Sunday, June 3, 2007

10. Vegetable based food

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Recently, it has been noted that Americans are shrinking--as junk food and denutrified food takes its toll.

"Poverty and poor diet mean the average US man is getting smaller, while Europeans keep growing taller,12271,1185457,00.html

Researchers have made a startling discovery: Americans are shrinking. A nation once famed for its strapping, well-nourished youth is gradually diminishing in physical stature." Of course, it's only Americans shinking, as the rest of the world continues to grow. Why? The U.S. has rejected health for industrial production in many food products and the lies of big medicine that ignore industrial production kills food, with suffering of the population, the soil, and the economy as a result.

A book on our innate "bioregional diet" as important to resuscitate for our own health is Why Some Like it Hot: Food, Genes, and Cultural Diversity, by Gary Paul Nabhan

From Publishers Weekly
With 21st-century science promising better living through genetic engineering, and myriad diet fads claiming to be the answer to obesity and disease, this exploration of the coevolution of communities and their native foods couldn't be more timely. Ethnobiologist Nabhan (Coming Home to Eat) investigates the intricate web of culture, food and environment to show that even though 99.9% of the genetic makeup of all humans is identical, "each traditional cuisine has evolved to fit the inhabitants of a particular landscape or seascape over the last several millennia." Sardinians are genetically sensitive to fava beans, which can give them anemia but can also protect them from the malaria once epidemic in the region. Navajos are similarly sensitive to sage. [Other cultural regions--of food, genes, and culture over time--thus build animal fats into diets as why people some people are healthy on these diets and others less so.] In both cases, traditional knowledge allows safe interactions with these powerful medicine/poisons through cooking methods or food combinations. Nabhan questions the wisdom of genetic therapy, which "normalizes" the "bad" genes that can cause sickness but also enhance immunity. Most inspiring in this bioethnic detective story are Cretans, maintaining their health for centuries through traditional living, and Native Americans and Hawaiians, whose communities, devastated by diabetes, find an antidote by returning to their traditional foods, customs and agriculture. Mixing hard science with personal anecdotes, Nabhan convincingly argues that health comes from a genetically appropriate diet inextricably entwined with a healthy land and culture.

From Booklist:
Ethnobotanist and nutritional ecologist Nabhan continues the paradigm-altering investigation into the matrix of food, place, ethnicity, and well-being that he's been conducting in such influential books as Coming Home to Eat (2002). A leading voice in the slow-food movement and a thoroughly engaging guide, Nabhan now delineates the evolutionary dimension of newly recognized interactions among cuisine, culture, and genetics that inspired him to modify an old adage: "We are what our [recent regional instead of ancient paleolithic!] ancestors ate and drank." He teases out the evolutionary secrets of chili peppers and explains why some folks like them hot and others can't take the heat. Since it's easiest to see the hidden benefits of ethnic cuisines in isolated island societies, he travels to Sardinia, where, for centuries, fava beans have protected the populace from malaria, and to Hawaii, where natives have discovered that traditional yet neglected taro dishes control diabetes [in their genotypes best]. With millions [really the majority of the world, he writes] of people suffering from little-understood food-related maladies, Nabhan's revelations of the complexities of our [regionally] inherited interactions with food, the true significance of the healthful "synergies" of traditional ethnic cuisines, and the essentiality of both biodiversity and cultural diversity are as critical as they are fascinating.

Therefore, beware the industrial pressures that attempt to avoid your 'bioregional diet' of traditional regional foods, many of them (not all!) high in saturated, animal fats. And beware the people who do this merely to sell "unsaturated vegetable oils." Why? Ms. Fallon describes the U.S. as the worst case scenario of powerful industrial destruction of bioregional dietary standards, where diet and scientific knowledge is sculpted or perverted to be advertising for industrial profit for such unhealthy versions of vegetable oils, instead of for health:

The Oiling of America, by Mary Fallon (of the Weston Price Foundation, discussing Dr. Mary Enig's (Ph.D., medicine) research on animal fats, cholesterol, and industrial food's perversions of scientific studies on health
2:03:00 min

"Margarine is the bad guy and butter and eggs are the good guys [for certain regional foodways--see Nabhan's book above.] For fifty years, big business, government agencies and medical organizations have campaigned deceptively against animal fats, meat, eggs, butter and other nutritious, traditional foods, leading to huge profits from the sale of toxic margarine, shortenings and liquid vegetable oils, and the foods that contain them [because these have greater profit margin potentials for large scale suppliers than the others]. Scientific data contradicting current anti-animal fat public health policy was suppressed and censored for many years. Dr. Enig and Sally Fallon now tell you the truth about how that happened. The Oiling of America will open your eyes to fraud and deception behind the lipid hypothesis of heart disease. Topics include:

* How scientists cheat in scientific studies
* Why cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease
* The dangers of cholesterol-lowering diets and drugs
* Why trans fatty acids and [the industrial chemical processing techniques of many] liquid vegetable oils are [making them] so dangerous to human health."

In the 'medicines/drugs' section of Commodity Ecology be sure to read what is posted there about the health properties of saturated vegetable coconut oil. In general:

[1] Check out the films at BioregionalStateTV for other agricultural solutions for sustainability. Click on 'more from user' for the rest.

[2] Additionally see the category "6. Soils/Dirt/Hydroponics" for how to remove the urban and rural metabolic breaks in nutrient flows with city-to-farm composting and other ingenious ways to stop such separation of human consumption from production.

[3] In the name of maintaining biodiversity, the Slow Food Movement of institutionalizing biodiversity and varietals is a far more long term and far more sound model for health, ecology, and economy--than industrial pesticide/herbicide laden agriculture.

"The Slow Food movement was created to combat fast food and claims to preserve the cultural cuisine and the associated food plants and seeds, domestic animals, and farming within an ecoregion. It was the first established part of the broader Slow movement. The Slow Food movement was founded by Carlo Petrini in Italy as a resistance movement to fast food. It has since expanded globally to 100 countries and now has 83,000 members."

As if it's not obvious, I don't care for totalitarian unsustainable police states whether they are Cuban or based in the United States. However, for a working model of organic, slow-food, pro-biodiversity agriculture and political mechanisms that support it instead of destroy it, take a page from the "accidental agricultural revolution" in Cuba after they lost access to subsidized Soviet Block inputs from 1989:

Cuba: The Accidental Revolution PT-1 (1989 to present in agriculture)
Canadian Broadcasting Company
46 min

"Cuba: The Accidental Revolution are two one-hour documentaries celebrating the country’s success in providing for itself in the face of a massive economic crisis, and how it’s latest revolutions, an agricultural revolution and a revolution in science and medicine are having repercussions around the world. Cuba: The Accidental Revolution (Part 1), airing Sunday, July 30 at 7 P.M. on CBC Television, examines Cuba's response to the food crisis created by the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1989. At one time Cuba's agrarian culture was as conventional [and unsustainable and polluting] as the rest of the world. It experienced its first "Green [Industrial Agricultural and Toxic] Revolution" when Russia was supplying Cuba with chemical and mechanical "inputs." However, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 ended all of that, and almost overnight threw Cuba's whole economic system into crisis. Factories closed, food supplies plummeted. Within a year the country had lost over 80% of its foreign trade. With the loss of their export markets and the foreign exchange to pay for imports, Cuba was unable to feed its population and the country was thrown into a crisis. The average daily caloric intake of Cubans dropped by a third. Without fertilizer and pesticides, Cubans turned to organic methods. Without fuel and machinery parts, Cubans turned to oxen. Without fuel to transport food, Cubans started to grow food in the cities where it is consumed. Urban gardens were established in vacant lots, school playgrounds, patios and back yards [and the state allowed these to be private profit-driven cooperatives, as well as allowed urban farmers to use unused public land in usufruct]. As a result Cuba created the largest program in sustainable agriculture ever undertaken. By 1999 Cuba’s [organic] agricultural production had recovered and in some cases reached historic levels [thus in other words organic agriculture was more productive than suboptimal industrial/pesticide/herbicide based]."

Cuba: The Accidental Revolution PT-2 (1989 to present in agriculture)
Canadian Broadasting Company
46 min.

"In Cuba: The Accidental Revolution (Part 2), airing Sunday, August 6 at 7 P.M. on CBC Television, we learn that the country has been blockaded since 1961, but today Cuba has the highest quality of life in the region, the highest life expectancy, and one of the highest literacy rates in all of Latin America. With the collapse of the Soviet Bloc, Cuba lost the foreign exchange needed to pay for expensive drugs and medicines. As a result, much of Cuba’s medicine today is based on medicinal plants. These are grown on farms, processed in small labs and made available to patients through an extensive network of medical clinics. Today Cuba’s advances in alternative medicine could have important consequences for other countries around the world. Cuba boasts other firsts as well: The Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology in Havana is regarded as the flagship biosciences lab in the developing world. Cuban scientists are working on an HIV vaccine, a meningitis vaccine, a Hepatitis C vaccine, and other pharmaceuticals. Cuba has also embarked on a program of medical internationalism. There are 25,000 Cuba doctors serving in 68 poor countries around the world. The Latin American School of Medical Science has 10,000 students from developing countries primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean. They are educated for free with the understanding they will return to their home countries to practice. Fidel Castro has survived many perils and at 78, he is rumoured to suffer from a number of afflictions. As his health declines the world wonders: what will become of Cuba's Green [Biodiversity] Revolution after he is gone? Even now Castro presides over a political system, which although socialist, has an economy where bartering and quasi-entrepreneurial practice seemingly influence many trades and professions, including the "green" sector...."

Totalitarianism has nothing to do with sustainability. It only perpetuates the forms of power and developmental inequalities that lead to environmental degradation. Lots of very ingenious agricultural/foddering relationships and medical regimes based on choice (shock!) of treatments have sprung up in Cuba because its totalitarianism was weakened in some sectors of the economy. It's worth knowing a different model of organizing agricultural and medial reality is not only possible, it is better. The political sector is still totalitarian in Cuba though the economic issues since 1989 have gone through some interesting forms of ecological rationality and ecological localization that go against state management and previous state encouragement of environmental degradation toward state encouragement to maintain biodiversity and locality instead.

Since in the bioregional state local jurisdictional autonomy on economic developmental path decisions is the primary jurisdiction, decisions like this along the model of 'does it fit where we live?' will be instrumental for setting commodity ecology policy in a watershed. This is seen in the many county level governments and states that have institutionalized higher local levels of human health and ecological health protection concerning commodities than federal baselines of the U.S. It is additionally seen in the 'accidental biodiversity localization revolution' in Cuba since 1989.

Thus, decisions on all commodities will be up to particular local watersheds, a model of state more akin to modeling biodiversity and ecological variegation as the purpose of the state to protect and maintain, instead of destroy. However, this fails to mean that large scale baseline standards laws (or laws to outlaw) certain commodity uses and merely supply-side uses will disappear from larger jurisdictions. These will only be baselines of human health, ecological, and economic sustainability local protection though, in all cases, instead of attempts to make multiple local areas suffer under larger federal 'glass ceilings laws' attempting to stop local health, ecological, and economic protection from going higher, when the public in that area wants it.

In this movement toward material sustainability, I can think of nothing more appropriate than [1] to demote supply-side biased agricultural monocropping and its recent budded-off twin, [2] to demote supply-side biased cloned animal strategies. Both have always been short term evil twins against local long term ecological, health, and economic durability. They are evil twins organizationally speaking because they are interwoven in massive pollution/externality streams connected via monocropping feedstocks for such 'animal monocropping.'

In this category of 'vegetable based food, the Slow Food Movement encouraging local varietal use and maintenance is far more important to institute with commodity ecology interactions.

Seven Arguments Against Industrialized Agriculture

Arguments against agricultural monocropping are very numerous and interrelated to health, biodiversity/ecological, and economic sustainability issues:

[1] Organic actually has equal or higher output than industrialized agriculture.

[2] The industrialized agricultural food is incredibly denutrified and denatured--leading to wider ill health.

[3] The social practices of creating industrialized food is self-defeating. It is connected to soil erosion and humus demotion.

As early as the 1920s and 1930s, damage to the soil was noticed, and its effects on vitamin content in the food were noticed. From Ausubel's book Seeds of Change:

"During the period of the 1920s and 1920s, several U.S. scientists noted that food quality, along with animal and human health, declined when the synthetic NPK trinity of nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium was substituted for organic manures and compost. So striking were these findings that the scientists and over four hundred medical doctors in England published a statement by the esteemed British medical journal The Lancet calling for a revolution within medicine. They argued for a greater emphasis on preventive medicine with a balanced fertile soil as the foundation of a healthy diet.

It was further noted that organic seeds actually did much better than chemically treated seeds, despite the propaganda otherwise:

"In the 1920s, the nutritionist Sir Robert McCarrison experimented with cultivating seeds organically and chemically [for a comparison of outcome effects on each]. His tests showed that the seed from a manure-grown crop was superior in its germination rate to other seeds [chemically grown]. The longer the manure had been composted, the more impressive was this biological effect....This experiment is one of the only ones ever conducted on organic seeds. This oversight is more surprising considering the primary importance of the superiority of organically grown foods...[p. 130-1]"

And there were even Congressional testimonies given.

The below is a verbatim unabridged extract from the 74th Congress 2nd Session: Senate Document 264, in 1936, showing they were aware that "modern" agricultural positional choices of herbicides/pesticides are really regressive politically since it is increasingly destroying the consumer instead of serving them. Minerals were being leached out of the food. However, still nothing is being done, belying that suppliers are really looking out for us at all--including looking out for themselves:

"Our physical well-being is more directly dependent upon minerals we take into our systems than upon calories or vitamins, or upon precise proportions of starch, protein or carbohydrates we consume."

"Do you know that most of us today are suffering from certain dangerous diet deficiencies which cannot be remedied until depleted soils from which our food comes are brought into proper mineral balance?"

