Tag Archives: Organic

Tell Me Again How GMOs are Suppose to Feed the World? Questions to Penn & Teller BS

Tell Me Again How GMOs are Suppose to Feed the World?

By Jamie Rutherford

At the exact time I started writing this editorial, there were approximately 901,635,529 undernourished people and 1,573,555,033 overweight people in the world, (source: Stop The Hunger) Of those overweight, 5.2 Million were obese. What shocked me are the figures that followed:

food posts

Keep these numbers in mind as I deep dive into some pro-industrial farming propaganda.

I came across a Penn & Teller BS episode. In it, select unprofessional members of the anti-GMO camp were pitted against professional articulate scientists.  The reason the anti-GMO camp lost credibility wasn’t  because of the cause itself,  but because  the show was edited to highlight inarticulate, irrelevant and silly members  of the anti-GMO movement. They interviewed  woo woo people with good hearts but a stoney Californian “yeh-man”  attitude that seemed fit for surfing and trimming but not leading efforts against the well organized, billionaire funded biotech industry. Watch here:

Norman Borlaug on Penn and Teller

Why did Penn and Teller resort to selecting these people to represent those  concerned about GMOs  for something more credible? They  had to upsale the biotech industry by making the opposition look flimsy, “uneducated” and stupid.  This Penn & Teller BS show presents  the anti-GMO camp as using quack science to justify their concerns. They are demonized, because their opposition, is said to be blocking the altruistic intentions  of the biotech industry to eradicate world hunger.  PLEASE?! This is a smoke screen for a much larger issue.

Whoever controls the food supply, controls the people and reaps enormous profit at our (and their) expense because  you have to eat to live. Thus, you are a guaranteed customer. Plain. Simple. I’ll take on the smartest pro-GMO advocate any day with that simple, and sadly understated truth.  Hunger, is a profitable and political tool.

The irony of this Penn and Teller episode is that  Penn and Teller  are actors, illusionists, and magicians. They presented their opinions as fact and gave the illusion that they know what they are talking about, accusing those in the anti-GMO movement of not using science in their claims, meanwhile failing to mention their  non-scientific and pseudo-scientific background.

The show mocked the Organic Consumers Association, who state that they envision a 100% organic world. Then they requoted  Norman Borlaug saying that if we only used organic methods on existing farmlands, we couldn’t feed 2/3rds of the world population.  This argument however does not address urban sprawl, the long term effects of soil depletion, pesticide drift, BT run-off in nearby ponds and streams, the lack of nutrition in a diet made of corn and wheat and  carbs and starch, the true cost of subsidized food, and so on.

First,  there is no way to prove that we can’t feed the world with organics because we as a people, worldwide,  have not, brought together all the  biodynamic farmers, the organic farmers,  indigenous farmers, the urban food growers, hydroponic farmers, the small food movements, urban farming, aquaponics, and so on an so, forth from many nations, to open a dialog about how it can be done.  The dialogue has largely been controlled by agricultural associations, industrial seed and chemical manufacturers,  and agro-conglomerates like Monsanto, Syngenta, and Bayer Crop Science.

There is inborn bias that relies on technology and methods of increasing the yield of one type of crop, verses  bio-diverse, low-input, farmer-owned solutions. That bias has to be recognized and set aside,  before we can get an accurate assessment on what production levels really can be. Not to mention, consumers have to be informed beyond the commercial and packaging.

Working with nature, natural grow boundaries, and a long-term vision of growth –  that includes composting and regeneration, stalls the profits of of those who gain the most from selling seeds, pesticides and technology – and investors do not like that.

What do you think? Do you disagree that when a  company sells a technology that profits  in the agricultural industry,  that it will be in favor of that same technology being  needed.  Of course. That is sound business sense.To sale the technology, they will use marketing and  product placement. In this case however, they are promoting a pro-industry myth that the only way to feed the world is through its products. It is the only argument they have.

