Monday, a UK government-commissioned study into food security called for urgent action to avert global hunger. The report suggested the British public overcome its fear of "Frankenstein foods" and accept that genetically modified crops are necessary to feed the world's growing population.The Foresight Report on Food and Farming Futures says the current system is unsustainable and will fail to end hunger unless radically redesigned. The report is the culmination of a two-year study, involving 400 experts from 35 countries. Sir John Beddington, the Government's chief scientific adviser who is leading the team behind the report, said new technologies such as GM crops will have to be used to feed the population. Sir Beddington was among the first to warn of a “perfect storm” of a growing population, climate change and diminishing resources for food production. The report also calls for new measures to hold governments and food producers to account. This would involve developing objective measures on how well they are doing to reduce hunger, combat climate change and environmental degradation and boosting food production. GM foods are modified to improve pest resistance, herbicide tolerance, disease resistance, cold tolerance, drought tolerance, nutrition, and pharmaceutical use. Using this technology, governments could grow crops at faster rates and feed the masses, ending world hunger all together. This idea however, has many disadvantages: harm to nature, reduced effectiveness of pesticides, gene transfer to non-target species, health effects on human health, and economic concerns. The environmental community strongly disagrees with the unnatural manipulation of genes, blaming commercial interests as the main culprit. Clearly, implementing this technology earns billions for the engineering sector, the farming sector, and GM seed producers like Monsanto and DuPont. The many risks and hazards associated with GM crops raise many doubts about its effectiveness. The seeds are often engineered to purposely render no cultivation whatsoever, thus ineffective in reducing world hunger. In fact, recent reports have shown that some crops have been lucratively designed to thrive only for a certain season forcing farmers to repurchase crops altogether. GM crops are able to grow and multiply, so there are concerns that GM crops will end up in wild plants or in non-GM crops. There are also concerns that altered farming practices used to grow these crops will affect the environment. Scientists have highlighted the kinds of effects growing GM crops may have on the environment: o Other crops and wild plants may become contaminated with the foreign genes added to the GM crop. o New 'super-weeds' may evolve which will be difficult or even impossible to eradicate. o Pollution arising from the use of harmful chemicals may increase or decrease. o Wildlife may be harmed by new toxins in the environment or changes in agricultural practices. Genetic contamination of conventional crops grown close to GM crops through cross-pollination is a major concern to farmers. In Britain, sugar beet and oilseed rape are two of the GM crops that may be grown first that have wild relatives which could be contaminated. In tropical countries, where most crops evolved, there is a greater potential for genetic contamination. Already, GM maize imported into Mexico has contaminated native varieties. Crops grown by organic and non-GM farmers may also be affected. Pollen can travel long distances on the wind or via insects. Separating GM from non-GM fields may help reduce contamination, but farmers and consumers could be forced to accept contamination if GM crops are grown here. Super-weeds have become a potential risk of growing GM crops as happens when some exotic species are introduced into a new country. In the UK, the introduction of grey squirrels and rhododendrons have caused considerable environmental damage, some of which may never be put right. The biotechnology industry has claimed that GM crops will allow farmers to use less chemical weedkillers and insecticides. The majority of GM crops being grown worldwide are tolerant to Monsanto's weedkiller, Roundup, or Bayer's weedkiller, Liberty. The companies making the chemicals also sell the GM seed. However, in North America - where GM soybean, cotton and maize are grown on thousands of acres - the use of weedkillers has not been reduced. Sales of Roundup and Liberty have increased and new factories are being built to make more. The gradual disappearance of birds from our farmland has shown us how agricultural practices can harm wildlife. The UK's farm-scale evaluation with two of the first GM crops that could be grown here, herbicide tolerant oilseed rape and sugar beet, showed that their use would be likely to lead to further declines in farmland wildlife. UK Environment Secretary, Caroline Spelman, has pronounced herself a supporter of GM foods “in the right circumstances”. Before she became a minister, she was director of a pro-GM food and biotechnology consultancy. Currently two agricultural systems exist, both claiming to be good for farmers and both claiming to be sustainable. One focuses on conventional farming methods, in the sense of replenishing what gets taken out of the soil. The other is genetically modified seeds that claim to be "sustainable" by selling the seeds to farmers,and not letting farmers save them, and by patenting traits developed through biotechnology, and selling crop protection chemicals. FACT: This year the world will produce enough food to feed twice the world's population, yet every day almost one billion people will go to sleep hungry. The Foresight Report on Food and Farming Futures and the “suggestion” the British public overcome its fear of "Frankenstein foods" has nothing to do with ending world hunger - - it has everything to do with who gets to control the food supply.
