SMOKINCHOICES (and other musings)

February 27, 2010

GMO’s, the ugly truth

Filed under: GMO's food cost crisis — Jan Turner @ 12:34 pm
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GM Watch.org

10 Reasons Why We Don’t Need GM Foods

With the cost of food recently skyrocketing – hitting not just shoppers but the poor and hungry in the developing world – genetically modified (GM) foods are once again being promoted as the way to feed the world. But this is little short of a confidence trick. Far from needing more GM foods, there are urgent reasons why we need to ban them altogether.

1. GM foods won’t solve the food crisis

A 2008 World Bank report concluded that increased biofuel production is the major cause of the increase in food prices.[1] GM giant Monsanto has been at the heart of the lobbying for biofuels (crops grown for fuel rather than food) — while profiting enormously from the resulting food crisis and using it as a PR opportunity to promote GM foods!

“The climate crisis was used to boost biofuels, helping to create the food crisis; and now the food crisis is being used to revive the fortunes of the GM industry.” — Daniel Howden, Africa correspondent of The Independent[2]

“The cynic in me thinks that they’re just using the current food crisis and the fuel crisis as a springboard to push GM crops back on to the public agenda. I understand why they’re doing it, but the danger is that if they’re making these claims about GM crops solving the problem of drought or feeding the world, that’s bullshit.” – Prof Denis Murphy, head of biotechnology at the University of Glamorgan in Wales[3]

2. GM crops do not increase yield potential

Despite the promises, GM has not increased the yield potential of any commercialised crops.[4] In fact, studies show that the most widely grown GM crop, GM soya, has suffered reduced yields.[5]

A report that analyzed nearly two decades worth of peer reviewed research on the yield of the primary GM food/feed crops, soybeans and corn (maize), reveals that despite 20 years of research and 13 years of commercialization, genetic engineering has failed to significantly increase US crop yields. The author, former US EPA and US FDA biotech specialist Dr Gurian-Sherman, concludes that when it comes to yield, “Traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down.”[6]

“Let’s be clear. As of this year [2008], there are no commercialized GM crops that inherently increase yield. Similarly, there are no GM crops on the market that were engineered to resist drought, reduce fertilizer pollution or save soil. Not one.” – Dr Doug Gurian-Sherman[7]

3. GM crops increase pesticide use

US government data shows that in the US, GM crops have produced an overall increase, not decrease, in pesticide use compared to conventional crops.[8]

“The promise was that you could use less chemicals and produce a greater yield. But let me tell you none of this is true.” – Bill Christison, President of the US National Family Farm Coalition[9]

4. There are better ways to feed the world

A major UN/World Bank-sponsored report compiled by 400 scientists and endorsed by 58 countries concluded that GM crops have little to offer global agriculture and the challenges of poverty, hunger, and climate change, because better alternatives are available. In particular, the report championed “agroecological” farming as the sustainable way forward for developing countries.[10]

5. Other farm technologies are more successful

Integrated Pest Management and other innovative low-input or organic methods of controlling pests and boosting yields have proven highly effective, particularly in the developing world.[11] Other plant breeding technologies, such as Marker Assisted Selection (non-GM genetic mapping), are widely expected to boost global agricultural productivity more effectively and safely than GM.[12] [13]

“The quiet revolution is happening in gene mapping, helping us understand crops better. That is up and running and could have a far greater impact on agriculture [than GM].” – Prof John Snape, head of the department of crop genetics, John Innes Centre[14]

6. GM foods have not been shown to be safe to eat

Genetic modification is a crude and imprecise way of incorporating foreign genetic material (e.g. from viruses, bacteria) into crops, with unpredictable consequences. The resulting GM foods have undergone little rigorous and no long-term safety testing, but animal feeding tests have shown worrying health effects.[15] Only one study has been published on the direct effects on humans of eating a GM food.[16] It found unexpected effects on gut bacteria, but was never followed up.

It is claimed that Americans have eaten GM foods for years with no ill effects. But these foods are unlabeled in the US and no one has monitored the consequences. With other novel foods like trans fats, it has taken decades to realize that they have caused millions of premature deaths.[17]

“We are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences.” — Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toxicologist

7. Stealth GMOs in animal feed — without consumers’ consent

Meat, eggs and dairy products from animals raised on the millions of tons of GM feed imported into Europe do not have to be labelled. Some studies show that contrary to GM and food industry claims, animals raised on GM feed ARE different from those raised on non-GM feed.[18] Other studies show that if GM crops are fed to animals, GM material can appear in the resulting products[19] and that the animals’ health can be affected.[20] So eating “stealth GMOs” may affect the health of consumers.

8. GM crops are a long-term economic disaster for farmers

A 2009 report showed that GM seed prices in America have increased dramatically, compared to non-GM and organic seeds, cutting average farm incomes for US farmers growing GM crops. The report concluded, “At the present time there is a massive disconnect between the sometimes lofty rhetoric from those championing biotechnology as the proven path toward global food security and what is actually happening on farms in the US that have grown dependent on GM seeds and are now dealing with the consequences.”[21]

9. GM and non-GM cannot co-exist

GM contamination of conventional and organic food is increasing. An unapproved GM rice that was grown for only one year in field trials was found to have extensively contaminated the US rice supply and seed stocks.[22] In Canada, the organic oilseed rape industry has been destroyed by contamination from GM rape.[23] In Spain, a study found that GM maize “has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivations of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible”.[24]

The time has come to choose between a GM-based, or a non-GM-based, world food supply.

“If some people are allowed to choose to grow, sell and consume GM foods, soon nobody will be able to choose food, or a biosphere, free of GM. It’s a one way choice, like the introduction of rabbits or cane toads to Australia; once it’s made, it can’t be reversed.” – Roger Levett, specialist in sustainable development[25]

10. We can’t trust GM companies

The big biotech firms pushing their GM foods have a terrible history of toxic contamination and public deception.[26] GM is attractive to them because it gives them patents that allow monopoly control over the world’s food supply. They have taken to harassing and intimidating farmers for the “crime” of saving patented seed or “stealing” patented genes — even if those genes got into the farmer’s fields through accidental contamination by wind or insects.[27]

“Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell.” – Tom Wiley, North Dakota farmer[28]

References

1. A Note on Rising Food Prices. Donald Mitchell, World Bank report, 2008. http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Environment/documents/2008/07/10/Biofuels.PDF

2. Hope for Africa lies in political reforms. Daniel Howden, The Independent, 8 September 2008, http://www.independent.co.uk:80/opinion/commentators/daniel-howden-hope-for-africa-lies-in-political-reforms-922487.html

3. GM: it’s safe, but it’s not a saviour. Rob Lyons, Spiked Online, 7 July 2008, http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/5438/

4. The adoption of bioengineered crops. Jorge Fernandez-Cornejo and William D. McBride, US Department of Agriculture Report, May 2002, http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aer810/aer810.pdf

5. Glyphosate-resistant soyabean cultivar yields compared with sister lines. Elmore, R.W. et al., Agronomy Journal, Vol. 93, No. 2, 2001, pp. 408–412

6. Failure to Yield: Evaluating the Performance of Genetically Engineered Crops. Doug Gurian-Sherman, Union of Concerned Scientists, 2009, http://tiny.cc/eqZST

7. Genetic engineering — a crop of hyperbole. Doug Gurian-Sherman, The San Diego Union Tribune, 18 June 2008, http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080618/news_lz1e18gurian.html

8. Impacts of Genetically Engineered Crops on Pesticide Use: The First Thirteen Years. Charles Benbrook, Ph.D., The Organic Center, November 2009, http://www.organic-center.org/science.pest.php?action=view&report_id=159

9. Family Farmers Warn of Dangers of Genetically Engineered Crops. Bill Christison, In Motion magazine, 29 July 1998, http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/genet1.html

10. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: Global Summary for Decision Makers (IAASTD). Beintema, N. et al., 2008, http://www.agassessment.org/index.cfm?Page=IAASTD%20Reports&ItemID=2713

11. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development: Global Summary for Decision Makers (IAASTD). Beintema, N. et al., 2008, http://www.agassessment.org/index.cfm?Page=IAASTD%20Reports&ItemID=2713

12. Marker-assisted selection: an approach for precision plant breeding in the twenty-first century. Collard, B.C.Y. and D.J. Mackill, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, Vol. 363, 2008, pp. 557-572, 2008

13. Breeding for abiotic stresses for sustainable agriculture. Witcombe J.R. et al., Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B, 2008, Vol. 363, pp. 703-716

14. Gene mapping the friendly face of GM technology. Professor John Snape, Farmers Weekly, 1 March 2002, p. 54

15. Here is a small selection of such papers: Fine structural analysis of pancreatic acinar cell nuclei from mice fed on GM soybean. Malatesta, M. et al., Eur. J. Histochem., Vol. 47, 2003, pp. 385–388; Ultrastructural morphometrical and immunocytochemical analyses of hepatocyte nuclei from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Malatesta, M. et al., Cell Struct Funct., Vol. 27, 2002, pp. 173-180; Ultrastructural analysis of testes from mice fed on genetically modified soybean. Vecchio L. et al., Eur. J. Histochem., Vol. 48, pp. 448-454, 2004; A long-term study on female mice fed on a genetically modified soybean: effects on liver ageing. Malatesta M. et al., Histochem Cell Biol., Vol. 130, 2008, pp. 967-977; Effects of diets containing genetically modified potatoes expressing Galanthus nivalis lectin on rat small intestine. Ewen S.W. and A. Pusztai, The Lancet, Vol. 354, 1999, pp. 1353–1354; New Analysis of a Rat Feeding Study with a Genetically Modified Maize Reveals Signs of Hepatorenal Toxicity. Séralini, G.-E. et al., Arch. Environ. Contam. Toxicol., Vol. 52, 2007, pp. 596-602.

