Fracking Worse Than You Think: Delusional America and Special Interest Gangs

fracking water

Mam, your water’s just fine, a pungent gasoline smell is normal nowadays.

A recent peer reviewed study has revealed that greenhouse gas emissions from drilling and fracking are 50% worse than previously thought. According to the Harvard study US fossil-fuel-industry methane leaks are dramatically higher than the official estimates have claimed. Not surprisingly, the coal seam gas industry in Australia (one of the largest in the world) has rejected the study outright.

The report, published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, directly challenges the EPA’s decision to cut its methane emission (produced from fossil fuel extraction) estimates by 25% for 1990 – 2011. The report states that:

We find that [methane] data from across North America instead indicates the need for a much larger adjustment of the opposite sign

Fracking is altering the climate far faster than we first thought. However, before we continue with fracking, let’s first understand the difference between Australia’s coal seam gas and America’s natural gas.

Coal Seam Gas Vs. Natural Gas:

As an end-use product, coal seam gas is the same as natural gas...The only difference between CSG and natural gas is in the way that it is formed by nature. CSG is composed predominantly of methane and small percentages of nitrogen and carbon dioxide. The coal seam is both the source and the reservoir, which is different from the sandstone reservoirs of conventional oil and shale gas. As coal forms over millions of years, large quantities of methane-rich gas are generated and trapped in coal seams by water and ground pressure. CSG is trapped in the coal in tiny fractures, or cleats, under hydrostatic pressure. CSG is extracted at low pressures from coal.
Shale gas is methane held within shale layers, rather than a coal seam. Shale is much harder than coal and always requires fracturing ('fracking') to allow the gas to flow.
fracking graphic

Seems pretty technical boys, just throw in all the chemicals you can’t pronounce.

While natural gas produces less CO2 than coal, the savings become irrelevant when considering the amount of methane that is sprayed into the atmosphere from methane leaks at well sites and while transporting the fuel. The reason for all the worry is that methane traps about 20 times more heat over a 100 year period compared to CO2, despite remaining in the atmosphere for less time.

Related Article: What is the Solution to Smog? A Vacuum! 

A natural gas addiction has infected the U.S. with fracking spreading across the country like a viral epidemic. Fracking is the process of harvesting natural gas, or shale gas.  It involves mixing dangerous chemicals with large quantities of water and sand and injecting the mixture into shale wells at extremely high pressure. It is for this reason that fracking is believed to be poisoning well water all across the U.S. and in other areas of the world. According to the NRDC (Natural Resources Defence Council):

Over the last decade, the industry has drilled thousands of new wells in the Rocky Mountain region and in the South. It is expanding operations in the eastern United States as well, setting its sights most recently on a 600-mile-long rock formation called the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from West Virginia to western New York.  Fracking is a suspect in polluted drinking water in Arkansas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming, where residents have reported changes in water quality or quantity following fracturing operations.

fracking U.S.

The U.S. is ripe for the fracking!

Immense wells of shale gas are spread across most of the U.S. mainland.  These sites each undergo several fracking pumps. Although the media portrays natural gas as the new and improved, next-gen, problem free energy source, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Pipeline incidents and injuries abound and reports of polluted drinking water continue to pop up across the nation with greater frequency. Studies have directly linked shale gas fracking to:

The EPA still has not issued its report on the effect of fracking on drinking water. Despite all of the science pleading with us to reconsider our actions, fracking continues unimpeded.

Related Article: A Cheaper Alternative to Pollution


Fracking Denial and Delusions

By far the worst issue surrounding fracking is that as a whole, we still seem to have no clue that fracking is even taking place, let alone destroying the water supply and decimating the health of 1000’s of people as well as the land.  I suppose this isn’t surprising though as many nations are just as clueless about climate change. Afterall, climate denial is a real thing, actively and directly supported by a large number of the 90 institutions that are responsible for climate change since the industrial revolution. So, why shouldn’t the natural gas and fracking industries involve the same type of nonsense?


fracking climate

Superhuman denial abilties…

The truth is that human beings, especially us good ol’ Americans, will buy into anything given the opportunity. People are often fooled into passionate belief, and the denial campaigns and propaganda of billion dollar industries do a great deal of fooling.

Related Article: Climate Change too Fast for Evolution 

Let’s consider climate change again: Many Americans continue to believe that climate change is either a hoax or an over-dramatized issue.  This ignorance is a wrench in the spokes of global progress, especially in light of increasingly volatile weather patternsincreasing extinctions in land and marine lifewarnings from scientists across the globe; and the potential loss of trillions of dollars due to the costly effects of climate change.  This is cognitive dissonance in its purest form: we know the facts, but we are refusing to change.


Crony Capitalism and Special Interest

Despite America’s lack of progress in reducing emissions, most Americans’ desire a green, renewable energy policy. This applies to fracking as well; a large number of Americans are completely against it. Unfortunately though, oil, coal, and gas companies are at the top of the special interest dole list.

