December 10, 2009

Transgenic Organics?

Watch as the rationalizations for violating the simple ethics of the precautionary principle erodes into the organic industry. Surely we are brighter than this.

December 7, 2009

regulating the nanoelephant in the room

Whether you've transported them up into Pacific Coast glaciers on your moisture wicking nanosilver ski pants, or are unwittingly participating in nanoencapsulation studies on a populous scale...the consequences will be fodder for future thesis and peer review. We are the field trials.

“Nobody Told Me I was a Nano-Consumer:” How Nanotechnologies Might Challenge the Notion of Consumer Rights

"Regarding nanotechnologies and the consumer, a central paradox is the absence of a regulatory framework while more than 1,000 nano-enabled products are already available on the consumer markets. This represents a serious challenge for the consumer interest".

read it here

December 6, 2009

symbionts and gene transfer

Symbionts helps in the transfer of genes between organisms.

"Although common among bacteria, lateral gene transfer—the movement of genes between distantly related organisms—is thought to occur only rarely between bacteria and multicellular eukaryotes. However, the presence of endosymbionts, such as Wolbachia pipientis, within some eukaryotic germlines may facilitate bacterial gene transfers to eukaryotic host genomes".

Read Widespread Lateral Gene Transfer from Intracellular Bacteria to Multicellular Eukaryotes

transgenic dna persists in the food web.: Guelph research

This is some more evidence for what others (and here) have been saying for quite some time: gmo dna sequences transfer to other organisms.
In the case of this study, Monsanto's cp4 epsps genes moved on through the soil ecosystem to arthropods, nematodes, and earthworms. I wonder if they are round-up ready (the soil life) and if monsanto owns them now.

Detection of transgenic cp4 epsps genes in the soil food web .
Miranda M. Hart1, Jeff R. Powell1, Robert H. Gulden2, David J.
Levy-Booth3, Kari E. Dunfield4, K. Peter Pauls2, Clarence J. Swanton2,
John N. Klironomos1 and Jack T. Trevors.
University of Guelph

Abstract - The persistence and movement of transgenic DNA in
agricultural and natural systems is largely unknown. This movement poses
a threat of horizontal gene transfer and possible proliferation of
genetically modified DNA into the general environment. To assess the
persistence of transgenic DNA in a field of Roundup Ready
corn, we quantified the presence of the transgene for glyphosate
tolerance within a soil food web. Using quantitative real-time PCR, we
identified the cp4 epsps transgene in bulk soil microarthropods,
nematodes, macroarthropods and earthworms sampled within the corn
cropping system. We found evidence of the transgene at all dates and in
all animal groups. Transgenic DNA concentration in animal was
significantly higher than that of background soil, suggesting the
animals were feeding directly on transgenic plant material. It remains
to be tested whether this DNA was still within the plant residues,
present as free, extracellular DNA or had already undergone genetic
transformation into competent bacterial cells. These results are the
first to demonstrate the persistence of transgenic crop DNA residues
within a food web.


December 4, 2009

let them eat cottonseed cakes

Biotech scientists have worked for decades to produce a gossypol-free cotton plant by silencing the gene that produces a toxin, gossypol, throughout the plant and with little success as insects and diseases do not like gossypol either and are ravaged by them..

The breakthrough came as genetic engineers have managed to inhibit gossypol production in the seeds.


So the poor people can eat the fruits of industrial farming.

This as a land grab has been thieving through vast tracts of farmlands in Africa and Asia. Industrial crops for fuel and gadgets, clothes, food.

It is a blessing to have a bit of land to plant our food and not worry about the need to to eat stuff like cottonseed meal.

Genetic engineering turns 'Fabric of Our Lives' into edible cottonseed that may feed millions

December 2, 2009

they say its a wheat glut

LONDON: A sharp decline in wheat prices driven by a supply glut is set to lead to more of the grain being turned into motor fuel in the European Union.

according to a Reuter's story

whilst the descendants of the mother of wheat, face famine in Ethiopia due to drought and crop failures.

November 28, 2009

swine flu lager and nanothermite: good TV on CBC last night

Thanks Rick Mercer...finally a chance to laugh at Swine Flu vaccines.

Not funny but also noteworthy last night on CBC was The Fifth Estate`s The Unofficial Story, a documentary about the growing number of people unsatisfied with illogical explanations for the events of 911. Its the first mention of nano-thermite I`ve seen in the main media (as well as free-fall buildings, molten metal, iron-rich microspheres, lateral ejections, and pulverized concrete) You can watch it on their website here.

The comments are of interest as well, including this one from Rob Tamaki:

`As one of first Professional Engineers to have signed on to the AE911Truth petition (approx. no. 38 out of 970 presently), I stand firmly behind the science demonstrating that the collapses of WTC 1, 2, and 7 can only be explained by Controlled Demolition.

I only caught the last few minutes of the program this evening, and I am pleased that the issue of the finding of nanothermite was introduced. However, it really needed more time to be able to develop the details behind this research more carefully. It needs to be stressed that this was no ordinary material. It is of a highly processed composition that is capable of being developed only within the most advanced research or military laboratories in the world.

Brent Blanchard tried to argue that because there was no seismic signature, the buildings could not be brought down by controlled demolition. But this is exactly the relevance of nanothermite. Nanothermite does not produce the kind of seismic shock wave that C4 or RDX might. It would not produce a seismic signature. Blanchard's supposed clincher is really completely irrelevant.``

November 13, 2009

BC Meat Regulations: Our farmers need us to speak

This is from Robin Wheeler of Roberts Creek and the local Farm Food Freedom folks, taking the initiative to rally support for local sustainable meat processing in BC. and extrication from the current system that is threatening many small farmers in the Province. Take some time to write a letter: the voice of the people is undeniable.

November 12, 2009
Hi, folks -
Some of us are figuring that RIGHT NOW, OVER THE COMING WEEK is a very, very good time to write a letter requesting that our BC government exempt small farmers from the imposed meat regulations. We think a focused push, hopefully with hundreds of letters, might show how we have not gone away, that there are in fact even more of us, and that we want change.
Please ask that farmers be permitted to sell healthy animals from their farm gates, without trauma, fossil fuels, time and extra cost, and without the increased threat of contamination that a visit to a government inspected facility can bring.

