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#BidenBeBold: Tell the President-Elect to Appoint a Climate Justice Cabinet

Organic consumers - Tue, 2020-11-24 19:47
Category: Environment & ClimateArea: USA

If you think the people President-Elect Joe Biden appoints to lead the executive branch should be people who 1) don’t have ties to agribusiness, fossil fuel companies or corporate lobbyists, 2) represent the diversity of America, and 3) are ready to act with the urgency that the climate, economic, health and farm crises demand, please sign this petition in support of the climate justice cabinet. 

The Sunrise Movement and Justice Democrats have proposed a slate of potential cabinet picks that includes the top advocates for regenerative organic food and farming, including organic farmer and Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree for Agriculture Secretary.

Take Action: Endorse Chellie Pingree and the entire Climate Justice Cabinet.Read more

Take Action: 

Vaccine Fundamentalism―War Metaphors in the COVID-19 Response, Vaccine Policy and Public Health, Part 2

Organic consumers - Tue, 2020-11-24 15:52
November 24, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationNate DoromalCOVID-19, COVID-19 Treatment covivv_1200X630.png

No grievance regarding vaccines is more serious than vaccine-injury. A mere possibility of vaccine-injury is insidious: what is meant to be a prophylactic life-saving procedure performed on a healthy recipient may end in his or her serious injury or death.

As pediatrician Dr. Robert Sears discussed in a public talk, the very idea of vaccine-injury is a hard one for doctors and public health specialists to accept, therefore, out of a need to protect their collective ego identity, the default position of the medical profession is denial of vaccine-injury.

It’s easy for medicine and public health to remain silent about or minimize the perception of vaccine injury. War metaphors in public health lead to the implicit acceptance of vaccine-injury as acceptable collateral in dealing in the war against infectious disease.

A hush-hush approach is the norm where it is not professionally acceptable for a public health official or doctor to acknowledge or discuss the reality of vaccine injury (and those who do are quickly disowned by their peers and professional organizations). A utilitarian argument is used to justify this course of action: more lives are saved than are lost so it’s not my problem, let the vaccine court deal with vaccine-injury.

Dismissing the vaccine-injured: collateral damage and vaccine fundamentalism

First and foremost, vaccine-injury is indeed real. It has been a real phenomenon since the inception of vaccination. Severe allergic reaction was recognized as an adverse effect to smallpox vaccination by scientist Clemens Peter Freihher von Pirquet and American pediatrician Bela Schic in 1906. It was real when in 1955 Cutter Laboratories released 120,000+ doses of polio vaccine that contained live polio, resulting in 100+ cases of polio paralysis and 5 deaths.

And it continues to be real to this day with the United States Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, a program run by the federal government which compensates those injured by vaccines. So far the program has paid out over 4 billion dollars.

Vaccine-injury is the dirty laundry of vaccine fundamentalism. The public health authorities' approach to vaccine-injury is a two-faced one. While it acknowledges that vaccine-injury can happen, in the very same breath, it proclaims vaccine injury is very rare and then goes on to make the claim that vaccines are safe and effective. The same doctors tasked with giving vaccines parrot the same talking points, many of which are developed by the public health agencies.

The premise of vaccine fundamentalism is thus: if vaccines are the way to win the war on infectious diseases, then vaccines themselves are too important to be deterred by the collateral damage of possibly infrequent vaccine injury. An emphasis to win the war would naturally lead to a competitive strategy where the means are developed to hide the extent of vaccine injury and to limit the liability resulting from those injuries.

The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 was this means. It had a number of important effects: 1) it created the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) which allowed individuals and healthcare professionals to report vaccine injury; 2) it created the vaccine court which is administered through the Department of Justice as a way to compensate those who have experienced vaccine injury; and 3) it provided liability protection to the childhood vaccine manufacturers for vaccine-injury.

While the Act created the means for reporting and compensating vaccine-injury, it did not create the impetus for public health officials nor vaccine manufacturers to investigate claims of vaccine-injury. Even when repeated injuries are observed time and time again, there is no research impetus to investigate the etiology behind why these injuries are occurring. After all, how is criticism possible when you have deprived your naysayers of good complete data, with which they could prove their case?

The war metaphor and vaccine fundamentalism lead to plausible deniability and lackluster in safety investigation as the default strategies for defending the public health agency’s vaccine program. The vaccine safety organization ICAN filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services, to find out whether or not HHS  has performed  the biennial  vaccine program safety oversight that they were required to do by the 1986 Act, which HHS has apparently failed to do for more than 30 years

Ironically, the granting of liability protection led to perverse incentives to increase the number of vaccines on the CDC schedule and to decrease the emphasis on vaccine safety. The 1990s saw a rapid increase in vaccine uptake and the expansion of the vaccine schedule starting with the Hepatitis B vaccine in 1991 and a startling rise in childhood chronic illnesses, including autism. Public health officials argue this concomitant rise is coincidental and that no strong evidence exists to tie the rise to increased vaccines. But how can evidence be found (apart from numerous personal accounts of vaccine injury and epidemiologic trends) when the very public health agencies tasked with the investigation of etiology are refusing to investigate it?

To further compound the collateral damage done to individuals and families of vaccine-injury, the vaccine-injured person or his or her family must be the ones to prove the vaccine injury. They are left to seek expert testimony in an area with already stifled research and negative peer-pressure for such professionals to serve as expert witnesses. This is difficult for a middle-class family with working and financial obligations and who likely does not have a background in medicine.

By using the strategy of shifting the burden of proof, public health authorities are able to make the claim that most alleged vaccine injuries are anecdotal and coincidental. This would include vaccine court cases that do not lead to an award, self-reported reports to VAERS and parental concerns of a post-vaccination observation of uncontrollable crying for multiple hours. These observations are dismissed using negative language that include use of descriptions such as anecdotal, correlation without causation, or lacking in evidence.

The only vaccine-injuries seemingly recognized by public health authorities are those that have led to a compensation award from the vaccine court. The likely cases of vaccine injury is potentially much, much higher. Looking at the vaccine court statistics, from the period of 1998 until 2017, there were 1,200 claims filed for death and around 18,000 filed for injury. Only a small minority of vaccine injuries are tried in the vaccine courts. Various analysis of the vaccine courts (here and here) have shown them to be adversarial to those seeking compensation for vaccine-injury.

This leads to a systematic bias that deliberately undercounts the number of vaccine-injury cases. The actual number of vaccine injuries is likely to be much, much higher. An analysis done by author JB Handley, in his book “How to End the Autism Epidemic,” reveals a damning picture:

“In 2016, VAERS received 59,117 reports of vaccine adverse events including 432 deaths and 10,384 emergency visits. If those 59,117 reports were 1 percent of the actual total, that would imply there had actually been 5.9 million reportable adverse events from vaccines in a single year.”

Evidence suggests vaccine injuries are known by health officials to be underreported. A CDC-funded study “Electronic Support for Public Health–Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System” done in 2007 by Harvard Pilgrim Health Care estimated that fewer than <1% of vaccine injuries are reported to VAERS.

War metaphors in public health and vaccine fundamentalism have led to a situation where the vaccine-injured individuals and families are themselves seen as enemies by the very public health systems that are meant to serve them. There are four injustices at play here: 1) the vaccine injury itself; 2) the denial by the public health systems of vaccine injury; 3) the adversarial nature of the government compensation system; and 4) the larger denial by society at large. Public health as a whole can do better from an ethical standpoint.

The ends justifies the means: ignoring conflicts of interests

In the drive to win a war on infectious diseases, resources need to be mobilized but an important overlooked question is: Who benefits from the policies being promulgated? One need not look far to realize that the vaccines market is a very financially lucrative market. A financial estimate reported by Bloomberg reports that the vaccine market is worth $58.4 billion. The Moderna CEO claimed that the COVID-19 vaccine alone could bring in $2 billion to $5 billion in peak annual sales for the company.

In the United States, the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices(ACIP) has the task of deciding what vaccines should be added and removed from the schedule. Their decisions carry considerable weight for both citizens who take the vaccines and the vaccine manufacturers who benefit from the captive market created by government mandates.

There is evidence that the CDC ACIP might be compromised by conflicts of interests with industry. A 2000 report by the US House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform reported:

“Members of the advisory committees are required to disclose any financial conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from participating in decisions in which they have an interest. The Committee's investigation has determined that conflict of interest rules employed by the FDA and the CDC have been weak, enforcement has been lax and committee members with substantial ties to pharmaceutical companies have been given waivers to participate in committee proceedings.”

Another report in 2009 by the Department of Health and Human Services reported serious ethical violations at the CDC. According to the NY Times reporting: 

“The report found that 64 percent of the advisers had potential conflicts of interest that were never identified or were left unresolved by the centers. Thirteen percent failed to have an appropriate conflicts form on file at the agency at all, which should have barred their participation in the meetings entirely, Mr. Levinson found. And 3 percent voted on matters that ethics officers had already barred them from considering.”

In 2015, the British Medical Journal reported that:

“…the CDC does receive millions of dollars in industry gifts and funding, both directly and indirectly and several recent CDC actions and recommendations have raised questions about the science it cites, the clinical guidelines it promotes and the money it is taking.”

Vaccine fundamentalism has led to a situation where public health agencies do not adequately police themselves regarding conflicts of interest. If the goal is to win a war then the need to remove decision-making bias and to prevent regulatory capture takes a backseat thereby allowing entities who have huge money at stake on the outcome to improperly influence the outcome.

Does more vaccines equal better health? Is public health succeeding?

The question of whether public health is succeeding is fundamental because so much investment and effort has gone into vaccination at the expense of other lines of possible public health endeavors.

Public health agencies proudly proclaim vaccines as one of the greatest public health achievements of all time, boasting of the eradication of smallpox, elimination of polio and measles in the Americas and controlling incidence of a wide list of other infectious diseases. In the 19th century, infectious disease was rampant and deaths from such diseases were common.

Public health rightfully deserves the accolades for the fact now that infectious disease death is relatively rare. An examination of infectious diseases mortality done in JAMA reported the following:

“Infectious disease mortality declined during the first 8 decades of the 20th century from 797 deaths per 100,000 in 1900 to 36 deaths per 100,000 in 1980 … From 1938 to 1952, the decline was particularly rapid, with mortality decreasing 8.2% per year.”

The problem with vaccine fundamentalism lies in attributing the victory against infectious disease mortality solely to vaccination. The 8.2% per year decline in infectious deaths is telling because the effect is so large that it cannot be attributed to vaccination. In fact, this period of 1938 to 1952 is prior to the modern vaccination program. Other effects in the populace including better standards of living, clean air and clean water bear significant attribution for the above effect.

Vaccine fundamentalism leads to a revisionary history that over-emphasizes the role of vaccination thus leading to an overstatement of benefits. It is important to note that the mortality rates from infectious diseases dropped by over 90% prior to the beginning of the modern vaccination program with the development of the measles vaccine in 1963.

There is the larger question as to whether more vaccines leads to better health. The United States has one of the most aggressive vaccination schedules in the world. From birth to the age of 18, children receive over 68 doses from the full CDC recommended schedule. During the 1990s there was a tripling of the childhood vaccine schedule. Did the American populace accordingly achieve a tripling in health outcomes in the following decades?

A 2013 National Academy of Sciences report found that Americans live shorter lives and overall worse health than their counterparts in an analysis of 17 other countries. In a PBS interview, Dr. Steven H. Woolf, chair of the committee that wrote the report stated:

“The U.S. is doing worse than these other countries both in terms of life expectancy and health throughout their entire lives…The U.S. has been falling behind other high-income countries since 1980, with the trend showing continuing deterioration regardless of administration or social reform policies.”

A reversal is needed in the course of public health direction. Vaccine fundamentalism has led to the paradigm of more is better in public health, a policy which appears to have diminishing returns. Public health officials seem to embody the mindset that if it worked as a strategy in the past then certainly we just need to do more of it. This mindset is inadequate as we go forward into the 21st century.

Moving beyond vaccine fundamentalism: a new ecology for health

In the urgency to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, public health seems to be running more and more quickly towards a cliff and exacerbating the problems above. The public health agencies pin their hopes on a COVID-19 vaccine and drive heavy responses to minimize incidence, including banning travel, barring children from schools, barring adults from work, etc. unless an individual has received the COVID-19 vaccine. But this approach is not working.

Public health has failed to account for the harms caused by its COVID-19 responses and this speaks to the great failures of reductionism and vaccine fundamentalism. Reductionism cannot capture the numerous facets of health that exist in a dynamic interplay between the individual, their genes and their environment.

On a biological level, new research indicates that the immune system works as a dynamic interplay between multiple systems: the innate system, the adaptive system, the interferon system, the microbiome and the nervous system. We ourselves are a complex ecosystem of human cells, bacteria in our microbiome and endemic viruses in our virome. This leads to the necessary conclusion: vaccine fundamentalism is an antiquated strategy for actual health.

But cannot replace one fundamentalism with another one. Public health needs to move beyond the fundamentalism paradigm in which public health is reduced to singular metrics and embrace a paradigm that is inclusive of a larger vision of what constitutes health.

Public health needs a new way of thinking that puts human dignity at the forefront instead of viewing the people who we are supposed to protect as mere vectors of disease. Individual choice, informed consent and free will are shunted as delusions that must be dealt with in order to win the war. To regain the trust of the public, public health must give up on the war mentality. The sustainable path is one in which public health is on equal footing with the individual as opposed to tyrannical dominance.

It’s time to give up vaccine fundamentalism and its war mentality. We need public health to wake up from the spell of vaccine fundamentalism and the war metaphors it pursues in its implementation. It is an insufficient paradigm from a previous time and it needs to be replaced with something else.

Health for both individuals and society is multi-faceted and exists in a greater ecosystem. We are both affected by microbes and our genes, but also by our environment, our choices, our cultural mores, our psychological states and our subjective assessments of our own well-being. Public health metrics should encompass these facts.

Let public health actually measure and drive actual health instead of mere vaccine uptake rate.

Nate Doromal is an activist and writer within the Vaccine Awareness and Vaccine Safety movement. He is a veteran software engineer, formerly with Google, who now works in finance. He holds an MS and an MBA in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. He holds an Executive MBA from the Smartly Institute. He was originally trained on vaccines and vaccine activism by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny in her Mastering Vaccine Info Bootcamp. He has also studied immunological science extensively with Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych through her Building Bridges Course.

Read ‘Vaccine Fundamentalism―War Metaphors in the COVID-19 Response, Vaccine Policy and Public Health, Part 1’

Vaccine Fundamentalism―War Metaphors in the COVID-19 Response, Vaccine Policy and Public Health, Part 1

Organic consumers - Tue, 2020-11-24 15:43
November 24, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationNate DoromalCOVID-19, COVID-19 Treatment vsecret_1200x630.png

The metaphor of war has long been a part of public health. In responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s public health agencies mobilized and shut down entire parts of society under the utilitarian goal of stopping the spread of COVID-19.

In America, entire states were locked-down, public schools were dismissed, government public services halted and businesses closed while grim pictures of death were painted, pictures of sick and dying on ventilators were broadcast and vivid dialogue of apparently overwhelmed hospital capacity were plastered on mainstream media. Journals and media outlets played along, streaming out content about the dangers of COVID-19 and the need for continued lock-down. Dissenting views on social media were censored by social media tech companies.

Ostensibly the public health response escalated over time while new real-life data emerged that contradicted the severity of the COVID-19 forecasts. What was supposed to be a short lockdown response dragged on for months; the American economy faltered and sank in the wake of the response and American state governors extended their short-term emergency powers to extend the lockdown period.

The Imperial College models, upon which the lockdowns were based, predicted millions of deaths for a virus that would stick around for years. However, a month later, the forecasts for these models were downwardly revised in light of the real-world data. Subsequently, data from various countries indicated that the virus had spread much earlier and farther than originally believed and that mortality rates were far lower than expected.

Despite this, the public health rhetoric regarding COVID-19 dangers remained unchanged. A notable exception in public health policy came with the flip-flop on masks. While the original recommendation was against public usage of masks, the CDC suddenly recommended widespread mask wearing and even extended this recommendation to children in schools.

Consistent in the public health narratives though is the rhetoric that only a coronavirus vaccine will bring things back to normal. These thoughts were succinctly summarized by Bill Gates in a blog post:

“Realistically, if we’re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible.”

Might there be other possible solutions to the pandemic other than vaccines? Public health officials and government officials seemed to double down on this assumption in advance of suitable vaccine candidates.

Possible alternatives that did not involve the vaccines were lambasted by health officials. Public health officials were quick to dismiss the potential of hydroxychloroquine, citing published research that they said showed failure, which was then retracted for serious data problems and completely ignoring research that showed its effectiveness. Public health officials continue to chant the mantra that our hope against COVID-19 is the vaccine.

Public health officials themselves disseminate the war mentality with the repeated message that we are at war with an invisible enemy that must be eradicated. War mentality emphasizes the need for self-sacrifice in order to stop COVID-19 spread. And the weapons of war are glorified; public health authorities glorify its chief weapon of vaccination.

Like any war, there is collateral damage. The collateral damage here are the bedrocks of medical ethics, informed consent, human rights, civil liberties and even science itself. How can proper science be conducted when one goal―deliver a vaccine at “warp-speed,”―is emphasized over healthy scientific skepticism and public discourse? The ultimate collateral damage, of course, is among those damaged or injured by decisions resting on faulty science.

A further examination of the public health response to COVID-19 reveals a deeper problem: the metaphor of war and the assumption of vaccine fundamentalism has long been part of the public health mindset.

Vaccine fundamentalism - does nothing else matter?

The war metaphor leads to a reductionist thinking style that leads to two exclusive outcomes. We either 1) win by eradicating the disease in question; or 2) the pandemic continues and threatens all of humanity. Peaceful coexisting is seen as a kind of surrender.

Citizens are given sham choices: either participate in the war effort or side with the enemy. Psychological shaming is used to coerce naysayers into participating; after all, who wants to be on the pro-disease side? Efforts to destroy the threat are prioritized as the most important consideration. Central to public health is the weapon of vaccines and it has a sacred status in public health.

Vaccine fundamentalism is the belief that vaccination is the most important public health intervention that it is above criticism and that increasing the metric of vaccination uptake rate is the core purpose of public health agencies.

A public health official might defend the practice of vaccination through the often-repeated standard dogma of vaccine fundamentalism that vaccines have saved millions of lives, represent cost-efficient public health intervention and countless scientific research have shown time and time again to be safe and effective. Due to their importance, vaccines are above reproach and neither questioning them nor criticizing them is permitted.

While the practice of vaccination does have a place in the public health repertoire, the repercussions of such fundamentalist thinking cannot be ignored and must be completely understood.

The chief consequence of vaccine fundamentalism is that public health policy over-emphasizes a single reductionist metric: increased vaccination uptake. And consequently single-minded pursuit of any goal can lead to other detrimental outcomes which have been almost entirely ignored.

Charles Eisenstein, in his book “Climate: A New Story” explained:

“This pattern of thinking is called fundamentalism and it closely parallels the dynamics of two defining institutions of our civilization: money and war. Fundamentalism reduces the complex to the simple and demands sacrifice of the immediate, the human, or the personal in serious to an overarching ulterior goal that trumps all.”

War-making in the efforts to drive vaccine uptake

When vaccine fundamentalism is combined with the war metaphor, public health takes on the mantra of increasing vaccine uptake to fight disease at any cost. However, the behavior of public health institutions to achieve that goal can lead to perverse consequences that are seemingly the opposite of policy goals.

Public health institutions have lamented the rise of anti-vaccine sentiment. In response, they have developed elaborate strategies to deal with vaccine hesitancy. But they are missing the crucial point that mistrust of public health institutions arises from their ulterior goals of increasing vaccine uptake at whatever the cost.

All of the strategies used by the public health institutions to increase vaccination uptake rely upon a key assumption that the core of vaccine refusal lies with the refuser’s ignorance of scientific knowledge and acceptance of misinformation delivered by vaccine deniers.

The war-making is evident here. There is a separation of the people into two separate groups: those who comply and those who do not. The latter are given a label of vaccine hesitant or vaccine denier. Public health implicitly sees these groups as a form of deviance that must be corrected through the good efforts of public health.

Public health authorities also embed an important assumption that those that question vaccines do not have valid concerns. The war metaphors of public health permit a callous dismissal of any vaccination concerns and grievances that occur within the medical setting. This diminishment of concerns and grievances naturally leads to more distrust amongst the populace of public health institutions.

There are numerous problems with the war mentality that public health officials ignore. Charles Eisenstein summarized:

“The war mentality represents an unfortunate confluence of ignorance, fear, prejudice and profit... The ignorance exists in its own right and is further perpetuated by government propaganda. The fear is that of ordinary people scared by misinformation but also that of leaders who may know better but are intimidated by the political costs of speaking out on such a heavily moralized and charged issue.”

Vaccine fundamentalism erodes public health trust

The war mentality dehumanizes the enemy as unworthy of engagement on an equal level. Similarly, public health officials have taken the policy of refusing to initiate two-way dialogue regarding vaccine concerns for fear of legitimizing vaccine concerns. However, these strategies backfire in that those same concerns grow in the public.