Last year the South Central Strategic Health Authority (SCSHA), in Southampton, UK, arrogantly rejected the overwhelming public opposition to fluoridation of Southampton City's water supply on the grounds that the public was too ignorant to hold a valid opinion. Predictably, this resulted in legal action, by Southampton residents, on the interpretation of the law on fluoridation. Southampton City resident, Geraldine Milner, took legal action against the SCSHA who, in 2009, made the decision to force the fluoridation of Southampton's water despite the fact that 72% of the public opposed the idea. Inside the Royal Courts of Justice in London, Mr Wolfe, counsel for Geraldine Milner, said approximately 195,000 people in Southampton and parts of south-west Hampshire "would have fluoride added to their water whether they liked it or not". Mr. Wolfe told Justice Holman that the decision to fluoridate Southampton's water supply was contrary to government policy “that no new fluoridation schemes should be introduced unless it could be shown that the local population was in favor”. The SCSHA used statutory powers to instruct Southern Water, the local water provider, to go ahead with fluoridation in February 2009 to improve dental health. Mr Wolfe accused the SCSHA of failing in its legal obligation to properly assess the cogency of the arguments for and against mass fluoridation. He said “the application for judicial review was not about the actual merits and health arguments over fluoridation. It was about the legality of the compulsory scheme”. The first of its kind in the UK for 20 years. "Four out of five local authorities and three out of four local MPs expressed their opposition within the consultation process. "Ms Milner is in good company, whether she is right or wrong", Mr. Wolfe went on to say. As consultation is quickly becoming a universal requirement, the British Government, over the last few years, has had to admit that the people must be consulted when it plans to disrupt their lives. If the Judge in the Southampton Hearing decides that 'consult' means that the public must take an active and effective role in deciding policy, then this could dramatically reduce the power of politicians to impose their wishes on the nation. An overwhelming growing body of evidence point to Fluoride as being a toxic drug. Even the FDA has finally raised an eyebrow...enough to mandate that fluoride laden toothpaste is a potential toxic drug. Many communities, worldwide, have fluoridated their drinking water for years, supposedly to fight tooth decay. But, John R. Lee, M.D. a fluoride toxicity researcher since 1972, calls that a myth. He further states the myth has been perpetuated via "clever propaganda." Dr. Lee has established a direct link between fluoride use, osteoporosis and increased incidence of hip fractures in his report, A Brief Account of the Fluoridation And Hip Fracture Problem. Regardless of scientific research and public opposition, fluoridation of water and toothpaste continues to be endorsed by various health officials and the American Dental Association (ADA). How much fluoride are you ingesting? There's no way to knowing. Even if you don't use toothpaste with fluoride or routinely drink water from a source that is fluoridated, you still may be ingesting unknown levels of fluoride. Many commercial salts, sodas, juices and other water-based food products may contain fluoride if they are produced where the water is fluoridated. Geraldine Milner's action against the SCSHA is of far greater significance than most of us realize.
