Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Unapproved Monsanto crop found growing in Oregon

A genetically modified strain of wheat that was never approved by the United States Department of Agriculture as been discovered growing in Oregon, triggering a federal probe that is now spanning several states.

Investigators with the USDA want to know why the GMO crop, made by biotech company Monsanto but never approved for use, sprouted up in a field in the Pacific Northwest.

America’s wheat trade could be jeopardized if concerns grow among foreign consumers already weary of genetically engineered and modified organisms. Several countries across the European Union have banned the

cultivation of GMO crops, and last weekend anti-Monsanto demonstrations were attended by millions of protesters on six continents.

The USDA has yet to approve any GMO strain of wheat to be grown in the US, but Monsanto field tested a genetically engineered variety from 1998 through 2005 before withdrawing their application from the agency’s regulatory approval process.

The wheat, resistant to Monsanto’s patented pesticide Roundup, is one of many GMO crops in the company’s line of “Roundup Ready” products. After a farmer in Oregon noticed that wheat plants on his property were still growing despite dousing his field with the pesticide, he alerted Michael Firko, the deputy administrator of the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday.

We are taking this very seriously,” Firko said. “We have a very active investigation going on in several states in the western US.”

According to a 2003 article in the Billings, Montana Gazette, Monsanto pledged that its GMO wheat crop resistant to strong pesticides would not be introduced commercially until proven complete safe and approved in the US, Canada and Japan.

"We have to prove the safety of the gene, the food, the animal feed and the environment. That it is as safe as unmodified varieties and (nutritionally) is substantially equivalent to commercial varieties,” Monsanto’s then director of industry affairs, Michael Doane, told the Gazette at the time.

So far, the USDA has determined that the wheat crop in question was the same variety tested by Monsanto up until eight years ago. The US Food and Drug Administration found no safety concerns with the crop after completing a test in 2004, but Monsanto suspended plans to follow through with the product the following year without receiving the USDA’s stamp of approval.

Despite growing criticism from agriculturalists, environmentalists and consumers over potential health risks, Monsanto continues to attest that GMOs could change the world’s food landscape for the better.

There is space in the supermarket shelf for all of us,” Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant told a reporter for Bloomberg earlier this month. More


Let me get this straight, the USDA will not allow this GMO wheat to be sold in the USA, BUT will not mandate the labeling of GMO products? Do you trust your government? Editor

Monday, May 27, 2013

Russia Warns Obama: Global War Over “Bee Apocalypse” Coming Soon

The shocking minutes relating to President Putin’s meeting this past week with US Secretary of State John Kerry reveal the Russian leaders “extreme outrage” over the Obama regimes continued protection of global seed and plant bio-genetic giants Syngenta and Monsanto in the face of a growing “bee apocalypse” that the Kremlin warns “will most certainly” lead to world war.

According to these minutes, released in the Kremlin today by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation (MNRE), Putin was so incensed over the Obama regimes refusal to discuss this grave matter that he refused for three hours to even meet with Kerry, who had traveled to Moscow on a scheduled diplomatic mission, but then relented so as to not cause an even greater rift between these two nations.

At the center of this dispute between Russia and the US, this MNRE report says, is the “undisputed evidence” that a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically related to nicotine, known as neonicotinoids, are destroying our planets bee population, and which if left unchecked could destroy our world’s ability to grow enough food to feed its population.

So grave has this situation become, the MNRE reports, the full European Commission (EC) this past week instituted a two-year precautionary ban (set to begin on 1 December 2013) on these “bee killing” pesticidesfollowing the lead of Switzerland, France, Italy, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine, all of whom had previously banned these most dangerous of genetically altered organisms from being used on the continent.

Two of the most feared neonicotinoids being banned are Actara and Cruiser made by the Swiss global bio-tech seed and pesticide giant Syngenta AG which employs over 26,000 people in over 90 countries and ranks third in total global sales in the commercial agricultural seeds market.