Please write to our Premier (who has the power to lift the meat regulations as other provinces have)
Hon. Gordon Campbell
or Room 156, Parliament Buildings, Victoria BC V8V 1X4

or Ida Chong, who is holding the meat regulation potato right now -
Hon. Ida Chong
Minister of Healthy Living and Sport
P.O. Box 9062 Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2
or our Agriculture man,
Hon. Steve Thomson
Minister of Agriculture and Lands
P.O. Box 9043 Stn. Prov. Govt.
Victoria, BC V8W 9E2

please see for free downloads of bumper stickers, buttons and more.

November 9, 2009

Hunger should not be

"Hunger would not have to be – this is not a new finding. The World Food Report confirms this statement in spite of the alarming findings it has to make. Not later than after the arousing hunger revolts two years ago, the shameful hunger problem should have disappeared from the globe. Instead the number of hungry people has not shrunk but has drastically increased. At the same time, the report shows a way out of the crisis: Reinforcement of the food supply on a local basis, observing all at once the regional conditions, the ecological handling of the resources and among others the unrestricted access to seeds.
An essential aspect relating to the question of such an unrestricted access is the question of the reusability of the applied seed sorts: People must be able, independently from the industrial producers of seeds like Monsanto or Syngenta, to cultivate its own food. Sovereignty of food is a fundamental right, it must be a fundamental freedom of mankind".

Read more A Crisis-Proof Agriculture for the Fight against Hunger and Poverty
by Reinhard Koradi, Switzerland

November 4, 2009

wheat goddess

"There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear
to them except in the form of bread."
Mahatma Ghandi

Or the goddess and a field of wheat.

Van Gogh had some hunger and more than a glimpse of that goddess. here

November 1, 2009

really scarey

I was surprised to see a major swell of traffic coming to my blog from Egypt, all finding their way here with the google search phrase "new elements around us" - hundreds of hits. Perhaps there was an article in an Egyptian journal that sparked an interest in this spooky topic. I'm hoping an Egyptian will write and enlighten us.

What a terrifying concept though: that the spaces between the elements on the periodic table could be tweeked nanotechnologically to make new elements : "isolated crystals of existing elements can be made to turn on or off characteristics of neighboring elements of the periodic table". here.

I hope I'm not alone in feeling goosepimples over that.

October 20, 2009

Thinking about fencing

archaeological evidence of ancient woven willow

My garden needs a fence. Its a matter of privacy, wind break and particle block as a major road and a snoopy neighbour invade upon my sense of bucholic. I have planted some trees (pines, poplar) but I have decided to put up a fence as well to hasten my peace of mind.

I built a fence on my last farm in the Kootenays with the curvaceous cedar slabs dripping bark, that the mill was going to burn, and dropped off to the farm for free. I wove them when they were wet between sturdier pieces of cedar that came in the load. It was funky and each panel was different. It was free with the exception of the posts, which in the Kootenays were 4 bucks each.

I built a woven willow fence this spring that really looks beautiful...but the maintenance and weed control needed for a stretch along the road next to my garden is far to long; woven willow there is too much work for me to take on.

I'm going to build a wattlish fence. I was inspired by the Acadian fence I saw at the village in Pubnico to keep in chickens. My friend down the road has a hundred acre wood and is open to trades....there is plenty of wood to thin and I love that work. I daydream about this fence, how I will weave, add windows and sculpt features along the length of her. A tall wattle fence that will become apart of the living shelterbelt as the trees grow in time. It will need to be anchored with substantial posts to carry the weight of the wattle with our winds, and have enough room for the wind to whistle through. It will have plenty of surface for honeysuckle, sweet peas, climbing curcurbit and the likes.

October 19, 2009

Haitians present Jatropha petition

Of the many peasant protests world wide on World Food Day this caught my attention:

Peasant Groups Present Petition Against Jatropha to Haitian Parliament, 16 October 2009

"A group of several peasant organizations presented a petition to the Haitian Parliament containing 31,198 signatures against the proposed development of plantations of the agro-fuel jatropha on the land of Haitian peasants, noted

“This struggle which came about during the thirty-fifth anniversary in March 2008 of the Peasant Movement of Papaye is about raising awareness of the call to all of society to contribute to a mobilization against this project to exterminate the peasants,” stated Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the group “4 je kontre” (literally, the convergence of two pairs of eyes) several hours before the petition was submitted to the Haitian Parliament.

Several dozen peasants, representing the ten departments of the country, marched from the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Turgeau (Port-au-Prince) with slogans and demands. “The little earth that is the country Haiti, that our ancestors left to us, must produce native food to nourish the population; national food production – yes; production of agro-fuels, no; Down with the production of gas for the tanks of foreign cars; Down with all death projects against the peasants,” are among the demands of the peasants who have the support of the international peasant movement Via Campesina."

Read more of the translation from Konbit Pou Ayiti

October 16, 2009

World Food Day

“The farming world is dying”, Damien Greffin, president of the “Young Farmers” organization of the Ile-de-France (regrouping Paris and the surrounding departments) told Agence France Presse. “What we’re asking for, it is an increase in the price of raw material” he added, pointing out that a kilogram of wheat is sold 9 centimes these days for a production cost of 14 centimes"

To make their point French farmers burned hay bales and tires along the Champs des Elysees, one young farmer saying farmers cannot alone be responsible for food security.

Watch them here:

This was one of many protests carried out on a global day of action.

"In Brazil, Via Campesina members carried out actions in the headquarters of Monsanto and Syngenta. In Europe, where nine countries have prohibited GMOs, Via Campesina organized an anti-Monsanto brigade traveling throughout the region. In India, thousands of farmers and allies are carrying out hunger strikes and occupying lands. Actions are being carried out in at least 20 countries and all nine regions where La Via Campesina is present".

Read more

October 10, 2009

a.g. update

I am still in Edmonton waiting for my job to start on Monday, staying with an elderly woman who grew up on a farm in Scotland and who has laboured since a young woman on ships, trains and camps as a cook for the boys. I am the nextgen female resource cook for the winter, staying with her between postings up North; I have been here 2 winters before. Her home is an oasis of sustenance, laughter and canine furred friends for dispossessed across this and natives and "foreign" workers who pound the pavement briefly in this boomtown. She is a toughened survivor on the exterior and a frightened little girl elsewhere as the effects of dementia play mischief. Her life is a miracle.

My garden back home is producing salads galore which my friends are harvesting for market. Its hard at this moment to really miss the frost bitten hands in the early morning fall dew. I've donned a groovy jacket and have burrowed in the library, coffee house or dance floor these days and am having those gloriously serendipitous city adventures- when I'm not homemaking with the darling Scottish lass. I'm hoping she'll come back with me to the farm come springtime, when the energies for such awesome work reinvigorates. Perhaps she will sow some miracles there.

farm in the ring; CERN

Any one know of a farm with a front row seat in this ring? The Hadron collider is back in the news, not with the story of the resumption of activities geared to a new go at the experiment "27 km-long tunnel in which proton beams will collide at high speed, simulating the creation of the first particulate matter in effect, the creation of the universe itself".

