Are YOU a GMO Dragon Slayer?
You remember those heroic stories of dragon slayers where the hero was able to vanquish the beast by targeting the one vulnerable spot in its armor? Well, I believe that we are modern dragon slayers and our dragon is GMOs. I know we can vanquish the GMO dragon if we target its most vulnerable spot — consumer rejection.
The non-GMO movement is more fired up in the US than ever before. We have had unprecedented news coverage, high-profile court victories, thousands more products boasting non-GMO labels, and millions of people avoiding GMOs. The signs of a coming tipping point are here.
|In January of 1999, GM advocates arrogantly predicted that within just five years they would replace 95% of the world’s commercial seeds with GMOs. But within four months, the tipping point of consumer rejection by Europeans was achieved, and the food companies there committed to stop using GM ingredients.
Although this derailed their timetable, it hasn’t stopped the biotech industry from pursuing their ultimate goal — a takeover of the world’s food supply. As they’ve raced to push GMOs into more types of food, our movement has worked to fend off each new attempt, stopping GM rice, wheat, and eggplant; creating GM-free zones; winning court cases against GM alfalfa and sugar beets; kicking out GM bovine growth hormone from most dairies; and much more.
Now we’re at a critical crossroads in the US. The biotech industry is pushing hard to re-introduce GM alfalfa, to resuscitate GM sugar beets, and to feed us all GM fish. They are lobbying again to promote GM wheat and rice, and they have hundreds of other GM foods ready and waiting in laboratories. They want to put their plans of replacing nature back on track.
Someone overheard an executive at a recent biotech conference say, “The one person we really have to do something about is that Jeffrey Smith.”
Why would they be worried about little ol’ me? Because it’s not really me they’re concerned about, it’s us — and the tipping point against GMOs that we are going to collectively achieve.
We are preparing bold new dragon-slaying actions for 2011, but need your help.
Please invest in a non-GMO future.
Our collective work to stop GMOs ultimately influences every person on earth, the entire ecosystem, and all future generations. We have a lot on the line.
Help us slay the GMO Dragon by donating at this important time.
Best wishes and Happy New Year!
December 30, 2010
December 29, 2010
(This is me kicking myself! Got this email many days ago, but just got around to making a purchase today. Expires soon. I have bought books from them several times. For a bargain hunter – it can’t be beat. You can read their particulars below, for now I just wanted to tell you that the prices are almost unbelievable and the shipping is free. With a couple of million in stock, chances are good you can benefit. Your time is short, so look it over soon. They aren’t going away, it’s just the special pricing I’m referring to. Happy hunting Jan)
To view this email as a web page, go here.
The End of Year Sale, that annual favorite of book lovers (and really good deal lovers), has returned. This year, we’re offering you 15% off 5 or more used books, or 25% off 10 or more used books . The more you pile into your cart, the more you save, so browse our sale selection now. (Offer not good on Marketplace books.) We don’t just sell books; we’re tackling illiteracy across the globe. Be a part of it by following us on Twitter or joining the daily discussion on Facebook. Are you outside the US? We now have free shipping worldwide, not just here in the States. Check it out. We’ve got a triple bottom line: People, planet, and profit. Doing good isn’t just part of our business, it is our business. Find out more about us.
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55740 Currant Rd. Mishawaka, IN 46545
A HONEY OF A HOBBY
By Kristina Shevory NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE
Mike Barrett doesn’t have much of a yard at his two-story row house in the Astoria neighborhood of the New York borough of Queens. But that fact hasn’t kept him from his new hobby of beekeeping. He put the hive on his roof. When fall harvest time arrived, he just tied ropes around each of the two honey-filled boxes in the hive and lowered them to the ground.
Then Barrett hauled the boxes to a commercial kitchen in the borough of Brooklyn. There, along with other members of the New York City Beekeeping club, he extracted his honey, eventually lugging home 40 pounds of the stuff. He was happy with his successful harvest, but he also reaped something he didn’t expect. “I was surprised how much I really care about the bees,” said Barrett, 49, a systems administrator for New York University “You start to think about the ways to make their lives better.”