Farmers for centuries have proved otherwise, using  cow dung and patience, good planning and a varied foods, with varied nutrition. However, it is easier to control land, socially engineer populations and ensure a net increase year by year, if the decision making power is displaced locally and the farmers are just sowers and sprayers of whatever they buy. Is there someone in a board room consciously saying, let’s destroy farming culture worldwide? Who knows. My personal opinion is that what we see now is a byproduct of where the focus has turned. When food and it’s production, is part of the market place alongside auto manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies, it begins to follow the same rules.  The number one rule for return on investment is that there must be continuous growth.  How do you do that with crops? Similar to selling automobiles you have to create new models year by year. Hence, seeds are now, branded with special enhancements, and bought not saved.

It’s perfectly fine to market and control the things we don’t need to survive, – cars, widgets, dolls – but water and food? Do you really want to base your nutritional needs on advertising or the will of a hand full of companies? That is what is happening.

It’s false to say that our current methods of agriculture – monocropping, factory farming, chemical fertilizers and GMOs is eradicating hunger.  What it has done is shift the native diets of struggling nations to U.S. Aid,  mono cultures of wheat and rice, and  agribusiness control of agriculture; shifting  the power from the local farmers to boardrooms in wealthy nations.  Remember how I started this post?

At the exact time I started writing this editorial, there were approximately 901,635,529 undernourished people and 1,573,555,033 overweight people in the world. (source: Stop The Hunger) Of those overweight 5.2 Million were obese.  So there are a billion overweight people and 9 million hungry. Don’t you  think its possible to even things out a bit by changing the way resources are distributed before we decide to play genetic roulette?

Just as our culture is saturated in oil, to the point where all political and social decisions come from it as a center piece of society, so too is our agriculture so saturated with multiple layers of agribusiness interest profiting from the food production –  from chemical companies to suppliers, that political and social decisions are made from this dependency. This does not however reflect the truth of the overall situation only the situation as is held in a dangerous paradigm of chemical dependency.

No position, however dominant or prevalent in society, is immune from dissension and uprising against it, and it is good to keep these things in mind when we are told there is only “one way out but our way.”  Remember the Jim Jones mass suicide/murders? Those who fled into the Jungles in Guyana had the only chance of survival when the laced Kool-Aid was passed out. As the saying goes, all that is needed for evil to prosper is that good men do nothing.

Given that current production systems leave nearly one billion people undernourished, the onus should be on the agribusiness industry to prove its model, not the other way around.

(source: By Barry Estabrook | The Atlantic from Organic Food Can Feed the World

In response to a question about whether we can really feed the world without industrialized ag (ah yes, a perennial), (Michael)Pollan pointed out that we’re not feeding the world with it now. (Grist.org article). Michael Pollan is a journalist, activist, foodie and green thumb who wrote In Defense of Food.

The Penn and Teller video  starts by quoting that 25, 000 people die of starvation everyday, while showing you a wide shot of some wide butts. Did anyone notice that the World Health Organization  reports that obesity related deaths outnumber starvation deaths?

Then “Penn” goes on to requote a saying straight from a Monsanto PR class,

“GE crops produce more and thrive in some of the harshest climates on earth.”

Though GE crops have had some success in growing in harsh climates, I would point out that  NATURE does it for free, with much more success,  and without millions in investment capital or patents. If nature can do it more efficiently, why pay money for a substandard product?

The Penn and Teller piece then scathingly cuts down Green Peace and admonishes their concerns as unscientific, saying that:

“These Green Peace dudes want us to believe that GE crops will harm other crops and harm any person and animals that eat those foods.”

True, dude, but it’s not just Green Peace that say that GE crops will harm people and animals.  Consider this, in 2000  a letter entitled, “An Open Letter from World Scientists to All Governments Concerning Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)” was drafted and signed by 848 scientist in 84 countries. This letter was presented to the World Trade Organization Conference in Seattle (November 30 – Dec. 2, 1999); UN Biosafety Protocol Meeting in Montreal (24 – 28, Jan. 2000); UN Commission on Sustainable Development Conference on Sustainable Agriculture in New York (April 24-May 5, 2000); UN Convention on Biological Diversity Conference in Nairobi (May 16-24, 2000);and United States Congress (29 June, 2000) to name a few. The letter is in favor of banning GMO crops, and patent on life-forms. This however, is just one letter, with a handful (848) scientists representing the world from 2000. Since then, a quick search of peer-reviewed international journals, websites, and new GMO organizations will reveal that even more scientists are concerend, now than ever before.

