Exposing The Truth about GMOs

by Michael Thomas at Exposing the Truth

One of the hottest and most controversial issues in the world today is genetic engineering. With protests against Monsanto on May 25th in over 400 cities, people have shown that this is a topic they truly care about. Largely, the stances are highly polarized with opponents saying it is all cancer causing, poisonous, and environmentally dangerous and supporters saying it is wonderful, improving yield and making everyone except “anti-science” opponents happy.

The problem with polarized positions is they almost always miss the reality of the issue and avoid talking about the general facts. Polarized texts instead skip directly to the evidence supporting their position. But, in real life, I think it is important to lay out exactly what we are talking about before we try to say if it is “good” or “bad.”

The first question we have to address, before we talk about the potential and danger of genetic modification, is what exactly is genetic modification? If you want to avoid the science, you can just skip the next 3 paragraphs. Otherwise, I can advise continuing to read, using the sources I provide, or using a search engine.

In the modern context we are talking about the introduction of foreign genetic material, almost always coding for a protein –which are molecular workhorses capable of doing everything from binding with other proteins to changing what DNA is activated or not (nuclear receptors), to themselves performing reactions and either creating or breaking down molecules-, which is introduced into the genome through a double-strand break and insertion (what I call “splice-in”), or through homologous DNA recombination (meaning it trades bases, or DNA, with a target strand inside the cell).

This means that using existing techniques we are often inserting a new piece of code, complete with its own regulatory mechanisms (transcription factors), into the cell and inducing a targeted double-strand break and insertion with endonucleases, something like TAL-effectors, and hoping this doesn’t accidentally alter any important regulatory or coding elements.

Newer methods allow homologous DNA exchange, but switching out bases (which we can perceive as letters, which together make words –amino acids- which then form sentences –proteins-) from existing code depends on us actually understanding all the roles existing code is playing: which we often do not. So in both cases we risk tampering with existing code and risk current genetic information being lost. But, this risk can be minimized by selecting for redundant code, meaning little risk of disabling something entirely.

But, current usage has not been sufficiently responsible and in fact viral DNA containing an extra Cmv promoter and gene sequence (Gene IV) has recently been found in almost all GM crops. This seems to be able to activate transcription or expression of any cellular mRNA (Ryabova et al, 2002), meaning it can lead to the production of the wrong proteins. Gene IV also codes for a protein which does, among other things, suppress RNA silencing processes: it weakens the body’s reaction against viruses (Haas et al. 2008). Gene IV even makes plants less capable of defending against bacteria (Love et al. 2012). Unfortunately, this sequence was found in all of Monsanto’s transgene crops, and this, many years after they had already been approved in the US (Podevin & du Jardin, 2012).

Now that we know what we are talking about, we can ask ourselves: is this safe? Well, is anything in science inherently safe or dangerous? It really all depends on what you are doing, how you are going about it, and what, if any, precautions you take.

I don’t think we can regard all genetic modification as being equal. Huge successes in the realm of unicellular genetic modification have been seen, for instance using modified yeast to produce insulin or other molecules which would otherwise require complex industrial processes to create (for instance in the realm of fuel alternatives). This use of genetic modification, isolated from the natural world, seems to only bring benefits.

Unfortunately, a lot of the efforts towards modifying multicellular organisms like plants have relied on genetic resistance to endocrine disruptors — disrupt metabolism and internal processes — or toxins. This means that their use and usefulness depends on the simultaneous use of a chemical which will do ecological damage. These chemicals remove competition for the plants by killing anything lacking resistance-genes (for instance Glyphosate aka Roundup), they do this by destroying their metabolism. These chemicals are often, if not always, non-selective and thus will wreak havoc on the metabolism of anything unlucky enough to come into contact with these chemicals.

This toxicity also includes mammals, with 2 year rat studies showing a significantly higher death rate of 2-3x more than normal, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5–5.5 times higher, tumor risk in males 4x higher, and more kidney deficiencies than normal. (Seralini et al, 2012).

The arguments used against this fact is that destruents (which are the most important part of the ecological cycle since they turn dead organic matter –with carbon- into inorganic –without carbon- material for plants to use) like bacteria, Earthworms and other parts of the soil ecology will adapt relatively quickly to this, that the effects are likely limited, and that the doses we consume of them in our produce are relatively small.

But, none of those arguments are fully valid: only some destruents will adapt but many will invariably disappear from the soil at least temporarily (years), since none of these chemicals degrade quickly. This makes the soil less fertile for future generations.

If that was not enough to convince us to avoid GM pest control, Bt toxin plants are often mentioned –plants which produce their own insecticide- along with the statement that they have led to reduced pesticide use. Now, to be truthful, the absolute worldwide use of insecticides has sunk since the introduction of Bt organisms. But, the overall use of pesticides and herbicides has continued to rise, especially as resistance develops in the “target” populations and making Bt less effective.

This has likely contributed to the continued death of the bees: Colony Collapse Disorder, which currently wipes out approx 30-40% of colonies every year (15% is acceptable at the end of winter). Of course, the disorder may also be related to the use of monocultures, which is intensified by the use of total herbicides like Roundup. In the end, it is likely a mix of both the chemicals and the monocultures.

Now, the thing is that these Bt toxins are actually not even harmless to mammals (Portilho et al., 2013) and we need to ask ourselves about the ecological sense in creating something which cannot be eaten by the other organisms in the ecosystem.

Now, before we say that genetic engineering is inherently bad, there are in fact more responsible ways to use this technology even in the realm of multicellular organisms. A really good example is the “golden rice” which is rice with an added enzyme to produce beta-carotine (basically Vitamin A, which we cannot synthesize ourselves). The research was done relatively transparently, seed created and distributed at cost or for free. The rice is even shown to contain more vitamin A than spinach (Tang, 2012).

Meanwhile the World Health Organization advises the continuation of supplement programs instead of giving the people a way to produce the vitamins they need in their own soil. The anti-GM movement has also so far been largely inclined to oppose all genetic modification and lump golden rice in with roundup-ready corn.

Unfortunately, while Monsanto has the economic power to push their products through, even block labeling in certain nations (e.g the US, where despite public support for labeling, the senate blocked an amendment 71-to-27 which would have allowed states to label GMOs if they wanted to, on Thursday May 23rd, 2013) general suspicion of genetic engineering has led to the use of this rice also being opposed, despite the fact that no new chemicals would be needed in its use, and that the new gene actually has a beneficial ecological role.

We are being misled. The world is not black and white, and we cannot lump an entire branch of science together with those abusing it. Luckily, the world may be open to waking up to this fact. Recent global protests have seen millions marching against Monsanto, not against genetic modification.

As always the issues are goals, methods, responsibility, and transparency. Companies like DuPont and Monsanto are not here to help the world’s farmers, they are not there to help feed us. The people making the decisions, as always in an LLC(Limited Liability Company), are not even responsible for any consequences they cause through the company’s actions. They even have personal interest in reducing transparency so they can hinder people from finding out about problems or mistakes for long enough that they can become filthy rich.

They were producing poisons (including Agent Orange) since before they were working to supposedly feed the world. They work very hard to try to discredit all the studies I have linked in this article, but I encourage you to read the studies yourself. If anything, the fact the data is open for us all to see, and their methods of analysis, gives me more faith in them than in Monsanto, who has famously misrepresented and even falsified data in the past (e.g PCBs, Roundup) and has monetary interest in ignoring the warnings.

Both a recent New York Times article and a Forbes rebuttal concentrated on the economic values of Monsanto’s crops, cherry-picking economic data. What is strange is how this discussion has been so railroaded into the realm of statistics instead of real world ecological and health consequences.

So, are GMOs bad? In my opinion, there are some wonderful applications for this technology that have little or limited risk for negative consequences. Meanwhile, the way the technology is being used at the moment, in tandem with dangerous chemicals, is obviously not acceptable. It may be a good idea to not only forbid the patenting of genes, as some companies are trying to do in regard to the human genome, but to make genetic engineering efforts: data, methods, and analysis, publically available. Only then can we help insure that decisions are not being made independent of the data, to help prevent decisions being made only in light of the profit margin.

Sources:

1) Seralini et al, 2012.http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691512005637

2) Portilho et al., 2013. http://gmoevidence.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/JHTD-1-104.pdf

3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3394250/ – TAL-effectors (“splice-in”)

4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12429697 – recombination (replacing bases)

5) http://independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/regulators-discover-a-hidden-viral-gene-in-commercial-gmo-crops/ – viral genes in GMOs

6) http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/96/3/658 – Golden rice

7) Tang, 2012. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22854406 Golden rice.

8) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/23/gmo-labeling-bill-genetically-modified-food_n_3325972.html?ncid=txtlnkushpmg00000037 GMO labelling blocked in senate

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Michael Thomas hails from Boston, Massachusetts, but currently lives in Germany, where he studies biology. He is politically active and is working on creating his own political movement based on the idea of the government and politicians being almost totally transparent, and localized/decentralized decision making.

Comments 123

  • When the collapse begins, we’ll be eating pigeons, squirrels, rabbits, cats & dogs and people – there won’t be any genetically modified crops because there won’t be any way to grow them.

    ’nuff said.

  • From the overall thrust of the article, it seems (once again) that if the gene for the expression of sociopathic behavior could be engineered out of the race, it would be a benefit for all and real progress might be made.

    Meanwhile, the clock is ticking.

  • Even scarier than the genetically engineered vegetables we eat are the genetically engineered trees which are being introduced into the ecosystem. Once their pollen gets out there’s no telling what it will do to the biodiversity of the planet. These plants tend to out compete their wild brothers that have a niche in the local ecosystem. They are already planting genetically engineered eucalyptus in the south and eucalyptus is already an invasive species as it is. There seems to be no thought about the consequences of our actions. It’s almost as if humans are trying to test the resiliency of the planet. Yes, mother nature may wipe out our species but we have unleashed things upon this earth that will be felt for millennia after we are gone. Genetically engineered organisms and our deteriorating nuclear facilities may be humanity’s most lasting legacy on this planet after we are gone.

  • Since this planet is run by corporations and money-lenders, for the short term benefit of corporations and money-lenders, we are going to have a lot more dysfunction rammed down our throats by bought-and-paid-for politicians before climate chaos and energy depletion bring the system down.

    We now know it’s all a rigged fame, at the local level, at the national level and at the international level, and companies like Monsanto have more power than most governments (all governments?).

    Life at the End of Empire on the Planet of the Maniacs.

  • Thanks, Michael, for this excellent report on GMO science. It’s very hard for us non-scientists to find Personally I’m not so sure about any genetically modified organism. Plenty of ill effects have been documented, and unintended consequences are very likely to occur since our Monsanto-owned government allows new products onto the market with little or no testing. Meanwhile, my personal choice is to buy no GMO infected products, and I’m hoping that the anti-Monsanto forces (and they are legion) will come up with much better ways to achieve our goals. No more marches please. They only laugh, since they own all three branches of government and have no fear that any government lackey will ever take action against them. Constituents? Who cares? Monsanto rules!

    Boycotts of known GMO users (like the fast food chains), rogue stickering in the grocery stores (If they won’t label them, we will) – are just a couple of ideas out there. If we really take the trouble to not buy Monsanto infected products, we have a chance.

    Meanwhile, here’s some fun for us doomers.
    http://www.upworthy.com/the-one-where-the-weather-lady-starts-telling-the-truth-a-little-too-much-truth-to-be-honest-9?c=upw1

  • Hopefully the Seed Vault in Longyearbyen, Norway will survive the coming horrors that await our planet. Of course, someone would have to survive the calamity to open the vault and re-seed the devastation…if that were even possible.

  • Soylent tuesdays coming to a market near you……..

    With each passing day, the future portrayed in the classic sci-fi film, “Soylent Green” appears more prescient.

  • Michael Thomas says: This means that their use and usefulness depends on the simultaneous use of a chemical which will do ecological damage. These chemicals remove competition for the plants by killing anything lacking resistance-genes (for instance Glyphosate aka Roundup), they do this by destroying their metabolism.

