Consumer Power

Opinion: The Biden Administration Confirms Some but Not All of Trump's Wuhan Lab Claims

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-24 19:26
COVID-19Josh RoginThe Washington PostMarch 9, 2021 pandemic-1200x630.jpg

In its final days, President Donald Trump’s State Department made a series of highly controversial claims about the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan, China, and its possible connection to the Covid-19 outbreak. Now, the Biden administration has reviewed those claims, and is confirming some of the facts within them — but not, a senior State Department official has told me, the Trump team’s theory of how the pandemic broke out. These facts suggest that more investigation is needed into the lab’s possible connection to the outbreak.

The controversy surrounds a Jan. 15 statement put out by then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that was accompanied by a “Fact Sheet” entitled: “Activity at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.” That fact sheet alleged that the U.S. government had evidence that “several researchers inside the WIV became sick in autumn 2019 . . . with symptoms consistent with both COVID-19 and common seasonal illnesses.” 

Transcript: The Origins of COVID-19: Policy Implications and Lessons for the Future

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-24 18:48
COVID-19David AsherHudson InstituteMarch 17, 2021 virus1200x630.jpg

Following is the full transcript of the March 12th, 2021 Hudson event titled The Origins of COVID-19: Policy Implications and Lessons for the Future. 

David Asher: Hello, it’s David Asher. I’m a Senior Fellow here at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. I want to welcome everyone to an event on preventing the next pandemic. The policy implications of China, COVID-19, and the future of the world in an era of biology, indeed of synthetic biology. I want to just directly introduce our moderator today, Christopher Isham. Many years with CBS News as the D.C. Bureau Chief, and Deputy Head of CBS News. Many years before that as the Lead Investigator for ABC News. Among other famous interviews, he was the first Westerner to interview Osama Bin Laden. He’s cracked many big stories in the past and is an old friend. We’re very grateful for his moderation today. Chris, I’ll turn it over to you.

Source Author 2: Miles Yu

Tell Congress: Fake Meat Needs Safety-Testing, Just Like All GMOs!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-24 18:09
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Food Safety, Genetic EngineeringArea: USA

Whether you’re excited about new meat alternatives, or you’d rather eat regenerative and organic grass-fed beef, we can all agree on one thing: Fake meat, like all foods made with genetic engineering and synthetic biology, should be safety-tested before we start eating it.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to press the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to safety test the GMO Impossible Burger!Read more

Take Action: 

Tell Congress: Pass the Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-24 18:06
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoCategory: Genetic EngineeringArea: USA

Finally, we have a groundbreaking opportunity to radically reform pesticide policy in the United States! 

If passed, the Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (PACTPA) would mean a comprehensive overhaul of federal pesticide regulations. 

It would put restrictions on pesticide use and registration (including bans on several of the most toxic pesticides such as organophosphates, neonicotinoids and paraquat), and it would create new safety protections for farmworkers.

This legislation is a powerful and transformative opportunity to protect our especially-vulnerable children and farmworkers (as well as all people!), pollinators, and other wildlife from the dangerous effects of toxic pesticides. 

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress: Pass the Protect America's Children from Toxic Pesticides Act!Read more

Take Action: 

Upcoming Protests To Focus on Health, Environmental Impacts of 5G Satellites

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-24 17:18
Health Issues, Politics & GlobalizationKarl GrossmanChildren's Health DefenseMarch 17, 2021 5g-1200x630.png

Demonstrations will be held Friday and Saturday, March 19 – 20, to protest the deployment of 5G — a technology that poses health risks, encourages debris-generating satellite collisions, causes depletion of the ozone layer by the huge number of launches planned and is a major factor in the weaponization of space.

The “5G SpaceX Satellite Protest” will take place March 19 at the headquarters of SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. SpaceX, of which Elon Musk is founder and CEO.

Details about the protest can be found here.

On March 20, a “5G Global Protest Day” will take place with protests planned around the world. Details can be found here.

SpaceX is deeply involved in launching the small satellites being placed in low-earth orbit for 5G. Last week, the company launched a rocket carrying another 60 satellites, and it plans to send up tens of thousands in the next few years under its Starlink program.

Tell Congress to Investigate COVID Origins & the Pandemic Response!

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-24 16:48
Belong to campaign: COVID-19Category: COVID-19Area: USA

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdowns, Congressman Bill Posey has introduced a bill called the Pandemics Require Evaluating, Planning, And Responding Effectively (PREPARE) Act. H.R. 834 would establish a bipartisan National Commission on the COVID-19 Pandemic to conduct an investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2 and a review of the government’s public health response.

TAKE ACTION: Ask your Member of Congress to cosponsor the PREPARE Act (H.R. 834) to establish a bipartisan National Commission on the COVID-19 Pandemic.Read more

Take Action: 

Tell Congress: Taxpayers Shouldn’t Pay for Polluters’ Carbon Offsets

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-24 16:45
Belong to campaign: Millions Against MonsantoArea: USA

President Biden’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack wants to use $30 billion in tax dollars to create a Carbon Bank where companies that don’t want to stop polluting can buy credits generated from soil carbon sequestration to “offset” their greenhouse gas emissions. 

Leave it to “Mr. Monsanto” to give carbon farming a bad name by linking it to a market in hot air! If Vilsack wants to spend $30 billion on climate, he should support regenerative organic agriculture directly, not a false solution in the form of a cap-and-trade corporate ponzi scheme.

Tell Congress: Taxpayers Shouldn’t Pay for Polluters’ Carbon OffsetsRead more

Take Action: 

Let's Stop Pretending Russia and China Are Military Threats

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-03-24 15:31
Politics & GlobalizationDave LindorffCounterPunchMarch 18, 2021 russia-1200x630.jpg

Someone needs to say this, and it looks like it’s gotta be me: China and Russia are not our enemies.

Somehow, the opinion-makers in the media, the bloated military brass with all their ribbons and stars and with little to do but worry about how to keep their massively overbuilt operation afloat with ever more taxpayer money, and the members of Congress who like to gin up fears among the voters so they’ll keep voting for them have gotten everyone thinking that Russia is still hell bent on world communist takeover and that China it trying to replace the US as global hegemon.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

First let’s talk military forces:

The US has an army of 2.5 million — 1.5 million active duty and one million reservists and National Guard units,

Russia’s army numbers 2.9 million but only 900,000 of those are active duty, with two million being reservists.

What You Should Know About Plant-Based Meat

Organic consumers - Tue, 2021-03-23 16:15
March 23, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerEnvironment & Climate, Genetic Engineering soybeans-1200x630.jpg

Emperor Gates has a new decree: “All rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef.”

Bill Gates has invested in Impossible Foods whose CEO, Pat Brown, says his genetically engineered synthetic meat substitutes will replace the use of animals by 2035. 

You’d think the Impossible Foods pitch would be about the horrors of factory farming. Instead, Gates and Brown take aim at regenerative organic agriculture and grass-fed beef. According to 

“Gates and Brown believe that genetically modified seeds and chemical herbicides, in the right doses––and not land-intensive organic farming––are crucial to curbing carbon emissions.”

That old lie about organic farming has been thoroughly debunked, and real climate activists know “It’s not the cow, it’s the how.” 

But, our best argument is what everyone instinctively knows, even before they learn the science: Genetically modified and synthetic Frankenfoods like the Impossible Burger aren’t good for us.

Integrative eco-nutritionist Sara Keough, technical advisor for Understanding Ag, has an important new presentation that we encourage everyone to watch: “Plant-Based Meats and the Potential Harm to Human Health.” 