No its this news:
particle collider suspected of terrorist links
Friday, October 9, 2009 CBC News

I figure the story is a distract from the real news which is harder to understand, yet no less gripping:

"In addition to the Higgs boson, other theorized novel particles that might be produced, and for which searches are planned, include strangelets, micro black holes, magnetic monopoles and supersymmetric particles.

Technical Design

The collider is contained in a circular tunnel with a circumference of 27 kilometres (17 mi) at a depth ranging from 50 to 175 metres underground. The tunnel, constructed between 1983 and 1988, was formerly used to house the LEP, an electron-positron collider.

The 3.8 metre diameter, concrete-lined tunnel crosses the border between Switzerland and France at four points, although most of its length is inside France. The collider itself is underground, with surface buildings holding ancillary equipment such as compressors, ventilation equipment, control electronics and refrigeration plants.

The collider tunnel contains two pipes, each pipe containing a beam. The two beams travel in opposite directions around the ring. 1232 dipole magnets keep the beams on their circular path, while additional 392 quadrupole magnets are used to keep the beams focused, in order to maximize the chances of interaction between the particles in the four intersection points, where the two beams will cross. In total, over 1600 superconducting magnets are installed, with most weighing over 27 tonnes. 96 tonnes of liquid helium is needed to keep the magnets at the operating temperature.

The protons will each have an energy of 7 TeV, giving a total collision energy of 14 TeV. It will take less than 90 microseconds for an individual proton to travel once around the collider. Rather than continuous beams, the protons will be "bunched" together, into 2,808 bunches, so that interactions between the two beams will take place at discrete intervals never shorter than 25 ns apart. When the collider is first commissioned, it will be operated with fewer bunches, to give a bunch crossing interval of 75 ns. The number of bunches will later be increased to give a final bunch crossing interval of 25 ns.

Prior to being injected into the main accelerator, the particles are prepared through a series of systems that successively increase the particle energy levels. The first system is the linear accelerator Linac 2 generating 50 MeV protons which feeds the Proton Synchrotron Booster (PSB). Protons are then injected at 1.4 GeV into the Proton Synchrotron (PS) at 26 GeV. Finally the Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) is used to increase the energy of protons up to 450 GeV.

The LHC will also be used to collide lead (Pb) heavy ions with a collision energy of 1,150 TeV. The ions will be first accelerated by the linear accelerator Linac 3, and the Low-Energy Injector Ring (LEIR) will be used as an ion storage and cooler unit. The ions then will be further accelerated by the Proton Synchrotron (PS) and Super Proton Synchrotron (SPS) before being injected into LHC ring, where they will reach an energy of 2.76 TeV per nucleon. Six detectors are being constructed at the LHC, located underground in large caverns excavated at the LHC's intersection points. Two of them, ATLAS and CMS, are large, "general purpose" particle detectors.

ALICE is a large detector designed to study the properties of quark-gluon plasma looking at the debris of heavy ion collisions. The other three (LHCb, TOTEM, and LHCf) are relatively smaller and more specialized. A seventh experiment, FP420 (Forward Physics at 420m), has been proposed which would add detectors to four available spaces located 420m on either side of the ATLAS and CMS detectors.

The size of the LHC constitutes an exceptional engineering challenge with unique safety issues. While running, the total energy stored in the magnets is 10 GJ, while each of the two beams carries an overall energy of 362 MJ. For comparison, 362 MJ is the kinetic energy of a TGV running at 157 km/h (98 mph), while 724 MJ, the total energy of the two beams, is equivalent to the detonation energy of approximately 173 kilograms (380 lb) of TNT, and 10 GJ is about 2.4 tons of TNT. Loss of only 10-7 of the beam is sufficient to quench a superconducting magnet, while the beam dump must absorb an energy equivalent to a typical air-dropped bomb.

These immense kinetic energies become far more spectacular when you consider how little matter is carrying it. At its maximum energy rating (2.76TeV per particle with a total of 362MJ), there is just 1.15E-9 grams of hydrogen in the system (or 0.026 of one cubic millimeter)". here

October 9, 2009

The language that goes with "urging" swineflu jab

The CDC is "urging" Americans to get the H1N1 Swine flu vaccine. as described in this excerpt (from my "H1N1 vaccine" google news alert) it is clear indication of the slippery deceptive language the CDC and others are using to push the vaccine.

Even though "four Canadian studies involved about 2,000 people, ... found people who had received the seasonal flu vaccine in the past more likely to get sick with the H1N1 virus" (CBC story), and given the fact of fast tracked, inadequate trials for a grab bag of recombinant vaccines produced using novel arts (Vero cells, Insect cells), and companies that have made some well documented big mistakes - these words are suspect:

"Schuchat (CDC) addressed concerns she knows exist about the new vaccine."Some people have reservations, they aren't really sure about this vaccine."

She said that vaccination against flu is the best way to protect yourself and those around you. "This isn't a new vaccine," she said. "The vaccine is being manufactured exactly the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine. It is basically a vaccine made against the H1N1 instead of the seasonal viruses [expected to circulate in the upcoming season]. Based on everything we know now, we are expecting a good safety record for H1N1."

Results of H1N1 Trials

Vaccines against both H1N1 and seasonal influenza can be given simultaneously, said Fauci. "We embarked on a study in August with 800 people," he said. The question: if you gave both vaccines at once, would there be any interference with immunity?

Based on early results from 50 of those participants, he said, simultaneous administration does not impact the immune response of either vaccine."

October 6, 2009

Peddle Bike: The E Rocket

A generator and lithium batteries. 80 km an hour down the Autobonn. À transport revolution. But why so expensive

September 21, 2009

grateful for good beef and the life they lived

I went to the slaughterhouse today to pick up the offals from my dear cows, whose carcasses are now hanging in a meat cooler and today I cut up livers and hearts and delivered to those willing and able to eat such essential parts of the animal. I have a big pot of stock from the tails; Jigs the dog is happy this afternoon.

When I went into the office at the slaughterhouse, the receptionist said "the meat inspector wants to talk with you"

"...uh oh", I thought!

