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Where does immunity originate from ?

Posted by biofield on February 27, 2015 at 4:45 PM

Where does true and lasting immunity come from ? 

That is the core issue whether it is food , farming or vaccinations or pharmaceuticals . If biotech gets its way our food will look more and more like a pharmacy with all kinds of goofy, patented but unidentified, ingredients,pills , powders and injections. We have only one stomach and circulatory system and not a separate one for synthetic drugs, poisons and chemicals. A human should derive its immunity from its pure, natural and living food source just as a plant should derive its immunity from its organic and rich living soils and fungi .

On enabling change versus enforcing status quo in farm practices

Posted by biofield on May 2, 2014 at 7:15 PM



The only solution is the "polluter pays " principle here. Change the laws so whoever polluted the farmer's seed (with GMOs) or water supplies can be fined or easily sued. Those polluters will easily clean up their act in no time. Also don't provide massive subsidies any more to polluters of all kinds whether conventional farmers, fossil fuel business or chemical companies like Monsanto. In the big picture, organic farmers are the ones who should be receiving subsidies and rewards for acting as true earth stewards by their work of land restoration and soil preservation.


 

Cliff Metcalf : Raoul, the problem is that, in the big picture, what organics wants is irrelevant to government. When one large corporation sells more food in the U.S. than all organic produce combined, they really don't care what is good for organics. They only have a USDA Certified Organic program so that THEY have control of what organic is all about from a legal standpoint.


 

Raoul Bedi:  Yes , you are right .At the root of the problem, it is a fundamental question of philosophy (and consciousness ) here. Is our government's role to be enablers of constructive and green evolutionary change and growth ? Or is our goverment's role to be "enforcers and mafia hitmen" for the destructive status quo of mega-corporations and multi-nationals ? While I don't have much hope at the federal level in Canada or the US for the next decade, I do have confidence that municipalities and local governments are best suited to express these explosive and exciting new evolutionary potentials. The caveat is that each and every one of us will have to educate ourselves and become involved and , more importantly, actually become the change that we wish to see in our community.

The Challenge of Cookie Cutter Consumerism and Development

Posted by biofield on December 10, 2013 at 8:25 PM

One of the major problems in North America is that  suburban houses are designed to be bastions of consumerism. LFrom a permaculture perspecitve, They only suck energy (like vampires ) from the environment - giving little in return.The good news is if those houses or apartment buildings were designed to incorporate natural elements i.e sacred geometry, better lighting, more edible gardens in their front and backyards, indoors, on the balcony, and perhaps even on the roof they would not be such a blight for the eyes and to the earth. More importantly those buildings should use European Passivhaus technology and become as close to zero energy as possible. Lastly , the houses could also have solar panel arrays either on the roof or in the backyard and perhaps even geothermal coils under the ground making them net energy producers. Posted at https://www.facebook.com/groups/450165011756821/


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Culture versus Law and Science in Activism

Posted by biofield on November 20, 2013 at 4:25 PM

We try to use weapons of Law and Science against Monsanto. By itself that is sometimes a long and slow road - 40 years in the making. But the weapon of culture is sometimes the most powerful card. I envy the Mexicans if they are now succeeding with that culture card .

In Canada and the US , we are overrun with the culture-destroying Anglo Saxon business mentality which is all about "War,Dominance and Manipulation" at the expense of culture. It may even have a conscious intent to destroy culture. The reason being that it is a lot easier to manipulate and control people without a culture or faith in some higher purpose or ideal of greater societal good.

By Raoul Bedi

Written on November 20, 2013

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The Gene Revolution; GMO Free Langley Shines

Posted by biofield on June 26, 2013 at 5:45 PM

The Gene Revolution with Dr. Thierry Vrain; GMO Free Langley Shines

by Raoul Bedi, BASc

Also published with full photos and videos at : http://thebovine.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/the-gene-revolution-with-dr-thierry-vrain-gmo-free-langley-shines/  

 

Dr.Vrain spoke about “The Future of Agriculture” at TED talks on May 23, 2013

 

 

A: Introduction

 

Building on the theme of collaboration and synergy, in the work of food security, anti-GMO awareness and public education, through the examples of interviews (Vandana Shiva May 1, 2013), writings (Dr. Thierry Vrain’s May 23 GMO Dangers essay), podcasts, activism and rallies, I continue this process with a summary about the recent June 5 “Community Forum on GM Food” and lecture by retired GM Scientist Dr.Thierry Vrain in Surrey BC that was sponsored by Phil Harrison, the Council of Canadians ( www.canadians.org ) and others.

 

 

Emcee Phil Harrison and Dr.Thierry Vrain fielding questions from the audience (Photo by Raoul Bedi http://www.biofield.ca). Click image for more photos from Surrey GMO forum.

Apart from disseminating the information shared with the audience by Dr. Vrain, it is also useful to provide some background on the organizational and activist elements involved, so that towns and regions across Canada may more easily and quickly replicate and build upon this work.

 

To demonstrate how we are already working towards the inevitable goal of banning GMO’s in all the municipalities of BC, it is instructive to look at the example of Langley, as GMO Free Langley (www.gmofreelangley.com) was also a co-sponsor of the forum. Langley is a small town with a population of 100,000 people and is due east of the Metro Vancouver suburb of Surrey. The past nine months have witnessed an incredible explosion of food security initiatives in Langley, way out of proportion to its size. Although Langley has not yet joined the exclusive club of 62 BC municipalities, including nearby Richmond and now North Vancouver (as of June 10!), I am not exaggerating when I say that the efforts of activists, organizations and colleges there have, at times, carried the whole Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley region “on its shoulders “!

 

On September 25, 2012, Anti-GMO world-wide celebrity author Jeffrey Smith www.responsibletechnology.org , “parachuted” in to the Amazing Discoveries centre in Langley,BC and gave lectures and initiated activist groups and trainings there to a sold out group of 400 people over 2 days. On November 8, distinguished activist and director of CBAN www.cban.ca , Lucy Sharratt presented at the new Langley Town Hall to 120 people as part of a tour of 8 towns in BC. This was immediately followed by the sold out and highly successful BC Seeds Gathering (click here for conference videos) regional conference (To hear the original Conscious Living Radio podcast with organic farmer Susan Davidson about it click here) that was sponsored by the highly distinguished Langley-based Food Security organization “Farm Folk City Folk “ www.farmfolkcityfolk.ca on November 10th and 11th. It was there that it was announced that the Langley campus of Kwantlen college would be launching one of the largest regional seed banks as part of their horticultural program and in support of multi-generational food security. Lastly, we have the example of Lucy Nickel , a highly dedicated Langley “mom” activist who launched, in August 2012, the popular new cross-Canada anti-GMO Facebook awareness page called “GMO Free Canada”www.facebook.com/groups/gmofreecanada with its more than 1,300 members.

 

“My message to people living in large urban centres is that if the small town of Langley can do as much productive work for improving food security and banning GMOs as a city of several million, then people in large cities need to start mentally preparing themselves for, individually and collectively, doing ten to twenty times more than is currently being done to upgrade, improve and strengthen their current local food networks.” – Raoul Bedi, local food activist and writer.

 

But the exponential growth and changes do not stop there. The lead up to the inspiringly successful ‘March Against Monsanto’ world-wide May 25 rally has necessitated the spawning of over a dozen new specific and dedicated Facebook pages representing local towns across BC, perhaps 30 or 40 more across Canada, and around 250 more across the United States. This has the effect of elevating the whole urgency, networking possibilities, activism and implementation to the most important grassroots level of all : THE LOCAL AND IMMEDIATE ONE.

 

 

GMO Free Langley organizer Bobbie Blair manages the info table at the forum. Photo: Raoul Bedi

B: Evening Lecture Summary

 

The evening began with a brief, and activist-oriented, introduction from the event emcee and co-sponsor from the Coalition for a GE Free Surrey, Phil Harrison. Phil got us right down to business by exhorting people to e-mail, phone and personally meet their local Surrey, BC town councilors as they do not appear to be motivated to “just do the right thing “ in the matter of banning GMOs. He said “the Surrey town council was proving to be a tough nut to crack“ without sustained public pressure. Phil thought that a municipal ban on GMOs would actually prove to be “good for business” in the long run . On the other side of the coin, Phil gave the example of nearby Richmond,BC where organic farmers, businesses and consumers find the municipality’s non-gmo ban and supportive local Food Security initiatives so attractive that they are interested to move there in increasing numbers.

 

Next Phil touched on some recent national events and issues like the Oregon GM wheat trials fiasco which has already led to the cancellation of export contracts from the US to Japan, Korea and Russia. This is not a localized issue and affects every single wheat farmer, along with their associated supply and distributor chains even if they are situated thousands of miles away, in a totally unrelated region, from where the contamination problem has just been identified . A similar situation in 2009 arose in Canada with contaminated GM Triffid flax seed from seed trials that should never have gotten released into the general environment (reference : www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Crops-and-Foods-Not-on-the-Market/Flax ). This resulted in a ban from the EU and hundreds of millions of dollars of losses to local Canadian farmers in the ensuing years of the ban.