Special interest comes in the form of better government subsidies, tax cuts, court rulings, and allowances. We all know it takes place, and it has been widely practiced and wildly accepted. It is called crony capitalism, and it has been an an ongoing, yet somehow overlooked problem in America.

Related Article: Team Red = Team Blue

fracking george bush

No. Well, for the entertainment value, yes.

When Bush appointed Dick Cheney to lead an energy task force to revolutionize America’s energy policy, Cheney quickly organized a private meeting with fossil fuel giants at the head of the fracking movement. Companies such as Exxon Mobil, Conoco, Shell Oil, BP America and Chevron made the top of the list.  Today, these companies are still given billions of dollars in tax cuts and subsidies despite raking in hundreds of billions of dollars in private profit. According to PBS:

In 2005, Bush, who has received more from the oil and gas industry than any other politician, signed an energy bill from the Republican-controlled Congress that gave $14.5 billion in tax breaks for oil, gas, nuclear power and coal companies. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was based on recommendations by Cheney’s energy task force, also rolled back regulations the oil industry considered burdensome, including exemptions from some clean water laws. All of this transpired only one year after Congress passed a bill that included a tax cut for domestic manufacturing that was expected to save energy companies at least $3.6 billion over a decade.

During the time that Bush and Cheney, both of whom are former oil executives, have been in the White House, the oil and gas industry has spent $393.2 million on lobbying the federal government. This places the industry among the top nine in lobbying expenditures. The industry has also contributed a substantial $82.1 million to federal candidates, parties and political action committees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 80 percent of the industry’s contributions have gone to Republicans.

It is clear that special interest is taking place and is supporting companies in defiance of America’s health, wealth, and overall best interest. The truth is that a complete multi-industry infiltration of the U.S. government has taken place. Men and women with stake in the fracking, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and more are casting votes and making decisions that directly benefit the industries and leave citizens stripped of their money and power.


Monsanto the Usurper

The most obvious example of a corporation infiltrating the U.S. government is that of Monsanto. Monsanto, in case you didn’t know, is responsible for destroying thousands of local farms, using known harmful herbicides, pesticides, and fungicides, using chemicals responsible for colony collapse disorders in bees, and much more.

Related Article: The Senate is Useless and Should be Dismantled

Monsanto and Monsanto products are banned in several countries.  Numerous petitions to cut government ties to Monsanto have circulated, yet to no avail.  I wonder, why they didn’t succeed?

First, follow this link to view a list of 71 senators who voted against your right to know if what you are eating is GMO. Oh, and that’s despite 90% of the population saying they would be in favor of mandatory labeling.

fracking monsanto us

Whoa, there must be some huge cracks in the U.S. government for these people to slip through.

Next, check out the following list of U.S. government/Monsanto ties and the answer will be obvious.

David Beier 
MONSANTO POSITION: Head of Government Affairs for Genetech, (Now Monsanto)
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief Domestic Policy Advisor to Vice President Gore

William Conlon:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked for Monsanto’s Legal Team
FEDERAL POSITION: Department of Justice

Sam Skinner:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked on Monsanto’s Legal Team
FEDERAL POSITION: Department of Justice

Robert Fraley:
MONSANTO POSITION: Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer
FEDERAL POSITION: Serves as advisor in public agencies, including the USDA, among others

Michael A. Friedman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs at G.D. Searle &Co. (Merged with Monsanto)
FEDERAL POSITION: Acting Commissioner of the FDA

Marcia Hale
MONSANTO POSITION: Director of International Government Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: Assistant to President Clinton and Director of Government Affairs

Arthur Hull Hayes:
MONSANTO POSITION: Consultant to Searle’s (merged with Monsanto) Public Relations Firm
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously was FDA Commissioner

John L. Henshaw:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director of ESH Quality & Compliance
FEDERAL POSITION: Senior Advisor to U.S. Secretary of Labor

Rob Horsch:
MONSANTO POSITION: Vice President of Product and Technology Cooperation
FEDERAL POSITION: Advisor to the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy

Michael Kantor:
MONSANTO POSITION: Board of Directors, also represented Monsanto as a lawyer
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Secretary of Commerce

Gwendolyn S. King:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Board Member
FEDERAL POSITION: Commissioner of SSA 1989-1992

Richard J. Mahoney:
MONSANTO POSITION: CEO of Monsanto for 14 years
FEDERAL POSITION: Serves as Director of U.S. Soviet, Japanese and Korean Trade Councils, a Member of the U.S. Government Policy Committee

Margaret Miller:
MONSANTO POSITION: Oversaw the Approval of rBGH, was a top Monsanto scientist
FEDERAL POSITION: In, 1991, Margaret was appointed Deputy Director of the FDA