16. Assessing the survival of transgenic plant DNA in the human gastrointestinal tract. Netherwood T. et al., Nature Biotechnology, Vol. 22, 2004, pp. 204–209.

17. Trans Fats: The story behind the label. Paula Hartman Cohen, Harvard Public Health Review, 2006, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/review/rvw_spring06/rvwspr06_transfats.html

18. Report on animals exposed to GM ingredients in animal feed. Professor Jack A. Heinemann, PhD. Prepared for the Commerce Commission of New Zealand, 24 July 2009, http://bit.ly/4HcJuJ

19. Detection of Transgenic and Endogenous Plant DNA in Digesta and Tissues of Sheep and Pigs Fed Roundup Ready Canola Meal. Sharma, R. et al., J. Agric. Food Chem., Vol. 54, No. 5, 2006, pp. 1699–1709; Assessing the transfer of genetically modified DNA from feed to animal tissues. Mazza, R. et al., Transgenic Res., Vol. 14, No. 5, 2005, pp. 775–784; Detection of genetically modified DNA sequences in milk from the Italian market. Agodi, A., et al., Int. J. Hyg. Environ. Health, Vol. 209, 2006, pp. 81–88

20. Report on animals exposed to GM ingredients in animal feed. Professor Jack A. Heinemann, PhD. Prepared for the Commerce Commission of New Zealand, 24 July 2009, http://bit.ly/4HcJuJ

21. The Magnitude and Impacts of the Biotech and Organic Seed Price Premium. Dr Charles Benbrook, The Organic Center, December 2009, http://www.organic-center.org/reportfiles/Seeds_Final_11-30-09.pdf

22. Risky business: Economic and regulatory impacts from the unintended release of genetically engineered rice varieties into the rice merchandising system of the US. Blue, Dr E. Neal, report for Greenpeace, 2007, http://www.greenpeace.org/raw/content/international/press/reports/risky-business.pdf

23. Seeds of doubt: North American farmers’ experience of GM crops. Soil Association, 2002, http://www.soilassociation.org/seedsofdoubt

24. Coexistence of plants and coexistence of farmers: Is an individual choice possible? Binimelis, R., Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Vol. 21, No. 2, April 2008

25. Choice: Less can be more. Roger Levett, Food Ethics magazine, Vol. 3, No. 3, Autumn 2008, p. 11, http://www.foodethicscouncil.org/node/384

26. See, for example, Marie-Monique Robin’s documentary film, Le Monde Selon Monsanto (The World According to Monsanto), ARTE, 2008; and the website of the NGO, Coalition Against Bayer-Dangers, www.cbgnetwork.org

27. GM company Monsanto has launched many such lawsuits against farmers. A famous example is the case of the Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser. Just one article on this case is “GM firm sues Canadian farmer”, BBC News Online, 6 June 2000, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/779265.stm

28. Monsanto ”Seed Police” Scrutinize Farmers. Stephen Leahy, InterPress Service, 15 January 2004, http://www.commondreams.org/headlines05/0115-04.htm

February 25, 2010

Causes of Breast Cancer

Filed under: breast cancer,underwire bras,WDDTY — Jan Turner @ 9:31 pm
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banner

Breast cancer: the hidden causes

We’ve been told that women have a one in eight lifetime risk of getting breast cancer. To the statistically naive, this appears to mean that one in eight women will be stricken at some point in her life. However, it’s not that simple. Here is a chart developed by the US National Cancer Institute of the statistical chances of developing breast cancer, according to ages:

At age 20: 1 in 2500

At age 30: 1 in 233

At age 40: 1 in 63

At age 50: 1 in 41

At age 60: 1 in 28

At age 70: 1 in 24

At age 80: 1 in 16

At age 95: 1 in 8

Looks quite different, doesn’t it? The risk increases with age, and the one in eight figure applies only if you live to be 95.

What the NCI and other cancer organisations fail to consider are certain environmental factos which may be responsible for the growing epidemic of breast cancer.

Dairy products

Fat is always suspected as a culprit in breast cancer, but studies give conflicting results and the issue is not conclusive. While a French study found an increased risk with the consumption of saturated fat (Eur J Epidemiol, 1998; 14: 737-47), the famous Nurses Study at Harvard University did not (JAMA, 1999; 281: 914-20).

It is often mentioned that Japanese women, with their traditional low fat diets, have little if any breast cancer, but when they come to the US they soon catch up.

I maintain that fat is not the issue milk products are. The Japanese diet has no milk products, but now that they are picking up “Western” dietary habits, their use of dairy produce is rising and so is their incidence of breast cancer.

The highest rates of the disease are in Northern Europe (Finland, Sweden and Holland), the UK, the US and Canada all countries where cow’s milk is a major food. Frequent consumption of whole milk has been found to be a risk factor in cancers of the lung, bladder, breast and cervix (Nutrition Cancer, 1990; 13: 89-99).

Even more interesting, breast cancer patients were found to have twice as high a consumption of vitamin D (usually added to milk) as cancer free controls (Can J Public Health, 1991; 82: 300-3).

Outwater, Nicolson and Barnard of Princeton University theorize that the problem with dairy products is their content of both hormones and growth factors. In particular, they are concerned about IGF-1 oestrogen and bGH (bovine growth hormone). These may be implicated in the growth of breast cancer cells (Med Hypotheses, 1997; 48: 453-61).

In a Norwegian study of more than 25,000 women, those who consumed three glasses of milk daily had almost three times the risk of developing breast cancer as those who drank a half cup or less (Int J Cancer, 1995; 63: 13-7).

Interestingly, a Japanese study on rats found, contrary to the expectations of the researchers, that milk and yoghurt enhanced the development of breast tumours, as did margarine (Cancer Detect Prev, 1994; 18: 415-20).

Sugar and flour are also implicated in breast cancer research, as are heavier meats. A large, controlled study of 2,569 women with breast cancer compared to 2,588 control women was carried out in Italy between 1991 and 1994. It found that breast cancer increases with the intake of bread and cereal dishes, sugar and pork meat, and decreases with the intake of vegetable oils, raw vegetables, fish, beta-carotene, vitamin E and calcium (Biomed Pharmacother, 1998; 52: 109-15).

Underwire bras

In their book Dressed to Kill (New York: Avery Publishing Group: 1995), Sydney Singer and Soma Grismaijer observe that breast cancer is as much as four times higher in cultures where women use bras (Europe and North America), than in those that don’t (Singapore, Malay, rural Poland, Bombay and Native American). They found an increased risk of breast cancer with the use of tight bras, which can leave red marks on the shoulders and under the breasts, particularly if they were worn for more than 12 hours.

Tight bras also interfere with breathing, which may in turn cause oxygen deprivation in the cells. In their study, Singer and Grismaijer found that women who wear their bras more than 12 hours a day have a 21 fold higher risk of breast cancer than women who wear them less than 12 hours daily; and women who wear a bra 24 hours a day have a 125 fold increase of breast cancer incidence, as compared to women who wear no bras at all.

I personally have a great antipathy to underwire bras: the metal in them crosses the body acupuncture meridians, and so can block the normal flow of the body’s energy, which the Chinese call c’hi. According to the principles of Chinese medicine, this blockage can in turn cause stagnation and disease.

Bra wearing is a cultural habit, as is the consumption of dairy products. It’s hardly surprising that much in our 20th century lifestyles is literally making us sick.

Avandia – Killer Drug

Filed under: Avandia,type 2 diabetes drug — Jan Turner @ 7:43 pm
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Killer drug may finally be taken off the market three years – and 3000 deaths – late

24 February 2010
Avandia – the discredited type II diabetes drug – continues to be prescribed by doctors, and is still killing around 100 people every month, even though it was identified as being potentially lethal three years ago. Astonishingly, the drug has stayed on the market despite the findings of a report in 2007 that demonstrated it was killing around 19 per cent of patients, and was causing non-fatal heart problems in a further 8 per cent. Its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has been fighting hard to keep the drug on the market, but its days may finally be numbered, according to confidential papers circulating within America’s drug regulator, the Food and Drug Administration. Avandia (rosiglitazone) causes around 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure every month, the report discloses, and was responsible for 304 deaths in the third quarter of 2009. Two of the report’s authors, David Graham and Kate Gelperin, are calling for Avandia to be removed from the market – finally. (Source: New York Times, February 20, 2010).
Source:
WDDTY   (What Doctors Don’t Tell You)

February 24, 2010

COPD, a little help

Filed under: COPD — Jan Turner @ 5:59 pm
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For those of us who have COPD,  (thank you very much, my old nicotine friend),  We are told there is little which can be done as is stated quite clearly in this article.  I do not choose to argue with the establishment on this (after all, one must pick and choose – right?)