What public health officials also fail to realize about the refusal to engage in productive two-way dialogue with those with concerns is this action is a form of epistemic violence.

Philosopher Kristie Dotson defined epistemic violence as a:

“…refusal, intentional or unintentional, of an audience to communicatively reciprocate a linguistic exchange owing to pernicious ignorance. Pernicious ignorance should be understood to refer to any reliable ignorance that, in a given context, harms another person (or set of persons).”

The pernicious ignorance on part of public health authorities lies in the refusal to fully investigate any criticisms brought forth against the vaccine program. Instead, these criticisms are immediately labeled as vaccine misinformation to reduce their legitimacy in the public eye. Public health authorities respond by extolling the virtues of vaccines.

Dissenting voices are drowned out by a strawman argument; the virtues of vaccines are used as a response to legitimate concerns without actually addressing the concern at hand. Thereby an insidious form of confirmation bias occurs; the presumptive rationale for vaccines comes from a one-side assessment from the past that is never revisited.

This strategy backfires because those people bringing the grievances feel unheard. In response to the deafness of public health institutions, these people must do the equivalent of yelling louder.  They band together, form coalitions, begin grassrootscampaigns and advocate for change with legislators. As a result, well-organized organizations (Children’s Health Defense and ICAN) have arisen whose primary purpose is to advocate for those whose concerns are not heard and to push government for public health reform. These organizations have had some success with the court system in getting acknowledgement of gaps of understanding from public health authorities.

The war metaphor then encourages public health officials to double-down on forceful activities to stifle inroads made by vaccine critics. Public health agencies in partnership with social media tech companies began censorship campaigns of vaccine misinformation, public relations agencies pushed out increased negative press on so-called anti-vaxxers, and previously unrelated institutions started calling for increasingly draconian policies regarding vaccines.

Paternalism in public health has long been criticized, but war metaphors elevate this charge. Public health agencies have taken a hard paternalism stance. They have positioned themselves as a necessary police figure that defends society from the threat of pandemic, one that is willing to override citizen concerns, censor free speech and engage in violence in pursuit of its goals.

Public health broadcasts a message that is essentially elitist in nature, asking the people to have faith in the public health experts without question. Public health sees itself as society’s primary epistemic authority on public health related matters and any questioning of its authority is met with umbrage.

The public is aware of these problems and distrust of public health has been increasing over the past few decades. Vaccine fundamentalism is dangerous, because the very strategies used by public health officials to increase vaccination uptake also ironically lay the groundwork for undermining the public good on which the entirety of the public health system is based.

Vaccine fundamentalism as a threat to medical ethics

Vaccine fundamentalism is at fundamental odds with the bedrock of medical ethics.

Public health agencies have acknowledged that intervention on part of doctors and healthcare providers is an effective means for addressing vaccine hesitancy.

According to the American Medical Association Code of Ethics, a core precept of medical ethics is, “A physician shall, while caring for a patient, regard responsibility to the patient as paramount.”

How does the responsibility to the patient as paramount work when at odds with state public health goals? Ideally there is the assumption that what is good for the state is in line with what is good for the patient but this is not always the case.

Vaccine fundamentalism has the perverse consequence in which doctors may be inculcated to deliberately ignore or undermine patient concerns in service to the primary public health metric of increasing vaccination rates.

While public health agencies do actively collect and classify the types of concerns that parents have, these are activities are done under the goal of addressing vaccine hesitancy; due to vaccine fundamentalism, there is an assumption that the proper decision for the individual is to take the vaccine, regardless of personal circumstances.

Rather than use data to facilitate open dialogue, they use this knowledge to create strategies against vaccine hesitancy, for example, training materials that teach healthcare providers how to achieve greater conversion of individuals from vaccine hesitant to vaccine compliant.

Medical ethics acknowledges the importance of informed consent in preserving both patient dignity and trust in the medical system. The healthcare providers’ use of behavior modification techniques to achieve increased vaccine uptake is questionable and deceptive.

Even doctors are not immune to the pressures of vaccine fundamentalism as the war burden ultimately falls upon them to ensure their patients are compliant with public health vaccine recommendations.

According to research undertaken by Dr. Paul Offit, providing vaccine information in order to obtain compliance is time consuming. It was found that 53% of physicians spend 10 to 19 minutes discussing vaccines with concerned parents and 8% of physicians spend 20 minutes or more with these parents. They also reported that pediatricians experienced decreased job satisfaction because of time spent with parents with significant vaccine concerns.

Frustrations in obtaining vaccine compliance can end with the ultimate resort of patient dismissal by the patient’s doctor. Interestingly, the American Association of Pediatrics says that patient dismissal is an acceptable last-resort option. Interestingly enough, the collateral damage of vaccination fundamentalism includes the undermining doctor-patient relationship through the creation of adversarial positions regarding vaccines.

There can be no true informed consent if the patient cannot freely refuse the treatment nor is there true informed consent if the consequences of refusal include the potential repercussion of terminating the doctor-patient relationship. Certainly medical ethical guidelines can do better.

Further undermining informed consent is the removal of vaccine exemptions for public schools at the state level. According to a 2019 report by the National Vaccine Information Center:

“[in 2019] 40 [legislative] bills were filed to either remove or restrict vaccine exemptions in the following 22 states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.”

According to bioethicist Nir Eyal, “Coercion, deception, manipulation and other violations of standard informed consent requirements seriously jeopardise that trust.” The value of informed consent does not show up in any epidemiological model but it has a powerful intangible value to all those involved.

Is vaccine fundamentalism so important that it warrants destroying the trust in the medical system?

Nate Doromal is an activist and writer within the Vaccine Awareness and Vaccine Safety movement. He is a veteran software engineer, formerly with Google, who now works in finance. He holds an MS and an MBA in Computer Science from the University of Chicago. He holds an Executive MBA from the Smartly Institute. He was originally trained on vaccines and vaccine activism by Dr. Sherri Tenpenny in her Mastering Vaccine Info Bootcamp. He has also studied immunological science extensively with Dr. Tetyana Obukhanych through her Building Bridges Course.

Read ‘Vaccine Fundamentalism―War Metaphors in the COVID-19 Response, Vaccine Policy and Public Health, Part 2’

6 Nonprofits File FTC Complaint Against Cargill for Misleading ‘Family Farmer’ Claims on Turkey Labels

Organic consumers - Mon, 2020-11-23 22:54
Environment & Climate, CAFOs vs. Free RangeOrganic Consumers AssociationNovember 23, 2020 turkeys_cafo_factory_farm_white_1200x630.jpg

Contact:

Sarah Hanneken, sarahh@animalequality.org, 414-405-1970; Katherine Paul, Katherine@organicconsumers.org, 207-653-3090; Seth Gladstone, sgladstone@fwwatch.org, 917-363-6615; Magaly Licolli, venceremos.ar@gmail.com, (479) 435-0269; Melia Manter, melia@mightyearth.org; Angela Huffman, angela@farmactionalliance.org, 614-390-7552; Sherri Dugger, sherrid@sraproject.org

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA — November 24, 2020 - Six nonprofits today filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asking the FTC to investigate Cargill, Inc., and enjoin the company from making false and misleading claims about its turkey products sold under the Shady Brook Farms and Honeysuckle White brands.

In the complaint, the groups — Venceremos, Mighty Earth, Animal Equality, Organic Consumers Association, Family Farm Action Alliance and Socially Responsible Agricultural Project — said Cargill uses its “independent family farmers” labeling and marketing claims to falsely imply that the turkey brands have far-reaching benefits for workers, animals and the environment when in fact the turkeys used in the two brands come from large, corporate-controlled factory farms. 

“Far from the bucolic family farms portrayed by Cargill’s marketing, Cargill’s actual production methods exploit contract farmers and slaughterhouse workers, systematically abuse animals and cause grave harms to the environment,” the complaint reads.

Cargill routinely exploits both the struggling contract farmers who raise its turkeys and the slaughterhouse workers in the processing plants (which is made all the more evident in light of the COVID-19 pandemic), according to the complaint.

Cargill systematically mutilates turkeys and requires them to be intensively confined, by the tens of thousands, in unsanitary warehouses. The company engages in environmentally destructive practices, including improper waste disposal that leads to the pollution and degradation of waterways, the groups said.

Animal Equality is an international organization working with society, governments, and companies to end cruelty to farmed animals.

Family Farm Action Alliance is a national research, policy development, market innovator, and advocacy organization working to build a sustainable, inclusive economy in which everyone has the right to share in the prosperity they help build and that respects our land, natural resources, and neighbors around the world.

Mighty Earth is a global environmental campaign organization that works to protect forests, conserve oceans, and address climate change.

Organic Consumers Association is a 501(c)(3) consumer education and grassroots lobbying organization advocating on behalf of millions of consumers for safe, healthful food and a clean environment.

Venceremos is a worker-based organization in Arkansas whose mission is to ensure the human rights of poultry workers.

Socially Responsible Agricultural Project is a national non-profit organization based in Colorado that works to help communities across the U.S. replace industrial livestock production with ecologically sound, socially equitable, and economically viable animal agriculture.

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New Research Adds Evidence That Weed Killer Glyphosate Disrupts Hormones

Organic consumers - Wed, 2020-11-18 15:11
November 13, 2020U.S. Right to KnowCarey GillamGenetic Engineering banroundup_1200x630.png

New research is adding worrisome evidence to concerns that the widely used weedkilling chemical glyphosate may have the potential to interfere with human hormones.

In a paper published in the journal Chemosphere titled Glyphosate and the key characteristics of an endocrine disruptor: A review, a trio of scientists concluded that glyphosate appears to have eight out of ten key characteristics associated with endocrine disrupting chemicals. The authors cautioned, however, that prospective cohort studies are still needed to more clearly understand the impacts of glyphosate on the human endocrine system.

The authors, Juan Munoz, Tammy Bleak and Gloria Calaf, each affiliated with the University of Tarapacá in Chile, said their paper is the first review to consolidate the mechanistic evidence on glyphosate as an endocrine-disrupting chemical (EDC).

Some of the evidence suggests that Roundup, Monsanto’s well-known glyphosate-based herbicide, can alter the biosynthesis of the sexual hormones, according to the researchers.

EDCs may mimic or interfere with the body’s hormones and are linked with developmental and reproductive problems as well as brain and immune system dysfunction.

The new paper follows publication earlier this year of an assortment of animal studies that indicated glyphosate exposures impact reproductive organs and threaten fertility.

Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used herbicide, sold in 140 countries. Introduced commercially in 1974 by Monsanto Co, the chemical is the active ingredient in popular products such as Roundup and hundreds of other weed killers used by consumers, municipalities, utilities, farmers, golf course operators, and others around the world.

Dana Barr, a professor at Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health, said the evidence “tends to overwhelmingly indicate that glyphosate has endocrine disrupting properties.”

“It’s not necessarily unexpected since glyphosate has some structural similarities with many other endocrine disrupting pesticides; however, it is more concerning because glyphosate use far surpasses other pesticides,” said Barr, who directs a program within a National Institutes of Health-funded human exposure research center housed at Emory. “Glyphosate is used on so many crops and in so many residential applications such that aggregate and cumulative exposures can be considerable.”

Phil Landrigan, director of the Global Observatory on Pollution and Health, and a professor of biology
at Boston College, said the review pulled together “strong evidence” that glyphosate is an endocrine disruptor.

“The report is consistent with a larger body of literature indicating that glyphosate has a wide range of adverse health effects – findings that overturn Monsanto’s long-standing portrayal of glyphosate as a benign chemical with no negative impacts on human health,” said Landrigan.

EDCs have been a subject of concern since the 1990s after a series of publications suggested that some chemicals commonly used in pesticides, industrial solvents, plastics, detergents, and other substances could have the capacity to disrupt connections between hormones and their receptors.

Scientists generally recognized ten functional properties of agents that alter hormone action, referring to these as ten “key characteristics” of endocrine-disruptors. The ten characteristics are as follows:

EDC’s can:

  • Alter hormone distribution of circulating levels of hormones
  • Induce alterations in hormone metabolism or clearance
  • Alter the fate of hormone-producing or hormone-responsive cells
  • Alter hormone receptor expression
  • Antagonize hormone receptors
  • Interact with or activate hormone receptors
  • Alter signal transduction in hormone-responsive cells
  • Induce epigenetic modifications in hormone-producing or hormone-responsive cells
  • Alter hormone synthesis
  • Alter hormone transport across cell membranes

 

The authors of the new paper said a review of the mechanistic data showed that glyphosate met all of the key characteristics with the exception of two:  “Regarding glyphosate, there is no evidence associated with the antagonistic capacity of hormonal receptors,” they said. As well, “there is no evidence of its impact on hormonal metabolism or clearance,” according to the authors.

Research over the last few decades has largely focused on links found between glyphosate and cancer, particularly non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL.) In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as a probable human carcinogen.

More than 100,000 people have sued Monsanto in the United States alleging exposure to the company’s glyphosate-based herbicides caused them or their loved ones to develop NHL.

The plaintiffs in the nationwide litigation also claim Monsanto has long sought to hide the risks of its herbicides. Monsanto lost three out of three trials and its German owner Bayer AG has spent the last year and a half trying to settle the litigation out of court.

The authors of the new paper took note of the ubiquitous nature of glyphosate, saying “massive use” of the chemical has “led to a wide environmental diffusion,” including rising exposures tied to human consumption of the weed killer through food.

The researchers said that though regulators say the levels of glyphosate residue commonly found in foods are low enough to be safe, they “cannot rule out” a “potential risk” to people consuming foods containing contaminated with the chemical,  particularly grains and other plant-based foods, which often have higher levels than milk, meat or fish products.

U.S. government documents show glyphosate residues have been detected in a range of foods, including organic honey, and granola and crackers.

Canadian government researchers have also reported glyphosate residues in foods. One report issued in 2019 by scientists from Canada’s Agri-Food Laboratories at the Alberta Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry found glyphosate in 197 of 200 samples of honey they examined.

Despite the concerns about glyphosate impacts on human health, including through dietary exposure, U.S. regulators have steadfastly defended the safety of the chemical. The Environmental Protection Agency maintains that it has not found ”any human health risks from exposure to glyphosate.”

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

Tell Biden: Prove You’re Not Toxic Like Trump! Drop McCabe!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2020-11-18 09:45
Category: Environment & ClimateArea: USA

Donald Trump had to withdraw scientist Michael Dourson’s Environmental Protection Agency nomination. A hired-gun for Monsanto, Dow and DuPont, there were even Republican Senators who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for him. 

So, why is Michael McCabe on President-elect Joe Biden’s EPA transition team, when he, like Dourson, helped DuPont avoid responsibility for poisoning America’s water with its Teflon toxins?

TAKE ACTION: Tell Joe Biden: Prove You’re Not Toxic Like Trump! Drop Michael McCabe from Your EPA Transition Team!Read more

Take Action: 

Validity of Key Studies on Origin of Coronavirus in Doubt; Science Journals Investigating

Organic consumers - Thu, 2020-11-12 16:27
November 9, 2020U.S. Right to KnowCarey GillamCOVID-19, COVID-19 Origins, Others on COVID-19 lab-_1200x630.png

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, scientists have searched for clues about what led to the emergence of its causative agent, the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Uncovering the source of SARS-CoV-2 could be crucial for preventing future outbreaks.

A series of four high profile studies published earlier this year provided scientific credence to the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 originated in bats and then jumped to humans through a type of anteater called a pangolin —among the world’s most trafficked wild animals. While that specific theory involving pangolins has been largely discounted, the four studies known as the “pangolin papers” continue to provide support for the notion that coronaviruses closely related to SARS-CoV-2 circulate in the wild, meaning the SARS-CoV-2 that caused COVID-19 probably comes from a wild animal source. 

The focus on a wild animal source, the “zoonotic” theory, has become a critical element in global discussion about the virus, directing public attention away from the possibility that the virus may have originated inside a Chinese governmental laboratory – the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

U.S. Right to Know (USRTK) has learned, however, that two of the four papers that make up the foundation for the zoonotic theory appear to be flawed, and that the editors at the journals in which the papers were published – PLoS Pathogens and Nature – are investigating the core data behind the studies and how the data was analyzed. The other two similarly appear to suffer flaws.

The problems with the research papers raise “serious questions and concerns” about the validity of the zoonotic theory overall, according to Dr. Sainath Suryanarayanan, a biologist and sociologist of science, and USRTK staff scientist.  The studies lack sufficiently reliable data, independently verifiable data sets and a transparent peer review and editorial process, according to Dr. Suryanarayanan. 

Chinese governmental authorities first promoted the idea that the source of the causal agent for COVID-19 in humans came from a wild animal in December. Chinese government-supported scientists then backed that theory in four separate studies submitted to the journals between February 7 and 18.

The World Health Organization’s China Joint Mission Team investigating the emergence and spread of COVID-19 in China stated in February : “Since the COVID-19 virus has a genome identity of 96% to a bat SARS-like coronavirus and 86%-92% to a pangolin SARS-like coronavirus, an animal source for COVID-19 is highly likely.” 

The Chinese-initiated focus on a wild animal source helped chill calls for an investigation into the Wuhan Institute of Virology, where animal coronaviruses have long been stored and genetically manipulated. Instead, resources and efforts of the international scientific and policymaking community have been funneled toward understanding the factors shaping contact between people and wildlife. 

The four papers in question are Liu et al., Xiao et al. , Lam et al. and Zhang et al.  The two that are currently being investigated by the journal editors are Liu et al and Xiao et al. In communications with the authors and journal editors of those two papers, USRTK has learned of serious problems with the publication of those studies, including the following:    

  • Liu et al. did not publish or share (upon being asked) raw and/or missing data that would allow experts to independently verify their genomic analyses.
  • Editors at both Nature and PLoS Pathogens, as well as Professor Stanley Perlman, the editor of Liu et al., have acknowledged in email communications that they are aware of serious issues with these papers and that the journals are investigating them. Yet, they have made no public disclosure of the potential problems with the papers.  

The silence of the journals regarding their ongoing investigations means that wider communities of scientists, policymakers and the public impacted by COVID-19 are unaware of the problems associated with the research papers, said Dr. Suryanarayanan. 

“We believe that these issues are important, since they may shape how institutions respond to a catastrophic pandemic that has radically affected lives and livelihoods worldwide,” he said.

Links to these emails can be found here: 

  • Pangolin Papers: JP Chen [Liu et al.]
  • Pangolin Papers: Xiao et al. emails
  • Pangolin Papers: Perlman emails
  • Pangolin Papers: PLoS emails
  • Pangolin Papers: Nature email 

In July 2020, U.S. Right to Know began submitting public records requests in pursuit of data from public institutions in an effort to discover what is known about the origins of the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which causes the disease Covid-19. Since the start of the outbreak in Wuhan, SARS-CoV-2 has killed over a million people, while sickening millions more in a global pandemic that continues to unfold.

On Nov. 5, U.S. Right to Know filed a lawsuit against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for violating provisions of the Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., seeks correspondence with or about organizations such as the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the Wuhan Center for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the EcoHealth Alliance, which partnered with and funded the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

U.S. Right to Know is a nonprofit investigative research group focused on promoting transparency for public health. You can support our research and reporting by donating here. 

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

Anthony Fauci: The Two Faces of America's Favorite Doctor

Organic consumers - Tue, 2020-11-10 17:03
November 10, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerCOVID-19, COVID-19 Nature and Virulence, COVID-19 Origins, OCA on COVID-19 fauci-1200x630.png

Dr. Anthony Fauci is a medical doctor who has been the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) since 1984. He’s best known in his current role as a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Americans put their faith in Fauci. His bedside manner―straightforward, modest and unassuming―made it easy to warm up to this grandfatherly nerd. Inspiring trust that he was unbiased, non-partisan and strictly scientific, he quickly became “America’s Favorite Doctor.”

With two in three Americans (68%) saying they trust him in a September 2020 poll, Fauci is still considered to be a more reliable source information than the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (67%), Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force (53%), Joe Biden (52%) and President Trump (40%).

For Democrats, especially, Fauci is a sacred cow; their reverence for him has grown to 86 percent, up from 76 percent in April. Among Republicans, though, his support has slipped to 48 percent.

No doubt, this skepticism is due to the brave work of scientist Judy Mikovits (Plague of Corruption), filmmaker Mikki Willis (Plandemic) and Dr. Joseph Mercola.

But, the ease with which Fauci manages to make Trump look bad, while seemingly taking pains not to do so, clearly adds to his charm for Democrats while arousing the suspicions of Republicans.

Really, there’s no reason why the search for the truth about the origin of COVID-19 should be a political issue.

Here are 6 reasons why we should all question our faith in Fauci.

1. Fauci militarized infectious disease research post-9/11

The 2001 anthrax attacks were the result of too much power in the hands of the U.S. biological weapons industrial complex. (See our profiles of Christian Hassell and Robert Kadlec)

Nevertheless, at NIAID post-9/11, Fauci chose to make this problem worse by directing a massive surge in biodefense research and the proliferation of high-containment (high-risk) labs.

This was hugely unpopular among scientists.