Important to note, this report says, is that Syngenta, along with bio-tech giants Monsanto, Bayer, Dow and DuPont, now control nearly 100% of the global market for genetically modified pesticides, plants and seeds.

Also to note about Syngenta, this report continues, is that in 2012 it was criminally charged in Germany for concealing the fact that its genetically modified corn killed cattle, and settled a class-action lawsuit in the US for $105 million after it was discovered they had contaminated the drinking supply of some 52 million Americans in more than 2,000 water districts with its “gender-bending” herbicide Atrazine.

To how staggeringly frightful this situation is, the MNRE says, can be seen in the report issued this past March by the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) wherein they warned our whole planet is in danger, and as we can, in part, read:

“As part of a study on impacts from the world’s most widely used class of insecticides, nicotine-like chemicals called neonicotinoids, American Bird Conservancy (ABC) has called for a ban on their use as seed treatments and for the suspension of all applications pending an independent review of the products’ effects on birds, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates, and other wildlife.

“It is clear that these chemicals have the potential to affect entire food chains. The environmental persistence of the neonicotinoids, their propensity for runoff and for groundwater infiltration, and their cumulative and largely irreversible mode of action in invertebrates raise significant environmental concerns,” said Cynthia Palmer, co-author of the report and Pesticides Program Manager for ABC, one of the nation’s leading bird conservation organizations.

ABC commissioned world renowned environmental toxicologist Dr. Pierre Mineau to conduct the research. The 100-page report, “The Impact of the Nation’s Most Widely Used Insecticides on Birds,” reviews 200 studies on neonicotinoids including industry research obtained through the US Freedom of Information Act. The report evaluates the toxicological risk to birds and aquatic systems and includes extensive comparisons with the older pesticides that the neonicotinoids have replaced. The assessment concludes that the neonicotinoids are lethal to birds and to the aquatic systems on which they depend.

“A single corn kernel coated with a neonicotinoid can kill a songbird,” Palmer said. “Even a tiny grain of wheat or canola treated with the oldest neonicotinoid — called imidacloprid — can fatally poison a bird. And as little as 1/10th of a neonicotinoid-coated corn seed per day during egg-laying season is all that is needed to affect reproduction.”

The new report concludes that neonicotinoid contamination levels in both surface- and ground water in the United States and around the world are already beyond the threshold found to kill many aquatic invertebrates.” More


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Goodman Affair: Monsanto Targets the Heart of Science

Richard Smith, former editor of the British Medical Journal, has jested that instead of scientific peer review, its rival The Lancet had a system of throwing a pile of papers down the stairs and publishing those that reached the bottom. On another occasion, Smith was challenged to publish an issue of theBMJ exclusively comprising papers that had failed peer review and see if anybody noticed. He replied, “How do you know I haven’t already done it?”

Richard E Goodman

As Smith’s stories show, journal editors have a lot of power in science – power that provides opportunities for abuse. The life science industry knows this, and has increasingly moved to influence and control science publishing.

The strategy, often with the willing cooperation of publishers, is effective and sometimes blatant. In 2009, the scientific publishing giant Elsevier was found to have invented an entire medical journal, complete with editorial board, in order to publish papers promoting the products of the pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck. Merck provided the papers, Elsevier published them, and doctors read them, unaware that the Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine was simply a stuffed dummy.

Fast forward to September 2012, when the scientific journal Food and Chemical Toxicology (FCT) published a study that caused an international storm (Séralini, et al. 2012). The study, led by Prof Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen, France, suggested a Monsanto genetically modified (GM) maize, and the Roundup herbicide it is grown with, pose serious health risks. The two-year feeding study found that rats fed both suffered severe organ damage and increased rates of tumors and premature death. Both the herbicide (Roundup) and the GM maize are Monsanto products. Corinne Lepage, France’s former environment minister, called the study “a bomb”.

Subsequently, an orchestrated campaign was launched to discredit the study in the media and persuade the journal to retract it. Many of those who wrote letters to FCT (which is published by Elsevier) had conflicts of interest with the GM industry and its lobby groups, though these were not publicly disclosed.