"The alarming fact is that foods (fruits, vegetables and grains) now being raised on millions of acres of land that no longer contain enough of certain minerals are starving us - no matter how much of them we eat. No man of today can eat enough fruits and vegetables to supply his system with the minerals he requires for perfect health because his stomach isn't big enough to hold them."

"The truth is that our foods vary enormously in value, and some of them aren't worth eating as food...Our physical well-being is more directly dependent upon the minerals we take into our systems than upon calories or vitamins or upon the precise proportions of starch, protein or carbohydrates we consume."

"This talk about minerals is novel and quite startling. In fact, a realization of the importance of minerals in food is so new that the text books on nutritional dietetics contain very little about it. Nevertheless, it is something that concerns all of us, and the further we delve into it the more startling it becomes."

"You'd think, wouldn't you, that a carrot is a carrot - that one is about as good as another as far as nourishment is concerned? But it isn't; one carrot may look and taste like another and yet be lacking in the particular mineral element which our system requires and which carrots are supposed to contain."

"Laboratory test prove that the fruits, the vegetables, the grains, the eggs, and even the milk and the meats of today are not what they were a few generations ago (which doubtless explains why our forefathers thrived on a selection of foods that would starve us!)"

"No man today can eat enough fruits and vegetables to supply his stomach with the mineral salts he requires for perfect health, because his stomach isn't big enough to hold them! And we are turning into big stomachs."

"No longer does a balanced and fully nourishing diet consist merely of so many calories or certain vitamins or fixed proportion of starches, proteins and carbohydrates. We know that our diets must contain in addition something like a score of minerals salts."

"It is bad news to learn from our leading authorities that 99% of the American people are deficient in these minerals, and that a marked deficiency in any one of the more important minerals actually results in disease. Any upset of the balance, any considerable lack or one or another element, however microscopic the body requirement may be, and we sicken, suffer, shorten our lives."

"We know that vitamins are complex chemical substances which are indispensable to nutrition, and that each of them is of importance for normal function of some special structure in the body. Disorder and disease result from any vitamin deficiency. It is not commonly realized, however, that vitamins control the body's appropriation of minerals, and in the absence of minerals they have no function to perform. Lacking vitamins, the system can make some use of minerals, but lacking minerals, vitamins are useless."

"Certainly our physical well-being is more directly dependent upon the minerals we take into our systems than upon calories of vitamins or upon the precise proportions of starch, protein of carbohydrates we consume."

"This discovery is one of the latest and most important contributions of science to the problem of human health."

Senate Document No. 264, 1936. [[]]

[4] The power relations in agricultural food becomes a form of risk enforcement and forced 'foddering' of humans without their say in the matter if it is industrialized--along with the demotion of other options for health as

[5] Industrialized agriculture demotes biodiversity.

[6] It encourages by #5, more systemic ecological situations where pesticides/herbicides are unable to handle pests that only grow because of the ecological monocrop scale. If scale was smaller, pests would go down as a consequence as well.

While food becomes more denutrified with industrialized agriculture and all its externalities, the medical lobby wants to seriously demote vitamins even though it is known that many people are 'fed though malnourished' from their food. Vitamins and nutritious food are cheap solutions to health of a people and the ecology involved. However, such healthful practices interferes with profit margins of people who only get paid when you are in ill health, so the medical industry has a concern to maintain ill health instead of actively promote health. What else can be said except to note their desire--supposedly by 2009--to force the Codex Alimentarius (a U.N./WTO amalgam) to attempt to outlaw certain vitamin supplements? It's already recently implemented in Europe as of two years ago.

This following 2003 article excerpt, from the UK Alliance for Natural Health, an organization mounting a legal challenge to the Food Supplements Directive, was before Britain was roped into the same framework. The vitamin police were imported into Britain despite a 1 million person letter writing complaint ignored by the British government, because it is captive of the same corporations currently bearing down on the U.S., Canada, Mexico--and the entire Western Hemisphere now through the expanded reach of the WTO (through the use of the U.N.'s) Codex that makes the EU frameworks internationalized by 2009:

"ON 3rd JULY 2003, the European Food Supplements Directive was passed into English Law, which will, over the next few years, effectively ban around 5000 discrete products currently legal to sell in health food shops and pharmacies. This Directive has been devised and pushed forward by the unelected EU bureaucrats in order to "harmonize" the selling of health supplements throughout the EU, and was railroaded through the British Parliament by the Blair Government despite being rejected by the House of Lords. The way that the Government passed it was outrageous: just before the vote by the Standing Committee in the House of Commons, five Labour MPs who were going to vote against it were replaced by more obedient MPs. Even then, this directive was only passed by 8 votes to 6!

"So it seems that the European Parliament and the present UK Government are determined to pass the Food Supplements Directive despite the will of the people and even of MPs themselves. Why? Because it is the will of the EU Parliament which is very strongly influenced by the massive pharmaceutical companies in Europe. They are the only ones that will financially gain from the destruction of the health supplement industry. After all, people who take responsibility for their own health by taking supplements need less drugs because they are healthier.

"It is ironic that the Malnutrition Advisory Group has recently released a report showing that about 2 million people in the UK(!), including 60% of hospital patients, are not getting adequate nutrition and they admit that this is severally affecting their health and ability to heal. Of course, they don't mention supplements because they are still under the false and dangerous impression that this fictitious thing called a "well-balanced diet" exists that can adequately supply all the nutrients that the body needs. Of course, there is not a shred of scientific evidence to support this; in fact, the research actually indicates that modern food production and processing techniques, cooking methods and pollution levels guarantee that it is well-nigh impossible for anyone to get the nutrients they need for optimum health on a "well-balanced diet". (And if you can't get optimum nutrition using ingredients from the supermarket, how on earth are you going to find it in a disgusting NHS hospital slop canteen!) Given this terrible state of modern nutrition, it is astonishing that our governments are trying to move legislation towards a vastly reduced availability of nutritional supplements. What is going on?

"Many of us have been protesting about these proposals for the past five years, writing letters to our MPs and MEPs, signing million signature petitions and even marching on Parliament here in London. Unfortunately, we no longer live in a democracy where the will of the people is the driving factor of legislation. The EU Parliament is not interested in personal freedom, or even personal health… only control and more control. And they have tried to justify this assault on our rights to take supplements on the grounds of our safety, even though health supplements have a safety record second to none — see LaLeva's Safety of Dietary Supplements and Comparative Safety Graph. And given their incredible safety, it is rather odd that the tabloid newspapers have been running sensational headlines over the past few years on the dangers of nutritional supplements. (I wonder who is behind those media campaigns?)

"Already, the supplement market in Germany and Norway are severely controlled, and it is illegal, for example, to buy Vitamin C over 200mg in strength because it is considered by Brussels to be unnecessary, although of course, it is very necessary for the population to continue to buy cigarettes and alcohol as they are very healthy for governments' bank accounts. I have just heard (10/3/04) from a very reliable source that a woman has been arrested in France for selling 500mg tablets of Vitamin C because in that country doses of that strength are now considered medicinal! (There is absolutely no safety issue with Vitamin C and you can freely buy 1000mg tablets here in the UK and US at the moment… I take 3 a day.) Soon, these sorts of controls will be pan-European, and you will only be able to buy from a small and bland list of ineffective, inorganic supplements and in doses that the EU diktat considers appropriate. Many innovative products and companies will simply disappear, and it will become much harder for each of us to take responsibility for our health."

More on this issue at a previous post.

So the WTO's Codex would 'harmonize' disharmoniously with current U.S., Canadian, and many other countries in the Western Hemisphere's more locally representative laws that benefit the consumer health freedom access to vitamins and minerals--forcing all countries internationally involved in the WTO to remove their pro-consumer and health freedom access legislation, like the EU. [[]]

All of this consumptive consolidation and externalities are integrated into enforcement of industrial agriculture.

[7] Consolidated industrial models of agriculture impoverish farmers and make small scale land tenures less durable which are required for sustainability and institutionalizing biodiversity.

For instance, the huge opposition to "Terminator taxes" on simple seeds amongst the global farming population is another sign that industrialized agriculture is coming up against serious opposition for its extension.

Terminator Seed Rejected In UN Meeting In Brazil!

From Multiple Sources

Just an hour ago here in Brazil, the Chair of the UN meeting announced that governments have agreed to reject language that would have undermined the moratorium on Terminator.

Groups, communities and individuals across the world have joined together in this fight to ban Terminator and your action has been effective in this important first step.

The Ban Terminator Campaign will continued to monitor the meetings today and next week.

Terminator rejection - a victory for the people

A broad coalition of peasant farmers, indigenous peoples and civil society today celebrate the firm rejection of efforts to undermine the global moratorium on Terminator technologies - genetically engineered sterile seeds - at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Curitiba, Brazil.

"This is a momentous day for the 1.4 billion poor people world wide, who depend on farmer saved seeds," said Francisca Rodriguez of Via Campesina a world wide movement of peasant farmers, "Terminator seeds are a weapon of mass destruction and an assault on our food sovereignty. Terminator directly threatens our life, our culture and our identity as indigenous peoples", said Viviana Figueroa of the Ocumazo indigenous community in Argentina on behalf of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity.

"Todays' decision is a huge step forward for the Brazilian Campaign against GMOs," said Maria Rita Reis from the Brazilian Forum of Social movements and NGOs, "This reaffirms Brazils' existing ban on Terminator. It sends a clear message to the national government and congress that the world supports a ban on Terminator."

"Common sense has prevailed--lifting the Moratorium on the Terminator seeds would have been suicidal ­ literally," said Greenpeace International's Benedikt Haerlin from the Convention meeting. "This is a genuine victory for civil society around the world - it will go a long way to ensuring that biodiversity, food security and the livelihoods of millions of farmers around the world are protected."

Terminators, or GURTS (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies), are a class of genetic engineering technologies which allow companies to introduce seeds whose sterile offspring cannot reproduce, preventing farmers from re-planting seeds from their harvest. The seeds could also be used to introduce specific traits which would only be triggered by the application of proprietary chemicals by the same companies.

At the CBD, Australia, Canada and New Zealand along with the US government (not a party to the CBD) and a number of biotech companies were leading attempts to open the door to field testing of Terminator seeds by insisting on 'case by case' assessment of such technologies.

This [Anglo-American corporate] text was unanimously rejected today in the CBD's working group dealing with the issue.

It still needs to be formally adopted by the plenary of the CBD.

Despite today's victory, there is no doubt that the multinational biotech industry will continue to push sterile seed technology.

'Terminator' will rear its ugly head at the next UN CBD meeting in 2008.

The only solution a total ban on the technology once and for all," concluded Pat Mooney of the Ban Terminator Campaign. Now all national governments must enact national bans on Terminator as Brazil and India have done.


And more from the author of Seeds of Deception, an hour-long talk by the author about his book on GM-crops:

The REAL Reasons You Want to
Avoid Genetically Modified Foods
(Jeffrey Smith, on his book Seeds of Deception)

59 min 57 sec


In general, the added risks and lack of similarity in industrial food versus more sustainably produced and nutritious food is anti-consumer, anti-farmer, anti-soil, and anti-sustainability on every level. There are many other forms of agriculture that have been developed, for instance perennial polyculture, or 'no till' agriculture, or forest multi-story polyculture.

As mentioned in the Commodity Ecology title page, institutions on the watershed level (CDIs and commodity ecology) help facilitate this changeover, equitably and sustainably, for the iterative long term.

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[Slow Food Snail with Green Phrygian Cap]

The bioregional state in many ways, from the point of view of animal/vegetable varitals, the state formation implications or component of the Slow Food Movement:

The Slow Food movement incorporates a series of objectives within its mission, including:

* forming and sustaining seed banks to preserve heirloom varieties in cooperation with local food systems

* developing an "ark of taste" for each ecoregion, where local culinary traditions and foods are celebrated

* the preservation and promotion of local and traditional food products, along with their lore and preparation

* the organization of small-scale processing (including facilities for slaughtering and short run products)

* the organization of celebrations of local cuisine within regions (e.g. the Feast of Fields held in some cities in Canada)

* Taste Education

* educating consumers about the risks of fast food

* educating citizens about the drawbacks of commercial agribusiness and factory farms

* educating citizens about the risks of monoculture and reliance on too few genomes or varieties

* Various political programs to preserve family farms

* Lobbying for the inclusion of organic farming concerns within agricultural policy

* Lobbying against government funding of genetic engineering

* Lobbying against the use of pesticides

* Teaching gardening skills to students and prisoners

* Encouraging ethical buying in local marketplaces

Building those two institutions of commodity ecology and the CDI in all watersheds will aid in making commodity uses streamlined and optimized in particular watersheds as well as encourage local democratization--instead of merely watching corrupt governments institutionalize more biased commodity uses against local health, the ecology, and against the sustainability of the economy itself.


Mark said...

Prairie inspired farming:

Prairies hold the soil, resist pests and weeds, and sponsor their own fertility, all without our help.

Prairie-like polycultures using edible perennial crops and biofuel candidates like switchgrass would over winter, making plowing or planting every year obsolete.

Mixtures of plants would give farms resilience, reducing the need for oil-based pesticides. Instead of an extractive agriculture that mimics industry, prairie-inspired farming is a self-renewing agriculture that mimics nature while sequestering significant amounts of carbon.

Anonymous said...

20 February 2007
Can Biodiverse Farming Feed The World?

Agriculture is rapidly approaching a time of massive change, says an article in Agronomy Journal.

Impacted by the end of cheap energy, depleted water resources, impaired ecosystem services and unstable climates, agricultural industries will have to find new ways to feed a world whose appetite for food crops will grow by around 75 percent over the next 50 years.

Article author, Fred Kirschenmann, of Iowa State University, believes that biodiverse farming may provide the answers.

Biodiverse farming exploits the biological synergies inherent in multi-species systems; a methodology far removed from today's monocultural, energy intensive industrial agriculture systems that are based on specialization, simplification, therapeutic intervention and cheap energy.

