Consumer Power

Bayer's Plan for Settling Future Roundup Cancer Claims Faces Broad Opposition

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-03 16:35
February 26, 2021U.S. Right to KnowCarey GillamGenetic Engineering bcr_1200x630.png

Dozens of U.S. law firms have formed a coalition to fight a new $2 billion settlement proposal by Monsanto owner Bayer AG that aims to contain the company’s ongoing liability related to claims that Roundup herbicides cause a type of cancer known as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

The settlement is designed to compensate people who have been exposed to Roundup products and either already have NHL or may develop NHL in the future, but who have not yet taken steps to file a lawsuit.

The small group of lawyers who put the plan together with Bayer say it will “save lives” and provide substantial benefits to people who believe they developed cancer from exposure to the company’s herbicide products.

But many lawyers criticizing the plan say if it is approved it would set a dangerous precedent for other types of litigation involving large numbers of people injured by the products or practices of powerful corporations.

“This is not the direction we want the civil justice system to go,” said attorney Gerald Singleton, whose firm has joined with more than 60 other law firms to oppose Bayer’s plan. “There is no scenario under which this is good for plaintiffs.”

Bayer’s settlement plan was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on Feb. 3, and must be approved by U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria in order to become effective. A prior settlement plan submitted last year was scorned by Chhabria and then withdrawn. The judge has been overseeing the federal multidistrict Roundup litigation involving thousands of plaintiffs from around the United States.

Responses to the settlement plan are due March 3 and a hearing on the matter is set for March 31.

A key concern is that current Roundup users who may develop cancer and want to sue in the future will automatically be subject to terms of the class settlement unless they officially opt out of the settlement within a specific time period. One of the terms they would be subject to would bar them from seeking punitive damages in any future lawsuit.

Those terms and others laid out are wholly unfair to farm workers and others who are expected to develop cancer in the future from exposure to the company’s herbicide products, according to Singleton. The plan benefits Bayer and provides “blood money” to the four law firms that worked with Bayer to design the plan, he said.

Those firms working with Bayer to draft and administer the plan would receive a proposed $170 million if the plan takes effect.

Elizabeth Cabraser, one of the lawyers who crafted the new proposed settlement, said the criticism is not a fair description of the settlement. In truth, she said, the plan “provides significant and urgently-needed outreach, education, healthcare access, and compensation benefits” for people who have been exposed to Monsanto’s Roundup herbicides but have not yet developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

“We seek approval of this settlement because it will save lives and enhance quality of life through early diagnosis, assist people… inform them and raise public awareness about the link between Roundup and NHL…” she said.

A spokesman for Bayer did not respond to a request for comment.

The new proposed settlement is aimed at future cases and is separate from the $11 billion Bayer has earmarked to settle existing U.S. Roundup cancer claims. The people impacted by the class settlement proposal are only individuals who have been exposed to Roundup but are not yet in litigation and have taken no steps toward any litigation.

Bayer has been struggling to figure out how to put an end to the Roundup cancer litigation since buying Monsanto in 2018. The company lost all three trials held to date and lost the early rounds of appeals seeking to overturn the trial losses.

Juries in each of the trials found not only that Monsanto’s glyphosate-based herbicides cause cancer but also that Monsanto spent decades hiding the risks.

Though the proposed settlement states that it “addresses the four concerns the Court raised regarding the prior, withdrawn settlement,” Singleton and other lawyers involved in the opposition said the new settlement proposal is just as bad as the first.

In addition to the concerns that class members would not have the right to seek claims for punitive damages, the critics also object to the four-year “standstill” period blocking the filing of new lawsuits. The critics also say the plan for notifying people of the class settlement is not sufficient. Individuals would have 150 days following the notification to “opt out” of the class. If they do not opt out, they are automatically in the class.

Critics also object to the proposed formation of a science panel that would act as a “guidepost” for an “extension of compensation options into the future” and to provide evidence about the carcinogenicity – or not – of Bayer’s herbicides.  Given Monsanto’s documented history of manipulating scientific findings, the science panel work would be suspect, said Singleton.

The initial settlement period would run for at least four years and could be extended after that period.  If Bayer elects not to continue the compensation fund after the initial settlement period, it will pay an additional $200 million as an “end payment” into the compensation fund, the settlement summary states.

“Substantial compensation” offered

The law firms that drafted the agreement with Bayer said in their filing to the court that the settlement is structured to provide potential future plaintiffs with “what most serves their interests,” including an option for “substantial compensation” if they develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The plan calls for the establishment of a compensation fund to make awards of between $10,000 and $200,000 per individual class member. “Accelerated Payment Awards” of $5,000 would be available on an expedited basis, requiring just a showing of exposure and diagnosis.

Those people first exposed to Roundup products at least 12 months prior to their diagnosis would be qualified for awards. Awards of  more than $200,000 could be made for “extraordinary circumstances.” Those qualified class members who were diagnosed with NHL before January 1, 2015, would not receive awards more than $10,000, according to the plan. 

The settlement would provide free legal advice and provide ”support to assist class members in navigating, registering, and applying for Settlement benefits.”

Additionally, the proposal states that the settlement will fund medical and scientific research into the diagnosis and treatment of NHL.

Notably, the plan states that no one will lose their right to sue unless they choose to accept compensation from the compensation fund, and no one needs to make that choice until that individual class member is diagnosed with NHL. They would not be able to seek punitive damages but could seek other compensation.

“Any class members who do not file a claim and accept individual compensation retain their right to sue Monsanto for compensatory damages on any legal theory, including personal injury, fraud, misrepresentation, negligence, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, breach of warranty, false advertising, and violation of any consumer protection or unfair and deceptive acts or practices statute,” the plan states.

To alert people to the class action settlement, notices would be mailed/emailed to 266,000 farms, businesses and organizations and government entities where the company’s herbicides could have been used as well as to 41,000 people who have non-Hodgkin lymphoma and asked to receive information about their disease. Additionally posters would be mailed to 2,700 stores asking them to post notices of the class action settlement.

As part of the proposed settlement, Bayer said it would seek permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add information on the labels of its glyphosate-based products such as Roundup that would provide links to access to scientific studies and other information about glyphosate safety. But critics say providing a website links is inadequate and Bayer needs to put a straightforward warning of cancer risk on the weed killing products.

The proposed class action settlement threatens to affect “hundreds of thousands or even millions” of people who have been exposed to Roundup and “raises ‘unique’ and profound questions” under the U.S. Constitution, according to a court filing in opposition to the Bayer plan made by plaintiffs’ lawyer Elizabeth Graham.

Graham told the court that if the plan is approved it could have a “dramatic effect not only on this litigation, but on the future of mass tort litigation.”

Black farmers

 The National Black Farmers Association (NBFA) weighed in on the issue on Wednesday, submitting a lengthy filing with Chhabria’s court that states a “substantial proportion” of its more than 100,000 members “have been exposed to and potentially injured by Roundup, and its active ingredient glyphosate.”

Many of the farmers have already developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma they blame on Roundup use, and “an even larger proportion fear that they will soon develop symptoms,” the NBFA filing states.

The NBFA wants to see Roundup products removed from commerce or other changes made to protect farmers, the filing states.

The concerns of the NBFA need to be addressed by the court, particularly as Bayer looks to “settle a class action with a set of attorneys who purport to be representing the future interests of all farmers who have been exposed to Roundup but are yet to develop the cancers it causes.”

Lawsuits in Australia

As Bayer works to bring an end to Roundup litigation in the United States, the company is also dealing with similar claims by farmers and others in Australia. A class action filed against Monsanto is underway, and the lead plaintiff John Fenton, who applied Roundup as part of farm work. Fenton was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2008.

A series of key dates have been established: Monsanto has until March 1 to provide discovery documents to plaintiffs’ lawyers and June 4 is the deadline set for the exchange of expert evidence.  The parties are to enter into mediation by July 30 and if nothing is resolved the case would go to trial in March 2022.

Fenton said while he would “love the opportunity” to go to trial and tell his story, he hopes mediation will resolve the matter. “I think the consensus is starting to change thanks to what has been happening in the US. Farmers are more aware and I believe they do take more precautions than they used to.

Fenton said he hopes that Bayer ultimately will put a warning label on Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicides.

“At least with a warning the user can make up their own mind about what PPE (personal protective equipment) they choose to wear.”

Reposted with permission from U.S. Right to Know.

Why Politicians and Doctors Keep Ignoring the Medical Research on Vitamin D and Covid

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 18:41
COVID-19Jonathan CookCounterPunchFebruary 18, 2021https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/02/18/why-politicians-and-doctors-keep-ignoring-the-medical-research-on-vitamin-d-and-covid-2/ sky1200x630.jpg

It is probably not a good idea to write while in the grip of anger. But I am struggling to suppress my emotions about a wasted year, during which politicians and many doctors have ignored a growing body of evidence suggesting that Vitamin D can play a critically important role in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19.

It is time to speak out forcefully now that a new, large-scale Spanish study demonstrates not a just a correlation but a causal relationship between high-dose Vitamin D treatment of hospitalised Covid patients and significantly improved outcomes for their health.

The pre-print paper in the Lancet shows there was an 80 per cent reduction in admission to intensive care units among hospitalised patients who were treated with large doses of Vitamin D, and a 64 per cent reduction in death. The possibility of these being chance findings are infinitesimally small, note the researchers. 

Revealed: Monsanto Owner and US Officials Pressured Mexico To Drop Glyphosate Ban

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 18:31
Environment & Climate, Genetic EngineeringCarey GillamThe GuardianFebruary 16, 2021https://www.theguardian.com/business/2021/feb/16/revealed-monsanto-mexico-us-glyphosate-ban maize1200x630.jpg

Internal government emails show actions similar to those by Bayer and lobbyists to kill a proposed ban in Thailand in 2019. 

Internal government emails reveal Monsanto owner Bayer AG and industry lobbyist CropLife America have been working closely with US officials to pressure Mexico into abandoning its intended ban on glyphosate, a pesticide linked to cancer that is the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkillers.

The moves to protect glyphosate shipments to Mexico have played out over the last 18 months, a period in which Bayer was negotiating an $11bn settlement of legal claims brought by people in the US who say they developed non-Hodgkin lymphoma due to exposure to the company’s glyphosate-based products.

The pressure on Mexico is similar to actions Bayer and chemical industry lobbyists took to kill a glyphosate ban planned by Thailand in 2019. Thailand officials had also cited concerns for public health in seeking to ban the weedkiller, but reversed course after US threats about trade disruption.

Comparing Organic, Agroecological and Regenerative Farming

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 18:20
Environment & ClimateAndrea BesteResilienceFebruary 12, 2021https://www.resilience.org/stories/2021-02-12/comparing-organic-agroecological-and-regenerative-farming-part-3-regenerative/ garden-1200x630.jpg

In this three part series we present an analysis by Dr. Andrea Beste on the similarities, differences and synergies between the organic, agroecological and regenerative farming movements.  Part three here outlines the relatively new regenerative agriculture movement. A German version of the entire series is also available below. 

Beginnings in the USA

In June 2015, some 60 people from 21 nations, including entrepreneurs, farmers and scientists, representatives of educational institutions, policy-makers and NGOs, met in Costa Rica to form an international movement called Regeneration International, committed to a common goal: to reverse global warming and end world hunger by facilitating and accelerating the global transition to a “regenerative agriculture”.

This sounds ambitious. And one could suspect sceptically that this is another new packaging for a “Green Revolution 2.0”, because rhetorically the ladies and gentlemen of industrialised agriculture have been at the same level for years. 

The Troubling Role of Glyphosate in COVID-19

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 17:30
COVID-19, Genetic EngineeringDr. Joseph MercolaMercola.comFebruary 14, 2021https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2021/02/14/stephanie-seneff-glyphosate.aspx spray1200x630.jpg

In this interview, Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at MIT, reviews the health impacts of glyphosate. She has just finished writing a book about glyphosate called “Toxic Legacy: How the Weedkiller Glyphosate is Destroying Our Health and the Environment,” which is expected to be published in June 2021.

For years, glyphosate was assumed safe and claims of toxicity were vehemently denied. But in recent years, studies on glyphosate have been demonstrating toxicity even at very low levels. Seneff also believes glyphosate exposure may be a key player in cases of severe COVID-19, which we’ll unravel in this interview.

Glyphosate’s Mechanism of Action

The “gly” in glyphosate actually stands for the amino acid glycine. The glycine amino acid in glyphosate has a methylphosphonate group attached to its nitrogen atom, which is responsible for its effects and toxicity.