Richard Strohman, Professor Emeritus, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, in Berkeley wrote a Crisis Position paper and had it published in Safe Food News in 2000. It sums up the concerns in the following few paragraphs.

“When you insert a single gene into a plant or an animal, the technology will work. You will be able to move that gene from organism A to organism B. You will be able to know that the transfer was successful. You will be able to know that the gene is being expressed, and even that the function of the gene is being expressed. So you’ll get the desired characteristic. But you will also get other effects that you couldn’t have predicted from your original assumptions. You will have also produced changes in the cell or the organism as a whole that are unpredictable. And that’s what the science is having to deal with.”

“The reason why Monsanto can claim scientific soundness is that they are only answering the technical question, ‘Can I move this gene and this characteristic from A to B?’ They are not asking the questions that the current understanding of cell biology demands. You can ask the technical question and get the answer you are looking for. You can take a gene from A and put it into B. We know that. But that’s the only question we can answer with certainty. We now realize that there are a whole host of other questions.”

“Genes exist in networks, interactive networks which have a logic of their own. The technology point of view does not deal with these networks. It simply addresses genes in isolation. But genes do not exist in isolation. And the fact that the industry folks don’t deal with these networks is what makes their science incomplete and dangerous. If you send these new genetic structures out into the world, into hundreds of thousands of acres, you’re going into the world with a premature application of a scientific principle.”

“We’re in a crisis position where we know the weakness of the genetic concept, but we don’t know how to incorporate it into a new, more complete understanding. Monsanto knows this. DuPont knows this. Novartis knows this. They all know what I know. But they don’t want to look at it because it’s too complicated and it’s going to cost too much to figure out. The number of questions, the number of possibilities for what happens to a cell, to the whole organism when you insert a foreign gene, are almost incalculable. And the time it would take to assess the infinite possibilities that arise is beyond the capabilities of computers. But that’s what you get when you’re dealing with living systems.”

http://www.mindfully.org/GE/Strohman-Safe-Food.htm

The Penn and Teller show, calls the opposition,  “extremists”, “dangerous”, and even “racist.” Are the 848 scientists in opposition to GMO foods, cited above, really extremists? How can this show make such a claim stating it as fact? Penns argument for this “extremist”  and “racist” label is that most people who are hungry are brown, and people who are white shouldn’t block technologies that could feed them.

One way of inarticulately arguing is by using ad hominem. Ad hominem is a fallacy where a persons character is attacked or they are defamed by name calling, in an attempt to discredit their argument. The problem is that, it isn’t truthful and doesn’t support or explain the basic premise of the argument. Here Penn and Tellers argument is that by blocking the implementation of new technology that could feed people, those objecting are ultimately curbing efforts to feed starving people. Name calling the other side discredits the concerns of the anti-GMO camp. Those trying to block the technology, are arguing that the technology will have long term consequences that can backfire creating more malnutrition and an environmental disaster.

The video continues to drive this point home:

“(Activists)  refuse to acknowledge that GMO crops can save the lives of millions of starving people.. its pretty easy to protest when you’re not hungry”

This ignores the global outcry against GMOs and wrongly places the opposition in affluent nations. The National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay sent an open letter on May 14 2010, to Monsanto rebuking Monsanto’s presence in Haiti, quote, “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds…, and on what is left of our environment in Haiti.” Haiti is outspoken against Monsanto, saying that it will destroy local agriculture and the economy. They are not affluent by any means.

Last week I read an article echoing these sentiments  in an article published in February of this year by Slate.com. They were espousing the glories of GE Golden Rice, a rice with higher levels of Vitamin A a modern miracle to solve malnutrition” meanwhile ragging on those who attempt to block it.Heard that before?