Kirschenmann cites examples where farmers have already established successful, complex farming systems based on biological synergies and adaptive management.

One is Takao Furuno's duck/fish/rice/fruit farm in Japan. He produces duck meat, duck eggs, fish meat, fruit, and rice without any purchased outside inputs, using a highly synergistic system of production on the same acreage where he previously only produced rice. Astonishingly, in this new system, his rice yields have increased up to 50 percent over previous yields from an energy-intensive rice monoculture.

Likewise, Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms near Swoope, VA, has developed a rotational grazing production system featuring pastures containing at least 40 varieties of plants and numerous animal species. Salatin's farm uses little fossil fuel, yet the farm is highly productive. The 57-hectare farm annually produces 30,000 dozen eggs, 10,000 to 12,000 broilers, 100 beef animals, 250 hogs, 800 turkeys and 600 rabbits.

Kirschenmann believes that climate change will play a big role in determining the farming methods of the future. Volatile weather conditions will make it difficult to sustain highly specialized monoculture cropping systems which require relatively stable climates. Farmers likely will need to adjust quickly, he says, adopting methods that are more resilient in the face of unstable climates, and that begin to out-produce monocultures by virtue of their multi-species output.

He cites another study which showed that diverse, synergistic farms can be profitable and simultaneously benefit the environment.

The study demonstrated that when farms are converted from corn/soybean monocultures to more diverse operations, net farm income can increase by as much as 108 percent, while generating significant environmental and social benefits.

The key principles of biodiverse farming, according to Kirschenmann, are:

* Be energy conserving

* Feature both biological and genetic diversity

* Be largely self-regulating and self-renewing

* Be knowledge intensive

* Operate on biological synergies

* Employ adaptive management

* Feature ecological restoration rather than choosing between extraction and preservation

* Achieve optimum productivity by featuring nutrient-density, and multi-product synergistic production on limited acreage

Read the whole article at

Mark said...

Coconut trees if possible to mix into some form of arbor-culture or layered forest agriculture would be a great ideal because coconut is so healful to human beings. It would additionally provide tropical climate financial livelihood for a high value product that is unable to be substituted.

Whether the coconut oil

or even the flour!


Backgrond on the Coconut Palm Tree

The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera) is a member of the Family Arecaceae (palm family). It is the only species in the genus Cocos, and is a large palm, growing to 30 m tall, with pinnate leaves 4-6 m long, pinnae 60-90 cm long; old leaves break away cleanly leaving the trunk smooth. The term coconut refers to the fruit of the coconut palm, though a nut and not a fruit.

The coconut palm is grown throughout the tropical world, for decoration as well as for its many culinary and non-culinary uses; virtually every part of the coconut palm has some human use.


The origins of this plant are the subject of controversy, with some authorities claiming it is native to South Asia, while others claim its origin is in northwestern South America. Fossil records from New Zealand indicate that small, coconut-like plants grew there as long as 15 million years ago. Even older fossils have been uncovered in Rajasthan, TamilNadu, Kerala and Maharashtra, India.

Regardless of its origin, the coconut has spread across much of the tropics, probably aided in many cases by sea-faring peoples.

The fruit is light and buoyant and presumably spread significant distances by marine currents.

Fruits collected from the sea as far north as Norway have been found to be viable (and subsequently germinated under the right conditions). In the Hawaiian Islands, the coconut is regarded as a Polynesian introduction, first brought to the islands by early Polynesian voyagers from their homelands in the South Pacific.

They are now ubiquitous to most of the planet between 26ºN and 26ºS.

The coconut palm thrives on sandy soils and is highly tolerant of salinity.

It prefers areas with abundant sunlight and regular rainfall (1,500 to 2,500 mm annually), which makes colonizing shorelines of the tropics relatively straightforward.[1] Coconuts also need high humidity (70–80%+) for optimum growth, which is why they are rarely seen in areas with low humidity, like the Mediterranean, even where temperatures are high enough (regularly above 24°C).

They are very hard to establish in dry climates and cannot grow there without frequent irrigation; in drought conditions, the new leaves do not open well, and older leaves may become desiccated; fruit also tends to be shed.[1] They may grow but not fruit properly in areas where there is not sufficient warmth, like Bermuda.

Coconut palms require warm conditions for successful growth, and are intolerant of cold weather. Optimum growth is with a mean annual temperature of 27°C, and growth is reduced below 21°C. Some seasonal variation is tolerated, with good growth where mean summer temperatures between 28–37 °C, and survival as long as winter temperatures are above 4–12 °C; they will survive brief drops to 0 °C. Severe frost is fatal.[1]

The flowers of the coconut palm are polygamomonoecious, with both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence. Flowering occurs continuously, with female flowers producing seeds.

Coconut palms are believed to be largely cross-pollinated, although some dwarf varieties are self-pollinating.

Pests and diseases
Main article: List of coconut palm diseases

Coconuts affected by eriophyid mites, at Taliparamba, Kannur, Kerala, India.

Coconuts are susceptible to the phytoplasma disease lethal yellowing. One recently selected cultivar, 'Maypan', has been bred for resistance to this disease.

The fruit may also be damaged by eriophyid mites. The coconut is also used as a food plant by the larvae of many Lepidoptera species, including the following Batrachedra spp: B. arenosella, B. atriloqua (feeds exclusively on Cocos nucifera), B. mathesoni (feeds exclusively on Cocos nucifera), and B. nuciferae.

Coconut hispine beetle or Brontispa longissima gestro feeds on young leaves and damages seedlings and mature coconut palms.

On September 27, 2007, Philippines' Metro Manila and 26 provinces were quarantined due to having been infested with this pest (to save the $800-million Philippine coconut industry). [2]

Growing in the United States

The only two states in the U.S. where coconut palms can be grown and reproduce outdoors without irrigation are Hawaii and Florida.

Coconut palms will grow from Bradenton southwards on Florida's west coast and Melbourne southwards on Florida's east coast. The occasional coconut palm is seen north of these areas in favoured microclimates in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area and around Cape Canaveral. They may likewise be grown in favoured microclimates on the barrier islands near the Brownsville, Texas area. [right next to the Mexican border with the United States].

They may reach fruiting maturity, but are damaged or killed by the occasional winter freezes in these areas. While coconut palms flourish in south Florida, unusually bitter cold snaps can kill or injure coconut palms there as well. Only the Florida Keys provide a safe haven from the cold as far as growing coconut palms on the U.S. mainland.

The farthest north in the United States a coconut palm has been known to grow outdoors is in Newport Beach, California along the Pacific Coast Highway. In order for coconut palms to survive in Southern California they need sandy soil and minimal water in the winter to prevent root rot, and would benefit from root heating coils.

The fruit

Coconut, meat, raw

Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)

Energy 350 kcal 1480 kJ
Carbohydrates 15.23 g
- Sugars 6.23 g
- Dietary fibre 9.0 g

Fat 33.49 g
- saturated 29.70 g
- monounsaturated 1.43 g
- polyunsaturated 0.37 g
Protein 3.3 g
Thiamin (Vit. B1) 0.066 mg 5%
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.02 mg 1%
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.54 mg 4%
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.300 mg 6%
Vitamin B6 0.054 mg 4%
Folate (Vit. B9) 26 μg 7%
Vitamin C 3.3 mg 6%
Calcium 14 mg 1%
Iron 2.43 mg 19%
Magnesium 32 mg 9%
Phosphorus 113 mg 16%
Potassium 356 mg 8%
Zinc 1.1 mg 11%

Percentages are relative to US
recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

Botanically, a coconut is a simple dry nut known as a fibrous drupe. The husk, or mesocarp, is composed of fibres called coir and there is an inner stone, or endocarp. This hard endocarp, the outside of the coconut as sold in the shops of non-tropical countries, has three germination pores that are clearly visible on the outside surface once the husk is removed. It is through one of these that the radicle emerges when the embryo germinates. Adhering to the inside wall of the endocarp is the testa, with a thick albuminous endosperm (the coconut "meat"), the white and fleshy edible part of the seed.

Although coconut meat contains less fat than other dry nuts such as peanuts and almonds, it is noted for its high amount of saturated fat[3]. Approximately 90% of the fat found in coconut meat is saturated, a proportion exceeding that of foods such as lard, butter, and tallow. However, there has been some debate as to whether or not the saturated fat in coconuts is healthier than the saturated fat found in other foods (see coconut oil for more information).

Coconut meat also contains less sugar and more protein than popular fruits such as bananas, apples and oranges, and it is relatively high in minerals such as iron, phosphorus and zinc.

The endosperm surrounds a hollow interior space, filled with air and often a liquid referred to as coconut water, not to be confused with coconut milk. Coconut milk, called "santan" in Malaya, is made by grating the endosperm and mixing it with (warm) water.

The resulting thick, white liquid is used in much Asian cooking, for example, in curries. Coconut water from the unripe coconut, on the other hand, is drunk fresh as a refreshing drink. Young coconuts used for coconut water are called tender coconuts. The water of a tender coconut is liquid endosperm. It's refreshingly sweet (mild) with aerated feel when cut fresh. Depending on the size a tender coconut could contain the liquid in the range of 300 to 1,000 ml. It is known in Tamil/Malayalam/Kannada as "elaneer".

When viewed on end, the endocarp and germination pores gives to the fruit the appearance of a coco (also Côca), a Portuguese word for a scary witch from Portuguese folklore, that used to be represented as a carved vegetable lantern, hence the name of the fruit.[4] The specific name nucifera is Latin for nut-bearing.

When the coconut is still green, the endosperm inside is thin and tender, often eaten as a snack.

But the main reason to pick the nut at this stage is to drink its water; a big nut contains up to one liter. The meat in a young coconut is softer and more like gelatin than a mature coconut, so much so, that it is sometimes known as coconut jelly.

When the nut has ripened and the outer husk has turned brown, a few months later, it will fall from the palm of its own accord. At that time the endosperm has thickened and hardened, while the coconut water has become somewhat bitter.

When the nut is still green the husk is very hard, but green nuts only fall if they have been attacked by moulds, etc. By the time the nut naturally falls, the husk has become brown, the coir has become drier and softer, and the nut is less likely to cause damage when it drops.

Still, there have been instances of coconuts falling from palms and injuring people, and claims of some fatalities....

In some parts of the world, trained pig-tailed macaques are used to harvest coconuts.

Training schools for pig-tailed macaques still exist in southern Thailand and in the Malaysian state of Kelantan. Competitions are held each year to discover the fastest harvester.

Opening a coconut

To open a coconut, the softest "eye" should be pierced with a skewer and the water should be drained. Then the coconut should be struck against a hard surface, such as concrete or a kitchen surface. It should break open similarly to an egg, cracking in more than one place. However, quite a lot of force is required.

An easier way is to drain the water, then wrap the coconut in a towel, place on a hard surface such as concrete, and hit it with a hammer or a heavy rock. A way to open a fresh coconut is to take a long, heavy, knife, such as a machete, and score a line across the middle of the coconut by repeatedly striking then rotating. The final stroke should be heavier than the previous to crack the coconut along the scored line. An easier way is to just throw it up in the air and let it land on a hard surface. If done right, it should just crack open enough. To the inexperienced hand, tossing a coconut might end up in a messy affair. Coconuts can be opened easier, however, than these traditional ways. Simply taking a hammer and rotating the coconut while delivering soft-to-medium strength blows near the top of the nut will crack it.


Nearly all parts of the coconut palm are useful, and the palms have a comparatively high yield, up to 75 fruits per year; it therefore has significant economic value.

The name for the coconut palm in Sanskrit is kalpa vriksha, which translates as "the tree which provides all the necessities of life".

In Malay, the coconut is known as pokok seribu guna, "the tree of a thousand uses".

In the Philippines, the coconut is commonly given the title "Tree of Life".

Uses of the various parts of the palm include:


[go to original link to see]


Coconut water can be used as an intravenous fluid (see PMID 10674546).

Coir (the fibre from the husk of the coconut) is used in ropes, mats, brushes, caulking boats and as stuffing fibre; it is also used extensively in horticulture for making potting compost.

Copra is the dried meat of the seed and is the main source of coconut oil.

The leaves provide materials for baskets and roofing thatch.

Palmwood comes from the trunk and is increasingly being used as an ecologically-sound substitute for endangered hardwoods.

It has several applications, particularly in furniture and specialized construction (notably in Manila's Coconut Palace).


The Coconut Palace is a palace in Manila, Philippines, commissioned by former First Lady Imelda Marcos for Pope John Paul II's visit in 1981. However, he declined the offer, saying that it was too ostentatious a place to stay while in the poverty-stricken Philippines. The Palace's architect Francisco Manosa, later claimed that the Coconut Palace - a showpiece on the versatility of the coconut and its viability as an export - was planned long before the Pope even decided to visit the country.

The Coconut Palace is made of several types of Philippine hardwood, coconut shells, and a specially engineered coconut lumber....Each of the suites on the second floor is named after a specific region of the Philippines and displays some of the handicrafts these regions produce. The palace is located on Eduardo A. Makabenta, Sr. Street at the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex between the Folk Arts Theatre and the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.


Hawaiians hollowed the trunk to form drums, containers, or even small canoes.

The husk and shells can be used for fuel and are a good source of charcoal.

Dried half coconut shells with husks are used to buff floors. In the Philippines, it is known as "bunot".

In the Philippines, Dried half shells are used as a music instrument in a folk dance called maglalatik, a traditional dance about the conflicts for coconut meat within the Spanish era

Shirt buttons can be carved out of dried coconut shell.

Coconut buttons are often used for Hawaiian Aloha shirts.

The stiff leaflet midribs can be used to make cooking skewers, kindling arrows, or are bound into bundles, brooms and brushes.

The roots are used as a dye, a mouthwash, and a medicine for dysentery.

