Monthly Archives: November 2013

Fundraising Dinner For GE Foods and Human Health Tour

It was an inspiring, motivating evening between the two scientists, Dr Vrain and Dr Chopra.  Dr. Thierry Vrain emphasized that GMOs aren’t about feeding the world – they are about selling weed killer.  Dr Vrain explains that the technology itself is terrifying and untested. It’s not just that we humans are splicing together DNA across species and genus, biological orders and kingdoms but that we don’t know what’s being disrupted in this very imprecise process.  All peer-reviewed, long-term animal studies show cause for alarm and cause for an immediate moratorium on this failed technology.

Dr Shiv Chopra all but led us on a salt march.  He is leading the charge in his 79th year, galvanizing the population. Dr Chopra spoke about the fundamental right of all citizens to have safe food. Because of Dr. Chopra, who stood up for the citizens of Canada, we don’t allow Monsanto’s  bovine growth hormone in our milk.  (The US wasn’t so lucky).  Both Dr Chopra and Dr Vrain are people’s heroes for blowing the whistle.

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Above are Dr. Chopra (a little man with a Big vision) along with Dr. Vrain and MP Joyce Murray. These scientists are undertaking a Cross-Canada tour, doing it on a donation basis because they are so alarmed about the effects of GMO technology on Human Health.  Given that:

1 –  GMOs have not been tested for safety by our governments, who have failed to employ the precautionary principle; and

2 – peer-reviewed, long-term animal studies show cause for alarm; and

3 – that an application to the FDA to spray 2,4 D (the active component of Agent Orange) is being processed since current pesticides are not strong enough to deal with superweeds and pests…

…it’s not an understatement to call this a public health crisis.

To hear these WhistleBlowing scientists explain why you too should be alarmed by the failure of this technology, check out an event near you:map-interactive-revised3


Style-Diet Shot – Tiffany and Daniel

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Tiffany and Daniel from Two Birds Apparel.  Check out their eco-glasses and website

The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.

The Renewable Energy Song

My long-time friend and collaborator Michael Greenacre wrote the song “Water Wind Sun & Sea” in 2012. Michael has much spent time in the Arctic in the capacity of Scientist (in addition to piano playing, much to the delight of Northern Norweigans).  Engaging first-hand in the research from Biologists on climate change, he was moved to do something.  So he wrote a song!  My daughter Diya recorded it and we posted the video of it onto youtube this weekend.  So without further ado, I present to you the result!

This was a collaboration of many friends who volunteered their talents and vigour on screen: Isha, Anna, Anne, Emma, Federica, FJ, Hanna, Na’ia, Sophia, Tate, Thea, Zoe. Off screen the talents were filmographer Art Makosinski, Videographer Don Chaput, Chek News studio donated by Bill Pollock, video props by Pascal Courty. The animator Miray Özcan in Turkey and Françoise Greenacre in Barcelona were simply essential!  Voices recorded at 1 Ton Studios, Victoria, by Wynn Gogol. Music recorded in Barcelona: Electric Guitar (Santi Careta), Electric Bass (Jordi Blanes), Electric Piano (Arecio Smith), Hammond Organ (Michael Greenacre), Saxophone (Marcelli Bayer), Drums (Antonio Torres and Santi Serratosa).  Mixed by Dave Bianchi at the Emergency Room Studio, Barcelona.

This was a coming together of so many different nationalities, cultures and languages.  It was like a mini UN summit – except that most of us never met the others in person.  If we can urge, spur each other on, mirroring the change we want to be, change will happen!


Water Wind Sun and Sea, by Michael Greenacre

I looked down from the mountain, down to the valley,
River was running swift and strong, down to the sea.
Papa Newton realized when the apple fell from the tree,
There’s a lot of water power in the force of gravity!
So why are we still burning coal when there’s Water, Wind, Sun and Sea!

Driving through the barren south, what there did I see?
On every hill, a tall windmill, turning steadily,
Like ballet dancers they move their arms so gracefully,
Wind comes up, turbines turn, and it’s all for free!
So why are we still burning coal when there’s Water, Wind, Sun and Sea!

Brother sun gives life on earth to animal, plant and tree,
Radiating heat and light on and on naturally,
So much more we can take by man’s ingenuity,
Silver sheets face to the skies making electricity!
So why are we still burning coal when there’s Water, Wind, Sun and Sea!

