Category Archives: Plants, Pests, Rescue

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.

What We Don’t Know About Bear Hunting

Here’s the travesty of justice the New Jersey bear hunts represent. It begins with the fact that there were no bears left in New Jersey. The Fish and Wildlife Commission imported new bears and encouraged the population to grow so they could sponsor bear hunts a couple of decades later.

The Fish and Wildlife Commission. They’re the people who protect fish and wildlife in the state of New Jersey, right? Nope. They’re the people who make sure people who want to shoot or kill animals and fish have plenty of opportunity to do it: and in the process, they set the forest rangers up to collect beaucoup fees for the privilege of spreading blood and carnage around the forests and damaging the ecosystem of rivers and lakes. That’s done by replacing indigenous populations of fish with farm-bred versions that take over and make many amphibian species native to the area, permanently extinct. A few years ago, the state finally made room on the commission for a single animal rights advocate.

Then there’s the sad fact that baby bears grow pretty slowly, and need their moms for two full years. So yearlings whose mothers have been killed by hunters won’t be able to take care of themselves and they end up dying too before long, of mauling by predators or simple starvation.

There’s plenty about the New Jersey bear hunts that isn’t known, and should be. There must be a better solution to bear population control than the grief and destruction caused through hunting.

Much more information at

Get Rid of Flies in Compost and Other Places

A Green Drinks member mentioned that she did away with her compost pile because she couldn’t stand the flies that hovered around it constantly. I had some time to look into possible fixes for this and found an interesting solution, one that the Discover Channel says has a scientific basis for working: hang plastic bags filled with water – and a penny – where you want the flies to be gone from. The bagged water’s reflection affects flies’ eyesight in an odd way and they don’t want to fly near, so they stay away.

(added 110710) Learned yesterday that a similar recommended technique is to hang CDs so they waft around, floating in the air. Flies apparently also have trouble with the light refraction they disperse.

Banish Fruit Flies

Q: Some fruit flies have taken up residence at my house. I don’t want them to be fruitful and multiply. Does anyone have any good (preferably inexpensive) methods of getting rid of them before they become a real problem? Thanks, MG

A: Ivan says – There is an easy an inexpensive solution: in a small bowl pour about 1/8 cup red wine, add in a couple of drops of dish detergent and place this near where the fruit flies are congregating. The soap breaks the surface tension of the liquid so when the fruit flies are attracted to the smell of the wine they can’t coast on its surface and when they alight to drink, they fall right in.

Of course, you have to discard whatever rotten fruit or veggie called them into your kitchen in the first place, otherwise they’ll never go away. In my family’s kitchen when we can’t visually spot the source of a fruit fly gathering we start looking in cabinets for rotten potatoes or onions. Good luck!

Ladybug Swarms In Spring

Q: Our house is suddenly full of ladybugs, they are everywhere! As harmless as they seem, it’s starting to get kind of creepy. Any ideas as to why this is happening, and is this something that needs an exterminator or can we do something about it ourselves? Thanks, EE

A: Ivan says – Let the ladybugs be. They’re looking for a place to hibernate for the winter and lay their eggs. These are the good guys. They eat garden pests, and they lay their eggs near where pest eggs already are, or may be laid. So ladybug babies will eat the bad babies when springtime comes.

If you let them be, they’ll help you, and you’ll have a happy garden when the weather turns nice after winter.

The End.

We Need Honey Bees – Don’t Kill Them!

greenpeacebeesIf you find honeybees in your backyard or near your business and want to get rid of them, think a minute before picking up the phone to call an exterminator. Call a beekeeper instead! Some beekeepers will remove beehives in order to save those bees.

We need honeybees to pollinate plants so the food we eat will grow, but thanks to mass poisoning by pesticides and habitat destruction there are less bees available for this job than ever before. Fortunately, there is a growing community of local beekeepers who treasure these creatures and want to protect them.

Don’t try removing the hive yourself, as this can be dangerous.

Here are tips for finding a beekeeper who can remove your hive:

  • Do an internet search or check the Yellow Pages for Beekeeper or honey.
  • Contact your County’s Agricultural Extension Service. Although the Extension Services are affiliated with state agricultural universities, Extension offices are typically housed within a county building or park.
  • Ask your fire, police or health department. They may have lists of beekeepers who will take unwanted bees.

In the New York/New Jersey area, find registered beekeepers through:

American Beekeeping Federation: