by Greg Wadley & Angus Martin
Department of Zoology, University of Melbourne
Published in Australian Biologist 6: 96 – 105, June 1993
What might head a list of the defining characteristics of the human species? While our view of ourselves could hardly avoid highlighting our accomplishments in engineering, art, medicine, space travel and the like, in a more dispassionate assessment agriculture would probably displace all other contenders for top billing. Most of the other achievements of humankind have followed from this one. Almost without exception, all people on earth today are sustained by agriculture. With a minute number of exceptions, no other species is a farmer. Essentially all of the arable land in the world is under cultivation. Yet agriculture began just a few thousand years ago, long after the appearance of anatomically modern humans.
Given the rate and the scope of this revolution in human biology, it is quite extraordinary that there is no generally accepted model accounting for the origin of agriculture. Indeed, an increasing array of arguments over recent years has suggested that agriculture, far from being a natural and upward step, in fact led commonly to a lower quality of life. Hunter-gatherers typically do less work for the same amount of food, are healthier, and are less prone to famine than primitive farmers (Lee & DeVore 1968, Cohen 1977, 1989). A biological assessment of what has been called the puzzle of agriculture might phrase it in simple ethological terms: why was this behaviour (agriculture) reinforced (and hence selected for) if it was not offering adaptive rewards surpassing those accruing to hunter-gathering or foraging economies?
This paradox is responsible for a profusion of models of the origin of agriculture. ‘Few topics in prehistory’, noted Hayden (1990) ‘have engendered as much discussion and resulted in so few satisfying answers as the attempt to explain why hunter/gatherers began to cultivate plants and raise animals. Climatic change, population pressure, sedentism, resource concentration from desertification, girls’ hormones, land ownership, geniuses, rituals, scheduling conflicts, random genetic kicks, natural selection, broad spectrum adaptation and multicausal retreats from explanation have all been proffered to explain domestication. All have major flaws … the data do not accord well with any one of these models. ‘
Recent discoveries of potentially psychoactive substances in certain agricultural products – cereals and milk – suggest an additional perspective on the adoption of agriculture and the behavioural changes (‘civilisation’) that followed it. In this paper we review the evidence for the drug-like properties of these foods, and then show how they can help to solve the biological puzzle just described .
The emergence of agriculture and civilisation in the Neolithic
The transition to agriculture
From about 10,000 years ago, groups of people in several areas around the world began to abandon the foraging lifestyle that had been successful, universal and largely unchanged for millennia (Lee & DeVore 1968). They began to gather, then cultivate and settle around, patches of cereal grasses and to domesticate animals for meat, labour, skins and other materials, and milk.
Farming, based predominantly on wheat and barley, first appeared in the Middle East, and spread quickly to western Asia, Egypt and Europe. The earliest civilisations all relied primarily on cereal agriculture. Cultivation of fruit trees began three thousand years later, again in the MiddleEast, and vegetables and other crops followed (Zohari 1986). Cultivation of rice began in Asia about 7000 years ago (Stark 1986).
To this day, for most people, two-thirds of protein and calorie intake is cereal-derived. (In the west, in the twentieth century, cereal consumption has decreased slightly in favour of meat, sugar, fats and so on.) The respective contributions of each cereal to current total world production are: wheat (28 per cent), corn/maize (27 per cent), rice (25 per cent), barley (10 per cent), others (10 per cent) (Pedersen et al. 1989).
The change in the diet due to agriculture
The modern human diet is very different from that of closely related primates and, almost certainly, early hominids (Gordon 1987). Though there is controversy over what humans ate before the development of agriculture, the diet certainly did not include cereals and milk in appreciable quantities. The storage pits and processing tools necessary for significant consumption of cereals did not appear until the Neolithic (Washburn & Lancaster 1968). Dairy products were not available in quantity before the domestication of animals.
The early hominid diet (from about four million years ago), evolving as it did from that of primate ancestors, consisted primarily of fruits, nuts and other vegetable matter, and some meat – items that could be foraged for and eaten with little or no processing. Comparisons of primate and fossil-hominid anatomy, and of the types and distribution of plants eaten raw by modern chimpanzees, baboons and humans (Peters & O’Brien 1981, Kay 1985), as well as microscope analysis of wear patterns on fossil teeth (Walker 1981, Peuch et al.1983) suggest that australopithecines were ‘mainly frugivorous omnivores with a dietary pattern similar to that of modern chimpanzees’ (Susman 1987:171).
The diet of pre-agricultural but anatomically modern humans (from 30,000 years ago) diversified somewhat, but still consisted of meat, fruits, nuts, legumes, edible roots and tubers, with consumption of cereal seeds only increasing towards the end of the Pleistocene (e.g. Constantini 1989 and subsequent chapters in Harris and Hillman 1989).
The rise of civilisation
Within a few thousand years of the adoption of cereal agriculture, the old hunter-gatherer style of social organisation began to decline. Large, hierarchically organised societies appeared, centred around villages and then cities. With the rise of civilisation and the state came socioeconomic classes, job specialisation, governments and armies.
The size of populations living as coordinated units rose dramatically above pre-agricultural norms. While hunter-gatherers lived in egalitarian, autonomous bands of about 20 closely related persons, with at most a tribal level of organisation above that, early agricultural villages had 50 to 200 inhabitants, and early cities 10,000 or more. People ‘had to learn to curb deep-rooted forces which worked for increasing conflict and violence in large groups’ (Pfeiffer 1977:438).
Agriculture and civilisation meant the end of foraging – a subsistence method with shortterm goals and rewards – and the beginning (for most) of regular arduous work, oriented to future payoffs and the demands of superiors. ‘With the coming of large communities, families no longer cultivated the land for themselves and their immediate needs alone, but for strangers and for the future. They worked all day instead of a few hours a day, as hunter-gatherers had done. There were schedules, quotas, overseers, and punishments for slacking off’ (Pfeiffer 1977:21).
Explaining the origins of agriculture and civilisation
The phenomena of human agriculture and civilisation are ethologically interesting, because (1) virtually no other species lives this way, and (2) humans did not live this way until relatively recently. Why was this way of life adopted, and why has it become dominant in the human species?
Problems explaining agriculture
Until recent decades, the transition to farming was seen as an inherently progressive one: people learnt that planting seeds caused crops to grow, and this new improved food source led to larger populations, sedentary farm and town life, more leisure time and so to specialisation, writing, technological advances and civilisation. It is now clear that agriculture was adopted despite certain disadvantages of that lifestyle (e.g. Flannery 1973, Henry 1989). There is a substantial literature (e.g. Reed 1977), not only on how agriculture began, but why. Palaeopathological and comparative studies show that health deteriorated in populations that adopted cereal agriculture, returning to pre-agricultural levels only in modem times. This is in part attributable to the spread of infection in crowded cities, but is largely due to a decline in dietary quality that accompanied intensive cereal farming (Cohen 1989). People in many parts of the world remained hunter-gatherers until quite recently; though they were quite aware of the existence and methods of agriculture, they declined to undertake it (Lee & DeVore 1968, Harris 1977). Cohen (1977:141) summarised the problem by asking: ‘If agriculture provides neither better diet, nor greater dietary reliability, nor greater ease, but conversely appears to provide a poorer diet, less reliably, with greater labor costs, why does anyone become a farmer?’
Many explanations have been offered, usually centred around a particular factor that forced the adoption of agriculture, such as environmental or population pressure (for reviews see Rindos 1984, Pryor 1986, Redding 1988, Blumler & Byrne 1991). Each of these models has been criticised extensively, and there is at this time no generally accepted explanation of the origin of agriculture.
Problems explaining civilisation
A similar problem is posed by the post-agricultural appearance, all over the world, of cities and states, and again there is a large literature devoted to explaining it (e.g. Claessen & Skalnik 1978). The major behavioural changes made in adopting the civilised lifestyle beg explanation. Bledsoe (1987:136) summarised the situation thus:
‘There has never been and there is not now agreement on the nature and significance of the rise of civilisation. The questions posed by the problem are simple, yet fundamental. How did civilisation come about? What animus impelled man to forego the independence, intimacies, and invariability of tribal existence for the much larger and more impersonal political complexity we call the state? What forces fused to initiate the mutation that slowly transformed nomadic societies into populous cities with ethnic mixtures, stratified societies, diversified economies and unique cultural forms? Was the advent of civilisation the inevitable result of social evolution and natural laws of progress or was man the designer of his own destiny? Have technological innovations been the motivating force or was it some intangible factor such as religion or intellectual advancement?’
To a very good approximation, every civilisation that came into being had cereal agriculture as its subsistence base, and wherever cereals were cultivated, civilisation appeared. Some hypotheses have linked the two. For example, Wittfogel’s (1957) ‘hydraulic theory’ postulated that irrigation was needed for agriculture, and the state was in turn needed to organise irrigation. But not all civilisations used irrigation, and other possible factors (e.g. river valley placement, warfare, trade, technology, religion, and ecological and population pressure) have not led to a universally accepted model.
Pharmacological properties of cereals and milk
Recent research into the pharmacology of food presents a new perspective on these problems.
Exorphins: opioid substances in food
Prompted by a possible link between diet and mental illness, several researchers in the late 1970s began investigating the occurrence of drug-like substances in some common foodstuffs.
Dohan (1966, 1984) and Dohan et al. (1973, 1983) found that symptoms of schizophrenia were relieved somewhat when patients were fed a diet free of cereals and milk. He also found that people with coeliac disease – those who are unable to eat wheat gluten because of higher than normal permeability of the gut – were statistically likely to suffer also from schizophrenia. Research in some Pacific communities showed that schizophrenia became prevalent in these populations only after they became ‘partially westernised and consumed wheat, barley beer, and rice’ (Dohan 1984).