Until last spring, Barrett would have been breaking the law and risking a $2,000 fine for engaging in his sticky new hobby. But in March, New York made beekeeping legal, and in so doing it has joined a long list of other municipalities, from Denver and Milwaukee to Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, that have also lifted beekeeping bans during the past two years. All central Ohio municipalities allow beekeeping — although some, such as Grandview Heights, require city approval, which is largely a formality, said Barry Conrad, the past president and current treasurer of the Central Ohio Beekeepers Association. Conrad said the organization has members throughout central Ohio, including urban settings such as the Clintonville neighborhood and Bexley.
For 20 years, Barbara Bloetscher kept up to eight hives in her Eastland-area home without incident. She recently moved to Grand-view Heights and plans to move two of the hives with her in the spring. She doesn’t expect any problems there, either, even though each hive hosts an average of 50,000 bees. “They are very docile, and only a third of them fly,” said Bloetscher, the state apiarist (bee specialist) for the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Bloetscher knows a few tricks of urban beekeeping:
- Position the hives so the bees’ spiral landing pattern doesn’t regularly cross into the neighbors’ yards;
- place the hive behind a bush or other obstacle so the bees rise when they leave the hive;
- keep plenty of water in the yard so they don’t fly off looking for a drink;
- and make sure there are plenty of nearby crops — fruits, vegetables, flowering trees and wildflowers — for the bees to feed upon.
“The beekeeper needs to be responsible and conscientious,” Bloetscher said. “There are things the keeper needs to do to keep them from swarming.” Nationwide, hives are being tucked into small backyards and set alongside driveways; even the White House has installed some. Beekeeping classes are filling up quickly, and new beekeeping clubs are forming as established ones are reporting large jumps in membership.
At Barrett’s Queens club, membership has more than doubled — to about 900 — in the past year. The central Ohio association has grown from about 100 members a few years ago to 350 today, Conrad said. One force behind this rise of beekeeping is the growing desire for homegrown and organic food. Another is the urge to stem the worrisome decline in the nation’s bee population.
ERIC BRADY THE ROANOKE (VA.) TIMES A beekeeper surveys a frame of honeycomb.
The number of bees has been falling since the end of World War II, when farmers stopped rotating crops with clover — a good pollen source for bees — and started using fertilizers. Pesticides and herbicides became common as well. In cities, native plants were ripped out in favor of exotics that aren’t good for bees.
Four years ago, honeybee colonies started mysteriously to die around the country — a problem called colony collapse disorder. “We don’t know the primary cause, but we know the combination of poor nutrition, heavy pesticide use and bee diseases have put bees into a tailspin,” said Marla Spivak, an entomology professor at the University of Minnesota and a recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant for her work on honeybee health. Whatever the cause of colony collapse disorder, “People want to feel that they are doing something to help,” said Dave Mendes, president of the American Beekeeping Federation in Atlanta. “Having a few beehives in your backyard can make you feel better.”
Helen Hoffelt of Clintonville has been keeping bees for five or six years, rotating them between her home and her sister’s place nearby. She started keeping the bees in part because she wanted the wax to use in art installations. Now, though, she has grown so fond of the bees that she leaves the wax alone. “I can’t even take all the honey from my bees,” she said.
But beekeeping is forbidden in many places. Some of the bans arose after World War II. Cities, seeking to eradicate any traces of agriculture within their limits to show they were full-fledged municipalities, forbade the raising of livestock, chickens and other creatures used in food production.
Another wave of prohibitions came 20 years ago with the arrival of “killer bees” from Mexico. Fortunately, the bees turned out not to be the threat that people feared. Nurturing flowers, fruits and vegetables is another factor in the rise in beekeeping, and it ranks high for Marygael Meister, who runs the Denver Beekeepers Association. In 2008, when Meister took a beekeeping class and set up two hives in her backyard in Denver, her goal was to help her more than 300 rosebushes thrive. Meister said she had initially called the city information line and had been told it was legal to keep bees. The information was incorrect, and she received a cease-and-desist order when a neighbor complained about her hives. But instead of giving up, Meister decided to fight.