    GMO crops, sparkling and new,
    Won’t displace all the plants that once grew:
    Even if not withdrawn,
    Once people are gone,
    The Roundup will be gone too.

  • A different view on “golden rice”:
    http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/features/failures-of-golden-rice/
    Golden Rice: All Glitter, No Gold, 3/16/2005.

    “It was a great sales pitch: adopt this genetically engineered rice, and it’ll save millions of children from blindness! It will end Vitamin A deficiency. They called it “Golden Rice.” But if you queried their claims, or had concerns about possible genetic contamination of a global staple food, you were an environmental extremist who cared more about trees than children. It was, and is, fool’s gold.
    zoom

    GE rice threatens biodiversity
    “Golden Rice” is a technical failure. It won’t overcome malnutrition.Worse, it is drawing funding and attention away from the real solutionsto combat the very real problem of vitamin A deficiency?”

  • Vandana Shiva on “golden rice,” which she calls a hoax.
    http://online.sfsu.edu/rone/GEessays/goldenricehoax.html

    A lot on GMO foods at this page,
    http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/node/2439

  • A good overall article.

    IMO no gmo’s should be released into the environment due to the effects, both known and unknown.

    Two more links from my bio classes:

    From our friend Dr. Mae-Wan Ho: “Stunning” Difference of GM from non-GM Corn

    Snip:
    “A comparison of US Midwest non-GM with GM corn shows shockingly high levels of glyphosate as well as formaldehyde, and severely depleted of mineral nutrients in the GM corn.”

    and. . .

    “Scientific evidence on glyphosate accumulated over three decades documents miscarriages, birth defects, carcinogenesis, endocrine disruption, DNA damage, neurotoxicity, and toxicity to liver and kidney at levels well below recommended agricultural use (see our recent review [2] Why Glyphosate Should Be Banned, SiS 56). The presence of formaldehyde – a genotoxic and neurotoxic poison at such enormous concentration – is totally unexpected.”

    Link: http://permaculturenews.org/2013/04/22/stunning-di fference-of-gm-from-non-gm-corn/#more-9677

    U.S. farmers may stop planting GMOs after horrific crop yields

    Link: http://peakoil.com/enviroment/u-s-farmers-may-stop -planting-gmos-after-horrific-crop-yields

    snip:

    If farmers don’t move back towards non-GMOs, the availability of seed will become an issue, he said, noting that some 87 percent of U.S. farmers currently plant genetically modified seed.

    Countries around the world that do not use GM seed are outperforming U.S. farmers. The largest crop yields last year were in Asia, and China in particular, where farmers don’t plant GM seed.

  • One more article:

    Glyphosate in Monsanto’s Roundup Found in All Urine Samples Tested

    snip:

    A recent study conducted by a German university found very high concentrations of Glyphosate, a carcinogenic chemical found in herbicides like Monsanto’s Roundup, in all urine samples tested. The amount of glyphosate found in the urine was staggering, with each sample containing concentrations at 5 to 20-fold the limit established for drinking water.”

    Link: http://naturalsociety.com/monsantos-infertility-linked-roundup-found-in-all-urine-samples-tested/

    Awww heck, why not one more? The gene in question is used in essentially ALL gmo food substitutes:

    The cauliflower mosaic virus (CaMV) promoter was found intact in rat tissues after a single meal, and was also confirmed to be active in human cells.

    The full 1100 base pairs of the CaMV promoter was found:
    • In stomach cells and in intestinal (mesenteric) lymph nodes two hours after eating;
    • In mesenteric lymph nodes, kidney, and liver cells six hours after eating; and
    • In mesenteric lymph nodes, spleen, and liver cells three full days after eating.
    Future tests will determine if the CaMV is active.

    Seven groups of six rats each were intragastrically intubated (fed through a tube to the stomach) with a balanced diet. Added to the a small portion of the diet was a single dose of a genetic construct similar to those used to create genetically engineered crops. This construct included a gene that codes for a green fluorescent protein. The negative control group had no promoter attached to the green fluorescent protein gene at all; the positive control used human cytomegalovirus promoter known to be active in all mammalian cells. The test group had the CaMV 35S promoter coupled to the gene. The design tested the DNA construct in both circular and linear form. A final control was not fed any DNA at all. About half of the CaMV fed rats in each of the circular and linear DNA groups were found to contain intact CaMV.

    Tissue samples remaining to be tested will soon determine if the CaMV is active, causing the expression of the green fluorescent protein.

    In a separate but related study, the same three constructs described above were added directly to human intestinal epithelial cells (both small and large intestines), rat cells, and fish cells, in vitro. The fluorescent gene was expressed in all the cells tested.

    Implications for human health

    The CaMV promoter is attached to inserted foreign genes in nearly all genetically engineered foods. It overpowers the cells’ own self-regulatory mechanisms so as to permanently turn on the foreign inserted gene and produce large amounts of the transgene proteins. Without the promoter, the gene would likely be dormant in the DNA, unexpressed. Scientists use the CaMV because it is aggressive and because it works in the DNA of all types of plants.

    The assumptions used by biotech advocates as the basis of safety claims were that the CaMV:
    1. Is stable
    2. Will only turn on the gene to which it was attached
    3. Is plant specific and will not function in mammals, including humans, and
    4. Will not transfer from food to gut bacteria or internal organs;

    Each of these assumptions have been contradicted.

    1. Studies also show that the promoter creates a “hotspot” in the DNA. This means that the whole chromosome can become unstable. This may cause breaks in the strand or exchanges of genes with other chromosomes. Research reported in June 2003 confirmed that genetically engineered crops exhibited broken DNA sections at the CaMV.

    2. The CaMV promoter may turn on native genes over long distances up and down the strand of DNA. It can even turn genes on in a different chromosome. This can create a flood of proteins that may create toxins, allergens, carcinogens, or nutritional changes.

    Some scientists believe that the CaMV promoter, in conjunction with other genetic material, might also create a growth factor that could result in excessive cell growth—a potentially pre-cancerous condition. A study by Ewen and Pusztai demonstrated significant cell growth in the stomach and intestines of rats fed a genetically engineered potato. An Egyptian study also showed evidence of cell growth in rats fed a Bt potato, and a feeding study on genetically modified peas showed greater weights of rat intestines, supporting the possibility of extra cell growth.

    While scientists believed that the aggressive nature of the CaMV promoter might have been responsible for these results, it was not confirmed whether the CaMV promoter was able to transfer intact to organs and whether it would be active in human cells.

    The new evidence confirms the transfer and potential activity. The new evidence does not, however, show any specific links to cell growth, nor does it confirm that unstable hotspots or the turning on of dangerous genes will occur in mammalian DNA.

    Waking Sleeping Viruses

    Embedded into the DNA of many organisms, including humans, are ancient viruses that have worked their way in, perhaps in previous species. While most of this viral material has eroded, some may be complete but simply not turned on. In theory, the fact that the promoter can turn on genes up and down the DNA, combined with the fact that it can transfer to human or animal organs, means that it may be possible for it to turn on a previously dormant virus.

    Contact
    New findings: Terje Traavik PhD, +47 9581 7537, terjet@genok.org
    Further discussion: Jeffrey Smith in KL, 012-333-7495

  • People are pretty happy letting corporations rule their planet, so why single out any particular corporation? It’s the people’s fault. I’m sure everyone remembers that several years ago, everyone you talked to was eagerly wishing that someone would come along and make sure their food was tainted with Roundup and GMO’s, and so Monsanto just came along and grudgingly filled this enormous public demand for frankenfood. Monsanto is selfless and blameless, as are all corporations, they’re always only doing what the people tell them to do. I learned that this is the way capitalist system works from some of the bloggers here on NBL. Was I misled?

  • For me a sensible response is to buy and eat produce from farmers markets. Another sensible response was to go car-free.

    We must protest through our lifestyle more than in any other way.

  • Ripley.

    No, that is not how western societies work.

    In western societies people use money they have acquired by exploitation of other people or by exploitation of the commons to bribe politicians. If they are bankers they can conjure the money they need into existence. Also, lawyers (who have no basic morals and are willing to prostitute themselves for money or favour) argue that black is white, and bought-and-paid-for judges agree.

    Corporations suggest policy to governments, or actually write legislation: by and large governments rubberstamp whatever corporations suggest.

    Dysfunction is rammed down the throats of the general populace by governments, corporations and the media.

  • Cells that have their DNA free in the cytoplasm are prokaryotes (“before nucleus”). The two subdivisions of these are the archaea and the bacteria. Bacteria have internal membranes that form their organelles. Cells with their DNA packaged in a nucleus are eukaryotes (“normal nucleus”).
    The DNA sequencing of eukaryotes of eukaryotes was at one time thought to be the holy grail that would lay bare the deepest biochemical secrets of life. It was known that the DNA sequence corresponds to the sequence of amino acids, which are strung together to form proteins. It was also known that the acidic and basic (negatively and positively charged amino acids interacted with each other and with other structural components to make the proteins fold giving them their secondary structure (in two dimensions – on a surface) and their tertiary structure (in space). It was then found that much if not most of the DNA in humans did not code for known proteins. This was at first called “junk DNA” but it was subsequently found that this DNA is critically important in controlling how the rest of the DNA functions. It signals the turning on and off and increasing or reducing the reading of the coding regions.

    Then it was found that a very substantial portion of the DNA was derived from retroviruses: viruses that incorporate their genetic code into the genetic code of their host, in this case into the germ-cell lines (the cells that form eggs and sperm). It is estimated that as much as 40% of human DNA is from ancient retroviruses. Some of that retroviral DNA plays an essential part in human life. The outermost part of the placenta is a fused layer of cells with lots of nuclei, but no membranes to separate them into individual cells. The protein that allows the cells to fuse into one continuos sheet is syncitin. It is coded in DNA by a retroviral gene sequence found in other viruses which use the protein to fuse their envelope to the membrane of cells in the process of infecting the cells. It is believed that the ancestral retrovirus became incorporated into the ancestor of placental mammals and the function was adapted for their use. There are other vital biochemical processes where essential functional components are derived from other retroviruses.

    And that is hardly the beginning of the story. If the DNA double helix is compared to a ladder, a very long ladder can be compared to a tape. There are a number of proteins called histones that serve as bobbins on which sections of the tape is rolled: there are a huge number of these bobbins along the length of the tape. The bobbins can move about on the tape rolling up and unrolling different sections. They also control the reading of the tape. The histones (bobbins) have multiple attachment points where acetyl and methyl groups can be placed or removed, and the presence or absence of acetylation and/or methylation also controls the reading of the DNA. There are multitudinous intricate systems of proteins within cells that interact with the aforementioned systems and with each other.

    Before it can be translated into protein, all DNA is transcribed into RNA. Only a portion of the RNA is destined to be translated into protein. The rest functions as RNA, either by itself or bound to proteins (ribonucleoproteins): they perform tasks almost as varied as the proteins themselves.

    From the Wikipedia:

    Histone code

    Unlike this simplified model, any real histone code has the potential to be massively complex; each of the four standard histones can be simultaneously modified at multiple different sites with multiple different modifications. To give an idea of this complexity, histone H3 contains nineteen lysines known to be methylated – each can be un-, mono-, di- or tri-methylated. If modifications are independent, this allows a potential 419 or 280 billion different lysine methylation patterns, far more than the maximum number of histones in a human genome (6.4Gb / ~150bp = ~44 million histones if they are very tightly packed). And this does not include lysine acetylation (known for H3 at nine residues), arginine methylation (known for H3 at three residues) or threonine/serine/tyrosine phosphorylation (known for H3 at eight residues), not to mention modifications of other histones.

