March 31, 2009

covering up the cause of farmer's despair

"Most suicide cases relate to those farming families which have run up huge debts because of the high cost in using the expensive genetically-modified cotton seeds, which have to be bought every year."
Times of India, All in a Day

This is the type of quote you see in the Indian press very frequently, the suicides of farmers and the attribution of debt related to GMOs as the cause of this despair.

In a report commissioned by Monsanto and others in the biotech industry (the latter of which is getting thin because Monsanto is buying them up) this causal link is debunked.

But according to Dr. Vandana Shiva in, Toxic Genes and Toxic Papers : IFPRI covering up the link between Bt. Cotton and Farmers Suicides (PDF) the methodology, review and processes are false. It is pseudo-science spun to distract. This is not surprising.

When you hear the argument that Indian farmers just need access to more loans, more indebtedness and therein lies the cause of farmer despair, it would be good to sift through the Indian press on it and read Dr Shiva.

"There are similar “toxic papers” being generated in the defense of GM crops,
especially Bt. Cotton. Like the toxic papers of Wall Street they have no grounding
in reality. They assume false number crunching can be a substitute for truth. And
they are deadly for food and agriculture security, and farmers livelihoods.
A recent paper from IFPRI “Bt Cotton and Farmers Suicides in India” falls in this
category of a doubly toxic paper because it covers up the risks of toxic genes
and is detached from reality. Yet it is aimed at shaping public opinion about GM
crops by using every trick in the trade to separate the impact of GM crops on
farmers from the seed monopoly and the technology of producing nonrenewable,
toxic seeds through genetic engineering".

Follow the link above for the complete article.

truth needs no prop

Some people you just don't want to talk to; that has been an ongoing realization for me and it's sometimes a difficult task. I like a good argument. I like to see learning taking place. I've made a little progress in the work of holding my tongue, but it takes discipline and resolve not to engage. I especially don't want to be used, slid somehow surreptiously into the deceptions.

I'm thinking here of the NEW BLOG by (Mon.....) which I won't link to (you'll find it). It seems just another opportunity for propaganda, indoctrination and denial. There are many strategies that farm industrialists are using to win over the masses. They have had the advantage of a passive media and goons in governement and I guess see blogging as yet another of their P.R. schemes.

The comments within the posts have some decent counter argument, at the moment, I must say, and it will be interesting to see where that goes...but my bets are
an inept, mean, censorial farce-up.

But I will not engage the big chemical gene corp in it's blogging indoctrination program. There is no question that it might be an amusing or a stimulating challenge. Slay the dragon with undeniable truthes ... make them say uncle.
But it's not going to happen.

I will, however, step forward in my own space here, on occasion, and write about subjects they eviscerate. But I won't fess up my (final) motivation to post.

Truth needs no propoganda; It is clearly seen. One needs examples of it it before one. This is why I believe communities working toward food sovereignty are so powerful and frightening to food industrialists. The profit is found in centralized, monopolized systems. not in small scale diverse regions. But this type of farming (local, diverse, small, self suficient) has and will continue to be shown to be productive, regenerative, and contribute toward healthy communities.

March 29, 2009

nanotech to grease China's economic engine?

If only for another toxic blip in human ecological history.
Or shall we create something new in the way of sustainable communities instead of grey goo?

China's Giant Step into Nanotech

China is positioning itself to be the world leader in nanotechnology, seeing its potential to reenvigor its global competitiveness.

Here is the March 26th Guardian story

Digging in the hoophouse and the seedlings find new homes

The seagulls wouldn't pose for me this morning, although they were out and about next door. They must be following something up the river because I have to hope the gmo corn didn't draw them up this far. The geese are back too and there are a number of them in the corn too. Yesterday the seagulls stood along the peak of my house, one on the stovepipe...I'll try to get them to cooperate later. Thankfully the fly over the garden is limited.

I have a view from it through my hoophouse, its still too wet to work.

I was seeding lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage last couple of days (I'll post on my varieties soon) and digging over some beds for ruby chard and beets. I applied lime before the cover-crop (2 times buckwheat followed by rye) last season, so I amended the beds this spring with compost, ashes and phosphate rock.

The onions were started under lights and moved a week ago. I lost about 15% to a freeze.

Its warmer over in the potting house where the lights are and peppers. tomatoes, flowers and basil are up and spilling over.

I have had to move some of these warmer things on to my sun porch (which isn't insulated so lets hope it stays warm) whose foundation I shored up last fall. I'm going to have the cherry tomatoes (sweet cluster from Hope Seeds see sidebar link) in pots there, eventually.