 

The 3 most pressing issues on the plate for anti-GMO activist-minded Canadians, at the moment, are the GM Salmon, the new GM non-browning apple and GE alfalfa. About the GM salmon, Phil said that approval could come at any time from the Canadian federal government (reference: www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Fish ). About GE alfalfa he said this is a major and multi-dimensional problem beyond just the basic human consumption of sprouts. Alfalfa is important for feeding and raising healthy livestock and for maintaining soil fertility and quality. There is also the possibility of GM alfalfa impinging on the already delicate situation with bees (reference: www.cban.ca/Resources/Topics/GE-Crops-and-Foods-Not-on-the-Market/Alfalfa ). About GE alfalfa (and the GM non-browning apple for that matter) Phil Harrison stated that this is one of the best examples of forcing a solution to a problem that does not even exist in the first place. Perhaps what Phil really should have said is that “ it is a powerful example of forcing a problem onto a solution (in this case one from nature) that already exists!” As Phil concluded, “alfalfa has no need for man-made sprays. Cows are happy to eat it just as it now grows”.

 

Dr. Thierry Vrain began his formal portion of the lecture by reviewing his background and long career with Agriculture Canada and his initial faith and advocacy work on behalf of the biotech industry. He said that the major turning point for him occurred when he retired. He was able to take a lot of time out to read and study gardening and agriculture from different angles and not just the for-profit chemical/biotech industry’s perspective. As he read more and more about GMOs without the constraints of a biased employer and also immersed himself in organic farming, medical herbalism and permaculture he became sincerely concerned about the direction that GMOs were taking in Canada.

 

Historically, he said GMO’s have already, in their short 17 year lifespan, revolutionized farming in North America. Over 80% of corn and over 90% of all soy is now genetically engineered. He posed the question of why have farmers so readily adopted this untried technology? Why is it so (superficially) successful? The first reason is that weeds are a huge problem for conventional farmers, whether in gardens or in fields, a farmer can spend 80% of his budget on weed and pest control. The biotech industries shrewdly marketed GMOs as a quick fix for all the farmers’ problems. It was claimed to be as safe as water, and the farmer would only have to focus on the planting of seeds thereby simplifying his work and saving time. Once he had sprayed the magic herbicide (i.e. Roundup) only the desired vegetables would remain.

 

What are GMOs ? How are they created ? Do they deliver ?

 

Next he posed some more fundamental questions to set the tone for his evening presentation. Just what exactly are GMOs? How are they created? Do they deliver? He mentioned four of their proponent’s primary claims i.e. i) reduction of pesticide use ii) increase of crop yields iii) safety for human consumption and iv) environmental safety. (For a more comprehensive list of claims made by the biotech industry, researchers are also referred to the executive summary on Pg. 8 of the outstanding GMO Myths and Truths report). Dr. Vrain relies extensively on this report when making presentations to concerned citizens.

 

Dr. Vrain spoke of 2 primary classes of GMOs : Ht (herbicide tolerant) and Bt (Bacillus Thuriensis ) . He said that 80% of GMO crops are of the Ht variety. But that you could engineer a plant for both at the same time i.e. to be resistant to pests (Bt variety) and tolerant of herbicides. GM Sweet corn is an example of both types. It was engineered for cattle feed, and to make high fructose corn syrup and other processed foods. Thus he suggested up to 90% of processed food now contains GM ingredients. This doubly genetically-modified corn variety was directly released into the human food supply chain about 2 years ago.

 

Other major GE crops in Canada include Canola (at 90%+ market penetration), and Sugar Beets with 95% market penetration after just 7 years on the market. And, as organizer Phil Harrison mentioned in his intro, GE alfalfa is coming soon to Canada and has already been available in the US for about 2 years.

 

How are GMOs created? Dr. Vrain reviewed the 2 main technologies. This section was highly technical. The first is the gene gun approach. A device is used which looks like a hair dryer and shoots millions of micro-pellets into plant cells. A few find their way to a plant cell nucleus. By some miracle some of those find their way to actual plant cell chromosomes. This method has a low rate of success. Few cells are actually engineered by it. Theoretically it would take an enormous amount of work to regenerate and reengineer a whole plant. To speed up the process a gene is added for antibiotic resistance. All the plant cells are then exposed to harmful bacteria, so that only the engineered ones survive. The “GMO Myths and Truths” report also refers to a “chemical method” for selecting out desired GE plant cells.

 

The second method or alternative technique for gene insertion involves linking the GM gene to a special piece of DNA present in the soil bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens. When the A. tumefaciens infects a plant, the GM gene is carried into the cells and can insert itself into the plant cell’s DNA. On page 9 of “GMO Myths and Truths” report http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/58 they provide more details about this process and how the genetic engineer then adds hormones to cause the new GE plant cells to proliferate. He then further weeds out the ones that are not performing well using similar methods to the ones just described in the “gene gun “ approach.

 

Dr. Vrain elaborated that proteins are molecules that do the work in the cell. Sugars, carbohydrates, fats and lipids do not move by themselves. Life is about movement. What then are the implications and possibilities of gene technology ? A plant could, for example, be engineered to make bacterial sugars that do not normally exist in the plant kingdom in what he called “elegant parasitism”. Just by cutting and pasting proteins and enzymes, you can use bacteria to push into the plants genes for any potentials you want. So, practically speaking, a plant could now be engineered to make human insulin. Using the above methodology over 100 million acres of land have now been engineered in the US .

 

Claim #1 : Have GMO’s delivered on their promises? For example do they reduce the need for pesticides? According to Dr.Vrain, a reduction of 100 million pounds of pesticide use was initially observed . This is a significant amount. The trouble is that even in the 1990’s some eminent insect specialists predicted that insects could eventually overcome the pesticides. Because while most die from the exposure to GE plant material, a few always do not. And thus through a process of natural selection, resistance is bred into the species of undesirable insects or pests. After a few years a new alternative chemical pesticide is needed to do the work. In the US, 40 weeds are now resistant to roundup. Half of all US acreage for agricultural growing purposes is now infected with resistant weeds. We are now right back to square one. In BC there are no notable weeds that are resistant to current herbicidal control measures but it is only a matter of time before the problem surfaces here too. In herbicide resistant regions of the US, farmers must now revert to highly ancient methods of hiring human labour to pull weeds by hand as 50% of the herbicides used are now useless.

 

Now 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (usually referred to by its abbreviation, 2,4-D) is being heavily promoted as an alternative to Roundup. In Wikipedia , it is described as a common systemic pesticide/herbicide used in the control of broadleaf weeds. It is one of the most widely used herbicides in the world, and the third most commonly used herbicide in North America. A similar version of it was used as “Agent Orange “ in the Vietnam war and resulted in widespread civilian casualties and suffering. It is known to be highly toxic to many forms of life including human. [Editor's note 2,4-D is one component of Agent Orange].

 

Thus in the final account, GMOs not only fail to reduce the need for pesticides , but worse, necessitate the use of harsher and ever more dangerous chemicals, in ever increasing quantities, to do the same work of weed and pest removal.

 

Claim #2 : Yield Increase?

 

There is nothing about the current gene insertion technologies or the contents of that process that increases yields. Perhaps indirectly one could argue that the initial control of insects would mean there is more crop leftover for the farmer to harvest. But over time such a minor benefit declines to zero over times as surviving pests develop a resistance to the toxic chemicals used. More importantly, the gene insertion process is very costly to the overall metabolism of the plant. Dr.Vrain suggested that there is a 5% to 10% loss of vitality and functionality in the GM plant’s metabolic function as compared to conventional plants and perhaps even more when compared to organically raised plants which have the highest vitality of all since they do not have to suffer the stress of any kind of toxic chemical inputs, synthetic fertilizers or poor soil fertility .

 

Claim #3 No Effect on Environment?

 

This claim is refuted by the fact that GM farmers automatically contaminate their neigbhours’ crops whether or not those neighbours are GM, conventional or organic farmers. This is an unavoidable consequence of GM technology i.e. uncontrollable and irreversible proliferation. A GM farmer has no responsibility to “fence in “ his production unlike for other traditional cases where a farmer has to fence in his animals to prevent them from damaging or eating from a neighbour’s field. A further consequence of this short-sighted approach is that some organic farmers have lost markets for their products and/or simply given up and had to change their crop to one where a GM imitation does not exist. Dr.Vrain suggested that this has cost such farmers over $100 million. The recent fiasco with the Oregon wheat trials could negatively impact US conventional wheat farmers to the tune of billions of dollars (reference : http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/06/06/did-monsanto-just-single-handedly-ruin-the-economy.aspx ) .