More than 750 of the 1,143 scientists then in receipt of funding from the National Institutes ofHealth (NIH)―including the president elect of the American Society for Microbiology and seven past ASM presidents―published an open letter complaining that the move threatened the very foundation of microbiology.

As “Science” reported (“Has Biodefense Gone Overboard?” March 4, 2005), Fauci was undeterred by the criticism. He boasted that without his lobbying, Congress would have given the $1.5 billion boost to NIAID’s annual budget to the Department of Homeland Security or the Pentagon. He insisted that the biodefense research spending came on top of NIAID’s existing budget rather than at the expense of other priorities.

The scientists demonstrated in their letter that Fauci’s claim was false. The number of grants to study prioritized bioweapons agents increased by 1500% (from 33 in 1996-2000 to 497 in 2001-Jan 2005), while over the same period the number of grants awarded to study non-biodefense-related model microorganisms decreased by 41% (from 490 to 289) and the number of grants to study non-biodefense-related pathogenic microorganisms decreased by 27% (from 627 to 457).

Fauci institutionalized NIAID’s shift from research on common infectious diseases to pathogens that could be used in biowarfare by securing funding for the construction of several new high-containment laboratories including four biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) labs: the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland, the NIAID Rocky Mountain laboratory in Hamilton, Montana and two National Biocontainment Laboratories at Boston University, in Boston, Massachusetts and the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas, as well as 13 BSL-3 regional biocontainment laboratories.

Thanks to Fauci, by 2015, there were 200 U.S. biolabs conducting risky research on dangerous pathogens.

2. Fauci’s biodefense investments increased the risk of a pandemic

Predictably, there have been accidents. As reported in a “USA Today” investigative series (“Inside America's secretive biolabs,” May 28, 2015):

“From 2006 through 2013, labs notified federal regulators of about 1,500 incidents with select agent pathogens and, in more than 800 cases, workers received medical treatment or evaluation, limited public data in program annual reports show. Fifteen people contracted laboratory-acquired infections and there were three unintended infections of animals, according to the reports, which do not identify labs and mostly provide aggregated counts of incidents by type. Reported incidents involve events ranging from spills to failures of personal protective equipment or mechanical systems to needle sticks and animal bites.”

To cite just one example of accidents at NIAID-funded labs, in 2009, Olaf Schneewind, who directs NIAID’s Great Lakes Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research at the University of Chicago, lost his co-principal investigatorwhen Malcolm Casadaban died from an infection with a weakened strain of plague bacteria. Two years later, in another accident in his lab, a researcher became infected with Bacillus cereus, which can cause food-borne infections. She was hospitalized; after receiving surgery and antibiotics, she was released.

With laboratory acquired infections happening at NIAID labs at a steady rate, the likelihood of a lab accident resulting in a pandemic can be predicted mathematically. Scientists Lynn C. Klotz and Edward J. Sylvester (“The Consequences of a Lab Escape of a Potential Pandemic Pathogen,” August 11, 2014) calculated the probability of one escape from 10 labs in 10 years to be “91%, almost a certainty” and the chance of one of these lab-acquired infections causing a pandemic to be as high as 27%―“a likelihood that is too dangerous to live with.”

With hundreds of labs, the risk-per-lab remains the same, but the number of accidents and their frequency grows.

3. Fauci put the world at risk of a pandemic

Fauci put the world at risk of a pandemic by funding dangerous “gain-of-function” experiments with potential pandemic pathogens, including EcoHealth Alliance’s collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). (See our profiles of Ralph Baric, Peter Daszak and Shi Zhengli.)

Fauci’s grants supported WIV’s collection of bat coronaviruses and their manipulation of these previously harmless viruses, through genetic engineering and synthetic biology, to make them transmissible and deadly to humans.

While the bats blamed for SARS-CoV-2 are 1000 miles away from the epicenter of the outbreak in Wuhan, WIV was right there, conducting risky experiments on the largest collection of SARS-like coronaviruses in the world.

4. Fauci predicted the pandemic

In January 2017, Fauci warned Trump that there would be a “surprise outbreak.”

Given what we’ve learned above about the frequency and regularity of lab accidents and the risks that Fauci knowingly created by funding dangerous research to make potential pandemic pathogens more dangerous, is it any surprise that he was able to predict COVID-19 with astonishing accuracy?

5. Fauci is hiding the truth about the lab origins of COVID-19

Fauci is actively suppressing what should be an unbiased public investigation into the origins of COVID-19 by refusing to even acknowledge the possibility of a lab origin, even though he has expert knowledge of lab accidents at high-containment facilities and has made public statements on the problem in the past.

He knows that lab accidents happen. In 2012, he wrote:

“Consider this hypothetical scenario: an important gain-of-function experiment involving a virus with serious pandemic potential is performed in a well-regulated, world-class laboratory by experienced investigators, but the information from the experiment is then used by another scientist who does not have the same training and facilities and is not subject to the same regulations. In an unlikely but conceivable turn of events, what if that scientist becomes infected with the virus, which leads to an outbreak and ultimately triggers a pandemic?”

(Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and his colleagues at Children’s Health Defense included this quote in a letter to Congress demanding an investigation into the origins of COVID-19. You can send your own letter to Congress here.)

Fauci knows, but he doesn’t care.

He told “National Geographic” that, if scientists found the coronavirus outside the lab, brought it back and then it escaped, “that means it was in the wild, to begin with. That’s why I don’t get what they’re talking about [and] why I don’t spend a lot of time going in on this circular argument.”

6. Fauci is hiding the truth about a lot of things

Suppressing science and biasing investigations is Fauci’s modus operandi. 

Currently, he is using the pandemic to push for the adoption of Gilead’s experimental Remdesivirover off-patent hydroxychloroquine.

In the past, he took an ax to Judy Mikovits’ discovery that the virus XMRV is common in people with ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome) and possibly associated with autism.

Fauci needed to cover this up because XMRV is a product of lab contamination. It may have been transmitted to humans through vaccines and it wouldn’t be the first time that vaccine production resulted in the outbreak of a new disease.

It is uncontroverted that the first reported filovirus outbreak (filoviruses include Ebola and Marburg) occurred among laboratory workers who used monkey kidney cell cultures in the production of polio vaccines.

There is also evidence that simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) was transmitted to humans, becoming human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), through polio vaccines made from chimpanzee kidneys in the Belgian Congo in the 1950s (see the work of Tom Curtis and Edward Hooper) and through Hepatitis B vaccines manufactured the same way in Liberia by the New York Blood Center and distributed in New York City in the 1970s (see the work of Leonard Horowitz and Alan Cantwell).

“There's an old saying in science: You don't publish your mistakes," one observer close to these controversies told Brad Tyer at the Houston Press (“The Man Who Knew Too Soon?” January 20, 2000).

To begin to acknowledge scientific mistakes that have caused devastating pandemics and killed millions, is just too much for establishment gate-keepers like Fauci to handle.

If these theories were proved, or even widely accepted, the public's confidence in the infallibility of science would be shattered. Fauci must fear that people would quit taking their prescriptions, getting their kids vaccinated and wearing their masks.

But this is much bigger than the legitimacy of national health policies. This is about the legitimacy of the U.S. as a nation.

How would a country like the U.S., that hasn’t even made reparations for the slavery of African Americans, the theft of land from Indigenous Nations, or civilians killed in wars to control other nation’s resources, deal with geopolitical ramifications if, as Tyer puts it:

“… a naturalized American doctor born in Poland were found to have squirted the AIDS virus, however unwittingly, into the mouths of close to a million Africans, many of them children, with nothing but the permission of a Belgian colonial government and his own place in the race to eradicate polio justifying his actions? What of the question of legal and moral responsibility toward the infected?”

Also, what of the reputations of the scientists involved?

For Fauci, whose career at the NIAID goes back to 1968 and who has directed the nation’s policies on infectious diseases as chief since 1984, these are consequences too terrifying to consider.

As Mikovits learned, no matter how divergent Fauci’s opinions are from the scientific evidence, few scientists will challenge him because to do so is career suicide for the simple fact that Fauci controls the NIAID budget—$5.89 billion this year.

As I write this, one day after an election that doesn’t look like it will be over any time soon, I realize that there may never have been a more difficult time to put aside partisan differences to demand truth and justice… but what choice do we have?

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

Read more from our Gain of Function Hall of Shame.

After the Election: Time for Radical Grassroots Action

Organic consumers - Thu, 2020-11-05 21:34
November 5, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsCOVID-19, OCA on COVID-19, Politics & Globalization planting_flowers_garden_botanical_family_1200x630.jpg

Thank God it’s over.

The 2020 U.S. presidential election provided a perfect example of contemporary political degeneration. Two highly unpopular politicians, Joe Biden and Donald Trump―both backed by wealthy corporations and billionaire donors including Silicon Valley, Wall Street, the fossil fuel industry, Big Pharma, the military industrial complex and corporate agribusiness―squared off against one another in a multi-billion billion-dollar mudslinging contest for the White House.

As the candidates traded blows on the campaign trail, the climate emergency, food and farming, institutional racism, deteriorating public health, environmental destruction, 1.6 trillion dollars in student debt, a crumbling infrastructure and how to get 30 million unemployed people back to work were barely discussed except in rhetorical soundbites depicting the other as “dangerous communist” or “Nazi-like demagogue.”  

Ignoring the issues

Exit polls showed that, along with climate change and the economy, COVID-19 and its devastating effects was uppermost in voters’ minds. Yet, in the midst of a frightening global pandemic and economic meltdown, neither candidate seemed willing to talk frankly and calmly about how the SARS-CoV-2 virus actually emerged, who is mainly suffering (the poor, the working class, people of color, small businesses and disenfranchised youth) and who is benefitting (Silicon Valley, the billionaires, Big Pharma, multinational corporations and China).

Neither mentioned the crucial difference between a so-called positive reading on an imprecise, non-diagnostic PCR lab test and an active infection or “case” of COVID-19. Neither explained to a panicky public why COVID-19 presents a 1000 to 1 more serious threat to people in nursing homes and those with serious chronic disease, than it does to children, students and people in good health.

Instead Biden and Trump attacked one another for their statements relating to travel to and from China back in the early stages of the pandemic. They argued non-stop whether this state or that state emerged from lockdown too soon or too late, or whether non-surgical cloth masks actually prevent the spread of the highly-aerosolized virus outside of hospital or nursing home settings.

Neither seemed willing to discuss the health status of our nation: the vast numbers of elderly and seriously health-impaired Americans (94% on their death certificates, according to the CDC) who were suffering from an epidemic of diet and environmental-related chronic disease and comorbidities (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, dementia and hypertension) before the highly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 virus overcame their weakened immune systems, magnified and exacerbated their pre-existing medical conditions and hospitalized or killed them.

Neither candidate seemed willing to discuss why so many Americans, according to polls, are reluctant to line up for one of Big Pharma’s experimental, genetically engineered vaccines against COVID-19―vaccines being rushed to market (“Operation Warp Speed” in Trump’s propaganda) without being properly safety-tested and with no liability whatsoever for vaccine injuries or deaths.

Ignoring the truth

Both Trump and Biden have deliberately ignored the mounting evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was engineered in a Chinese military-controlled bioweapons lab in Wuhan. That lab―a joint project of U.S. and Chinese gene-engineers and virologists hell-bent on weaponizing viruses―masquerades as biomedical vaccine research and is funded, aided and abetted by Anthony Fauci’s National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the U.S. military and Big Pharma-funded EcoHealth Alliance.

Although the release of the SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to have been accidental, rather than deliberate, it is nonetheless the deadly consequence of a decades-long biological arms race carried out by the past six U.S. administrations: Reagan, Clinton, Bush Sr., Bush Jr., Obama and now Trump.

Trump at times titillated his base by calling COVID-19 the “Chinese Flu,” but, of course, he never once admitted that the Wuhan “gain-of-function” (actually “gain-of-threat”) experimentation on bat viruses was actually funded by his administration, after three years of a “pause” on this type of reckless experimentation during the Obama administration 2014-2017.  

Neither Biden nor Trump has said a word about the fact that this insane biological arms race is still going forward, with experiments on weaponizing Anthrax and SARS CoV-2 and measles and SARS-CoV-2 in North Carolina and Pennsylvania, as well as in numerous other non-regulated, accident-prone labs across the world.

Neither stood up to the transnational cabal that first predicted and then began manipulating the COVID-19 pandemic. These would-be overlords include uber-powerful Big Tech corporations (Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon), Big Pharma, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the global public health elite led by Bill Gates, vaccine entrepreneurs, indentured politicians and scientists from across the political spectrum and a shadowy network of military contractors and bioweapons specialists, hiding behind the façade of biomedical and vaccine research.

Back to our roots

But now that this election from hell is over, perhaps we can get down to the radical origins (radix being the original Latin word for root) of our life or death dilemma.

First, we need to acknowledge that what we are facing is not just a series of minor problems that can easily be remedied by small changes to business as usual (President-elect Biden, are you listening?). We are facing a radical, multifaceted crisis―a climate emergency, a political emergency, escalating poverty, unemployment, forced migration, deteriorating human health, environmental destruction, political polarization, endless wars, reckless science and an all-out power grab by massive Big Tech companies and a global public health elite hell-bent on surveillance, censorship and total control.

COVID-19 is relevant to all of these issues because, as Robert Kennedy Jr. of Children’s Health Defense points out, the Machiavellian manipulation of the pandemic amounts to nothing less than an attempted “coup d’état by big data, by big telecom, by big tech, by the big oil and chemical companies and by the global public health cartel led by Bill Gates and the WHO that … wants to magnify and amplify its wealth and its power over our lives, over our liberties, that wants to subvert our democracies and to destroy our sovereignty and our control over our lives and our children’s health.”

We need radical change and a radical uprising, starting in our everyday lives in the 40,000 towns and cities and rural counties in the U.S. where we live and work.

This means getting involved in changing local consciousness, local politics and local policies as well as making changes on the regional, national and eventually international levels.

If we want to win people over and inspire them with hope, we need to be able to point to positive examples of regenerative food, farming and natural health practices, landscape management, resource management, renewable energy and education, in our local communities or regions that embody the principles that we’re talking about.

We’re not going to be able to inspire a critical mass of people with just stories about renewable energy or regenerative and organic farms or ranches, reforestation projects, or participatory democracy across the continent or across the world. We need to be able to point to working and replicable examples of the positive alternatives that we’re talking about in our local communities.

We need to educate and elect public officials (of whom there are 500,000+ in the U.S. alone) at the local and state, as well as the federal level, who understand regenerative principles and are willing to enact regenerative policies and practices, rather than maintaining our suicidal business as usual.

We certainly need to emphasize, over and over again, that we are facing a global state of emergency that requires a World War II-scale campaign of mobilization and cooperation.

A global awakening

The battle against severe climate change, environmental destruction, deteriorating public health, poverty, political authoritarianism and societal alienation will be fought and won based upon what we do (or don’t do) in our local communities as part of a global awakening and paradigm shift.

We must think, act and organize locally, while cultivating a global vision and global solidarity.

The time-bomb and the next pandemic that we call the future is ticking away even as we consider these matters.

It makes a great deal of difference what you and I do as individuals in our everyday lives. It makes a difference how you and I behave in the marketplace and in the realm of civil society and politics.

How we act, what we talk about to family, friends, neighbors and co-workers. How we spend our money and our precious spare time. How we raise our children. What we read and share and write as we sit in front of our computers and cell phone screens. What groups we join, support and donate money to, what politicians we lobby and vote for.

Never underestimate the power of one individual―yourself. But please understand, at the same time, that what we do as individuals will never be enough. We’ve got to get organized and we’ve got to help others, in our community, in our region, in our nation and everywhere build a powerful grassroots Regeneration Movement.

We must prepare ourselves now and get organized. Take back control over your health, your diet and your time. We have no choice but to stand up and resist the current attempt at a coup d’état by our would-be global overlords.

The time to begin this Great Uprising is now.

Ronnie Cummins is co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Regeneration International, and the author of “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Food, Farming, Climate and a Green New Deal.”

To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

CRISPR GMOs―They’re Cheap and Fast, But Are They Good?

Organic consumers - Wed, 2020-11-04 14:56
November 4, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationPat ThomasFood Safety, Genetic Engineering crisp_1200x630.png

This year’s Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to two scientists―Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer A. Doudna―“who transformed an obscure bacterial immune mechanism, commonly called CRISPR, into a tool that can simply and cheaply edit the genomes of everything from wheat to mosquitoes to humans.”

According to the Nobel Prize committee the “genetic scissors” of CRISPR “have taken the life sciences into a new epoch and, in many ways, are bringing the greatest benefit to humankind.”

But have they? Really?

There’s a concept that even most business school dropouts will understand: "Good, fast, cheap. Choose two."

In other words, if you want to produce something good and fast, it won’t come cheap; if you want it cheap and good, it won’t be fast; and if you want it cheap and fast, then it won’t be good.

Surely a panel of eminent scientists can get its head around this expression of compromise?

Fast and cheap editing of the human genome?

The choice compromise, to prioritize cheap and fast over good is, in many ways, the real story of CRISPR GMOs.

CRISPR is one of a suite of technologies used to perform a new kind of genetic engineering called gene-editing. CRISPR doesn’t actually create anything itself. Its main function is to make a cut in a strand of DNA, which is why it is referred to as “genetic scissors”. After the cut, the organism will either be left to repair itself/mutate or be given “instructions” via the insertion of other genetic material, on how to repair itself in a way that creates a unique new organism.

CRISPR has been in the background of genetic engineering since the early 2000s, but has really only come to prominence since 2012 when Charpentier and Doudna published a paper showing that more precise cuts in DNA could be made by combining a protein, Cas9, with CRISPR. Today when people refer to CRISPR it is usually shorthand for this CRISPR/Cas9 system.

A timeline of CRISPR achievements shows it’s been used experimentally to delete, insert and modify DNA in human cells and other animal cells in the lab. It’s been used to create experimental transgenic animals such as mice, rats, zebrafish, pigs and primates―again, in the lab.

Between 2014 and 2015 scientists reported that CRISPR could regenerate muscle tissue in experimental mice with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and cure a rare liver disease, also in experimental mice.

It has also been investigated as a way of growing human compatible organs in genetically modified host animals, e.g. pigs. Biotech companies are also experimenting with CRISPR insects as a way of controlling insect-borne diseases such as malaria, transmitted by mosquitoes, and Lyme disease, transmitted by ticks.

Most of these are still aspirations rather than realities and, in the interim, multiple problems with the technology have also surfaced.

A 2017 study caused a furore when it claimed that CRISPR caused huge numbers of off-target effects in gene-edited animals. That study was eventually retracted and a second report, which showed that the human immune system resisted changes induced by CRISPR/Cas9, was shrugged off by biotech scientists as a solvable problem.

But, in June 2018, two studies (here and here) published in “Nature Medicine” demonstrated that cells altered with CRISPR may be missing key anti-cancer mechanisms, increasing the risk that those cells will initiate tumors. This finding was harder to dismiss and what’s more it wasn’t new.

Speaking in an interview in "Scientific American”, Emma Haapaniemi, the lead author of one of the studies noted that this cancer-seeding effect can be missed in the (usually cheap and fast) small-scale studies where scientists only focus on editing one gene in one cell type. Crucially, she said that “other teams have noticed the effect” but had chosen not to talk about it.

By December 2018, a Chinese scientist He Jiankui had announced, on YouTube, that he had made the first CRISPR-edited babies―twin girls named Lulu and Nana. The purpose of his experiment was to see if he could stop the twins contracting HIV.

The announcement brought into laser focus both scientific and ethical problems that surround the dash towards gene editing human beings. CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna admitted to being “horrified.” Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, called the experiment “profoundly disturbing.”

Others criticized the laboratory process used by He as rushed and sloppy. There were concerns that ethical consent had not been sought, that the write up of the experiment was not peer reviewed and had been conducted in secrecy and in contravention of 2017 guidance issued by an international panel of scientists led by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

By January 2020, a Chinese court had sentenced He to three years in prison for “illegal medical practice.” Shorter sentences were handed down to two of his assistants.

More recently an editorial in “Nature” took the gloves off, publishing a study which showed that CRISPR editing of human embroys “wreaks chromosomal mayhem”.

Problems in animals too

As we reported earlier this year, similar problems have been seen in CRISPR-edited farm animals.

Much of the current research and development is focused on health problems in livestock raised in intensive, industrial systems. Thus, genome editing has been proposed as a way to protect farm animals from disease by raising their immune response to diseases like Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS) and African Swine Fever (ASFv) in pigs and Infectious Salmon Anemia (ISA, or “salmon flu”) in farmed salmon.

Researchers are also looking to create animals with desirable commercial attributes, such as the ability to produce more muscle mass (meat) while consuming less feed.

They are also trying to engineer animals to withstand environmental stressors, such as cattle with “slick” coats that protect them from extreme heat.

The health and welfare issues being addressed with CRISPR experiments are real; but most of them are also manmade—a consequence of the crowded factory farm conditions in which the animals are raised and the spread of industrial livestock operations into geographical areas (e.g. tropical climates) not well suited to this kind of farming.

Results thus far have not been encouraging. A “Wall Street Journal” investigation reported multiple unintended effects including enlarged tongues in rabbits and extra vertebrae in pigs bred to be extra meaty.