The journal did not retract the study. But just a few months later, in early 2013 the FCT editorial board acquired a new “Associate Editor for biotechnology”, Richard E. Goodman. This was a new position, seemingly established especially for Goodman in the wake of the “Séralini affair”.

Richard E. Goodman is professor at the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program, University of Nebraska. But he is also a former Monsanto employee, who worked for the company between 1997 and 2004. While at Monsanto he assessed the allergenicity of the company’s GM crops and published papers on its behalf on allergenicity and safety issues relating to GM food (Goodman and Leach 2004).

Goodman had no documented connection to the journal until February 2013. His fast-tracked appointment, directly onto the upper editorial board raises urgent questions. Does Monsanto now effectively decide which papers on biotechnology are published in FCT? And is this part of an attempt by Monsanto and the life science industry to seize control of science?

To equate one journal with “science” may seem like an exaggeration. But peer-reviewed publication, in the minds of most scientists, is science. Once a paper is published in an academic journal it enters the canon and stands with the discovery of plate tectonics or the structure of DNA. All other research, no matter how groundbreaking or true, is irrelevant. As a scientist once scathingly said of the “commercially confidential” industry safety data that underpin approvals of chemicals and GM foods, “If it isn’t published, it doesn’t exist.”

Goodman’s ILSI links

The industry affiliations of FCT’s new gatekeeper for biotechnology are not restricted to having worked directly for Monsanto. Goodman has an active and ongoing involvement with the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI). ILSI is funded by the multinational GM and agrochemical companies, including Monsanto. It develops industry-friendly risk assessment methods for GM foods and chemical food contaminants and inserts them into government regulations.

ILSI describes itself as a public interest non-profit but its infiltration of regulatory agencies and influence on risk assessment policy has become highly controversial in North America and Europe. In 2005 US-based non-profits and trade unions wrote to the World Health Organization (WHO) protesting against ILSI’s influence on international health standards protecting food and water supplies. As a result, the WHO barred ILSI from taking part in WHO activities setting safety standards, because of its funding sources. And in Europe in 2012, Diana Banati, then head of the management board at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), had to resign over her undisclosed long-standing involvement with ILSI (Robinson et al. 2013).

Goodman’s appointment to FCT is surprising also for the fact that the journal already has expertise in GM food safety. Of the four senior editors, José L. Domingo is a professor of toxicology and environmental health and author of two comprehensive reviews of GM food safety studies (Domingo 2007; Domingo and Bordonaba 2011). Both reviews expressed skepticism of the thesis that GMOs are safe. Consequently, it is far from clear why FCT needs an “associate editor for biotechnology”, but it is clear why Monsanto would have an interest in ensuring that the “Séralini affair” is never repeated.

Editing the scientific record: The case of Paul Christou

FCT is not the only academic journal that appears to have been captured by commercial interests. After the initial campaign failed to get FCT to retract the Séralini study, the journal Transgenic Researchpublished a heavy-handed critique of the study and of the researchers themselves (Arjo et al., 2013). The lead author of that critique was Paul Christou.

Christou and co-authors castigated the editor of FCT for publishing the study, calling it “a clear and egregious breach of the standards of scientific publishing”. They insisted that the journal editor retract the study “based on its clearly flawed data, its breaches of ethical standards, and the strong evidence for scientific misconduct and abuse of the peer-review process”. “Even a full retraction of the Séralini article” wrote Christou, “will not cleanse the Internet of the inflammatory images of tumorous rats.”

The same writers further implied that the Séralini study was “fraudulent”, that the researchers failed to analyse the data objectively, and that the treatment of the experimental animals was inhumane.

This is not the first time Christou has attacked scientific findings that have raised doubts about GM crops. In 2001 Ignacio Chapela and David Quist of the University of California, Berkeley, reported in the journal Nature that indigenous Mexican maize varieties had become contaminated with GM genes (Quist and Chapela, 2001). This issue was, and remains, highly controversial since Mexico is the genetic centre of origin for maize. In an exact parallel with the Séralini study, an internet campaign was waged against Chapela and Quist demanding that the journal retract the study. Then Christou, just as he was later to do with the Séralini study, attacked Chapela and Quist’s paper in an article in Transgenic Research. The title said it all: “No credible scientific evidence is presented to support claims that transgenic DNA was introgressed into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca, Mexico” (Christou, 2002).