“I really enjoyed my bees, and it was not like I was keeping a mountain lion in my backyard,” Meister said. “It was absurd to me that the city was perpetuating the idea that Denver is so green and we’re not.” Meister spent the next five months urging city officials to legalize beekeeping. In November 2008, the Denver City Council did so, and shortly thereafter Meister started the city’s first beekeeping club. But legalization doesn’t give beekeepers free rein. Cities often impose conditions on beekeepers — an annual fee, a permit, a minimum required distance between hives and nearby structures.
The city of Minneapolis, which legalized beekeeping last year, has set particularly stringent restrictions. Besides paying a $100 annual fee per hive, beekeepers there must obtain signed permission from all the neighbors within a 100-foot radius of the hives and, for neighbors within a 300-foot radius, they need 80 percent of the signatures. For Jacquelynn Goessling, getting her neighbors to sign off on her hives was hardly a problem. People in her Minneapolis neighborhood of Kingfield were so supportive that some wanted to host one of her hives in their own yards, or to help by planting their gardens with the kinds of flowers preferred by bees. “Power to the bees” became a rallying cry for many of her friends. A year later, she has 12 hives citywide.
Max Wong, a Los Angeles beekeeper, hopes to wield some of the same political techniques in a legalization push in her city. Beekeeping rules there are a patchwork, with the hobby legal on one side of a street and illegal on the other. “We’re in trouble and the bees are in trouble,” said Wong, 42, a member of the Backwards Beekeepers club. “We need to do something.” Wong, a film producer who started keeping bees a year ago, wants to legalize bees not just to help out hobbyists such as herself, but to help feed and employ others. She sees bees as the best way to increase vegetable pollination in community gardens and thinks that some people, such as a few members of her club, could even become professional beekeepers. But — like Barrett from Queens and other new beekeepers — Wong is developing a close relationship with her bees, and she wants to ensure that others can enjoy the hobby as much as she does. “It’s like having 35,000 pets,” Wong said. “I’m hyperactive, so anything that shuts down my brain is a good thing. When I’m working at a hive, I’m quiet and meditative.” Dispatch Reporter Jim Weiker contributed to this story.
MARIA STENZEL NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY Beekeepers such as these in California wear veils and protective gear as they transfer bees from strong hives to weaker ones.
To learn more
Those interested in learning how to keep bees can enroll in the bee school sponsored by the Central Ohio Beekeepers Association. The association will hold two classes, each consisting of four sessions. One class will take place at Ohio State University’s Waterman Farm from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on four consecutive Tuesdays beginning Feb. 8. The other class will be held at the Franklin Park Conservatory from 6:30 to 9 p.m. the first four Wednesdays in March. Classes cost $50, which includes textbooks and a year’s membership in the beekeepers association. To enroll or for additional details, call 614-837-3899 or visit www.centralohio beekeepers.org .
December 27, 2010
Snow covers bicycles on a bridge in Amsterdam’s city center as most schools in the Netherlands closed their doors for two weeks for the Christmas holiday. Heavy snowfall disrupted air travel across western Europe yesterday, forcing more than 800 flight cancellations and leading to major delays in Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
PETER DEJONG ASSOCIATED PRESS
(This is a REALLY cool shot. . .brrr – don’t you love it? I do – big time. Just wanted to share. Hope everyone is enjoying the frosty weather. Carry on, no story here – – hey, why don’t you come up with your own story? Good idea? Write it any way you want – YOU are the creator! Jan)
COLUMBUS DISPATCH, December 18, 2010
The LDS Tabernacle in Provo, Utah, is ablaze as firefighters battle hot spots. The cause of the fire that began the night before last is unknown. The fire collapsed the roof and damaged the walls, gables and spires of the 19th century landmark of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
JEFFREY D. ALLRED DESERET NEWS (SALT LAKE CITY)
(This happened on the 18th of December (I think), and to me, it is so tragic. . .I didn’t really want to run it because it is very upsetting. In retrospect, I’m sorry I didn’t as we could ALL have sent them good wishes and a prayer or two for their recovery.
