Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Stop the Monsanto/USDA Madness #274, April 28, 2011"

Stop USDA's Plan
for Monsanto
and the Biotech Industry
to Police Itself!

"Genetically modified organisms, planted on 165 millions acres of US farmland, are damaging public health and the environment and undermining climate stability. GM crops have increased the use of toxic pesticides and chemical fertilizers, destroyed soil fertility and carbon-sequestering capacity, spawned super-weeds, contaminated organic & non-GMO crops, and are less nutritious and more likely to trigger allergies, in general making plants, animals and human beings weaker and disease-prone. Genetically engineered corn for ethanol has decreased grain supplies, raised food prices, and increased world hunger; meanwhile generating the same carbon footprint (greenhouse gas pollution) as conventional gasoline. Genetically engineered trees, fish, and farm animals pose similar hazards to human and environmental health.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has aided and abetted Monsanto and the biotech lobby by failing to accurately assess the environmental and climate impacts of GMOs, just as they have failed to properly assess the monumental damage of chemical agriculture. Now, APHIS, using the excuse of efficiency and cutting costs, wants to turn over the job of conducting environmental assessments to biotech companies like Monsanto that have a vested interested in getting their new GMOs deregulated.

This is a very dangerous game to play with the future of food, agriculture, and our common environment and climate. Tell APHIS to halt their pilot program and instead put their resources towards a more vigorous review of the potential harms of new GMO crops and animals."

Take Action at: Organic Consumers Association -

Sample Letter - Sent by Rose Marie Raccioppi, April 28, 2011. To: Administrator Smith via Organic Consumers Association Mail System:

Thank you for using Organic Consumers Association Mail System.

April 28, 2011

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are already wreaking environmental havoc. GMOs are increasing the use of toxic pesticides; spawning super-weeds; contaminating organic & non-GMO crops; producing food that is less nutritious and more likely to trigger allergies; and making plants, animals and human beings more susceptible to disease, infertility and cancer.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is to blame because it has failed to accurately assess the environmental impacts GMOs. Now, APHIS wants to turn over the job of conducting environmental assessments to biotech companies like Monsanto with a vested interested in getting their new GMOs deregulated.

This is a very dangerous game to play with the future of US food production. I urge you to halt this pilot program and instead put APHIS resources towards a more vigorous review of the potential harms of new GMO crops and animals.

Please consider the following:

Plant pathologist Don Huber claims that top scientists have found a new, harmful organism linked to Roundup and Roundup Ready technology that causes diseases in some crops and is linked to spontaneous abortions and infertility in livestock.

Huber wrote to USDA Secretary Vilsack that the organism could lead to a "general collapse of our critical agriculture infrastructure" and further approval of Roundup Ready crops "could be a calamity."

Huber says he isn't philosophically opposed to genetically modified crops, but given what he and other scientists have discovered about them, it would be prudent for the USDA to declare a moratorium on the further deregulation of crops that are genetically modified to resist glyphosate herbicides, sold under the trade name Roundup by Monsanto.

He believes the moratorium should be extended to alfalfa and sugar beets and only lifted if further research exonerates the Roundup Ready system.

"There are enough indicators that a little caution would be prudent at this time," Huber said. "Let's be a little more cautious until we can see the problem we're having better. Let's get more research before we possibly make it worse."

Huber, professor emeritus of plant pathology at Purdue, claims the microscopic pathogen is prolific in plants infected with two common diseases - sudden death syndrome in soybeans and Goss' wilt in corn - and he says lab tests have confirmed its presence in a wide variety of livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility.

If Roundup Ready genes or the herbicide promote or are factors in the pathogen, he said, then approving its use in sugar beets and alfalfa "could be a calamity."

Research has shown the use of glyphosate may make some plants more susceptible to disease.

Huber said a diverse team of senior plant and animal scientists has discovered a new organism they believe significantly impacts plant and animal health. He said they claim it is widespread and found in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready corn and soybeans.

The previously unknown organism is only visible under an electron microscope and is about the size of a medium-sized virus, Huber said. It appears to be a microfungus-like organism and can reproduce, the first such microfungus ever identified.

In his letter to Vilsack, Huber said there is "strong evidence the organism promotes diseases in both plants and animals, which is very rare." He also says it has been found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, distillers meal, fermentation feed products, pig stomach contents and pig and cattle placentas.

