Posts Tagged ‘Monsanto’
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The idea that those that oppose GMOs through direct action are equivalent to Nazi book burners is a troubling notion. It is based on two simplistic premises that science is neutral and that the advancement of knowledge is good. However, the premises contradict each other. If science is neutral, and science has the goal of the advancement of knowledge, then to my mind the advancement of knowledge can be neither good nor bad, just the uses to which it can be put. Any thinking person can agree that although science may be neutral, scientists and everybody else, are not. That corporate greed can undermine the neutrality of scientific results should be a cautionary tale to us all.
Consider that Nazi science was neutral, but the scientists were not. It is clear that Nazi science, although neutral, was often also immoral. Scientists could agree to go on wholeheartedly with the experiments, or sabotage them. The scientist as a Nazi would go on with experiment in good faith. The scientist as a moral person would find any way possible to disrupt it. So the question is who, if any, are the real Nazis in this debate?
Discussion over honest differences of opinion in the arena of scientific ideas is the way knowledge advances. Theories change on as experiments warrant. However, as with a medical trial, the experiment stops when the precautionary principle suggests that harm could be done.
As the patient is on the operating table, the GMO supporters argue that the patient will die without the operation. They argue that the anti-GMO people are causing the patient to die by halting the operation and saying that anti-GMO people are doomsayers. The death of the patient is itself a theory open to debate, as is the efficacy, morality and safety of the operation. This makes the GMO supporters not only the doomsayers, but also immoral by openly violating the precautionary principle.
Ishtarmuz’s Rebuttal to: UK GM Wheat War: Not Really About Science
Plant scientists at Rothamsted Research, a complex of buildings and fields in Hertfordshire, UK, that prides itself on being the longest-running agricultural research station in the world, have spent years preparing for their latest experiment — which will attempt to prove the usefulness of a genetically modified (GM) wheat that emits an aphid alarm pheromone, potentially reducing aphid infestation.
Yet instead of looking forward to watching their crop grow, the Rothamsted scientists are nervously counting the days until 27 May, when protesters against GM crops have promised to turn up in force and destroy the experimental plots.
The protest group, it must be acknowledged, has a great name — Take the Flour Back. And it no doubt believes that it has the sympathy of the public. The reputation of GM crops and food in Britain, and in much of mainland Europe, has yet to recover from the battering it took in the late 1990s. In Germany, the routine destruction of crops by protesters has meant that scientists there simply don’t bother to conduct GM experiments any more.
The Rothamsted scientists have also attempted to win over the public, with a media campaign that explains what they are trying to do and why. After the protesters announced their plans to “decontaminate” the research site, the scientists tried to engage with their opponents, and pleaded with them to “reconsider before it is too late, and before years of work to which we have devoted our lives are destroyed forever”. The researchers say that in this case they are the true environmentalists. The modified crop, if it works, would lower the demand for environmentally damaging insecticides.
Our current political system chooses to deal with world hunger through the model of “food security”, arguing that there is not enough food to go around and that we need techno-fixes to solve this. This approach ignores the fact that there is a global food surplus – many people just can’t afford to buy food. This problem is being amplified by land grabs- communities that used to grow food for themselves are being forced out of their ancestral homes, often by corporations expanding cash crop production.
The industrial food system throws away (in the journey from farms to traders, food processors and supermarkets), between a third and a half of all the food that it produces – enough to feed the world’s hungry six times over. (2)
Free trade policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund make it much harder for governments to protect small and family farmers from big multinationals. With the expansion of free-market capitalism, agricultural systems in many countries in the global south have become focused on producing cash crops for export to rich western nations. At the same time, their markets have been opened to food imports, including imports from US and EU companies at less than the cost of production. US farmers benefit from billions of dollars in subsidies which make up as much as 40% of US net farm income. This means they can afford to export their crops at well below production cost. (3) This is ruining the livelihoods of small farmers in the global south.
One difference between the climate wars and the GM wars is that some prominent scientists are participating in the direct action against technology (such as James Hansen and IPCC contributor Marc Jaccard). Another important difference is that in the case of GM crops, it is research itself being targeted, and the scientific community objects .