A frayed-out piece of root can also be used as a toothbrush.

Half coconut shells are used in theatre, banged together to create the sound effect of a horse's hoofbeats. They were used in this way in the Monty Python film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Making a rug from coconut fibre.The leaves can be woven to create effective roofing materials, or reed mats.

Half coconut shells may be deployed as an improvised bra, especially for comedic effect or theatrical purposes. They were used in this way in the 1970s UK sitcom It Ain't Half Hot Mum for example.

Drained coconuts can be filled with gun powder and used as Improvised explosive devices.

In fairgrounds, a "coconut shy" is a popular target practice game, and coconuts are commonly given as prizes.

A coconut can be hollowed out and used as a home for a rodent or small bird. Halved, drained coconuts can also be hung up as bird feeders, and after the flesh has gone, can be filled with fat in winter to attract tits.

Fresh inner coconut husk can be rubbed on the lens of snorkelling goggles to prevent fogging during use.

Dried coconut leaves can be burned to ash, which can be harvested for lime.

Coconuts can be used as ammunition for homemade catapults.

Dried half coconut shells are used as the bodies of musical instruments, including the Chinese yehu and banhu, and the Vietnamese đàn gáo.

Coconut is also commonly used as a herbal remedy in Pakistan to treat bites from rats.

The "branches" (leaf petioles) are strong and flexible enough to make a switch.

The use of coconut branches in corporal punishment was revived in the Gilbertese community on Choiseul in the Solomon Islands in 2005.[6]

In World War II, coastwatcher scout Biuki Gasa was the first of two from the Solomon Islands to reach the shipwrecked, wounded, and exhausted crew of Motor Torpedo Boat PT-109 commanded by future U.S. president John F. Kennedy. Gasa suggested, for lack of paper, delivering by dugout canoe a message inscribed on a husked coconut shell. This coconut was later kept on the president's desk, and is now in the John F. Kennedy Library.

Coconut trunks are used for building small bridges, preferred for their straightness, strength and salt resistance


See also
Coconut cream
Coconut milk
Coconut oil
Coconut water
Maypan coconut palm


[Caveat wiki-emptor]

Mark said...

Lots of great ideas for sustainable agriculture and sustainable farm-animal raising have come from Cuba's "accidental revolution"--a real revolution of independence--that came when the Soviet Bloc stopped subsidizing Cuba in 1989.

Then Cuba had a real revolution, however accidental, toward sustainability. It's still a bad police state, though we can learn from its working examples of farm/fodder relationships and integrating ideas of urban gardening with supporting state frameworks for it.

Lots of biodiversity-supporting sustainability ideas in these videos, in a working example:

Cuba The Accidental Revolution PT-1
46 min - 17-Oct-07 - (13 ratings)
latest revolutions, an agricultural revolution and a revolution in science and medicine are having repercussions around the world.
Cuba: The Accidental Revolution (Part 1),

Cuba The Accidental Revolution PT-2
46 min - 17-Oct-07 - (2 ratings)
-2...In Cuba: The Accidental Revolution (Part 2), airing Sunday, August 6 at 7 PM on CBC Television, we learn that

Mark said...

The United Nations has declared 2008 The Year of the Potato because it is so adaptable to so many climates, because it is easy to grow, because it produces more food per given area than just about anything else, because it can easily be saved and replanted — thus not requiring outside help to continue the cycle — and maybe most importantly, because the cost of potatoes is NOT tied to the international commodities market but rather reflects the local economy . . .

Google Year of the Potato and you’ll find lots of info, including nutritional which debunks the widely held notion that potatoes are not nutritious — they are — you can grow potatoes above ground which takes out the backbreaking aspect — the best above ground system I’ve seen is similar to a compost bin, you assemble the first round of boards, put down a layer of good compost, add your sprouted potatoes, cover them up and let them get going . . . after they grow a foot or so, you add another round of boards and cover the vines with more compost, just leaving the tops showing . . . continue until frost . . . this works well because potatoes set all their ‘fruit’ above the original tuber and will continue growing up as you add more boards and compost . . . to harvest, just take down the boards and let the spuds tumble out . . .

we can’t all live like frugivores because many climates are not amenable to fruit cultivation [unless you create greenhouses...], but you can grown potatoes almost anywhere . . . definitely a summer crop here (winter crops are an impossibility at fifty below), perhaps a fall or winter crop in hot climates . . .

comment from:

Mark said...


The urban farmer: One man's crusade to plough up the inner city

By Kate Burt
Sunday, 1 June 2008

Haeg details his concept in his new book Edible Estates, which proposes the replacement of the domestic front lawn in cities with 'an edible landscape' © Meghan Quinn

* Photos More pictures

Fritz Haeg isn't perhaps the obvious representative of a revolution in global farming. As an architecture and design academic and practitioner, the American has had his work exhibited at Tate Modern and the Whitney Museum of American Art, and has taught fine art at several US universities. Yet it is last year's community-collaborative project on an inner-city council estate in south London that best showcases his current passion: the urban farm.

Last April, in a discussion about the global food crisis, Gordon Brown announced: "We need to make great changes in the way we organise food production in the next few years." High on the list of viable changes is the idea of inner-city agriculture. Which is the theory behind Haeg's concept, detailed in his new book Edible Estates: it proposes the replacement of the domestic front lawn in cities with "an edible landscape". Last year, to illustrate this point, Haeg was commissioned by the Tate to create a permanent "edible estate" on a triangle of communal grass in front of a housing estate near Elephant and Castle, bordered on two sides by a main road along which London buses thunder every few minutes.

The aim was to engage and involve the local residents – and together they miraculously transformed a patch of grass previously favoured by dogs and drunks into a luscious agri-plot housing apple and plum trees, a "forest" of tomato plants, aubergines, squashes, Brussels sprouts, runner beans, sweet peas, a "salad wing", herbs, edible flowers and 6ft artichoke plants. It is also quite beautiful: "The design was inspired by the ornate, curvy raised flowerbeds you find in front of Buckingham Palace," explains Haeg. Interestingly, although this space is still accessible by passers-by – unlike the traditional allotment, which Haeg feels is outdated – there has been no theft or vandalism. The London project was mirrored in several locations around the US.

"All the projects I do are rooted in the way that an architect thinks and works," says Haeg. "How we live and the spaces we make for ourselves." And right now, he believes, we need to re-evaluate exactly that, and urgently so – particularly in our overcrowded cities.

As part of its "One Planet Living" initiative, the World Wildlife Fund calculated our average personal carbon footprint in Britain. Perplexingly, it found that food production and its transport accounts for our greatest use of carbon – 23 per cent per person – beating personal transport, home energy and even shared services (the running of schools, hospitals, banks and so on). These results, combined with food shortages and escalating costs – the price of apples and eggs has risen by 30 per cent in the past year – mean action must be taken, says Haeg. Ornamental urban space is a luxury we can no longer afford, he believes: we need to be growing food on our lawns, greens, driveways and even public parks.

Haeg is not the only one to think it is time for change. The global Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) strategic alliance estimates that, by 2015, more than half the world's population will be living in urban areas, provoking one of the greatest challenges in the history of agriculture as we try to find a way to keep a lid on food miles and produce enough food for everyone. "Now, more than ever," urges Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, "we need to grow more food closer to where people live." And in this climate, it seems that everyone from town planners to head teachers, TV chefs to agri-entrepreneurs are getting excited about farming food in the big smoke.

But is it realistic to turn over our spare urban soil to the cause – and is there really enough of it to do so? Erik Watson, an urban design director at the town-planning company Turley Associates, strongly believes that inner-city agriculture is the future. As such, he is already advising his clients on ways to incorporate farming into their developments and is particularly excited about the potential for transforming existing space enclosed in the traditionally British city structure, the "perimeter block" (a row of buildings constructed around an enclosed, private square – typically divided into private gardens). "Look at an aerial view of London and you'll see there's an enormous amount of private open space contained within these blocks. It is perfect for this urban agricultural revolution," he says.

Re-apportioning private space might not be as far-fetched as it sounds. Later this month Sustain is hosting a conference, called Growing Food for London, where ideas to be aired include the possibilities of using derelict council facilities, social housing land and unused private gardens for commercial agriculture, as well as the planting of fruit and nut trees in parks and along roads, creating community gardens in public parks and replacing ornamental plants with edible crops. It will also look at alternative food production such as mushroom growing, beekeeping and planting edibles in window boxes, as well as ideas for the little-explored area of rearing livestock in urban areas.

While beekeeping is on the rise in British cities – it is estimated that there are 5,000 beehives in London alone – other urban animal-based edibles are rare.

Hunting might be the answer here – squirrel meat has already been seized upon as a sustainable, free-range delicacy in rural Cornwall – could it catch on in cities? Might pigeon pie become a Trafalgar Square speciality; has anyone thought of fox cutlets?

Perhaps more realistic is organised urban livestock rearing. "There are issues with planning – noise pollution and so on," says Zeenat Anjani from Sustain, "but you could definitely raise chickens and other small animals. We hope the Growing Food conference will open more people's minds to these sorts of ideas and get the right people in the same room to talk about what they can do."

Many are already talking about it. Inspired by the "victory gardens" of the First and Second World Wars, when civilians were urged to "dig for victory" to survive the food shortages, Jamie Oliver's newest venture is to inspire the residents of inner-city Rochdale to eat like our wartime forebears and grow their own, while Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's new River Cottage series challenges five Bristol familes to transform a derelict patch of land into a fruitful smallholding.

In Middlesborough, the Groundwork South Tees trust has begun an urban-farming education programme to teach people how to cultivate herbs, vegetables and fruit even if they do not have a garden, by providing containers for patios, balconies and windowsills. There are also sustainable-food grants available to those who want to educate others how to produce their own food in cities, and how to compost effectively to improve typically poor-quality urban soil. '

If it comes off, perhaps one of the most high-profile initiatives – still at bid stage – is the Feed the Olympics proposal. It is a radical blueprint from several green organisations outlining how 6,000 acres of land in London could be put to work to grow enough food to provide the 14m-odd meals that will be needed during the 60 days of the 2012 Games, instead of importing it. This would involve creating 2,012 new food-growing spaces across the capital, including community gardens, allotments and roof gardens.

Revolutionary? In this country, yes – but we're lagging behind countries such as China, Japan and Cuba, which already have farms integrated into the social, economic and physical structures of their cities; as early as a decade ago Beijing town planners had begun to incorporate agriculture into the urban landscape. The Chinese government also offers courses to aspiring urban farmers and plans to cultivate gardens on nearly 10,000,000sq ft of roof space over the next 10 years.

Similarly, Argentina's Programa de Agricultura Urbana (PAU) was set up to support city-based farmers in the aftermath of the country's financial collapse. And in Cuba, when the US-led trade embargo resulted in severe food shortages, the government responded by investing in urban farms, providing state-owned plots and teaching relevant skills in schools.

But will it work in Britain? Carole Wright, who manages the communal garden created by Haeg in south London, says it already is. "It cost less than £5,000 to create and it is capable of feeding three blocks of flats with 24 households each," she says. "We run family gardening sessions, Sunday sessions, after-school clubs and also container gardening, so residents can grow things on their balconies too. High- density housing is no barrier – you can grow things out of an old baked-bean can. The more people we can get, the more we can produce. It's not about the size of the land – it's about the maintenance." She has had no shortage of regular, enthusiastic volunteers – surprisingly most of whom are children.

Wright was delighted when one girl, a moody teenager who described herself as a "cybergoth", grew her own beetroot. "You'd never have known she was excited about it," says Wright, "but I spotted her one evening with her friends, holding the thing in her hands. 'What are you doing with that?' I asked. 'Well,' she said, 'I grew it – I wanted to show my mates.' She comes down every day now to water her sunflowers."

It's not just about financial and health benefits – Wright has also noticed social benefits. "People who have not spoken for five years are suddenly chatting again, discussing what they've grown. And it brings together people from different cultures too – they lean over the fence and reminisce about the vegetables they grew in their countries as children – okra, bananas, yams, sweet potatoes."

Wright describes one gardener, an elderly widow, who has planted an almond tree as a memorial to her late husband and says he would have loved to see how the space had been transformed. "One guy has even replaced the photo of his family on his mobile phone with a picture of the garden. It's given them so much pride."

The impact of the garden has been enormous, says Wright. People from further and further away are coming along to get involved, learn new skills and socialise. "They see it and it's like a lightbulb and they say, 'We want our own edible estate.' Well, it makes sense, doesn't it?"

The world's first edible high-rise

The potential of city-based farming could be vastly expanded if we extend upwards as well as using ground-level plots.

Of course, one major problem with growing produce on our roofs is the quantities of soil needed, which would add unfeasible amounts of weight. However, hydroponic technology – using nutrient-enriched water instead of soil – could be the solution.

Toronto scientist Gordon Graff has created plans for a 58-floor concept building – the SkyFarm – which would grow crops in the heart of the city and could provide enough food for 35,000 people every day. Crops would be irrigated by water recycled through the building's hydroponic system and, with no soil, many diseases are ruled out – meaning no need for chemical pesticides.

Rumours abound of a similar skyscraper farm being developed in Las Vegas. It is said that the 30-storey structure would be not just about agriculture, but would house pigs too – though some have suggested the vertical pork farm could be a hoax. Punchlines on a postcard, please. KB



Pie in the sky: The world's first edible high-rise

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Toronto scientist Gordon Graff has created plans for a 58-floor concept building - the SkyFarm - which would grow crops in the heart of the city and could provide enough food for 35,000 people every day

* Photos enlarge

The potential of city-based farming could be vastly expanded if we extend upwards as well as using ground-level plots.

Of course, one major problem with growing produce on our roofs is the quantities of soil needed, which would add unfeasible amounts of weight. However, hydroponic technology – using nutrient-enriched water instead of soil – could be the solution.