Ever optimistic, proponents claimed that CRISPR will eventually produce animals that have smaller environmental footprints and encourage better welfare. Soon, they said, farmers will no longer have to dehorn cattle or cull male chickens.

CRISPR has yet to achieve this but another type of “genetic scissor”, TALENS was used to produce the first hornless cows. Biotech company Recombinetics proclaimed its 2018 experiment with gene edited hornless cattle in Brazil a roaring success, crowing that their GMO dairy cows were 100% bovine.

That claim was fairly swiftly upended when researchers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) studied the gene-edited cows more thoroughly only to find that the genome of one of the experimental animals contained a sequence of bacterial DNA

Genetically, the gene-edited cow was part cow/part bacteria. The import of this is not clear but, in theory, this gene―which also carried an antibiotic resistance trait―could be taken up by any of the billions of bacteria in a cow’s gut or body and spread from there to beyond the farm.

Criticism from the scientific community suggested the whole process had been rushed and sloppy.

On publication of the FDA data in the journal “Nature,” Brazil abandoned its plans to grow its herd of hornless GMO dairy cattle.

Heather Lombardi, division director of animal bioengineering and cellular therapies at the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine suggested that the Agency remained cautious:

“There’s a lot out there that I think is still unknown in terms of unintended consequences associated with using genome-editing technology. We’re just trying to get an understanding of what the potential impact is, if any, on safety.”

This kind of genetic mix-up proved to be all too common. Researchers working with experimental gene-edited mice have found bovine, goat and bacterial DNA in the genomes of the mice―contamination sneaks into the genome from the standard culture medium for mouse cells.

An agricultural revolution?

A 2020 review in “Nature” proclaimed a brave new world in crop biotechnology:

“CRISPR technology, which is widely used for plant genome editing, will accelerate the breeding of food crops beyond what was imaginable before its development.”

But it’s worth emphasizing that CRISPR is not “widely used” in agriculture, that development of CRISPR and other gene-edited crops has been slow and fraught with problems. Except in very limited circumstances, we are not eating these new GMOs―although U.S. Government regulators have done their level best to remove any barriers to market, including largely deregulating products of CRISPR.

In 2016, for example, a CRISPR gene-edited non-browning mushroom got the green light from the United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS). The mushroom, however, has still not been put on the market.

Nor have the CRISPR-edited corn, soybeans, tomatoes, pennycress and camelina that USDA-APHIS have granted regulatory waivers to.

Although the endless PR noise around CRISPR says that it brings consumer benefits, we should also be clear that consumers don’t benefit from non-browning food. Browning is a sign that fresh food has begun to spoil. By covering up the browning process retailers and restaurants can sell food that is past its best and consumers will never know.

The same question of benefit hangs over the head of the Calyno, a soya oil which, in 2019, became the first gene-edited oil to make it onto the market in the U.S.

Like those hornless cattle, Calyno is gene-edited using TALENS, not CRISPR, to produce a “heart-healthy” oil with no trans fats and less saturated fat.

Calyno oil isn’t for sale in supermarkets yet, though Minneapolis-based manufacturer Calytx has recently began direct-to-consumer sales via its website. Instead, it has made its way to fast food restaurants, mostly in the Midwest.

Calyxt says the oil can be used for salad dressings and sauces, but its most likely destination is the fryer. The manufacturer boasts that its oil has a 3-fold greater fry life compared to conventional soybean oil. In other words, you can keep frying food in the same quantity of Calnyo for even longer than other oils.

In what way is this better for humankind?

Deficits and dark sides

Here’s the problem: although gene-editing with CRISPR has long promised limitless benefits for humankind, we’re not eating it, we’re not growing it and we’re not taking medicines made from it or undergoing medical procedures that involve its use.

The public is not clamoring for gene edited crops or foods, whatever their promised benefits. In fact public views on GMOs food continue to span from skeptical to outright hostile. A recent global survey by Lloyd’s Register Foundation, which sought the views of 150,000 people in 142 countries, found that 48% of people believed GM foods were more likely to bring harm rather than benefit over the next 20 years.

Interestingly this report frames GMOs as a controversial technology in the same vein as nuclear power and artificial intelligence and suggests GM concerns can’t be resolved until wider food system concerns such as rising levels of contaminated food―once again a problem of the industrial system―are resolved.

CRISPR has undoubtedly benefited the scientific community, making research and experiments in manipulating life faster and cheaper to perform. It’s so fast and so cheap, in fact, that do-it-yourself CRISPR kits, which can be used at home, can now be purchased on the internet.

As a result, biohacking has now become a real concern; so much so that in 2019 California introduced a law―the first in the U.S.―to try and curb it.

A significant proportion of gene editing research focuses on eliminating genetic diseases and this is a worthy goal. But with tools like CRISPR, it’s also possible to create weapons of mass destruction. As a result, in 2016, James Clapper, then (now former) U.S. Director of National Intelligence, identified CRISPR as a threat to national security.

Calling CRISPR out as a potential WMD may have surprised some. But, in addition to assisting in the creation of funky pink pineapples, it can also help make killer mosquitos or plant pathogens that wipe out staple crops across wide swathes of land or airborne organisms capable of altering human DNA in vivo.

It can be used to alter a pathogen’s DNA to make it more virulent and more contagious (essentially the same gain-of-function research implicated in making the coronavirus more virulent).

Commenting on the report, Daniel Gerstein, a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and a former undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Defense, noted:

“Biotechnology, more than any other domain, has great potential for human good, but also has the possibility to be misused. We are worried about people developing some sort of pathogen with robust capabilities, but we are also concerned about the chance of misutilization. We could have an accident occur with gene editing that is catastrophic, since the genome is the very essence of life.”

So the question for the eminent scientists on the Nobel Prize panel remains―on what basis was this award made? And in what concrete way has CRISPR really benefited the whole of humankind?

CRISPR may be cheap. It may be fast. But, as yet, there’s nothing unequivocal to suggest it’s good.

Pat Thomas is a journalist, author and campaigner specializing in food, environment and health. See more on her website.

Patrick Kerrigan is OCA’s Retail and Organic Standards Coordinator

To keep up with Organic Consumers Association (OCA) news and alerts, sign up for our newsletter.

Source Author 2: Patrick Kerrigan

Doesn't Everyone Deserve Organic?

Organic consumers - Tue, 2020-11-03 23:36
October 29, 2020Real Organic ProjectDave ChapmanAll About Organics real-organic-symposium-1200x630.png

I got an article this week. It appeared in Civil Eats, and it had quotations from Linley Dixon, Kathleen Merrigan, and others about COVID, farm scale, and feeding people. It raised very important questions.

This is important, coming from a major player in the American organic trade. Kathleen Merrigan helped to write the Organic Food Production Act, the 1990 law that gave the USDA the responsibility of managing the organic seal.  Kathleen served as Deputy Secretary of Agriculture for four years. In 2010 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. There is a reasonable chance she would have been appointed Secretary of Agriculture by Hillary Clinton. Kathleen is a serious player in the world of organic. Her words are not casual and they have a big impact.  I am bothered by what she said. 

First of all, most of the world IS fed by small farms. Yes, five acres and smaller. According to the FAO (where Kathleen has served in a leadership role), over 70% of the people in the world are fed by such farms. So her statement that small farms won’t feed many people is simply incorrect. And those farms mostly aren't "idyllic." They are places where people work remarkably hard to make a living feeding others.

Michael Pollan appeared on stage with Kathleen Merrigan in 2013 at UC Berkley. He said the following:

“We are addicted to cheap food.And the pressures to make food as cheap as possible are just fierce in this country. And that is the reason that we exploit farmworkers and that is the reason that meat animals are treated the way they are treated, and down the line. And we have done an amazing job in this country since the 70’s of driving down the cost of food, to the point where our economy depends on it. It’s really baked in. And it makes it very hard to advance a reform agenda that would inevitably, as it should, raise the price of food.Food is not cheap. It’s dishonestly priced because it assumes undocumented workers being exploited, and it assumes animal abuse. I mean down the line.”

Secondly, Kathleen's question,“Shouldn’t organic be something people of all incomes can avail themselves of?”

This is a huge question, but it can be so misleading. It is like saying, “Shouldn’t all people be free?”  The answer is always yes.

People of all incomes SHOULD be able to eat organic food.

But higher-priced organic food isn’t the cause of poverty.

As Michael Pollan said at that same Berkley event with Kathleen:

“So how do we move toward the true cost of food without disadvantaging the poor and destabilizing the economy?I think all these moves have to be coupled with efforts to make it easier for people to afford food. So you improve the minimum wage on farms. You have a minimum wage on farms. And you, at the same time, increase the minimum wage across the country.We have to give people the money to pay the true cost of food.”

Kathleen’s words disturbingly echo the motto of the hydroponic lobbying group calling themselves the Coalition For Sustainable Organic. They are not about sustainable organic. They were created to get hydroponics accepted by the National Organic Program. Their name, like their motto, like their mission, is meant to mislead. The first motto on their website was “Everyone Deserves Organic.”  Lovely. Who can possibly disagree with that? But the implication is that if you disagree with certifying hydroponic as organic (because, after all, hydro costs less), then you must favor limiting organic food to only the wealthy elite. Raising livestock in confinement also costs less. So by implication, pasture-raised meat, milk, and eggs are also only for the wealthy elite.  Never mind that some 40 million Americans buy at least some organic food. Are they all "elites"? I am sure that many of those people have enough money that they don't need to be worried about how to pay the food bill. I am sure some of them are on a tight budget. I am also sure there are millions more who would like to buy organic food, but can’t afford it. I know many people in that situation.

The biggest flaw in this logic is the belief that certifying hydro berries or CAFO animals as organic somehow makes them organic. Or that certifying a boatload of chemical grain from Uzbekistan or Bolivia somehow makes it organic. These are examples of labeling fraud, and should not be confused with changing the reality of what people eat.  Indeed, that fraud is undermining the organic label, making real organic less available to everyone. As the Real Organic Symposium speaker Vandana Shiva said in our interview: ”Industrially, globally traded food and hyper-processed food is VERY costly in terms of the burden on the earth. It’s very costly in terms of the social burden of displacing farmers and exploiting workers. And it’s very very costly in terms of the harm to our health. So if you take all those costs together, it is definitely not cheap. And cheap food in a costly system is a lie. That's why, for me, true organic, real organic, is truthful agriculture.”

The core issue we have always fought is around fraud, not scale. There are large farms that are honest and that do a good job of organic farming. And there are large farms that are not honest and that do not do a good job of organic farming.The problem is that the large fraudsters run the town. The sheriff works for them. The mayor works for them. Where are the Magnificent Seven when we need them?

This campaign of “Everyone Deserves Organic” was particularly frustrating because it was designed to make a small group of business owners even richer than they already were.It was designed for maximum profit, not for maximum high-quality food availability to low-income people.

Jesse Buie said in our symposium interview, “The profit motive won out.These decisions (in the USDA) were strictly based on the profit motive, not on quality of the product...It was strictly profit. It was all about money. The interesting thing is organic production in the grocery store costs more than conventional. And the consumer is willing to pay that because they understand that organic is different from conventional, and therefore there is a price to go with that.I think that part of the market is working fine. It is the political part of the market that is not. That’s where the problem is.”

Another person interviewed for the upcoming symposium is Dartmouth history professor Annelise Orleck. Annelise explained to me that the large berry companies like Driscoll’s that have led the charge for “hydroponic-called-organic” have been the focus of major strikes by their own workers. In the US, berry pickers are now getting $8 to $9 an hour, and at some US farms (after a bitter battle) they have gotten the right to unionize.In Mexico, the berry pickers get $11 a DAY. And that is AFTER the successful strike that lifted their wages up from $6 a day.

Does that make you hungry for those berries on your breakfast?  Who will protect those workers if we don’t?

Have any of you done much hard labor for $11 a day lately?

And so those large “efficient” farms are providing us with “affordable certified organic”  hydroponic berries. While their workers can barely afford food, let alone certified organic food. One of their demands in Mexico is for free water to drink. And according to Dr. Orleck, 25% of the food sold in America is sold at Walmart, a chain famous for paying it’s employees so poorly they need to be on food stamps. 

So the workers who grow the food can’t afford it, and the workers who sell the food can’t afford it.

Somehow large-scale efficiency hasn't helped these people.

Oh yes, and the many small farmers who are offering a real alternative to all that large-scale aren’t exactly raking it in either.

Are we are seriously having a conversation about organic food being for the elites? 

There are two huge problems we face. 

First, food is underpriced. That is because we don’t pay the REAL costs in terms of poor health (caused by poor food), underpaid workers, poorly treated and abused animals, environmental degradation, and climate change. That is not even counting the costs of climate refugees and political unrest that we must ALL pay for in the future, thanks in part to those big “efficient” farms.

Secondly, the poverty in our world is caused by the unequal and unjust distribution of wealth rather than by inefficient or greedy farmers. The astonishing inequity in our economic system is the reason that people can’t afford good food.

Kathleen Merrigan is quoted at the end of the article saying,“I believe the vast majority of organic producers are following the rules and want stricter rules because that gives them the market differentiation, which gives them the higher premiums.”

That is spot on. In our symposium interview with Kate Mendenhall, Executive Director of the Organic Farmers Association, she said that America’s organic farmers agree on the problems they face.

Kathleen is right that the “vast majority of organic producers are following the rules.” So please, please, help us! Fight for real integrity and transparency in the label. That means facing the failures, not hiding them. We will be facing these failures and finding solutions in the upcoming Real Organic Symposium. Please join us in January!

Dave P.S. Please forward this email to your friends.

Dave Chapman runs Long Wind Farm in Vermont and is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Real Organic Project.

Will Wearing a Mask Protect You Against Coronavirus?

Organic consumers - Thu, 2020-10-29 21:15
October 29, 2020Mercola.comDr. Joseph MercolaCOVID-19, Mercola on COVID-19Read More

COVID19 — Time to Tell The Truth

Organic consumers - Wed, 2020-10-28 15:47
October 28, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerCOVID-19, COVID-19 Origins, OCA on COVID-19, Genetic Engineering, Health Issues cov_1200x630.png

The Organic Consumers Association has fought the use of genetic engineering in food production since our founding in 1998.

But, in recent years, experiments in genetic engineering have spread to other areas, specifically medical research and warfare—and this too has serious implications for our health and wellbeing.

As co-founder Ronnie Cummins explained in his discussion with biological warfare epidemiologist Dr. Meryl Nass (watch the video here), as an anti-genetic-engineering campaigner whose work predated Monsanto’s launch of GMOs for agriculture, the first concern about this technology was that recombinant DNA experiments “might accidentally create a dangerous new pathogen.”

Is this what caused the COVID-19 pandemic?

In her conversation with Ronnie, Dr. Nass articulated why she felt this must be investigated. Nass is one of the medical doctors who’s joined a movement of scientists, lawyers and policy experts who agree that:

“the growing controversy over whether the SARs-CoV-2 virus arose out of gain-of-function experiments that escaped from a biodefense/biomedical lab in Wuhan, China, or whether the virus arose ‘naturally’ from animal-to-human transmission, is an important and crucial topic for debate and resolution.”

OCA has been at the forefront of questioning the origins of the virus and exposing the risky gain-of-function research that we believe has led to its emergence. For some time we’ve been a lone voice, but now the need to know is gaining real momentum as others join the call for greater transparency.

At the end of September, the Lancet Covid-19 Commission issued a statement saying it was “extremely important that the research into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 should proceed … in a scientific and objective way that is unhindered by geopolitical agendas and misinformation.”

But then it announcement that EcoHealth Alliance president Peter Daszak—a man who has gone on record saying that the idea that SARS-CoV-2 came from a lab is “preposterous,” “baseless,” “crackpot,” “conspiracy theories” and “pure baloney”—had been chosen to lead the Task Force that will examine the possibility of a laboratory lead.

It’s not good enough.

This week, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and his colleagues at Children’s Health Defense sent a letter to key members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives  demanding a Congressional investigation into the origins of COVID-19. With 52 citations to scientific articles, the letter explains:

“COVID-19 first broke out in the city of Wuhan, in the shadow of the world’s leading coronavirus research lab, but the communist Chinese government originally labeled a neighboring wet market as the point of origin of the virus. Investigations have shown that the virus started in the province as early as November 17th and that the market was only an early super spreader event. The Huanan market in Wuhan is very far from the Yunnan province caves where similar coronaviruses were found but it is only a few miles from the Wuhan Institute of Virology which was performing coronavirus research on SARS-like viruses.”

If you agree that Congress must solve this mystery, you can take action here.

If you don’t want to wait until Congress acts, you can support U.S. Right to Know’s investigation. A team led by staff scientist Sainath Suryanarayanan is submitting public records requests of public institutions in an effort to discover what is known about the origins of the novel coronavirus. USRTK says it is:

“concerned that data that is crucial to public health policy about the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and the hazards of biosafety laboratories and gain-of-function research, may be hidden within biodefense networks of the national security apparatuses of the United States, China and elsewhere.”

We believe there is strength in numbers and that with every group or individual who demands the truth we get closer to finding it.

GET THE FACTS: What we know about the origins of COVID-19

TAKE ACTION Sign the Petition to Stop the Genetic Engineering of Viruses! Shut Down All Biowarfare Labs Now!

SUPPORT OUR WORK: Donate to help support our ongoing investigations into the origins of COVID-19

Alexis Baden-Mayer is OCA’s political director.

To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

An International Message of Hope for Humanity From RFK, Jr.

Organic consumers - Wed, 2020-10-28 15:36
October 27, 2020Children's Health DefensePolitics & Globalization rfkmessage_1200x630.png

The only way we can win the battle is with democracy.

This past weekend, Children’s Health Defense’s (CHD) board chair Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. sent a message to the people around the world who realize they are watching their freedoms be taken away one after the other. Spoken in solidarity with citizens who participated in rallies in at least 15 countries to protest the global movement towards totalitarianism, Kennedy not only provided hope to freedom advocates, but also asked some critical questions relevant to the COVID crisis.

Chief among those questions is: What are the origins of COVID? This very basic question on something that has taken lives around the globe — including deaths from despair — and destroyed countless businesses is not being asked of government officials in any country on the planet. This is why Kennedy and CHD President Lyn Redwood have asked leaders in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to launch a thorough investigation of COVID’s origins.

If you haven’t already asked your own congressional representatives and senators to get behind this crucial effort, you can do so here. If you live outside the U.S., you can read the letter and adapt it for your own country’s leaders and officials. No issue is more urgent, and the time to act is now.

Video of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: Int&#039;l. Message for Freedom and Hope

Here’s the transcript from Kennedy’s International Message of Hope for Humanity:

Hey everybody it’s Robert F Kennedy, Jr. here and I cannot tell you how happy I am to be able to have this opportunity to talk to thousands of citizens in 15 countries on all the continents in the world who have come together today to protest this coup d’état by big data, by big telecom, by big tech, by the big oil and chemical companies and by the global public health cartel led by Bill Gates and the WHO that  now amounts to two trillion dollars and wants to magnify and amplify its wealth and its power over our lives, over our liberties, that wants to subvert our democracies and want to destroy our sovereignty and our control over our lives and our children’s health.

I want to remind you, those of you who are not Americans, of something that every American child learns when we’re growing up in this country about our history. During the great depression Franklin Roosevelt, who was one of the greatest presidents in American history, said to the American people, “The only thing that we have to fear is fear itself.” We grow up hearing that but people don’t really understand what it means, but it was a very, very profound warning by Roosevelt because he saw what the great depression was doing in eastern Europe and Italy in Germany and Spain. Where that crisis was turning people towards fascism in the eastern countries. Where the same crisis was turning citizens and governments towards communism and also causing the collapse of governments all over the world, And in our country — in the United States — it’s hard for people to remember today that almost a third of the people in our country were completely disillusioned with capitalism and wanted to turn to communism and another third wanted to turn to fascism. And Franklin Roosevelt wanted to preserve our country for democracy… for free market capitalism, for civil rights and to preserve our constitution. He recognized that the weapon of authoritarian control was going to be fear.

And when I spoke a few weeks ago in Berlin, I reminded the people of Germany of a very famous story that happened during the Nuremberg trials after World War II when Hitler’s closest Lieutenant, the head of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering was asked by one of the prosecutors: “How did you get the German people — the German people, the most educated people in the world that were some of the most tolerant people in the world; the Weimar republic was one of the strongest democracies in the world — “how did you take these people who were so well educated and so awakened and so tolerant and turn them into obedient slaves who committed some of the worst atrocities in human history?” Goering said “Oh that’s a simple thing…” and any of you can look up his quote and I urge you to do so, and he said, and it works not just a fascist government but it works in a democracy, in a monarchy, in a communist government — in any government that you want the job of the government is to put the people in fear and if you can keep them in fear you can get them to do anything that you want them to do. They will turn into sheep.