 

Furthermore , the process of lateral or species-to-species gene transfer violates certain fundamental laws and filters in nature. Transgene crops can spread to soil organisms, beneficial insects (such as bees) and then to farm and wild animals and finally to humans. 90% of all cells in the human body are bacteria . This is well documented. So if bacteria containing transgenes with harmful traits reach and modify or proliferate in the human intestine there are several possible negative outcomes. Our guts could be turned into “pesticide factories” spitting out toxic herbicides or they could develop new levels of antibiotic resistance. Dr.Vrain suggested that this is a very serious problem on par with the threat of nuclear radiation. Here is another good article on the problem of contamination (http://occupymonsanto360.org/blog/ge-wheat-controversy-further-proof-ge-crops-are-uncontrollable/ .

 

 

Video interview about “Substantial Equivalence” by Tony Mitra www.tonu.org

 

Claim #4 : Are GM Crops Really Substantially Equivalent to Conventional Ones ?

 

Are GM Crops Safe for Human Consumption?

 

The government of Canada and the US use an infantile and unscientific logic for determining so-called ‘substantial equivalence’ . For example , GM corn looks and tastes like corn from conventional seed therefore it must be the same and there is no need to test it. The FDA rubberstamps a biotech firms application and essentially says “You do not have to do any supporting research and even if you do we do not need to see it “ . While this is now the current policy , in 1996 when GMO’s were first being considered for approval by the FDA , the majority of the leading and supporting FDA research scientists said this technology has many potential unintended side effects and that more study is needed before approving or (not) approving it . They were overruled.

 

In Scotland, distinguished research scientist Dr. Arpad Pusztai was provided with a 1.5 million Euro grant to study GMO effects on rats. They were fed engineered potatoes over a period of time against a control fed regular food . When killed and later dissected extensive organ damage of a statistically significant nature was found in the rat’s liver, brain, testes and other areas. His results were published in the distinguished Lancet Journal in 1999. He was promptly discredited and his funding was withdrawn (detailed reference: www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pusztai_affair ) .

 

Dr.Vrain explained that early geneticists from the 1940’s postulated that one gene was the cause of one protein. But that the truth of the matter is more complex and unpredictable than this as a gene can encode for up to 4 or 5 different proteins in an unpredictable and uncontrollable manner. The technology is anything but precise (a further false claim). This means that in the process of trying to introduce a desired trait into a gene you may unknowingly and simultaneously interfere with, damage, or mutate, 3 or 4 other important and unrelated genes . According to Dr. Vrain up to 43 proteins in the genetically-modified MON 810 plants were found to be damaged or disrupted as compared to their non-GM plant cousins. Dr. Vrain suggests that the biotech industry does little research of its own and the money it gives universities to do research is mostly not for safety studies. Regardless of the outcomes or absence of those corporate or university safety studies on GMO crops, the majority (if not all ) of their published results appear to only put out the message that the GM technology is “safe and innocuous”.

 

Dr. Vrain said that rats are the “canary in the mine” . He cited a half dozen different studies that show detrimental health effects in rats and mice fed GMO food over a longer term. Roundup ready corn was also found to damage the liver and kidneys of rats fed this food in lab studies. Another concern that Dr.Vrain had with Monsanto’s Roundup or Glyphosate was that it displays a tendency to bind on to necessary metals in the body and neutralize them . He explained that many proteins doing essential work in the body require specific metals to do their work. He gave the example of chlorophyll in plants or iron in hemoglobin . This process is particularly insidious and dangerous in the long term because it is not immediately noticeable or toxic.

 

Conclusion

 

As mentioned earlier, throughout Dr.Thierry Vrain’s eye-opening evening presentation in Surrey on June 5 , at the Forum on GM Food, he drew extensively from an outstanding 123 page report entitled “GMO Myths and Truths “ at Earth’s Open Source. Therefore for completeness, I would like to now include some of their conclusions with his final words as due to shortness of time he may not have covered a few of their points or I may have missed recording them. (Reference website link: http://earthopensource.org/index.php/reports/gmo-myths-and-truths ) .

 

“A large and growing body of scientific and other authoritative evidence shows that claims (made by the biotech industry) are not true. On the contrary, evidence presented in this report indicates that GM crops:

 

1. Are laboratory-made, using technologies that are totally different from natural breeding methods, and pose different risks than from non-GM crops

 

2. Can be toxic, allergenic or less nutritious than their natural counterparts

 

3. Are not adequately regulated to ensure safety

 

4. Do not increase yield potential

 

5. Do not reduce pesticide use but increase it

 

6. Create serious problems for farmers, including herbicide-tolerant “super weeds”, compromised soil quality, and increased disease susceptibility in crops

 

7. Have mixed economic effects

 

8. Harm soil quality, disrupt ecosystems, and reduce biodiversity

 

9. Do not offer effective solutions to climate change

 

10. Are as energy-hungry as any other chemically-farmed crops

 

11. Cannot solve the problem of world hunger but distract from its real causes – poverty, lack of access to food and, increasingly, lack of access to land to grow it on.

 

Based on the evidence presented in this report, there is no need to take risks with GM crops when effective, readily available, and sustainable solutions to the problems that GM technology is claimed to address already exist. Conventional plant breeding, in some cases helped by safe modern technologies like gene mapping and marker assisted selection, continues to outperform GM in producing high-yield, drought-tolerant, and pest- and disease-resistant crops that can meet our present and future food needs.”

 

According to Dr.Thierry Vrain the influential and distinguished American Academy of Environmental Medicine has asked for a moratorium on GM foods, testing and labeling . In his final closing words he strongly declared that the GM technology leads to “super weeds, super bugs, contamination, genetic pollution, allergens” and more. One can therefore only safely conclude that the “FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE IS NOT (AN) ENGINEERED (ONE)”!

 

 

Vancouver Filmmaker Christen Traversy interviews Dr. Vrain after the Surrey GMO Forum on June 5 (photo by Raoul Bedi http://www.biofield.ca )

C: Upcoming GMO/Food Security Events

 

1.GE FREE 2013 Fall Tour

 

 

Click image to go to “Go Fund Me” site.

Dr. Thierry Vrain has announced that he is available to travel and teach in BC and the rest of Canada about the dangers of GMOs in the fall and winter of 2013/2014. You may make a donation at the following GOFUNDME link page http://www.gofundme.com/2ys84s .

 

Here is Dr.Vrain’s Direct and Personal Appeal to the Public :

 

I am asking you to support my crusade to test and label genetically engineered foods. I am a retired scientist and I am alarmed at the avalanche of scientific studies out of Europe showing that Genetically Engineered plants contain rogue proteins that can be allergenic or toxic. Rats fed GM plants show organ damage after a few months. I want to tour 100 towns and address 20,000 people in BC and Alberta this fall and winter 2013/2014 to give my presentation on GMOs and make them aware of the results of the latest scientific studies. I have already presented this information to a small number of groups and communities in Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, where I live. I wish to raise the alarm so that the provincial and federal agencies finally take notice. There are a number of videos on YouTube about what I teach.

 

If you can afford to do so, please share a little of your wealth, time or both to spread my message. If you would like others to fight for your right to know what is in your food, then please support the cause. Or get involved, if you live in Canada, by joining the CBAN www.cban.ca or the GE FREE BC (www.gefreebc.wordpress.com ) wave against GMOs . And please tell all your friends.

 

Thank you,

 

Dr. Thierry Vrain

 

Innisfree Farm www.innisfreefarm.org

 

2. World Food Day

 

“World Food Day is celebrated every year around the world on the 16th of October in honor of the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1945. World Food Day has also been a tradition in the USA since the first World Food Day in 1982. In the United States the endeavor is sponsored by 450 national, private voluntary organizations” (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Food_Day ).

 

This year , after the highly successful “March Against Monsanto” ( www.march-against-monsanto.com ) rallies on May 25, involving up to 2 million people in 400 towns and cities world-wide, a number of new local MAM groups have decided to hold a follow-up march and rally to roughly coincide with World Food Day.

 

 

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3. Since October 1993, FarmFolk CityFolk has been supporting community-based sustainable food systems by engaging in public education with farm and city folks; actively organizing and advocating around local, timely issues; building alliances with other organizations and businesses; and harnessing the energy of our volunteers. By supporting this work you are helping communities across Canada protect farmland, support farmers and producers, and celebrate local, seasonal, and sustainable food. In 2013, FarmFolk CityFolk celebrates 20 years of supporting sustainable agriculture and celebrating local food! To celebrate this success and launch FarmFolk CityFolk into the next 20 years we are hosting a series of special events, activities and fundraisers including our big anniversary celebration party in late October 2013. Date & location to be announced.

 

 

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D: Other News

 

1. Toronto podcaster and videographer Dan Dicks www.pressfortruth.tv interviews the 2 main organizers of the May 25 March Against Monsanto Toronto rally: Jennifer Berman Diaz and James Connor. www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=W2xZBgcnqmk#!

