a “special assignment” earlier this year to analyze certain foods for residues of the weed killer called glyphosate after the agency was criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office for failing to include glyphosate in annual testing programs that look for many less-used pesticides. Glyphosate is the most widely used herbicide in the world, and is the key ingredient in Monsanto Co.’s branded Roundup herbicide line. Several private groups ... have been finding glyphosate residues in varying levels in a range of foods. Earlier this year, one of the agency’s senior chemists also analyzed glyphosate residues in honey and oatmeal and [found that some] samples contained residue levels well over the limit allowed in the European Union. The agency ... put the glyphosate residue testing part of the work plan on hold amid confusion, disagreement and difficulties with establishing a standard methodology to use across the agency’s multiple U.S. laboratories, according to FDA sources. With the testing on hold, it is not clear when the agency might have final results on the glyphosate residue analysis.
Note: Laboratory tests have shown alarming levels of glyphosate in many common foods. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and health.
Atrazine [is] the second most commonly used herbicide in the United States. [It] is mainly used to control weeds in the corn blanketing much of the Midwest. The chemical also routinely turns up in streams and drinking water. And according to a new Environmental Protection Agency preliminary risk assessment, it may be doing serious harm to fish, animals, and amphibians, even at extremely low exposure levels. In the areas where it is most commonly used, mainly the Midwestern corn belt, atrazine turns up in the environment at rates that exceed established levels of concern "by as much as 22, 198, and 62 times for birds, mammals, and fish, respectively," the report concluded. The European Union banned atrazine in 2004, citing its potential to contaminate water and harm ecosystems. And this latest EPA report suggests the US government might also consider reining in use of the chemical. But probably not anytime soon. Back in 2011, the EPA released the final deliberations by a panel of independent scientists it had convened to address the topic. The panel found that atrazine had "suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential" for ovarian cancer, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, hairy-cell leukemia, and thyroid cancer. A recent paper by Texas A&M and Iowa State University researchers looked at research published since 2000 and concluded that "higher concentrations of atrazine in drinking water" have been associated with a variety of birth defects in people.
Note: With US regulators in its pocket, agrichemical giant Syngenta did everything in its power to discredit atrazine researcher Tyrone Hayes after Hayes published science proving that Syngenta's products were poisonous. The New Yorker published a detailed article on Syngenta's smear campaign. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and health.
A research report commissioned by Health Canada finds consumers have "strong feelings" about being able to identify genetically modified products when they're shopping, and 78 per cent are calling for clear labelling on packages. "There was a prevailing belief among participants that there should be greater transparency to consumers and, once raised, many questioned why government in particular should be resistant to providing consumers with more information that would help them make more informed decisions," read the findings from The Strategic Counsel. Given the choice, 62 per cent would buy a non-GM food over a GM product out of fears of health hazards or impacts on the environment. According to Health Canada's website, all GM foods are "rigorously assessed" for safety. But labelling is now voluntary. Negative views revealed in the research highlight a "difficult challenge" for Health Canada ahead. Anti-GM advocates have successfully filled the "information void," the report reads. In May, Health Canada provoked controversy when it approved the first genetically modified food animal for sale after "rigorous" scientific reviews. A high number of participants opposed GM food in any form, the report said. Only 26 per cent of respondents indicated they would be comfortable eating foods that have been genetically modified, and just 22 per cent support the development and sale of GM foods in Canada.
Unpublished field trials by pesticide manufacturers show their products cause serious harm to honeybees at high levels, leading to calls from senior scientists for the companies to end the secrecy which cloaks much of their research. The research, conducted by Syngenta and Bayer on their neonicotinoid insecticides, were submitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency and obtained by Greenpeace after a freedom of information request. Neonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticides and there is clear scientific evidence that they harm bees at the levels found in fields. Neonicotinoids were banned from use on flowering crops in the EU in 2013, despite UK opposition. The newly revealed studies show Syngenta’s thiamethoxam and Bayer’s clothianidin seriously harmed colonies at high doses, but did not find significant effects below concentrations of 50 parts per billion (ppb) and 40ppb respectively. Such levels can sometimes be found in fields. However, scientists said all such research should be made public. “It is hard to see why the companies don’t make these kinds of studies available,” said Prof Dave Goulson, at the University of Sussex. “It does seem a little shady to do ... the very studies the companies say are the most important ones - and then not tell people what they find.” Syngenta had told Greenpeace in August that “none of the studies Syngenta has undertaken or commissioned for use by regulatory agencies have shown damages to the health of bee colonies”. Goulson said: “That clearly contradicts their own study.”
Note: CNN News reported in 2010 that Bayer covered up the link between its products and massive bee die-offs. Read more about how these pesticides sicken bees and harm food crops. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In the face of a changing climate and the challenges that come with it, companies the world over have been attempting to pull solutions out of thin air - literally. There are firms turning air into fuel and others transforming it into stone. Some are even extracting clean drinking water from it. Israel’s Water-Gen has built devices that create and store drinking water by harvesting condensation from the air. It was among a group of Israeli firms that presented their technological innovations at the United Nations General Assembly last week. “Put simply, [our technology] leverages the same process as a dehumidifier, but instead captures and cleans the moisture,” said Arye Kohavi, Water-Gen’s CEO. “This ‘plug-and-drink’ technology is fully independent of existing water infrastructure. All we require is an electrical outlet and the humidity found in the air.” Water-Gen isn’t the only company to market such a technology, but it says its machines ... are far more energy-efficient than any other water production device. “Our technology takes one-fifth of the amount of energy used by other methods,” Kohavi said. Water-Gen estimates the water its machines generates would cost less than 10 cents per gallon. The smallest device can yield up to 5 gallons daily, while the largest can produce more than 800 gallons a day. “We think it’s possible to bring drinking water to all countries,” Maxim Pasik, Water-Gen’s chairman, [said] in an interview. “What’s important for us is to bring water to the people. This is a basic human right.”
For the second year in a row, Natural Resources Defense Council and several other organizations rated the 25 largest American fast-food and fast-casual restaurants on their policies toward antibiotics use. While the majority got failing grades in the “Chain Reaction” report, many chain restaurants have made progress, especially when sourcing antibiotic-free chicken - though Chipotle, Panera and now Subway also have strong policies on beef and pork. “We were really encouraged to see that twice as many restaurant chains had adopted new policies,” said Kari Hamerschlag ... one of the report’s authors. An estimated 70 percent of medically important antibiotics are used in livestock production, often given routinely to healthy animals to prevent illness or stimulate growth rather than to cure disease. Between 2009 and 2014, livestock and poultry farms increased their use of these antimicrobial drugs by 23 percent, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA discourages producers from using antibiotics routinely in feed to promote growth, but does not prohibit the practice. McDonald’s grade improved from a C last year to a C-plus because it announced it had fully switched over to antibiotic-free chicken in its U.S. stores. Subway, based in Milford, Conn., which leapt from an "F" grade last year to a "B" grade this year, was listed as the only chain to adopt policies that apply to all types of meat sold. The report said now roughly 67 percent of its chicken is now raised without antibiotics, with turkey to follow.
UCSF researchers believe they have uncovered a decades-old effort by the sugar industry to exonerate sugar as a dietary culprit for heart disease and shift the blame onto fat and cholesterol. In a paper published in Monday’s JAMA Internal Medicine, the researchers reveal a scheme in which the sugar industry’s main trade group paid two Harvard scientists to conduct a literature review in the mid-1960s that challenged emerging evidence linking sugar consumption to risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The Harvard scientists concluded there was “no doubt” that reducing dietary cholesterol and substituting polyunsaturated fat for saturated fat would prevent heart disease. Such recommendations helped persuade Americans to replace their butter with margarine and eat fat-free cookies and other sugar-laden treats. “We have been indoctrinated in this belief that if we don’t eat a low-fat diet, we’ll die of the No. 1 killer disease,” said co-author Laura Schmidt, professor of health policy at UCSF School of Medicine. “Now we’ve learned the sugar industry paid off Harvard to tell us that.” They showed that the Sugar Research Foundation, which is now known as the Sugar Association, paid Fredrick Stare and fellow faculty member D. Mark Hegsted the equivalent of about $50,000 in 2016 dollars to write a heavily critical review of studies that linked sucrose to heart disease. Their reviews were published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine in 1967.
Note: For more on how the sugar industry conspired against public health, see this Time magazine article. For even more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
News that Ketchum Inc., the public relations firm leading the charge to promote chemical-dependent GMO agriculture, is launching a new “specialty group” to capture a slice of the growing organic food market caught many food industry players by surprise last week. Ketchum’s new branch, called “Cultivate,” is pitching itself to “help purpose-driven brands with a natural, organic, and sustainable focus.” The news comes as Ketchum remains a key player in PR efforts to dampen demand for organic foods, spinning messages that tell consumers organics are over-priced and over-hyped. In 2013, Monsanto hired Ketchum’s parent company, Omnicom, to “reshape” its reputation amid fierce opposition to GMOs, according to the Holmes Report. Ketchum now works closely with Monsanto and the agrichemical industry on its massively funded PR efforts to promote genetically engineered food and crops, stop GMO labeling, downplay concerns about pesticides, counteract consumer advocates and convince consumers that organic food is no different from conventional food. A closer look at Ketchum’s past and current activities turns up more reasons that purpose-driven organic and natural food companies might want to steer clear of Ketchum’s “Cultivate” branch. Emails from the late 1990s indicate that Ketchum was involved in espionage against nonprofit groups that were raising concerns about GMOs. Ketchum ... has worked to undermine consumer advocates and the organic foods industry. It would be unwise for organic companies to hire the PR firm.
Companies have added thousands of ingredients to foods with little to no government oversight. That's thanks to a loophole in a decades-old law that allows them to deem an additive to be "generally recognized as safe" - or GRAS - without the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's blessing, or even its knowledge. The loophole was originally intended to allow manufacturers of common ingredients like vinegar and table salt ... to bypass the FDA's lengthy safety-review process. But over time, companies have found that it's far more efficient to take advantage of the exemption to get their products on shelves quickly. Some of these products contain additives that the FDA has found to pose dangers, [and] companies regularly introduce new additives without ever informing the FDA. The Government Accountability Office ... published a report in 2010 that found that "FDA's oversight process does not help ensure the safety of all new GRAS determinations." And even when a company does go through the FDA review process, safety decisions have been criticized. For example ... lawsuits allege that mycoprotein, a type of fungus used in vegetarian products, has caused consumers to suffer a range of reactions, including nausea and anaphylactic shock. The complaints prompted the Center for Science in the Public Interest to urge the FDA in 2011 to revoke the ingredient's GRAS status. In the past five decades, the number of food additives has skyrocketed — from about 800 to more than 10,000.
Note: Common additives in processed foods have been linked with temper tantrums, poor concentration and hyperactivity, and allergic reactions in children. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on food system corruption and health.
“Has anybody heard of rainbow chard?” Larry Moore asked a group of elementary school children. No one answered. “What about this?” Moore asked again, pointing to green leaves emerging from the dirt, their orange base peeking through the brown soil. “That’s a carrot!” several young voices called out. But this carrot wasn’t growing in the ground or a pot. It was growing in the bed of a red pickup truck, a garden on wheels known as the Louisville Truck Farm. “With this, our primary audience is kids, but I’m always in awe at how amazed adults are when they see vegetables growing in the bed of a truck,” said Moore, one of the educators who takes Truck Farm into the community. For the past year, the 1995 Chevrolet truck has traveled more than 450 miles to visit farmers markets, schools, and community events around Louisville, Kentucky, to show that it’s possible to start a garden anywhere, even in an urban environment. In the warmer months, the truck boasts as many as 40 different plants in its bed so that visitors can experience a variety of sights, smells, and tastes. The truck bed ... opens to reveal a plexiglass tailgate, which allows people to get a visual of what’s going on beneath the soil.
Note: Don't miss the pictures of this amazing mobile garden available at the link above. Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
On Sunday morning, the South Carolina honey bees began to die in massive numbers. The dead worker bees littering the farms suggested ... acute pesticide poisoning. By one estimate, at a single apiary - Flowertown Bee Farm and Supply, in Summerville - 46 hives died on the spot, totaling about 2.5 million bees. Walking through the farm, one Summerville woman wrote ... was “like visiting a cemetery, pure sadness.” To the bee farmers, the reason is ... clear. Their bees had been poisoned by Dorchester’s own insecticide efforts, casualties in the war on disease-carrying mosquitoes. On Sunday morning, parts of Dorchester County were sprayed with Naled, a common insecticide that kills mosquitoes on contact. An airplane dispensed Naled in a fine mist, raining insect death from above. The county says it provided plenty of warning, spreading word about the pesticide plane via a newspaper announcement. Local beekeepers felt differently. “Had I known, I would have been camping on the steps doing whatever I had to do screaming, ‘No you can’t do this,'” beekeeper Juanita Stanley said in an interview. Stanley [said] that the bees are her income, but she is more devastated by the loss of the bees than her honey. The county acknowledged the bee deaths Tuesday. “Dorchester County is aware that some beekeepers in the area that was sprayed on Sunday lost their beehives,” Jason Ward, county administrator, said in a news release. As for the dead bees, as Stanley told the AP, her farm “looks like it’s been nuked.”
Note: The threats posed by the Zika virus appear greatly exaggerated. Explore other zika virus news articles suggesting this is largely fear mongering to bring more profits to corporations involved in creating vaccines and more.
The large-scale, long-term decline in wild bees across England has been linked to the use of neonicotinoid insecticides by a new study. Over 18 years, researchers analysed bees who forage heavily on oilseed rape, a crop widely treated with "neonics". The scientists attribute half of the total decline in wild bees to the use of these chemicals. Several studies, conducted in the lab and in the field, have identified a negative effect on honey bees and bumble bees from the use of neonics. But few researchers have looked at the long term impacts of these substances. This new paper examined the impacts on populations of 62 species of wild bees across England over the period from 1994-2011. The team ... used distribution data on wild bees, excluding honey and bumblebees collected by the bees, ants and wasps recording scheme. They were able to compare the locations of these bees and their changing populations with growing patterns of oilseed rape across England over 18 years. The amount of this crop being sown has increased significantly over the period of the study, from around 500,000 hectares in 1994 to over 700,000 in 2011. A key innovation was the commercial licensing of neonicotinoid insecticides for the crop in the UK in 2002. Seeds are coated with the chemical and every part of the plant becomes toxic. The European Food Safety Authority is currently conducting a review of the scientific evidence about neonicotinoids. An EU-wide moratorium on their use was implemented in 2013 and is still in place.
Note: Bayer, a major manufacturer of this pesticide, attempted to cover up the connection between its products and the massive die off of bees. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food system corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Weeks after taking a job as a breeding technician at Eagle Point Farms, an anguished Sharee Santorineos sat down and wrote a three-page whistleblower complaint. "I seen pigs that are pregnant beat with steel bars," said her letter to the Illinois Bureau of Animal Health and Welfare. Santorineos knows about raising animals. At a friend's rural Illinois farmhouse, she grows pigs and poultry that they eventually will have slaughtered. Like other worker allegations about animal abuse in Illinois' 900-plus hog confinement facilities, Santorineos' account went nowhere. The state has regularly discounted or dismissed such worker complaints, a Tribune investigation has found. In the Illinois hog confinements that send 12 million pigs to market annually, the bureau did not find a single animal welfare infraction or violation during the past five years. A lack of inspectors - the bureau has just six - contributes to the scant enforcement, while weak Illinois and federal livestock protection laws do little to safeguard animals. In on-the-record interviews, Santorineos and more than a dozen other Illinois swine-confinement workers told the Tribune they witnessed fellow employees whip pigs with metal rods and gouge them with pliers and ballpoint pens to hurry the animals from one stall to the next or onto the trucks that took them to slaughter. They described employees abusing pigs for amusement and encouraging colleagues to take out their frustrations on the animals.
