Wednesday, April 27, 2011

GMO? OMG! Ten Reasons to Never Eat Genetically Modified Foods
 by Barbara Upton

Never in human history have we taken the DNA from one species and artificially forced it into the DNA of a different species. Arctic fish genes have been forced into tomatoes, jellyfish genes have made pigs' noses glow in the dark and cow genes have turned pigskin into cowhide. But the real danger lurks in the eight GM foods on the market in the US today: corn, soy, cotton, canola oil, sugar beets, zucchini, crookneck squash and  Hawaiian papaya. The more we learn  about the unpredictability of this infant, radical technology, the government collusion with the biotech industry and the fraudulent, industry-funded "science" behind GM crops, the more we realize we must go the way of most of Europe, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and other countries and demand to know what we are eating and feeding our families. We must begin by insisting that all foods with GMOs (genetically modified organisms) be labeled so we can avoid them. Here are ten reasons why.

1. GM foods are not safe! The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) says GM foods "pose serious health risks". Nineteen GM animal feeding studies show damage to the immune system, infertility, organ damage, insulin deregulation, increased mortality, accelerated aging, and potential precancerous cell growth. In one study, 50% of baby rats born of mothers fed a GM diet, were dead in three weeks (five times higher than normal). The babies who survived were much smaller and preliminary evidence indicated they were not able to conceive. 

AAEM calls for an immediate moratorium on GMOs and recommends that doctors prescribe a non GMO diet for all their patients. In the only human feeding study (yes, there has only been one) GMOs survived and continued to function in the stomachs of people who had eaten GM food. No follow-up studies were done.

2. The FDA approved GM crops despite protests of the agency's own scientists. An overwhelming consensus of FDA scientists warned that GM foods could create allergens, toxins, nutritional problems and even "new diseases". However; the first Bush administration was intent on promoting GMOs so they appointed a former Monsanto lawyer, Michael Taylor, who  developed the policy on GM foods, saying they were no different from conventional varieties. The policy was called "a political document" and "very pro-industry" by a microbiologist at the FDA. It was not based on peer-reviewed science. Taylor went on to become vice-president of Monsanto and is now back in government as our food safety czar! If a biotechnology company declares a GM crop is safe, that is good enough for the FDA.

3. GM crops are contaminating our entire food supply. At a conference in 1999, Monsanto said their goal was to ensure that 100% of seeds were genetically modified and patented (by them, of course) in 15 to 20 years. One way to achieve this is to contaminate naturally growing crops.

One Monsanto executive put it this way,“The hope of the industry is that over time, the market is so flooded that there’s nothing you can do about it. You just sort of surrender.” 

Once contamination occurs there is virtually no way to recall it. In a 2004 government study, GM bentgrass cross pollinated with natural bentgrass 13 miles downwind. The industry thought the pollen could only travel 1000'! The Forest Service says this one example "has the potential to adversely impact all 175 national forests and grasslands." A 2010 study showed that 80% of wild canola in North Dakota had been contaminated with GM genes.

Even more worrisome, the USDA has even approved hundreds of open-air field trials of pharmaceutical crops- crops genetically engineered to produce drugs, like blood thinners, vaccines and powerful growth hormones, as well as industrial enzymes. In 2002, corn genetically engineered to produce a pig vaccine contaminated a half million bushels of soybeans.   

In addition to contamination,  Monsanto has spent billions buying up conventional seed companies toward their goal of a world in which natural seeds are virtually extinct. Monsanto provides 90% of GM seed sown globally.

NY Times May 2010
Wheat after Ten Years of Glyphosate Use   Jeffrey Smith
4. GM crops increase pesticide use. In the first 13 years of growing GM crops in the US, herbicide use increased by 383 million pounds and 48% of that increase has been in the last two years, contrary to industry claims that herbicide use would decline. Seventy percent of GM crops are engineered to be resistant to Monsanto's herbicide, Round Up (glyphosate is its main ingredient). Such crops can cross pollinate with weedy relatives creating "superweeds" that require more toxic herbicide, like 2,4-D, an ingredient in Agent Orange that has seen an increase in use of 237% in two years. Some superweed infestations have been so dramatic that farmers have had to abandon cropland.