 

2. Kristen Traversy, a March Against Monsanto Vancouver organizer (with Shyanne Nyman), has co-produced with videographer Michael Bernas from www.visualize.tv an excellent 12 minute documentary http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl_sCALqmxI&feature=player_detailpage about the May 25 rally there. It provides you with all the wonderful fragrances and experiences of music, art, sidewalk graffiti , songs and chants, dances and talks by the 3000 odd participants there .

 

3. From the front lines of the war against Monsanto and GMOs, here’s footage from the March Against Monsanto in Austin, Texas, May 25th 2013. Introduction by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger www.NaturalNews.com . As usual Mike does not waste a second explaining what you need to know about what is happening on the ground in the GMO activist world and what you can do, now and in future, to better prepare yourself and your family for this collective challenge we face to our food security, as well as possible steps for those interested in public advocacy work. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=mdlo7JOGGEE#!

 

About the author: Raoul Bedi has worked in the field of educational seminars with a focus on nutrition and health for 25 years. Over the past 5 years he has been actively involved in educational and fundraising initiatives and campaigns for farmer’s rights and food security in Canada. He is also an administrator for the “Canadian Raw Dairy Consumer Advocacy“ Facebook page. Raoul can be reached directly at [email protected] . His company, Vedic Harmony Centre, sponsors a variety of food and wellness events, not-for-profit radio interviews about Food Security, conscious living and green solutions. Vedic Harmony Centre’s website, for educational materials and products, or to make a donation to support future extensive non-profit blogging initiatives about Food Security, is www.biofield.ca .

Food Revolution Summit Interview with Vandana Shiva

Posted by biofield on April 30, 2013 at 6:30 PM

Food Revolution Summit Interview with Vandana Shiva

By Raoul Bedi, BASc

Introduction

The past few months has seen a massive shift in the “tectonic plates” of the food rights and Food Security movement not only in Canada but in the larger North American context. Some might say that it all began with the narrow defeat (voter irregularities aside) of the Proposition 37 “Right to GMO Labeling” referendum in California on November 6, 2012.

From the Non-GMO Project website ( www.nongmoproject.org/take-action/mandatory-labeling ) we can see that, despite the California setback, the ‘Right to Know’ effort has, instead, gained significant momentum. Through marches, rallies, petitions, social media, and targeted outreach campaigns, consumers are demanding that the government respect their right to know what’s in their food by labeling GMOs. In the United States, there are currently 37 states organizing mandatory labeling initiatives, and in Washington state there will be an initiative on the November, 2013 ballot. Meanwhile, they are also maintaining a diligent focus on providing immediate consumer choice in the form of ‘Non-GMO Project Verified’ labels for the products that have been approved through a third party program.


Dr.Shiva received a PhD at UVic (Photo by www.uvic.ca )

British Columbia, the past month alone, has seen several major new developments. The first is symbolic. World-leading environmental activist and eco-visionary Dr.Vandana Shiva of India, was awarded an honourary degree from the University of Victoria on March 26, 2013 (http://www.uvic.ca/anniversary/presidentslectures/shiva/index.php ). This is the third time in a year that a Canadian institution (U of T and Guelph being the others) has acknowledged and supported the work of the great food freedom activist and leader. The second major development occurred on April 13, 2013, in Sooke on Vancouver island, when AVICC (the Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities) voted unanimously to ban GMOs. It had taken almost 10 years for selfless people, like April Reeves and Tony Beck of GEFREEBC (www.gefreebc.wordpress.com ), to work for the establishment of 14 municipal bans across BC. All of a sudden on April 13, at the annual AVICC meeting and vote on joint policy, 51 island municipalities voted in unison, all in one fell swoop, to ban GMO’s in their respective municipalities! This represents an almost exponential increase in numbers. The next step is to forward the same anti-GMO resolution to the UBCM (The Union of BC Municipalities) for a province-wide vote on September 16, 2013. Citizens of the different municipalities in BC are encouraged to educate their local town mayors and councillors as much as possible about the issues (www.cban.ca or Facebook: GMO free Canada). Let us hope that the federal government begins to take note of this sea tide change in public opinion.

On the global online media stage, a new and interesting opportunity has just presented itself. Distinguished Food Activist John Robbins, author of bestseller “The Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life And Our World” www.johnrobbins.info , and his son Ocean Robbins, are hosting a free online summit www.foodrevolution.org from April 27 to May 5,2013. In it 24 leading thinkers and visionaries are sharing their wisdom and experience on issues relating to nutrition, health, food rights and Food Security. They include leading names like Dr. Dean Ornish, anti-GMO activist Jeffrey Smith www.seedsofdeception.com , BC author Brenda Davis www.brendadavisrd.com , Eco-visionary Vandana Shiva, Health Ranger Mike Adams www.naturalnews.com and many more.

In the review below I have summarized the contents of John Robbins’s April 29, 2013 interview with Dr.Vandana Shiva of India. This is not a verbatim transcript. These may be purchased from www.foodrevolution.org . John brought his own incredible wealth of knowledge and experience to the interview. One important theme of John’s questions both with Vandana Shiva and other earlier speakers has been about the net effect of the Gates Foundation support of Biotech seed and food on the work of the Food Rights and Food Sovereignty movement.

No doubt, the Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org ) has done a lot of good through its support of thousands of scientific and cultural projects whether it be for housing for homeless street kids, free computers for Vancouver area libraries , myriad grants for researchers in family health and planning, diseases of all kinds ,agricultural developments and more. Coincidentally, Bill Gates has also just published a report about the “Future of Food”. "The Future of Food report ( www.thegatesnotes.com/Features/Future-of-Food ) suggests alternatives to meat and eggs that “are just as healthful, and produced more sustainably and taste great." He seems to claim lofty motives like climate change reduction and reducing world hunger in the future. And he even interviews distinguished food security writers like Michael Pollan. However as a Food Security and Local Food activist I was left with an uneasy feeling for several reasons. One is that he makes absolutely no mention about the Seed Sovereignty and GM food issue. And his support, to the tune of billions of dollars for all things to do with biotechnology is well documented. In the US, unfortunately, it is not unusual for the words and ideas of the green movement to be coopted by forces representing totally opposite intentions.

Still I am hopeful that John Robbins’s probing questions about the motives and net benefits of the Gates Foundation, with specific regard to their Food Security and health file, might gradually prove to be a positive catalyst for an eventual overall and constructive change in direction for Bill Gates and the otherwise incredible work his foundation performs throughout the world. Time will only tell.

Vandana Shiva, Ph.D. – Food Security in a Global Community

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a world-renowned environmental leader and thinker. She is director of the Research Foundation on Science, Technology, and Ecology, and the author of many bestselling books, including Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis. Vandana is a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award, often called “The Alternative Nobel Prize.” In 2011, Forbes named her “one of the 7 most influential feminists in the world,” and Time selected her as an “environmental hero.” Find out more at www.navdanya.org and www.seedfreedom.in 



 

New year’s greetings from V. Shiva (photo www.navdanya.org)

 

The interviewer, John Robbins, got right down to business with a hard-hitting question about the 250 000 recorded farmer suicides over the last 15 years, in India, representing a death every 30 minutes. This is believed to be the largest wave of suicides in recorded history! His questions, themselves, contained, at times, a gold-mine of information. For example, John further pointed out that this horrendous statistic does not even include women suicides since farmland title in India is traditionally only registered in the man’s name. Also other family members, or even tenant farmers, are not included in those suicide statistics. Finally John asked, “What is the relationship between the use of GM seeds in India and this terrible problem of farmer suicides?”

Vandana replied that there is an intimate link between the introduction, in India, of monopolies over seeds such as Bt cotton, and farmer suicide, no matter how much Monsanto, the company responsible, attempts to deny it. The farmer suicides in India started in 1997. Monsanto had just developed a new Bt cotton seed that contained a new toxic gene to produce its own pesticide to control the Bollworm pest. So Monsanto’s Bt cotton trials began in India from 1997 to 1998. Just as we see more superweeds, from the Roundup crop in the US, the Indian bollworm, itself, is now more pesticide resistant and also new pests, such as aphids, have increased in quantity by 300%.

Vandana says it is a twofold deathtrap. The only reason for GM seeds is to claim intellectual property rights and thereby create a patent system for life forms so as to collect “rent or royalty” off of any who use them .The seeking of rent from life’s own reproduction is the root cause of the massive farmer suicides that began in 1997 even though Bt was not even officially permitted to commercially enter into India until 2002. Vandana Shiva’s organization managed to delay Monsanto’s official entry into India in 2002 by taking Monsanto to court and by suing them for illegal entry without approval. Despite all this, Monsanto had already confidentially begun the process of closing deals and locking 16 Indian seed companies into long term contracts, distributing product and samples, as well as other behind the scenes lobbying efforts. These Indian seed distributors are the ones that collect, through the price of seed, the royalties or rents that flow back to Monsanto.

