Consumer Power

The Troubling Role of Glyphosate in COVID-19

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

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

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

Glyphosate’s Mechanism of Action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Deuterium

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Opening the CIA's Can of Worms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source Author 2: Allison Wilson, PhD

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

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

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

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

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

Who Are the Covid Investigators?

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

Members of a WHO origin probe have conflicts of interest.

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

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

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

Regenerative Food and Farming: The Road Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We assert the following from public health and government officials:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We demand the following from public health and government officials:

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

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

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

• Removal of liability protection from the vaccine manufacturers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we need you to do now is the following:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transcript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maria: Thank you, Ronnie.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Biofuels from Greenhouse-Gas-Polluting Industrial Agriculture 

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

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

2. Electricity from Greenhouse-Gas-Polluting Factory Farms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Could Most COVID-19 Deaths Have Been Prevented?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vitamin D Optimization Is Powerful Prevention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vitamin D Improves COVID-19 Outcomes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silicon Valley Takes the Battlespace

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

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

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

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

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

Ethanol Plant Using Treated GMO Corn Poisons Town

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

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

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

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

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

Pesticide Contamination ‘Off the Charts’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sick Dogs, Dead Bees and Birds Reported

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

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

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

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

How Soon Will the Left Eat Their Own?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Era for US Public Lands Under Native American Leadership?

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

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

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

1. #OurClimateSolution 

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

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

2. #UndoTrump

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

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

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

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

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

3. #ClimateStewardshipAct

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

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

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

4. #GrasslandsConservation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. #RegenerativeRanching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. #LandBack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. #BuffaloTreaty

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

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

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

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

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

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

Vilsack’s Dicamba Disaster: Reason #2 Senators Should Vote NO on Biden’s USDA Pick

Organic consumers - Wed, 2021-01-20 20:40
January 20, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerFarm Issues, Genetic Engineering vilsackdicamba1200x630.png

Following up on “Back to the Future with Tom ‘Mr. Monsanto’ Vilsack,” this is the second installment in a series of articles we’re doing on President Joe Biden’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

If you haven’t already, please tell your U.S. Senators to vote NO on Vilsack.

In our last post, we listed the dozens of new genetically modified crops Vilsack pushed through the U.S.D.A. and cloned animals that he allowed to enter the market without review.

Today, we focus on Vilsack’s 2015 approval of dicamba-resistant cotton and soy. He knew these GMOs would unleash a raft of hellish herbicide drift incidents plaguing organic and conventional farmers alike. But, it was Monsanto's biggest product launch ever, supposedly a fix for the weed problems with Roundup Ready crops (resistant to glyphosate), so he turned a blind eye to the danger.

Dicamba is diabolical. Since the dawn of industrial agriculture, there has never been such an intense and prolonged period of crop losses due to pesticide damage, as that wrought by Vilsack's 2015 rubber stamping of Monsanto's dicamba-resistant GMOs. 

Dicamba has hit vegetable growers, vineyards, orchards and nurseries, as well as cotton and soy farmers, but the damage hasn’t been restricted to farms. Trees, native and ornamental plants, backyard gardens and natural areas are also suffering.

This is a grim legacy for a USDA Secretary who claimed to have wanted to “develop a sensible path forward for strengthening coexistence of all segments of agriculture in our country.”

Because Vilsack gave his rubber-stamp approval to Monsanto’s new GMO seeds before the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reviewed the herbicides they were engineered to work with, farmers ended up using old versions of pesticides illegally, resulting in the loss of tens of thousands of acres of crops and more than $400 million, not to mention the environmental and public health disaster that has yet to be fully assessed.

This was all according to Monsanto’s plan. If Vilsack didn’t know that, he’s a fool. If he did, he’s a criminal.

Internal company documents examined by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting (“‘Buy it or else’: Inside Monsanto and BASF’s moves to force dicamba on farmers,” December 4, 2020) revealed that Monsanto and BASF knew that introduction of the new GMO seeds and the accompanying weed killer use would cause extensive crop damage. They let the disaster happen, knowing that many farmers would buy the new GMOs just to protect themselves from their neighbors.

“Get poisoned or get on board,” is how journalist Johnathan Hettinger sums up what he learned about the companies’ strategy.

Whether it was incompetence or complicity, Vilsack’s decision to push Monsanto’s dicamba-resistant GMOs onto the market―with no plan for how to deal with the pesticide problems he knew they’d cause―created a nightmare scenario that the courts, state regulators and individual farmers are still struggling to undo.

In June 2020, a federal court banned dicamba in response to a lawsuit filed by the Center for Food Safety, along with the Center for Biological Diversity, the National Family Farm Coalition and the Pesticide Action Network.

In October 2020, the EPA trumped the court’s decision (pun intended) by granting dicamba five more years of use. This prompted plaintiffs to file a new lawsuit in December, since the EPA’s own data showed that the damage from the weed killer was even worse than previously known:

Between 2017-2019, there were as many as 140,000 separate instances of crop damage caused by dicamba. (There were 5,600 dicamba damage reports logged by Bayer, which now owns Monsanto, and BASF, but the EPA estimated that there were probably 25 times as many incidents, given most went unreported.) 

In 2018 alone, an estimated 4 percent of soybean farmers were affected. 

States are spending millions of dollars each year investigating complaints, forcing them to divert resources to the crisis from other regulatory priorities.

That’s according to a review of the newly released documents by the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting.  

The human health toll of the dicamba disaster is unknown. A 2020 study conducted by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, "Dicamba use & cancer incidence in the agricultural health study: an updated analysis," links dicamba to liver and intrahepatic bile duct cancers, acute and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and mantle cell lymphoma. 

Vilsack did this.

It would be poetic justice for him to have to return to the mess he made, but he has proven himself to be either too corrupt or not smart enough to deal with it.

That’s why every U.S. Senator, but especially those from the states most impacted by dicamba damage, should vote NO on Biden’s attempt to put him back in charge of the USDA.

Take action: tell your U.S. Senators to vote NO on Tom “Mr. Monsanto” Vilsack.

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

Roadmap to Regeneration in the United States, 2020–2030

Organic consumers - Tue, 2021-01-19 20:10
January 19, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationRonnie CumminsFarm Issues grr_12000x630.png

The following is the last chapter of the book, “Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Food, Farming, Climate and a Green New Deal,” by Ronnie Cummins.

"We have the outline of a plan. We need a mass mobilization of people and resources, something not unlike the U.S. involvement in World War II or the Apollo moon missions—but even bigger. We must transform our energy system, transportation, housing, agriculture and more."

—Stephanie Kelton, Andres Bernal, and Greg Carlock, “We Can Pay for a Green New Deal”

The final months of 2018 will likely be remembered as the time when the United States and global grassroots finally began to awaken to the existential crisis posed by global warming. Part of this great awakening was no doubt due to the fact that violent weather, forest fires, drought, floods, water shortages, crop failures, and unusually prolonged heat and/or cold waves became the “new normal,” striking home in both the Global North and the Global South, falling hardest on the poor and marginalized, but striking fear into the hearts of the middle and upper classes as well.

With international scientists finally dropping their customary caution and pointing out that the “end is near” in terms of irreversible climate change, the mass media, a significant number of global policy makers, and hundreds of millions of ordinary people seemed to simultaneously wake up across the world.

Young climate activists, under the banner of the Sunrise Movement in the United States and the Extinction Rebellion in the UK and other countries, sat in at politicians’ offices and blocked streets and roadways, demanding immediate and bold action. The Sunrise Movement captured headlines and mass public attention by calling for a sweeping change in US federal policy: the Green New Deal. An international school strike, known as Fridays for the Future, initiated in Sweden by high school student Greta Thunberg, has begun to spread globally, with millions of students in over a hundred nations walking out of classes and organizing rallies and protests to demand bold action from their governments to reverse climate change.

But, of course, this great global awakening is just the beginning. As 350.org climate action leader Bill McKibben and others have pointed out, we now likely are at the point of our last chance to act on the climate crisis before it’s too late. Here in the United States, we can’t wait one or two more presidential election cycles before we take decisive action. Either we bring about bold economic and policy change, starting immediately, or we are doomed. Either we elect and rally behind insurgent green and social justice leaders and implement sweeping changes, or our global awakening in 2018 will be judged by future generations as too little, too late.