Huber says he got involved in the research after being contacted by veterinarians whose clients were experiencing significant problems with their herds. They had traced the problem to the animals' feed and asked him to attack the problem from the plant side.

Huber has studied plant pathogens for 50 years and his work has focused on the ecology of soilborne plant pathogens. A retired Army colonel, Huber studied natural and human-caused biological threats, germ warfare and disease outbreaks while in the military.

He has worked on several international research projects and authored or co-authored more than 300 journal articles. He is APS coordinator of USDA's National Plant Disease Recovery System.

(Source: "Professor Inflames Biotech Controversy," by Sean Ellis, Capitol
Press, April 14, 2011.)

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.


Rose Marie Raccioppi

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Local Initiatives - Orangetown Environmental Committee

click on image for readable size


Town of Orangetown
Environmental Committee

at the Pearl River Library

Free Energy Audits for Homeowners,
Businesses and Non-profits
Tuesday, May 3rd, 7:00 p.m.

Meredith Nierenberg, of Mid-Hudson Energy Smart Communities, will speak and answer questions on free and low-cost energy audits available through New York State. Audits identify energy efficiency improvements with short payback periods, leading to substantial short term energy and cost savings. Certified energy auditors perform an assessment using visual inspection, blower door tests, and testing with infrared equipment. Auditors also test for gas and carbon monoxide leaks. In addition to the audits, state funding is available through the same program to cover partial costs of recommended improvements.

Raised Bed Gardening for Beginners
Tuesday, May 10th, 7:00 p.m
with Charles and Pam Paolino of Hook Mountain Growers, a micro-farm in Upper Nyack

The Health Threats of Toxic Pesticide Use on Lawns
Wednesday, May 18th, 7:00 p.m.
with community organizer and educator Rose Marie Raccioppi

Smart, Green Landscaping with Native Plants
Tuesday, May 24th, 7:00 p.m.
with landscape designer, Rebecca Gmucs
Pearl River Library is located at 80 Franklin Ave, Pearl River, NY 10965

All workshops are FREE!

For more information about the Spring Environmental Workshop Series or about the Orangetown Environmental Committee, check the town website at or contact Larry Soehnel Sr. at (845) 365-2173 or

Monday, April 18, 2011

Scientists under Attack - Genetic Engineering in the magnetic Field of Money...

Denkmal Film - Scientists under Attack

An Excellent, Informative Presentation:
The Conversation with Deepak Chopra:
GE Alfalfa on The Conversation:
Deepak HomeBase - live streaming video powered by Livestream

As an Educational Consultant/Therapist, I have seen dire changes in health, stamina, attention, and motivation among school age students. Allergy, low energy, poor impulse control, heightened aggression, headaches, digestive problems, have become widespread among children, teens and young adults. So much of what is eaten is no longer health supporting. Colorful packaging, deceptive advertising, and 'no time preparation' have been alluring enough to diminish the consumption of healthy, fresh prepared foods free of artificial colors, flavors, chemical preservatives and neuro-toxic flavor enhancers.

PLEASE for the sake of our present children and those of future generations become informed and BE the VOICE, the ACTION for CHANGE. OUR HEALTH IS AT RISK!

A Take Action Page is posted on : A simple way to be counted - petitions that show we care to make a difference.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

New study confirms organ damage in GMO-fed animals.

Jeffrey Smith The world’s leading consumer advocate promoting healthier, non-GMO choices Posted on 10:55 am April 7, 2011

GMOs Linked to Organ Disruption in 19 Studies

A new paper shows that consuming genetically modified (GM) corn or soybeans leads to significant organ disruptions in rats and mice, particularly in livers and kidneys. By reviewing data from 19 animal studies, Professor Gilles-Eric Séralini and others reveal that 9% of the measured parameters, including blood and urine biochemistry, organ weights, and microscopic analyses (histopathology), were significantly disrupted in the GM-fed animals. The kidneys of males fared the worst, with 43.5% of all the changes. The liver of females followed, with 30.8%. The report, published in Environmental Sciences Europe on March 1, 2011, confirms that “several convergent data appear to indicate liver and kidney problems as end points of GMO diet effects.” The authors point out that livers and kidneys “are the major reactive organs” in cases of chronic food toxicity.

“Other organs may be affected too, such as the heart and spleen, or blood cells,” stated the paper. In fact some of the animals fed genetically modified organisms had altered body weights in at least one gender, which is “a very good predictor of side effects in various organs.”