Lots more pictures in the appendix

baa baa blurred sheep

My genes are determined not by
rain on clover
or the smell of march wool
nor the ways of the organisms burrowing in the soil
not of the ram's passion
or the bumble bees' good works

I am made in the image of efficiency and profit
I am monetized and capitalized and idolized
my genes are set and known
and preferable
to a pesky little thing called natural selection.
baa baa,

March 28, 2009

Pétition pour une Europe sans OGM ! from Greenpeace France on Vimeo.

hat tip agricoltura ticanese

EU members: cloned meat and nanocaution

Members of the EU want cloned meat prohibited and nanoparticles labeled in the just released report on Novel food rules.

Novel foods, MEPs set new rules Food safety 25-03-2009

"In a legislative report dealing with an update of the EU rules on novel foods, the European Parliament calls on the Commission to interdict the placing on the market of food derived from cloned animals and their descendants. MEPs also want food being produced by nanotechnology processes to undergo a specific risk assessment before being approved for use and be labelled. The report was adopted with 658 votes in favour, 15 against and 11 abstentions"....

..."Food derived from cloned animals to be excluded - new Commission proposal demanded

The Parliament wants to exclude food derived from cloned animals from the scope of this Regulation. MEPs ask the Commission to present a legislative proposal to prohibit the placing on the market of food derived from cloned animals and their offspring.

Food produced with nanotechnology processes must be safe and labelled

MEPs want that foods which have been produced by nanotechnology processes, and which will need specific risk assessment methods, may not be included in the Community list until those risk assessment methods have been approved for use.

The risk assessment methods must not imply the use of vertebrate animals; underline the MEPs, who also support the use of non-animal tests and the intelligent testing strategies.

Furthermore, all ingredients present in the form of nanomaterials shall be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients. The names of the ingredients shall be followed by the word 'nano' in brackets".

Read the report

March 27, 2009

Are most cloned animals transgenic?

"Genetic modification is inevitable in the cloning process. In fact, premature death and disease outbreaks are common in cloned animals. “Genetic uniformity [leaves] them prone to disease outbreaks or even bioterrorism. With traditional breeding you’re trying to improve the genetics. Cloning freezes it at one moment,” says Rostov. The same is true for in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination".

See Cloned Meat; the Varsity
for this quote and other critical points concerning cloned meat.

local grain CSA gets slandered

The West Kootenays of BC is renowned for its wilderness, artists, independent thinkers, and alternative economy. There are very few farmers and small pockets of farmland, but at the far end of the long lake lies a bread basket in the East Kootneys. A group of visionaries from Nelson organized a grain CSA, contracting with a farmer near Creston. The farmer grew the grain and the community participated in the milling and handling of it, even sailing it home to Nelson.
Jon Steinman documents this journey on a podcast from his excellent Kootenay Co-op radio program Deconstructing Dinner: "THE LOCAL GRAIN REVOLUTION VII - Sailing Grain" from where you can also read more about the Kootenay grain CSA.

Given such an intimate and participatory move toward food security, it was jarring to read an attack on this community project by food and farming writer, organic Verification Officer and "independent" consultant, Mischa Popoff. The site Growers Journal has published it.

Where does the anger and need to humiliate arise from, I wonder? Why attack a small community working locally to steward essentials in their foodshed? I have to question Popoff's independence.

What do you get if you divide science by god?

For those that are considering the widespread release of nanotechnology and the actions of quantum mechanics these nanoparticles create in our ecologies, some interesting reading.

BBC News UK Magazine. What do you get if you divide science by God?

"A prize-winning quantum physicist says a spiritual reality is veiled from us, and science offers a glimpse behind that veil. So how do scientists investigating the fundamental nature of the universe assess any role of God, asks Mark Vernon.

The Templeton Prize, awarded for contributions to "affirming life's spiritual dimension", has been won by French physicist Bernard d'Espagnat, who has worked on quantum physics with some of the most famous names in modern science".

Read more
Hat tip to Rob

food choices; freedom of conscious

One of the problems with economic hardships, climate extremes and international turmoil is the opportunity this presents to corporations to have (their) unscrupulous legislators pass nasty bills. No one has much time to think about the consequence of transferring wealth to the banks, let alone the acceptance of cloned meat or draconian food safety bills.

Decisions are being made for us, in regard to what is substantially equivalent, what is morally acceptable, and what is safe. Not only is the impetus for these decisions driven by corporate agriculture and "proven" safe by scientist in their employ, but it is determining the shape of our food landscape precisely because we have little choice - it is invisible. We have organic, we have known (witnessed) food.