Toronto scientist Gordon Graff has created plans for a 58-floor concept building – the SkyFarm – which would grow crops in the heart of the city and could provide enough food for 35,000 people every day.

Crops would be irrigated by water recycled through the building's hydroponic system and, with no soil, many diseases are ruled out – meaning no need for chemical pesticides.

Rumours abound of a similar skyscraper farm being developed in Las Vegas. It is said that the 30-storey structure would be not just about agriculture, but would house pigs too – though some have suggested the vertical pork farm could be a hoax. Punchlines on a postcard, please.


Mark said...

From: , Organic Consumers Association, More from this Affiliate
Published July 18, 2008 09:50 AM

Non-GMO Soybeans Show 10% Greater Yield


* Farmers who plant, or replant , after June 20 may see yields drop by half
* Louisiana Reports First Cases of Soybean Rust
* Seed Industry Says One-Billionth Acre of Biotech Seed Has Been Planted
* Soybean Growers Brace for Insect Outbreak


NOTE: Although these new soybeans come from a biotech company, it's clear from the article that it's not GM that delivered the yield advantage that's being trumpeted. Instead it was down to molecular marker technologies - a biotechnology approach involving no genetic engineering.

You can also see from the article why genetic engineering is so poor at improving productivity. As it notes, "Yield in soybeans is controlled by many different genes working in combination". And while Monsanto is preparing to launch its new Roundup "RReady 2Yield" soybeans, there's nothing to indicate that the yield claims being made for RR2 owe anything to genetic engineering.

The likelihood is that the parent lines were developed conventionally with the help of molecular marker technologies - so called Marker Assisted Selection (MAS)- and then the RR gene added to make them GM.

That, of course, will not stop the claims that GM has created productivity claims!

EXTRACT: John Soper, senior research director for Pioneer, said the company used molecular marker technologies to find the genes that control yield in the soybean plant.


Pioneer: New soybeans produce 10% yield advantage

Jerry Perkins

Des Moines Register, July 11 2008

Pioneer Hi-Bred, a Johnston-based unit of DuPont, launched Thursday what it is calling "a new generation" of soybean varieties designed to increase soybean yields by 40 percent during the next 10 years.

Pioneer president and DuPont vice president and general manager Paul Schickler said the new Y series soybeans, as Pioneer has named the 32 newseed varieties, will "deliver unprecedented productivity gains to North American soybean growers." Pioneer intends to sell enough of the new seed from the Y series to cover about 9 million acres for the 2009 growing season. The introduction of the 32 new Y series soybeans represents the largest volume of commercial products launched at one time in the 82-year history of Pioneer, Schickler said.

In more than 1,800 on-farm comparisons, the Y series demonstrated a 5 percent yield advantage over competitive soybean varieties, with some varieties yielding 6 percent to 10 percent more than their competitors, Schickler said. "With the Y series yield advantage, this new line has the potential to add about 19 million bushels of soybeans to U.S. production," he said. "In a time of tight supplies and soaring demand, that is a strong boost for producers and the industry."

Soybean breeders have been frustrated for years by the slow pace of soybean yield increases, especially when compared with corn. Palle Pedersen, Iowa State University agronomist, said soybean yields in Iowa have increased annually an average of less than half a bushel an acre since 1924. Average corn yields in Iowa, meanwhile, have increased almost two bushels anacre a year since 1938, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. Other soybean companies also are trying to break the lid on soybean yield increases.

Monsanto Co. has said that four years of data show its newer Roundup "RReady2Yield" soybeans have a 7 percent to 11 percent increase over earlier versions of its herbicide-resistant Roundup Ready soybeans. Schickler said Pioneer brand soybeans have led North American soybean sales since 1989. Pioneer soybeans have gained an additional 6 percent of the soybean seed market in the past eight years, he said.

Soybean seed sales represent 16 percent of Pioneer's annual revenues. John Soper, senior research director for Pioneer, said the company used molecular marker technologies to find the genes that control yield in the soybean plant.

Yield in soybeans is controlled by many different genes working in combination, which made finding the right genes to target more difficult, Soper said. A genetic comparison of older soybean varieties with newer ones ended up focusing on 100 genes as potential yield enhancers, he said. By narrowing the genetic search to those 100 genes, Pioneer was able to match parent seed lines that resulted in more productive gene combinations, Soper said.

Don Schafer, senior marketing manager for Pioneer, said Pioneer's Y series of soybeans can be grown across the entire U.S. soybean-growing area and in some areas of Canada. Small quantities of the seed have been planted in test plots this year, and seed production for 2009 is proceeding at 28 locations in North America, he said. Pioneer expects to have a large demand for the Y series soybeans next year, Schafer said, but the price it will charge farmers for the Y series soybean seeds hasn't been determined.


Organic issues, then slapped on with a GM gene to patent the variety like a logo. That mere 'logo use' of GM is hardly a proof of benefits of GM for enhancing crops.

Mark said...

From: Kelly Proctor, Athens Banner-Herald
Published July 7, 2005 12:00 AM

Farmers Relying on Growing [Personal] Trust in Organic Labeling--instead of Bureaucratic Labeling Per Se


* Local vs Organic Conundrum
* Proposed Law Says Switch To Organic Farming, Receive $80,000
* California Farmers Want Classification for 'Sustainable' Produce
* Organic Farmers Suffer Extensive Crop Damage after Flooding in Wisconsin, Minnesota


Bill Jaynes follows the U.S. Department of Agriculture's organic farming rules to a T -- his chickens aren't given steroids and none of his crops are sprayed with pesticides.

But, like many small-time farmers who use chemical-free methods, he hasn't registered with the government to sell his produce under the official "organic" label.

Jaynes, 63, bought 17-acre BeeTree Farms on Georgia Highway 211 in Barrow County a year ago and has been making a living selling home-grown produce. Like many other all-natural farmers, he willingly opens his farm to shoppers so they can make sure he's farming the way he says -- that he doesn't use pesticides, but homemade, bug-fighting remedies like garlic, dishwashing detergent and cayenne pepper.

Northeast Georgia is dotted with all-natural farmers like Jaynes. Unwilling to bow to the USDA to become "organic" certified, they have made a small economy of local buyers and sellers -- but with no professionals checking on the farms, they are susceptible to fraud.

Jaynes has seen it first-hand. He once saw a farmer at a local market hawking bunches of lettuce he claimed he'd grown himself -- but he had forgotten to take off the "Made in California" labels.

The USDA passed the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, saying farms had to register with the U.S. government if they wanted to sell their products as officially inspected organic. Misleading consumers would result in a $1,000 fine.

Jaynes and other farmers don't need to register with the USDA if they don't label their produce as certified organic. But if they aren't certified, there's no official guarantee that the farmer is growing produce without pesticides, hormones and other additives.

So, shoppers must trust that their local farmer is being truthful.

Most consumers do trust, according to customers at the Daily Groceries Co-op on Prince Avenue. Katie Pincura, a volunteer at the co-op, admits she worries sometimes that no one checks in on local farmers. But the co-op employees sometimes visit the farms, she said, so they can see how things are managed.

Another local farm that's not certified is the Full Moon Co-op, whose owners recently opened Farm 255, a restaurant on West Washington Street. The farm's summer harvest can be found in recipes like red onion foccaccia, kale and collard greens and fried green tomatoes at the restaurant.

It's too expensive to be certified as organic, says Farm 255 owner Jeff Stoike. But he has an open invitation to the public to come inspect the produce at the farm.

Back in Barrow, Jayne has tips to make sure produce is naturally grown. "Look for irregularities," Jayne said.

"If you buy lettuce and it doesn't have a few bug holes in it, it isn't organic."

To see more of the Athens Banner-Herald, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to

Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News


Mark said...

Organic farming 'could feed Africa'

Traditional practices increase yield by 128 per cent in east Africa, says UN

By Daniel Howden in Nairobi
Wednesday, 22 October 2008
New evidence suggests that organic practices - derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad - are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers


New evidence suggests that organic practices - derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad - are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers

Organic farming offers Africa the best chance of breaking the cycle of poverty and malnutrition it has been locked in for decades, according to a major study from the United Nations to be presented today.

New evidence suggests that organic practices – derided by some as a Western lifestyle fad – are delivering sharp increases in yields, improvements in the soil and a boost in the income of Africa's small farmers who remain among the poorest people on earth. The head of the UN's Environment Programme, Achim Steiner, said the report "indicates that the potential contribution of organic farming to feeding the world maybe far higher than many had supposed".

The "green revolution" in agriculture in the 1960s – when the production of food caught and surpassed the needs of the global population for the first time – largely bypassed Africa. Whereas each person today has 25 per cent more food on average than they did in 1960, in Africa they have 10 per cent less.

A combination of increasing population, decreasing rainfall and soil fertility and a surge in food prices has left Africa uniquely vulnerable to famine. Climate change is expected to make a bad situation worse by increasing the frequency of droughts and floods.

It has been conventional wisdom among African governments that modern, mechanised agriculture was needed to close the gap but efforts in this direction have had little impact on food poverty and done nothing to create a sustainable approach. Now, the global food crisis has led to renewed calls for a massive modernisation of agriculture on the hungriest continent on the planet, with calls to push ahead with genetically modified crops and large industrial farms to avoid potentially disastrous starvation.

Last month the UK's former chief scientist Sir David King said anti-scientific attitudes among Western NGOs and the UN were responsible for holding back a much-needed green revolution in Africa. "The problem is that the Western world's move toward organic farming – a lifestyle choice for a community with surplus food – and against agricultural technology in general and GM in particular, has been adopted across the whole of Africa, with the exception of South Africa, with devastating consequences," he said.

The research conducted by the UN Environment Programme suggests that organic, small-scale farming can deliver the increased yields which were thought to be the preserve of industrial farming, without the environmental and social damage which that form of agriculture brings with it.

An analysis of 114 projects in 24 African countries found that yields had more than doubled where organic, or near-organic practices had been used. That increase in yield jumped to 128 per cent in east Africa.

"Organic farming can often lead to polarised views," said Mr Steiner, a former economist. "With some viewing it as a saviour and others as a niche product or something of a luxury... this report suggests it could make a serious contribution to tackling poverty and food insecurity."

The study found that organic practices outperformed traditional methods and chemical-intensive conventional farming. It also found strong environmental benefits such as improved soil fertility, better retention of water and resistance to drought. And the research highlighted the role that learning organic practices could have in improving local education. Backers of GM foods insist that a technological fix is needed to feed the world. But this form of agriculture requires cash to buy the patented seeds and herbicides – both at record high prices currently – needed to grow GM crops.

Regional farming experts have long called for "good farming", rather than exclusively GM or organic. Better seeds, crop rotation, irrigation and access to markets all help farmers. Organic certification in countries such as the UK and Australia still presents an insurmountable barrier to most African exporters, the report points out. It calls for greater access to markets so farmers can get the best prices for their products.

Kenyan farmer: 'I wanted to see how UK did it'

Henry Murage had to travel a long way to solve problems trying to farm a smallholding on the western slopes of Mount Kenya. He spent five months in the UK, studying with the experts at Garden Organic a charity in the Midlands. "I wanted to see how it was being done in the UK and was convinced we could do some of the same things here," he says.

On his return 10 years ago, he set up the Mt Kenya Organic Farm, aimed at aiding other small farmers fighting the semi-arid conditions. He believes organic soil management can help retain moisture and protect against crop failure. The true test came during the devastating drought of2000-02, when Mr Murage's vegetable gardens fared better than his neighbours'. At least 300 farmers have visited his gardens and taken up at least one of the practices he espouses. "Organic can feed the people in rural areas," he says. "It's sustainable and what we produce now we can go on producing."

Saving money on fertilisers and pesticides helps farmers afford better seeds, and composting and crop rotation are improving the soil. Traditional maize, beans and livestock farming in the area have been supplemented with new crops from borage seeds to cayenne peppers and honey, with buyers from the US to Europe. Now he is growing camomile for herbal tea, with buyers from the UK and Germany both interested.


Mark said...

Promoted to column top on 11/16/08:

Study Confirms Genetically Modified Crops Threaten Human Fertility and Health Safety

by Institute for Responsible Technology (Posted by sadelaine) Page 1 of 2 page(s)

Austrian Government Study Confirms Genetically Modified (GM) Crops
Threaten Human Fertility and Health Safety

Advocates Call for Immediate Ban of All GM Foods and GM Crops

IMMEDIATE RELEASE (November 13, 2008)

(Los Angeles, CA.) - A long-term feeding study commissioned by the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, managed by the Austrian Federal Ministry of Health, Family and Youth, and carried out by Veterinary University Vienna, confirms genetically modified (GM) corn seriously affects reproductive health in mice.

Non-GMO advocates, who have warned about this infertility link along with other health risks, now seek an immediate ban of all GM foods and GM crops to protect the health of humankind and the fertility of women around the world.

Feeding mice with genetically modified corn developed by the US-based Monsanto Corporation led to lower fertility and body weight, according to the study conducted by the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. Lead author of the study Professor Zentek said, there was a direct link between the decrease in fertility and the GM diet, and that mice fed with non-GE corn reproduced more efficiently.

In the study, Austrian scientists performed several long-term feeding trials over 20 weeks with laboratory mice fed a diet containing 33% of a GM variety (NK 603 x MON 810), or a closely related non-GE variety used in many countries. Statistically significant litter size and pup weight decreases were found in the third and fourth litters in the GM-fed mice, compared to the control group.

The corn is genetically modified with genes that produce a pesticidal toxin, as well as genes that allow it to survive applications of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup.

A book by author Jeffrey M. Smith, Genetic Roulette, distributed to members of congress last year, documents 65 serious health risks of GM products, including similar fertility problems with GM soy and GM corn: Offspring of rats fed GM soy showed a five-fold increase in mortality, lower birth weights, and the inability to reproduce. Male mice fed GM soy had damaged young sperm cells. The embryo offspring of GM soy-fed mice had altered DNA functioning. Several US farmers reported sterility or fertility problems among pigs and cows fed on GM corn varieties. Additionally, over the last two months, investigators in India have documented fertility problems, abortions, premature births, and other serious health issues, including deaths, among buffaloes fed GM cottonseed products.

