Bristol Substitutes Vinegar for Cancer-Causing Roundup

roundup

In response to growing local concern about a World Health Organization (WHO) warning that glyphosate (aka Roundup) probably causes cancer, the city of Bristol has begun using strong vinegar to kill weeds in streets and parks.

The Bristol City Council decision to substitute vinegar for Roundup is part of a year long trial.

Earlier this month the European Parliament voted to  ban  most uses of glyphosate – particularly “in or close to” public parks, playgrounds and gardens.”

Horticultural vinegar, which contains more acetic acid than regular malt vinegar, can be used as an inexpensive weed treatment. Vinegar-based herbicides will harm any plant they comes into contact with so is best used on patios and driveways rather than lawns. It will only damage the top of the plant, leaving the roots intact.

The trial has been met with mixed reactions in Bristol.   Some residents hate the stench. Others point to European communities who have successfully used vinegar for years. Pesticide Safe Bristol Alliance says it’s ‘bizarre’ the council has opted for vinegar when safer, modern technologies are available.

A Metro online poll is running 55% to 45% in favor of the vinegar trial.

On May 10, the New Plymouth Green Party will present a petition to New Plymouth District Council to end the district’s use of Roundup in our city parks and streets.

Have your say:

Resisting Monsanto’s Occupation of Hawaii

Aina: That Which Feeds Us

Living Ancestors (2015)

Film Review

Aina is a short documentary about the Waipa Foundation, an organization run by native Hawaiians to restore traditional farming practices to Kauai (Hawaii). The group’s primary focus is to encourage a return to traditional organic farming practices. At the moment their main goal is the taro plant, a traditional staple, by giving the poi (the underground corm of the taro plant) away free to community members. They’re also working to reduce obesity by encouraging a return to the traditional diet (fish, pork, greens and poi).

Prior to seeing the film, I had no idea the extent to which the Hawaiian islands have been “occupied” by Monsanto and other multinational corporations engaged in GMO research. One of the group’s biggest concerns is the massive amount of Roundup, a known carcinogen and neurotoxin, sprayed adjacent to schools. In one highly publicized incident, 50 children had to be hospitalized following exposure to Roundup.

The Waipa Foundation is intent on returning Kauai (Hawaii) to 100% sustainability in food and energy production. With a present population of 1.2 million, the state imports 90% of its food and energy. One hundred years ago, one million Hawaiians lived in abundance without importing anything.

 

The Health Benefits of Fermented Foods

wild fermentation

Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods

by Sandor Katz

Chelsea Green (2003)

Book Review

Free PDF

Wild Fermentation is an encyclopedia of do-it-yourself fermentation. Sandor Katz first learned of the health benefits of fermentation in his search for alternative AIDS treatments. Published in 2003, this book foreshadowed recent breakthrough research into the importance of the microbiome* in digestion, mental stability, neuroendocrine function and immunity.

According to Katz, it was Russian immunologist and 1908 Nobel laureate Ilya Mechnikov who first observed – while studying yogurt eating centenarians** – that lactobacilli (the bacteria produced by fermentation) “postpone and ameliorate” old age.

The first half of the book is a historical overview of the art of fermentation. Mead (an alcoholic honey drink) is the earliest example of deliberate fermentation, dating back more than 12,000 years. Following the agricultural revolution, human beings also used fermentation to make other alcoholic drinks, as well as preserving milk and grains. It later came to be used in bread making and chocolate, coffee and tea production.

Prior to the advent of refrigeration (in the early 1900s), all households produced and consumed fermented foods as part of their diet. Katz (and many health practitioners) believe the sudden increase in chronic health conditions (cancer, obesity, diabetes, allergies, asthma, autoimmune disease, autism, etc) relates to a loss of fermented foods in the Western diet. This, in combination, with overuse of antibiotics (and heavy exposure to herbicides like Roundup) causes major a major loss of healthy intestinal bacteria for many of us.

The second half of the book is devoted to recipes for home fermented foods. According to Katz, any food can be fermented and the distinction between “fermented” and “rotten” is purely subjective and cultural. He gives the example the Swedish delicacy lutefisk and Chinese 100-year-old eggs, which are fermented in horse urine for two months.