A new study of male honeybees shows that two insecticides, banned in some European nations but still used in the United States, can significantly reduce the bees’ ability to reproduce. The study ... found that thiamethoxam and clothianidin, two chemicals from the neonicotinoid family of insecticides, reduce living sperm in male honeybees, called drones, by almost 40 percent. The effects of pesticides on honeybee populations are considered one culprit among several factors causing periodic declines. Neonicotinoids have been shown by other studies to harm the health of individual bees and the reproductive ability of female insects. The new study expanded on the dangers of the pesticides for males. The two neonicotinoids used in the study were banned in the European Union in 2013, but are used on an industrial scale in the United States. The Environmental Protection Agency ... will release risk assessments for the two chemicals, as well as another neonicotinoid, dinotefuran, in December. A significant amount of the global food supply is made up of plants that require pollinators like bees to survive. Any widespread threat to bees also constitutes a greater ecological threat. Beekeepers in the United States lost 44 percent of their honeybee colonies from April 2015 to April 2016, according to an annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership. The loss was 3.5 percent greater than that found from 2014 to 2015, when beekeepers lost 40.6 percent of colonies.
North Dakotans on Tuesday soundly rejected a law enacted last year that changed decades of family-farming rules in the state by allowing corporations to own and operate dairy and hog farms. Some 75 percent of North Dakotans who went to the ballot box voted to repeal Senate Bill 2351. The law ... exempted dairy and swine production from the state's Depression-era corporate farming prohibition. The North Dakota Farmers Union and other groups that collected signatures to put the referendum on the ballot said family farmers cannot compete with large agricultural firms with no ties to the communities where they operate. Corporate and foreign control of U.S. farmland has been a hot-button issue in several major agricultural states in recent years. State laws prohibiting corporations and foreign entities from owning U.S. farmland complicated a $4.7 billion acquisition in 2013 of U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods by China's Shuanghui International. The deal ultimately closed. This February, a U.S. district judge issued an injunction barring Nebraska officials from enforcing the state's ban on farmland ownership by corporations. North Dakota, with about 740,000 residents, has a heavily agricultural economy. It is one of nine states that have laws limiting corporate farming, according to the National Agricultural Law Center. The North Dakota law says farming or ranching companies must have no more than 15 shareholders or members who must belong to the same family, to a distance of first cousins.
AeroFarms has built what it says is the world's largest indoor vertical farm, without the use of soil or sunlight. Its ambitious goal is to grow high-yielding crops via economical methods to provide locally sourced food to the community, protect the environment and ultimately even combat hunger worldwide. “We use about 95 percent less water to grow the plants, about 50 percent less fertiliser as nutrients and zero pesticides, herbicide, fungicides,” said David Rosenberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of AeroFarms. “We're helping create jobs as well as create a good story to inspire the community and inspire other businesses.” Inside the 2,800 square metre warehouse, farmers tend the short-stemmed plants, which are illuminated by rows of light emitting diode, or LED, lamps and planted in white fabric made from recycled water bottles. Co-founder ... Marc Oshima said that by producing indoors, AeroFarms can grow plants within 12 to 16 days, compared with 30 to 45 days outdoors. A year-round grow cycle protected from the changeable climate means that indoor farms can be 75 times more productive, he said. The company plans to move its operation this year to a new facility in Newark, [New Jersey] with 6,503 square metres of growing space. Most green, leafy plants thrive during the spring and fall in sunnier states such as California and Arizona. Setting up indoor farms in New Jersey eliminates the environmental costs of transporting those crops to consumers in the Northeast.
Note: Watch this inspiring video on vertical farming.
Companies can’t get enough organic ingredients to satisfy consumer desire for organic and nongenetically modified foods. The demand for those crops outstrips the supply, leaving farmers like [Wendell] Naraghi racing to convert their land to organic production, an arduous and expensive process. “Customers are asking for it,” said Mr. Naraghi, who is in the process of transitioning 300 of his 3,000 acres of orchards this year. “And we listen to our customers.” The clamor for organic crops is so intense that major food brands, like General Mills, Kellogg and Ardent Mills, are helping to underwrite the switch. General Mills, for instance, recently signed a deal to help convert about 3,000 acres to organic production of alfalfa and other animal feeds. Ardent offers farmers a premium for crops grown on land while a farm transitions to organic. In the most recent government tally, in 2011, organic farmland, including that used for grazing, was less than 1 percent of crop land in the United States. But the consumer demand is accelerating the conversion process. Sales of organic products grew 11 percent last year to $43.3 billion, or roughly four times the growth in sales of food products over all. Sales would have been even higher had supply, particularly in organic dairy and grains, kept up with demand. As much as 20 percent of cropland in America could be organic in the next decade or so, but land suitable for transition is getting harder to come by.
Nearly all food labels in Vermont are now required to disclose when products include genetically engineered ingredients. The requirement, passed two years ago, became effective on Friday. The rule is the first of its kind in the United States, and although it applies only within the tiny state, it is having national impact. Most major food and beverage companies have already added language to their labels to meet the new rule, rather than deal with the logistical hassle of having separate labels for different states. But not all the same products will definitely be on shelves. Vermont’s law requires the labeling of most packaged grocery products as well as any whole fruits or vegetables produced with genetic engineering. That means virtually all products containing derivatives of crops like corn, soy, canola and sugar from sugar beets will need labels, as most of those crops in the United States are grown from genetically modified seeds. Vermont’s law is careful, however, to exclude cheese, a big business in the state. The law also exempts meat from animals that have eaten feed made from genetically engineered grains. The labeling issue has generated heavy and frantic lobbying by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the trade groups representing major commodity producers of crops like soy and corn, who have wanted a federal law that would prevent mandatory labels.
Note: On July 8, the US Senate passed a bill which allows food companies to continue to avoid clear GMO ingredient labeling. Let's hope it does not pass the full Congress and become a law. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing food industry corruption and GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
New research links county-level economic health to agriculture, and finds that organic food and crop production, along with the business activities accompanying organic agriculture, creates real and long-lasting regional economic opportunities. The recently completed White Paper, U.S. Organic Hotspots and their Benefit to Local Economies ... finds organic hotspots - counties with high levels of organic agricultural activity whose neighboring counties also have high organic activity - boost median household incomes by an average of $2,000 and reduce poverty levels by an average of 1.3 percentage points. It identifies 225 counties across the United States as organic hotspots, then looks at how these organic hotspots impact two key county-level economic indicators: the county poverty rate and median household income. Organic activity was found to have a greater beneficial economic effect than that of general agriculture activity, such as chemically-intensive, conventional agriculture, and even more of a positive impact than some major anti-poverty programs at the county level. Interest in organic at the production level has grown as the demand for organic has risen. Organic food is not only better for the economy, but for human health and the environment. A comprehensive review of 97 published studies comparing the nutritional quality of organic and conventional foods show that organic plant-based foods contain higher levels of eight of 11 nutrients. Organic foods have [also] been shown to reduce dietary pesticide exposure.
Environmentalists have taken to streets around the world to protest against seed giant Monsanto at the same time as the company is facing a $62 billion takeover by Bayer, the German drugs giant. More than 400 simultaneous demonstrations against genetically modified crops and pesticides were organised around the world this weekend. The protests took place in over 40 countries. They come come as Monsanto faces an unsolicited takeover offer by Bayer, the chemical giant that invented aspirin. The deal could create the world’s biggest supplier of farm chemical and genetically modified seeds. Up to 3,000 protesters, rallied by environmental organisations including Greenpeace and Stop TAFTA, an anti-capitalist group, gathered in Paris, according to Agence France Presse. Protesters voiced their anger against Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup which is classified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the World Health Organisation. In the US, where 90 per cent of corn, soybean and cotton is genetically modified, campaigners promoted the march with a billboard in Times Square, showing a topless model and the slogan: “Keep GMOs out of your genes.” On Monday Bayer made an unsolicited $62 billion all-cash offer to acquire Monsanto. A concentration of corporate power in the agriculture and chemical sector would be bad news for both farmers and consumers. It would accelerate the decrease in crop diversity while limiting consumer choice. Farmers would ... find it harder to choose what they grow and how they grow it.
Note: Bayer's pesticides have been implicated in the collapse of bee populations. Glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's "RoundUp" pesticide, is now the most heavily-used agricultural chemical ever and probably causes cancer. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
Komal Ahmad ... is the founder and CEO of Copia, an online platform that connects businesses with leftover food to local organizations that can distribute that food to people in need. While an undergraduate ... Ahmad was walking down the street when she was approached by a homeless man who asked her for money to buy food. Instead of giving him a few bucks, Ahmad decided to take him out to lunch and discovered that he was an Iraq war veteran. “That hit me like a ton of bricks,” she said, noting that she’d just gotten back from summer training for the U.S. Navy. “It was almost like a glimpse of my future. This was a perfectly educated guy, came from a good family. He was just a person who was down on his luck.” Across the street from where Ahmad and the man had eaten lunch, the university’s cafeteria was throwing out thousands of pounds of leftover food. Right then, the dual problems of hunger and food waste struck her. “Those who have and are wasting and those who need and are starving - and they’re both living quite literally right across the street from each other,” she said. “That’s just ridiculous.” Ahmad launched Feeding Forward, a local service that began ... in 2011 and has since grown into the tech startup Copia, which has now distributed some 600,000 pounds of food to 720,000 people in need. As Copia expands, Ahmad said that she hopes her phone app will set the stage for new platforms that can redistribute a wider array of necessities, like medicine and medical supplies.
On the edge of Belarus' Chernobyl exclusion zone, down the road from the signs warning "Stop! Radiation," a dairy farmer offers his visitors a glass of freshly drawn milk. Associated Press reporters politely decline the drink but pass on a bottled sample to a laboratory, which confirms it contains levels of a radioactive isotope at levels 10 times higher than the nation's food safety limits. Fallout from the April 26, 1986, explosion at the Chernobyl plant in neighboring Ukraine continues to taint life in Belarus. The authoritarian government of this agriculture-dependent nation appears determined to restore long-idle land to farm use - and in a country where dissent is quashed, any objection to the policy is thin. One of the most prominent medical critics of the government's approach to safeguarding the public from Chernobyl fallout, Dr. Yuri Bandazhevsky, was removed as director of a Belarusian research institute and imprisoned in 2001 on corruption charges that international rights groups branded politically motivated. Since his 2005 parole he has resumed his research into Chernobyl-related cancers with European Union sponsorship. "In Belarus, there is no protection of the population from radiation exposure. On the contrary, the government is trying to persuade people not to pay attention to radiation, and food is grown in contaminated areas and sent to all points in the country," [Bandazhevsky said]. The milk sample subjected to an AP-commissioned analysis backs this picture.
Note: 30 years later and the fallout from this nuclear reactor disaster in Ukraine is still contaminating food in Belarus. Why are we still using nuclear power? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear power news articles from reliable major media sources.
For the first time, a food product created using CRISPR – a promising but controversial gene-editing technique – could be on track to be sold and eaten. And it might be the first of many. Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that it will not regulate the cultivation and sale of a white-button mushroom created using CRISPR. The decision came in the form of a letter to Yinong Yang, a plant pathologist at Pennsylvania State University who created the new mushroom. Yang's frankenfungi is a simple Agaricus bisporus, the kind of white-button mushroom you could buy at any grocery store. But Yang targeted several genes that code for the protein that causes mushrooms to turn brown as they age or get bruised. The result is a mushroom more resilient to automated harvesting and long storage periods. If you support the labeling of GMOs, the USDA's decision to wave this shroom in without a second thought might strike you as scary. If Yang had tackled mushroom browning by adding bits of genetic code from another organism, it would have been subject to USDA scrutiny as other non-browning produce has been. Until recently, genetic modification required the insertion of foreign viruses or bacteria, but CRISPR is more advanced than that. Because of that loophole, it's not under the USDA's jurisdiction. The EPA only regulates GMOs designed for pest control, and the FDA considers all GMOs to be safe. That leaves this non-browning mushroom cleared for take-off.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
Consumers around the country will soon know just by looking at the packaging of popular brands such as Cocoa Puffs cereal or Yoplait yogurt whether or not they contain genetically modified ingredients. Their maker, General Mills, plans to make that information visible on its products nationwide. Other major food companies have since followed, including Kellogg, ConAgra and candy maker Mars. Campbell Soup publicized the same decision in January. The companies are all responding to a Vermont law requiring the labelling of genetically modified foods starting in July, and to pressure from consumers and advocacy groups to reveal more information about controversial ingredients. Between 70% and 80% of packaged food in the US contains ingredients from genetically modified organisms. A genetically modified organism is created in a laboratory by taking genes from one species and inserting these genes into another to breed certain characteristics. Big food companies have historically fought mandatory labelling. They worry that genetic manipulation creates an impression that the food is unnatural or unhealthy. Meanwhile, anti-GMO advocacy groups, such as Center For Food Safety, and food makers who say they don’t use GMOs, including Plum Organics and Nature’s Path, also cast the fight as an issue of transparency, and accuse food makers of hiding important information from the public.
Note: 64 countries now require labelling of GM ingredients. When will the US give its citizens the right to know? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
Michael Specter's recent articles bashing Vandana Shiva and the labeling of genetically engineered foods (Seeds of Doubt and The Problem with G.M.O. Labels) in the New Yorker are the latest high-profile pro-GMO articles that fail to engage with the fundamental critique of genetically engineered food crops in US soil today: rather than reduce pesticide inputs GMOs are causing them to skyrocket in amount and toxicity. Setting the record straight, Dr. Ramon J. Seidler, Ph.D., former Senior Scientist, Environmental Protection Agency, has recently published a well-researched article documenting the devastating facts, "Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops," in Environmental Working Group's online AgMag. Dr. Seidler's article cites and links recent scientific literature and media reports, and should be required reading for all journalists covering GMOs, as well as for citizens generally to understand why their right to know if food is genetically engineered is so important. Over 99% of GMO acreage is engineered by chemical companies to tolerate heavy herbicide (glyphosate) use and/or produce insecticide (Bt) in every cell of every plant over the entire growing season. The result is massive selection pressure that has rapidly created pest resistance - the opposite of integrated pest management. Predictably ... we now have huge swaths of the country infested with "superweeds" and "superbugs" resistant to glyphosate and Bt, meaning more volume of more toxic pesticides are being applied.
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Major lawsuits are building over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public about the safety of glyphosate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
France has become the first country in the world to ban supermarkets from throwing away or destroying unsold food, forcing them instead to donate it to charities and food banks. Under a law passed unanimously by the French senate, as of Wednesday large shops will no longer bin good quality food approaching its best-before date. Charities will be able to give out millions more free meals each year to people struggling to afford to eat. The law follows a grassroots campaign in France by shoppers, anti-poverty campaigners and those opposed to food waste. Campaigners now hope to persuade the EU to adopt similar legislation across member states. Supermarkets will also be barred from deliberately spoiling food in order to stop it being eaten by people foraging in stores’ bins. In recent years, growing numbers of families, students, unemployed and homeless people in France have been foraging in supermarket bins at night to feed themselves. People have been finding edible products thrown out just as their best-before dates approached. Some supermarkets doused binned food in bleach, [or] deliberately binned food in locked warehouses for collection by refuse trucks. Now bosses of supermarkets with a footprint of 400 sq metres (4,305 sq ft) or more will have to sign donation contracts with charities or face a penalty of €3,750 (Ł2,900).