After studying the research literature on glyphosate, Seneff has reached the conclusion that your body sometimes substitutes glyphosate for the amino acid glycine when it is constructing proteins, and this can have devastating consequences in some cases. The proteins created with glyphosate instead of glycine simply don’t work because glyphosate is much larger than glycine and also negatively charged, and as a result this alters important physical characteristics.

Monsanto’s own research, dating back to the late 1980s, shows that glyphosate accumulates in various tissues, even though they claim it doesn’t.1 The Monsanto researchers proposed that it was “incorporated into” the proteins in the tissues. This is not widely appreciated, even in the natural health community.

Now, if you have a distorted analog of glycine (in the form of glyphosate), the protein constructed from it is not going to work like it’s supposed to. In her book, Seneff details the amino acids in proteins that are most susceptible to damage because of what she calls a “glyphosate susceptible motif.”

It’s really fascinating biology and so terrifying when you think of the potential consequences, if I'm right,” she says. “It matches so well with all the diseases that are going up dramatically in our society that I really think I'm onto something huge here.

An aromatic amino acid called EPSP synthase is a critical enzyme that almost surely gets disrupted by glyphosate through this mechanism of substituting for glycine. This gets a bit technical, but it is important. The plant version of EPSP synthase binds a phosphate group in its substrate phosphoenolpyruvate at a site where there is a highly-conserved glycine residue (highly conserved usually means that it is critical for proper function). 

It has been shown experimentally that, if you change the DNA code so that the glycine is substituted by an amino acid called alanine (one extra methyl group), the enzyme becomes completely insensitive to glyphosate at any concentration. It also takes a hit on phosphate binding because of the extra methyl group, but you can tweak another amino acid nearby to fix this problem, while still keeping its insensitivity to glyphosate. 

Researchers from Dow-Dupont did exactly this to a maize version of EPSP synthase using CRISPR technology and were able to create synthetically a version of the maize’s own EPSP synthase that was completely resistant to glyphosate. The title of this paper is: “Desensitizing Plant EPSP Synthase to Glyphosate: Optimized Global Sequence Context Accommodates a Glycine-to-Alanine Change in the Active Site.”2

The shikimate pathway is the pathway that produces aromatic amino acids, which are essential to humans as we cannot create these amino acids in our body. The argument is we're not susceptible to glyphosate because our cells don't have EPSP synthase — in fact, they don’t have the entire shikimate pathway.

However, our gut microbes do have that pathway, and they use it to make essential amino acids for the host. So, our gut microbes are indeed affected by glyphosate, and when they’re damaged, our health can suffer in any number of ways.

But what might be an even more devastating problem with glyphosate is the way it probably messes up a large number of proteins that bind phosphate at a site where there is at least one, and often three, highly conserved glycine residues. Glyphosate slips its methylphosphonate group into the spot that is supposed to be where phosphate from the substrate fits snugly. Phosphate can’t bind because glyphosate is in the way. 

The arguments for why glyphosate specifically disrupts proteins that depend on glycine for phosphate binding are described more fully in a paper Seneff published together with colleagues arguing that glyphosate is a major factor in kidney failure among young agricultural workers in Central America.3

The Importance of Deuterium

Laszlo Boros is a professor of pediatrics at UCLA and an expert on deutenomics, “the science of autonomic deuterium discrimination in nature.”4 After reading one of Seneff’s papers, he contacted her, suggesting she look into deuterium.

I was blown away, and I immediately saw the connection to glyphosate,” she says. “This was a year ago in December, and I've just been reading everything I can on deuterium since then and hooking it to glyphosate. It's just astonishing what I found, even, ultimately, [linking it] to COVID-19.

It's been quite a year for me in terms of major breakthroughs in my understanding of how metabolism works and how it's getting messed up by glyphosate, and then how that's causing us to not be able to effectively deal with COVID-19.

In normal physiology, your cells, specifically the mitochondria, function to help deplete your body of deuterium. Deuterium is a naturally occurring isotope of hydrogen. If you didn’t already know, deuterium is also known as heavy hydrogen, because it has a neutron in addition to the proton and electron in the hydrogen atom.

Provided your cell is healthy, it has deuterium-depleting enzymes and organelles that help remove deuterium from your cells. If your mitochondria are damaged by glyphosate, they’re not going to be able to eliminate the deuterium properly.

Deuterium is like iron in the way that it’s both essential in the right amounts and toxic in excess. Hydrogen is the smallest atom and by far the most common atom in your body. Deuterium, being a heavy hydrogen, has one extra neutron, in addition to the normal proton and electron that regular hydrogen has.

Now, your cells are surrounded by structured water, which is negatively charged and contributes to your body’s energy production by supplying deuterium-depleted hydrogen to lysosomes and mitochondria. The structured water is maintained by sulfates, which makes sulfate extremely important for health. Sulfate is made dysfunctional by glyphosate, which in turn destroys structured water, resulting in impaired energy production in the cell.5

The mitochondria have [a] membrane, which has a part inside the membrane that's really, really important,” Seneff says. “That's where you have those protons, and you really don't want it to be deuterons. This is what Laszlo brought home to me.

Opening the CIA's Can of Worms

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 17:08
COVID-19, Politics & GlobalizationEdward CurtinOff GuardianFebruary 14, 2021https://off-guardian.org/2021/02/14/opening-the-cias-can-of-worms/ flag-1200x630.jpg

“The CIA and the media are part of the same criminal conspiracy,” wrote Douglas Valentine in his important book, The CIA As Organized Crime.

This is true.  The corporate mainstream media are stenographers for the national security state’s ongoing psychological operations aimed at the American people, just as they have done the same for an international audience. 

We have long been subjected to this “information warfare,” whose purpose is to win the hearts and minds of the American people and pacify them into victims of their own complicity, just as it was practiced long ago by the CIA in Vietnam and by The New York Times, CBS, etc. on the American people then and over the years as the American warfare state waged endless wars, coups, false flag operations, and assassinations at home and abroad.

Why China and the WHO Will Never Find a Zoonotic Origin for the COVID-19 Pandemic Virus

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 17:00
COVID-19Jonathan Latham, PhDIndependent Science NewsFebruary 16, 2021https://www.independentsciencenews.org/commentaries/why-china-and-the-who-will-never-find-a-zoonotic-origin-for-the-covid19-pandemic-virus/ corona1200x630.jpg

In China there is a popular joke about the southern city of Guangzhou (Canton). A visiting space alien, curious to learn about Chinese customs, tours its various provinces. Arriving in Guangzhou the alien asks the locals what their interests are. The Cantonese oblige their guest by putting the alien in a soup pot and eating it. This joke hinges on the Cantonese fondness for cooking with unusual species, many obtained from far away.

This feature of Canton’s cuisine was implicated in the original SARS (Severe Acquired Respiratory Syndrome) pandemic of 2002-04, which began in Guangzhou. It is thought that the virus arrived there with palm civets imported for speciality dishes (Wang et al., 2005).

But this culinary connection also marks a defining difference between the first SARS coronavirus pandemic and the current one. The COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic began in Wuhan, but Wuhan was considered a comparatively unlikely location for a natural (zoonotic) coronavirus spillover (Yu et al., 2019). 

Source Author 2: Allison Wilson, PhD

Majority of Americans Want 3rd Party as Support for Idea Peaks Amid Disappointment in Both Democrats and Republicans – Poll

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 16:50
Politics & GlobalizationRTRTFebruary 15, 2021https://www.rt.com/usa/515647-third-party-gallup-poll/ crowd-1200x630.png

A new Gallup poll has found support for a major third political party steadily rising as more people than ever refer to themselves as Independents while Republicans and Democrats are dropping in approval.

Just last September, Gallup research showed that 57 percent of US adults wanted a third major option at the polls because the Republican and Democrat “parties do such a poor job representing the American people.” The latest poll has seen that majority rise to 62 percent support. 

On top of that steady rise, the poll, which was conducted from January 21 to February 2, contains other major indicators Americans are growing weary of an essentially two-party system. Only 33 percent of respondents said they felt the two major political parties are adequately representing the system, which is the lowest response to that question, save for 26 percent in 2013. 

Who Are the Covid Investigators?

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 16:08
COVID-19The Editorial BoardThe Wall Street JournalFebruary 15, 2021https://www.wsj.com/articles/who-are-the-covid-investigators-11613401955 investigation1200x630.jpg

Members of a WHO origin probe have conflicts of interest.

The world needs to learn all it can about the origins of the novel coronarivus, and the World Health Organization has been investigating. But there’s increasing reason to question the effort due to China’s lack of cooperation and conflicts of interest on the WHO team.

A Beijing-approved WHO delegation recently concluded a 12-day visit to Wuhan, where the virus emerged more than a year ago. The group visited local hospitals and sites like the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and Huanan Seafood Market. But such field trips aren’t very helpful without unhindered access to raw data. The Chinese government, which controls research into Covid-19’s origin, has limited WHO access to such information.

Chinese officials are spinning that Covid-19 came from outside China. Some Communist Party functionaries have suggested the virus was imported through frozen food, but few scientists take the idea seriously. 

Regenerative Food and Farming: The Road Forward

Organic consumers - Fri, 2021-02-19 17:30
February 17, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsEnvironment & Climate countryside-1200x630.jpg

My usual response to the question “What is Regenerative Food and Farming?” goes something like this: Regenerative agriculture and animal husbandry is the next and higher stage of organic food and farming, not only free from toxic pesticides, GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and factory farm production, and therefore good for human health; but also regenerative in terms of the health of the soil, the environment, the animals, the climate, and rural livelihoods as well. Or as my fellow steering committee member for Regeneration International, Vandana Shiva puts it: “Regenerative agriculture provides answers to the soil crisis, the food crisis, the climate crisis, and the crisis of democracy.”  

In 2010 Olaf Christen stated that: “Regenerative agriculture is an approach in agriculture that rejects pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and is intended to improve the regeneration of the topsoil, biodiversity and the water cycle.”

This corresponds almost exactly with the stated principles of IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements) or Organics International. Since 2014, the Rodale Institute, IFOAM, Dr. Bronner’s, Dr. Mercola, Patagonia, the Real Organic Project, the Biodynamic Movement, the Organic Consumers Association, Regeneration International, Navdanya, and others have also been discussing and implementing organic standards, practices, and certification which incorporate regenerative principles.

According to Australian regenerative pioneer Christine Jones: “Agriculture is regenerative if soils, water cycles, vegetation and productivity continuously improve instead of just maintaining the status [quo]. The diversity, quality, vitality and health of the soil, plants, animals and people also improve together.“

In September 2014 when a group of us, including Vandana Shiva, Andre Leu, Will Allen, Steve Rye, Alexis Baden-Meyer, and staff from Dr. Bronner’s, Dr. Mercola, Organic Consumers Association, and the Rodale Institute organized a press conference at the massive climate march in New York City to announce the formation of Regeneration International, we set for ourselves a simple, but what seemed like then, ambitious goal. We all agreed we needed to fundamentally change the conversation on the climate crisis in the US and around the world—then narrowly focused on renewable energy and energy conservation—so as to incorporate regenerative and organic food, farming, and land use as a major solution to global warming, given its proven ability to drawdown and sequester massive amounts of excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the soil, forests, and plants.

Now, less than a decade later I believe our growing Regeneration Movement has achieved this goal. Regeneration is now the hottest topic in the natural and organic food and farming sector, while climate activists including the Sunrise Movement and 350.org in the US regularly talk about the role of organic and regenerative practices in reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. More and more people now understand that we can achieve, through enhanced photosynthesis and drawdown, the "Net Zero” emissions goal in 2030-50 that nearly everyone now agrees will be necessary if we are to avoid runaway global warming and climate catastrophe.

Inside Regeneration International, which now includes 400 affiliates in more than 60 countries, our conversation has shifted to identifying regenerative and organic “best practices” around the globe. Our goal is to strategize how we can help qualitatively expand and scale-up regenerative best practices so that organic and regenerative becomes the norm, rather than just the alternative, for the planet’s now degenerative multi-trillion dollar food, farming, and land use system.

Of course our discussions and strategizing are not just an academic exercise. As most of us now realize, our very survival as a civilization and a species is threatened by a systemic crisis that has degraded climate stability, our food, and our environment, along with every major aspect of modern life. This mega-crisis cannot be resolved by piecemeal reforms or minor adjustments such as slightly cutting our current levels of fossil fuel use, reducing global deforestation, soil degradation, and military spending. Either we move beyond merely treating the symptoms of our planetary degeneration and build instead a New System based upon regenerative and organic food, farming, and land use, coupled with renewable energy practices, and global cooperation instead of belligerence, or else we will soon (likely within 25 years) pass the point of no return.

