Tag Archives: GMOs

GMOs summarized

Before we can change behaviours, we need to change thoughts.  In order to change thoughts and subsequently actions, we need to separate hard, uncomfortable truths from rosy lies.

IMG_1123

Dear readers of the Deeper Side Blog.

As I was finishing my first book “Wood Storms, Wild Canvas” in the summer of 2014, I started to write a very different book called “This Earth Is Ours”. (Yes – 2014 was a busy year!)  This title of “This Earth Is Ours” is based on a song by my song-writing, organic farming grandfather Rupert who said, “He who knowingly steps on an earthworm, is not a man”. Here he is in the 30s (or 40s?) at the Stephens’ Mountain Valley Farm in Glenora, Vancouver Island:

Mtn Valley Farm & Dad

When I think of all the pesticides and herbicides that go into growing GMOs, I cannot help but think of all the insects including myriad pollinators that are being decimated.  I would think that the word ‘ecocide’ applies. Sad little earthworm below – I think he wants to be in red rich earth, not on gravel:Worm unedited

I was compelled to summarize the real tangible problems with GMOs in the forth-coming book. Several experts read it and provided feedback. I skirted the elephant issue of whether it is ethical to make new species. I will just sum up that conundrum with Vandana Shiva’s quote, “You cannot insert a gene you took from a bacteria and call it life. You haven’t created life, instead you have polluted it.”  Below is a favourite 3 arm-holed “GMO” t-shirt which says, “GMO SHIRTS ARE EASY TO SPOT. GMO FOODS AREN’T”:

Diya GMO 3 hole shirt

If you still are confused about GMOs, or know people who think that GMOs currently grown are doing good for people or planet…. Or if you don’t know why everyone is seeking out non-GMO foods…. Or, if you believe in the promise of GMOs, but are still unaware of the sobering realities, I hope this extract from “This Earth Is Ours” will scatter some seeds that will sprout a new understanding.

To put you in the mood of nature and food, here is a photo I took at the restored prairie at the Morton Arboretum near Chicago:

DSC_0407

Extract from “This Earth Is Ours”, forthcoming March 4, 2015

Appendix

GMOs

I would like to thank Dr. John Fagan, Dr. Thierry Vrain, Ken Roseboro, Lucy Sharatt and Dag Falck for their valued input into this section.

When I was getting my honors bachelor’s degree in biology and my masters degree in biopsychology at the University of Chicago from 1991 to 1996, the field of biology was buzzing about genetic engineering. Biologists were promising to eliminate pesticide use and create superfoods with this new technology. They would solve world hunger through their cleverness and technology.

I thought it fascinating that under the guise of improving food, scientists were basically unleashing brand new species onto the planet. Many people, including my father, were dead opposed. Initially, I was trying to figure out why. Biologists and shills for the biotech industry made it all sound so rosy. Over the years, I’ve tried hard to understand the pros and cons of this technology. I’ve discovered that, despite the hype and initial promise, there are very few pros. Below, I discuss the major cons — six big problems with the use of genetically modified organisms in our food supply.

Organic farming is a way of incorporating the entire ecology, the ecosystem of a “farm,” promoting pollinators, enriching the soil and looking at the whole system. The premise behind GMOs is to grow unicrops, taking one factor, the gene, and altering the genome, without considering the whole. Biologists were attempting to fix something when nothing was broken to begin with. There is no shortage of food, but rather of distribution.

The first major problem is that GMOs cannot be grown side by side with organic crops. They are not only the furthest thing from natural (think fish DNA in a tomato) but, because they are living and capable of reproducing, they cannot be contained. Pollen from engineered crops is carried everywhere by the wind and by pollinators, including into organic fields, which are then contaminated with genetically engineered genes. My father Arran said in 1996 “there are no walls high enough to keep out GMOs.” You cannot have a field of organic crops right next to a field of GMO crops because the wind and pollinators will spread the GMO pollen to the non-GMO organic plants. Most people have heard about the huge number of lawsuits launched by the big biotech companies against farmers. According to one account, over the last 15 years an average of one lawsuit a week has been launched against a farmer for patent infringement. How can we patent nature?

Farmers affected by GMO crop contamination did not want the GMOs, did not grow them on purpose and didn’t even know of the contamination until they were sued. If someone sprayed toxic paint that disrupted my farm, the sprayer would have to desist and provide restitution. However, in this twisted world of big biotech business, it is the persecuted who lose out.