Besides rendering soils infertile, decreasing nutrients in plants and contributing to 40 plant diseases where it is used, glyphosate is also linked to sterility, hormone disruption, miscarriages, birth defects and cancer. From farms to lawns, our country is drenched in it.

 5. GM crops do not increase yields. In 2009, the Union of Concerned Scientists debunked Monsanto's claim that GM crops would increase yields. “Traditional breeding outperforms genetic engineering hands down.” states the report. This was further corroborated by a UN/World Bank report of 400 scientists in 58 countries that concluded that organic farming is the only sustainable way forward. In ten years, many African countries doubled yield using organic practices.

6. The biotechnology industry hurts small farmers. You may have heard of Monsanto's "Seed Police" spying on and harassing farmers across America's heartland. When farmers buy the more expensive GM seeds they are prohibited from using them the next year. If GM seeds find their way onto farms, through contamination by wind or insect pollination, the farmer is sued by Monsanto. As a North Dakota farmer said, "Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell." Monsanto also encourages farmers to turn one another in and they have been brutal in their dealings with small farmers, suing hundreds and going after their homes and farms. 

Additionally, farmers of GM crops have lost money due to a decrease in export sales because of lack of trust in GM crops by other countries. Monsanto wanted to create GM wheat, but wheat farmers fought them fearing loss of markets (US corn lost 99.4% of the European corn market after being genetically modified).

7. The biotechnology industry uses bad science to justify their claims. Monsanto once did a study to ally farmers' fears that their genetically modified bovine growth hormone (rBGH) caused increased infertility in cows. Monsanto secretly added cows already pregnant to the study to show there was no decrease in fertility! Monsanto also declared rBGH dairy safe for humans, although it dramatically increases the level of the hormone IGF-1 which is the number one risk factor for breast cancer and is linked to  prostate and colon cancer. The company rigged the testing (pasteurizing milk 120 times longer than normal) to claim rBGH is destroyed by pasteurization.

Monsanto falsified research studies to hide the cancer causing nature of dioxin in its Agent Orange and a former manager of Monsanto India said Monsanto "faked scientific data" given to government regulators to get their GM products approved. In 2005, a German court ordered Monsanto to make a study public that they had been suppressing that showed changes in blood, livers and kidneys of rats given GM food. And there are myriad ways biotech researchers have been known to rig their studies.* Are these the guys you want to trust with the food you eat?

from the Institute for Responsible Technology
8. Many animals avoid GM foods when given a choice.What do they know that we don't? One farmer decided to try an experiment with a bag of GM corn and regular corn. He put both bags in his woodshed to conduct the experiment in the winter. But later he found the mice had done the experiment for him. All the conventional corn was eaten, the GM corn had not been touched! Cows, elk, geese, pigs, buffalo, raccoons, squirrels, rats, mice and other animals all try to avoid eating GM food!

9. Since GM foods have been introduced into the American diet, there have been increases in chronic diseases and allergies. We don't know exactly what is tied to GM food consumption, because so few studies are done, but consider this: since the mid 1990s when GM foods were introduced in the US, the number of Americans with three or more chronic diseases doubled from 1994 to 2001, food-related illnesses in the US also doubled from 1997 to 2002, as did trips to the ER for allergic reactions. There has also been a surge in obesity, autism, Alzheimer's, ADD, gastrointestinal problems, certain cancers and more. 

From's Power Point
We do know that a genetically modified supplement,called L-Tryptophan killed 100 and permanently disabled  and sickened thousands of Americans in the 1980s. It created acute symptoms that came on quickly which helped researchers trace the illness. So what if GM foods today are creating proliferative cell growth in our stomach lining as as they do in rats, and what if that turns cancerous in ten or twenty years? How long would it be before links to a GM diet could be made? And if links are found, how do you recall millions of acres of GM crops?