The video below is from one of Katz’s fermentation workshops:

Arkansas’s Unlikely Environmental Activists

The Natural State of America

Written and produced by Brian Campbell (2010)

Film Review

The Natural State of America is an inspiring documentary about an unlikely group of Arkansas environmental activists who take on their rural electric cooperative for spraying toxic herbicide in the Ozark highlands.

The Newton County Wildlife Association (NCWA) was first formed back in the 1970s, when they took on the US Forest Service over their plan to spray Agent Orange to destroy hardwood Ozark forest to benefit private timber interests seeking to replace it with quick growing pine.

Their success in obtaining a court injunction against the Forest Service inspired environmental activists in Washington and Oregon to undertake similar campaigns – resulting in an ban on domestic Agent Orange use in 1978.

A few years later the NWCA blocked the Army Corps of Engineers from damming the Buffalo River.

In recent years, the NWCA has joined with the Organic Growers Association and back-to-the-land homesteaders to protest a 2006 decision by the Carroll Electric Cooperative to spray toxic herbicides without consulting their membership.

Prior to watching this film, I was unacquainted with the pristine natural beauty of the Ozark region or the wealth of medicinal herbs found nowhere else in North America. I was also intrigued by the unusual personal profiles of the activists and their intimate knowledge of the geology and natural history of the region.

That being said, the film’s soundtrack was the high point for me. I’m pretty passionate about blue grass.


*Agent Orange is an equal mixture of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D that was used by the US military to defoliate the jungle during the Vietnam War. Thousands of GIs who were exposed to it developed cancer, autoimmune and neurological disease and other health problems and have seen major birth defects in their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. In 2014, the EPA generated major controversy by approving a new Dow herbicide containing a combination of 2,4-D and glyphosate (Roundup) EPA approves new 2,4-D blend

The Ugly Side of the Fashion Industry

The True Cost

By Andrew Morgan (2015)

Film Review

The True Cost is about the immense environmental and human cost of the fashion industry – all for the sake of a few people raking in immense profits.

The modern trend of “fast fashion” is the most destructive. Over the last few decades, the big fashion brands have sought to make clothes so cheap that consumers only wear them a few times before discarding them and buying new ones.

The average American purchases 80 pieces of clothing a year, 400% more than two decades ago. The US disposes of 11 million pounds of textile waste a year, an average of 82 pounds per person.

Reliance on Sweatshops

Lowering the cost of clothes has necessitated moving 97% of clothing manufacture overseas. Bangladesh, where workers (who are 85% women) earn less than $3 a day,  is the favorite of most big name brands like the Gap.

The women work and live in total squalor. In the past few years , 1,000 workers were killed when the Rana Plaza garment factory collapsed. Hundreds more have died in a series of fires. The pay is insufficient for the women to provide housing for their children. They remain with relatives in the countryside and see their mothers at most once or twice a year.

Thanks to Global Exchange and the anti-sweatshop campaigns of the 1990s, all the big fashion brands sign voluntary codes of conduct to makes sure their local contractors respect the human rights of their sweatshop workers (which they never enforce). The big brands also systematically obstruct federal legislation that would make such codes compulsory.

The Second Most Polluting Industry in the World

The environment degradation caused by “fast fashion” is equally horrific. The garment industry is the most polluting in the world (second only to oil). The global proliferation of GMO cotton has had devastating health effects in India and the Lubbock Texas area. Until I saw this film, I was unaware that Lubbock is one of the largest cotton producing regions in the world.

In Texas most of the GMO cotton is Roundup Ready, Monsanto’s best selling pesticide. Heavy exposure is responsible for a large cancer cluster among Lubbock area residents.

In India, both Roundup Ready and Bt Cotton are grown. The former is responsible for a significant increase in birth defects, cancer and mental illness. The latter is responsible for a serious reduction in crop yields (the pesticide Bt Cotton produces kills the soil bacteria responsible for soil fertility). The loss of soil fertility has led to farmers losing their land and livelihood, as well as over 200,000 farmer suicides in the last 15 years.

India is also experiencing massive chromium contamination of the Ganges River and surrounding groundwater, from chemicals used in tanning leather for the western fashion industry.

Spin, Propaganda and Lies

The fashion industry pumps out propaganda that sweatshops are good because they create jobs for people who otherwise would have no alternative. This ignores the deleterious effect of “free trade” treaties that have destroyed the rural economies of many third world countries.