One of the most controversial public policy issues surrounding genetically modified (GM) foods is whether food products containing ingredients from GM crops should be labeled. Both sides of the issue say they are looking out for the welfare of the consumer in their opposing viewpoints. The Take Action With Grassroots Netroots Alliance is asking concerned American citizens to write to their state legislators to introduce Bills to Label GMO Foods. “It's time to take the movement for truth-in-labeling and consumers' right-to-know to state legislatures and local governments, to grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hospitals and demand that they put labels on GMO foods now!” The biotechnology and food industries argue that voluntary labeling is the most efficient and effective way to provide consumers with information about GM content in foods. However, strong evidence suggests that voluntary labeling will not provide consumers with the information they desire because manufacturers fear, with good reason, they will lose customers if a label declares the presence of a GM ingredient. “The labeling debate raises a number of contentious issues about how consumers perceive information,” said Michael Rodemeyer, Executive Director of the Initiative. “Although most polls show consumers in favor of these labels, there are questions as to how useful labels might be and whether they may cause unnecessary fears over products that most scientists have found to be as safe as their conventional counterparts. On the other hand, consumers may believe that the lack of a label indicates food companies are trying to hide something and that they have the right to choose.” There is no doubt a properly set-up mandatory labeling system would be the best method to provide consumers with information about GM foods. Mandatory labeling would provide consumers with a real choice to purchase foods with or without GM ingredients. To date, mandatory labeling systems in Europe have effectively eliminated choice because manufacturers have sourced GM-free ingredients instead of labeling their products. Austin Sullivan, Senior Vice President of Corporate Relations at General Mills. Inc., one of the nation’s largest food companies, said, “Manufacturers, who currently receive no benefit or marketing advantage from bio-engineered ingredients, do not want to present their products in a way that is negative to consumers, and especially not in ways that would cause any significant number of consumers to avoid purchasing those products. With no manufacturing or consumer benefit to offer and only downside risk of adverse consumer behavior, mandatory labeling would lead manufacturers to ask their suppliers for non-bioengineered ingredients only. The net result of this would be to eliminate choice and retard the development of a potentially beneficial technology.” On the other hand, mandatory labeling of GM foods allows the consumer the choose whether to eat GM foods, instead of having GM ingredients "hidden" from them. Only individual product-specific information about GM content will allow consumers to make informed choices. “The argument that labeling will create confusion is simply an attempt by supporters of biotech foods to keep consumers from knowing their foods have been genetically engineered,” said Craig Winters, Executive Director of the Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods, a political advocacy organization whose mission is to mobilize grassroots lobbying in the United States to get labeling on genetically engineered foods. "Consumers are currently being used as human guinea pigs in this massive feeding experiment. And because there are no labels on genetically engineered foods, people do not even know they are participating in this feeding experiment.” Take Action with the Grassroots Netroots Alliance: National polls show that the vast majority of consumers want foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to be clearly labeled. For more than 10 years, conscientious Senators and Members of Congress have introduced federal legislation for mandatory GMO labels, but the issue has never been voted on in Congress. "It's time to take the movement for truth-in-labeling and consumers' right-to-know to state legislatures and local governments, to grocery stores, restaurants, schools and hospitals and demand that they put labels on GMO foods now!” http://www.capwiz.com/grassrootsnetroots/issues/alert/?alertid=22063501&type+=ST
Near the southern Ural Mountains, in the Russian province of Chelyabinsk, there is a Soviet nuclear facility called the Mayak Chemical Combine (MCC). From 1948 until 1990 when the last of five reactors was shut down, the Combine contaminated the region to such an extent that it is now known as the most polluted area on Earth.
This title is due to the MCC's continuous disregard for environmental and public safety.
Between 1949 and 1956, 2.6 billion feet of liquid waste was dumped into the Techa. The radiation in the Techa is estimated to equal the amount released by the Hiroshima atomic bomb or nearly 20 times that released at Chernobyl in 1986.
It is believed that the river now contains 2.5 times the number of long life isotopes as were released by the Chernobyl reactor. 124,000 people were exposed to high level radiation through the river.
Waste has not been dumped in the river since 1951 when radiation was detected in the Arctic waters of northern Russia. The government also restricted drinking and fishing in the river. However, because local residents were not told why the new restrictions were put in place, they continued using the river. In addition, evacuations were ordered, but on a very small scale, and in some instances, never took place.
The implications of the disastrous environmental state of the Chelyabinsk region are many, and not restricted to national boundaries. Russia's desire for secrecy meant that the rest of the world would not learn of the incidents at Mayak until the late 1980s. Interestingly enough, there is evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency knew of the 1957explosion but did not divulge its knowledge so as to prevent instilling fear in the Western nuclear program.
What does this mean for the rest of the world?