Americans overwhelmingly support labeling foods that have been genetically modified or engineered, according to a New York Times poll conducted this year, with 93 percent of respondents saying that foods containing such ingredients should be identified. Three-quarters of Americans expressed concern about genetically modified organisms in their food, with most of them worried about the effects on people’s health. Thirty-seven percent of those worried about G.M.O.’s said they feared that such foods cause cancer or allergies. Among those with concerns, 26 percent said these foods are not safe to eat, or are toxic, while 13 percent were worried about environmental problems that they fear might be caused by genetic engineering. Nearly half of Americans said they were aware that a large amount of the processed or packaged foods they now buy at the grocery store contains genetically modified ingredients. Overall concern was higher among women than men, perhaps not surprisingly, as more women identify themselves as the principal grocery shopper in the household. Americans were almost equally divided about eating genetically modified vegetables, fruits and grains, with about half saying they would not eat them. They were even less comfortable about eating meat from genetically engineered animals: three-quarters said they would not eat G.M.O. fish, and about two-thirds said they would not eat meat that had been modified.
Note: Explore over 40 scientific studies that have demonstrated the health dangers of GM foods. Despite overwhelming public support for labelling of GMOs, the GM lobby has spent huge amounts of money to keep US states from enacting labelling laws. Sadly, they have largely been successful. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Environmental Protection Agency concluded in June that there was “no convincing evidence” that glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the U.S. and the world, is an endocrine disruptor. The decision was based almost entirely on pesticide industry studies. Most of the studies were sponsored by Monsanto or an industry group called the Joint Glyphosate Task Force. Of the small minority of independently funded studies that the agency considered in determining whether the chemical poses a danger to the endocrine system, three of five found that it did. One, for instance, found that exposure to glyphosate-Roundup “may induce significant adverse effects on the reproductive system of male Wistar rats.” Another concluded that “low and environmentally relevant concentrations of glyphosate possessed estrogenic activity.” And a review of the literature turns up many more peer-reviewed studies finding glyphosate can interfere with hormones. Many of the industry-funded studies contained data that suggested that exposure to glyphosate had serious effects. Yet in each case, sometimes even after animals died, the scientists found reasons to discount the findings — or to simply dismiss them. Having companies fund and perform studies that affect them financially [is] the standard practice at EPA. The International Agency for Research on Cancer labeled glyphosate a probable carcinogen in March.
Note: Read an excellent mercola.com article titled "GMO cookie is crumbling." Monsanto is trying to stop the state of California from listing Glyphosate as carcinogenic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
Bumblebees exposed to common neonicotinoid pesticides may do a poorer job of pollinating crops such as apples, leading to poorer-quality fruit, a new Canadian-led study suggests. When apple trees were pollinated by bees exposed to those pesticides, commonly called neonics, the trees produced about a third fewer seeds. The number of seeds is generally linked to fruit quality in apples. "Bumblebees are essential pollinators of many important crops other than apples, including field beans, berries, tomatoes and oilseed rape," the researchers wrote in a paper published today in the journal Nature. "If exposure to pesticides alters pollination services to apple crops, it is likely that these other bee-pollinated crops would also be affected. Most importantly, the majority of wild plant species benefit from insect pollination services." The information suggests that using neonics has costs – to both production of other crops and wild ecosystems – that may not have previously been considered when weighing the costs against the benefits of using the pesticides. Many studies have shown that exposure to neonics has a negative impact on the behavior and reproduction of bees. That has prompted restrictions on neonics in some places, such as Europe and Ontario. The study ... only looks at the effects on bumblebees. Neonics are also known to have more severe effects on many wild bees. For the production of crops where wild bees are important ... the effects may be more severe than seen in the results of this study.
Note: Neonicotinoid pesticides have been implicated in colony collapse disorder. Bayer, a major manufacturer of this pesticide, attempted to cover up the connection between its products and the massive die off of bees.
Law firms around the United States are lining up plaintiffs for what they say could be "mass tort" actions against agrichemical giant Monsanto Co that claim the company's Roundup herbicide has caused cancer in farm workers and others exposed to the chemical. The latest lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Delaware. The lawsuit is similar to others filed last month in New York and California accusing Monsanto of long knowing that the main ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, was hazardous. Monsanto "led a prolonged campaign of misinformation to convince government agencies, farmers and the general population that Roundup was safe," the lawsuit states. The litigation follows the World Health Organization's declaration in March that there was sufficient evidence to classify glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans." "We can prove that Monsanto knew about the dangers of glyphosate," said Michael McDivitt, whose Colorado-based law firm is putting together cases for 50 individuals. Roundup ... brought Monsanto $4.8 billion in revenue in its fiscal 2015. But questions about Roundup's safety have dogged the company for years. Attorneys who have filed or are eying litigation cited strong evidence that links glyphosate to non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Monsanto is also fending off claims over its past manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which the WHO classifies as known carcinogens. At least 700 lawsuits against Monsanto or Monsanto-related entities are pending.
Note: It's interesting to note that a Google search shows almost no major media picked up this key news. Read how the EPA used industry studies while ignoring independent studies to declare Roundup safe. Read also an excellent mercola.com article titled "GMO cookie is crumbling." Monsanto is trying to stop the state of California from listing Glyphosate as carcinogenic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
Monsanto Co.’s undisclosed recruitment of scientists from Harvard University, Cornell University and three other schools to write about the benefits of plant biotechnology is drawing fire from opponents. Monsanto says it’s in regular contact with public-sector scientists as it tries to “elevate” public dialog on genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. U.S. Right to Know, a nonprofit group funded by the Organic Consumers Association that obtained e-mails under the Freedom of Information Act, says correspondence revealing Monsanto’s actions shows the “corporate control of science and how compliant some academics are.” The articles have become the latest flashpoint in an information war being waged over plant biotechnology. The articles in question appeared on the Genetic Literacy Project’s website in a series called “GMO - Beyond the Science.” Eric Sachs, who leads Monsanto’s scientific outreach, wrote to eight scientists to pen a series of briefs aimed at influencing “public policy, GM crop regulation and consumer acceptance.” Five of them obliged. University of Florida Professor Kevin Folta said he agreed to write “Anti-GMO Activism and Its Impact on Food Security” because communicating science to the public is his job. Folta has faced public criticism since the New York Times ... reported last month about his communications with Monsanto and a $25,000 donation to the science communication program he runs.
Corporations have poured money into universities to fund research for decades, but now, the debate over bioengineered foods has escalated into a billion-dollar food industry war. Companies like Monsanto are squaring off against major organic firms like Stonyfield Farm. Both sides have aggressively recruited academic researchers. The biotech industry has published dozens of articles, under the names of prominent academics, that in some cases were drafted by industry consultants. Monsanto and its industry partners have also passed out an undisclosed amount in special grants to scientists ... to help with “biotechnology outreach” and to travel around the country to defend genetically modified foods. The moves by Monsanto, in an alliance with the Biotechnology Industry Organization and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, are detailed in thousands of pages of emails that were at first requested by the nonprofit group U.S. Right to Know, which receives funding from the organic foods industry. The emails show how academics have shifted from researchers to actors in lobbying and corporate public relations campaigns. An inner circle of [biotech] industry consultants, lobbyists and executives ... devised strategy on how to block state efforts to mandate G.M.O. labeling. The opponents of genetically modified foods have used their own creative tactics, although their spending on lobbying and public relations amounts to a tiny fraction of that of biosciences companies.
Note: Read an article which takes it even deeper and shows what the NYT left out. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the corruption of science and the controversy surrounding GMOs.
Pediatrician Carla Nelson ... waited for the ambulance plane to take the infant from Waimea, on the island of Kauai, to the main children’s hospital in Honolulu. It was the fourth [severe heart malformation] she had seen in three years. There have been at least nine in five years, she says, shaking her head. That’s more than 10 times the national rate. Corn that’s been genetically modified to resist pesticides [is] a major cash crop on four of [Hawaii's] six main islands. In Kauai, chemical companies Dow, BASF, Syngenta and DuPont spray 17 times more pesticide per acre than on ordinary cornfields in the US mainland. About a fourth of the total are called Restricted Use Pesticides because of their harmfulness. Just in Kauai, 18 tons – mostly atrazine, paraquat (both banned in Europe) and chlorpyrifos – were applied in 2012. The World Health Organization this year announced that glyphosate, sold as Roundup, the most common of the non-restricted herbicides, is “probably carcinogenic in humans”. When the spraying is underway ... residents complain of stinging eyes, headaches and vomiting. At these times, many crowd the waiting rooms of the town’s main hospital, which was run until recently by Dow AgroSciences’ former chief lobbyist in Honolulu. The chemical companies that grow the corn ... refuse to disclose with any precision which chemicals they use, where and in what amounts, but they insist the pesticides are safe. Today, about 90% of industrial GMO corn grown in the US was originally developed in Hawaii.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
Food Forward: Urban Agriculture Across America is a half-hour, character-driven survey of urban farming across the country. John Mooney has a hydroponic rooftop farm on top of a ... building in the West Village of Manhattan. Next, Andrew Coté, President of the New York City Beekeepers Association hawks his honey at the Tomkin’s Square Farmer’s Market in lower Manhattan. Coté explains how urban beekeeping helps to pollinate the urban farms and community gardens scattered throughout the city. Leaving New York, we head to Milwaukee where ... Will Allen inspires a new generation of innovators. Will motivated the folks at Sweetwater Aquaponics into action, scaling up his Telapia farm to more of a commercial operation. We follow the flow of fish from 8,000 gallon tanks in an abandoned warehouse to plate at La Merenda restaurant. Moving on to West Oakland, we get an in-depth look at urban farmer Abeni Ramsey who came from the mean streets of West Oakland but is now running her own crew at City Girl Farms. Finally, we finish in the food deserts, Detroit, MI, where we spend time with eighteen-year-old Travis Roberts, who grew up in Detroit, watching the city watching the city struggle with increasing urban blight. In trouble and more than 100 pounds overweight, he was headed in the wrong direction. But since then, he’s discovered the city’s urban agriculture movement and found a new purpose in life and is out to become an urban chicken rancher.
Note: Don't miss the inspiring video on this exciting development at the link above.
Diet soda gives you a sugar rush far stronger than the granulated stuff in a sugar bowl ever could – and for no calories. But research is mounting that low-and no-calorie sweeteners may not be great choices for dieters. A recent study found that over nine years, diet-soda drinkers gained nearly triple the abdominal fat–3 in. (8 cm)–as those who didn’t drink diet soda. Though scientists are still puzzling over how this may happen, here’s what they think is going on. The most popular artificial sweetener in diet drinks ... is about 200 times sweeter than sugar without triggering a feeling of satiety. Bad things can happen when you strip sweetness of its power to satisfy: the link between eating and the role of calories in your body starts to crumble. It may also mess with your [digestive] microbes, [and] be bad for your heart. In a study based on dietary questionnaires of 9,500 people, those who said they drank one can of diet soda a day had a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome – a cluster of risk factors that can lead to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes – than those who didn’t drink diet soda. The study stopped short of drawing a cause-and-effect link, but the association surprised the authors, who called for more research.
Note: If you can't access this article on the Time website, you can read it here. What this article fails to mention is the copious amount of research and many researchers who have found that aspartame, which is the sweetener used in most diet drinks, can be highly hazardous to health. Read more on this important fact.
For decades, Monsanto and its enablers inside the USDA have denied the central tenets of evolutionary biology, namely natural selection and adaptation. Since the early 1980s, Monsanto has endlessly hyped genetically engineered (GE) crops they claim could reduce hunger, reduce pesticide use, and survive droughts. In reality, no such "miracle" crops exist. No significantly greater yielding crops, no more effective drought resistance crops. And ... around 85 percent of all genetically engineered crops in the United States and around the world have been engineered to withstand massive doses of herbicides, mostly Monsanto's Roundup. Each year 115 million more pounds of Roundup are spread on our farmlands because of these altered crops. Wouldn't that massive increase in Roundup use over that huge a portion of our cropland cause some weed populations to develop resistance? Of course. As a result, in less than 20 years, more than half of all U.S. farms have some Roundup resistant "superweeds," weeds that now infest 70 million acres of U.S farmland. A science-based, and safer, way forward is to ... use ecologically based weed control. There are proven organic and agroecological approaches that emphasize weed management rather than weed eradication, soil building rather than soil supplementing. Crop rotation and cover crops can return productive yields without ridding the land of genetic biodiversity, and could reduce herbicide use by 90 percent. So it's long past due that our government required real and rigorous science when regulating GE crops.
Note: Read more about how GMO technology has backfired, producing new "superweeds" and "superbugs" that threaten crop production. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on GMO risks and how these are covered up.
Women who drink the most diet sodas may also be more likely to develop heart disease and even to die, according to a new study. Researchers found women who drank two or more diet drinks a day were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack or other cardiovascular “event,” and 50 percent more likely to die, than women who rarely touch such drinks. The findings, being presented at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, don’t suggest that the drinks themselves are killers. But women who toss back too many diet sodas may be trying to make up for unhealthy habits, experts say. “Our study suggests an association between higher diet drink consumption and mortality,” said Dr. Ankur Vyas, a cardiovascular disease expert at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinic, who led the study. Research has long shown that artificially sweetened drinks are not health drinks. While they may help people avoid more dangerous sugary sodas, studies show they don't help people lose weight. Vyas’s team studied nearly 60,000 middle-aged women taking part in a decade-long study of women’s health. They filled out a questionnaire on food and drinks as part of the study, including detailed questions on diet sodas and diet fruit drinks. After just under nine years, the researchers checked to see what happened to the women's’ health. They found that 8.5 percent of the women who drank two or more diet drinks a day had some sort of heart disease. The women who drank the most drinks were also more likely to smoke, to be overweight, to have diabetes and to have high blood pressure, Vyas noted.
Note: What this article fails to mention is that aspartame, used in most diet drinks, has been shown to be dangerous for health. Explore the mountain of evidence showing this. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources.
Most everyone who has ever selected their fruits and vegetables from the "organic" section while grocery shopping probably thought they were doing something good for their bodies and the environment. Yet the question of whether organic foods are in fact more nutritious than their conventionally grown counterparts remains a topic of heated scientific debate. On [July 14], the British Journal of Nutrition published research that disputed the notion that organic foods are essentially no more healthful than conventional foods. After reviewing 343 studies on the topic, researchers in Europe and the United States concluded that organic crops and organic-crop-based foods contained higher concentrations of antioxidants on average than conventionally grown foods. At the same time, the researchers found that conventional foods contained greater concentrations of residual pesticides and the toxic metal cadmium. "This shows clearly that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains deliver tangible nutrition and food safety benefits," said study coauthor Charles Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University's Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Note: Read more about this landmark study in this article.
Dr. Andres Carrasco, an Argentine neuroscientist who challenged pesticide regulators to re-examine one of the world’s most widely used weed killers, has died. He was 67. Dr. Carrasco, a molecular biologist at the University of Buenos Aires and past-president of Argentina’s CONICET science council, was a widely published expert in embryonic development. His 2010 study on glyphosate [became] a major public relations challenge for the ... Monsanto Company. Glyphosate is the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup brand of pesticides, which have combined with genetically modified “Roundup-Ready” plants to dramatically increase the spread of industrial agriculture around the world. [The technology's] spread has increasingly exposed people to glyphosate and other chemicals. Dr. Carrasco, principal investigator at his university’s Cellular Biology and Neuroscience Institute, told The Associated Press in a 2013 interview that he had heard reports of increasing birth defects in farming communities after genetically modified crops were approved for use in Argentina, and so decided to test the impact of glyphosate on frog and chicken embryos in his laboratory. His team’s study, published in the peer-reviewed Chemical Research in Toxicology journal, found that injecting very low doses of glyphosate into embryos can change levels of retinoic acid, causing the same sort of spinal defects that doctors are increasingly registering in communities where farm chemicals are ubiquitous. “If it’s possible to reproduce this in a laboratory, surely what is happening in the field is much worse,” Dr. Carrasco told the AP.