The principle GM crops are soy, corn, cottonseed and canola. GM sugar from sugar beets will also be introduced before year’s end.

Mr. Smith, who is also the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology says, “GM foods are likely responsible for several negative health trends in the US. The government must impose an immediate ban on these dangerous crops.” He says, “Consumers don’t need to wait for governmental action. They can download a free Non-GMO Shopping Guide at”

Monsanto press offices in the UK and USA were unable to provide a comment on the findings for journalists yesterday.

The Institute for Responsible Technology’s Campaign for Healthier Eating in America mobilizes citizens, organizations, businesses, and the media, to achieve the tipping point of consumer rejection of genetically modified foods.

The Institute educates people about the documented health risks of GMOs and provides them with healthier non-GMO product choices.

The Institute also informs policy makers and the public around the world about the impacts of GMOs on health, environment, the economy, and agriculture, and the problems associated with current research, regulation, corporate practices, and reporting.


Institute For Responsible Technology
Media Contact: NJ Jaeger
Expert Contact: Jeffrey M. Smith
Phone: +1-310-377-0915

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Science is a passion.
sometimes blindedScience is a passion.

Birth control?

Perhaps this is a new program of birth control -- for the poor and the 3rd world.

The wealthy do not need to worry; they have their choice of foods. If there isn't follow-up to the study, it'll be forgotten. Population may start dropping and those in favor of lower numbers will have their wish big time.

Far fetched? Modification does not have to lead to end-of-the-world scenarios. But the ability to resist destructive environmental agents and withstand environmental trauma does suggest the ability to resist stomache acids as well . . .

by sometimes blinded (1 articles, 42 quicklinks, 5 diaries, 207 comments) on Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 8:18:08 AM

Kent State, Graduate work in philosophy of logic, of science, Ph.D. SIU neuroscientist, forensic neuropsychologist, PostDoc Medical College of Ohio, Preferred activities: Restoring British motorcycles, cars, Matchless, Austin Healey, Triumph, Jaguar, building an engine, programming a computer. Other stuff: SDS 1968, antiwar,911 truth advocate, anticorporatist, anti-classist, anti-neocon, pissed off. Best thing: Father. Blessed.
richardKent State, Graduate work in philosophy of logic, of science, Ph.D. SIU neuroscientist, forensic neuropsychologist, PostDoc Medical College of Ohio, Preferred activities: Restoring British motorcycles, cars, Matchless, Austin Healey, Triumph, Jaguar, building an engine, programming a computer. Other stuff: SDS 1968, antiwar,911 truth advocate, anticorporatist, anti-classist, anti-neocon, pissed off. Best thing: Father. Blessed.

Caught this on the ATS site...

After all, 5,500,000,000 must go .... if you read Georgia's 'Stonehenge' inscription......

GM crops are simply one more of the many paths apparently utilized to the same end...... sayeth the 'conpsirator' ....

Is there a purpose or is it simply 'greed' and 'stupidity' ....


by richard (0 articles, 5 quicklinks, 2 diaries, 858 comments) on Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 10:49:54 AM

a concerned citizen and supporter of a new Coalition 3rd Party; as well as the Open Source Energy Movement!
Steve Windisch (jibbguy)a concerned citizen and supporter of a new Coalition 3rd Party; as well as the Open Source Energy Movement!

How to control population??

There are essentially only 2 known and proven ways to control population growth:

> Through increased mortality levels.

> Lowering birth rates through education and increased prosperity (as has been successfully proven many times in different countries).

The latter is not a desired method if the continuance of ignorance and poverty are required to maintain the current levels of control over a society.

Which method do you think the members of Monsanto's Board of Directors believe in? Here's a hint: All corn sent as "foreign aid" by this government is now GE.

by Steve Windisch (jibbguy) (13 articles, 0 quicklinks, 4 diaries, 216 comments) on Monday, November 17, 2008 at 11:48:11 AM

organic vegetable farmer
Jim Eldonorganic vegetable farmer

not a surprise

Mr. Smith, who is also the Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology says, “GM foods are likely responsible for several negative health trends in the US."

Unfortunately this likelihood cannot be proven. Since the bureaucracy of federal testing and approval has always been grossly biased in favor of rapid commercialization, the resulting current ubiquitous presence of GM products in the food supply makes epidemiological studies impossible. Unfortunately, GE proponents make use of this fact to argue for the safety of such products. In doing so, they are obviously not constrained by standards of scientific integrity, which should prevent them from drawing positive conclusions in the complete absence of research and data.

by Jim Eldon (0 articles, 0 quicklinks, 0 diaries, 130 comments) on Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 11:23:53 AM

Hater of Nazis above all. Hobbies include activism, military model building, military history, exciting and vital conversation with retired crooks. Retired
John HanksHater of Nazis above all. Hobbies include activism, military model building, military history, exciting and vital conversation with retired crooks. Retired

Long term effects are ignored in the U.S.

Mad cow may take awhile, but the Koreans don't want any of it. GM crops are probably the same.

by John Hanks (1 articles, 0 quicklinks, 0 diaries, 1370 comments) on Sunday, November 16, 2008 at 7:41:49 PM

Hello friends
I have decided to take a break from political writing for a while and have disconnected my email address correlated with Opednews. If any of you send me a message to my Opednews box and I do not respond, I am not ignoring you: The message simply is not getting through to me because of my disconnected email at home. Thank you and best wishes, Kathryn Smith

This quote summarizes the nature of my concerns and the content of personal experiences which stir my activis...

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Kathryn SmithHello friends
I have decided to take a break from political writing for a while and have disconnected my email address correlated with Opednews. If any of you send me a message to my Opednews box and I do not respond, I am not ignoring you: The message simply is not getting through to me because of my disconnected email at home. Thank you and best wishes, Kathryn Smith

This quote summarizes the nature of my concerns and the content of personal experiences which stir my activis...

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I would want to know....

I want to thank whoever submitted this article. It's very important. That the research is happening in Europe is significant for the following reason:

As a certified herbalist, I study the Pubmed website (government medical database) with some frequency. I have seen, repeatedly, that the AMerican studies are biased to a certain outcome particularly where pharmaceuticals and profits are concerned, whereas the European studies are typically and as an on-going pattern, much more full-disclosure. One radioactive iodine I looked up on Pubmed, for example, was noted by American studies to have only an occasional side-effect of leukemia (very serious!) and to be really safe considering how rare that effect *Supposedly* is. EVERY European study countered vociferously: DON"T USE THIS MEDICATION EXCEPT AS A VERY LAST RESORT, WHEN ALL OTHER RESOURCES HAVE BEEN EXHAUSTED! IT"S VERY DANGEROUS AND THE CASES OF LEUKEMIA ARE WIDELY UNDER-REPORTED!!

Europe is on the pioneering frontier where herbal and nutritional studies are concerned, too. America has followed suit more recently. Chemical constituents of herbs and foods alike are identified and tested in clinical double blind studies, etc (yes this is true for herbs now too. It's no longer all about old wive's tales. Interestingly enough though, *most* even if not all of the "old wives tales" are being verified by the tests and scientific studies!)

So....this raises a question for me.

Is it estrogens which are being raised by the genetically modified organisms? If so this means, folks, drumroll....increased cancer rates as well as reproductive harm.

Let's not forget that hormones are inter-dependent: If one is whacked out, the others will follow in a chain reaction too.

LEt's please not forget PMS and depression as related to the female hormone cycle. What's likely to follow from imbalanced reproductive hormones, psychologically and in health areas not limited to reproduction, but far above and beyond (ie, cancer)?

My concern is that the mainstream health industry is likely to strike this down: Rightfully, they will say that one study alone is never enough proof of anything. That's true. Because studies can be biased. And that's why it's important to rely on a vast body of studies, each as "checks and balances" on the other, so to speak.

Further, I read the study linked above (I do speak German) and there is a qualifying statement at the end of it, in which the point is made that while the way laboratory mice are affected by this study is now known, what is not known and where there needs to be further proof is how other animals might be affected.

The medical establishment can easily refute this, unfortunately. But given what I have seen reading the website, I am much more inclined to trust the much less-biased and more full-disclosure European studies than I am the biased AMerican ones, which often are in the pocket of the pharmaceutical industries.

by Kathryn Smith (96 articles, 2 quicklinks, 41 diaries, 403 comments) on Monday, November 17, 2008 at 12:39:15 AM

Hello friends
I have decided to take a break from political writing for a while and have disconnected my email address correlated with Opednews. If any of you send me a message to my Opednews box and I do not respond, I am not ignoring you: The message simply is not getting through to me because of my disconnected email at home. Thank you and best wishes, Kathryn Smith

This quote summarizes the nature of my concerns and the content of personal experiences which stir my activis...

to see more of bio, click on member name
Kathryn SmithHello friends
I have decided to take a break from political writing for a while and have disconnected my email address correlated with Opednews. If any of you send me a message to my Opednews box and I do not respond, I am not ignoring you: The message simply is not getting through to me because of my disconnected email at home. Thank you and best wishes, Kathryn Smith

This quote summarizes the nature of my concerns and the content of personal experiences which stir my activis...

to see more of bio, click on member name

PS It sounds like...

it's probably progesterone and not estrogen which is being raised to an out-of-balance level with the GMO's, juding by the description of this study. And it's the high estrogen levels which would mean increased cancer risk, not progesterone. However, that said, I still wonder and would want to know more details about what the findings were with the hormone levels. And I still have to assert that the concerns here concern much more than just reproductive harm alone. What happens to the depression levels as the female hormone cycle is disrupted? What happens to the suicide rate? What happens to secondary sex characteristics? Hmmmm.....seems to me that sometimes with our scientific and "Educated" work on the planet, at times (such as when goofing with genetics in our food or elsewhere) it is our wisdom which becomes our folly.

by Kathryn Smith (96 articles, 2 quicklinks, 41 diaries, 403 comments) on Monday, November 17, 2008 at 7:38:08 AM

Great grandson of "Big John McKune" the Chicago Police Departments first "Chief of Detectives" late 1800's, grandson of a seasoned sargeant of the Chicago Police Department (think Sean Connery)in the 1920's and 30's during the Capone Era. Son of the inventor of the first electronic switch used in Telecommunications, youngest Naval Commander ever at time of induction(1942).
Graduate Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. 25 years Software Sales,Sales Management career. Early...

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kato krauseGreat grandson of "Big John McKune" the Chicago Police Departments first "Chief of Detectives" late 1800's, grandson of a seasoned sargeant of the Chicago Police Department (think Sean Connery)in the 1920's and 30's during the Capone Era. Son of the inventor of the first electronic switch used in Telecommunications, youngest Naval Commander ever at time of induction(1942).
Graduate Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. 25 years Software Sales,Sales Management career. Early...

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This company's mission is an affront to humanity and it should be terminated as soon as possible with absolutely no debate. I would be remiss not to point out that this is a perfect example of capitalism gone mad. Under the guise of creating shareholder value, this company seeks to create a monopoly over life and sustenance. By ruining the seeds of life, they threaten the very existence of mankind while providing a strong ROI. GO WALL STREET

by kato krause (2 articles, 0 quicklinks, 2 diaries, 162 comments) on Monday, November 17, 2008 at 12:43:56 PM

Rolland (Ron) Miller is a free enterprise socialist leaning financier in his mid 60's currently working as a Realtor at Re/Max in Powell River, Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada. I moved here for quality of life in 2004 from Vancouver where I was born and carried on my financing and consulting business of large Residential and Commercial Real Estate projects across Canada, USA, and China since 1974 after excelling in the corporate world as a lender. I believe balance is the key word.
Rolland MillerRolland (Ron) Miller is a free enterprise socialist leaning financier in his mid 60's currently working as a Realtor at Re/Max in Powell River, Sunshine Coast, British Columbia, Canada. I moved here for quality of life in 2004 from Vancouver where I was born and carried on my financing and consulting business of large Residential and Commercial Real Estate projects across Canada, USA, and China since 1974 after excelling in the corporate world as a lender. I believe balance is the key word.

Study Confirms Genetically Modified Crops Threaten Humans

Monsanto and their ilk, clearly threaten our very survival.

How dare our Health and Food agencies approve the untested use of GM Foods.

They should be banned outright until they are proven safe based on numerous long term studies carried out by impartial scientists.

by Rolland Miller (1 articles, 0 quicklinks, 0 diaries, 87 comments) on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 10:59:21 PM

Just some who sees the hope in the Ron Paul Revolution
David CJust some who sees the hope in the Ron Paul Revolution

Argentinean women infertility?

As I emailed Mr. Smith, but didn't get a response from him yet (Argentina was and is the NWO's test ground for massive GMO food production since the late 1980s and early 1990s):

Hi Jeff,

I always had an intuitive feeling that there was something very wrong with the 'petite' statue of many Argentinean women (a recent phenomenal) and thought that the GMO foods here had something to do with it. They just do not look 'right'.

Your press release of yesterday seem to confirm my suspicion:

I also suspect that a lot of Argentinean woman and man are highly infertile, but without scientific studies this would be impossible to determine. Except maybe to look at birth rates which would have a delay effect of many years to show up.

Maybe there should be a study performed on the fertility rates of these 'petite' women versus regular-size Argentinean women to confirm that eating GMO foods causes in humans what this animal study confirms for mice.