A big challenge is how do we describe the crisis of global warming and severe climate change in such a way that everyday people understand the problem and grasp the solution that we’re proposing i.e. renewable energy and regenerative food, farming, and land use? The bottom line is that humans have put too much CO2 and other greenhouse gases (especially methane and nitrous oxide) into the atmosphere (from burning fossil fuels and destructive land use), trapping the sun’s heat from radiating back into space and heating up the planet. And unfortunately, because of the destructive food, farming, and forestry practices that have degraded a major portion of the Earth’s landscape, we’re not drawing down enough of these CO2 emissions through plant photosynthesis to cool things off. In a word, there’s too much CO2 and greenhouse gas pollution blanketing the sky (and saturating the oceans) and not enough life-giving carbon in the ground and in our living plants, trees, pastures, and rangelands.

Increasing plant and forest photosynthesis (accomplished via enhanced soil fertility and biological life, as well as an adequate amount of water and minerals) is the only practical way that we can draw down a significant amount of the excess CO2 and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere that are heating up the Earth and disrupting our climate. Through photosynthesis, plants and trees utilize solar energy to break down CO2 from the atmosphere, release oxygen, and transform the remaining carbon into plant biomass and liquid carbon. Photosynthesis basically enables plants to grow above ground and produce biomass, but also stimulates growth below ground as plants transfer a portion of the liquid carbon they produce through photosynthesis into their root systems to feed the soil microorganisms that in turn feed the plant. From the standpoint of drawing down enough CO2 and greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and sequestering them in our soils and biota to reverse global warming, qualitatively enhanced photosynthesis is all-important.

As my contribution to the global expansion of regenerative and organic food and farming practices, I have spent the last several years working with Mexican farmers and ranchers, consumer organizations, elected political officials (mainly at the local and state level), and socially and environmentally-concerned "impact investors." Our goal is to develop and qualitatively expand what we believe is a game-changer for much of the 40% of the world’s pasturelands and rangelands that are arid and semi-arid, areas where it is now nearly impossible to grow food crops, and where it is too overgrazed and degraded for proper livestock grazing. We call this Mexico-based agave and agroforestry/livestock management system Agave Power: Greening the Desert, and are happy to report that its ideas and practices are now starting to spread from the high desert plateau of Guanajuato across much of arid and semi-arid Mexico. We now are receiving inquiries and requests for information about this agave-based, polyculture/perennial system from desert and semi-desert areas all over the world, including Central America, the Southwestern US, Argentina, Chile, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, Myanmar, and Oman. You can learn more about this Agave Power system on the websites of Regeneration International and the Organic Consumers Association.

What I and others have learned "on the ground" trying to expand and scale-up regenerative and organic best practices is that there are four basic drivers of regenerative (or conversely degenerative) food, farming, and land use. The first is consumer awareness and market demand. Without an army of conscious consumers and widespread market demand, regenerative practices are unlikely to reach critical mass. Second is farmer, rancher, and land stewardship innovation, including the development of value-added products and ecosystem restoration services.

The third driver is policy change and public funding, starting at the local and regional level. And last but not least is regenerative finance—large-scale investing on the part of the private sector, what is now commonly known as “impact investing."  In order to qualitatively expand organic and regenerative best practices and achieve critical mass sufficient to transform our currently degenerative systems, we need all four of these drivers to be activated and working in synergy.

Let’s look now at four contemporary drivers of Degeneration—degenerative food, farming, and land use, in order to understand what the forces or drivers are that are holding us back from moving forward to Regeneration.

(1) Degenerated grassroots consciousness and morale. When literally billions of people, a critical mass of the 99 percent, are hungry, malnourished, scared, and divided, struggling to survive with justice and dignity; when the majority of the global body politic are threatened and assaulted by a toxic environment and food system; when hundreds of millions are overwhelmed by economic stress due to low wages and the high cost of living; when hundreds of millions are weakened by chronic health problems, or battered by floods, droughts, and weather extremes; when seemingly endless wars and land grabs for water, land and strategic resources spiral out of control; when indentured politicians, corporations, Big Tech, and the mass media manipulate crises such as COVID-19  to stamp out freedom of expression and participatory democracy in order to force a “Business-as-Usual” or “Great Reset” paradigm down our throats, regenerative change, Big Change, will not come easily.

Dis-empowered, exploited people, overwhelmed by the challenges of everyday survival, usually don’t have the luxury of connecting the dots between the issues that are pressing down on them and focusing on the Big Picture. It’s the job of Regenerators to connect the dots between the climate crisis and people’s everyday concerns such as food, health, jobs, and economic justice, to globalize awareness, political mobilization, and most of all, to globalize hope.

It’s the job of regenerators to make the connections between personal and public health and planetary health, to expose the truth about the origins, nature, prevention, and treatment of COVID-19 and chronic disease, and to mobilize the public to reject a so-called Great Reset, disguised as fundamental reform, but actually a Trojan Horse for a 21st Century Technocracy that is profoundly anti-democratic and authoritarian. Regenerators have to be able to make the connections between different issues and concerns, identify and support best practitioners and policies, build synergy between social forces, effectively lobby governments (starting at the local level), businesses, and investors for change; all the while educating and organizing grassroots alliances and campaigns across communities, constituencies, and even national borders. But this of course will not be easy, nor will it take place overnight.

Our profoundly destructive, degenerative, climate-destabilizing food and farming system, primarily based upon industrial agriculture inputs and practices, is held together by a multi-billion-dollar system of marketing and advertising that has misled or literally brainwashed a global army of consumers into believing that cheap, artificially flavored, “fast food” is not only acceptable, but “normal” and “natural.” After decades of consuming sugar, salt, carbohydrate-rich, and “bad fat”-laden foods from industrial farms, animal factories, and chemical manufacturing plants, many consumers have literally become addicted to the artificial flavors and aromas that make super-processed foods and “food-like substances” so popular. 

(2) Degenerate “conventional” farms, farming, and livestock management. Compounding the lack of nutritional education, choice, poverty, inertia, and apathy of a large segment of consumers, other major factors driving our degenerative food and farming system include the routine and deeply institutionalized practices of industrial and chemical-intensive farming and land use (mono-cropping, heavy plowing, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, GMOs, factory farms, deforestation, wetlands destruction) today. These soil, climate, health, and environmentally-destructive practices are especially prevalent on the world’s 50 million large farms, which, in part, are kept in place by global government subsidies totaling $500 billion a year. Meanwhile there are few or no subsidies for organic or regenerative farmers, especially small farmers (80% of the world’s farmers are small farmers), nor for farmers and ranchers who seek to make this transition. Reinforcing these multi-billion dollar subsidies for bad farming practices are a global network of chemical and agri-business controlled agricultural research and teaching institutions, focused on producing cheap food and fiber (no matter what the cost to the environment, climate, and public health) and ago-export agricultural commodities (often pesticide-intensive GMO grains). Of course what we need instead are subsidies, research, and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to produce healthy, organic, and regenerative food for local, regional, and domestic markets, rewarding farmers with a fair price for producing healthy food and being a steward, rather than a destroyer, of the environment. 

Monopoly control. Another driver of degeneration, holding back farmer adoption of regenerative practices, and determining the type of food and crops that are produced, is the monopoly or near-monopoly control by giant agribusiness corporations over much of the food system, especially in the industrialized countries, as well as the monopoly or near monopoly control by giant retail chains such as Wal-Mart and internet giants like Amazon. The out-of-control “Foodopoly” that dominates our food system is designed to maximize short-term profits and exports for the large transnational corporations, preserve patents and monopoly control over seeds, and uphold international trade agreements (NAFTA, WTO) that favor corporate agri-business and large farms over small farms, factory farms over traditional grazing and animal husbandry, and agro-exports instead of production for local and regional markets. 

Food and farming is the largest industry in the world with consumers spending an estimated $7.5 trillion dollars a year on food. In addition, the largely unacknowledged social, environmental, and health costs (i.e. collateral damage) of the industrial food chain amounts to an additional $4.8 trillion dollars a year.

(3 and 4) Degenerate public policy and public and private investments. Agriculture is the largest employer in the world with 570 million farmers and farm laborers supporting 3.5 billion people in rural households and communities. In addition to workers on the farm, food chain workers in processing, distribution, and retail make up hundreds of millions of other jobs in the world, with over 20 million food chain workers in the US alone (17.5% of the total workforce.) This makes public policy relating to food, farming, and land use very important. Unfortunately, thousands of laws and regulations are passed every year, in every country and locality, that basically prop-up conventional (i.e. industrial, factory farm, export-oriented, GMO) food and farming, while there is very little legislation passed or resources geared toward promoting organic and regenerative food and farming. Trillions of dollars have been, and continue to be, invested in the so-called “conventional” food and farming sector; including trillions from the savings and pension funds of many conscious consumers, who would no doubt prefer their savings to be invested in a different manner, if they knew how to do this. Unfortunately, only a tiny percentage of public or private investment is currently going toward organic, grass-fed, free-range, and other healthy foods produced by small and medium-sized farms and ranches for local and regional consumption. 

Healthy soil, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy people, healthy climate, healthy societies . . . our physical and economic health, our very survival as a species, is directly connected to the soil, biodiversity, and the health and fertility of our food and farming systems.  Regenerative organic farming and land use can move us back into balance, back to a stable climate and a life-supporting environment.

It’s time to move beyond degenerate ethics, farming, land use, energy policies, politics, and economics. It’s time to move beyond “too little, too late” mitigation and sustainability strategies. It’s time to inspire and mobilize a mighty global army of Regenerators, before it’s too late.    

Health Freedom Manifesto: A Call for Dignity and Reform During Covid-19

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-10 20:51
February 10, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationNate DoromalCOVID-19, OCA on COVID-19 cv-2_1200x630.png

Here are the three key takeaways from this Health Freedom Manifesto:

1.     We declare ourselves a Movement for Health Freedom and Vaccine Safety Reform.

2.     We demand significant public health reforms and changes to our vaccine programs.

3.    We call upon each individual to unite and demand these reforms.

Forced vaccination is becoming one of the most significant civil rights issue of the 21st century. Can we freely refuse a vaccine if we have concerns regarding safety, toxic ingredients, and potential harms? Do we own our bodies, or does the state? Do we have rights in the face of a giant government-techno-medical industrial complex that acts as a branch of government?

We all come from different circumstances. You might have a vaccine-injured child, unvaccinated, or one that has received all their vaccines so far. You might be Democrat or Republican or an independent activist. Maybe you have had enough with our rights being taken away in the name of public health, science, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though sometimes you might feel alone, there are millions of people like us!  You may pass us on the street without knowing what we truly believe. We may live in your same county or your same state, or we may be halfway around the world.

The issue at hand binds us together despite our different circumstances and beliefs. Sovereignty over one's own body is what we share in common.

We are empowered to live our lives as we decide best, and we refuse any attempts by medical, pharma, and political systems to control our bodies, our lives, and that of our families.

We assert the following from public health and government officials:

• We have full human autonomy and fundamental human dignity of our bodies, outside the state’s interference.

• We maintain that medicine must provide full informed consent, entirely free from coercion, retaliation, and lies of omission.

Any removal of human rights should be temporary and justified under a strict criterion of emergency. Any pandemic responses need to be backed by evidence-based standards.

• Full transparency and independent regulatory oversight are needed to prevent this opportunism and to remove conflicts of interest.

• We emphasize the need for freedom of speech, freedom of body, and the Constitution’s upholding during this and other future pandemics.

• The sovereignty of the patient-physician relationship, which allows physicians to express their thoughts freely, needs to be protected from government coercion.

If you believe in the above, then you are one of us. WE ARE A MOVEMENT. WE ARE MANY. WE CANNOT BE IGNORED.

We demand the following from public health and government officials:

• A vaccine safety program that has done double-blind comparisons using an inert saline placebo and that has studied the cumulative effects of increasing numbers of vaccines on a populace with varied environmental and genetic sensitivities.

• Government and citizen checks and balances that provide limits to potential abuses of power due to pandemic measures.

• Recognition that the use of vaccine mandates is fundamentally unethical and in violation of individual sovereignty.  

• Removal of liability protection from the vaccine manufacturers.

• Restrictions on the pharmaceutical industry to advertise and market to the general public and government funds to restrict individual health freedom.