Groups led by Zioudrou (1979) and Brantl (1979) found opioid activity in wheat, maize and barley (exorphins), and bovine and human milk (casomorphin), as well as stimulatory activity in these proteins, and in oats, rye and soy. Cereal exorphin is much stronger than bovine casomorphin, which in turn is stronger than human casomorphin. Mycroft et al. (1982, 1987) found an analogue of MIF-1, a naturally occurring dopaminergic peptide, in wheat and milk. It occurs in no other exogenous protein. (In subsequent sections we use the term exorphin to cover exorphins, casomorphin, and the MIF-1 analogue. Though opioid and dopaminergic substances work in different ways, they are both ‘rewarding’, and thus more or less equivalent for our purposes.)
Since then, researchers have measured the potency of exorphins, showing them to be comparable to morphine and enkephalin (Heubner et al. 1984), determined their amino acid sequences (Fukudome &Yoshikawa 1992), and shown that they are absorbed from the intestine (Svedburg et al.1985) and can produce effects such as analgesia and reduction of anxiety which are usually associated with poppy-derived opioids (Greksch et al.1981, Panksepp et al.1984). Mycroft et al. estimated that 150 mg of the MIF-1 analogue could be produced by normal daily intake of cereals and milk, noting that such quantities are orally active, and half this amount ‘has induced mood alterations in clinically depressed subjects’ (Mycroft et al. 1982:895). (For detailed reviews see Gardner 1985 and Paroli 1988.)
Most common drugs of addiction are either opioid (e.g heroin and morphine) or dopaminergic (e.g. cocaine and amphetamine), and work by activating reward centres in the brain. Hence we may ask, do these findings mean that cereals and milk are chemically rewarding? Are humans somehow ‘addicted’ to these foods?
Problems in interpreting these findings
Discussion of the possible behavioural effects of exorphins, in normal dietary amounts, has been cautious. Interpretations of their significance have been of two types:
– where a pathological effect is proposed (usually by cereal researchers, and related to Dohan’s findings, though see also Ramabadran & Bansinath 1988), and
– where a natural function is proposed (by milk researchers, who suggest that casomorphin may help in mother-infant bonding or otherwise regulate infant development).
We believe that there can be no natural function for ingestion of exorphins by adult humans. It may be that a desire to find a natural function has impeded interpretation (as well as causing attention to focus on milk, where a natural function is more plausible) . It is unlikely that humans are adapted to a large intake of cereal exorphin, because the modern dominance of cereals in the diet is simply too new. If exorphin is found in cow’s milk, then it may have a natural function for cows; similarly, exorphins in human milk may have a function for infants. But whether this is so or not, adult humans do not naturally drink milk of any kind, so any natural function could not apply to them.
Our sympathies therefore lie with the pathological interpretation of exorphins, whereby substances found in cereals and milk are seen as modern dietary abnormalities which may cause schizophrenia, coeliac disease or whatever. But these are serious diseases found in a minority. Can exorphins be having an effect on humankind at large?
Other evidence for ‘drug-like’ effects of these foods
Research into food allergy has shown that normal quantities of some foods can have pharmacological, including behavioural, effects. Many people develop intolerances to particular foods. Various foods are implicated, and a variety of symptoms is produced. (The term ‘intolerance’ rather than allergy is often used, as in many cases the immune system may not be involved (Egger 1988:159). Some intolerance symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, epilepsy, hyperactivity, and schizophrenic episodes involve brain function (Egger 1988, Scadding & Brostoff 1988).
Radcliffe (1982, quoted in 1987:808) listed the foods at fault, in descending order of frequency, in a trial involving 50 people: wheat (more than 70 per cent of subjects reacted in some way to it), milk (60 per cent), egg (35 per cent), corn, cheese, potato, coffee, rice, yeast, chocolate, tea, citrus, oats, pork, plaice, cane, and beef (10 per cent). This is virtually a list of foods that have become common in the diet following the adoption of agriculture, in order of prevalence. The symptoms most commonly alleviated by treatment were mood change (>50 per cent) followed by headache, musculoskeletal and respiratory ailments.
One of the most striking phenomena in these studies is that patients often exhibit cravings, addiction and withdrawal symptoms with regard to these foods (Egger 1988:170, citing Randolph 1978; see also Radcliffe 1987:808-10, 814, Kroker 1987:856, 864, Sprague & Milam 1987:949, 953, Wraith 1987:489, 491). Brostoff and Gamlin (1989:103) estimated that 50 per cent of intolerance patients crave the foods that cause them problems, and experience withdrawal symptoms when excluding those foods from their diet. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to those associated with drug addictions (Radcliffe 1987:808). The possibility that exorphins are involved has been noted (Bell 1987:715), and Brostoff and Gamlin conclude (1989:230):
‘… the results so far suggest that they might influence our mood. There is certainly no question of anyone getting ‘high’ on a glass of milk or a slice of bread – the amounts involved are too small for that – but these foods might induce a sense of comfort and wellbeing, as food-intolerant patients often say they do. There are also other hormone-like peptides in partial digests of food, which might have other effects on the body.’
There is no possibility that craving these foods has anything to do with the popular notion of the body telling the brain what it needs for nutritional purposes. These foods were not significant in the human diet before agriculture, and large quantities of them cannot be necessary for nutrition. In fact, the standard way to treat food intolerance is to remove the offending items from the patient’s diet.
A suggested interpretation of exorphin research
But what are the effects of these foods on normal people? Though exorphins cannot have a naturally selected physiological function in humans, this does not mean that they have no effect. Food intolerance research suggests that cereals and milk, in normal dietary quantities, are capable of affecting behaviour in many people. And if severe behavioural effects in schizophrenics and coeliacs can be caused by higher than normal absorption of peptides, then more subtle effects, which may not even be regarded as abnormal, could be produced in people generally.
The evidence presented so far suggests the following interpretation.
The ingestion of cereals and milk, in normal modern dietary amounts by normal humans, activates reward centres in the brain. Foods that were common in the diet before agriculture (fruits and so on) do not have this pharmacological property. The effects of exorphins are qualitatively the same as those produced by other opioid and / or dopaminergic drugs, that is, reward, motivation, reduction of anxiety, a sense of wellbeing, and perhaps even addiction. Though the effects of a typical meal are quantitatively less than those of doses of those drugs, most modern humans experience them several times a day, every day of their adult lives.
Hypothesis: exorphins and the origin of agriculture and civilisation
When this scenario of human dietary practices is viewed in the light of the problem of the origin of agriculture described earlier, it suggests an hypothesis that combines the results of these lines of enquiry.
Exorphin researchers, perhaps lacking a long-term historical perspective, have generally not investigated the possibility that these foods really are drug-like, and have instead searched without success for exorphin’s natural function. The adoption of cereal agriculture and the subsequent rise of civilisation have not been satisfactorily explained, because the behavioural changes underlying them have no obvious adaptive basis.
These unsolved and until-now unrelated problems may in fact solve each other. The answer, we suggest, is this: cereals and dairy foods are not natural human foods, but rather are preferred because they contain exorphins. This chemical reward was the incentive for the adoption of cereal agriculture in the Neolithic. Regular self-administration of these substances facilitated the behavioural changes that led to the subsequent appearance of civilisation.
This is the sequence of events that we envisage.
Climatic change at the end of the last glacial period led to an increase in the size and concentration of patches of wild cereals in certain areas (Wright 1977). The large quantities of cereals newly available provided an incentive to try to make a meal of them. People who succeeded in eating sizeable amounts of cereal seeds discovered the rewarding properties of the exorphins contained in them. Processing methods such as grinding and cooking were developed to make cereals more edible. The more palatable they could be made, the more they were consumed, and the more important the exorphin reward became for more people.
At first, patches of wild cereals were protected and harvested. Later, land was cleared and seeds were planted and tended, to increase quantity and reliability of supply. Exorphins attracted people to settle around cereal patches, abandoning their nomadic lifestyle, and allowed them to display tolerance instead of aggression as population densities rose in these new conditions.
Though it was, we suggest, the presence of exorphins that caused cereals (and not an alternative already prevalent in the diet) to be the major early cultigens, this does not mean that cereals are ‘just drugs’. They have been staples for thousands of years, and clearly have nutritional value. However, treating cereals as ‘just food’ leads to difficulties in explaining why anyone bothered to cultivate them. The fact that overall health declined when they were incorporated into the diet suggests that their rapid, almost total replacement of other foods was due more to chemical reward than to nutritional reasons.
It is noteworthy that the extent to which early groups became civilised correlates with the type of agriculture they practised. That is, major civilisations (in south-west Asia, Europe, India, and east and parts of South-East Asia; central and parts of north and south America; Egypt, Ethiopia and parts of tropical and west Africa) stemmed from groups which practised cereal, particularly wheat, agriculture (Bender 1975:12, Adams 1987:201, Thatcher 1987:212). (The rarer nomadic civilisations were based on dairy farming.)
Groups which practised vegeculture (of fruits, tubers etc.), or no agriculture (in tropical and south Africa, north and central Asia, Australia, New Guinea and the Pacific, and much of north and south America) did not become civilised to the same extent.