However, anybody who reads my blog with any regularity might already know that I am one of millions who now use and practice EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)  for the purpose of relieving pain in any of its forms, including, attitudinal or emotional, such as grief, sorrow,  loneliness,  anger, resentment and so on.   So much can be remedied just through that which we choose to ‘focus’ on.    My husband Marty, ( God bless him) used to try to tell me that thoughts were  things – - thank you, dear heart -  I think I finally got it.   Anyway, there are tapping techniques which can help anyone willing to give it a go.  I did a post April 24, 2009 called  ” Lung Woes?  check this out”.  Then I got to thinking I have already laid out the tapping points for those who could benefit from this in another post called “Fix Restless Leg Syndrome w/EFT (7-21-09).  So I have just copied that and put it into a PAGE up near the title of the blog.  So access it if and when you want to.

Using EFT on myself for other issues (thyroid, eyes, arthritis in right hip and emotional things from time to time, several surprising things came about.  I no longer use glasses to drive a car;  my breathing has improved greatly and I wasn’t even tapping on that;  my lifelong craving for chocolate has lessened so much that generally I don’t even think of it.  For the first time in my adult life, my thyroid gland seems content and is reflecting a healthier harmony with the rest of my body.  Of course, as I posted last week in “Stroke or heart problems – just luck?” (maybe it was in the comment that followed), I am seeing a wonderful physician now who has guided me wisely through the maize.             Jan

TO YOUR GOOD HEALTH

The Columbus Dispatch,    October 12, 2009

Tricks could help lung-disease sufferer


Q: I’m inquiring for a friend about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I’d like to know what to look for in the last stages of COPD. We’re in prison,
and my friend is having a hard time physically. He is 60. I want to help him.


A: The chronic in COPD indicates
that it’s permanent; obstructive, that there’s a blockage of air passing into the lungs and oxygen into the blood,  and pulmonary, that the lungs are affected.
The two main COPD illnesses are emphysema and chronic bronchitis; usually, both are seen together. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause.


Emphysema indicates destruction of the lung’s air sacs — the millions of tiny, delicate, cellophane-like structures through which oxygen passes into the blood from the lungs.
Chronic bronchitis is inflammation of airways — bronchi, or breathing tubes. They’re filled with thick, yellow mucus, and they have narrowed. The signs of COPD are shortness of breath during activity and a cough that won’t stop.


The stages of COPD are best defined by lung tests. Symptoms are only a rough guide to the stages. In the advanced stages of COPD, a person struggles for air when taking just a few steps, and the coughing is constant.   COPD isn’t curable. It is treatable. Medicines can expand the narrowed
breathing tubes and can soothe their irritation. Oxygen is required in advanced stages.


Two maneuvers that your friend can do might help him breathe more easily.
One is to exhale through his mouth with his lips pursed in the whistling position. This helps keep airways open.
The other trick is to lean a bit forward at the waist when walking. That posture provides more room for the lungs to fill with air.


Q: Is there really a “triangle of death” on the face in which a popped acne pimple can cause death?

A: The “triangle of death” is formed by the bridge of the nose and the corners of the mouth. Facial veins there have a direct communication to veins of the brain. Forcing bacteria into those veins by popping a pimple can push the germs into the venous blood of the brain and possibly cause a brain infection.

.
I’ve heard about the triangle of death since grade school. Seldom have I heard it discussed in medical meetings.    I can’t tell you whether anyone has died as a result of squeezing pimples in this section of the face.    All the same, one shouldn’t squeeze pimples at any site. The bacteria in a pimple are pushed into the adjacent skin and can set up another site of infection.


Dr. Donohue answers letters only in his North America Syndicate column but provides an order form of available health newsletters. Write him at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, Fla. 32853-6475.

DR. PAUL G. DONOHUE

“The Family” of C Street

Group tries to lift veil on mystery in D.C.

A group of 13 Columbus-area pastors intends to file a complaint with the IRS today to get to the bottom of the tax-exempt status of the C Street Center in Washington.

By Joe Hallett
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

In a move to shine light on one of Washington’s most secretive and perhaps most powerful organizations, a group of Columbus pastors is challenging the tax-exempt status of a boardinghouse for Congress members known as the C Street Center.

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The 13 pastors from mainstream Christian denominations plan to file a complaint today with the Internal Revenue Service contending that the center is not a church and that its tax classification as one “poses a threat to the integrity and legitimacy … of all religious organizations in the United States.” In their 10-page complaint, the pastors say they are concerned that “an exclusive residential club for powerful officials may be masquerading as a church.”
C Street’s activities, they say, “are shrouded in secrecy. Its powerful residents reportedly adhere to a code of silence. … This lack of transparency shows a disdain for the political, legislative and economic accountability that define constitutional democracy.”

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The IRS complaint has the potential to pry open the funding sources and activities of a red-brick house at 133 C Street SE — just a short walk from the Capitol — that is a residence and spiritual refuge for influential members of Congress and last year became the epicenter in Republican sex scandals.

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“I look at C Street as a total abuse of claiming to be a church,” said one of the complainants, the Rev. Forrest Hoppe, Columbus based regional minister of the United Church of Christ. “On behalf of the churches I work with and serve, I have a responsibility to call into question the legitimacy of this organization as a church.”

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Various news reports have said that the C Street facility, valued at more than $1.8 million, is run by a secretive evangelical Christian network called the Fellowship Foundation, also known as the Family, which has its headquarters in Arlington, Va. For more than 50 years, the Fellowship Foundation has organized the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, traditionally attended by U.S. presidents.    But Richard Carver, president of the Fellowship Foundation, said his charitable organization does not own the C Street Center and has no control over its policy. He said he does not know who owns or runs the center.
“It is simply not a part of anything we do,” Carver said.

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Marcus Owens, a Washington tax attorney representing the pastors, said the relationship between the Fellowship Foundation and C Street is murky, and “no one knows who owns (C Street) and no one knows who funds it,” because “it is a church and it doesn’t have to file any public documents.”   A connection between the Fellowship Foundation and C Street was made in a book published last year, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power. Author Jeff Sharlet said he infiltrated the Fellowship Foundation.   Last year, it was revealed that two Republicans, Nevada Sen. John Ensign, who lived at the C Street Center, and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, received counseling there for their extramarital affairs..
Along with allegedly providing cheap rent, C Street Center ministers to the powerful by hosting private Bible sessions and weekly dinners for members of Congress, according to published reports.

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The Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of the North Congregational United Church of Christ on W. Henderson Road, said he had vaguely followed early news reports about C Street Center and, “at some point, I heard that C Street was a church — and that’s what hooked me. The more I read about it, the more I discovered there is no transparency and there is clearly a blending of private influence with public officials.” He organized a group of activist pastors in Columbus who in recent years have fashioned themselves as watchdogs for the separation of church and state, filing IRS complaints twice against central Ohio churches they think improperly delved into politics. In their complaint, the pastors cite news reports, property records, IRS regulations, congressional records and other sources to bolster their case that the C Street Center is not a church but a boardinghouse providing cheap rent for members of Congress.

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“If C Street Center’s classification as a church is not challenged by recognized, ordained members of the clergy, then the charitable and religious activities of all legitimate houses of worship are jeopardized at great cost to the beneficiaries of those activities,” the complaint says.    The complaint lists five members of Congress as living at C Street: Reps. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn.; Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; Mike Doyle D-Pa; Ensign; and Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. It cited news reports from 2002 that each resident paid $600 a month in rent.   Spokespeople for Stupak and Doyle said they no longer live at C Street. Stupak’s office forwarded a statement from Stupak saying he moved out of the house this year because of controversy swirling around it. Stupak said he does not belong to the Family and he had never been asked to sign an oath of secrecy concerning C Street or its residents.    “At no point did renting a room at C Street influence any of my votes” or his ability to serve in Congress, Stupak wrote.

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The C Street Center had claimed a religious exemption from District of Columbia property taxes, but last fall the District found that 66 percent of the center was being used as a residence and ordered C Street to pay taxes on that portion. Owens, director of the IRS tax-exempt division from 1990 to 2000, said that if it is determined that congressional members living in the center are paying below market-value rent, then they could be violating ethics rules. Members are prohibited from accepting gifts exceeding $50.

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“The loss of tax-exempt status would mean (C Street) would have to file tax returns,” Owens said. “The visibility of that effort could cause the ethics committees in the Senate and House to take a closer look.”

