Category Archives: Green the world

First ever long-term study shows that GM food is a poison to human health.

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GM Corn

GM corn by Contemplative imaging

For two years, a group of French researchers have secretly monitored the health of 200 rats fed with Monsanto’s NK603 GM corn. The result is a disaster: there are six times more death in the group of rats fed GM food than in the control group.  

WHO DID THE STUDY

This underground experiment was conducted by a professor of Molecular Biology, Gilles-Eric Séralini and its team, at the university of Caen in France. Professor Séralini is an expert on the effects of agricultural GM technologies, pesticides and various pollutants on health.

The Swiss Foundation Charles Léopold Mayer and two giants of the food retail industry, Auchan and Carrefour financed the study. Since the mad cow disease, they want to protect themselves from any new food scandal.

AN ILLEGAL EXPERIMENT

Researchers were extremely cautious to keep this study secret by fears of sabotage from multinational agricultural companies. They have banned all phone conversations, encrypted emails and even launched a decoy study. The former French Minister of the Environment, Corinne Lepage said, Monsanto prohibits the use of its seeds for research purposes so it is very hard to do independent studies.

THE EXPERIMENT

It is the first long-term experiment recording a lifetime intake of GM in rats. Professor Séralini said, “After less than a year of genetically modified maize menus, it was a slaughter among our rats, which I had not imagined the magnitude.” The research studied three groups of rats, one was fed with Monsanto’s NK 603 GM corn treated with monsanto’s roundup herbicide, the second ate untreated GM corn and the last one was only fed low doses of herbicides. All groups of rats were hit by a multitude of serious diseases on the 13th month of the experiment.

Seeds’ corporations are only bind to research the effects of their products for 3 months. This two years study shows that tumours only appear during the 4th month, which is about 40 years in human’s life. GM food has only been around for 20 years, which explain why we can’t yet notice its effects on human health.

Séralini study explained:

CONCLUSION OF THE STUDY

– Rats fed with GM corn trigger 2 or 3 times more tumours than rats fed only the herbicide.

– Rats fed with GM corn develop tumours faster (20 months earlier for males and 3 months for females)

– Products should be tested 2 years on rats before being marketed

GM IN YOUR PLATE

If you think that you don’t eat GM food because it is labelled in your country, think again. In Australia, some products with GM ingredients are sold without labels because of in the labeling laws. Processed food such as, cooking oils and chocolates may contain highly refined, unlabelled GM ingredients. If farms animals were fed GM grains, then the milk, the meat and the eggs will contain trace of GM organisms. Most surprisingly, restaurants and bakeries don’t need to label their food if they cook with GM ingredients.

For a better labelling in Australia sign this online petition.

CRITICS

While we wait for a counter expertise, this study faces a lot of critics. Some experts argue that the sample of 200 rats is too small and others point out that the type of rats used, “Sprague-Dawley” develop tumours easily.

Go here for more critics

EUROPE TAKE THE STORY VERY SERIOUSLY

European governments are taking this study very seriously. The three ministers, Marisol Touraine (Health), Delphine Batho (Environment) and Stéphane Le Foll (Agriculture), said that the study of the séralini team deserves all our attention. “This study seems to confirm the insufficient toxicological studies required by Community legislation to authorize marketing of GM products ” said the three ministers in a joint declaration.

Science shows that animals feel, yet animal cruelty is still legal

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Australian sea lions by Marine Freyne

Australian sea lions by Marine Freyne

Every month, new scientific discoveries blur the line of differences between man and animals. Now we know that not only dolphins but cows and rats also empathize, love and grieve. Yet animal cruelty is still legal for farm animals.

Grief

Many animals are known to grieve; elephants, chimpanzees, dolphins, sea lions and even magpies. Gana, a captive gorilla, clearly grieved the loss of her infant and the image of her carrying her dead baby was shown around the world. Jane Goodall tells the story in her book, Through a Window of Flint, of a young chimpanzee who died from sadness soon after his mother, Flo. “Flint became increasingly lethargic, refused food and, with his immune system thus weakened, fell sick,” she wrote.

Marc Bekoff describes in the Newscientist, a magpie ritual he witnessed a few years ago in Boulder, Colorado. “A magpie was lying dead on the side of the road, probably hit by a car, with four others standing around it. One after the other, two of them approached the corpse, gently pecked at it and stepped back. One of the birds flew off, brought back some grass and laid it by the corpse. Another did the same. Then all four stood vigil for a few seconds before flying away one by one.”

Love

The sweetest kiss ever

Holly Cheever tells the incredible story of a dairy cow hiding one of her calves after giving birth to twins. It was her fifth birth; she knew that her babies were going to be taken away. Think for a moment of the intelligence and care this mothering cow displayed. She first remembered the pain of losing her child, and then she formulated a plan to keep one of them. The most amazing part of this story is that instead of hiding both calves, which would have aroused the farmer’s suspicion, she gave one away.

Though, it does not mean that animals experience feelings the same way than we do. The Australian sea lions in the video seem deeply in love, happy and excited, they give each other the sweetest kiss ever. Though, they certainly not experience love the same way than we do as males may keep harems of around 4 to 6 females.

Empathy

Watch: Empathy: Human or Animal 

According to the free dictionary, “empathy is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings”. We should probably update this definition, as not only people, but chickens also feel for one another.

Studies published in the Journal of Science in December 2011 have shown that rats and chickens display empathy. According to Inabal Ben-Ami Bartal, Jean Decety and Peggy Mason at the University of Chicago; untrained laboratory rats will free companions rather than selfishly feast on chocolate. “When liberating a cage mate, was pitted against chocolate contained within a second restrainer, rats opened both restrainers and typically shared the chocolate”.