Thus major civilisations have in common that their populations were frequent ingesters of exorphins. We propose that large, hierarchical states were a natural consequence among such populations. Civilisation arose because reliable, on-demand availability of dietary opioids to individuals changed their behaviour, reducing aggression, and allowed them to become tolerant of sedentary life in crowded groups, to perform regular work, and to be more easily subjugated by rulers. Two socioeconomic classes emerged where before there had been only one (Johnson & Earle 1987:270), thus establishing a pattern which has been prevalent since that time.
The natural diet and genetic change
Some nutritionists deny the notion of a pre-agricultural natural human diet on the basis that humans are omnivorous, or have adapted to agricultural foods (e.g. Garn & Leonard 1989; for the contrary view see for example Eaton & Konner 1985) . An omnivore, however, is simply an animal that eats both meat and plants: it can still be quite specialised in its preferences (chimpanzees are an appropriate example). A degree of omnivory in early humans might have preadapted them to some of the nutrients contained in cereals, but not to exorphins, which are unique to cereals.
The differential rates of lactase deficiency, coeliac disease and favism (the inability to metabolise fava beans) among modern racial groups are usually explained as the result of varying genetic adaptation to post-agricultural diets (Simopoulos 1990:27-9), and this could be thought of as implying some adaptation to exorphins as well. We argue that little or no such adaptation has occurred, for two reasons: first, allergy research indicates that these foods still cause abnormal reactions in many people, and that susceptibility is variable within as well as between populations, indicating that differential adaptation is not the only factor involved. Second, the function of the adaptations mentioned is to enable humans to digest those foods, and if they are adaptations, they arose because they conferred a survival advantage. But would susceptibility to the rewarding effects of exorphins lead to lower, or higher, reproductive success? One would expect in general that an animal with a supply of drugs would behave less adaptively and so lower its chances of survival. But our model shows how the widespread exorphin ingestion in humans has led to increased population. And once civilisation was the norm, non-susceptibility to exorphins would have meant not fitting in with society. Thus, though there may be adaptation to the nutritional content of cereals, there will be little or none to exorphins. In any case, while contemporary humans may enjoy the benefits of some adaptation to agricultural diets, those who actually made the change ten thousand years ago did not.
Other ‘non-nutritional’ origins of agriculture models
We are not the first to suggest a non-nutritional motive for early agriculture. Hayden (1990) argued that early cultigens and trade items had more prestige value than utility, and suggested that agriculture began because the powerful used its products for competitive feasting and accrual of wealth. Braidwood et al. (1953) and later Katz and Voigt (1986) suggested that the incentive for cereal cultivation was the production of alcoholic beer:
‘Under what conditions would the consumption of a wild plant resource be sufficiently important to lead to a change in behaviour (experiments with cultivation) in order to ensure an adequate supply of this resource? If wild cereals were in fact a minor part of the diet, any argument based on caloric need is weakened. It is our contention that the desire for alcohol would constitute a perceived psychological and social need that might easily prompt changes in subsistence behaviour’ (Katz & Voigt 1986:33).
This view is clearly compatible with ours. However there may be problems with an alcohol hypothesis: beer may have appeared after bread and other cereal products, and been consumed less widely or less frequently (Braidwood et al. 1953). Unlike alcohol, exorphins are present in all these products. This makes the case for chemical reward as the motive for agriculture much stronger. Opium poppies, too, were an early cultigen (Zohari 1986). Exorphin, alcohol, and opium are primarily rewarding (as opposed to the typically hallucinogenic drugs used by some hunter-gatherers) and it is the artificial reward which is necessary, we claim, for civilisation. Perhaps all three were instrumental in causing civilised behaviour to emerge.
Cereals have important qualities that differentiate them from most other drugs. They are a food source as well as a drug, and can be stored and transported easily. They are ingested in frequent small doses (not occasional large ones), and do not impede work performance in most people. A desire for the drug, even cravings or withdrawal, can be confused with hunger. These features make cereals the ideal facilitator of civilisation (and may also have contributed to the long delay in recognising their pharmacological properties).
Compatibility, limitations, more data needed
Our hypothesis is not a refutation of existing accounts of the origins of agriculture, but rather fits alongside them, explaining why cereal agriculture was adopted despite its apparent disadvantages and how it led to civilisation.
Gaps in our knowledge of exorphins limit the generality and strength of our claims. We do not know whether rice, millet and sorghum, nor grass species which were harvested by African and Australian hunter-gatherers, contain exorphins. We need to be sure that preagricultural staples do not contain exorphins in amounts similar to those in cereals. We do not know whether domestication has affected exorphin content or-potency. A test of our hypothesis by correlation of diet and degree of civilisation in different populations will require quantitative knowledge of the behavioural effects of all these foods.
We do not comment on the origin of noncereal agriculture, nor why some groups used a combination of foraging and farming, reverted from farming to foraging, or did not farm at all. Cereal agriculture and civilisation have, during the past ten thousand years, become virtually universal. The question, then, is not why they happened here and not there, but why they took longer to become established in some places than in others. At all times and places, chemical reward and the influence of civilisations already using cereals weighed in favour of adopting this lifestyle, the disadvantages of agriculture weighed against it, and factors such as climate, geography, soil quality, and availability of cultigens influenced the outcome. There is a recent trend to multi-causal models of the origins of agriculture (e.g. Redding 1988, Henry 1989), and exorphins can be thought of as simply another factor in the list. Analysis of the relative importance of all the factors involved, at all times and places, is beyond the scope of this paper.
‘An animal is a survival machine for the genes that built it. We too are animals, and we too are survival machines for our genes. That is the theory. In practice it makes a lot of sense when we look at wild animals…. It is very different when we look at ourselves. We appear to be a serious exception to the Darwinian law…. It obviously just isn’t true that most of us spend our time working energetically for the preservation of our genes’ (Dawkins 1989:138).
Many ethologists have acknowledged difficulties in explaining civilised human behaviour on evolutionary grounds, in some cases suggesting that modern humans do not always behave adaptively . Yet since agriculture began, the human population has risen by a factor of 1000: Irons (1990) notes that ‘population growth is not the expected effect of maladaptive behaviour’.
We have reviewed evidence from several areas of research which shows that cereals and dairy foods have drug-like properties, and shown how these properties may have been the incentive for the initial adoption of agriculture. We suggested further that constant exorphin intake facilitated the behavioural changes and subsequent population growth of civilisation, by increasing people’s tolerance of (a) living in crowded sedentary conditions, (b) devoting effort to the benefit of non-kin, and (c) playing a subservient role in a vast hierarchical social structure.
Cereals are still staples, and methods of artificial reward have diversified since that time, including today a wide range of pharmacological and non-pharmacological cultural artifacts whose function, ethologically speaking, is to provide reward without adaptive benefit. It seems reasonable then to suggest that civilisation not only arose out of self-administration of artificial reward, but is maintained in this way among contemporary humans. Hence a step towards resolution of the problem of explaining civilised human behaviour may be to incorporate into ethological models this widespread distortion of behaviour by artificial reward.
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Another Navy SEAL bites the Dust – Targeted Hit?
CTC officially labels sovereigns, anti-federalists & Anti-NWO people ‘terrorists’
Drone Memo Leaked – White House Justifies Extra-Judicial Killing HOW??
John Brennan isn’t allowed to legally say whether water boarding is torture (yet still claims drone striking americans is ‘legal’)
How the Sandy Hook Gun Grab is BACKFIRING!
Laws being passed that make it a crime to investigate or even report on Agriculture industry abuse, corruption, violations, etc.
Yet More Evidence Emerges that our Universe is a Grand Simulation Created by an Intelligent Designer
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Everything you need to know about GMO’s, FDA banning Natural Supplements, Dangers of Genetically Modified Organisms, Must-Avoid GMO foods, Testing Results & Long Term Effects, How to Check for Contaminates, Organic Best Practices, Corrupted Power Players, Government-Corporate Overlap and breaking free free from Synthetic Nature Substitutes!
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In the wake of a 12-year battle to keep Monsanto’s Genetically Engineered (GE) crops from contaminating the nation’s 25,000 organic farms and ranches, America’s organic consumers and producers are facing betrayal. A self-appointed cabal of the Organic Elite, spearheaded by Whole Foods Market, Organic Valley, andStonyfield Farm, has decided it’s time to surrender to Monsanto. Top executives from these companies have publicly admitted that they no longer oppose the mass commercialization of GE crops, such as Monsanto’s controversial Roundup Ready alfalfa, and are prepared to sit down and cut a deal for “coexistence” with Monsanto and USDA biotech cheerleader Tom Vilsack.
In a cleverly worded, but profoundly misleading email sent to its customers last week, Whole Foods Market, while proclaiming their support for organics and “seed purity,” gave the green light to USDA bureaucrats to approve the “conditional deregulation” of Monsanto’s genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant alfalfa. Beyond the regulatory euphemism of “conditional deregulation,” this means that WFM and their colleagues are willing to go along with the massive planting of a chemical and energy-intensive GE perennial crop, alfalfa; guaranteed to spread its mutant genes and seeds across the nation; guaranteed to contaminate the alfalfa fed to organic animals; guaranteed to lead to massive poisoning of farm workers and destruction of the essential soil food web by the toxic herbicide, Roundup; and guaranteed to produce Roundup-resistant superweeds that will require even more deadly herbicides such as 2,4 D to be sprayed on millions of acres of alfalfa across the U.S.
