Category Archives: Food

Transgenic foods, GMOs and clear labelling

I don’t know a whole lot of transgenic foods, but I think there’s something wrong, anyway, in adding salmon fish genes to say, whatever plant my tortilla chips are produced from in order to make those plants not as susceptible to some disease or pest, or more likely to grow in a certain way or at a certain rate of speed. I don’t want to argue with people who say, “You can’t impede commerce and every part of the world has to be somebody’s commercial oyster.” Those people are wrong, but I don’t care to argue with them.

However, I do think that we, the people, should know when weird stuff is implanted in the foods we consume thinking we’re eating something we’re familiar with and that’s naturally derived. I am so not alone in my thinking. By the way, transgenic and GMO are terms for the same practice – modifying the genes of one form of life with a gene from a different life form. U-T San Diego reports,

In a nationwide telephone poll conducted in October 2010 by Thomson Reuters and National Public Radio, 93 percent said if a food has been genetically engineered or has genetically engineered ingredients, it should say so on its label — a number that has been consistent since genetically modified crops were introduced. FDA guidelines say that food that contains genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, does not have to say so and can still be labeled “all natural.”

In California, voters in November will decide on a ballot initiative requiring the labeling of such foods.

In October, an online campaign called Just Label It began collecting signatures and comments on a petition to the FDA, requesting rules similar to those in the European Union, Japan, China, India and Australia, stating what transgenic food is in the package.

and Natural Society’s Feb 1 2012 article shows Vermont is taking the GMO labeling issue seriously as well.

Vermont has taken the initiative against Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations in launching new legislation that would require the labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients. The bill, known as the ‘VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act’, was introduced to the Vermont House of Representatives by Representative Kate Webb of Shelburne on February 1st, 2012. The bill would require the labeling of not only products filled entirely with GMOs, but also for those partially created using GM ingredients.

My friend Lenny Thomas attributes the death of honey bees to genetically modified crops. What do you think, New Jersey, should we get a movement like this started in our state?

Death of the Honey Bee: the Decline of Mankind

Sadly I’m finding more support for something that I have long suspected. Monsanto is a major player in the deaths of honey bees, which could in turn cause mankind to starve. The shame is that it is not a direct cause so many are duped into believing that these genetically manipulated products cause no harm. For a long time bee colony deaths have been attributed to pests, pesticides, and environment. The primary pests were Varroa mites which are like microscopic vampires sucking the life out of the bees. But healthy bee hives where there is no smoke or antibiotics have been able to survive these attacks. There are a variety of pesticides which also kill bees but these are obvious because death is fairly immediate. The biggest factor in the environment seems to be widening holes in our planet’s ozone layer. These holes are allowing more ultraviolet light to come through causing an increasing incidence of human skin cancer, as well as the deaths of frogs and many insects. However, while these attacks are significant most bees have been surviving in spite of them.

Then Monsanto comes on the scene. They took a previously used bacterial disease, Bacill Thuringiensis ( also known as “Bt” ), but instead of spraying it on the plants as was previously done, Monsanto incorporated Bt into the produce itself, genetically. Spraying put most of the poison on the outside of the plants where bees had less contact. Genetically modified plants are the poison. Genetically engineered plants containing Bt were approved for use with the understanding that there would be no harm to non-target insects. (There was no mention of us humans, of course.)

So Bt was studied for its effect upon bees, but only as a direct cause of death. The actual mechanism for death seems to be ingestion of the poison by bees through plant nectar and pollen, then Bt produces a sort of bee Alzheimer, if you will. Normally when bees die of other direct causes, the bodies are piled outside of the hives by workers. Bt affected bees get memory loss and lose their ability to navigate to and from the hive. In the winter months, when the bee has to travel further to get food, they simply lose their way and don’t return home. Beekeepers just find an empty hive in the spring when they go to check on their colonies.

There are scientists who are giving us a 30 year life span until starvation. Personally, I would think that event could come sooner unless some is done to stop the present proliferation of Bt-laced products as well as the build up of Bt levels in water and soil along with the increasing cross pollination of Bt plants with organic ones. Some organic farmers are even using Bt pesticides since they are listed as “natural”. This only adds to contamination levels, hastening the time when honey bees could become extinct.