Monsanto now earns $200 million per year from Indian farmers for “doing nothing”. They do not do any work in the field and grow none of the cotton. They no longer even produce the seed. Their Indian partners do that too. The greed of a monopoly propels a monoculture. In India the cotton seed price jumped 8000% as a result.

Monocultures due not fit every ecosystem and every climate. You have a drought and there is a crop failure. You have excess rain and there may be crop failure. These GM cotton and other seeds, which now enjoy a virtual monopoly in India, have not even been climactically or locally adapted to the conditions of the states in India where they are now used. This means that they are not efficient and reliable, and sometimes the farmer needs to buy and use 2 or 3 times as many seeds for planting just to achieve the same success rate, as the original indigenous heirloom seeds that were once passed onto him after many generations of development and that had an opportunity to adapt to local conditions. If you factor this into the calculation then effectively a poor Indian farmer is paying 24 000% more now to use Monsanto’s patented GM seed! These are subsistence farmers who must somehow support their families with only $2 to $5 per day of income.

The farmers really do not have the money to buy GM seed at this level. To finance such an astronomical expenditure, way beyond any typical Indian farmer’s means, the farmers are shrewdly pushed with easy credit and false promises of high yields. For example, they may be specifically promised a yield of 1500 kg/acre. But after several years of study, it was found to average only 400-500 kg/acre. Not only is there a reduced productivity from what the farmer started with but now there is also a thirteenfold increase in the requirement for pesticides. This is a totally predictable death trap. To pay for all of this, the poor Indian subsistence farmer has to now subsidize the GM seed and pesticide purchases with credit signed off against his land mortgage. After a few years of losing money, the Indian Bt Cotton farmer is unable to make payments on his loan so the creditor, inevitably comes to repossess his farmland. It is at that point, often the very same evening, that 95% of them end their life by walking into the field with a bottle of pesticide and drinking its contents. Most of the suicides are in the cotton belt. Monsanto now controls and regulates 95% of the cotton seed in India. So there has to be a deep correlation between the epidemic of farmer suicides and the spread of Monsanto’s Bt cotton - which no one actually ever said is needed or wanted in the first place.

The highest Indian democratic political and judicial bodies have said this practice must stop. But Monsanto, shrewdly, has at least 2 mechanisms for subverting democracy. First they capture the loyalty of several well placed politicians with loans and bribes. Secondly, they exercise an enormous public relations machinery and media spin operation, to counter or subvert or replace scientific or statistical evidence (and democracy) that may have been negating or questioning whatever false claims they have made, initially, to seduce the poor Indian farmers. It is the very same public relations machinery and spin that worked to successfully defeat the Proposition 37 GM labeling initiative in California in November 2012.

Shiva Questions Foundation’s Support of Biotech Seed

John Robbins quoted a Gates Foundation report that had stated that it was possible to solve the problem of world hunger with GMO technology. Even though an independent report says that no net food yield increase has ever been found from the introduction of GM seed in the US. Vandana Shiva was the asked why billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates, while seeming to accept that GMOs are not always better for US farmers, believes and endorses GM seed and food in the developing world? And what is the actual impact of GMOs on the world hunger challenge?

She strongly suggested that the Gates Foundation needed to utilize a more systematic approach and do an independent assessment before making such claims about the technology. For one thing, she asked why should GM seed work well, for farmers and consumers, in the third world if it demonstrably does not work in the US? Payments for seed royalties to Monsanto and other biotech companies are an enormous burden for poor subsistence farmers in the third world as the case of massive Indian farmer suicide graphically demonstrates.

In the face of so many reported negatives experiences and scientific evidence to the contrary of Monsanto’s spin, Vandana Shiva asks why the Gates foundation would still be so eager to do the wrong thing at this point in history? It is not just the science but also all the evidence on the ground and the cases fought in the courts all over the world.

The case of “Bowman vs. Monsanto” www.democracynow.org/2013/2/21/bowman_v_monsanto_indiana_farmers_supreme, in the United States, shows oppression of the farmer, through the monopoly of dubious seed, is now a global problem. In Brazil, the supreme court has recently ruled against Monsanto to the tune $2.2 billion worth of royalty collections from Brazilian farmers. Monsanto is now desperate to settle, for a reduced amount if possible, with the country-wide group of farmers outside of court. More importantly they still hope to somehow continue their royalty payment system even despite the massive Brazilian farmer payout or refund.

This seed totalitarianism is an inevitable part of this GMO technology introduction and problem. Vandana breaks the underlying problem down in several ways. The first issue is the royalty problem. What was once the farmers’ commons or shared heritage or property, the community seed, has now been privatized and made into the intellectual property of a company. Secondly, the technology is not working. There are 2 main GM traits i.e herbicide resistance which is more prevalent in Argentinian Soy crops; and Bt type pest resistance which is more popular in the cotton belts. Bt was supposed to control pests but instead it has created super pests. Roundup was supposed to control weeds but it created superweeds. The all out promotion of a failed technology by government and big business is blindness and not science. Thirdly, many major GM food commodities do not actually feed people even while the GM seed giants claim to feed the world. Corn and Soy are good examples. Only 10% of the world-wide production of corn and soy is actually for human consumption. The rest is used for driving cars and torturing animals in factory farms! From this one can only conclude that there is some kind of “deep disconnect” between people’s right to wholesome and healthy food and whatever the Gates Foundation, the biotech industry, in general, and the US government are claiming. The fact is that 80% of the world food supply is still produced by the small farmer.

“ I would add that a capital, chemical and GMO intensive system of agriculture is the surest way to destroy the backbone of global food security”. – Dr. Vandana Shiva

Next John Robbins asked about what is really at stake between the seemingly 2 competing paradigms? One is the agro-ecological approach that uses traditional seed, diverse crops and natural approaches to pest management. At the core of this approach are the small landholders and farmers.

The other is the chemical giants such as Dow Chemical and Monsanto with their monocultures and GM seed patents and heavy use of toxic pesticides.

Vandana replied that the GM food paradigm is based on “profits alone” and powered by “flawed science and assumptions”. The other paradigm is based on centuries of practice and the best of emerging science or agro-ecology and growing the food in the place, as much as possible, where people are actually consuming the food.

Furthermore, this old chemical GMO paradigm is driven by war. Many of these founding American GM seed companies had their basis in chemical and biological weapons production, often to support warfare. Their expertise is how to kill. They simply have no understanding about sustaining life, whether it is human, animal or plant biology. They also have no understanding about microbial life, and what makes the soil come alive. They assume the soil is empty, dead and inert. They assume all living beings are a potential enemy of human beings even though insects and pests show an amazing balance (or symbiosis) in nature through their pest-predator relationship. The result of such a jaded logic is that their clumsy methods require an ever increasing use of harmful pesticides which in turn decimate any and all remaining beneficial pests, friendly soil and plant bacteria, and microbes. “(We can) Look at the loss of 75% of the bee population in some areas. (This is) all because of the use of poisons and chemicals.” Eventually , whole beneficial systems of supportive species, whether it is useful bees, Monarch butterflies and other insects , microbes, birds, plant biodiversity, or other life forms, become extinct, making the damage to the food system, and the crisis to agriculture, deeper ,more systemic and longer term.

According to Dr. Shiva, the irresponsible GM technology has contributed to approximately 75% of our current global ecological problems whether we look at soil or water quality, loss of plant biodiversity or overall species extinction. She also believes it may, directly and indirectly, contribute up to 40% of the production of undesirable greenhouse gases. Furthermore by permanently damaging all these vital inputs to both the farm and ecosystem, in general, we become even more vulnerable to climate change as our environment no longer has an adaptive capacity to buffer its effects. Add to this the problem of food, malnutrition and disease. The result is that we now have a billion people suffering from food hunger.

Today’s poverty and hunger in the developing world is not the result of a lack of food or overpopulation. Instead Vandana believes, “It is a structural hunger created by a food system based on greed. It takes money out of the agricultural community leaving the producers with enormous debts. They grow the corn but do not eat the corn. They grow the rice but do not eat the rice.” Vandana calls this “hunger by design”. Those who eat this food are also getting all kinds of diseases, even obesity, diabetes and cancer.

When you combine all these negative events and inputs, we can safely say that the damage that genetically modified (GM) seed and food is doing to the ecology, the health of human beings, the livelihood of small farmers and the overall denial of the right of farmers and consumers to real food is a WORLD CATASTROPHE!



 

1998 Seed Freedom Campaign still relevant today (Photo from www.seedfreedom.in)

 

If we work really hard the alternative paradigm of possibility may still prevail and blossom forth. Otherwise the billions of dollars of the Gates foundation, wrong government policies, corporate greed and junk science, will succeed, our environment will decline, and there will be no possibility of feeding humanity.

In this sea of negative news there is now hope. The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, in the north-east of India, has formally invited Vandana Shiva’s organization Navdanya www.navdanya.org to assist them in the process of the transitioning of all food and farming practices there to organic ones www.forumforthefuture.org/greenfutures/articles/bhutan-worlds-first-100-organic-nation . Equally importantly, some of the state governments in India are, now, favourably endorsing Navdanya’s approach and moving in that direction as well.