In exchange for allowing Monsanto’s premeditated pollution of the alfalfa gene pool, WFM wants “compensation.” In exchange for a new assault on farmworkers and rural communities (a recent large-scale Swedish study found that spraying Roundup doubles farm workers’ and rural residents’ risk of getting cancer), WFM expects the pro-biotech USDA to begin to regulate rather than cheerlead for Monsanto. In payment for a new broad spectrum attack on the soil’s crucial ability to provide nutrition for food crops and to sequester dangerous greenhouse gases (recent studies show that Roundup devastates essential soil microorganisms that provide plant nutrition and sequester climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases), WFM wants the Biotech Bully of St. Louis to agree to pay “compensation” (i.e. hush money) to farmers “for any losses related to the contamination of his crop.”
In its email of Jan. 21, 2011 WFM calls for “public oversight by the USDA rather than reliance on the biotechnology industry,” even though WFM knows full well that federal regulations on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) do not require pre-market safety testing, nor labeling; and that even federal judges have repeatedly ruled that so-called government “oversight” of Frankencrops such as Monsanto’s sugar beets and alfalfa is basically a farce. At the end of its email, WFM admits that its surrender to Monsanto is permanent: “The policy set for GE alfalfa will most likely guide policies for other GE crops as well True coexistence is a must.”
Why Is Organic Inc. Surrendering?
According to informed sources, the CEOs of WFM and Stonyfield are personal friends of former Iowa governor, now USDA Secretary, Tom Vilsack, and in fact made financial contributions to Vilsack’s previous electoral campaigns. Vilsack was hailed as “Governor of the Year” in 2001 by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, and traveled in a Monsanto corporate jet on the campaign trail. Perhaps even more fundamental to Organic Inc.’s abject surrender is the fact that the organic elite has become more and more isolated from the concerns and passions of organic consumers and locavores.
The Organic Inc. CEOs are tired of activist pressure, boycotts, and petitions. Several of them have told me this to my face. They apparently believe that the battle against GMOs has been lost, and that it’s time to reach for the consolation prize. The consolation prize they seek is a so-called “coexistence” between the biotech Behemoth and the organic community that will lull the public to sleep and greenwash the unpleasant fact that Monsanto’s unlabeled and unregulated genetically engineered crops are now spreading their toxic genes on 1/3 of U.S. (and 1/10 of global) crop land.
WFM and most of the largest organic companies have deliberately separated themselves from anti-GMO efforts and cut off all funding to campaigns working to label or ban GMOs. The so-called Non-GMO Project, funded by Whole Foods and giant wholesaler United Natural Foods (UNFI) is basically a greenwashing effort (although the 100% organic companies involved in this project seem to be operating in good faith) to show that certified organic foods are basically free from GMOs (we already know this since GMOs are banned in organic production), while failing to focus on so-called “natural” foods, which constitute most of WFM and UNFI’s sales and are routinely contaminated with GMOs.
From their “business as usual” perspective, successful lawsuits against GMOs filed by public interest groups such as the Center for Food Safety; or noisy attacks on Monsanto by groups like the Organic Consumers Association, create bad publicity, rattle their big customers such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kroger, Costco, Supervalu, Publix and Safeway; and remind consumers that organic crops and foods such as corn, soybeans, and canola are slowly but surely becoming contaminated by Monsanto’s GMOs.
Whole Foods’ Dirty Little Secret: Most of the So-Called “Natural” Processed Foods and Animal Products They Sell Are Contaminated with GMOs
The main reason, however, why Whole Foods is pleading for coexistence with Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, BASF and the rest of the biotech bullies, is that they desperately want the controversy surrounding genetically engineered foods and crops to go away. Why? Because they know, just as we do, that 2/3 of WFM’s $9 billion annual sales is derived from so-called “natural” processed foods and animal products that are contaminated with GMOs. We and our allies have tested their so-called “natural” products (no doubt WFM’s lab has too) containing non-organic corn and soy, and guess what: they’re all contaminated with GMOs, in contrast to their certified organic products, which are basically free of GMOs, or else contain barely detectable trace amounts.
Approximately 2/3 of the products sold by Whole Foods Market and their main distributor, United Natural Foods (UNFI) are not certified organic, but rather are conventional (chemical-intensive and GMO-tainted) foods and products disguised as “natural.”
Unprecedented wholesale and retail control of the organic marketplace by UNFI and Whole Foods, employing a business model of selling twice as much so-called “natural” food as certified organic food, coupled with the takeover of many organic companies by multinational food corporations such as Dean Foods, threatens the growth of the organic movement.
Covering Up GMO Contamination: Perpetrating “Natural” Fraud
Many well-meaning consumers are confused about the difference between conventional products marketed as “natural,” and those nutritionally/ environmentally superior and climate-friendly products that are “certified organic.”
Retail stores like WFM and wholesale distributors like UNFI have failed to educate their customers about the qualitative difference between natural and certified organic, conveniently glossing over the fact that nearly all of the processed “natural” foods and products they sell contain GMOs, or else come from a “natural” supply chain where animals are force-fed GMO grains in factory farms or Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).
A troubling trend in organics today is the calculated shift on the part of certain large formerly organic brands from certified organic ingredients and products to so-called “natural” ingredients. With the exception of the “grass-fed and grass-finished” meat sector, most “natural” meat, dairy, and eggs are coming from animals reared on GMO grains and drugs, and confined, entirely, or for a good portion of their lives, in CAFOs.
Whole Foods and UNFI are maximizing their profits by selling quasi-natural products at premium organic prices. Organic consumers are increasingly left without certified organic choices while genuine organic farmers and ranchers continue to lose market share to “natural” imposters. It’s no wonder that less than 1% of American farmland is certified organic, while well-intentioned but misled consumers have boosted organic and “natural” purchases to $80 billion annually-approximately 12% of all grocery store sales.
The Solution: Truth-in-Labeling Will Enable Consumers to Drive So-Called “Natural” GMO and CAFO-Tainted Foods Off the Market
There can be no such thing as “coexistence” with a reckless industry that undermines public health, destroys biodiversity, damages the environment, tortures and poisons animals, destabilizes the climate, and economically devastates the world’s 1.5 billion seed-saving small farmers.
There is no such thing as coexistence between GMOs and organics in the European Union. Why? Because in the EU there are almost no GMO crops under cultivation, nor GM consumer food products on supermarket shelves. And why is this? Because under EU law, all foods containing GMOs or GMO ingredients must be labeled. Consumers have the freedom to choose or not to choose GMOs; while farmers, food processors, and retailers have (at least legally) the right to lace foods with GMOs, as long as they are safety-tested and labeled.
Of course the EU food industry understands that consumers, for the most part, do not want to purchase or consume GE foods. European farmers and food companies, even junk food purveyors like McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, understand quite well the concept expressed by a Monsanto executive when GMOs first came on the market: “If you put a label on genetically engineered food you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”
The biotech industry and Organic Inc. are supremely conscious of the fact that North American consumers, like their European counterparts, are wary and suspicious of GMO foods. Even without a PhD, consumers understand you don’t want your food safety or environmental sustainability decisions to be made by out-of-control chemical companies like Monsanto, Dow, or Dupont – the same people who brought you toxic pesticides, Agent Orange, PCBs, and now global warming.
Industry leaders are acutely aware of the fact that every single industry or government poll over the last 16 years has shown that 85-95% of American consumers want mandatory labels on GMO foods. Why? So that we can avoid buying them. GMO foods have absolutely no benefits for consumers or the environment, only hazards. This is why Monsanto and their friends in the Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations have prevented consumer GMO truth-in-labeling laws from getting a public discussion in Congress.
Although Congressman Dennis Kucinich (Democrat, Ohio) recently introduced a bill in Congress calling for mandatory labeling and safety testing for GMOs, don’t hold your breath for Congress to take a stand for truth-in-labeling and consumers’ right to know what’s in their food. Especially since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the so-called Citizens United case gave big corporations and billionaires the right to spend unlimited amounts of money (and remain anonymous, as they do so) to buy media coverage and elections, our chances of passing federal GMO labeling laws against the wishes of Monsanto and Food Inc. are all but non-existent.
Perfectly dramatizing the “Revolving Door” between Monsanto and the Federal Government, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, formerly chief counsel for Monsanto, delivered one of the decisive votes in the Citizens United case, in effect giving Monsanto and other biotech bullies the right to buy the votes it needs in the U.S. Congress.
With big money controlling Congress and the media, we have little choice but to shift our focus and go local. We’ve got to concentrate our forces where our leverage and power lie, in the marketplace, at the retail level; pressuring retail food stores to voluntarily label their products; while on the legislative front we must organize a broad coalition to pass mandatory GMO (and CAFO) labeling laws, at the city, county, and state levels.
The Organic Consumers Association, joined by our consumer, farmer, environmental, and labor allies, has just launched a nationwide Truth-in-Labeling campaign to stop Monsanto and the Biotech Bullies from force-feeding unlabeled GMOs to animals and humans.
Utilizing scientific data, legal precedent, and consumer power the OCA and our local coalitions will educate and mobilize at the grassroots level to pressure giant supermarket chains (Wal-Mart, Kroger, Costco, Safeway, Supervalu, and Publix) and natural food retailers such as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s to voluntarily implement “truth-in-labeling” practices for GMOs and CAFO products; while simultaneously organizing a critical mass to pass mandatory local and state truth-in-labeling ordinances – similar to labeling laws already in effect for country of origin, irradiated food, allergens, and carcinogens.
If local and state government bodies refuse to take action, wherever possible we must attempt to gather sufficient petition signatures and place these truth-in-labeling initiatives directly on the ballot in 2011 or 2012. If you’re interested in helping organize or coordinate a Millions Against Monsanto and Factory Farms Truth-in-Labeling campaign in your local community, sign up here:http://organicconsumers.org/oca-volunteer/
To pressure Whole Foods Market and the nation’s largest supermarket chains to voluntarily adopt truth-in-labeling practices sign here, and circulate this petition widely:http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_22309.cfm
And please stay tuned to Organic Bytes for the latest developments in our campaigns.