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A primary goal of the pastors is to lift C Street’s tax exemption and cause it to have to reveal its sources of income, including whether individuals or corporations are using it as a vehicle to influence members of Congress on policy.
The Rev. Bob Molsberry, Ohio conference minister for the United Church of Christ, said he is concerned that C Street is “hiding behind the cloak of religion in order to do political stuff.”
jhallett@dispatch.com

JONATHAN QUILTER DISPATCH
The Rev. Eric Williams, right, is the leader of a group of pastors in Columbus who are challenging the IRS status of a Washington-based organization called the Family. The group includes, from left, the Revs. Jo Anne Nay, Forrest Hoppe, Bob Molsberry, Eric Brown and Al Debelak. They were photographed at North Congregational United Church of Christ.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Pastors take the law into their hands

Group has asked IRS before to make sure that churches stay out of politics

By Joe Hallett
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

The reverends irreverently call themselves the “Dirty 31,” a reference to a moniker they received in a 2006 letter to the editor of The Dispatch from a local Baptist minister.   Three times now, including a complaint they plan to file today against the secretive C Street Center in Washington, D.C., the activist pastors have challenged the tax-exempt status of religious organizations they believe have improperly dabbled in partisan politics.    Their numbers fluctuate, but their mission is always the same: protect the divide between church and state. They do it with passion. “What angers me most is when (churches or pastors) interpret the words of Jesus to uphold their own political motives,” said the Rev. Al Debelak, senior minister at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Columbus.

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In 2006, 31 of the pastors asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the World Harvest Church in Columbus and the Fairfield Christian Church in Lancaster improperly boosted the candidacy of J. Kenneth Blackwell, the GOP candidate for governor. Two years later, 45 central Ohio religious leaders complained to the IRS that a Scottsdale, Ariz., nonprofit group that champions conservative Christian causes, the Alliance Defense Fund, was sponsoring Pulpit Freedom Sunday to urge churches to take sides in political campaigns.

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Today’s complaint against the C Street Center is signed by 13 of the pastors, who have been led by the Rev. Eric Williams, senior minister at North Congregational United Church of Christ in Columbus.    “Whenever I feel the (Christian) church is being maligned or misrepresented, boom! Twin flags of passion go up — one as a child of God, and another as an American citizen,” Williams said.
Although the IRS does not make public its disposition of complaints, seven pastors interviewed at Williams’ church said they have seen evidence that their activism has highlighted and tempered the political involvement of churches.
“We’ve raised awareness and caused an ongoing discussion about the role of faith and politics,” said the Rev. Forrest Hoppe of the United Church of Christ.

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The pastors stressed that they act as individuals, not on behalf of their churches, when they sign IRS complaints, and they always inform their congregations. A few congregants have complained, they acknowledged.    “You’ll hear: ‘I didn’t sign on to this.’” said the Rev. Bob Molsberry, Ohio conference minister for the United Church of Christ.

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The other nine pastors who signed the complaint against the C Street Center are:
Eric Brown, senior minister, Woodland Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); William Casto, retired professor, Methodist Theological Seminary of Ohio; Ward Cornett, professor, Trinity Lutheran Seminary; Jim Gebhart, (United Methodist) past president of the American Association of Clinical Pastoral Educators; Kathy Hurt, senior minister, First Baptist Church, Granville; David Meredith, senior minister, Broad Street United Methodist Church; Roger Miller, retired, United Church of Christ; Jo Anne Nay, minister, North Congregational United Church of Christ; Stephen Smith, senior rector, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church.
jhallett@dispatch.com

JONATHAN QUILTER DISPATCH
The Rev. Forrest Hoppe of the United Church of Christ talks with other pastors about a complaint to be filed today. They met at the North Congregational United Church of Christ.

February 23, 2010

Starving the Beast

Filed under: Paul Krugman — Jan Turner @ 5:06 pm
Tags: ,

Republican plan is to invite fiscal catastrophe

PAUL KRUGMAN

OK, the beast is starving. Now what? That’s the question confronting Republicans. But they’re refusing to answer, or even to engage in any serious discussion about what to do.   Ever since Ronald Reagan, the GOP has been run by people who want a much smaller government. In the famous words of the activist Grover Norquist, conservatives want to get the government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
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But there has always been a problem with this agenda. Voters may say that they oppose big government, but the programs that actually dominate federal spending — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — are very popular. So how can the public be persuaded to accept large spending cuts?   The conservative answer, which evolved in the late 1970s, would be dubbed “starving the beast” during the Reagan years. The idea was basically that sympathetic politicians should engage in a game of bait and switch. Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts then could be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit.
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And the deficit came. True, more than half of this year’s budget deficit is the result of the Great Recession, which has both depressed revenues and required a temporary surge in spending to contain the damage. But even when the crisis is over, the budget will remain deeply in the red, largely as a result of Bush-era tax cuts (and Bush-era unfunded wars). And the combination of an aging population and rising medical costs will, unless something is done, lead to explosive debt growth after 2020.
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So the beast is starving, as planned. It should be time, then, for conservatives to explain which parts of the beast they want to cut. And President Barack Obama has, in effect, invited them to do just that, by calling for a bipartisan deficit commission.
Many progressives were deeply worried by this proposal, fearing that it would turn into a kind of Trojan horse — in particular, that the commission would end up reviving the long-standing Republican goal of gutting Social Security. But they needn’t have worried: Senate Republicans overwhelmingly voted against legislation that would have created a commission with some actual power, and it is unlikely that anything meaningful will come from the much weaker commission Obama established by executive order.
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Why are Republicans reluctant to sit down and talk? Because they would then be forced to put up or shut up. Since they’re adamantly opposed to reducing the deficit with tax increases, they would have to explain what spending they want to cut. And guess what? After three decades of preparing the ground for this moment, they’re still not willing to do that.   In fact, conservatives have backed away from spending cuts they themselves proposed in the past. In the 1990s, for example, Republicans in Congress tried to force through sharp cuts in Medicare. But now they have made opposition to any effort to spend Medicare funds more wisely the core of their campaign against health-care reform. And presidential hopefuls say things like this, from Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota: “I don’t think anybody’s gonna go back now and say, ‘Let’s abolish, or reduce, Medicare and Medicaid.’ ”
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What about Social Security? Five years ago, the Bush administration proposed limiting future payments to upper- and middle-income workers, in effect means-testing retirement benefits. But in December, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page denounced any such means-testing, because “middle and upper-middle-class (i.e., GOP) voters would get less than they were promised in return for a lifetime of payroll taxes.”   At this point, then, Republicans insist that the deficit must be eliminated, but they’re not willing either to raise taxes or to support cuts in any major government programs. And they’re not willing to participate in serious bipartisan discussions, either, because that might force them to explain their plan — and there isn’t any plan, except to regain power.
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But there is a kind of logic to the current Republican position: In effect, the party is doubling down on starve-the-beast. Depriving the government of revenue, it turns out, wasn’t enough to push politicians into dismantling the welfare state. So now the de facto strategy is to oppose any responsible action until we are in the midst of a fiscal catastrophe. You read it here first.
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Paul Krugman writes for The New York Times.

February 21, 2010

GMO’s trump Climate change in our “destruction”

Alliance for Natural Health – Europe

Say NO to GM


Why we need to take a stand on GM

GM represents probably the biggest uncontrolled experiment ever conducted by humans.

Contrary to the PR from the handful of biotech companies that are responsible for producing the genetically modified (GM) foods that can now be found in up to 70% of processed foods in supermarkets in the US—and in increasing amounts in many other countries—the process of ‘engineering’ genes from unrelated species into food crops is far from precise.

Our direct consumption of GM food, but also our indirect consumption of it via animals that have in turn been fed GM feed, poses very serious risks to human health and the environment.

These threats are very real but have been ignored by regulators like the USA’s pro-GM FDA. These regulators have avoided any detailed evaluations of GM safety as they regard it to be unnecessary because GM crops are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM cousins. Unfortunately, this is an assumption that has been proven false many times over and is one that is contested by a large and ever growing group of geneticists and molecular biologists around the world.

What can I do to protect myself, and the environment from GM?

The ANH upholds the view that consumer resistance to purchasing any GM produce, as well as political pressure, is going to be among the most powerful determinants as to whether the rampage of GM on the natural environment, and on our bodies, is going to continue. In a word, it’s really up to you and what you, your friends and your family are going to do. Are you prepared to avoid consuming any GM produce? (Europeans need only read the labels of packaged or processed foods or buy organic foods to avoid GM.)

Consumers in the US—as well as other parts of the world—can learn a lot about the ways of avoiding GM by going to the website of the Institute for Responsible Technology, its Campaign for Healthier Eating in America, its Non-GMO Shopping Guide and its GM-Free Schools Campaign. Also, look out for the No-GMO logo that’s going to be increasingly found on US produce once the initiative is launched later this year. The initiative currently has the support of food businesses with around $12 billion turnover.

What foodstuffs have been subject to genetic engineering?

