Tag Archives: Monsanto

Monsanto strikes again

Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready was bad enough, but Dicamba is an order of magnitude worse. It’s a form of toxic, aerial blackmail.

“It’s no surprise farmers are up in arms. Dicamba spreads death with the wind, drifting onto their crops, trees, soil, and water. Farmers are now faced with a terrible choice — switch to Monsanto GMO seeds, or watch their crops die.

It’s a greedy, dangerous scheme that will make Monsanto billions and could destroy our food system.” AVAAZ

You can read more about Dicamba here:

http://www.agriculture.com/crops/soybeans/in-wake-of-new-monsanto-seed-illinois-sees-more-crop-damage-from-dicamba

AVAAZ is campaigning for a million signatures to try to stop Monsanto. I’m not American so my signature won’t count, but if you live in the US and you care about food and justice, please sign the petition and ask your friends to sign too.

The petition is here:

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/monsanto_dicamba_og_tst/?bqbYGlb&v=98345&cl=13275740849&_checksum=d1b2a8ba752fa86abe58349ca1195cfa018c5244c439e343f548c84481d5288a

Thanks,

Meeks

p.s. we switched over to Daylight Savings time this morning at 2am….I hate it so much. 😦

 

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#Monsanto, Roundup and the spike in #autism

Like a lot of people, I’ve worried that GMOs would cause health problems down the track, but I assumed that Monsanto’s Roundup was just another weedkiller. Wrong. Roundup has been the villain of the piece all along. 😦

Before you  watch the video talk below, let me give you a very quick roundup [excuse the pun] of how this all began. The first genetically modified food product was the Flavr Savr tomato. The company that produced it was bought out by Monsanto, but Monsanto was not in the business of producing food, it was in the business of producing weedkiller. So why buy the GMO technology? The reason was to produce food crops that would be, effectively, immune to the effects of its Roundup Ready product. Such crops would, effectively, extend the life of the Roundup product indefinitely.

To achieve this goal, Monsanto needed to get its Roundup tolerant crops into commercial production as quickly and cheaply as possible. This meant two things:

  • circumventing the testing protocols that apply to medicinal drugs
  • and avoiding the necessity for product labelling

The development of medicinal drugs is a very long and costly process as the drugs have to be tested extensively, not only to prove their efficacy, but also to prove that they don’t do more harm than good. All of this research, development and testing takes years and costs a lot of money. A lot of years and a ton of money. At about the 6 minute mark of the video, you’ll hear that Monsanto only tested their product for 3 months. And no, that was not a typo. As for labelling, the US still doesn’t have it.

The Frankenfoods protests focused everyone’s attention on the GMOs themselves, and environmentally they are still a huge concern. But in all the outrage, the effects of Roundup slipped quietly under the radar. It was meant to be safe. Monsanto said it was safe. Right…

glyphosate-damage

Even if you’re not a ‘scientific’ person, Stephanie Seneff explains her findings in a clear, easy to understand way, and this is information we all need to know. The bit about glyphosate accumulating in breast milk really floored me.

My thanks to D.Wallace Peach for opening my eyes. First DDT, now Roundup. We are what we eat, and it’s hurting us in stealthy, insidious ways, starting with our children.

roundup-in-rats

Bon appetit,

Meeks


GMOs – currently in Australia

Some time ago, I sent a protest email regarding genetically modified wheat [via Change.org??]. To my great surprise, I was put on a database to receive notification of various field trials etc.

To my great shame, I did not look into these trials the way I should have. I guess I assumed others with more knowledge would ‘do something about it’. 😦

Today I received notification of one field trial I could not ignore. It had to do with Monsanto. At first, I was worried that knowledge of this application was secret, but I found that information, and a whole lot more, on the government’s own website. Here is a portion of it:

australia-current-gmo

Clicking on the screenshot should display the image in full.

And just in case you can’t read the web address, here it is :

http://www.ogtr.gov.au/internet/ogtr/publishing.nsf/Content/ir-1

The reason I’m posting about this is because:

  • I was shocked at how many field trials and commercial applications there are – the list literally goes on and on, and
  • I’m pretty sure that the general public hasn’t got a clue how much is going on behind our backs – notice the genetically modified banana???

I’ve always believed that there is a place for gene engineering, so long as:

  • it is properly controlled with all possible safeguards in place
  • and is for the benefit of humanity in general – such as a new vaccine.

The problem with genetic engineering carried out by Monsanto et al., is that they do not use genetic engineering for ‘altruistic’ purposes, and they do not have to apply the same rigorous and expensive testing as do GMOs destined for drugs/medicine.

Given the length of the list on the government website, I suspect the horse has bolted, but we may still be able to protect our organic growers from cross contamination…if we show that we do care.