George Poste:
MONSANTO POSITION: Sits on Monsanto’s Board of Directors, previously a Monsanto Animal Specialist
FEDERAL POSITION: In 2002, Poste was appointed head of Bioterrorism division of Homeland Security

William D. Ruckelshaus:
MONSANTO POSITION: Member of the Monsanto Board of Directors
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1970, he was the first Chief Administrator for the EPA, later the acting director of the FBI, then Deputy U.S. Attorney General

Donald Rumsfeld:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previous CEO of Searle (merged with Monsanto), he successfully had ASPARTAME legalized while in that position.
FEDERAL POSITION: Appointed to Secretary of Defense in 1975, then appointed to Secretary of Defense again in 2002

Suzanne Sechen:
MONSANTO POSITION: Worked on Monsanto-funded rGBH in connection with her graduate work at Cornell University
FEDERAL POSITION: FDA Reviewer on Scientific Data

Robert B. Shapiro:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previously the President and CEO of Monsanto, Chairman and CEO of Nutrasweet, and Chairman and CEO of Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously Served as President’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and on the White House Domestic Policy Review of Industrial Innovation

Islam Siddiqui:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Vice President of CropLife America, which represented Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief Agricultural Negotiator for the Office of the Trade Representative

Michael Taylor:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Attorney for Monsanto for seven years, previous h Head of the Monsanto Washington D.C. Office
FEDERAL POSITION: Former FDA Deputy Commission for Policy. In 2010, appointed by the FDA as a senior advisor of the FDA Commissioner

Dr. Charles Thomas:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previous Monsanto Researcher in charge of the Manhattan Project, creating the atomic bomb. Later, became Monsanto’s Chairman of the board.
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously Served as a consultant to the National Security Council and as a U.S. Representative of the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Commission

Clarence Thomas:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former lawyer for Monsanto, a notorious chemical polluter. Thomas would later cast the decisive vote in 2000 on the Supreme Court, ratifying the stolen election that put George W. Bush Jr. into office
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1991, was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court

Anne Veneman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Previously served on the Board of Directors of Calgene, a Monsanto Biotech subsidiary
FEDERAL POSITION: In 2001, was appointed Head of the USDA

Jack Watson:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Staff Lawyer with Monsanto in Washington D.C.
FEDERAL POSITION: Chief of Staff to President Carter

Seth Waxman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Hired by Monsanto to prosecute two Farmers who fought against Monsanto’s Seed Policies in 2002
FEDERAL POSITION: Former U.S. Solicitor General

Dr. Virginia Weldon:
MONSANTO POSITION: Retired Senior Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: Previously, was a member of the FDA’s Metabolism & Endocrine Advisory Committee

Rufus Yerxa:
MONSANTO POSITION: Former Chief Counsel at Monsanto
FEDERAL POSITION: In 1993, was nominated as U.S. Deputy to the World Trade Organization

Toby Moffett:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Consultant
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Congressman (D)

Dennis DeConcini:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Legal Counsel

Josh King:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director, International Government Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: White House Communications (Clinton)

Carol Tucker-Forman:
MONSANTO POSITION: Monsanto Lobbyist
FEDERAL POSITION: White House Appointed Consumer Advisor (Clinton)

Linda Fisher:
MONSANTO POSITION: Vice President, Government & Public Affairs
FEDERAL POSITION: Deputy Administrator EPA (Clinton, Bush)

Lidia Watrud:
MONSANTO POSITION: Manger, New Technologies
FEDERAL POSITION: USDA, EPA (Clinton, Bush, Obama)

Hillary Clinton:
MONSANTO POSITION: Rose Law Firm, Monsanto Counsel
FEDERAL POSITION: U.S. Senator (D), Secretary of State (Obama)

Roger Beachy:
MONSANTO POSITION: Director, Monsanto Danforth Center


How to Patch a Sinking Ship

It appears that industries spanning every sector, including fracking, agriculture, pharmaceuticals and more are playing a game with the U.S. government, swapping players each season for their own sake, not mine and yours. When congress, the congress of the people, stops acting in the people’s best interest we have a serious problem. Right now we are in the heart of the danger zone. What are we to do?

permaculture fracking system

So, let’s make this happen immediately.

In a capitalistic society you are a consumer first and foremost.  A capitalistic society feeds on your spending, and it feeds you with the sweet satisfaction of ‘things.’  You have power in your purchases; use your buying power to support sustainability-minded companies. If companies are getting away with infiltrating and orchestrating sections of the government, then why not make sure they are excellent companies willing to appease, not disease the masses.

Buy local, support the little guy. Sure, it may sometimes be more expensive, but try not spending your money on a few of your monthly non-essentials and you’d be surprised how quickly your savings add up.

Related Article: Income Inequality in America

Become more independent and deplete your dependence on ‘the system’ by making purchases with awarenessFind satisfaction in the little things and start wanting less. Become more aware of how each and every decision you make affects the rest of the world.  Imagine that everyone else on planet Earth is you; what effect would you like to have on yourself?