But farmers choices for feed, safe location, seed and small scale equipment are thinning too. Because of the nature of farming's precious resources (soil, seed, knowledge) the stage is being set for industrial agriculture and it makes "natural" farming more onerous, makes the journey along the "cowpathes" harder to find. Our edges, our boundaries are being pushed.

Its remarkable to me that there is little outcry regarding the sale of unlabeled cloned meat. If I was a religious adherent I'd want to press for freedom of religion - what a violation for this and unlabeled transgenic food. To know what I put in my temple, should be a fundamental choice of conscious.

I wish the impenetrable resignation and acquiescence that seems to have befallen the masses would lift in regard to real food security. It underpins most, if not all, our planetary dissolution. Once disconnected from the means for independent sustenance, it will be a long and difficult road back.

March 26, 2009

seagulls scavenging in the transgenic corn stalks

If you have been following my bog since I began in November, you may recall my posts about the neighbour's transgenic corn next door, that was harvested in early winter after a couple of snowfalls (and melts). Very little wildlife has come by to eat the remnants, the geese are feeding elsewhere, but this past few days the field has been full of squawking gulls. They rise and fall together, one giant swarm in the wind over the sea of stubble. I walked in there this morning and it is full of corn husks and kernels.

March 25, 2009

toxic assets

"Toxic assets are the equivalent of genetically modified crops and rampant pesticide use. Seems like a swell idea at the time, in order to get a huge crop out of the ground, yet the future for eaters is completely unknown--but suspected to be very dangerous. And in terms of food safety, it's the Big Ag corporations that have been routinely responsible for the jumbo poisoning outbreaks, such as Cargill with ground beef, Tyson's and Smithfield for chicken with salmonella, Dole and Mission Organics for spinach and salmonella. Think these corporations aren't getting federal subsidy bucks--your money? Think again. If they're not getting direct subsidy payments from the federal government, they're buying their products from farmers who do."

Check out provoking questions from Obama Foodorama posted on Marler's Blog

March 23, 2009

farm to fork; appropriation of our language

"Farm to fork" has long been a slogan of small scale local food security, in fact, its been around a while. Now it seems to be taking on new meaning and an ideology quite different than the original idea.

It looks more like this:

Sensors, rifd chips and software to trace it from "farm to fork". Industrial agriculture's piece de resistance for control of the food supply. And we can guess who's involved.

But I ask you! Do we want sterility or health? Are we soley concerned about pathogens, or are transgenic hazards and nanoscale toxins important too?

Bioregional small farms and householders gardens will ensure a localized healthy bioecology, where healthy organisms flourish in symbiotic dynamism, pathogens face resistence and health prevents unbalance. Like a good healthy garden.

Ecological and local; know from where your food comes!

Got softwear for those chips?

Valley companies developing products they hope will improve food safety

By Brandon Bailey

Mercury News

"After a series of contamination scares that sent health officials scrambling from one investigation to the next, President Barack Obama is promising to strengthen the nation's food safety net. And though it's no longer a major center for food production, Silicon Valley is developing high-tech tools for that effort.

It's been decades since San Jose was known for growing and canning produce. But IBM has high hopes for selling new software, developed partly at the company's Silicon Valley Lab in South San Jose, that it says will help businesses track ingredients from suppliers to stores by sharing information gleaned from radio frequency identification tags and other sensors".

Read the story here

March 21, 2009

The fullerene patent landscape

I love tripping into interesting websites; this one lists some wild patents on fullerenes, buckyballs, spherical building blocks of a nanoscale, and what they can get up to.

Any holy shit! These patents are from the 90s: One can only imagine how things have developed.

Food and farming applications, you're fair to ask?

1. the timed release of chemicals
2. the targeting delivery of chemicals
3. mark, sense and trace a food item from source to "destination" ..isn't this our slogan: "farm to table"
4. Encapsulate phages so they are delivered "appropriately"
4.I'm sure there are tons more.

I'll get links on these soon.
Can anyone add to it?

"Fullerenes, spherical clusters of carbon atoms, are one of the more mature “building blocks” in nanoscience and nanotechnology. Potential commercial applications of fullerenes range from therapeutics to displays to solar cells. Over the last two decades, substantial investments in research and development of fullerenes and fullerene-based products have resulted in large numbers of patents and patent applications." The Fullerene Patent Landscape in Europe.