She’s also writing a series of articles on artificial animal products. 

Part 1 is “The Rise of Plant-Based Meats and the Mission to Eliminate Animal Agriculture.” 

Part 2 is “The Hidden Dangers of Processed Plant Proteins.” 

Part 3 is “Food Additives and the Controversy over Soy Leghemoglobin.” (Coming soon! Subscribe to Understanding Ag to be alerted when this article comes out.)

Sara also talked plant-based meats with Ashley Armstrong on the Armstrong Sisters’ #MakeSoilSexyAgain program.

And, in case you missed it, watch Political Director Alexis Baden-Mayer’s interview with Sara and her Understanding Ag colleague Ray Archuleta, star of the movie Kiss the Ground.

Genetically modified and synthetic Frankenfoods like the Impossible Burger aren’t good for us.

Unfortunately, as nutritionist Sara Keough points out, when consumers hear “plant-based” they assume that it’s healthy. In her presentation “Plant-Based Meats and the Potential Harm to Human Health” and her article on “Hidden Dangers of Processed Plant Proteins,” she shares what she teaches all of her clients to do: look at the ingredients:

"Upon close inspection, one could probably spot several questionable ingredients on each label. Soy or pea protein might raise a red flag for those concerned with food allergies, digestive issues, or autoimmune diseases. Oxidized plant oils high in inflammatory polyunsaturated fats, such as sunflower oil and canola oil, might also stand out. Additives like methylcellulose, yeast extract, modified food starch, natural flavors, cultured dextrose, and refined coconut oil are commonly found in ultra-processed foods and derived from industrial or laboratory manipulation. Novel ingredients that were never historically consumed by humans, such as genetically engineered soy leghemoglobin, lack adequate safety studies and could also pose potential new health risks for consumers."

Soy contains anti-nutrients, including:

•phytoestrogens, associated with some cancers and hormonal issues

•goitrogens that can disrupt thyroid function

•lectins, implicated in autoimmune disorders and intestinal permeability

•phytic acid, which impedes mineral absorption

•trypsin inhibitors that can block enzymes in the gut that aid in digestion of proteins

•aquaporins, associated with neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases

Soy samples evaluated by the USDA Pesticide Data Program revealed 14 total toxin residues, including the herbicide glyphosate which soy is genetically engineered to absorb and is linked to numerous conditions such as cancer, immune dysfunction, and disruption of the human microbiome.

When soy is processed at high heat or with chemicals it can be contaminated with:

•lysinoalanine, which is shown in some rat studies to cause kidney and pancreatic damage

•hexane, a neurotoxin

Pea proteins have similar anti-nutrients, toxins and contaminants, which is probably one reason that, as Keough notes, pediatricians are seeing a rise in pea protein allergies.

Soy is just one of the Impossible Burger’s dangerous ingredients that Keough exposes in her presentation and article on the hidden dangers of processed plant proteins.

In Part 3 of Keough’s series of articles on artificial animal products, “Food Additives and the Controversy over Soy Leghemoglobin,” she’ll take on one of the scariest Impossible Burger ingredients. Look for it on Understanding Ag’s From Our Experts blog.

Once you know the truth, take action.

Tell Congress: Press the U.S. Food & Drug Administration to safety test the GMO Impossible Burger!

Why We Need to Boycott Factory Farms and Fake Meat and Support Regenerative Organic

Organic consumers - Mon, 2021-03-22 20:00
March 22, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationAndré Leu and Ronnie CumminsEnvironment & Climate harvest-1200x630.jpg

There is a big debate, as you know, about meat production and climate change. The corporate media promotes the Bill Gates/Silicon Valley myth that eating less meat and animal products (not just factory farmed, but climate-friendly/carbon sequestering organic and regenerative meat and animal products as well) and abolishing animal agriculture altogether (small scale grazing and animal husbandry supports a billion small farmers on the planet whose lands are not suitable for growing food crops) will be better for the climate. Fake meats produced on an industrial scale in chemical vats with GMOs are also being promoted as better for the climate by the billionaires such as Bill Gates who have invested in it.




One thing we can all agree on is that animal products from factory farms are bad for the environment, the climate and our health. These confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are cruel concentration camps for animals. They have no place in a humane and caring society. Their manure lagoons pollute the atmosphere and river systems with high levels of nutrients and chemicals that are toxic to the environment. The GMO/chemical-intensive corn and soy fed to them are a major source of environmental contamination and greenhouse gas emissions. CAFO feedlots and animal confinement operations are one of the major emitters of methane and nitrous oxide, dangerous greenhouse gases.


CAFOs and the GMO animal feed crops that sustain them damage our health and the health of our children with toxic pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones. Organic consumers can help clean up the environment and improve our health by completely boycotting animal products from these cruel, toxic and environmentally destructive industrial systems, and by calling for a moratorium on new CAFOs, followed by a complete ban.


Fake Meats


Fake meats are equally bad for the environment and health. The feedstocks needed to provide the nutrients for these artificial processed foods come from the most destructive form of industrial agriculture: large monocultures of GMO corn and soy that are sprayed with high levels of toxic herbicides. Thousands of scientific papers directly link these herbicides to cancer, birth defects, immune system damage, hormone disruption, reproductive problems, thyroid damage and other serious chronic diseases.  Andre Leu  has written two books on pesticides showing how there are no safe levels of these poisons for children. They are persistent in the environment and as residues in our food. They are responsible for the crash in insect numbers, such as the Monarch Butterfly, and for species that feed directly and in directly on insects such as birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals. Trillions of insects and other species are directly and indirectly killed by the millions of tons of pesticides used in industrial agriculture. If we believe in the sanctity of life, we should not be eating foods  from degenerate systems that cause the industrial scale destruction of life. Fake meat , GMOs, and factory farms are part and parcel of the sam,e deadly system—industrial agriculture.


Regenerative and Organic Grass-fed Systems


Regenerative grazing utilizes healthy and humane practices that are based on the way animals naturally behave in the wild. Animals are treated with care and are allowed to roam in grasslands that are rich in a biodiversity of species that are good for their health. They are regularly moved to fresh pasture to ensure that they are well-fed and get the benefits of natural exercise. Regenerative and organic means that no toxic chemicals are used in their production. The animals are kept healthy through natural veterinarian and humane husbandry methods.


Free-range animals grazing on pasture produce less methane as they are not force fed an unnatural diet.  Healthy ecosystems and pasturesw have special methanatropic bacteria in the soil and natural water systems that breakdown methane. Consequently, these systems emit significantly less methane than industrial factory systems.


The published evidence shows that correctly managed pastures  (neither overgrazed nor under-grazed) can build up carbon-rich soil organic matter faster than most other agricultural systems, while this carbon is often stored deeper in the soil, and therefore is more long-lasting. Soil organic matter is composed of atmospheric carbon (carbon dioxide) that is drawn down and fixed by plants via photosynthesis. 


Research shows that regenerative grazing practices can regenerate soil fertility, carbon storage, and soil biodiversity in degraded landscapes in as little as three years. A number of ranches in one well-known study in the Southeastern US have increased their soil organic matter levels and sequestered 29,360 kg of CO2  per hectare (30,000 pounds per acre) per year. This is an enormous amount of carbon dioxide being taken out of the air by photosynthesis and converted into organic matter to feed the soil microbiome. Scaling up these regenerative systems can significantly help in our battle to reverse the climate crisis.


Regenerative grazing can turn livestock production from being one of the major contributors to climate change into one of the largest solutions to climate change as well as regenerate degraded ecosystems. 


