FOOD FOR NAUGHT: 5 Reasons To Kick Factory Farmed Meats Off Your Plate

(DrFrankLipman – Frank Lipman) These days, just about everything is mass-produced, including our food, with large, factory-style farms churning out a seemingly endless supply of meat, chickens, eggs and dairy products. All that mass production equals abundance and lower prices, but if those factory-farmed products are eroding your health, is the savings really worth it? Not in my book. Here’s what’s really going on with mass-produced meats and why you should steer clear:

1. Factory-farmed animals eat crap. Literally.

To keep production costs low, animals raised in factory farms are fed the cheapest possible grains and feeds containing among other things, “by-product feedstuff, ” which begs the question, what’s feedstuff? It’s a nausea-inducing assortment of disturbing ingredients, including municipal garbage, stale cookies, poultry manure, chicken feathers, bubble gum and even restaurant waste. So, when you eat factory-farmed animals, you’re also getting an unintentional serving of “feedstuff.” In short, their bad diet becomes your bad diet – which is counter-productive to your health.

2. Bad diets make for sick animals – and people too.

Cud-chewing critters such as cattle, dairy cows, goats, bison and sheep were designed to eat fibrous grasses, plants, and shrubs—not starchy, low-fiber grains and feedstuffs. When these animals are switched from pasture greenery to grains, many wind up suffering from a number of disorders and painful conditions. The sickened animals are then given chemical additives, plus constant, low-level doses of antibiotics. Their drugs in turn enter your system when you eat antibiotic-treated animals, setting the stage for drug-resistance in your body, particularly if you’re a heavy-duty carnivore.

3. Lousy ingredients won’t create a nutritious product.

It should come as no surprise that animals fed a crappy diet will make for a less nutritious meal. Compared to grass-fed, factory-farmed, grain-fed meats have less vitamin E, beta-carotene, and little of the two health-promoting fats called omega-3 fatty acids and “conjugated linoleic acid,” or CLA. So what’s the end-result of the feed-’em-fast-and-cheap factory farmed method? Inferior food with negligible nutrients and more of the unhealthy fats. Small wonder the stuff is so much cheaper than grass-fed.

4. Stress hurts everyone.

If your goal is to sustain wellness, factory-farmed products just don’t deliver the nutritional goods. In factory farms, chickens, turkeys, and pigs are typically raised in inhumane conditions, tightly packed into cages and pens, unable to practice normal behaviors, such as rooting, grazing, and roosting. In these conditions, the animals get stressed and wind up producing products that are lower in a number of key vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids – talk about empty calories!

5. Factory farming pollutes the earth.

In a conventional feedlot operation, for example, confined cattle deposit large amounts of manure in a small amount of space. The manure must be collected and removed. As it costs money to haul it away, the manure is often dumped nearby, close to the feedlot. As a result, the surrounding soil gets over-saturated with the stuff, resulting in ground and water pollution. But when animals are raised on pasture, their manure is a welcome source of organic fertilizer, not a “waste management problem.” Bottom line: raising animals on pasture is kinder to the environment.

In short, though factory farming enables us to have plenty of cheap and convenient food, it’s food with little nutritional benefit, that can increase your resistance to antibiotics as it pollutes your air, land and water. With so little going for it, doesn’t it seem slightly crazy to eat factory-farmed meats? It does certainly does to me – which is why I strongly suggest that if you’re going to eat meat, buy the good stuff, even if it means having to pay a bit more or buy less of it. Choose grass-fed beef, lamb, bison and poultry, to insure that you’re eating nutritious and healthy meats, as nature intended.

To learn more about what to look for when buying meat, check out my post on meat labeling and for some additional inspiration, check out this animation movie about the meat you eat at themeatrix.com.




Organic Family Farms are Likely to Suffer from Wal-Mart’s Foray into Organic Food Industry

(NaturalNews – Julie Wilson) What happens when large, powerful corporations violate the law and are immune from prosecution or accountability? They usually become repeat offenders, and in this situation, Wal-Mart, the culprit, is no exception.

About seven years ago, the big box store was accused of “cheapening the value of the organic label by sourcing products from industrial-scale factory farms and developing countries, including China,” according to a report by The Cornucopia Institute, a farm policy research group that acts as an organic industry watchdog.

