Tag Archives: organic food

Russia is winning the battle for the health of the people and the environment.

19 May

Ellen Brown, president of the Public Banking Institute, (UC, Berkeley & UC, Los Angeles School of Law) reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin has banned GMOs and has set out to make Russia the world’s leading supplier of organic food.

Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas (cottage gardens or allotments), predominantly organically. Dacha gardens produced more than 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, more than 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. Russian author Vladimir Megre comments:

Russian gardeners demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world—and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat.

Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year—so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens—and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.

In the end, the Green Revolution engineered by Kissinger to control markets and ensure U.S. economic dominance may be our nemesis. While the U.S. struggles to maintain its hegemony by economic coercion and military force,

In the U.S., only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. Most farmland is soaked in pesticides and herbicides. But the need for these toxic chemicals is a myth. In an October 2017 article in The Guardian, columnist George Monbiot cited studies showing that reducing the use of neonicotinoid pesticides actually increases production, because the pesticides harm or kill the pollinators on which crops depend. Rather than an international trade agreement that would enable giant transnational corporations to dictate to governments, he argues that we need a global treaty to regulate pesticides and require environmental impact assessments for farming. He writes:

Farmers and governments have been comprehensively conned by the global pesticide industry. It has ensured its products should not be properly regulated or even, in real-world conditions, properly assessed. … The profits of these companies depend on ecocide. Do we allow them to hold the world to ransom, or do we acknowledge that the survival of the living world is more important than returns to their shareholders?

President Trump has boasted of winning awards for environmental protection. If he is sincere about championing the environment, he needs to block the merger of Bayer and Monsanto, two agribusiness giants bent on destroying the ecosystem for private profit.

 

 

 

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RSM conference: Fera Science data finds toxic cocktails of pesticides – a public health hazard

26 Jan

Many readers will have noted that, in November, speaking at a Royal Society of Medicine conference on pesticides, scientists warned that consuming tiny amounts of many different chemicals on a regular basis could be harmful to human health.

The conference heard new scientific evidence from around the world showing that very low doses of pesticides, well below official ‘safety’ levels, pose a significant risk to public health from pesticides in the food supply.

More pesticides and herbicides are now used on crops because weeds and insects have become increasingly resistant to chemicals. See University of California document (insect resistance, frost paragraph).

Dr Michael Antoniou (left, head of the gene expression and therapy research group at King’s College London) said that all the evidence shows that people should minimise their exposure to pesticides.

Prof Anne Marie Vinggaard (division of diet, disease prevention and toxicology at the Danish National Food Institute) said “We are not just exposed to pesticides. We are exposed to a lot of chemicals acting together Consumption of “toxic cocktails” of low levels of pesticide cocktails are thought to be linked with degenerative diseases like strokes, heart attacks and cancers”.

Katie Morley, the Telegraph’s Consumer Affairs Editor, reports that figures released by the Soil Association, which certifies organic food, show that the number of toxic chemicals found in onions, leeks, wheat and potatoes has been steadily increasing since the 1960s, though industry data shows that the volume of pesticides found on supermarket vegetables has halved since the 1990s. Onions and leeks have seen the biggest rise in toxic chemicals. In 1974 less than two chemicals were applied to an average wheat crop.

The figures were compiled by data firm Fera Science, formerly the government’s Food and Environment Research Agency and now 75% owned by Capita and 25% by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who hold UK Government data on pesticide use in farming. The research found that pesticide active ingredients applied to three British crops have increased between 6 and 18 times ranging from 480% to 1,700% over the last 40-odd years.

Dr Antoniou’s advice: “Minimally as a precaution you should minimise your exposure to pesticides. The only way to guarantee that, is by eating organically”

 

 

 

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A surge in America’s GM-free imports

10 May

 “Although corn and soybean go primarily into cattle and poultry feed, consumers increasingly want milk and food products to be free of GM ingredients”.

A Bloomberg report continues: “A growing demand for organics, and the near-total reliance by U.S. farmers on genetically modified corn and soybeans, is driving a surge in imports from other nations where crops largely are free of bioengineering. Imports such as corn from Romania and soybeans from India are booming, according to an analysis of U.S. trade data released Wednesday by the Organic Trade Association and Pennsylvania State University.

Organic imports US 2014“Sales of foods certified by the U.S. as free of synthetic chemicals or genetic engineering reached $35.9 billion in 2014, an 11% increase over 2013 and about 5.1% of U.S. grocery spending. The organic sector’s average annual growth of about 10% is triple that of overall food sales, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture and trade association data.

“According to trade data compiled by the US Organic Trade Association and the Pennsylvania State University, the rising demand for organic foods has pushed up the import bill for corn and soybean, the two most important GM crops being cultivated in America. Although corn and soybean go primarily into cattle and poultry feed, consumers are increasingly wanting milk and food products to be free of GM ingredients”.

Straws in the wind?

The New York Times also reported in January that Monsanto’s earnings fell 34% in the first fiscal quarter as South American farmers cut back on planting corn, reducing demand for the company’s biotech-enhanced seeds. The company said its business was also affected by reduced cotton planting in Australia and a shift in timing for its chemical business.

devinder utube 6Analyst Devinder Sharma notes that: “US imports of organic soybean from India has more than doubled to $73.8 million in 2014. He called on the two pro-GM scientists to debate independent scientific findings as opposed to focussing only on industry funded research. His views were supported by two other spokesmen, one from Maharashtra, where open field crop trials of brinjal, maize, rice, chickpea and cotton are taking place and another from India’s Greenpeace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klW7fD1wb7s

As US imports more organic foods on consumer preference, Indian biotech companies are ‘pushing for GM crops’

Sharma reports that public opinion as seen in grocery sales data indicates a gradual shifting to foods grown without the use of chemicals and GM. However, in India, four State Governments – Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Punjab – have allowed field trials of GM crops. He sees pressure mounting on other State Governments to fall in line. The biotech industry led by the Association of Biotec Led Enterprises (ABLE) has reportedly written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to expedite the regulatory process for clearing the field trials.

Competing lobbies: the biotech industry v Soybean Processor Association

ajit-singh2Resistance from the Soybean Processor Association of India (SOPA) led former Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh to oppose research trials of GM soybean. The industry claimed that importers preference for Indian soymeal would be lost once contamination from GM crops becomes obvious. India is at present the biggest exporter of rice; Sharma comments that allowing GM rice field trials, even if excluded from areas such as Orissa where it is believed to have originated, would risk contamination. He emphasises that utmost caution should be exercised before the country is opened up for field trials of GM crops which:

  • have, in most cases, led to the doubling in the application of chemical herbicides like glyphosate; use has increased to over 283.5 million pounds in 2012;
  • have led to the emergence of superweeds in some 60 million acres of crop land
  • and, to date, have shown no increase in crop productivity.

Sharma notes that the annual increase in sales of foods free of synthetic chemicals and GM ingredients in the US indicate a rising preference for organically produced foods and that in the White House Michelle Obama grows only organic food in the sprawling gardens and is known to serve organic food to guests, ending:

The consumer preference for GM-free foods in the US is growing rapidly. We hope that this commercial imperative will eventually lead to the winding down of the industry’s drive to grow GM crops.