And lets not forget:

"The properties of nanoparticles are not governed by the same physical laws as larger particles, but by quantum mechanics. The physical and chemical properties of nanoparticles – for example, colour, solubility, strength, chemical reactivity and toxicity - can therefore be quite different from those of larger particles of the same substance"

More than profit ; women value conservation

Cultivation practices to minimise erosion, sustainable rotations, buffers along waterways...these are a few of the conseration practices that Iowa women landowners (and there are a significant number) are demanding of their (typically) male farmer tenants.
Read the CSMonitor story Women Leading a Farming Revolution in Iowa

March 20, 2009

Victory; warty vegetables belong to us!

Thanks to grass roots seedsavers, and in particular the seed savers catalogue, Sieger's Seed co. patent claim on pumpkins "with more than one wart" has been proven not unique enough to claim.

ETC Group
March 20, 2009

“Wartmongers” Thwarted as Bumpy Pumpkin Patent Goes Flat

Last month, ETC Group reported on a patent application(1) under
examination at the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) in which
Siegers Seed Company of Holland, Michigan, claimed invention of a
“warted pumpkin...wherein the outer shell includes at least one
wart...” On February 13, the USPTO put its 9-page verdict in the mail,
(2) rejecting all of the application's 25 claims.

“The good news is that the USPTO rejected all claims in the warty
pumpkin patent application,” says Silvia Ribeiro from ETC Group's
Mexico office. “And also that in her decision, the patent examiner
cited a catalogue from Seed Savers Exchange – a non-profit
organization that preserves and distributes heirloom seeds. Seed
catalogue entries demonstrated the pre-existence of warty pumpkins
well before Siegers Seed's so-called invention. Thousands of years
before that of course, indigenous peoples domesticated pumpkins and,
no doubt, there have been bumpy ones since then.”

“The bad news,” says ETC's Kathy Jo Wetter, “is that the USPTO's
rejection is 'non-final,' which means the applicant can make
amendments to the claims and try for a monopoly patent again.”

while rivers melt

The barn you see there is 3 stories, with the old milking stanchions along an alley on one side and a big bay with the cow stalls on the other. Its huge. The hoophouse at 40 feet long looks so miniscule. It is bolted to deep stakes and tied down in two spots and will hopefully stay put.
I had a dream though that it took flight, landed on a perfect barge and floated down lazy rivers, delivering salads and things.

risking the onion move

Its a little cooler today than yesterday, but the sun has made the hard ground yielding, soft. And the brook to the river is revealing itself.

One thing I like about farming is the need to consider the hunches, weigh them against what can be observed and take a risk. A current example: I moved my leeks and onions to the hoophouse a couple days ago so I can plant more seeds under the lights. It got cold again last night: -8, perhaps colder with the windchill. I had dug and filled three pits with manure, spaced out along the center of the house and a sheet of row cover was over the onions. They made it quite happily.

You can see in the photo the repair I had to make when the 4 way connectors broke.
I now have somewhere to put the peppers (under the lights) that have germinated. I planted tomatoes and parsley today in the lightroom. Next step is to make soil and get ready to plant brassicas, lettuce and other starts in the hoophouse. I will also plant right into the bed to get some ruby chard and lettuce ahead for the first salads which take longer to grow than arugula, mizuna and tatsoi - the latter will go outside under the row cover.

March 19, 2009

The food safety bill shuffle

H.R.759, one of a few food safety bills before congress and the one most likely to be passed, isn't receiving the rhetoric and reaction that HR 875 is arousing. Tom Philpot's article Food Scare has reassured me that although very vague, much of the buzz around HR 875 is misdirected.

HR 759 has a good chance, unlike 875 of getting through and as Jill Richardson points out there are a few good things about Dingall's Bill, currently in committee.
But really worrisome is its desire to regulate produce:
"The Secretary (FDA) shall establish by regulation science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of those types of fruits and vegetables that are raw agricultural commodities"
FDA's science based standards for vegetable production? Will Monsanto, Bayer, Cargill, et al, have a hand in designing said standards? What level of sterility will be required in our big gardens and farms as we forgo bacteria for chemical combatants?

All these bills remind me of the cup and coin trick: which one is it under? We know Big Ag wants control of the food supply. We know that they have deep influence in congress. I think these food safety bills need more scrutiny and less hysteria. And yes, I am Canadian. But it seems that what Americans do has that inevitable trickle down effect. And this bill HR 759 is aimed at the global market. Here is the full text of the bill.

Interesting to note that there is no provision or mention of nanoparticles.

March 18, 2009

In situ experimentation; feeding studies

Where is the science to show that eating transgenic food is safe? Why is there no independent published results of feeding trials of GM crops?