Sister moon also plays her part, affecting ocean and sea,
Tide goes out, tide comes in, that I can guarantee,
Just put something in its path, then you’ll have energy,
Learning from nature is the key: you just have to agree!
So why are we still burning coal when there’s Water, Wind, Sun and Sea!

Andrew Weaver Talk About Climate Change

It was the first time I’ve actually sat in a room full of people and given my full, undivided attention to the topic.  We’ve all heard and read various things about climate change.  But what is it really all about?

Andrew Weaver did research that was awarded the 2007 shared Nobel Peace Prize.   He is shy and bashful of the title Nobel Prize Winner because dozens of scientists equally shared the honor in 2007.  To set the record straight it was the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (of which Dr Weaver is a lead author).  And if there was ever an expert on Climate Change I was listening to him!


Climate change science has its origins in the 1800s when scientists quantified the amount increasing carbon in the atmosphere and what effect that would have on temperature.  Fast-forward to Jule Charney in the 1970s, who did research predicting a 1.5 to 4.5 degree warming of Earth.  Since then we are bang on predictions that our Planet is heating up due to burning of fossil fuels.

The Earth warming is confusing in part because it’s not a steady rise but a drunken stagger. With unpredictable, extreme changes in weather patterns from year to year affecting different regions randomly.  What we do know is that the Arctic ice cap is melting, oceans are rising, as is ocean acidity.  The oceans are a carbon sink; the oceans absorb most of the excess carbon.  This is of drastic concern for the health of our oceans and sea life.  Even if we don’t feel, can’t see the earth’s temperature rising, the oceans are acidifying. 

We need to cap warming at 2 degrees.

I asked what we could do about it, Dr. Weaver responded as follows:

“When I am asked what an individual can do, I usually respond with “use your
power as a consumer”. And I specifically used organic foods as an example of
how the power of the consumer led to a situation where pretty much every
grocery store has an organic foods section. It’s the same with GHGs.
Individuals (and corporations) can facilitate change by purchasing local as
much as possible and products that were produced in a least GHG producing
way as possible.

The single most important piece of policy that is needed is emissions
pricing. It has to be introduced in North America widely. It’s important
that people who support this talk freely about it publicly instead of
letting the libertarians dominate the conversation.”

Style-Diet Shot – Canadian coats

“On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson

Kyla and Jennifer are eco stylish divas – here they are wearing Canadian-made coats.  Kyla was hesitant about the scarf she was wearing.  “It’s made in Turkey,” she protested.  Did you buy it in Turkey, I asked?  “Yes,” she responded.  That counts!  For the record you just have to be wearing one article of sustainable-ethical clothing for the Style Diet.



The Style-Diet Shot celebrates individuals with unique style, wearing at least one article of clothing acquired via the Stephens’ Sisters Shopping Diet. It must be local, sustainable, second-hand/re-purposed, inherited or ethically produced. If you can’t find clothing fitting that criteria then it must be from a country with stellar human rights records.


Kill the Scientists?

Professor John Volpe introduced the evening with a phrase taken from Henry VI “let’s kill the lawyers.” He adapted it to “Let’s kill the scientists.”  I’m still wondering what John, head of The School of Environmental Science, meant by that.  He is a scientist and marine ecologist. Was he advocating for killing science?  Surely not.  Could it be that in today’s day and age we aren’t listening to the scientists?  Or not right kind of scientists?  It turns out that many scientific jobs, that are designed to safeguard what we hold dear, have been axed.  We’re effectively killing them.  Silencing their research.  Shredding their reputations.  Calling them pseudo-scientists.  Calling them story- tellers.  Is that what Professor Volpe meant?

Room A110 at the David Turpin building at the University of Victoria wasn’t big enough.  After we had all settled in, having taken off our coats, mittens, hats, and scarves (it was a cold evening)….  We were asked to move. To an even larger room to accommodate the overflowing crowd.