Responding to the campaign, Nature editor Philip Campbell asked Chapela and Quist for more data, which they provided, and arranged another round of peer review. Only one reviewer in the final group of three supported retraction, and no one had presented any data or analysis that contradicted Chapela and Quist’s main finding. Nevertheless, Nature asserted, “The evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper”. Some subsequent investigations, testing different samples, reported finding GM genes in native landraces of Mexican corn (Pineyro-Nelson et al. 2009), while others did not (Ortiz-Garcia et al. 2005).

Paul Christou, in contrast, probably did not have much trouble getting either of his critiques published inTransgenic Research. He is the journal’s editor-in-chief. And, like Goodman, Christou is connected to Monsanto. Monsanto bought the GM seed company Agracetus (Christou’s former employer) and Monsanto now holds patents for the production of GM crops on which Christou is named as the inventor. It is normal practice to declare inventor status on patents as a competing interest in scientific articles, but Christou did not disclose either conflict of interest – his editorship of the journal or his patent inventor status – in his critique of the Séralini study.

The Ermakova affair: Preemptive editing of the scientific record

Not only can journal editors prevent the publication of research showing problems with GM crops in their own journals – they can effectively prevent publication elsewhere. In 2007, the leading academic journal Nature Biotechnology featured an extraordinary attack on the work of Russian scientist, Irina Ermakova (Marshall, 2007). Her laboratory research had found decreased weight gain, increased mortality, and decreased fertility in rats fed GM Roundup-tolerant soy over several generations (Ermakova, 2006; Ermakova, 2009). More


Monday, May 20, 2013

If you can't trust your food should you trust your government?

A Grassroots Movement called March Against Monsanto is Going Global – Taking Back Control of Food Production Starting May 25th 2013

One of the most important issues facing people all over the world is Food – the production, safety and availability of Food. Gone are the days when one could purchase either seeds or food without the strong possibility that agenetic modification was made to the seeds or food they purchased. Seed Cultivation is increasingly falling under the corporate ownership of Monsanto – the details of which will astound the reader.

What is happening globally is a complete takeover of seed cultivation and food production, threatening the very existence of what was once genetically pure seed stock and food, having been grown and selected in a natural process of allowing Nature to modify the plant or organism and then selecting the best to save, distribute and grow.

Due to the disastrous experimentation and corporate legislation that has occurred over the last few decades, the threat to humanities ability to consume “Natural Food” also referred to as Heirloom Seed, is under such threat, that a grassroots movement is now taking shape called March Against Monsanto which begins May 25th, 2013 and is taking on a global dimension. More


Thursday, May 2, 2013

United Natures

United Natures is a documentary movie on the Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth, permaculture, philosophy, spirituality and a neo-indigenous future for humanity.

103 minutes. Release June 1st 2013.

Featuring a stellar cast of top international thinkers and activists including Starhawk, Dr. Vandana Shiva, David Holmgren (co-originator of permaculture), Father Bob Maguire, Polly Higgins (ecocide), Rosa Maria Ruiz, John Seed, Cormac Cullinan and many others.