Biggest targets for GM

  • Soybeans
  • Maize
  • Oilseed rape
  • Cotton ‘Engineered’

but on a much smaller scale

  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Papaya
  • Alfalfa and a few other crops have also been

The key traits that have been added to commercial GM crops are herbicide tolerance, which allows farmers to spray such GM crops with herbicide (mostly glyphosate or RoundUp®) to kill weeds while not killing the crop itself, and insect resistance, particularly through the expression of Bt-toxin (a toxin produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis). Some crops possess both traits and are referred to as ‘stacked’ transgenics.

Over 110 million hectares of agricultural land is currently cultivated with GM crops, around half of this is in the USA, the single largest GM crop cultivator. The global area given over to GM has doubled in the last 5 years.

The US has also allowed the use of a GM-altered (recombinant) bovine growth hormone (rbGH) intended to increase dairy yields, which most other countries refuse to accept on the grounds of the health risks it presents to consumers of dairy products derived from rbGH injected cows. The EU continues to refuse import of dairy products derived from rbGH-treated cows.

Evidence on how pressure can be imposed on other countries through the World Trade Organization (WTO) is well illustrated by the long-running dispute over growth hormone treated beef. The USA, which routinely uses such hormones to promote rapid growth in beef cattle, together with support from both Canada and Argentina, has forced sanctions on the EU for continuing to refuse the import of hormone-treated beef. Based on the EU-imposed trade barrier, the WTO has allowed the US to impose import duties on EU exports that cost $116.8 million annually. An additional CAN$11.3 million a year is levied by the Canadian government on EU exports to Canada. The EU argues that it is compliant with WTO rules because there is solid scientific evidence that hormone-treated beef may be harmful.

Horse trading is the name of the game when it comes to the global food trade, and there is increasing evidence that the EU is slowly caving to pressure over the commercial cultivation of GM crops, an issue that has been the subject of a long-standing trade dispute ever since the EU imposed a 6-year moratorium on GM crops from 1998. The WTO has ruled that the EU’s moratorium is illegal and it is putting increasing pressure on the EU to stop some of its Member States, notably Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg, imposing unilateral bans on GM imports.

Despite widespread public opposition to GM crops in Europe, GM food and animal feed usage in Europe is continuing to grow. The difference in Europe, compared with many parts of the world, including the US, is that there is compulsory labelling of GM-containing foods (at least those that contain more than 0.9% GM). The trouble is, European consumers clearly don’t study labels that carefully and are consuming ever larger amounts of GM-containing produce, as revealed in a recent EU study involving 6 countries, led by scientists at King’s College London.

GM cotton trial in South Africa

What are some of the names of the companies that produce GM crops?

  • Monsanto
  • Bayer CropSciences
  • BASF
  • Dow AgroSciences
  • Pioneer (DuPont)
  • Syngenta


How are food crops genetically engineered?

The transfer of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)—the two strand spiral of genetic information found in every plant, animal and microorganism cell that controls the development and function of all organisms—from one organism to crop cells is not a clean, surgically-precise procedure. It is a very hit-and-miss process based on faulty foundations.

The genes from the donor organism, or synthetic equivalents, are not neatly spliced into the ‘videotape’ of the recipient’s DNA. They are forced into the DNA using a range of methods, often with very unpredictable consequences.

A common method of genetic engineering used in the development of GM crops involves the use of a ‘gene gun’. Millions of tiny particles of gold or tungsten coated in selected DNA fragments containing the required gene (gene cassettes) of the donor organism are fired with great intensity at recipient plant cells in the laboratory. An antibiotic marker is added so that cells where DNA has been successfully inserted survive following their dousing with antibiotic. A ‘promoter’, usually a part of the cauliflower mosaic virus 35S (CaMV35S)—actually the naked virus, the virus without its protein coat—is also included to ensure the gene expression is permanently turned on to maximum. This is something that tends not to happen with many traits in non-GMOs. Any surviving cells will have had the antibiotic resistant marker along with the new gene(s) and DNA of the CaMV35S successfully incorporated and can then be cloned to produce the new-to-nature GM crop plant, complete with its new complement of DNA.

The above method of gene insertion has now been superseded, in many cases, by using a bacterial vector. This approach originates from the work of Professor Marc Van Montagu and colleagues at the University of Gent in Belgium in 1975, and involves using a particular bacterium (Agrobacterium tumefasciens) that induces tumours in plants. Actually only a part of the bacterium’s cells is used—the plasmid—which contains essential elements of its DNA without the tumour-inducing sectors. The bacterium possesses an unusual ability, not unlike that of a virus, to insert some of its own DNA into its host. Genetic engineers are able to insert gene cassettes (containing one or more genes) into the tumour-inducing section of the bacterium’s DNA, which then inserts the new genes into the plant cell.

Contrary to what the biotechnology companies responsible for genetic engineering of crops tell us, there is a very real risk that transgenic DNA might directly transfer into unrelated species, a process known as horizontal gene transfer. Find out more about the science on this in an ISIS article published in March 2008.


Surely no GM crops are released into the environment without thorough evaluation of safety?

Wrong. Owing to the fact that regulators have decided under pressure from biotech companies that there is no need to thoroughly evaluate the health and environmental consequences of GM crops because they are viewed as “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM relatives, safety evaluation has been very limited.

One of the most thorough evaluations to-date involved a GM potato that was engineered to produce a lectin (protein) from the snowdrop that is well known for its selective toxicity to insects. The purpose of the genetic modification was to have a potato that would produce its own insecticide and hence reduce the need for conventional insecticides, while still being safe to humans.

The work was conducted between 1995 and 1998 at the Rowett Research Institute in Aberdeen (Scotland) under the leadership of Dr Arpad Pusztai, one of the world’s leading authorities on lectins and previously a pro-GM proponent.

The research findings, published in the prestigious Lancet journal in 1999, still stand as one of the most thorough investigations of the potential human health risks of GM.

The study involved assessing the effects of GM potatoes which had been engineered to express the lectin on young rats. The lectin, on its own, had been shown to be safe to rats when fed at 800 times the concentration at which it occurred in the GM potatoes. The results showed dramatic and unexpected effects that could not be caused by the lectin and could only be associated with the genetic modification.

The results rocked the shaky foundation of the GM industry. Dr Pusztai faced huge opposition from the Royal Society in London, from pro-GM governments, including the UK government and ended up being unceremoniously forced out of his job at Rowett. As increasing evidence for health and environmental risks continue to accumulate, Dr Pusztai is joined by an ever growing band of leading scientific researchers in the GM field who are adamantly opposed to the outdoor release of GM and its incorporation into human food and animal feed.

Read an article by Dr Pusztai, Genetically Modified Foods: Are They a Risk to Human/Animal Health?, which demonstrates the lack of adequate safety evaluation of GM crops. Read an abstract of a recent (2007) review by Dr Joseluis Domingo of the School of Medicine, Rovira I Virgili University, Spain, entitled Toxicity studies of genetically modified plants: a review of the published literature.


What are some of the possible health risks from eating GM-containing foods?

Scientists have revealed a very large number of adverse effects associated with the genetic engineering of crop plants. The following is just a small list of some of the adverse effects that have been documented following exposure findings:

  • reduced organ weight
  • reduced growth
  • reduced fertility
  • compromised immune function
  • inflammation
  • mutations
  • allergic reactions
  • new diseases
  • reduced nutrient content of food
  • cancer
  • premature death

Probably the most complete and accessible compilation of documented health risks of genetically engineered foods has been undertaken by Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestseller Seeds of Deception (2004, Green Books, Totnes, UK / Yes! Books, Fairfield IA, USA), and his latest book Genetic Roulette: The  Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods (2007, Yes! Books, Fairfield IA, USA). We strongly recommend all members of the public, academia and governments with concerns about GM foods to read both these books. They can be readily obtained through Amazon.

Alternatively, click here to discover more about the 65 health risks documented in Jeffery Smith’s book.


What are some the faulty bricks in the shaky foundations of GM?

The continued march of GM into our food supply has occurred only because dozens of errors, misconceptions, misrepresentations and even outright lies have been accepted by regulators, governments and unsuspecting members of the public.   We look here at just five of the most glaring defective bricks in the unsound foundations of genetic engineering:

Misconception 1: The ‘one gene one protein’ hypothesis

George Beadle and Edward Tatum were awarded the Nobel Prize for proposing this hypothesis back in 1958. They proposed that each gene within DNA coded for the production of a single protein or enzyme. The view formed the bedrock for the development of the genetic engineering of crop plants between the 1970s and 1990s. It allowed the scientists to think of strands of DNA, and the genes on them, like videotape or Lego bricks. You could splice or chop and change the DNA of a crop plant to incorporate whatever trait you so desired. Because the resulting GM crop would then be unique, you could also make a lot of money out of it through its patent.

The Human Genome Project which was completed in April 2003—the largest collaborative scientific project ever conducted—eventually proved this hypothesis to be incorrect. In unravelling the human genome, the project showed that there are only around 30,000 genes in the human genome, a much smaller number than was anticipated. Given that we know about the existence of some 200,000 cellular proteins (including enzymes) in the body, it is clear that some genes must code for more than one protein. Since this time, it has been found that most genes code for multiple proteins and only a very few code for a single one.