It is, of course your own personal decision whether or not to eat meat and animal products. But whether vegetarian or omnivore we should all boycott Big Meat and factory farms and only consume animal products from humane, environmentally beneficial, healthy, regenerative organic grass fed systems. Not only your health, but the health of the planet and the future generations is affected by what you choose to eat. Join us as we educate and organize for an Organic and Regenerative Revolution.


Wake Up Progressives! The Role of Progressive Thinking and Action in the Post-COVID World

Organic consumers - Mon, 2021-03-22 19:26
March 22, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationNate DoromalCOVID-19 morning-1-1200x630.jpg

Why Progressives Must Safeguard Our Government, Our Constitutional Rights and our Scientific and Public Health Institutions


We are entering the Post-COVID world. And the role of liberals and progressives (as well as libertarians and champions of constitutional rights) is far more significant now than we realize.


COVID-19 has brought on many changes in society. As COVID numbers diminish, there is a renewed euphoria in progressive circles in the wake of the pandemic concomitant with a Democrat presidential victory and an unprecedented awareness of gender and racial inequalities. While there is much to be excited about for progressives, warning flags have appeared that raise questions about whether our future direction is genuinely one of greater equality.


The COVID pandemic has shown all of us the power of government public health institutions in mobilizing and transforming society to deal with a pandemic threat. Yet, at the same time, public health policy, supported by the overwhelming majority of progressives, has become a paternalist force that has used its authority to control, manipulate, and divide the body politic, marginalizing or censoring public voices—investigative, scientific, and medical—that deviate from the “official story” of COVID-19. 

Just like in the Vietnam War, when the government failed to heed the people's growing dissatisfaction with its protracted war, there is the same growing resentment amongst the populace as an increasingly unaccountable public health elite, backed by Silicon Valley, Big Pharma and what has come to be known as the Deep State, wages a prolonged battle against an invisible enemy. This biomedical-powered elite demands more and more sacrifices from the people while silencing criticism with fear-based propaganda, censorship (done under "fact-checks" purported to deal with misinformation), and appeals-to-community that ignore the legitimate concerns of those harmed by pandemic responses. 


The critical question is this: Has our government, both Democrats and Republicans, indeed served the people during the pandemic, or has it become an oppressive force that exemplifies the existing power inequalities between ordinary people, corporate America, and the billionaires and oligarchs who claim to rule in the public interest?


In dealing with matters we do not understand, it can become easy for progressives and i9ndeed everyone to defer our thinking to authorities. "Let them handle it," we say while we focus on the things we do know about, such as the decades-long fight for gender and racial equality, or healthy food and a clean environment. But, as we will see, ignoring the areas beyond our normal concerns allows powerful vested interests to expand their power and control at the expense of informed public debate and participatory democracy.


The role of science and technology, in particular, shown by the dominance of Big Tech in our lives, means that  progressives and concerned citizens cannot ignore these matters. While the scientists and technocrats make discoveries and build on human knowledge, it is up to  progressives and justice-minded people to ensure that new knowledge is used fairly and equitably. 


We need a reinvigoration of the progressive function and a return to asking our society's most challenging questions. And there is a possibility now to do so in the Post-COVID world that wasn't present before.


Science - A Liberating or Controlling Force?


Nowadays, there is a euphoria regarding science and its ability to deal with the problems of humanity. Originally, science was a core principle of progressivism - it was a tool to free the people from inequality's strictures. A deeper examination reveals science has become weaponized as a tool of control by corporations.


As philosopher Paul Feyerabend sounded this warning in his essay "How to Defend Society Against Science": "Science, surely, was always in the forefront of the fight against authoritarianism and superstition. It is to science that we owe our increased intellectual freedom vis-a-vis religious beliefs; it is to science that we owe the liberation of mankind from ancient and rigid forms of thought. Today these forms of thought are nothing but bad dreams - and this we learned from science."


Feyerabend warns, however, of the danger of science degenerating into scientific dogmatism, stifling individual thought and creativity: "I have said that science has become rigid, that it has ceased to be an instrument of change and liberation, without adding that it has found the truth or a large part thereof — considering this additional fact we realize, so the objection goes, that the rigidity of science is not due to human willfulness. It lies in the nature of things. For once, we have discovered the truth -what else can we do but follow it?"


The appeal-to-science argument is a powerful one. After all, who cannot be for the use of reason and logic, and the scientific methodology? But what if the powerful gatekeepers of society get to decide what constitutes science for their agendas?


Inevitably, those with monetary and commercial interests have an incentive to take over science and use it to advance their agendas - enter the corporate intrusion into science. This fact was a concern even before COVID. In 2019, the Union of Concerned Scientists lamented about corporate intrusion into climate change research: "Cases of such corporate intrusions have been observed in a variety of places where science is used to inform federal policy. They range, for example, from interference in the Food and Drug Administration's approval of medical devices to the blocking of a national ground-level ozone standard proposed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. And increasingly, climate science is being used as a political football, with companies and their allies creating confusion around the science in an attempt to delay regulatory action."


Corporate intrusion is the "worst enemy of science." As reported by Discover Magazine: "the biggest threat to science has been quietly occurring under the radar, even though it may be changing the very foundation of American innovation. The threat is money—specifically, the decline of government support for science and the growing dominance of private spending over American research."


What happens when profit-making incentives and corporate partnerships begin to dominate academic institutions, research priorities, scientific journals, and public health policies? Discover magazine stated that much of the problems of corporate intrusion into science began with the Bayh-Dole Act: "Passed in 1980, the act granted universities and their professors the automatic rights to own and commercialize federally funded research. The goal was to unlock financial incentives that would speed the pace of American scientific innovation. Overnight, many of the cultural taboos associated with overt commercial profiteering on campus began to evaporate."


For too long, progressives have blindly accepted science's role in humanity's progress without ascertaining whether the state of science is fair, unbiased, and serving the public good. Today's progressives need to call out corporate interference and the profiteering under scientific and public health organizations, as well as risky scientific experimentation such as “gain-of-function” research that uses genetic engineering and synthetic biology to make viruses more virulent and infective. 


Have We Acquiesced to Corporate Power?


Our society has made incredible advances in bringing awareness to gender, racial, and environmental issues and bringing attention to the dangers of global warming and climate change. However, we have obviously failed to address a significant source of inequality in our society: corporate power dominance over public policy. 


Who has the power in the United States? Political scientist G. William Domhoff answered the question in 2005: "Those who have the money -- or more specifically, who own income-producing land and businesses -- have the power. In this day and age, this means that banks, corporations, agribusinesses, and big real estate developers, working separately on most policy issues, but in combination on important general issues -- such as taxes, opposition to labor unions, and trade agreements with other countries -- set the rules within which policy battles are waged."


Domhoff's words equally apply to our Post-COVID world, but the industries have changed. Now we have the specters of Big Tech, Big Food, Big Agriculture, Big Energy, Big Pharma, the CIA and the military-industrial complex that call the shots in the government-political-economic sphere. They utilize many of the same tactics and dirty tricks as before, but have gotten even more sophisticated by presenting their goods and services and policies as essential to society. They paint their goods and services, no matter how anti-democratic and authoritarian, as serving the good of humanity, thus hiding their political machinations behind seemingly emotional feel-good messaging. 


It's no secret that inequality in the United States has been rising over decades. Progressives historically have played an essential role in checking corporate power and the economic royalty’s dominant influence on society. A focus on eliminating racism and gender equality without addressing political power inequity, however, has become self-defeating for progressives.