Secondly, GMOs use a lot of pesticides, which are incompatible with the organic system of agriculture. Most people are shocked to learn that GMOs have not decreased pesticide use despite biotech claims that they do so. In fact, 1.5 million tons of pesticides and herbicides were sprayed on US crops in the mid-1990s. The amount is increasing exponentially. A study by Charles Benbrook, PhD, research professor at the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources at Washington State University, found that pesticide use has increased by 404million pounds since GM crops were first planted in 1996.

The sad fact is that over 90 percent of North American GMO crops are designed to be resistant to the herbicide glyphosate (which is also patented as an antibiotic and kills the bacteria that are so important to soil fertility). In private correspondence with me, Dr. Thierry Vrain explained that glyphosate was originally patented as an industrial pipe cleaner. This chemical was discovered to kill bacteria, plants and fungi, and in 1974 it was purchased and patented into the widely used, best-selling herbicide which will not be named. At this time, explains Dr. Vrain, “it was assumed to be completely safe to humans because of its mode of action to kill plants.” But, as Dr. Vrain said in a recent lecture, “imagine a chemical contaminant that would destroy all vitamins in the food. Vitamins are all co-factors of enzyme proteins. Glyphosate does not affect vitamins at all, but it does deplete the food of minerals. Minerals in our food are also cofactors of enzyme proteins.” Glyphosate is now also patented as an antibiotic, which apparently doesn’t attack our “human cells,” but certainly attacks our gut bacteria via the shikimate pathway. We walk about with over 10 times more symbiotic bacterial cells than human cells. The first glyphosate-resistant crops were released in 1996 and, because these crops are sprayed, the resulting foods we consume contain “much higher residues,” says Dr. Vrain. Most GMOs are genetically modified to resist glyphosate or to express a pesticide, such as Bt corn. Genetic engineers from the world’s largest chemical companies have developed strategies in the laboratory to “stack” several traits in one seed so that a single crop will be herbicide resistant in addition to expressing a pesticide. This is extreme agriculture, as far removed from organic or traditional breeding methods as one could conceive.

In recent years, with overuse of pesticides and herbicides (across 395 million acres of GMO production), superweeds and superpests have proliferated to such an alarming extent that, in 2014, the US and Canada permitted resistance to 2,4-D to be genetically engineered into seeds. 2,4-D is a highly toxic component of the infamous herbicide Agent Orange, used as a biowarfare agent during the Vietnam War. According to US Department of Agriculture estimates, the use of 2,4-D could triple by 2020. GMOs have exacerbated the problems of pesticide use, not diminished them.

The third major problem with GMOs is that safety testing is inadequate to protect the health of those who might eat them. The GMO crops grown today were all approved for commercial production without any independent or long-term animal, human or environmental toxicity studies. In Canada and the US, GMO versions of crops are considered to be “substantially equivalent to conventional crops.” If this is true, then why is herbicide-resistant GMO Bt corn registered with the Environmental Protection Agency as a pesticide? And, if they are considered equivalent, why are they patented? By its very definition, a patent is awarded when something is “substantially” different. Every short-term study used to “prove” their safety to regulators has been done by the very same companies selling the GMO seeds and chemicals. Every scientific study that questions or sheds doubt upon the safety of GMOs is immediately subjected to discrediting by scientists who have direct or indirect financial ties to the biotech industry. There is no scientific consensus on the safety of GMOs.

Related to this third issue is North America’s failure to question biotech’s data and ban GMOs, while other countries have called the same data into question and rejected GMOs. As John Fagan, PhD, writes, “shockingly, no country has done its own research to date. All buy in to the biotech companies’ own data.” In North America, legislators have not questioned the data nor done independent studies on GMOs. As a consequence, we are being force-fed GMOs, without knowledge or consent, based upon studies done by the very companies that are profiting from patenting this technology, selling the seeds and countless tons of pesticides and herbicides. Consistently, over 90 percent of North Americans polled want GMOs labeled. However, lawmakers are not listening. Sixty-four countries around the world either have mandatory labeling of GMOs or ban them altogether.

When I was in my twenties and living in Europe, I was invited to the UK houses of parliament in the 1990s for backroom debates on GMOs. I wasn’t at all impressed with the biotech research they presented. At the time, I had a particularly keen eye for data, having conducted laboratory research myself. Fortunately for the Europeans, they were not impressed with pro-GMO research either. They limited GMO crop trials and instituted mandatory labelling of GMOs. To date in Europe, Spain is the only country where GMO seeds are used to any significant extent, and at least six EU countries forbid any cultivation of GMOs. Other countries have taken a strong stand against GMOs, even when in the midst of a national emergency. Following the Haitian earthquake, a large biotech company provided “aid” in the form of seeds, and instead of planting them, the Haitian people wisely burned those seeds, saying they were “poison.”