    Every nucleosome in a cell can therefore have a different set of modifications, raising the question of whether common patterns of histone modifications exist. A recent study of about 40 histone modifications across human gene promoters found over 4000 different combinations used, over 3000 occurring at only a single promoter. However, patterns were discovered including a set of 17 histone modifications that are present together at over 3000 genes.[10] Therefore, patterns of histone modifications do occur but they are very intricate, and we currently have detailed biochemical understanding of the importance of a relatively small number of modifications.

    Structural determinants of histone recognition by readers, writers and erasers of the histone code are revealed by a growing body of experimental data.[11]

    A better article on the subject:

    The Histone Code Genetics, Epigenetics and Histones

    When making a relatively simple end-product like human insulin in a bacterium, genetic engineering is a very reasonable and useful option.

    The fantastically complex biochemical machinery evolved through billions of years if multitudinous interactions and feedbacks, checks and balances that led to us and all other living organisms is most likely fraught with equally numerous unforeseen consequences of artificially tinkering with the systems. Over the millennia humans have naturally bred species of useful flora and fauna adapted to a variety of environmental conditions, without such tinkering. These should be preserved and propagated. For instance, there are drought-tolerant varieties of rice, and even flood-tolerant varieties that can survive days of total submersion. They are far more resilient than lab-derived monocultures.

    That is what we will need as climate chaos unfolds and the labs fold.

  • John Andersen

    “For me a sensible response is to buy and eat produce from farmers markets. Another sensible response was to go car-free.

    We must protest through our lifestyle more than in any other way.”

    Ripley

    “People are pretty happy letting corporations rule their planet, so why single out any particular corporation? It’s the people’s fault.”

    kevin moore

    “In western societies people use money they have acquired by exploitation of other people or by exploitation of the commons to bribe politicians. If they are bankers they can conjure the money they need into existence….
    Corporations suggest policy to governments, or actually write legislation: by and large governments rubberstamp whatever corporations suggest.”

    John, I agree in the general direction you state, but I don’t agree it is the ‘lifestyle’ that makes the difference, though it is better than not. The corporations are winning, full stop. ‘Withdrawal’ has not worked, due to the media power to distract and other factors.

    Ripley, I don’t agree excepting in the sense that ‘happy’ in your statement means content in the bubble, or cocoon that is about to burst. Poke one’s head outside that bubble, and the devastation, exploitation and violence to humans and other life forms is obviously ‘needed’ to keep the show going.

    Kevin and others, the work of Currency expert Bernard Lietaer is joining the dots on how to bring complementary currencies into the picture, while Fiat Currencies, the tool for creating nation states and empire, collapse. To me this is essential if communities want some resilience in the short term.

    Guy says were done, this is highly likely, but just in case, lets get connected and become resilient communities just in case.

    This might help explain how it can work.

    ‘TEDxBerlin – Bernard Lietaer – 11/30/09’

    I have been reading his 2001 book ‘The Future of Money’, and it is completely clear how fiat currency make neighbours compete, and not know why.

  • Farmers are constantly challanged to “feed the world”. I suspect this is how it will be done until it can’t be done. If you knew a way to keep the Titanic from going down, would you use it? Remember that you are on it and there aren’t any life boats. We see desperation everywhere…if we look.

  • To use the Titanic metaphor, if you know the Titanic is going down and you see others in the water, would you take more people on.

    Increasing production with the super grains that were bred before GMO’s has just increased the number of people who die young and hastened the destruction of the soils. These mutagenic grains I recently learned were not done by normal plant breeding and selection but by increasing the rate of mutagens via radiation and chemicals. See the wiki entry on “mutation breeding”

    Dr. William Davis says “Modern wheat is the altered offspring of thousands of genetic manipulations, crude and sometimes bizarre techniques that pre-date the age of genetic modification. The result: a high-yield, 2-foot tall “semi-dwarf” plant that no more resembles the wheat consumed by our ancestors than a chimpanzee (which shares 99% of the same genes that we do) resembles a human. I trust that you can tell the difference that 1% makes.

    The obvious outward differences are accompanied by biochemical differences. The gluten proteins in modern wheat, for instance, differ from the gluten proteins found in wheat as recently as 1960.”
    http://boingboing.net/2011/10/26/triticum-fever-by-dr-william-davis-author-of-wheat-belly.html

    In addition to the engineering that created the Green Revolution, Einkorn ancient wheat species is diploid, with two sets of chromosomes, while modern wheats have four sets of chromosomes (tetraploid) or six (hexaploid) – we have been messing with our food supply ever since we started agriculture. And so we have more people, but less healthy people than hunter-gatherers. And so with more people we have been able to trash our environment much faster than those who extincted the Neanderthals and mega fauna. So it goes….

  • Along the same lines, we have state control of food and consequences for those who want to go their own way.

    http://www.jsonline.com/business/raw-milk-trial-in-hands-of-jury-b9918480z1-208900911.html

    Dairy farmer acquitted on three of four charges in raw milk trial

    Baraboo — Dairy farmer Vernon Hershberger was acquitted on three of four criminal charges early Saturday morning in a trial that drew national attention from supporters of the raw, unpasteurized milk movement.

    Jurors in Sauk County Circuit Court deliberated about four hours, until nearly 1 a.m. Saturday, before returning a verdict of guilty on one charge of violating a holding order placed on products on the Hershberger farm following a raid there in the summer of 2010.

    The 41-year-old farmer faces up to a year in jail and $10,000 in fines on that conviction. A sentencing date will be announced later, Judge Guy Reynolds said.

    Hershberger was found innocent of three charges that included operating an unlicensed retail store that sold raw milk and other products; and operating a dairy farm and dairy processing facility without licenses.

    Hershberger’s supporters have said he was targeted for prosecution because he sold raw milk directly to consumers through a private buying club with several hundred members.

    The trial’s outcome will set a precedent, according to the Weston A. Price Foundation, an organization that has advocated for the legalization of raw-milk sales in Wisconsin and other states. “This is a victory for the food rights movement,” said one of Hershberger’s attorneys, Elizabeth Rich.

    With few exceptions, Wisconsin farmers can’t sell unpasteurized milk directly to consumers because it may contain pathogens that result in serious illness.

    But many people believe that unprocessed milk, straight from the farm, contains bacteria that boost the immune system and have other beneficial properties.

    Hershberger said he was pleased with the acquittals, and that now he can return to his farm in Loganville and continue to run his food store without a retail license because it’s a members-only buying club.

    “I can continue to feed my community,” he said.

    Earlier in the day, the farmer testified that he felt betrayed by state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection officials who raided his farm in June 2010 and intentionally destroyed 2,000 pounds of milk.

    He was afraid that DATCP would destroy other food as well. Hershberger said that is why he violated the hold order, taking some food for his family and allowing members of the buying club to remove items for their use.

    “I prayed and meditated a lot,” he said about the decision, which he described as an act of civil disobedience.

    Hershberger said he had wanted to develop a business plan for his farm that would have been acceptable to state officials and maintained the Amish tradition of sharing food with the community.

    “I tried to work with people. I would have been happy to sit down with them and come up with a workable solution, and I would still do that,” he said while on the witness stand for several hours.

    Prosecutors, represented by the state Department of Justice, depicted Hershberger as someone who flouted the law by not getting a $265 retail license — although the inclusion of unpasteurized dairy products in his food store would have made that impossible, according to a state official.

    Prosecutors alleged that Hershberger ran an unlicensed retail food business that shipped products out of state and had a product list with many items not from the farm.

    In his closing arguments, Department of Justice attorney Eric Defort said the dairy farmer clearly operated a retail store, complete with a product price list, a cash register and a credit-card machine.

    “This is a place where you go to purchase things. You saw the products labeled with prices, on shelves, in coolers …meat, pork, bison, cheese, juices, all kinds of products — all labeled and priced for sale,” Defort said to jurors.

    Defense attorney Glenn Reynolds described the store as a place where only members of the buying club could get products, and that it was nothing like a Costco, Sam’s Club or regular grocery store.

    Prices were flexible enough that if members of the club fell on hard times and could not afford to feed their family, they could get fresh, wholesome food for free.

    “None of us would go into a Kwik Trip and walk out with a bottle of milk if we couldn’t afford it,” Reynolds said.

    State officials spent three years investigating Hershberger, producing thousands of documents but not once speaking with any of the members of the buying club who wanted to tell their story, according to Reynolds.

    “This is one of the most incomprehensible abuses of power I have ever seen,” he said, adding that the investigation was biased and mean-spirited.

    “It was a pathetic waste of government resources to try and convict a man who had never been in trouble with the law in his entire life and is a hero for coming up with a new way” to connect urban consumers with a family farm, Reynolds said.

    Until Thursday, much of the testimony in the five-day trial focused on why the prosecution believed the Grazin’ Acres store was a retail establishment.

    In one month alone, March 2010, the store had $25,426 in sales, according to witnesses for the prosecution.

    “It’s a lot of sales,” Defort said, adding that even members of a buying club are considered members of the general public — meaning the Grazin’ Acres store was a retail operation.

    Defense witnesses, including Hershberger’s father, Daniel Hershberger, described the farm as a bucolic place where members of a buying club did chores such as shoveling manure, taking care of chickens and washing Mason jars in exchange for the right to buy unpasteurized milk and other food products.

    Hershberger’s net income for 2010 was about $45,000, according to Reynolds.

    “The state says (Hershberger) was propelled by greed. But those of you familiar with running a farm know that $22,000 a month isn’t the net profit,” Reynolds said.

    The defense attorney asked jurors to use “common sense” and to question why the state would take such a heavy-handed approach in prosecuting Hershberger.

    “This is as close to Prohibition as anything I have ever seen, but this time it’s milk and an Amish farmer, rather than liquor and gangsters,” Reynolds said.

  • I may have posted this before, but it’s worth watching:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSGr2KBNN6s

    Genetically Modified Society

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #4

    Time demands new forms.
    Old-school haiku? Dying with
    Japan and nature.

  • @Kevin Moore says “The planet is run by corporations and money-lenders, for the short term benefit of corporations and money-lenders.”

    Yes, but if they didn’t have willing accomplices in the form of billions of customers, then their business models would fail. I really don’t get the knee-jerk anti-corporate behavior – both corporations & states act to further their own individual advantages no differently than any other form of organized society.

    As such, these enterprises simply exploit natural behavior witnessed in all species: sloth, gluttony, envy, jealousy, etc. Lions lay around 23 hours out of 24; humans are no different if they can get away with it. Give them a credit card, a nice sunny day, some friends & a bottle of wine, and they will do the same exact thing, every time.

    We just got back from another nice long extended weekend in SF. (We’re fortunate enough to visit a handful of times each year.) I told my mom, as we sat on a park bench after lunch, there’s not 99 out of 100 that could even begin to understand that their current way of life, one that appears “normal”, is 100% dependent on the petro-dollar.

    Forget climate change, non-linear feedback loops, etc, etc. Simply at a very core, fundamental level, the whole thing is so ridiculously tenuous it almost takes one’s breath away. Since I happen to like industrial civ (well, at the least the benefits), it always gives me pause to reflect how incredible it is that it’s all going away.

  • One in every four children in the world is suffering from chronic malnutrition that is affecting their ability to learn, according to a report by a charity.

    The Food for Thought report by Save the Children found that undernourished children were an average of 20 percent less literate than those who had a “nutritious diet.”

    It said that that malnutrition could affect global economic growth by $125 billion.

    “A quarter of the world’s children are suffering the effects of chronic malnutrition. Poor nutrition in the early years is driving a literacy and numeracy crisis in developing countries and is also a huge barrier to further progress in tackling child deaths,” Carolyn Miles, president and chief executive of Save the Children, said in a statement.

  • Ripley says “I’m sure everyone remembers eagerly wishing that someone would come along and make sure their food was tainted with Roundup.”

    Oh, come one Ripley, angry, disgruntled & frustrated is no way to go through life, son. I can’t believe you seem to need a refresher on Malthus 101: populations grow exponentially, while resources expand (if at all) linearly.