Dr. Vrain’s talk held example after example of scientists whose work had been discredited.  From Seralini to Pusztai.  In both cases they were heavily criticized by corporate scientists with strong ties to Biotech.  Pusztai, after 30 year as much celebrated biochemist and nutritionist, lost his job in the 90s after coming out with a feed study on GMOs.  He was just doing science.  Later he was awarded the 2005 Whistle blower award from Germany.  He subsequently has been honoured for the hero he is. Seralini is right now replicating his own 2012 study which showed alarming tumor growth amid other numerous ill-effects of rats eating GMOs.  Seralini’s methods are now vindicated by none other than the European Food Safety Authority.

Dr Vrain explained how the GMO technology is failing and spectacularly.  Due to superweeds and pests they are resorting to using 2,4 -D (active component in agent orange).  If this isn’t a fail then what is? And crops are yielding higher in Europe where they don’t have GMOs.  This goes to show that the Yield argument is no longer valid.  What about glyphosate?  It is toxic, to amphibians, to fish, to bacteria.   It is known for its chelating ability; in us it strips away heavy metals.  In high doses it is lethal to humans as the farmers of India know only too well.  There are currently 400 million acres with crops that are designed to be glyphosate-resistant.  That’s their only noteworthy trait.  Dr. Vrain also explained the imprecision involved in the technology, the gene gun.  They don’t know where the DNA is going; they are shooting it randomly with total disregard for what processes are being disrupted. Although we don’t have causal studies showing harm in Humans, we do have peer reviewed-studies in laboratory animals.  What more do we need?

After presenting the evidence, Dr Vrain was asked if he would support banning this technology.

He said,


Dr Vrain is a retired scientist who spent much of his career attesting to the safety of GMOs.  He’s now Blowing the Whistle on the GMO industry (owned by a handful of Chemical companies). If you cant attend his Cross Canada tour, check out his Ted x talk

You Still have time to hire a babysitter

Scientists sound alarm about GMO ‘madness’ tonight
Live in Vancouver 7PM, November 19/13

Concerned Canadians – eager for accurate information about Genetically Engineered (GE) foods – are rallying in large numbers behind two distinguished scientists who have undertaken an urgent, whirlwind national tour to share their knowledge about grave threats to human health and food security.

Dr. Thierry Vrain, a retired soil biologist and genetic engineer, former head of research and designated spokesperson to assure the public of the safety of genetically modified food, is now speaking out against GE technology after a 30-year career with Agriculture Canada. Dr. Shiv Chopra, a former Health Canada scientist for 35 years was fired after going public with concerns about potential human health risks associated with bovine growth hormone. His book, Corrupt to the Core: Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower, is an international best seller.

They will be speaking this evening 7:00 PM (November 19) in Vancouver as momentum rapidly builds into an unstoppable grassroots movement demanding the immediate attention of elected officials, corporate executives and federal agencies.

“Meetings have been packed with a cross-section of the Canadian public who are justified in having very serious questions and not trusting or believing what they are being told,” says Vrain, who has spoken five times on Vancouver Island since November 14, utilizing an avalanche of recent independent scientific studies from Europe, where genetically modified foods have been banned.

“I am informing them that 80% of the food we now eat contains herbicides – including Monsanto’s Roundup – which are also antibiotics. There are traces of these toxins in all our bodies, doing damage to our gut, a slow, insidious process.

“It is highly probable that genetically engineered food contains toxic proteins and we simply do not understand how these fundamental units of life work, not even after the Genome Project, and most certainly in North America, where research is compromised by corporate funding” he reports.

“We must stop GE foods immediately and check this out thoroughly. To do anything else is absolute madness,” Vrain adds.

He and Chopra are motivated solely by their growing mutual concern. Twenty-eight events are scheduled for the western tour, and more being confirmed for the eastern tour (scheduled for January-February 2014).This is rapidly becoming a major issue and news story. Genetically Engineered (GE) Foods and Human Health, takes place in Vancouver, at the Canadian Memorial United Church at 15th and Burrard. Ample time is allotted for questions; donations accepted. Doors open 6:30, event starts 7:00 PM.

Next local stops on cross Canada tour: The speakers will be in Squamish, Nov. 20, at UBC the following afternoon (2 to 4PM,) in Coquitlam (Douglas College) Nov. 21, in Langley following evening Nov 22, returning to Vancouver, Saturday for workshop Nov. 23 at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver (949 West 49th Ave) 2:30 pm. See event map for rest of BC and Alberta.


For more information visit: and Common Ground

magazine,  Joseph 778 707 0631 cell