This is a very “old” Landmark building with so much history. I am reminded “what doesn’t destroy us, makes us stronger” Let us hope this is so. Jan)
December 25, 2010
(Dr Mercola’s post in his newsletter of December 13, 2010 has a hugely interesting and important message regarding the use of Coconut Oil in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The subject is well covered and scientifically addressed by Dr. Mary Newport in her efforts to help her own husband who has been afflicted with this disease. She was endeavoring to get him into clinical trials, but he was unable to gain entry due to his advanced stage. Determined, she pursued with Coconut Oil and by upping the daily dosage to 4 Tablespoons daily, was rewarded to learn that the reputed advantage of this oil was in fact, valid. Overjoyed, he improved so much that he was allowed into the trials. This is very encouraging news indeed. Please go to Dr Mercola’s site and watch and listen to this specific post. It is very large, so I have only excerpted it here.
I have used this for years as it is versatile and delicious with many known advantages. Jan.)
“Brain Starvation” is a Hallmark of Alzheimer’s Disease
One of the primary fuels your brain needs is glucose, which is converted into energy.
The mechanism for glucose uptake in your brain has only recently begun to be studied, and what has been learned is that your brain actually manufactures its own insulin to convert glucose in your blood stream into the food it needs to survive.
As you may already know, diabetes is the condition where your body’s response to insulin is weakened until your body eventually stops producing the insulin necessary to regulate blood sugar, and your body’s ability to regulate (or process) blood sugar into energy becomes essentially broken.
Now, when your brain’s production of insulin decreases, your brain literally begins to starve, as it’s deprived of the glucose-converted energy it needs to function normally. This is what happens to Alzheimer’s patients — portions of their brain start to atrophy, or starve, leading to impaired functioning and eventual loss of memory, speech, movement and personality.
In effect, your brain can begin to atrophy from starvation if it becomes insulin resistant and loses its ability to convert glucose into energy. It is now also known that diabetics have a 65 percent increased risk of also being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and there appears to be a potent link between the two diseases, even though the exact mechanisms have yet to be determined. It seems quite clear however that both are related to insulin resistance – in your body, and in your brain.
Alternate Brain Food Can Stop Brain Atrophy in its Tracks
Fortunately, your brain is able to run on more than one type of energy supply, and this is where coconut oil enters the picture.
There’s another substance that can feed your brain and prevent brain atrophy. It may even restore and renew neuron and nerve function in your brain after damage has set in. The substance in question is called ketone bodies, or ketoacids.
Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy. And a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil! Coconut oil contains about 66 percent MCTs. The benefits of ketone bodies may also extend to a number of other health conditions, according to Dr. Newport:
“Further, this is a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease), drug resistant epilepsy, brittle type I diabetes, and diabetes type II, where there is insulin resistance.
Ketone bodies may help the brain recover after a loss of oxygen in newborns through adults, may help the heart recover after an acute attack, and may shrink cancerous tumors.”
Medium chain triglycerides (MCT) are fats that are not processed by your body in the same manner as long chain triglycerides. Normally, a fat taken into your body must be mixed with bile released from your gallbladder before it can be broken down in your digestive system.
But medium chain triglycerides go directly to your liver, which naturally converts the oil into ketones, bypassing the bile entirely. Your liver then immediately releases the ketones into your bloodstream where they are transported to your brain to be used as fuel.
In fact, ketones appear to be the preferred source of brain food in patients affected by diabetes or Alzheimer’s.
“In Alzheimer’s disease, the neurons in certain areas of the brain are unable to take in glucose due to insulin resistance and slowly die off, a process that appears to happen one or more decades before the symptoms become apparent,” Dr. Newport states in her article.