Grow a garden, go foraging for food, or keep honeybees. Learn about permaculture and begin practicing a zero-waste lifestyle. It’s way easier than you think, and is actually really fun.

Arguably the most important thing you can do is vote. Contact your elected officials  and tell them what you think. Demand that they act as your representative, not a rogue speaker. Help fight fracking by joining organizations that fight to stop it.

Educate yourself and spread awareness about issues that are important to you.

Consider. Constantly consider the effect you are causing.





Aspartame In Diet Soda Responsible For Destroying Kidney Function

Aspartame has always been a topic of great debate. It is found in highest concentrations in diet sodas, and proliferates markets and restaurants across more than 90 nations. Now, a study published in the Clinical Journal of  the American Society of Nephrology determined that sugar sweetened soda increases the odds for kidney function decline. 3,318 women participated in the study for  a number of years as they consumed diet soda that contained artificial sweeteners, most notably aspartame.  Two or more diet drinks per day led to a double risk in fast-paced kidney decline. The study was conducted by scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that aspartame is linked to non-Hodgkin lymphoma and leukemia.

There are positives to using artificial sweetners; according to Mayo Clinic, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners do not contribute to tooth decay and cavities, and they help to control blood sugar in diabetes patients. But so does stevia, without the health risks. The dangers of aspartame, like many other substances, have been documented since its inception. It’s not uncommon to come to the conclusion that, at the very least, aspartame provides us with minimal health benefits and has great risks attached to it.

Why is aspartame still so widespread despite the supposed health risks?

In the mid 60′s a chemist named James M. Schlatter accidentally created aspartame while trying to create a cure for stomach ulcers. He worked for a comapany called G.D. Searle. With the patent for aspartame in hand, Searle tested aspartame and had it approved by the FDA. Health effects began to arise that were potentially associated with aspartame and G.D. Searle came under suspicion for faulty testing practices.

By 1980 the FDA banned aspartame from use after having independent scientists study the sweetener’s relationship with brain tumors. Although they were unable to find a connection, they did cite a lack of unanswered questions regarding cancer in laboratory rats. On the official FDA board questionnaire, 12 out of 69 scientists expressed serious concerns regarding the safety of aspartame.

In 1981 former Secretary of Defense and then Searle Chairman, Donald Rumsfeld, pushed to get aspartame approved. Ronald Reagan, who had just taken his throne of power, told his new FDA commissioner Arthur Hayes Hull, Jr. to appoint a 5-person Scientific Commission to review the FDA’s ban. 3 of the 5 scientists believed aspartame was safe, while the other 2 had serious doubts. Under Hull, aspartame was approved for use in dry goods.

It is clear that despite what the board cliams, the safety of aspartame is not ‘clear-cut’.  It has already been through a process of being banned and unbanned multiple times, and were it not for the decision of a single scientists, it would not be used today.

You don’t need the diet soda anyway. Reach for the tea instead!


Wondergressive: Aspartame

The Senate Is Useless and Should Be Dismanteled

Senate Is Useless

Senate Is Useless


When almost ninety percent of the population supports expanding background checks for individuals buying guns online and at gun shows, and the Senate fails to pass such legislation, then the United States Senate is useless. How does that happen? What role does the Senate play if it does not represent the interest of the people?

Historically, when the House of Representatives and the Senate represented two legislative chambers that kept in check the two major parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, Congress actually had a real purpose! It was a bicameral setup where in one house, the House of Representatives, the members were elected to protect the interests of the constituents of the district in the state which they represented. The Senate, on the other hand, was made so that each state had equal representation, regardless of the state’s population. As we know, this is why each state sends two Senators to Congress.

The United States Senate Is Useless For a Couple Reasons


The biggest reason why the US Senate is useless is because it clearly does not reflect the will of the people at large. When close to 90% of the citizens agree on broader background checks for guns bought online and gun auctions, and when 74% of the National Rifle Association (NRA) members support the measure as well, then how does that become blocked? 90% of the time we don’t agree on anything! Senate members work to fulfill the interests of the lobbies that support them. In this case, it was in their better interest to appeal to the gun lobbies which hold many of the Senators’ positions by the balls.

The proposed document did not ban any weapons nor capacity on ammunition. It did not take anybody’s guns away. The government wasn’t coming to anybody’s front door. It was simply proposing to do more background checks. Who would that hurt? I am not hating on guns. This is just one of the most recent examples of the point that I am trying to prove. We could take any other example, dissect it, and come to the same conclusion.

(Related Article: A Case Against Gun Control)

The second reason the Senate is useless is because it takes ages to get legislation passed.