Do Our Institutions Represent Us or the Corporations?


Progressives have long relied upon the government and its institutions to ensure the equitable distribution of resources throughout society. But we have missed a very logical and powerful move by the corporatists to control the regulatory institutions themselves, such as the Food and Drug Administration, the US Department of Agriculture, and the Departments of Defense and Energy. The economic and corporate elite have basically deployed a successful strategy that has captured the regulators.


The power of government is vast, but obviously it can function as a double-edged sword. People can use the government to create a fairer system for all or use it as a tyrannical rule-enforcer to protect the dominant interests of those who hold power.


How can we distinguish the two scenarios? Enter the progressive. It is up to the progressives and all concerned citizens to monitor our institutions' behavior and judge whether they are rightfully serving the public.


In order to do this, we need to be constantly vigilant. We need to be aware and vocal, calling attention to the mechanisms by which corporations can unduly influence the government process. G. William Domhoff summarized these mechanisms nicely in his article "The Class-Domination Theory of Power":


1. The special-interest process, through which specific families, corporations, and industrial sectors can realize their narrow and short-run interests on taxes, subsidies, and regulation in their dealings with congressional committees, regulatory bodies, and executive departments;

2. The policy-making process, through which the policies developed in the policy-planning network described earlier are brought to the White House and Congress;

3. The candidate selection process, through which members of the power elite influence electoral campaigns using campaign donations to political candidates. 


As evident from the Powell Memorandum during the 1970s, we can expect that corporations will try to control political systems to use them to their advantage. The critical thing we must watch out for are conflicts of interest and the placement of people in power who have financial ties with the industries they are supposed to regulate. An example of this would be the criticism directed at former President Trump for staffing the Environmental Protection Agency with former industry insiders, or President Biden appointing a proponent of GMOs, factory farms, and industrial agriculture, Tom Vilsack to be Secretary of Agriculture.


During our COVID era, no institutions are more important to look at for fairness than our public health institutions who have wielded unprecedented power. Even before COVID, conflicts of interests have been a pervasive problem within public health - there is a massive revolving door between the Big Pharma, government regulators regulators and self-appointed Health Czars like Bill Gates.


And during this time, when there is a social mandate to deal with the pandemic, progressives should be particularly aware of the conflicts of interests between industry and public health. 


COVID and Conflicts of Interests


During the time of COVID, much criticism was directed at Bill Gates over his enormous influence over public health by donating over $600 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) and an investment of over a billion dollars into vaccines done through the Global Alliance for Vaccines Initiative (GAVI).


Even if ostensibly done in the name of the public good, progressives should be aware of the accumulation of power and undue influence over public institutions by men such as Bill Gates. A deeper examination of Bill Gates' initiatives reveals a disturbing relationship with Big Pharma. 


As the public interest group GRAIN has reported: "Consider the revolving door between the Gates Foundation and Big Pharma. Former director of vaccine development at the foundation and current CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Medical Research Institute, Penny Heaton, hails from drug kingpins Merck and Novartis. The foundation's president of global health, Trevor Mundel, served in Novartis and Pfizer's leadership positions. His predecessor, Tachi Yamada, was previously a top executive at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Kate James worked at GSK for almost ten years, then became the foundation's chief communications officer. The examples are almost endless."


While dealing with the pandemic is essential, it raises concerns when Bill Gates, one of the world's richest and powerful men and a non-elected person, influences public health agencies and their recommended responses. Moreover, it is questionable when that same man has conflicts of interest with powerful corporate partners, who can benefit from the enormous monies allocated from public funds to deal with COVID. 


It is equally disturbing when men like Bill Gates and Anthony Fauci have financial ties to the Moderna vaccine, which the government is pushing. As Jeremy R Hammond reported, there is evidence that government scientists under Fauci's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases helped develop the Moderna vaccine. Additionally, the Gates Foundation helped fund Moderna vaccine trials. 


Conflicts of interest play an insidious role in undermining institutional trust. As discussed in Scientific American, conflicts of interests can work on a subconscious level, slowly affecting the judgment professionals and policy-makers as they slowly place their financial interests over the public's good. 


It is the progressive's role to dig deeper behind the media headlines and identify conflicts of interest and other inappropriate uses of power to influence our institutions. It is up to us to make sure that institutions serve us instead of a few influential individuals' plans. 


Propaganda in the Name of "Science" 


Who gets to say what counts as "science" and what doesn't? It's a critical question as dialogue regarding what constitutes science greatly influences public policy. 

It is no wonder that corporations themselves get to decide what gets reported in the media as legitimate science. According to Gaia, six corporations control the bulk of what scientific research gets published in the media: "Despite their exorbitant profits, these publishers don't provide much in the way of standards or scrutiny in the peer-review process. There have been numerous instances of research with shoddy methods and inaccurate results that have been published in some of the more astute journals."


During this time of COVID, powerful men like Bill Gates, acting through the Gates Foundation, and Mark Zuckerberg, working through Facebook fact-checking, can unduly influence the state of the reported science. 


In an expose regarding Bill Gates' influence over the press, Columbia Journalism Review wrote: "From virtually any of Gates's good deeds, reporters can also find problems with the foundation's outsize power if they choose to look. But readers don't hear these critical voices in the news as often or as loudly as Bill and Melinda's. News about Gates these days is often filtered through the perspectives of the many academics, nonprofits, and think tanks that Gates funds. Sometimes it is delivered to readers by newsrooms with financial ties to the foundation."


Similarly, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, while ostensibly standing for progressive ideals, raises concerns for control over public sentiment via Facebook fact-checking. Fast Company reported on Facebook's ability to pressure its fact-checkers and raises questions of fact-checker objectivity. While increasing truthfulness in social media is a worthy goal, Facebook has self-appointed itself as the arbiter of truth regarding COVID misinformation.


It is doubtful whether Facebook can remain objective regarding what constitutes good science while pursuing increasing pharmaceutical ad revenue and while Zuckerberg is materially involved in driving scientific research and investment through the Chan-Zuckerberg Institute.


The power to influence what science gets reported has profound consequences during the COVID pandemic - it has allowed corporations to benefit from the COVID response at the public's expense. Termed the Great Reset, powerful corporate forces are colluding to advance their economic interests in the Post-COVID world. 


Transparency and truthfulness in reporting are of the utmost importance. Powerful interests use the ability to control information and media reporting for their advantage. Knowledge asymmetries in society are a fundamental inequality in society that keeps specific populace segments from acting in their best interests. It is up to progressives and all concerned citizens to make sure there is transparency in media reporting and make sure the public, not elite individuals, is the final decider of information.


The Progressive Imperative - Safeguarding the Individual and Democracy


We now enter the Post-COVID time when there is an increasing questioning of our institutions and how they should be functioning in order to serve the public good. Our desire to make the world a better place for the people is more important than ever, and we can play an essential role in re-defining the world for the betterment of society. 


Unfortunately, many of these crucial conversations occur between the corporations and elite individuals like Bill Gates without input from the greater public, which those institutions are purported to serve.


Progressives, given their historical concerns, have a special mission here - making sure the people have a direct role in our institutions' design, ensuring they are fully transparent in their actions, and making sure they are ultimately accountable to the people. 


COVID has shown us that the world is far more interconnected and complex than we initially imagined. Given this, it is easy to become discouraged by the complexity and defer our thinking to experts or scientists. We might say, "let's focus on things we understand like gender and racial equality," but to do so would be a mistake - the development of the future lies with all of us, not just a few experts.