The GM soybean and corn varieties used in the feeding trials “constitute 83% of the commercialized GMOs” that are currently consumed by billions of people. While the findings may have serious ramifications for the human population, the authors demonstrate how a multitude of GMO-related health problems could easily pass undetected through the superficial and largely incompetent safety assessments that are used around the world.

Feed’em longer!

One of the most glaring faults in the current regulatory regime is the short duration of animals feeding studies. The industry limits trials to 90 days at most, with some less than a month. Only two studies reviewed in this new publication were over 90 days—both were non-industry research.

Short studies could easily miss many serious effects of GMOs. It is well established that some pesticides and drugs, for example, can create effects that are passed on through generations, only showing up decades later. IN the case of the drug DES (diethylstilbestrol), “induced female genital cancers among other problems in the second generation.” The authors urge regulators to require long-term multi-generational studies, to “provide evidence of carcinogenic, developmental, hormonal, neural, and reproductive potential dysfunctions, as it does for pesticides or drugs.”

Pesticide Plants”

Nearly all GM crops are described as “pesticide plants.” They either tolerate doses of weed killer, such as Roundup, or produce an insecticide called Bt-toxin. In both cases, the added toxin—weedkiller or bug killer—is found inside the corn or soybeans we consume.

When regulators evaluate the toxic effects of pesticides, they typically require studies using three types of animals, with at least one feeding trial lasting 2 years or more. One third or more of the side effects produced by these toxins will show up only in the longer study—not the shorter ones. But for no good reason, regulators ignore the lessons learned from pesticides and waive the GM crops-containing-pesticides onto the market with a single species tested for just 90 days. The authors affirm that “it is impossible, within only 13 weeks, to conclude about the kind of pathology that could be induced by pesticide GMOs and whether it is a major pathology or a minor one. It is therefore necessary to prolong the tests.”

GMO approvals also ignore the new understanding that toxins don’t always follow a linear dose-response. Sometimes a smaller amount of toxins have greater impact than larger doses. Approvals also overlook the fact that mixtures can be far more dangerous than single chemicals acting alone. Roundup residues, for example, have been “shown to be toxic for human placental, embryonic, and umbilical cord cells,” whereas Roundup’s active ingredient glyphosate does not on its own provoke the same degree of damage. One reason for this is that the chemicals in Roundup “stabilize glyphosate and allow its penetration into cells.”

Furthermore, toxins may generate new substances (metabolites) “either in the GM plant or in the animals fed with it.” Current assessments completely ignore the potential danger from these new components in our diets, such as the “new metabolites” in GMOs engineered to withstand Roundup. The authors warn, “We consider this as a major oversight in the present regulations.”

It’s not the same stuff that farmers spray

Regulators claim that the Bt-toxin produced inside GM corn is safe. They say that the Bt gene comes from soil bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), which has been safely applied as a spray-on insecticide by farmers in the past. But the authors insist that “the argument about ‘safe use history’ of the wild Bt protein . . . cannot, on a sound scientific basis, be used for direct authorizations of . . . GM corns,” without conducting proper long-term animal feeding studies.

In order to justify their claim that the wild Bt-toxin is safe, the authors state that it must first be separately tested on animals and humans and then authorized individually for food or feed, which it has not. And even if the wild variety had been confirmed as safe, the GM versions are so different, they must require their own independent studies. The paper states:

“The Bt toxins in GMOs are new and modified, truncated, or chimerical in order to change their activities/solubility in comparison to wild Bt. For instance, there is at least a 40% difference between the toxin in Bt176 [corn] and its wild counterpart.”

Even though the isolated Bt-toxin from GM corn has not been tested on animals, rodent studies on corn containing the toxin do show problems. Male rats fed Monsanto’s MON863 corn, for example, had smaller kidneys with more focal inflammation and other “disrupted biochemical markers typical of kidney filtration or function problems.”

Stop with the dumb excuses

If statistically significant problems show up in their studies, biotech company researchers often attempt to explain away the adverse findings. But the authors of this review paper describe their excuses as unscientific, obsolete, or unjustified.

When male and female animals have different results, for example, biotech advocates claim that this couldn’t possibly be related to the feed. Since both genders eat the same amount, they argue, both would have to show the same reaction in all of their organs, etc. And if the group of animals fed with less of the GMO feed exhibit more severe reactions than the group fed the larger amount, advocates claim that this discrepancy also means that the GMOs could not be the cause, since there must always be a linear dose relationship.