“If these cells had access to ketone bodies, they could potentially stay alive and continue to function.”
The Ketonic Diet – Why Avoiding Grains Also Protects against Neurodegeneration
Another way to increase ketone production in your body is by restricting carbohydrates.
This is what happens when you go on a high fat, high protein, low carbohydrate diet: Your body begins to run on fats instead of carbohydrates, and the name for this is ketosis.
This is also why you don’t starve to death when you restrict food for weeks at a time, because your body is able to convert stored fat into ketones that are used as fuel instead of glucose.
Consuming medium chain triglycerides such as coconut oil is a better option, however, because the ketones produced by ketosis are not concentrated in your bloodstream, but are instead mostly excreted in your urine.
(Dr Mercola goes on to explain why, what and how this happens. . . .the parts he has recommendations on and a few cautions as well. This is well worth your time. )
Obama’s comeback was even more impressive than Clinton’s
If Barack Obama wins re-election in 2012, as is now more likely than not, historians will mark his comeback as beginning on Dec. 6, the day of the Great Tax Cut Deal of 2010.
Obama had a bad November. Self-confessedly shellacked in the midterm election, he fled the scene to Asia and various unsuccessful meetings, only to return to a sad-sack lame-duck Congress with ghostly dozens of defeated Democrats wandering the halls. Now, with his stunning tax deal, Obama is back. Holding no high cards, he nonetheless managed to resurface suddenly not just as a player but as orchestrator, deal-maker and central actor in a high $1 trillion drama.
Compare this with Bill Clinton, greatest of all comeback kids, who, at a news conference a full five months after his shellacking in 1994, was reduced to plaintively protesting that “the president is relevant here.” He had been so humiliatingly sidelined that he did not really recover until late 1995 when he outmaneuvered Newt Gingrich in the government-shutdown showdown.
Remember the question after Election Day: Can Obama move to the center to win back the independents who had abandoned the party in November? And if so, how long would it take? Answer: Five weeks. An indoor record. Obama’s repositioning to the center was first symbolized by his joint appearance with Clinton, the quintessential centrist Democrat, and followed days later by the overwhelming 81-19 Senate majority that supported the deal. That bipartisan margin will go a long way toward erasing the partisan stigma of Obama’s first two years, marked by Stimulus I that passed without a single House Republican and a health-care bill that garnered no congressional Republicans at all.
Despite this, some on the right are gloating that Obama had been maneuvered into forfeiting his liberal base. Nonsense. He will never lose his base. Where do they go? Liberals will never have a president as ideologically kindred — and they know it. For the left, Obama is as good as it gets in a country that is barely 20 percent liberal.
The conservative gloaters were simply fooled again by the flapping and squawking that liberals ritually engage in before folding at Obama’s feet. House liberals did it with Obamacare; they did it with the tax deal. And Obama pulled this off at his lowest political ebb. After the shambles of the election and with no bargaining power — the Republicans could have gotten everything they wanted on the Bush tax cuts retroactively in January without fear of an Obama veto — he walks away with what even Paul Ryan admits was $313 billion in superfluous spending. Including a $6 billion subsidy for ethanol. Why, just a few weeks ago Al Gore, the Earth King, finally confessed that ethanol subsidies were a mistake. There is not a single economic or environmental rationale left for this boondoggle that has induced American farmers to dedicate an amazing 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop — for burning! And the Republicans have just revived it.
Even as they were near unanimously voting for this monstrosity, Republicans began righteously protesting $8.3 billion of earmarks in Harry Reid’s omnibus spending bill. They seem not to understand how ridiculous this looks after having agreed to a Stimulus II that even by their own generous reckoning has 38 times as much spending as all these earmarks combined.
The greatest mistake Ronald Reagan’s opponents ever made — and they made it over and over again — was to underestimate him. Same with Obama. The difference is that Reagan was so deeply self-assured that he invited underestimation — low expectations are a priceless political asset — whereas Obama’s vanity makes him always needing to appear the smartest guy in the room. Hence that display of prickliness in his disastrous post-deal news conference. But don’t be fooled by defensive style or thin-skinned temperament. The president is a very smart man. How smart? His comeback is already a year ahead of Clinton’s.