    As such, there will always be shortages. It thus becomes trivially easy for any entity, whether it be an individual, private association (corporation) and/or public association (state) to exploit built-in demand for energy ie FOOD.

    Life itself is really is an intractable situation. Religions were created to help satisfy the desire for answers amongst the less astute. For those blessed with more acumen, one should be aware that there aren’t any answers. There never was, and there will never be.

    The curse of intelligence is to understand the dilemma of yeast in a petri dish: exponential growth, finite resources & environmental destruction. Fin.

  • http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0209-01.htm
    The Spurious Foundation of Genetic Engineering, Barry Commoner, 2/9/2002, in the February 2002 issue of Harpers.

    Genetic engineering is based upon a mechanistic materialist notion of genes and how they function, as if organisms are machines and genes are like spark plugs, interchangeable parts, which determine the functioning of organisms. Back around 2000, the bioengineering program at UC Berkeley had a brochure comparing the organism to a computer and genes to the programing language. In fact, the functioning of DNA, RNA and related material involves a high degree of feedback and shows a lot of dependence upon CONTEXT. Process science is far more descriptive of what’s going on than machine analogies. Also see i-sis dot org, the site of biologist Mae Won Ho, for lots of excellent analysis of GMOS.

  • Seems like the reason for GMOs is to support a population that has already reached overshoot. The solution (or one of the solutions), then, is to start reducing our population by not having as many kids. Even if every couple only had 1 kid, we’d start halving our population over time, minimizing the need for all this science in the first place.

  • Eric daily world deaths is now about 150,000 and births about 350,000. So lets say for 1 year we had NO births and normal deaths. We would reduce our population by 54 million. So 10 years with NO births and normal deaths would be 540 million. So say we wanted to get back to say 4 billion people – we need 3 billion deaths over and above any births. So it would take about 55 years of no births and current normal deaths to lower our population by 3 billion. By then the youngest would be 55 years old so there would be no fertile women and thus we would go extinct anyway. There is not time to reduce the population by not having kids. The reductions will come from increasing deaths…..

    BTW The population in China increased by 300 million after the 1 child per family policy was put in place. Seems strange I know, but it depends on how many are at reproductive age, how early they have children, and how long they live. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One-child_policy The policy SLOWED growth of the population but growth continued.

    We don’t have time to reduce our population enough to save ourselves by restricting births, thus we will reduce our population because we didn’t have the foresight to save ourselves 40 years ago. The only question is how we will be culled (famine, disease, war, likely all of those) and whether a remnant will find a livable world when all is said and done. I think not.

  • Kathy:

    Seems you have to hit them with the same hammer about once per month.

  • @ Heretic:

    Yes, that’s one of the recurring complaints – the rehashing of topics long since worn out.

    That’s the nature of the beast here. Explain and then explain again.

    The newbies should be required to read a list of critical posts here before they are allowed to comment!

    When I first found this site, I spent a lot of time reading the old posts and the comments – and chasing the various links from various contributors – I was a silent viewer for years before I ventured a comment.

  • @John Anderson

    “We must protest through our lifestyle more than in any other way.”

    To what end? What is accomplished by such lifestyle protests? We know that our own individual choices don’t/can’t make any difference to the big picture. We know that very few others are influenced by our lifestyle choices (certainly not the ones that involve hair shirts). We know that even if we could influence some others, that the situation is too far along to be reversed by anything, let alone lifestyle protests.

    So what’s the purpose? Who benefits? It’s an uncomfortable thing to say, but the only one who benefits is the person protesting. What this looks like to me is another case of evolutionary status-seeking. Inverted status in the name of morality, perhaps, but status none the less. If that’s the case, why on earth use the word “must”? Well, it’s all part of the status thing, you see. The more people you say it to, and who don’t follow your moral rule, the more virtuous you become in your own eyes.

    The whole concept of “lifestyle protest” is self-aggrandizing piffle. You have a brain – why not use it for something useful? Or at least something that’s interesting to a few more people. It may be the last chance you get.

    Hmmm … my snark seems to be a Boojum today…

  • Yes, my reusable grocery bags that proudly hold my organic bananas are the badge I wear in public. At home, I secretly have my thermostat set to 68 in the Summer and 78 in the Winter. I have a lot of toys with gas burning motors. I use a lot of batteries.

    You know, I agree with the human-haters here that say we don’t deserve to live – because I’m too simple to think in terms of 2nd Law of Thermodynamics or Entropy increasing – I don’t care what is “The Nature of Man” or what is behind “Man’s inhumanity to Man” blah, blah, blah. Maybe it’s not “our fault” per se, but, SERIOUSLY, how can anyone born into privilege turn their heads while children starve?

    There is no redemption.

  • Rob

    You wrote:

    ” Maybe it’s not “our fault” per se, but, SERIOUSLY, how can anyone born into privilege turn their heads while children starve?”

    The simple answer is about where the heads are turning toward – Screens.

    The long answer is still, I speculate – so as not to see.

    All I am certain of is people can change. But is it possible to have any effect in the short term? Moot IMO, but no excuse not to try in any way one can find at hand to help, and wake, others in an honourable way.

    Unfortunately – ‘build it and they will come’, when applied in reverse – ‘tare it down and they will label you terrorist’, is how it seems to be operating, or as Guy can attest, you are a loon.

  • Would that we could genetically modify humans to be less greedy and rapacious. Now *that* might be worth pursing! (just kidding… I think).

  • HOLYSHIT things are not looking good here. This is our third summer in Rapid City, and for one thing, each year has been so completely different from the last, I don’t know what normal is, but this is not that. I would like to cry. I would like to panic. I would like to punch people in the face.
    We didn’t get real ‘winter’ until April this year, so spring was a little late. Everything is leafed out now, and it is heartbreaking, to say the least. The Fish & Game Department just built a multi-million dollar Outdoor Campus/Nature Center down the road from us, which has been open for exactly one year, and which we have spent a good amount of time at. I just took the kids down today to walk the trails, get out of our abysmal yard, cheer everybody up, and I swear it would’ve been better to just have ten people line up to kick me in the stomach over and over, then maybe vomit on me for good measure. That is how I feel. I’ll just leave it at ‘dead trees’. I felt like going back into the nature center to ask the woman working there what her thoughts were on the state of NATURE, but I restrained myself.

    We have been madly planting edibles, mostly containers, since we rent, but we have a couple tiny plots, one alongside the zombie house to the left of us, and are going to try using some old straw bales we have for archery practice as ‘containers’. The new neighbors to the right of us go out in the evening after getting their toddler to bed to plant flowers out front, and I asked what they were busy with, which was tearing out some small ornamental shrubs from the previous owners, which were apparently in poor taste.
    Again, I had to restrain myself from pointing out the SIX dead trees in their back yard, but from the directional mowing pattern of the lawn, I guess they were to busy to look up. Or maybe too distracted by the sorry state of our yard, which is less grass, more dust.

    My point being, what does it take for people to notice?! Dead trees are starting to outnumber living trees in our area by the looks of it, and very few look reasonably healthy, mainly blue spruce. All paper bark/birch trees are just gone. Cottonwoods are simply scary/dangerous because of the sheer numbers of dead/dying shedding branches. Pine trees are going to the beetles. People will blame the drought, but that was likely only what finished things off. We’ve had relief from the drought due to the April snow, but if/when the heat comes back on, there will be fire. Maybe it’s just the perspective from where I live, but I don’t give it five years. Depends who bats next…

    Thank you, Mr. Thomas for the clear, concise article. I’m not sure how the Golden Rice endeavor actually worked out, but even when the intentions are good, it seems we shouldn’t tinker with, oh wait, too late…

  • @Rob says “SERIOUSLY, how can anyone born into privilege turn their heads while children starve?”

    Gonna break the rules ’cause I just gotta reply. (And preempt Kathy who I’m sure will concur.)

    Starving children who live to reproduce simply add to the problem. Again, Malthus 101: populations expand exponentially. If you don’t know or understand why this is important, this video primer is perhaps the best available to quickly explain what it all means:

    The Most IMPORTANT Video You’ll Ever See

    I’ve never been to India, but I’ve been to China on business. If you ever want to witness the benefits we (of Euro descent) enjoy due to the Black Death, that’s your ticket.

    The population compression, filth & disease in the major cities like HK & Guangzhou is simply incomprehensible to westeners. India is in its own unique category, where the culture still promotes large families. Every surviving pair of children in turn beget another 6, 8 10+ “children” who in turn starve and need help & assistance.

    It’s a never ending cycle that feeds upon itself. (Get the pun?) The majors like Monsanto are like a big fat spider waiting for a victim … who always comes.

  • Paul

    “Occasionally re-examine our personal values.If they aren’t in
    alignment with what we think the world needs, change them.”

    Explain please

  • @Tom

    Here’s an example.

    I used to work in high-tech R&D, writing control firmware for network routers and packet processors. I used to be a connoisseur of stuff. I was a hard-core audiophile; I had a high-end turntable, tube amps, multi-thousand dollar speaker cables, custom speakers – the whole nine yards. I was a Scotch aficionado, my specialty was old Islay single malts from dark distilleries. I drove a BMW 540i/6. I bought a McMansion for cash at the peak of the tech bubble.

    I went for 20 years thinking that my discernment somehow made this attitude OK.

    Then in 2004 I “got” Peak Oil. From there my awareness rapidly slid down the slippery slope into the horrors of climate change, food supply problems, social collapse and die-off. I grokked the whole enchilada over about 3 months. And I looked at what I was doing. More than that, I looked at who I had become. I became aware that there was a world out there, beyond my own ego. I realized that I had a wider responsibility to that world, that in a way I had a karmic debt that was maybe too big to pay off. It hurt more than I care to remember – so much that I almost checked out.

    So I changed. I went to work on myself, opening my heart, changing my values and beliefs, learning new ways to relate to myself and the world I had finally recognized. It was hard work, shedding the habits of a lifetime and finding out who I was (and wasn’t) beneath that vitreous layer of acculturation. Inevitably I went too far in the other direction, and then had to find my way back towards the center, but it was all part of finally growing up at the age of 57.

    Today I don’t drink; I’m a vegetarian; I don’t even listen to much music, and when I do it’s on my computer; I don’t work in high tech any more; I take the bus to work; I’m about to sell my old Mazda 5; and I live in a modest rental. All the money is gone – mostly given away to ex-partners in fits of break-up generosity. I spend my time now thinking about how the world really works, and writing about what a long strange trip it is (all of my product is in the public domain with copyrights removed). And I’m taking care of the love of my life – a woman I should have snapped up 30 years ago instead of just three.

    I made all these changes not because I felt I “should”, but because I realized how far out of alignment with the world I had drifted. In the face of that kind of loss of self-respect, I could do nothing else.

    It’s safe to say I have never been even close to this happy. I feel at peace with the world, and with myself. I may even have paid down some of the principal on that outstanding karmic debt.

    That’s the sort of thing I meant.

  • The claims of increased yields are not “bearing fruit”;

    U.S. farmers may stop planting GMOs after horrific crop yields

    Link: http://peakoil.com/enviroment/u-s-farmers-may-stop -planting-gmos-after-horrific-crop-yields

    snip:

    If farmers don’t move back towards non-GMOs, the availability of seed will become an issue, he said, noting that some 87 percent of U.S. farmers currently plant genetically modified seed.

    Countries around the world that do not use GM seed are outperforming U.S. farmers. The largest crop yields last year were in Asia, and China in particular, where farmers don’t plant GM seed.

    So lets see, reduced yields, increased fertilizer needs, reduced mineral/nutritional content, less drought resistant, proven health risks/genetic damage, environmental genetic pollution, dependency of farmers on Monsanto/Syngenta etc. . . for seeds, no labeling of GMO food products, Monsanto protection law. . . .

    Resist by changing your lifestyle. Eat what is available by your own efforts or by a known local or regional source.

    Do not buy their products. Simple. . . .

  • There is the essential economy – food production is part of the essential economy. And there is the superfluous economy – privately owned cars, plane travel for leisure, a wage and salary jobs-based economy…so very much about the modern economy is superfluous.

