August 20, 2009

United Fruit Company Heirs; Honduras Coup

Farm politics are a huge factor influencing the politics of Latin America, for example in the ousting of the people's choice, Zelaya of Honduras. He advocated an increase of 60% in Honduras’s minimum wage, now about $150. a month (for how many hours is your best guess). Chiquita and Dole immediately began a media campaign against the proposal. Many in Latin America believe the two Multinationals (with the CIA) were behind the coup. See for example, Indy Media Ireland

August 19, 2009

A recent Canadian Medical Association Journal editorial says
"we must not underestimate an enemy like pandemic (H1N1) 2009" .... and what we need is a health Czar with "executive powers across all jurisdictions".

This is getting biczarre

At China Organic Agriculture Inc. profits are up 800%. Read about it here

Is it into the pockets of Chinese farmers these profits settle or into the vaults of the American Multinationals? The latter says the Hartford Advocate (where the photo originated)

August 18, 2009

an h1n1 vaccine; synbio virus bred in genetically engineered insect cells

Novavax is making a swine flu vaccine using remarkably strange and potentially dangerous technology that will not be adequately tested before use.

The proprietary process engineers virus-like particles (VLP) - manufactured viruses put together with a recipe of dna. It is synthetic biology not requiring a sample to make.

Genetically engineered insect cell lines are used to grow the VLP, as the usual process (in chicken eggs) is too slow. They use caterpillar cells.

They have started the year long trial of this revolutionary new...vaccine.... but shockingly:
"The vaccine will likely be on the market before the trial finishes."

An April 09 Reuter's story on this "innovative" process reported that "Novavax would have to get U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval before it could test its new vaccine in people. Years of testing are likely to be required before such a new formulation of a vaccine could be widely used in people". See Reuters story
And here is a video link with CEO Singhvi, former 11 year Merck director, discussing, (along with the vaccine) Emergency Use Authorization.

"The “Emergency Use Authorization” (EUA) is a recent federal program, authorized by Public Law 108-276 (1) (2007), which broadens and strengthens the federal authority of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) during an actual or a potential emergency to approve use of:
1. Unapproved drugs, biological products (e.g., vaccines, blood products, and biological products), and devices (e.g., in vitro diagnostics); ..."
What is the "Emergency Use Authorization" for FDA-Unapproved Vaccines

August 17, 2009

fruit flies carry industrial nanoparticles

A new study shows that insects like fruit flies can pick up nanomaterials, disperse them in their ecosystem and be harmed by them. Carbon nanoparticles were the focus of this study in the Aug. 15 issue of ACS' Environmental Science & Technology ('Differential Toxicity of Carbon Nanomaterials in Drosophila: Larval Dietary Uptake Is Benign, but Adult Exposure Causes Locomotor Impairment and Mortality')"


August 16, 2009

sod good

I had to post this video in response to the "eureka" scientists have recently published : healthy soil bacteria can absorb rates greater than can be produced by the beasts grazing upon the blessed sod... uh, yah. Now lets see them scientists declare the whole a symbiotic system!

Ecological farmers may seem weird, but they can teach a scientist a thing or two.

farm update

The fog has been substantial in the mornings these days, obscuring the red sun rise, and the grass is soaked from atmospheric moisture; the soil is bone dry and the fog burns off by 10:00. My peas are drying on the old brown vines, as I have left the last pick for seed and a few pots of soup peas for the winter. I've left some favorite lettuce to seed as well.

The markets have been fabulous - I'm still going to town twice a week, and although the curcurbit crops are pathetic (cucumber beetle) and cabbage crops very slow I've had very good yield and variety from my new 1 1/2 acre garden for a receptive crowd. I have lineups for my salad, and the tomatoes are the best I have ever grown. The calves are catching up in size to their Moms. I'll get some photos up of the farm soon.

The late summer automatic butt-drag has set in some- the list of fall jobs start niggling at my full late august days. I look forward to the tucking in of the garden and splitting firewood. "A change is as good as a rest" but today I'm taking to the woods and lake.

EU Health Expert on H1N1 vaccine

Wolfgang Wodarg, chairman of the health committee in the German parliament and European Council has described the H1N1 vaccine as "injected “with a very hot needle"; and he recognizes Novartis's seriously flawed past and the vaccine's real risks.

"The nutrient solution for the vaccine consists of cancerous cells from animals and we do not know if there could be an allergic reaction". link to story

August 15, 2009

The Return of Michael Taylor Monsanto's Man in the Obama Administration

Isabella Kenfield; Counter Punch

Michael R. Taylor’s appointment by the Obama administration to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on July 7th sparked immediate debate and even outrage among many food and agriculture researchers, NGOs and activists. The Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto Corp. from 1998 until 2001, Taylor exemplifies the revolving door between the food industry and the government agencies that regulate it. He is reviled for shaping and implementing the government’s favorable agricultural biotechnology policies during the Clinton administration.

Yet what has slipped under everyone’s radar screen is Taylor’s involvement in setting U.S. policy on agricultural assistance in Africa. In collusion with the Rockefeller and Bill and Melinda Gates foundations, Taylor is once again the go-between man for Monsanto and the U.S. government, this time with the goal to open up African markets for genetically-modified (GM) seed and agrochemicals.

read it here

Maps concerning Transgenic crops

A listserv to which I subscribe is discussing mapping the transgenic crops in their regions and the lack of accessibility to the information that would allow plotting of those fields of GE canola, corn, soy and sugar beet.

Its not a new idea. An example is the proposal by a group of US Biologists for a national wide biotech map. In South Africa, a civil society group (through access to information legislation) produced a GMO Biohazard map (of field trials)
Australia has a GMO Finder

There is a fascinating collection of google hits for GE maps.
Here are a few that interested me:

litigation map for genetically engineered crops

GE map censored in France

GE free zones in Europe

August 3, 2009

sugar beet specklings

In my 15 years of farming I have never heard the term "speckling"...I can't find a definition of what they are referring to ...anyone?

GM sugar beets found in soil mix sold to gardeners
from the organic and nongmo report

Contamination incident highlights challenges of containing GM beets

In May, genetically modified sugar beet plants were found in a soil mix sold to gardeners at a landscape supply business in Corvallis, Oregon. The contamination incident raises doubts about the ability of the sugar beet seed industry to keep GM sugar beets from contaminating non-GMO sugar beets and related plants.

Discovered in soil mix
The GM Roundup Ready sugar beet plants, called “specklings,” were found in Fertile Mix, a soil mix called sold by Pro Bark. Business owners Jeff and Julie Jackson said they had no idea the plants were in the soil mix.

An unidentified individual purchased the mix, found the sugar beet specklings, and contacted Carol Mallory-Smith, a professor of weed science at Oregon State University. Smith took samples from 10 plants, tested those using protein-based GMO “strip” tests, and found that about half tested positive for the genetically modified Roundup Ready gene.

Following the discovery, Pro Bark stopped selling Fertile Mix, but the Jacksons don’t know how much of it had already been sold.

“Extremely difficult to prevent pollen movement”
The source of the soil mix is in question. According to one report, a farmer sold the soil containing the specklings to a materials handling company who in turn sold it to Pro Bark. The farmer may have been growing the GM sugar beet specklings for seed and accidently mixed the specklings with soil.