Power to the People! Not the Corporations!
Jan. 28 Response by Whole Foods Market:
Many people have asked us why we endorsed the coexistence option rather than an outright ban on GE alfalfa. That was never an option in Washington! The USDA presented the industry with only two options that they were considering– deregulation and deregulation with restrictions. Given the pervasive planting of GE crops in the U.S. – 93% of soy, 86% of corn, 93% of cotton and 93% of canola seed planted were genetically engineered in the U.S. in 2010 – the option of an outright ban was not on the table. Whole Foods Market — along with the National Cooperative Grocers Association, the National Organic Coalition, the Organic Trade Association, and other companies and groups — endorsed the path of deregulation with restrictions, or coexistence, not because it was a perfect path, but because it was a path to create meaningful change right now in the regulating of genetically engineered foods and the protection of non-GE foods. (Read the full response.)
Not so simple. Where are farmers supposed to get normal seed these days? How are they supposed to avoid contamination of their fields from GM-crops? How are they supposed to stop Monsanto detectives from trespassing or Monsanto from using helicopters to fly over spying on them?
Monsanto contaminates the fields, trespasses onto the land taking samples and if they find any GMO plants growing there (or say they have), they then sue, saying they own the crop. It’s a way to make money since farmers can’t fight back and court and they settle because they have no choice.
And they have done and are doing a bucket load of things to keep farmers and everyone else from having any access at all to buying, collecting, and saving of NORMAL seeds.
1. They’ve bought up the seed companies across the Midwest.
2. They’ve written Monsanto seed laws and gotten legislators to put them through, that make cleaning, collecting and storing of seeds so onerous in terms of fees and paperwork and testing and tracking every variety and being subject to fines, that having normal seed becomes almost impossible (an NAIS approach to wiping out normal seeds). Does your state have such a seed law? Before they existed, farmers just collected the seeds and put them in sacks in the shed and used them the next year, sharing whatever they wished with friends and neighbors, selling some if they wanted. That’s been killed.
In Illinois, which has such a seed law, Madigan, the Speaker of the House, his staff is Monsanto lobbyists.
3. Monsanto is pushing anti-democracy laws (Vilsack’s brainchild, actually) that remove community’ control over their own counties so farmers and citizens can’t block the planting of GMO crops even if they can contaminate other crops. So if you don’t want a GM-crop that grows industrial chemicals or drugs or a rice growing with human DNA in it, in your area and mixing with your crops, tough luck.
Check the map of just where the Monsanto/Vilsack laws are and see if your state is still a democracy or is Monsanto’s. A farmer in Illinois told me he heard that Bush had pushed through some regulation that made this true in every state. People need to check on that.
4. For sure there are Monsanto regulations buried in the FDA right now that make a farmer’s seed cleaning equipment illegal (another way to leave nothing but GM-seeds) because it’s now considered a “source of seed contamination.” Farmer can still seed clean but the equipment now has to be certified and a farmer said it would require a million to a million and half dollar building and equipment … for EACH line of seed. Seed storage facilities are also listed (another million?) and harvesting and transport equipment. And manure. Something that can contaminate seed. Notice that chemical fertilizers and pesticides are not mentioned.
You could eat manure and be okay (a little grossed out but okay). Try that with pesticides and fertilizers. Indian farmers have. Their top choice for how to commit suicide to escape the debt they have been left in is to drink Monsanto pesticides.
5. Monsanto is picking off seed cleaners across the Midwest. In Pilot Grove, Missouri, in Indiana (Maurice Parr), and now in southern Illinois (Steve Hixon). And they are using US marshals and state troopers and county police to show up in three cars to serve the poor farmers who had used Hixon as their seed cleaner, telling them that he or their neighbors turned them in, so across that 6 county areas, no one talking to neighbors and people are living in fear and those farming communities are falling apart from the suspicion Monsanto sowed. Hixon’s office got broken into and he thinks someone put a GPS tracking device on his equipment and that’s how Monsanto found between 200-400 customers in very scattered and remote areas, and threatened them all and destroyed his business within 2 days.
So, after demanding that seed cleaners somehow be able to tell one seed from another (or be sued to kingdom come) or corrupting legislatures to put in laws about labeling of seeds that are so onerous no one can cope with them, what is Monsanto’s attitude about labeling their own stuff? You guessed it – they’re out there pushing laws against ANY labeling of their own GM-food and animals and of any exports to other countries. Why?
We know and they know why.
As Norman Braksick, the president of Asgrow Seed Co. (now owned by Monsanto) predicted in the Kansas City Star (3/7/94) seven years ago, “If you put a label on a genetically engineered food, you might as well put a skull and crossbones on it.”
And they’ve sued dairy farmers for telling the truth about their milk being rBGH-free, though rBGH is associated with an increased risk of breast, colon and prostate cancers.
I just heard that some seed dealers urge farmers to buy the seed under the seed dealer’s name, telling the farmers it helps the dealer get a discount on seed to buy a lot under their own name. Then Monsanto sues the poor farmer for buying their seed without a contract and extorts huge sums from them.
Here’s a youtube video that is worth your time. Vandana Shiva is one of the leading anti-Monsanto people in the world. In this video, she says (and this video is old), Monsanto had sued 1500 farmers whose fields had simply been contaminated by GM-crops. Listen to all the ways Monsanto goes after farmers.
Do you know the story of Gandhi in India and how the British had salt laws that taxed salt? The British claimed it as theirs. Gandhi had what was called a Salt Satyagraha, in which people were asked to break the laws and march to the sea and collect the salt without paying the British. A kind of Boston tea party, I guess.
Thousands of people marched 240 miles to the ocean where the British were waiting. As people moved forward to collect the salt, the British soldiers clubbed them but the people kept coming. The non-violent protest exposed the British behavior, which was so revolting to the world that it helped end British control in India.
Vandana Shiva has started a Seed Satyagraha – nonviolent non-cooperation around seed laws – has gotten millions of farmers to sign a pledge to break those laws.
American farmers and cattlemen might appreciate what Gandhi fought for and what Shiva is bringing back and how much it is about what we are all so angry about – loss of basic freedoms. [The highlighting is mine.]
The Seed Satyagraha is the name for the nonviolent, noncooperative movement that Dr. Shiva has organized to stand against seed monopolies. According to Dr. Shiva, the name was inspired by Gandhi’s famous walk to the Dandi Beach, where he picked up salt and said, “You can’t monopolize this which we need for life.” But it’s not just the noncooperation aspect of the movement that is influenced by Gandhi. The creative side saving seeds, trading seeds, farming without corporate dependence–without their chemicals, without their seed.
” All this is talked about in the language that Gandhi left us as a legacy. We work with three key concepts.”
” (One) Swadeshi…which means the capacity to do your own thing–produce your own food, produce your own goods….”
“(Two) Swaraj–to govern yourself. And we fight on three fronts–water, food, and seed. JalSwaraj is water independence–water freedom and water sovereignty. Anna Swaraj is food freedom, food sovereignty. And Bija Swaraj is seed freedom and seed sovereignty. Swa means self–that which rises from the self and is very, very much a deep notion of freedom.
“I believe that these concepts, which are deep, deep, deep in Indian civilization, Gandhi resurrected them to fight for freedom. They are very important for today’s world because so far what we’ve had is centralized state rule, giving way now to centralized corporate control, and we need a third alternate. That third alternate is, in part, citizens being able to tell their state, ‘This is what your function is. This is what your obligations are,’ and being able to have their states act on corporations to say, ‘This is something you cannot do.’”
” (Three) Satyagraha, non-cooperation, basically saying, ‘We will do our thing and any law that tries to say that (our freedom) is illegal… we will have to not cooperate with it. We will defend our freedoms to have access to water, access to seed, access to food, access to medicine.’”Read more
The US government has for the first time signed off on a large-scale experiment involving genetically modified crops, which will lead to biotech big shot Monsanto introducing an engineered corn seed across America from South Dakota to Texas.
The Monsanto Corporation has been given the go-ahead to test out a man-made corn variant that they claim can thrive in dry, unfavorable conditions. With much of the American south and southwest experiencing abnormally arid conditions, the freak-seed could revitalize a chunk of the nation’s agriculture.
More likely, however, is that a success will mean revitalization in terms of Monsanto’s profits and not much more.
The government has agreed to let Monsanto test out the biotech crop on farms owned by the company from the state of South Dakota down through Texas to see if the seed stands to be commercially viable; if so, it is expected to be made available for purchase in 2013. With America’s small-time agriculturists in danger — and already largely threatened by industry giant Monsanto — a success for the seed could see yet more farmers finding themselves unable to compete and forced to throw in the towel.
Monsanto has in recent years attracted criticism for questionable legal practices after it has introduced lawsuits against small-time farmers for the unauthorized use of genetically-modified crops patented by the corporation. In many instances, it is believed that the smaller farms in question only ended up with Monsanto seeds due to wind, rodents and other forces of nature bringing the crops across corporate farms and onto their own terrain. Unable to compete against Monsanto in court, however, the company has time-and-time-again bought out its competition and, as a result, made great strides as of late in terms of monopolizing the seed biz.
Last month Jim Gerritsen, president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, issued a statement saying he and others were serious about saving farms from being forced to close due to corporate muscling. “Monsanto’s threats and abuse of family farmers stops here,” said Gerritsen. “Monsanto’s genetic contamination of organic seed and organic crops ends now. Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace — to decide what kind of food they will feed their families — and we are taking this action on their behalf to protect that right to choose.”