Dangers of Fracking – Fracturing Shale With Water

Update: See separate post on actions for moving towards a permanent ban on fracking

The New York City Council has a great synopsis about why fracking shouldn’t be allowed in the Delaware River Basin where the Marcellus Shale formation sits

The Delaware River is the critical water source for over 15 million people — five percent of the U.S. population — including residents of New Jersey, Delaware, Philadelphia, and 8 million New Yorkers. Furthermore, experts agree that hydraulic fracturing could contaminate drinking water, causing irreparable harm and costing taxpayers billions of dollars. The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), an agency composed of representatives from four states and the federal government, is taking steps to finalize regulations for hydraulic fracturing in the area near the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. While thousands of gas wells have been developed in Pennsylvania in recent years, development of hydraulic fracturing has been much more limited in the area near the Delaware River due to the area’s status as a critical drinking water source for five percent of the U.S. population.

On September 29th, Councilmember James Gennaro introduced a resolution calling on the DRBC to halt the issuance of regulations for gas production using hydraulic fracturing for water withdrawal for the purpose of hydraulic fracturing within the Delaware River Basin until a cumulative impact study is completed to assess the risks and inform the development of adequate regulations for hydraulic fracturing in the Delaware River Basin.

New York Times writer Eliza Griswold reports on the local environmental dangers of fracking, a practice which in the regions it takes place is ruining water supplies in locations across the country, corroding home and business water delivery pipes and appears to be killing pets and farms animals too. Griswold was directed by a Range Resources spokesman to move away from a “fracking pond” containing chemically treated waste water that had been used in the company’s fracking process which Griswold observed to be sitting in a catch basin at the top of a watershed (EPA definition).

Griswold points out

In Amwell Township, your opinion of fracking tends to correspond with how much money you’re making and with how close you live to the gas wells, chemical ponds, pipelines and compressor stations springing up in the area. Many of those who live nearby fear that a leak in the plastic liner of a chemical pond could drip into a watershed or that a truck spill could send carcinogens into a field of beef cattle. (According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, 65 Marcellus wells drilled this year have been cited for faulty cement casings, which could result in leaks.) But for many other residents, including Haney’s neighbors, the risks seem small, and the benefits — clean fuel, economic development — far outweigh them.

One of her escorts through Amwell Township was 64 year old farmer and science teacher Ray Day of who, “like most of his neighbors, trusted the companies to use best practices. A man’s word means a lot here. After all, without regulation or oversight, he and other farmers worked together to do things like fence streams to keep cattle out of them.”

I first learned of the danger to water supplies caused by fracking when my friend, Sabastian Belfon, returned from visiting family in Arizona. “Kimi, I kept seeing all these pickups driving around with huge tanks in their beds in the back, so I asked my family what was going on.” They told me that’s how most people have to get their water now – by trucking it in. Because of hydrofracking, groundwater’s contaminated now. Just Google the phrase arizona people truck drinking water frack to produce a long list of problems people in that state are having with their drinking water, which some apparently can ignite simply by putting a flame near the water as it runs out of their kitchen sink faucet. Bob Donnan of Pennsylvania blogs about the water in his region turning putrid due to fracking,

TDS, or total dissolved solids in our drinking water were blamed for its chunky state. But water company officials were quick to tell us that even though it may spot glasses in your dishwasher, there is nothing to worry about — the water is safe to drink. Sure, if you can get past drinking something tasting nearly as bad as the prep for your last colonoscopy!

Turns out some of the low river flow, and much of the TDS chunkiness, resulted from the Marcellus Shale gas boom. Unless you have been sleeping, or residing on Mars for the past year, you know about this madhatter gas drilling boom that’s going on, with the epicenter in Hickory, Pennsylvania. Estimates indicate the Marcellus Shale holds enough gas to supply the entire US for 14 years, so main players ante up like it’s the California Gold Rush.

Water is pumped out of streams anytime, anywhere . . . The Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law is supposed to protect drought- stricken streams from de-watering, but is this law being enforced?

Mark Ruffalo stood with Occupy Trenton at the huge anti-fracking rally in Trenton yesterday (on 11/21) with Josh Fox, creator of the movie Gasland, to address the hundreds of protestors and Green Drinks co-host Sally Gellert was there too.