Tag Archives: Agriculture

Dr OZ and Pesticides

First LivingMaxell on Fox news http://livingmaxwell.com/fox-news-carol-alt-gmos

Now Dr Oz on Pesticides http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/what-food-industry-doesnt-want-you-know

1.5 million pounds of pesticides were sprayed on crops in 1999 – mostly GMOs.  In my opinion that’s 1.5 million pounds too many.  Sit down and hang onto your hat, cuz in 2011 we were at 90+ million pounds of pesticides per year. 90+ million pounds of pesticides in our soils, in our waters and in the air.  And that data is conservative.

And that number is growing because of the superweeds and superpests.  These GMOs were supposed to reduce chemical applications.  Instead they have increased.  Exponentially.  For those people who believe that pesticide use decreased with GMOs, it didn’t.  It hasn’t.  Dr. Oz showed that very well.  This is based on USDA data.  Now there currently is an application with the FDA to spray 2,4 D, the active ingredient of agent orange.

Over time, yields of GMOs are equalled or outperformed by Organic.

For those who believe that GMOs hold promises…. In theory.  To you I say: How about this approach –  How about we just ban toxins?  How about banning/labelling food with known carcinogens and neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors?

Let’s stop poisoning people and planet whilst we debate the morals and ethics of GMO technology.

For more information on pesticides please see http://farmwars.info/?p=11515

I’ve copied this graph on Glyphosate use and explanation from the Farm Wars website.  This is just one pesticide being sprayed on our crops…..

Contrary to claims made by the chemical industries, glyphosate use increased 6,504% from 1991 to 2010 according to data from the USDA: National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). States participating in the USDA surveys reported applying a whopping 91,200 tons (1 rail car holds approximately 100 tons) of glyphosate on corn, cotton and soy crops alone in 2010 (see graph). Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Roundup™, the herbicide used on Roundup Ready™ crops genetically engineered (GE) to withstand glyphosate. Glyphosate residues of up to 4.4 mg/kg have been detected in stems, leaves and beans of glyphosate-resistant soy, indicating metabolism of the herbicide. This means that the Roundup Ready™ plants are absorbing the herbicide and you cannot simply wash it off.

glyphosate graph 1

March for our Food

“Things do not happen. Things are made to happen.”
– JFK

I passionately encourage everyone everywhere to march tomorrow in the world’s second March Against Monsanto.  It’s being held in every major city in the world on October 12th.

Here is Dr Vandana Shiva explaining why we should March.

Although Monsanto is perhaps the least ethical of the corporations, they are not the only ones legally hijacking our food supply.  6 companies are in control here: Dow, Sygenta, Dupont, Bayer Crop Science, Basf  are just as culpable.  Between them, they control the global seed, pesticide and agricultural biotechnology markets.  This is not science fiction.  This is not a conspiracy theory.

“What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain.” —Robert Fraley, co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector

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This should have violated every anti-trust piece of legislation known to the courts.   Like monocrop agriculture is wrong, so are a handful of companies consolidating the food chain.   They say they are feeding the world.  Owning and poisoning the food supply doesn’t equate to feeding the world.  GMOs are not proven safe for human consumption.   They were released into our food supply after 3 month long rat studies.  Rats live 2 years!  The theory is that they use fewer pesticides.  The reality is that they use more pesticides than before.  The theory is that they give more nutrition.  The reality is that these are all just dreams and not one nutritionally enhanced food is commercially available.  As people wake up to this reality, they are outraged.


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March for our Food.

March for the Bees who are beeing destroyed by neonicontinoid pesticides.  (Neonicotinoids are a common coating on GMO seeds)

March for justice for the 284 000 Farmers in India who have been driven to suicide.

March for biodiversity.

March for the system of farming that works: ORGANIC.  In side by side comparison studies Organic yields equal GMO yields over the long run.  In times of drought, Organic yields are greater than GMOs.  Without poisoning the Earth.