Note: For further studies showing the grave dangers of Roundup and Glyphosate, see this article.
Vermont's governor on [May 8] signed a bill into law that will require the labeling of genetically modified foods -- hailing it as the first such law in the nation. Under the new law, food offered for retail sale that is entirely or partially produced with genetic engineering must be labeled as such by July 2016. "Vermonters take our food and how it is produced seriously, and we believe we have a right to know what's in the food we buy," said Gov. Peter Shumlin. "More than 60 countries have already restricted or labeled these foods, and now one state -- Vermont -- will also ensure that we know what's in the food we buy and serve our families." In the absence of federal action, other states have introduced similar legislation or ballot initiatives, according to the non-profit Center for Food Safety. Maine and Connecticut passed laws requiring labeling, but they won't go into effect until other states pass GMO-labeling laws. Vermont is the first to pass a "no strings attached" bill, the watchdog group said. Supporters of the law expect it will be challenged in court. "I can make no predictions or promises about how the courts will ultimately rule but I can promise that my office will mount a vigorous and zealous defense of the law that has so much support from Vermont consumers," said Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service approved a non-GMO label for meat and liquid egg products in June, the first time the department has approved such a label from a third party. GMO foods were approved for human consumption in 1995.
Note: For more on the major risks from GMO foods, see the deeply revealing summary available here. For many major media articles laying bare the serious risks and dangers of GMOs in our food, click here.
Vermont on [May 8] became the first state in the nation to require the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Gov. Peter Shumlin signed that mandate into law on Thursday afternoon, saying in a statement “we believe we have a right to know what’s in the food we buy.” The new law represents a significant victory for advocates who have for years pushed such measures at the state and local level. But there remains one more hurdle to overcome: a likely lawsuit. Legislators, officials and advocates are preparing for the state to be sued over the new law. Last month, state Attorney General Bill Sorrell told Vermont Public Radio that he would be “very surprised” if the state isn’t sued. And officials were so sure of a challenge that the measure itself creates a $1.5 million legal defense fund, to be paid for with settlements won by the state. “The threat of a lawsuit worked for a while, but now it doesn’t work anymore,” says Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association, whose organization has for years worked with activists and lawmakers in Vermont on the issue. At least 25 states have considered such legislation, according to a recent report on labeling requirements from the nonprofit Council for Agricultural Science and Technology. And advocates are hopeful they will get a measure on the Oregon ballot this year. Proponents argue that the science behind genetically modified food is far from conclusive and ask why consumers should take risks without knowing what they’re eating. If companies truly stand behind the safety of GMO foods, they shouldn’t worry about having to identify them, advocates for labeling argue.
Note: For many major media articles laying bare the serious risks and dangers of GMOs in our food, click here. For more on the major risks from GMO foods, see the deeply revealing summary available here.
In ... this bedroom community outside Phoenix, amid precision-cut lawns and Craftsman-style homes, lambs caper in common green areas, chickens scratch in a citrus grove and residents roam rows of heirloom vegetables to see what might be good for dinner. The neighborhood is called Agritopia, and it’s one of a growing number of so-called agrihoods, residential developments where a working farm is the central feature, in the same way that other communities may cluster around a golf course, pool or fitness center. The real estate bust in 2008 halted new construction, but with the recovery, developers are again breaking ground on farm-focused tracts. At least a dozen projects across the country are thriving, enlisting thousands of home buyers who crave access to open space, verdant fields and fresh food. “I hear from developers all the time about this,” said Ed McMahon, a senior fellow for sustainable development at the Urban Land Institute. Sixteen of Agritopia’s 160 acres are certified organic farmland, with row crops (artichokes to zucchini), fruit trees (citrus, nectarine, peach, apple, olive and date) and livestock (chickens and sheep). Fences gripped by grapevines and blackberry bushes separate the farm from the community’s 452 single-family homes, each with a wide front porch and sidewalks close enough to encourage conversation. The hub of neighborhood life is a small square overlooking the farm, with a coffeehouse, farm-to-table restaurant and honor-system farm stand. The square is also where residents line up on Wednesday evenings to claim their bulging boxes of just-harvested produce, eggs and honey.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Vermont has raised the stakes in the debate over genetically modified foods by becoming the first state to pass a bill requiring that they be labeled as such in the grocery aisle, making the move despite the opposition of the powerful U.S. food industry. The Vermont bill says genetically modified foods "potentially pose risks to health, safety, agriculture, and the environment" and includes $1.5 million for implementation and defense against lawsuits expected from the food and biotech industries. It's unclear how GMO labeling might affect consumers' wallets or food companies' bottom line if shoppers reject labeled foods. The labels will say "produced with genetic engineering" for packaged raw foods, or "partially produced with genetic engineering" or "may be produced with genetic engineering" for processed food that contains products of genetic engineering. Meat and dairy would be exempt. A national New York Times poll in January 2013 found that 93 percent of respondents said foods containing GMOs should be labeled. Twenty-nine other states have proposed bills recently to require GMO labeling, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. More than 60 countries require such labeling, according to the Vermont Right to Know campaign. Some farmers in Vermont, known for its organic food operations, see the bill's passage as a David-vs.-Goliath victory. "This vote is a reflection of years of work from a strong grass-roots base of Vermonters who take their food and food sovereignty seriously and do not take kindly to corporate bullies," Will Allen, manager of Cedar Circle Farm in Thetford, said.
Note: For more on the good reasons to require GMO labels on foods, see the excellent summary of the risks from GMOs available here.
Jeffrey M. Smith, author of Genetic Roulette: The Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods and founding executive director of The Institute for Responsible Technology, a leading source of GMO-health-risk information, says several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with genetically modified food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. In fact, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine has asked physicians to advise all patients to avoid genetically modified foods altogether. Ready to go GMO free? Here are 10 ways to shop smarter: 1. Go organic. The USDA National Organic Standards prohibit GMOs, so shopping organic is a great way to avoid them. 2. Load up on fruits and veggies. Most fresh produce is non-GMO, says Smith, but zucchini, yellow summer squash, edamame, sweet corn and papaya from Hawaii or China are considered high risk and are best avoided. Only buy those high-risk fruits and vegetables if they are labeled "organic" or "non-GMO," he advises. 3. Look for the non-GMO-verified seal. Since GMOs require no labeling, this seal is one of the best ways to tell when foods are free of genetic modification. 4. Join the Tipping Point Campaign. This network of local activists is working to educate communities on the dangers of GMOs. 5. Beware of additives. The five most common GMOs -- corn, canola, soy, cotton and sugar beets -- often end up as additives (in the form of corn syrup, oil, sugar, flavoring agents or thickeners) in packaged foods.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
Scientists have recently begun to investigate [whether] food can have as powerful an impact on the mind as it does on the body. Research exploring the link between diet and mental health “is a very new field; the first papers only came out a few years ago,” said Michael Berk, a professor of psychiatry at the Deakin University School of Medicine in Australia. “But the results are unusually consistent, and they show a link between diet quality and mental health.” “Diet quality” refers to the kinds of foods that people eat, how often they eat them and how much of them they eat. In several studies ... Berk and his collaborators have found lower rates of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder among those who consumed a traditional diet of meat and vegetables than among people who followed a modern Western diet heavy with processed and fast foods or even a health-food diet of tofu and salads. “Traditional diets — the kinds of foods your grandmother would have recognized — have been associated with a lower risk of mental health issues,” Berk said. The association between diet and mental well-being may start even before birth. A 2013 study of more than 23,000 mothers and their children, led by Berk’s frequent collaborator and Deakin colleague Felice Jacka, suggests a link between a mother’s consumption of sweets and processed foods during pregnancy and behavioral and mental health issues in her child at age 5.
Note: For a treasure trove of great news articles which will inspire you to make a difference, click here.
The authors of a study calling for GM crops to be fast-tracked into Britain’s farms and kitchens all have links to the industry. The report was presented as the work of ‘independent’ scientists and was published on [March 13] by a government advisory body. It was used to support a bid to speed up the development of the controversial crops in the UK, but it has emerged that all five authors have a vested interest in promoting GM crops and food – and some are part-funded by the industry. Critics of GM [have] described the report as ‘biased and downright dangerous’, and accused the biotech giants and the Government of mounting a crude propaganda campaign to overturn public opposition. The academics behind the study were chosen by the Council for Science and Technology, the body that advises the Prime Minister on science policy issues. They include Professor Sir David Baulcombe, from Cambridge University, who works as a consultant for GM firm Syngenta, which gives his department research funding. Syngenta is behind a genetically modified maize or corn, called GA21, which could go into UK farms as early as next spring, making it Britain’s first commercially grown GM crop. Also on the list is Professor Jonathan Jones, of the Sainsbury Laboratory, which is at the centre of Britain’s GM research. It is part-funded by former Labour science minister, Lord Sainsbury, who is one of the country’s biggest supporters of the technology. Another co-author was Professor Jim Dunwell, of the University of Reading. He was a founder member of CropGen, which describes its mission as ‘to make the case for GM crops and foods’
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here. For an excellent summary of the risks and dangers from GMO foods, click here.
Consumers are being sold food including mozzarella that is less than half real cheese, ham on pizzas that is either poultry or "meat emulsion", and frozen prawns that are 50% water, according to tests by a public laboratory. The checks on hundreds of food samples, which were taken in West Yorkshire, revealed that more than a third were not what they claimed to be, or were mislabelled in some way. Testers also discovered beef mince adulterated with pork or poultry, and even a herbal slimming tea that was neither herb nor tea but glucose powder laced with a withdrawn prescription drug for obesity at 13 times the normal dose. A third of fruit juices sampled were not what they claimed or had labelling errors. Two contained additives that are not permitted in the EU, including brominated vegetable oil, which is designed for use in flame retardants and linked to behavioural problems in rats at high doses. Experts said they fear the alarming findings from 38% of 900 sample tests by West Yorkshire councils were representative of the picture nationally, with the public at increasing risk as budgets to detect fake or mislabelled foods plummet. In one case, tests revealed that the "vodka" had been made not from alcohol derived from agricultural produce, as required, but from isopropanol, used in antifreeze and as an industrial solvent. Many of the samples were collected from fast-food restaurants, independent retailers and wholesalers; some were from larger stores and manufacturers.
Note: For more on corporate corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action ... that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search. Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. Farm owners and residents who live on the property [said] that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including "grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises." The raid on the Garden of Eden farm appears to be the latest example of police departments using SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics to enforce less serious crimes. In recent years, SWAT teams have been called out to perform regulatory alcohol inspections at a bar in Manassas Park, Va.; to raid bars for suspected underage drinking in New Haven, Conn.; to perform license inspections at barbershops in Orlando, Fla.; and to raid a gay bar in Atlanta where police suspected customers and employees were having public sex. A federal investigation later found that Atlanta police had made up the allegations of public sex. Other raids have been conducted on food co-ops and Amish farms suspected of selling unpasteurized milk products. The federal government has for years been conducting raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states that have legalized them.
Note: The author of this report, Radley Balko, is a senior writer and investigative reporter for The Huffington Post. He is also the author of the new book, Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces. For an ABC News report on this disturbing raid, click here.
Take another look at that food label. An ingredient or two may have vanished. As Americans pay closer attention to what they eat, food and beverage companies are learning that unfamiliar ingredients can invite criticism from online petitions and bloggers. The risk of damaging publicity has proven serious enough that some manufacturers have reformulated top-selling products to remove mysterious, unpronounceable components that could draw suspicion. Earlier this year, for example, PepsiCo Inc. said it would stop using brominated vegetable oil in Gatorade and find a another way to evenly distribute color in the sports drink. Last year, Starbucks said it would stop using a red dye made of crushed bugs based on comments it received “through a variety of means,” including an online petition, and switch to a tomato-based extract. Kraft Foods plans to replace artificial dyes with colors derived from natural spices in select varieties of its macaroni and cheese, a nod to the feedback it’s hearing from parents. Ali Dibadj, a Bernstein analyst who covers the packaged food and beverage industry, says the changes reflect a shift from “democratization to activism” by consumers. “It used to be that people would just decide not to buy the product. Now they’re actually agitating for change,” Dibadj said. “There’s a bullhorn — which is the Internet — so you can get a lot of people involved very quickly.” In the past, a customer complaint about an ingredient may have been addressed with a boilerplate letter from corporate headquarters. But now people can go online to share their concerns with thousands of like-minded individuals.
The federal government paid $11.3 million in taxpayer-funded farm subsidies from 1995 to 2012 to 50 billionaires or businesses in which they have some form of ownership, according to a report released [on November 7] by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based research organization. The billionaires who received the subsidies or owned companies that did include the Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen; the investment titan Charles Schwab; and S. Truett Cathy, owner of Chick-fil-A. The billionaires who got the subsidies have a collective net worth of $316 billion, according to Forbes magazine. The Working Group said its findings were likely to underestimate the total farm subsidies that went to the billionaires on the Forbes 400 list because many of them also received crop insurance subsidies. The authors of the report said it is timely, given that lawmakers are debating a House proposal that would cut nearly $40 billion over 10 years from the food stamp program, which helps provide food for nearly 47 million people. A Senate provision would cut $4.5 billion over the same period. A report released [on November 6] by the Center for American Progress ... found that food stamps kept about five million people above the poverty line last year. The food stamp program was cut by about $5 billion on Nov. 1 when a provision in the 2009 stimulus bill that added funding for the program expired. “The irony is that farm subsidies are going to billionaires at the same time that there are proposals to kick three to five million people off of food stamps,” said Scott Faber, vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Want to ensure that miracle drugs can no longer perform miracles? Then do what some physicians and industrial livestock farmers have done for years: Overprescribe antibiotics to people, and use them cavalierly in farm animals to promote growth or prevent infections before they even occur. Last month, federal officials quantified that danger: At least 23,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which said that's a conservative figure. For more than four decades, scientists and government health agencies have warned about the danger this poses for development of drug-resistant bugs. Yet last week, the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future reported that little progress has been made on limiting the use of antibiotics on farms. The agriculture industry maintains that the connection is murky between antibiotic use in animals and drug resistance in people. On the other side of the debate is a long list of scientists, public health officials and veterinarians whose views carry more sense and less self-interest. In 2011 alone, 1.9 million pounds of penicillins and 12.3 million pounds of tetracyclines were sold for use in food animals. It's hard to believe that wouldn't have an effect. According to the CDC, humans can pick up drug-resistant bugs through contact with animals or by eating contaminated food. But neither Congress nor the FDA has acted to curtail the broad dangers. The well-financed agriculture industry has won most rounds. And regulators have dragged their feet.
Note: For more on important health issues, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Americans throw away 40 percent of the food they buy, often because of misleading expiration dates that have nothing to do with safety, said a study released [on September 18] by Harvard University Law School and the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. The report said 90 percent of Americans toss good food into the garbage because they mistakenly think that "sell by," "best before," "use by" or "packed on" dates on food containers indicate safety. One-fifth of consumers, the report said, "always" throw away food based on package dates. In fact, "sell by" dates are used by retailers for inventory control. "Best before" or "use by" dates usually reflect manufacturer estimates of peak quality. While some labels are intended to indicate freshness, none of them reflects edibility or safety, said Ted Labuza, a food science professor at the University of Minnesota who collaborated with the authors. "If food looks rotten and smells bad, throw it away, but just because it reaches a certain date does not mean the food is unsafe," Labuza said. "I don't know of any food poisoning outbreak that came from people eating food that was past its shelf-life date." The report estimated the value of food tossed away at $165 billion a year. Food waste is a big source of greenhouse gases. Wasting food also squanders vast quantities of water, land, fertilizers, petroleum, packaging and other resources that go into producing it. About a quarter of all fresh water used in the United States goes into the making of food that is thrown away, the report said.