As a counter point, I turned to the research from an international non-profit focused specifically on grain. They illuminate why so many activist, including myself are against GMO grain being  another savior for starving people.  GRAIN  points out that,

“Malnutrition is said to be high in rice-eating populations.  But these nutritional problems are not caused directly by the consumption  of rice. They reflect an overall impact of multiple causative factors  similar to those of other developing countries where rice is not a major staple8. Various deficiencies including zinc, vitamin C and D, folate, riboflavin, selenium and calcium occur in the         context of poverty, environmental degradation, lack of public health systems         and sanitation, lack of proper education and social disparity. Poverty and a lack of purchasing power is identified as a major cause of malnutrition9. These underlying issues that can never be addressed by golden rice.”

“The Green Revolution with its inherent bias towards monocultures of staple crops has led to unbalanced patterns of food production in many places. As the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has stated, variety is the key and should be the norm rather than the exception in farming systems. According to Dr. Samson Tsou of the Asian Vegetable Research  and Development Center (AVRDC), countries with vegetable consumption of  more than 200 grams of vegetables per day do not have vitamin A deficiency as a major problem10. Although animal sources are expensive, inexpensive plant food sources are widely available. It  only takes two tablespoonfuls of yellow sweet potatoes, half a cup of  dark green leafy vegetables or two-thirds of a medium-sized mango in a  day to meet the vitamin A requirement of a pre-school child11. This way, not only is the vitamin A requirement  being addressed, but a whole range of other micronutrients as well.”

“With what has been shown so far, 300 grams of golden   rice can only provide at most 20% of an adult’s daily vitamin  A requirement (see graph). A child would have a lower requirement of 450   Âµg retinol as against 500-600 µg retinol for adults12.

Note: 300g of rice a day is way too much for a child unless obesity and diabetes is to be a solution for a lack of vitamin A. vitamin A is available in celery, tomatoes, apricots, lettuce spinach, and more vegetables, grown in these areas.. The variety of vitamin A rich plants available to grow is astonishing. So why supply vitamin A in rice only? Because this is the new model to sale.

In the Philippines,   pre-school children consume less than 150 grams of rice a day. In principle  then golden rice will only supply a little over 10% of the daily vitamin   A needed by pre-school children. And children are the target population   in this case.”

“Whether the beta-carotene contained in golden rice will  be bioavailable is yet another question. Dietary fat is needed for it to be absorbed by the body. Unfortunately dietary fat is also limited  in rice-eating countries and in fact is being looked at as one possible    “hidden” causes of vitamin A deficiency itself13. There are also important interactions between   different nutrients and minerals, which further warrants variety in food   intake. Zinc deficiency, for example, may lead to an impairment of vitamin   A metabolism. Disease control and hygiene, food selection and preparation  will significantly influence absorption and utilisation of vitamin A (and  iron). Furthermore, there has been debate over the bioconversion of beta-carotene from green leafy vegetables into vitamin A. Some reports claim that the   conversion rate is less than one-quarter of what has been assumed up to now. Should this be the case, the amount of vitamin A made available from  golden rice would be almost negligible.”

If one stands back and takes a look at the history, displacement, cultural changes, and nutritional sabatoge of the Green Revolution, you see some distinct trends

 1. Power is transferred  from the small farmer  and community to  consolidated  large farms and agri-business interests.

2. There is a reduction in the variety of foods grown and available,  and with this reduction,  new health issue immerge. Fields once planted with multiple things, now are planted with one thing generally grain and those other foods have to be purchased or grown in an aside garden etc.

3. There is an increased use of  chemicals to achieve unnatural results, which boost output temporarily before a farmer  requires more industrial mediation (amounting to more input costs) to get the same result, and that process has a ceiling. When the ceiling is met, output begins to decline but expenses continue to rise.. Meanwhile the local water supplies are ruined with pesticides and heavy metal contamination. (but who cares because there are bottle water companies to profit from this right?)