The Green New Deal under Attack

In the United States, the Sunrise Movement and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal (GND), though endorsed by more than a hundred members of Congress, as well as leading 2020 presidential candidates Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and others, was immediately attacked as “too radical” or “utopian” by both climate-change-denying Republicans and neoliberals and indentured Democrats beholden to Big Oil and corporate agribusiness. In particular, the GND’s proposition of achieving zero emissions by 2030 was dismissed as an impractical and dangerous measure that would wreck the economy and put millions of working-class people out of work.

If you read the GND proposal carefully, the criticism it has received is not justified, but it underlines the importance of being able to clearly explain to the American public and the global body politic exactly what we mean by a full-blown green energy and regenerative economy, with jobs for everyone willing to work and a just transition to net zero emissions by 2030. To gain and maintain majority support for policies such as the GND, we must be able to explain to everyday people not only the basics of reducing fossil fuel use and drawing down carbon through regenerative practices but also, as outlined earlier, how we can readily finance this great transition by increasing today’s outrageously low taxes on the wealthy and large corporations and implementing a full menu of government appropriations, bonds, loan programs, jobs, and infrastructure projects, similar to the New Deal policies of the 1930s and ’40s.

If we can properly explain what net zero emissions (as opposed to zero emissions) and a green economy with decent-paying jobs for all would mean, a critical mass of people and voters will likely see the GND for what it is: our last and best hope, a practical and comprehensive program based on sound science, public need, and commonsense survival.

Initial polls in the United States in December 2018 found that 81 percent of the public (Democrats, Republicans and Independents) basically supported the idea of a GND. Later polls in 2019, even after prolonged criticisms (and misinformation) in the mass media, showed continuing majority support by 63 percent of Americans. But, of course, the oligarchy and its indentured politicians and media spokespersons will continue to attack the GND. They will try to deny or ridicule the idea that we can actually change our current fossil fuel–dependent system, provide good jobs for everyone willing to work in reconstructing our urban and rural infrastructure and agriculture, and reverse climate change. To overcome these naysayers and gain critical mass, we will have to get organized and united as never before. We will have to carry out an unprecedented campaign of mass public education and mobilization, catalyzing a ballot box revolution that will put an end to the corporate domination of the US political system—and inspiring others around the world to do the same.

Zero and Net Zero Emissions

Unfortunately, most of the public, and even some of the early proponents of the GND, don’t yet properly know how to explain what natural carbon sequestration actually means, what net zero fossil fuel emissions means, or what we’re talking about when we say that regenerative food, farming, and land use, combined with renewable energy, can actually stop and then reverse, not just slow down, global warming.

In this regard, it is extremely important for Regeneration and GND advocates to be able to explain the difference between zero fossil fuel emissions and net zero fossil fuel emissions. Net zero emissions refers to the point in time at which we will be drawing down as much of our GHG emissions as we are still putting into the atmosphere and into our oceans. But zero emissions, in the minds of ordinary people, means literally just that—no fossil fuel or greenhouse gas emissions, period. A worthy goal to shoot for, but something that will likely take us more than ten years to achieve.

Net zero emissions takes into consideration the equivalent effect or impact of carbon drawdown. Of course we can’t immediately, or even within a decade, move to global zero emissions by shutting down all cars, manufacturing, home heating and air conditioning, construction, and all commercial enterprises that utilize fossil fuels without wrecking the economy. But we can, even on the same tight ten-year time frame of 2020–2030, achieve net zero emissions through a combination of aggressive fossil fuel emissions reduction and aggressive regenerative carbon drawdown. Net zero GHG emissions will have the same practical impact on reducing global warming as zero emissions.

Of course, beyond net zero emissions, our long-term goal is to achieve net negative emissions, as soon as possible, whereby we begin to draw down and transfer 200 to 286 billion tons of excess atmospheric carbon—the dangerous legacy load of 820 billion tons of carbon from the atmosphere, where it’s undermining climate stability—into our living soils and forests, where it will bring enormous benefits. Over a long period of time, this net negative process, as part of a new green economy, will enable our supersaturated oceans to release some of the excess carbon that they have absorbed from human-caused emissions, reducing the acidity of the oceans and restabilizing global habitat for marine life as well.

Reaching Net Zero Emissions in the United States by 2030

As emphasized in chapter 2, don’t let a bunch of numbers confuse you. Basically, what we have to do in the United States and the rest of the world over the next ten years is to cut fossil fuel emissions in half and then draw down the equivalent of the remaining GHG emissions into our soils, forests, and plants through regenerative practices.

In order to achieve the goal of net zero emissions in the United States by 2030, as called for in the GND, the most practical and achievable plan will be to reduce our current levels of net fossil fuel emissions from 5.7 billion tons of CO2e to 2.75 billion tons of CO2e, a reduction of 50 percent, while we simultaneously draw down and sequester in our soils and forests an equal amount (2.75 billion tons of CO2e).

In 2018, US GHG emissions amounted to approximately 16 percent of total global emissions (37.1 billion tons of CO2e). In comparison, the US population of 330 million amounts to only 4.27 percent of the world’s population. In other words, the United States is emitting approximately four times as much GHG per capita as the average person on the planet. In fact, the United States is responsible for an estimated 28.8 percent of all human-derived global emissions since the onset of the industrial revolution in 1750.

A GND for achieving a carbon-neutral economy in the United States by 2030 will necessarily involve eliminating 45 to 60 percent of our current 5.75 billion tons of CO2e fossil fuel emissions, while sequestering the remaining two to three billion tons of CO2e through regenerative agriculture, reforestation, and ecosystem restoration. This represents an ambitious but realistic goal, according to numerous experts and current best practices, assuming we can generate sufficient political pressure to force the White House, Congress, and state and local governments to reject business as usual and take bold action.

Categories of Emissions

The EPA breaks down the sources of the United States’s gross GHG emissions into five broad categories: transportation (29 percent), electricity production (28 percent), industry (22 percent), commercial and residential (12 percent), and agriculture (9 percent). Taking the agriculture category at face value, you’d likely infer that food, farming, and land use are no more than a minor factor (9 percent) in the United States’ contribution to the global climate crisis. However, if you look more closely at the carbon or CO2e “footprint” of the food, farming, and land use sector as a whole (including fossil fuels used in on-farm production, food and crop transportation, food processing, packaging, and refrigeration, as well as the chemical inputs of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, off-gassing of CO2, methane, and nitrous oxide from soils and landfills, and destruction of wetlands and soil organic carbon), you start to realize that food, farming, and land use are actually responsible for almost half of all US GHG emissions, not just the 9 percent attributed by the EPA and the USDA to “agriculture.”

On the other hand, organic and regenerative farming and land management practices and forest growth in the United States are routinely overlooked as being important solutions to global warming and climate change. Properly managed lands and forest growth actually draw down a considerable amount of excess CO2 from the atmosphere. Currently they sequester 714 million tons of CO2e (or 11 percent of US gross emissions) annually, even according to the EPA, and even in their currently degraded condition.

We Need Net Zero Emissions by 2030, Not 2050

There is a debate in progressive political circles about whether we should adopt a more conservative goal, as put forth by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and most nations, to achieve net 45 percent reductions in GHGs by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050, or whether we should instead aim for a much more ambitious goal, in line with the goals of the GND, to achieve net zero emissions by 2030.

A number of nations have already pledged to reach net zero emissions before 2050, including Bhutan (which has already achieved net zero emissions), Norway (2030), Uruguay (2030), Finland (2035), Iceland (2040), and Sweden (2045). The state of California, too, can be added to this list (2045). The European Union is currently operating under a net zero 2050 timeline but will likely set a stricter goal soon.

Let’s now look in more detail at how we can reduce fossil fuel emissions in the United States by 45 to 60 percent in the next decade through energy conservation and making the transition to renewable energy. Following that, let’s look at how we can draw down or sequester the remaining two to three billion tons of GHGs that we will still be emitting in a decade, so as to achieve net zero emissions.