The official narrative also belies collusion between the fashion industry and the Vietnamese government, known for brutally beating and killing garment workers during peaceful protests demanding a minimum wage.

The full film was available on YouTube last week but has been taken down. You can rent it from VHX or iTunes for $3.99: Watch now

The Ugly Truth About Monsanto and Genetic Engineering

GMO-OMG

Jeremy Seifert (2013)

Film Review

GMO-OMG is an excellent first documentary by a young father on a quest to understand the science of GMO technology and its impact on the environment and human health. The film starts by focusing on the general ignorance of the American public about GMOs. This contrasts markedly with other countries, where popular pressure has led many governments to ban GMOs.

What filmmaker Jeremy Seifert describes, in essence, is the systematic hijacking and poisoning of the US food supply by three companies (DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta), all without the knowledge of the American people. At present 85% of all corn grown in the US is genetically modified, 91% of all soy and 90% of all beet sugar. In addition, most non-organic meat and dairy products come from animals fed on GMO corn and/or soy.

Seifert first learned about the potential dangers of GMOs due to a major anti-GMO protest in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. Monsanto’s response to the earthquake was to donate 470 tons of GMO seeds, which protestors burned because of the threat they posed to their seed stock and food sovereignty.

The film highlights four broad areas:
• The powerful Monsanto lobby that engineered FDA approval of GMO seeds in the 1990s without totally inadequate scientific evidence of their safety.
• Recent research into the negative health impacts of GMOs.
• False claims by Monsanto and GMO seed merchants and farmers that GMO technology, which they erroneously claim increases yields, is the only answer to global hunger.
• Monsanto’s determination to stymie consumer choice by blocking GMO labeling laws.

Revolving Door Regulation

As Seifert ably demonstrates, the FDA is a typical “revolving door” agency. in which FDA chief Michael Taylor has alternatively worked for the FDA and Monsanto over many years. In this regulatory environment, where corporations practically regulate themselves, the FDA approved GMO seeds as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe), despite the absence of a single, longitudinal study demonstrating their safety in humans. None of the Monsanto studies submitted for FDA approval were peer reviewed* or longer than three months. It so happens Monsanto’s studies can’t be peer reviewed because the company refuses to release the raw data. In the research described below, rats fed Roundup Ready Corn only developed health problems after month four.

Health Problems in Rats Fed Roundup Ready Corn

In a recently published two year study by French researcher Dr Giles-Eric Seralini, rats fed a steady diet of Roundup Ready** corn developed many more mammary tumors than control rats. This was in addition to kidney, liver and pituitary damage. It remains unclear, however, whether these health effects related to the GMO corn itself or from traces of Roundup in the feed from heavy herbicide spraying. More recent studies have shown that Roundup (aka or glyphosate) causes serious health problems on its own (cancer, kidney damage and reduced sperm counts).

Organic Farming Produces Better Yields

Seifert interviews several organic farmers in the film, who debunk Monsanto claims that GMO crops increase yields. The farmers refer to thirty years of data showing that organic crops consistently outperform GMO crops, particularly during droughts and floods. On average, organic methods produce a 30% better yield. In part, the poor performance of GMO crops relates to the creation of superweeds that can’t be killed by Roundup or any other herbicide.

Monsanto Spends Hundreds of Millions Blocking GMO Labeling Laws

Seifert also interviews Congressman Dennis Kucinich (before he lost his seat in 2012) about his GMO labeling bill. Since 1997, the EU has required all foods (except meat and dairy) to be labeled for GMO ingredients. Because European consumers refuse to buy products containing GMOS, Monsanto aggressively opposes GMO labeling in the US. Seifert also discusses the GMO labeling laws passed in Vermont*** and Connecticut, which were subsequently repealed after Monsanto threatened to sue both states. He also talks about the hundreds of millions Monsanto has spent in around twenty other states to block anti-GMO legislation in 32 other states.


*Scholarly peer review is the process of subjecting an author’s scholarly work, research, or ideas to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field.

**Roundup Ready corn is a plant which has had its DNA modified to withstand the weedkiller Roundup. This allows a farmer to kill weeds by spraying massive amounts of Roundup on his fields without killing the corn.