And now a forth trend.  Now that the diet has been shifted to a higher percentage of rice and wheat because of cost, subsidies, skewed interest, and the like  the next market is to create patented variants of those two things, into obscurity. For example, there is a huge number of patents being filed on rice varieties now. Here are just a few:

TABLE: Examples of other nutritionally enhanced crops in the         pipeline2

Trait

Companies/Institutions involved

Increased levels of beta-carotene in oil-seed rape Monsanto
Increased bioavailable     iron in rice Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Zurich)
Improving nutritive value of Andean potatoes by manipulating potato’s own genes to                 block natural but bitter compounds called glycoalkaloids USDA Agricultural Research  Service (ARS); International Potato Center (La Molina, Peru)
High iron corn with less    phytic acid, or phytate, than most common varieties (phytic acid   is thought to reduce the body’s ability to use certain nutrients  like iron) USDA ARS
Low glutenin rice Orynova (Japan Tobacco)
Lactoferrin-producing   rice Japan Agricultural Cooperatives
Ferritin-rich lettuce Central Research Institute                 of Electric Power Industry (Japan)

These four points lend themselves to a mantra:  Displace. Reduce. Regurgitate.

Think  my position here is impossible? Consider a Forbes magazine article below.  BTW, Forbes is  pro-Industry pro-growth magazine which is definitely not anti-Monsanto.

The Coming Boom in Agriculture

by Bill Conerly

“A coming boom in agriculture? I think so. The old way of looking at food supply and demand is giving way to a new emphasis on the changing diets of hundreds of millions of people. Those changes will substantially increase demand for grains, putting upward pressure on prices.”   ………..

(What is driving the change in these diets?)

“Weather and pests cause booms and busts in agricultural production, along with a long-run trend toward greater productivity by farmers. All the action was in food supply, not food demand.”

Things are different today. Bugs and weather still affect production, but the biggest story is the growth of demand for meat by formerly-poor people around the world. Let’s begin with the grain demand of different diets. An ounce of meat takes about ten times as much grain as an ounce of grain eaten directly. Those animals have to be fed, after all. The exact ratio depends on the type of grain, the type of meat, the location of production, but the number is fairly huge in its impact.

If I have a good year, with lots of companies calling me for help with their business plans, I don’t consume more calories. I might spend more on filet mignon and less on hamburger. But I’m not the guy who’s moving the market. Go to India, China, Indonesia. There are many millions of people moving from poverty into the middle class, or what is the middle class in their context. With higher incomes they are spending more on food. In some cases they are adding calories, but in many cases they are shifting from grains and vegetables to add chicken, pork and beef to their diets.

Let’s say that a family on a path from poverty to middle class has increased it’s  income by five percent (inflation-adjusted). They would typically increase food spending by about four percent. A large portion of that four percent gain would go for more meat. And meat has that 10-to-1 ratio of grain demands. Our newly middle class family may be spending only four percent more on food, but it could have triggered a 40 percent increase in demand for grains.

We all know that the world is getting richer, but the numbers are pretty dramatic. One estimate shows the middle class around the world increased by 700 million people from 2000 through 2006. That’s huge. The global recession obviously reversed the trend temporarily, but further global growth will push middle class numbers up by another billion or so people.  That’s a lot more meat to be consumed and an incredibly larger demand for grain.

Unless you believe that the emerging countries are going to turn around and head back to the stone age, you have to believe that demand for grain will rise disproportionately. But what about supply?

Agricultural supply improvement has been the dominant trend for centuries. The green revolution in the 1950s and ‘60s is a big part of the story, but the dismantling of communal farming is also hugely important.

When Deng Xiaoping allowed Chinese communal farmers to divvy up their land into family plots, incomes quadrupled in less than a generation. That more than anything else set up China for rapid economic development. How much farther can productivity increase? In the Western world, productivity will increase as seeds and fertilizers and farming methods improve. That’s a slow process when the farm is already at the cutting edge of productivity. It’s much easier to boost output when your current methods are antiquated. So the real question is how much yields can grow in the emerging countries.