About half of all Americans take a daily multivitamin as a way to improve their health and cut their risk of diseases. But experts now say that - in almost all cases - the best way to get a full dose of vitamins is from nutritious foods rather than from pills. There is a lot of scientific evidence showing diets rich in produce, nuts, whole grains and fish promote health and decrease risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, according to a new "Vitamins and Minerals" report from Harvard Medical School. On the other hand, studies involving vitamin supplements - and there have been many - show mixed results. In fact, after reviewing a large body of research in 2006, the National Institutes of Health decided not to definitively rule for or against multivitamins' ability to prevent diseases. So what are the quickest ways to boost the vitamin content in your meals? The report identifies about three dozen foods that have the most nutrients per calorie, including avocados, berries, cantaloupe, dark leafy greens, eggs, yogurt, lentils, beans, almonds, fish, chicken and turkey. And although most people think of citrus as the best source of vitamin C, a red pepper has twice as much as an orange. Similarly, potatoes and white beans have more potassium than bananas. The final advice from Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the report's editor: "Spend your time and money improving your diet, which is far more likely to pay off in the long run than popping a pill."
The French researcher who caused a scientific storm when he claimed to show that some GM food led to tumours and cancers in rats has accused the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) of "recklessly endangering public health" by not demanding long-term testing of the foods. In a series of parliamentary and public meetings held this week in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff, Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini has challenged UK politicians and safety authorities to review the way safety is assessed. Séralini, a molecular biologist at Caen University, said: "Our research found severe toxicity from GM maize and [Monsanto pesticide] Roundup. The British Food Standards Agency has uncritically accepted the European Food Safety Authority's dismissal of the study, even though many of EFSA's experts have been exposed as having conflicts of interest with the GM industry. At the very least, the British government should demand long-term mandatory safety testing on all GM foods before they are released onto the market," he said. "The British scientific authorities are deliberately misleading their government and are recklessly endangering public health in ignoring the findings of our research." Séralini's study found that rats developed much higher levels of cancers and died earlier than controls when fed a diet of Monsanto's Roundup-tolerant GM maize NK603 for two years, or were exposed to Roundup over the same period. The usual industry tests last for 90 days.
Note: For more on the risks from GMO foods, see the highly informative summary available here.
Last week, the European Commission voted to place a two-year moratorium on most uses of neonicotinoid pesticides, on the suspicion that they're contributing to the global crisis in honeybee health. Might [that] inspire the US Environmental Protection Agency to make a similar move? The answer is no. The EU move will have no bearing on the EPA's own reviews of the pesticides, which aren't scheduled for release until 2016 at the earliest. Other food-related substances and practices that are banned in Europe [are] green-lighted [in the US]. 1. Atrazine: A "potent endocrine disruptor," Syngenta's popular corn herbicide has been linked to a range of reproductive problems at extremely low doses in both amphibians and humans, and it commonly leaches out of farm fields and into people's drinking water. What Europe did: Banned it in 2003. US status: EPA: "Atrazine will begin registration review, EPA's periodic reevaluation program for existing pesticides, in mid-2013." 2. Arsenic in chicken, turkey, and pig feed. 3. "Poultry litter" in cow feed. 4. Chlorine washes for poultry carcasses. 5. Antibiotics as growth promoters on livestock farms. 6. Ractopomine and other pharmaceutical growth enhancers in animal feed. 7. Gestation crates.
Note: For each numbered substance or practice, this article indicates the action taken by the EU and the inaction by the US government. For an article that gives more information on all of this and two additional banned practices, click here.
Can food be free, fresh and easily accessible? That’s the bold question that the city of Seattle is hoping to answer with a new experimental farm not far from the city’s downtown that will have fruits and vegetables for anyone to harvest this fall. On Beacon Hill, just south of central Seattle, landscape developers and a few affordable-food advocates are building an edible food forest. Everything grown in the area, from the tree canopies to the roots, will be edible. And it’ll be open around the clock to anyone who wants to come and pick some fresh blueberries or pears. In its first phase, the farm will be 1.5 acres. But if it’s successful, the public land it’ll sit on—currently owned by Seattle Public Utilities—will be able to accommodate 5.5 more acres of growth. One thing that’s striking about the idea (other than the idea in itself to have essentially a public farm that anyone can use—or abuse) is how the [crop] selection came together. Many are expected: apples, berries, row vegetables like lettuce or tomatoes. But others are pretty far out. A large Asian community in the area suggested things like Asian pears and honeyberries. A European influence led to the planting of medlar trees. The concept is modeled on permaculture, a design system and school of thought aimed at returning some land to its own devices. Offering people free, fresh food is one motivation, but making the land useful and ecologically enriched is the larger goal.
[In 2012,] financial speculator Goldman Sachs, the archetypal villain of the global economic meltdown, bailed out by US taxpayers to the tune of $5.5bn ... made an estimated $400m from speculating on food. The World Bank estimated in 2010 that 44 million people were pushed into poverty because of high food prices, and that speculation is one of the main causes. Since Goldman led the drive to deregulate commodity markets in the 1990s ... they've been at the vanguard of creating and promoting complex commodity instruments, from which they've raked in huge profits. Wallace Turbeville, a former vice president and the inventor of commodity index funds, has been outing the company's methods. He says that in his time at Goldman, investment increased from $3bn in 2003 to $260bn in 2008, and commodity prices rose dramatically during the same period, increasing from 2006 to 2008 by an average of 71%. In 1996, speculators held 12% of the positions on the Chicago wheat market, with most of the market being made up of the legitimate users of food – from farmers to producers. But the legitimate hedging element of commodity markets has virtually disappeared in the intervening years. By 2011, pure speculators made up a staggering 61% of the market. Of course, Goldman Sachs isn't the only player, but it is certainly the largest. For several years, it was hotly debated whether speculation in food commodities drives up prices. But the evidence now firmly says it does, and that there's little correlation between rising prices and actual supply and demand. There are now well over 100 studies which agree.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on financial corruption, click here.
U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for overseas lobbying that promotes controversial biotech crops developed by U.S.-based Monsanto Co and other seed makers, a report issued on [May 14] said. A review of 926 diplomatic cables of correspondence to and from the U.S. State Department and embassies in more than 100 countries found that State Department officials actively promoted the commercialization of specific biotech seeds, according to the report issued by Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer protection group. The officials tried to quash public criticism of particular companies and facilitated negotiations between foreign governments and seed companies such as Monsanto over issues like patents and intellectual property, the report said. The cables show U.S. diplomats supporting Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, in foreign countries even after it paid $1.5 million in fines after being charged with bribing an Indonesian official and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 2005. One 2009 cable shows the embassy in Spain seeking "high-level U.S. government intervention" at the "urgent request" of Monsanto to combat biotech crop opponents there. The report covered cables from 2005-2009 that were released by Wikileaks in 2010. "It really goes beyond promoting the U.S.'s biotech industry and agriculture," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. "It really gets down to twisting the arms of countries and working to undermine local democratic movements that may be opposed to biotech crops."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
Food & Water Watch ... spent months looking at the extent to which the US State Department is working on behalf of the GM seed industry to make sure that biotech crops are served up abroad whether the world wants them or not. Between 2007 and 2009, annual cables were distributed to "encourage the use of agricultural biotechnology", directing US embassies to "pursue an active biotech agenda". There was a comprehensive communications campaign aimed to "promote understanding and acceptance of the technology" ... in light of the worldwide backlash against GM crops. The State Department worked to diminish trade barriers to the benefit of seed companies, and encouraged the embassies to "publicize the benefits of agbiotech as a development tool". Monsanto was a great beneficiary of the State Department's taxpayer-funded diplomacy: the company appeared in 6.1% of the biotech cables analyzed between 2005 and 2009 from 21 countries. The cables also show extensive lobbying against in-country efforts to require labeling of GM foods. The US government is now quietly negotiating major trade deals with Europe and the countries of the Pacific Rim that would force countries to accept biotech imports, commercialize biotech crops and prevent the labeling of GM foods. The vast influence that Monsanto and the biotech seed industry have on our foreign affairs is just one tentacle of a beast comprised by a handful of huge corporations who wield enormous power over most food policy in the United States.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
A Wisconsin dairy farmer is set to go on trial for a strange offense: selling raw milk to a group of consumers who were members of a private buyer’s club. So in many parts of America, it’s basically legal to grow, sell, and smoke pot. But you can go to jail for selling people fresh milk? Wisconsin dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger, a 41-year-old father of ten, will go on trial later this month. Hershberger started a private buyer’s club for raw milk in 2003 after “some friends from town—who were retired farmers—wanted to continue getting this raw milk that they had for years. By word of mouth ... it grew from there.” By the time of his arrest in 2010, over 100 families were members. Technically, these club members were not customers of the farm, but partners: they legally leased animals from Hershberger, and in return for his family boarding and caring for their cattle on his 157 acres of farmland, they paid certain agreed-upon fees each time they came to pick up the products of those cattle—namely, raw milk. So Hershberger felt he didn’t need a license as a retail food establishment, because there was no retail going on; the milk already belonged to the club members. Hershberger grew up milking cows by hand on a small Amish dairy farm, and this hold order violated his religious values: though no longer Amish, he’s a non-denominational Christian, and opposes waste.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government corruption, click here.
On one covert video, farm workers illegally burn the ankles of Tennessee walking horses with chemicals. Another captures workers in Wyoming punching and kicking pigs and flinging piglets into the air. And at one of the country’s largest egg suppliers, a video shows hens caged alongside rotting bird corpses, while workers burn and snap off the beaks of young chicks. Each video ... drew a swift response: Federal prosecutors in Tennessee charged the horse trainer and other workers, who have pleaded guilty, with violating the Horse Protection Act. Local authorities in Wyoming charged nine farm employees with cruelty to animals. And the egg supplier, which operates in Iowa and other states, lost one of its biggest customers, McDonald’s, which said the video played a part in its decision. But a dozen or so state legislatures have had a different reaction: They proposed or enacted bills that would make it illegal to covertly videotape livestock farms, or apply for a job at one without disclosing ties to animal rights groups. They have also drafted measures to require such videos to be given to the authorities almost immediately, which activists say would thwart any meaningful undercover investigation of large factory farms. Critics call them “Ag-Gag” bills. Some of the legislation appears inspired by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a business advocacy group with hundreds of state representatives from farm states as members. One of the group’s model bills, “The Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act,” prohibits filming or taking pictures on livestock farms to “defame the facility or its owner.” Violators would be placed on a “terrorist registry.”
Widely used pesticides have been found in new research to block a part of the brain that bees use for learning, rendering some of them unable to perform the essential task of associating scents with food. Bees exposed to two kinds of pesticide were slower to learn or completely forgot links between floral scents and nectar. These effects could make it harder for bees to forage among flowers for food, thereby threatening their survival and reducing the pollination of crops and wild plants. The findings add to existing research that neonicotinoid pesticides are contributing to the decline in bee populations. The new findings on the effect of pesticides on bee brains showed that within 20 minutes of exposure to neonicotinoids the neurons in the major learning centre of the brain stopped firing. Christopher Connolly at the University of Dundee, who led the peer-reviewed work published in the online journal Nature Communications, said it was the first to show the pesticides had a direct impact on pollinator brain physiology. A parallel peer-reviewed study on the behaviour of bees subjected to the same insecticides found the bees were slower to learn or completely forgot important associations between floral scent and food rewards. "Disruption in this important function has profound implications for honeybee colony survival, because bees that cannot learn will not be able to find food," said Dr Geraldine Wright, at Newcastle University, who led the work.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on GMOs, click here.
Whole Foods Market, the grocery chain, on [March 8] became the first retailer in the United States to require labeling [by 2018] of all genetically modified foods sold in its stores, a move that some experts said could radically alter the food industry. The announcement ricocheted around the food industry and excited proponents of labeling. “Fantastic,” said Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, an organic advocacy group that favors labeling. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the trade group that represents major food companies and retailers, issued a statement opposing the move. The labeling requirements announced by Whole Foods will include its 339 stores in the United States and Canada. Since labeling is already required in the European Union, products in its seven stores in Britain are already marked if they contain genetically modified ingredients. The labels currently used show that a product has been verified as free of genetically engineered ingredients by the Non GMO Project, a nonprofit certification organization. Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It, a campaign for a federal requirement to label foods containing genetically modified ingredients, called the Whole Foods decision a “game changer.” He compared the potential impact of the Whole Foods announcement to Wal-Mart’s decision several years ago to stop selling milk from cows treated with growth hormone. Today, only a small number of milk cows are injected with the hormone.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on GMO labeling and the dangers posed by GMO foods, click here.
When Joshua Williams was 5 years old, his grandmother gave him $20 to spend on whatever he wanted. "My mom and I were in the car on the way to church, and I was thinking about all the fun things I could buy," he says. But then, while waiting at a red light, he looked out the window and saw a homeless man begging for money. Joshua leaned forward and said he wanted to give the man the $20 so he could get a meal. "I suggested that we go buy the man some food," says his mom, Claudia McLean. "But Joshua pointed out, 'What if he doesn't like what we get him?' From that moment on, he was pestering me about how we could help more people." Soon, the family began cooking meals every Saturday to distribute to the homeless. Still, says Joshua, 11, "we only had so much food, and I knew people were still hungry." In 2007, Joshua and his mom established Joshua's Heart Foundation, which has since given away 400,000 pounds of food through a variety of initiatives. But the foundation's backpack program, which discreetly issues food-filled packs to needy schoolchildren before weekends, is closest to the seventh grader's heart. "When kids don't have to worry whether they'll have dinner that night, they can concentrate better, do better in school," he says. The program benefits 50 kids in two Miami-area schools, but Joshua hopes to expand it via corporate donations (Walmart has given $20,000). The foundation now has 700 volunteers, plus a Junior Advisory Board over which he presides. "When I look at the faces of the people we're helping and see how happy they are, that's my favorite moment," he says.
Note: For an inspiring article on how Howard Buffett (son of billionaire Warren Buffett) is doing incredible work to end hunger worldwide, click here. For deeply inspiring reports from major media sources, click here
A genetically modified cow whose milk lacks a substance that causes allergic reactions in people has been created by scientists in New Zealand. In their first year of life, two or three in every hundred infants are allergic to a whey protein in milk called BLG. The researchers engineered the cow, called Daisy, to produce milk that doesn't contain the protein. While the genetic alteration slashed levels of BLG protein in the cow's milk to undetectable levels, it more than doubled the concentrations of other milk proteins called caseins. The cow was created with the same cloning procedure that led to Dolly the sheep in 1996. Most of the differences between cow and human milk do not cause problems for people who consume it, but BLG or beta-lactoglobulin protein, which is found in milk from cows and other ruminants, is a major cause of allergic reactions. To make Daisy, scientists took a cow skin cell and genetically modified it to produce molecules that block the manufacture of BLG protein. The nucleus of this cell was then transferred into a cow egg that had its own nucleus removed. The reconstituted egg was grown in the lab until it formed what is called a blastocyst, a ball of around 100 cells, and then transplanted into the womb of a foster cow. The cloning technique is not efficient. Of around 100 blastocysts the scientists implanted into cows, more than half of the pregnancies failed early on, and only one live calf, Daisy, was born. One question the New Zealand team is working on now is why Daisy was born without a tail. The cloning process is most likely to blame for the birth defect.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), click here.