US Roadmap Part One: Reducing Fossil Fuel Emissions by 45 to 60 Percent

The United States is fortunate to have the natural resources to help lead the global community in a transition to a green energy future, complemented by regenerative agriculture and land use. We not only have some of the best wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and biomass resources on Earth, but our forests, soils, farmlands, grasslands, wetlands, and marine ecosystems have the inherent capacity, if properly managed and regenerated, to sequester as much CO2e as we are currently emitting, and even more. Perhaps most important of all, we have a new generation of youth, personified by the Sunrise Movement, supported by a new wave of climate-conscious, insurgent politicians, such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, ready and willing to take the lead.

On the renewable energy front, the United States, under a new administration in 2021 and beyond, will need to step up the pace. We must rapidly expand the US solar, wind, and renewable energy economy, which in 2017, according to the EPA, provided approximately 13 percent of our energy needs, including 22 percent of our electricity. As we ramp up renewables, we must phase out coal, oil, gas, and nuclear power plants, as rapidly as possible. Germany, with a powerful economy similar to that of the United States, has been operating under a plan for ten years to reduce emissions by 55 percent by 2030, and will likely soon be raising its goals for emissions reductions even higher. If the United States sets a goal for a 60 percent reduction in fossil fuel use/GHG emissions by 2030, similar to that of Germany, we should be able to sequester the remaining 40 percent of GHGs through regenerative food, farming, reforestation, and ecosystem restoration practices, enabling us to reach net zero emissions (carbon neutrality) by 2030. Although 60 percent in emissions reductions is an achievable goal, as we will demonstrate below, even with 45 to 50 percent reductions we can still reach carbon neutrality by maximizing regenerative agriculture and forest/land management practices.

To reduce fossil fuel use and GHG emissions by 45 to 60 percent over the next decade, we will need to generate 75 to 85 percent or more of our electricity (which now releases 28 percent of our total emissions) with renewables, basically shutting down coal generation for electricity. This will reduce current overall emissions by approximately 20 to 24 percent. Energy conservation measures across all sectors (utilities, transportation, buildings, manufacturing, agriculture) will need to go along with this renewable energy revolution in the electricity sector.

According to a comprehensive study published in 2015 by Mark Z. Jacobson and a team of experts in the peer-reviewed journal Energy and Environmental Science, all fifty states in the nation have the potential to convert their fossil fuel–based electricity, transportation, heating and cooling, and industry systems to ones powered entirely by wind, water, and sunlight, replacing 80 to 85 percent of existing fossil fuel and nuclear energy by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050. In terms of the economic impact of this mass conversion to renewable energy on employment, the study’s authors state: “Over all 50 states, converting would provide ~3.9 million 40-year construction jobs and ~2.0 million 40-year operation jobs for the energy facilities alone, the sum of which would outweigh the ~3.9 million jobs lost in the conventional energy sector.”

In terms of technological innovation, according to numerous studies, it is now cheaper and more profitable to build and operate electricity generation systems using solar and wind power than it is using coal, nuclear, or petroleum power.

But in order to replace coal, natural gas, nuclear, and petroleum as our primary power sources, our national (and international) electrical grid infrastructure will have to be rebuilt to facilitate decentralized power production and electricity sharing across regions. Also, we will obviously need to stop building more fossil fuel infrastructure (including pipelines), curtail oil and natural gas exploration and extraction, phase out polluting power plants, and electrify manufacturing, transportation, and heating. All of these measures mean leaving most, and eventually all, remaining fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

To pay for this transition, we will need to transfer massive government subsidies from fossil fuels to renewables and, at the same time, ensure a just transition and program of retraining for four million current workers in the fossil fuel sector, as outlined in the GND. If we don’t ensure a just transition (job retraining, job replacement, and/or retirement) for fossil fuel workers, we will likely never gain the political support for the GND that we need.

In the transportation sector (29 percent of current emissions), we will need to double or triple vehicle fuel economy standards and replace our gas and diesel guzzlers with as many electric cars, buses, trucks, tractors, and trains as possible so as to achieve 50 percent market share for electric vehicles by 2030. In order to do this, we will need to pay consumers, businesses, and municipalities a subsidy to switch over to electric vehicles and electrified mass transportation. This could potentially cut overall emissions by approximately 50 percent in the transportation sector. According to MIT Technology Review, given battery technology advances and cost reductions (electric cars will soon be cheaper to buy and operate than gas-driven vehicles), over half of new auto sales in 2040 will be electric vehicles.

Beyond automobiles, a growing number of nations are leading the way in terms of converting petroleum-driven buses, trucks, and trains to electricity. According to a report released at the San Francisco Global Climate Action Summit in 2018:

Every 5 weeks, China adds a fleet of electric buses equivalent to the entire London bus fleet—9500 buses. Technologies are now market ready, societally acceptable and economically attractive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 51% by 2030, through electric vehicles, mass transit and adapting the global shipping fleet. . . . However, the transformation will slow dramatically without strong national and city policies, for example setting target dates to ban internal combustion engines.

In the industrial and manufacturing sector, including heavy industry, light industry, feedstocks, and food processing (22 percent of all fossil fuel emissions), we will need to reduce coal and petroleum use by at least 50 percent through dramatic increases in recycling rates, switching over as quickly as possible to electrical power generated by renewables, and efficiency improvements, such as “making products more material-efficient . . . extending lifespan and reducing weight.” In the light industry sector, including food, textile, wood, printing, and consumer products manufacturing, as well as more fossil fuel–intensive industries such as steel, aluminum, cement, and plastic production, according to experts, we can reduce overall emissions by 50 percent using current technologies and efficiencies. Of course, addressing overconsumption and waste on the part of consumers, especially more affluent consumers, will need to be part of this mission.

A transition from cement to timber in the construction industry (a growing number of buildings, even high-rise buildings, are now being built from wood, using new techniques) could eliminate 5 to 6 percent of all GHG emissions. Similar climate-friendly changes in the manufacturing, construction, and industrial sector will reduce emissions by another 10 percent, for a cumulative total reduction of emissions of 45 to 49 percent in the electricity/utilities, transportation, and manufacturing sectors.

Residential and commercial buildings now account for almost 11 percent of all fossil fuel use in the United States. We can achieve a 50 percent reduction in emissions in this sector with retrofitting, insulating, changes in building codes, and greater energy efficiency, utilizing heat pumps, solar power, heat storage, and district heating systems based upon renewable energy. This retrofitting of our buildings will reduce our overall emissions by another 5 to 6 percent, while creating millions and millions of new jobs.

This brings us to 50 to 55 percent in overall fossil fuel emissions reductions by 2030. We can achieve a further 5 to 10 percent overall emissions reduction in the food and farming sector by reducing the consumption of fossil fuel–derived materials and products (plastics, food packaging, highly processed foods), by eliminating food waste and clothing waste, by recycling organic waste instead of dumping it into landfills, where it releases methane and CO2, and by drastically reducing methane and nitrous oxide emissions from fracking, natural gas, and chemical-intensive agriculture and factory farm inputs and practices (diesel fuel, chemical fertilizers, and petroleum-derived pesticides). Sixteen percent of all US GHG emissions comprise the potent heat-trapping gases nitrous oxide and methane—a significant percentage of which come from chemical-intensive industrial agriculture emissions from heavy pesticide and fertilizer use.

Implementing all of these transformations/reductions in the electricity, transportation, manufacturing, residential and commercial buildings, food, farming, and consumption sectors, as called for by the GND, can enable the United States to basically match the emissions reduction goals of Germany, with a 60 percent decrease in GHG emissions by 2030 (from 5.9 billion tons of CO2e to 2.36 billion tons).

The remaining 40 percent of net reductions (2.36 billion tons of CO2e) required to reach net zero emissions and a carbon-neutral USA by 2030 will need to be sequestered in our 1.9 billion acres of croplands, pasturelands, rangelands, wetlands, forests, urban landscapes, and vegetation through regenerative food, farming, forestry, land management, and ecosystem restoration practices. Let’s now look in more detail at a Regeneration and carbon sequestration plan for the next decade.