Already China’s output per hectare (the metric unit of area measurement) is higher than the United States’s output. That may be partly due to climate and soil, but cheap labor plays a major role. When labor is cheap, each weed can be pulled by hand. As labor gets more expensive, farming methods will become a little less productive on a per-hectare basis (though far more productive on a per-person basis). Rising labor costs are already challenging manufacturers in China. Challenges for farmers will be next.

In short, I doubt that global agricultural production will keep pace with the demand that will occur at current price levels. So prices will rise.  Not every single year, but on average over the next couple of decades, look for higher and higher grain prices.

“Livestock, in contrast to crop farming, is a business about margins. Selling prices will rise, as will the cost of buying grain to feed the animals. On average, livestock will be an OK business, but it will not benefit as dramatically as grain production.”

“Does anyone else see this coming? Certainly they do, though perhaps not in full detail. The Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank says that farmland values in their area have risen by 25 percent in the past year. Other areas of the country are showing similar gains.”

Hunger, is not a result of a lack of technology. Hunger is the result of a twist of priorities. It has nothing to do with anti or pro GMO activists, or  a lack of money, food or resources. THAT IS A MYTH.   As the previous Forbes analysis outlined, a shift to a meat diet in rising middle classes all over the world is creating the need for grain, which in turn is raising the price of grain. More grain goes to feed cattle now than people! Do you really think the Green Revolution was about growing wheat and rice to feed brown people or the cow for the middle class plate? You decide.

Perhaps the most disturbing requote from that article is “but the dismantling of communal farming is also hugely important” (to growth in the agricultural industy.  I think to myself,  why would people give up their way of living for the glittery temptations of Babylon? When one sales their farmland that was feeding their family for a finite amount, one now has to buy food, from that point onward. One has to rent from that point onward. Was the scooter? The lipstick? The tight shorts, and cheap sweets really worth it? In walks a new kind of poverty,  poverty by design.  This story plays out all over the world and the story plays out according to plan. Divide and conquer. Dismantle communal plots for familial plots, then dismantle those by selling a brave new glittery (and urban)  world to their children, by soaking them in TV wants, and Coca Cola (addicting them forever to refined sugar), and “you’ve got em”  and their land.

“Hunger” is not designed to be solved

  1. According to the airforce website, a B2 bomber costs 1.25 Billion dollars.
  2. 1.3 tons of food is wasted annually, from all parts of the food chain, which makes up about one third of the global food supply.

I’ve written many articles on this blog describing the sinister nature in which the “machine of progress” tramples and displaces millions from their land and will ask my readers to watch P.Sainath’s Nero’s Guest or read some other articles on this post to get the information. But the real question, since the assumption is that these great technologies are helping save people from starvation, is how well is this panacea of farming technology actually helping those “brown people,” anyway?

If you think simple solutions, such as a GM crop will suddenly and magically feed the world, consider the complexity of the world we live in today. According to NBC (not the most trusted news source),” 1.5 million children stand to starve in West Africa.” And “during its financial crisis Greece has received a hundred times more from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) than Niger during the last few years.”  It fails to mention in that article that small and big farmers started heading south to Niger to escape attacks from the  Boko Haram insurgency a band of Islamic extremists.  Then a flood came. A Big Flood.  What do you do in this situation? GE crops won’t solve these issues.  One  might be draught tolerant, but not tolerant to floods, and no crop is tolerant to insurgent attacks, burning down fields, and making farmers flee.  And to be fair, organic farming won’t solve these issues either.   However, it does take a layer of complexity out of the situation, and release farmers from having to pay back loans that they took out to buy their GE seeds when their harvest goes down to an act of violence or act of God.  Take a look at what IS happening, not what you are told should happen.

“According to writer Gautam Dheer (3), agriculture in Punjab (the ‘Green Revolution’s’ original poster boy) is facing an inevitable crisis, in terms of pesticide use causing cancer, falling crop yields and groundwater depletion. And now evidence is mounting that the Green Revolution’s second coming can’t provide genuine solutions to the problems it has created through its GMOs either.”