Founders hoped Senators would be more likely to consider the long-term effects of legislation and practice a more mature, thoughtful and deeply deliberative approach in their deliberations. Setting aside the validity of this “maturity” factor, the Senate undeniably does take longer to consider bills, often brings up points not considered by the House and just as often votes down bills passed easily by the House.  –

Mature? Thoughtful? Deeply deliberative approaches? Please! Is that how they passed the Monsanto Protection Act swiftly with most of the useless Senate not aware that it was slipped into the legislation? What was so mature and thoughtful about that? Once again, proving that the Senate is useless really isn’t that hard. Still not convinced?  How about a sadly hilarious list of all the things the senate has done and is doing to waste all of our time and money?

The bottom line is, the House of Representative members are elected every two years, which means they are running for reelections more often and are more likely to stick to the opinions and wishes of their constituents. Let’s not forget that legislation also gets passed faster in the House of Representatives. On the other hand, the useless Senate members are elected every six years, and are not swayed by public opinion as easily.

The House members are supposed to represent the interests of the people. The Senate members are supposed represent the interest of the State. But what are State’s interests if they are not the people’s interests?

Two solutions: Either dissolve the useless Senate and completely dismantle it. Or, if there is any legislation that is in very high interest to the people, then that should be able to become law by just passing it through the House of Representatives. It shouldn’t be so difficult to pass something that is accepted by nearly every american citizen!



Don’t Fear Anti-GM Hysteria (Nor the Reaper)!


A couple of weeks ago the New York Times published a short article on how all genetically modified (GM) products sold in Whole Foods Market would have to be labeled as such by 2018. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the editorial board both agreed that a private entity is free to require whatever labels it desires while also denouncing the need for expensive mandatory labeling in other stores throughout America.

The organic food movement, and the labels that go with it, has been surging in popularity for over the past decade. Although some of its tenets, like promoting local produce, are relatively benign and sensical, others are much more pernicious. The most dangerous of these is the completely unsubstantiated idea that GM foods are harmful for a variety of dubious reasons, like that they are less healthy than organic foods or that the pesticides and herbicides used to grow conventional crops are harming humans. The general vibe I get from more militant organic foodies is that GM food is inherently untrustworthy, cannot help feed a growing population, and that it is actively destroying the planet. The fervor I’ve witnessed for these beliefs borders on religious.

For all the vitriol and the-end-is-nigh rhetoric, the bad rap that GM foods gets is entirely a fabrication, the product of campaigns of misinformation by groups like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and Navdanya.

In reality, GMOs are actually extremely beneficial for multiple reasons. For one, they cost less than organic products to the consumer. They also are genetically resistant to chemicals like glyphosate, an herbicide commercially sold as Round Up. This means that farmers no longer have to use other chemicals that are at least three times as toxic as Round Up and stay in the environment about twice as long. This lack of toxicity also helps reduce topsoil erosion by up to 90%.  GM crops also allow for more food to be grown on any given acre of land, which helps reduce deforestation.

In September of last year, Stanford University released a meta-analysis of over 200 studies on the effects of conventional and organic foods to determine the nutritiousness and safety of GM products for humans.

“They concluded that fruits and vegetables labeled organic were, on average, no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts, which tend to be far less expensive. Nor were they any less likely to be contaminated by dangerous bacteria like E. coli.

The researchers also found no obvious health advantages to organic meats.

Conventional fruits and vegetables did have more pesticide residue, but the levels were almost always under the allowed safety limits, the scientists said. The Environmental Protection Agency sets the limits at levels that it says do not harm humans.”

These findings should come as no shock as they confirm what many other scientific bodies have already discovered. The National Academy of Sciences noted in a 2004 report that

“no adverse health effects attributed to genetic engineering have been documented in the human population.”

The World Health Organization reports that

“GM foods currently available on the international market have passed risk assessments and are not likely to present risks for human health. In addition, no effects on human health have been shown as a result of the consumption of such foods by the general population in the countries where they have been approved.”

In 2010 the European Commission finished a decade’s worth of research over the GM debate, concluding that

“there is, as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms.”

Genetically modified food is simply not the boogeyman many want people to believe it is.

In response to the Stanford study, Roger Cohen penned an op-ed in the Times entitled The Organic Fable in which he gleefully celebrated its findings. His stance and exasperation with the organic movement directly mirrors my own:

“Organic has long since become an ideology, the romantic back-to-nature obsession of an upper middle class able to afford it and oblivious, in their affluent narcissism, to the challenge of feeding a planet whose population will surge to 9 billion before the middle of the century and whose poor will get a lot more nutrients from the two regular carrots they can buy for the price of one organic carrot.”

When groups like Greenpeace denigrate and demonize GM products, they are purposefully denying the incredible things GMOs have accomplished and how many millions of lives they have saved by instead greenwashing the issue with pro-organic propaganda.