There’s a famous book by Naomi Klein that all of us should read called, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. That book shows a historical chronology of all of the times during American history and the history of the world — during the great depression, during the financial collapse in 2008, during the financial collapse in Chile for example in 1973, during the time of the World Trade Center bombing — that authoritarian elements in a society, and large corporations, and wealthy plutocrats and oligarchs, wealthy families and individuals use crises to shift wealth upward to obliterate the middle classes of those countries and to clamp down totalitarian controls. And of course, it’s an obvious thing that people who are used to voting for their governments are not going to vote for policies that make the rich people richer, that give corporations even more power over their lives, that reduce democracy and reduce civil rights. These are not good vessels for populism. In order to transform the government so that it will reward the rich with even more wealth, the people who want to do that in the large corporations — who want to orchestrate that kind of change — have to get rid of civil rights. And the first civil right that they begin with is freedom of speech.

They need to clamp down censorship because censorship is the most important right in our country. We put it number one — the first amendment of the Constitution — because all the other rights depend on it. If a government can hide what it’s doing it can get away with anything it wants. If a corporation can lie to you and conceal information, if there’s no transparency in a democracy, you do not have a democracy. So, if you want to get rid of all the other rights like freedom of assembly — which you are exercising today, some of you are exercising at great threats. Some of you will suffer. Some of you will be jailed. Some of you will suffer injuries. But that is a basic right: the right to freedom of expression, the right to jury trial, the right to freedom of religion, the right to privacy, the right to have governments that don’t spy on you and keep your information. All of those other rights can only be subverted if they begin by imposing censorship — by being able to silence people who want to speak. So the coup d’état that we are all fighting today is a coup d’état that starts with a conspiracy between the government agencies and the big technology companies, the Silicon Valley billionaires — people like Zuckerberg and Bill Gates and the people who run Google and Facebook and Pinterest and all of these other Silicon Valley corporations who are now in this conspiracy to make sure that we cannot talk about our grievances. We cannot say bad things about pharmaceutical products, we cannot question government policies that make no sense to us.

And I’m going to say a few things about some of those government policies. Number one: I am not a conspiracy theorist. I follow the facts. I don’t know that the COVID illness was laboratory generated in Wuhan. There is plenty of evidence that it was. But not enough evidence for me to say that it’s a fact. But my question is: why don’t we know the answer to that? Why is Tony Fauci not being asked that question? Why is President Trump not launching an investigation? Or President Xi Jinping or the presidents of any of these countries? Saying, “Where did this come from?” Because we need to know that. The global citizens, this is the worst calamity in history. And nobody seems curious about where this actually comes from? We know it didn’t come from a bat in the wet market in Wuhan. That story was a fable that it now has no basis in fact. And we have Nobel laureates and we have large institutions and investigative agencies and prosecutorial agencies are saying “We think it came from the Wuhan lab and we think that it may have come from studies that were funded by Bill Gates and Tony Fauci. I don’t know if this is true. But why are our government officials not asking that as the number one question? Why instead of sending their police to suppress dissent are they not sending the police to question people who may know the answer to that question.

There are many other questions that I’d like to know the answer. Questions about masks. I’m very willing to accept if the masks work. Then I want to wear them. If they’re going to protect other people from transmissibility then want to wear them. But the studies that I’ve seen indicate that they do not work against viral transmission for the most part. There are some that say they may work under limited circumstances. What I don’t want to be told is: they work and you’re going to wear them and you better not ask questions about it. Most Americans, and most of the people on this planet — we want leadership we don’t want bullying. And we know the difference between bullying and leadership. We want to know the truth about hydroxychloroquine. We want to know why are we spending 18 billion dollars on vaccines and only 1.4 billion on therapeutic drugs. What is the sense of that? There are many, many other questions that we, in a democracy, have a right to have answered without being called conspiracy theorists. Without being vilified as being “inconsiderate” or being “bad citizens.” Everybody who’s part of these demonstrations are people who are striving with their lives to become good citizens.

Now let me tell you what we need to do to win this battle. The only way we can win it is with democracy. We need to fight to get our democracy back, to reclaim our democracy from these villains who are stealing it from us. You notice the people who are getting richest from this quarantine are the same people who are censoring criticism of the quarantine. Who is becoming the richest? Jeffrey Bezos. 83 billion dollars he’s made. And he owns Amazon and he is censoring books that criticize the quarantine.  Zuckerberg who owns Facebook, who’s made tens of billions of dollars by this quarantine. And he is censoring information that is critical of the quarantine. He censors my Instagram. He censors my Facebook. My Twitter page is also censored. And all of these people are the people who are making billions of dollars on the quarantine. And what I want to know is a simple question: Is the quarantine actually effective? You know we’ve had plenty of pandemics in the past. In 1969, we had a Hong Kong flu pandemic that killed 100,000 people in the United States. It’s the equivalent of 200,000 people today. That’s the same number of people being killed by coronavirus. Did we go on to lock down? No. Did we wear masks? No. We went to Woodstock. We went to the Democratic Convention in Chicago and had huge crowds of people. Nobody was told to lock down and don’t see your girlfriend and wear a mask and don’t go out of your house and shut down your business and bankrupt every business in the country.

Last year there were 1.6 million people in the world who died from tuberculosis. We have 1.6 million people die every year from tuberculosis. We’re not wearing masks. We’re not on lockdown. What’s the difference between tuberculosis and coronavirus? Tuberculosis has a vaccine. And the vaccine costs about three dollars. And that’s why we’re not on lockdown. Because nobody is making thirty-nine dollars a vaccine or three hundred dollars a vaccine the way that Moderna and AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson are making from this catastrophe. And that is the only reason that I can think of. And I’m happy if somebody tells me there’s another reason. But let’s hear it. Don’t just shut me up. Don’t just tell me that I can’t debate.

Here’s what we need to do: we need to do exactly what you’re doing today. We need to come out on the street and we need to stick together. What the Big Tech villains and scoundrels and Mark Zuckerberg and Jeffrey Bezos and Bill Gates and Tony Fauci want you to do is, they want us fighting with each other. They want blacks fighting against whites. They want republicans fighting against democrats. They want everybody polarized, they want everybody fragmented because they know that if we all get together, we’re going to start asking questions and those are questions that they can’t answer. “Why are you getting rich?” And “Why are we all getting poor?” And “What’s the difference between tuberculosis and coronavirus?” And “Why are we not wearing masks for the tuberculosis but we are for the coronavirus?” And “Where did it all come from?” And all of those questions that we deserve an answer to that we’re not getting answers. We need to stick together.

If you’re a republican or democrat stop talking about that. Stop identifying yourself. The enemy is Big Tech, Big Data, Big Oil, Big Pharma, the medical cartel, the government totalitarian elements that are trying to oppress us, that are trying to rob us of our liberties, of our democracy, of our freedom of thought, of our freedom of expression, of our freedom of assembly and all of the freedoms that give dignity to humanity. And the last thing that all of us need to do is we need to stay educated and informed.

And one of the things that I want to announce to you today is that Children’s Health Defense — my organization, with the help of many of you who are in these crowds — is launching a journal, a daily journal, and we are going to weaponize information for you. We’re going to tell you what the newest science is. We’re going to take all the information that is censored everywhere else and we’re going to reprint it in our publication, and you can get that every day. So, if you see something that is censored we want to hear about it because we want to put it up. We are going to be the enemies of censorship. We are going to be the refuge. And we’re going to allow debate. We’re going to make sure it’s civil debate. We’re going to encourage people to be non-partisan. But we’re going to allow people to come and have different opinions than us. We are not scared of debate the way pharmaceutical companies and Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg and Jeffrey Bezos and Tony Fauci are terrified of debate. We welcome debate. We want to hear if you’ve got a different opinion than me, I want to hear about it and I want to see your science. And I want the public to hear us talking about it and debating about it because the free-flow of information, the cauldron of debate, is the only thing that allows governments to develop rational policies in which self-governance will actually work and triumph.

You are on the front lines of the most important battle in history and it is the battle to save democracy, and freedom, and human liberty, and human dignity from this totalitarian cartel that is trying to rob us simultaneously, in every nation in the world, of the rights that every human being is born with. So, thank you for your courage, thank you for your commitment, and thank you for your brotherhood. And I can pledge to you: I will go down dying with my boots on fighting side-by-side with all of you to make sure that we return these rights and preserve them for our children. I will see all of you on the barricades.

Thank you.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children's Health Defense.

Published with permission of Children’s Health Defense

One Empire Over Seed: Control Over the World's Seed Banks

Organic consumers - Tue, 2020-10-27 20:44
October 27, 2020NavdanyaDr. Vandana ShivaGenetic Engineering 1empireoverseed.1200x630.jpg Since the onset of the Neolithic Revolution some 10.000 years ago, farmers and communities have worked to improve yield, taste, nutritional and other qualities of seeds. They have expanded and passed on knowledge about health impacts and healing properties of plants as well as about the peculiar growing habits of plants and interaction with other plants and animals, soil and water. The free exchange of seed among farmers has been the basis to maintaining biodiversity and food security. A great seed and biodiversity piracy is underway, not just by corporations — which through mergers are becoming fewer and larger— but also by super rich billionaires whose wealth and power open doors to their every whim. Leading the way is Microsoft mogul, Bill Gates. When the Green Revolution was brought into India and Mexico, farmers’ seeds were “rounded-up” from their fields and locked in international institutions, to be used to breed green revolution varieties engineered to respond to chemical inputs.1 The International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT), were the first to roundup the diversity from farmers’ fields and replace it with chemical monocultures of rice, wheat, and corn. Others quickly followed. This hijacking of farmers’ seeds is best highlighted with the shameful removal of India’s pre-eminent rice research scientist Dr. R.H. Richaria, as the head of India’s Central Rice Research Institute (CRRI) in Cuttack, Orissa, which housed the largest collection of rice diversity in the world, for refusing to allow the IRRI in the Philippines to pirate the collection out of India. With his removal at the behest of the World Bank, Indian peasant intellectual property was hijacked to the IRRI in the Philippines which later became part of the newly created Consultative Group of International Agriculture Research (CGIAR).2 Farmers’ seed heritage was held in the private seed banks of CGIAR, a consortium of 15 international agricultural research centers, controlled by the World Bank, the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, as well as of course the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), which since 2003, has poured more than $720 million into the CGIAR centres. CGIAR gene banks presently manage 768,576 accessions of farmer’ seeds. Taken together, CGIAR gene banks represent the largest and most widely used collections of crop diversity in the world.3 

Source: https://www.cgiar.org/funding-and-finance-highlights-from-2017/ 

 The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation operates a bit like the World Bank, using its financial power and prowess to take control of agriculture and influence government and institutional agricultural policies. By far the largest funder of the CGIAR, Gates has successfully accelerated the transfer of research and seeds from scientific research institutions to commodity-based corporations, centralizing and facilitating the pirating of intellectual property and seed monopolies through intellectual property laws and seed regulations.  The urgency with which this restructuring of CGIAR and centralization of control is being done is reflected in the IPES Food open letter of 21 July 2020 as follows: “The process now underway to reform the CGIAR is therefore imperative and of major public interest. The ‘One CGIAR’ process seeks to merge the CGIAR’s 15 legally independent but cooperating centres, headquartered in 15 countries, into one legal entity. The impetus has come from some of its biggest funders, notably the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Bank, and the US and UK governments.”4 The aim of “One CGIAR”, overseen by “One CGIAR Common Board’ is to merge it to become part of “One Agriculture”, aka “Gates Ag One” – Gates’ latest move in controlling the world’s seed supply.5 Gates has indicated he will more than double the CGIAR present budget, from $850 million to $2 billion a year. Despite the long-recognized failure of the Green Revolution in India and Mexico, in 2006 Gates launched AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa. The folly of imposing this failed technology in Africa is well documented in the two following articles by Nicoletta Dentico and Tim Wise. The Seed Freedom movement has been calling for the CGIAR gene banks to return these stolen farmers varieties back to the farmers. The lessons of the Green Revolution since the 1960’s have shown us that the chemical path of monocultures has undermined Earth’s capacity to support life and food production by destroying biodiversity, soil and water6, 7 as well as contributing to climate change.8 It has dispossessed small farmers through debt for external inputs. And it has undermined food and nutritional security.9 The experience of the last half century has made clear that Seed Sovereignty, Food Sovereignty and Knowledge Sovereignty is the only viable future of food and farming.  Besides taking control of the seeds of farmers in the CGIAR seed banks, Gates (along with the Rockefeller Foundation) is investing heavily in collecting seeds from across the world and storing them in the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in the Arctic archipelago – aka the Doomsday Vault - created to collect and hold a global collection of the world’s seeds. It is in association with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the Crop Trust.10  The Crop Trust, based in Germany, funds and coordinates the Svalbard Seed Vault. In addition to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, its funders include the Poison Cartel adherents CropLife Dupont/ Pioneer Hi-bred, KWS SAAT AG, and Syngent AG. The largest numbers of accessions stored in the Seed Vault are varieties of rice, wheat, and barley crops; more than 150,000 samples of wheat and rice, and close to 80,000 samples of Barley. Other well represented crops are sorghum, phaseolus bean species, maize, cowpea, soybean, kikuyu grass and chickpea. Crops such as potatoes, peanuts, cajanus beans, oats and rye, alfalfa, the cereal hybrid Triticosecale and Brassica’s are represented by between 10,000 and 20,000 seed samples.11 

CROP TRUST DONORS

DONORS

RECEIVED US$

Australia

20,165,706

Bundesverband Deutscher Planzenzuechter

25,735

CropLife International

43,726

Czech Republic

40,000

Dupont/ Pioneer  Hi-bred

2,000,000

Egypt

25,000

Ethiopia

25,000

Gates Foundation/UN Foundation

8,003,118

Germany

50,726,348

India

456,391

International Seed Federation

80,785

Ireland

4,144,250

KWS SAAT AG

35,589

Norway

31,491,161

Netherlands

489,000

New Zealand

1,453,800

Republic of Korea

442,556

Slovak Republic

20,000

Spain

2,629,650

Sweden

11,886,620

Switzerland

10,992,704

Syngenta AG

1,000,000

United Kingdom

19,468,582

United States – before Farm Bill

42,825,073

United States – US Farm Bill*

11,585,120

Sub Total

220,055,915

 

 

Concessional Loan **

59,055,611

Sub Total

59,055,611

Grand Total

279,105,526

Source: ‘Our Donors’. Crop Trust, https://www.croptrust.org/about-us/donors/.

 It should come as no surprise that Gates is also funding Diversity Seek (DivSeek), a global project launched in 2015 to map the genetic data of the peasant diversity of seeds held in gene banks to then take patents on these seeds through genomic mapping.12 Seven million crop accessions are in public seed banks.   Biopiracy is carried out through the convergence of information technology and biotechnology where patents are taken on seeds through “mapping” their genomes and genome sequences. While living seed needs to evolve “in situ”, patents on seed genomes can be taken from seed “ex situ. DivSeek is designed to “mine” and extract the data in the seed to “censor” out the commons. In effect it robs the peasants of their seeds and knowledge, it robs the seed of its integrity and diversity, it erases evolutionary history and the seed’s link to the soil, reducing it to a simple “code”. This ‘genetic colonialism’ is an enclosure of the genetic commons.13 The participating institutions in DivSeek are the CGIAR nodes and ‘public’ universities like Cornell and Iowa State, which are being increasingly privatized by the biotechnology industry as well as the Gates Foundation. BMGF funds Cornell’s Alliance for Science, the corporate worlds’ pseudo-science propaganda outlet while Iowa State is the institution promoting the unethical human feeding trials of GMO bananas. Other Gates-funded DivSeek partners are the African Agricultural Technology Foundation and Africa-Brazil Agricultural Innovation Marketplace developed by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa).14 Through a new ‘front’ corporation, Editas Medicine,15 BMGF is investing in a one-year-old experimental genetic engineering tool for gene editing, CRISPR-Cas9. Though the technology itself is immature and inaccurate, it has become a gold rush for new patents. The language of “gene editing” and “educated guesses” is creeping into scientific discourse. Piracy of common genomic data of millions of plants bred by peasants is termed “big data”. Big data however is not knowledge, it is not even information. It is ‘privateered’ data, pirated and privatised. Seeds are not just germplasm. They are living, self-organizing entities, subjects of evolution, history, culture, and relationships. In the 1980s, Monsanto led the push for GMOs and patents on seed and life. Today the flag bearer is Bill Gates. In a nutshell: one billionaire given free access to use his wealth to bypass all international treaties and multilateral governance structures to help global corporations highjack the biodiversity and wealth of peasants by financing unscientific and undemocratic processes such as DivSeek, and to unleash untested technologies such as the CRISPR technology on humanity. Over the last two decades, thousands of concerned citizens and organizations have taken action and written laws to protect the biodiversity of the planet and the rights of farmers to seed, and the rights of consumers to safety, among them, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); the Cartagena Biosafety Protocol to the CBD; and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources Treaty for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA). This article is extracted from Navdanya International Global Citizens' Report "Gates to a Global Empire", which was presented on October 14th, 2020, through an online event with the authors. The report gathers evidence and throws light on the dangers of philanthrocapitalism, which is boosting the corporate takeover of our seed, agriculture, food, knowledge and global health systems, manipulating information and eroding our democracies. Contributors to the Seed and Biopiracy sections  outline how Bill Gates and his foundation routinely undermine international treaties created to protect biodiversity, farmers rights, and the sovereignty of countries and communities of their seed and biodiversity wealth. 

Navdanya Seed Diversity

 

1 Shiva, V. (1991). The Violence of the Green Revolution: Third World Agriculture, Ecology, and Politics. Other India Press. https://books.google.it/books?id=jPNRPgAACAAJ 

2 Alvares, Claude. “The Great Gene Robbery.” Vijayvaani.Com, January 13, 2012. https://www.vijayvaani.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?aid=2137

3 “CGIAR Genebank Platform.” CGIAR. https://www.cgiar.org/the-genebank-platform/  

4 IPES food. “OPEN LETTER | ‘One CGIAR’ with Two Tiers of Influence?”, July 21, 2020. http://www.ipes-food.org/pages/OneGGIAR

5 Shiva, V., Anilkumar, P., & Ahluwalia, U. (2020). Ag one: Recolonisation of agriculture. Navdanya/RFSTE. https://navdanyainternational.org/publications/ag-one-recolonisation-of-agriculture/

6 IPBES. “UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating.’” UN | Sustainable Development, May 6, 2019. https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/blog/2019/05/nature-decline-unprecedented-report

7 FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. “The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture 2019,” 2019. http://www.fao.org/state-of-biodiversity-for-food-agriculture/en

8 “Land Is a Critical Resource, IPCC Report Says”. IPCC, August 8, 2019. https://www.ipcc.ch/2019/08/08/land-is-a-critical-resource_srccl/

9 El Hage Scialabba, Nadia. “Feeding the Word: Delusion, False Promises and Attacks of Industrial Agriculture.” Navdanya International, December 7, 2019. https://navdanyainternational.org/publications/feeding-the-word-delusion-false-promises-and-attacks-of-industrial-agriculture/

10 “India Deposit to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.” Crop Trust, May 15, 2014. https://www.croptrust.org/blog/india-deposit-svalbard-global-seed-vault/

11 Mooney, Chris. “Why the World Is Storing so Many Seeds in a ‘Doomsday’ Vault.” Washington Post, April 15, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/04/15/why-the-world-is-spending-half-a-billion-dollars-to-protect-humble-seeds/

12 “Two contributions to an integrated, global, accession-level information system for ex situ conservation” | Input Paper to the ITPGRFA Consultation on the Global Information System on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (COGIS-PGRFA) Provided by: The Global Crop Diversity Trust. January 2015. IT/COGIS-1/15/Inf.4.a5. http://www.fao.org/3/a-be678e.pdf

13 “‘DivSeek Initiative’ Loses Support of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.” International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC), February 28, 2017. https://www.foodsovereignty.org/divseek-initiative-loses-support-international-treaty-plant-genetic-resources-food-agriculture/

14 Shiva, V., & Shiva, K. (2020). Oneness Vs. The 1 Percent: Shattering Illusions, Seeding Freedom. CHELSEA GREEN PUB. https://books.google.it/books?id=4TmTzQEACAAJ

15 Herper, Matthew. “Bill Gates And 13 Other Investors Pour $120 Million Into Revolutionary Gene-Editing Startup.” Forbes, August 10, 2015. Accessed September 8, 2020. https://www.forbes.com/sites/matthewherper/2015/08/10/bill-gates-and-13-other-investors-pour-120-million-into-revolutionary-gene-editing-startup/

Chlorpyrifos: Common Pesticide Tied To Brain Damage in Children

Organic consumers - Mon, 2020-10-26 16:25
October 22, 2020U.S. Right to KnowStacy MalkanFood Safety, Genetic Engineering clstrawb_1200x630.png

Chlorpyrifos, a widely used pesticide, is strongly linked to brain damage in children. These and other health concerns have led several countries and some U.S. states to ban chlorpyrifos, but the chemical is still allowed on food crops in the U.S. after successful lobbying by its manufacturer.

Chlorpyrifos in food  

Chlorpyrifos insecticides were introduced by Dow Chemical in 1965 and have been used widely in agricultural settings. Commonly known as the active ingredient in the brand names Dursban and Lorsban, chlorpyrifos is an organophosphate insecticide, acaricide and miticide used primarily to control foliage and soil-borne insect pests on a variety of food and feed crops. Products come in liquid form as well as granules, powders, and water-soluble packets, and may be applied by either ground or aerial equipment.