The authors of this paper, however, point out that effects found in a GMO animal feeding study “cannot be disregarded on the rationale that it is not linear to the dose (or dose-related) or not comparable in genders. This would not be scientifically acceptable.” In fact, most “pathological and endocrine effects in environmental health are not directly proportional to the dose, and they have a differential threshold of sensitivity in both sexes. This is, for instance, the case with carcinogenesis and endocrine disruption.”

What’s the culprit, pesticide or plant?

The shortcomings of the feeding studies make it impossible to determine whether a particular problem is due to the added pesticide, such as Roundup residues or Bt-toxin, or due to the genetic changes in the modified plants’ DNA.

Mice fed Roundup Ready soybeans, for example, showed numerous changes indicating increased metabolic rates in the liver (i.e. irregular hepatocyte nuclei, more nuclear pores, numerous small fibrillar centers, and abundant dense fibrillar components). Since studies on Roundup herbicide also show changes in the liver cells of mice and humans, the Roundup residues within the soybeans may be a significant contributing factor to the metabolic changes.

Similarly, rats fed Roundup Ready corn showed indications that their kidneys leaked. Such an effect “is well correlated with the effects of glyphosate-based herbicides (like Roundup) observed on embryonic kidney cells.” Thus, the rats’ kidney problems may also be caused by the Roundup that is accumulated within Roundup Ready corn kernels.

In addition to the herbicide, the Bt-toxin insecticide produced inside GM corn might also cause disorders. The authors state, “The insecticide produced by MON810 [corn] could also induce liver reactions, like many other pesticides.” Studies do confirm significant liver changes in rats fed Bt corn.

On the other hand, “unintended effects of the genetic modification itself cannot be excluded” as the possible cause of these very same health problems. The process of gene insertion followed by cloning plant cells (tissue culture) can cause massive collateral damage in the plant’s DNA with potentially harmful side-effects. In MON810 corn, for example, the insertion “caused a complex recombination event, leading to the synthesis of new RNA products encoding unknown proteins.” The authors warn that “genetic modifications can induce global changes” in the DNA, RNA, proteins, and the numerous natural products (metabolites), but the faulty safety assessments are not designed to adequately identify these changes or their health impacts.

Population at risk

In addition to the shortcomings mentioned above, the paper shows how GMO feeding trials are “based on ancient paradigms” with “serious conceptual and methodological flaws,” employ statistical methods that obscure the findings, add irrelevant control groups that confuse and confound the analysis, and rely on numerous assumptions that either remain untested or have already proved false.

Unlike drug approvals, biotech companies do not conduct human studies. They would therefore fail to identify both general human health reactions, and the potentially more serious ones endured by sub-populations. “If some consumers suffer from stomach problems or ulcers,” for example, the paper states, “the new toxins will possibly act differently; the digestion in children could be affected too.” The paper recommends the implementation of post market monitoring, which, among other things, “should be linked with the possibility of detecting allergenicity reactions to GMOs in routine medicine.”

But even if authorities wanted to conduct epidemiological studies on GMOs, the authors acknowledge that they “are not feasible in America, since there is no organized traceability of GMOs anywhere on the continent.” Not only is labeling of GMOs urgently needed to allow such studies to proceed, the study says:

“The traceability of products from animals fed on GMOs is also crucial. The reason for this is because they can develop chronic diseases which are not utterly known today…. Labeling animals fed on GMOs is therefore necessary because some pesticide residues linked to GMOs could pass into the food chain.”

They also point out that “even if pesticides residues or DNA fragments are not toxic nor transmitted by themselves” nevertheless, “nobody would want to eat disabled or physiologically modified animals after long-term GMOs ingestion.”

“New experiments,” they concluded, “should be systematically performed to protect the health of billions of people that could consume directly or indirectly these transformed products.”

In the meantime, for those not willing to wait for the new studies, we recommend consulting the Non-GMO Shopping Guide at

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Monsanto is Poisoning Us All: Famous Scientist, Don Huber Exposes Hazards of Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide

Monsanto is Poisoning Us All:

Famous Scientist, Don Huber

Exposes Hazards of Monsanto's Roundup Herbicide

© 2011 – by Steven McFadden

"After trucking across the high plains for five hours, and casting my eyes over perhaps 100,000 acres or more of winter’s still deathly gray industrial farmland, I came face to face with the newly famous Dr. Don M. Huber in the cave-dark meeting room of the Black Horse Inn just outside the American Heartland village of Creighton, Nebraska.