Take care,


by David C (0 articles, 0 quicklinks, 0 diaries, 7 comments) on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 5:31:46 PM

I don't fit into any box, neither do you unless you choose to. My bio is infinite because I am an infinite being. I am wearing a biological space suit known as a human body. This world we live in is a range of frequencies which our space suit decodes as "reality." In truth we are all infinite beings having an experience known as "human." As infinite beings our prerogative is infinite freedom. For good or bad, there are some folks who seek to prevent us from realizing that freedom. Those i...

to see more of bio, click on member name
Edward SafranskiI don't fit into any box, neither do you unless you choose to. My bio is infinite because I am an infinite being. I am wearing a biological space suit known as a human body. This world we live in is a range of frequencies which our space suit decodes as "reality." In truth we are all infinite beings having an experience known as "human." As infinite beings our prerogative is infinite freedom. For good or bad, there are some folks who seek to prevent us from realizing that freedom. Those i...

to see more of bio, click on member name

GMO education

I was not familiar with GMO foods until I happened to hear GMO expert Jeff Smith interviewed on the Alex Jones show. I subsequently purchased his books, videos and audio. GMO foods are an unimaginable horror. In Europe they are rightly called Frankenfoods. GMO is NOT your grandfather breeding two types of soybeans to produce a better variety. It is taking DNA from say a pig, and injecting it into a watermelon in order to produce porkmelon. It is totally unnatural and the idiots doing it are like children playing with loaded guns. I've posted free MP3 downloads about GMO at One is titled jeffreysmith and is the aforementioned interview with Alex Jones. The other is titled You're Eating What? and is Jeff Smith in front of an audience. They are way at the bottom of the page as I uploaded them first. Also the interview with F. William Engdahl briefly touches on GMO Please download and listen and learn.

by Edward Safranski (0 articles, 0 quicklinks, 0 diaries, 1 comments) on Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 6:09:01 PM


Mark said...

Check out the films at BioregionalStateTV for other agricultural solutions for sustainability. Click on 'more from user' for the rest.

Mark said...

Spilling The Beans: The Trouble with Soy
Member Rating *****

By Lorette C. Luzajic

It never crossed my mind that soy - a favourite health food - might be toxic and dangerous. It wasn't the first time. Bottled water, margarine, and gluten grains all come to mind. But soy? The wonder bean?

I was faithful to the plant. I'd been a vegetarian for five years and though I now enjoy the multitude of benefits and gourmand delight that meat and seafood offer, I trusted in plants. Soy was something I'd celebrated, along with everyone else in Vancouver, in my hippie years. Later, even the men in my life enjoyed my "I Can't Believe it's Not Meat" stir fries. After moving back into the omnivore's diet that nature gave me, I still loved miso soup for breakfast and made an effort to regularly enjoy soy proteins.

Who didn't? Even Dad's got soymilk in the fridge- it's great for preventing prostate cancer, right? Even people who never got used to the taste- or shall I admit tastelessness- of soy added it in hopes of reaping the benefits of those amazing nutrients. Isoflavones, genisteins, lectins, saponins, and phytoestrogens- don't these wonderful names signal a whole host of cancer fighting, heart disease preventing, cholesterol-lowering miracles?

What if I said that those fancy words are actually toxins and the soya bean is naturally loaded with all of them? What if I told you that big business soy ran campaigns like Soy 2000 to convince us that these antinutrients were beneficial?

What if I told you that soy is not a complete protein, is not widely used in Asia, and is incredibly dangerous for human consumption?

What if I told you that the Food and Drug Administration lists soy as a poisonous plant?

The thyroid is a tiny butterfly-shaped gland in the throat. The rate of thyroid problems in North America is epidemic, especially among women. It's so common to have a thyroid disorder that it's easy to forget that's not the natural state of being. Because the thyroid regulates the entire endocrine system, the metabolism, and more, it's a very important body part. The most common disorder is hypothyroidism. This means the thyroid does not produce very much thyroid hormone, and the resulting quagmire of ailments is distressing to say the least - exhaustion, overweight, depression, hair that is dry, falls out, or won't grow, brittle nails, anxiety, skin disorders, feeling too hot or too cold all the time, menstrual problems, metabolic disorders, recurring infections, immune system fall-out, and a whole lot of other fun stuff. Untreated thyroid problems, or a thyroid that responds poorly to lifestyle change and medication, are gateways for a whole host of Hellish things from fibromyalgia to cancer.

When I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism many years ago, it was something of a relief, despite the fact I was not thrilled to have a chronic and serious gland problem. But even less thrilling was the depression that had always hovered around me- I'm a cheerful, festive sort of person, and the unshakeable melancholy didn't seem like me. Worse still was the unexplainable weight gain and the exhaustion and picking up every last cold and flu and Bell's Palsy, a lovely thing that damages the facial nerves and has given me the lopsided features some find sexy, and my 'sneer'. Finding a reason for this slew of complaints that forced me take medical leave from work gave me hope for a vibrant future, or at least one I could make the best of.

The doctor suggested a few ways to support my health in addition to simply popping pills. I was mildly surprised that I was told to avoid soy foods. I learned the word 'goitrogen,' read a bit about thyroid-suppressing foods. I stopped eating all soy foods but didn't make a big deal- I also learned that peanuts, broccoli, and cabbage all have thyroid suppressing properties. Those were good healthy plants, too, just something to avoid the way fibromyalgia patients should avoid nightshade plants or celiacs should avoid wheat. Nothing more.

One day, my godchildren's mother was over, and she asked if I thought soymilk was safe for the kids. Safe? Never thought about it. The vegan girl in the circle said enthusiastically, "yes, of course," without question, which bothered me straight off the bat.

Soymilk is way modern and loaded with sugar. For those reasons alone, I would have to say I wasn't sure. Julie borrowed a couple of my nutrition books. I had no idea whether soy was bad for everyone's thyroid or just mine, so I said I'd look it up.

I put on my Nancy Drew outfit and began some nutritional detective work. A clue here and there, some secret passages, a couple of bad guys named phytates and lectins later, I realized I was in the middle of a big ol' can of worms and the only way out was through, down the rabbit hole.

It all starts out rather confusingly- after all, hadn't everyone's favourite health dude Dr. Earl Mindell dubbed the nutrition phenomenon, "The Soy Miracle"? Sure enough, Mindell's Soy Miracle assures me (innocently enough, as the year is 1995, before the mother load of research gets unearthed) that soy is a good food for me. In fact, he writes about how beneficial it is to my thyroid. "Soy may somehow stimulate the thyroid gland to produce more hormone," he writes. This is immediately suspect, as the thyroid-lowering connection is well known, well established, and not controversial. A few pages extol the virtues of the perfect protein and cancer fighting wonder food. The rest shows a bunch of groovy recipes like the Tempeh Reuben sandwich.

Sounds tempting - but it sure doesn't take long in my new detective hat to see some suspicious handshaking. The good doctor thanks the United Soybean Board and Soy Foods Association of America straight off the bat for their help. Hmmmm...

Go figure- looks like many of us forgot the obvious adage Mom told us: if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Think about this: who told you that Asians eat a lot of soy, that they have for thousands of years, that they eat it instead of animal protein, and that soy is why they are so healthy? Soy is monk food, and what could be kinder or healthier than a monk's vegetarian diet?

So who said all this? Your Asian family or friends? Not mine. And here's something shocking: none of it is true.

It was one of the biggest industries in the world, soygriculture, who told you this. I thought it, too, but then I realized I don't really know a lot of Asian families intimately enough to know their customs. The ones I do know cook a great deal of pork, delicious vegetables and rice.

Bur Dr. Mindell says, "In many parts of Asia, soy foods are a dietary staple." But simply looking beyond the Soy Board's claims into history and anthropology, it doesn't take long at all to find out that in fact, the Chinese eat massive amounts of eggs and pork, and very little soy.

Mindell touts how Japan enjoys the longest life span, lower rates of colon, lung, breast and prostate cancer. "Judge for yourself," he says. And we did. We were presented with seemingly obvious information, but advertising is what it was. Because the truth is much different, and lower Asian cancer rates just might be from the lack of un-food in Asian diets and the masses of seafood they consume. The Japanese eat a few TABLESPOONS of soy a day as a condiment.

Monk food? Clean protein? The roots of soy are much more humble. Soybeans were used as crop fertilizer and livestock feed. Knowing soy could be harmful raw, the resourceful Asians made an art out of fermenting techniques to make them digestible. Hence, miso and tempeh, the most edible forms of soy, are important arts in Asian history. What about the nice monks? Moby's sarcasm may not be far off- does the high estrogen content in soy messes with testosterone, making monastic life a little easier on the celibate?

Still, what's the big deal? So it's not Asia's star dish. It's still the picture perfect glow of rosy health, right? A complete protein, low in fat, fighting off cancers and osteoporosis, lowering cholesterol, non-allergenic, brain-building, green, low carbon footprint, and yummy, too - right?

Not so fast. Concerned consumers in both the carnivore gourmands and the garden of Vegan groups are starting to suspect the reality might be more like this: gas, bloating, infant starvation, moobs, a whole host of thyroid problems, coronary disease, anaphylactic shock, Alzheimer's, serious endocrine disorders, a range of menstrual abnormalities and 'female problems,' cancer, low or nonexistent libido, puberty before age ten, hair loss and more. Could it really be? Aren't all of these things among the endless problems soy was going to prevent?

Hundreds of doctors and scientists and consumer advocates worldwide are now expressing concern and caution over soy. But one has devoted her research in recent years to the alarming topic.

"In the mid 1990s I started noticing a lot of articles with headlines like the 'joy of soy' or 'soy of cooking' and was entranced by the claims that soy was good for personal health and also the planet," Dr. Kaayla T. Daniel says. "The reality was another story. I was seeing a lot of sick vegetarians and other health conscious people who ate a lot of soy and seemed to be suffering greatly from it. That aroused my curiosity and I began researching the subject."

She is not a messenger for the dairy industry - she is a citizen and scientist concerned with faulty propaganda and real food. She exposed the soy industry's endless dirty secrets in her book The Whole Soy Story: the Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food.

While the vast sea of information online and in journals is confusing, jargon-riddled and often pits the debate as a vegetarian/meat-eater's one, Dr. Daniel's book is clear, organized, factual, meticulously documented, and explains all the hard words. Though Daniel, as a nutritionist, obviously sees wisdom in our natural hunter/gatherer diet, it's clear that soy is dangerous for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, and that we must all find alternative foods.

If only the problem were one little toxin. But it takes Daniel nearly 400 pages to cover all the info, plus 44 pages of study references, so that we can verify the sources for ourselves. "It was read for accuracy prior to publication by leading MDs, scientists and toxicologists. And my conclusions have certainly been validated by the recent warnings issued by the Israelis, French and Germans," Dr. Daniel says. This is solid science, but thankfully Daniel is also an engaging writer. "The studies come from a wide variety of sources - universities, clinics, FDA's Laboratory for Toxicological Research, USDA scientists, etc," she explains. "Many of the most damning studies were funded by the soy industry itself."

Here's a brief overview of Daniel's findings:

* soy oil was the first and primary profit centre for soy, and soy was largely responsible for the spread of hydrogenated or trans fats

* most soy is genetically modified

* soy farming is wreaking greater devastation on forests, cottage industries, and family farms than the cattle industry. (If you mistakenly thought soy was a bunch of hippie farmers, like I did, Dr. Daniel tells it like it is: "Let's name names. Monsanto, Dupont, Archer Daniels Midland, Solae . . . Nearly all the old hippie companies have been bought up by the big boys. For example, White Wave is owned by Dean Foods. Some of America's largest food companies now manufacture soy foods or use soy ingredients heavily in their products. Think Kraft, Kellogg, ConAgra, General Mills, Heinz, Unilever Best Foods and Dean Foods.")

* soy is a major allergen, and because it is used as filler in hundreds of products including meats and 'vegetable oil,' people with allergies may be at risk

* soy contains goitrogens, which damage the thyroid

* soy contains lectins, which cause red blood cells to lump together and may trigger abnormal immunity responses

* soy contains oligosaccarides, sugars that cause bloating and gas

* soy contains oxalates, which prevent calcium absorption, cause painful kidney stones and vulvodynia, a vaginal disorder

* many plant foods contain phytates and phytic acid, naturally occurring 'pesticides' to keep plants from being eaten while growing. phytates impair mineral absorption, and in fact, remove many minerals already in the body, including iron, zinc, and calcium. phytates in many foods are alleviated by cooking - soy's phytate levels are high and stubborn.

* isoflavones, lauded as natural estrogens, are serious endocrine disruptors, lowering testosterone, causing menstrual disorders, and cancer cell proliferation

* protease inhibitors interfere with digestive enzymes, saponins may lower good cholesterol and damage intestine

* that all of these plant chemicals can have benefits, and do exist in other foods, to varying levels of edibility: that soaking grains and fermenting beans are ancient food prep traditions

* soymilk is far from a natural food: it is filled with rancid fats and high in sugar

* soy cheeses are largely made with hydrogenated oils (safety level of hydrogenated products? ZERO)

* some health problems that may be associated with soy foods are: bladder, prostate, colorectal, thyroid and breast cancer; precancerous lesions; heart disease; type 2 diabetes; malnutrition; stunted growth; flatulence; pancreatic problems; low libido: early puberty; anemia; zinc deficiency; osteoporosis; intestinal damage; mal-absorption and leaky gut syndrome; kidney stones; allergies; infant death; immune system disruption; thyroid disease - and the list goes on.

This isn't the first time we've been concerned. Before the massive health movement of the late 80s and early 90s, all sorts of articles came out about soy safety. But hardly anyone liked the stuff anyhow, and vegetarians had yet to think of it as a food group. Soy decided to get a makeover, and save itself from the financial fallout that was nigh - when it's dirty toxic margarine secrets would inevitably leak out.

"By 1985, there was a considerable body of research from U.S. Government and university laboratories and British government institutions warning of the health dangers of soy foods, particularly to high-risk consumers such as infants and vegetarian women," says Dianne Gregg, writer of The Hidden Dangers of Soy, and survivor of soy-related illness that nearly killed her.