    In terms of energy and resources, we currently feed 7+ billion people while most of the economy is geared towards superfluous ends. Climate chaos to one side, there is no physical reason that humanity couldn’t ride out the population hump over the next few hundred years, simply by transferring resources from the superfluous economy to the essential economy. Odds are that won’t happen, but that’s due to cultural reasons, not to any brutally scientific laws of nature.

    Just because – happy coincidence – your belief system predicts the future that that is most likely to happen, doesn’t make your belief system right.

  • Political and corporate elite shun GM food on their own plate

    Snip:
    With a sad twist of irony, corporate and government elite dine on safe, organic food while the masses, those very people who are supposedly represented and protected by their governments, are poisoned by hidden genetically modified organisms, pesticides and dangerous contaminants. The presidential family demands organic food in their kitchen, yet behind closed doors, shake hands with the biotech industry. China’s top brass is fed by an exclusive, gated organic garden while the rest of the population consumes GM food, steroid contaminated meat and dairy laced with melamine. Even Monsanto’s own employee’s command non-genetically modified food in their canteen

    Link: http://www.naturalnews.com/037466_GM_food_global_e lite_organic_gardens.html

  • Paul

    Your statement that I quoted and your response to it both contradict
    what you posted to John Anderson upthread.No?
    Not trying to rock your boat just trying to grok.

  • My issue there had more to do with making actions that are unobjectionable, even unremarkable, in their own right into a protest – and implying that others should get in line.

    I don’t give a rat’s ass what anyone else does – replace your light bulbs; move to New Mexico; become the CEO of Exxon; cut the soles off your shoes, sit in a tree and learn to play the flute – it’s immaterial to me – I’m not making your choices, I make my own.

    I didn’t do what I did as a protest, but because it was the only way I could live with myself. You’ll notice that in my quote I didn’t say anything about what beliefs might be appropriate or not. We each get to make those choices for ourselves.

    I was just pointing out that we can hide a lot of ego under the veneer of politically correct protest.

  • Ripley says “I’m sure everyone remembers when people were eagerly wishing that someone would come along and make sure their food was tainted with Roundup.”

    B9K9 Says: Oh, come one Ripley, angry, disgruntled & frustrated is no way to go through life, son.

    B9K9, I thank you for showing concern for my emotional state, it’s quite touching really. However, let me assure you that all statements that I make concerning the evil of corporations, come to me during a state of deep bliss after hours of meditation in the lotus position under a Bodhi Tree. I don’t even remember typing them, they appear to be dictated to me directly from The Void. I can’t explain it, but I did get the impression that The Void may have had a problem once with a corporation that cut down some of its’ Bodhi Trees. It also indicated to me that the most enjoyable thing I could do between now and NTE, was to generally trash capitalism and companies especially ones like Monsanto, and that only by doing this will I be able to maximize my energy and reach a blissful state of entropy.

    But leaves us with the mystery as to why some here, get so agitated when The Void makes it known that it doesn’t like corporations like Monsanto. It’s especially perplexing when you consider that corporations like Monsanto pay public relations people good money to defend them, and yet here there are people on the blog of a noted environmental doing it for free. Going through life policing environmental blogs for anti-corporate comments, is an endless, thankless task, and probably harmful to your health in the long run, I would at least consider getting payed for it if I were you.

  • Paul

    I forgot about the 2 post rule.Sorry about that.
    Thanks for the explanation.

    Goodnight

  • If humanity is to have a future then we the people have no choice but to take on and beat back the mega-corporations who currently control just about every aspect of life on this planet. We have to tactfully, masterfully, relentlessly learn how to bend them to our will and, if necessary, kill some of them off. Until we, The People, set the bar by wiping a criminal corporation out of existence, then there will be no justice and the corporations will only continue to act with impunity. And so our strategic imperative post-Occupy is to wield our coordinated energy – our movement’s ability to have simultaneous protests in far-flung locales – to bring down a transnational capitalist firm … One bastard at a time – from Goldman Sachs, to Monsanto.

    Read more about what’s rumbling here: http://www.adbusters.org/blogs/tactical-arms-race.html

  • Off-topic

    Would 40 days and nights of planet-wide torrential rain suck enough CO2 from the atmosphere ?

    Or would we need a succession of these events to do the trick ?

  • Great 32 min Max Keiser today:

    ‘[KR450] Keiser Report: Debt Crack Banker Babies’

    http://www.maxkeiser.com/2013/05/kr450-keiser-report-debt-crack-banker-babies/

    The second half is an interview with Howard Kunstler, on all the usual stuff.

  • I do understand that “feeding the poor” just aggravates the problem. So, then, as the ultimate kindness, should we then “kill the poor?”

    The reality of population overshoot makes the argument moot – we will soon see many people starving to death.

    I personally would rather jump off a bridge than starve to death!

    Anyway, the world is about to explode:

    LASHIO, Myanmar (AP) — Hundreds of Buddhist men on motorcycles waved iron rods and bamboo poles and threw rocks in a northeastern Myanmar town on Wednesday, a day after a mosque and a Muslim orphanage were torched in a new wave of violence targeting the religious minority. Residents said a movie theater was burned as the mob sped around the town.

  • Sadie In terms of energy and resources, we currently feed 7+ billion people while most of the economy is geared towards superfluous ends.
    OK you need to understand Liebig’s law of the minium
    Per wiki “Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, often simply called Liebig’s Law or the Law of the Minimum, is a principle developed in agricultural science by Carl Sprengel (1828) and later popularized by Justus von Liebig. It states that growth is controlled not by the total amount of resources available, but by the scarcest resource (limiting factor).”

    That means that if any necessary resource is scarce it doesn’t matter how much other resources are available. The scarcity of that one resource will limit the living creature that requires it.

    Lots of resources are going scarce – water of course is becoming harder to come by – wells in India are being drilled deeper and deeper, the Ogalla Resevoir is overtapped, the Colorado river is in trouble. As far as feeding everyone water is enough of a limiting resource but then too there is Peak Phosphate https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak_phosphorus

    Peak phosphorus is the point in time at which the maximum global phosphorus production rate is reached. Phosphorus is a scarce finite resource on earth and due to its non-gaseous environmental cycle has resulted in alternative means of production other than mining being unavailable.[1] According to some researchers, Earth’s phosphorus reserves are expected to be completely depleted in 50–100 years and peak phosphorus to be reached in approximately 2030.[2][3]

    This didn’t have to be, we could have been recyling our phosphorus with humanure, urine fertilizing, but oh that was too nasty, so we dug it up out of the ground with big machines, fed our plants and washed it into the ocean where it would be impossible to reuse.

    So no, even if we distribute things more fairly, stop feeding domestic animals, etc, we cannot feed the current population much less a growing population for much longer.

    However I also note that fairness per my back of the envelope calcs would be about $8 a day for everyone on earth, a big jump up from $1 and $2 a day for the lower half of the world’s population. But since we are currently using about 1.5 earths I think we would have to run at about $5 a day.

    Since you believe differently, please provide some solid information, links etc to back up your beliefs. My beliefs about the future are based on the extensive research I have done since learning we were near peak oil.

    Here is some research you can do on the wiki page for Guano Islands Act “The Guano Islands Act (11 Stat. 119, enacted 18 August 1856, codified at 48 U.S.C. ch. 8 §§ 1411-1419) is federal legislation passed by the U.S. Congress that enables citizens of the U.S. to take possession of islands containing guano deposits. The islands can be located anywhere, so long as they are not occupied and not within the jurisdiction of other governments. It also empowers the President of the United States to use the military to protect such interests and establishes the criminal jurisdiction of the United States.”

    Guano is bird or bat shit. Now why would the US feel it needed to pass such an act. And why was Britain carting shit from S. America back home. A hint here, google “guano phosphate”, and think about how long Europe had been mining its soil for food and ponder what happens to soil if you extract too many nutrients from it and what happens to plant growth when you do that. Also google “wells drying up India” and “ogallala aquifer depletion”. I would provide the links but more than one link in a comment and it awaits Guy’s moderation to post. Spend a little time on research so your beliefs can be grounded in facts instead of baseless hope. If in your research you confirm your beliefs, by all means provide me with that data and links.

    Even without climate change we are up shit creek as far as the current population of the world is concerned. Climate change is the nail in humanity’s self built coffin.

  • Time to be saved:

    http://news.sky.com/story/1096687/former-it-specialist-claims-to-be-jesus-reborn

    Former IT Specialist Claims To Be Jesus Reborn

    Former IT specialist Alan John Miller, or AJ as he prefers to be known, runs a religious movement known as the Divine Truth from his home near the small town of Kingaroy in the state of Queensland.

    Mr Miller claims that not only is he Christ, but his partner, Australian Mary Luck, is in fact Mary Magdalene, who according to the Bible was present at the crucifixion.

    He told Sky News: “I have very clear memories of the crucifixion, but it wasn’t as harrowing for me as it was for others like Mary who was present.

    “When you are one with God you are not in a state of fear, and you have quite good control over your body’s sensations and the level of pain that you absorb from your body.”

    Mr Miller holds seminars near his home and also travels around the world teaching people how to have a personal relationship with God, often by delving deep into their emotions.

    Dozens of his followers are understood to have bought properties in the area to be closer to him.

    After his crucifixion the Australian claims he entered the spirit world where he met Plato, Socrates, popes and presidents.

    He also says he remembers performing miracles.

    He said: “I did resurrect quite a number of people … including a friend of mine Lazarus, who most people know is mentioned in the Bible.”

    Whilst critics dismiss his claims the seminars attract large groups of people, up to 150 a time.
    (there’s, of course, more)

    Yesterday in Fresno 2 UFO’s stayed in place over clear blue skies for about 4 hours. It made the news, who called around to the Air National Guard and local airports but no one had any idea what it was. Someone suggested it could be a parachute or a weather balloon, but it was way too windy for either of those and the crescent of the moon could be seen in another direction, so it wasn’t that either.

    So, what’s it gonna be folks? Is JC comin’ back (and boy am I in trouble if he does) to claim the faithful or is the mothership on the way to take humanity to a new planet (“To Serve Man – it’s a cookbook!”)? Inquiring minds want to know!

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #5

    Fuck off gene rustlers!
    Rice, wheat, potatoes, maize…
    Long live heirloom seed!

  • @ Kathy C.

    Yes, how ironic to starve to death in a mansion surrounded by flat screens and leather sofas. I wonder which will be more painful, the day the cable tv goes dark or the day the last can of beans is opened.

    We are already starving to death! They are eating dirt in Haiti, tree bark in N. Korea, and NOTHING in Somalia.

  • Venanda Shiva’s latest on GMOs, in Asian Age:

    http://www.asianage.com/columnists/god-move-over-325

  • Golden Rice. Wow. That takes me back. I remember when the original controversy broke out in 2000/2001 over just how much golden rice a person would have to eat per day to get their RDA of vitamin A. It was a LOT, as in kilograms per day. It clearly was not a viable solution to the problem of vitamin A deficiency in developing countries, and those who were engaged in the unseemly promotion of Golden Rice as that solution came away with a lot of egg on their faces.

    For benefit of the historical record, Greenpeace was not the ones who first figured out just how low the amount of vitamin A produced by Golden Rice was. That honor goes to someone who went by the nom de plume of “Red Porphyry”, and posted as such on C.S. Prakash’s AgBioworld listserv/website. It was that man/woman who went to the trouble of pulling out the relevant published data on Golden Rice from the original Science paper, and then based on that, calculated how much of such rice a person would have to eat per day to get their RDA of vitamin A. Greenpeace must have been closely monitoring that discussion on AgBioworld, because within about a week or so after Red Porphyry posted his calculations there (as you might imagine, heated discussion immediately ensued!), Greenpeace had this big press conference, complete with this huge pile of rice on a table, trumpeting–without attribution–Red Porphyry’s revelation about Golden Rice. Proving the veracity of the old adage that no good deed goes unpunished. 🙂

    Incidently, one of the consequences of that controversy was that the plant scientists involved in that project developed a new strain of Golden Rice (“Golden Rice II”), releasing it in 2005. Golden Rice II produces 23X more vitamin A than the original, and thus solves the problem of low vitamin A yield. Golden Rice II’s color is also a much deeper yellow than the original (not surprisingly).