Chlorpyrifos is used on a wide variety of crops including apples, oranges, strawberries, corn, wheat, citrus and other foods families and their children eat daily. USDA’s Pesticide Data Program found chlorpyrifos residue on citrus and melons even after being washed and peeled. By volume, chlorpyrifos is most used on corn and soybeans, with over a million pounds applied annually to each crop. The chemical is not allowed on organic crops.

Non-agricultural uses include golf courses, turf, green houses, and utilities.

Human health concerns

The American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents more than 66,000 pediatricians and pediatric surgeons, has warned that continued use of chlorpyrifos puts developing fetuses, infants, children and pregnant women at great risk.

Scientists have found that prenatal exposures to chlorpyrifos are associated with lower birth weight, reduced IQ, the loss of working memory, attention disorders, and delayed motor development. Key studies are listed below.

Chlorpyrifos is also linked to acute pesticide poisoning and can cause convulsions, respiratory paralysis, and sometimes, death.

FDA says food and drinking water exposures unsafe

Chlorpyrifos is so toxic that the European Food Safety Authority banned sales of the chemical as of January 2020, finding that there is no safe exposure level. Some U.S. states have also banned chlorpyrifos from farming use, including California and Hawaii.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reached agreement with Dow Chemical in 2000 to phase out all residential uses of chlorpyrifos because of scientific research showing the chemical is dangerous to the developing brains of babies and young children. It was banned from use around schools in 2012.

In October 2015, the EPA said it planned to revoke all food residue tolerances for chlorpyrifos, meaning it would no longer be legal to use it in agriculture. The agency said “expected residues of chlorpyrifos on food crops exceed the safety standard under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.” The move came in response to a petition for a ban from the Natural Resources Defense Council and Pesticide Action Network.

In November 2016, the EPA released a revised human health risk assessment for chlorpyrifos confirming it was unsafe to allow the chemical to continue in use in agriculture.  Among other things, the EPA said all food and drinking water exposures were unsafe, especially to children 1-2 years old. The EPA said the ban would take place in 2017.

Trump EPA delays ban 

Following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States, the proposed chlorpyrifos ban was delayed. In March 2017, in one of his first formal actions as the nation’s top environmental official, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected the petition by environmental groups and said the ban on chlorpyrifos would not go forward.

The Associated Press reported in June 2017 that Pruitt had met with Dow CEO Andrew Liveris 20 days before halting the ban. Media also reported that Dow contributed $1 million to Trump’s inaugural activities.

In February of 2018, EPA reached a settlement requiring Syngenta to pay a $150,000 fine and train farmers in pesticide use after the company failed to warn workers to avoid fields where chlorpyrifos was recently sprayed and several workers who entered the fields were sickened and required medical care. The Obama EPA had initially proposed a fine nearly nine times larger.

In February 2020, after pressure from consumer, medical, scientific groups and in face of growing calls for bans around the world, Corteva AgriScience (formerly DowDuPont) said it would phase out production of chlorpyrifos, but the chemical remains legal for other companies to make and sell.

According to an analysis published in July 2020, U.S. regulators relied on falsified data provided by Dow Chemical to allow unsafe levels of chlorpyrifos into American homes for years. The analysis from University of Washington researchers said the inaccurate findings were the result of a chlorpyrifos dosing study done in the early 1970s for Dow.

In September 2020 the EPA issued its third risk assessment on chlorpyrifos, saying “despite several years of study, peer review, and public process, the science addressingneurodevelopmental effects remains unresolved,” and it still could be used in food production.

The decision came after multiple meetings between the EPA and Corteva.

Groups and states sue EPA 

Following the Trump administration’s decision to delay any ban until at least 2022, Pesticide Action Network and Natural Resources Defense Council filed suit against the EPA in April 2017, seeking to force the government to follow through with the Obama administration’s recommendations to ban chlorpyrifos. In August 2018, a federal appeals court found that the EPA broke the law by continuing to allow use of chlorpyrifos, and ordered EPA to finalize its proposed ban within two months. After more delays, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced in July 2019 that EPA would not ban the chemical.

Several states have sued the EPA over its failure to ban chlorpyrifos, including California, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, Vermont and Oregon. The states argue in court documents that chlorpyrifos should be banned in food production due to the dangers associated with it.

Earthjustice has also filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court seeking a nationwide ban on behalf of groups advocating for environmentalists, farmworkers and people with learning disabilities.

Medical and scientific studies

Developmental neurotoxicity

“The epidemiological studies reviewed herein have reported statistically significant correlations between prenatal exposures to CPF [chlorpyrifos] and postnatal neurological complications, particularly cognitive deficits that are also associated with disruption of the structural integrity of the brain…. Various preclinical research groups throughout the world have consistently demonstrated that CPF is a developmental neurotoxicant. The developmental CPF neurotoxicity, which is well supported by studies using different animal models, routes of exposure, vehicles, and testing methods, is generally characterized by cognitive deficits and disruption of the structural integrity of the brain.” Developmental neurotoxicity of the organophosphorus insecticide chlorpyrifos: from clinical findings to preclinical models and potential mechanisms. Journal of Neurochemistry, 2017.

“Since 2006, epidemiological studies have documented six additional developmental neurotoxicants—manganese, fluoride, chlorpyrifos, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, tetrachloroethylene, and the polybrominated diphenyl ethers.” Neurobehavioural effects of developmental toxicity. Lancet Neurology, 2014.

Childrens’ IQ & cognitive development

Longitudinal birth cohort study of inner-city mothers and children found that “higher prenatal CPF [chlorpyrifos] exposure, as measured in umbilical cord blood plasma, was associated with decreases in cognitive functioning on two different WISC-IV indices, in a sample of urban minority children at 7 years of age…the Working Memory Index was the most strongly associated with CPF exposure in this population.” Seven-Year Neurodevelopmental Scores and Prenatal Exposure to Chlorpyrifos, a Common Agricultural Pesticide. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011.

Birth cohort study of predominantly Latino farmworker families in California associated a metabolite of organophosphate pesticides found in the urine in pregnant women with poorer scores in their children for memory, processing speed, verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning and IQ.  “Our findings suggest that prenatal exposure to OP [organophosphate] pesticides, as measured by urinary DAP [dialkyl phosphate] metabolites in women during pregnancy, is associated with poorer cognitive abilities in children at 7 years of age. Children in the highest quintile of maternal DAP concentrations had an average deficit of 7.0 IQ points compared with those in the lowest quintile. Associations were linear, and we observed no threshold.” Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphate Pesticides and IQ in 7-Year-Old Children.Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011.

Prospective cohort study of women and their children findings “suggest that prenatal exposure to organophosphates is negatively associated with cognitive development, particularly perceptual reasoning, with evidence of effects beginning at 12 months and continuing through early childhood.” Prenatal Exposure to Organophosphates, Paraoxonase 1, and Cognitive Development in Childhood. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2011.

Prospective cohort study of an inner-city population found that children with high levels of exposure to chlorpyrifos “scored, on average, 6.5 points lower on the Bayley Psychomotor Development Index and 3.3 points lower on the Bayley Mental Development Index at 3 years of age compared with those with lower levels of exposure. Children exposed to higher, compared with lower, chlorpyrifos levels were also significantly more likely to experience Psychomotor Development Index and Mental Development Index delays, attention problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder problems, and pervasive developmental disorder problems at 3 years of age.” Impact of Prenatal Chlorpyrifos Exposure on Neurodevelopment in the First 3 Years of Life Among Inner-City Children. Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 2006.

Longitudinal birth cohort study in an agricultural region of California extends “previous findings of associations between PON1 genotype and enzyme levels and certain domains of neurodevelopment through early school age, presenting new evidence that adverse associations between DAP [dialkyl phosphate]levels and IQ may be strongest in children of mothers with the lowest levels of PON1 enzyme.” Organophosphate pesticide exposure, PON1, and neurodevelopment in school-age children from the CHAMACOS study.  Environmental Research, 2014.

Autism and other neurodevelopmental disorders

Population based case-control study found that, “Prenatal or infant exposure to a priori selected pesticides—including glyphosate, chlorpyrifos, diazinon, and permethrin—were associated with increased odds of developing autism spectrum disorder.” Prenatal and infant exposure to ambient pesticides and autism spectrum disorder in children: population based case-control study. BMJ, 2019.

Population-based case-control study “observed positive associations between ASD [autism spectrum disorders] and prenatal residential proximity to organophosphate pesticides in the second (for chlorpyrifos) and third trimesters (organophosphates overall)”. Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Prenatal Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides: The CHARGE Study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2014.

See also: Tipping the Balance of Autism Risk: Potential Mechanisms Linking Pesticides and Autism. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2012.

Brain anomalies

“Our findings indicate that prenatal CPF [chlorpyrifos] exposure, at levels observed with routine (nonoccupational) use and below the threshold for any signs of acute exposure, has a measureable effect on brain structure in a sample of 40 children 5.9–11.2 y of age. We found significant abnormalities in morphological measures of the cerebral surface associated with higher prenatal CPF exposure….Regional enlargements of the cerebral surface predominated and were located in the superior temporal, posterior middle temporal, and inferior postcentral gyri bilaterally, and in the superior frontal gyrus, gyrus rectus, cuneus, and precuneus along the mesial wall of the right hemisphere”. Brain anomalies in children exposed prenatally to a common organophosphate pesticide.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2012.

Fetal growth

This study “saw a highly significant inverse association between umbilical cord chlorpyrifos levels and both birth weight and birth length among infants in the current cohort born prior to U.S. EPA regulatory actions to phase out residential uses of the insecticide.” Biomarkers in assessing residential insecticide exposures during pregnancy and effects on fetal growth. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 2005.

Prospective, multiethnic cohort study found that “when the level of maternal PON1 activity was taken into account, maternal levels of chlorpyrifos above the limit of detection coupled with low maternal PON1 activity were associated with a significant but small reduction in head circumference. In addition, maternal PON1 levels alone, but not PON1 genetic polymorphisms, were associated with reduced head size. Because small head size has been found to be predictive of subsequent cognitive ability, these data suggest that chlorpyrifos may have a detrimental effect on fetal neurodevelopment among mothers who exhibit low PON1 activity.” In Utero Pesticide Exposure, Maternal Paraoxonase Activity, and Head Circumference.  Environmental Health Perspectives, 2003.

Prospective cohort study of minority mothers and their newborns “confirm our earlier findings of an inverse association between chlorpyrifos levels in umbilical cord plasma and birth weight and length…Further, a dose-response relationship was additionally seen in the present study. Specifically, the association between cord plasma chlorpyrifos and reduced birth weight and length was found principally among newborns with the highest 25% of exposure levels.” Prenatal Insecticide Exposures and Birth Weight and Length among an Urban Minority Cohort. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2004.

Lung Cancer  

In an evaluation of over 54,000 pesticide applicators in the Agricultural Health Study, scientists at the National Cancer Institute reported that the incidence of lung cancer was associated with chlorpyrifos exposure. “In this analysis of cancer incidence among chlorpyrifos-exposed licensed pesticide applicators in North Carolina and Iowa, we found a statistically significant trend of increasing risk of lung cancer, but not of any other cancer examined, with increasing chlorpyrifos exposure.” Cancer Incidence Among Pesticide Applicators Exposed to Chlorpyrifos in the Agricultural Health Study. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2004.

Parkinson’s Disease 

Case-control study of people living in California’s Central Valley reported that ambient exposure to 36 commonly used organophosphate pesticides separately increased the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. The study “adds strong evidence” that organophosphate pesticides are “implicated” in the etiology of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease. The association between ambient exposure to organophosphates and Parkinson’s disease risk. Occupational & Environmental Medicine, 2014.

Birth outcomes

Multiethnic parent cohort of pregnant women and newborns found that chlorpyrifos “was associated with decreased birth weight and birth length overall (p = 0.01 and p = 0.003, respectively) and with lower birth weight among African Americans (p = 0.04) and reduced birth length in Dominicans (p < 0.001)”. Effects of Transplacental Exposure to Environmental Pollutants on Birth Outcomes in a Multiethnic Population. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2003.

Neuroendocrine disruption

“Through the analysis of complex sex-dimorphic behavioral patterns we show that neurotoxic and endocrine disrupting activities of CPF [chlorpyrifos] overlap. This widely diffused organophosphorus pesticide might thus be considered as a neuroendocrine disruptor possibly representing a risk factor for sex-biased neurodevelopmental disorders in children.” Sex dimorphic behaviors as markers of neuroendocrine disruption by environmental chemicals: The case of chlorpyrifos. NeuroToxicology, 2012.

Tremor

“The present findings show that children with high prenatal exposure to chlorpyrifos were significantly more likely to show mild or mild to moderate tremor in one or both arms when assessed between the ages of 9 and 13.9 years of age….Taken together, growing evidence suggests that prenatal exposure to CPF [chlorpyrifos], at current standard usage levels, is associated with a range of persistent and inter-related developmental problems.” Prenatal exposure to the organophosphate pesticide chlorpyrifos and childhood tremor. NeuroToxicology, 2015.

Cost of chlorpyrifos

Cost estimates of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the European Union found that “Organophosphate exposures were associated with 13.0 million (sensitivity analysis, 4.24 million to 17.1 million) lost IQ points and 59 300 (sensitivity analysis, 16 500 to 84 400) cases of intellectual disability, at costs of €146 billion (sensitivity analysis, €46.8 billion to €194 billion).” Neurobehavioral Deficits, Diseases, and Associated Costs of Exposure to Endocrine-Disrupting Chemicals in the European Union. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 2015.

Thyroid in mice

“The present study showed that exposure of CD1 mice, during critical windows of prenatal and postnatal development, at CPF [chlorpyrifos] dose levels below those inhibiting brain AchE, can induce alterations in thyroid.” Developmental Exposure to Chlorpyrifos Induces Alterations in Thyroid and Thyroid Hormone Levels Without Other Toxicity Signs in Cd1 Mice.  Toxicological Sciences, 2009.

Problems with industry studies

“In March 1972, Frederick Coulston and colleagues at the Albany Medical College reported results of an intentional chlorpyrifos dosing study to the study’s sponsor, Dow Chemical Company. Their report concluded that 0.03 mg/kg-day was the chronic no-observed-adverse-effect-level (NOAEL) for chlorpyrifos in humans. We demonstrate here that a proper analysis by the original statistical method should have found a lower NOAEL (0.014 mg/kg-day), and that use of statistical methods first available in 1982 would have shown that even the lowest dose in the study had a significant treatment effect. The original analysis, conducted by Dow-employed statisticians, did not undergo formal peer review; nevertheless, EPA cited the Coulston study as credible research and kept its reported NOAEL as a point of departure for risk assessments throughout much of the 1980′s and 1990′s. During that period, EPA allowed chlorpyrifos to be registered for multiple residential uses that were later cancelled to reduce potential health impacts to children and infants. Had appropriate analyses been employed in the evaluation of this study, it is likely that many of those registered uses of chlorpyrifos would not have been authorized by EPA. This work demonstrates that reliance by pesticide regulators on research results that have not been properly peer-reviewed may needlessly endanger the public.” Flawed analysis of an intentional human dosing study and its impact on chlorpyrifos risk assessments. Environment International, 2020.

  • U.S. regulators relied for years on flawed pesticide data provided by Dow Chemical (U.S. Right to Know)

 

“In our review of raw data on a prominent pesticide, chlorpyrifos, and a related compound, discrepancies were discovered between the actual observations and the conclusions drawn by the test laboratory in the report submitted for authorization of the pesticide.” Safety of Safety Evaluation of Pesticides: developmental neurotoxicity of chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl. Environmental Health, 2018.

Other fact sheets

Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center: A controversial insecticide and its effect on brain development: Research and resources

Harvard University: The Most Widely Used Pesticide, One Year Later

Earthjustice: Chlorpyrifos: The toxic pesticide harming our children and environment

Sierra Club: Kids and Chlorpyrifos

Journalism and Opinion

Trump’s Legacy: Damaged Brains, by Nicholas Kristof, New York Times. “The pesticide, which belongs to a class of chemicals developed as a nerve gas made by Nazi Germany, is now found in food, air and drinking water. Human and animal studies show that it damages the brain and reduces I.Q.s while causing tremors among children.”

Protect Our Children’s Brains, by Sharon Lerner, New York Times. “The widespread use of chlorpyrifos does point to the fact that it’s not the kind of chemical that harms everyone who comes in contact with it — or causes them to drop dead on impact. Instead, the research shows increases in the risk of suffering from certain developmental problems that, while less dramatic, are also, alarmingly, enduring.”

Poison Fruit: Dow Chemical Wants Farmers to Keep Using a Pesticide Linked to Autism and ADHD, by Sharon Lerner, The Intercept. “Dow, the giant chemical company that patented chlorpyrifos and still makes most of the products containing it, has consistently disputed the mounting scientific evidence that its blockbuster chemical harms children. But the government report made it clear that the EPA now accepts the independent science showing that the pesticide used to grow so much of our food is unsafe.”

When enough data are not enough to enact policy: The failure to ban chlorpyrifos, by Leonardo Trasande, PLOS Biology. “Scientists have a responsibility to speak up when policymakers fail to accept scientific data. They need to emphatically declare the implications of policy failures, even if some of the scientific underpinnings remain uncertain.”

How Has This Pesticide Not Been Banned? by the editorial board of The New York Times. “The pesticide known as chlorpyrifos is both clearly dangerous and in very wide use. It is known to pass easily from mother to fetus and has been linked to a wide range of serious medical problems, including impaired development, Parkinson’s disease and some forms of cancer. That’s not entirely surprising. The chemical was originally developed by Nazis during World War II for use as a nerve gas. Here’s what is surprising: Tons of the pesticide are still being sprayed across millions of acres of United States farmland every year, nearly five years after the Environmental Protection Agency determined that it should be banned.”

This pesticide is closely related to nerve agents used in World War II. Trump’s EPA doesn’t care, by Joseph G. Allen, Washington Post. “What we know about chlorpyrifos is alarming. Perhaps the most well-known study is one done by researchers at Columbia University who performed brain imaging on young kids with high exposure to chlorpyrifos. The results are shocking and unambiguous. In the words of the researchers: “This study reports significant associations of prenatal exposure to a widely used environmental neurotoxicant, at standard use levels, with structural changes in the developing human brain.”

A Strong Case Against a Pesticide Does Not Faze E.P.A. Under Trump, by Roni Caryn Robin, New York Times. “An updated human health risk assessment compiled by the E.P.A. in November found that health problems were occurring at lower levels of exposure than had previously been believed harmful. Infants, children, young girls and women are exposed to dangerous levels of chlorpyrifos through diet alone, the agency said. Children are exposed to levels up to 140 times the safety limit.”

Babies Are Larger After Ban On 2 Pesticides, Study Finds, by Richard Pérez-Peña, New York Times. “Pregnant women in upper Manhattan who were heavily exposed to two common insecticides had smaller babies than their neighbors, but recent restrictions on the two substances quickly lowered exposure and increased babies’ size, according to a study being published today.”

Poisons Are Us, by Timothy Egan, New York Times. “When you bite into a piece of fruit, it should be a mindless pleasure. Sure, that steroidal-looking strawberry with a toothpaste-white interior doesn’t seem right to begin with. But you shouldn’t have to think about childhood brain development when layering it over your cereal. The Trump administration, in putting chemical industry toadies between our food and public safety, has forced a fresh appraisal of breakfast and other routines that are not supposed to be frightful.”

On your dinner plate and in your body: The most dangerous pesticide you’ve never heard of, by Staffan Dahllöf, Investigative Reporting Denmark. “The poisonous effect of chlorpyrifos on insects is not disputed. The unresolved question is to what extent the usage of chlorpyrifos is dangerous to all living organisms like fish in nearby waters or farm workers in the fields, or to anybody eating the treated products.”

Neurotoxins on your kid’s broccoli: that’s life under Trump, by Carey Gillam, The Guardian. “How much is your child’s health worth? The answer coming from the leadership of the US Environmental Protection Agency is: not that much… So here we are – with scientific concerns for the safety of our innocent and vulnerable children on one side and powerful, wealthy corporate players on the other. Our political and regulatory leaders have shown whose interests they value most.”

Common Insecticide May Harm Boys’ Brains More Than Girls, by Brett Israel, Environmental Health News. “In boys, exposure to chlorpyrifos in the womb was associated with lower scores on short-term memory tests compared with girls exposed to similar amounts.“

More science fact sheets on chemicals in our food 

Find more U.S. Right to Know fact sheets:

Aspartame: Decades of Science Point to Serious Health Risks

Glyphosate Fact Sheet: Cancer and Other Health Concerns

Dicamba Fact Sheet 

U.S. Right to Know is an investigative public health group working globally to expose corporate wrongdoing and government failures that threaten the integrity of our food system, our environment and our health.  You can donate here to our investigations and sign up for our weekly newsletter. 

