Friday, July 16, 2010

Ethanol and Animal Feed from Monsanto's Genetically Engineered (GE) Corn Are the Biggest Culprits in Gulf Dead Zone

#232, July 8, 2010
Dead zone in gulf linked to ethanol production
By Carolyn Lochhead

SF Gate, July 6, 2010
Straight to the Source

While the BP oil spill has been labeled the worst environmental catastrophe in recent U.S. history, a biofuel is contributing to a Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" the size of New Jersey that scientists say could be every bit as harmful to the gulf.

Each year, nitrogen used to fertilize corn, about a third of which is made into ethanol, leaches from Midwest croplands into the Mississippi River and out into the gulf, where the fertilizer feeds giant algae blooms. As the algae dies, it settles to the ocean floor and decays, consuming oxygen and suffocating marine life.

Known as hypoxia, the oxygen depletion kills shrimp, crabs, worms and anything else that cannot escape. The dead zone has doubled since the 1980s and is expected this year to grow as large as 8,500 square miles and hug the Gulf Coast from Alabama to Texas.

As to which is worse, the oil spill or the hypoxia, "it's a really tough call," said Nathaniel Ostrom, a zoologist at Michigan State University. "There's no real answer to that question."

Some scientists fear the oil spill will worsen the dead zone, because when oil decomposes, it also consumes oxygen. New government estimates on Thursday indicated that the BP oil spill had gushed as much as 141 million gallons since an oil-rig explosion and well blowout on April 20 that killed 11 workers.

Corn is Biggest Culprit

The gulf dead zone is the second-largest in the world, after one in the Baltic Sea. Scientists say the biggest culprit is industrial-scale corn production. Corn growers are heavy users of both nitrogen and pesticides. Vast monocultures of corn and soybeans, both subsidized by the federal government, have displaced diversified farms and grasslands throughout the Mississippi Basin.

"The subsidies are driving farmers toward more corn," said Gene Turner, a zoologist at Louisiana State University. "More nitrate comes off corn fields than it does off of any other crop by far. And nitrogen is driving the formation of the dead zone."

The dead zone, he said, is "a symptom of the homogenization of the landscape. We just have a few crops on what used to have all kinds of different vegetation."

In 2007, Congress passed a renewable fuels standard that requires ethanol production to triple in the next 12 years. The Department of Agriculture has just rolled out a plan to meet that goal, including building ethanol refineries in every state. The Environmental Protection Agency will decide soon whether to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline blends from 10 percent to 15 percent.

A 2008 National Research Council report warned of a "considerable" increase in damage to the gulf if ethanol production is increased.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Antibacterial Soaps with Triclosan may be Harmful, says FDA

http://www.naturalnews.com/ printable article
Originally published July 1 2010
by Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The FDA is reevaluating the safety of a popular chemical additive called triclosan, based on recent studies that seem to indicate it causes endocrine disruption in the body and leads to the emergence of drug-resistant "super" bacteria.

Triclosan is commonly found in liquid antibacterial hand soaps and sanitizers, dishwashing detergents, shaving gels, toothpastes, clothing and even children's toys. It was originally designed as a surgical scrub for people in the medical field, but is now used in pesticides and a variety of different consumer products to ward off pathogens.

It is so common in popular consumer goods that, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traces of triclosan can be found in the urine of about 75 percent of the population.

Triclosan is used because it is believed to be a powerful antibacterial and antifungal agent, however other than as a treatment for gingivitis in toothpaste, there is no evidence that it provides any benefits in other consumer product applications. A 2005 advisory panel to the FDA agreed, noting that there is no evidence that antibacterial soaps with triclosan work any better than plain soap and water.

"The proliferation of triclosan in everyday consumer products is so enormous, it is literally in almost every type of product – [it's in] most soaps, toothpaste, cosmetics, clothes and toys," explained Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who has been urging federal regulators to reevaluate the safety of triclosan in consumer products.