I’m leaving you with this image: Monarch butterflies flutter, Bees Buzz, Insects abound, Our rivers run clean.  Air is pure.  This all is possible if we grow organically. Listen to the Earth.  Respect her creatures.  Respect each other.   As Grandpa Rupert said,

“Always Leave the soil better than when you found it.”

Urban Garden in Barca

“In Globalization 1.0, which began around 1492, the world went from size large to size medium. In Globalization 2.0, the era that introduced us to multinational companies, it went from size medium to size small. And then around 2000 came Globalization 3.0, in which the world went from being small to tiny.”

– Thomas Friedman

Walking through the maze of streets in Barcelona’s medieval quarter, I was delighted to find a community garden amidst the stone, and brick and pavement.  We were in the not-so-touristy district a few minutes walk from the Picasso museum North of Princesa.  I don’t remember any of these kinds of urban gardens when we lived in Barcelona in the 90s.  Walking around the garden, a sign shouted at me from the other side.  I took this photo:

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“NO TO THE CONTROL OF MULTINATIONALS ON AGRICULTURE AND FOOD”

Hmm…

If multinationals are doing the right thing: fair trade, fair practices, no GMOs, no pesticides, ethical treatment of people and animals….

….Then I have no problem with Multinationals.

Instead of arguing against something, let’s stand for something.  Let’s not give more energy to the evil and the corrupt.  To effect change, let’s envision a new world.  Lend your good clean positive energy to visualization.  To the just and righteous, to truth and to common sense.

An Isha moment at the Dr Vandana Shiva lecture at UVIC Part 1

The Growing of Food should be an act of love 

-Dr Vandana Shiva March 27, 2013

I dream of a world where we breathe healthy air and dig in healthy soil.  Where streams run clear and pure.  Where organic farmers cultivate with pride and dignity and freedom to plant the seeds they themselves sow and save for the future.

My daughter Diya holding a wild wee baby bunny.  The bunny didn’t hop out of her hands.

I will set up the first of this two-part post with an impressionistic portrait of Isha. She is my six year-old with a flair for the dramatic, like her older sister Diya.  You will remember Isha if you have ever had the – ahem – pleasure to have met her.  She is intense, loving, naughty, rambunctious (why is that so hard to spell?) and takes up a lot of energy.   She also has a iron sense of justice.  Did I mention that she is outspoken?  Even for a 6 year old.  On the ferry the other day, I met a fellow school parent who had hosted Isha at his daughter’s 7th birthday party.  “Oh, so you’re Isha’s mom?!”  he said with surprise – not quite masking his slightly apprehensive tone.  We hadn’t met.  He looked a little scared.

“HmmmUmm,” I smiled,  and murmured, brightly bracing myself and showing all teeth.

“Yeah, wow.  Hmmpf.  I know Isha, We know Isha” he said wyrly, “your daughter is a real character.”

Yyy-yep. ah.

I’m just putting that out there for you to digest while I set this up.  It’s called blunt foreshadowing.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about how Dr. Vandana Shiva shifted something inside me.  I come from a pioneering organic family.  My grandad Rupert turned to organic methods loving the lowly-earthworm when his peers on Vancouver Island were turning to synthetic pesticides and herbicides.  Rupert also was a song-writer. He loved to write songs about the beauty of the Earth and farming.

Rupert Stephens, my song-writing, organic-berry farming, pacifist grandfather.

Having grown up in and around gardens, health food stores and vegetarian restaurants, I thought I was pretty informed about agriculture.  I’ve heard about GMOs for a long time in many capacities before they crept up everywhere in food.  When I moved to London in the 1990’s, I was invited to a special session in the British Houses of Parliament to hear the various sides debate GMOs.  I got dressed well (because there is a dress code, didn’t you know? I found that out the hard way alas – and will post about that another time).  In my fancy pumps and matching grey suit, I traipsed to the room where they were having the debate.  I sat, watched, listened to the speakers, made notes, saw the data.  I came with a relatively open mind.  And I actually wanted to see the data.  I have an honors BA and an MA in Biology and started a doctorate in Spain.  I have used pipettes, sequenced genes and even co-authored a scientific article once upon a time.  The original idea of GMOs wasn’t entirely devoid of merit, if you kept in mind the following :