Around that time, Wal-Mart also partnered with Horizon Organic, which is owned by dairy giant Dean Foods, and became the largest retailer of organic milk. Wal-Mart then used Aurora Organic Dairy, located in Aurora, Colorado, to package their own private-label organic milk.

Organic watchdog groups bust Wal-Mart for violating USDA food standards in 2005 

In 2005, The Cornucopia Institute blew the whistle on the company’s operations, alleging that it was violating USDA organic rules by confining more than 4,000 dairy cows to their cages, instead of letting them graze freely, as required by federal organic standards.

Understanding that organic consumers are label checkers who genuinely care about the quality of food, and how animals are treated, Wal-Mart deceptively marketed their products to depict happy cows, grazing on lush green pastures, with some campaigns even using graphics of small family farms.

The truth is that the dairy cows used to produce Wal-Mart’s “organic” milk were living short, stressful lives in filthy industrial facilities, exactly the type of environments which organic consumers seek to avoid.

The watchdog’s investigation found that Aurora Organic Dairy “willfully” violated 14 tenets of USDA organic standards and was caught labeling “natural” food as organic.

Despite the findings, Wal-Mart was not prosecuted but agreed to remove fraudulent signage and was allowed to continue operating without being fine a cent.

Now, the big box giant is back at it, preparing to introduce a new line of organic products that the company promises will “drive down organic food prices,” marketing them as 25 percent cheaper than the organic food currently on shelves.

This time, Wal-Mart isn’t revealing the source for their organic products and is instead using a private-label supplier and marketing products under the Wild Oats brand, a former natural foods grocery chain temporarily owned by Whole Foods in 2009 before an antitrust rule forced the company to divest its holdings.

Whole Foods then sold Wild Oats’ licensee rights to Luberski Inc., another food distributor, in 2010. Wild Oats’ physical locations were “parceled out” to buyers like Trader Joe’s and Kroger, Gelsons, according to an LA Times report.

However, Wild Oats made a comeback due to a generous donation from American venture capitalist Ronald Burkle, co-founder and managing partner of The Yucaipa Companies, LLC, a firm specializing in helping underperforming businesses.

Burkle reportedly intends to revamp the company by offering catering and take-out food services, home delivery and phone-in orders.

When Wild Oats CEO Tom Casey was asked how their partnership with Wal-Mart intended to deliver organic products, including pasta and cookies, more cheaply, his reply was, “Bigger can be better,” as paraphrased by NPR.

Considering Wal-Mart’s past with organic food, some experts aren’t convinced.

Michael Pollan, author of The Food Movement, Rising, said in an interview with the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he’s concerned that the expansion of “Big Organic” will lower food quality, weaken standards and hurt small family farms.

Organic food costs more, because it’s more expensive to produce, “and paying farmers a fair price has always been part of the deal,” said the Cornucopia Institute.

Will Wal-Mart tweak its business model in a way that allows them to offer organic foods without premium prices, while still adhering to organic federal standards?

Perhaps, but past behavior is usually a good indicator of future behavior, and Wal-Mart’s track record does little to assure skeptics.

Additional sources:
http://www.cornucopia.org
http://www.cornucopia.org
http://www.npr.org
http://rimcountrygazette.blogspot.com
http://articles.latimes.com
http://science.naturalnews.com




Unacceptable Levels – A Documentary

Approximately 200 synthetic industrial chemicals interact with our cells every single day.

Autism now affects one in 50 children.

Cancer is the leading cause of death (after accidents) in children younger than 15 years in the United States.

In the last twenty years, the rates of asthma, allergies, and ADHD are on the rise:

  • 400 percent increase in allergies
  • 300 percent increase in asthma
  • 400 percent increase in ADHD

$2.6 trillion of the GDP is spent on treating disease every year.

These are facts. Unacceptable facts.

And Ed Brown wants to do something about it.

Moved by his wife’s two unexplained miscarriages and a nasty tasting glass of water at work, Ed (now father of two healthy children) was determined to uncover the possible cause of these and other health issues. With camera in hand, he traveled the country seeking insight from the top minds in the fields of science, advocacy, and law.

The result: an award-winning documentary, Unacceptable Levels.

The film poses challenges to our companies, our government, and our society to do something about a nearly unseen threat with the inspired knowledge that small changes can generate a massive impact.