Around 300,000 organic farmers are currently awaiting a court decision to see if a US District Court will hear a lawsuit against Monsanto that, if successful, will keep the company from continuing to sue small-time agriculturists. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto tackled 144 organic farms with lawsuits and investigated roughly 500 plantations annually during that span with their so-called “seed police.” Gerritsen and others want to see to it that Monsanto can’t do that anymore, but if they are denied a day in court and the new corn crop prevails, it could soon be the final curtain call for many of America’s independent farmers.
Governmental approval of the modified crop marks the first time that the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has okayed a product that has been genetically engineered to resist a weather condition such as a drought, rather than a pest or herbicide. Acting on concerns that Washington has been overly encouraging to Monsanto as they force farms into foreclosure, US-based non-profit group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility went after the White House recently for ignoring Freedom of Information Act requests. Members of PEER suspect that if they can come into possession of certain correspondence, they can link the Obama administration to key lobbyists for Monsanto.
Protesters with the Occupy Wall Street movement in the region Monsanto plans to test its new seed are holding a conference this weekend in St. Louis, dubbed Occupy Midwest. Members of the group say they intend on waging a demonstration against Monsanto, which has offices in the area.Read more
“Farmers worldwide are resisting for food sovereignty, but the rest of the world must join us.”
A report released today shows that worldwide opposition to the biotechnology giant Monsanto and “the agro-industrial model that it represents” is growing.
La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International, and Combat Monsanto, the groups who issued the report, show that small farmers, groups and communities in every continent are rising up to resist Monsanto’s products and environmental harm. While Monsanto’s — and other giant agribusinesses’ — approach, including genetically modified crops, has been shown to hurt biodiversity, local food knowledge and the environment, the report shows that “food sovereignty is a real and feasible alternative.”
“This new report documents the intense opposition to this powerful transnational company, which peddles its genetically modified products seemingly without regard for the associated social, economic and environmental costs,” said Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth International’s Food Sovereignty programme coordinator.
“This report demonstrates that the increasingly vocal objections from social movements and civil society organisations are having an impact on the introduction of GM crops.” said Josie Riffaud from La Via Campesina.
The report notes that an “unprecedented agribusiness offensive underway, under the banner of the new ‘green economy’” positioning giant agribusiness companies like Monsanto to have even greater control. The report’s highlighting the “offensive” echoes a report issued last month on global water security from the Defense Intelligence Agency that also pushed biotechnology and agricultural exports rather than agroecology and food sovereignty.
“Who will hold Monsanto responsible for the global depletion of biodiversity, soil erosion, and violations of peasant rights wrought by the application of petroleum-based inputs required by industrial agriculture?” asked Dena Hoff of the National Family Farm Coalition / La Via Campesina North America. “Farmers worldwide are resisting for food sovereignty, but the rest of the world must join us,” she added.
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Selections from the report:
‘Les Faucheurs Volontaires’: tactical non-violent resistance against GM
The Voluntary Reapers or ‘Faucheurs Volontaires’ are a group of self-organised non-violent French activists that have led several direct actions to ‘neutralise’ field tests set up by GM corporations and, to a lesser extent, unauthorised fields cultivated by pro-GM farmers. Jose Bové has been an important actor in the movement and a spokesman for the anti-GM activists, although this organisation does not recognise any leadership as such.
The Voluntary Reapers act openly and unmasked, and they claim responsibility for all their actions, sometimes turning themselves in to the police. They argue that civil disobedience is necessary in order to strengthen democracy and defend the common good against private interests backed by public authorities. They personally assume the civil and penal consequences of their actions in court, and use these trials to deliver their views against Monsanto and GMOs to the public.
In August 2010, 60 faucheurs volontaires and 15 farmers were sentenced to two months suspended prison sentences, after they tore up 70 GM grapevines, which were being cultivated as part of a GM trial in Colmar in Alsace, in north-eastern France.
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In August 2011, energised by the success in achieving a temporary ban on Bt brinjal, farmers and activists carried out ‘Monsanto, Quit India’ protests across the country to coincide with Independence Day, drawing parallels with the anti-colonial, civil disobedience ‘Quit India’ movement that campaigned against British rule. Just as political sovereignty was demanded previously, farmers and consumers are now calling for food sovereignty. Monsanto is targeted as it is an archetypal, aggressive foreign corporation that hurts farmers and small-scale, safe domestic food producers.
The Tamil Nadu Farmers’ Association, for example, organised a day of action in Coimbatore, mobilising in solidarity with other farmers opposing the monopolisation of the Indian seed industry by corporations like Monsanto.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Bhartiya Kissan Union led a five-day long protest against GM crop trials, celebrating the agro-ecological approaches that have successfully produced high rice yields in the region. Other protests have taken place in the states of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat.68
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Haitians oppose seed aid
In June 2010, more than 10,000 Haitians took to the streets under the initiative of Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP), a member of La Via Campesina, to oppose Monsanto and demand food sovereignty, including local control over native seeds. This popular opposition to Monsanto stems from its announcement, in May 2010, that it had made a shipment of over 60 tons of hybrid maize and vegetable seeds to Haiti and anticipated sending another 400 tons over the next year, with the support of USAID. But these hybrid seeds cannot be replanted from one season to another and require massive amounts of pesticides, making farmers dependent on corporate seed and chemicals producers. Monsanto stated that this decision was made at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and it seems that Haitian officials were not involved in the discussions.
Haitian peasant leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste from the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP), part of La Via Campesina, has described Monsanto’s seed aid as the “next earthquake.” This donation sparked suspicion and anger as the local seed heritage is vanishing because of the increasing domination of multinational seed and agrochemical corporations. Globally, FAO estimates that in the last century around 75% of genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost. InHaiti, around 65% of the population is made up of subsistence farmers living in rural areas.
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(Related video: Haitian farmers burning Monsanto’s “gift” of seeds:)
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Stopping the spread of GM crops into national wildlife refuges
According to the non-profit alliance of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the US government has been collaborating with Monsanto to secure agricultural export markets, removing barriers to the spread of GM crops, including into national wildlife refuges.
However, most of these crops are modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which is causing an over-reliance on these toxic agricultural chemicals that have spawned an epidemic of herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’. The spread of these superweeds within national wildlife refuges could have a devastating impact on biodiversity.
Nevertheless, in recent years farming on these refuges has been opened up to GMOs, primarily Monsanto’s Roundup resistant crops. However, legal battles led by PEER and the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) forced the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) to end the planting of GM crops in 12 states.
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South African farmers reject GM maize
A solid body of scientific evidence shows that organic matter is the most important trait in making soils more resilient to drought and erratic rainfall. No such evidence exists for GM crops. Biotechnology has proved unable to develop drought-resistant seeds, which would require major changes to the plant’s metabolism; and no GM crops have yet been developed that are yield enhancing.
In October 2011, however, South African authorities approved imports of Bayer CropScience’s GM rice, LL62, which is engineered to be resistant to glufosinate ammonium. Famers and civil society organisations strongly opposed this decision on the grounds that it may contaminate non-GM rice varieties. Moreover, the herbicide glufosinate is toxic, can be harmful for reproductive health, and is therefore slated for an EU ban in the near future.
In the same month, the Lutzville Emerging Farmers Forum and the Food Sovereignty Campaign protested alongside residents of this West Coast region, to reject the GM maize experiments for drought resistance being conducted by Monsanto in collaboration with South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council (ARC). Monsanto’s engineered traits are present in an estimated 75% of all GM maize cultivated in South Africa.
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As shown in this report, Monsanto and agribusiness in general are increasingly unwelcome wherever they operate. They ruin local agriculture and harm communities with their attempts to dominate food production systems.
As a result of Monsanto’s presence, local seeds are becoming illegal, biodiversity is disappearing, land is being contaminated, and farmers and agricultural workers are being poisoned, criminalised and displaced from their land. Local food producers aiming to feed communities have to compete with huge corporations whose sole objective is to make profits. […]
We are calling for collective action from all of those who share our vision of a sustainable world. There has never been a more important time to globalise our struggles, and globalise hope.
By: Common Dreams, April 4, 2012Read more
Energy-intensive industrial farming practices that rely on toxic chemicals and genetically engineered crops are not just undermining public health–they’re destroying the planet. Here’s how:
#1 Generating Massive Greenhouse Gas Pollution (CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide) and Global Warming; While Promoting False Solutions Such as Industrial Biofuels, So-Called Drought-Resistant Crops, and Genetically Engineered Trees
Evaluations of corn grown for ethanol show that whatever reduction in emissions you get from burning corn instead of oil in the gas tank is more than offset by the fact that producing biofuel from corn requires as much fuel as it could replace.
Corn production, like the production of all of the crops (corn, cotton, canola, soy, and now, sugar beets and alfalfa) that Monsanto has so successfully industrialized through its business model of selling patented GMO seeds to increase the use of its pesticides, is very fossil fuel intensive.
But that’s just the beginning of Monsanto’s contribution to agriculture’s green house gas emissions. With ever-increasing acreage, where are all those GMO crops going? They’re being fed to animals, and when you look at emissions from factory farms, you’ll wish we burned them in the gas tank instead!
Added to the greenhouse gas emissions from crop production and factory farms is the pollution related to heavily processed food and the fact that food in the U.S. travels anywhere from 1500 to 3000 miles to reach your plate and must be either cooled or frozen in transit or storage. That’s fossil fuel intensive, too.