Norman Borlaug provides perhaps my favorite story about the astounding successes of genetically modifying crops. In 1968 Paul Ehrlich published his bestseller, The Population Bomb, in which he predicted that hundreds of millions of people in Southeast Asia would soon starve as the land simply couldn’t provide enough calories to maintain the growing multitudes. Borlaug and his team, however, were already hard at work developing and introducing a special type of high-yield dwarf wheat to the region. The crop was naturally resistant to many pests and diseases and allowed farmers to double or even triple their harvest. Later, a special high-yield variety of rice was developed, spreading the cornucopia across all of Asia.

For all of his work, Borlaug was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize. A modern-day saint, he is credited with saving as many as one billion lives from famine and starvation. 

In modern times, a GM crop named Golden Rice has been developed over the past 30 years to combat Vitamin A deficiency. This malady kills an estimated  650,000 children under the age of five every year. Despite Golden Rice’s potential to drastically alleviate this tragedy, groups like Greenpeace and Dr. Vandana of Navdanya have not only opposed, but have also consistently delayed the implementation of this breakthrough, maintaining that Golden Rice poses an unnecessary danger to human health and to local farmers through crop contamination.

I am not explicitly against organics or the local food movement; what people purchase and what they eat is none of my business. However, I am strongly opposed to the knee-jerk reactions of some people and organizations that not only classify all GM products as being harmful, but who also lobby to make them illegal for other people to use or benefit from.

People should be free to choose whatever food or technology that they see fit. No well-fed person should sit in their armchair and actively campaign against crops that could drastically improve, or even save the lives of people who might want to cultivate them.

Good on The New York Times for realizing that mandated GM labeling is an onerously expensive and pointless intrusion on private retailers who don’t desire to do so voluntarily. Hopefully supporters of both organic and conventional products can realize that making food more costly only exacerbates problems both at home and around the world.

Sadly, however, I fear that the anti-GM movement has a reflexive, animistic attitude towards food that they deem to be “impure.” For my desire to see billions of sated stomachs in the coming decades, I hope I’m wrong.






Court Battle Begins Between David and Goliath, Bowman and Monsanto


On Tuesday the court case Bowman vs. Monsanto got underway in the Supreme court. Vernon H. Bowman, a 75-year-old farmer in Indiana has been sued for infringing on a patent that Monsanto holds on genetically modified soy beans.

Monsanto produces genetically modified seeds which are Roundup Ready and can withstand herbicides as well as weed killers. This makes for an increased volume of successfully grown corn, soy beans, etc., but it also leads to another problem, and that is farmers indiscriminately spraying herbicides and pesticides knowing that the GMO crops won’t fail to reach harvest. This has made Monsanto’s seeds very successful in the farming community.

According to Monsanto, the farmers sign an agreement in which they agree to use the seeds for a year, and have to buy new seeds for the following growing season. Mr. Bowman however circumvented this patent system for over 8 years by purchasing soybeans from a nearby grain elevator, and using them for his harvests. You can read more about this Supreme Court challenge by Bowman.

Here are some of the main questions that are being asked in regards to this case:

Does Monsanto hold rights to the DNA of a seed that is an offspring of an originally purchased seed?

This question intrigues just about everybody from Monsanto to the music industry, movie industry, and anywhere else where copyrights are a concern. First of all, what needs to be cleared up is whether Monsanto holds patent rights to the physical seed itself, or just the DNA molecules. If it holds patent rights to the DNA molecule chains, then it should allow the farmers to reuse the new seeds at a discounted rate. It was, after all, the farmer’s fertile soil that did the work to produce the seeds, relieving Monsanto of some overhead. On the other hand, if Monsanto holds the rights to the complete seed itself, then that raises the next question:

Does the lifetime of the contract when purchasing seeds extend beyond the original seeds and into the newly harvested seeds?

According to Justice Stephen Breyer, patent law holds that it is illegal to plant them:

What it prohibits here is making a copy of the patented invention and that is what he did.

Now I’m not a farmer nor an expert in agriculture, but I am familiar with the issue of pirating CDs, DVDs, copying music, software and so on. The aforementioned copying examples are completely controllable. You can quite simply just say to yourself, copying is illegal and I should not participate in such acts.

But in the case of Bowman vs. Monsanto, how can it be considered illegal to copy a seed (the patented invention) when seed reproduction is an inevitable process of harvesting? Not forgetting to mention that a seed itself is a form of a living organism, does Monsanto have the right to newly reproduced life? Can newly formed life be potentially patented? This is a topic all by itself.

I do not believe that Monsanto could hold rights to the new seeds, as they are not the ones who physically produced them. Therefore the lifetime of the contract should not be able to go past the originally bought seeds. It’s just like burning a music CD. The album producer does not hold rights to the physical CD itself, rather to the make up, the songs. Therefore I do not think that Bowman breached any contracts.

So in the end, what Monsanto can hold rights to are the intellectual property, which is the DNA within the newly reproduced seeds.