On the morning of March 24, along with about 80 farmers and Extension agents, I listened as Huber discoursed with erudition and eloquence upon industrial farming practices that may be impacting nearly every morsel of food produced on the planet, and that subsequently may also be having staggeringly serious health consequences for plants, animals, and human beings.

Huber is emeritus soil scientist of Purdue University, and a retired U.S. Army Colonel who served as an intelligence analyst, for 41 years, active and reserves. In Nebraska, he stood ramrod straight for three hours with no notes and spoke with an astonishing depth and range of knowledge on crucial, controversial matters of soil science, genetic engineering, and the profound impact of the widely used herbicide glyphosate upon soil and plants, and ultimately upon the health of animals and human beings.

Dressed in a conservative dark suit and tie, Huber set the stage for his presentation by observing that he has been married for 52 years, and has 11 children, 36 grandchildren, and a great-grandchild on the way. He then began his formal talk framed by a PowerPoint slide bearing a Biblical quote: “All flesh is grass.” – Isaiah 4:6. With this he emphasized the foundational reality that the biotech grains we eat, as well as the biotech grains eaten by cows, hogs, and chickens, are grown in vast herbicide-treated fields.

Martin Luther nails his theses to the church door.

For the domineering giants of industrial agriculture — multinational corporations, universities, and governments — Huber’s assertions about the impact of glyphosate, and the mounting scientific questions about GMO crops, may be as significant and disrupting as Martin Luther’s “heretical” act in 1517. That’s when Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany to challenge the systemic problems in the almighty institutions of his era.

Luther disputed the claim that spiritual forgiveness from sins could be legitimately sold for money. Huber and other researchers say they are accumulating evidence that — along with the 2010 report of the U.S. President’s Cancer panel which bluntly blames chemicals for the staggering prevalence of cancers — raises profoundly challenging questions about the chemical and genetic-engineering practices of industrial agriculture. The challenge, if it holds up, has implications not just for agricultural institutions, but also for the primary food chain serving the Earth’s population.

Not an altogether new controversy, the complex matters of industrial agriculture, genetic engineering and the far-flung use of herbicides has been ominously and exponentially accentuated in the last year by virtue of its ominous context: last summer’s epic oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, the nation-ripping 9.0 earthquake in Japan earlier this month, with its subsequent tsunami and nuclear meltdown which is contaminating the nation’s water and food chain, in combination with the statistical reality that on our planet of nearly seven billion people, over a billion human beings — one of every six of us — is hungry.

All of this was brought into prominent public focus — both sharp and fuzzy — in January of this year by the unlikely matter of alfalfa.

Challenges to the Web of Life

The seminar with Dr. Huber, sponsored by Knox County Extension and the Center for Rural Affairs, commenced on a somber note. The moderator announced that Terry Gompert, 66, a veteran Extension educator and respected advocate for sustainable agriculture, and a man who had played a key role in organizing the conference, had just suffered a massive heart attack. A moment of silence followed before Dr. Huber began his presentation. Mr. Gompert died on March 25, the day after the conference.

Dr. Huber discusses food and safety concerns at the Black Horse Inn, Creighton, Nebraska. (Photo by S. McFadden)

At the conference, Huber’s talk was highly technical, yet he had easy command of voluminous detail. For many in the audience, it must have sounded like an alien language as he spun out the esoteric terms: zwitterion, desorbtion, translocation, rhizosphere, meristemic, speudomanads, microbiocidae, bradyrhizobium, shikimate, and more.

Huber spoke about a range of key factors involved in plant growth, including sunlight, water, temperature, genetics, and nutrients taken up from the soil. “Any change in any of these factors impacts all the factors,” he said. “No one element acts alone, but all are part of a system.”

“When you change one thing,” he said, “everything else in the web of life changes in relationship.”

That brought him to the subject of glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide around the world, and a chemical most commonly recognized in the product named Roundup®. Because it is so widely used, Huber said, it is having a profound impact upon mega millions of farm acres around the world. More than 155 million acres of cropland were treated with glyphosate during the 2008 growing season, and even more by now. Subsequently, Huber said, this chemical is having a sweeping impact on the food chain.