The absence of scientific (corporate sanctioned) facts lets the wheels of deception go on. Puztai`s studies are the most comprehensive to this date although there are new recent studies that are damning.
A new Austrian study shows GE corn causes infertility and abnormal gene expression. Monsanto tried to block this Austrian study:
"Whenever these studies or reports surface... the funding--to find and expose the cause of the problem--often mysteriously dries up; scientists are transferred, threatened or fired, and the health risk link to GMOs is vehemently denied`` from here

Apparently this is a worldwide human scale experiment that is tricky for participants to refuse and mired in in situ variables making it difficult to assess. Fertility rates are declining...Could this be why?

Gmo free; Ifugao terraces Philippine


I want to do a post about some regions where communities have declared their independence from, and repudiation of, Genetically Engineered Organisms, them what you like. Places like Nelson and other places in B.C., the Yukon, the Transdanubia in Hungary, parts of Ireland, for example. Here is a neat map.

This place caught my attention today, as Greenpeace reported it, and as the pictures are reminiscent of Sri Lanka in the hills with the rice paddies, where I spent a very lovely month. It is stunning engineering, both of water and soil and of ancestral seed resources.
Greenpeace March 17

Ifugao Rice Terraces declared GMO-Free Zone

Ifugao, PHILIPPINES — The iconic Philippine Rice Terraces in Ifugao Province, a UNESCO Living Cultural Heritage site, was declared a genetically-modified organism (GMO)-Free zone. The historic declaration, which is in line with the province’s commitment to preserve the integrity of the country’s most enduring cultural symbol...
read more

March 16, 2009

Fruit picking; jobs of last resort

As the mega bubble of virtual wealth blows itself out, we are left with the fruits of the real economy: the local food system is central to that.

"Picking strawberries is the last resort, but it's all there is," Mr. Gómez said, stretching his back on a recent morning as he stood between rows of plants covered by polyethylene tunnels. "The fat cows have gone, and now the lean cows are here."

As jobs disappear across Andalusia, workers like Mr. Gómez are returning to the fields they abandoned for construction sites, hotels and shops during Spain's decade-long economic boom."

Read International Herald story: Fruit Picking;Job of last resort.

March 15, 2009

hoop house travails

There was a calm day on Wednesday and so I slipped the plastic on my hoop house. That makes it sound a great deal simpler than actually was. I wrapped 2 feet on either side sandwiched by a 1 in 4 and screwed to the plate. Because it was just me the plastic was not perfectly pulled tight, little lapse of plastic were free to flap..a wee bit. I piled hay bales around the end walls over the plastic, saving the the end frame doors and sandwiching for the next day.

The wind came up that night. While it (hoop house) wasn't quite aerodynamic, I worried all night it might become more so. Going out in the snowy blasts to secure the end plastic with temporary slats screwed in on top of the end frames: Jimmey job. At least I used screws and there is greenhouse tape.

However, three arch connector pieces cracked and sent the end of the arch through 2 spots in the plastic. I spent that evening in a ball of misery hoping the damn thing would pick up and blow down the valley. "Its too windy here for a hoop house or a garden..." blah blah, trouble! I was ready to catch a train on outta here.

Today things are looking up. I spent it at the side of my battered hooper and ...she's not so bad. I fixed the broken connectors with 1 1/2 " black pipe that fits as a sleeve- this seems a better solution to connecting the 2 10 foot pipes at the ridgepole than the connectors which are much more brittle than I recall. She is gaining dignity although she will always have character. And it even seems pretty strong now. I'll post a pic in the morning.

March 14, 2009

More on Experimental Weapons - Amnesty International findings

A while ago I posted about the experimental weapons Israel used in Gaza during "End Game" and how one of them, DIME appears to utilize nano-shrapnel.
Amnesty"s report mentions mm sized cubes. Is this a third type of new weapon? (Phosphorus being the third).

"They also found remnants of a new type of missile, seemingly launched from unmanned drones, which explodes large numbers of tiny sharp-edged metal cubes, each between 2mm and 4mm square in size. These lethal purpose-made shrapnel had penetrated thick metal doors and were embedded deep in concrete walls, and are clearly designed to maximize injury".

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territories: Evidence of misuse of US-weapons reinforces need for arms embargo. Amnesty International Report.

Count our blessings

What Happens in Heaven

Just want to prefix this with the bittersweet irony that the less one has, the easier it is to be grateful for the simple essential things.

"I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels.

My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to God said in prayer are received."

I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world.

Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.

The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them."

I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section," my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed "How is it that? There's no work going on here?" I asked.

"So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments.