In a complex world, in a genuine democracy, we need lively and free debate, we need all viewpoints to be heard. We can no longer let experts decide what constitutes the greater good while leaving a minority of people to be harmed. It is the role of the progressive to ensure that equality is upheld and the minority is protected.


Long-time activist and head of the Organic Consumers Association, Ronnie Cummins, states the challenge nicely: "We will never make a revolution, head off the Great Reset, nor survive the climate crisis, without overcoming racism, classism, and sexism. But neither can we make a revolution without confronting corporate power and uniting constituencies and nations that are now in conflict."


The Post-Covid world will see a new renaissance in progressive thinking and a resurgence of the progressive function. We cannot assume that science by itself will lead to a better world, but it is up to us, the progressives, to ensure this is so. 


We all have significant roles in the Post-COVID world. Let's get to work.


COVID-19: Restoring Public Trust During A Global Health Crisis

Organic consumers - Mon, 2021-03-22 16:35
February 22, 2021Dr. Henry L. EalyCOVID-19 silhouette-1200x630.jpg

Letter from the Authors

During our investigation into the variety of topics this manuscript covers, a theme began to stand out as a consistent concern. Safe & effective treatments are inexplicably being withheld.

As you read this position paper you will encounter many similar examples of what appear to be willful misconduct on the part of government agencies supplying inaccurate information to elected officials and the public.

While incessant arguments persist regarding the accuracy of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing, asymptomatic transmission, dubious projection models, and changes in the law. The issue that is still inexplicably unresolved is the withholding of safe and effective treatments from millions of people most in need.

The sad reality is that loved ones are still dying alone. Children are still being isolated from their in-person classrooms and dear friends. Experimental COVID biologics (vaccine) are being tested on millions of individuals without any long-term data to feel confident about safety. All the while, significant nutrient deficiencies that adversely impact the natural adaptive immune response (vitamins A, C, D, E and the mineral zinc) have yet to be resolved.

Imagine how many lives could have been, and still could be saved, if public health departments widely promoted the use of evidence-based nutritional therapies. Yet, these evidence-based treatments (also effective at prevention) continue to be ignored by major health organizations (CDC, WHO, NIH, et, all) in spite of their extraordinary financial feasibility.

We ask, “Is it ethical to withhold evidence-based treatments, proven to be safe and effective, from people in need?”

Historically, this questioned has been answered with a resounding “No.”

Yet this is where we find ourselves again. Once more embroiled in an age-old struggle to an ethical question we’ve already repeatedly answered correctly. A common ground we must all be able to reach is that it is unethical to withhold evidence-based treatments, proven to be safe and effective, from people in need.

When we fail to remember our history, inevitably our history repeats itself. To ensure that life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are preserved for future generations, people must be presented with accurate scientific data and evidence-based options to make their own informed decisions with regard to their health.

Ethically, no one should be vaccinated with experimental biologics while those biologics are still in clinical trial, especially when safer and more effective treatments already exist.

Perhaps the question that matters most is, “Does a government, employer, airline, or school have the right to mandate the use of an experimental product that is still in an ongoing clinical trial?”

When living in a free and collective society, this may be the most important question to answer.

We believe that governments, employers, airlines, and schools do not have the right to mandate the use of products still in clinical trial. This position paper substantiates our point of view with respect to medical ethics, civil liberties, and individual body sovereignty. Our findings do call into question a great many of the scientific and ethical problems surrounding the COVID-19 global crisis response and raises questions of willful misconduct.

Thank you for considering our findings objectively.

Read the full article

Read MoreSource Author 2: Michael E. McEvoy, Dr. John Nowicki, Dr. Monica Sava, Neil M. Ruggles

Gardening By The Moon

Organic consumers - Mon, 2021-03-15 19:10
March 15, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationKaare and Pam MelbyAll About Organics planting_herbs_soil_moon_phases_1200x630.jpg

Last month, Jane Hawley Stevens of Four Elements Organic Herbals gave a wonderful presentation at the Growing Stronger Collaborative Conference about gardening according to the phases of the moon. Stevens did a beautiful job of explaining how this concept works, and why you might want to experiment with it in your own garden.

According to Stevens, “nature follows cycles.” On a very basic level, gardening by the moon can be interpreted as “waxing moon is a growth period, and the waning moon is rest time.” Working with the cycles of the moon can create a better relationship with nature, and possibly a better output for your garden.

Gardening by the moon doesn’t mean you are gardening at night. What Stevens says is that by keeping track of each quarter of the moon, you can harness certain environmental  properties that can be used to achieve different results in the garden. How? The answer may be a bit complex, but part of the reason may be a result of the way the moon’s gravitational force affects water on earth, just like the ebb and flow of the tides.

Stevens explains that because of the moon’s proximity to earth, the gravitational pull has a great influence on the water. Nowhere is that more apparent than with the tides. If you live close to a coast, you are probably aware of the effect that the moon has on the water level of the ocean from day to day, and even from full moon to new moon, where the high tide levels are at their highest. If you don’t live near the coast, there is still water moving up and down near you—it’s just underground. Stevens says that when the water is closest to the surface (high tide), it can help swell seeds that are planted, and possibly increase germination of seeds.  This is why she tells us that planting seeds is best done at a new moon. 

Want to try gardening by the moon? The first thing you will need to do is figure out which phase of the moon you are in. You could do this by looking it up on the internet, but you can also find the phase of the moon by looking at it. We all probably know what the full moon and new moon look like, but the in between times can be trickier to decipher. But all you have to remember are the letters “D-O-C”. 

The first quarter of the moon starts with the new moon, and as the days go by, the light begins to fill the right side of the moon until the whole right side is illuminated (one week after the new moon), when this happens the lit part of the moon represents a “D”:, we call this the 2nd quarter. As the days continue to pass, the moon will continue to become illuminated until it is full. The full moon resembles an “O”:, and we call this the 3rd quarter. After the full moon passes, the moon will lose it’s illumination on the right side until only the left side is illuminated, resembling a “C”:, this is called the 4th quarter. All you have to remember is “D-O-C” and you will know which phase of the moon you are in.

Now that you know how to figure out which phase of the moon you are in, you can use the information below to figure out when it’s best to do different things in your garden:

 1st Quarter:

The first quarter of the moon starts with the New Moon. During this quarter, the moisture in the soil is pulled up toward the surface. This extra moisture can cause the seeds to swell and sprout. The best things to plant during this quarter are leafy things like lettuce, kale, broccoli, herbs, etc.

 2nd Quarter:

The second quarter starts one week after the new moon, and the lit part of the moon looks like a “D”. During this quarter it’s best to plant crops that produce their seed within it’s fruit, such as tomatoes and peppers.

 3rd Quarter:

The 3rd quarter starts with the full moon and the lit part of the moon looks like an “O”. During this quarter, the moisture in the solid begins to move down and away from the surface. The best things to plant during the 3rd quarter are root crops and perennials.

 4th Quarter

The 4th quarter starts one week after the full moon and the lit part of the moon looks like a “C”. This is the driest part of the cycle when the moisture in the soil is being pulled down and away from the surface. This is a good time to do weeding because it will be the hardest for the weeds to recover. The 4th quarter is also a good time to harvest herbs for drying because there will be less moisture present in the plant.

Stevens also noted that harvesting is often best done during the 3rd or 4th quarter. But she also notes that you often just have to harvest things when they are ripe. 

She says these things are really just guidelines that can help us as we make decisions in our garden. She encourages keeping records so you can compare the results of following the moon, and not following the moon.

