Category Archives: Right to Know

Reflections on a conversation with Murielle

I spoke with Murielle from France last week.

She decided to immigrate to Canada with her husband and two young  kids a couple of years ago.

Having similarly done the same journey from Western Europe 4 years ago, we were comparing notes….  I returned from Europe with my French husband, having lived in Barcelona, London and Florence for 13 years. Murielle is from French Catalunya with a parent from Basque Country, so we had a lot in common in terms of where we spent time. Moreover, I recorded Michael Greenacre’s Millenium Song in Catalan, Occitan, French, and Basque, Murielle historical languages

As it invariably does for me nowadays, talk turned to food and GMOs.

Murielle said “Once I got here to Canada it took me while to learn that everything that I took for granted in Europe was reversed.  Food wise, that is.  In the supermarket we assume everything is safe unless -”

“Produit traite!” I jumped in. And showed her my blog post where I came across “Produit Traite” (Treated Product) whilst travelling in France this summer. It also took me a while after returning from Europe to learn to distrust “conventional” food.  I discovered that N. Americans dont know what we are actually eating.  GMOs lurking in over 85% of processed foods just isn’t on our labels. “Natural” claims by themselves are even worse since they don’t mean diddly squat but lull the consumer into a false sense of security.

Murielle concurred that unless it’s marked “Treated”, a European automatically assumes food isn’t toxic.  Here it’s the opposite. Unless it’s labelled “organic” it has toxic inputs. Unless it’s labelled “organic” I don’t trust it to feed to my children. Neither does Murielle.  Heavily subsidized, GMOs appear “cheaper” at least in the short run.  But what have they been grown with?!

The chemicals they put in and on our food here in North America include neurotoxins, carcinogens, and hormone disruptors.  Even in trace amounts that adds up over a few years.  Even the US President’s cancer panel  from 2010 says “. . . the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated.” ‘The report goes on to say that our government agencies are “failing to carry out their responsibilities” and concludes with specific recommendations for overhauling our nation’s flawed chemicals management system.’ From

I envision a North America where we can buy food for our kids and know what’s actually in it. I envision a North American reality where we can go into any old store and buy safe food without second -guessing the labels. I want the governments to protect us citizens from the chemical onslaught.  Like Murielle, I want to feel safe in the typical grocery store.  I can see nothing more important than feeding our future, our children, healthily and safely.

And I see this happening!  I see community gardens popping up all over.  Sterile lawns transformed into productive ecosystems with bees buzzing.  And a return to the soil to leave the Earth better than we found it.

Do you see what I see?

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


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

Prayer To Future Beings

You live inside us, beings of the future.

In the spiral ribbons of our cells, you are here.  In our rage for the burning forests, the poisoned fields, the oil-drowned seals, you are here.  You beat in our hearts through late-night meetings.  You accompany us to clear-cuts and toxic dumps and the halls of the lawmakers.  It is you who drive our dogged labors to save what is left.

O you who will walk this Earth when we are gone, stir us awake.  Behold through our eyes the beauty of this world.  Let us feel your breath in our lungs, your cry in our throat.  Let us see you in the poor, the homeless, the sick.  Haunt us with your hunger, hound us with your claims, that we may honour the life that links us.

You have as yet no faces we can see, no names we can say.  But we need only hold you in our mind, and you teach us patience.  You attune us to measures of time where healing can happen, where soil and souls can mend.  You reveal courage within us we had not suspected, love we had not owned.

O you who come after, help us remember: we are your ancestors.  Fill us with gladness for the work that must be done.

– Joanna Macy

Reminder that tonight there is a talk at The University of Victoria by Dr Thierry Vrain on GMOs.  7 pm room A110 in David Turpin Building.  Bring your sceptic friends, the ones that still think that GMOs are saving the world.  The ones who don’t know the reality or are confused.  Those who’ve read so much about the promise of GMOs.  Tell them to ask questions…  Like: Are there nutritionally superior GMO crops?    What is the evidence that GMOs don’t increase yields?  Do GMOs increase or decrease pesticides?  Ask about superweeds and super pests.  Ask about the precautionary principle.

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 can’t go, take 17 mins and have a listen to his Ted x talk

Op-Ed in Response to G & M article

I felt moved to write this letter after reading a biased and poorly-informed opinion in the Globe and Mail.  The Globe and Mail didn’t publish my opinion and so I posted it into the comments section.  I thought that I would share it with you.

Re: “Activists muddy the water on GMOs and fracking, Globe and Mail”, November 4th 2013

In the article Activists muddy the Water on GMOs and Fracking, Gwyn Morgan says that both GMOs and Fracking are based on activist propaganda and have no scientific backing.  I respectfully disagree and would like to address his comments on GMOs in particular.

Contrary to what was stated in the article, there is no scientific consensus regarding the safety of GMOs nor is there any independent peer-reviewed long-term impact research on human health.  There are however countless peer-reviewed studies showing cause for alarm.  In the past couple of weeks alone 230 scientists, physicians and legal experts around the world have signed a group statement attesting to the fact that there is no consensus on the safety of GMOs.

Dr. Belinda Martineau from University of California agrees.  She was part of the team that commercialized the Flavr Savr GMO tomato that failed in 1994. In relation to the group statement Dr Martineau expresses that she, “wholeheartedly support[s] this thorough, thoughtful and professional statement describing the lack of scientific consensus on the safety of genetically engineered (GM/GE) crops and other GM/GE organisms (also referred to as GMOs). Society’s debate over how best to utilize the powerful technology of genetic engineering is clearly not over. For its supporters to assume it is, is little more than wishful thinking.”

Despite the marvellous hype about feeding the world, almost all GMO crops currently grown in North America have no superior qualities apart from being able to withstand toxic and carcinogenic herbicide, the residues of which contaminate our food and environment,  poison the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soils we grow our food in. As a society we currently throw away half the food we produce. Production isn’t the issue. It’s distribution.

What about yields, you may say?  GMOs give higher yields, right? Not necessarily. According to the Rodale Institute’s 30 year farm study, over the long term organic crop yields are higher than conventional especially in years of drought when conditions are not perfect.

Only a handful of gigantic monopolies are benefiting from this risky technology. Since GMOs were introduced less than two decades ago, 90% of corn, soy, canola and sugar beets are now GMO—more than one hundred million acres. In the US alone in the 1990s there was 1.5 million pounds of glyphosate being doused on our crops.  By 2011 there was 90 million tons of gylphosate primarily due to GMOs.  And we don’t have any mandatory labelling to inform us, the consuming public in the event we want to avoid these ingredients until we’re convinced they’re safe.  If there’s nothing wrong with GMOs, why not label them?

People should be empowered to stop and question what they feed their families, and whether the agriculture we practice is sustainable and necessary for our fragile earth.

Gurdeep Stephens

An apple a day

People have called it, but actually the outcome of Washington’s GMO labelling VOTE YES on 522 is still far from over.  Percentage of YES climbed steadily the last few days from 45 to 46 to 47 to 47.85.  The Ballots will not be counted until after the long weekend.   There are still 147, 000 ballots left to be counted!

Til we know more, take that righteous No GMO energy over to Artic Apple.  7, 500 Apple cultivars are not enough?  69 million tons of apples and they had to create one that doesn’t brown? We already have varieties that don’t brown.   Not yet released, not yet given the green light for deregulation, we are now in a public commenting period. Tell the makers what you think about their GMO apples.!submitComment;D=APHIS_FRDOC_0001-1532