“A recent report in Business Standard (4) stated that Bt cotton yields have dropped to a five-year low. India approved Bt cotton in 2002 and within a few years yields increased dramatically. However, Glenn Davis Stone, Professor of Anthropology and Environmental Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, has noted (5) that most of the rise in productivity had nothing at all to do with Bt cotton. It was down to other factors.”

“What’s more, since Bt has taken over, yields have been steadily worsening. According to the article, bollworms are developing resistance. Stone says when Bt cotton arrived in India, farmers were told all they had to do was plant the seeds and water them regularly. They were told that, as the genetically modified seeds are insect resistant, there was no need to use huge amounts of pesticides. The opposite is true.”

“Stone says that yields started dropping after 2007/8. After 2006/7, the number of Bt hybrid seeds being offered to farmers jumped from 62 to 131 to 274; by 2009/10 there were 522. Despite this, farmers’ yields are steadily dropping. And the way forward – more of the same. The failing technology can always be replaced with more technology that tries to offer a short-term fix. It’s all good for profits though. And this against a backdrop of reports of widespread collapsed Bt-cotton yields in Maharashtra at the end of last year (6).”

“Given the bogus claims about GMOs, the health concerns concerning GM foods and that 8,456 legitimate protestors (by late January) have been charged with sedition in Koodankulam, it begs the question just who is really benefiting from these two so-called ‘frontier’ technologies? With the US having sanctioned the opening up of India’s nuclear energy sector and, in return, its agribusiness and retail giants having actively shaped the Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture, India is proving to be a financially lucrative proposition for international retail, agribusiness and nuclear technology companies.”

“Everybody is entitled their opinions, but not to their own facts. Scientific evidence must prevail. That much is true. Such a pity then that democratic debate is sidelined for brute force in Koodankulam; such a pity too that certain major biotech companies have a track record of releasing fake ‘scientific’ data, bribery, environmental pollution, devising retaliatory lists, smear campaigns and misinformation.”

“Those who claim to be ‘scientific’ and democratic in their approach but who then go on to smear their opponents as being backward, unscientific or as waging a war on science may wish to put their own houses in order first.”

“Public trust in private corporations, science and policy makers has to be earned. The hijacking of governmental bodies for commercial gain alongside mendacity should have no place in policy making or in attempting to shape scientific discourse. Neither should they have any place in pushing some profit-driven notion of ‘progress’ onto the public. ” ( Source: Center for Research on Globalization, article ” Countering Hypocrisy: GMO Agribusiness and Nuclear Energy in India. by Colin Todhunter Global Research, April 29, 2013)

The Penn and Teller piece praises Norman Bourlog as a hero, and he is no doubt a man with great achievements. You don’t earn the Nobel Peace Prize by sitting on your bum. I truly believe his heart and intent was from a good place. He saw hunger as a production issue and created a high yielding dwarf variety of wheat thinking, as many did, that producing more wheat would solve hunger. Did it? Sadly, though the dwarf variety produced more, and proliferated wildly, it did so with decreased mineral content, in a monoculture.

One can do a quick experiment to find out some of why productivity increased. Draw one box, label it box 1 with five squares inside. One smaller  box  for potatoes, one for onions, one for carrots, one for wheat, one for lettuce and one  open with nothing planted. Now draw another box,  and label it box 2.  This whole box, box 2 is wheat.   If all you are growing is wheat, wheat production goes up doesn’t it – get it? That’s not to say that the dwarf variety of wheat didn’t produce more wheat per acre. Yes, it did. It just didn’t produce the brown people saving panacea that it was marketed to. Why? Because it wasn’t design to.

We still have hunger, and with it, we have many millions more who are overweight from malnutrition. If that seems like a oxymoron, but sadly it’s not. Weight, is not a sole indicator of how much nutrition you are getting, it is an indication that there is an imbalance in the body. Currently, developing and developed countries  have diets rich in too many simple carbohydrates, too much meat, and  much less exercise.  Just two generations ago, it was common for people to participate in their food production, exercising (building strength and immunity) while doing so.  There were also a wider variety of foods. Food was seasonable, thus, in the Appalachian region for example, ramps came in the spring, berries  and fruit in the summer and squashes late summer to fall just in time for storing mineral rich starches.  The sensible approach of  eating what was available kept waist lines slimmer.