***Vermont enacted a new GMO labeling law in May 2014. As threatened, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and other trade associations have filed suit to block the law. A federal judge has already denied their request for an injunction to block the law’s implementation: see Vermont GMO Labeling Injunction Appeal

https://vimeo.com/106081930

Roundup Linked to Autism and Alzheimers

monsanto

Recent research reveals the main toxic effects of glyphosate, the main ingredient in the Monsanto weedkiller Roundup, are identical to the typical biological markers for autism and Alzheimer’s disease. MIT researcher Dr Stephanie Seneff PhD is also alarmed by the correlation between growing Roundup use and a big increase in the incidence of autism.

Roundup Kills Off Intestinal Bacteria

Seneff is mainly concerned about the negative effect of glyphosate on the microbiome. This is the scientific name for the normal intestinal bacteria responsible for immunity, weight maintenance, healthy neuropsychological function and a host of other biological processes.

Monsanto argues that glyphosate is harmless to people because the shikimate pathway, which glyphosate is designed to inhibit, is absent in human cells. Unfortunately, as Dr Seneff points out, our gut bacteria do have this enzyme pathway. In fact, several studies show that glyphosate kills off beneficial gut bacteria, allowing pathogens to overgrow.

Glyphosate also interferes with the ability to synthesize cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes, which are essential for gut bacteria to produce and process aromatic amino acids, methionine and sulfate. All these effects are linked to important diseases and conditions associated with the Western diet, including gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, infertility and Alzheimer’s disease.

Seneff isn’t the first researcher to link autism with a derangement in gut bacteria. Scientists have been studying this potential link for more than a decade

Autism Rate Skyrocketing

In a Powerpoint presentation she gives all over the US, as well as in Taiwan and France,  she particularly emphasizes the strong correlation (Pearson correlation coefficient=0.99)* between the skyrocketing incidence of autism and increasing use of Roundup starting in the early 1990s.

In 1975, 1 in 5,000 children were diagnosed with autism. The current rate is 1 in 68.

In her presentation, Seneff also discusses research showing that children with autism commonly have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate exposure, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate and mitochondrial disorders. Similar markers are also found in Alzheimer’s disease.

Glyphosate in Breast Milk

Most of the GMO crops produced by Monsanto are “Roundup ready” and contain genetic modifications enabling them to withstand spraying with Roundup weed killer. In addition to large numbers of American farmers switching to GMO crops, the use of Roundup on each farm increases over time. This is because Roundup tends to create superweeds that are resistant to normal doses.

The US is unique in the extreme prevalence of foods containing GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that were likely treated with Roundup. Glyphosate can be found in soft drinks and candies sweetened by corn syrup, potato chips, chips, cereals and oil containing soy and cattle and chicken fed soy. According to Seneff, the only way to totally avoid glyphosate is to eat fresh organic food.

Unsurprisingly Americans have ten times as much glyphosate in their blood and European as Europeans. A study by Moms Across America showed that mothers across the US have excessively high levels of glyphosate in their breast milk.

Autism and Vaccines

In an interview with Age of Autism, Seneff was asked her opinion on the link between vaccines and autism. In reply, she talked about three other chemicals she believes are critical to the autism epidemic: aluminum, mercury and glutamate. All are found in specific vaccines. She adds that vaccines and glyphosate are synergistically toxic because the latter disrupts the body’s ability to metabolize glutamate, which is extremely toxic to the brain.

She advises if she were a young mother, she would try to avoid all the vaccines that contain aluminum, mercury and glutamate: DTaP, Hepatitis B, MMR, the measles vaccine, the flu shot, and Gardasil. For parents who feel reluctant to eliminate vaccines altogether, she recommends delaying them as long as possible. Infants have a very weak immune system.

When you look at the risk benefit ratio of the vaccines, it comes out short. You really have to think about whether it’s worth the cost. . . . Do you want your child to be permanently damaged in order to prevent it from getting measles? It doesn’t make sense. I think we really need to question whether the vaccines are an obligatory part of a child’s program. I certainly think they’re not, particularly because they are so dangerous. And in conjunction with the glyphosate, which is making them much worse.


*In statistics, the Pearson correlation coefficient is a measure of the linear correlation between two variables. It gives a value between +1 and −1, where 1 is total positive correlation.

photo credit: msdonnalee via photopin cc

Also posted in Veterans Today