It’s cheaper to buy a music album on iTunes than the physical album in a store. It’s cheaper to download a movie legally (in most cases) than to purchase a physical disc at a store. It’s also cheaper to download an eBook than to buy the physical book itself from a book store. The big difference in the digital purchases is the overhead cost relief that producers get by licencing just the intellectual property, and therefore being able to sell the “intellectual property” at a lower price.

Why can’t Monsanto do something similar?



New York Times
Huffington Post
Time Ideas
USA Today

I Believe in GMOs


There is a seemingly never ending stream of controversy surrounding genetically modified organisms (GMOs). There appears to be two polar opposite views on the subject. In one camp, there are people who are happy to see a new science become incorporated into a system that could potentially offer tremendous support to the food industry and help to feed millions. In the other camp are individuals who go so far as to claim that they “know” that GMO’s cause cancer and that they will undoubtedly destroy the environment. So which is it? Like most issues, the subject of GMO’s is not black and white.

First, let’s discuss what a GMO actually is. A GMO is any organism that has a gene from another organism artificially inserted into its genome. Why would we want to do this? We can take a desirable trait from one species and incorporate it into another. Now for a lot of people, that’s all they need to hear. They immediately assume that this process will result in a dangerous plant or animal that could pose a risk to the environment, the consumer, or both. I disagree with this broad sentiment. The simple act of modifying an organism genetically does not tell us if it will be harmful or beneficial. That depends on which genes have been introduced and what their by-products will be. For example, a new GMO plant that produces a pesticide within itself that is poisonous to humans is, obviously, likely going to be detrimental when the gene product (the pesticide) is eaten. However, if the gene codes for an enzyme that helps the plant resist drought, for example, this gene will likely have no effect on whoever eats it.

Let’s look at an example: tomatoes with a gene from a fish. Here, a gene from a cold water fish was introduced into the tomato’s genome. This inserted gene codes for an “antifreeze” protein that helps prevent the fish (and in this case the tomato) from freezing in cold climates. This genetic change simply introduces the antifreeze protein into the tomato. If one wants to claim that eating a tomato that expresses this protein is dangerous, then it is similar to saying you should never eat tomatoes and fish together, since your stomach would end up with the same combination of proteins (from the tomato and the fish). The point I want to get across here is that it’s not the process of genetically modifying an organism that is dangerous. What determines if it is dangerous or not to the consumer is what the newly introduced gene will express in the new organism.

The second major concern people have about GMOs is their potential impact on the environment. I feel that this is a more legitimate concern. If a GMO proves to be more resilient, bigger, faster, or simply better able to survive than it’s natural counterpart, then the GMO could potentially become an invasive species and out compete the original native species if it is introduced into the environment. This could potentially have dire consequences on the environment as the biodiversity of the ecosystem in question could be greatly reduced if one species begins to take over. GMO producers attempt to avoid this situation by producing organisms that will be incapable of producing naturally in the wild. For example, genetically modified salmon are engineered to be sterile, so even if they escape into the environment they will soon die off. As long as the proper precautions are taken, the likelihood of a GMO devastating the environment can be minimal.

The potential benefits of GMOs are obvious: the ability to grow more nutritious food faster and in areas where these foods could not be produced before. This opens the opportunity for many starving parts of the world to become less dependent on food imports. It is primarily for this reason that I think the pursuit of GMO production is worthwhile. What will determine whether a given GMO proves to be beneficial or not, depends on the initial intentions of the genetic engineers. If we focus on being able to increase yield and nutrition while decreasing the use of pesticides and antibiotics, I believe that GMOs can be invaluable for our future. If, however, GMOs are designed with strictly economical goals in mind, then the potential to do harm is great. I feel strongly that GMO research should be government funded with these positive goals in mind, and not pursued solely by private corporations looking to capitalize on control of the world’s food supply.

I for one will continue to support GMO research because of its massive potential to help the world. As Uncle Ben said, “with great power comes great responsibility”. Let’s make sure that we don’t damage our world, but let’s also not get caught up in hysteria and block the advancement of science.



Can Genetically Modified Corn Form Tumors in the Body?

If you are planning on prolonging your life and evading this cancer frenzy, you should be careful of which breakfast cereals and tortilla chips you choose. If you are not aware of the negative effects of wheat, a quick glance about wheat and what gluten is won’t hurt, but read on to learn about yet another daily source of negative possibilities.

Most of the consumed corn in the United States is genetically modified. According to a recent study by researchers at the University of Caen connecting genetically modified corn and long term effects on health, it can cause rapid and uncontrollable tumor growth as well as damage organs. This has been already tested on research rats. We can be thankful to Monsanto for the GM maize and their fertilizer, which in trace amounts is enough to cause the aforementioned wreck along with premature death.