Charles Krauthammer writes for the Washington Post Writers Group. firstname.lastname@example.org
December 23, 2010
USDA Recommends “Coexistence” with Monsanto: We Say Hell No! by Ronnie Cummins
- By Ronnie Cummins
Organic Consumers Association, Dec 22, 2010
Straight to the Source
“If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.” – Norman Braksick, president of Asgrow Seed Co., a subsidiary of Monsanto, quoted in the Kansas City Star, March 7, 1994
“Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.” – Phil Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications, quoted in the New York Times, October 25, 1998
After 16 years of non-stop biotech bullying and force-feeding Genetically Engineered or Modified (GE or GM) crops to farm animals and “Frankenfoods” to unwitting consumers, Monsanto has a big problem, or rather several big problems. A growing number of published scientific studies indicate that GE foods pose serious human health threats. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) recently stated that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, faulty insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. The AAEM advises consumers to avoid GM foods. Before the FDA arbitrarily decided to allow Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into food products in 1994, FDA scientists had repeatedly warned that GM foods can set off serious, hard-to-detect side effects, including allergies, toxins, new diseases, and nutritional problems. They urged long-term safety studies, but were ignored. http://www.responsibletechnology.org
Federal judges are finally starting to acknowledge what organic farmers and consumers have said all along: uncontrollable and unpredictable GMO crops such as alfalfa and sugar beets spread their mutant genes onto organic farms and into non-GMO varieties and plant relatives, and should be halted. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22173.cfm
An appeals court recently ruled that consumers have the right to know whether the dairy products they are purchasing are derived from cows injected with Monsanto’s (now Elanco’s) controversial recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH), linked to serious animal health problems and increased cancer risk for humans.
Monsanto’s Roundup, the agro-toxic companion herbicide for millions of acres of GM soybeans, corn, cotton, alfalfa, canola, and sugar beets, is losing market share. Its overuse has spawned a new generation of superweeds that can only be killed with super-toxic herbicides such as 2,4, D and paraquat. Moreover, patented “Roundup Ready” crops require massive amounts of climate destabilizing nitrate fertilizer. Compounding Monsanto’s damage to the environment and climate, rampant Roundup use is literally killing the soil, destroying essential soil microorganisms, degrading the living soil’s ability to capture and sequester CO2, and spreading deadly plant diseases. http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_21039.cfm
In just one year, Monsanto has moved from being Forbes’ “Company of the Year” to the Worst Stock of the Year. The Biotech Bully of St. Louis has become one of the most hated corporations on Earth. http://www.organicconsumers.org/monlink.cfm
Monsanto and their agro-toxic allies are now turning to Obama’s pro-biotech USDA for assistance. They want the organic community to stop suing them and boycotting their products. They want food activists and the OCA to mute our criticisms and stop tarnishing the image of their brands, their seeds, and companies. They want us to resign ourselves to the fact that one-third of U.S. croplands, and one-tenth of global cultivated acreage, are already contaminated with GMOs. That’s why Monsanto recently hired the notorious mercenary firm, Blackwater, to spy on us. That’s why Monsanto has teamed up with the Gates Foundation to bribe government officials and scientists and spread GMOs throughout Africa and the developing world. That’s why the biotech bullies and the Farm Bureau have joined hands with the Obama Administration to preach their new doctrine of “coexistence.”
“Coexistence” or Cooptation?