10. We are all guinea pigs in this unprecedented, unregulated GM experiment. The biotech industry would have you believe that inserting genes from bacteria, or viruses into the DNA of a corn or soy plant is a neat, orderly and safe process, like inserting a new page into a book. What they do not tell you is the process of genetic modification itself causes massive collateral damage to the finely controlled, intricate web of DNA. The transgenes are shot into DNA with a 22 caliber gene gun. Where they are inserted can cause hundreds or thousands of mutations throughout the genome, can destroy natural genes, permanently turn genes on or off and create unpredictable and potentially dangerous side effects. As Dr Suzanne Wuerthele, a toxicologist with the EPA said, “We are confronted with the most powerful technology the world has ever known, and it is being rapidly deployed with almost no thought whatsoever to its consequences.”

Sign the petition for labeling GM foods. Write and call your elected representatives, write letters to the editor, share information, talk this up and join a local nonGMO group (and if there isn't one- form one!). Stay tuned for an article on how we can begin by avoiding GM foods so we can reach a tipping point of consumer rejection to demand labeling. If Europe can do it, so can we! 

"Just sort of surrendering" to the genetic modification of our food supply is not an option.

Note- For those living in the Mid-Hudson Valley, the meeting Thursday, May 12 at 7 PM at the Rosendale Cafe has been postponed. I will be creating a list serve so we can talk about raising awareness GM foods and how to live GM-free. Please write to me at if you would like to be on it and to receive notices for future meetings. Thanks!

*Industry researchers are paid to not find problems with GM foods and most of the research on GM is industry-funded. In fact, Monsanto blocks independent researchers from using its patented GM seeds for study.
Here are just a few of the tricks the company researchers use.
  • Use highly variable animal starting weights to hinder detection of food-related changes
  • Keep feeding studies short to miss long-term impacts
  • Test effects of roundup ready soybeans that have not been sprayed with roundup
  • Avoid feeding animals the actual gm crop, but give them instead a single dose of the gm protein that was produced inside gm bacteria
  • Use too few subjects to derive statistically significant results
  • Use poor statistical methods or simply leave out essential methods, data, or statistics
  • Use rigged or irrelevant control groups, and
  • Employ insensitive or obsolete evaluation techniques
from "Company Research on Genetically Modified Foods is Rigged" by Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology. I was recently trained by Jeffrey in an online webinar and thank him for his pioneering work on the health dangers of GM foods!

and thanks to Ellen Naney of Women in Black for her phrase- "GMO? OMG!" I see bumper stickers!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Poughkeepsie Protest at Bank of America Video!

Thanks to all the Dutchess and Ulster County residents who came out Monday to protest the fact that Bank of America does not pay its federal taxes. They made $4.4 billion in profits last year and paid nothing. The year before that they even got a refund of almost $2 billion! We do not have to take food from hungry women and children, or turn off the heat on our elderly - we simply need the Big Banks, corporations and the rich to pay their fair share.

Many thanks to Joel Tyner, Dutchess County Legislator, Linda Abbott, Coordinator of the Ulster County MoveOn Council, Gerard Lyons, vice president of SEIU Local 200 and vice president of the Hudson Vally Area Labor Federation, to all who spoke and to all who cared enough to take it to the streets!

This protest was part of a MoveOn nationwide action. Thousands protested in 450 cities across the country! It's a movement!

Bank of America is not the only big tax dodger. In the “Guide to Corporate Freeloaders,” Senator Bernie Sanders listed corporations that do not pay taxes to the federal government, but received a federal bailout or large IRS refunds. The list includes Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Boeing, Chevron and Exxon Mobil, among others.

If you would like to be on a Hudson Valley list for future workers' rights and corporate accountability actions-
write to me at

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ryan's Dark Ages Budget, The Chamber Doesn't Speak for You!

Kristy Tillman via Fast Company's Co. Design
Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan's recent budget proposal would make this graphic on extreme inequality in America even worse! His plan would make our country unrecognizable with levels of poverty and hardship not seen since the worst days of the Great Depression. About 2/3 of the $4.3 thousand billion Ryan wants to slash from the budget would come from programs that assist lower income Americans. Ryan wants to eventually turn Social Security over to Wall Street, and end Medicare and Medicaid as we know them.  Medicaid's beneficiaries are primarily children of low income families, seniors and disabled people. What is "courageous" about going after the most vulnerable in society? Ryan's plan would create a two-tier system in which health care is increasingly rationed by income. Ryan wants to shower the already ultra rich with billions more in tax cuts while raising taxes for the middle class in the largest redistribution of income from the bottom to the top in US history.