• An expanded purview of public health beyond just infectious diseases, one that recognizes the effects of environmental toxins, such as 5G, pesticides, chemicals, and vaccines, on health.

• Recognition of vaccine injury as real and an end to the systematic denial that prevents its full investigation.

• Recognition of the roles of natural immunity, proper nutrition, and avoidance of environmental toxins in overall health and in preventing infectious disease transmission,

• Reform of the public health system to remove industry financial conflicts of interest, conflicts that create biased drug and vaccine policy.

Our voices will be heard by our society's powerful interests, by the politicians, scientists, doctors, public health specialists, decision-makers, and corporatists! It is time to rise!

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the authorities have asked us to be willfully compliant for the community's good, but they have abused their privilege by overriding our fundamental rights.

What we need you to do now is the following:

• Join as many of the groups in the Vaccine Safety and Vaccine Choice Movement as you can (including ICAN, Children's Health Defense, MAMM, NVIC, your state group, and other groups fighting for health freedom). If there is no local group in your area, then form one with the like-minded.

• Stay in contact with the above groups, and, when a call-to-action arrives, ACT with all your heart and might.Millions will be doing it with you. Support any local protests you know of by reputable groups.

• Spread our news and calls-to-actions. In the face of growing censorship, we rely upon you to be our voice.Spread these to friends, families, thought leaders, politicians, and decision-makers in your area.

• Vigorously refuse and fight against any vaccine mandates and any coercion tools that encourage their uptake. They both win when they institutionalize the practice of removing rights under the guise of infectious diseases.

Make a copy of this manifesto. Rewrite it in your own words if you choose, and share it. They can censor this document or a website. But they cannot censor our collective voice and the voices of millions!

Ronnie Cummins on How Grassroots Movements Are Building a More Regenerative Future

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-10 20:08
February 10, 2021Worlds in Transition grr_12000x630.png

Ronnie Cummins is founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA), a non-profit network of consumers promoting a healthy, just, and regenerative system of food, farming, and trade. His recent book Grassroots Rising, is a call for action to build a strong global Regeneration Movement around education and awareness, consumer activism and farmer innovation that can also inspire to political change. In our conversation, we discuss how such grassroots alliances around regenerative farming can inspire citizens worldwide to become active participants in preventing ecological collapse and helping regenerative farmer to sequester large amounts of carbon in the soil.

The pod is available at Soundcloud, Anchor; Breaker; Google Podcasts; Apple Podcasts; Overcast; Pocket Casts; Radio Public; and Spotify.

Transcript

Building a Mass Movement to Reverse Global Warming, Restore the Environment, and Eliminate Rural Poverty

Welcome to Worlds in Transition, a podcast about the people who have taken matters into their own hands, seeking to build more sustainable and regenerative ways of living in different parts of the world. Ronnie Cummins is founder and director of the Organic Consumers Association, a non-profit network of consumers promoting a healthy, just, and regenerative system of food, farming, and trade. His recent book, Grassroots Rising, (Chelsea Green Publishers 2020) is a call for action to build a strong global regeneration movement around education and awareness, consumer activism, and farmer innovation that can also inspire political change. In our conversation we discuss how such grassroots alliances around regenerative farming can inspire citizens worldwide to become active participants in preventing ecological collapse, and helping regenerative farmers to sequester large amounts of carbon in the soil.

Ronnie: I've been a grassroots activist for 50 years in the United States – ever since the 1960's –working on [national and international] campaigns in the last 20 or 30 years, a lot of campaigns on food and farming and land use. Things like expanding [organics, fighting GMOs and factory farms] deforestation, saving wetlands and so on. The organization that I'm the Director of is the Organic Consumers Association in the US. We're a sizable network of a couple of million organic consumers. I'm also on the steering committee of a group called Regeneration International, which is a group of activists worldwide in 30 countries. And we're trying to explore how — in addition to moving as quickly as possible to alternative energy and energy conservation — how if we change our food and farming systems and the way we use land, that we can actually reach zero net emissions in 10 years. That's just what the U.S. Green New Deal Calls for, and after 2030 we hope to reach what we call negative-net emissions.

I lay out in my book how it's quite plausible that within 10 years in the US — assuming we start to get political change this year — that we're going to move to 50% less fossil fuel emissions in 2030 than what we have now. This is because alternative energy is growing really fast, and energy conservation is a no-brainer. Even the investor class is starting to realize in the US — just like worldwide — that you can make more money on green energy than you can on continuing to invest in fossil fuels. And you're liable to lose a lot of money down the road when these fossil fuel resources are not utilized.

The point I'm trying to make in this book and the point that is 'the best kept secret in the world' is that our natural systems already sequester and store a considerable amount of greenhouse gases. We would be much worse off if we didn't have the world's forests, if we didn't have some intact wetlands, marine ecosystems. And some holistic grazing or organic farming. In  the United States we're actually sequestering 11% of all of our gross emissions right now in our forests and wetlands and the parts of our soils that are still intact — filled with carbon and able to maintain biodiversity. So basically, in the year 2030 we don't have to draw down and put into our soils and trees and plants everything [in terms of greenhouse gas emissions] that we're putting up now. By then we'll have to be capable of drawing down about half of it, which comes to a couple billion tons of CO2 equivalent per year.

Now, that sounds like a lot, but when you think about it — as I point out in the book — we used to have a balance in the United States and worldwide between the amount of carbon in the soil, in the trees and grasses, [and the amount of CO2] in the sky and in the ocean. Well what happened? Well, destructive land use. We plowed up a good part of the world, we started throwing chemicals out like there's no tomorrow, destroying the soil and plants' natural ability to carry out photosynthesis and sequester carbon. And we burned a heck of a lot of fossil fuels. So 'we've got to do both' is the thesis of my book and it's the philosophy behind the new movement in the United States for not only a Green New Deal, but a Regenerative Green New Deal. And it actually makes our demand — which youth are making clearly in the streets every day, every week, every month — that we've got to avoid climate catastrophe. But what a lot of people are just starting to understand is that what we eat, what we buy, what we cook, what farmers and ranchers, do what foresters do, how we conduct our international affairs —all these things have to change. They're only going to change — as we point out in Grassroots Rising — if we educate the public on a mass scale in the United States.

Thank goodness the public is finally awakening to the fact that the climate emergency we're in is very serious. It's the mostimportant issue that we're addressing. But the public doesn't have a clear idea of how we're actually going to accomplish this. Well, when the Green New Deal first came out in the Fall of 2018 and February 2019, the media reported this plan as being a far-reaching transformation of the economy comparable to the mobilization in World War II and the Marshall Plan after World War II. We're going to eliminate emissions by 2030! Well people started thinking... Does that mean we're all going to be driving electric cars by 2030 or we're not going to have cars? Does that mean that our homes are going to be so well insulated that we don't have to use fossil fuels to heat or cool? Does that mean that everything we're currently throwing into landfills is going to get recycled? Does it mean that our carbon, nitrous oxide, and methane-belching system of industrial agriculture and factory farms is going to be 100% organic and regenerative? Well, the answer is no, not in 10 years. But that's not grounds to despair because it only has to do half the job in 10 years. Because there's no stopping alternative energy, there's no stopping energy conservation. This is going go forward because the capitalist class has decided that it's a better investment. But what we have to understand is that we got transform the way we eat, the way we cook, the way we farm, the way we treat farm animals, the way we relate to our forests and wetlands and we'd better start now. And this is not a matter of educating farm by farm to change, or educating consumer by consumer to change, or politely having discussions with our city council and state representatives. This is an upheaval that is required, a system change.

Maria: You say that the capitalist have class have caught on — have they also caught on to the farming realities?

Ronnie: They're starting to use the rhetoric of regeneration and greening up supply lines but there's no serious evidence of that yet. Take General Mills for example, one of the largest foodcompanies in the United States. They're starting to use the terminology of organic and regenerative, and they have bought up some organic companies like Annie's. But if you look at their portfolio of products, 90% of them are still degenerative. They're still based on fossil fuel intensive energy, intensive commodities production. Junk food. Basically what big corporations in the United States do is they buy inputs and they put out the cheapest food in the world. And this is how they have made so much money, this has got to change.

There are good signs in the US — the organic certified organic industry is 50 billion dollars. That's 5.5% of all grocery store sales and it's 10% of all our fruits and vegetables sales in grocery stores. We've got thousands of ranchers in the country that are going back to more traditional ways of raising livestock, whereby cows and other herbivores actually eat grass instead of genetically engineered grains. But still, the overwhelming majority of our meat and animal products come from a factory farm type setting where industrial production of grains are a major part of what the animals are fed in feedlots and concentrated animal factories. And they're drugged up with antibiotics and hormones, you know? 

And the public still buys this cheap food, partly because when they pull out their wallet at the grocery store, the farmers market, the natural food store — they don't have that much money in their wallet. So they tend to be cutting corners. According to polls, most people in the United States understand that organic food is far superior to cheap junk food. They know this. We spend less money on food than any industrialized country in the world. 11% of the average household income in America is spent on food, and half of that is spent on eating out. Usually eating low-grade food in restaurants or fast food restaurants because it's cheap. But if you're working two jobs — or you've forgotten how to cook, you know? There's a reason why these things are happening. But as we point out, we have got to take political power back out of the hands of the politicians who get donations from corporate agribusiness. We need to divest from corporate agribusiness and industrial farming and GMOs, just as much as we need to divest from fossil fuels.

How will that be possible? I myself have gotten involved in [building up] alternative food networks. I know the difficulties. I know — even although organic consumers in the US and Europe and are not as meshed up in this network with big agriculture — our societies still very dependent on the inputs that come from these companies. The whole structure of the supply chain is created by this volume pricing, the practices — everything is geared against us. How do you get the consumers involved, and can they, even if they don't have enough money?

Yeah, the brilliance of the the Green New Deal in the United States is that it's not just a platform to solve the climate emergency. The Green New Deal is about economic justice, just as much as it is about climate. Now, why is that? Well, for example, if the public understands that eating healthy food (which costs more) is what they should be doing, why don't we put more money in their pockets? I mean the minimum wage structure in the United States is absurd. So the Green New Deal calls for a $15 minimum wage. Economic Justice and the growth of organic and regenerative and eco-friendly food go hand-in-hand. You know the United States spends 3.5 trillion dollars a year on health care and still we have the most unhealthypopulation in the industrialized world. Well yeah, we've got a trillion dollar food system, but it's also the most unhealthy food system in the industrialized world. There's a connection between those two and when you have enlightened public officials instead of people who are on the take from Big Fossil Fuels or Big Food, we're going to be able to pass [alternative legislation.]

But one big first step is that the climate movement needs to articulate the fact that we need not just a Green New Deal — but they need to do that, and we need to get behind politicians who can make this happen — but we need a Regenerative Green New Deal. In other words, the climate movement needs to be able to explain how this drawdown of carbon through regenerative food, farming, and land use is just as important as alternative energy.

Maria: Do you see that at all in the climate movement at the moment?

Ronnie: Well, yeah, it's starting. For example in the Sunrise Movement, which is the cutting edge in the US of the climate movement. They're the ones — along with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez — that brought the Green New Deal on the scene. Well, who are these people? Well they're quite young, a lot of high school / junior high / early college. And what they have seen is that there is no future with the way business as usual is going. So they're out there [protesting] and they understand that we've got to get off fossil fuels as quickly as possible. They think — most activists, just an everyday Sunrise activist — they think it means that if we have drastic enough pressure put on the fossil fuel industry and governments, we can achieve this by 2030. Just through converting to nearly a hundred percent alternative energy.

Well, I like that determination, but what I've seen when I give talks to young people is that [many have] never heard about regeneration or haven't fully understood the relationship between soil, plant, animal and human health, and the health of the carbon and water cycles. [But] they're wide open to this when they hear it. A lot of the activists are trying to make the connection between food, farming, and climate by becoming vegans. What they've read and they know is that factory farms are horrendous, and they don't want anything to do with factory farms. But what they don't understand is there's a nuance, there's something more important. That with animal husbandry, proper raising of animals, holistic management, herbivores eating grass instead of grain, all animals having access to the outdoors and healthy light — this is actually carbon sequestering, it's good for the climate.

Now, Americans eat an average of 222 pounds of meat a year. This is insane from any perspective. People are eating three times as much of meat and animal products as they should be, according to science, nutrition, common sense. There needs to be a drastic reduction. What they don't understand though, is that none of that should be from factory farms. Because that stuff is loaded with drugs and pesticides and it's the dominant negative factor on our climate situation in the food sector. In other words, we can have factory farms and cheap meat and animal products, or else we can have a livable climate. We can't have both. So I'm happy when I see young people refusing to buy factory farm meat and animal products. But I'm not happy about — and that we're trying to correct in our movement — is they don't understand that animals are going to help us re-stabilize the climate.