It's becoming clear that we can grow all the food we need, and profitably, with far fewer chemicals. Conventional agriculture can shed much of its chemical use - if it wants to. What may be the most important agricultural study this year ... was done on land owned by Iowa State University called the Marsden Farm. On 22 acres of it, beginning in 2003, researchers set up three plots: one replicated the typical Midwestern cycle of planting corn one year and then soybeans the next, along with its routine mix of chemicals. On another, they planted a three-year cycle that included oats; the third plot added a four-year cycle and alfalfa. The longer rotations also integrated the raising of livestock, whose manure was used as fertilizer. The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn't reduce profits by a single cent. In short, there was only upside - and no downside at all - associated with the longer rotations. There was an increase in labor costs, but remember that profits were stable. So this is a matter of paying people for their knowledge and smart work instead of paying chemical companies for poisons. And it's a high-stakes game; according to the Environmental Protection Agency, about five billion pounds of pesticides are used each year in the United States.
California’s Proposition 37, which would require that genetically modified (G.M.) foods carry a label, has the potential ... to change the politics of food not just in California but nationally too. Genetically modified foods don’t offer the eater any benefits whatsoever — only a potential, as yet undetermined risk. Monsanto and its allies have fought the labeling of genetically modified food ... vigorously since 1992, when the industry managed to persuade the [F.D.A.] — over the objection of its own scientists — that the new crops were “substantially equivalent” to the old and so did not need to be labeled, much less regulated. The F.D.A. policy was co-written by a lawyer whose former firm worked for Monsanto. More than 60 other countries have seen fit to label genetically modified food, including those in the European Union, Japan, Russia and China. Monsanto and DuPont, the two leading merchants of genetically modified seed, have invested more than $12 million to defeat Prop 37. Americans have been eating genetically engineered food for 18 years, and as supporters of the technology are quick to point out, we don’t seem to be dropping like flies. But they miss the point. The fight over labeling G.M. food is not foremost about food safety or environmental harm, legitimate though these questions are. The fight is about the power of Big Food. Monsanto has become the symbol of everything people dislike about industrial agriculture: corporate control of the regulatory process; lack of transparency (for consumers) and lack of choice (for farmers); an intensifying rain of pesticides; and the monopolization of seeds, which is to say, of the genetic resources on which all of humanity depends.
Note: To learn more about the revolving door between Monsanto and the FDA, click here. To read about many suppressed scientific studies which showed the GM foods were often harmful and sometimes even lethal to a variety of lab animals, click here. To watch a powerful video showing clearly how Monsanto has attacked those who will not use their GM seeds, click here.
Russia's consumer rights watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, said ... it has suspended the import and use of genetically modified corn made by Monsanto Co. following a study's allegations that the crop causes cancer. Rospotrebnadzor said the country's Institute of Nutrition has been asked to assess the validity of the study, while the European Commission's Directorate General for Health & Consumers has also been contacted to explain the European Union's position. The study, conducted by the University of Caen in France, [found] that rats fed over a two-year period with the U.S. chemical company's genetically modified NK603 corn, developed more tumors and other severe diseases than a test group fed with regular corn. The study also [found] that rats fed with NK603 and exposed to Monsanto's Roundup weed killer suffered from more pathologies than the test group. Last week Monsanto said it did not think the French study would affect its license to export the NK603 to Europe but would wait to hear from the European Food Safety Authority, or EFSA, which has been asked by the European Commission to also look into the research.
Note: For a powerful summary of the risks to health from GMO foods, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on GMOs, click here. For a powerful 13-minute video revealing the disturbing results of the above-mentioned scientific study showing how GM corn greatly increased cancer incidence in rats, click here.
French scientists said on [September 19] that rats fed on Monsanto's genetically modified corn or exposed to its top-selling weedkiller suffered tumors and multiple organ damage. Gilles-Eric Seralini of the University of Caen and colleagues said rats fed on a diet containing NK603 - a seed variety made tolerant to dousings of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller - or given water with Roundup at levels permitted in the United States, died earlier than those on a standard diet. The animals on the GM diet suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Food and Chemical Toxicology and presented at a news conference in London. The researchers said 50 percent of males and 70 percent of females died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group. GMOs are deeply unpopular in Europe and many other countries, but dominate key crops in the United States after Monsanto in 1996 introduced a soybean genetically altered to tolerate Monsanto's Roundup weed killer. Seralini was part of a team that has voiced previous safety concerns based on a shorter rat study in a scientific paper published in 2009. This new study takes things a step further by tracking the animals throughout their two-year lifespan. Seralini believes his latest lifetime rat tests give a more realistic and authoritative view of risks than the 90-day feeding trials that form the basis of GM crop approvals, since three months is only the equivalent of early adulthood in rats.
Note: For alarming photos and more from the above long-term study on the dangers of GM food, click here. For an incisive, powerful 13-minute video revealing the disturbing results of this first long-term scientific study on GMOs, click here. For an excellent article and a great two-minute video clearly explaining the major dangers of GM food, click here. For a powerful summary of the health risks from GM foods, click here.
Early findings from the most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease are challenging much of American dietary dogma. The study, being conducted in China, paints a bold portrait of a plant-based eating plan that is more likely to promote health than disease. Among the first tantalizing findings are these: Obesity is related more to what people eat than how much. Adjusted for height, the Chinese consume 20 percent more calories than Americans do, but Americans are 25 percent fatter. The main dietary differences are fat and starch. The Chinese eat only a third the amount of fat Americans do, while eating twice the starch. The body readily stores fat but expends a larger proportion of the carbohydrates consumed as heat. Some of the differences may be attributable to exercise. Reducing dietary fat to less than 30 percent of calories, as is currently recommended for Americans, may not be enough to curb the risk of heart disease and cancer. To make a significant impact, the Chinese data imply, a maximum of 20 percent of calories from fat - and preferably only 10 to 15 percent - should be consumed. Eating a lot of protein, especially animal protein, is also linked to chronic disease. Americans consume a third more protein than the Chinese do, and 70 percent of American protein comes from animals, while only 7 percent of Chinese protein does. Those Chinese who eat the most protein, and especially the most animal protein, also have the highest rates of the ''diseases of affluence'' like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Eighty percent of the antibiotics sold in the United States goes to chickens, pigs, cows and other animals that people eat, yet producers of meat and poultry are not required to report how they use the drugs - which ones, on what types of animal, and in what quantities. This dearth of information makes it difficult to document the precise relationship between routine antibiotic use in animals and antibiotic-resistant infections in people, scientists say. Advocates contend that there is already overwhelming epidemiological evidence linking the two, something that even the Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged, and that further study, while useful for science, is not essential for decision making. "At some point the available science can be used in making policy decisions," said Gail Hansen, an epidemiologist who works for Pew Charitable Trusts, which advocates against overuse of antibiotics. But scientists say the blank spots in data collection are a serious handicap in taking on powerful producers of poultry and meat who claim the link does not exist. "It’s like facing off against a major public health crisis with one hand tied behind our backs," said Keeve Nachman, an environmental health scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which does research on food systems. "The single biggest problem we face in infectious disease today is the rapid growth of resistance to antibiotics," said Glenn Morris, director of the Emerging Pathogens Institute at the University of Florida. "Human use contributes to that, but use in animals clearly has a part too."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on health issues, click here.
If Proposition 37 passes, California would become the first state in the nation to require new labels on a host of food products commonly found on grocery store shelves. Many other nations, including Japan, China and a host of European countries, already label genetically engineered food. In the United States, however, products that contain genetically engineered ingredients are generally not labeled. Proponents ... have raised $2.8 million. A company owned by Joseph Mercola, a controversial holistic health activist from Illinois with more than 100,000 Twitter followers, has kicked in $800,000. Opponents have raised nine times as much. Almost all of the nearly $25 million has come from a variety of chemical, seed and processed-food companies. Monsanto, a leading producer of genetically engineered seeds, donated $4.2 million, the largest donation. The labeling initiative largely covers processed foods. Milk, cheese and other dairy products made from cows that are injected with the bovine growth hormone or eat genetically engineered feed like alfalfa would be exempt, but meat or dairy products from animals that are genetically engineered would be labeled. In 2000, 25 percent of the corn planted in the United States was genetically engineered, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By 2012, that figure had soared to 88 percent. The group California Right to Know, which is leading the pro-labeling campaign, is counting on a vast social media network and volunteers to get its message out. Stacy Malkan, a spokeswoman for the yes campaign, said [this] "is a people's movement against out-of-state corporations."
Note: A graph in this article shows that 94% of the funds raised against Proposition 37 came from outside of California. And how interesting that Dr. Mercola is called controversial, considering that he now has nearly 2 million subscribers to his mos excellent email list. For an article titled "The Top 10 Lies Told by Monsanto on GMO Labeling in California," click here. For a great collection of past major media articles revealing the serious risks and dangers of genetically modified foods, click here.
Last fall, at a business lunch with co-workers, Grace Booth enjoyed three chicken enchiladas. The food, she recalls, was very good — but then something went very wrong. "I thought, oh my God, what is happening to me? I felt like I was going to die." In the emergency room in nearby Oakland the diagnosis was severe allergic reaction and from here Grace Booth's story reached officials in Washington. At the time the national corn market was in an uproar. Starlink, a gene modified corn not approved for human food, had been found in taco shells and recalls were emptying the shelves of corn products. The fear was possible allergic reactions. At that moment, Booth says, she had no idea that the corn tortillas in her lunch were about to be recalled. In the wake of the recalls more than 50 Americans, including Booth, claimed they had reactions to Starlink corn. That forced the government to launch the first full-scale allergy investigation in the history of biotech food. It has taken months, but the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration have collected food samples and blood from two dozen people whose cases were believed most serious. [Symptoms] "[v]aried from just abdominal pain and diarrhea [or] skin rashes to some patients ... having very severe life-threatening reactions," said Dr. Marc Rothenberg, the allergy chief at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. He is an adviser to the government in the Starlink investigation. Its slow going he says because investigators first had to find the Starlink protein and then invent a blood test.
Note: The date of this article is May 17, 2001, though on the webpage itself a different date is listed. With so many examples of allergic reactions and more to GM foods, why does the FDA continue to insist that these foods are safe? Could it be because many top leaders at the FDA once worked at Monsanto?
In November, voters will decide whether to make California the first state in the nation to require labels on most genetically modified food products. At least 18 states, including California, have tried to pass similar laws through their legislatures and failed. This time, however, the measure made it to the statewide ballot with 1 million citizen signatures; recent polls show Proposition 37 winning by a significant margin. Food activists across the country are watching the California battle closely, with opponents of genetic modification hoping to make the proposition a model for other states. Supporters of the law, including organic trade groups and environmentalists, say consumers have a right to know if the food they're eating contains genetically modified material - particularly when the long-term health effects are unclear. Seventy percent to 80 percent of processed foods sold in the U.S. are made with genetically engineered ingredients, including corn, soybeans, sugar beets and cotton oil. If the California measure passes, processed genetically engineered food products would include the words "Partially produced with genetic engineering" on the front or back label. For whole foods such as sweet corn or salmon, grocers would be required to have a sign on the shelf. Alcohol, most meat, eggs and dairy products would be exempt. Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology based in Iowa, said "Based on the evidence - damage to virtually every organ evaluated and immune and gastrointestinal problems - labels are needed."
Note: If you read this entire article, you will detect a clear bias against GMO labelling. It quotes a UCLA professor stating, "There is not one credible scientist working on this that would call it unsafe." Yet the article fails to mention the many scientists who have provided solid evidence that GMOs are unsafe. For a powerful essay showing the grave risks and dangers of GMOs, click here. For a New York Times article listing several scientists who raised serious questions about GMOs, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on genetically modified foods, click here.
In late 1986, four executives of the Monsanto Company, the leader in agricultural biotechnology, paid a visit to Vice President George Bush at the White House. In the weeks and months that followed, the White House complied, working behind the scenes, to help Monsanto — long a political power with deep connections in Washington — get the regulations that it wanted. It was an outcome that would be repeated, again and again, through three administrations. What Monsanto wished for from Washington, Monsanto — and, by extension, the biotechnology industry — got. Even longtime Washington hands said that the control this nascent industry exerted over its own regulatory destiny — through the Environmental Protection Agency, the Agriculture Department and ultimately the Food and Drug Administration — was astonishing. Dr. Louis J. Pribyl, one of 17 government scientists working on a policy for genetically engineered food, ... knew from studies that toxins could be unintentionally created when new genes were introduced into a plant's cells. The government was dismissing that risk and any other possible risk as no different from those of conventionally derived food. That meant biotechnology companies would not need government approval to sell the foods they were developing. "This is the industry's pet idea, namely that there are no unintended effects that will raise the F.D.A.'s level of concern," Dr. Pribyl wrote in a fiery memo to the F.D.A. scientist overseeing the policy's development. "But time and time again, there is no data to back up their contention."
Note: For a powerful essay showing the grave risks and dangers of GMOs, click here. Explore over 40 scientific studies that have demonstrated the health dangers of GM foods. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on genetically modified foods, click here.
Some might call Neil Grimmer and his wife Tana Johnson picky eaters. For more than a decade, Grimmer, a triathlete, didn't eat meat or dairy while Johnson followed a macrobiotic diet, made up mostly of whole grains and vegetables. So when the couple became parents about nine years ago, they sought to feed their children healthy foods. Trouble was, they couldn't find snacks that were healthy, yet easy to pack and appealing to their kids. That's how the Nest Collective, now known as Plum Organics, was born. [The] startup makes baby food and toddler and kids' snacks such as pouches of pureed blueberry oats and quinoa for babies and squeezable oatmeal for older children. Plum Organics is also addressing increasing concerns about childhood obesity and parents looking for alternative, easy-to-pack snacks. In what turned out to be a momentous decision, the company moved away from the traditional plastic or glass jar and began offering baby food in the form of the squeezable pouch already popular with older children. The company took off from there. The benefit of the pouch is that it allows the food to be cooked more gently so that the flavors are richer, said Grimmer. The packaging also takes up less space in landfills and is easier to transport.
If you eat meat, the odds are high that you've enjoyed a meal made from an animal raised on a factory farm. The government designation is CAFO, which stands for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation. Basically, it's any farm that has 1,000 animal units or more. A beef cow is an animal unit. These animals are kept in pens their entire lives. They're never outside. They never breathe fresh air. They never see the sun. According to the USDA, 2% of U.S. livestock facilities raise an estimated 40% of all farm animals. This means that pigs, chickens and cows are concentrated in a small number of very large farms. There are simply too many animals in too small of a place. CAFO cows eat a diet of milled grains, corn and soybeans, when they are supposed to eat grass. The food isn't natural because they very often put growth hormones and antibiotics in it. When you have 2,000 cows per acre instead of two, you have a problem. You can't fit them in a pasture — you fit them in a building. You don't have enough land to absorb their waste. The manure is liquefied. It gets flushed out into an open lagoon [and] sprayed into waterways and creeks. This stuff is untreated, by the way.
Note: For two excellent and fun short videos showing both the problem and solutions for cruel factory farming, click here and here. For lots more little-known, excellent information to promote your health, click here.