Recently, influential countries have taken a critical position regarding GMOs. Russia has banned them, and high-level military officers in the Chinese army have pointed to imported GMO grains as a threat to national security, saying they weaken the local agricultural production capacity. In 2014, China rejected corn exports from the US worth more than $1 billion due to the presence of a GM corn variety that has not been approved in China. With the rest of the world already alerted to the failing GMO crop experiment, only now are North Americans becoming aware of this issue and taking action to implement labeling laws. Today, Canada and the United States are the only two developed nations that do not give their citizens transparency regarding what they are eating, but with the newly enlivened attention to the GMO issue, this blind spot will soon be eliminated.

The fourth major problem is that people are under the misguided impression that GMOs increase yields and consequently are “feeding the world.” In fact, of the major commercially grown GMO crops (corn, soy, canola, sugar, cotton), there have been no intentional genetic modifications for increased yields. In other words, no yield-increasing traits have been inserted through genetic engineering.

A fifth major problem is that of the ethical question of patenting “life,” coupled with the problem of whether gene-splicing technology is inherently safe. I’m going to avoid this discussion for this book. It is such a vast and technical discussion and can be easily researched for those who are interested. What is more concerning on a practical level is that most of the millions of acres of GMOs grown are made by only a small handful of extremely large chemical and seed corporations. These huge multinationals own the GMO seeds, the patents, the technology and the herbicides and pesticides that have to be grown concurrently with the GMOs. These corporations are able to buy and sway public opinion, directly or indirectly fund much of the science driving GMO research and actively lobby the government. In addition, the amount of subsidies given to “conventional” food production is staggering in size compared to organics, where farmers have to pay to be certified. It boils down to a few companies patenting life and nature . . . and it’s all for profit. GMOs were allowed because of the promises of “feeding the world,” reducing pesticide/herbicide use, increasing yield and making “superfoods,” none of which have come to pass.

This brings us to the last major problem with GMOs: they didn’t do what they set out to do. GMOs haven’t alleviated world hunger, they haven’t decreased toxic herbicide and pesticide use, they haven’t improved crop yield and they haven’t produced super-nutritious foods. Owning patents on life is not the same as providing food for the hungry. The problem of hunger is not a question of quantity but of distribution. As United Nations studies consistently report, small scale, sustainable farming is capable of solving the ‘food shortage’ and promoting biodiversity at the same time. In the long run, GMOs are out-performed by organics, especially for smaller farms and during drought conditions.

Let us collectively take the knowledge we have gained over the millennia of crop-breeding. Let’s wisely incorporate modern technologies, like marker-assisted selection, that protect the integrity of nature. By keeping seed biodiversity and trusting in Nature, we can heal the Earth, feed the hungry and breed wonderful new varieties of foods, at the pace of the seasons.

I’ll sign off with xo’s and another photo I took at the restored prairie at the Morton Arboretum:DSC_0346

 

Letter from the Deepster

Dear DeeperSide readers,

I’ve been in a period of incubation, hatching ideas, regaining old strengths and acquiring new skills.  There is so much I want to share with you about this journey of growth and transformation.  For much of it, I don’t yet have the words.  I’m currently working on two book projects.  The first is a book of Art of my dear Uncle Godfrey.  Inshallah, we should be launching end of this month. If you are a facebooker, check out “Wood Storms, Wild Canvas: The Art of Godfrey Stephens”.  I’ll announce the second book early in the new year 2015.  Below is a photo by Devin Card of me and Godfrey’s large abstract cedar sculpture titled ‘Klukchitl’ meaning when Spring starts.

 

Gurdeep Klukchitl

I was really moved, when after a long period, I went to this blogsite and saw that despite an absence of new posts, several people visit this blog everyday from many countries around the world. I was recently in the Midwest where I met some old friends, one of whom told me that they were inspired to change by this blog.  I was beyond touched that some of my words had resonated.  I started thedeeperside blog in order to submit a voice of inspiration, common sense and real news to anyone who wanted to read.  Thank you so much for listening.  It’s a small endeavour in the scheme of things but  the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I thank you for walking this journey with me.