"These were published in scientific journals. In response, in 1985 the soy processing industry in the U.S. held a number of conferences and devised a program, 'Soy 2000,' the intent of which was to aggressively promote soy as a health food when they already knew it contained biologically active levels of toxins. This involved heavy political lobbying of Congress and Federal regulators, a vast advertising program, planting favorable articles in popular and academic media, obtaining huge Federal farming subsidies, and sponsorship of meetings by the U.S Department of Agriculture. The aim of Soy 2000 was to promote to the consumers that soy was a proven health food with no adverse effects. Their claim was that millions of Asians have been consuming soy in large quantities for thousands of years and are all remarkably healthy as a result. American consumers were expected to believe this, and most of us did!"

Soy's first incarnation in North American consumption was also a health food imposter. After millenniums of wisdom where humans used butter or lard or olive oil, good enough for the Bible and good enough for the world, suddenly margarine was "heart healthy" and "cholesterol-lowering." But lately, studies started talking about how heart disease INCREASED from this new artificial fat, hydrogenated margarine, which our body cannot recognize. OF course it did. This was not a real food.

Sound familiar? It is. Those who perceive of soy as innocent and concerned for your health may be surprised at how big a player soy was in the hydrogenation revolution. Most hydrogenated oil was soy. Now, even junk makers like chips and fast food have pulled these artificial fats out of their products. Hydrogenated oils are liquid plastic and they are poisonous. Most governments place safe consumption levels at ZERO.

Clearly soy, which still defends hydrogenation, did not then have our best health interests in mind, just profit. When the tide turned, they turned up the noise on how healthy soy is, and it became a health food, its history in margarine conveniently blotted from public consciousness.

While the health dangers are considerably ominous, not everyone is in immediate danger of death. But Dianne Gregg came within inches of her life.

Gregg had never been a vegetarian, but slim, health-conscious, and staring menopause head-on, she decided to take charge of her health and began eating soy. "I started to include soy protein drinks for breakfast, and protein bars as a snack. For eight years I was constantly nauseous, bloated, and gaining weight each year. I knew something was wrong but the doctors said it was normal and to accept that I was getting older. In April 2003, I had a soy veggie burger for dinner and that is what did me in. This was the first time I had one. The next morning I was rushed to the hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack ? but I went into anaphylactic shock."

"After four days in the intensive care unit, the doctors diagnosed food poisoning, but I didn't agree. By now I weighed 150lbs. That was more than I weighed in my ninth month of pregnancy!"

Dianne went home, and didn't eat much of anything for a while. When she recovered from her mystery illness, she started her day again with her soy health drink. She began having palpitations and other symptoms. Linking the reaction to the soy, she began her internet research, and found that in addition to very common and possibly deadly allergies, soy is implicated in hundreds of deadly or chronic diseases. Other consumers may not be linking their health problems with their health food. So Gregg wrote her book, The Hidden Dangers of Soy (

"My intention was not to bash the soy industry but to make the public aware of what the Western version of soy contains, and that if they are not feeling like themselves, or are developing health issues, to try and eliminate soy and see if they don't feel better. In my book, I have testimonials from others with real horror stories that never attributed it to soy products."

Part of the 'hidden danger' is what's hidden. Gregg says that soy is hiding in everything from meat to chocolate to oil, so people hoping to avoid it don't usually do a good job. "The number of processed and manufactured foods that contain soy ingredients today is astounding. It can be hard to find foods that don't contain soy flour, soy oil, lecithin (extracted from soy oil and used as an emulsifier in high-fat products), soy protein isolates and concentrates, textured vegetable protein (TVP), hydrolyzed vegetable protein (usually made from soy) or unidentified vegetable oils. Most of what is labeled 'vegetable oil' in the U.S. is actually soy oil, as are most margarines. Soy oil is the most widely used oil in the U.S., accounting for more than 75 percent of our total vegetable fats and oil intake. It's found in margarine, shortenings, frozen dinners, canned tuna, mayonnaise, breads, cookies, crackers, canned soup, breakfast cereals, and fast foods to name a few."

Gregg says many women keep eating soy in hope of the benefits, and end up with hypothyroidism. While contributors to the thyroid epidemic may include hormonal birth control products, fluoride content in water, stress, and sugar, soy's strength as an endocrine disruptor should not be underestimated. Especially with soy hidden throughout many foods - you can't eat uncooked broccoli, another goitrogenic food, in high quantities by mistake, for example ? even those who choose not to eat soy may be eating a lot of soy!

Another person who is very concerned about thyroid health is Mary J. Shomon, a patient advocate and best-selling author, whose many books on thyroid and autoimmune diseases I have read and enjoyed, notably Living Well With Hypothyroidism. Shomon is not an anti-soy crusader by any stretch. Her research and advocacy is concerned only with the thyroid. She has no vested interest in vegetarian/omnivore battles, soy business practices, or anything else that remotely relates to my story, except as it may or may not affect the thyroid.

It has been a well-documented fact for decades that soy foods lower thyroid hormone (Drs Doerge and Chang, FDA, Division of Biochemical Toxicology, for starters, and more from 50 years of diverse sources). But the Soyfoods Association of North America is not very concerned about my health. They cheerfully tell me, "Like other plant foods that contain goitrogens, soy can be part of a healthy diet." (Cooking broccoli or peanuts destroys their lower levels of goitrogens, but cooking soy does little to remove them.) They tell me that soy does not cause thyroid problems in healthy people (though even small amounts of the food in a daily diet have been shown to slow a normal thyroid.) They tell me to get enough iodine, which is fair enough, and to take my medicine in between meals so that the soy won't affect the absorption.

Shomon says, "I think that you need to consider the messenger. The soy industry has a vested interest in promoting soy, and downplaying any potential negatives. Again, some soy can have a place in a healthy diet, but stick with the fermented forms you find in Asian foods, like tempeh, tofu, miso, and use it, like the Asians do, more as a condiment." She says, " if over-consumed, especially in its processed, isoflavone-heavy forms, it can have detrimental effects on thyroid health. Soy is a goitrogen, a food that has the ability to slow down the thyroid gland. In some people, over-consumption of soy can trigger a thyroid condition -- or aggravate an existing one."

For the record, I contacted the Soyfoods Association of North America by telephone and email to ask about these claims and to ensure fair storytelling as a journalist whose only vested interest is the truth, not profit or ideology. No representative from any of the soy boards returned my contact.

By far one of the most thorough, informative and wide-ranging info portals on soy danger is Soy Online Services, in New Zealand. Associated with Dick and Valerie James, the content-heavy site shows no agenda but to help people dismantle the confusing array of information. No membership, no fees, no hidden agenda- just the facts, ma'am. Dick James has been correcting misinformation for years, writing letters to governments and health providers on his own time and own dime. His formidable efforts to spread his truth are honourable- Dick has never taken a dime for this time, or for Soy Online Services.

For the Jameses, it all began when his prized parrots began getting sick and dying after switching to miracle-soy-based-bird-food, he decided to get to the bottom of the issue and found astounding horrors surrounding soy foods. A dear young friend also died somewhat mysteriously, and that's how they started researching soy. They launched a legal investigation to get to the bottom of the bird-food issue, as well as the human health implications, and so began Soy Online Services.

Dick James is a man who has generously given his time and energy to educating people about their health. He says it's a "fallacy is to think that vegetarianism equates to soy consumption. It does not." Vegetarians used to eat a wider spectrum of food. Because of marketing and industrial politics, soy is everywhere, even in bird food.

The internet is abuzz with theories hoping to defame the cozy circle of soy opponents, many whom, like the James', are affiliated with the Weston Price Foundation ( Dr. Kaayla Daniel serves on the board of directors. The foundation follows the nutrition research of Dr. Weston Price, a dentist who wandered the globe studying the diets of diverse people. The foundation heavily encourages traditional diets based on animal foods and vegetables. Their agenda doesn't scare me away: I have a deep respect for the Weston Price research, and these people work hard to advocate safe, humane farming practices, chemical-free food, and old fashioned methods of fermentation and soaking. The diet may sound funny to those used to boxes and cans, but any student of world cuisine or of history and anthropology can tell these are hardly off the wall. Dr. Daniel says, "The Weston Price Foundation is supported by membership dues and private donations and receives no funding from the beef or dairy industries. We recommend an omnivorous diet that includes free-range eggs, grass-fed meat and raw dairy products from happy, pastured cows, but such products do not come from factory farming operations or corporate agribusiness. We support small farmers, humane treatment of animals, sustainable and organic agriculture and the consumer's right to obtain fresh healthy foods directly from local farmers."

The good sense of sustainable and humane farming and traditional food preparation get lost in the extravagant propaganda. "It's all about money. Soybeans were first heavily grown here for the soy oil? the one used most often in margarines and shortenings. But once processors took the oil out of the soybean, they had a lot of soy protein left over. The question was whether they should take it to the landfill and pay to dump it or turn it into another profit centre. Soy protein would make an excellent fertilizer, but unfortunately the chemical fertilizer companies had that market cornered. It is used as a primary ingredient in animal foods, but there are limits on how much they can safely feed to animals... It was initially hard to sell people on the idea of eating soy because it was perceived as either a poverty food or a hippie food. Then marketing experts changed the image of soy to an upscale 'health food.'

And that dear readers, is why all of us think this toxic waste, not healthy enough for animal feed, is a wonder food.

Not everyone is as concerned about phytic acid or lectins as Daniel, James, Gregg and myself. Dino Sarma is a passionate vegan chef with a degree in biology. Though vegetarianism was not historically synonymous with soy-eating, it is now, and Sarma's cookbook, The Alternative Vegan, was the only one I could source that was vegetarian and soy-free.

"Most vegans in the USA and Europe don't really bother with actual vegetables," Sarma laments. "Alternative Vegan is so named because it provides an alternative to your typical vegan cookbook, where it seems like soy and other meat/dairy analogues are so pervasive that non-vegans often feel that you can't eat a vegan diet without them."

Sarma's lively cookbook is teeming with inspiration from India- stuff he learned from mom. He has a flair for international cuisine, and likes to be able to recognize how his food started out. He recalls fondly the markets in Chennai, where people, vegetarian or not, ate a variety of produce. "I can remember the boisterous shouting of the vendors?the sheer amount of colours and smells that surrounded me. I also remember the stunning variety. Spinach did not mean a selection of one or two types of leaves?more like ten or fifteen, each season. ..Squashes and gourds abounded. Jackfruit, lychee, mango, papaya, guava, grapes?the long bananas, the short skinny ones?." Sounds like paradise to me, too.

Most of his recipes are meals simply put together from the produce aisle. He likes to keep things cheap, and he likes to avoid weird ingredients you can't pronounce. There were already more than enough soy cookbooks flooding the market. And while Sarma is not impressed by pricey, flavourless soy 'meats,' he didn't avoid soy because he finds it unhealthy. "Most of my readers aren't really all that concerned about soy, and just like simple, tasty, healthy food," he says. He doesn't worry about getting enough soy for protein. "All food contains proteins in varying amounts," he says. "Get enough calories, and your protein will take care of itself? Eat a varied diet, including lots of whole grains (brown rice, whole wheat berries, millet, quinoa, amaranth,) dark green leafy vegetables (mustard greens, kale, collard greens, radish greens, wild spinach), fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, and some beans, nuts, and legumes to round out your meals." I highly recommend Sarma's book to anybody: vegetables are not just for vegetarians!

As a science major, he's heard the words phytates and saponins before. "If I were to get scared of everything with saponins, I'd also be avoiding yucca, tomato, grapes," he says. Phytates, lectins, these are "commonly found in animal feeds." As for saponins: "Again, the high levels of saponins is found in the feed for dogs, but hasn't been really linked to human food."

Sarma believes in living compassionately and says going vegan is one of the best things he ever did for himself and the world, but that he doesn't ever see a reason "to be a jerk about it." He likes to educate people through colourful produce and joyful eating. And while he does not cook with soy in The Alternative Vegan, he says he has yet to see study against soy that convinces him. When I ask him what he believes, he says, "I don't like to use the word 'believe' when it comes to scientific data. Upon examination of the sources of the soy scare, I sincerely question the motives, the research methods, the data collection methods, the statistical analyses?and the funding organizations."

Amen. Exactly. And after I did, you can be sure I will enjoy wonderful vegetables of every kind, but I will never touch anything- not chocolate, not tuna fish, not salad dressing- that contains unfermented soy, ever again- and as for fermented, I love my tamari on sushi, but that's about all I'll risk.

After the margarine debacle, soygriculture just got lucky. Other food issues like mercury in fish or pesticide-riddled oranges were their own issues, not a spiritual war between two opposing camps. Soy just happened to be there, pumping its health-makeover propaganda just as the vegetarian-meat debate revved up. That debate won't ever be resolved, because people all over the world eat all kinds of different weird things, from insects to blubber to nothing but olives. The vegan versus omnivore question has nothing to do with soy, which is bad for both groups.

But the soy market saw a perfect opportunity to pit big business against two groups that consisted of citizens with a similar concern- what to safely put in our mouths. Soy conveniently became an emotional, spiritual issue: saying soy is bad is the same as saying 'you shouldn't be a vegetarian.' But it isn't. It's just saying soy is bad for you, same as soda or sugar are bad for you. Except that soy might be worse!

If you only read one thing on the topic, make sure it's Dr. Kaayla Daniel's expose. "It's sad that so many people feel that all information must be financially motivated. The truth is that neither I nor New Trends Publishing has ever accepted any funds from the beef or dairy industries or from any government agency."

Meanwhile, Big Soy is happily pocketing everyone's money while they defend one of the most deceptive businesses of all time. Dr. Daniel says many- meat eaters and vegans- have read her work. " I think they owe it to themselves and certainly to their children to educate themselves. Many who have taken that step have come back to me with thanks."


Wow - I had no idea! This is a great article!
Post Reply By Jack on 10/12/2008 9:49:28 PM


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