Ryan's proposals look very much like those advocated by the extreme right-wing Koch brothers, so it is not a surprise that Ryan spoke at Koch's strategy meeting in February (in the past, Supreme Court Justices Alito and Thomas have also graced those gatherings). And isn't it interesting that for 10 years, Ryan raised about the average for House members, but in 2010 his contributions soared from about $1.5 million to $4 million, mostly from "large individual contributions."

The Koch brothers are the largest funders of climate change denying organizations (spending almost three times as much as Exxon Mobil!) want to repeal health care and Wall Street reform and helped elect Republican governors like Scott Walker in Wisconsin, to eviscerate the rights of workers (political stooge Walker is also making it easier for Koch companies to pollute Wisconsin water with phosphorous )What Paul Ryan says publicly is outrageous enough, but can you imagine what is said behind the closed doors of a Koch  gathering?

To get a better idea of who the Kochs are, here are just some of their offenses outlined by the Center for Public Integrity:

In late 2000- Koch was hit with a 97-count indictment for covering up the discharge of more than 15 times the legal limit of benzene, a carcinogen, from a refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas.The company faced penalties of more than $350 million. Four Koch employees were also charged individually and faced up to 35 years in prison.

Three months after the Bush administration took office—and just before the lawsuit went to trial—the Justice Department abruptly settled the case. Koch agreed to pay $20 million and plead guilty to a single count of concealment of information. In return, the Justice Department dropped all criminal charges against Koch and the four employees.

In another case, Koch was sued by the government in 1995 and 1997 over a reported 300 oil spills at pipelines owned and operated by the company. Those lawsuits sought from $71 million to $214 million in penalties for the spills, which dumped an estimated three million gallons of oil into lakes and streams in six states.

On January 13, 2000, the government settled that case for $35 million in fines.

The Kochs were also sued by their own brother several years ago in a case where the company was accused of stealing millions of barrels of oil from federal and Native American lands.

Notice how they always seem to escape the worst fines and penalties for their criminal behavior? It helps when you "own" the politicians who are supposed to regulate you. The Kochs have given millions to politicians, almost all Republican. They funded 62 of the 87 incoming House GOP freshman class, not to mention 85 right wing think tanks and countless astroturf groups like Americans for Prosperity that helped organize the Tea Party. "Their reach into virtually every aspect of political, economic and physical life on the planet is probably greater than you thought possible."

Paul Ryan hides behind the need to reduce the deficit. It must be addressed, but Ryan's way, the GOP's way, the Koch brothers way to do it- to hurt those struggling the most, while further lining the pockets of the wealthy - is unacceptable and un-American.

"If we just went back to what [defense spending] was under Clinton and also went back to the tax rates under Clinton for the rich and everybody else, we'd save $7.5 trillion over the next 10 years without taking money from the mouths of starving children." Bill Mahr on Rachel Maddow 4/12/11

The US Chamber of Commerce Doesn't Speak for You!

Many thanks to for their new campaign, The US Chamber Doesn't Speak for Me! 

"Unnecessary Austerity," a new Institute for Policy Studies report, explains how Congress could raise more than $4 trillion in revenue over the next decade by reversing years of tax giveaways to the richest Americans and largest corporations.

And finally- a little fun. Watch Colbert expose Fox and Friends for the idiots they are.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

1,000 at "We Are One Rally" in Newburgh!

New Paltz Women in Black was well represented!

It was great being in Newburgh with about 1,000 on 3 corners standing up for their rights! Cars, buses and trucks honked enthusiastically in solidarity.This is a movement! 

From the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation-
Over 1,000 union members and allies rallied in Newburgh today to stand up for the middle class and honor the memory of Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated on April 4 while supporting the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike. The Newburgh rally was part of a nationwide mobilization in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for.

"Martin Luther King died fighting for collective bargaining for the sanitation workers of Memphis.  The anniversary of his death should serve as a stark reminder that workers' rights are human rights. As President Reagan said, “Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost," said PEF Executive Board Member Janette Clark.