The incidents at Mayak have not been identified as having affected other nations. However radiation was detected in the Arctic waters in the 1950s and is assumed to have come from the Techa River through the Ob River. Too, the water that has drained into the water tables around lake Karachy could again make its way to the Ob and perhaps Arctic waters.
Finally, there has been some speculative research that shows radioactive runoff from the Ob could form into ice flows that move throughout the Arctic region, even extending to Alaska.
In a report prepared by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Radiation, much of the plant and animal life was effected by the radiation, but no one species is known to have become extinct. Of the 20 types of herbaceous plants in the southern Ural, no single species was more effected than others. Cereals and woody plants, especially pine trees, suffered severely.
The Mayak Chemical Combine is now credited by the Worldwatch Institute as the creator of the “most polluted spot” in history, a mess whose true magnitude is yet to be known.
The State of Massachusetts has set the highest possible reduction requirement for greenhouse gas emissions allowed under state environmental legislation.
Massachusetts will seek to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 25 percent below 1990 levels over the next 10 years, giving the state one of the strictest emissions codes in the country under new regulations. Energy Secretary, Ian Bowles, announced the legally binding targets last week after a two-year review process, choosing the most stringent emissions control level available under the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act, which set the parameters for reductions by 2020 of between 10 percent and 25 percent. The plan incorporates electricity production, transportation, and other non-energy emissions policies, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions from plastics, developing a market for solar thermal water and space heating, and using trees around buildings for better cooling. Secretary Bowles suggested that even though the target has been set at the upper limit of the available range it is feasible for the state to reach a 35 per cent reduction over 1990 levels by 2020. “Establishing this statewide GHG emissions limit and outlining the specific and practical policy measures that can achieve that limit is a milestone in the Commonwealth’s ongoing efforts to create a vibrant clean energy economy, reduce energy costs for consumers, increase energy independence and contribute toward stabilizing our climate,” Bowles wrote in his letter of determination. He called the target “responsible and achievable” and said it “will not have an undue economic impact.” Massachusetts accounts for roughly 1.3 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, but state energy officials believe the state is in a position to “show the way to a clean energy economy.” “Our motivation is primarily around how you continue to transform the Massachusetts economy to be a disproportionate beneficiary in the transition to clean energy,” Bowles said. The state plans to reach that goal by continuing with a number of policies and programs already in place and prescribed by the state Green Communities Act and other federal laws as well as implementing a series of new pilot programs and legislative initiatives. “What’s most interesting about this plan is that on a completely cost effective basis you can reduce emissions by 30 percent and I think that is significant news for the national debate which is sort of stale and partisan and not exactly fact based,” Bowles told the News Service. “RGGI demonstrated you can run a 10-state cap-and-trade program and at the basic level no consumers have noticed,” Bowles said. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory, market-based effort in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ten Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states have capped and will reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector 10% by 2018. States sell nearly all emission allowances through auctions and invest proceeds in consumer benefits: energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other clean energy technologies. RGGI is spurring innovation in the clean energy economy and creating green jobs in each state. The 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states participating in RGGI (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont) have designed the first market-based, mandatory cap-and-trade program in the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Participating States have regulations in place to cap and then reduce the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that power plants in their region are allowed to emit, limiting the region’s total contribution to atmospheric greenhouse gas levels. Power sector CO2 emissions are capped at current levels through 2014. The cap will then be reduced by 2.5 percent in each of the four years 2015 through 2018, for a total reduction of 10 percent. According to the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center survey of 471 local companies, the green energy sector employed more than 11,000 people in Massachusetts at the end of 2010, up 65 percent over the past three years. Bowles estimates that the policies being put in place to achieve the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals will create 42,000 to 48,000 jobs by 2020 with growth in the clean energy sector enough to offset losses in other areas. New regulations put forth by the Environmental Protection Agency forced the Somerset Power Station to cease operation in January, and energy officials expect the Salem Harbor Station to close within five years costing at least 100 jobs. “To the degree that it’s replaced by wind and solar, those are much more labor intensive to install and maintain. Things like that will be an economic gain,” Bowles said.