Therefore by incorporating a gene for a selected trait, it is highly likely that other, unpredictable consequences will arise. An increasing body of research is now beginning to support this view.


Misconception 2: The expression of genes in the crop plant will not be affected by the foreign, inserted gene(s)

This has again been demonstrated to be a completely false assumption. When the foreign gene is ‘spliced’ into the host plant’s DNA, there is no telling exactly where it will be situated and the foreign genes may have a wide range of unpredictable effects on the native genes in the recipient’s cells. The foreign gene and associated DNA may directly or indirectly cause some native genes to stop producing specific proteins or enzymes they are programmed to produce (‘gene silencing’), while it may increase the expression of others, some of which may have been dormant in the DNA for thousands of years. It may also cause some genes to express themselves differently and unpredictably, giving rise, for example, to allergens or toxins.

The documented increase in allergic reactions in countries in which GM crops are consumed and the death of at least 37 people and illness in up to around 10,000 Americans following the consumption of the genetically modified L-tryptophan dietary (food) supplement in the 1980s are examples of this.

No risks obviously apply to good old non-GM L-tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid found in liberal quantities in chicken and other meats.  It acts as a precursor to serotonin, the mood enhancing hormone that prevents so many of us entering states of anxiety and depression and taking SSRI drugs.

L-tryptophan and its intermediate, 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), have been used safely for decades as food supplements and are invaluable to many thousands.  They are a natural part of the food supply and again pose no risk, provided that they are taken in non-GM forms.


Misconception 3: Instability of DNA in genetically modified crops

It was assumed originally by genetic engineers that once the insertion of new genes had taken place and the modified cells had been developed into viable and crop plants, that their DNA would be relatively stable—or at least as stable as non-GM crops. This has been found to not be the case. It seems that the process of genetic engineering—where foreign DNA, often from a completely unrelated species—is forced into the DNA of a plant, making its DNA much less stable. As such, the DNA of

Misconception 4: Genes from GM crops won’t transfer into the environment

For years the biotech industry argued that the movement of transgenic DNA into non-GM crops or weeds or other plant, animal or microorganism species would not occur and could be guarded against by ensuring buffer zones between GM crops and non-GM ones.

It is now almost universally accepted that this is an inevitable consequence of increasing the hectarage of GM. It’s referred to as horizontal gene transfer or outcrossing and its impact could be catastrophic in either the short or the long term.


Misconception 5: Biotechnology is needed to feed the world’s expanding population

This is the big and emotive argument being pushed around by governments. It pulls at our heart strings and we are told that genetic engineering is merely an extension of plant breeding techniques that have been ongoing for centuries. Wrong again. Firstly, plant breeding works within the laws of nature. Nature doesn’t allow you to incorporate DNA from an unrelated species into a crop plant. It doesn’t, for example, allow you to put spider genes into maize plants.  It also has a very specific rule system for allowing recombination of DNA between related species. It is therefore a gradual process and does not involve the forced introduction of foreign DNA, antibiotic marker genes and naked cauliflower mosaic virus into its native DNA.

There’s little evidence that GM crop plants consistently give better yields, or that such yields can be sustained over many generations. There’s also little consistent evidence that GM crops are more nutritious and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that they are less nutritious and pose considerable health and environmental risks.

Then there’s the huge issue of who controls the seed supply. Biotech companies and pro-GM governments tell us that GM is the answer to food shortages in developing countries, as well being the most cost-effective way of producing cheap food for the developed world. But around 2 billion people on the planet today are subsistence farmers who rely on raising their own seed. GM takes this capability away from subsistence farmers and makes them depend on a small handful of biotech companies for their seeds. This concept flies in the face of all that has been learned about re-establishing self-sufficiency in rural communities in developing countries.

Might farmers be handing ownership of their seed to someone else if they accept GM?

The approach favoured by the biotech giants also flies in the face of findings on the state of agriculture made over 4 years of study by a collaboration of 400 scientists from 60 countries, which are detailed in a 2,500 page report—released in April 2008—as part of a UN project, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD). The executive summary of the report concludes that GM raises numerous contentious issues for developing countries, ranging from gene transfer, contamination of organic crops, undermining of local practices, reduced food security and unpredictable or reduced yields. In short, the scientists are saying that GM—at least in its present form—is not the solution to food shortages in the developing world.

Many developing countries have been at the forefront of resisting the shift to GM. Their governments, which by and large accepted agrochemicals in the past—many of which were banned in the west owing to their excessive health or environmental hazard—have not been so forgiving over GM. They are alive to the huge health and environmental risks. They understand the predicament it puts them in by becoming dependent on patented seeds from western biotech companies.

Large tracts of the Amazon rainforest, one of the most important areas of biodiversity in the world, is presently being flattened to make space for GM soyabeans to feed livestock in the western world. We have no idea what the consequences might be, but the existing evidence would suggest that widespread planting of GM crops poses a catalogue of potentially dire environmental risks.

One of the clearest pieces of evidence demonstrating the risk was a study in the US showing that pollen from GM maize kills Monarch butterflies.

Whatever happened to the precautionary principle that has helped to save many a whale, penguin and polar bear?

Is public opinion going to make GM redundant?

Although more and more countries are resisting increasing cultivation of GM, there is still enormous pressure from biotech companies which is being felt particularly at a governmental level.

The EU as a whole, and even some European countries that have previously supported the EU’s moratorium against further commercialization of GM, are becoming more pro-GM. This is particularly the case with the UK government.

It is clear that the biotech companies and governments are increasingly trying to prepare the public to be more amenable to accepting GM.

Do you know if there’s GMO’s in your food? Did the animal whose meat? you’re eating feed on GM soya or maize?

The World Trade Organization (WTO), the ‘policeman’ of global trade, regards the banning of GM as a barrier to trade and has been engaged in disputes with countries to restrict GM. Given that Europe has historically represented a big export market for agricultural products from the US and Canada, the US and Canadian governments, supported by the Argentinian government initiated a dispute against the European Union which is still ongoing.

Our key concern in Europe is that the European Commission itself is not fundamentally anti-GM. It is the public in Europe that represent the key opposition to GM—not the governments. In fact, although the European Commission doesn’t generally admit it, it is actually pro-GM. There is mounting evidence that the EU will slowly move into line with the US, to increase the number of GM registrations, to increase the land area within Europe given over to GM crop cultivation, and slip ever greater amounts of GM into our food. Leaked documents have revealed secret plans by the European Commission, and representatives of the 27 EU Member States to do just this.

Disconcertingly—as is so often the case in other matters—those at the tough end of the socio-economic scale will pay the highest price in health terms. This group tends to consume the largest amounts of processed foods, the perfect disguise for GM soya and maize products and derivatives.

At a global level, apart from the WTO from its pro-big corporate position as arbitrator over trade disputes, there is also considerable involvement of Codex.  The Codex Committee on Food Labelling, hosted by the pro-GM Canadian government, is providing the key battleground for governments, corporation-sponsored NGOs and consumer advocates to fight out labelling requirements for GM foods. There is a major and growing divide between those countries, headed by the US and Canada, that are pro-GM and opposed to compulsory labelling of GM ingredients in foods, and those, represented by some EU member States, many African and other developing countries, that are adamant that mandatory labelling of packaged foods is essential as a means of offering consumers choice. In other words, they support the fundamental human right—the right to knowledge.

Anything less than compulsory labelling, on the basis of the available evidence and the risks and uncertainty over GMOs is—in our view—criminally negligent.

Say No to GM

Remember: if you support the principles of natural health which serve to offer the body the appropriate internal and external environment to allow the optimal function of self-healing mechanisms within the body, ALWAYS say NO to GM! Anyone passionate about natural health has to say NO to GM.

That means making sure you know what you’re eating and buying, and making sure (as far as you can) that you are not knowingly consuming GM directly in your food or indirectly in meat produced from animals fed GM-soya or GM-maize. Presently buying organically certified food is one of the simplest ways of minimising your intake—but even this doesn’t necessarily eliminate your exposure altogether. It is particularly important for us to work to ensure that all children—who are especially susceptible to GMOs—are not unknowingly exposed to GM.

Help people to understand why we are faced with pro-GM spin from governments, regulatory agencies, international regulatory bodies such as the Codex Alimentarius Commission and the World Trade Organization.

Work to ensure safety evaluations by regulatory authorities are massively extended and made transparent. Based on the current scientific evidence, no objective safety evaluation could ever approve the use of GM for release into the environment.

And don’t forget to tell as many people as you can—people you know or those you can reach out to—about GM and its very considerable risks.

Copy this link: http://www.anhcampaign.org/campaigns/say-no-to-gm

…and send it by email to the people you care about.