Seven sloping acres at the southwest edge of Jefferson Park [are] being transformed into an edible landscape and community park that will be known [as] the Beacon Food Forest, the largest of its kind in the nation. One full acre will be devoted to large chestnuts and walnuts in the overstory. There'll be full-sized fruit trees in the understory, and berry shrubs, climbing vines, herbaceous plants, and vegetables closer to the ground. The entire project will be built around the concept of permaculture -- an ecological design system, philosophy, and set of ethics and principles used to create perennial, self-sustaining landscapes. Friends of the Food Forest undertook heroic outreach efforts to secure neighborhood support. The team mailed over 6,000 postcards in five different languages, tabled at events and fairs, and posted fliers. And Seattle residents responded. The first meeting, especially, drew permaculturalists and other intrigued parties from all around the city. More than 70 people, mostly from Beacon Hill, attended the second meeting in mid-July, where proposed designs were laid out on giant sheets paper with markers strewn about so the community could scribble their ideas and feedback directly onto the plans.
With safety concerns widespread, Americans almost unanimously favor mandatory labels on genetically modified foods. And most say they'd use those labels to avoid the food. Barely more than a third of the public believes that genetically modified foods are safe to eat. Instead 52 percent believe such foods are unsafe, and an additional 13 percent are unsure about them. That's broad doubt on the very basic issue of food safety. Nearly everyone, moreover — 93 percent — says the federal government should require labels on food saying whether it's been genetically modified, or "bio-engineered" (this poll used both phrases). Such near-unanimity in public opinion is rare. Fifty-seven percent also say they'd be less likely to buy foods labeled as genetically modified. The image problem of genetically modified food is underscored by contrast to organic foods. While only five percent of Americans say they'd be more likely to buy a food labeled as genetically modified, 52 percent say they'd be more likely to buy food that's labeled as having been raised organically. Genetically modified foods are particularly unpopular among women, another problem for food producers since so many women do the family shopping. Sixty-two percent of women think genetically modified foods are unsafe to eat, a view that's shared by far fewer men, 40 percent.
Note: Members of the U.S. Congress are finally starting to take action on this most important topic. For more key information on what you can do to help, click here.
Like others in the so-called good-food movement, [Will] Allen, who is 60, asserts that our industrial food system is depleting soil, poisoning water, gobbling fossil fuels and stuffing us with bad calories. Like others, he advocates eating locally grown food. But to Allen, local doesn't mean a rolling pasture or even a suburban garden: it means 14 greenhouses crammed onto two acres in a working-class neighborhood on Milwaukee's northwest side, less than half a mile from the city's largest public-housing project. And this is why Allen is so fond of his worms. When you're producing a quarter of a million dollars' worth of food in such a small space, soil fertility is everything. Without microbe- and nutrient-rich worm castings (poop, that is), Allen's Growing Power farm couldn't provide healthful food to 10,000 urbanites — through his on-farm retail store, in schools and restaurants, at farmers' markets and in low-cost market baskets delivered to neighborhood pickup points. He couldn't employ scores of people, some from the nearby housing project; continually train farmers in intensive polyculture; or convert millions of pounds of food waste into a version of black gold. With seeds planted at quadruple density and nearly every inch of space maximized to generate exceptional bounty, Growing Power is an agricultural Mumbai, a supercity of upward-thrusting tendrils and duct-taped infrastructure.
Note: For another excellent article on this most amazing man and the urban farming movement, click here.
A self-described "caravan of criminal mothers" defied federal law [on November 1] by transporting raw milk across state lines from a Pennsylvania farm and drinking it in front of the Food and Drug Administration headquarters in Maryland. "It's totally natural for me as a parent to want to feed my children good food that makes them healthy," said Liz Reitzig, 31, a mother of five in Bowie, Md., who organized the protest. "In this case that is fresh, clean, raw milk from farmers we know and trust. The idea that we become criminals for engaging in that transaction is what is so appalling." The protesters, numbering about 100, ... drove in from as far away as Illinois and Kentucky to denounce government tyranny, corporate cabals and the "agricultural-industrial complex," promising more protests and civil disobedience. The FDA considers it "perfectly safe to feed your kids Mountain Dew, Twinkies and Cocoa Puffs, but it's unsafe to feed them raw milk, compost-grown tomatoes and Aunt Matilda's pickles," said Joel Salatin, the Virginia farmer made famous by the documentary "Food, Inc.," who joined the protesters. The protest sprang from an FDA sting operation on Amish farmer Dan Allgyer's tiny dairy of three dozen cows in Kinzer, Pa., that culminated in a predawn raid on the farm last year. Allgyer had been selling milk to consumers in Maryland who had formed a buying club. None of Allgyer's milk was contaminated. His alleged crime was selling it across state lines.
Monsanto Co.’s insect-killing corn is toppling over in northwestern Illinois fields, a sign that rootworms outside of Iowa may have developed resistance to the genetically modified crop. Michael Gray, an agricultural entomologist at the University of Illinois in Urbana, said he’s studying whether western corn rootworms collected last month in Henry and Whiteside counties are resistant to an insect-killing protein derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide engineered into Monsanto corn. The insects were collected in two fields where corn had toppled after roots were eaten by rootworms, Gray said today. Planting Bt corn year after year increases the odds that the bugs will develop resistance to the insecticide, he said. While the symptoms parallel bug resistance that’s been confirmed in Iowa, analysis of the Illinois insects won’t be complete until next year, he said. “Whatever is the cause, it is generating a lot of concern.”
Note: For more on this, click here.
Investors are pouring into farmland in the U.S. and parts of Europe, Latin America and Africa as global food prices soar. A fund controlled by George Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund manager, owns 23.4 percent of South American farmland venture Adecoagro SA. Hedge funds Ospraie Management LLC and Passport Capital LLC as well as Harvard University's endowment are also betting on farming. TIAA-CREF, the $466 billion financial services giant, has $2 billion invested in some 600,000 acres (240,000 hectares) of farmland in Australia, Brazil and North America and wants to double the size of its investment. The growth in demand for food, spurred by the rising middle classes in China, India and other emerging markets, shows no signs of abating. Food prices in June, as measured by a United Nations index of 55 food commodities, were just slightly below their peak in February. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization said in a June report that it expects food costs to remain high through 2012. So many investors have rushed to capitalize on food prices in the past three years that they may be creating a farmland bubble. The Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, which covers Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and other agricultural states, said in May that farmland prices had surged 20 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier.
Note: This news is further clear evidence that the rapid increases in food prices is another ploy to funnel money from the pockets of the public into the uber wealthy.
A consortium of U.S. organic farmers and seed dealers filed suit against global seed giant Monsanto Co. on [March 29], in a move to protect themselves from what they see as a growing threat in the company's arsenal of genetically modified crops. The Public Patent Foundation filed the suit on behalf of more than 50 organizations challenging the chemical giant's patents on its genetically modified seeds. The group is seeking a ruling that would prohibit Monsanto from suing the farmers or dealers if their organic seed becomes contaminated with Monsanto's patented biotech seed germplasm. Monsanto has filed scores of lawsuits and won judgments against farmers they claimed made use of their seed without paying required royalties. Many farmers have claimed that their fields were inadvertently contaminated without their knowledge, and the issue has been a topic of concern for not only farmers, but also companies that clean and handle seed. "This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto's genetically modified seed should land on their property," said Dan Ravicher, executive director of PUBPAT. The suit also alleges that Monsanto's GMO seeds do more harm than good and claims the patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don't meet the "usefulness" requirement of patent law.
Note: For a powerful, quality documentary revealing the gross abuses of Monsanto which endanger public health, click here.
Pennsylvania Amish farmer Dan Allgyer has become a cause celebre for raw milk drinkers as the target of a Food and Drug Administration campaign - using sting operations and guns-drawn raids usually reserved for terrorists and drug lords - to eliminate unpasteurized milk. Such milk, also known as raw or fresh milk, is legal in California and considered essential to Europe's finest cheeses, creams and butters. Allgyer is the latest to feel the force of a yearslong Food and Drug Administration campaign against raw milk that has focused on tiny farms and consumer co-ops. Raw milk drinkers say cooking milk diminishes its flavor and nutrients. They said similar sterilization standards, if applied across the American diet, would ban sushi, medium-rare steaks, oysters on the shell and most raw fruits and vegetables. The Food Safety and Modernization Act approved by Congress last year and signed by President Obama in January has vastly enhanced the agency's powers. Starting July 3, the agency can confiscate any food at any farm that it deems unsafe or mislabeled. Throughout Europe, uncooked milk is the norm, dispensed in vending machines in Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy, Slovenia and the Netherlands. It is healthy, adherents say, because it contains fat that is not broken down by homogenization and is free of antibiotics and hormones, because cows are raised in small herds on pastures.
Some 18,000 children die every day because of hunger and malnutrition and 850 million people go to bed every night with empty stomachs, a "terrible indictment of the world in 2007," the head of the U.N. food agency said. James Morris called for students and young people, faith-based groups, the business community and governments to join forces in a global movement to alleviate and eliminate hunger — especially among children. Morris, an American businessman and former president [of] the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment, one of the largest charitable organizations in the U.S., ... said that while the percentage of people who are hungry and malnourished has decreased from a fifth of the world's population to a sixth of the population, the actual number of hungry people is growing by about 5 million people a year because of the rising population. "Today 850 million people are hungry and malnourished. Over half of them are children," Morris said. Morris said the largest number of malnourished children are in India — more than 100 million — followed by nearly 40 million in China. Elsewhere, there are probably 100 million hungry children in the rest of Asia, another 100 million in Africa where countries have fewer resources to help, and 30 million in Latin America, he said.
Note: Why aren't more people supporting programs to stop starvation in our world. Do we care? Do you care? For one way you personally can help without spending any money, click here.
Investigations have found that every single supermarket in Britain stocks meat and dairy from animals fed GM [Genetically Modified] soy. Leading brands including Cadbury, Unilever and Dairycrest, also use products from livestock fed GM. In fact the new technology is so widespread that it is likely at least one item of food you eat today will have come from an animal fed GM soy, whether it was the milk on your cereal or the bacon in your sandwich. But what effect is our growing reliance on soy having on the countries supplying Britain with this ‘invisible ingredient’? Paraguay ... in many ways [is] the perfect place to grow unsustainable soy. Ruled by despotic dictators for centuries, the country is famous for being a hot bed of drug smugglers [and] Nazi war criminals. Even now, with a new democratically government in place, corruption is rife and regulations to protect the people are lax to say the least. In the last year the amount of land planted with soy has grown to a record 2.6 million hectares, most of which is GM, leading to claims of deforestation, violent land disputes and the ‘poisoning’ of local communities. Already it is estimated that 90 per cent of the Atlantic Rainforest in Paraguay has been lost to make way for crops, taking with it thousands of unique plants species, hundreds of rare birds and endangered animals like the jaguar. Its not just animals that suffer. Groups of Guarani people claim they have been driven from their land by the soy farmers. ‘Campesinos’, the small farmers who have traditionally worked the land, also claim they have been displaced.
Note: Many are not aware that much of the food they eat, especially soy and corn, comes from geneticaly modified crops which have been shown to pose a major risk to health. For more, click here and here.
Scientists have created genetically modified cattle that produce "human" milk in a bid to make cows' milk more nutritious. The scientists have ... introduced human genes into 300 dairy cows to produce milk with [some of] the same properties as human breast milk. The scientists behind the research ... hope genetically modified dairy products from herds of similar cows could be sold in supermarkets. The research has the backing of a major biotechnology company. Genetically modified food has become a highly controversial subject and currently they can only be sold in the UK and Europe if they have passed extensive safety testing. The consumer response to GM food has also been highly negative, resulting in many supermarkets seeking to source products that are GM free. Helen Wallace, director of biotechnology monitoring group GeneWatch UK, said: "We have major concerns about this research to genetically modify cows with human genes. There are major welfare issues with genetically modified animals as you get high numbers of still births. There is a question about whether milk from these cows is going to be safe for humans and it is really hard to tell that unless you do large clinical trials like you would a drug, so there will be uncertainty about whether it could be harmful to some people. Ethically there are issues about mass producing animals in this way."
Note: For a powerful summary of the dangers of genetically modified foods, click here. And for other major media news articles exposing the serious risks and dangers of genetically modified foods, click here.
Questions about the safety of a popular herbicide made by Monsanto Co have resurfaced in a warning from a U.S. scientist that claims top-selling Roundup may contribute to plant disease and health problems for farm animals. Plant pathologist and retired Purdue University professor Don Huber has written a letter to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack warning that a newly discovered and widespread "electron microscopic pathogen appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings." Huber coordinates a committee of the American Phytopathological Society as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System. Huber said the organism has been found in high concentrations of Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, which are used in livestock feed. He said laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the organism in pigs, cattle and other livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility. The organism is also prolific in corn and soybean crops stricken by disease, according to Huber. "It should be treated as an emergency." He requested USDA participation in an investigation, and he urged a moratorium on approvals of Roundup Ready crops. USDA officials declined to comment about the letter's contents. Roundup has long been a draw for critics, who say the herbicide promotes widespread weed resistance, or "super weeds." "While the evidence is considered preliminary, the potential damage to humans and animals is severe," said Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. There have been other alarms raised about Roundup, including a report last year from Argentine scientists who claimed that Roundup can contribute to birth defects in frogs and chickens.
Note: This revealing article seems to have disappeared from MSNBC and other websites, yet you can still find it on the Reuters website at this link. For other revealing major media articles showing the clear risks and dangers of genetically modified foods already on our plates, click here. For a vital essay by Jeffrey Smith detailing scientific studies where lab animals died from eating these foods, click here.
Just under three years ago, people in the village of Gumbi in western Malawi went unexpectedly hungry. Not like Europeans do if they miss a meal or two, but that deep, gnawing hunger that prevents sleep and dulls the senses when there has been no food for weeks. Oddly, there had been no drought, the usual cause of malnutrition and hunger in southern Africa, and there was plenty of food in the markets. For no obvious reason the price of staple foods such as maize and rice nearly doubled in a few months. Unusually, too, there was no evidence that the local merchants were hoarding food. It was the same story in 100 other developing countries. There were food riots in more than 20 countries and governments had to ban food exports and subsidise staples heavily. A new theory is emerging among traders and economists. The same banks, hedge funds and financiers whose speculation on the global money markets caused the sub-prime mortgage crisis are ... taking advantage of the deregulation of global commodity markets [to make] billions from speculating on food and causing misery around the world. As food prices soar again to beyond 2008 levels, it becomes clear that everyone is now being affected. Food prices are now rising by up to 10% a year in Britain and Europe. What is more, says the UN, prices can be expected to rise at least 40% in the next decade.
Note: Remember that speculation is behind almost all of the economic bubbles and busts. The price of oil spiked a couple years ago almost purely because of speculators, while the oil companies raked in record profits. It looks like the speculators are now driving food prices as high as they can. For a treasure trove of reports from reliable sources investigating the many different strategies used by financial corporations to enrich themselves at the expense of common people, click here.
A genetically engineered fish infused with genes from other species, including an eel-like creature, could soon be on dinner plates in the Bay Area and around the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering an application by AquaBounty Technologies Inc. of Massachusetts to bioengineer a sterile salmon that would grow extremely fast and, if all goes as planned, never set so much as a fin in a natural body of water. It would be the first genetically engineered animal to be approved for human consumption. The proposal, which is awaiting an environmental assessment and a preliminary decision by the FDA, has created a furor among environmentalists, who have dubbed the species "Frankenfish." They claim the doctored salmon could spread disease in humans or circulate mutant genes in the wild if an accident or sabotage ever set them loose. "The effect of what happens if these genetically engineered fish escape is largely unknown and has been largely unquestioned by the FDA," said Colin O'Neil, the regulatory policy analyst for the Center for Food Safety, an environmental nonprofit based in Washington, D.C. "These fish have been demonstrated to be less healthy. Consumers clearly do not want to eat genetically engineered salmon."
Note: For a superb summary of the dangers posed by genetically-modified foods, click here.