You don’t have to take on the world to change it. Just pick one thing in your life. Water, food, regulations—it doesn’t matter. Just pick something. Become curious about it and start asking questions. Find the answers just like I did.

“And know that of all the people out there, you finally found someone that can truly make a difference. That person is—and always has been—you.” ~ Ed Brown

His documentary dissects the ways chemicals saturate our homes and environment amid a backdrop of a glaring lack of regulation. It chronicles the results of the post-WWII chemical boom and details common avenues of exposure, from food to fluoride to toxic sludge. The film brings together 47 non-profit organizations and 91 companies to support the overwhelming need for chemical reform in the United States.

Unacceptable Levels opens the door to conversations about the chemical burden our bodies carry so that we can make informed decisions now and in the future.

Screening in San Francisco July 11th and Chicago July 24th (with special guest actress/eco activist Mariel Hemingway), the film will hopefully reach beyond the typical environmentally conscious audience… and empower all viewers to make better decisions for their children and themselves.
http://www.youtube.com/embed/PVB6XSyBTVE

Please help spread the word about the film by sharing this post and liking their facebook page here. You can also follow them on twitter @UnacceptableLev.

If you live near San Francisco or Chicago, please come out for the screening! Both will be followed by a panel discussion led by Ed Brown. I’ll be attending the Chicago event and hope to see you there!




Foods That Are GMO

It’s really awesome to see a growing concern over genetically modified foods. People seem to be waking up to this issue. They don’t want genetically modified foods in their diets. And for good reason!

Are GMOs Safe?

While many studies claim no correlation to any health issues with GMO consumption, there are a number of studies that do show frightening correlations including multi-organ damage and reproductive disruption. The serious health risks are becoming harder to dismiss.

How to Avoid GMOs

It’s not easy. It is estimated that 60 to 70 percent of processed food contains a GMO ingredient, according to the Colorado State University Extension.

As for produce, buying organic is one very good way to avoid GMOs. There are times when organic crops have been contaminated, but for the most part, buying organic keeps you free of genetically modified foods. We prefer to purchase most of our food from local farmer’s markets where we can get to know the farmers. Besides growing it yourself, local farmer’s markets are typically the best way to get the freshest, healthiest produce. And buy heirloom produce as much as possible! It’s funny looking, but much healthier and much tastier! Read The Difference Between Heirlooms, Hybrids, and GMOs for more information on heirlooms.

Another way to avoid GMOs is to avoid the foods that are most often genetically modified.

What Foods are Genetically Modified?

The foods most likely to be GMO are corn, soybeans, cotton (for oil), canola (also a source of oil), squash, papaya,  and sugar beets, which are refined into sugar. There’s also GMO alfalfa, but that is used for animal feed, not for sprouts that people eat. That leaves quite a lot of your garden untouched.

GMO FoodsGMO versions of tomatoes, potatoes, and rice have been created and approved by government regulators, but they aren’t commercially available.

GM Corn

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 70 percent of corn grown in the United States has been genetically engineered. The two most common genetically modified corns are BT corn and herbicide resistant corn. BT corn is genetically altered to contain the bacterial Bt toxin, an insecticide. Herbicide resistant corn varieties are resistant to glyphosate herbicides, Liberty and Roundup. Now fourteen countries grow herbicide-resistant GM corn.

Corn hybrids have been marketed with tolerance to imidazoline herbicides under the trademark “Clearfield.” Not to be confused with GMOs, the herbicide-tolerance trait was bred into the corn by using a tissue culture selection and the chemical mutagen ethyl methanesulfonate.

For those who eat a conventional, modern diet, GM corn seems to be in everything! It’s prevalent in most processed foods. Look out for the following ingredients which are either made directly from GM corn or are processed using GM corn:

  • Artificial Sweeteners (many are derived from corn in one way or another)
  • Artificial Flavors
  • Ascorbic Acid (most vitamin C is made from GMO corn)
  • Caramel Color
  • Citrate (Calcium Citrate, Magnesium Citrate, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate)
  • Corn Meal
  • Corn Oil
  • Corn Starch
  • Corn Syrup
  • Decyl Glucoside (body care products like shampoo)
  • Dextrin
  • Glucose
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Honey (High fructose corn syrup is often fed to bees to increase production. In addition, honey is often mixed with corn syrup by unscrupulous companies). Lactic Acid (often made using corn fermentation)
  • Maltodextrin
  • Modified Food Starch
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) (often made from corn)
  • Natural Flavors
  • Sodium
  • Vitamin E (Tocopherols)
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Xylitol