The workers united will never be defeated!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

No Nuclear Power, No Fracking Day of Action, Workers' Rights Rally- We Are One!

1. NO to Nuclear Power! 

That anyone could still be a proponent of nuclear power in light of the out of control nuclear disaster in Japan is astounding to me. There were 130 tons of nuclear fuel at Chernobyl; there are 1,760 metric tons at Fukushima. Have you noticed the reporting has stopped? What is happening there now? There was a report the other day that radioactivity levels were a million times greater than normal and  that was quickly changed to 10,000 times. We know that babies in Tokyo cannot drink the water or the milk and that minute traces of radioactive dust have already circled the globe; yes, even here. Scientists say there is no safe threshold, that any contamination poses a threat to your health. At least one nuclear reactor core has been breached and as of today, three weeks after the tsunami crippled the plant, highly radioactive water is pouring into the Pacific Ocean and it is almost certain the worst is yet to come. 

Why do people think it could not happen here? The NRC called Indian Point the most dangerous plant in the US; the one most at risk of meltdown due to an earthquake (it sits on the intersection of two active seismic zones). The risk is 72% higher than previously thought. Entergy, the plant's owner, admits it could not handle a 7.0 quake, yet the NRC denied New York's demand that this issue be a part of the re-licensing review.

Additionally, there are 1,500 tons of radioactive waste on site. Tritium and Strontium 90 have been leaking from at least two spent fuel pools at Indian Point into the Hudson River and into groundwater. As we have seen at Fukushima the spent fuel pools have 2 to 10 times more radiation than the reactor core (the spent-fuel pools at New England's oldest nuclear plants now hold up to five times more radioactive material than they were initially designed to handle). To make matters even worse at Indian Point, the fact that 20 million live in a fifty mile radius of the plant makes evacuation impossible.

Not only do we have to close Indian Point, we must end nuclear power before it ends us. The radioactive waste issue alone is reason enough to ban nuclear power. It has to be contained for a half million years or more- a physical impossibility. As it leaks it will concentrate in the food chain causing epidemics of genetic diseases, leukemia and cancers in future generations.

Read the top 10 reasons to close Indian Point and then call Congress 1 202 224-3121 and President Obama 1 202 456-1414 and demand that we start shifting to a clean energy future and to begin by closing Indian Point! Sign the petition and join Mothers and Others to Close Indian Point May 8th!

"  The splitting of the atom changed everything save man's mode of thinking. Thus we drift towards unparalleled catastrophe. Nuclear power is a hell of a way to boil water."  Albert Einstein 

Citizens Campaign for the Environment
2. No Fracking Day of Action- April 11

Indian Point gets exemptions from safety regulations (according to the NY attorney general, the plant is currently in violation of established fire safety regulations and in seeking more than 100 exemptions from those regulations). Similarly, during the Bush administration, Cheney pushed for what is known as the Halliburton Loophole, exempting fracking fluids (the toxic mix that is the result of hydraulic fracturing) from the Clean Water Act. Water wells, groundwater and waterways are being severely polluted all across the nation as a result. As the New York Times recently reported in a three part series, "One well can produce over a million gallons of waste-water that is often laced with highly corrosive salts and carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements."

3. Stand for Workers' Rights!

April 4 is a National Day of Action to Support Workers' Rights!

Join us in solidarity with working people in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and dozens of other states where well-funded, right-wing corporate politicians are trying to take away the rights Dr. King gave his life for: the freedom to bargain, to vote, to afford a college education and justice for all workers, immigrant and native-born. It’s a day to show movement. Teach-ins. Vigils. Faith events. A day to be creative, but clear: We are one

Please come out to support local workers' rights to collectively bargain for decent wages and safe working conditions- corner of Rt 17K and Union Ave, 4:30PM

Good News- Volunteers in Wisconsin were able to get enough signatures (in under half the time they had allotted to them) to trigger a recall election of state Senator Dan Kapanke (R)- One of eight Senate Republicans targeted after passing Walker's bill to end collective bargaining for public workers. One down- seven to go. Eight when you include Walker himself!

Keep Faith!