When I called him and he proceded to tell me what fine animals they were and what a good job I done on the finishing, how the meat was marbled so nicely. When I told him they were on pasture and finished on pears, carrots and garden "weeds" (plantain, clover) he was a little taken back. "No GE corn that's the secret", I said. I wanted to tell him they had been happy cattle.

It was sad to see them off and there were tears in the truck driving down the road away from the farm, the 2 bulls and their young Moms, my comrades in the circle of the farm. It was their first and last ride in a trailer. It is not my experience to slaughter 2 year old cows, but their ligaments were prone to tearing and I'm leaving for the winter for work, so it is an expedient and lucrative choice - We are going to sell most of the meat in Halifax.

I am making good head way on my TO DO list, but I ran out of garlic and need to locate more to finish my bed. The barn is cleaned out so the truck and tractor can be locked up, and I have rye growing in almost half the garden with more in today.
There is lots of food for my neighbours to pick (they are doing the market) especially salad and cabbage. I'll get some pics up before I fly out on Friday.

September 20, 2009

by the grace of microorganisms go we

We're one-tenth human; Rest of the body is a swarm of foreign microbes
Winnipeg Free Press

"Scientists are beginning a large-scale effort to identify and analyze the vast majority of cells in or on your body that aren't of human origin.

Only about 10 per cent of the trillions of cells that make up a person are truly human, researchers say. The other 90 per cent are bacteria, viruses and other microbes swarming in your gut and on your skin.

"We really are a superorganism," Brett Finlay, a microbiologist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, said in an email. "From the moment we are born until we die, we live in a symbiotic relationship with our microbes."


September 12, 2009

My last market today

I have some fabulous salad for the fall markets, carrots, leeks and cabbage too and a mess of this and that. I have passed over the last of the harvests and the market to neighbours in exchange for their attention to the last of the fall jobs: the plastic down, the water off, some more fall rye. I am soon to be unbound from the farm - for the winter. Is it possible?

The TO DO list before I go is daunting but I'm fiesty for it: tuck in a few more beds with fall rye and dare to plant garlic this early, see the first of the cows off and organize delivery into designated freezers. There is also a big hole that water seeps into the basement, and I have the cement mixer out.... and there is a cat to find a home for. Jigs, the boxer bulldog, which was given to me 3 monthes ago (to intimidate the greenhouse thief - she's too cute for that) is going to a friend, and I'll be able to get her back when I return in Febuary. I'm glad for that.

I said goodbye to my great customers today, it was a little sad, to be leaving before thanksgiving, but overall I'm excitement for the adventure. I need to get out, pass on the work like a baton in a endurance race. I need perspective. I don't want to do this alone. I am grateful for folks willing and able to step up to cooperate this fall.

I'll share more of the details later...but my adventure involve a train, dancing, visiting loved ones... and finally (after the feet out and about... a job. Just for the winter mind you because I'm already excited about next year's garden and what can happen there.

CBC reports on Nanotech ignorance

CBC's Kelly Crowe reports on the Nanotechnology revolution and looks at some of the work done tracking the risks and the toxicology of the nanoscale.

Problem is the tools to observe and measure the particles haven't been invented yet! And although Canadian scientist believe key risks are probable, "Ottawa isn't taking action on the advice of its expert panel".

Watch the video.

September 7, 2009

labour day

A verry happy Labour Day everyone, especially those that labour,

mothers, farmers, factory workers
and many others

may the suffering that does arise in the strain of muscle, tendon, nerves be eased by the health and vigor that good labours allows.

May we stand stalwart for fair livlihood for the blessed labourers!

what a difference a year makes. Compare Obama's last year's labour day speech (video below) where we need a "president who doesn't choke on the word Union" to the speech on the whitehouse blog which doesn't mention the word.

September 6, 2009

numb meat

How should we ease the suffering of animals in factory farms? How about genetically engineering them to feel less pain. Yes they have found some genes for it.

Scientists close to taking the pain out of animal suffering

The animals I know and love experience a full range of feelings...who'd want them numb!

I expect its folks who don't fully know how a Mom loves her calf, or triumphs free in a pasture upon excape, that would consider extinguishing feeling.

Feelings are what make us alive.

not proven safe, what will you do.

Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, head of the WHO's vaccine research initiative, says it best, without having to really say what it means:

"Does it mean that it (adjuvanted vaccine) will be unsafe? No. It means that there is no hard evidence that it will be (safe)."

Canada has purchased the adjuvanted vaccine from GSK and has purchased a limited supply of the unadjuvanted jab for pregnant women otherwise "reluctant" to have the vaccine. These are the (pregnant) women who know that the vaccine is not (proven) safe. Consider please the record of pharmaceutical companies testing their own products - it is troubling; frightening mistakes have been made.

Health Care professional, who may be among the first up for the vaccine, may not be in that line, if recent polls showing less than half believe in the safety or efficacy of the vaccine.

With the vaccine fast tracked and Federal public health officials waiting for the results of clinical trials to be "confident"... the results to be confident? Do they mean confident it is safe (and effective). No wonder most doctors don't want it.

There are ample reasons to not want to take the vaccine, adjuvant present or not.

September 5, 2009

I think this is just innocent parody; it is a bit weird, but they have a great website with designs to build that swell tractor..

September 4, 2009

diddling the properous ideal farm

This is way too bizare for me

Things move way faster on a real farm

September 3, 2009

virtual farming and the educated eater: trends we need to capitalize on somehow.

"Jamie Lynn found a lonely black sheep on her farm.
Marcia got an apple tree from Charmaine.
Tiffany bought a harvester".

Fron the Weds. Globe and Mail

"Three of the site's (facebook) top 15 fastest-growing applications are now farming related: FarmVille, Farm Town and (Lil) Farm Life.

The sites allow users to grow and harvest their own crops, customize their farms with scarecrows, streams and hedges, and send gifts, like wheat and hogs, to their friends.

FarmVille doubled its active users from 16 million at the beginning of August to more than 32 million by the end of the month. Farm Town boasted nearly 19 million users and 1,100,000 fans, from Pakistan to Hoboken, N.J. "

Read the story

But still I they have virtual fresh cow shit, flies, crop failures or transgenic encroachment, factory farms?...any of this on these sites. I'm guessing not. Anyone know

Perhaps if we match this fascination with a farm ideal with the new breed of eater describes so well by Dave Murphy in the Nation recently we can get somewhere.

" a new breed of eater awakening to the fact that food is not just something of convenience, a balancing of flavor and calories and macronutrients, but part of a larger conversation about how our nation's democracy functions. For this generation, the idea that we can have a positive impact on the environment, a farmer's life, rural communities and the welfare of animals by what we choose to eat is only the beginning. Increasingly, Americans want to know where the food they eat comes from, how it was grown and who grew it, because they are beginning to understand the connection between our stomachs and our common destiny".