US Roadmap Part Two: Sequestering Remaining CO2e through Regenerative Food, Farming, and Land Use Practices

Utilizing satellites, surveys, and other sources, the USDA categorizes the 1.9 billion acres of the Lower 48 (i.e., all the states excluding Alaska and Hawaii) as follows: 654 million acres of pasture or rangeland (much of which is degraded), 539 million acres of forest (much of which needs to be reforested), 392 million acres of cropland (most of which is degraded in terms of soil carbon), 169 million acres of “special use” lands (parks and national/state forests), 69 million acres of urban land, and 69 million acres of “miscellaneous.”

Currently, as estimated by the EPA, the Lower 48 (1.9 billion acres) are sequestering 714 million tons of CO2e (or 11 percent of US gross GHG emissions). To reach our goal of net zero emissions by 2030 (assuming energy conservation and renewable energy can reduce gross emissions by 60 percent), these 1.9 billion acres, or rather a significant percentage of these acres, will have to be regenerated and reforested over the next decade so that they can sequester approximately three to four times as much atmospheric carbon as they are currently sequestering. Looking at scaling up existing best practices, we can see that this great sequestration and recarbonization of our soils and biota is indeed possible.

Let’s look at the practices (and the math) of potential carbon sequestration (and reduction of methane and nitrous oxide emissions) on the 1.9 billion acres of US farmland, pastures, rangelands, forests, and other landscapes by 2030.

Regenerating US Pasture and Rangeland

US pasture and rangeland (654 million acres) covers more than one-third of the Lower 48. One-quarter (158 million acres) of this acreage is administered by the US government and is usually open to livestock grazing by ranchers for a fee. Another 127 million acres that the EPA classifies as croplands are used by farmers to grow animal feed for livestock. This means that the livestock and livestock feed portions of our agricultural lands adds up to 781 million acres, 41 percent of all the land in the Lower 48.

The majority of these pastures and rangelands were once a diverse landscape—grasslands and natural prairie covered with native (deep-rooted) grasses, trees, bushes, and plants. This carbon-rich, climate-friendly landscape sequestered large amounts of atmospheric carbon, supported biodiversity and wildlife, and efficiently infiltrated rainfall and snowmelt into the topsoil and groundwater, springs, and aquifers. Before the advent of the plow and the repeating rifle and the ruthless occupation of Native lands, large herds of migratory buffalo, elk, deer, and other mammals grazed on the grasslands as they moved across the continent, while millions of “keystone species,” including beavers (wetlands builders), prairie dogs (soil excavators), and wolves (forcing grazing herds to band together and killing off sick and diseased animals), worked in natural harmony to keep the landscape regenerated and hydrated.

At the present time, most of these 781 million acres have been plowed under, deforested, and/or overgrazed, leaving them eroded, degraded, and lacking in terms of soil organic carbon, soil fertility, and biodiversity. America’s once healthy pasturelands and farmlands have become major greenhouse gas emitters, rather than soil carbon sinks or repositories. But with regenerative changes in grazing practices and livestock management, including switching cattle and herbivores away from chemical-intensive, fossil fuel–intensive GMO grains to a 100 percent grass-fed diet, and moving poultry and pork from confinement to free-range pasture, raised on a diet of organic and regeneratively produced grains, we can bring US rangelands and pasturelands back to full life and vitality.

Cattle and other herbivores such as sheep, goats, and buffalo should be outdoors, grazing on pasture grass, while omnivores such as poultry and pigs should be moved out of confinement and raised outdoors in a free-range or agroforestry setting, getting some of their nutrition/food in their pastures or wooded paddocks, while getting most of their nutrition from grains and forage that have been grown in a regenerative manner (no-till, cover-cropped, alley-cropped, biodiverse, chemical-free, agroforestry). Cattle and other herbivores will thrive and produce healthier meat and dairy products once they return to a 100 percent grass diet, as will chickens and pigs raised in a natural free-range environment. And consumers, once they understand the nutritional, environmental, climate, and animal welfare superiority of grass-fed and pastured meat and dairy, will increasingly choose to buy these products, especially if current subsidies—direct and indirect—for factory farms and factory-farmed animal feeds are eliminated.

Of course, all of this will require major subsidies for farmers and ranchers (including guaranteed fair prices, supply management, and payments for soil conservation) as well as changes in consumer purchasing and consumption, including a drastic reduction in the purchasing and consumption of factory-farmed meat, dairy, and other grain-fed animal products (chicken, poultry, and factory-farmed fish).

To carry out this restoration on a large enough scale, we will have to put an end to wasting millions of acres of our valuable farmlands to grow grain for herbivores (cows, sheep, goats, and bison)—animals that should not be eating grains at all. We will also need to stop sacrificing thirty-eight million acres of our valuable farmlands to the production of ethanol and biodiesel from corn and soybeans and instead convert these row-crop commodity farms back into diverse crop production and grazing. The process of producing ethanol and biodiesel from GMO corn and soybeans, contrary to industry claims, actually uses up more fossil fuels in its growing and production cycle than it saves by allowing us to burn ethanol or biodiesel in our cars.

Regenerative management of these pasturelands and rangelands will utilize soil-building techniques such as no-till farming, multispecies cover cropping, roller crimping (breaking the plant stalks and leaving them on the field rather than plowing or spraying pesticides when the cover crops mature), and grazing animals holistically and rotationally. Once restored and under regenerative management, these lands can sequester approximately twelve tons of CO2e per acre per year.

Guaranteed subsidies for soil conservation practices, a waiver of grazing fees on properly grazed federal lands, and fair prices (coupled with supply management) for farmers and ranchers for their meat, dairy, and grains are some of the key policies we will need to implement after the 2020 elections in order to promote regenerative, carbon-sequestering management of the majority of these 781 acres of pasturelands, rangelands, and animal feed croplands. The federal farm and soil conservation policies that we will need to fund in order to achieve a carbon-neutral economy by 2030 include the following:

Expansion of the Conservation Stewardship Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, with billions of additional dollars a year to increase regenerative practices such as cover cropping, prescribed grazing, riparian buffers, and no-till farming.

Expansion of the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) to include 100 million acres by 2030, raising rental payments made to farmers, and promoting regeneration practices, including agroforestry and holistic grazing, on these CRP lands.

Expansion of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program to substantially increase the acreage that farmers place into agriculture conservation and wetlands easements.

A major increase in the funding for research into conservation and holistic grazing, focusing on research into the reduction of carbon emissions in the agricultural sector and eliminating degenerative factory-farm production methods, as well as research dedicated to soil health.

Billions of dollars in increased incentives for local and regional food systems, as well as incentives for reforestation, regenerative forest management, and restoration of coastal wetlands. We will need to reforest over 65 million acres by 2030, on a combination of Forest Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and other federal lands, as well as on state, local, tribal, and nonprofit-owned lands. By 2050 we will need to reforest more than 250 million acres.

We must protect millions of at-risk acres of federal, state, local, tribal, and other lands by 2030 using forest management, controlled burns, and holistic grazing practices to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and to increase forest health/resilience. We need to plant an average of fifty million trees per year in urban areas across America to reduce the heat island effect and protect communities from extreme weather. In addition, we need to invest in wood product innovation and in biochar, creating jobs in rural and urban communities. Besides these measures, we need to restore or prevent the loss of 12 to 25 million acres of coastal and inland wetlands by 2030.

If holistic grazing and livestock/pasture management best practices were carried out on just a quarter of total pastureland, rangeland, and animal feed cropland in the United States, we would still be able to sequester 2.34 billion tons of CO2e—approximately 100 percent of the carbon sequestration we need (in combination with a transition to renewable energy) to reach net zero emissions by 2030.

Regenerating US Cropland

US cropland (392 million acres) includes 52 million acres idled or lying fallow at any given time, 38 million acres used for corn ethanol or soy biodiesel, 77 million acres for human food for US consumers, 127 million acres for livestock food crops (especially corn and soy), 22 million acres for wheat exports, 14 million acres for cotton (fiber and animal feed), and 69 million acres for other grains and food exports. Yet despite its enormous agricultural production, the United States imported 15 percent of its food and beverages in 2016, including 30 percent of its fruits and vegetables.