Without animals we can't do it in time. And [vegans] typically don’t understand that there's a billion people on the Earth who depend on raising animals because most of the land on the planet is not suitable for growing crops, it's too poor. Most rural people in the world don't have access to wells and irrigation, and the rich in their countries have typically monopolized the good land and water. So unless you want to condemn a billion people to starvation and forced migration, you need to realize that it's not the people of rural Africa who are eating fast food from factory farms. We need a system whereby they are helped to raise their livestock in a manner where they can survive and that enhances the environment instead of destroying it. What happens when animals graze naturally — and you see this with wilderbeests in Africa and you see in in the Arctic and the far northern areas — when you have large herbivorous mammals grazing in their natural habitat in herds, there's a lot of them. It's not that we have too many cows and sheep right now, it's that they're not out on the land the way the bison or the buffalo were. The caribou, the deer, the bears used to be out there in significant numbers. Because what happens in nature is that grasslands have co-evolved with herbivore animals over millions of years. And the natural grasses that used to grow in the West and Midwest of the US have very deep roots. And when animals come along and eat off the top third of the plant — which is the part the animals like the best — and then move on but only after they peed and pooped and fertilized the area. The plants, in an evolutionary force, they send a message down to their roots to discard the roots in the soil and to concentrate the plant's energy on rebuilding the top part of the plant that the animal just chomped off. They're like premier sequesterers of carbon, and all this carbon left in the soil through these natural processes is what feeds the the internet below the soil, these microorganisms who are all important. 

I mean, we didn't understand until the last few decades really what was going on underneath the soil, because it's darn complicated. I mean when you've got a trillion microorganisms in a small area representing a million different species, it's taken us a while to understand it. But now that we understand it, we realize those Buffalo contributed to that amazing amount of topsoil that we have in the mid-west. I mean we've exhausted about half of it them in the space of a hundred fifty years, but those animals did it. By grazing in an organized mob fashion, moving over large expanses of land, coming back to the same spot to eat only when the plants have had time to regrow. Every time a buffalo or large mammal takes a step they're crushing seeds into the ground. They're crushing mulch into the ground. They're creating little cavities that pools for water when the rains come. This is what the great 'chain of being' — as our ancestors described it — is all about. 

Native American people didn't have PhDs in soil science, but they did have a worldview and a spirituality where they understood that these [grazing animals] are living beings. That they're our friends, not our enemies, and that the act of sacrificing an animal so that you can live as a human is a serious act. Modern agriculture has gotten away from that. We don't ever see the processes. We're so disconnected from our hamburger or from our fish fillet that we've forgotten what native people knew. Native communities are quite interested in some of the innovations that organic farmers have made, and in holistic management, and they want to get back their lands that they've [lost or] leased out to white ranchers in the Midwest for so long. There's a strong movement to get the Buffalo back. We went from only perhaps a thousand or two thousand left in the 1890s after having 40-50 million, but they're coming back. I think there are around half a million now, but the bottom line is that without the grazing animals we are not going to get enough carbon back into the soil. We're not going to get these lands back to full vitality soon enough to hit the goals the climate scientists tell us, without holistic management again.

Maria: Do you think that this will be a grassroots effort? Or can big corporations actually do this job?

Ronnie: I think we're going to have to force corporations to do the right thing. Even if they do it for the wrong reasons, we still have to force them. What ranchers will tell you in the United States is that almost all the beef starts out with grazing for about a year or a year and a half. The animals are grazing. Ranchers don't feed grain to the to the animals in their first year and a half of life. You got grass out there. But they do conscientiously take care of these animals. They do have a sense that these are living beings, these aren't animal units as Cargill and Archer Daniels and JBS call them. Unless you have grasslands that are tremendously regenerated, you can't "finish cattle off" or fatten them up economically on grass. So typically ranchers have to sell the animals at the auction barn at about a year, year and a half. What they tell me is that when you get to the auction barn, there's only four three or four people bidding on your cows. It's Cargill, JBS, National Beef, Archer Daniels, [Tyson] — and the price they offer is a low price.

Now these ranchers, they're not diabolical people who are happy about the fact that their animals are now going to go from grazing to the prison feedlot, to be stuffed with grain and drugs. You don't really want to eat that [kind of meat] if you're a rancher and you know [what’s going on], but what other choice do they have?

We need a system that first of all pays ranchers to do holistic management and provides the training. We've got a huge amount of public lands in the United States, I think it's around a hundred and seventy-five million acres. And yes, we let ranchers graze their animals on public lands for a small fee, but it's like the results of what you see out there are not good. The animals are not being properly grazed, and the ranchers don't have the time, expertise, or labor power to do it right. But what if we pay them to do it right? What if we stop charging ranchers to graze on public lands and instead we pay them to regenerate these public lands to a higher level of health? If you pay them enough, I guarantee you they'll do the right thing. And they'll be happy to do the right thing. They don't want to be part of a system where you can't be proud anymore being a conventional rancher or farmer in America. I mean, environmentalists basically look down you, and your kids don't want to do the work in most cases.

[Farmers and ranchers] would like to do the right thing, but especially in the United States, doing the right thing costs a lot of money. And we're subsidizing through USDA subsidies – the European Union through the CAP program – they have even more subsidies than we have in the US. We're putting out like 20 billion dollars a year the US paying farmers to do the wrong thing. Say you're growing grain in the mid-west; you've got to get a loan plant your crops, right? You go to the bank. But if you're not going to be growing genetically engineered Roundup-Ready soybeans and corn, you're not going to get the bank loan. If you're worried about poor weather and crop insurance, well you can't get crop insurance for doing things the right way — organically, biodiverse planting, crop rotation. But this is insane. It's insane in Europe, it's insane in North America.

If we want a livable climate, we have to stop paying farmers and ranchers to farm in a way that's contributing to the problem. If your beef burger in Germany or France did not come from a grass-fed animal — I mean you could get that from Ireland, or parts of the British Isles, or parts of Central and Eastern Europe, there still is some grazing land — but if you're just eating your normal burger, where did that come from? Genetically engineered soy beans from Latin America. This is what the animals eat, this is what's on your plate. Part of the problem is the campaigners in Europe around climate are not talking about this. It's either veganism or business as usual. And really what Europe needs to do is to take a stand for regenerative livestock management in South America, responsible regenerative forest management in Asia. We all have to do this and I think we can do it. 

But people say, 'oh well, if the Europeans don't buy from the US all the genetically engineered soy and corn to feed animals and factory farm, the Chinese will do it. Well, the huge block of middle-class Chinese consumers who are interested in organic and healthy food, they don't want to poison their kids either. So I do believe that consumers all over the world are ready to listen to this, they're ready to change. But unless the campaigners are telling them [about organic and regenerative livestock management] , unless we have a more nuanced conversation about veganism versus responsible consumption of meat and animal products, it's going to take us longer. 

Eventually we will do the right thing, the problem is we've only got about 10 years left to really change things. Because it's not just the climate movement with their illiteracy about food and farming and landscape management. The food and farming movement is typically apolitical, so that's part of why my book is out there. I'm known over the last three decades for leading all these campaigns against GMOs and pesticides, and factory farms, and trying to promote an organic and regenerative food system. With everyone having access to it; our kids, poor people. But we cannot just spend all our time talking about the threat of gene edited crops which are coming down the road. Yes, that's very important, but we need to point out that Monsanto and Bayer are talking about gene edited crops solving the climate crisis, okay? We need to especially hit on that — that these offer no solution at all. Unless we dump the synthetic pesticides and the factory farms and GMO animal feed — unless we get serious about the fact that we've got 570 million farmers in the world.

We've got about three billion people living in rural communities. These are the people that are going to get the job done if it gets done. The farmers we need to start worrying about and helping are in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. If we will help them — which costs pennies on the dollar compared to the exorbitant cost of changing our own system — we're going to see a big bang for the buck. Because the great thing about the tropics and the semi-tropics is that plants and trees grow really fast. And yes, there's been considerable damage done, but you can get things back on track pretty darn quickly. And the other thing we need to look at are the degraded semi-arid and arid lands of the world, which are 40% of all the lands. These are the lands where it's nearly impossible to grow crops at all, these are where the poorest of the poor live. Well, there are techniques of ecosystem restoration and regenerative grazing and land management where you can quickly start to restore these decarbonized, de-vegetated, dehydrated lands. And as you do so you're helping the poorest of the poor.

And as we help the poorest of the poor, we're going to realize that issues like forced migration —which has totally distorted the politics in Europe and in the United States — most of the people trying to leave Central America and the United States are rural people. And the reason they're trying to leave is because it's life or death. This is not a small decision to make leaving your family, your community, risk your life. People are leaving because you can't make a living in your rural community or because of the gang violence that is tolerated by the governments in Central America. I mean, you've got a bunch of dictators collaborating with organized crime.

So, we can solve this immigration problem. People will not leave their home community if they're happy, if they can make a living, if the ecosystem is not so damaged that it's impossible to survive, if they don't have cutthroat gangsters threatening to kill your kid if they don't join the local gang. But we also need to look at the root of the problem, and the root of the problem is really degenerated soils, forests and ecosystems.

I've been active in Latin America and I know about the extractive policies related to mining and logging. So how do you look at that conflict that actually exists there? That if you're transforming the energy sector into solar energy and renewable energy then that will also have consequences on the soil.

If we have a totally recycled circular economy, we're not going to need to extract at the level we are. But no matter at what level we're extracting, it has to be a cooperative venture with the people who live in that area making the decisions. 

I mean, I personally think that if there are ways to extract lithium for example — which is so important to solar energy and batteries — people should understand in a local community that there's a way to do this it isn't as as devastating as some of the methods that they're using in Chile, in the Atacama Desert area. Provided you're willing to pay or work with the local community a fair price, You know, indigenous people can understand the global crisis we're in. I mean if it's a question of 'well, should we just have fossil fuels and nuclear power' because you don't want lithium extracted in your area? But you can get through if you're being fair and you're being honest, there's a way to get around this. But the bigger issue is the way the global economy is set up right now. It's very, very difficult for any rural or indigenous community to survive at all. And that's why I like working in Mexico. There's still someone in touch with their traditional values and traditional ways, where organic is not a foreign concept. Treating animals with respect and being holistic in your thinking.

But once you get people in power who are actually trying to make things better, then you've got the possibility to do these things. You've had a string of corporate criminals and people who don't care the least bit about poor people, running the show. The only people I would trust in the US — I mean, it's different in Europe where you can't take the money as easily from the special interests — but in the US we now have a growing number of politicians who don't take any money from corporations or (labor unions either). They take small donations. And I think the rest of the world is ripe for change. The problem in a place like Russia, China, Iran, or Saudi Arabia — I mean, if you do what I'm doing, in those countries you're dead. You're literally dead. So it takes a hell of a lot more courage to write a book like mine or to work our kinds of campaigns. So we can't lay it on the people in those countries. I mean, even India is scary now.

We in Europe, North America, Australia and Japan — the areas where we've got relative freedom to organize — we're going to have to do it. And the thing is, once we rise up it's going to make it a lot easier for them. And talk about national security and the Cold War. I mean just think how insane it is that the corporate liberals in the United States are still talking about Russia as a threat, you know. So I make a big point in this book, that we are not going to avoid climate catastrophe without a redefinition of what constitutes national security. The threat in the US, it's not Iran, Russia and China. And in those countries, the real threat is not the US, CIA and the FBI, you know. The real threat is the climate emergency that we cannot solve unless we work together on a global scale.

And it's just all so simple, I mean I came out of the hippie movement in the US. When the Beatles sang 'All You Need Is Love' and all the young people in the whole world were singing that, it was like, this wasn't just a song. This was like an unbelievable feeling of solidarity and positive belief. And we're there again, and we've got to work together. And this is like the Amazon, like the remaining tropical forests of Asia, like the vast areas in Africa that haven't been destroyed yet. We've got a good point to start from and I'm very confident that we are going to change things. But it takes the grassroots, takes the political change, it takes the money.

I've got a whole chapter in the book about regenerative finances. People ask, 'well, can we afford a Global Green New Deal or US Green New Deal?'. Well, we definitely can't afford not to. Human extinction, you know, the stranded assets in this book the Case for a Green New Deal, they talk about how the annual social costs of inaction on the climate. According to the international monetary fund that's 22 trillion dollars. That's the damage we're doing now every year by not reversing climate change. Well, I'd say spending ten trillion or so a year or even half of that? A pretty darn good investment. That's our money, by the way, if we put a certain proportion of that into saving the planet, saving ourselves, that's important.