    It just goes to show, that occasionally, an anonymous poster can actually have a significant impact on the world. Mr/Ms. Red Porphyry single-handedly shifted the entire framework of the debate on Golden Rice, both conceptually and financially.

  • Bad Astronomy post on the decline in Arctic sea ice, dated 28 May:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/05/28/arctic_sea_ice_global_warming_is_melting_more_ice_every_year.html

    The embedded 30 second video is a nice graphic of the decline of sea ice volume.

    “Perhaps once we have satellite images of an ice-free north pole we’ll see a change in public sentiment.”

  • Kathy C says: phosphorus

    What? We Need That Too?

    Turns out, being healthy and prosperous
    Also requires some phosphorus;
    To clear out a room,
    Simply talk about doom:
    At first, it seems so preposterous.

  • Off topic, but the word dribbling out here and there is that Guy’s NTE talk at last week’s Age of Limits conference blew everyone’s socks off!

    Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

  • when can we see the Age of Limits conference videos?

    I searched on YouTube and there is nothing yet…

  • While we’re on the subject (Oh look, Tom finally put up a post that’s ON TOPIC!!):

    http://shiftfrequency.com/comprehensive-list-of-gmo-products/

    [List and links]:

    Comprehensive List Of GMO Products

    Posted on October 2, 2012 by Gillian

    Shift Frequency October 2 2012

    Note: You can download this pdf file created by the Center for Food Safety that provides guidelines for buying non-GMO foods in your local stores. This tells you what you can eat that is not GMO contaminated. ~G

    In addition, should you want more info concerning GMO products and the companies producing them, please take a look at this excellent list put together by Stephanie Ladwig-Cooper on Facebook.

  • Interesting how this article concludes that we could never end up like Venus because ‘it was always that way.’ If certain future carbon sequestration mechanisms were to fail in a unique man made situation, we could indeed end up like Venus.

    Phew! Earth won’t end up as a Venus-like hell
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23612-phew-earth-wont-end-up-as-a-venuslike-hell.html

  • If man fully exploits both the tar sands and the tar shale, a Venus-like hell is a dead certainty.

    I’ve noticed recently there now seems to be an obsessive quality, even a ravenous hunger, among global leaders to “extract and burn it all”. It’s begun to take on a certain…suicidal quality to it.

  • Arthur, so you are saying Golden Rice 1 was problematic but they fixed that with Golden Rice 2? Golden Rice doesn’t have Vitamin A it has beta carotenes which is a precursor to Vit. A.

    “In particular, since carotenes are hydrophobic, there needs to be a sufficient amount of fat present in the diet for golden rice (or most other vitamin A supplements) to be able to alleviate vitamin A deficiency. In that respect, it is significant that vitamin A deficiency is rarely an isolated phenomenon, but usually coupled to a general lack of a balanced diet” per wiki entry on Golden Rice

    So the rice is insufficient it would seem if the died lacks fat. If however you got your Vit A from greens as Vandana Shiva promotes you get all the other goodies in them. And beyond the tricky property rights on the rice, this baby would be monocropped. So when some nice little bug figures out how to decimate the crop there goes your starch and your Vit A and meanwhile the seeds and cultivation practices for the eons of domestication of other plants is lost.

    And this We are writing to express our shock and unequivocal denunciation of the experiments being conducted by your colleagues which involve the feeding of genetically modified Golden Rice to human subjects (adults and children.) We are all senior scientists / academics with a professional interest in the health and environmental effects of GMOs. We refer to three trials described on the US Clinical Trials web site:
    Project NCT 00680355.(10) Bioavailability of Golden Rice Carotenoids in Humans.

    Project NCT 00082420. Retinol Equivalence of Plant Carotenoids in Children.

    Project NCT 00680212. Vitamin A Equivalence of Plant Carotenoids in Children.

    We wish to remind you that the variety of Golden Rice used in these experiments (GR2) is inadequately described in terms of biological and biochemical characterisation on the Clinical Trials web site and indeed anywhere else in the publicly available literature, and has woefully inadequate pre-clinical evaluation. It is a genetically modified product which has not been shown to be distinctive, uniform and stable over time. It has never been through a regulatory /approvals process anywhere in the world. There is now a large body of evidence that shows that GM crop/food production is highly prone to inadvertent and unpredictable pleiotropic effects, which can result in health damaging effects when GM food products are fed to animals (for reviews see Pusztai and Bardocz , 2006; Schubert, 2008; Dona and Arvanitoyannis, 2009). More specifically, our greatest concern is that this rice, which is engineered to overproduce beta carotene, has never been tested in animals, and there is an extensive medical literature showing that retinoids that can be derived from beta carotene are both toxic and cause birth defects.

    In these circumstances the use of human subjects (including children who are already suffering illness as a result of Vitamin A deficiency) for GM feeding experiments is completely unacceptable. The three Projects listed breach the Nuremberg Code / medical ethics code on a number of counts, and we urge you to call them to a halt immediately. They should not be resumed unless and until the researchers can demonstrate that a full range of laboratory and animal feeding trials have been completed and published for the Golden Rice strain being used, and unless and until appropriate regulatory bodies have had an opportunity to come to a view on the health and safety issues about which we are very concerned.

    We can assure you that such trials would not have been approved within the European Union in the absence of safety information, which highlights yet again the flaw of the USDA and FDA regulatory system in considering GM crops/foods as hypothetically “generally recognised as safe – GRAS” in the absence of hard experimental data.
    The writers of the letter can be found at http://www.i-sis.org.uk/SPUCTGM.php

    There are 20 signers from around the world and they include Prof David Suzuki

  • @pat, one of the Doomstead Diners has taken on the task of recording as much as he can of the conference. It may take a while for him to get everything up. A link is here: http://www.doomsteaddiner.org/blog/2013/05/26/the-week-that-was-in-doom-may-26-2013/

  • Kathy C,

    Those human experiments have already been completed and the results are in. Link here:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22854406

    Kids were fed Golden Rice II, or spinach, or carotene-fortified oil and the results compared. Bottom line, Golden Rice II beats spinach, but not fortified oil (or presumably, fortified rice) at providing vitamin A. Which isn’t surprising, seeing as Golden Rice II produces 23 times the amount of carotene as Golden Rice I does. Presumably, the Chinese mean to use it as a monoculture, at least if the Agriculture Section (esp. Chapter Five: Accelerate the Development of Modern Agriculture) of the Twelfth Five Year Plan (2011-2015) is to be believed.

    Link here: http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/China%27s%2012th%20Five-Year%20Plan%20%28Agricultural%20Section%29_Beijing_China%20-%20Peoples%20Republic%20of_5-3-2011.pdf

    The issue of intellectual property may very well be tricky in a place like India, but it’s not particularly relevant in the People’s Republic of China. My understanding is that China has already claimed Golden Rice II, and the technical methods for making it, as state property critical to the national interest. There is no such thing as private property, intellectual or otherwise, in the People’s Republic of China. Not entirely a bad thing, mind you.

    Assuming Guy’s right about NTE, though, all this chit-chat is so much whistling past the graveyard. Within ten years, China AND India will both be dry as a bone, and cultivating rice of any kind will simply be impossible.

    There will be no spinach, or any other kind of greens, either.

  • found this and thought it interesting, though off topic, in that it once again underscores how thoroughly dysfunctional and insolvent the global banking system actually is (and why):

    http://blog.milesfranklin.com/if-i-may

    I’d like to connect a few dots for you. We had a couple of pieces of news come out on Friday that were strange. One piece did not even seem credible because of size and the other one seemed odd because of the lack of size. Here is what we learned and if this is true THE biggest financial news of the 21st century. Europe announced that they may crack down on the Shadow Banking System. Basically, assets of all sorts that are “deposited” within the system are routinely “re” lent out by the custodian. This “re lending” of assets is called rehypothecation. The scheme has gone on for years and has been abused to the tune of the same asset being lent out 10 times, 50 times or even 100 times over. Legal? Well no, but everyone does it and “it’s the way business gets done all the time”…plus the regulators turn a blind eye to …party on dudes!

    Before I talk about the ramifications of the above, another, seemingly unimportant/unconnected piece of news hit the tape. 3 men were arrested in Hong Kong and in their possession were $500 million worth of “fraudulent” letters of credit, letters of guarantee and proof of funds; these were supposedly issued by HSBC and Standard Charter. A 4th man arrested was not named, only that he is 55 years old. Which coincidentally is the same age as Barry Cheung who sits (sat until his resignations this past week) on the boards of several government agencies, he was chairman of HKMEX and has very close ties to the CEO of Hong Kong, Mr. CY Leung. The investigation and arrests are tied to the HKMEX (metals exchange) that closed a week ago Friday and claimed that all open contracts would be settled in cash…not metal.

    OK, so these guys got arrested and had in their possession $500 million fraudulent “collateral.” Is this ALL of the fraudulent collateral? Did they have more Do others possess or have pledged fraudulent collateral? How much? Where and to whom has it been pledged? How many times over has it been pledged? …And then out of nowhere, Europe decides to rein in the Shadow Banking System that is purported to be $80 TRILLION (with a capital “T”)! Do you see any connection here? I’ll make it easy for you, “collateral” is the common denominator.

    I also want to mention that “collateral” is what makes the financial world turn. Everything runs on “credit,” if you have “collateral” then you can obtain credit. The problem now, that is being exposed, is that no one knows anymore if collateral is real or even “who’s” collateral it is anymore since it has been lent out so many times. Now, to add even more fuel to the fire, it turns out that some of the so called “collateral” is not and was not even real to begin with! Funds in the trillions of dollars have been lent and now it seems as if the collateral backing many loans may not be real. …And Europe is now considering pulling the plug on shadow banking? How many “assets” will banks and brokers have to sell to keep their capital ratios adequate? Do they even have enough real assets to sell to cover the collateral that turns out to be fake or has been lent out 10 times over (not to mention 100 times over). I might also ask the question, “What happens to the markets?” What will happen to the stock markets, bond markets, and real estate markets, ALL MARKETS if banks are forced into liquidation to cover for fraudulent or many times pledged collateral?

    Back to the HKMEX, though quite small they did not even have the gold (collateral) to settle contracts with and this was a teeny tiny exchange. We have been watching GLD bleed, COMEX inventories decline and JP Morgan monkey with purported inventory between registered and eligible. Massive quantities of paper gold were sold last month that had the effect of depressing prices, was it real gold? No, we already knew this…but there had to be some sort of “collateral” or letter of credit standing behind the seller right? I mean who could be allowed to sell “naked” contracts if they didn’t have the muscle of “collateral” behind them to ensure “settlement” even if only in paper terms, right?

    My point is this, the tide is going out and it looks like EVERYONE is naked and no one has drawers on. Margin debt for stocks are at an all-time high, shorts by hedge funds in gold are at an all-time high, printing by central banks are at an all-time high, yields on sovereign bonds (even the deadbeats like Spain and Italy) were recently compressed to all-time lows and are now rising…and the real economies across the globe are beginning to contract again. The “inflection point” has apparently arrived and fraud everywhere you look is being uncovered. In a system that runs on debt, “collateral” is the foundation. What are the ramifications when “collateral” is questioned and turns out to be nothing more than a piece of paper with no value whatsoever? Everything that has derived value from this initial capital …is worth nothing.

    One last thought, this month (May) there are still contracts in both gold and silver standing for delivery with only 3 trading days left. First notice date for June gold will be upon us shortly, if there really is a “collateral problem” (now not just inventory questions but questions of the validity of paper collateral) we may be in for quite a show. Gold has been frantically moved all over the world during the last 2 months to make deliveries and keep up the “good face.” Can they get past June and get everyone delivered to? We shall soon see!