Disregarding the 127 million acres of cropland used for livestock grains and fodder, which we have discussed in conjunction with pasture and rangeland above, the United States’ 265 million acres of additional cropland can potentially be regenerated in order to store more carbon and improve fertility, water quality, biodiversity, food safety, and food quality or nutrition.

Traditional organic crop farming (no chemicals, cover cropping, minimum or no tillage, use of natural fertilizers) can sequester CO2e at a rate of up to 5.7 tons of CO2e per acre per year. However, Dr. David Johnson’s New Mexico lab and field research on regenerative compost shows that high-fungal-content, biologically rich, semi-anaerobic compost and compost extracts produce not just very high crop yields but also massive carbon sequestration, with rates of over four tons of carbon (fifteen tons of CO2e) per acre per year. As Dr. Johnson notes, if these compost practices were scaled up on the world’s four billion acres of croplands, “the entire world’s carbon output from 2016 could be stored on just 22 percent of the globe’s arable land.” Perhaps not coincidentally, Johnson’s methods mirror traditional and indigenous compost and agroecological farming practices utilized in India and other regions.

If traditional organic crop practices were implemented on all of the 265 million acres of US cropland (again, not counting land given over to animal feed crops), we could sequester 1.3 billion tons of GHGs. If organic practices were employed on just 50 percent of these croplands, we could sequester 650 million tons. With traditional organic practices on just one-quarter of this cropland, we could sequester 325 million tons.

But if advanced organic practices like Dr. Johnson’s were implemented, we could sequester 3.9 billion tons a year on 265 million acres, or 1.95 billion tons on half of this acreage, or almost 1 billion tons of GHGs on one-quarter of this acreage.

As a conservative estimate, with a combination of traditional organic and advanced organic methods on one-quarter of US cropland, we will be able to achieve 663 million tons of CO2e sequestration—approximately one-quarter of what we need.

Necessary measures to transform US crop production will include increasing the market share of organic food from its current 5.5 percent of all food sales and 10 percent of all produce (fruit and vegetable) sales to 50 percent of all sales by 2030. At the same time, we will need to convert thirty-eight million acres of corn (ethanol) and soybean (biodiesel) crops back into multispecies perennial grasslands and pasture and/or organic multispecies grain production. We will also need to implement soil restoration, regeneration, and agroforestry practices on our fifty-two million acres of idle or fallow land, utilizing government programs to subsidize farmers for restorative and regenerative practices.

Regenerating US Forestlands

US forestland (539 million acres), or rather “unprotected” forests and timberlands in the terminology of the USDA, account for one-quarter of the land in the Lower 48. These 539 million acres do not include the “special use” protected or semi-protected forest acreage in national parks (29 million acres of land), state parks (15 million acres), or wilderness and wildlife areas (64 million acres), or the “miscellaneous” (“low economic value”) acres of trees and shrubs located in marshes, deserts, and wetlands. Nor does this acreage include trees in urban areas.

If we count all these other forested (or “treed”) areas, however, forests comprise one-third of the total US land area. That may seem like a lot, but keep in mind that forests covered half the country prior to European settlement.

The EPA estimates that US forests currently sequester approximately 9 percent of all US GHG emissions (531 million tons of CO2e) every year. Over the next ten years, in order to reach carbon neutrality, we will need to embark upon a major program of reforestation and afforestation—preserving, expanding, and improving our forests (both private and publicly owned) and tree cover (both urban and rural).

According to the rather conservative projections made by the Nature Conservancy, reforestation of forty to fifty million acres in the United States could reach three hundred million tons of additional CO2e captured per year by 2025. But according to a more recent study by Dr. Thomas Crowther and others, mentioned in chapter 4, the United States has 254 million acres of degraded forests or treeless landscapes (excluding croplands and urban areas) that could be reforested, especially in the South, Southeast, and Northeast regions of the country. These 254 million reforested acres could potentially sequester, using the Nature Conservancy projections, 1.5 billion tons of GHGs annually.

Even if we reforest only one-quarter of the potential area that could be reforested in the United States by 2030, we will still be able to sequester 375 million tons of CO2e—approximately 15 percent of what we need.

As a recent article titled “Let’s Reforest America to Act on Climate” points out: “Under the original New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps planted three billion trees and employed three million workers in the process. America is well positioned to advance a similar effort again, with almost 20 million acres of recently disturbed land needing reforestation.”

“Special use” lands (169 million acres), including parks, wildlife areas, highways, railroads, and military bases, include millions of additional acres suitable for reforestation and afforestation, as identified by Crowther and others.

Urban areas (69 million acres) make up 3.6 percent of the land area of the Lower 48 but include 81 percent of the population (19 percent of people live in rural areas). Urban areas are growing by a million acres a year. Lawn areas in US cities and towns are estimated to include forty million acres of turf grass, covering 1.9 percent of the land. Although Crowther and others do not include urban areas in their totals for land that could be reforested, obviously millions of acres in urban areas are suitable for planting trees, which would then sequester carbon, reduce summertime urban temperatures, and provide shade, food, and habitat for humans, pollinators, and animals. In the United States, we should set a goal for planting 500 million new trees in urban areas by 2030.

Regenerating So-Called “Miscellaneous Lands”

“Miscellaneous lands” (69 million acres) are categorized by the USDA as having “low economic value.” These lands include cemeteries, golf courses, and airports, but also marshes and coastal wetlands. Contrary to the USDA’s assessment, the nation’s marshes and wetlands are enormously important in terms of sequestering carbon, filtering pollution, buffering hurricanes, preserving water quality, and providing habitat for fish and wildlife. As part of a national campaign of ecosystem restoration and carbon sequestration in the United States, we will need to restore millions of acres of wetlands, marshes, and marine ecosystems. It is estimated that the continental United States (not including Alaska) once had 220 million acres of wetlands, most of which have now been drained or destroyed. Restoring 12 to 25 million acres of marshlands and wetlands in the Lower 48 would sequester 75 to 150 million tons of CO2e annually.

The Bottom Line for US Carbon Neutrality

The bottom line for achieving carbon neutrality in the United States by 2030 is to basically reduce fossil fuel emissions by 45 to 60 percent in our electricity, transportation, housing, construction, and manufacturing sectors, in line with what other advanced industrial nations such as Germany are undertaking, while simultaneously carrying out the regenerative, carbon-sequestering agriculture and land use practices outlined above. With changes in livestock and pasture management on just a quarter of total pastureland, rangeland, and animal feed cropland (781 million acres), by 2030 we can sequester more than 2.34 billion tons of CO2e annually. With changes in management, utilizing organic and advanced organic methods, on a quarter of our 265 million acres of croplands (not counting land used to produce animal feed), we can achieve an additional 663 million tons of CO2e sequestration. With reforestation and afforestation on 25 percent of the 254 million acres of degraded forests or treeless landscapes (excluding croplands and urban areas) in the United States, we can sequester an additional 375 million tons of CO2e. Restoration of wetlands can sequester an additional 75 to 150 million tons. Altogether, by 2030, this great regeneration will sequester 3.4 billion tons of CO2e annually, enough to enable the United States to reach carbon neutrality, even if the country only manages to reach 45 percent in fossil fuel reductions, rather than the 60 percent that Germany and a number of other nations will achieve.

Altogether, with the ongoing restoration and regeneration of our 1.9 billion acres of pasturelands, rangelands, croplands, forests, and wetlands—driven by changes in public policy, consumer demand, and farmer/land management innovation—we, as part of a GND, can lead the United States (and, by example, the world) away from climate catastrophe to carbon neutrality. This will then prepare us to keep moving forward beyond 2030: to draw down enough excess carbon from the atmosphere into our revitalized soils, forests, and plants to reverse global warming and restore our precious environment and climate. But the hour is late. We need a GND and a Regeneration revolution. And we need to step up our public education, coalition building, direct action, and electoral insurgency now.