Those studies reveal that humans and nonhumans are inherently compassionate. “When we act without empathy we are acting against our biological inheritance … If humans would listen and act on their biological inheritance more often, we’d be better off,” says Peggy Mason. This should make us think twice about the way we treat laboratory rats or farm animals.

Cruelty on farms animals is not happening just in America.


Anthropomorphism

Some critics would call those observations, anthropomorphism, which is the attribution of human behavior to animals, and argue it is not real science. Though, Allan and Bekoff explain that by using human terms to illustrate animals’ emotions, humans make the animals’ worlds accessible to themselves. “Emotions serve as a “social glue” to bond individuals with one another and to catalyze and regulate their social encounters”. Charles Darwin himself advocates that differences among species are in degree rather than kind.

Research from the University of Toronto shows that morality and empathy are not some kind of higher reasoning created by humans but survival instincts. It could simply be the result of evolution determining that morality and compassion are beneficial to the survival of species. What about empathy toward different species?

For the ones still not convinced that animals feel, here is “real science”. A recent study by Patrick Hof and Estel Van Der Gucht of the Mount Sinal School of Medicine in New York found specialised neurons, called spindle cells linked, in humans, to emotion, speech, social skills empathy and ‘gut’ intuition, in the brains of humpback, fin, killer and sperm whales. In fact, whales were found to have three times as many of these cells proportionally as humans do. Since our brains work in the same way as animals’, it makes sense for similar things to be happening.

Humans now know, that cows and chickens feel, at least in the same way as dogs and cats. We pride ourselves on being a species with higher moral senses. Yet, farm animals have been excluded from the animal cruelty laws that protect dogs and cats so that they can be exploited for human consumption. I guess, suffering in the name of profit has become socially acceptable in our society.

Bees are dying while biotechnology corporations get richer

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Independent researchers link pesticides to the death of billions of bees around the world while corporations like Bayer and Monsanto – producers of insecticides – exercise a disturbing degree of control over the evaluation of toxicity in their products.

Bee at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens by Paul Stein

Bee at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens by Paul Stein

What is happening?

Albert Einstein famously once said, “If honey bees become extinct, human society will follow in four years”. Indeed, bees pollinate about 80% of all plant species and at least one third of food crops. Food stuffs including apples, pears, tangerines, peaches, soybeans, pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, carrots, broccoli and avocados all depend on pollination from bees.

Already in Sichuan, China, pear trees have had to be pollinated by hand after bees were wiped out by habitat loss linked to unsustainable agricultural practices.

In countries dependent on bee pollination, it is estimated that between 30% and 90% of honeybee colonies have disappeared since 2006. The same scenario occurs each time: the bees leave the nest and simply never come back.

Why is it happening?

Scientists do not know the exact cause of this epidemic; some say it could be parasites – particularly the varroa mite as well as viruses or funguses. However, many scientists believe the most likely reason for declining bee populations is the unchecked use of pesticides and genetically modified crops. The crisis is now officially known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CDD), whereby bee health is compromised, ultimately making them more susceptible to diseases.

According to a pair of new independent studies recently published in the Journal of Science, new evidence has directly linked pesticides with the decline of bee populations. Scientists believe that a type of insecticide known as Neonicotinoid – which was introduced in the 1990s by Bayer and is one of the most widely used crop pesticides in the world – is affecting the central nervous systems of bees. With annual sales of $1.941 billion, the neonicotinoids have became one of the fasted growing and prosperous products currently on the market. This pesticide appears to kill bees’ homing instincts, limits their ability to gather food and critically, find their way back to the hive.

Following responses from France and Germany, in 2009 the Italian Agriculture Ministry suspended the use of pesticides classed as nicotine-based neonicotinoids. This ban has led to the restoration of bee populations in Italy. “Bee hives have not suffered depopulation and mortality coinciding with maize sowing this year. Beekeepers from Northern Italy and all over the country are unanimous in recognizing the suspension of neonicotinoid- and fipronil-coated maize seeds,” Moreno Greatti from the University of Udine reported to the The European Research Center.

Trailer for “Nicotine Bees” documentary explaining cause for Colony Collapse Disorder.

Further research has indicated that CDD in bees is triggered not only by pesticides but also by GMO high-fructose corn syrup produced by Monsanto. Click here to read the full report.

Who is responsible?

In 2003, pharmaceuticals manufacturer Bayer developed a new pesticide called Clothianidin which falls under the family of the Neonicotinoid.  A leaked document from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was obtained recently by Colorado beekeeper Tom Theobald, and publicised by the Pesticide Action Network. The document details how Bayer performed inadequate testing on the pesticide and why the EPA accepted the results. This resulted in the pesticide being released for use despite proof that it would not harm bee populations and in fact, in contradiction with its own researcher’s results. See EPA leaked document.

In April 2012, Poland banned Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds. In addition to being linked to a plethora of health problems, Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki said that the pollen originating from this GM strain may actually be devastating already dwindling bee populations. 

Notably, Monsanto – one of the world largest producers of genetically modified food – quietly purchased a research company called Beelogics in September 2011, whose mission it was combat the extinction of bees. Monsanto has insisted it will use Beeologic’s research to improve the bees’ situation. However, given that it was named the ‘Worst Company 2011’ by the Natural Society, it is difficult to believe that Monsanto will put the bees before his products.

Monsanto ‘quietly’ acquired Beelogics because there is no trace of this information in the mainstream media. If you find any newspapers or TV channels that talk about Monsanto buying Beelogics please let me know.

The world according to Monsanto