Some online resources relating to the GM controversy

Anti-GM websites

Arpad Pusztai’s Homepage
GM Freeze
GeneWatch?
GM Watch
Greenpeace ?
Friends of the Earth ?
Soil Association ?
Organic Consumers Association ?
Institute for Responsible Technology ?
Non-GM Farmers?
GMO Compass ?
GMO Safety ?
GM Free Ireland ?
GM Free Cymru (Wales)?
Institute of Science in Society?Lobbywatch.org?
Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application for Science and Technology (PSRAST)

Pro-GM websites

Monsanto website / “conversations about plant biotechnology”?
European Association of Bioindustries?
Sense About Science / GM and Plant Science page?
Skeptico Blog on Genetic Engineering

In addition, the following links are to profiles created by Lobbywatch.org (UK author and journalist George Monbiot) about organisations that have been staunchly pro-GM:

Institute of Economic Affairs?
European Science and Environment Forum?
International Policy Network?
Sustainable Development Network?
Competitive Enterprise Institute?
American Enterprise Institute

Promoting independent research and public debate on the impacts of biotechnology

Testbiotech Institute for Independent Impact Assessment in Biotechnology

Multimedia

Presentation by Dr Robert Verkerk at Natural Products Europe 2009 in London (5th April 2009) on the risks of GM crops and food now on youtube. Go to news item and links.

Click here for an illuminating exchange between the UK’s minister for agriculture, Hilary Benn, and organic farming proponents, hosted by organic gardener Monty Don. (6th February 2009, London).  Reported by Sam Burcher of the Institute for Science in Society.


Reading

Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestsellers Seeds of Deception (2004, Green Books, Totnes, UK / Yes! Books, Fairfield IA, USA), and his latest book Genetic Roulette: The  Documented Health Risks of Genetically Engineered Foods (2007, Yes! Books, Fairfield IA, USA).

We strongly recommend all members of the public, academia and governments with concerns about GM foods to read both these books. They can be readily obtained through Amazon.

Alternatively, click here to discover more about the 65 health risks documented in Jeffery Smith’s book.


February 20, 2010

Poisoned PC’s “botnet”

PASSWORDS STOLEN

Poisoned PCs help infiltrate agencies

Network of 74,000 computers found to be infected

By Jordan Robertson
ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN FRANCISCO — Security experts have found a network of 74,000 virus-infected computers that stole information from inside corporations and government agencies. The unusual thing about the incident is not that it happened but that it was discovered, and it is a reminder of the dangers of having computers containing sensitive data connected to the open Internet.

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More than 2,400 organizations, including financial institutions, energy companies and federal agencies, were infiltrated by the “botnet,” according to the NetWitness Corp. security firm, which discovered it. NetWitness didn’t name the companies or agencies whose computers were compromised. The Wall Street Journal said the affected companies included Dublin based Cardinal Health Inc., Merck & Co., Paramount Pictures and Juniper Networks Inc. Merck and Cardinal Health said yesterday that one computer in each company was among those in the botnet but that no sensitive information was taken. The other two companies didn’t return messages..

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The victims don’t appear to have been specifically targeted, unlike the recent computer attacks on Google Inc. that prompted the Internet search leader to threaten to pull its business out of China. That’s an important distinction, because it shows how online secrets can fall into the wrong hands even when criminals aren’t necessarily looking for them.
“This kind of stuff is out there, and it’s pervasive,” said Amit Yoran, CEO of NetWitness and former cybersecurity chief at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Parts of the botnet discovered by his firm probably are still active. He said the network appears to be run from computers in Eastern Europe and China, but it’s not certain that the perpetrators are there.

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Botnets are networks of poisoned PCs that are remotely controlled by hackers and behave like their criminal robots. The PCs often become infected when their owners visit bad Web sites or open malicious e-mail attachments. Botnets are a major tool for cybercrime. They help criminals amass troves of stolen data that they can sell on the black market or use for schemes such as yanking money from bank accounts.

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The botnet that NetWitness discovered used malicious software called “ZeuS” that steals passwords and other online credentials. It’s primarily focused on poaching Internet banking credentials and is well-known in the security community.    That so many companies and government agencies were hit generally appears to have been incidental. Yoran said the attackers were targeting specific information rather than organizations.    Still, they were successful, snatching more than 68,000 credentials in four weeks. Most of those credentials were log-in details for Facebook and Yahoo and other personal e-mail services. On the face of it, those aren’t the most sensitive pieces of information, but they can hold the keys to unlocking other types of online accounts and private data.

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Security experts who weren’t part of the Net-Witness report said the findings illustrate the growing risk from the ZeuS software, whose authors are constantly updating it to evade detection by antivirus software and other security measures.
Don Jackson, researcher with the Counter Threat Unit of SecureWorks, said millions of computers are infected with ZeuS. Perhaps half a million of those are being milked by professional operators running the latest versions of the software.
He said the botnet that NetWitness found was a “major threat,” but he added that the criminals behind it appeared to be using an older version of the software that is easier to detect.

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A bigger concern, Jackson said, is a new version of ZeuS that has appeared in the past few months and is more powerful and even harder to detect. One feature is that it gives a hacker the ability to conduct financial transactions directly from a compromised computer. Otherwise, the criminal would have to steal the log-in credentials and use them on another computer. Some banks have put up extra security measures to detect and stop that.

February 18, 2010

Stroke or heart attack – just luck?

Some thoughts on our Health Future

Based on our choices made today

The Problem

So can we DO something about our health or must we just go down the path of current expectation of debilitating disease, mounting disability and dependence?  I got to thinking about this after reading an article in the morning Columbus Dispatch on ‘stroke patients’ and the comments of Dr Andrew Slivka, medical director of Ohio State University Medical Center’s stroke program:     “There’s nothing anybody can do to make it so they’re never going to have a stroke.” I completely disagree!

At the conclusion of my thoughts.    I will present the article so you can see what is so disturbing about it.   The article reflects the standard of care not only for stroke sufferers, but people with cardiac problems, high blood pressure,  diabetes and so many other afflictions.  That care is almost totally involved with monitoring vital numbers (blood pressure and weight) and asking about habits (smoking, drinking and exercise) and determining that the patient IS taking his medications and of course, prescribing new meds. This seems more like disease-monitoring rather than giving health-care.  But that’s just me.

Doctors can watch their patients for years as conditions worsen,  gain weight, loose energy and abilities; become more infirm and dependent.  A sad progress,  indeed.  Though we all hate it – - we accept this as the way things go knowing that there is not much one can do about it.  Who would say otherwise?

What we want from a doctor is to ‘fix’ our problems, tell us what to do to get better. That’s why we go to them.   Nothing is more irritating than to have your doctor state (with a smile of course) well, you know, you’re not as young as you used to be.  In other words – suck it up, this is your life now!   Everybody wants to be healthy, free of pain and to remain active and productive with independence and choice in tact.  So who else are we supposed to turn to when something goes wrong? I don’t mean hand-holding or patronizing euphemisms – - I want to know what’s wrong?  How and why did it get this way? What are we dealing with and how do we fix it? Not just treat the symptoms with one prescription and then another.  I am entitled to resolve with an intelligent solution.  Is my body missing something I’m not giving it (malnutrition)?  Are my organs over- burdened with toxins from our polluted world? (resulting in sick organs e.g. pancreas, kidneys, liver etc.,.)?  How can we solve this if we don’t know what is wrong.  DO NOT Just tell me IT IS AGING!  We weren’t designed to fall apart without cause – what is the CAUSE? If our doctors can’t do this for us, then can we still call this “Health-care”? Or is it Disease-care?

It is wonderful to be blessed with a healthy body, the way most of us were born.  When we are young, we take it for granted and can feed it crappy food and it doesn’t break down.. . . seems very forgiving, until one day, it isn’t.  Things start to go wrong.  We pay a price for all our prior indiscretions – stuff catches up with us.  If we are not happy with the pain, lost energy,  stamina and developing problems that weren’t there before, then we can sit up and look around and wonder what happened and try to figure out where to start.  Most people turn to their doctors and come home with a few prescriptions and that long downhill trip starts. Independent rebels such as your truly dig into books and ask a thousand questions.  And go through a lot of doctors because I am not a doctors idea of a good patient – I demand too much time and explanation.  They don’t have it to give, most generally, on any level.

The Quest

One needs to learn enough about what the body requires by way of nourishment in order to have good health and to keep it. You really have no choice, we must give it respectable amounts of time to figure out what works best for us.  We have a couple of very good resources to help get the job done. . . curiosity,  observation,  asking questions of friends and well-informed others and then – - very importantly – -  the Internet.   Doctors have seldom been my source of help.  How often I heard “We just don’t know,”  or “Science has no answers on that,”  and “Tonsils were one of nature’s mistakes, we don’t really need them.”   They just don’t know!  If your physician knows anything about nutritional body requirements, he or she went to extra training beyond traditional medical school with all it specialties.  Old fashioned, common-sense knowledge seems missing

You can buy diet books and try to read and digest them until you are cross-eyed and bombed out of your mind.  No two of them agree on anything.   Hundreds of doctors have written good and excellent books.  Countless celebrities, ditto.  Some quite XLNT.   Its a good idea to scan down the table of contents and check out the index in the rear to be sure whatever you are considering buying covers the essences you seek knowledge and help with.  Don’t just buy a name, no matter how new or hip it sounds.  We are all different with varying needs and experiences (and problems) – so let your inner genie guide you.   I have given away a great many books that I didn’t respond to once I got em home and tried to read and make headway. I don’t seek a ‘story’  in a text like this.  I want facts, lots of them.  I want details on what the organs do and need and what I must do to insure this.  I need to know quickly what the rules of the program are so that I can determine if it is realistic for me or I think I can make it work.