And believe it or not, this is an incomplete list. As you may have figured out, this means breads, cereals, baby foods, baby formulas, sauces (ketchup, BBQ sauce, etc.) veggies burgers, soy cheese, protein powders, supplements, candies, instant dinners, peanut butters, pastas, and even hospital IV’s are likely to contain genetically modified corn. Almost anything packaged! This is one of many reasons to prepare your own food and avoid anything processed.

Even organic corn has been shown to be contaminated by pollination. The farther away non GMO corn is from GMO corn fields, the less likely it will be contaminated, but it seems to be spreading.

GM Soy

The first genetically modified soybeans were planted in the United States in 1996. Now, more than 93% of  soybeans the United States produces are genetically modified, according to the USDA. GM soybeans are planted all over the world. The most commonly used GM soybeans are Roundup Ready soybeans. Soybeans have natural protection against pests. But weeds are a major problem for farmers growing soy. Roundup Ready soybeans possess a gene, agrobacterium sp. strain CP4, a bacteria, that causes the soybean to be herbicide resistance. Now the farmers can spray massive amounts of herbicides onto the crop fields without harming the soybeans.

Fortunately, since soy is well known to cause severe allergic reactions in people (and we suspect that the number of people allergic to soy is on the rise partly due to the GM soy), it’s fairly common for packaged foods to be labeled as having soy, or labeled to show they were processed in facilities that also process soy. But there are lots of food manufactures who do not label soy or that use soy and label it under a different name. Below is a list of both common names for soy and ingredients that are often derived from or contain soy. So watch out for these ingredients:

  • Daidzéine
  • Edamame
  • Estrogène Végétal
  • Fermented Soy
  • Flavoring (including natural and artificial)
  • Génistéine
  • Glycine
  • High Protein Flour (possibly)*
  • Hydrolyzed Plant, Soy or Vegetable Protein*
  • Hydrolyzed Soy Protein
  • Isoflavens
  • Isoflavone
  • Isolated Soy Protein
  • Isolated Soybean Protein
  • Kinnoko Flour
  • Kyodofu (freeze dried tofu)
  • Lecithin
  • Legume
  • Many vegetable broths
  • Miso
  • MSG
  • Natto
  • Phytoestrogen
  • Phytosterol
  • Plant Esters
  • Plant Estrogen
  • Shoyu
  • Shoyu sauce
  • Soja
  • Soya
  • Stanol
  • Sterol
  • Tamari
  • Tempeh
  • Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • Tofu
  • Vitamin E
  • Xanthan Gum

GMO soy is found in pastries, infant formulas, supplements, protein powders, cereals, vitamin E, bread, cheese, dough, candy… Once again, pretty much anything and everything processed and packaged as convenient food.

Meat, Dairy, and Eggs

While scientists are beginning to genetically modify animals, the current problem with GMOs from meat comes from the foods we feed our livestock.

Chickens, cows, and pigs (as well as many “free range” livestock) are fed genetically modified corn and soy. You are what you eat (and drink, and are injected with). So conventional meat, eggs, and dairy are essentially made up of GMO corn and soy.

Cattle Feed factory farmFarmers who want to avoid genetically modified feed can purchase corn and soy feed that is labeled GMO free. But the feed is often contaminated with GMOs. Even organic animal feed is not free from contamination! In 2006, Albert Straus, owner of the Straus Family, wanted to make sure the food he was producing was completely free of genetically modified foods. He made the decision to test the feed he used for his 1,600 cows and found that nearly 6% of the corn feed he used, labeled organic, was contaminated by GMOs (read the Times article, When Organic Isn’t Really Organic).

While dairy shares the same problem as meat and eggs, as it is essentially created in large part from genetically modified animal feed, Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, also known as RBGH, is another problem with conventional milk. This Monsanto hormone artificially forces cows to increase their milk production by 15 percent.  While not a genetic modification, it’s worth mentioning that this is nasty stuff that should be avoided at all costs.