The U.S. Senate yesterday approved spending $4.6 billion to settle two lawsuits: one by black farmers who alleged racial discrimination by government lenders and the other by 300,000 American Indians who said they had been cheated out of land royalties dating to 1887. Passage of the measure, by voice vote, unblocks a legislative logjam that has thwarted payouts, negotiated by the Obama administration, of $1.15 billion to the black farmers and $3.4 billion to the American Indians. The House ... must vote on the settlements again. At least seven times this year, Senate Republicans blocked efforts to include the spending provisions in pending legislation. The farmers’ 1997 class-action lawsuit alleged discrimination by the Agriculture Department’s lending programs. Under a negotiated settlement announced in February, qualified farmers can collect as much as $50,000, plus debt relief. Others may collect monetary damages up to $250,000. One of the largest class-action cases filed against the U.S., the 1996 lawsuit by American Indian plaintiffs accused the Interior Department of mismanaging trust funds that collected royalties for grazing rights and the extraction of minerals, oil and natural gas from tribal lands.
Note: For key reports from major media sources on government corruption, click here.
Monsanto, the giant of agricultural biotechnology, has been buffeted by setbacks this year that have prompted analysts to question whether its winning streak of creating ever more expensive genetically engineered crops is coming to an end. The latest blow came last week, when early returns from this year’s harvest showed that Monsanto’s newest product, SmartStax corn, which contains eight inserted genes, was providing yields no higher than the company’s less expensive corn, which contains only three foreign genes. Monsanto has already been forced to sharply cut prices on SmartStax and on its newest soybean seeds, called Roundup Ready 2 Yield, as sales fell below projections. Sales of Monsanto’s Roundup, the widely used herbicide, has collapsed this year under an onslaught of low-priced generics made in China. Weeds are growing resistant to Roundup, dimming the future of the entire Roundup Ready crop franchise. And the Justice Department is investigating Monsanto for possible antitrust violations. Until now, Monsanto’s main challenge has come from opponents of genetically modified crops, who have slowed their adoption in Europe and some other regions. Now, however, the skeptics also include farmers and investors who were once in Monsanto’s camp.
Note: For those who are not aware of how Monsanto executives are quite consciously endangering your health, click here.
Small farmers in California who have led a national movement away from industrial agriculture face a looming crackdown on food safety that they say is geared to big corporate farms and will make it harder for them to survive. The small growers, many of whom grow dozens of different kinds of vegetables and fruits, say the inherent benefits of their size, and their sensitivity to extra costs, are being ignored. They are fighting to carve out a sanctuary in legislation that would bring farmers under the strict purview of the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA would gain greater authority to regulate how products are grown, stored, transported, inspected, traced from farm to table and recalled when needed. But ... organic growers argue that the problems that have plagued the food industry lie elsewhere. They point to the sale of bagged vegetables, cut fruit and other processed food in which vast quantities of produce from different farms are mixed, sealed in containers and shipped long distances, creating a host for harmful bacteria. The legislation does not address what some experts suspect is the source of E. coli contamination: the large, confined animal feeding operations. "It does not take on the industrial animal industry and the abuses going on," said Tom Willey of T&D Willey Farms in Madera.
Note: For an amazing trove of articles from reliable sources detailing the FDA's corruption in the interest of major corporations, click here.
In "Food, Inc.", filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of E. coli — the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults. Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser Fast Food Nation, Michael Pollan The Omnivore's Dilemma along with forward thinking social entrepreneurs like Stonyfield Farms' Gary Hirschberg and Polyface Farms' Joel Salatin, "Food, Inc." reveals surprising — and often shocking truths — about what we eat, how it's produced, who we have become as a nation and where we are going from here.
Note: For reviews of this important documentary, click here.
There is more than a casual association between GM [Genetically Modified] foods and adverse health effects. There is causation [as] confirmed in several animal studies. Specificity of the association of GM foods and specific disease processes is also supported. In spite of this risk, the biotechnology industry claims that GM foods can feed the world through production of higher crop yields. However, a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists reviewed 12 academic studies and indicates otherwise: "The several thousand field trials over the last 20 years ... indicate a significant undertaking. Yet none of these field trials have resulted in increased yield ... with the exception of Bt corn." Therefore, because GM foods pose a serious health risk in the areas of toxicology, allergy and immune function, reproductive health, and metabolic, physiologic and genetic health and are without benefit, ... because GM foods have not been properly tested for human consumption, and because there is ample evidence of probable harm, the AAEM asks:  Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.  Physicians to consider the possible role of GM foods in the disease process.  Our members, the medical community, and the independent scientific community to gather case studies potentially related to GM food consumption and health effects.  For a moratorium on GM food, implementation of immediate long term independent safety testing, and labeling of GM foods, which is necessary for the health and safety of consumers.
Note: Why was this not reported in the mainstream media? A top academy of physicians states our health is being endangered by GM foods, yet no one is reporting this. For how our media is bought off in matters like this, click here. For a powerful essay showing blatant corruption of the science around GMOs and FDA complicity, click here. For key media articles on this vital topic, click here.
Your body is probably home to a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA. It’s a synthetic estrogen that United States factories now use in everything from plastics to epoxies — to the tune of six pounds per American per year. More than 92 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine, and scientists have linked it ... to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike. Now it turns out it’s in our food. Consumer Reports magazine tested an array of brand-name canned foods for a report in its December issue and found BPA in almost all of them. The magazine says that relatively high levels turned up, for example, in Progresso vegetable soup, Campbell’s condensed chicken noodle soup, and Del Monte Blue Lake cut green beans. The magazine also says it found BPA in the canned liquid version of Similac Advance infant formula ... and in canned Nestlé Juicy Juice. The BPA in the food probably came from an interior coating used in many cans. More than 200 other studies have shown links between low doses of BPA and adverse health effects, according to the Breast Cancer Fund, which is trying to ban the chemical from food and beverage containers. “The vast majority of independent scientists — those not working for industry — are concerned about early-life low-dose exposures to BPA,” said Janet Gray, a Vassar College professor who is science adviser to the Breast Cancer Fund.
Note: For more on BPA and other health issues, click here.
To listen to President Obama, or to just about anyone else in the health care debate, you would think that the biggest problem with health care in America is the system itself — perverse incentives, inefficiencies, unnecessary tests and procedures, lack of competition, and greed. No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet. That’s why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat “preventable chronic diseases.” Not all of these diseases are linked to diet — there’s smoking, for instance — but many, if not most, of them are. We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care. The American way of eating has become the elephant in the room in the debate over health care.
Note: For a detailed overview of some of the critical risks of the industrially-engineered modern American diet, click here.
A city in Brazil recruited local farmers to help do something U.S. cities have yet to do: end hunger. More than 10 years ago, Brazil’s fourth-largest city, Belo Horizonte, declared that food was a right of citizenship and started working to make good food available to all. One of its programs puts local farm produce into school meals. This and other projects cost the city less than 2 percent of its budget. Belo, a city of 2.5 million people, once had 11 percent of its population living in absolute poverty, and almost 20 percent of its children going hungry. Then in 1993, a newly elected administration declared food a right of citizenship. The new mayor, Patrus Ananias—now leader of the federal anti-hunger effort—began by creating a city agency, which included assembling a 20-member council of citizen, labor, business, and church representatives to advise in the design and implementation of a new food system. The city already involved regular citizens directly in allocating municipal resources—the “participatory budgeting” that started in the 1970s and has since spread across Brazil. During the first six years of Belo’s food-as-a-right policy, perhaps in response to the new emphasis on food security, the number of citizens engaging in the city’s participatory budgeting process doubled to more than 31,000. The city agency developed dozens of innovations to assure everyone the right to food, especially by weaving together the interests of farmers and consumers.
Note: Why not take this movement to each of our states and provinces? Are you willing to make a difference? To contact your local and national media and political representatives, click here.
The Bush administration has slipped a controversial ingredient into the $770 million aid package it recently proposed to ease the world food crisis, adding language that would promote the use of genetically modified crops in food-deprived countries. The value of genetically modified, or bio-engineered, food is an intensely disputed issue in the U.S. and in Europe, where many countries have banned foods made from genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. Opponents of GMO crops say they can cause unforeseen medical problems. They also contend that the administration's plan is aimed at helping American agribusinesses. "This is a hot topic now with the food crisis," said Ronnie Cummins, national director of the Organic Consumers Association. "I think it's pretty obvious at this point that genetically engineered crops ... don't increase yields. There are no commercialized crops that are designed to deal with the climate crisis." Noah Zerbe, an assistant professor of government and politics at Humboldt State University in California, said that GMO crops might not be appropriate for developing countries. "You get fantastic yields if you're able to apply fertilizer and water at the right times, and herbicides to go along with that," Zerbe said. "Unfortunately, most African farmers ... can't afford these inputs." The U.S. tried to introduce GMO crops to Africa in 2002, with mixed results. European Union opposition was part of the reason that several African nations that year balked at an offer of U.S. aid that included corn, some of which was genetically modified. [Despite] a severe drought, Zambia rejected the U.S. aid altogether.
Note: For an eye-opening overview of the risks of genetically modified foods, click here.
Giant agribusinesses are enjoying soaring earnings and profits out of the world food crisis which is driving millions of people towards starvation. And speculation is helping to drive the prices of basic foodstuffs out of the reach of the hungry. The prices of wheat, corn and rice have soared over the past year driving the world's poor – who already spend about 80 per cent of their income on food – into hunger and destitution. The World Bank says that 100 million more people are facing severe hunger. Yet some of the world's richest food companies are making record profits. Monsanto last month reported that its net income for the three months up to the end of February this year had more than doubled over the same period in 2007, from $543m (Ł275m) to $1.12bn. Its profits increased from $1.44bn to $2.22bn. Cargill's net earnings soared by 86 per cent from $553m to $1.030bn over the same three months. And Archer Daniels Midland, one of the world's largest agricultural processors of soy, corn and wheat, increased its net earnings by 42 per cent in the first three months of this year from $363m to $517m. The operating profit of its grains merchandising and handling operations jumped 16-fold from $21m to $341m. Similarly, the Mosaic Company, one of the world's largest fertiliser companies, saw its income for the three months ending 29 February rise more than 12-fold, from $42.2m to $520.8m, on the back of a shortage of fertiliser. Benedict Southworth, director of the World Development Movement, called the escalating earnings and profits "immoral."
Note: For a cornucopia of reports on corporate corruption from reliable, verifiable sources, click here.
Opponents of GE [genetically engineered] food ... say problems suggested in some health studies could take years to show up. Meanwhile, we're eating lots of GE foods anyway, whether we know it or not -- especially in processed foods, because corn, soy and canola are the Big 3 GE food crops." Since our government has refused to label these foods, how do we avoid buying and eating these foods?" asks [Andrew] Kimbrell, an attorney who heads the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Food Safety, a vocal opponent of GE foods. His new book, Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food ... answers that question. For conscious eaters, the heart of the book is a 14-page guide to your local supermarket. It tells you which foods are the most likely to contain GE ingredients (chips, snacks and baby formula), which aren't (fruits, vegetables, wheat), and how to read labels for "hidden ingredients" derived from corn, soy or canola (hint: look for high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin and canola oil). A passport-size version of the guide, small enough to slide into most pockets or purses, comes along with the book. "I wanted to give people a usable tool to avoid these foods so they don't feel so helpless," said Kimbrell. The book isn't intended to present the pros and cons of GE foods. Kimbrell is 100 percent against the technology and spends a lot of time in court fighting companies like Monsanto, to keep GE crops from spreading. The Center for Food Safety also opposes irradiation and food animal cloning, and has labored to keep industry from weakening federal organic standards. In fact, Kimbrell is the man who calls the current administration's efforts to protect food safety "Katrina on a plate."
Food insiders may already know the disturbing facts highlighted by this film, but the general public is in for a shock at how corporations are using misleading campaigns -- and scare tactics -- to ensure that people around the world become dependent on genetically modified food. Monsanto and other corporate behemoths are motivated (not surprisingly) by profits, according to farmers, academics and others who talk to documentarian Deborah Koons Garcia. Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser was targeted by Monsanto's lawyers because some of the corporation's patented seedlings were found on his property. Schmeiser didn't plant them there; wind blew the insecticide-resistant seeds onto his farm from another farm, or the seeds fell off a passing truck. Monsanto didn't care, ordering Schmeiser to kill all his family's seed because they'd potentially been contaminated by its patented product. Schmeiser ... fought Monsanto, spending his retirement money against the sort of legal attack that has already scared farmers throughout North America. Incredibly, a judge ruled in favor of Monsanto. Garcia's documentary shows how much the U.S. federal government favors these corporations, especially through lax oversight (the [FDA] and the Department of Agriculture seem to rubber-stamp every corporate project having to do with genetically modified food). In the past 20 years, Monsanto's alumni have occupied the high reaches of American power. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, for example, did legal work for the corporation, while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was president of a Monsanto subsidiary.
Richard Cotta, CEO of California Dairies Inc., the nation's second-largest dairy cooperative, is guided by a simple business philosophy: "If you want milk with little blue dots, you'll have it, as long as you are willing to pay for it." So, when a string of major customers, including supermarket giant Safeway, came to his co-op saying they would no longer accept milk from cows treated with a genetically engineered growth hormone, the co-op bowed to the inevitable. In January, California Dairies' board voted to ask its members not to inject synthetic bovine growth hormone into their cows. The action by a co-op that ships 50 million pounds of milk every day is part of a sweeping, consumer-driven agricultural makeover. Demand for natural foods is rising, while increasing numbers of consumers are avoiding products that rely on antibiotics or growth hormones. And food retailers are listening. Recombinant bovine somatotropin, or rbST, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration 14 years ago. It sustains lactation by stimulating cows' appetites so they eat more and produce more milk, perhaps an extra 5 quarts per day. The European Union, Japan, Canada and Australia did not approve rbST. The reasons included questions about human and animal safety, as well social and economic considerations. Research that shows injections of rbST increase another hormone, insulin-like growth factor 1, or IGF-1, in cows. Too much IGF-1 in humans is linked with increased rates of colon, breast and prostate cancer. Synthetic hormone use also ... leads to increased use of antibiotics, whose overuse is already a serious problem in the livestock industry.
Note: For many years the media has avoided even mentioning the major controversy over growth hormone use in milk and other animal products. To better understand how the mass media and big industry sometimes work together for profit at the expense of your health, click here.
One hundred years ago, companies were free to follow their own rules. The publication of Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle” in 1906 — with its descriptions of rat-infested slaughterhouses and rancid meat — created public outrage over food safety. Even though the book was written by a socialist agitator, a Republican president, Theodore Roosevelt, eagerly read it. After confirming Sinclair’s claims, Roosevelt battled the drug companies, the big food processors and the meatpacking companies to protect American consumers from irresponsible corporate behavior. Over the past 40 years, the industrialization and centralization of our food system has greatly magnified the potential for big outbreaks. As a result, a little contamination can go a long way. The Taco Bell distribution center in New Jersey now being investigated as a possible source of E. coli supplies more than 1,100 restaurants in the Northeast. Since 2000, the fast-food and meatpacking industries have given about four-fifths of their political donations to Republican candidates for national office. In return, these industries have effectively been given control of the agencies created to regulate them. The current chief of staff at the Agriculture Department used to be the beef industry’s chief lobbyist. The person who headed the Food and Drug Administration until recently used to be an executive at the National Food Processors Association. Cutbacks in staff and budgets have reduced the number of food-safety inspections conducted by the F.D.A. to about 3,400 a year — from 35,000 in the 1970s.
Note: If you care about the health of our nation's food supply, write your political and media representatives encouraging the passage of the Safe Food Act mentioned in this article, which by the way, was written by the author of the most excellent book, Fast Food America.
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