67 virtual farm addicts, throngs of new eaters awakening...Its a culture that needs the real living soil.

September 1, 2009

Bon Adventure, here for now

Somehow the realities of smallholder community-based sustainable farming, that struggle, that anomaly - the thing that urban ethical types champion sporadically, some suck off of, and many obliterate with consumption (almost) too complexly bizarre for my pen these days.

Sometimes the irony is beyond belief..the facts spin like fiction and I feel naked looking at the specter of how local farming is composing and the choices some find necessary to survive.

a) serve the elite; obama arugula salad.
b) grow maryjane in the bushes on the side
c) resale conventional fare or otherwise cheat and fraud
d) be miserably poor somehow independent of the banks toiling to finger bone until old and sick and then sell the farm, or whats left of it.
e) be lucky/connected/entertaining and or compelling enough to become a celebrity farmer
f) join the designate, nextgen agribiz style, selling your soul to the banks and the multi-nationals to pilot self-regulated, dangerous, wildwest style agri future.

While we watch:
a) complacent people not standing up to stop imports flooding markets at local food intervals.
b) consumers not question the value of labour and the notion of "fair trade" in the local sense.
c) the educated stop listening about GE, Nanotech and Synthetic Biology in our world and notable in our food.
d) popular culture accept class and designate those working the soil as the lowest, along with other honourable professions such as early childhod care.
e) regulators and their lobby discredit and silence open dialogue concerning the status quo (including organic regulators).
f) our colleagues farms threatened by damns, droughts, fires, trade dumping orgies, marketing boards, burn-out and or poverty.

I'm in my garden, tending salad, harvesting for market, preparing slaughter of cattle, looking for winter work and dumbfounded at the work necessary for that. I'm gettin it done. But I'm also watching out for toads and observing the history around me. The unmarked, mysterious buriel ground next door, that is marked on a deed but lost to time and land activities, the black cemetary next door (loyalist free folks or slaves?) the village of Beaulieu close somewhere and the home of Beausoeil, and ancient further the Maritime Archaic; Its the fabulous history that picks me up this time, grounds me. I think then of sacred things and it helps me carry on.
Take care, stay strong; and have a bon adventure!

Blessings to the farmers

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.

July 31, 2009

farmers wear so many hats..they are all getting worn

The toil of a summer market garden is rolling to a boil, and its easy to be hurt by insensitive or ignorant customers at the market who think this is expensive or that should be available. Even through the gratitude and encouragement from so many welcoming local customers; unexamined attitudes, classism and entitlement seem to rear up every week: the bunch of carrots wrenched up from the bottom of the pile and thrown violently back on the table when the price (2 bucks) is replied - the derisive reply to why there is no spinach this week "isn't that your job".. is like a slap in the face. Its taking its toll, this toil in full view of an established neighbourhood with manicured lawns. Some neighbours walk by stare and do not wave. How did I get here? I look down to the river, its history, its beauty, and I remember. So my back to the road today and I look to the river, the loons and eagles, the layers of history under this holy place and I pray that not too many farmers have to bear the brunt this Saturday morning, of unexamined attitudes, classism and misplaced entitlements. We need community discussions concerning food security, fair local trade and sometimes its absence stings. The responsibility to educate is very wearisome in the late summer market garden; easier to look up apologetically and say: "yes Em I should do better".

July 29, 2009

tendril's spiral mystery

A listserv to which I am a subscriber posted a question I've always wondered upon myself. Perhaps someone can enlighten:

"My hop vines climb with a lefthand spiral (which seems logical - I figured they would follow the sun as they rise), my pole beans with a righthand spiral. They have the same sun and sky exposure and are close to each other. ...I have not been able to find any references leading to information on the physiological cause for the spiral on plants. If I start a vine in the "wrong" direction, it "corrects" it.
Anyone know what induces the spiral?" Bob

Hat tip to Cathleen

July 28, 2009

Pee Power!

"Urine-powered cars, homes and personal electronic devices could be available in six months with new technology developed by scientists from Ohio University.

Using a nickel-based electrode, the scientists can create large amounts of cheap hydrogen from urine that could be burned or used in fuel cells. "One cow can provide enough energy to supply hot water for 19 houses," said Gerardine Botte, a professor at Ohio University developing the technology. "Soldiers in the field could carry their own fuel."

Forget gas, batteries — pee is new power source

sugar beet mops: radioactive biofuel

"An Irish company, Greenfield Project Management, is proposing to plant sugar beets in the area ( Belarus region contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear accident) and convert them into ethanol. The beets would be radioactive, but in theory, none of the dangerous material would get into the ethanol—it'd get distilled out. (Um, presumably there are ways of checking this.) The radioactive residue could then get disposed in conventional waste-treatment facilities. What's more, the beets themselves should start pulling radioactive material out of the soil..."

read the article here

July 27, 2009

a day off on the farm

I took a day off today- the first in several weeks. I restrung my guitar, sat by the river, painted a picture and took some photos, some of which I share with you here.

I have two markets to pick for, several CSA customers, the cows to move around a limited pasture, hay to get in... and we've had more rain than a duck would appreciate. So it was very good to catch my breath and look up at the very beautiful place in which I live.

There were indeed many agrarians, and gatherers here previously on this land and I can sense the hands that came before me.

And this history gives me courage to carry on.

Tomorrow, its back to it: picking for the wednesday market, seeding more salad and stuff now that the the rain has held off for a couple of days.

Ah but it was good to have a day off.

July 16, 2009

Protect Farmland from sewage sludge

Dr. Murray McBride, professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York,
in rebuttal to N Viro's article outlining the safety of its sludge product (and erroneously quoting him) in the Halifax Chronicle Herald: Protect Farmlands from Sewage Sludge

"Research has also shown that these chemicals can concentrate in the fat tissue of cattle. It is only reasonable to conclude that fire retardant chemicals, and many others, will increasingly enter the human food chain as well as natural ecosystems with continued sewage sludge application on land.

In summary, my position is that sewage sludge products should not be applied to our agricultural lands where food crops are grown. There are far too many unknowns and uncertainties about the amounts, behaviour and toxicity of the thousands of chemicals in sewage sludge products, and the precautionary principle must be applied here.

Farmlands must be protected as the irreplaceable resource that they are — we hold them in trust for future generations".

Also see Inconvenient Poop for more on the Nova Scotian sludge debate and the industry spin on the product.