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

Why We Need a Small Farm Future

Organic consumers - Mon, 2020-10-26 16:10
October 26, 2020Independent Science NewsChris SmajeAll About Organics, Environment & Climate sfarm_1200x630.png

The palm civet is a small omnivorous mammal of Indonesia and other parts of tropical Asia. Emerging from its forest home onto coffee plantations, it’s able to sense the finest coffee fruits of perfect ripeness. Eating them, it digests the pulp and excretes the beans, adding a musky scent to them from its anal glands.

In the 1990s, Indonesian kopi luwak – civet coffee, made from coffee beans that had passed through a civet’s digestive tract – became a new luxury commodity among wealthy coffee-lovers. Market dynamics being what they are, local producers cashed in on the demand by capturing and caging wild civets, force-feeding them coffee beans and selling the produce as cut-price kopi luwak. Though cheaper, the resulting coffee lacked the quality of the original conferred by the civet’s discerning nose, and came at the expense of ecological and animal welfare (1).

We live in a world of trade-offs. If you want genuine kopi luwak of good quality and low environmental impact you have to pay someone to comb through the forests looking for wild civet scat on your behalf. Humans can simulate the process and produce a similar product at lower cost, but it’s not the same.

It may sometimes be possible to find genuine trade-off free, win-win improvements. But with most things, including kopi luwak, and with agriculture in general, there are trade-offs. Improve on price and you lower animal welfare. Increase the yield and you also increase human labour, fossil fuels, or downstream pollution. And so on. Whether the cost of an improvement is worth its price is a value judgement that different people will weigh differently. But not everyone’s voice is heard, especially when the costs are offloaded onto the future.

In our bid to provide cheap food to our human multitudes, the trade-off is that a lot of people end up eating shit – figuratively and, as we’ve just seen, sometimes literally. But our culture is drawn to a narrative of constant progress – a narrative that compels us to avert our attention from this possibility raised by the economist Thomas Sowell: there are no ‘solutions,’ only trade-offs.

There are different ways of dealing with troublesome trade-offs or, in the words of futurologist Peter Frase, of ‘loving our monsters’. If human actions are driving pollinators to extinction, Frase suggests we ‘deepen our engagement with nature’ by developing robotic pseudo-bees to do the job instead. I won’t dwell here on how fanciful that is, but I will suggest a wholly different ‘monster’ we could choose to love if we so wished: an agriculture that doesn’t use poisons that kill bees, and instead favours more complex biological interventions, including more human labour. We could learn to love the immediate work in acting on the natural world as much as the mediated work of developing machines to do it. And we could also love the limits to action imposed by nature as much as we love to transcend them.

An obstacle to that kind of love is the narrative of progress I mentioned. Adopting low-tech, labour-intensive approaches to solving a problem or meeting a need, rather than high-tech, labour-substituting approaches is considered regressive, a nostalgic turning back of the clock, as if a historical ratchet prevents us from doing anything in the future that looks like things we did in the past. Actually, there is a ratchet that works like this – the capitalist political economy. The mistake we often make is to suppose that this ratchet is some implacable force of nature rather than just a particular way of organising society, itself with a history that may someday end.

These two monsters of overcoming versus restraint are becoming as significant a divide in contemporary politics as old schisms between right and left. Thomas Sowell distinguished between what he called ‘constrained’ and ‘unconstrained’ visions of human well-being, the former emphasising the optimisation of trade-offs within relatively immobile constraints, the latter emphasising perfectibility through the overcoming of constraints. The former is usually associated, like Sowell himself, with conservative thought. It encompasses a popular notion of capitalism as market exchange, the sum of innumerable transactions with no higher purpose or guiding hand emerging from the bounded rationality of people acting in their own immediate here and now. The unconstrained vision has usually been associated with the political left and its ideas of remoulding people to work collectively, achieving new goals and great things.

But these certainties are now dissolving. The neoliberal turn in global capitalism invests the hive mind of ‘the market’ itself with a kind of limit-busting, self-perfecting intelligence that brooks no opposition to any constraints human reason tries to put around it. And various strands of unconstrained leftism sign themselves up to this programme, becoming almost indistinguishable from the capitalism they supposedly reject. Witness books with titles like Fully Automated Luxury Communism or The People’s Republic of Walmart: How the World’s Biggest Corporations Are Laying the Foundation for Socialism.

In this emerging political landscape, conservatives inclined towards the constrained vision are discovering that there’s nothing especially constrained or conservative about corporate capitalism, while those on the left like me, unpersuaded by either corporate capitalism or attempts to tame it with glib left-wing versions of global industrialised plenty, are discovering a need to reappraise the idea of constraint and aspects of conservative politics informed by it. If we’re to bequeath a habitable and abundant planet to our descendants, a key part of that reappraisal involves rethinking the relevance of small farm or ‘peasant’ societies that are often dismissed for their ‘backwardness’ or buried under an unusable legacy of romanticism and nostalgia.

For these reasons, we need to consider some questions that modern political traditions have scarcely equipped us to answer with subtlety, or even to ask. What if the route out of widespread farming towards urban-industrial prosperity that today’s rich countries followed is no longer feasible for millions of poor people in ‘developing’ countries? What if that urban-industrial life in fact becomes increasingly unfeasible even in the rich countries in the face of various political, economic and ecological crises? How might the future of humanity then unfold?

The above is excerpted from Chris Smaje’s book A Small Farm Future: Making the Case for a Society Built Around Local Economies, Self-Provisioning, Agricultural Diversity, and a Shared Earth (Chelsea Green Publishing, October 2020) and is reprinted with permission from the publisher.

About the author

Chris Smaje has coworked a small farm in Somerset, southwest England, for the last fifteen years. Previously, he was a university-based social scientist, working in the Department of Sociology at the University of Surrey and the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths College on aspects of social policy, social identities and the environment. Since switching focus to the practice and politics of agroecology, he’s written for various publications such as The Land, Dark Mountain, Permaculture Magazine and Statistics Views, as well as academic journals such as Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and the Journal of Consumer Culture. Smaje writes the blog Small Farm Future and is a featured author at resilience.org.

Footnotes:

1. My thanks to Paul Hillman for drawing this example to my attention.

Reposted with permission from Independent Science News.

COVID-19 Panic Mongering―Faulty Math and Shoddy Science

Organic consumers - Wed, 2020-10-21 17:17
October 21, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsCOVID-19, COVID-19 Treatment, COVID-19 Origins, OCA on COVID-19, Health Issues ronnie-blog-corona-wave.png

With mounting evidence and increasing certainty, a growing number of independent scientists, investigators and now lawyers have begun to deconstruct and critique the “official story” on the origins, nature, dangers, prevention and treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The “official story,” dogmatically upheld by the Chinese government and military, Big Pharma, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the mass media and the tech giants is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus emerged “naturally” from nature and then inexplicably jumped the species barrier from bats into humans, precipitating the most serious and deadly epidemic since the Spanish Flu one hundred years ago, which infected one third of the world’s population at the time, and killed up to 50 million people.

According to establishment virologists and gene engineers (who get their money from military biodefense programs, government funding and Big Pharma), a relatively innocuous and heretofore non-contagious coronavirus somehow jumped “naturally” from bats into humans and then quickly mutated into a deadly killer, leaving behind no biological or epidemiological traces whatsoever of its rapid evolution.

Moreover, in a billion-to-one coincidence, this deadly viral mutation and ensuing epidemic emerged in the exact densely populated urban neighborhood (hundreds of miles from the nearest bat cave) in Wuhan, China where a series of controversial genetic engineering experiments involving the weaponization (euphemistically called “gain-of-function” experimentation) of coronaviruses were being conducted in several badly-managed, accident-prone labs.

Among the proponents of the official story are the Big Pharma-affiliated EcoHealth Alliance, as well as a secretive and little-known network of U.S. military biowarfare/biodefense funders including DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the Assistant Secretary of Preparedness and Response (ASPR) for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. 

America’s military/Pharma complex has provided major funding for the Wuhan lab, the University of North Carolina (where scientists have weaponized SARS viruses), the Fort Detrick, Maryland military chemical and biological weapons lab, as well as several hundred other biomedical/biowarfare labs across the world. Another vocal proponent of the official story is the World Health Organization, the agency that was supposedly monitoring the accident-prone Wuhan lab. WHO’s major funders include China, the U.S. government and Bill Gates, along with Big Pharma drug and vaccine manufacturers.

Because the SARS-CoV-2 virus is so infectious and dangerous, the pandemic experts tell us, there are currently no existing drugs, treatment protocols, supplements, natural herbs, dietary or natural health practices that can strengthen our natural immune systems and protect us from serious illness, hospitalization or even death from the virus.

We have no alternative, young and old, healthy or seriously health-impaired, but to wear masks constantly, wash our hands incessantly, stay six feet or more apart and shut down schools, social gatherings, churches, businesses and entire economies. We have no choice, Big Government and Big Pharma tell us, but to stay home, obey authority and wait for Big Pharma or the Chinese government to deliver a “cure,” a magic vaccine, albeit inadequately tested, rushed to market, likely genetically engineered and designed to maximize corporate profits.

Don’t worry

Don’t worry that, after decades of massively funded research, Big Pharma has never been able to develop an effective vaccine for a coronavirus. Don’t worry that a genetically engineered vaccine designed to modify (perhaps permanently) human RNA has ever been allowed on the market. Don’t worry about the safety record and reckless, liability-free practices of the Big Pharma corporations who produce vaccines (Merck, AstraZeneca, Johnson and Johnson, BioNTech, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, et al).

Don’t worry about the fact that several of these Big Pharma giants are already selling billions of dollars of COVID-19 vaccines to governments and the military in secretive, no-bid contracts, even though none of these vaccines are being properly safety-tested before being rubber-stamped as safe and effective. Don’t worry that would-be digital dictators like Bill Gates, Silicon Valley surveillance capitalists and indentured, Pharma-funded politicians are floating proposals for mandatory vaccinations, mandatory tracing, vaccine passports and elimination of basic constitutional rights.

Don’t worry that biowarfare gene-engineers and lab technicians, hiding behind the excuse of biomedicine and vaccine research, are, at this very moment, weaponizing new viruses and bacteria (including combining deadly Anthrax bacteria with SARS-CoV-2 and aerosolizing the bird flu) in basically non-regulated and accident-prone labs.

And finally, don’t worry about the financial conflicts of interest and increasing violations of free speech that the major media networks and the internet giants Facebook, Google, Amazon and their subsidiaries are carrying out, marginalizing or totally censoring alternative information about the origins, nature, prevention and treatment of COVID-19.

As an increasing number of investigators have pointed out, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which constitutes the economic elite in China, as well as the military, are hell-bent on global economic domination (as are many of their counterparts in the U.S.) and do not want the truth to come out that SARS-CoV-2 was genetically engineered (as part of a joint scientific effort by Chinese, U.S., Australian and French gene engineers and virologists).

The CCP wants to conceal the fact that the engineered SARS-CoVG-2 accidentally leaked out of one of their labs, since this would potentially expose China to economic and political blowback and trillions of dollars in economic liabilities.

Certainly the U.S. military and the CIA, along with other nations funding bioweapons experiments under the guise of biosafety or vaccine research, do not want to admit that the global biological arms race has now literally blown up in their (and our) faces. Nor does Donald Trump (or Dr. Fauci and the NIH) want the true story to come out, since the NIH-funded EcoHealth Alliance was providing money for the reckless gain-of-function research experimentation at the Wuhan lab.

But lest we blame it all on the Chinese military or Trump, we should keep in mind that this incredibly dangerous mad science, being funded right now at places like Fort Detrick, Columbia University and the University of North Carolina by the U.S. government and the military, has been going on ever since World War II. It’s been funded in turn by the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr and Obama administrations.

So it’s no wonder that the world’s elite, aided and abetted by virologists and gene engineers, Big Pharma and scientific journals such as Nature and Science do not want the truth to come out. As Antonio Regalado, the editor of the MIT Technology Review tweeted, “If it turned out COVID-19 came from a lab, it would shatter the scientific edifice top to bottom.” 

Without going into a full exposé of the lies and damn lies of the official story, beyond what we’ve already written (I’m writing a book on this right now), let’s look at several examples of the misleading math, shoddy statistics and questionable science behind the current narrative that is driving public policy and fueling public panic.

Conflating ‘cases’ with active infections

Perhaps the most obvious distortion (or alarming news, if you don’t seek out alternative information) that we hear every day is the claim that there are “increasing cases” of COVID-19 emerging in this or that city or part of the world, now even among the young. These are accompanied by ominous graphs always trending upward, with dire warnings of a “second wave” of mass hospitalizations and deaths if people don’t hunker down, obey authority and isolate themselves as thoroughly as they did in the early stages of the pandemic.

But, we need to ask ourselves, what do these experts and media outlets actually mean by an increasing number of “cases” of COVID-19? Do they mean that more people than ever are getting seriously ill and even “dying from or dying with” COVID-19? If so, why do official statistics from the CDC and other public health data bases show declining numbers of hospitalizations and death from COVID-19 across the U.S. and the world compared to earlier in the year? Or do they actually mean than more and more people, especially now young people, are being tested and ending up with so-called “positive test results?”

To be specific, aren’t these “experts” and media outlets really referring to the fact that more and more people are now being tested for live or dead fragments of RNA in their nasal passages or throats; molecular fragments, highly magnified millions of times in a lab (a PCR test) and, in fact, more highly magnified than the WHO recommends and, therefore, testing “positive?”

With this tactic, if you want to scare people more or tighten control more, all you have to do is carry out more tests, even on people who are young and healthy.

Or if, like China, you want to get on with business as usual and make it look like everything is under control, you simply stop testing people except for those exhibiting symptoms. In reality these lab tests may (or may not) indicate the presence or the former presence, of a coronavirus, though not necessarily the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, as opposed to the common cold or other coronaviruses.

Aren’t these experts and media reports assuming that these nasal or throat swab fragments that test positive in a PCR test, will inevitably overcome the natural T-cell defenses of the immune system, even among the youth and healthy, penetrate the cells of the person, multiply and then cause them to get sick with symptoms such as fever, a cough or difficulty in breathing?

Tests are useful for clinical guidance, but they are not true indicators of active or potentially active and infective “cases” of COVID-19—and conflating “test positives” with actual “cases” (i.e. active infection) is nothing less than fear-mongering.

As former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson points out in his book “Unreported Truths About COVID-19 and Lockdowns”:

“a ‘case’ of coronavirus points only to a positive test result showing someone has been infected. It does not mean that a person will become sick—much less that he or she will be hospitalized, need intensive care, or die.” (p. 20)

Utilizing imprecise PCR lab tests results on nasal and throat swabs samples as if they were true diagnostic tests and then categorizing the often false positive results of these PCR tests as COVID-19 cases, indicating active infections and sickness, is profitable for the manufacturers of PCR tests, vaccine companies, health care corporations and drives traffic and revenues to the internet giants and mass media, but it is no way presents a true picture of active infections, sickness, hospitalizations and deaths.

Class action lawsuits against fraudulent testing

In early October, an international team of class-action lawyers, led by Dr. Reiner Füllmich, announced that they will soon be filing massive lawsuits against a number of governments for utilizing imprecise, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) molecular, antigen and antibody tests—which generate huge profits for Big Pharma, vaccine and testing companies—and then knowingly using the data from these faulty tests to justify lockdowns and suspensions of basic civil liberties, resulting in massive damage to public health, businesses and citizens.

As Füllmich states, PCR tests, according to the leaflets that accompany the test kits, should not be considered true diagnostic tests for the presence of disease. PCR tests involve collecting fluid from the nose or throat of a person, placing this sample in an acidic solution that has been heated to high temperature, exposing its viral RNA and then amplifying this RNA fragment hundreds of millions of times to make the virus detectable.

But, he notes, in a statement issued on July 13, 2020 (p.38), that the CDC admits that PCR test results: (1) may not necessarily indicate the presence of an infectious virus; (2) may not prove that a SARS-CoV-2 fragment is the cause of clinical symptoms; and (3) nor can the PCR test rule out diseases caused by other bacterial or viral pathogens.

A September 20, 2020 “Open Letter from Medical Doctors and Health Professionals to All Belgian Authorities and All Belgian Media” reiterates some of the serious shortcomings of the PCR tests which are currently used to make the alarming claim that “cases” are rising across the U.S., Europe and the world:

“The use of the non-specific PCR test, which produces many false positives, showed an exponential picture. This test was rushed through with an emergency procedure and was never seriously self-tested. The creator expressly warned that this test was intended for research and not for diagnostics.

“The PCR test works with cycles of amplification of genetic material – a piece of genome is amplified each time. Any contamination (e.g. other viruses, debris from old virus genomes) can possibly result in false positives.

“The test does not measure how many viruses are present in the sample. A real viral infection means a massive presence of viruses, the so-called virus load. If someone tests positive, this does not mean that that person is actually clinically infected, is ill or is going to become ill [my emphasis].”

Since a positive PCR test does not automatically indicate active infection or infectivity, this does not justify the social measures taken, which are based solely on these tests.  

Conflating ‘dying with’ and ‘dying from’

Certainly older people (especially those 75 and older) and those with pre-existing, serious medical conditions are still getting seriously ill, with COVID-19 listed on their medical charts or death certificates along with a standard assortment of co-morbidities.

According to the CDC, 94 percent of death certificates for COVID-19 victims in the U.S. list a number of underlying health co-factors in their deaths, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, dementia and hypertension.

The truth is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not so much a deadly plague in itself, but rather a viral trigger that aggravates and magnifies pre-existing, chronic medical conditions, what pathologists call “comorbidities.” SARS-CoV-2 is indeed dangerous, as is the seasonal flu, but mainly for those of advanced age in poor health or those suffering from serious and often multiple chronic diseases.

Almost half of all deaths attributed to COVID-19 have occurred in nursing homes in the U.S. and Europe. As Berenson points out (p.25):

“Coronavirus targets people at the end of their lives… many victims had only weeks or months to live. By the time they come to nursing homes, most people are very frail. A 2010 study in the ‘Journal of the American Geriatrics Society’ found that half of all people admitted to nursing homes died within five months of admission…”

Scary numbers of deaths

It is likely that 300,000 Americans will die in 2020, a yearly average of 822 per day, with COVID-19 listed on their death certificates, along with comorbidities such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, kidney disease, cancer, dementia and hypertension.

The COVID-19 death toll sounds tragic and alarming and indeed it is, but we need to keep these statistics in perspective. Two-thirds of COVID-19’s very elderly or chronically ill victims would likely have died from their pre-existing comorbidities over the next 1-2 years, even without COVID-19 as a biological trigger. 

Of the U.S. population of 328.2 million (2019), approximately 2.81 million die every year (7,671 per day). Out of these deaths approximately 1.2 million are 80 years old or older, with an average of 3,365 deaths per day of this age group. As Berenson, again, points out:

“From a practical point of view those deaths are unpreventable. Their timing is a function of the coronavirus, but their cause is underlying conditions such as cancer or heart disease or dementia. Meanwhile children and young adults are at minimal risk from the virus.” (p.11)

On October 14, WHO admitted that the COVID-19 infection rate is much lower than expected. As Mercola.com points out:

“A review of COVID-19 studies from the World Health Organization indicates that median COVID-19 infection fatality rates are only 0.23%—much lower than initially anticipated. Early data from China suggested a 3.4% fatality rate.”

The need for ‘focused protection’

As 7,000 doctors from around the world have recently pointed out, in the Great Barrington Declaration, we need “focused protection” of the most vulnerable to COVID-19 (the very elderly and those with serious pre-existing chronic illness) rather than panic and extreme measures, including lockdowns. Schools in particular need to be reopened.

Young people are 1,000 times less vulnerable than the elderly and those with serious pre-existing medical conditions to die from COVID-19. Those truly at risk (the elderly and those with serious pre-existing medical conditions) from COVID-19 as a viral trigger need to be protected and in some cases isolated from youth and everyone who might transmit the disease.

The most vulnerable—for example elderly teachers and other frontline workers should be able to work from home, or else receive their salary and early retirement—need to be protected even more carefully than ever. But lockdowns and school closures and creating mass unemployment and despair must be avoided.

Panic and lockdowns, in most cases, are now giving rise to more sickness, poverty, starvation, suicide and collateral damage than the pandemic itself, especially among those who cannot work from home, the working class and the poor.

This is especially true in economically impoverished, food-insecure areas in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Oxfam projects that up to 12,000 people a day (4.4 million) could die over the next year unless food, jobs and income become available for the world’s poor. In a press release earlier this year, Oxfam stated:

“121 million more people could be pushed to the brink of starvation this year as a result of the social and economic fallout from the pandemic including through mass unemployment, disruption to food production and supplies and declining aid.”

The inconvenient truth about COVID-19

The primary reason why so many consumers are chronically ill and susceptible to a virus like SARS-CoV-2 is that Big Food and Big Ag in the U.S. (and across the world) basically produce—and in fact are subsidized by governments to produce—what can only be described as junk food commodities. These junk foods and beverages, which make-up 60 percent or more of the calories in the typical American diet, are highly-processed, sugar and carb-laden, laced with pesticide, antibiotic and chemical residues. In toxic combination with the typical American’s overconsumption of factory-farmed meat and animal products, U.S. junk food diets are a literal prescription for chronic disease and premature death.