"How does one acknowledge God's blessings?" I asked.

"Simple," the angel answered. "Just say, "Thank you, God."

"What blessings should they acknowledge? " I asked.

"If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep you are richer than 75% of this world. "If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

"If you woke up this morning with more health than illness .... you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.

"If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation ..... you are ahead of 700 million people in the world.

"If you can attend a prayer meeting without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.

"If your parents are still alive and still married... you are very rare.

If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you're unique to all those in doubt and despair."
Ok, what now? How can I start?

If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

Have a good day and dont forget to count your blessings".

Author unknow.
thank you Global Research

March 13, 2009

Even farm grrls get the blues

The bittersweet that is life can be seen here too.

RFK JR! Hog Producers are a bigger threat than Bin Laden

"the biggest threat to our country... legislatures and especially those in the possession of large businesses restricting our rights and altering our constitution"

If you watch this battle to the end you'll see the cowardly tactics of corporate corruption: discredit the this why so few people will speak out?
RFK is a brave man; hurrah for courageous voices!

March 11, 2009

Trace everything Bill

Its just the name that really has me wondering:

Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination Everywhere Act of 2009

and the vagueness of it: to improve the safety of food, meat, and poultry products through enhanced traceability, and for other purposes..

Venezuela and Big Ag

As a goal of the big agricultural corporations is to control the food supply it isn't surprising to see them team up to choke the food /farming system. Here is a diagram of "Joint Ventures and Strategic Alliances between Cargill and Monsanto".

"The Cargill/Monsanto food chain cluster that spans several stages of food production from input suppliers to livestock processors. Here

Venezuela appears to have banned GMO crops. You can read more about that here for example, or here.

It appears there is a show down.

March 9, 2009

Nuns and raw milk

Yes, I'm afraid that is me, in another life, on the way to the barn.

"It's not often you hear a couple of nuns with doctorates stand up for the right to sell cow's milk, but that's part of what is at stake under a plan to limit the sale of unpasteurized milk.

Opponents of bills that would ban the sale of raw milk in retail stores and increase labeling requirements spoke out at the capitol Monday, saying the legislation is an attack on small farms and locally produced food".

read it here

Hat tip to I.T.

March 8, 2009

a little more snow

The sun was shining yesterday and a warm wind worked its way through much of the snow and ice.

When I awoke this morning, the world is back to a winter wonderland.

The pheasants were running from tree to tree, scavenging for bits around the base.

when will it be spring?

March 7, 2009

Are spermicides in GMOs?

I ran across this horrific story on Joel Salatin's blog. Saladin has been a pioneer of regenerative farming for a couple of decades and is the author of several books on organic farming. I would be inclined to trust him.

He writes:

"Last December at the ACRES USA conference in St. Louis I ran into a guy who knew one of the executives at Monsanto. He told me about a conversation he'd had with this fellow regarding genetically modified organisms. The long and short of it was that one of the primary goals of GMOs was as a population control mechanism. I assumed the conversation had been embellished due to paranoia..

So last Friday I had dinner in Minneapolis and met a fellow and his family who are farming north of the twin cities. He had attended Purdue University in Indiana, was an excellent student, and Dow Chemical hired him right out of college. He described the fancy trucks, the fancy dinners, the fancy resort conventions that the company supplied.

His team was working on GMOs and he found out one day that they were putting spermicides into grain to ship strategically to countries around the world where U.S. foreign policy wanted population control".

Read the whole post

Also related (hat tip to cheeseslave): GM Corn to make men sterile
Spermicidal Breakfast Cereal

Pullet Surprise

A post from yesterday inspired me to record a few found stories I've collected that get passed around to farmers. This one, whose authorship is now a mystery, came into my box via the Certified Organic Association of British Columbia's (COABC)Listserve. If anyone knows the source of this, let me know and I'll attribute it (to I expect) the clever farmer.

John was in the fertilized egg business. He had several hundred young layers (hens), called 'pullets', and ten roosters to fertilize the egg. He kept records, and any rooster not performing went into the soup pot and was replaced. This took a lot of time, so he bought some tiny bells and attached them to his roosters.
Each bell had a different tone, so he could tell from a distance, which rooster was performing. Now, he could sit on the porch and fill out an efficiency report by just listening to the bells.

John's favorite rooster, old Butch, was a very fine specimen, but this morning he noticed old Butch's bell hadn't rung at all! When he went to investigate he saw the other roosters were busy chasing pullets, bells-a-ringing, but the pullets, hearing the roosters coming, could run for cover. To John's amazement, old Butch had his bell in his beak, so it couldn't ring. He'd sneak up on a pullet, do his job and walk on to the next one.