The Agriculture Department is dutifully drafting a comprehensive “coexistence policy” that supposedly will diffuse tensions between conventional (chemical but non-GMO), biotech, and organic farmers. Earlier this week industry and Administration officials met in Washington, D.C. to talk about coexistence. Even though the Organic Consumers Association tried to get into the meeting, we were told we weren’t welcome. The powers that be claim that the OCA doesn’t meet their criteria of being “stakeholders.” The unifying theme in these closed-door meetings is apparently that Monsanto and the other biotech companies will set aside a “compensation” fund to reimburse organic farmers whose crops or fields get contaminated. That way we’ll all be happy. Monsanto, Bayer, Syngenta, Dow, and Dupont will continue planting their hazardous crops and force-feeding animals and consumers with GMOs. Organic farmers and companies willing to cooperate will get a little compensation or “hush money.” But of course our response to Monsanto and the USDA’s plan, as you might have guessed, is hell no!
There can be no such thing as “coexistence” with a reckless and monopolistic industry that harms human health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world’s 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers. Enough talk of coexistence. We need a new regime that empowers consumers, small farmers, and the organic community. We need a new set of rules, based on “truth-in-labeling” and the “precautionary principle” – consumer and farmer-friendly regulations that are basically already in place in the European Union – so that “we the people” can regain control over Monsanto, indentured politicians, and the presently out-of-control technology of genetic engineering.
Truth-in-Labeling: Monsanto and the Biotech Industry’s Greatest Fear
In practical terms coexistence between GMOs and organics in the European Union, the largest agricultural market in the world, is a non-issue. Why? Because there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, nor consumer food products on supermarket shelves, in the EU, period. And why is this? There are almost no GMOs in Europe, because under EU law, as demanded by consumers, all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. Consumers have the freedom to choose or not to consume GMOs, while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as they are labeled. Of course consumers, for the most part, do not want to consume GM Frankenfoods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the axiom expressed by the Monsanto executive at the beginning of this article: “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”
The biotech industry and Food Inc. are acutely aware of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don’t want to be part of an involuntary food safety experiment. You don’t want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by profit-at-any-cost chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont-the same people who brought you toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and now global warming. Industry leaders are acutely aware of the fact that every single industry or government poll over the last 16 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on GMO foods. Why? So that we can avoid buying them. GMO foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from getting a public discussion in Congress, much less allowing such legislation to be put up for a vote. Obama (and Hilary Clinton) campaign operatives in 2008 claimed that Obama supported mandatory labels for GMOs, but we haven’t heard a word from the White House on this topic since Inauguration Day.
Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) introduces a bill in every Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs, don’t hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling and consumers’ right to know what’s in their food. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called “Citizens United” case gave big corporations and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent.
Therefore we need to shift our focus and go local. We’ve got to concentrate our forces where our leverage and power lie, in the marketplace, at the retail level; pressuring retail food stores to voluntarily label their products; while on the legislative front we must organize a broad coalition to pass mandatory GMO (and CAFO) labeling laws, at the city, county, and state levels.
Millions Against Monsanto: Launching a Nationwide Truth-in-Labeling Campaign, Starting with Local City Council Ordinances or Ballot Initiatives
Early in 2011 the Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, plans to launch a nationwide campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans. Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure retailers to implement “truth-in-labeling” practices; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances or ballot initiatives similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens. If local government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we will gather petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. Stay tuned for details, but please send an email to: email@example.com if you’re interesting in helping organize a truth-in-labeling campaign in your local community. Millions Against Monsanto. Power to the people! ___________________________________________________________________
Ronnie Cummins is the International Director of the Organic Consumers Association.
December 22, 2010
(This is such worthwhile information and needed by all of us, if we wish to stay whole. I was fortunate when a credit card clued me in immediately when I was invaded only recently. We can never be too careful. The advice here is good. Jan)
Data breaches highlight password negligence
CHICAGO — Customer information collected by three companies, including such household names as McDonald’s Corp. and Walgreen Co., has been compromised in recent days. The incidents highlight the issue of how vulnerable that information is, especially when consumers, overwhelmed with the number of online logins they need, use “dumb” passwords for their accounts, experts say. Recent breaches contained such information as names and e-mail addresses. They did not involve crucial personal information, such as Social Security, bank account and credit-card numbers, the companies said.
