Shining a Light on Agribusiness and It’s Poster Child Monsanto

Lazy Way advocate Fred describes the side effects of agribusiness and the devastating contributions of Monsanto. Why are we surprised that hospitals are overfilled and cancer is common? Click on the link below to read the whole article.

Source: The Lazy Way to Success: Organic Musings of the Concept of Calling

Agribusiness is polluting our (yours, mine and everyone’s) air and water, depleting and eroding our soil, and poisoning our food. We unwittingly ingest all the environmental toxins which agribusiness indiscriminately pours on the earth. And since these toxins cannot be metabolized, the body stores them in the fatty tissue where they have a 40-year half life. There is no way to get rid of them from the body. And studies show their concentrations are increasing at an alarming rate.

Studies also show that these toxins have been associated with hormone disruption, immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, several types of cancer, and other disorders such as allergies. But farmers and the manufacturers of these poisons don’t care. They happily dump still more of it on our dear Mother Earth and, as a result, more and more of it ends up in our bellies and permanently in our bodies. Even if one government bans a substance because of the environmental havoc it causes, the manufacturer happily sells it for use elsewhere in the world.

And God only knows what future disaster awaits us with all the genetically modified organisms Monsanto et al are foisting on our planet.

(Is there a larger environmental anti-Christ than Monsanto? They are responsible for one ecological catastrophe after another – DDT, Agent Orange, rGBH, dioxin, PCBs, and Roundup. And now we are trusting Monsanto, a company guilty of lying and covering up their contaminations, when they tell us that their genetically engineered seeds are safe. In my view, Monsanto is a modern day Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi Angel of Death. Actually Monsanto is worse because it is more unconscionable.) 

This is why eating organic food is so absolutely important.

Monsanto Files Patent for the Pig

When greed overrides common sense, life gets strange. Thanks to Chris Gupta for uncovering unearthing this mutation of law and science.

Link: "The Earth is flat, pigs were invented by Monsanto, and genetically modified organisms are safe. Right." – Share The Wealth.

Monsanto Corporation is out to own the world’s food supply, the dangers of genetic engineering and reduced biodiversity notwithstanding, as they pig-headedly set about hog-tying farmers with their monopoly plans. We’ve discovered chilling new evidence of this in recent patents that seek to establish ownership rights over pigs and their offspring. In the crop department, Monsanto is well on their way to dictating what consumers will eat, what farmers will grow, and how much Monsanto will get paid for seeds. In some cases those seeds are designed not to reproduce sowable offspring. In others, a flock of lawyers stand ready to swoop down on farmers who illegally, or even unknowingly, end up with Monsanto’s private property growing in their fields.

One way or another, Monsanto wants to make sure no food is grown that they don’t own — and the record shows they don’t care if it’s safe for the environment or not. Monsanto has aggressively set out to bulldoze environmental concerns about its genetically engineered (GE) seeds at every regulatory level. So why stop in the field? Not content to own the pesticide and the herbicide and the crop, they’ve made a move on the barnyard by filing two patents which would make the corporate giant the sole owner of that famous Monsanto invention: the pig.

The Monsanto Pig (Patent pending) . . . The patent applications were published in February 2005 at the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) in Geneva. A Greenpeace researcher who monitors patent applications, Christoph Then, uncovered the fact that Monsanto is seeking patents not only on methods of breeding, but on actual breeding herds of pigs as well as the offspring that result. "If these patents are granted, Monsanto can legally prevent breeders and farmers from breeding pigs whose characteristics are described in the patent claims, or force them to pay royalties," says Then. "It’s a first step toward the same kind of corporate control of an animal line that Monsanto is aggressively pursuing with various grain and vegetable lines."

There are more than 160 countries and territories mentioned where the patent is sought including Europe, the Russian Federation, Asia (India, China, Philippines) America (USA, Brazil, Mexico), Australia and New Zealand. WIPO itself can only receive applications, not grant patents. The applications are forwarded to regional patent offices.

The patents are based on simple procedures, but are incredibly broad in their claims. In one application (WO 2005/015989 to be precise) Monsanto is describing very general methods of crossbreeding and selection, using artificial insemination and other breeding methods which are already in use. The main "invention" is nothing more than a particular combination of these elements designed to speed up the breeding cycle for selected traits, in order to make the animals more commercially profitable.

More posts about Monsanto:

Are you eating Monsanto’s genetically modified crops?

Monsanto’s Government Ties

Monsanto Backs Off Bio-Wheat

Shining a Light on Agribusiness and It’s Poster Child Monsanto

Wal-Mart Sets 100% Sustainable Fish Target for North America

GreenBiz News says Wal-Mart will be sourcing from sustainable fisheries in North America. Is Wal-Mart really changing or is this green-wash publicity? Time will tell. (I’m still pissed about the small farms that became a Super Wal-Mart about less than a mile from our home.)

Link: GreenBiz News | Wal-Mart Sets 100% Sustainable Fish Target for North America.