Please spread the word about this list as far as you can. 😦

Meeks

 


#gene editing vs #GMOs

I just read an article about a scientist at Umea university in Sweden who was given permission to grow ‘gene edited’ cabbage in his own garden because…gene editing is not the same as genetic modification.

The regulations around genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food products have been tricky to navigate, and plants that fall within the definition of a GMO effectively can’t be grown in the field in Europe.

To overcome this, the team at Umea University appealed to the Swedish Board of Agriculture to allow its particular strain of cabbage to fall outside the definition of a GMO. And it worked: since the mutation that causes a lack of the PsbS protein is naturally occurring in some cases, simply intervening to deliberately switch it off is acceptable, as long as no foreign DNA is introduced.

And therein lies the supposed difference between edited and modified genes:

  • modified genes have something added,
  • edited genes merely have something turned off.

The fact that both techniques produce a change in the DNA of the organism is, apparently, ‘a mere technicality, Mr dear Watson’.

I am no geneticist, but I am interested in the field and I can remember when it was thought that genes were all that mattered. In fact, large sections of DNA were considered to be ‘junk’ because they did not ‘do’ anything. Then, as years went by, scientists discovered that this ‘junk’ DNA wasn’t junk at all. They also discovered that genes can be turned on and off and that it is this malleability that is important. Then they discovered that groups of genes, turned on and off, had an effect in combination…

My point in all of this is that genetics is still an evolving science. Geneticists do not know all there is to know about DNA. At best, given the current state of knowledge, they can make educated guesses, but following through with those guesses involves an element of risk. That risk is recognized in the creation of new medicines which must go through years of clinical trials to reduce the likelihood of adverse reactions amongst those who will take those medicines.

With food plants, however, slippery language has allowed geneticists to alter the DNA of plants without having to subject them to the same rigorous testing as medicines. Monsanto began the ‘spin’ by convincing the FDA that genetically altered plants were ‘substantially equivalent’ to their commercially grown cousins, and therefore did not require the same degree of testing.

The argument behind ‘substantial equivalence’ is that farmers have been breeding – i.e. changing the DNA of – plants for millenia and genetic modication is no different, just a bit…faster. The fact that back then, genetic modification was a shotgun approach, literally, by scientists who knew a whole lot less than they do now, did not seem to bother anyone, least of all the FDA. And the fact that US consumers were given no choice in the matter still doesn’t bother the US authorities.

Now, Umea university is playing fast and loose with language again. Why? In order to get around the law as it stands in Europe. New tool, new language, same old spin, same old lie.

The following is an email I sent off just before writing this post:

genetic-editing-email

I don’t expect to receive a response, other than perhaps something derogatory, but I had to make the effort because we in the West are dying of spin, dying of lies, dying of hypocrisy.

Is it really so much to ask that our leaders, and the most emminent minds of our scientists act with integrity?

We are not children, and we are not stupid. If the only way you can get what you want is by trying to fool us, then what you want is not worth having.

Meeks

 


Being wrong about food.

I have not written much about GMOs [genetically modified organisms] because… because I did not want to come across as some conspiracy theorist who has an axe to grind against ‘Frankenfoods’.

The truth is, I do not believe genetic engineering is inherently ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’. Like any branch of science, genetic research has the potential to save lives. But…

But the sneaky introduction of genetically modified organisms into our food chain was not the solution to some dire ‘need’. There is nothing wrong with the food we currently have. So why ‘fix’ it? The answer is to make money.

Again, making money is not inherently ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’. But… when the imperative to make money results in :

1. Buying legislators to ensure GM food does NOT have to go through the same rigorous, and expensive testing as drugs, and

2. Denies consumers both knowledge and choice

then that is morally wrong, and an abuse of the technology.

But don’t take my word for it. Please follow the link below to a post with truly shocking facts and figures.

Being wrong about food..

Once you have read this post you can make up your own minds about whether this situation is dangerous or not.

Meeks


The problem with science is…

…that we’re all human, and as such, we all have a split personality. On the one hand we are more or less hard wired for rational thought [work with me here please!], but at the same time we have the capacity to live quite happily with paradox. For example, I consider myself to be a very logical person, so I refuse to accept the idea of pre-destination, yet when things go my way I get this warm feeling that ‘fate’ is being kind to me. If a paradox becomes too painful I  do something about it, eventually, but most of the time I just live with it.

“Get to the point!” I hear you say.

“Yes, Master,” I reply as I tug my forelock.

So the fact that we can live with paradox tends to explain things like the rise of creationism. After all, you don’t see creationists giving up their cars, dishwashers, huge tv’s and all the other creature comforts that rely on the science they deny, do you? No, of course not. If asked they will say that they only deny evolution, which would be fine if evolution relied only on Darwin’s observations. The truth though, is that evolution is backed up by all sorts of other scientific disciplines, including the discipline of geology which gives us the petroleum that fuels our technology.