Our government isn’t much help either.  They have their pyramid thing which does nobody any good – - in fact, it is hurtful. The recommended daily requirements on vitamins and minerals are all but useless as well.  These guidelines are about as useless to us as is the FDA in supposedly protecting us from inferior or harmful foods and medications, etc.  So we are in the end,  ‘ on our own.’     That’s  a problem because  modern life has less time to spend in leisure activity than prior generations and so we need easy availability to information that we need.  There is no shortage of information, sadly, we are over-dosed on it.

My Personal Solution

Recognizing my nature and my need (due to relationship with the medical community), in order to help myself out of  (then) current trauma, I solicited help from a health-oriented person who recommended Dr Hulda Regehr Clark’s book, “The Cure for all Diseases”  Apparently, this has been a  popular book at health food stores and with the naturalists crowd, etc.  Though the title was off-putting, my gut approved and I bought it and never looked back.  This is one of the best purchases I ever made.  Dr Clark rose quickly to the top of the list of people I most admired.  An iconoclastic rebel, trained scientist and humanitarian, she dedicated her life to helping people help themselves.  She shares her machinery she invented with total displays of specs in how to build the Zapper,  a Synchrometer and frequency generator.  With all this, one can diagnose, detect and solve many problems.  Can’t you just see the glee in Washington?  Who did she think she was?  They ran her out of the states (like any other original thinker who dares to paint outside the lines) while calling them  “quacks.”Thereafter, she  worked in Mexico – just outside Tijuana.  I have written to her and spoken with her and benefited greatly from her books.  And I lamented her recent passing. Her foundation continues her work and I sometimes post an article here and there from them.  That was 1995.

The year before, I had discovered Dr. John McDougall and he made being a vegetarian sound appealing.  I had leaned toward this for decades, but was always dissuaded by friends and family insisting that it was unsafe.   So I bought his tapes and some of his books and tinkered around the edges for years.  When my arthritis began  troubling  me, I decided  – go for it! And did.  Overnite the pain of arthritis dissipated.  I was overjoyed and encouraged to really go for it.   It was very easy to do.  Lost a little weight, had a good time in the kitchen.  And so easy on the budget.

New to blogging (2008), I began including those I had come to respect and Donna Gates of Body Ecology is a remarkable teacher and I admire what B.E.D espouses.  Big Fan.  Have learned a good deal from her (fermented foods) and used some of her products.  Recommend her Video (11-19-09)

During 2009 I  began to seriously look at Professor Loren Cordain’s message in the Paleo Diet.  Bought the book because my son (Jeff Turner of Fit2Play.com) who is as smart as anyone out there about physicality, strength and conditioning, athletic training and so on spoke so highly of the Paleo Diet and Cordain.  Was really impressed.  Then in conflict.   This Dr Cordain is a scientist like my beloved Dr Clark.  He too, is gifted with an easy writing style and giving as many facts as one can absorb or need.  And the Paleo Diet functions from bases that I have long found vital to health (no matter what plan or program one follows – there are certain physiological things that should be honored if one is to enjoy radiant health:

  • Acid/base balance  (Paleo and B.E.D. both emphasize this)
  • Glycemic Index  (Paleo -great job explaining all this)
  • Food Combining  (both Paleo and B.E.D. discuss and teach this)

After living the McDougaller life (not 100%, but mostly), it was a psychological hurdle for me to accept this much animal protein into my diet again.  But the three issues (above) that are so important to me are well-suited to Paleo.  Also, there is the recognition that certain fats are not only acceptable but extremely beneficial to health and well-being.    The biggies I have to sacrifice are personal passions -  bread, potatoes and rice, as these are high glycemic load foods and not working well for the body.   (Had given up Dairy long ago)  But an offsetting  perk is  allowance for a little wine or occasional cocktail.

No matter what plan or method one uses,  always go for fresh and organic if possible.  Use nothing processed and of course that takes in all cans of anything;  nothing in boxes.  No wheat, grain, sugar or dairy and if you know anyone with the bellyfat problem – this is the eating plan for them (and perhaps, the best one).  This is not just  adipose fat, it is fat girding the inner organs and ruining one’s health. This is one heck of a way to drop the numbers on the scale… . .thanks mainly to observing the glycemic factoring and the increase of healthy protein which fires up the metabolic engine.

Please take this as encouragement to seek your own answers.  I have shared what seems to work for me and admittedly, the enormous popularity of the Paleo Diet  and the McDougall program with the readers of my blog.   There are so many other sources out there  including Gary Null,  Pritikin, Dean Ornish who all occupy prominent shelf space in my library.  But then, I cut my teeth on Adele Davis back in the 60′s.  So for me, this has been going on a long time.  It’s a major interest of mine.

We are all different, have different needs.  Our bodies are miraculous instruments and deserve the best care we can give them and I believe there is no need for heart disease, strokes, obesity and diabetes to be cutting our lives short and ruining the precious time we have in this life to enjoy it to the fullest.  You and I don’t have to be doctors to do this, to learn how to care for our bodies.  Whatever you do, whatever you choose, enjoy it and make it fun.  It is quite an adventure with a big payoff. My heartfelt wish for your bountiful health and pleasure in living.     Jan

Vigilant stroke patients cut risk

Follow-up, life changes essential to future health

By Misti Crane
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Stroke patients and their doctors should be vigilant in taking steps to stave off a second stroke, according to the author of a new study that reaffirms the risk of recurrent problems. The study, published in today’s issue of the journal Neurology, looked at 10,399 South Carolina stroke patients in 2002. The risk of a second stroke within one year was 8 percent. The risk of a second stroke within four years was more than double that, 18 percent. The risk of a second stroke among blacks was 16 percent higher than among whites.

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“The findings from the study suggest that South Carolina and possibly other parts of the United States may have a long way to go in terms of preventing and reducing the risk factors for recurrent strokes or death,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Wuwei Feng of the Medical University of South Carolina.    Overall, one in four stroke patients died within a year. About 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, according to the American Heart Association.
Recurrent strokes and other risks, including heart attacks, are well-established, and the study is a reminder of the importance of taking medication and making lifestyle changes that lower that risk, stroke experts said.
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“There’s nothing anybody can do to make it so they’re never going to have a stroke,” said Dr. Andrew Slivka, medical director of Ohio State University Medical Center’s stroke program. But he said there’s room for improvement in managing those things that can reduce risk.    Patients sometimes struggle to stay on medications that help with problems that can lead to stroke, including high blood pressure and diabetes, Slivka said.
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Lifestyle changes are notoriously difficult, said Dr. David Lang, a neurologist with the Mount Carmel Health System.
“If they’re smoking, they need to stop. If they’re drinking heavily, they need to at least cut back,” Lang said.
Access to medical care after a stroke is important, he said. Without good follow-up, patients might fall out of the routine of taking medicines and changing bad habits, he said.
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Ted Hoff of Delaware suffered a stroke in 2006 and credits his good health since then to a variety of factors, starting with the intensive inpatient rehabilitation he had at Riverside Methodist Hospital. Since then, Hoff’s primary-care doctor has been vigilant about monitoring his health, including his blood pressure, Hoff said. And although it took a while, he and his doctors found a combination of medicines that works.
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Hoff, 67, watches his weight and tries to maintain a positive outlook, something he thinks is essential to life after a stroke.
“The other thing that was very important in my recovery was the support I had from my wife. Everybody I talk to who has a supportive loved one, that really helps,” he said.   When stroke patients leave Riverside, they go with explicit recommendations about how to best avoid problems, said Dr. Geoffrey Eubank, co-director of the hospital’s stroke program.
The hope is that both the patient and the primarycare physician will work to achieve the goals set before the patient left the hospital.   It becomes easier to give patients a blueprint for trying to avoid strokes as more research is conducted to draw links between stroke and other factors, Eubank said.
mcrane@dispatch.com
ERIC ALBRECHT DISPATCH
In addition to obeying doctors, Ted Hoff, who recovered from a stroke, said the help of wife Marilyn was essential.

February 17, 2010

Use Focus – don’t push-back, Abraham

Filed under: Abraham-Hicks — Jan Turner @ 11:15 am
Tags:
Because others cannot vibrate in your experience, they cannot affect the outcome of your experience. They can hold their opinions, but unless their opinion affects your opinion, their opinion matters not at all. A million people could be pushing against you, and it would not negatively affect you unless you push back. They are affecting what happens in their experience. They are affecting their point of attraction — but it does not affect you unless you push against them.

— Abraham

Excerpted from the workshop in Orlando, FL  February 21, 1998

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