He asserted that glyphosate compromises plant defense mechanisms and thereby increases their susceptibility to disease. He said that it reduces the availability and uptake of essential nutrients, and that it increases the virulence of pathogens that attack plants. Ultimately, Huber said, all of these factors reduce crop vigor and yield (Yield Drag).

Most dramatically, Huber reported on what he described as a newly discovered pathogen. While the pathogen is not new to the environment, Huber said, it is new to science. This pathogen apparently increases in soil treated with glyphosate, he said, and is then taken up by plants, later transmitted to animals via their feed, and onward to human beings by the plants and meat they consume. The pathogen is extraordinarily small. It can be observed only via an electron microscope operating at 38,000 power of magnification. The pathogen has yet to be phenotyped (descrubed) or named, though that work is almost complete, Huber said. He specified that all the research and data would be published in a matter of weeks.

Huber warned that ignoring these emerging realities may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious. He said it could also, and apparently already is, compromising the health and well-being of animals and humans.

The Stratosphere of Controversy


What propelled Huber, glyphosate and biotech crops into the stratosphere of public attention earlier this year was a pending decision on alfalfa (hay) by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The “queen of forages,” alfalfa is the principal feedstock for the dairy industry. The USDA was being asked to approve unrestricted use of genetically engineered alfalfa seeds, which could result in as many as 20 million more acres of land being sprayed with up to 23 million more pounds of toxic herbicides each year.

Because alfalfa is pollinated by bees that fly and cross-pollinate between fields many miles apart, the biotech crop will inevitably contaminate natural and organic alfalfa varieties.

Dr. Huber wrote a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack asking for a delay in making the decision, and for the resources to do further research. In his letter, Huber raised questions about the safety of glyphosate. Huber’s letter also warned of the new pathogen, apparently related to the use of glyphosate, which appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. He said laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the organism in pigs, cattle and other livestock fed these crops, and that they have experienced sterility, spontaneous abortions, and infertility.

“I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high-risk status,” Huber wrote. “In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.” Vilsack set Huber’s letter aside for later consideration, and on January 27 he authorized the unrestricted commercial cultivation of genetically modified alfalfa. Immediately thereafter, the Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the USDA, charging that the agency’s approval of genetically engineered alfalfa was unlawful.

While Huber’s letter of warning was not intended for public consumption, it was leaked and immediately went viral on the Internet. In a matter of days Huber became a lightning rod, attracting intense attention from both the scientific community, and the general public, which is understandably concerned about the genetically engineered food it has never wanted and — since GM food is unlabeled — never been able to identify. The prospect of a new and virulent pathogen sweeping through the food chain was profoundly unsettling

Meanwhile, researchers were deeply upset that they were not first notified by Huber of the new pathogen — as is customary — before the matter became public knowledge. They felt they had been blindsided. Huber says that his letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack was leaked, and thus its publication was not his doing.

Huber became the focus of tremendous pushback. His message of urgent concern and the need for delay until more research was completed was unwelcome in many corporate and university citadels, and was deemed heresy by some vested in the multi-billion dollar industry of GMO crops.

The biggest beef researchers have with Huber — who is well known in his field as a member of the American Phytopathological Society and as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System – is that he has not yet made data available for scientific scrutiny. Many researchers, including some at Purdue, say Huber’s data and hypotheses, when studied, are not likely to hold up to peer review, and that in general his allegations are exaggerated.

When contacted for comment on Huber’s concerns, Monsanto, maker of Roundup ® (glyphosate) and producer of Roundup Ready® seeds, sent a link to a host of professional criticisms of Huber’s work as well as to their official corporate statement: “Independent field studies and lab tests by multiple U.S. universities and by Monsanto prior to, and in response to, these allegations,” the statement reads in part, “do not corroborate his claims.”


Glyphosate is a particularly strong broad-spectrum toxin with the power to kill many kinds of plants that have been designated as weeds. As a chelator, or binder, glyphosate changes the physiology and thereby makes plants susceptible to plant pathogens. Roundup Ready® plants are tolerant of glyphosate because technology inserts a new gene. While the RR plants do not die after the toxic herbicide is sprayed over farm fields, the plants do suffer a reduced efficiency in some crucial regards, according to some researchers, changing the nutrient balance in plants. When that change occurs, all subsequent relationships — including the diet of livestock and humans — is changed.