July 14, 2009

enola who?

An American bought yellow beans at a Mexican market, planted them for a few years and claimed a patent on what he called the Enola bean; it was his new bean, he said. The absurdity of the theft was followed by expensive court proceeding- FIVE appeals, the last this month which resolved once again: common sense says the bean obviously belongs to the campesinos of Mexico, the true innovators of this nutritious, staple bean.
Its an identity theft of a culture's genetic heritage and we need to establish these as big crimes. The patent has been upheld during this decade of appeal, and farmers have paid for it. Biopiracy is too kind a term here: there isn't a hint of nobility or swash buckle - it is pure evil

Read ETC Group news story
Enola Patent Ruled Invalid: Haven’t we Bean here before? (Yes, yes, yes, yes and yes.)

July 13, 2009

I stumbled upon the artist Katsuya's webpage whose painting capture the dense and complex hues of a garden, less buoyant and jubilant than is typically conveyed. Check out the website for a collection of powerfully intense garden landscapes.

road map for the nanotsunami

Another example of the scramble to measure and control the nano experiments being trialed now on our planet.

Review article calls for measures to enable safe design of nanomaterials
By Jennifer Marcus
6/19/2009 9:55:00 AM

"The recent explosion in the development of nanomaterials with enhanced performance characteristics for use in commercial and medical applications has increased the likelihood of people coming into direct contact with these materials.

There are currently more than 800 products on the market — including clothes, skin lotions and cleaning products — claiming to have at least one nanocomponent, and therapeutic nanocarriers have been designed for targeted drug delivery inside the human body. Human exposure to nanomaterials, which are smaller than one one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair, raises some important questions, including whether these "nano-bio" interactions could have adverse health effects.

Now, researchers at UCLA and the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI), along with colleagues in academia and industry, have taken a proactive role in examining the current understanding of the nano-bio interface to identify the potential risks of engineered nanomaterials and to explore design methods that will lead to safer and more effective nanoparticles for use in a variety of treatments and products".

Read more of the review which acknowledges that: "relatively little is known about the intracellular activity and function of engineered nanomaterials" and its time to stop "waiting for for knowledge to unfold randomly".

July 12, 2009

hoof prints in the soft soil

I spent a few hours shoring up the pasture fencing, putting up a third wire on the electric fence and whacking down tall grasses weakening the charge, because these little fellows have been exiting their green fields to frollic and munch in the lusher patch - ie my market garden. They let themselves out and back in a few times now.

July 9, 2009

fructan beet

The biochemistry of fructan synthesis has been determined,
and the first genes encoding these biosynthetic
enzymes have recently been cloned, opening new biotechnological
opportunities for the use of fructans. Until now
the major obstacles have been the limited availability of
long-chain fructans and the heterogeneity of harvested
fructans. It will now be possible to genetically engineer
plants to produce large quantities of fructans of defined
structure and size. here

Microbial fructan production in transgenic potato plants and tubers

July 7, 2009

this food safety bill means business; HR 2749

If I was an American small farmer, I'd be sure worrying about HR 2749. I read it for myself before reading the tangled spectrum of spin out there in cyberspace. Read it for yourself.. This Bill, unlike its predecessors that have languished around for awhile, is speeding through and is now before the House. The cards are coming down.

The FDA will determine the practises for production of all food, trace what it decides to, conduct warrantless searches, and charge you for it..... small farms get 2 years to get it together. Very small farms get 3.. how very nice of them.

Oh, and no one is paying any attention now because there were just too many food safety bills out there and we are too busy in our freedom gardens, even though there are a few very wise sources and clear bells in the cyber muck.

The maddening thing for me is the lack of common sense and the easy morality cloak that a draconian bill about safe food can inspire. Small farmers aren't objecting to sound agricultural practises and healthy safe food, we are objecting to centralized, corporate dictate of what, how and if we grow food. This is misplaced authority which properly belongs to the community. But we have given over this freedom: the lack of gmo or nanotech labeling classically reminds us. This is precisely why people are massing toward known sources of their food.

A food safety guideline, education and reinforcement belongs with regions of eaters. It iocal politic - local food producers and elders and independent scholars/ investigators, research, regional vulnerabilites (Uranium mines) and infrastructure. They don't belong to the corporate, global persons who will profit from the dismantling of regional foodsheds and the fabulous food and farm renaissaince we have been experiencing - a surge which is threatening the survival of agribus as we've know it.

Interesting that the Big Genes are pairing with Produce...getting in while its good.

July 4, 2009

an eventful saturday

We had two beautiful hours of sunshine at the market sandwiched between 2 thunder storms the fury of which I haven't seen for a long time. It was directly overhead.. big bolts, crash caboom, sheet rain. It was great. I did bring food back home with me however. And yes, it went out under an awning (in the now sunny) yard. No we pick today - perhaps with the pea picking later this week.

Oh, and no sign of the turtles. Although I had nocturnal visitors of a bovine sort, and I'm scratching my head at how they (the calves) got out and trampled my new salad planting...and then let themselves back in the electric fence, the fence that stands the hair up on my head as I'm flying through the air with the impact if I accidently graze it. Little buggers.

July 3, 2009

Not just Ok, but partnered? .. Nano and Organic

The Organic Agriculture Centre has a "select business partner" in Nano-Gro a product of Agro Nanotechnology Corporation.

It is an Omri approved product because they are "just really small particles made naturally and work like homeopathy". OMRI does acknowledges though (in an email, where I heard the previous sentence) that there is confusion and lack of consensus on a definition for nanotechnology.

The company website offers little help in describing Nano Gro:
"Nano-Gro™ is an organic plant growth regulator and immunity enhancer which stands apart from any product in the market.
Unlike a fertilizer, Nano-Gro™ is not a source of nutrients for plants. And unlike other primers it is not composed of proteins derived from bacteria or other pathogens.
Nano-Gro™ does not contain hormones and does not, in any way, change the genetic structure of plants.
Nano-Gro™ helps plants naturally experience improved growth and health.
Nano-Gro™ is a systemic acquired resistance inducer that works unlike any other primer on the market. It works by delivering information to the plant. Using our proprietary formula, when a plant comes into contact with Nano-Gro™ it is compelled to activate a series of natural processes that help the plant achieve its maximum potential".

OK so what is it?

We can't know because it is "proprietary". We have to trust the word of those thus partnered. I guess.

Or not!

Unlike Canada, the Soil Association (Organic Certifying Body) in Britian has banned nanoparticles from Organic Production.