When asked again about some new initiatives that billionaire Bill Gates and his foundation are making with another billionaire, Carlos Slim, in Mexico, to further push and promote GMO’s, Dr. Shiva suggested we must make a concerted effort to “wake up” people like Bill Gates, on global food and health matters, so that they “find their way” to the truth about it. In this particular case, with GM food and seed, the Gates Foundation, Dr. Shiva says, ”Must end this (particular) pretense at philanthropy ”! Failing that, we may need to engage in more frequent and bigger protests until they finally get the message.

Interviewer John Robbins asked if Vandana can suggest more steps that activists and consumers in North America can take to support this work of transformation of the global food system to a more sustainable path. She suggested the first step is to recognize that small farmers in developing countries are not “pathetic” people who cannot produce their own food security! They are proud multi-generational “keepers of the seed”, and contributors to Food Sovereignty, “who also have a right to food democracy as much as anyone else”. So we need to respect the third world peasant and the rich biodiversity and rich agricultural traditions that they have developed and that we all now rely so much on in the practices of modern agro-ecology and permaculture.

Next, Vandana suggests, we also need to show much stronger solidarity with 3rd world social and food security movements, as well as Food Security movements in North America, in order to limit and control and eventually correct the damage that has been done. Specifically, she suggests targeting 3 areas such as the way Monsanto controls the seed supply, Cargill controls trade and Walmart pushes small retailers out of business.

Besides the corporations there is a problem of democracy in the United States. Very importantly and bizarrely, Vandana pointed out that the entire foreign policy of the US has been reduced to “pushing GMO’s from Monsanto” onto other countries. She has witnessed this many times in her own country. She gave specifically examples of how the US government had bullied the government of Nepal and India and how her organization, Navdanya, had to take either Monsanto or the respective governments, or both, to court, or arrange massive protests, in order to overturn their secret and undemocratic backroom deals. These pertained to the handing of control over the local food and seed supply ( to Monsanto), relaxation of standards for pesticide contamination, and permission of the use of other harmful agricultural inputs. Broadly speaking, Dr. Shiva suggests that US foreign policy must become more respectful of the sovereignty and democracies of all of the other countries around the world, and not just continue to be a vehicle for exponentially increasing Monsanto’s profits. US domestic policy has not been much better with new laws being created everywhere that criminalize open source and open pollinated seed.

Since some kind of food is necessary for all life on earth, the food freedom movement should be seen as having a basis in the journey of life itself. Therefore every able-bodied human being should join the seed freedom campaign because seed is the first link in the global food chain. Seed sovereignty is the basis of food sovereignty. We all have to have the courage now to say “NO” to ANY unjust policies, just as Mahatma Gandhi did 80 years ago. According to Dr. Shiva, everyone must learn to emulate activist Rosa Parks but, this time, on behalf of the food revolution. We must resolve to change any injustice, such as denying us the right to know (what is inside our food) or denying us our heirloom seed, that we come across in our local communities.

Lastly, Vandana invites people to download various free reports such as “the GMO Emperor Has No Clothes” from her website, to make a donation to support the work, or to join the seed freedom campaigns and/or sign her other organization’s ‘Declaration for Seed Freedom’ at www.seedfreedom.in .

About the Writer: Raoul Bedi has worked in the field of educational seminars and products with a focus on Nutrition and Health for 25 years. Over the past 5 years he has been actively involved in educational and fundraising initiatives and campaigns for Farmer’s Rights and Food Security in Canada. He is also an administrator for the “ Canadian Raw Dairy Consumer Advocacy “ Facebook Food Security research and blog pages. Raoul can be reached directly at [email protected] .His company, Vedic Harmony Centre, sponsors a variety of food and wellness events, and radio interviews about Food Security, conscious living and green solutions. Vedic Harmony Centre’s website for educational materials and products is www.biofield.ca .

 @Copyright April 2013 by Raoul Bedi, Vedic Harmony Centre. When reposting this article please include the author's name and website link www.biofield.ca . Thank you. Donations are excepted gratefully for this work .

BC Fresh Milk Conference Was a Milestone (Part 1 of 2

Posted by biofield on April 10, 2013 at 2:20 AM

BC Fresh Milk Conference Was a Milestone for the Movement (Part 1 of 2 )

by Raoul Bedi , BASc                                                                           Date:April 11,2013

 

Mark McAfee, Michael Schmidt, Jason Gratl, Alice Jongerden

Four Raw Milk Heroes at the Vancouver Fresh Milk Food Politics forum on April 6, 2013. . (Right to Left) Alice Jongerden former agister of Home on the Range Farms, Jason Gratl (Lawyer for Our Cows, Chilliwack), Michael Schmidt of Cow Share Canada , and Mark McCafee (Agister of largest legal raw dairy operation in California ) .

For other April 6,2013 Real Milk conference photos with quotes click here .

I - Introduction:

The Vancouver Fresh Milk Food Politics conference (www.freshmilkfoodpolitics.com ) on April 6, 2013 was, according to Ontario Raw Milk farmer, agister and pioneer, Michael Schmidt a “milestone” for the movement in Canada. What made it a success? It was not just the fact of the seats being, more or less, sold out. Or the thought-provoking and professional lectures from the various leaders in the field of Raw Dairy and building Sustainable Food Systems. It was something more. It was the synergy or joyful coming together of many of the diverse strands of the BC and Canadian Food Security collage, for a time, all under one roof. It is not often that so many leaders and activists in the field, in Canada, join together to find common cause under one roof as we did on April 6, 2013 at the Ukrainian Cathedral in Vancouver.

Who were the heroes of the day? Apart from the usual leaders of the movement such as raw milk farmers Michael Schmidt, Mark McAfee ( www.organicpastures.com ;) and Alice Jongerden, there were also many “unsung heroes”. Like the kind gentleman who innocently, generously and anonymously left a donation of $1500 for the CCF (Canadian Constitution Foundation) at my “Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group“ (www.rawmilkconsumer.ca ) table. He did not even request a receipt. Despite efforts to later track down this kind individual, so that Michael Schmidt and Karen Selick could personally thank him, he was nowhere to be found.

Jackie Ingram, our respected Master of Ceremonies, event co-organizer, and still another unsung hero of Raw Milk advocacy, herself, mentioned some of the amazing new synergies. The respected “Slow Food “ Vancouver (www.slowfoodvancouver.com ) organization has wholeheartedly embraced the BC Raw Milk advocacy work as part of their mandate which includes no GMO’s and Seed Freedom . This synergy was further evidenced by the lengthy list of 15 local food donors and sponsors for the event’s tasteful 3 gourmet meals, and over 20 media and blogger sponsors from all over North America .

Throughout the day we received some snippets about Jackie’s amazing BC Raw Dairy advocacy work or odyssey. Jackie had arranged meetings with the premier of BC and several ministers. About which Michael Schmidt commented it has taken me, personally, “20 years of trench warfare and literally 40 days of fasting almost to death “in 2011 to barely be able to meet the former premier of Ontario, Mr. Dalton McGuinty, during his coffee break for 20 minutes! Yet Jackie was somehow able to achieve this (with the Premier of BC) all in a day’s work!

It occurred to me, as Jackie rhymed off the successes of the past year, such as tabling petitions for all the party members in the BC provincial parliament, or meetings with various BC health and medical officers, that it would be highly instructive if she budgeted a 50 minute slot FOR HERSELF TO SPEAK , at the next Fresh Milk conference, entitled “Secrets of Raw Dairy Advocacy Work - How and How Not to Go About it” !

One could never do justice here to the humanitarian good that most of the attendees are contributing in their own way to our society. At each one of the 25 odd tables in the conference hall, conversations were taking place, connections were being made, and seeds were, figuratively and literally, being planted for the next phase of high level work. Thus, the ultimate success of the conference may be gauged by the inspiration and creativity all the attendees feel now to contribute exponentially more , and in bigger and better ways, to this work of building a Sustainable Food System.

II Lecture Summaries

What follows is a synopsis of each of the different distinguished speaker’s lectures throughout the day, more or less, sequentially. These are my notes “from the field” with minimal commentary or analysis. www.helladelicious.com  has already written a great article and analysis about the conference, so my intention here is to fill in some of material, for researchers interested to go into as much depth as possible, that was left out of her article. The conference went for almost 9 hours so a lot of information was exchanged and shared – information that is impossible to share, in its totality, in a short article or two.

A: BC Lawyer and Civil Liberty Expert Jason Gratl Lecture:

 “Food Law and the Price of Freedom

http://www.gratlpurtzki.com/team/jason-gratl/

 

 

 

Jason Gratl (centre) with Michael Schmidt (Left)

 – Photo by Raoul Bedi (www.biofield.ca )

For other April 6,2013 Real Milk conference photos with quotes click here .