Have you tried gardening by the moon? Did you find it helpful? Let us know what your experience was by emailing us at

Pasture Cropping—The Innovative No-Kill, No-Till System Developed by Australian Farmers

Organic consumers - Fri, 2021-03-12 17:18
March 12, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationAndre LeuFarm Issues field_crop_soil_seedling_1200x630.jpg

Regenerative agriculture is a global farming revolution with rapid uptake and interest around the world. Five years ago hardly anyone had heard about it. It is in the news nearly every day now. This agricultural revolution has been led by innovative farmers rather than scientists, researchers and governments. It is being applied to all agricultural sectors including cropping, grazing and perennial horticulture.

In previous articles we have described how regenerative agriculture maximizes the photosynthesis of plants to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to increase soil organic matter. Soil organic matter is a good proxy for soil health, as it is important for improving fertility and water capture in soils, thus improving productivity and profitability in farming.

Many regenerative farmers sow their fields with mixtures of plants just to capture carbon dioxide to improve the levels of soil organic matter. These are called cover crops and are distinct from the cash crop. The cover crop builds soil fertility. The cash crop earns an income.

Pasture Cropping—the No-kill, No-till System

Australia has many innovative regenerative farmers. The two farmers below are pioneers of a type of cover cropping system called “pasture cropping.” Pasture cropping is where the cash crop is planted into a perennial pasture instead of into bare soil. There is no need to plough out the pasture species as weeds or kill them with herbicides before planting the cash crop. The perennial pasture becomes the cover crop.

Modern pasture cropping was first developed by Colin Seis in New South Wales. The principle is based on the sound ecological fact that annual plants grow in perennial systems. The key is to adapt this principle to the appropriate management system for the specific cash crops and climate.

The pasture is first grazed or slashed to ensure that it is very short. This adds organic matter in the form of manure, cut grass, and shed roots into the soil to build soil fertility and to reduce root competition from the pasture. The cash crop such as oats is directly planted into the pasture.

Here’s Colin Seis’s own description of pasture cropping:

“A 20-hectare (50 acre) crop of echidna oats that was sown and harvested in 2003 . . . . This crop’s yield was 4.3 tonnes/hectare (31 bushels/acre). This yield is at least equal to the district average, where full ground-disturbance cropping methods were used.”

Picture Courtesy of Colin Seis.

“This profit does not include the value of the extra grazing. On Winona it is between $50–60/hectare because the pasture is grazed up to the point of sowing. When using traditional cropping practices where ground preparation and weed control methods are utilized for periods of up to four to six months before the crop is sown, no quality grazing can be achieved.” Picture Courtesy of Colin Seis.

“It was also learnt that sowing a crop in this manner stimulated perennial grass seedlings to grow in numbers and diversity, giving considerably more tonnes/hectare of plant growth. This produces more stock feed after the crop is harvested and totally eliminates the need to re-sow pastures into the cropped areas. Cropping methods used in the past require that all vegetation is killed prior to sowing the crop and while the crop is growing.”

“From a farm economic point of view, the potential for good profit is excellent because the cost of growing crops in this manner is a fraction of conventional cropping. The added benefit in a mixed farm situation is that up to six months extra grazing is achieved with this       method compared with the loss of grazing due to ground preparation and weed control required in traditional cropping methods. As a general rule, an underlining principle of the success of this method is 100 percent ground cover 100 percent of the time.”

Other benefits are more difficult to quantify. These are the vast improvement in perennial plant numbers and diversity of the pasture following the crop. This means that there is no need to re-sow pastures, which can cost in excess of $150 per hectare, and considerably more should contractors be used for pasture establishment.

Independent studies at Winona on pasture cropping by the Department of Land and Water have found that pasture cropping is 27 percent more profitable than conventional agriculture; this is coupled with great environment benefits that will improve the soil and regenerate our landscapes.  

Pasture cropping is one of the best ways to increase soil organic matter. The fields are covered with photosynthesizing leaves all year, capturing CO2, which are deposited deep into the soil by the roots of perennial cover crops. Dr. Christine Jones has conducted research at Colin Sies’s property showing that 168.5 tons of CO2 per hectare ( 170,000 pounds/acre)were sequestered over the course of ten years. The sequestration rate in 2009–2010 was 33 tonnes of CO2 per hectare per year.

A soil comparison between Colin Seis’s farm (Winona) and a nearby property shows significantly improved soil carbon levels in areas that have been pasture cropped. Courtesy of Dr. Christine Jones.  10cm = 4 inches

This huge addition of soil organic matter has stimulated the soil microbiome to release the minerals locked up in the parent material of the soil, dramatically increasing soil fertility. The following increases in soil mineral fertility have occurred in ten years with only the addition of a small amount of phosphorus:

277% Calcium

138% Magnesium

146% Potassium

157% Sulphur

151% Phosphorus

186% Zinc

122% Iron

202% Copper

156% Boron

151% Molybdenum

179% Cobalt

117% Selenium

The Soil Kee System

An excellent example of the development of pasture cropping / no-till no-kill is the Soil Kee, which was designed by Neils Olsen.

First the ground cover/pasture is grazed or mulched to reduce root and light competition. Then the Soil Kee breaks up root mass, lifts and aerates the soil, top-dresses the ground cover/pasture in narrow strips, and plants seeds, all with minimal soil disturbance. The seeds of the cover/cash crops are planted and simultaneously fed an organic nutrient such as guano. The faster the seed germinates and grows, the greater the yield. It is critical to get the biology and nutrition to the seed at germination and to remove root competition.

A perennial pasture a few days after the Soil Kee was used to break up the root mass and plant the seeds of the cover crop

Pasture cropping is excellent at increasing soil organic matter/soil carbon. Neils Olsen has been paid for sequestering 11 tonnes of CO2 per hectare (11,000 pounds/acre) per year, (11,000 pounds/acre) under the Australian government’s Carbon Farming Scheme in 2019. He was paid for 13 tonnes of CO2 per hectare (13,000 per acre) per year in 2020. He is the first farmer in the world to be paid for sequestering soil carbon under a government regulated system.

Niels Olsen with a multispecies cover crop of legumes, grasses, and grains for livestock. This mix grows strongly in mid-winter. Cereals, pulses, and other cash crops can be planted into the pasture to produce high-value cash crops.

Regenerative agricultural systems such as cover cropping and pasture cropping are radically changing the conventional approach to weed management. They have shown that the belief that any plant that is not our cash crop is a weed and needs to be destroyed is no longer correct. The fact is that plant diversity builds resilience and increases yields, not the other way around. The key is developing management systems that change competition from other plants into mutualism and symbiosis that benefit the cash crop.

Multispecies cover crops produce more biomass and nutrients than single-species monocultures. In the example of the Soil Kee system, the amount of stock feed is more than double the usual perennial or annual pastures in the district.

Variations of these systems are being developed all the time and are being used very successfully in horticulture, grazing, and broadacre agriculture.

To quote Colin Seis

“As a general rule, an underlining principle of the success of this method is 100 percent ground cover 100 percent of the time.”

Andre Leu is the International Director for Regeneration International. To sign up for RI's email newsletter, click here.

Monsanto, Big Food, and Big Ag Move to Co-opt the Organic and Regenerative Movement

Organic consumers - Thu, 2021-03-04 14:14
March 4, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationJulia KloehnEnvironment & Climate greenwashing_button_keyboard_markers_1200x630.jpg

There’s one skill that Big Food and Big Ag corporations have in abundance: taking control of every situation and corrupting it into an opportunity for profit. 