The easiest way to avoid meat contaminated with GMOs is to go vegan or to know the farmer that raised the meat so you can be assured that precautions are taken. Regardless of where one’s ethics are when it comes to eating meat, animals should be allowed to roam freely and eat what nature intended. This produces healthier meat that is generally completely GMO free. But with the spread of genetically modified pollen, it may eventually become harder and harder to insure animals don’t eat GM plants.

GM Beets/Sugar

More than 50% of sugar sold in America comes from sugar beets. Genetically modified, Roundup Ready sugar beets account for more than 90 percent of the crop. This figure is likely to increase since the USDA granted non-regulated status for genetically engineered beets just last year, and the FDA approved them to be to be sold on the market under the name “sugar.”

If the ingredients say “cane sugar,” there should not be GM beet sugar in the food.

GM Papaya

The only currently commercially-produced GM fruit is the Hawaiian papaya. In the late 1980s, the University of Hawaii developed a papaya genetically engineered to be resistant to Papaya Ringspot Virus. They did it by transferring viral genes encoded with capsid proteins into the papaya genome. The capsid proteins cause something similar to an “immune response” from the plant. The genetically modified papaya plants are no longer susceptible to infection, allowing farmers to cultivate the fruit even when the virus is widespread. The GM papaya is often held up by GMO proponents as proof of how genetically engineering food can benefit us.
The first GMO papayas were grown in Hawaii commercially in 1999. Now these Transgenic papayas account for more than three quarters of Hawaiian papaya crops and they are contaminating the organic crops. NW Resistance Against Genetic Engineering reported that independent laboratory testing results showed widespread GM contamination.

Nearly 20,000 papaya seeds from across the Big Island, 80% of which came from organic farms and the rest from backyard gardens or wild trees, showed a contamination level of 50%.”

Fortunately GM papayas can be avoided if you buy  the large Caribbean or Mexican red papayas, which are not genetically modified.

GM Canola/Rapeseed

Accordning to Wikipedia, “A genetically engineered rapeseed that is tolerant to herbicide was first introduced to Canada in 1995. In 2009, 90% of the Canadian crop was herbicide-tolerant. As of 2005, 87% of the canola grown in the US was genetically modified. A 2010 study conducted in North Dakota found glyphosate- or glufosinate-resistance transgenes in 80% of wild natural rapeseed plants, and a few plants that were resistant to both herbicides.”

If it’s not labeled Organic or certified GMO free, canola oil is almost definitely genetically modified.

GM Squash

Summer squash and zucchini were genetically modified to become more resistant to viruses and bacteria. But there was a problem. Cucumber cockroaches love GMO squash. They wound the leaves, leaving open holes in them. The cockroaches’ feces get absorbed into the stem causing bacterial diseases.

Some experts say that genetically modified squash have blended with wild squash species.

Farmers generally do not want to use GMO squash seeds for the aforementioned issues, and most experts say that conventional store bought squashes are very unlikely to be GM squash.

GM Fish

The AquAdvantage salmon has been created by adding a growth hormone regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon and a promoter gene from an ocean pout to the Atlantic salmon’s genes. These genes enable the salmon to grow all year (as opposed to growing only during the spring and summer). The AquAdvantage salmon grows much faster than wild salmon and matures to twice the size of regular salmon. Many environmentalists and scientists are worried that GMO salmon could have negative impact on the environment and mutate over time.

AquAdvantage salmonThe application for FDA approval requires land-based tank cultivation. There are no sea-based pens under discussion at this time. But if there was ocean contamination, consider the ramifications. The contamination would be impossible to stop once it starts, and the changes to the salmon population, as well as any species that foods on the salmon,, would be irrevocable.

The good news is that as of this writing AquAdvantage salmon has not been approved by the FDA. The bad news is that it is likely to be approved very soon.

Whole Foods and Trader Joes have vowed that they will not sell genetically modified seafood.

It would seem that farm raised seafood would be good for the environment, considering the toxins such as mercury in the seafood and the deviational effects our fishing industry has had on our oceans. But with the way fish are farmed, there are significant environmental and health concerns. From dyes being used in the feed, to much higher levels of toxins in farm raised fish, we cannot recommend consuming any farm raised seafood at this time. For more information on these environmental and health concerns read Top 10 Problems from Food and Water Watch.