John was so proud of old Butch, he entered him in the County Fair and he became an overnight sensation among the judges. The result was the judges not only awarded old Butch the No Bell Piece Prize but they also awarded him the Pulletsurprise as well.

March 6, 2009

Chavez breaking up Big Rice stranglehold

"Venezuelans experienced widespread shortages of rice last year when the world food crisis set in and prices soared. Pledging to take stronger measures to guarantee food access to all citizens, Chávez passed the Law on Food Security and Sovereignty with decree authority granted to him for 18 months by the National Assembly. The law defines food security as a matter of “public utility,” permitting Chávez to order expropriation of property necessary to move toward that goal.

Chavez is honouring that law by beginning the steps for expropriation of rice processing plants violating controls. The big food corporation Polar, is suspected of operating below capacity at its rice mills to evade price caps and adding flavouring to bypass regulations which are geared to cover only basic pure foods. A Cargill plant that circumventing price controls by "modifying" (parboiling) its rice was ordered expropriated today.

"These private companies can continue functioning as long as they remain within the scope of the law and the constitution", Chavez said Wednesday.

Evolution of life in 60 seconds

Hang in gets riveting

3 year's old wisdom

I was repairing my manure wagon yesterday and it reminded me of something my friend's 3 year old told me years ago:

He was on his knees in the dust in the farmyard, flaying his arms every which way and pounding the ground while swearing a very blue streak....=:^x#bxx # @ !!** (xh5!cu** di"**! whack whack...swear... whack.

When I asked him what it was he was doing, he looked up in bright eyed earnestness and replied,

"fixing stuff"!


I had to come back to this post; there is much more to say about the wisdom of three year olds. This boy knew too the sweet pleasures of a job well done and had opportunities to watch more graceful, dedicated well equipped people work; solve the problems incumbent on repairing a well loved machine. Or the boots who carry you the day through.

Frustration or despair set in from time to time, I'll admit that. The causes of that are few: not enough people, and/or skilled people, and/or money to set up with dignity/ efficiency. So knuckles get bashed. And disks pushed to ulcerate and not enough sleep. The edges get frazzled.

Dignity and humiliation. These are the things a three year old knows.

I like to go back there sometimes. know those first vulnerabilities; remember that unshakable forgiveness. Be like that lion that gets up, shakes it off and is on to life completely again.

Dignity can be regained. Let longing come and go. That is ok.
I can get the job done gently, the best I can ... be slower and smaller.

There may be a day this old house will be filled with happy, skillful people whose repertoire of wisdoms include that of a 3 year old's.

Now of course I'm reminded of all my farming friends; some that I haven't seen for a very long time; and I remember these stories that farmers like to tell. So watch out for a new theme on the sidebar!

March 5, 2009

generational transmission of nanoparticles

nano carbon fullerenes transmitted to the next generation plant (from the seed).

``A team of scientists at Clemson University has undertaken an effort to shed light on the impact of nanomaterials on high plants, filling a significant knowledge gap in the current literature. They showed how nanoparticles above certain concentrations could clog the vascular systems of plants. They also showed how these nanoparticles above certain concentrations could impact on seed setting``.

Read about Dr. Pu Chun Ke`s study here

March 4, 2009

devotion between cow and yogis

I found this beautiful little video at the compassion campaign

I have removed it from this post, as it was slowing the blog down.

Farmer's Rights Project

Here is an opportunity for farmers to submit their ideas and views on the sustainable use of plant genetic resources ahead of the Third Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Regine Andersen (Dr. Polit.)
Senior Research Fellow

The Fridtjof Nansen Institute
P.O. Box 326
N-1326 Lysaker

Dear all,

We from the Farmers' Rights Project would like to remind you that the Third Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture will be held in Tunis, Tunisia, 1-5 June 2009. The draft provisional agenda has now been published (please find it attached), and the implementation of Article 9 on Farmers' Rights is item 14 on the provisional agenda. Please also note that the implementation of Article 6 on the sustainable use of plant genetic resources, which is highly relevant for the implementation of Farmers' Rights, is item 13 on the provisional agenda.

As you might recall, the Governing Body adopted a resolution on Farmers* Rights at its Second Session (please find it attached). It states that Contracting Parties and organizations are encouraged to submit views on and experiences from the implementation of Farmers* Rights. We hope that all parties and organizations who would like to contribute to the work of the Governing Body on the implementation of Farmers* Rights will use this opportunity to send their contributions. If you have not already done so, it would be best to send your contributions to the Secretariat as soon as possible.