LONDON, Feb. 1, 2006 – Wal-Mart has pledged to source all of its wild-caught fresh and frozen fish for the North American market from fisheries that meet the Marine Stewardship Council’s independent environmental standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries. The decision will lead to dozens of fish products bearing the MSC’s distinctive blue eco-label becoming available to Wal-Mart’s North American customers in coming years.

"This is a big and exciting development, demonstrating a leadership position," said Rupert Howes, chief executive of the MSC. "As part of a wider company commitment to sustainable seafood procurement, Wal-Mart has committed to source, over a number of years, all of their fresh and frozen wild capture supplies for the North American market from fisheries certified against the MSC’s standard. An immediate target is to ensure all seafood that already comes from certified fisheries will carry the MSC eco-label in Wal-Mart stores later this year. It is hoped that this commitment to the MSC program will encourage other fisheries into the assessment process and provide a powerful new route to raise awareness of sustainable seafood choices with the North American public."

Conservation International and WWF will be working with Wal-Mart and their suppliers to make improvements in less well managed fisheries, including strengthening management practices, rebuilding stocks, reducing environmental impacts, and encouraging support for broader marine ecosystem management and protection efforts. As fisheries improve, Wal-Mart and suppliers will encourage them to participate in the MSC certification program.

Oprah’s list of Top 10 Superfoods

Dhrumil at the We Like It Raw blog found this list of Oprah’s Top 10 Super Foods on Oprah.com.

Link: We Like It Raw: Oprah’s list of Top 10 Superfoods

  1. Açaí fruit: This little berry is one of the most nutritious and powerful foods in the world. It can often be found in juice form in health food and gourmet stores.
  2. Anything in the "Allium Family": Garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives and shallots can all help the liver eliminate toxins and carcinogens.
  3. Barley: This can be used as a breakfast cereal, in soups and stews, and as a rice substitute. Barley’s also high in fiber, helping metabolize fats, cholesterol and carbohydrates.
  4. Green Foods: Green foods like wheat and barley grasses can be bought in powder, tablet or juice form, and offer greater levels of nutrients than green leafy vegetables. They also help cholesterol, blood pressure and immune response.
  5. Buckwheat, Seed and Grain: Buckwheat is loaded with protein, high in amino acid, stabilizes blood sugar and reduces hypertension.
  6. Beans and Lentils: You can reduce cholesterol while beefing up on antioxidants, folic acid and potassium. Try kidney, black, navy, pinto, chickpeas, soybeans, peas and lentils.
  7. Hot Peppers: Both bell and chili peppers contain antioxidants, have twice the Vitamin C as citrus fruit and work as great fat burners.
  8. Nuts and Seeds: You can’t go wrong with a handful of nuts a day—walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, macadamia and pistachio nuts contain omega-3 fats, which are great for your heart. Raw, unsalted nuts and seeds are best.
  9. Sprouts: Numerous varieties of sprouts are great with any meal. They’re a great source of protein and Vitamin C. Try adding them to any dish and your immune system will get a boost.
  10. Yogurt and Kefir: These cultured foods contain healthful bacteria that aid immune function, and the calcium helps burn fat. Try using them as a base for a smoothie.

Teflon in Your Microwave Popcorn?

Dr. Mercola uncovers another bummer.

Link: Isn’t That Teflon in Your Microwave Popcorn?

Not only does perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) — the dangerous chemical used to make Teflon — taint the paper plates you use to cook and eat meals, but the paper bags that contain the microwave popcorn you eat for a snack.

If this fact doesn’t surprise you, but here’s something that may: Those "innocent" bags of microwave popcorn could account for at least 20 percent of the PFOA found in the bloodstream of the average American.

Even worse, microwave popcorn bags contain the highest amount of fluorotelometers, substances that can leech into the popcorn oil in concentrations hundreds of times greater than the amount of PFOA sliding off your Teflon cookware and onto your food when it’s heated above 175 degrees Celsius for the first time.

Source: Environmental Science and Technology November 16, 2005

Organic farming produces same yields of corn and soy as conventional farms with less energy

Source: Organic farming produces same yields of corn, soy as conventional farms | Science Blog.

Organic farming produces the same yields of corn and soybeans as does conventional farming, but uses 30 percent less energy, less water and no pesticides, a review of a 22-year farming trial study concludes.

David Pimentel, a Cornell University professor of ecology and agriculture, concludes, "Organic farming offers real advantages for such crops as corn and soybeans." Pimentel is the lead author of a study that is published in the July issue of Bioscience (Vol. 55:7) analyzing the environmental, energy and economic costs and benefits of growing soybeans and corn organically versus conventionally. The study is a review of the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial, the longest running comparison of organic vs. conventional farming in the United States.

"Organic farming approaches for these crops not only use an average of 30 percent less fossil energy but also conserve more water in the soil, induce less erosion, maintain soil quality and conserve more biological resources than conventional farming does," Pimentel added.

The study compared a conventional farm that used recommended fertilizer and pesticide applications with an organic animal-based farm (where manure was applied) and an organic legume-based farm (that used a three-year rotation of hairy vetch/corn and rye/soybeans and wheat). The two organic systems received no chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Inter-institutional collaboration included Rodale Institute agronomists Paul Hepperly and Rita Seidel, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service research microbiologist David Douds Jr. and University of Maryland agricultural economist James Hanson. The research compared soil fungi activity, crop yields, energy efficiency, costs, organic matter changes over time, nitrogen accumulation and nitrate leaching across organic and conventional agricultural systems.