I would agree that the methods used in much of the climate debate are indeed driven by nonscientific corporate influences, but more in the same misguided way as the GMO supporters have used it. The difference here is that the end results of the climate change supporters are that we end up doing many things that we will have to do anyway. We need real sustainable solutions to both climate change and food shortages. The ‘why’ of climate change pales before the fact of it changing or the inadequacy of many of the current climate models. Simply, no one has been able to effectively debunk the idea that small local sustainable solutions to both climate change and food shortages are potentially the best, and least risky, of alternatives.
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album: “Agent Orange” (1989)
Operation >>Ranch Hand<<
Spray down the death
Down on their farms
Assault against the population
Suppress by military arms
Only you prevent the forest
Legalize the war
They are deprived of their power
Eradication without law
A fire that doesn’t burn
All the marks erased long ago
Scars are healed up
Cancer creeps into their innocent souls
Memorials of flesh and blood
Have survived unlawfully punished
Poisoned till the end of their lives
What medicine will help?
Still births will rise
A fire that doesn’t burn
Grieved weak hearts are crying
Waiting for the end
In this condition they are dying
Newborns of the damned
Preserved in test tubes for generations
Vicious circle of transmission
There’s no way for reparations
Must live with chemical agent called
A fire that doesn’t burn
Agent Orange… burn
Agent Orange… burn
Agent Orange… burn
EL EFECTO MONSANTO – Vietnam (1962-1974) Argentina (1996-????)Vodpod videos no longer available.
EL EFECTO MONSANTO (subtitled song) – Vietnam (1962-1974) Argentina (1996-????)
Military and civil use of herbicides under the same business portfolio
Fact sheet N°225
World Health Organization May 2010
- Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants.
- Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals.
- More than 90% of human exposure is through food, mainly meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish. Many national authorities have programmes in place to monitor the food supply.
- Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.
- Due to the omnipresence of dioxins, all people have background exposure, which is not expected to affect human health. However, due to the highly toxic potential of this class of compounds, efforts need to be undertaken to reduce current background exposure.
- Prevention or reduction of human exposure is best done via source-directed measures, i.e. strict control of industrial processes to reduce formation of dioxins as much as possible.
Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They have the dubious distinction of belonging to the “dirty dozen” – a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants. Dioxins are of concern because of their highly toxic potential. Experiments have shown they affect a number of organs and systems. Once dioxins have entered the body, they endure a long time because of their chemical stability and their ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are then stored in the body. Their half-life in the body is estimated to be seven to eleven years. In the environment, dioxins tend to accumulate in the food chain. The higher in the animal food chain one goes, the higher the concentration of dioxins.
The chemical name for dioxin is: 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo para dioxin (TCDD). The name “dioxins” is often used for the family of structurally and chemically related polychlorinated dibenzo para dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs). Certain dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) with similar toxic properties are also included under the term “dioxins”. Some 419 types of dioxin-related compounds have been identified but only about 30 of these are considered to have significant toxicity, with TCDD being the most toxic.
Sources of dioxin contamination
Dioxins are mainly by products of industrial processes but can also result from natural processes, such as volcanic eruptions and forest fires. Dioxins are unwanted by products of a wide range of manufacturing processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides. In terms of dioxin release into the environment, uncontrolled waste incinerators (solid waste and hospital waste) are often the worst culprits, due to incomplete burning. Technology is available that allows for controlled waste incineration with low emissions.
Although formation of dioxins is local, environmental distribution is global. Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment. The highest levels of these compounds are found in some soils, sediments and food, especially dairy products, meat, fish and shellfish. Very low levels are found in plants, water and air.
Extensive stores of PCB-based waste industrial oils, many with high levels of PCDFs, exist throughout the world. Long-term storage and improper disposal of this material may result in dioxin release into the environment and the contamination of human and animal food supplies. PCB-based waste is not easily disposed of without contamination of the environment and human populations. Such material needs to be treated as hazardous waste and is best destroyed by high temperature incineration.