And therein lies another human fact : we are ignorant. We know how to use a light switch or an iPad but 99.999999% of us have no idea how either one works, or is produced. The same ignorance extends to the sciences. Notice that plural? It’s important because until fairly recently there were two types of science – pure and applied.

Back in the day, Universities used to be funded by governments and philanthropists so scientists could be free to explore new ideas just for the hell of it. From this ‘pure’ research, other scientists would come up with clever ways to put the discoveries to use. This was the ‘applied’ part of the equation. Industries then turned these discoveries into manufactured goods and services for consumers, i.e. us.

If we fast forward to the present day, however, we find that a third branch of science has been added to the family. I call this one ‘commercial’ science. Large companies with lots of money fund research and development directly. The scientists who work for these companies are paid well to do the kind of research that will benefit the company. Successes are turned into patented, goldmines. Clinical trials that fail are quietly swept under the carpet. This is not how pure and applied science is meant to work but hey, who wants to lose their job, get blacklisted and face possible litigation as a whistle-blower?

So from the heyday of the first man on the moon, we [the general public] have gradually moved to an era in which we no longer trust science quite the way we used to. We still cling to the technology, but we’re starting to feel uneasy about the juggernaut that’s bearing down on us.

The two great controversies of the present era – genetically modified food and climate change – are prime examples of our love-hate relationship with science. We don’t know who to trust any more because we don’t understand how the system works. And so we allow creationism equal time with evolution. And because we don’t understand how the politics of science work, we end up distrusting both the science that gave us genetically modified food, and the science that’s telling us our lives depend on doing something about climate change before it’s too late. As with government politics, scientific issues are now surrounded by so much spin and counter spin that no-one knows which way is up.

My compass in these murky waters is the old saying ‘follow the money’. On that basis I reject genetically modified food because it benefits huge multinational companies like Monsanto, and I accept the science of climate change because it definitely does not benefit huge, multinational corporations who might have to clean up their act.

I know this is a very unscientific way of making choices, but it works for me. Do you agree? Disagree vehemently? Have a completely different take altogether? You know I love a good debate and the weekend is looming, so let’s get this discussion started!

cheers

Meeks


Dr Horrible’s blog award

My blogging schedule is completely up the spout this week and I shouldn’t be posting today but Daud [aka Lord David Prosser] sent me such an interesting award nomination that I simply couldn’t resist. Thank you Daud!

So, what makes this award so interesting? Well, there is no set number for how many other bloggers you can nominate. If you’ve ever spent hours agonizing over who to nominate you’ll understand what a joy this is.

The second interesting thing about this award is that it’s like a mini interview with three set questions to answer. Again, this makes life so much easier, especially as the questions are kind of fun. I’ll list them before I answer them.

And of course there’s the graphic of the award itself. I’m a bit of a graphics whore so this one really appeals to me. 😀

And the 3 questions are :

a) If you ran the world, what would you outlaw immediately?
b) Boxers or briefs?
c)If you made a Nobel speech, who would you thank?

Now for the answers. Daud’s answers were witty and b) in particular was very funny as he interpreted ‘boxers’ as pugilists [e.g. Muhamed Ali] and ‘briefs’ as lawyers [I think that might be English only].

I can’t do funny, except by accident, so I’m going to be super serious. 😀

a) If you ran the world, what would you outlaw immediately?

Meeks : Well, I believe food is the single most basic thing that all living things need, apart from air, so I would ban GMO’s of all descriptions. [GMO = genetically modified organism]. Food ain’t broke, it don’t need fixin’ so leave it alone Monsanto!

b) Boxers or briefs?

Meeks : Hmmm…. I’m female so sorry, not going to wear either, however on a guy it would just have to be boxers! Briefs are what my late father wore. No contest.

c) If you made a Nobel speech, who would you thank?

Meeks :  I thought this one would be easy but it’s not! I mean, what am I winning a Nobel prize for? Peace? Neuroscience? [rofl] I’m sorry, I did say I’d be serious.

Ok, I’m going to thank fate for all the kicks and shoves that pushed me out of my comfort zones and made me think. Why? Because no-one ever achieved anything of lasting value by sitting in a comfy chair with fluffy slippers and a glass of shiraz.

And now for my nominations. After due deliberation I’ve decided to nominate 3 bloggers who will all be launching new books in the near future :

Alex Laybourne – Alex is a writer of horror.

Candy Korman – Candy writes literary thrillers on a monster theme.

M. Edward McNally – Ed writes epic fantasy.

All three of my nominees push the boundaries and innovate. They also write damn well.  Check them out!

-hugs-

Meeks


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