In Walgreen’s case, medical prescription information was not stolen, the company said. Last week, McDonald’s notified some customers that information they provided on the fast-food company’s website or in promotions “was improperly accessed by an unauthorized third party.” Information might have included name, mobile phone number, postal address and e-mail address. McDonald’s said it hired Arc Worldwide to coordinate its e-mail promotions. Arc, the marketing services arm of Chicago-based Leo Burnett, then hired another company to manage the e-mail list. It was that company, which Arc and McDonald’s would not name, that sustained the breach.
Gawker Media, operator of numerous websites, said its registered users’ usernames and passwords were hacked on the weekend of Dec. 11. Though passwords were encrypted, they’re still vulnerable and should be changed, the company said. The danger comes if people used the same logins for a Gawker site as they do for all their accounts, including financial accounts. Gawker operates the websites Gawker, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, Lifehacker, Deadspin, io9 and Fleshbot. The Gawker breach led to spam postings using some victims’ Twitter accounts.
Walgreen on Friday said customers subscribing to the drugstore chain’s e-mail distribution list should be on the lookout for spam directing them to another site and then asking for personal data. That was because of “unauthorized access” to its e-mail list. Only e-mail addresses were compromised, not names, said a Walgreen spokesman, who declined to provide further details of the breach.
“The McDonald’s, Walgreens and Gawker incidents should be a wake-up call for everyone,” said Rob Fitzgerald, president of the Lorenzi Group, a digital forensics company. Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, a network security and compliance auditing firm, said data breaches are on the rise. “Unfortunately, consumers don’t pay much attention to breach disclosures, even for large brands, because there are so many of them,” he said. In fact, 63 percent of organizations reported experiencing at least one security incident or breach during the past 12 months, according to the Global Information Security Trends study by the nonprofit trade group Computing Technology Industry Association.
“More troubling is the feeling that the severity level of breaches has increased over the last several years,” said Steven Ostrowski, spokesman for the association. “Attacks that in the past that may have been done for sport or notoriety are now being done more frequently with criminal intent or financial gain in mind.” For consumers, one danger of stolen names and e-mail addresses is “phishing .” Thieves can create and send e-mails that look like they are from legitimate businesses, such as a bank, and contain your name, trying to trick you into divulging more personal information, which can be used for more-serious frauds. Ultimately, the biggest problem is that people are too trusting and offer too much personal information, said Mike Meikle, chief executive of the Hawkthorne Group, a security consulting firm. “The weakest link is the person using the device or piece of software,” he said. “It’s just about having a healthy skepticism. It’s kind of a sad situation, but you have to kind of give everyone the eye. It’s just the way it is.”
And so many people use the same or similar usernames and passwords for all their accounts that they’re easy to hack, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for information security firm Sophos and operator of the Naked Security blog. “People choose dumb passwords, like ‘password’ or ‘letmein’ or the brand of monitor they’re looking at,” Cluley said. Instead, they should use a random password for each site, rather than words in the dictionary that are easily hacked. Because it’s unwieldy to manage those, consumers should use password storage software. There are many examples, but free programs include LastPass and KeePass, he said. “People really should be using those,” Cluley said. “And these organizations have to start learning their lessons as well. … It’s alarming that these organizations aren’t encrypting the data.”
• Create safe passwords. Use strong passwords that aren’t real words. You might use a mnemonic device taking the first letter of a favorite phrase, lyric or poem, said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for information security firm Sophos. A Civil War buff might use the Gettysburg Address, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth,” which becomes 4sa7yaofb4th.
• Use password keepers. Generate random passwords with software that remembers them for you. Read the privacy policies of any password Source: Chicago Tribune software you use.
• Don’t use an obvious pattern to your passwords. For example, if your Yahoo account password is “Yahoo,” and your Google account password is “Google,” then it follows that your Walgreens password might be “Walgreens,” said Andrew Storms, director of security operations for nCircle, a network security and compliance auditing firm.
• Don’t divulge your passwords. E-mails appearing to be from companies requesting your password are probably fraudulent.