"First and foremost, we found that corn and soybean yields were the same across the three systems," said Pimentel, who noted that although organic corn yields were about one-third lower during the first four years of the study, over time the organic systems produced higher yields, especially under drought conditions. The reason was that wind and water erosion degraded the soil on the conventional farm while the soil on the organic farms steadily improved in organic matter, moisture, microbial activity and other soil quality indicators.

The fact that organic agriculture systems also absorb and retain significant amounts of carbon in the soil has implications for global warming, Pimentel said, pointing out that soil carbon in the organic systems increased by 15 to 28 percent, the equivalent of taking about 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per hectare out of the air.

Among the study’s other findings:
# In the drought years, 1988 to 1998, corn yields in the legume-based system were 22 percent higher than yields in the conventional system.
# The soil nitrogen levels in the organic farming systems increased 8 to 15 percent. Nitrate leaching was about equivalent in the organic and conventional farming systems.
# Organic farming reduced local and regional groundwater pollution by not applying agricultural chemicals.

Pimentel noted that although cash crops cannot be grown as frequently over time on organic farms because of the dependence on cultural practices to supply nutrients and control pests and because labor costs average about 15 percent higher in organic farming systems, the higher prices that organic foods command in the marketplace still make the net economic return per acre either equal to or higher than that of conventionally produced crops.

Organic farming can compete effectively in growing corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and other grains, Pimentel said, but it might not be as favorable for growing such crops as grapes, apples, cherries and potatoes, which have greater pest problems.

The study was funded by the Rodale Institute and included a review of current literature on organic and conventional agriculture comparisons. According to Pimentel, dozens of scientific papers reporting on research from the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial have been published in prestigious refereed journals over the past 20 years.

From Cornell University

Is America Overdosing on Corn?

Source: AlterNet: EnviroHealth: The Food Detective.

If you look at a fast-food meal, a McDonald’s meal, virtually all the carbon in it – and what we eat is mostly carbon – comes from corn. A Chicken McNugget is corn upon corn upon corn, beginning with corn-fed chicken all the way through the obscure food additives and the corn starch that holds it together. All the meat at McDonald’s is really corn. Chickens have become machines for converting two pounds of corn into one pound of chicken. The beef, too, is from cattle fed corn on feedlots. The main ingredient in the soda is corn – high-fructose corn syrup. Go down the list. Even the dressing on the new salads at McDonald’s is full of corn.

What does this do to the land?

Corn is a greedy crop, as farmers will tell you. When you’re growing corn in that kind of intensive monoculture, it requires more pesticide and more fertilizer than any other crop. It’s very hard on the land. You need to put down immense amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, the run-off of which is a pollutant. The farmers I was visiting were putting down 200 pounds per acre, in the full knowledge that corn could only use maybe 100 or 125 pounds per acre; they considered it crop insurance to put on an extra 75 to 100 pounds.

Where does that extra nitrogen go?

It goes into the roadside ditches and, in the case of the farms I visited, drains into the Raccoon River, which empties into the Des Moines River. The city of Des Moines has a big problem with nitrogen pollution. In the spring, the city issues "blue baby alerts," telling mothers not to let their children use the tap water because of the nitrates in it. The Des Moines River eventually finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico, where the excess nitrogen has created a dead zone the size of New Jersey.

What is a dead zone?

It’s a place where the nitrogen has stimulated such growth of algae and phytoplankton that it starves that area of oxygen, and fish cannot live in it. The dead zone hasn’t gotten much attention, compared to carbon pollution; but, in terms of the sheer scale of human interference in one of the crucial natural cycles, it’s arguably even more dramatic. Fully half of the terrestrial nitrogen in the world today is manmade, from fertilizers.

Our dependence on corn for a "cheap meal" is a fundamental absurdity. Seventy percent of the grain we grow in this country goes to feed livestock. Most of this livestock is cattle, which are uniquely suited to eating grass, not corn. To help them tolerate corn, we have to pump antibiotics into the cattle; and because the corn diet leads to pathogens, we then need to irradiate their meat to make it safe to eat. Feeding so much corn to cattle thus creates new and entirely preventable public health problems.

In addition to contributing to erosion, pollution, food poisoning, and the dead zone, corn requires huge amounts of fossil fuel – it takes a half gallon of fossil fuel to produce a bushel of corn. What that means is that one of the things we’re defending in the Persian Gulf is the cornfields and the Big Mac. Another cost is the subsidies: For corn alone, it’s four or five billion dollars a year in public money to support the corn farmers that make possible our cheap hamburger. Then you’ve got the problem of obesity because these cheap calories happen to be some of the most fattening.

We’re paying for a 99-cent burger in our health-care bills, in our environmental cleanup bills, in our military budget, and in the disappearance of the family farm. So it really isn’t cheap at all.

via Alex Steffen in QuickChanges