Dioxin contamination incidents
Many countries monitor their food supply for dioxins. This has led to early detection of contamination and has often prevented impact on a larger scale. One example is the detection of increased dioxin levels in milk in 2004 in the Netherlands, traced to a clay used in the production of the animal feed. In another incident, elevated dioxin levels were detected in animal feed in the Netherlands in 2006 and the source was identified as contaminated fat used in the production of the feed.
Some dioxin contamination events have been more significant, with broader implications in many countries.
In late 2008, Ireland recalled many tons of pork meat and pork products when up to 200 times more dioxins than the safe limit were detected in samples of pork. This finding led to one of the largest food recalls related to a chemical contamination. Risk assessments performed by Ireland indicated no public health concern. The contamination was traced back to contaminated feed.
In July 2007, the European Commission issued a health warning to its Member States after high levels of dioxins were detected in a food additive – guar gum – used as thickener in small quantities in meat, dairy, dessert or delicatessen products. The source was traced to guar gum from India that was contaminated with pentachlorophenol (PCP), a pesticide no longer in use. PCP contains dioxins as contamination.
In 1999, high levels of dioxins were found in poultry and eggs from Belgium. Subsequently, dioxin-contaminated animal-based food (poultry, eggs, pork), were detected in several other countries. The cause was traced to animal feed contaminated with illegally disposed PCB-based waste industrial oil.
In March 1998, high levels of dioxins in milk sold in Germany were traced to citrus pulp pellets used as animal feed exported from Brazil. The investigation resulted in a ban on all citrus pulp imports to the EU from Brazil.
Another case of dioxin contamination of food occurred in the United States of America in 1997. Chickens, eggs, and catfish were contaminated with dioxins when a tainted ingredient (bentonite clay, sometimes called “ball clay”) was used in the manufacture of animal feed. The contaminated clay was traced to a bentonite mine. As there was no evidence that hazardous waste was buried at the mine, investigators speculate that the source of dioxins may be natural, perhaps due to a prehistoric forest fire.
Large amounts of dioxins were released in a serious accident at a chemical factory in Seveso, Italy, in 1976. A cloud of toxic chemicals, including 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or TCDD, was released into the air and eventually contaminated an area of 15 square kilometres where 37 000 people lived. Extensive studies in the affected population are continuing to determine the long-term human health effects from this incident. These investigations, however, are hampered by the lack of appropriate exposure assessments. A minor increase in certain cancers and effects on reproduction have been detected and are being further investigated. Possible effects on the children of exposed people are currently being studied.
TCDD has also been extensively studied for health effects linked to its presence as a contaminant in some batches of the herbicide Agent Orange, which was used as a defoliant during the Vietnam War. A link to certain types of cancers and also to diabetes is still being investigated.
Earlier incidents of food contamination have been reported in other parts of the world. Although all countries can be affected, most contamination cases have been reported in industrialized countries where adequate food contamination monitoring, greater awareness of the hazard and better regulatory controls are available for the detection of dioxin problems.
A few cases of intentional human poisoning have also been reported. The most notable incident is the 2004 case of Viktor Yushchenko, President of the Ukraine, whose face was disfigured by chloracne.
Effects of dioxins on human health
Short-term exposure of humans to high levels of dioxins may result in skin lesions, such as chloracne and patchy darkening of the skin, and altered liver function. Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions. Chronic exposure of animals to dioxins has resulted in several types of cancer. TCDD was evaluated by the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 1997. Based on animal data and on human epidemiology data, TCDD was classified by IARC as a “known human carcinogen”. However, TCDD does not affect genetic material and there is a level of exposure below which cancer risk would be negligible.
Due to the omnipresence of dioxins, all people have background exposure and a certain level of dioxins in the body, leading to the so-called body burden. Current normal background exposure is not expected to affect human health on average. However, due to the high toxic potential of this class of compounds, efforts need to be undertaken to reduce current background exposure.
The developing fetus is most sensitive to dioxin exposure. The newborn, with rapidly developing organ systems, may also be more vulnerable to certain effects. Some individuals or groups of individuals may be exposed to higher levels of dioxins because of their diets (e.g., high consumers of fish in certain parts of the world) or their occupations (e.g., workers in the pulp and paper industry, in incineration plants and at hazardous waste sites, to name just a few). [more]
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