Supported by Permaculture Magazine

International Permaculture Day May 5th 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Permaculture Design Course for International Development & Social Entrepreneurship

June 24 – July 7, 2013

Convened by Quail Springs Permaculture and True Nature Design

Lead Instructors: Warren Brush with Quail Springs and True Nature Design and Joseph Lentunyoi of the Maasai people, Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya and Nyumbani Village

Guest Instructors include:
Jeremiah Kidd, Global Permaculture Designer and Educator
Cathe’ Fish , Founder of Practical Permaculture Research Institute
Lyn Hebenstreit, Co-Founder of Global Resource Alliance
Tara Blasco, Co-Founder of Global Resource Alliance
Loren Luyendyk, Co-Founder of Surfer’s Without Borders
Alissa Sears, Global Betterment Director at Christie Communications
Jeannette Acosta, Indigenous Permaculture Designer and Educator
Daniel Parra-Hensel, Permaculture Designer and Educator
Brenton Kelly, Principle Farm Educator for Quail Springs Permaculture
Tom Cole, Principle Agricultural Advisor with Save the Children

“My learning journey at Quail Springs helped to nurture my presence of mind to be a better and more active listener – a vital trait for the international development professional. The coursework was incredibly pertinent to my work in Uganda and without a doubt made me more aware, more compassionate, and more focused in my role as a project manager and human being.” - Grant Buhr, Project Focus, Quail Springs’ PDC graduate

Permaculture is an integrated design system that provides a framework for consciously designed landscapes that provide diversity, stability, and resilience for individuals and communities. Permaculture is in 160 countries with many thousands of grassroots projects on-the-ground.

This course will assist you and your organization with integrating into your projects:

  • Increased Food Security
  • Community-Based Development
  • Waste Cycling
  • Sustainability Education
  • Clean Water and Drought Proofing
  • Health and Nutrition
  • Sustainable Vocations & Enterprise

Topics include: Integrated Design, Composting, Water Harvesting, Compost Toilets, Waste Cycling, Earthworks, Rocket Stoves, Design Priorities, Ecological Building, Aquaculture, Bio-Sand Filtration, Broad Acre Applications, Food Forestry, Bio-Engineering, Resilient Food Production, Greywater Systems, Livestock Integration, Soil building, Watershed Restoration, Integrated Pest Mgmt, Biomimicry, Appropriate Technology, Peacemaking, Conflict Resolution, Community Organizing, Drought Proofing Landscapes, Rebuilding Springs, Refugee Camp Strategies

During this specialized course we will be offering the participants direct hands-on learning experiences that include:

  • Making a simple and effective solar cooker
  • Creating a thermophyllic compost system
  • Building a BioSand water filter
  • Building a water harvesting bio swale
  • Constructing an earthen rocket stove

This course is designed for people who work with non-government organizations or government agencies, community organizers working in international development and/or social entrepreneurship, as well as volunteers and students with dedicated interest in the subject matter.


View or Download COURSE BROCHURE here

Teaching Team

Our instruction team is comprised of a diverse mix of special guest instructors led by Warren Brush and Joseph Lentunyoi.

Warren Brush is a Permaculture designer and teacher as well as a mentor and storyteller. Warren is co-founder ofQuail Springs Permaculture, Regenerative Earth Farms, Sustainable Vocations, Wilderness Youth Project, and his Permaculture design company, True Nature Design. He works in Permaculture education and sustainable systems design in North America, Africa, Middle East, Europe, and Australia.

Joseph Lentunyoi is from the Maasai tribe, and is co-founder of the Permaculture Research Institute of Kenya, to which he brings extensive practical knowledge of sustainable farming as well as teaching experience. Joseph is the Sustainability Director for Nyumbani Village, where over 900 children live who have been orphaned by HIV related diseases, alongside teaching and designing with permaculture techniques extensively in East Africa.


Cost includes instruction, certification, catered meals, and camping accommodations.
Cost: $1,650 (a deposit of $300 reserves your space with the full balance due by June 10)
Early Bird: $1,450 for payment in full by April 15

Early Bird – $200 discount, course payment in full by April 15, 2013
PDC Refresher – $200 discount, participants with a previous 72-hr Permaculture Design Certification
Couples – $300 discount, applies to your joint total for couples registering, paying and traveling together
Check or Money Order – $25 discount, payment by check or money order

How to Register

  1. Fill out Online Pre-Registration – Click Here
  2. Receive confirmation, orientation, program and payment details to your email address
  3. Make payment to formally reserve your space

Contact with questions: Kolmi Majumdar – email, phone 805-886-7239