Truth is something that is difficult to suppress. Once it comes out it is even more difficult to ignore it ”! –Jason Gratl, Lawyer for Michael Schmidt and Our Cows Coop in Chilliwack , BC.

Mr. Jason Gratl has a background in a variety of areas pertaining to Food Rights and Civil Liberties. Previously, Jason did work for the Natural Health Products Protection Association. An important premise there was that a consumer has a right to certain products for his or her health. Food and drugs can both be used therapeutically with right knowledge and application.

Former ‘Home on The Range” farmer agister Alice Jongerden caught the attention of regulators. She faced 3 years in jail, and a potential fine of $2 million if found guilty of marketing and distributing raw milk for human consumption.

Her elegant solution: Don’t package or imply the raw milk is for human consumption. Print 1000 labels stating this product is “Not for human consumption”. The honourable Judge had some kind of sympathy for her predicament and situation so, while still finding her “in contempt of court”, did not enforce any punishment, not even for court costs. However she was disabled from further performance of her chosen work activity with a threat of potentially more serious enforcement consequences if the matter went to court again in the future.

ACT II ‘Reinvention as Cosmetic Line’ – The New “Our Cows” herdshare, an incarnation of the former “Home on the Range” herdshare cooperative which had been disbanded under court order, developed a clearly stated policy that a member will be prevented from purchasing the dairy (now newly relabelled or identified as) cosmetics if found to be using them for purposes other than cosmetics. This is a less cheeky approach to outright disobedience or law breaking. It seeks a kind of middle path approach in terms of finding an intelligent way to respect the law while simultaneously achieving an objective that might otherwise be perceived to be a legal violation. We are still duty bound to say we follow the law. So Civil Disobedience can have varying degrees and flavours. You seek to obey and disobey the law at the same time. That is one approach. Both sides are happy with the result as a respectful middle way has been deemed to be found.

Apart from the dairy industry, many trades are controlled by oligopolies. We see this with the outrageous rates for lawyers. A limited supply creates an artificial demand. The same goes for medical schools. A constrained number of doctors and nurses drives up the price for their services and creates a situation of artificial scarcity. Similarly in Canada we have a Milk Oligopoly where the Canadian market price is substantially higher (almost double) than the US price.

Such an oligopoly is a de facto tax on milk and other dairy products.

In extreme situations or discrepancies between supply and demand, prices shoot so high that a parallel black market eventually can form. Another problem that compounds the challenge for farmers is that there are multiple marketing boards or oligopolies for many different product or food categories that do not communicate with each other. For example there are marketing boards for chicken, eggs, dairy, (formerly wheat) etc. Thus the cumulative and stressful effect of over-regulation is ignored by bureaucrats. Just as we ignore the cumulative and compounding negative effects of 1700 man-made interrupters or interventions like pesticides, GMO’s , EMFs, herbicides , irradiation and  preservatives sometimes all in the same food if not overall diet and lifestyle .

In Canada, we have very little in the way of effective consumer advocacy to monitor the government and if necessary stop all regulators who exceed their mandate or other humane boundaries. And experience has shown that regulators, by their nature, have no capacity to “self-regulate” themselves. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

Thus when faced with very little if any internal government control and inadequate consumer or public advocacy or oversight, the main remaining option is the courtroom. This is sometimes preceded by varying degrees or attempts of civil obedience, where regulatory boundaries are intentionally tested in the field.

It is an important prerogative of the courts, as guardians of our shared liberties, to establish the rights and freedoms that relate to food and life’s necessities. Specifically, the right or degree of control that an individual has to determine what goes in their own or their family member’s body. And the right to make the best nutritional choices available and possible for their families.

This is different from the recreational marijuana versus medical marijuana issue or debate. As nutrition is deemed to be more immediate and imperative to life than even occasional clinical or therapeutic use of a herb or drug. Another important right is the right to have accurate labeling to warn if something is potentially deleterious for some or all of the population if they ingest that food or herbal or drug item. The other side of the coin, people should have a right to the superior health benefits of the absolutely best food and nutritional choices if they can afford it and/or choose to make it a priority.

Lastly, Mr. Jason Gratl wisely and very humanely suggested that another very important “Food

Right“ that should be enshrined more formally is the right for ALL to a decent amount of protein, vegetables, clean water . This should be on par with the already accepted principle of a human being’s “Right to Life“. As how can one differentiate or separate from a “Right to Life” with “a right to life’s necessities”? They are, in truth, one and the same.

The reality is that a Canadian bill of “Food Rights“ is potentially 20 years away. There are, currently, no existing spelled out rights to quality, clean healthy food, for all, as we speak. And Mr. Gratl feels it would be a highly worthwhile exercise to eventually place such ideas into the legal fabric of the nation so that it ultimately becomes part and parcel of the Supreme Law of Canada.

In the interim, Mr. Gratl recommends a number of remedies. First eliminate absurdities of law so as to enhance the overall respect of the political and legal system by the citizenry. This could be achieved in the short term via an “Order in Council“ of some kind.

Second, an ‘Order in Council’ could potentially be used to fast-track certification programs for food and food production methods. For example, unpasteurized milk could be then be certified with a certain production, labeling, packaging, marketing and distribution standard. This could already be done easily and quietly without impeding the flow of profits for the existing Dairy Marketing Boards or oligopolies.

During the noon question and answer session Mr.Gratl mentioned that the Fraser Health authority had already spent $190 000 prosecuting its case against Alice Jongerden and the Our Cows Herdshare (and it’s previous incarnation as “Home on the Range”;) in Chilliwack. And that this tally does not even include in house staff income payments or other overhead costs. At that rate it is theoretically possible that even a municipal health board could run out of funding and be forced to drop the case whether or not it has merit. That is a very sad societal statement reminiscent of the situation of Monsanto versus non-GMO farmers debacles where “whoever has the deepest (financial) pockets wins” is the guiding principle in lawsuits and courtroom battles.

He mentioned that the Fraser Health Authority had made an initial “gentleman’s agreement“ not to prosecute while the constitutional challenge was in process but later “changed their minds”.

He further stated that “there are only so many lawsuits you can initiate”. It is a cost-prohibitive procedure and technically challenging. He offered the opinion that the constitutional challenge (it is currently on hold probably due to funding constraints) still “ought to move forward“ as it is very important to clearly “establish the principles of the rights of citizens to put healthy food in their bodies”.

Jason reiterated that there exist methods (a herdshare being one of them) to respect federal restrictions without necessarily mounting a costly constitutional challenge. Furthermore “enforcement actions are often underfunded“. So, more often than not, authorities will turn a blind eye to low key digressions. Which (low key) has probably never really been Michael Schmidt’s approach! He has been somebody who often finds himself in the media limelight. The other side of the coin, Jason stated, is that if governments do decide to go to court they are the best clients (as far as earning “bread and butter” for a lawyer) because they can be stubborn and stupid (in endlessly pursuing a case ) and have a relatively unlimited access to taxpayer money.

Karen Selick’s Talk:The State, Children and Freedom to Eat

Karen Selick, Litigation Director, Canadian Constitutional Foundation

                                                   Karen Selick, Litigation Director

http://www.canadianconstitutionfoundation.ca/

We are naturally fond of our children. This sometimes makes us vulnerable to scoundrels and manipulators including government bureaucrats! Children’s safety has become the excuse for a never-ending stream of new laws pertaining to almost all areas of human life. We have bicycle helmet laws, censorship of movies, TV and the internet, Food laws, Education laws, Vaccination requirements and more. The government sees itself in the role of “wise shepherds” which means, by default, we are the blind ,weak and defenceless sheep !

Practically we see this state of affairs with regard to the situation of raw milk accessibility in Canada. Your average Raw Milk consumer has to jump through so many hoops in order to obtain their cherished unpasteurized dairy products that it cannot possibly be a reckless decision. It is an informed choice that is currently disregarded by the government.

Not all government is evil. But the government, by it’s nature, lacks the dispersed knowledge that can and will always only reside in the minds of each and every citizen. A government, by its nature, can only take into account generalities. But what is best for a majority cannot possibly always be what is best for each and every minority.

For example, parents are capable of making subtle observations of their children and corresponding adjustments to their and their children’s lifestyle choices on a minute to minute basis. It is too expensive, if not impossible, for bureaucrats to finetune their services and decisions for each and every family’s situation. So, by default, we end up with “one size fits all laws and approaches” to governance. In some cases, we end up worse off than if we had never had certain laws in the first place.

Normally we assume benign intentions on the government’s part even if based on incomplete information or, worse, total ignorance of details.

 But what happens if the underlying motivation of a sector of government is against the good of the people? Why would this happen? A politician may have other goals with higher priority than the public’s good. For example : Job preservation, including getting reelected, or job promotion, a life-long pension or retirement package, personal power, influence and prestige and more . This is determined by what is known as “public choice theory” and governs the often inherently self-interested behavior of public servants.