But everyday Americans, we have 25 trillion dollars in our pension funds, savings, and in our retirement funds. Well, where is it? It's all invested in the Fortune 500 Corporations. Well, why is that? Why don't we have a say over that? I mean, why are we letting these people invest [our money and our savings] in degeneration? No, we've got to get back control over our money.

Maria: What's your own story, how did you first get involved?

Ronnie: I got involved in the Viet-Nam Anti-War Movement and the Civil Rights Movement and youth culture rebellion of the 1960s.

Maria: And do you think now that there is more hope?

Ronnie: Yes, there's starting to be. This is happening. Even the military, the Pentagon — they are aware of the climate emergency and that we're heading into a period where battleships and missiles aren't going to save us. So I think we need to change the armed forces of the world into forces for regeneration and disaster control. We've got all these people in the armies, well, they can plant trees, they can help terrace eroded lands, they can help the desperately poor people around the world. We'd better do it and we'd better act soon, but I'm very confident.

Maria: Thank you, Ronnie.

You have listened to Worlds in Transition — a podcast series about the people who have taken matters into their own hands and started to build sustainable lifeforms in different parts of the world. Thank you for taking the time to listen.
 

Ethanol, Biogas & Carbon Banking: Three False Solutions Vilsack Brings to Biden-Harris Climate Policy

Organic consumers - Tue, 2021-02-02 23:56
February 2, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerFarm Issues, Genetic Engineering vilsack_fertilizer_spray_tractor_farm_field_1200x630.jpg

On January 27, 2021, President Joe Biden signed his “Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” This historic action commited the U.S. to achieving “significant short-term global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and net-zero global emissions by mid-century or before.”

Biden’s climate EO was immediately likened to the Green New Deal resolution championed by the Sunrise Movement.  

One big difference between the two is, while the Green New Deal sticks to direct government investment in proven climate solutions, Biden’s climate EO relies, in part, on “market-based mechanisms” and “robust standards for the market ... to catalyze private sector investment.”

Another difference is that the Green New Deal sets transformative goals for social justice that go beyond merely surviving the climate crisis, like “building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.” By contrast, Biden’s climate EO doesn’t mention “food” even as it recognizes that “America’s farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners have an important role to play in combating the climate crisis and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, by sequestering carbon in soils, grasses, trees, and other vegetation and sourcing sustainable bioproducts and fuels.” Are “sustainable bioproducts” edible? They don’t sound very appetizing―or nourishing.

These two differences between the Green New Deal and Biden’s climate EO wouldn’t have us so concerned if it weren’t for the support for three dangerous false solutions that his Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack brings to the Biden-Harris Cabinet.

1. Biofuels from Greenhouse-Gas-Polluting Industrial Agriculture 

Vilsack is “a major supporter of ethanol from corn, despite increasing evidence that it isn’t as environmentally safe as once thought,” writes Emily Berch in her article for The Nation, “Biden’s Buddy Tom Vilsack Is No Friend to Farmers.” “[T]he pollution, chemical use, and soil degradation associated with growing more corn outweighs any benefits of replacing oil with ethanol,” says The Intercept’s Claire Kelloway in “Tom Vilsack for Agriculture Secretary Is Everything That’s Wrong With the Democratic Party.”  

C. Ford Runge calls ethanol “a bad idea whose time has passed,” in his Yale Environment 360 report, “The Case Against More Ethanol: It’s Simply Bad for Environment.” The same could be said for Biden’s decision to ask Vilsack to reprise his Obama administration role as Agriculture Secretary. Thanks to Vilsack, 40 percent of American corn is now produced for ethanol refineries. Returning him to USDA means “doubling down” (in Biden’s words) on fuels from agriculture systems that are destroying our environment and climate.

2. Electricity from Greenhouse-Gas-Polluting Factory Farms

In 2009, Vilsack said he’d cut U.S. dairy emissions by 25 percent by spending $20 million on anaerobic digesters. But, only for farms with more than 700 dairy cows, the top 10 percent of the largest factory farms. “An alternative would be to put in place environmental regulations that compel agriculture producers with high greenhouse gas emissions to fund their own manure management solutions,” writes Jessica McKenzie in her report for The Counter, “The misbegotten promise of anaerobic digesters.” Instead, as Family Farm Defenders leader John Peck told her, Vilsack chose to “subsidize the worst actors to clean up their mess.” 

And, of course, it didn’t work. U.S. dairy emissions weren’t cut. They increased, because Vilsack’s waste-to-energy subsidies created what McKenzie calls “perverse incentives for more and bigger factory farms.” She cites a Food & Water Watch issue brief, “Biogas From Factory Farm Waste Has No Place in a Clean Energy Future,” which found, “Biogas digesters are a false solution that do nothing to actually mitigate emissions from agriculture.” As a result of Vilsack’s perverse incentives, factory farms grew in number and size during the Obama Administration.

Vilsack was rewarded for his support of the factory farm dairy industry with a million-dollar job. As Republican strategists looking to win the next elections are quick to point out, Vilsack’s salary was paid by the dairy check-off. This means, as Fox News put it in a headline, “Biden agricultural secretary pick made $1M a year off struggling farmers.”

3. Markets in Hot Air Where Farmers & Ranchers “Offset” the Emissions of the Worst Greenhouse Gas Polluters: 

Biden’s climate EO tasks Vilsack with figuring out the best way to “encourage the voluntary adoption of climate-smart agricultural and forestry practices that decrease wildfire risk fueled by climate change and result in additional, measurable, and verifiable carbon reductions and sequestration and that source sustainable bioproducts and fuels.”

Vilsack still supports the tired old cap-and-trade idea that the Democrats failed to push through Congress in 2009. He called it cap-and-trade when he spoke to Art Cullen of the Storm Lake Times, but in his confirmation hearing and elsewhere he rebranded this effort as “carbon banking” and said he could create a carbon bank with the $30 billion fund available from the Commodity Credit Corporation.

Farmers should definitely be given the tools they need to transition to climate-beneficial regenerative organic agriculture, but not through a cap and trade scheme which would tie them to what the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the National Family Farm Coalition call “a volatile market that could make farming [even] more economically unstable.”

Just like with ethanol and digesters, we know what Vilsack would do with carbon trading, because he did it during the Obama Administration. In 2014, he helped Chevrolet buy credits from North Dakota ranchers promising not to plow prairie. The agreement put no additional requirements on the ranchers to use regenerative grazing, or sequester more (or even as much) carbon, or promise not to sell their beef to a feedlot. The climate benefit was speculative and hypothetical, based only on the climate benefit of conserving prairie.

We can help ranchers protect prairie without giving polluters rights to the same amount of emissions that would be released if that prairie were destroyed. I listed good alternatives to Vilsack’s schemes in my article about what climate activists are asking of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. The best opportunity is the Climate Stewardship Act, sponsored by Haaland when she was in the House, alongside Senator Cory Booker.

It’s easy to see, even from vapid industry puff pieces (especially those featuring agribusiness villains like Bayer), that Vilsack’s carbon credit schemes are about corporate profit, not climate, and not farmers. Agriculture land values soaring is an additional benefit for vulture capitalists.

Carbon banking is how Vilsack tricks farmers to cede even more power to corporations. You know it’s a false solution when it's championed by Bill Gates and the Great Reset wizards of the World Economic Forum.

Vilsack’s effort to make “carbon farming” synonymous with “carbon banking” is giving regenerative organic agriculture a bad name. It is sad to see headlines like “President Biden, Please Don't Get Into Carbon Farming: This is not the solution to our climate problems; it's a sweetheart deal for Big Ag,” and even worse to see ones like "We’re told that healthy soil sequesters huge amounts of carbon from the atmosphere. Scientists are finding that’s not always the case." The second headline is hugely misleading. Scientists continue to refine our understanding of the carbon cycle, but no one disputes the fact that regenerative organic agriculture, including management intensive grazing, can maximize the soil’s natural capacity for sequestering carbon.

Vilsack’s Carbon Bank could quickly turn the promise of regenerative organic agriculture into a false solution.

The regenerative organic agriculture movement must come together now to 1) draw the line against any type of carbon market or banking that allows polluters to buy offsets, and 2) put our muscle behind the Climate Stewardship Act.

Vilsack's Carbon Bank puts a narrow focus on soil carbon sequestration, but with the Climate Stewardship Act we could address climate change while realizing the multiple benefits of regenerative organic agriculture, including realizing the Green New Deal’s goal of “a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.”

Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director for the Organic Consumers Association (OCA). To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

Could Most COVID-19 Deaths Have Been Prevented?

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-01-27 00:30
COVID-19Dr. Joseph MercolaMercola.comJanuary 18, 2021https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2021/01/18/vitamin-d-prevents-coronavirus-death.aspx defense1200x630.jpg

In recent weeks and months, there's been an upshot of studies1 demonstrating the benefits of vitamin D against COVID-19. The evidence is so compelling, more than 100 doctors, scientists and leading authorities have signed an open letter2 calling for increased use of vitamin D in the fight against COVID-19.

Research shows low vitamin D levels almost certainly promote COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Given its safety, we call for immediate widespread increased vitamin D intakes," the letter states, adding:3 "Vitamin D modulates thousands of genes and many aspects of immune function, both innate and adaptive. The scientific evidence shows that:

•Higher vitamin D blood levels are associated with lower rates of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Higher D levels are associated with lower risk of a severe case (hospitalization, ICU, or death).

•Intervention studies (including RCTs) indicate that vitamin D can be a very effective treatment. Many papers reveal several biological mechanisms by which vitamin D influences COVID-19.

•Causal inference modelling, Hill's criteria, the intervention studies & the biological mechanisms indicate that vitamin D's influence on COVID-19 is very likely causal, not just correlation."

The letter recommends taking enough vitamin D to achieve a blood level of at least 30 ng/mL (75 nmol/L). They also urge testing of all hospitalized COVID-19 patients and adding vitamin D to the treatment protocol for any patient whose level is below 30 ng/mL. Many other doctors are also urging government health agencies to get onboard with vitamin D recommendations. As reported by NL Times:4

'There is a growing consensus in the scientific world about the important role of vitamin D,' says Manfred Eggersdorfer, professor of Healthy Aging at the University Medical Center Groningen. He argues that 'it can reduce the chance that you will get corona and the infection can last shorter.'

The wait-and-see attitude adopted by governments does not sit well in the scientific community. Professor of immunology at Wageningen University, Huub Savelkoul, called the attitude 'frustrating.'

He states that 'there are more and more studies showing the benefit of vitamin D. I think it is a kind of arrogance that the government wants to wait for a meta-study first. It seems as if we don't care that people come to the hospital and die in the meantime. You have to be careful with that comment, but that's where my frustration lies.'

Vitamin D Optimization Is Powerful Prevention

In a December 23, 2020, Fox News interview5,6 (above), Dr. Peter Osborne with the Origins Nutrition Center stated that the most recent studies suggest 9 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths could have been prevented had people had adequate vitamin D levels.

While I suspect this might be an overestimation, there's no doubt in my mind that optimizing vitamin D levels among the general population would significantly lower COVID-19 incidence and death.

At the East Virginia School of Medicine there's a COVID protocol that includes Vitamin D," Osborne said. "So, if you're hospitalized for COVID, they're automatically putting you on between 20,000 and 60,000 units of vitamin D. This is part of their standard of care protocol in that hospital system.

Osborne also recommends using vitamin C and zinc, as well as quercetin, which allows for greater zinc absorption. Quercetin also boosts type 1 interferon, which signals infected cells to produce proteins that stop the virus from replicating, and works synergistically with vitamin C. This is all good advice. As noted in a December 2020 Frontiers in Nutrition review:7

… Zinc and vitamins C and D stand out for having immunomodulatory functions and for playing roles in preserving physical tissue barriers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the adequate intake of zinc and vitamins C and D may represent a promising pharmacological tool due to the high demand for these nutrients in the case of contact with the virus and onset of the inflammatory process.

However, vitamin D is not my first choice for acute illness that requires immediate treatment. While high-dose vitamin D loading may be helpful in some respects, my No. 1 choice for treating acute respiratory illness is nebulized hydrogen peroxide, which I'll discuss at the end of this article. It goes to work immediately, while vitamin D requires time, at bare minimum, days, to make a difference.