For example, as consumer interest in the terms “natural” and “sustainable” increased, industrial agribusiness began to use these unsubstantiated terms to market greenwashed products. These products were, in fact, just the opposite—made with pesticide-laden, factory farmed, and/or genetically engineered ingredients. Even the powerful Organic movement, which actually is based on specific certifiable practices and inputs, has required constant safeguarding against corporate attempts to dilute its meaning.  

Now, we will also diligently have to defend the up-and-coming Regeneration movement against attempts by agribusiness corporations to co-opt it and undermine its transformative power. 

In the past few years, Big Food and Big Ag corporations such as Bayer/Monsanto, Cargill, Walmart, General Mills, Danone, Unilever, and others have jumped on the bandwagon and publicly presented themselves as leaders in the regenerative agriculture movement. But something smells fishy. For one, these companies are completely leaving out organic practices in their definition of regenerative agriculture. As long as a farm uses certain conservation practices such as reduced tillage or cover crops, these companies seem to think that toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, biotechnology, and corporate control of farms and farmers are all A-okay. 

Seriously? Aren’t these all things that helped propel us into our public health and environmental crises in the first place? Their motives make sense, though, when you consider that these companies derive a significant portion of their profits from these destructive industrial agriculture technologies and inputs in the first place. If these companies can keep making profits off of destruction while putting on a good public image of being “regenerative,” this win-win for them must appear appealing indeed. 

In contrast, OCA and our allies believe that food, farming, and land use need to be both organic and regenerative if we are to solve these interconnected crises and stay true to the heart of what Regeneration really means. The power of Regeneration to heal our bodies, soil, water, air, and climate is too great to allow it to be co-opted by Big Food and Big Ag into a meaningless buzzword. We must uphold the narrative that toxic pesticides, GMOs, and other damaging tools of industrial agriculture have no place in a truly regenerative agriculture.

Regenerative—For Real?

The agribusiness multinationals General Mills and Danone have been doing pilot projects on regenerative agriculture in the past few years to encourage farmers to adopt techniques such as no-till, cover crops, and crop rotation. While these are important techniques used in regenerative agriculture, simply using these techniques in no way means that the farm ecosystem is truly regenerative. 

Specifically, nowhere do these corporate regenerative agriculture pilot programs mention that no-till and cover crop systems, unless they are also intentionally and actively organic, usually rely on heavy amounts of herbicide use. For example, a 2015 survey of over 1200 farmers in 47 states found that 59% used herbicides as their primary method of termination for cover crops. Herbicides are frequently touted in publications such as Scientific American as the key component allowing no-till farming to take hold on a large scale. While roller crimpers are mentioned as a mechanical means to terminate cover crops, the publication No-Till Farmer also recommends that  “2,4-D for broadleaves can be used to control single-species [cover crop] plantings … glyphosate, glufosinate, or paraquat are recommended for control of mixed-species plantings.” Now, that doesn’t sound too regenerative! 

In addition to polluting water, these toxic pesticides directly sabotage the very soil health and carbon sequestration benefits that regenerative agriculture is supposed to have. At its core, regenerative agriculture is based on healthy soil, which was well-summarized by Arran Stephens and Dag Falck for Sustainable Food News:

“1. Soil which is nurtured to support a largely unseen microbial network will grow healthier plants. 2. The plants grown in healthy soil provide healthier nutrition for people and animals. 3. The big ‘Aha!’ realization is that this very same healthy soil actually sequesters enough carbon from the atmosphere to heal our catastrophic global climate disruption.”

However, those synthetic fertilizers and pesticides that Big Ag would so happily allow to continue to be used in “regenerative” systems actually destroy the very soil microorganisms that are responsible for many of regenerative agriculture’s benefits. When soil microbial communities are disrupted through the application of agri-chemicals, this greatly diminishes the soil’s ability to cycle nutrients, build organic matter, and sequester carbon. 

A False Face of Regeneration

As regenerative agriculture has become more prominent on the world stage, questionable initiatives cloaked in legitimacy through association with organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have expanded. For example, the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA), hosted by the FAO, purports to champion regenerative agriculture and states the following goals:

1. Sustainable and equitable increases in agricultural productivity and incomes;

2. Greater resilience of food systems and farming livelihoods;

3. Reduction and/or removal of greenhouse gas emissions associated with agriculture (including the relationship between agriculture and ecosystems), where possible

Those all sound pretty good, right? Not so fast. When you take a deeper look into the list of GACSA members, you’ll be worried. Among the members include:

• Syngenta (pesticide and GMO giant)

• Yara International (world’s largest synthetic fertilizer manufacturer) 

• Indigo Ag (provider of “plant microbiome agricultural services” and artificial intelligence; the president of their board is Moderna CEO in Big Pharma)

• Global Biotechnology Transfer Foundation

• International Fertilizer Industry Association 

• Danone (food multinational)

• Kellogg’s (food multinational)

Can these players really be trusted to have the best interest of human communities, health, soil, water, air, animals, wildlife, and climate at heart? It sure doesn’t seem so.

For another example, Cargill has previously been named “Worst Company in the World” by the environmental organization Mighty Earth due to its “unscrupulous business practices, environmental destruction, and repeated insistence on standing in the way of global progress on sustainability.” Does Cargill’s sudden interest in regenerative agriculture demonstrate a change of heart? Or—more likely—are there ulterior motives (and opportunities for profit) at play?

True Regenerative Organic

It is clear that Big Ag and Big Food corporations are all too eager to steer the Regeneration narrative in whatever direction most benefits themselves—but only if we let them. We have the power to come together and push back against these corporate interests who are trying to co-opt the Regeneration movement and reduce it into a set of particular techniques within the business-as-usual paradigm of corporate control and imperialism. 

Fortunately, there are many proactive efforts towards true Regeneration such as the Regenerative Organic Certification. 

We have the power to uphold the narrative that true Regeneration is organic, holistic, locally-controlled, decentralized, small-scale, and democratic. True Regeneration is based on agroecology, relocalization of food systems, and respect of Indigenous knowledge. It nourishes health, culture, local economy, and community.

We cannot solve the crises in public health, environment, and climate through the same structures that created them. Instead, we need a radical and revolutionary Regenerative approach that gives the power back to small farmers, local communities, and truly respects the soil.

To keep up with Organic Consumers Association's news and alerts, sign up here.

What You Should Know About Carbon Offsets

Organic consumers - Thu, 2021-03-04 13:56
March 4, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerEnvironment & Climate pollution_air_environment_field_industry_1200x630.jpg

There are plenty of things we can do to help the climate, from eating locally grown regenerative organic food to reducing our fossil fuel consumption by insulating our homes, installing solar power, taking public transit or driving an electric car. 

But, most of us find ourselves responsible for carbon emissions that can’t easily be avoided, whether it’s from a flight we have to take or the natural gas lines into our homes.

Increasingly, businesses are making it easy for consumers to offset the greenhouse gas associated with their purchases by offering carbon credits. Some businesses even set carbon-neutral goals and commit to completely offsetting unavoidable emissions.

Mom’s Organic Market, the store where I shop for groceries, has free electric car-charging stations at each of its locations and offers employees an incentive to buy electric cars. The opportunity to plug in my old limited-range Nissan Leaf is one of the reasons I love shopping at MOM’s. 

Most of its customers drive gasoline-fueled cars. So, the store uses its customers’ zip codes to track miles driven for each shopping trip, then it offsets these emissions by buying carbon credits and adds the costs to its overhead. MOM’s makes offsetting customers’ greenhouse gas emissions one of its costs of doing business.