Political Power Now: Greening the White House and the Congress

We have no choice but to move boldly forward with a system-changing GND in the United States and other nations, infused with the goal of 100 percent renewable energy and a massive scaling up of regenerative food, farming, and land use policies and practices. But if we hope to gain the support we need from working people and lower-income communities, renewable energy and regenerative food and farming must be delivered as part of a popular overall package for a just transition that includes full employment, livable wages, universal health care, debt relief, and free public education as well.

Like it or not, what the United States does or does not do in the 2020 election (and the 2020–2030 decade) is crucially important. We need a new president, we need a new green-minded majority in the House and the Senate, and we need new green and Regeneration-supportive government officials and public policies in all of our states, counties, cities, and towns. This means that our number one priority, given our limited timeline, must be to join and help build a mass movement to take power in Congress and the White House in 2020 and 2022.

Fortunately, we already have the initial public support (63 percent of people in the United States currently support the GND), grassroots leaders (the Sunrise Movement and a growing activist rainbow of movements and Regenerators), and a new insurgent group of political leaders who share our vision, who will be welcomed by an already Regeneration-minded movement and government in the nations around the world. We already have 90 or more of the 435 members of the House of Representatives who have endorsed the GND, along with a dozen high-profile senators. All of the leading Democratic Party candidates for president in 2020, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have endorsed the GND. For the first time ever, climate change has become a major electoral theme in the United States and other nations.

Jump-Starting the Green Machine

The next step prior to the crucial November 2020 presidential and congressional elections in the United States (and elections in other nations) is to build mass awareness at the local, state, and congressional levels. We need local GND/Regeneration committees; we need speaker’s bureaus; we need media teams; we need fundraisers, coalition builders, and grassroots and grasstops lobbyists; and we need online and, most important, on-the-ground activism (petitions, teach-ins, door knocking, protests, electoral campaigns, ballot initiatives). We must start now to build broad-based, powerful, bipartisan if possible, statewide and national coalitions for a GND that highlight not only renewable energy, but regenerative food, farming, and land use policies and practices as well.

We have no choice but to break down the issue silos that divide us—we don’t have time for anyone to think, “My issue is more important than your issue,” or “My constituency is more important than your constituency.” We must connect the dots, create synergy, and unite a critical mass of heretofore single-issue, limited-constituency movements (climate, peace, labor, health, environment, food, farming, and social justice). At the same time, on the political front we must strive to bring together for discussion and common action progressive Democrats and conservation-minded Independents, Republicans, and Libertarians. We must build awareness and cooperation in a survival-oriented united front that can elect green and Regeneration-minded majorities in both urban and rural districts. Breaking down walls and issue silos, we must convince renewable energy and progressive political activists that regenerative food, farming, and land use practices and policies are essential, while at the same time getting food, farming, and environmental/conservation activists to understand that we must all become climate activists and renewable energy advocates and we must all get involved in political action.

The Power of One in Catastrophic Times

No doubt you’ve heard something like the message of this book before. I’ve personally been writing and campaigning around a host of life-or-death political, food, farming, and environmental issues like these for fifty years, starting with the threat of nuclear annihilation in the Cold War, the civil rights movement, and the Vietnam War in the 1960s. The exciting, world-changing difference now is that objective conditions are finally ripe for a Regeneration revolution in the United States and around the world. What I’ve said and written before about the environment, food, health, politics, war, and peace, with every ounce of knowledge and passion I could muster, was basically true. It’s just that we, the global grassroots—farmers and consumers, students and workers, and our political and activist leaders—weren’t quite ready yet. The crisis of the past fifty years hadn’t yet reached its present intensity. In addition, up until now, we didn’t have a workable plan, strategy, and tactics. We didn’t have a GND or a set of radical political leaders at the federal level to rally behind. We didn’t have grassroots leaders in every community like those that we have now. We didn’t have a full understanding of the relationship between food, farming, land use, soil health, fossil fuels, climate change, deteriorating public health, environmental degradation, justice, international relations, war, and peace. Now we do. Now we can connect the dots and move forward together, not just in one region or country, but globally.

Here’s an excerpt from a speech I gave twenty-five years ago, on September 24, 1995, at the US-Canada International Joint Commission on the Great Lakes. I think my message from then is even more relevant today:

The time bomb we call the future is ticking away even as we consider these matters. We have no time to lose. The time for standing around and feeling inadequate or frustrated is over. If you’ve been waiting for new movement leadership and new ideas to arrive, wait no longer. Look in the mirror, look at the people around you today. Go back to your community and form an affinity group of like-minded individuals, people whom you feel good about. Work with people who will make your social change efforts effective as well as fulfilling, and yes, even joyful. People bold enough to take on the corporate Global Lords, yet humble and grounded enough to practice what they preach. Once properly grounded, link up your core group and your outreach and coalition-building efforts with other compatible groups in your community, county, state, and region. If you’re not exactly certain of how to go about getting organized in your community, then search out the activist “coaches” and social-change movement “veterans” who are willing to help you. Don’t mourn about the state of the world or the state of your individual soul! Organize! There’s only one reason for joining up in the worldwide movement to save the planet and build a more democratic and ethically sound commonwealth: because it’s the best way to live.

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 with family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. 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. Which groups we join, support, and donate money to. Which 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 have to get organized, and we have to help others, in our region, in our nation, and everywhere, build a mighty green Regeneration movement. The time to begin 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.”

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David R. Franz: EcoHealth Alliance's Anthrax-Era Biological Weapons Scientist

Organic consumers - Thu, 2021-01-14 14:43
January 14, 2021Organic Consumers AssociationAlexis Baden-MayerCOVID-19, COVID-19 Origins, OCA on COVID-19 david_r_franz_1200x630.png

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the ninth article in our ‘Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame’ series profiling key players in gain-of-function research.

I think a lot of good has come from it. From a biological or a medical standpoint, we've now five people who have died, but we've put about $6 billion in our budget into defending against bioterrorism.

—David R. Franz

When we began this series on the scientists, policy makers and funders involved in gain-of-function research on bat coronaviruses and other potential pandemic pathogens, the lab-origin theory of COVID-19 was decidedly fringe. 

The natural-origin theory ruled, with few people willing to point out that the emperor wore no clothes when actual links to the Wuhan wet market or an animal carrier of the virus couldn’t be established. 

As we write now, popular demand is growing for an investigation into a potential lab-origin. The January 2021 publication of Nicholson Baker’s long-form investigative piece, “The Lab-Leak Hypothesis,” in New York Magazine signaled a watershed moment in the movement for COVID-19 truth. 

Discovery of the truth is hampered by the recent crackdown on free speech by the tech companies running social media platforms since January 6. That was the day demonstrators, encouraged by their president, laid siege to the U.S. Capitol. Protected by a thin line of riot-clad cops behind metal barricades, the building was easily breached by a massive crowd that had been allowed to march right up to its doors. The crowd-control failure proved deadly for both sides. Ashli Bobbitt, a woman attempting to move through a broken door, was shot to death (VIDEO) at close range by an unarmed officer who gave no warnings and was hidden from her view. In a separate incident, Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died at the hospital after allegedly being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher. While there is video of a rioter using a fire extinguisher as a weapon, it has not been alleged that was the victim of that attack was Sicknick.

Blaming Trump’s Tweets for the violence, tech companies moved quickly to limit his social media presence. Twitter permanently removed his @realDonaldTrump account, with more than 88 million followers. Facebook has banned Trump for the remainder of his term. Parler was the only major social media site to oppose the censorship. The plug was pulled on its 15 million users by Apple and Google, which hosted its app, and Amazon, which hosted its website.

There’s nothing we like about Trump, but we like censorship even less, if that’s possible. We support H.R. 7808, the Stop the Censorship Act of 2020, introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) at the end of July. This bill would only allow tech companies to censor content that is actually "unlawful, or that promotes violence or terrorism," not content they find merely “objectionable.”

We have to admit, we won’t miss Trump’s tweets, but we do miss the independent news sites that have been kicked off Twitter recently, most of all The Last American Vagabond, which has done excellent reporting on the origins of COVID-19.

