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July 18, 2014

GMO News Summary July 18th 2014

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*A new analysis of 343 studies comparing crops grown organically to crops grown conventionally finds that the organic foods are greatly superior nutritionally. In particular they have much higher levels of cancer-fighting antioxidants.
 
This great difference in nutritional profile is probably on account of the differing ways the crops are grown. Crops grown with massive applications of synthetic fertilizer and pesticides are in effect coddled and have to do little work for themselves. So they put their energy into producing higher levels of sugars and starches. Their way of life makes them fat and bloated, and therefore they’re greatly inferior as food.
 
Organic crops, by contrast, have to make an honest living. They have to work to extract real nutrition from real soil and to defend themselves against pests and disease. Of course the knowledge and skills of organic farmers helps them. The result is that organically grown plants produce higher levels of phenols and polyphenols, including the antioxidants so important for preventing heart disease, stroke, and cancer in humans.
 
Of course these organic crops are also not laden with agricultural poisons the way conventional crops are. Organic crops are only 1/4 as likely as conventional to have any pesticide residues at all, and these residue levels are on the average 10-100 times lower. Presumably these very low residues are the result of the general contamination of the environment, for example from the pesticide drift which the USDA wants to make a vastly worse problem.
 
Conventional crops also contained twice the levels of the toxic heavy metal cadmium. 
 
This study, carried out by a team from Newcastle University, analyzed many more studies using many more parameters than that of the tendentious 2012 Stanford paper which whitewashed the poison problem and claimed that the nutritional superiority of organic crops had little meaning for health. This bogus study was the signal for a slew of high-profile corporate media pieces, in Time, the NYT, and elsewhere smearing the idea of organic food. We’ll see what the response is to this new, vastly superior study.
 
*New science establishes how neonicotinoid insecticides, already heavily implicated in the decimation of honeybee populations and other environmental and soil destruction, are decimating birds as well.
 
Industrial seeds, generally GMOs designed to generate crops suffused with insecticidal and herbicidal poisons, are also coated with many other poisons including neonics, which are increasingly necessary to make up for the failure of endemic Bt insecticide. Neonics also suffuse every cell of the crop. The ways this harms human and animal health are unknown and have never been tested.
 
Neonics, like all the rest of these poisons, are necessary elements of poison-based industrial agriculture, which is based upon agronomically unsound and destructive corn-on-corn and other deranged monoculture planting schedules. This is necessary to prop up agriculture as a commodity sector.
 
Meanwhile an agricultural system based on producing food through rational crop rotation and decentralized agroecology practices would be far more productive and healthy and require none of these destructive and expensive poisons and other extraneous inputs.
 
*Another example of the accelerating failure of GMOs in the field, this one from Brazil where resistant caterpillars are badly damaging Bt corn. The piece includes the usual admonition about how non-GM refuges within Bt plantings are supposed to work. But the fact is that even if such refuge policy were enforced (in Brazil it’s not even mandatory, just recommended; in the US it’s officially mandatory but indifferently enforced and widely flouted), the 5-10% refuge generally suggested is far too small to have any effect even in principle. Refuges would need to be 50% or more to conceivably work for long.
 
But the fact is that refuge policy was never intended to work, and was never anything but propaganda meant to reassure skeptical farmers and citizens that regulators had a rational plan. In fact the only rational plan which has ever existed was how to systematically lie on behalf of this worthless, anti-innovative, luddite product, GMOs. The Bt refuge scam is just one example, but look to literally anything else ever said on behalf of GMOs and you’ll see a similar scam. For example my concluding item.
 
*A similar example from Pakistan, where Bt cotton, including Monsanto’s brand-name Bollgard II and Roundup Ready Flex stacked varieties, is increasingly useless against resistant bollworms. Farmers are having to spray expensive pesticides in addition to paying for the expensive seed. This is the kind of financial destruction of small cotton farmers which has produced a massive suicide wave in India.
 
Bt levels are always chaotic and unpredictable even in the highest quality GM seed. (There’s one measure of what a low-quality product GMOs really are.) But the seed distributed in countries like Pakistan seems especially low quality, often producing little or no Bt toxin at all. This apparently includes not just various knockoffs but the Monsanto name brand.
 
We must always keep in mind that just as in other corporate sectors, with seeds as well the big corporations which control them seldom did any actual innovation or production work, but contract out all the work. The corporation only provides the brand name, does the lobbying, controls the patents, reaps all the profit, and exercises control of the entire process. The one thing it doesn’t do is any actual constructive work. So when we ponder GM seeds, especially in the global South, we should always keep in mind that these are often of much lower quality than even the crappy ones sold in the US. This is just one of the many ways GMOs are a scam and a hoax. Also relevant especially to places like India and Pakistan is how any GMO depends upon large-scale artificial irrigation (in itself a huge conveyance of corporate welfare for the Big Ag corporations) to have any chance of performing the way the advertising brochure claims. But most small farmers in these countries lack access to such irrigation. That too affects, for example, Bt cotton’s actual expression of the pesticide.