The extensive use of glyphosate and the rapid, widespread use of GM crops resistant to it, have intensified the deficiencies of essential micronutrients, and some macronutrients. This is leading, Huber argues, to weaker and more disease-prone plants, animals, and people. In his presentation, he offered a list of about 40 diseases that, he says, tend to increase in farm fields where glyphosate is used. Those plant diseases include Sun Scald, Leaf Chlorosis, Tomato Wilt, Apple Canker, Barley Root Rot, Bean Root Rot, Wheat Take All, Wheat Head Scab, Wheat Glume, and Grape Black Goo.

Subsequently, he hypothesized, the decrease in nutrients and the increase in the new pathogen in food lead to empty calories, which likely explains increases in allergies, and chronic diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The list of diseases that Huber suspects may be affected by glyphosate and the new pathogen is, he said, increasing as growers and pathologists recognize the cause-effect relationship:

  • Increase in cancers of the liver, thyroid, kidneys, tests, and skin melanomas.
  • Increase in allergic reactions in general, and an increase of up to 50% in soybean allergies in the USA in the last three years.
  • Increase on an epidemic-scale in the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, perhaps as much as 9,000% over the last 30 years. Specialists say they expect the incidence of Alzhiemer’s to spike far higher over the next four years.
  • Increase in the incidence of Parkinson’s disease, which researchers say, is being provoked in part by the factor of chemical pesticides.

What Has Changed?

As if it were a mantra, during his three-hour talk Dr. Huber often raised a rhetorical question: What has changed? If all of these troubling conditions are on the rise for plants, animals and humans in recent years, then what has changed to bring it about?

The most apparent change, he answered, is that glyphosate and genetically engineered plants are out widely in the world. According to Huber, farm animals, including cattle, pigs, horses and chickens that are fed GM crops grown on glyphosate-treated fields have shown an alarming increase in sterility, spontaneous abortions, and stillbirths. By way of anecdotal evidence, he said he gets two to three communications a week from farmers and veterinarians about this troubling phenomenon. “We can no longer ignore the increase in livestock infertility, stillbirths, and spontaneous abortions over the last three to four years,” he said.

GMO feed grown on glyphosate treated fields tends to irritate the stomach of livestock, such that many farm animals are fed daily rations of bicarbonate of soda in an attempt to sooth their stomach lining. Huber showed a slide bearing images of dissected hog stomachs; one from a hog fed GMO feed and the other conventional feed. The GMO hog had a rudely inflamed mass of stomach and intestinal tissue.

A handout from Dr. Huber that was made available at the Nebraska seminar cited 117 peer-reviewed scientific studies that raise serious questions about the impact of glyphosate. These studies have reached critical mass, Huber said, and they could no longer be discounted or ignored. Yet, there are also a substantial number of studies stating that glyphosate and GMO crops are safe and ought to be the cause of no concern.

What Is this Stuff?

Glyphosate is the most used herbicide in the USA. Every year, 5 to 8 million pounds are used on lawns and yards, and another 85 to 90 million pounds are used in agriculture. It is a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide used to kill weeds, especially weeds known to compete with crops grown widely across the Midwest. Initially sold by Monsanto in the 1970s under the trade name Roundup®, its U.S. patent expired in 2000, and thus glyphosate is now marketed in the U.S. and worldwide in different solution strengths under various trade names. Because these products may contain other ingredients, they may have different effects.

Glyphosate inhibits a key enzyme that is involved in the synthesis of amino acids in the plant. Many fungi and bacteria also have this same pathway. Aromatic amino acids in plants are the building blocks for many of their defense compounds.

Some crops have been genetically engineered to be resistant to it (i.e., Roundup Ready®). Such crops allow farmers to use glyphosate as a post-emergence herbicide against both broadleaf and cereal weeds, but the development of similar resistance in some weed species is emerging as a costly problem.

Glyphosate kills plants by interfering with the synthesis of the amino acids which are used by the plant as building blocks in for growth and for defense against disease and insects. Plants that are genetically engineered to tolerate the glyphosate contain a gene that provides an alternative pathway for nutrients that is not blocked by the glyphosate herbicide. But this duplicate pathway requires energy from the plant that could be used for yield, thus many GMO crops experience Yield Drag – a reduction in yield.