  • Arthur a little more research shows that the 72 children that were studied were studied for 35 days. While that may (or may not) prove that the rice beta carotene can be converted into Vit A as well as that from spinach, we do not know what else they were fed. Was the rest of the diet similar to what poor children eat? We only have the results from blood draws. This is not a long term study for usefulness in providing Vit A nor is is a long term study for safety. Has that study been done?

    http://www.goldenrice.org/PDFs/GR_bioavailability_AJCN2012.pdf

    And one has to wonder about the results when you learn that their were ethical issues in doing the study
    North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation
    Whether or not the authors obtained informed consent of the test subjects was controversial. The authors claim “[b]oth parents and pupils consented to participate in the study.”[4] Greenpeace initiated a three-month investigation and a forty-five minute televised investigative report where neither the parents nor the children knew the rice was genetically modified.[5] Tang lied about obtaining informed consent because the Chinese public is skeptical about the safety of ingesting genetically modified rice.[6] Tang proceeded without informed consent because 2.3 million children die of malnutrition.[7]

    Frankly if you would lie about getting consent what else would you lie about.

  • Great article. Thanks for clarifying the difference between good GMO and Bad GMO (Monsanto). Meanwhile suicide rates in India’s farmers is skyrocketing, due to the contractual obligation of farmers to not save the seeds they buy from Monsanto.
    which wouldn’t sprout anyway if they are terminator seeds. We are seeing the end of a thousands of years old culture of farming across the globe, not just in India.
    And I wonder why it is that only we can see the writing on the wall.
    It’s astonishing that these men of Monsanto can’t see the forest for the trees, that what they’ve promulgated on the world will spell everyone’s demise, and then where will they get their money from? (or their food?) And what planet will they live on? @Tom, if aliens come to rescue us I sure hope no Monsanto exec get’s a free ride, unless it includes an anal probe with a steel mace.

    Someone thought the mysterious illness and deaths in Alabama are related to GMO’s. Anyone have any info on that?
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/mysterious-illness-kills-southeast-alabama-19229611#.Uac2j2SG1Z-

    Finally:
    I’m hoping that the videos from the Age of Limits are shared soon too. 😉 Someone had a good camera on a nice tripod. The ones I shot were out of focus, shaky (you’d never know I once worked in TV production), the good camera’s battery died prematurely, memory on the smart phone kept filling up stopping the recording in mid sentence, and the light was terrible, not to mention the cold and the wind and rain… Apocalyptic, not to mention embarrassing…

    But great company was had, and it was really great to get to meet and talk to you Guy. Even though you scared the hell out of me. I see you.

  • The dominant culture is murdering the planet, and there really isn’t a prayer of stopping this murder so long as so many people continue to value this culture over life on this planet, the life it is murdering. This valuing is almost universal in this culture. Even most mainstream environmentalists say explicitly that they’re attempting to save civilization, not the real world. For example, even someone as dedicated as Bill McKibben regularly states he wants to stop global warming to save civilization…

    http://blog.terrain.org/2013/05/02/thoughts-on-the-apocalypse-fight-for-what-you-love/

  • The Next Big Thing. As I was making plans to establish bait stations for our rat infestation, I realized that I must try to think like the rats think. (Rats, like people, must do a little thinking sometime) So if I put the bait where they can find it easily, they will think “Wow, look what I found. This is the next big thing. Life will be great from now on.” If this sounds like humans and their oil, it is. Could say the same for humans and their civilization, too.

  • hi Pauline fancy meeting you here!!

    It was Harry from the Doomstead Diner who was filming the Age of Limits – the link is already posted above and also I put it in my blog yesterday. No video but some photos:

    https://witsendnj.blogspot.ca/2013/05/our-revels-are-now-ended.html

  • @ Lidia and Pauline:

    Thanks for the link, Lidia. I’m sure Guy will let us know when/where we can see the videos from the Age of Limits conference.

    @ DMD: yes, the next “Big Thing” is eating your neighbor before he eats you.

  • https://grist.org/food/gut-punch-monsanto-could-be-destroying-your-microbiome/

    Gut punch: Monsanto could be destroying your microbiome

    First the bad news: The “safest” herbicide in the history of science may be harming us in ways we’re just beginning to understand. And now for the really bad news: Because too much is never enough, the Environmental Protection Agency just raised the allowable limits for how much of that chemical can remain on the food we eat, and the crops we feed to animals — many of which end up on our plates as well. If you haven’t guessed its identity yet, it’s Monsanto’s Roundup, a powerful weed killer.

  • O/T
    One can really see the humor in life when one reads that despite the recent abundant snow and rain, an additional five inches of precipitation is needed to alleviate the drought, and then it rains that much and more later that same day. I hate to LOL at our flooding, but come on! We can’t just get a little rain, we have to have a hydrologic event. The alert system couldn’t even keep up and it’s coming for you, Kathy C and Grant. You’ve been warned…

  • Pauline, I wouldn’t count Golden Rice as good GMO yet. As I pointed out a 35 day study has been done on children.
    http://www.bangmfood.org/feed-the-world/17-feeding-the-world/37-golden-rice-a-dangerous-experiment
    When pharmaceutical drugs are tested for safety, they are first tested on animals. Only if animal studies reveal no harmful effects is the drug further tested on human volunteers. If animal tests with a drug were to yield results similar to those seen in feeding studies carried out with GM foods, the drug would most likely be disqualified for further development. Golden Rice has never been subjected to feeding trials on animals. It is therefore criminally irresponsible to test it on humans.

    The absence of animal testing data on Golden Rice is especially worrying as Golden Rice is engineered to overproduce beta carotene, and studies show that some retinoids derived from beta carotene are toxic and cause birth defects.[5][6][7][8][9] In particular, high concentrations of the retinoid called retinol are toxic.[10]

    More than likely Golden Rice is being used to sneak GMO’s in against resistance from the public, and thus clear the way for other GMOs

    Badlands about 3 weeks ago we got 4 inches of rain in a big downpour. Because we are high no problem with flooding although nearby towns had flooding. Because my garden is mulched and on a small downslope I don’t get erosion or too much water. Because we are now hot and dry again I am having to water the garden. I would be glad for 5 more inches of rain. I hope the rain is coming for us. ’bout this time of year we begin to secretly and guiltily wish for the hurricane that will drop some water on us after it devastates some part of the coast. The norm for us will be no more rain until September.

    OK that is my two for today.

  • Well, well, lookie what we have here:

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-05-29/monsanto-modified-wheat-unapproved-by-usda-found-in-oregon-field.html

    Monsanto Modified Wheat Not Approved by USDA in Field

    Genetically modified wheat created by Monsanto Co. (MON) that wasn’t approved for use turned up on an 80-acre farm in Oregon last month, threatening the outlook for U.S. exports of the grain that are the world’s largest.

    A farmer attempting to kill wheat with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide found several plants survived the weedkiller, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday in a statement. Scientists found the wheat was a strain field-tested from 1998 to 2005 and deemed safe before St. Louis-based Monsanto, the world’s largest seedmaker, pulled Roundup Ready wheat from the regulatory approval process on concern that importers would avoid the crop.

    “I would imagine even the perception that GM wheat is out there would have some impact on our exports” with so many countries “putting their foot down on not accepting” gene-altered crops, Ryan Larsen, an assistant professor of agribusiness and applied economics at North Dakota State University in Fargo, said by telephone. “This continues that bad persona that GM crops have. It allows people to say ‘See, it’s out there and we’re not being told it’s out there.’ ”

    Wheat futures fell 0.5 percent to $6.99 a bushel by 4:58 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Japan suspended imports of western-white wheat and feed wheat from the U.S., and canceled an order, said Hiromi Iwahama, director for grain trade and operation at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The European Union will recommend countries test imported U.S. wheat.

    (there’s more, like Monsanto saying that it’s perfectly safe, so of course we don’t have anything to worry about . . .)

  • by comparison (and to add) to Monsanto and others:

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2012/05/absolutely-every-one-of-the-15-bluefin-tuna-tested-in-california-waters-contaminated-with-fukushima-radiation.html

    “Absolutely Every One” – 15 Out of 15 – Bluefin Tuna Tested In California Waters Contaminated with Fukushima Radiation

    California Fish Contaminated with Fukushima Radiation

    We noted more than a year ago:

    The ocean currents head from Japan to the West Coast of the U.S.

    Of course, fish don’t necessarily stay still, either. For example, the Telegraph notes that scientists tagged a bluefin tuna and found that it crossed between Japan and the West Coast three times in 600 days:

    That might be extreme, but the point is that fish exposed to radiation somewhere out in the ocean might end up in U.S. waters.

    And see this.

    CNN reports today:

    Low levels of radioactive cesium from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident turned up in fish caught off California in 2011, researchers reported Monday.

    The bluefin spawn off Japan, and many migrate across the Pacific Ocean. Tissue samples taken from 15 bluefin caught in August, five months after the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, all contained reactor byproducts cesium-134 and cesium-137 at levels that produced radiation about 3% higher than natural background sources

    The Wall Street Journal quotes the studies’ authors:

    “The tuna packaged it up and brought it across the world’s largest ocean,” said marine ecologist Daniel Madigan at Stanford University, who led the study team. “We were definitely surprised to see it at all and even more surprised to see it in every one we measured.”

    ***

    “We found that absolutely every one of them had comparable concentrations of cesium-134 and cesium-137,” said marine biologist Nicholas Fisher at Stony Brook University in New York state, who was part of the study group.

    The bad news is that it is only going to get worse.

    As Reuters points out:

    Unlike some other compounds, radioactive cesium does not quickly sink to the sea bottom but remains dispersed in the water column, from the surface to the ocean floor.

    Fish can swim right through it, ingesting it through their gills, by taking in seawater or by eating organisms that have already taken it in ….

    As CNN notes:

    Neither [of the scientists who tested the fish] thought they were likely to find cesium at all, they said. And since the fish tested were born about a year before the disaster, “This year’s fish are going to be really interesting,” Madigan said.

    “There were fish born around the time of the accident, and those are the ones showing up in California right now,” he said. “Those have been, for the most part, swimming around in those contaminated waters their whole lives.”

    In other words, the 15 fish tested were only exposed to radiation for a short time. But bluefin arriving in California now will have been exposed to the Fukushima radiation for much longer.

    As KGTV San Diego explains:

    The real test of how radioactivity affects tuna populations comes this summer when researchers planned to repeat the study with a larger number of samples. Bluefin tuna that journeyed last year were exposed to radiation for about a month. The upcoming travelers have been swimming in radioactive waters for a longer period. How this will affect concentrations of contamination remains to be seen.

    One of the studies’ authors told the BBC:

    The fish that will be arriving around now, and in the coming months, to California waters may be carrying considerably more radioactivity and if so they may possibly be a public health hazard.

    Japanese and U.S. officials – of course – are pretending that the amount of radiation found in the bluefin is safe. But the overwhelming scientific consensus is that there is no safe level of radiation … and radiation consumed and taken into the body is much more dangerous than background radiation.

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #6

    What makes a good man?
    Would Monsanto patent it
    and make it better?

  • Totally irreverent commentary on last week’s Age of Limits conference, by someone who was there.

    https://witsendnj.blogspot.ca/2013/05/our-revels-are-now-ended.html

  • Something’s brewing in the Arctic, folks. Maybe nothing, maybe something.

    “If this is real…..”

    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2013/05/if-this-is-real.html

    And be sure to read all the comments. These are the people who stare at all of the satellite and fly-over images of the arctic all day.

  • You MUST READ Erin’s link to the Arctic Sea Ice Blog.

  • Wow! Gail could give Hunter S. Thompson a run for his money in the journalism department. Her report on the conference on her blog, Wit’s End is superb. Thanks.