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5 Comments

  1. Re growing food with heavy mulch, last year Dave Milano recommended I watch a video, I think I tracked it down, if you haven’t seen this “Back to Eden” vid, it’s very good.:

    I’ve also been looking at rock dust to remineralize soil. If you or any of your readers have any experiences with this, I hope they post them. (I posted this question in David’s blog as well).

    One commonsense idea that’s come up, with both the above items, is that like with humans, plants have health issues with pests, etc. when their bodies are demineralized. Normally these things would not be an issue.

    Looks like modern NPK farming basically creates the conditions where insecticides are perceived as needed.

    Comment by Tom M Culhane — July 18, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

    • I have seen it. I’m not sure what to make of it. It contradicts some regular organic wisdom on the carbon/nitrogen ratios of soil and how this affects short-run plant growth.

      I haven’t used rock salt, but right now at our community garden we’re looking into various kinds of amendments which are supposed to replenish minerals and/or potassium. We probably have an excess of nitrogen and phosphorus relative to these.

      An ongoing round of imported amendments isn’t any kind of long-run solution, though many of us find ourselves in that boat for the time being. In this overall hostile environment it’s hard to restore self-sustainability to agricultural cycles. Almost all the mineral-rich quick-fix amendments are “fossil” resources, and all are globalized. At least that goes for the commercially available ones. I haven’t found anything outside that framework yet.

      NPK farming not only generates deteriorating conditions where more and more artificial inputs are needed, but does so intentionally, as part of a typical campaign of planned obsolescence. GMOs comprise the most extreme example of this corporate agricultural campaign. That’s so self-evident that it’s amazing that anyone can be even minimally informed and not have it be obvious to them. Just as it’s amazing that it wasn’t obvious to common sense that companies which sell poison, fertilizer, etc. will want to market seeds which will require ever more of these inputs. That was self-evidently obvious even before the evidence started rolling in. How could anyone ever have been fooled by the lies, let alone still believe them?

      The answer, as I’ll be writing about as one of my main themes going forward, is that GMO advocacy is more of a cult religious phenomenon than anything which ever had the slightest connection with reason or evidence. (Of course I’m not talking about the cartel itself, which was always clear within its own culture that GMO were about nothing but profit and power.)

      Comment by Russ — July 19, 2014 @ 4:56 am

      • Here’s a video with a similar theme, which inspired me last year to think about heavy mulch:

        This guy claims what is going on with the heavy mulch is generations of microbes live eat excrete and die in it. This might provide nitrogen that I assume you are saying is missing from the equation with “regular organic wisdom”.

        With the rock dust for remineralizing soil, there is a group, remineralize.org, they seem to be saying it’s not a fossil resource.

        My basic thinking is that in Nature, nutrients are recycled. It’s all set up to do that. But the land I have was farmed for years, according to my neighbor, so I assume most of the minerals ended up in septic tanks, rivers, lakes and oceans, true to the pathological design of “our modern system”.

        So I was thinking of using rock dust to replenish lost minerals, and then with heavy mulch over the soil, … whatever grows thru the mulch has these minerals and over time the whole thing is self sustaining. But that’s based on returning the humanure to the soil too. But that might trip wires with local governments, as, as you know, sustainable independent low cost living is the last thing the establishment wants. So they might try to play the “pathogen” card, ie basically saying that Nature doesn’t work, and we must sanitize it… there have been endless discussions on that in David’s blog. I do know an organic farmer who recycles the humanure and to quote him, “it works miracles in the garden”.

        But it sounds like these heavy mulch people are saying you don’t even need to do that to have ongoing fertile soil. I dont’ know if that’s true. For larger scale farming, with the current system, looks like there’s no way around the fact that a lot of the nutrients on your land are going to end up in septic tanks and rivers…

        Comment by Tom M Culhane — July 19, 2014 @ 10:12 am

      • Russ, youtube put the wrong video on the link above, could you remove it. Here’s part 2 of that video if it copies, you’ll have to try to find part 1:

        Comment by Tom M Culhane — July 19, 2014 @ 10:18 am

  2. I was wondering why that baby inspired you to think about heavy mulch, Tom. Thanks for the chuckle.

    Meanwhile, the food Gestapo are sending out a clear message…. “The government-sponsored dump of nearly $5,000 of milk, eggs, butter, and cream from Michigan’s My Family Co-Op yesterday carried a very clear and powerful political message to all Americans: We control your food and we don’t like you buying your food outside the corporate food system. Every now and then, we are going to remind you of what bad children you are being by taking your food and throwing it in the garbage. In fact, we are going to do more than remind you, we are going to completely humiliate you by preventing you from even feeding it to farm animals and instead forcing it to be disposed of in a landfill or dumpster.” http://thecompletepatient.com/article/2014/july/22/michigan-food-dump-meant-send-us-all-message

    Comment by Pete — July 23, 2014 @ 7:01 pm


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