Even in the midst of this unprecedented censorship, we predict that the obvious need to investigate the lab origins of COVID-19 will follow the same trajectory from conspiracy theory to conventional wisdom that the military origins of the anthrax attacks did.

Back in 2001, everyone took for granted that Islamic terrorists were behind the anthrax attacks.

The Bush Administration used its lies about the attacks to gain acceptance for the war on Iraq, the Patriot Act, the warrantless surveillance of Americans and even the so-called “targeted killing” of U.S. citizens.

Eventually, the anthrax in the letters mailed to two key Democratic Senators, Majority Leader Tom Dashle and Judiciary Committee Chair Parick Leahy, and several members of the media, was conclusively traced back to the Pentagon’s top bioweapons laboratory, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and pinned on a Fort Detrick scientist.

The 2001 anthrax attacks and the risky gain-of-function experiments on bat coronaviruses that may have caused the COVID-19 pandemic share three eerie similarities. 

First is the government funding. 

In both the anthrax experiments of the 1990s and the coronavirus research of the 2010s, military and civilian U.S. agencies simultaneously financed the creation of the dangerous biological agents and the production of the medical countermeasures needed to defend against them.

Second is the biotech bonanza. 

Pharmaceutical companies make easy money off wars and pandemics. Just ask Emergent BioSolutions. It got its big break, under the name BioPort, manufacturing anthrax vaccine for the military and now it’s got government contracts for COVID. 

The taxpayer funding for experimental vaccines, antivirals or antibiotics isn’t the only windfall for pharmaceutical companies. The stock-market hype that follows public financing allows investors with good timing to get rich―even off the drugs that prove useless, end up unused or are eventually found to be too dangerous. “Emergency use” approvals come with liability waivers that make that rollercoaster ride risk free.

This pattern has played out over and over again. Brian Berletic, in his well-researched piece for 21st Century Wire, calls it the Pandemic Industrial Complex. He describes what’s happening now with COVID-19, but he also retraces the 2009 swine flu heist, the well-documented case of Roche using H1N1 to profit off Tamiflu (oseltamivir). After the money was made, it turned out that governments stockpiling had wasted billions of dollars and the World Health Organization (WHO) had based its advice to buy the drug on the word of scientists with financial ties to the company. 

Berletic doesn’t mention that H1N1 may have been the result of a lab accident. That was the hypothesis proposed by Adrian Gibbs, a scientist who had participated in research that led to the development of Roche's Tamiflu. WHO immediately dismissed his theory (even before Gibbs’ paper was published), but it hasn’t actually been debunked. An experiment to demonstrate how H1N1 could have emerged naturally from the reassortment of existing viruses failed.  

Third is the people involved. 

We’ve profiled Robert Kadlec and Christian Hassell, whose government careers go back to the 2001 anthrax attacks and the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation, respectively. 

In the Trump Administration, Kadlec and Hassell have been the Pandemic Industrial Complex’s kingmakers. When Biden cleans house, he should oust these two for corruption, including “seeking $100 million for labs that Hassell told Kadlec in an email were ‘in trouble for shady dealings, illegal accounting, and lack of accountability’ for unspecified Department of Defense projects.”

In this installment of the Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame, we add fellow anthrax alumnus David R. Franz, now an adviser to EcoHealth Alliance, the coronavirus-hunting funder of the Wuhan Institute of Virology that we covered in our profile of Peter Daszak.

Franz is a retired army colonel who served at USAMRIID beginning in 1987. He was Chief of the Cardiorespiratory Toxicology Department (1987-1989), Chief of the Toxicology Division (1989-1992), Deputy Commander (1993-1995), and Commander (1995-1998). 

His years as commander overlap with those of the covert biological weapons programs described in Judith Miller’s book Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War, and he was a source for much of the information about them in the book. These included Projects Jefferson (the genetic engineering of vaccine-resistant anthrax, something the U.S. military had been doing since the 1980s), Clear Vision (the production of “biobomblets” that could be used to disperse anthrax), and Bite Size and Bacchus, or BACUS, Biotechnology Activity Characterization by Unconventional Signatures (the production of anthrax simulant outside the lab, as a terrorist cell might). 

In August 1998, Franz left USAMRIID to work at the Southern Research Institute, a Pentagon biodefense contractor. SRI was one of the labs that, like USAMRIID, could have been a source of the virulent Ames anthrax used in the 2001 attacks. We know this because, in 2004, it accidentally sent live spores of this strain to a children's hospital in Oakland. This made news and an SRI spokesperson was quoted saying they had been working with the pathogen since 2001.

David Franz was understood to be within the circle of potential suspects, but he was never fingered in the FBI’s investigation.

To this day, no one knows who did it. 

There were three people variously blamed for the attack, but none of them were ever charged with a crime, let alone brought to trial. Ayaad Assaad, Steven Hatfill and Bruce Ivins each worked under Franz at USAMRIID.

The Arab Patsy

Whoever orchestrated the anthrax attacks wanted them blamed on Islamic terrorists. Each of the anthrax-filled letters read “DEATH TO AMERICA, DEATH TO ISRAEL, ALLAH IS GREAT.”

After 9/11, but before the anthrax attacks had been discovered, the FBI received a letter warning that a former USAMRIID scientist, the Egyptian-born Ayaad Assaad, was planning a biological attack. Laura Rozen reported in Salon:

"Dr. Assaad is a potential biological terrorist," the letter stated, according to Assaad and [his lawyer] McDermott. The letter was received by the FBI in Quantico, Va., but Assaad did not learn from the FBI where it had been mailed from. "I have worked with Dr. Assaad," the letter continued, "and I heard him say that he has a vendetta against the U.S. government and that if anything happens to him, he told his sons to carry on." 

According to Assaad, "The letter-writer clearly knew my entire background, my training in both chemical and biological agents, my security clearance, what floor where I work now, that I have two sons, what train I take to work, and where I live. 

"The letter warned the FBI to stop me," he said. 

At the time, Assaad was involved in a lawsuit against USAMRIID, claiming that he had gone to his supervisor, David Franz, asking him to stop his coworkers, Charles Brown, Marian Rippy and Philip Zack, who had formed a “Camel Club” to harass Assaad with racially charged and sexually explicit poems and objects. He charged that Franz had “kicked me out of his office and slammed the door in my face” and later fired him in retaliation for his complaints. The FBI quickly cleared Assaad of any connection to the anthrax attacks.

The FBI never tried to trace the source of the accusatory letter, even though it may have been one of the best leads on whodunnit. As the Hartford Courant reported:

Assaad said he believes the note's timing makes the author a suspect in the anthrax attacks, and he is convinced that details of his work contained in the letter mean the author must be a former Fort Detrick colleague.

Brown said that he doesn't know who sent the letter, but that Assaad's nationality and expertise in biological agents made him an obvious subject of concern after Sept. 11.

Don Foster, an expert on language forensics assisting the FBI, searched “through documents by some 40 USAMRIID employees” and “found writings by a female officer that looked like a perfect match.”

Foster doesn’t name names, so we don’t know who the female officer was. As Assaad’s Wikipedia page puts it, “he did not name Marian Rippy directly.”

One thing we do know is that racial harassment wasn’t the only thing David Franz let Rippy and Zack get away with under his watch.

During the same time that their Camel Club was active, an internal investigation revealed that 27 sets of specimens were reported missing at Fort Detrick and that secret research was being done in the lab outside of work hours.

Dr. Mary Beth Downs told investigators that she had come to work several times in January and February of 1992 to find that someone had been in the lab at odd hours, clumsily using the sophisticated electron microscope to conduct some kind of off-the-books research.

After one weekend in February, Downs discovered that someone had been in the lab using the microscope to take photos of slides, and apparently had forgotten to reset a feature on the microscope that imprints each photo with a label. After taking a few pictures of her own slides that morning, Downs was surprised to see ``Antrax 005'' emblazoned on her negatives.

Downs also noted that an automatic counter on the camera, like an odometer on a car, had been rolled back to hide the fact that pictures had been taken over the weekend. She wrote of her findings in a memo to Langford, noting that whoever was using the microscope was ``either in a big hurry or didn't know what they were doing.''