DSC_0368

Above and below are photos I took at the Morton Arboretum, a beautiful 1700 acre oasis of ecology, including a restored prairie, thousands of tree species, a fun tree maze etc and so on.  The prairie delighted me the most, as I always wondered what a *real* American prairie looked and felt like.  The answer: glorious.

best light no people

I look forward to taking up the torch again soon.  In the meantime, I wanted to share some bits of news for those of you unaware of what’s going on.  There currently are two motions to label GMOs in the US, one in Oregon, the other in Colorado. Vermont passed a no-strings attached labelling bill but are now being hit with a lawsuit from big food and the chemical companies. Common sense is behind these consumer-driven motions to label GMOs.  Like in Washington and California, the same monster companies are dumping in millions of dollars to flood the airways and confuse voters.  These exact same companies label in 64 countries, they reformulate products.  Even in the UK, MacDonalds serves children organic milk!

DSC_0297

A friend wrote to me today on facebook saying “Why aren’t more people boycotting [the-company-which-must-not-be-named]”.   It’s hard for consumers to know where to turn.  Most of the big food companies are funnelling millions to defeat the right to know via the Grocery Manufacturers Association.  But to *really* complicate things, most of the big companies also own most of the ‘little’ organic companies!  So these organic brands are not able to stand up to their big daddy’s and demand labelling. With a handful of crucial exceptions, the original organic, independent, and commonsensical voice has been bought out by big business. Enlightened shoppers wish to support organic and can end up supporting the big companies who are fighting with nuclear-weapon-sized wallets to smother the voice of the people.  

Hypocritical?  Complicated?  The answer is so simple, the solution is so obvious.  We must have the right to know what’s been done to our food, what toxins are sprayed on it and what toxic genes are in it.  If N. American governments are not following the precautionary principle, allowing GMOs without independent, long-term studies, at least give citizens the choice of whether or not to eat them!  The answer is so resoundingly clear that other citizens around the world scratch their heads, wondering what has gone so wrong in N. America.

If you wish to vote with your voice, speak up, ‘like’ and ‘share’ those inconveniently disturbing posts, celebrate every victory, no matter how small. Follow Food Babe, Robyn O’Brien, etc etc. My answer to people who wish to vote with their dollars is two fold 1) Keep supporting organic brands as this sends the biggest signal to the marketplace, which is really what will motivate huge change, 2) where you have a choice, support an independent organic brand, and 3) Best still, buy as many real foods as you can and support your local organic farmers.

cabbages

Things are changing so rapidly for the better.  More and more farms are going non-GMO and organic.  Mexico has puts up bans on GMO Soy and Corn. All this is beyond fantastic, a trend not a fad. Let’s raise our hands high in the air, wave our arms about, bring in the good energy and send love and support to everyone who is doing the right thing for people and planet. Yay to our organic farmers, replenishing the soil, purifying the air and the waters.  Transported to a greener reality, I see our waters running clear and clean, I see our air pure and crystalline.  I smell the forest and grasslands rustling with life.  I taste the goodness Mother Earth has to offer.

With love to you all,

Gurdeep

Breaking Relative Silence

It has been an interesting couple of months for me personally.  I am filled with enormous gratitude for life, my faculties and the love, courage, and greatness I witness every day.  The many wonderful people who have supported me with beautiful words and encouragement I thank you.  There is so much I have wanted to share recently.  From “I Am Steve Marsh” to the Terrible TPP to some inspiring people and events (including my mom Ratana who was recently awarded the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada).  Although I have been posting some Style-Diet Shots, I am otherwise breaking silence.

Through social media (as the mainstream media is still rubbing its eyes, wondering if it should wake up), US state after state and several counties are presenting both labelling bills and GE or GMO Free resolutions.  Clearly, this is one of the biggest issues of our times.   Canada and the US are the only developed countries who do not legislate some kind of labelling of GMOs.  So today I write with a happy heart that we can do something (activism and clicktivism) right here and now today in Canada.  Our collective clicks will become a force for change.  Our voices a sea of myriad droplets rushing in 100 foot waves (Dustin Barca can surf ’em) . So much good has come lately.  Food Babe and Robyn O’Brien and Moms Across America, our Hawaiian siblings and so many others have successfully managed to eke great changes to N. American food recently.  We still have a huge mountain to climb.  But the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single footstep.  Robyn O’Brien talks about the moral compass.  Let’s keep True North.  Let’s hold the corporations to their better angels.

For those who are still confused about whether GMOs are good or bad, I will explain why you should be wary and cautious about GMOs and employ the precautionary principle, apart from the facts that:

1. GMOs have contributed to a massive increase in toxic pesticides and herbicides.

2. GMOs have contributed to the creation of superweeds.

3. GMOs are now being considered by the USDA to be sprayed with 2,4 D also known as Agent Orange.  Since Round-Up (Glyphosate) isn’t working any more, the big chemical companies are resorting to even more toxic applications of the GMO technology.  It appears that the USDA is leaning towards approval despite common sense screaming against it.