Huber had several recommendations for growers, especially a much more judicious use of glyphosate, as small a dose as possible. He said farmers also need to provide supplementary nutrients to counteract its effects and thereby to restore plant resistance to toxins and diseases.

He mentioned that there are other herbicide products on the market, but they are more specific to particular weeds and degrade more swiftly, whereas glyphosate is broad spectrum and thus kills many types of weeds, and also endures for a longer span of time in the soil and plants.

“Slow down,” Huber said. “It takes time to restore soil biota if a field has been treated with glyphosate. We have 30 years of accumulated damage, so it may take some time to remediate all of this.”

“There are a lot of serious questions about the impacts of glyphosate that we need answers for in order to continue using this technology,” he continued. “I don’t believe we can ignore these questions any more if we want to ensure a safe, sustainable food supply and abundant crop production.”

Primary Realities

In his presentation at the Black Horse Inn Huber was convincing in his demeanor, encyclopedic in his knowledge, precise and eloquent in his delivery. Late in the morning as he spoke of the fertility and yield issues, the complications for farmers, and the increased prevalence of disease, his eyes momentarily welled up with tears. Then as he concluded his talk he received a standing ovation from the assembly of about 80 Nebraska farmers and Extension staff.

Still, Huber’s personal integrity and his positive reception, at least at the Black Horse Inn, may be of small consequence in the face of a tsunami of criticism arising from the citadels of corporations and universities. None of that will be resolved until the data he and others have gathered passes peer review.

The primary realities in the GM and glyphosate debates are corporate avidity, scientific uncertainty, and overwhelming public disapproval. Many peer-reviewed articles suggest that biotech crops and foods are harmless; many suggest otherwise. The jury is still out. However, as Huber was arguing, the number of published articles showing that glyphosate and the biotech crops grown in its chemical soup cause harm to livestock is rising rapidly.

Studies showing the public has little taste for genetically engineered foods, and especially not for unlabeled and thus unidentifiable genetically engineered foods, remain convincing. According to reports from Food & Water Watch, 90% of Americans want GM foods labeled, and 91% say the FDA should not allow genetically modified pigs, chicken and cattle into the food supply. To date, the main parties keen about promoting unlabeled GM foods, and their herbicidal aides, are multinational corporations and their investors.

“Before we jump off the cliff,” Huber said, “we need to have more research done. It takes a lot to reverse the problems.” Many observers would argue, convincingly, that we have already jumped off the cliff.

Huber sought just $25,000 to do sequencing to establish the phenotype of the newly identified pathogen, and then to name it. But no government, university, or corporation would provide that relatively paltry amount of money. Finally, a private individual came forward and made the money available. Then the lab that was originally keen to do the phenotyping backed out. The issue had become a hot potato and they did not want the controversy. Still, Huber persevered, and he said they should have the phenotype established, and then be able to name the pathogen, in a matter of weeks.

“Let me emphasize that all of this is not a calamity,” Huber said, surprisingly, near the end of his talk. “Agriculture is the most critical infrastructure for any society. American agriculture has undergone a revolution and it will continue to progress.

“Still, I saw no reason to rush into the critical alfalfa decision and to thereby cause so many more acres to be treated with glyphosate,” he said. “Why take a chance until we get the answers? Research needs to be done…There is lots of new data that needs to be considered, lots of new studies that cannot be ignored.” "

Alert ~ Bill to Strip Clean Water Act Protections from Pesticides Now in Senate

April 5, 2011

Bill to Strip Clean Water Act Protections from Pesticides Now in Senate

Ask your Senators to stand with you in opposing S. 718, the pesticide industry’s latest move in their assault on the Clean Water Act (CWA). Like HR 872 that recently passed the U.S. House of Representatives, the bill would amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and the CWA to eliminate provisions requiring pesticide applicators to obtain a permit to allow pesticides or their residues to enter waterways.

Companion legislation has passed the House. It must be stopped in the Senate!

S. 718, the so-called, "Bill to amend the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act to improve the use of certain registered pesticides," would ensure that CWA permits are not required for the application of pesticides and amends FIFRA by stating that no permit shall be required for the use of a pesticide. This bill would mean that pesticide applicators will be able to discharge pesticides into US waterways without any government oversight. Should this bill pass in the Senate it would mean final legislation can be signed by the President effectively making it law that EPA cannot uphold the CWA when it comes to protecting U.S. waters from pesticides.

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