With respect to preventing COVID-19 deaths, I strongly believe that nebulized hydrogen peroxide could easily prevent at least 90% of the deaths if administered properly. It deeply saddens me to see so many die needlessly because they don't use this incredibly inexpensive and safe therapy.

Vitamin D Improves COVID-19 Outcomes

Now, bear in mind that prevention and treatment are not the same. I firmly believe that vitamin D optimization will help prevent COVID-19 infection and reduce your risk of severe symptoms should you contract it.

In fact, I launched an information campaign about vitamin D back in June 2020, which included the release of a downloadable scientific report that detailed the science behind vitamin D. This report, as well as a two-minute COVID risk quiz is available on StopCovidCold.com.

There's also evidence to show high-dose vitamin D loading can improve COVID-19 outcomes even in acute and severe cases. According to a December 2020 randomized, double-blind study8 in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, giving critically ill COVID-19 patients high doses of vitamin D significantly reduced the number of days they had to spend in the ICU. They were also less likely to need ventilation. According to the authors:9

Thirty patients completed the study. The results show that injection of vitamin D leads to a significant increase in the mean changes of vitamin D level on the seventh day of the study and TAC [total antioxidant capacity] levels.

ICU length of stay was 18.3±8.4 and 25.4±6.6 days in the intervention and placebo arms of the study. Twelve patients in the placebo group and 5 in the vitamin D group died within the 28-day study period. The duration of mechanical ventilation was 15.7± 9.3 vs. 22.6± 9.1 days in vitamin D and placebo arms, respectively.

Similarly, a mathematical reanalysis10 of a calcifediol trial concluded there's a "strong role for vitamin D in reducing ICU admissions of hospitalized COVID-19 patients." The analysis looked at data from an earlier trial11 done on hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Córdoba, Spain. As explained by the authors of the analysis:12

… the treatment was associated with reduced ICU admissions with very large effect size and high statistical significance, but the study has had limited impact because it had only 76 patients and imperfect blinding, and did not measure vitamin D levels pre- and post-treatment or adjust for several comorbidities.

In an effort to account for these shortcomings, they reanalyzed the data using statistical techniques, concluding that "the randomization, large effect size, and high statistical significance address many of these concerns."

For starters, they found that "random assignment of patients to treatment and control groups is highly unlikely to distribute comorbidities or other prognostic indicators sufficiently unevenly to account for the large effect size."

They also demonstrated that the imperfect blinding did not have a negative impact, as it would have had to have "an implausibly large effect to account for the reported results."

To double-check their findings, they also compared the data with two other randomized clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation for COVID-19, one from India and another from Brazil. In conclusion, the authors stated that:

… the Córdoba study provides sufficient evidence to warrant immediate, well-designed pivotal clinical trials of early calcifediol administration in a broader cohort of inpatients and outpatients with COVID-19.

Silicon Valley Takes the Battlespace

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-01-27 00:11
Politics & GlobalizationJonathan GuyerThe American ProspectJanuary 19, 2021https://prospect.org/power/silicon-valley-takes-battlespace-eric-schmidt-rebellion/ pentagon_1200x630.png

Through an obscure startup named Rebellion Defense, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt attempts to buy his way into the Biden White House.

Days after winning the November election, Joe Biden announced the names of those staffing his transition. Big Tech landed prominent spots. Among the hundreds of personnel on the agency review teams serving the president-elect, there was one from Uber, two from Amazon, and one from Google. And then there were two people from Rebellion Defense, a shadowy defense startup.

The announcement sent Washington insiders scrambling to look up the company. No major defense contractors appeared on the list. “It’s sure odd that a year-old startup like Rebellion winds up with two employees serving on a presidential transition team,” Ken Glueck, the executive vice president of the tech company Oracle, told me.

What is Rebellion Defense? With a Star Wars allusion as its name, this firm is not your typical contractor. Rebellion launched in the summer of 2019 to craft artificial-intelligence (AI) software for the defense industry. Trade publications gushed about how innovative it was. 

Ethanol Plant Using Treated GMO Corn Poisons Town

Organic consumers - Tue, 2021-01-26 23:55
Environment & Climate, Genetic EngineeringDr. Joseph MercolaMercola.comJanuary 20, 2021https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2021/01/20/ethanol-plant-using-treated-gmo-corn-poisons-town.aspx ethanol-1200x630.jpg

Mead is a village in Saunders County, Nebraska, with a population of just 580 people.1 Their website focuses on what they do best: small town living. “If you’re ready to escape the city, come join us in Mead, Nebraska,” their official site reads.2 This close-knit farming community is also home to AltEn,3 an ethanol plant that is producing toxic byproducts that are poisoning the community.

“It’s definitely within sniffing distance. I come out here to do yard work and I can barely breathe,” Jody Weible, who lives half a mile from the plant, told a news outlet.4

The stench is coming from a byproduct of ethanol production called distillers grain, which is produced after the starch is removed from corn. Also known as “wet cake,” distillers grain is sold by most U.S. ethanol plants as livestock feed, but AltEn’s waste is different.

The company secured a free source of corn to make ethanol by billing itself as a “recycling” plant that accepts seeds treated with pesticides, including toxic neonicotinoids. The resulting waste is too contaminated to sell as feed for animals, so AltEn has been spreading the waste on farmland and holding the rest of it — a “smelly, lime-green mash of fermented grains” — on the grounds surrounding its plant.5 

Pesticide Contamination ‘Off the Charts’

Neonicotinoids are the most widely used insecticides worldwide.6 If you were to visit a conventional farm, you’d likely see evidence of their use in the form of brightly colored red corn seeds and blue soybean seeds, which are color-coded to denote treatment with neonicotinoids. Even when used agriculturally, these seeds have been found to harm pollinators like bees at alarming rates.7

There are other concerns as well, like the fact that planting neonicotinoid seeds kills off insects that prey on slugs — prominent corn and soybean pests — thereby reducing crop yields.8

They’re also known to persist in the environment. When researchers screened oilseed crops in the European Union for neonicotinoids during the five-year moratorium, they found neonicotinoids in all the years it was banned in bee-attractive crops, with residue levels depending on soil type and increasing with rainfall.

They concluded that this poses a “considerable risk for nectar foraging bees” and supports “the recent extension of the moratorium to a permanent ban in all outdoor crops.”9 In 2018, the European Union banned the outdoor use of three neonicotinoids (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam), while the United Nations has also recommended severely restricting their use.10

They’re still widely used in the U.S., however, and in Mead, where the excess waste from the treated seeds is piling up, astronomical levels of the chemicals have been detected.

Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) attorney Dan Raichel told The Guardian, “Some of the levels recorded are just off the charts. If I were living in that area with those levels of neonics going into the water and the environment I would be concerned for my own health.”11

In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency has set an upper “safety” limit of 70 parts per billion (ppb) for neonicotinoids in food and water, while levels deemed “safe” for aquatic life are capped at 11 ppb for clothianidin and 17.5 ppb for thiamethoxam. Yet, The Guardian reported:12

On the AltEn property, state environmental officials recorded levels of clothianidin at a staggering 427,000ppb in testing of one of the large hills of AltEn waste. Thiamethoxam was detected at 85,100ppb, according to testing ordered by the Nebraska department of agriculture.

In an AltEn wastewater lagoon, clothianidin was recorded at 31,000ppb and thiamethoxam at 24,000ppb. A third dangerous neonic called imidacloprid was also found in the lagoon, at 312ppb. The EPA aquatic life benchmark for imidacloprid is 0.385ppb. AltEn’s lagoon system holds approximately 175m gallons.

High levels of 10 other pesticides were also found in the plant lagoon. At least four pesticides in the corn used by AltEn, including clothianidin and thiamethoxam, are known to be ‘detrimental to humans, birds, mammals, bees, freshwater fish’ and other living creatures, state regulators noted in an October letter to AltEn.

Sick Dogs, Dead Bees and Birds Reported

The area’s residents are already experiencing ill effects they attribute to the pesticide-laden waste. Pet dogs have become sick after ingesting waste dumped on farm fields, and dying birds have also been reported.

Nebraska’s department of agriculture eventually told AltEn to stop spreading the waste on fields, so the company piled up more of the waste on site as well as began incinerating it or storing it offsite in “biochar” bags.13

State regulators aren’t monitoring for contamination near AltEn’s Mead plant, but researcher Judy Wu-Smart, with the University of Nebraska’s department of entomology, believes area insects are being decimated. The university has a research farm about 1 mile from the city, where every beehive has died, and the bee deaths are associated with AltEn’s usage of pesticide-treated seeds.

She also has evidence of birds and butterflies that appear to be neurologically damaged, and found residues of neonicotinoids in plants, which she traced to waterways connecting the land to AltEn. In an interview with The Guardian, she called the findings a red flag, noting, “The bees are just a bio-indicator of something seriously going wrong.”14

How Soon Will the Left Eat Their Own?

Organic consumers - Tue, 2021-01-26 23:21
Politics & GlobalizationJon RappoportCanada Free PressJanuary 18, 2021https://canadafreepress.com/article/how-soon-will-the-left-eat-their-own corn1200x630.jpg

Well, well. Tom Vilsack is back. Biden is about to betray the Left on a key issue. Dear Lefties: Are you going to sit still for this? 

Hey. I’m always here to offer advice to the Left, to make their road smoother, to point them in the direction of fellow travelers they should cancel for deficiencies of “wokeness.”

Let’s start with the issue of GMOs, poisonous Roundup, and Monsanto (now swallowed up by Bayer).

Joe Biden is going to appoint Mr. Monsanto, Tom Vilsack, as his Secretary of Agriculture. Tommy boy held that post under Obama.

The Organic Consumers Association writes: “If, like us, you dream of an organic, regenerative food system led by independent family farmers, then news that Joe Biden has asked Tom Vilsack to return to his Obama Era post as Secretary of Agriculture should be a real cause for concern.”

As Biden Axes KXL Pipeline, Water Protectors Urge Him to Reject DAPL and Line 3

Organic consumers - Tue, 2021-01-26 23:00
Environment & ClimateCandice BerndTruthoutJanuary 21, 2021https://truthout.org/articles/as-biden-axes-kxl-pipeline-water-protectors-urge-him-to-reject-dapl-and-line-3/ pipeline1200x630.jpg

As President Joe Biden moved to kill a key permit for the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office Wednesday, Indigenous Water Protectors in Minnesota want to see Biden’s campaign promise extended to another notorious tar sands pipeline project: Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, which, like Keystone XL, also crosses an international border and would lock in dangerous, planet-warming pollution.

On Monday, Minnesota Water Protector Nia Zekan shut down construction on Line 3 for several hours after climbing into a pipe trench along an easement site located on the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation. Zekan was arrested and bailed out shortly afterward, according to Taysha Martineau, a Fond du Lac tribal member and founder of Camp Miigizi, a recently opened space near the reservation for Water Protectors.

“I’ve gone to protests. I’ve signed petitions. I’ve always voted for politicians who sell themselves as pro-environment, but pipelines are still being built everywhere,” Zekan said in a statement. 

WHO Finally Admits COVID-19 PCR Test Has a 'Problem'

Organic consumers - Tue, 2021-01-26 22:45
COVID-19MercolaChildren's Health DefenseJanuary 21, 2021https://childrenshealthdefense.org/defender/who-admits-covid-pcr-test-has-a-problem/ covidtest1200x630.jpg

The WHO’s new guidance, which includes lower PCR thresholds, almost guarantees COVID “case” numbers will automatically drop dramatically around the world.

In an “inauguration” of its own while Joe Biden was being sworn into office, the World Health Organization (WHO) initiated new rules regarding the PCR assays used for testing for COVID-19.

Even though they’ve been widely used across the U.S. and around the world to determine who has a positive case of COVID, PCR assays are not designed to be used as diagnostic tools, as they can’t distinguish between inactive viruses and “live” or reproductive ones.

Besides that, previously, the WHO had recommended 45 “amplification” cycles of the test to determine whether someone was positive for COVID or not.

The thing is, the more cycles that a test goes through, the more likely that a false positive will come up — anything over 30 cycles actually magnifies the samples so much that even insignificant sequences of viral DNA end up being magnified to the point that the test reads positive even if your viral load is extremely low or the virus is inactive and poses no threat to you or anyone else.

New Era for US Public Lands Under Native American Leadership?

Organic consumers - Tue, 2021-01-26 19:43
January 26, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerEnvironment & Climate, Politics & Globalization haaland5-1200x630.png

President Biden’s decision to reinstate Tom “Mr. Monsanto” Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary is a disaster for nutrition and farming, but his choice of Deb Haaland for Interior Secretary, managing the 500 million acres of public lands, could benefit the climate in ways that could also improve food security. 