We would also like to remind you that the Governing Body is committed to involve farmers' organizations in its work (as stated in the resolution). It would therefore be good if Contracting Parties and organizations that have the possibility to do so, could invite farmer representatives to take part in their delegations.

More information on the Third Session of the Governing Body can be found at:

Best regards,
Regine Andersen


Tel.: + (47) 67 11 19 00
Fax.: + (47) 67 11 19 10
See also:

PDF Draft Agenda

PDF Resolution of Farmer's Rights

March 2, 2009

Victory for Austria and Hungary: gmo ban on corn holds

BRUSSELS (AFP) — EU nations refused Monday to force Austria and Hungary to allow the cultivation of Monsanto genetically modified maize, defying a call from the European Commission, the Czech EU presidency said.

Only five of the 27 European Union nations -- Britain, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden and Estonia -- supported the EU executive's bid to force the two member states to lift their ban.

In Vienna Austrian Environment Minister Nikolaus Berlakovich hailed the vote as an "historic victory."

Read more

Need an ample inside job today

I posted a new photo of the onions in the potting house, whose growth in a week is quite amazing. I am waiting for the weather to match my readiness for change, a calm windless day so I can get my plastic up on the hoophouse, move the onions and start a new batch of seedlings, for example. Its bloody cold outside, with ice pellets and a river that one could still skate away on. So its another inside day for this gal.

I'm going to work on yet another plastering project. I have a very old house, whose plastered walls were in varying states of decrepitude when I bought her. I am pretty happy with the transformation of the stairway plaster:

On the top floor of the house (there are 4 - if you count the basement!) are 2 very large rooms, with the old wood floors and a view to the garden, river and beyond. The plaster is cracked and crumbling, and I've removed the old peeling layers of wall paper.

I'll secure the sound plaster to the lathes with handy dandy washers and screws, drywall tape the worst of the cracks and lay on a new coat of plaster.

March 1, 2009

extrapolating on the factual; truth with emphasis?

In a world where truth is stretched out beyond focus whilst glittering excesses distract and immersion in "comforts" (BSTV, gambling or pornography) passify; How do we search for and communicate truth in this context? How do we reach out as far as we can to see what is real and what is happening now. For example, how do we survive and what effect that has on a micro (cellular, molecular) and macro (communal, national, global) scale. What is happening? How to communicate it.

I have a statcounter whereby I can watch who comes and how, and where they go. Its interesting that the Asians and Africans are into the implements (here and here) and that Monsanto is interested in beets to ethanol. Monsanto also sends it's public relations firm over - The Standing Partnership - and they go to the post on GMO alfalfa and the one on wheat. I love being able to communicate with African farmers. (Please write me!), and Monsanto's interest indicates they are threatened by our communicating. It makes them vulnerable. This is encouraging.

The advantage we have (those of us without PHD's in molecular biology, or inside seats on key corporate boardrooms) is the fact that NOBODY knows what the consequences of the blind manipulation of life will be. Transgenic contamination or nanoparticle/composite saturation or synthetic microbes: where is that taking us? Nobody can say. Precautionary Principle is to the wind. Scientific hypothesis is as good here as intuitive knowing. Its wide open, unknown - assurances are bold faced lies to pacify us. There is substantial propoganda occurring to ease in a transition to what many powerful people believe is the nestgen economy.

Within this context, is it fair play to emphasize, never lie, but accentuate the absurdity of scientism? To get through to some buffered, yet in essence good, people?
How do we do it?

saffron; a new hue in the fields of Afghanistan

2/3 of the world's heroin originates in Afghanistan where opium poppies have flourished since the American invasion in 2001. Now farmers in Herat province are exploring a lucrative option.

James Palmer, Chronicle Foreign Service
Sunday, March 1, 2009

Haji Abdul Ghayoum squats over a plant that pushes a magnificent rainbow of color up from cracked soil. The 42-year-old farmer runs his weathered hands through the green leaves and purple petals. Next, he fingers the red stigmas - thread-like filaments that are changing this part of the world.

In an effort to eradicate opium production, the Afghan government, international aid groups and private businesses are distributing saffron crocus bulbs to farmers in this region along the Iran border. The farmers say their new crop is better suited to their religious beliefs (Islam prohibits the use and sale of illicit drugs) and, ultimately, is more profitable.

Worldwide demand for Afghan saffron is rising, and the price has doubled in the past year to an average of $1,360 per pound - or roughly 38 times what poppy farmers in the southern part of the country earn.
read more