Artificial Sweeteners, Preservatives, Artificial Flavors, and Artificial Colors

Many of these additives are derived from genetically modified organisms, as if we need another reason to stay away from them.

GM Cotton

Like corn and soy, cotton has been genetically engineered to handle pesticides. At least half of the cotton grown in the world has been genetically modified to resist pests and pesticides. GM cotton has been blamed for many farming issues in India including soil infertility and a rise in farmer suicides.

Cottonseed oil is used to make vegetable oil and margarine, but cotton itself has gossypol, a toxin that makes it inedible. But scientist have recently been able to silence the gene that produces the toxin, so cotton  may end up being a food crop for more than just oil.

To avoid wearing clothing made from GMO cotton, buy organic cotton clothing or look for a GMO free label.

Wheat

Recently an Oregon farmer sprayed a patch of wheat with Roundup. Some of the wheat survived. The farmer then sent samples to be analyzed by a laboratory. The wheat was a genetically engineered Monsanto Roundup Ready wheat that had never been approved anywhere in the world.

http://www.youtube.com/embed/WSrcq912DOI

But there are many other reasons to avoid wheat. Artificial selection over many years has changed the proteins in wheat, which is causing massive health issues. Check out 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Gluten for more information.

GM Potatoes

There are no transgenic potatoes marketed for human consumption at this time. That may soon change. BASF requested cultivation and marketing approval in 2011 for its Fortuna potato, genetically modified to be resistant to late blight.

Many consumers concerned about GMO foods believe that conventional potatoes will not sprout because they are genetically modified. But this is not the case.

Potatoes are treated with fungicides while they grow, then they are sprayed with herbicides to kill off the fibrous vines for easier harvesting. Finally, after the potatoes are extracted from the ground they are treated on order to prevent them from sprouting. It’s been said that many farmers have separate plots where they grow potatoes for themselves without the chemicals.

UPDATE (5/1/2015): Genetically Modified Potatoes are not on the market. Avoid any potatoes that are not organic for the GMO issue and other reasons.

GM Tomatoes

In 1994, the transgenic Flavr Savr tomato was approved by the FDA for marketing in the U.S. The modification allowed the tomato to delay ripening after picking. But these GM tomatoes have disappeared. Transgenic tomato (FlavrSavr) had a “deactivated” gene (Antisense approach). This meant that the tomato plant was no longer able to produce polygalacturonase, an enzyme involved in fruit softening. The premise was that tomatoes could be left to ripen on the vine and still have a long shelf life, thus allowing them to develop their full flavor. These GM tomatoes, however, did not meet  expectations. Although they were approved in the US and several other countries, tomatoes with delayed ripening have disappeared from the market after peaking in 1998. At this point, no genetically modified tomatoes are being grown commercially in North America or in Europe.

The nearly perfectly round and bright red tomatoes you see in the grocery stores, lacking in flavor and nutrition, are hybrids. For more information, check out The Difference Between Heirlooms, Hybrids, and GMOs.

GM Peas

Australian scientists genetically modified peas with genes from kidney beans, creating a protein that functions as a pesticide. Studies have shown strong evidence that these genetically modified peas may create significant health issues including immune system disruption. The good news is that these genetically modified peas are not approved for human consumption and are not available.

GM Rice

Currently, there is no large scale production of genetically modified rice. Bayer has developed a strain of rice they call LL62 with increased tolerance to glufosinate-containing herbicides. This genetically modified rice has been approved in the United States, but farmers are not yet using it.

There is a wide variety of genetically modified rice not yet approved in any country. GM research for rice includes making rice resistant to herbicides, diseases, and pests; increasing nutritional value; eliminating rice allergies; producing human blood protein; increasing yield; improving tolerance to drought and salinity; and enhancing nitrogen use efficiency.

GM Yeast

Genetically modified yeast is approved in the United States for making wine.

In the United Kingdom genetically modified yeasts were approved a few years ago. The yeasts are a bakers’ yeast that displays a shorter rising time and a brewers’ yeast that is used in diet beer. Neither of the GM yeasts are used commercially on a large scale at this time.

Bananas

Despite what you read online in many uninformed websites, bananas are not genetically modified. The bananas we eat are a result of selective breeding. Wild bananas have a large, woody seed in the middle of the fruit. They also have much less edible fruit.

GM Alfalfa

In January of 2007 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that he would authorize the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa developed by Monsanto and Forage Genetics.