That’s great, but the offsets MOM’s buys aren’t. According to its website, it invests in projects such as:

• The McKinney Landfill Gas Methane Capture: trash decomposes in landfills, creating methane gas. Methane rises to the top of the landfill and is collected in pipes. This methane is burned to produce heat or generate electricity.

• Wisconsin Agricultural Methane Capture: animal manure on farms is collected. Manure digesters convert the energy stored in this organic matter into methane, which is used to produce energy (gas or electricity) for on and off farm use.

• U.S. Coal Mine Methane Capture: methane gas is captured from coal mines. The methane is then burned to produce heat or generate electricity.

I love MOM’s and don’t want to knock it for trying to do the right thing, but projects that slightly reduce the heavy emissions associated with coal mining, or waste rotting in landfills, or manure piling up in factory farms, don’t make the best offsets. Creating additional revenue streams for these environmentally destructive practices will only prevent them from being replaced by composting, grass-based dairy and clean power.

Pollution reductions shouldn’t be considered offsets. 

Offsetting greenhouse gas emissions should mean sucking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. That’s the only way to lower CO2, currently at 416 parts per million, back down below the dangerous tipping point of 350 ppm.

There’s only one way to do this: regenerative organic agriculture.

Technically, on the whole, U.S. cropland is already a carbon sink, sequestering 10.3 MMT CO2 Eq. in 2017. U.S. grasslands, where cattle graze, are too, but just barely, sequestering 0.1 MMT CO2 Eq.

Does that mean U.S. farmers and ranchers should be able to sell 10.4 million tons of carbon credits to polluters? No and here’s why: 

Just because cropland is sequestering carbon, that doesn’t mean it isn’t also a source of greenhouse gas pollution. 

U.S. cropland has been losing carbon. In 1990, U.S. cropland sequestered 40.9 MMT CO2 Eq. and it’s been steadily declining since then. So the 10.3 MMT CO2 Eq. sequestered in 2017 could also be seens as the emission of 30.6 MMT CO2 Eq.

Worse than that, agriculture is a much bigger greenhouse gas polluter than it is a greenhouse gas sink. Agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions come from the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers made from natural gas (266.4 MMT CO2 Eq.―the Environmental Protection Agency euphemistically calls synthetic fertilizer use Agricultural Soil Management) and the waste and emissions from the concentration of animals in factory farm feedlots (255.8 MMT CO2 Eq.―Enteric Fermentation and Manure Management in EPA’s parlance).

Altogether, farming and ranching is emitting 542.1 MMT CO2 Eq. while sequestering 10.4 MMT CO2 Eq.

So, if agriculture is to become carbon neutral―let alone contribute to offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions of other sectors―synthetic fertilizers and factory farms must be phased out, while regenerative organic practices that sequester carbon are ramped up.

There’s certainly a lot of potential, especially on grasslands where fertilizer isn’t used and cattle can be kept for the entirety of their lives instead of being sent to factory farm feedlots.

But, this is going to mean reversing a very strong trend in U.S. agriculture of greenhouse gas pollution and plummeting soil carbon sequestration.

Back to offsets, we don’t see a problem with polluters paying farmers and ranchers to sequester carbon through carbon credits, as long as: 

1. the money is from polluters not taxpayers (see our action alert on that here),

2. there’s no use of synthetic fertilizers, and 

3. the crops and livestock don’t end up in factory farm feedlots.

A great example of agricultural carbon credits done right is Hudson Carbon.  

Hudson Carbon measures, verifies and registers offsets based on the carbon sequestration that results from regenerative organic agriculture practices, including agroforestry, adaptive multi-paddock grazing, cover cropping, dense crop rotations, planting perennials, eliminating chemical fertilizers, and minimizing tillage.

As a non-profit, Hudson Carbon has a unique way of pricing carbon credits:

We believe that carbon is systematically underpriced, which means that there are insufficient consequences for emitting and limited incentives to embrace carbon removal. The social cost of carbon is a challenging concept, how does one put a price on lives lost and people displaced from dirty air, coastal erosion, water disruption, and extreme heat? Scholars have tried to come up with answers, which have ranged from $30 to $400 per ton of carbon. Rather than placing a price on people’s lives and our public goods, we have taken a different approach. We have set out to determine the price that will make it possible for farmers to align their operations to maximize carbon capture. Committing to regenerative practices means upfront costs including new equipment, temporary yield declines, new seeds, more labor, and innovative pest management. We have worked with our agricultural partners to price out those needs and come up with a carbon price that adequately overcomes those barriers and allows farmers to sustain those practices. We think this will send better signals in all carbon markets and compensate at levels that will actually create change. Regenerative practices can draw down up to a half of global emissions, while making food healthier, land more fertile, and rural communities more prosperous. We feel this should be our most prioritized climate solution and believe it deserves a premium price.

Farmers receive 80% of the carbon revenue from our marketplace. The remaining costs support the registration and verification process, and the soil carbon research we lead to continue to advance agricultural carbon initiatives. As a non-profit, all revenue earned above our costs gets funneled back into our mission of accelerating adoption to regenerative agriculture.

When a company or consumer buys a carbon offset from Hudson Carbon they are buying one ton of carbon removed from the atmosphere and stored in the ground in a particular year. The credit is retired. No one else can purchase the same carbon, and it cannot be resold. Each credited ton of carbon remains stored for at least 10 years, but likely much longer. Buyers and sellers are protected from unintentional carbon releases, in the case of a wildfire for example, by a reserve pool of credits to cover these events or any potential inaccuracies discovered after a credit has been issued. As Hudson Carbon’s FAQs state, “Natural systems are imperfect, but we are careful to be conservative to avoid overstating the benefits of a project.”

Hudson Carbon offers credits based on carbon removal, not avoided emissions. Only projects that actually draw down carbon are credited:

There is a big difference between carbon removal and avoided emissions. While it is important to decarbonize our smokestacks and tailpipes, we cannot reach our climate goals by simply polluting less. We also need to draw down carbon from the atmosphere.

Hudson Carbon uses detailed climate models that not only evaluate the level of carbon stored in soil, but the changes relative to a baseline of standard practices. For example, there may be years, because of precipitation and temperature patterns, where most farms would sequester some carbon. 

Hudson Carbon only provides credits to farms that beat that standard and go above and beyond. Credits under this standard have the highest integrity for demonstrating true climate benefits. These benefits are demonstrated through precise measurements of climate impact, including soil cores, to continue to advance soil carbon science and reliably credit exceptional climate action.

Want to learn more? We do, too! Regeneration International is currently exploring how Hudson Carbon credits may be a way for farmers in Mexico to get the financial support they need to transition to regenerative organic agriculture using an innovative silvopasture model.

We’ll have more news on that soon. In the meantime, learn more at these links: 

WEBSITE: The Billion Agave Project

VIDEO: Agave and Mesquite Agroforestry

VIDEO: Game-Changing Agroforestry & Holistic Livestock Management System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Substantial compensation” offered

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Black farmers

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

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

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

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

Lawsuits in Australia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 18:41
COVID-19Jonathan CookCounterPunchFebruary 18, 2021 sky1200x630.jpg

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

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

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

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

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 18:31
Environment & Climate, Genetic EngineeringCarey GillamThe GuardianFebruary 16, 2021 maize1200x630.jpg

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

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

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

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

Comparing Organic, Agroecological and Regenerative Farming

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-02-24 18:20
Environment & ClimateAndrea BesteResilienceFebruary 12, 2021 garden-1200x630.jpg

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

Beginnings in the USA

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

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