Before we total the life cycle contribution of Monsanto’s crops to greenhouse gas emissions, we have to take several steps back and acknowledge that clearing land to grow GMO crops for animal feed is the biggest driver of forest and wetland destruction, which generates 20% of all climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases.
All told, the production and processing of Monsanto’s GMO crops, from deforestation to fossil-fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, polluting factory farms, and fuel-intensive food processing and distribution, is estimated to produce up to 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- TAKE ACTION:
- Tell Obama, Congress & the USDA to Dump Monsanto’s Failed…
- Tell Congress: Organic Is the Answer to Climate Cha…
#2 Polluting the Environment and the Soil-Food Web with Pesticides, Chemical Fertilizers, and Persistent Toxins, Including Dioxin
Industrial agriculture’s heavy reliance on pesticides and fertilizers is responsible for the release of many dangerous toxins into our environment, but since Monsanto first commercialized genetically engineered crops in the 1990s, we’ve been exposed to one more than any other. It’s common name is glyphosate, but Monsanto markets it as RoundUp and has created “RoundUp Ready” crops to promote it. RoundUp Ready crops are genetically engineered to withstand endless amounts of RoundUp. The success of Monsanto’s business model has made RoundUp the most-used pesticide in the history of the world.
The trouble is, RoundUp is very toxic. It’s known to cause cancer, birth defects and infertility. In fact, some scientists are now saying it’s more dangerous than DDT.
It only took about 15 years for the RoundUp Ready technology to begin to fail, with RoundUp-tolerant super-weeds springing up across the country and farmers having to resort to more and more toxic pesticides for weed control. The biotech industry says it has a solution: replace RoundUp Ready crops with a new type of GMO, “2,4-D Ready” crops.
As dangerous as RoundUp is turning out to be, the only thing worse would be 2,4-D replacing RoundUp’s as the most popular pesticide in the world. The use of 2,4-D releases dioxin. Dioxin is what has made Agent Orange, which contained 2,4-D, a source of horrific birth defects in Vietnam to this day. Genetically engineered 2,4-D-tolerant crops would be a disaster of untold proportions.
- TAKE ACTION:
- Ban RoundUp!
- Stop Agent Orange FrankenCorn!
- Justice for the Victims of Agent Orange!
- Don’t Let Big Ag Stop the EPA From Telling Us the Truth A…
#3 Turning Farmland into Desert, Draining Aquifers and Wetlands
In the U.S., the soil’s capability to sequester carbon has been severely deteriorated due to the enormous increase in the use of nitrogen fertilizers, mostly to raise Monsanto’s genetically engineered crops for animal feed. The soil should be a sink for excess carbon but has lost about 50% of its organic matter, making it is less than half as effective as it used to be. Many of our most productive agricultural lands have been degraded or desertified because of industrial production.
Recent studies on the University of Illinois Morrow plots (the oldest continuously farmed experimental plots in the U.S.) have shown that since 1955, when synthetic nitrogen was first used, 40-190% too much nitrogen was applied, yet yields dropped and organic matter declined dramatically. These problems on the Morrow plots are writ large on millions of acres of agricultural soils that have been degraded by synthetic fertilizer all over this country.
Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer kills soil life, including earthworms and microorganisms. In addition to reduced yields, degraded and deadened soils produce less nutritious food.
Contrary to Monsanto’s marketing claims that their business is about “squeezing more out of a drop of water,” their genetically engineered crops are notoriously thirsty. It takes twice as much water to produce a pound of a RoundupReady crop soybean plant treated with RoundUp herbicide, as it does with a soybean plant that’s not treated with RoundUp.
#4 Poisoning Drinking Water, Acidifying the Oceans
Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is also responsible for the nitrate poisoning of two-thirds of the U.S. drinking water supply. Synthetic nitrogen fertilizer is the major cause of the 405 oceanic dead zones around the world (including the Gulf of Mexico, the Chesapeake Bay, and the coasts of California and Oregon). Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn uses more fertilizer than any other crop.
#5 Chopping Down the Rainforests for Monoculture GMO Crops, Biofuels and Cattle Grazing
Clearing land to grow GMO crops for animal feed is the biggest driver of forest and wetland destruction, which generate 20% of all climate-destabilizing greenhouse gases. In Argentina and Brazil, Monsanto’s genetically engineered soy is the main cause of deforestation.
Argentina has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world with an average of 0.8% of the forest cut down each year, against a global rate of 0.23%. During the period 2002-2006, 1,108,669 hectares of forest were lost. That is 277,000 hectares per year, equivalent to 760 hectares per day or 32 hectares per hour. The speed with which CÃ³rdoba’s forests are disappearing is unmatched worldwide, it even surpasses that of tropical forests in poor countries. This is a ecological tragedy for the primitive forests which shelter a biodiversity found nowhere else on the planet.
In Brazil, the soy output increased 7.2 percent in 2011, causing deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon to jump sixfold.
#6 Increasing the Cost of Food, While Reducing Nutrition and Biodiversity
The business press unabashedly links Monsanto’s profits to record-high global food prices and increases in the costs of farm inputs, especially Monsanto’s patented genetically engineered seeds. Monsanto’s profits go up as hunger increases and families lose their farms to insurmountable debt.
Nowhere has the connection between Monsanto’s fortunes and farmers’ misfortunes been so clear as in India where 200,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1997. For many Indian farmers growing Monsanto’s genetically engineered Bt cotton, suicide is their only means of escaping the debt they’ve accrued to obtain the seeds and pesticides.
Monsanto has made food and farming more expensive, while reducing the nutrition and variety of food available to the average consumer. The world’s farmers are increasingly growing more of fewer number of crops (especially Monsanto’s genetically engineered corn, cotton, soy, canola, sugar beets and alfalfa). The result is that we’re eating a lot more of these few genetically engineered crops, mostly in the form of animal products, oils & fats, and sugars. The most notorious genetically engineered ingredients are high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated vegetable oils, and processed meats.
The concentration of power in the hands of a few chemical companies like Monsanto and the industrial producers who can most easily afford their products, has resulted in a global food system dominated by two extremes: on one hand, a plenitude of industrially produced junk foods, on the other, regular food shortages and drastic price hikes. This leaves a billion people saddled with obesity and diet-related disease, even as more than a billion don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
#7 Spawning Pesticide-Resistant “Super” Bugs and Weeds, and Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria
Genetically engineered crops designed to produce insecticides or tolerate herbicides have proven a failure. Herbicide-resistant “superweeds” have increased farmers’ weed-control costs to $50/acre, as they battle weeds that can stand up to the most toxic chemicals ever invented, including RoundUp (glyphosate), 2,4-D, dicamba, atrazine, ALS inhibitors, PPO inhibitors, HPPD inhibitors and synthetic auxins. Monsanto’s Bt corn and cotton are being mowed down by resistant insectsfrom Iowa to India.
On farms raising animals for food, the non-therapeutic use of antibiotics has created a serious threat to the longevity and effectiveness of certain classes of antibiotics used to treat a host of human illnesses. Doctors concede that antimicrobial drug resistance due to use in animal feed has already cost thousands of lives. In 2006, the EU banned the use of antibiotics in water and feed, proving that raising livestock without drugs is possible.
- TAKE ACTION
- No Agent Orange Corn!
- Ban Monsanto’s RoundUp! Experts Say It’s Worse than DDT! Tell the EPA to Ban Glyphosate
- Can You Imagine a World without Antibiotics? Tell the FDA to Protect Human Health and Regulate Antibiotics in Animal Feed
#8 Generating New and More Virulent Plant, Animal and Human Diseases
The way Monsanto’s RoundUp herbicide (glyphosate) kills weeds and plants is by compromising their defense mechanisms, making them very susceptible to soil borne organisms. It’s not a direct killer, but it has a debilitating effect on the weed’s immune system, much like the human disease AIDS.
Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready gene, which enables crops to withstand glyphosate, doesn’t solve the problem of a debilitated immune system, all it does is make it possible for the plant to survive and to accumulate more glyphosate. RoundUp Ready crops aren’t killed immediately by the soil diseases RoundUp makes them susceptible to, because they’ve been engineered with genes from a resistant bacteria, but they are still more likely to succumb to disease than plants that aren’t exposed to RoundUp.
Among these disease-causing pathogens are fusaria, which causes sudden death syndrome in soybeans and is a major disease-causing organism for most of our crops. In crops sprayed with RoundUp, we find an increase of up to 500 percent in root colonization by this fungus.
While glyphosate promotes the growth of more virulent pathogens, it also kills off beneficial bacteria that might keep such pathogens in check in the soil and in the guts of animals and humans that ingest the crop.
Scientists have discovered a brand new organism in genetically engineered animal feed, an organism that has since been linked to infertility and miscarriage in cattle, horses, pigs, sheep, and poultry. We can anticipate that, with such a broad spectrum of animal species, which is extremely unusual, that humans will face the same problem, and there has been an increasing frequency of miscarriage and a dramatic increase in infertility in humans in just the last eight to 10 years.
The organism was initially identified by veterinarians around 1998, about two years after the introduction of Roundup Ready soybeans, which is one of the staple feeds. The vets were puzzled by sudden high reproductive failure in animals. While sporadic at first, the phenomenon has continued to increase in severity. Dairies are reporting rates of spontaneous as high as 70 percent.
The cause-effect relationship between high reproductive failure and this new microbial entity has been established, but the research has not yet been published. The reason for the delay is because they really do not know what the organism is. It’s not a fungus. It’s not bacteria. It’s not a mycoplasma or a virus. It’s about the same size of a small virus; you have to magnify it 40,000 times.