1) a for-profit company owning patents to life (hmm)
2) organic is better = no pesticides and herbicides yay!
3) lack of biodiversity due to the flawed mono-crop theology (boo)
4) ethical concerns about the companies themselves promoting GMOs
5) (organics is still better)

The GMO-proponents at this British debate were arguing that they significantly reduced pesticide use through this technology.  Again I was thinking, how can you compete with organic?  In organic farming the soil is enhanced, not depleted.  Pesticides and herbicides not only kill biodiversity but kill farmers.  Big-agri food business sees that side as an unfortunate but necessary by-product of food production.  Again, I reminded myself that I was there with an open mind.  If they could radically reduce pesticides and herbicides use, I might be impressed.  But I wanted to see the data.  Better, if they went organic, of course, but I again I was going with a relatively open mind. Riiight? If they were invited to give their best arguments, dressed to their corporate best (like moi, of course) at the august Houses of Parliament, they had to be bringing some  pretty gosh-darn amazing data.

I held my breath waiting for the evidence to show up on the screen.

It came.

I frowned in consternation…

Did the well-heeled Brits and Americans see what I saw?   I zoomed in on the chart proudly titled something like ‘Reduction in Pesticides and Herbicides in GMO Crop Sample study’ .  I was looking for the significant difference.  Did they make a mistake?  Was this the ‘before’?  Nope.  I checked the title again and looked at the dots and lines.  This had to be their ‘great scientific evidence’?  But was this the very best they could do?  The reduction in pesticides from ‘conventional’ to GMOs production was *minimal*.  With the variance, it seemed hardly a difference to my eyes.  The GMO proponents kept using the words “statistically  significant” and pointing to the chart.  I squinted, turned my head this way and that way. Okaaaay, like significantly lower by a bit.  But not enough to my eyes.

Nor to British eyes.

Like me, they were not persuaded.

Fast forward to recent.

Confronted with all these screaming red warmings about GMOs, I had been getting more perplexed and wrestling with my disquiet.  I still didn’t want to write a blog about this.  I thought we were doing enough.  Others were doing enough.  I thought I was doing enough to support organic and local producers with each and every meal.  My family has been supporting organic farmers in several ways for years.  My father Arran was the first to found and certify an organic breakfast food company. First my grand-parents Rupert and Gwen, then dad Arran, mom Ratana, sister Jyoti, little brother Arjan, my sister Shanti and brother-in-law Markus all produce, market and manufacture organic foods.  It have never simply been a job to provide people with delicious nutritious foods.  My family ethos is steeped to further the agenda of our planet.  Socially responsible, Environmentally Sustainable, Financially Viable.  We have been leaving the soil better than when we found it for decades.

But I still wasn’t ready to write about this on a blog.

Fast-forward to about 2 weeks ago.  Drum roll please!!

Now, if you really and truly want to know what has given me a kick in the pants to write this blog, you need to hear this amazing lecture.  Right now.

Click on it below.

Dr Vandana Shiva distinguished lecture at the Univeristy of Victoria

Click on it above if you didn’t click on it above.

Listen to the lecture.  Share it with your friends, discuss it with your children, enlighten your parents.

You will really understand what GMOs are all about from the winner of the Alternative Nobel Prize.  Dr Vandana Shiva gave this lecture at the University of Victoria on March 27, 2013 where she was awarded an honorary doctorate.

This lecture changed me.  Whereas I was quietly doing my part, after this lecture, I wanted to turbo plant seeds of understanding, knowledge and stand up and wave my arms.  Her lecture has changed my life.

Me, Mom Ratana, Diya, Dr Vandana Shiva, Dad Arran, sister Jyoti

Part 2 coming next.  In which Isha surprises even me at Dr Vandana Shiva’s lecture