"It's in our drinking water, it's in our rivers and as a result, it's in our bodies, [and] I don't think a lot of additional data has to be collected in order to make the simple decisions about children's toys and soaps that people use. It clearly is something that creates a danger."

The Soap and Detergent Association, a group that represents the $30 billion U.S. cleaning products industry, was quick to defend the safety of triclosan, insisting that decades of research verify the chemical is safe and effective.

But many other are not buying it, including the Natural Resources Defense Council which believes that triclosan use should be restricted.

According to reports, the FDA has allegedly been working for over 38 years to establish rules for the use of triclosan but has not completed the assignment. Throughout this time the agency has continued to approve its usage, including a 1997 decision to allow its use in Colgate Total toothpaste, but is now reevaluating that decision.

Note from Lita Lee: why not use plain old natural and non-toxic soap. I use liquid soap, specifically Citricidal liquid skin cleanser. It does not contain triclosan.

Sources for this story include:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/07/AR2010040704621.html

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Generation Monsanto (GM) - Why We Need Labels on GM Foods Now

Organic Bytes

Health, Justice and Sustainability News from the Organic Consumers Association #229
June 17, 2010

Edited by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins
http://mail.google.com/a/litalee.com/#inbox/12947a0ddac9da5d

Gen-M, the first Monsanto Generation of humans force-fed genetically modified foods hasn't reached reproductive age yet (they were born in the late 1990s). But, if a critical mass of animal feeding studies are any indication, the millennial generation, reared on Food Inc.'s unlabeled "Frankenfoods" can look forward to a long-term epidemic of cancer, food allergies, learning disabilities, sterility, and birth defects.

Corn (85% of U.S. production is GM), soy (91% GM), cotton (88% GM), canola (85% GM) and sugar beets (95% GM) are all genetically engineered by Monsanto to withstand massive doses of the company's glyphosate herbicide RoundUp, or else to exude their own pesticide, Bacillus Thuriengensis (Bt). RoundUp, the favorite weedkiller poison of non-organic farmers and gardeners, causes brain, intestinal and heart defects in fetuses. And scientists warn that RoundUp, the most extensively used herbicide in the history of agriculture, "may have dire consequences for agriculture such as rendering soils infertile, crops non-productive, and plants less nutritious." In addition, hundreds of thousands of US dairy cows are injected with genetically engineered Bovine Growth Hormone (developed by Monsanto) in spite of studies linking BGH with cancer, and longstanding bans on the drug in the EU, Japan, Canada, and most industrialized nations.

With genetically modified foods and crops threatening public health and the environment, not to mention the next generation's reproductive capacity, why isn't there a massive consumer outcry to restrain Monsanto's biotech bullying and ban genetically engineered foods and agriculture?

The answer is disturbingly simple. Collusion between Monsanto and elected public officials has obscured the fact that almost all non-organic foods in the US contain GMOs. Despite poll after poll indicating that 85-95% of US consumers want mandatory labels on foods containing GMOs, Congress has heretofore listened to Monsanto and corporate agribusiness, rather than their own constituents. In the European Union, Japan, or South Korea, where GM foods must be labeled, there are no GM foods on grocery story shelves (and little or none served in restaurants), since most consumers would not buy them and a significant number would complain if they saw GMO labels on products. Consequently there are very few GM crops being cultivated in the EU (mainly a small amount of corn in Spain for animal feed).

Most Americans simply do not understand that 80% of non-organic supermarket processed foods (basically every product containing soy, corn, canola, cottonseed oil, or sugar beet derivatives) are contaminated with GMOs. While nearly everyone in North America has eaten genetically modified foods, only 26% believe that they have.

People don't think they're eating genetically modified foods because they have no way of knowing whether they are or not. Genetically modified foods aren't labeled. If we're going to save this generation from reproductive dysfunction and save our farmland from the ravages of RoundUp, we need to stop Monsanto.

The first step is to protect consumers' right to know whether their food is genetically modified. We need genetically modified food labeled now! Write your Congresspersons and 2010 candidates for the House and Senate. Tell them to support mandatory labeling of all genetically modified foods.

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