Experts who are not in the pockets of Monsanto agree that massive GM contamination of alfalfa, more so than any other GM crop, is only a matter of time.

GMO alfalfas are treated with Monsanto’s Roundup ready that have been related to many health problems and crop failures, including a mysterious unknown organism discovered last summer in Midwestern fields that is connected to seemingly healthy fields are suddenly littered with yellowed leaves and dead plants (check out More Details on the Strange Organism That Could Destroy Monsanto).

From my research, alfalfa is the most freighting GMO on the market (though I would pick salmon if it were on the market today). It’s a shame. Alfalfa is an amazing plant with awesome health benefits (Read more about alfalfa and its health benefits).

GM Contaminated Honey

Canadian honey was banned by Europe after it was found that the honeybees in Canada were feeding off of genetically modified canola.

Bees are often fed high fructose corn syrup to increase their honey production. In addition, testing has shown that conventional honey imported into the U.S. is sometimes mixed with high fructose corn syrup and is usually processed to filter out the pollen or heated, which destroys its nutrients.

Only use organic raw honey, and do not cook with it (it destroys the health benefits).

Other Ways to Avoid GM Foods

A common myth is that you can tell which produce is genetically modified by its bar code. Five-digit numbers that start with a “9″ signify that the product is organic, while a five-digit number starting with “8″ implies that it is a GMO. The problem is that there are no labeling requirements for GM foods. And since consumers have shown that they don’t particularly want GMOs in their diets, the companies don’t want to label as such.

But there will be a way we can tell which foods are GMO and which are not regardless of whether or not we get labeling laws passed.

A handheld device that detects pesticides, heavy metals, and genetic modifications will soon be available. We are very excited about this and cannot wait for it to hit the market!

In the not too distant future, consumers will be able to run on-the-spot tests for environmental toxins, GMOs, pesticides, food safety, and more with their smartphones and other hand-held devices.”

Check this article for more information

In closing…

There is a lot of misinformation about GMOs. I’ve tried to dispel some of it, but there are a few other issues that should be addressed that don’t fit into the scope of this article. Please do take the time to check out Top Five Myths Of Genetically Modified Seeds, Busted, an NPR article by Dan Charles.

We need to label genetically modified foods. Personally, I feel that organic foods should be our staple. Organic food is real food. It should be the food that doesn’t require labeling, while everything else should. But then again, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t even have GMOs, pesticides, herbicides, etc.

The truth is, if we take time to cultivate nutrient dense soil and look at growing food from a long term perspective, toxic chemicals aren’t needed at all. And we would all be healthier for it. But with the way things are now, we can’t rely on big business to do this. Organic standards are consistently dwindling. And whether or not GMO foods get labeled, we need to take back our health, stand up to big agriculture business, and start growing our own food and supporting small local farmers we know and trust. Marching on the streets against Monsanto is great. It needs to happen. But money talks. Vote with your wallets. And spread the word. I do believe that we are on the cusp of some radical changes with our food system. I’m just not yet sure which way the change is happening.

Recommended Supplements (These supplements help detoxify GMOs):

Further Reading:



Natural Food Certifiers says No More Kosher GMOs

Times are changing, and many organizations and people are denouncing genetically modified foods and demanding real, untainted foods to be available to all consumers. Natural Food Certifiers, a certification company that does vegan, organic, kosher, and gluten free certifications, is the latest company to jump on the anti GMO bandwagon.

Natural Food Certifiers just recently announced that genetically modified foods will not be certified as kosher under their “Apple K” kosher certification program.  A press release stated:

NFC was very proud to introduce the first “Natural Only” kosher supervision,” said NFC Director Rabbi Reuven Flamer. “It’s a logical application of our principle, ‘Start Naturally. Stay that Way.’ Therefore, the Natural Apple K cannot be placed on a product that contains GMOs,” Flamer explained.

“While according to the strict letter of Kosher food law a GMO food ingredient is not prohibited, in our view it is not natural.  Additionally, there is a Torah (religious)-based law to ‘guard your health’. GMOs are the number-one growing concern among health-conscious consumers and for businesses in the natural and organic food market, as well as in the conventional food industry,” said Rabbi Flamer.