According to the same site, this genetically modified maize that we all consume, also known as NK603, even in the smallest quantities has made the rats form tumors in the mammary glands as well as develop liver and kidney damage. The male rats exhibited the observable effects as early as 4 months, and female rats as early as 7 months. The control group observed the effects within twenty-three and fourteen months respectively.

Here is a quick list of some the facts from the study

  • Between 50 to 80 per cent of female rats developed large tumours by the beginning of the 24th month, with up to three tumours per animal. Only 30 per cent of the control rats developed tumours

  • Up to 70 per cent of females died prematurely compared with only 20 per cent in the control group

  • Tumours in rats of both sexes fed the GM corn were two to three times larger than in the control group

  • The large tumours appeared in females after seven months, compared to 14 months in the control group. The team said the tumours were ‘deleterious to health due to a very large size’, making it difficult for the rats to breathe and causing digestive problems

Shortly after the release of this study RT reports that:

The national academies of agriculture, medicine, pharmacy, sciences, technology and veterinary studies issued a joint statement condemning the findings on Monsanto’s NK603 corn, which were published last month by molecular biologist Gilles-Eric Séralini of the University of Caen.

RT also reports that Seralini’s study also:

earned widespread criticism for its methodology. Tom Sanders, head of the nutritional sciences research division at King’s College London, saying the study was a “statistical fishing trip,”manipulated from the start to achieve a specific result.

This later report was released and backed by two government-commissioned scientific reviews, however Monsanto has a bit of a history of manipulating governments and placing itself in a seat of power.

Genetically modified food is a very controversial debate with many sides to the story. In the mean time we should think about what we’re putting into our bodies and make sure to always read labels when buying food.






The Grocer- Monsanto Roundup Weedkiller and GM Maize Implicated in ‘Shocking’ New Cancer Study

Wondergressive- Save the Food Pyramid by Cutting it by the Limbs

Wondergressive- Natural, Living Pesticides

International Journal of Biological Sciences- A Comparison of the Effects of Three GM Corn Varieties on Mammalian Health

Mail Online- Cancer row over GM foods as study says it did THIS to rats… and can cause organ damage and early death in humans

RT- Good crop, bad crop: French scientists dismiss Monsanto ‘cancer corn’ study

Global Research- Obama Gives Key Agriculture Post to Monsanto Man

Wondergressive- And the Court Battle Begins Between David and Goliath, Bowman and Monsanto

Wondergressive- I Believe in GMOs


Them Cows is Sweet


In the most startling cow news I’ve heard this week, I learned that farm cow’s feed is coming from an unexpected source.

Due to the vast drought ravaging America, cow feed has become incredibly expensive or completely unavailable. Because of this the cows are being fed other things. Hungry cows are eating discarded food products no longer okay for humans to consume. Not so bad I guess, considering they usually eat things we humans can’t, or so I thought. That was until I read what they’re being fed! Gummy worms, cookies, marshmallows and other comestibles that can replace the sugars from corn are apparently the new mainstays of these cows’ diets.

So why are cows eating gummy worms? They’re eating gummy worms because they’re hungry and it’s the cheapest food source. Is it acceptable for humans to feed cows discarded junk food when corn prices sky-rocket out of the range of the farmer’s budget? I’ll let you answer that one.


Did you answer it? Now let me tell you this isn’t new. Check out this paper for an in-depth look at how it’s been happening since the ’90’s.  Cows have been eating candy, feathers, blood meal and other really disgusting  fare for years. It’s gotten worse this year because of the drought, but it’s only farmers expanding on an already in place system.

Them Cows is Sweet: Cows Fed Human Junk Food to Save Money

In the most startling cow news I’ve heard this week, I learned that farm cow feed is coming from an unexpected source.

Due to the vast drought ravaging America, cow feed has become incredibly expensive or completely unavailable. Because of this the cows are being fed alternative grub. Hungry cows are eating discarded food products no longer okay for humans to consume. Not so bad I guess, considering they usually eat things we humans can’t, or so I thought. That was until I read what they’re being fed! Gummy worms, cookies, marshmallows and other comestibles that can replace the sugars from corn are apparently the new mainstays of these cows’ diets.

So why are cows eating gummy worms? They’re eating gummy worms because they’re hungry and it’s the cheapest food source. Is it acceptable for humans to feed cows discarded junk food when corn prices sky-rocket out of the range of the farmer’s budget? I’ll let you answer that one.

Did you answer it? Now let me tell you this isn’t new. Check out this paper on By-Product Feedstuffs in Dairy Cattle Diets in the Upper Midwest for an in-depth look at how it’s been happening since the ’90’s.  Cows have been eating candy, feathers, blood meal and other really disgusting  fare for years. It’s gotten worse this year because of the drought, but it’s only farmers expanding on an already in place system.



Reuters- Sweet times for cows as gummy worms replace costly corn feed

University of Wisconsin -Madison: By-Product Feedstuffs in Dairy Cattle Diets in the Upper Midwest