The stakes are high; fossil fuel extraction on public lands is responsible for one quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Here are a few of the things climate and regenerative agriculture activists are hoping for from Secretary Haaland:

1. #OurClimateSolution 

As a Congresswoman, Deb Haaland cosponsored the American Public Lands and Waters Climate Solution Act (#OurClimateSolution), a good first step in the path toward eliminating fossil fuel extraction on public lands and making public lands carbon sinks. 

However, this bill only applies to new coal, oil or gas leases. One of President Biden’s first acts was to sign an executive order to temporarily block new drilling on public lands.

2. #UndoTrump

Biden’s temporary ban on new drilling on public lands doesn’t mean as much after Trump’s extraction bonanza. Trump approved the sale of 1,400 leases out of 3,000 Bureau of Land Management applications, primarily in New Mexico and Wyoming―in his last three months alone. That’s on top of drilling leases on 550,000 acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge that Trump gave away for a mere $14.4 million.

Trump made at least 125 rule changes to favor special interests on public lands, according to Yale Environment 360’s report, “On U.S. Public Lands, Can Biden Undo What Trump Has Wrought?” In Trump’s final hours, Biden's #UndoTrump list got even longer when Trump gave governors the right to veto federal land acquisitions.

This is a dire situation that only the boldest agenda can hope to overturn. According to the climate plan on his website:

Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.

However, “Joe Biden will not end fracking, he has been very clear about that,” as we learned in the debates.

3. #ClimateStewardshipAct

Haaland also sponsored the transformative Climate Stewardship Act. Recognizing that soils, forests and wetlands already sequester 11 percent of all U.S. emissions, this bill aims to increase this by planting more trees, restoring wetlands and greatly scaling up the adoption of farm and ranch conservation practices. 

To increase carbon sequestration on farm and range lands, the bill would dramatically increase spending on the Conservation Stewardship Program. While this is a Farm Bill program controlled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the CSP has the potential to increase carbon sequestration on lands controlled by the Department of the Interior, as farmers and ranchers working on public lands are newly eligible to enroll in the program. 

Farmers and ranchers raising livestock on public lands can get CSP payments for adopting advanced grazing management, including management-intensive rotational grazing, according to a 2020 alert from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. In fact, graziers are being encouraged to adopt these practices with payments of at least 150 percent of the normal annual CSP rate.

4. #GrasslandsConservation

"No other ecosystem on the planet has the same capability to sequester carbon and reduce the impacts of climate change."

That's one of the arguments made for a North American Grasslands Conservation Act by five organizations proposing new investments in “conserving and restoring our native grasslands for ranchers, wildlife, and future generations.”

Unfortunately, grasslands are also one of the most endangered ecosystems, because it’s so easy to plow them into farmland.

The USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program has been the main vehicle for conserving grasslands, but over the last thirteen years, enrollment, which is voluntary, has plummeted from 36.7 million acres (2007) to 21.9 million acres (2020).

Its impact is still significant. Grasslands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program reduce flooding and erosion during extreme weather events, while sequestering 49 million tons of greenhouse gases annually. That’s the equivalent of taking 9 million cars off the road each year, according to the National Wildlife Federation, the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation, the National Wild Turkey Federation, and Pheasants Forever & Quail Forever.

USDA crop insurance subsidies create perverse incentives to plow up grasslands. The Farm Bill’s Highly Erodible Land Conservation provision attempts to lessen this incentive, at least in the six states that surround the prairie pothole region, by reducing subsidies for the first four years on any cropland converted from prairie. Known as Sodsaver, the rule is estimated to protect 12 million acres of highly erodible grasslands.

But, the Department of the Interior could do even more by permanently protecting grasslands and ensuring they are managed in perpetuity for maximum carbon sequestration.

5. #RegenerativeRanching

"A well-managed grazing system stores more carbon in the soil than grasslands that are not grazed."

That’s the conclusion of North Dakota grassland ecologist Rebecca Phillips quoted in a January 2021 Successful Farming article on the topic, “Livestock’s Role in a Changing Climate: The Grazing of Livestock Stores Carbon in the Soil.”

At RegenerativeRanching.org there are several profiles of “innovative land managers [who] thoughtfully harness the impact of grazing livestock as a valuable tool for ecological management to improve soil health, decrease bare ground, and increase water infiltration and retention.” 

RegenerativeRanching.org includes eight profiles of regenerative ranching on public lands. For an overview, listen to “Restoring Public Lands Through Grazing,” an episode of the “Down to Earth: The Planet to Plate Podcast” of the Quivira Coalition. 

The Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge uses regenerative ranching to maintain wildlife habitat. It improves conditions for native wildflowers (and their pollinators) through the reduction of grass thatch and grass height. It has also been proven to enhance winter bird diversity. Grazing has worked so well that acreage has increased as the refuge has grown from 650 acres in 1991 to 3,100 acres in 2018. 

Grassland birds are among the fastest declining species in North America. The Missouri Department of Conservation has found regenerative ranching to be an important strategy for protecting their habitat.

The Pueblo of Santa Ana Department of Natural Resources overcame a mere 8.5 inches of rain to increase grass cover by 108 percent. “The improved wildlife habitat supports not only the pronghorn, turkey, Rocky Mountain elk, mountain lion, mule deer, black bear, and bird species like Southwestern willow flycatchers and yellow-billed cuckoos, but also the approximately 900 tribal residents and three livestock grazing groups,” reports HolisticManagement.org.

On a former bombing range, public land managers at the Colorado State Land Board (CSLB) are collaborating with Lowry Ranch. Their year-round adaptive planned grazing funds Colorado’s public schools while promoting wildlife and increasing the health of the grasslands. After years of over-grazing, CSLB initially removed cattle from the property in the hopes of affecting ecological recovery but recovery was slow and in some cases, ecosystems were getting worse. Now, utilizing holistic management, revenues, forage quality and quantity, and water cycling have all increased.  

On Bureau of Land Management land ravaged by Chevron’s oil wells and pipelines, Goat Green uses 1,500 goats for land restoration. The goats, enclosed in 1-acre paddocks with portable electric fencing that can be moved up to 20 times per day, grazed nearly a million acres in Wyoming and Colorado over a 10-year period.

The lush green grass of Hollister Hills State Vehicular Recreation Area is thanks to regenerative ranching. The tiger salamander is one of the species protected by the grassland stewardship. 

Regenerative grazing restored prairie chicken habitat in Buena Vista Wildlife Area. “The first year I saw one prairie chicken all season. The next year I saw three or four. Then last year I saw whole flocks of them,” said grazier Bill Kolodziej. 

As regenerative as grazing can be when done right, unregulated grazing can be a disaster.

The most recent data on the health of federal rangelands reveal extensive damage from excessive commercial livestock grazing, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER):

Bureau of Land Management’s Standards for Rangeland Health prescribe the minimum quality of water, vegetation and soils, as well as the ability to support wildlife, required by the agency for permitting livestock grazing.  The most recent (2018) rangeland health report on BLM grazing allotments across 150 million acres in 13 Western states shows:

•Of total acres assessed, 42 percent (40 million acres) fail to meet BLM Standards for Rangeland Health;

•The largest portion (70 percent) of range health failure is due to livestock overgrazing in allotments covering nearly 28 million acres; and

•These figures are underestimates because nearly 40 percent of federal rangelands (59 million acres) have never been assessed.

“By its own yardstick, BLM is a poor steward of our federal rangeland,” stated PEER Advocacy Director Kristen Stade.

Regenerative agriculture advocates say, it’s not the cow, it’s the how, but “how” often depends on “who.”

Who is the best steward of the land? Among ranchers, it is those who breed and raise their cattle from birth to slaughter exclusively on grass. Their livelihoods are utterly dependent on the land, so they’re unlikely to squander that resource, especially if they work for themselves and see their ranching business as something valuable to be passed to future generations. This kind of rancher depends on one thing: the ability to process and sell their beef themselves. That can’t happen if they can’t access a local USDA-inspected slaughterhouse.

For too many ranchers, they have no other option than to raise cattle to be slaughtered by the big-four meat packers,Tyson Foods, JBS SA, Cargill and National Beef/Marfrig, which control more than 80 percent of our nation’s beef processing.

These ranchers may still believe in regenerative ranching, but every economic incentive pushes them in the opposite direction, and when their cattle end up in feedlots fed on irrigated, pesticide-drenched GMO crops raised on land carved out of prairie, any environmental benefit of their grassland management is canceled out.

That’s one of the problems that’s visible in RegenerativeRanching.org’s profile of Flying Diamond, a family-owned and operated ranch in Colorado that runs cattle on public lands in addition to a ranch they own. As Colorado Biz Magazine notes:

Although the cattle are grass-fed and organic, that remains a niche market, good for only 10 percent of the cattle, Scott Johnson says. The rest are shipped when they are about 500 pounds to feedlots to be fattened on corn.

That statement is only partially true, as most grass-fed and organic beef eaten in the U.S. is imported (even though it may be labeled “Product of the USA” due to a loophole that allows imported beef that’s packaged here to bear the label).

The Department of the Interior’s goal should be for all animals grazed on federal lands to be grass-fed from birth to slaughter. To accomplish that goal, it would need to support efforts to establish the rancher-owned or public meatpacking plants needed to process the meat locally. 

6. #LandBack

The #LandBack movement has another good answer to the question, Who is the best steward of the land? It’s the people who have managed the land successfully for millenia. Their demand is simple; give the land that was stolen back to Indigenous nations:

Many see Laguna Pueblo Rep. Deb Haaland’s nomination to be the next secretary of the Department of the Interior as a paradigm shift where Indigenous demands for mass land return are no longer aspirational, but possible. Organizations like NDN Collective have their sights for #LandBack set on the more than 500 million acres of public lands that fall under DOI’s oversight.

That’s from a January 19 op-ed by The Red Nation cofounder Melanie K. Yazzie. She quotes Haaland, who said: 

I think it’s a time in our world―not just in our country, but our entire world―to listen to Indigenous people when it comes to climate change, when it comes to our environment.

Research backs this up. Putting indigenous groups in control of their lands is one of the most effective ways to protect natural resources and benefit the climate, as the Los Angeles Times reported in, “They’ve managed the forest forever. It’s why they’re key to the climate change fight.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change even says that empowering indigenous peoples is necessary to meet international climate goals.

This understanding needs to be integrated into U.S. policy. As Tyler J. Lark writes in the journal Land Use Policy: 

Across all levels of administration, policy makers should look toward tribal governments and Indigenous communities as partners in conservation and leaders in the stewardship of natural lands. Despite centuries of tumultuous federal policy, sovereign tribal nations have maintained millions of acres of grasslands as intact and ecologically diverse habitat, including roughly 10% of the unplowed grasslands in the Northern Great Plains. The knowledge and values that anchor many Native American cultures, like a shared responsibility to care for the land and an obligation to do right by the next generation, are central to grassland conservation. Further supporting and incorporating these principles within grassland policies and initiatives as well as expanding collaborations with tribal citizens and organizations represent important opportunities to cooperatively improve prairie protection.

7. #BuffaloTreaty

"From time immemorial the buffalo has created a relationship with the natural environment resulting in an eco-balance with other animals and the plant life on the land. The buffalo, one can say, is a great environmentalist.”

Those are the words of Dr. Leroy Little Bear in a letter to Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on behalf of the signatories of the Buffalo Treaty, which states, in part:

It is our collective intention to recognize BUFFALO as a wild free-ranging animal and as an important part of the ecological system; to provide a safe space and environment across our historic homelands, on both sides of the United States and the Canadian border, so together WE can have our brother, the BUFFALO, lead us in nurturing our land, plants and other animals to once again realize THE BUFFALO WAYS for our future generations.

The Indigenous nations who have signed the Buffalo Treaty face some of the same challenges as regenerative ranchers. They point to the Biden-Harris Administration’s Plan for Tribal Nations that addresses many of these challenges, including by:

Investing in the infrastructure needed for food production and processing in Indian Country. Tribes do not have sufficient capital to invest in food production and processing infrastructure, locking them out of tremendous economic opportunities as well as the ability to better provide for local nutritional needs. Biden will invest in the infrastructure needed for food processing, packaging, and storage.

These seven campaigns are just a sampling of the demands of social justice activists for the Department of the Interior under the leadership of Secretary Deb Haaland. We’ll keep you updated as these campaigns progress and alert you to opportunities to take action.