4. GMOs have been approved by the government, based on short-term studies done by the same companies selling them.  Every independent, long-term study has shown cause for alarm.

5. Despite the hype about Bio-enhanced foods, most – 90% of GMOs are designed to withstand the herbicide glyphosate also known as Round-Up.

Most North Americans do not know whether they are consuming GMOs since the chemical giants and others like the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association have lobbied against consumer’s right to know, spending millions upon millions to suppress this basic necessity.  Imagine how many hungry people they could have fed instead?  They continue along this tragic path of concealment despite allowing customers elsewhere around the globe this right (about 5 billion see previous post https://thedeepersideblog.com/2013/12/09/gmos-by-nation).  These people in 64+ nations are buying the very same products reformulated without GMOs and or labelled.

There are two things not commonly known about GMOs that I learned from former GMO scientist Dr. Thierry Vrain (youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQkQXyiynYs).  The first is that, when scientists insert foreign genes (usually to resist the antibiotic Round-Up), the process is imprecise and nobody knows where in the DNA of the modified organism this toxic gene ends up.  The second thing is scientists don’t know how many copies are being inserted.  Messing with the DNA of an organism is problematic since biologists continually discover just how intensely, mind-blowingly complicated DNA is.  Even this past December an article in Science turned the original one protein-one gene DNA theory on its head:

http://www.washington.edu/news/2013/12/12/scientists-discover-double-meaning-in-genetic-code/

Nearly every study not conducted by the handful of chemical companies controlling this technology shows serious health and toxic effects on animals and ecosystems.  As famous environmentalist and geneticist (also an alumnus of my alma mater The University of Chicago) David Suzuki has famously said, “Any politician or scientist who tells you these products are safe is either very stupid or lying.”

So what can you do here in Canada?

Today you can effect change with a two pronged approach!

The first is an online petition.  With one click below, you can support the new Federal Labelling Bill M480 “Right to Know” put forth by Murray Rankin, an MP and Lawyer championing people and the environment.  It is wonderful to have an elected official listening to the people, for the people.  Like in the US, we in Canada want GMOs labelled.  And this is no small minority.  Well over 90% of Canadians and Americans consistently polled want GMOs labelled.  We of the over 90% feel it’s a right, given that fat and sugar and even the contents of our mattresses are labelled.  Even those who believe GMOs are good (or can be) still want to know what they are feeding themselves and their families.

Murray Rankin first introduced this bill in Ottawa this past December 2013.  Please take a minute to sign and share and send as widely as you can.

http://petition.ndp.ca/the-food-you-eat

Secondly, if you are convinced like many multitudes, that GMOs have no merit except for fairy tales and real red flag warnings, then you can support a recent campaign to Stop the GM apple.  This apple doesn’t brown when cut.  And remember, the scientists themselves don’t know what processes are being disrupted in the insertion of foreign genes in the process of making this un-necessary apple.  What you can do is speak up against the GM Apple.  Remind your stores where you shop that the apple is using dangerous technology.  Tell them you wont buy it.  Explain how the process of creating GMOs is imprecise and disrupts the DNA of the Apple. Plus once released into our countryside, it will contaminate our other apples.  Quote David Suzuki and Dr Vrain.  Inform them about Dr. Vrain’s Ted Talk and his cross Canada tour to enlighten the public.
GE FREE APPLE INFOGRAPHIC 1 GE FREE APPLE INFOGRAPHIC 2 GE FREE APPLE INFOGRAPHIC 3

I’ve been reading about Abraham Lincoln who led America at the time of the civil war.  He refused to let the slave states secede at a time a weaker man might have let the US just split into two or allow slavery to perpetuate into the new territories.  Whilst reading, I can’t stop marvelling that people used biology, logic and religion to justify slavery. When such injustice is perpetrated, we are morally obligated to speak out and up.  With right comes might and a sense of noble purpose.  Please ask me if you want more petitions to sign and I’ll dig them up.

Well, Gentle Readers (feeling Victorian after immersing in some Romantic music yesterday), please forgive my ramblings, mistakes, and typos.  I hope to be back again as soon as possible.  In the meantime, thank you for reading.  Thank you for your comments.  Thank you for your commitment to the Earth and each other.  A presto…

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.

DSC_0473 (2)

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

 

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.

-30-

For more information visit: http://gefreebc.wordpress.com and Common Ground

magazine,www.commonground.ca.  Joseph 778 707 0631 cell

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

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