  • Off-topic, but here’s to hoping that the last persons standing will include a violinist or two and (if there is enough time) perhaps even a luthier.

    Ji-Hae Park: The violin, and my dark night of the soul

  • I will be watching ‘Somewhere in New Mexico Before the End of Time’ again tonight.

    I was a little disappointed on first viewing, but I think it is because there was not much ‘new’ there for me. That is not the overall point, so I got over it quickly.

    Mike, I am hoping it does help a lot of people get talking about the issues.

    Yes, I too would like to see some video of the recent conference Guy attended.

  • Guy McPherson at the Age of Limits Conference 2013 – YouTube

  • Erin, great find!

    Bob S. – thanks for the link!

    moron (oops, that’s more on) Monsanto and their feedback loop business model:

    http://readersupportednews.org/pm-section/78-78/17641-monsantos-seeds-of-destruction

    Monsanto’s Seeds Of Destruction

    Monopoly capitalism is a particularly virulent strain of economics which is ascendant in today’s political environment of corporate empowerment deals that are robbing us of our economic and political self-determination as a nation.

    An icon of this economy is the Monsanto company, which might better be named “Mon Satan”.

    Monsanto’s roots are pesticides, with one of its most infamous products being Agent Orange — proclaimed to be “safe” for humans, which ultimately killed or disabled about 900,000 people in Vietnam.

    Monsanto also claims that its genetically engineered organisms (GMOs) are safe, even though the science of genetically inserting the DNA from one species to another is in its infancy.

    Forcing the genes of one species into another is a method of creating a man-made organism for the proclaimed purposes of increasing crop yields by eliminated pests and other “externalities” that might impede crops. The on the ground results of this process, however, have been unpredictable and often toxic, as might be expected when premature scientific hypotheses are used to create products. For example, GMO consumption has been linked to infertility, cancer, autism, Parkinson’s disease, obesity, and diabetes.

    There are also unforeseen “externalities” in the fields. So-called Round Up Ready crops contain pesticides in their genetic make-up which makes them resistant to pests, but now “Super bugs” have evolved.

    The advent of “super bugs”, means that the industrial agriculture operations must then employ more toxic pesticides, and the toxic cycle continues. Ultimately, soils are depleted, crops lose nutritional value, cattle are impacted, biodiversity is eradicated, and farmers become dependent on Monsanto. Farmers must regularly buy more potent pesticides and herbicides, as well as GMO patented “terminator seeds” (genetically designed to be sterile by the second generation), which must then be re- purchased every year.

    (there’s more)

  • Somewhere in my travels of the web yesterday, I saw a story about Putin refusing to see Kerry and threatening WWIII over GMOs.

    That’s interesting.

    Japan is also cancelling a wheat order from the US over GMOs.

    Dude, what does that say about Hugh Grant’s reach? The three branches of the US government ain’t enough……now I’m worrying over Putin’s health and how good his security might be.

  • I concur, Gail’s report on the conference on her blog, Wit’s End is superb. Thanks for the link!

    It’s clear that there is no way this many faceted and mostly fractured “community” of Aware Organizations is ever going to be able to form a cohesive Resistance to TPTB.

    We are doomed, and it’s probably a good thing. Too bad we couldn’t just all kill ourselves (of course, after carefully dismantling the toxic infrastructure we created) so that the innocent biology of Earth could live.

    It’s really really tragic.

  • It would seem that the Age of Limits conference would be a great place to “get started” with mobilizing a force to “change the world.”

    cue Charlie Brown:

  • Thanks everyone who posted comments in support of my post about the conference. I’m sad that Dmitri doesn’t have the sense of humor I thought he did as it seems to have really annoyed him. In hindsight (it’s so intense when you are there taking it all in with little time for reflection) I think that just about everyone I met was there primarily from a peak oil perspective and as a fan of Greer’s – many of them no more familiar with climate science than the general public. So expecting them as a group to embrace acceptance of NTE isn’t realistic. I have no doubt though that Guy planted some seeds. http://www.rootsimple.com/ is also publishing some intriguing reactions to the event and it’s a cool blog anyway – KathyC, check out the video a few entries down for the chicken coop!

  • pat,

    It does seem pretty clear that the peak-oil collapsnik “community” has some serious problems with gender equality and other gender-related issues. Makes consensus-based resistance against TPTB a tad difficult to organize.

  • Talking about GMO’s – first many writers on the web are not really well informed or are careless – Roundup is a herbicide NOT a pesticide. Resistance to roundup is found in weeds not in insects. Another form of GMO is to put genes that create Bt inside corn and other plants – Bt is Bacillus thuringiensis and it is a naturally occurring soil bacteria that creates a toxin that kills some insects. Bt bacteria have been sold to organic gardeners to be applied to the outside of the plants. Bt GMO’s have the genes inside the plant and they produce the insecticide in the plant itself. It is supposedly inactivated by cooking…but cows and pigs don’t get their soy and corn cooked. At any rate now there are Bt resistant bugs.

    So just to be clear – Roundup – herbicide – creating weed resistant weeds – Roundup ready GMO’s are resistant to the herbicide, but so are many weeds now

    Bt – insecticide – Bt GMO’s carry the gene to make the insecticide within the plant. Many insects are becoming Bt resistant.

    Some plants are now both Roundup ready and Bt – so they carry herbicide resistance allowing the spraying of the field with roundup and they carry insecticide. But they are different modifications.

    If I got any of that wrong anyone better informed can let me know. I do not see the distinctions made by most journalists.

    With that in mind here is a lovely story. Roundup has been sprayed from the air on Coca plants in Central and South America to wipe them out (with little concern about what other plants they might kill like food the people are growing, and little concern for the people that might get sprayed. BUT Coca is apparently also able to develop resistance. This author went to South America to research it. There was some belief that the resistance might have been genetically created say by the drug lords. The conclusion is that farmers propagate coca by cuttings, and of course select any that survive the spraying and replant and pass them on. Thus they themselves selected for Roundup resistance! Its a lovely story filled with mystery, intrigue and danger (sort of) http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.11/columbia.html?pg=1&topic=columbia&topic_set=

    And yes Gail’s piece on the conference is a must read.

    Erin thanks for the heads up – we have an interesting summer ahead of us.

  • Here’s another “way to go” for Gail. That’s just the sort of conference review that I enjoy reading. Lots of plain speaking, and not too much diplomacy, just enough… 🙂

  • @ Kathy C

    “Another form of GMO is to put genes that create Bt inside corn and other plants – Bt is Bacillus thuringiensis and it is a naturally occurring soil bacteria that creates a toxin that kills some insects. Bt bacteria have been sold to organic gardeners to be applied to the outside of the plants. Bt GMO’s have the genes inside the plant and they produce the insecticide in the plant itself.”

    Inadvertently creating Bt-resistance in insects is messing with nature’s own immune system! Insanity! Add a healthy dose of Roundup, and soil ecology is literally dust.

    Btw, my dad is a retired cattle rancher who loves telling this story:
    Back in the late 70s, a cow was down, having trouble delivering a calf in a distant canyon. The vet came out and needed a way to get pressurized water to the cow. There was a tractor available with a tank and spray rig. My dad expressed concern, because they had recently used the tank to spray Roundup on the ‘yellow star sticker’ around the ranch. The vet laughed and told him to not even bother to rinse out the tank, because Roundup is perfectly harmless. To this day, my dad thinks more Roundup is better. Sigh.

  • My mother has advanced Parkinson’s. I’m convinced it was her 30 years of single-handed farming with Roundup that precipitated it. My father, who spent his days in his biochem lab and only helped with the harvest, is clear.

    It’s ironic that working with the kinds of chemicals he did was OK, but “harmless” Roundup is killing my mother.

  • Paul, I’m very sorry to hear about your mother. Parkinson’s is so brutal. Hang in there.

  • Mystery wheat: Monsanto uses secret Montana location to demonstrate its genetically modified wheat

    http://www.organicconsumers.org/wheat/0722_monsanto_wheat.cfm

    “Because Montana sells most of its wheat to the Asian Pacific Rim, some farmers are opposed to any introduction of Roundup Ready wheat lest it “contaminate” the state’s commercial varieties and kill the state’s valuable export market. In any given year, Montana’s wheat crop is valued at $400 million to $900 million, with 60-70 percent of the crop going to the Pacific Rim.”

    “”Our goal is to have a Roundup Ready variety that is adaptable to each region of Montana where spring wheat is grown either on dryland or irrigated cropland,” Clark said.”

    what can we do, except push for labeling so that we can make the choice about whether or not we eat this stuff?

  • Yes, I posted my appreciation under Gail’s essay — wonderful!

    Paul & I are mind-melding, it seems — his post there appeared after I’d entered mine. I love the broader thinking he offers, that I can’t seem to reach in my own constricted worrying.

    Denise — When I was 18, and apparently still semi-dyslexic, I hitched through Ukiah, so of course I had to write a haiku, about the old man with crippled legs (and hand controls on his old 1948 beetle-like car that could not climb some hills) who picked me up there. If I find it, I’ll drop it in here sometime.

    Pat’s “we are doomed” is more apt than ever, though we never expected a mere conference to change much. It is more a cross-section of the people who share our interest. (And thanks Gail for the clarification of the different groups who were there.)

    I’ve been to a number of “minority-of-a-minority movement” international conferences (where we knew, despite all our efforts, we would never get the rest of “the movement” onboard), and they mostly were events that became part of my own life experience, and “commiserating” with the like-minded, and enjoying their company. Not affecting much of anything.

    Now I think conferences remain fun experiences, but must supplement what we have learned to do more efficiently (if not to great effect) on the Internet, where personalities — and good writers — like Guy and Gail can shine quite brightly without ever meeting us in person.

    As usual, the Pythons (I went looking for the Judaean People’s Front) have much to offer on this:

    I flew with a Nobel Peace Prize winner sitting by me yesterday, (no it wasn’t BHO — duh!) and walked with him through the airport talking about interests and experiences in common. A person who did the right thing at the right time, for which I did thank him, and is therefore recognized for life as a special one among us. It was exciting, and thought-provoking, to be with an ordinary mortal, similar to any of us here, who has done this.

    Groups also have a chance to be so recognized, and have been. Perhaps we should set our sights higher, together?

    (As in, does anyone want to write the press release? “The Nature Bats Last blogging community has today nominated itself for, and awarded itself, the 2013 (or is it 2014?) Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts blah, blah, blah…”)

  • Relax mes peeps!! It may all be over by the end of this afternoon!

    http://www.amsmeteors.org/2013/05/asteroid-1998-qe2/

    The massive asteroid 1998 QE2 will pass 6.2 million kilometres (3.8 million miles) from the Earth on Friday, May 31st 2013 at 4:59pm EDT (20:59 UT.) We believe 1998 QE2 is as large as 9 times the size of the 12-decked cruise liner Queen Elizabeth II (QE2 . A hypotethical impact from an asteroid this big would be catastrophic… but no worries this time. The passage is over 15 times as distant as the Earth’s Moon.

    “QE 2″ is not an homage to England’s Queen Elizabeth II. Newfound asteroids are named according to an established alphanumeric scheme that lays out when it was discovered.

    The asteroid will be cruising through the Hydra constellation on its way north into Libra on Friday 31th. You might actually be able to see it, if you happen to have access to a decent telescope as the asteroid will never top +10 magnitude – which is the general threshold for binocular viewing under dark skies. The asteroid will look like a tiny moving star-like point.

    The official Nasa and ESA line is that our best form of defence against the potentially dangerous Near Earth Asteroids is still prayer…

    Clear sky!

    More info:

    NASA Video
    How to spot 1998 QE2
    NASA’S WISE Mission Finds Lost Asteroid Family Members
    Watching for hazards: ESA opens asteroid centre
    AMS Meteor Terminology

    Update May 30th, 2:32 PM Eastern: The asteroid has a moon! Here’s a stunning video from NASA’s JPL of the asteroid that reveals a satellite orbiting it.