When the veterinarians wanted to find the source for this new organism, they went to the feed. The first place where they found high concentrations was in the soybean meal. Since it has been found it in corn and in silage, only where there is a genetically engineered crop that has had glyphosate applied to it. The organism is also found in manure when the animals have been given feeds with high glyphosate residues. When that manure is applied to pastures and cattle graze on it, we also see high infertility rates there.
The organism is found in the placenta, in the fetus, and in the sperm. In the dairy industry, it sometimes takes twice as much semen to get a conception and as many as four to eight inseminations rather than the typical 1.2 to 1.5. One bull breeder had to pull 40 percent of his bulls out of service, because of fertility.
If we continue to douse our crops with ever increasing amounts of glyphosate, we will inevitably see the same effect on human health as we’re seeing in plants and animals.
Glyphosate gets inside the plant; it cannot be washed off. Once you eat it, it ends up in your gut, where 80 percent of your immune system resides. Glyphosate can wreak havoc with your health by upsetting the healthy ratio of good and bad stomach bacteria.
Because organically-farmed fields are not doused with glyphosate, organic fields still contain beneficial soil bacteria that actually hinder pathogens in and on the food from multiplying out of control. This may be yet another reason why organic foods are less prone to be contaminated with disease-causing pathogens than conventionally-grown foods.
Pathogens such as E. coli have a high tolerance for glyphosate compared to their natural biological controls. What this means is that it may not be the presence or absence of pathogens per se that determines the safety of our food supply, but rather the presence or absence of the natural control organisms, which are effectively destroyed by glyphosate. Salmonella, Clostridium, and a lot of these disease organisms are ubiquitous. They’re everywhere. Our health is dependent on keeping them in check. If we’re eliminating that check, we’re going to see an increase in Alzheimer’s, thyroid problems, autism, Parkinson’s — any disease that has a tie with either the endocrine system or nutrient availability.
Genetically engineered crops are supposed to be nutritionally equivalent to conventional foods, but they’re not. On the contrary, they’re nutritionally inferior due to glyphosate’s herbicidal mechanism, which blocks absorption of micronutrients. Genetically engineered crops contain about 50 percent less manganese and up to 70 percent less zinc. They also contain less copper, iron and magnesium, just to name a few. This affects the overall health of the plant, and its reproductive ability, and when you eat this nutritionally inferior food, you’re not getting the micronutrients your body needs for proper function either. Animal products are similarly affected when they’re from animals raised on genetically feed.
Studies of pet rats are exposing behavioral differences in animals given genetically engineered feed, as opposed to normal food. The non-GMO-fed rats are docile. They can be pulled out of their cages and patted just like a cat. But try and reach in to the cage where the rats are being fed the genetically engineered feed. The rats are irritated. They don’t get along together. They always go off into their own little world. They do backflips. They crawl up and run around the cage. They can’t get any peace, can’t settle down. That is very typical of what you’d see with autism.
Doctors working with autistic children are noting many correlations between the rats fed genetically modified feed and autistic children. When you look at the stomachs of the GMO-fed animals, they have all of the severe allergy responses, the inflammation and the reddening. The intestinal lining is deteriorating. The smell of the intestinal contents is very rank. The biology has been drastically changed. Doctors say that’s exactly what they’re seeing with autistic children.
Another effect of the new mystery organism associated with genetically engineered crops is premature aging. Research done in Iowa three years ago showed that prime beef from a two-year old cow had to be downgraded to that from a 10-year old cow.
Glyphosate can also disrupt a number of other biological systems, including liver function, blood function, and hormonal function. Glyphosate is a potent endocrine disruptor that can affect the endocrine system, thyroid function, and pituitary function.
- TAKE ACTION
- Ban Monsanto’s RoundUp! Experts Say It’s Worse than DDT! Tell the EPA to Ban Glyphosate
#9 Utilizing Wasteful Fossil Fuel-Intensive Practices and Encouraging the Expansion of Natural Gas Fracking and Tar Sands Extraction (Which Destroy Forests, Aquifers, and Farmland)
The industrialized food system is responsible for more than half of greenhouse gas emissions, making Big Ag one of Big Oil’s biggest customers. We could deprive the oil and gas industry of a significant amount of income by making the shift from polluting, fossil-fuel-intensive factory farms to carbon-sequestering organic and local agriculture.
Until we do make the shift, we need to acknowledge that the old adage “you are what you eat” applies to energy and the climate, as well as the body. It isn’t just Hummers that are pushing the expansion of natural gas fracking and tar sands extraction, it’s also Big Macs.
The worst thing about agriculture’s wasteful ways that the more fossil fuels we use to produce our food, the more farmland will be destroyed in the search for new sources of that fuel.
Natural gas fracking pumps many millions of gallons of hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds, including known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, into the ground during the drilling process, and into the air from evaporation tanks. Pollution of water, air and food from the gas drilling industry is exempt from federal pollution laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Clear Air Act, thanks to Dick Cheney’s 2005 Energy Policy Act and its ‘Halliburton Exemption.’
In upstate New York, the three million acres of superior grasslands which are currently unused are threatened by natural gas fracking. This is enough pasture land to raise local, grass-fed cattle to replace all the factory farmed beef sold in New York City.
The Keystone XL pipeline would carry toxic tar sands oil 1,700 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. The pipeline would cross the massive Ogallala aquifer, which supplies drinking water in 8 US states, and irrigation for millions of acres of farmland. We’ve already seen the damage the thick tar sands oil laden with volatile compounds can do from spills in the Yellowstone River and the Kalamazoo River. The first Keystone pipeline, developed with state-of-the-art technology, has already spilled 12 times in its first year in operation.
- TAKE ACTION:
- Tell Congress: Organic Is the Answer to Climate Cha…
#10 Stealing Money From the 99% to Give Huge Subsidies to the 1% Wealthiest, Most Chemical and Energy-Intensive Farms and Food Producers
The following is a summary of Donald Carr’s must-read article, “Why the 2012 Farm Bill is a Climate Bill.”
In the 2012 Farm Bill, Congress is poised to cut 7 million acres from the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP). The CRP is administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture and pays farmers to keep highly erodible land out of production.
Putting land into conservation programs leads to cleaner water, healthier soil, and robust wildlife habitat, and also plays a major role in fighting climate change. According to the USDA [PDF], one acre of protected land sequesters 1.66 metric tons of carbon every year, carbon that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere. The 7 million acres about to be cut from the CRP have been putting 11.6 million metric tons of carbon into the soil every year.
The Environmental Protection Agency says that this amount of carbon is equivalent to the annual emissions of 2 million passenger vehicles. All that stored carbon will be sent back into the atmosphere if those 7 million acres are plowed under to plant more genetically engineered corn for ethanol and livestock feed.
Meanwhile lavish government payments to highly profitable mega-farms continue, and farm state lawmakers and agribiz lobbyists are working toward newer programs that could increase taxpayers’ burden, along with agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
- TAKE ACTION:
- Tell Congress: Organic Is the Answer to Climate Cha…
Save the Planet From Monsanto! It’s not enough to stop eating genetically engineered food. If we want a liveable planet we’ve got to boycott all factory farmed food and make the Great Transition from energy and chemical-intensive agriculture to a re-localized and organic system of food and farming. The World According to Monsanto is a recipe for disaster. Monsanto and Big Ag contaminate every link in the food chain, threatening the very foundation of life: living nutrient-rich soil, clean water, resilient crops, healthy animals, stable climates, and diverse food sources. The good news is that agro-ecological and organic methods can reverse this threat and sustain food production for future generations, but we don’t have much time to turn things around.
By: Alexis Baden-Mayer & Ronnie Cummins, February 1, 2012Read more
To the free-thinking citizens of the world:
Anonymous stands with the farmers and food organizations denouncing the practices of Monsanto We applaud the bravery of the organizations and citizens who are standing up to Monsanto, and we stand united with you against this oppressive corporate abuse. Monsanto is contaminating the world with chemicals and genetically modified food crops for profit while claiming to feed the hungry and protect the environment. Anonymous is everyone, Anyone who can not stand for injustice and decides to do something about it, We are all over the Earth and here to stay.
To Monsanto, we demand you STOP the following:
-Contaminating the global food chain with GMO’s.
– Intimidating small farmers with bullying and lawsuits.
– Propagating the use of destructive pesticides and herbicides across the globe.
– Using “Terminator Technology”, which renders plants sterile.
– Attempting to hijack UN climate change negotiations for your own fiscal benefit.
– Reducing farmland to desert through monoculture and the use of synthetic fertilizers.
-Inspiring suicides of hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers.
-Causing birth defects by continuing to produce the pesticide “Round-up”
-Attempting to bribe foriegn officials
-Infiltrating anti-GMO groups
By Corey Kozlowski
Since the inception of the Petrochemical Era and the ability to efficiently and cost effectively mass produce synthetic chemicals, the misdeeds huge of corporations have increased ten fold. The United States-based multinational agricultural biotechnology giant Monsanto is a perfect example. That corporation majestically exemplifies the phrase “increase profit at any cost.” Although it would be nearly impossible to record every crime committed by this company, it appears necessary to give a brief overview of what Monsanto is really about. Specifically, the structure of the organization and the actors participating within it, several of their products produced (3 products: Roundup, Genetically engineered food and rBGH) and their affects on living organisms, and the varied indictments made against the corporation and its affiliates and subsidiaries.
“What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain”
-Fraley R. (co-president of Monsanto’s agricultural sector) 1996