I think its just a matter of time before the economic argument will hold sway.

we(e) pick

I've been picking all day for the market tomorrow. My hands smell good: cilantro and dill foremost. The peas and carrots are almost ready, I'm letting them grow today, which, if you stay very still you can almost see.

I was thinking about opening things up here to the community on Sunday - put a sign up on the road - because I have a lot of food out there and I've harvested alot today and may be over ambitious for market sales: depends on the weather. And people have been asking if I am going to sell off the farm. So I've got a primed sandwich board ready to paint, and I've decided on farm name! I think I'll pick as people arrive - maybe have a few things ready to offer that are out of their beds, their roots cleansed of the soil.....but I was musing about a We Pick (or a wee pick). Perhaps I'll start a trend tomorrow.

July 1, 2009

Organ-ic Food

My Dad has just started blogging. I helped him set it up and while that part was painful, look at him go!:

"There is no doubt that food grown naturally is good for your organs. The organic movement has, by common usage now, co-opted the word that I think in the olden days would have been a misnomer. Organ, is either a musical instrument or a part of anatomy. When I grew up in the small village in Saskatchewan, everyone had a vegetable garden, there were no chemical fertilizers or pesticides I can think of other than Paris Green, and what we grew we ate and canned, or at least my mother did, with glass sealers. There was no plastic. In a sense the organic movement is archaic, of my time and earlier.

The pianist and I went to the farmers market yesterday and bought the most beautiful vegetables, full of sweetness, naturally grown, by slim, healthy, bronzed people. What a pleasure! My daughter is an organic farmer and I know the work entailed to grow that sort of food, in a scrupulous fashion that requires a diligence we never had to provide, in the olden days. There was little or no toxicity then. Though it may, of necessity, cost more than the supermarket, we are so lucky to be able to return to food that is good for our organs."

Molecular Visualization of DNA

To help us understand where everything comes from

Where have I heard the voice in the video before?

June 30, 2009

carrots and chelonians

Curls behind the willow fence beyond some spuds and buckwheat. Have they seen my illusive visitors?

Looking over the garden near the slow moving river up from which they come. Some of their trysts are evident in among the recently planted beds.

a close up of the soil angels seen here in a bed of just emerged late carrots.

There are these soft white round eggs dribbled about here and there...

Nova Scotia has 4 species of fresh water turtle, 3 with ellipsoid eggs and the snapping turtle's are spherical. I haven't dug up the turtle made depression in the carrots, but I should (and will take a photo) excavate a tiny window to see if it is a nest.

If so I guess It will be companion planting of an unexpected but rather lovely kind.

Terra Madre 2009 Trailer

June 28, 2009

saskatchewan settlement experience

I happened upon this wonderful website with some great photographs of the Saskachewan Settlement Experience.

There are even some silent movies.

June 26, 2009

Canadian Farmers repudiate transgenic (GM) wheat

Press Release, University of Manitoba. June 25, 2009

A new study on Canadian farmer perceptions toward genetically modified (GM)wheat specifically Roundup Ready wheat (RRW) has just been published in the international peer reviewed journal Environmental Science and Pollution Research. This scientific paper is being released just as the controversy over growing GM wheat is re-igniting.

Unlike a recent industry-sponsored study conducted in the US, it shows that Canadian farmers are categorically opposed to RRW.

Although GM wheat was initially abandoned in 2004, industry groups and their partners are now seeking its reintroduction, and our study on Canadian farmer attitudes toward Roundup Ready wheat is once again very timely, says Dr. Ian Mauro, the lead author of the paper written with Drs. Stephane McLachlan and Rene Van Acker. Mauro, McLachlan and Van Acker are internationally recognized experts on GM crops and their socio-economic and environmental impacts.

This research is the first of its kind to include farmer knowledge in the a priori risk analysis of GM crops and, arguably, is the largest scale, independent-farmer-focused study on GM crops ever conducted. The study, which was initiated in 2004, evaluates farmer attitudes towards the benefits and risks of RRW using both quantitative and qualitative methods. It included responses from 1566 farmers across Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, and includes organic, conventional, and no-till farmers.

In total, 83% of Canadian farmers disagreed that Roundup Ready wheat should have unconfined release into the environment, says McLachlan,
adding that although many respondents themselves used GM canola, the great majority felt that risks associated with RRW far outweighed any benefits.

Read the journal article from Springer Link

June 25, 2009

the road to an alfalfa victory

In an acknowledgement that transgenic contamination can cause "irreversible harm to organic and conventional varieties of crops, damage to the environment, and economic harm to farmers", a U.S. court ruling prevents Monsanto from introducing Round-Up ready alfalfa.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday left in place an injunction barring Monsanto Co from selling its Roundup Ready alfalfa seed until the government completes an environmental impact study on how the genetically modified product could affect neighboring crops.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the company's request for a rehearing of its appeal and said it would accept no more petitions for rehearing in the three-year-old case.

Monsanto's only remaining avenue appears to be U.S. Supreme Court review.

read the Reuters story

Biosolids: from the toilet to your kitchen table

Halifax Chronicle Herald Thu. Jun 25

Every day hospital waste, feces, urine, household cleaners, vomit, blood, personal care products, prescription drugs, a vast array of chemicals, heavy metals and industrial waste are flushed into our sewer systems. The result, wastewater products, is a mixture of everything that we and industry flush down the drain.

This cocktail is piped from our homes, businesses and industries to sewage plants across the province. The water is filtered and discharged. Most of the solid waste, called sewage sludge, that remains is treated and turned into biosolids, which are promoted as a beneficial alternative to chemical fertilizers. These biosolids are then applied to the land that grows the food we eat.

Government officials and proponents insist the biosolids are not only tested, but also meet or exceed all the regulations surrounding the treatment and disposal of wastewater products. They also insist that biosolids are safe for application to agricultural land. There is, however, good reason to question the soundness of that opinion.

The regulations governing the treatment and disposal of wastewater products in Nova Scotia are based on the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s rules promulgated in 1993. Unfortunately, the risk assessment on which current rules are based is outdated and unreliable, as it fails to include many newly recognized chemicals of potential concern, including flame retardants, pharmaceuticals and personal care products such as shampoos and soaps".

Read more

June 24, 2009

what is an Energy Beet?

"A farmer in Nova Scotia holds an experimental "energy beet." source

"the energy beet, a hybrid beet that you can't eat, has been grown only experimentally... The first commercial-scale bioenergy plant (of its kind).... would use a genetically engineered sugar beet called an energy beet to produce low-carbon transportation fuel, an advanced biofuel used as a gasoline additive.