While acknowledging that we have to stop the reckless military/scientific genetic engineering that brought on this pandemic and global economic meltdown, media censorship and suspension of fundamental democratic rights, we also need to defend ourselves and our families by practicing “focused protection” and “focused social distancing,” from those at extreme risk.

But we also must change our diets, clean up the environment, offer early paid retirement to those front line elderly workers most at risk and collectively move away from the industrialized, degenerate food and farming system that sets up people for premature death and hospitalization from COVID-19.

The prevention and “cure” for chronic disease and premature death, the prevention and cure for preventing an aerosolized virus like SARS-CoV-2 from moving beyond your nasal passage or your throat into your cells, reproducing massively and making you seriously ill, is not likely to be a patented, for-profit vaccine, rushed to market, genetically engineered to transform your RNA and likely dangerous in terms of collateral damage to your health.

Your best bet for disease prevention and promotion of overall health is organic, regenerative, healthy food and a healthy lifestyle, complemented by appropriate nutritional supplements, herbs and natural health remedies.

Stay tuned for further information. And please sign and circulate our citizens petition to ban all biowarfare experimentation, including the weaponization of viruses and bacteria utilizing dangerous genetic engineering and synthetic biology practices.

Ronnie Cummins is co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Regeneration International, and the author of “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Food, Farming, Climate and a Green New Deal.”

To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.

This has to Stop. Now.

Organic consumers - Wed, 2020-10-21 14:35
October 21, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie Cummins scientist_test_virus_needle_tube_1200x630.jpg

If you follow our work, you know we’re digging deep into the origins of COVID-19 — where did it come from, why is it so dangerous to certain people?

Should anyone be held accountable?

Yesterday a donor — who, like us, believes that all dangerous “gain-of-function” genetic engineering experiments must be shut down immediately — reached out to me personally with a generous offer.

Make a donation to OCA by midnight PT Sunday, Oct. 25, and an anonymous donor will triple match it. You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here.

One of the reasons we founded OCA more than 20 years ago was to protect consumers from untested and unsafe genetically engineered foods.

But even then, we had bigger concerns about genetic engineering’s potential to harm humans.

Even then, we knew about the potential for scientists to genetically engineer — or “weaponize” — viruses.

Right now, dangerous “gain-of-function” experiments are being carried out in labs all over the world, including in the U.S., even though hundreds of safety violations have already been documented.

Who’s funding these experiments? In many cases, you are — because most of the U.S. funding for “gain-of-function” research comes through government-funded projects.

None of this reckless research has ever led to the development of a single viable vaccine.

So why is it allowed? Money, of course. 

Big Pharma giants are already selling billions of dollars of COVID-19 vaccines to governments and the military — in secretive, no-bid contracts.

The rush to distribute — or possibly mandate — unsafe, untested vaccines should give everyone pause . . . especially given that U.S. law holds that vaccine makers cannot be held liable for any injuries they cause.

We will never abandon our work to reform the U.S. food and farming system, to end factory farming and to protect consumers and the environment from toxic chemicals.

In fact, COVID-19 — which negatively impacts people with diet-related chronic illnesses — only reinforces how urgent our work in this area is.

That said, unless we force governments worldwide to end “gain-of-function” research once and for all, we are not safe. Period.

Make a donation to OCA by midnight PT Sunday, Oct. 25, and an anonymous donor will triple match it. You can donate online, by mail or by phone, details here.

Gain-of-Function Ghouls: SARS-CoV-2 Isn’t the Scariest Thing That Could Leak From a Lab

Organic consumers - Wed, 2020-10-14 22:24
October 14, 2020Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden Mayer & Ronnie CumminsCOVID-19, COVID-19 Origins, OCA on COVID-19, Genetic Engineering alexis-blog-bytes-1200x630.png

“With four separate infections within the last year at three different institutions in Beijing, Singapore, and Taipei, health experts fear that the next SARS epidemic may be more likely to emerge from a research lab than from the presumed animal reservoir.”—“Lab Accidents Prompt Calls for New Containment Program,” Science, 28 May 2004

Lab accidents happen.

When the first Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-1) pandemic ended in 2003, lab-acquired infections continued.

Immediately following the end of the 2003 pandemic, there were four separate outbreaks of lab-acquired infections of SARS-1 within one year at three different labs in Beijing, Singapore and Taipei. The situation was so bad that Science magazine warned, “health experts fear that the next SARS epidemic may be more likely to emerge from a research lab than from the presumed animal reservoir.”

In one lab accident, a 26-year-old graduate student was exposed while working at the Institute of Viral Disease Control at the Chinese CDC. Her mother caught the disease from her and died. 

Infected mouse bites man

It’s been less than a year since SARS-2 somehow escaped from a lab in Wuhan, China, infecting millions, triggering serious illness and death among the elderly (especially those in nursing homes) and those with serious pre-existing chronic diseases (obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and heart, lung and liver disease), and melting down the global economy.

And yet, almost like a Hollywood horror movie, dangerous experiments on viruses and bacteria even more lethal than COVID-19 are taking place in military and biomedical research facilities around the world, with potentially catastrophic consequences. 

Information on these accidents should be readily available. The National Institute of Health, under the NIH Guidelines for Research Involving Recombinant or Synthetic Nucleic Acid Molecules, requires research institutions to maintain Institutional Biosafety Committees to oversee lab safety and protect dangerous biological agents from theft and misuse. 

These IBCs are supposed to register with NIH’s Office of Science Policy, hold regular meetings, make meeting minutes available to the public and report any significant problems, violations or any significant research-related accidents and illnesses to the OSP. Spills or accidents occurring in high containment (BL3 or BL4) laboratories resulting in an overt or potential exposure must be reported immediately.

However, what Prickly Research investigator Edward Hammond found while running the Sunshine Project (an international NGO dedicated to upholding prohibitions against biological warfare) was that:

“many IBCs didn’t even exist. At all. Including IBCs at institutions handling very dangerous infectious diseases. They did not meet, and they did not exercise their responsibilities. And NIH, which never wanted the role of enforcer, did not care.”

Through Hammond’s persistence (and lawsuits) he was able to force some IBCs to comply with their regulatory responsibilities. 

Hammond, who now writes a blog called Strange Cultures, shared his latest findings with Dr Jonathan Latham in a recent report, “Engineered COVID-19-Infected Mouse Bites Researcher Amid ‘Explosion’ Of Risky Coronavirus Research,” published in Independent Science News.

These included details of the North Carolina lab of infamous gain-of-function scientist Ralph Baric—the first U.S. lab known to have genetically engineered a synthetic version of the live SARS-CoV-2 virus stitched together from mail-order sequences of DNA purchased over the internet.

Now, it is also the first lab known to have an accident involving a COVID-19-infected animal biting a researcher.

The synthesis of a full length infectious clone of SARS-CoV-2 drew swift criticism from a group of Chinese scientists and legal experts who published a paper addressing the dual-use problem:

“The so-called ‘dual-use’ problem in biology denotes that ‘the techniques needed to engineer a bioweapon are the same as those needed to pursue legitimate research.’ For example, the pathogen synthesis technique can be used to rescue patients, as well as to possibly manufacture bioweapons. Even if the motivation for developing this type of technology is noble, any deviation, misuse, or abuse during the research may result in calamitous consequences; for instance, an accidental leak from the laboratory, or the purposeful misuse by others.”

If it turns out that SARS-CoV-2 leaked from a lab, it is likely that Baric and his colleagues Shi Zhengli at the Wuhan Institute of Virology and Peter Daszak at EcoHealth Alliance will be implicated in its creation. Even dissident Chinese virologist Li-Meng Yan’s allegation that SARS-CoV-2 is a biological weapon intentionally released by the Chinese government relies heavily on Shi’s work, which can’t be separated from her collaborations with Baric and Daszak. 

Yan’s attempt to pin responsibility on the Chinese Communist Party, however, is problematic, as Shi, Baric and Daszak have been collaborating with―and are funded by―the U.S. government, including the Pentagon. There are also factual errors in Yan’s papers, that Alina Chan, a scientist at the Broad Institute, outlines here.  

Lab origin theory gaining ground

Regardless of “whodunnit,” the weight of the evidence has clearly shifted from a natural origin theory to a lab origin.

Scientists who support the natural origin theory of COVID-19 admit it has two major weaknesses. First, as a paper in the journal Cell notes, “the bat viruses most closely related to SARS-CoV-2 were sampled from animals in Yunnan province, over 1,500 km from Wuhan.” Second, the genetic differences between these bat viruses and SARS-CoV-2 “represents more than 20 years of sequence evolution.”

So far, there’s no evidence bridging these gaps. Pangolins have been ruled out as an intermediate host and magnifier of the SAR-CoV-2 virus as has the Hunan seafood market located near two Wuhan biomedical/bioweapons labs.

Even the Chinese Centers for Disease Control, in May of this year, after criticism from scientists all over the world, finally admitted that many of the earliest detected cases of COVID-19 had no connection whatsoever to the Huanan Market, and that therefore the market should be ruled out as the origin of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This admission by the Chinese CDC, along with growing genetic evidence that SARS-CoV-2 was manipulated, utilizing genetic engineering and synthetic biology, explains why world opinion is shifting toward the belief that SARS-CoV-2 leaked out of a badly-managed, accident-prone lab in Wuhan China.

Just to know that this is how SARS-CoV-2 could have been created, should be enough to launch a mass movement to put a stop to all experiments that could make pathogens more dangerous. 

This movement may be arising in the U.S.

In an Economist/YouGov poll from May 2020, about half (49%) of Americans thought that a laboratory in China was definitely (18%) or probably (31%) the origin of the virus responsible for COVID- 19. Less than a third (28%) believe this is definitely (10%) or probably (18%) false, while more than one-fifth (22%) are not sure.

That was before Nobel Laureate Luc Montagnier published his July 2020 article “COVID-19, SARS and Bats Coronaviruses Genomes Peculiar Homologous RNA Sequence,” in the International Journal of Research. In this important paper, Montagnier and his colleague Jean-Claude Perez provide evidence that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is partially manmade, probably created in gain-of-function laboratory experiments. 

It was also before scientist-turned-detective Alina Chan was profiled by Rowan Jacobsen in Boston Magazine (“Could COVID-19 Have Escaped from a Lab?,” September 9, 2020).

Chan’s earlier work, “SARS-CoV-2 is well adapted for humans. What does this mean for re-emergence?” (May 02, 2020) concludes: “The lack of definitive evidence to verify or rule out adaptation in an intermediate host species, humans, or a laboratory, means that we need to take precautions against each scenario to prevent re-emergence.”

It was also before dissident Chinese scientists Li-Ming Yan appeared on Fox News with Tucker Carlson (Sep 15, 2020 - none of the other US networks have been willing to interview Yan). 

Gain-of-function ghouls

As bad as this pandemic’s been, SARS-CoV-2 isn’t the scariest thing that could leak from a lab.

The mad scientists genetically engineering pathogens to make them even more dangerous are now out of control, concocting gain-of-function ghouls that could soon be leaking from a lab near you. These include:

CoronaTHRAX™—An invention of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research that combines SARS-CoV-2 with anthrax. “It’s completely unnecessary and frankly bizarre,” Edward Hammond told Whitney Webb for her article, “Engineering Contagion: UPMC, Corona-Thrax And ‘The Darkest Winter’.” No one would know about this coronavirus-anthrax chimera if Hammond hadn’t been keeping tabs on recombinant DNA research by doggedly filing requests for information with the Institutional Biosafety Committees of U.S. research labs. It’s terrifying―but not surprising―that the Pitt Center would be doing such risky experiments. As Webb reports, its director W. Paul Duprex is a gain-of-function enthusiast who’s received significant funding from the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. 

Airborne Ebola—Currently, Ebola only spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids and the scientific consensus is that it would be virtually impossible for Ebola to naturally acquire aerogenic infection potential. Moreover, military experts have concluded that Ebola is not an effective biological weapon for terrorists. Nevertheless, the Pentagon continues to research airborne Ebola. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) first published their “Lethal experimental infections of rhesus monkeys by aerosolized Ebola virus” in 1995. (One author is Army Colonel Nancy Jaax of Hot Zone fame.)

More recently, defense contractor Battelle Memorial Institute subcontracted part of a $5.6 million National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases award to the University Of Texas Medical Branch At Galveston for “Evaluation of Ebolavirus in a Novel Ferret Model.” This is concerning because respiratory droplet transmission among ferrets is a proxy for human-to-human transmission. The Galveston researchers wrote in their 2016 paper, “The Domestic Ferret as a Lethal Infection Model for 3 Species of Ebolavirus,” that their success in killing ferrets with Ebola “demonstrates the utility of this intranasal infection model in potential mucosal-mediated transmission experiments or small-particle aerosol challenge, the latter being highly relevant for biodefense-related concerns.” 

Human Pork Vomit Virus—Undeterred by suspicions that work they did to make bat coronaviruses infectious to humans could have contributed to a lab origin of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the Baric-Daszak-Shi team is at it again, doing the same with a pig coronavirus known as swine acute diarrhea syndrome coronavirus (SADS-CoV).

This virus, which has been infecting pork farms throughout China since 2016, causes severe diarrhea and vomiting and has been especially deadly to young piglets. The Baric Lab infected human cells with a synthetic form of SADS-CoV and found that human lung and intestinal cells are susceptible to infection, with a higher rate of growth in cells found in the gut. Lab work on the wild type virus had previously shown that it could not bind to human cells. Peter Daszak edited Ralph Baric’s paper, “Swine acute diarrhea syndrome coronavirus replication in primary human cells reveals potential susceptibility to infection.”

Daszak and Shi were the first to identify SADS-CoV in 2018. Coincidentally, they found several bat coronavirus nearby with similar genomic sequences. The closest in overall genome identity to SADS-CoV was HKU2-CoV at 95%, but the S gene sequence identity was only 86%, suggesting that HKU2-CoV was not the direct progenitor of SADS-CoV, but that they may have originated from a common ancestor. Notably, Daszak and Shi found no human receptors that would allow entry for SADS-CoV, so Baric’s creation of a synthetic SADS-CoV that can attack human cells is a terrifying new development. 

Undead Viruses—In the 1990s, according to an NC State University news report:

“Jeffery K. Taubenberger and a team at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology decided to go through the tissue archive and find preserved tissue samples from soldiers who died from pneumonia-like symptoms during the [1918] pandemic. Taubenberger and his colleagues developed methods for extracting RNA from these tissue samples (something people didn’t think was possible at the time) and were able to pull out small bits and pieces of the influenza virus genome. Over several years, [using genetic engineering and synthetic biology] they were able to piece together the whole genome of the 1918 influenza virus – and they used that to resurrect this extinct virus [in 2005].” 

In 2014, another team of scientists, led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, collected circulating avian influenza viruses from wild birds and used genetic engineering and synthetic biology to create “a virus composed of avian influenza viral segments with high homology to the 1918 virus” and then “conferred respiratory droplet transmission to the 1918-like avian virus in ferrets” just to make sure it had the capacity to infect humans.

The above examples are all drawn from published information and some are old news, research projects that were so controversial that they resulted in a federal funding moratorium on gain-of-function research from 2014 to 2017.

When the moratorium was lifted, the Potential Pandemic Pathogen Care & Oversight Review Committee (P3CO) was created to vet gain-of-function research under the “Framework for Guiding Funding Decisions about Proposed Research Involving Enhanced Potential Pandemic Pathogens.”

Dangerous trade secrets

The P3CO operates in complete secrecy.

Nothing was known about how the Framework was being implemented until 2019, when news of the first approved studies (to modify bird flu viruses in ways that could make them more risky to humans) was leaked to Science magazine. 

This was disturbing to scientists Marc Lipsitch and Tom Inglesby, both of whom had advocated for the Framework. In their Washington Post opinion piece, “The U.S. Is Funding Dangerous Experiments It Doesn’t Want You to Know About,” Lipsitch and Inglesby wrote:

“This secrecy means we don’t know how these requirements were applied, if at all, to the experiments now funded by the government. A spokesperson from the Department of Health and Human Services told Science magazine that the agency cannot make the reviews public because doing so might reveal proprietary information about the applicants’ plans that could help their competitors. This bureaucratic logic implies that it is more important to maintain the trade secrets of a few prominent scientists than to let citizens—who bear the risk if an accident happens and who fund their work—scrutinize the decisions of public officials about whether these studies are worth the risk.”

The Department of Health and Human Services “spokesperson” referred to by Lipsitch and Ingleby is Chistian Hassell, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response.

The risk Lipsitch and Ingleby accused Hassell of ignoring—“of infecting millions of people with a highly dangerous virus”—became all the more glaring once the SARS-COV-2 was circling the globe. 

For damage control, in January 2020, Hassell convened a meeting of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity, ostensibly to address the demands Lipsitch and Inglesby were making for more transparency. 

But, Hassell revealed very little about the P3CO committee at this meeting, other than that Robert Kadlec, Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, appointed Hassell chair and that, in addition to Kadlec, the committee reports to Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Kelvin Droegemeier, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Trump's science advisor.

Indefensible defense research

We still don’t know what gain-of-function ghouls the NIH is funding today—and, that’s probably the government agency engaged in gain-of-function research that is the most transparent. 

In addition, very little is known about what goes on at the Pentagon labs in 30 countries operated under the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Program. (We do know that DTRA funds EcoHealth Alliance’s virus hunting. In the last 6 months, EcoHealth has received $10 million (34 percent) of the $29.1 million DTRA has invested in scientific research.)

We’ll know even less about what happens at the new CIA Labs, but “bioscience and biotechnology” are listed under “What We Do.”

The Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency established a biological technologies office in 2014, after working in the sector for close to two decades. In carefully managed news releases, DARPA has revealed bits of information about: 

Prophecy—A program to predict all the possible ways a pathogenic virus might mutate, to sequence and synthesize predicted viral genomes, to test how they adapt and change in various hosts and, finally, to create "high energy evolutionary boundaries" that keep genetic mutations at bay. While investigations into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 have focused on the Wuhan Institute of Virology, because of its location at the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and Shi Zhengli’s published work on the collection (with Peter Daszak) and manipulation (with Ralph Baric) of bat coronaviruses, DARPA’s Prophecy program could just as easily have produced a virus like SARS-CoV-2―just like Li-Meng Yan asserts that the CCP could have. With so many potential suspects, solving this whodunnit won’t be easy.

Insect Allies—This program to use virus-infected insects such as aphids or whiteflies to genetically engineer crops―while they’re growing―drew severe criticism from scientists who published a commentary in Science, “Agricultural research, or a new bioweapon system? Insect-delivered horizontal genetic alteration is concerning” and an accompanying website that was covered by the New York Times (“Viruses Spread by Insects to Crops Sound Scary. The Military Calls It Food Security.”) 

PREventing EMerging Pathogenic Threats (PREEMPT)—This project to disrupt the cross-species jump of viruses involves animal- or insect-targeted vaccines, gene editors and therapeutic interfering particles. These are so-called “transmissible interventions.” A great primer on this topic is this panel discussion, “Going Viral? Intentional dispersion of genetically modified viruses.” The idea is similar to what Oxitec is trying to do with their upcoming release of 750 million genetically engineered Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Florida Keys. 

This species of mosquito can carry Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever so, as an alternative to insecticides, a modified male mosquito, OX5034, will be released that produces female offspring that die off before growing large enough to bite and spread disease. So far, this hasn’t worked. A recent field study in Brazil showed that hybrid offspring were “sufficiently robust to be able to reproduce in nature.” Gene editors and gene drives are seen as a way to bring the idea to proof of concept by doing a better job of ensuring target traits get inherited. 

Therapeutic interfering particles are another disease-control strategy that has yet to be realized. It’s a particle of a virus that can interfere with and suppress a pathogenic virus. Ideally, it would be passed from host to host along with a virus to foil the virus’s infectivity. The reason why this hasn’t worked yet, is that an interfering virus that really does its job will ultimately suppress its own replication. 

DARPA is investigating the genetic engineering of transmissible viral vaccines as an alternative. An example is research funded under a $6.7 million DARPA grant, Prediction of Spillover Potential and Interventional En Masse Animal Vaccination to Prevent Emerging Pathogen Threats in Current and Future Zones of US Military Operation, that suggests transmissible vaccines to control Lassa virus in rodent populations. 

While most people bristle at the idea of genetically engineering wild animals, even insects, or releasing genetically engineered viruses to target food crops or animal populations, even pests or disease vectors, the scarier scenario is that, once these techniques are perfected on plants, insects and animals, they’ll be turned on us, either deliberately or by accident.

If you’re concerned about gain-of-function ghouls, please sign our petition for an Immediate Global Ban on Gain-of-Function ‘Biomedical’ and ‘Biodefense’ Research. 

If you’re a scientist or lawyer, please sign the Statement by Scientists, Lawyers and Policy Experts on Why We Need a Global Moratorium on the Creation of Potential Pandemic Pathogens (PPPs) Through Gain-of-Function Experiments. 

Alexis Baden-Mayer is OCA’s political director. 

Ronnie Cummins is co-founder of the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) and Regeneration International, and the author of “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Food, Farming, Climate and a Green New Deal.”

To keep up with OCA’s news and alerts, sign up here.