Documents from the inquiry show that one unauthorized person who was observed entering the lab building at night was … Lt. Col. Philip Zack, who at the time no longer worked at Fort Detrick. A surveillance camera recorded Zack being let in at 8:40 p.m. on Jan. 23, 1992, apparently by Dr. Marian Rippy, a lab pathologist and close friend of Zack's, according to a report filed by a security guard.

Of course, there were other female scientists at USAMRIID who Don Foster may have been referring to. One is Patricia Fellows, a scientist who provided evidence that placed Bruce Ivins at the scene of the crime and who worked on anthrax with David Franz at the Southern Research Institute.

The Well-Paid Patsy

Once a “person of interest” in the FBI’s anthrax investigation, Steven Hatfill has since carefully controlled his reputation through a series of lawsuits targeting the government, news outlets, journalists and bloggers, including Don Foster, who wrote the 2003 article, “The Message in the Anthrax,” for Vanity Fair, and Luigi Warren, author of the Hatfill Deception blog.

In 2008, the Justice Department settled a lawsuit Hatfill brought under the Privacy Act accusing F.B.I. agents and Justice Department officials of leaking information about him to the news media. The government agreed to pay him $2.825 million in cash and an annuity of $150,000 a year for 20 years.

Hatfill worked at USAMRIID from 1997 to 1999, overlapping with the years Franz was in command. 

In the years immediately preceding the anthrax attacks, Hatfill and Franz were each working on government anthrax projects with private contractors. As the Baltimore Sun reported:

Dr. Steven J. Hatfill, the former Fort Detrick biodefense researcher … commissioned a 1999 study that described a fictional terrorist attack in which an envelope containing weapons-grade anthrax is opened in an office.

The study, written by a veteran of the old U.S. bioweapons program, was submitted to Hatfill and a colleague at Science Applications International Corp., the McLean, Va., defense contractor where he then worked.

It discusses the danger of anthrax spores spreading through the air and the requirements for decontamination after various kinds of attacks. The author, William C. Patrick III, describes placing 2.5 grams of Bacillus globigii, an anthrax simulant, in a standard business envelope - slightly more than the estimated amount of anthrax in each of the letters that killed five people last fall.

During the same period, Franz was at the Southern Research Institute (SRI) which was working on an anthrax project for the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). SRI has received $640.3 million in government funding since 2001.

In 1999-2001, DARPA contracted with SRI and other firms for microencapsulated anthrax. In their 2012 article in the peer-reviewed Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense, “Evidence for the Source of the 2001 Attack Anthrax,” Martin E. Hugh-Jones, Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and Stuart Jacobsen link the forensic evidence from the attack anthrax to the microencapsulation techniques developed by the DARPA contractors. The significance was that microencapsulation would explain the silicon in the attack anthrax. Furthermore, there were no spores containing silicon in the anthrax handled by Bruce Ivins.

Eventually, the facts established that the attack anthrax was microencapsulated with a silicon coating, but, in the fall of 2002, the FBI reported to Congress that there was "no additive" in the Senate anthrax at all. The Bureau based this on the word of Ken Alibek who said he examined electron micrographs of the anthrax spores sent to Senator Daschle and saw no silica. Was he blinded by fear of self-incrimination?

Alibek is the Russian bioweapons scientist recruited to work for the United States who wrote the book Biohazard: The Chilling True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World--Told from the Inside by the Man Who Ran It.   

As his Wikipedia page states, “Perhaps his signal accomplishment was the creation of a new ‘battle strain’ of anthrax, known as ‘Strain 836,’ later described by the Los Angeles Times as ‘the most virulent and vicious strain of anthrax known to man.’”

It may be even more significant that he was one of the scientists who filed a patent on the silicon microencapsulation technology in 2001 along with former USAMRIID commander Charles L. Bailey.

David Franz worked with Alibek and Bailey on the DARPA contract in 1999-2001. Their firm Advanced Biosystems was the prime contractor for the DARPA project, while Franz’s SRI was a subcontractor.  

Alibek also worked with Franz at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Center for Disaster Preparedness. A 2002 university press release quoted Franz saying, “My role in the center is really to bring people together. Biodefense is a fairly small community, and after spending 27 years in the military, I know almost everybody in the neighborhood.”

The Dead Patsy

It was only after USAMRIID scientist Bruce Ivins had died of a Tylenol overdose in 2008 that the FBI announced their conclusion that he was solely responsible for the 2001 anthrax attacks. 

The National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) 2011 review of the FBI’s scientific work on the case "conclude[d] that the bureau overstated the strength of genetic analysis linking the mailed anthrax to a supply kept by Bruce E. Ivins."

Not even David Franz believed that Bruce Ivins should have been singled out.

“I just have no reason to suspect him, and I still don't,” Franz told NPR.  

Nicholson Baker mentions Ivins’ motives in his COVID origins article, “The Lab-Leak Hypothesis”: 

Bruce Ivins, an eccentric, suicidal laboratory scientist from Ohio who worked in vaccine development at Fort Detrick, allegedly wanted to boost the fear level so as to persuade the government to buy more of the patented, genetically engineered anthrax VaxGen vaccine, of which he was a co-inventor. (See David Willman’s fascinating biography of Ivins, Mirage Man.) Fauci’s staff at NIH funded Ivins’s vaccine laboratory and gave $100 million to VaxGen to accelerate vaccine production. (The NIH’s $878 million contract with VaxGen, however, was quietly canceled in 2006; Ivins, who was never charged, killed himself in 2008.)

That Ivins was the lone wolf of the anthrax attacks strains credulity, but the idea that biological attacks on U.S. citizens and Senators could have been launched from U.S. military labs―”to persuade the government to buy more of the patented, genetically engineered … vaccine” seems worth considering, as does another motive: to increase budgets for biodefense.

"I think a lot of good has come from it," Franz said of the 2001 anthrax attack to ABC News in 2002. "From a biological or a medical standpoint, we've now five people who have died, but we've put about $6 billion in our [2003] budget into defending against bioterrorism."

Riding the wave of the fear generated from the 2001 anthrax attacks launched from the lab he commanded, Franz led the building of the Biodefense Industrial Complex that may be the source of today’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Moving seamlessly from the anthrax research contracts that should have made Franz a prime suspect in the FBI’s Amerithrax investigation, he oversaw the construction of the U.S. global network of military and civilian high security biodefense labs.

While vice president of the Southern Research Institute’s Chemical and Biological Defense Division, Franz became deputy director of the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (home to one of SRI’s biolabs).

Staying on in the role of deputy director of the Center for Emergency Care Preparedness at UAB, Franz joined the Kansas State University-affiliated Midwest Research Institute (now MRI Global), to act as Chief Biological Scientist. A university press release describes his responsibilities as developing “business activities in the areas of biodefense education and preparation, nonproliferation, cooperative threat reduction and biosafety. He introduces scientists and staff at KSU and MRI to potential collaborative opportunities nationally and internationally.” 

Simultaneously, he became Director of the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center at Kansas State University.

Thanks to Franz’s “business development” expertise, K-State is now the site of the new BSL-4 National Bio- and Agro-Defense Laboratory, and, USAMRIID will soon open the world’s largest high-containment research lab.

Today, in addition to serving as a Science and Policy Advisor to EcoHealth Alliance (a role he shares with fellow Gain-of-Function Hall of Shame inductee Scott Dowell of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Franz is a Principal at SBD Global, a business development consulting firm that specializes in helping corporations land federal contracts with “the world's most opaque and hard-to-navigate” national security agencies.

Dollar signs are in Franz’ eyes again, as Americans die of COVID-19. Capitalizing on the tragedy, he recently penned a plea for increased funding for the Ft. Detrick lab he once commanded.

While we would like to believe that, if COVID-19 was released from a lab, it happened accidentally, unlike the 2001 anthrax attacks, but with people like Franz advising Peter Daszak’s EcoHealth Alliance, an intentional release cannot be ruled out.

An investigation into every possibility is urgently needed.

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.