Wayne Simmons, a professional engineer who has worked on a similar Maibach project in Nova Scotia for about two and a half years, said the energy beet is a 2- to 3-pound tuber grown in California, Japan and parts of southern Canada."

"It's new to this part of the U.S.," he said.

Read the whole article

Also read how "companies are trying to cut costs by genetically engineering ethanol crops with built-in enzymes", like alpha-amylase corn and sugar beets

And the thread on this blog from this theme (transgenic energy beets for ethanol on prime Canadian agricultural farm land.

June 20, 2009

lettuce in the rain

Just back from the market and the introduction of self to chefs and a storefront along the drive home, because I didn't sell out today and need other "outlets" for my produce. It rained, and with in 5 minutes of the downpour customers disapperaed and vendors started to pack up - there was only an hour left of the market. Dealing with surplus isn't my favorite aspect of the job...hitting the pavement, figuring price; it always seems like a lot of work to time and juggle the sales - its a job my ex-partner managed while I was more field bound. I pray for more sunny saturdays everywhere, because the markets are more my speed. At least I was able to pass on my fine unsold lettuce and the box of salad and make some connections on the drive home for the ever burgeoning harvest.

The rain will make the lettuce grow even bigger, but slow down the bolting, so its all good.

June 19, 2009

Meguma and me

I've been reliving history, listening to the stones, so to speak, a very ancient story. Our world plays abstractly with exponential numbers in billions and trillions these days what with an exploding debt..I'm just daydreaming back a few hundred million years...not so long; It is relevant.

For example, it seems this patch of land started its journey in quite a different place. The Gondwana fragment broke off early, drifted about, was transformed with fire, heaving plates, molten stone, was whittled and sculpted by water and wind and somehow attached itself to the bit (Avalon) that was a part of Laurasia. Now its south western Nova Scotia. It seems my new home may have been close to the very beginning of things being on the early supercontinent Gondwana with what is now Africa, Antartica, Middle east and South america! Blessed be Meguma!

Now the folded spiraling mountains, lava, deep deep silt, and quartz pebbles make more sense; the land changes quite perceptively along the fault line from Chedabucto Bay to Cobequid Bay although it is tenuously "stitched" with layers of silt, rock and root.

So I daydream as I'm walking from task to task....floating on a bit of rock and sediment... were there lizards...mammals... are there any plants left from those so many million years ago. Was this land attached to Madagascar, West Africa or Crete? Was this near one of the four rivers? Perhaps the jasper, chalcedony and milky quartz water smoothed pebbles in the garden were once handled by children, or given to a lover in the garden of Eden.

June 18, 2009

put the needle on the record

I post this smart video not because I agree with all the theories herein, but with rhymes made with sharp jabs about "the message of the jab" and the evils "hidden inside the prick" these beats describe a
"conspiracy, of yeah I sense a couple of plots"

Besides, its good to hear what some of the people are thinking.

June 17, 2009

low down green

I have tackled plenty of 500 foot rows of things to hand weed, like carrot where there are four laps of them in the bed, but here on my new place, the end of the row comes like a surprise. I love the interaction, the intimacy, getting low down with the garden, the moments squatting and traveling along bright lacy green carrots full of ladybugs and other splendid things.

I do many different types of "weeding": tilling, cover cropping, hoeing - I till the paths with a walk behind and scuff with my foot. I want to make a little snap-on hoe for the front of my boot - that would be really handy. In the past, with many more acres to weed, I used several mechanical implements on the tractor.

But the most pleasant hours in the garden are when I am off the machine, slowed right down by a squat, and fully present with the life of the garden.

June 15, 2009

Canada blocking consensus on farmer rights to seed

Harper Government again sides with multinationals over farmers, risking our food production

OTTAWA –New Democrat Agriculture Critic Alex Atamanenko MP for BC Southern Interior - is demanding that the government stop blocking measures to protect farmers against large corporations. Right now, in Tunisia, Canada’s representatives at a meeting of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant and Genetic Resources are holding up a resolution under negotiation to reaffirm farmers’ rights to save, use, exchange and sell their seeds.

“Far too often we see Canada blocking consensus at international forums in order to further the interests of multinational corporations who have been allowed to use patents as an instrument of control over the seed market,” said Atamanenko. “It is time for our government to get behind the more wholesome system of food production, that most countries around the world are fighting for.”

The action plan in the draft resolution which has been approved by all the member states except for Canada has three main elements:

1) Review all existing seed legislation for their impact on farmers’ rights, including provisions on intellectual property rights (patents)
2) Workshops and capacity building on farmers rights in different countries
3) An ongoing information sharing and monitoring mechanism in each country on farmers’ rights.

“This is an important opportunity to be part of an international commitment to protect farmers’ rights, especially in regards to seed legislation,” stated Atamanenko. “Most Canadians want to be a part a global consensus against the corporate monopoly of the world’s seeds, and it would be a travesty if our government were to vote against this important resolution.

read more

June 13, 2009

June 11, 2009

belonging to the green lush ground

I love a June garden. After the busy activities of tillage, composting and seeding of the early spring and with a good germination, there is pause in June, gentle work of weeding, staking, watching and watering. A chance to catch one`s breath a wee little bit.

My new garden is fabulous and the soil much more fertile than I imagined. I am excited by a sense of belonging to a place with history. There is evidence of people before me in the soil that I tend ... flat slab of slate (tiles for roofs?), a stone plow, a flint knife and wonderful stones and fossils in the alluvial soil.

And now I think the old house well is much older than I thought

June 1, 2009

maybe really naughty chocolate

Mars is fingering women in a new line of chocolate and has grabbed the initiative of the EPA`s recent approval of titanium dioxide-coated mica-based pearlescent pigments in food, to make it glimmer. As I wrote in an earlier post, Mars (which now owns Seeds of Change), has a patent for nanoscale coatings. Unfortunately, there is no requirement to inform the consumer about nanoscale ingredients in food (or other products). Is this glimmering mica coating a nanoscale mica-based titanium dioxide pigment?

See Emerging ingredients Good as Gold, for this and other naughty nosh.

Note: Nano-mica is used in organic electronics (Organic Field Effect Transistors, Organic Solar Cells, Bio sensing, Large area electronics, Nano patterning, Nano electronics, Molecular self assembly, and
Soft lithography for example)

Here`s a picture of nano-mica lattice

The "bread basket" says, label GMOs

Ukrainian Cabinet introduces mandatory labeling of products containing GMOs.

Read about it