It is not hard to find examples of where the state has gotten it totally wrong in terms of public good. For example, in 1999 Vioxx drug was released into the market . By 2004 it was believed to have caused 60 000 deaths world-wide before being subsequently withdrawn. For followup research purposes, a fascinating research article entitled “List of Withdrawn Drugs” can be found in Wikipedia.

Apart from the government being wrong about the things it approves of, the government is also often wrong about the things it disapproves of with organic raw milk being a prime example. In fact the government has been wrong so many times and in so many places that it is hard to fathom a mindset that believes that the government should still dictate for us what is good or not good for us to eat.

As a further example, Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization in Canada. And pasteurized dairy products are proven to be a major contributing factor. Whereas well-respected European studies of large groups of children, ingesting raw dairy products over a longer term, show massive decreases in asthma and allergy rates, approaching zero. To deny our children such accepted and obvious benefits (according to the Europeans, at least) should be viewed as a crime worthy of punishment.

We must reign in the food fascists and not let them dictate, more and more, what an experienced, and in many cases multigenerational, farmer can and cannot do.

Hayley Lapalme’s Lecture:Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Agriculturewww.mysustainablecanada.org

 

H. Lapalme on “Building a Sustainable Food System”

 (Photo by www.helladelicious.com  ;)

Hayley began by asking how many people in the room are farmers ? About 60% of the people in the room put up their hands. She expressed a concern about the loss of farms and farmers. She pointed out that many more of us are potentially farmers even if we only grow food in our gardens or balcony or even just sprouts in a kitchen jar! She mentioned a popular new mode of urban farming, called SPIN Farming (Small Plot Intended Agriculture www.spinfarming.com ) where a gardener cum farmer manages multiple large urban backyards often only in exchange for a share of produce with the homeowner .

We have lost a lot of transparency in our food system. We need to urgently reconsider the “who” and how of our future food supply and system? What role will Urban Agriculture play in the city of the future? We must revalue our priorities and cultivate a new generation of both urban and rural farmers. We must preserve if not increase current land in cultivation. How? By making better use of public and unused spaces such as backyards, rooftops, balconies, parks and boulevards.

We must also work to counter this tendency to concentrate power in the hands of government or a few large corporations by decentralizing and building a strong food system. How do we regain transparency in society’s direction and in the government’s decisions ? There are several ways. First we have to start by asking more questions. Another way is to leverage the buying power of institutions to support local food initiatives of all kinds.

A paradigm shift is needed. International trade agreements need to be revised so that global trade complements instead of hinders local food choices. If not, the city of Vancouver will lose the ability to act as an agent of economic development for its citizens. We must work to empower municipalities with retained economic development powers. We must also “rebuild the middle” level of production/distribution to keep all processing work and employment from moving south where there may be either lower wages or larger economies of scale. Another important step is the continual reeducation of the consumers. For example, raw milk (and even herdshares or farmshares) must not be seen as something terrifying or weird or abnormal by the majority of the populace or bureaucracy.

We must redesign and reaffirm a policy focus that enshrines public dollars for the use of the greater public good. Institutions must learn to be curators of our shared Food System. As an example or case study, Hayley worked with hospitals or public institutions in Ontario to see how they could increase their purchasing of local food from local farmers. There are many steps involved : Visiting the farmer, building relations with the local farmer, requesting and then sourcing only local food where possible, revising levels of inspection (where redundant or not needed), and, lastly, asking for greater overall transparency.

First we must inform ourselves. Then only change can happen. Then only we can embrace the full transformative and humanitarian potential of our money.

In the future the local food system has the potential to revalue the farmer’s contribution in far more healthy and constructive win-win ways.

We must also get rid of absurdities such as asserting that claiming a food is good and healthy to eat is an illegal (and punishable!) “drug-like” claim that only doctors can make!

When we recirculate money in our local economy, we observe a many times multiplication effect of our money’s constructive impact on our society. By reconnecting eaters or consumers with the farmers or producers we will observe a simultaneous strengthening of our social fabric and affairs. This is true community-building which then becomes a model for national and even global development. We can choose to work both within and outside the system. However only working outside the system and starting from scratch for everything is not sensible or a good use of resources.

Even if we don’t know where to start we can initiate a powerful brainstorming process for solutions simply by telling each other stories. In this way, the audience or group will come up with their own best way to move forward into the future.

Broadly speaking the era of industrial food has to end. Why? If the whole world consumed food and other resources the way North Americans currently do we would require 2.5 planet Earths to survive!

(To be Continued)

About the Author: Raoul Bedi is a founding member of CCRMAG – The Canadian Consumer Raw Milk Advocacy Group www.rawmilkconsumer.ca . He has been trained in Ayurvedic Medicine , the ancient healing tradition of India for over 25 years. He has worked in the field of Educational Seminars and Products with a focus on Nutrition and Health for 25 years. Over the past 5 years he has been actively involved in educational and fundraising initiatives and campaigns for Farmer’s Rights and Food Security in Canada and the US. He is also an administrator for the “Support Michael Schmidt!” and “Canadian Raw Dairy Consumer Advocacy “ Facebook research pages. His company website for educational materials and products is www.biofield.ca  .

For more information about raw milk accessibility please visit : http://rawmilkconsumer.ca/bc-fresh-milk-conference-report-by-raoul-bedi/ .

Indoctrination at Health Canada and Universities

Posted by biofield on March 1, 2013 at 3:20 PM

The indoctrination in medical universities in Canada runs very deep in medical colleges for the past 80 years. Everything is only viewed as a "War on Bacteria" or a "War on Viruses". Although things may be changing slowly now for new batches of medical students finally, all of the so-called "experts" that Health Canada currently consults with are trained in old paradigm thinking. Over a 10 year period they probably only received 1-4 hours of training about nutrition and natural immunity.

Besides that , there is no money in it for the pharmaceutical companies who are big "donors' to medical colleges. So where will the change originate from ? Certainly not from within the system ? The so called experts are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in wages to support the status quo.Something they have only memorized and never actually proved for themselves. Not only that , they can lose their license or job if they unilaterally go against it.


The IN'S and OUTS of Comment-Making on Blogs

Posted by biofield on June 3, 2012 at 9:15 PM

The In’s and Out’s of Comment-Making                                by Raoul Bedi

Dated : June 3, 2012

What is fascinating in any shared blog  is if one were to make a general analysis of the comments (not commenters ) in an established blog , 4 broad classifications emerge :

1 .VISIONARY – These comments offer solutions and are positive, action-oriented and highly specific in their remedies and suggestions .

2. SUPPORTIVE – These comments do not offer any new ideas in themselves, but they offer support ($,resources, volunteer time , connections ) to build on the Visionary comments and ideas previously presented, or , at the very least, they try to inject “positive emotion” into the conversation.

b) INFORMATIVE - I later added this subcategory because these submissions may be useful educational even though not necessarily or immediately "action-oriented" or directly "supportive"  . They help in the later weighing of the "pros" and "cons" when specific new actions are required or discourage new action altogether.

3 . UNRELATED – These comments, while harmless and innocent in themselves, have little to do with the topic at hand. Or if they do they tend to overfocus on unimportant details. These comments may be a bore to read . They may also even be entertaining to read and they may even give you some kind of a mental buzz. . On the down side, these comments may prove to be a waste of everybody’s time and distract from the overall focus and intent of the thread. They tend to muddy the waters too much and cause people to rapidly lose interest in the thread or topic at hand .

 

4. DESTRUCTIVE – These comments tend to be overanalytical, insulting (or worse threatening ) , hypercritical and patronizing and never offer any constructive alternatives in place of the original ideas attacked. They may also have little to do with the topic at hand and simply be an exercise in purposely injecting “negative emotion ” into the forum. These comments tend to attack or criticize other commenters instead of the ideas presented . The people offering these comments may be unconscious of this tendency as a function of their own mental /emotional dysfunction i.e due to drug,alcohol or other abuse ,senility or other mental illness etc. or they may doing it deliberately as part of some agenda to pollute the constructive agenda of the blog. An example would be a government agent , a dairy lobby representative or a representative of the corporate chemical, GMO or Factory farming industry. If these individuals also have poor writing or motivational skills then they may also need to resort to using profanity to make their point (and scare away rebuttals and alternatives).

 

I wish to emphasize that criticism , in itself , does not make a comment “destructive” . It is when it tends become excessively personal and fails to offer a constructive alternative in its place that its value diminishes.

This valuation scheme is somewhat subjective. For example , many people may find an article by Michael Schmidt to be visionary(Category 1 ) in its nature and content while others may read it as a lot of “hot air” (category 3 ) .

May you all have fun with these classifications and find them useful ! It actually can prove to be useful as a time-saving device as well as certain individuals who tend to be stuck in Category 3 and 4 are rarely able to make the leap to Category 1 or 2 no matter how many opportunities they are given to do so ! So if you are short of time you can probably safely skip those comments without actually missing anything !


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