“Recent studies show that GMOs may cause various kinds of health problems from digestive disturbances to food allergies, and that GMOs require more herbicides, which is really the opposite reason why GMOs were touted to be so environmentally helpful in the first place,” Rabbi Flamer added. “For all of the many reasons that GMOs raise a red flag, consumers simply don’t want them in their foods, and our clients want to accommodate their customers.”

Natural Food Certifiers says that they will phase out GMO foods, including any foods with any genetically modified ingredients, from their kosher certification over the next 12 months.

Recommended Supplements (These supplements help detoxify GMOs):

Further Reading:



EPA Approves Pesticide Highly Toxic to Bees

Recently the EPA stated their intention to protect our honeybees. Their declaration to find solutions to the honeybee population decline is now proven to be an empty promise with the approval of the new pesticide called sulfoxaflor. Though the EPA classified this pesticide as being highly toxic to bees, the pesticide has been granted unconditional registration, which means that the pesticide has met certain criteria including,  “…that the product will perform its intended function without unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, and that when used in accordance with widespread and commonly recognized practice, the product will not generally cause unreasonable adverse effects on the environment…“ For more on conditional and unconditional regulation, see the EPA’s Pesticide Registration Manual.

The EPA stated that sulfoxaflor does not demonstrate substantial residual toxicity to exposed bees. They also state that the effects are not “catastrophic effects” expected from the use of sulfoxaflor.

The EPA claims that they have collaborated with the agency’s counterparts in Australia and Canada to review 400 studies in order to support its decision. These studies are not currently available in public scientific literature.

In order to address the dangers the insecticide poses to bee populations, the agency approved a reduced application rate and increased the time interval between applications from what the registrant Dow AgroSciences LLC requested.

Sulfoxaflor labels will state, “Do not apply this product at any time between 3 days prior to bloom and until after petal fall.” And “Notifying known beekeepers within 1 mile of the treatment area 48 hours before the product is applied will allow them to take additional steps to protect their bees. Also limiting application to times when managed bees and native pollinators are least active, e.g., before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. local time or when temperature is below 55oF at the site of application, will minimize risk to bees.”

So it is up to the ones applying the insecticide to insure bee safety by applying only as indicated and to inform their “known” beekeeper neighbors. And 48 hours is hardly time to insure hives are relocated to safe areas.

For more on Sulfoxaflor Approval check out:




Bowman v. Monsanto Co.

Sowing Seeds in the Supreme Court

Monsanto , the company we just cannot seem to stop talking about, finds itself inside a courtroom once again. This time, the case has made it to the Supreme Court.

Vernon Bowman, a 75-year-old soybean farmer from Indiana, faces the agriculture giant. Bowman is not an activist opposed to Monsanto’s genetically modified crops; he buys and plants Monsanto soybean seeds.

Monsanto’s RoundUp ready, genetically modified soybeans are patented. Farmers are not allowed to retain and plant the seeds generated from each new crop. By contract, they agree to purchase new seed each year. Bowman diligently purchased annual seeds. But late-season soybean crops are a risk. When Bowman decided to plant a late season crop, he bought cheaper “Outbound Grain” from a local soybean grain elevator. He knew Monsanto genetically modified seeds were popular among his neighboring farmers. As suspected, most of the seed came from Monsanto crops.

This is what got Bowman into trouble.

Monsanto sued for patent infringement. By replanting the seed, Bowman made illegal copies of the plants and was ordered to pay $84,000 in royalties.

The case is cause for consideration on seed and plant patent law in general, no doubt. But at its core, it is a remarkable reflection of where agriculture is today and where it is going. Should someone have legal rights over a product of life?

Before modern farming practices, seeds were considered public domain. They were saved, exchanged, replanted. Plants were modified through breeding and selection. Diversity was essential for crop survival. Farmers developed assorted varieties that were able to thrive in all types of environments.

This all changed in the 1980’s, when companies were given the legal right to patent and own products of life. The problem with patenting this product of life is that it is the seed’s nature to reproduce. The legitimacy for a company to have rights over a naturally self-replicating entity should raise concern.

The Supreme Court, after hearing arguments from the farmer and the corporation, will have the task of untangling the web of complex patent law. The court’s decision on whether a natural life product can be legally owned could have resounding effects throughout the agricultural, pharmaceutical, and medical industries.

Also check out Monsanto Company Profile.