With monocultures, you get booms in corn, wheat sugar and soy (all subsidized).  The food industry takes the big four, and formulates them into  all sorts of shapes, sizes and packages,  giving the consumer  the false sense that they have choice. But what choice? Most packaged food today is made of corn oil, corn syrup, soy, soy bean oil, wheat, and sugar. However, when people ate in season, and regionally their chances of gaining weight from one dominant food was much less.

“For the first time in human history, the number of overweight people rivals the number of underweight people, according to a forthcoming report from the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, DC-based research organization. While the world’s underfed population has declined slightly since 1980 to 1.1 billion, the number of overweight people has surged to 1.1 billion.”

“Both the overweight and the underweight suffer from malnutrition, a deficiency or excess in a person’s intake of nutrients and other dietary elements needed for healthy living. “The hungry and the overweight share high levels of sickness and disability, shortened life expectancies, and lower levels of productivity-each of which is a drag on a country’s development,” said Gary Gardner, co-author with Brian Halweil of Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition.”

“The public health impact is enormous: more than half of the world’s disease burden-measured in “years of healthy life lost”-is attributable to hunger, overeating, and widespread vitamin and mineral deficiencies. “The century with the greatest potential to eliminate malnutrition instead saw it boosted to record levels,” said Gardner.”

“The number of hungry people remains high in a world of food surpluses. In the developing world, there are 150 million underweight children, nearly one in three. And in Africa, both the share and the absolute number of children who are underweight are on the rise.”

“Meanwhile, the population of overweight people has expanded rapidly in recent decades, more than offsetting the health gains from the modest decline in hunger. In the United States, 55 percent of adults are overweight by international standards. A whopping 23 percent of American adults are considered obese. And the trend is spreading to children as well, with one in five American kids now classified as overweight. Liposuction is now the leading form of cosmetic surgery in the United States, for example, at 400,000 operations per year.”

“Surprisingly, overweight and obesity are advancing rapidly in the developing world as well. “Often, nations have simply traded hunger for obesity, and diseases of poverty for diseases of excess,” said co-author Brian Halweil. Still struggling to eradicate infectious diseases, many developing nations’ health care systems could be impaired by growing caseloads of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.” Source: World Watch Institute, Underfed and Overfed: The Global Epidemic of Malnutrition. March 2000 Gary Gardner and Brian Halweil ISBN: 1-878071-52-1 68 pages)

Penn and Teller BS show, goes on to say that the reason people in developing countries can’t feed themselves isn’t because they don’t have soil and water and sun, its because they don’t have hybrid plants, and technology.

What do you think? Hybrid plants are not the same as  GMO plants. Hybrid plants work within intraspecies lines. One can mix one tomato plant with another to breed for favored traits. That is much different from splicing a piece of genetic code from a daffodil and bacteria into a soy plant. Nature has protective architecture in each species cell wall that keeps interspecies mingling from happening for all sorts of sensible reasons. Imagine a human mating with an elephant, and then trying to give birth to the offspring!

Every farmer on this planet can create a hybrid planet with some pollen and good timing. They do not require a molecular scientist to be successful.  This requires seed saving, and the ability for farmers  to not fear that their farm-made varieties will compete with the patent of Agribusinesses who have patented a similar variety.  So Penn, I’m sorry, you are just plain wrong,  people in developing countries do have hybrid plants and varieties fit to their bioregion.

One final point about dishing out technology (GMO technology)  to these “developing countries”. With GMOs there has been no long-term testing, in the form of feeding studies or other, to justify the release of a technology that can profoundly change the genetic make up of our food supply on the planet.  In my opinion, if GMO technology was truly about solving the ills of hunger long-term, instead of making profit in the short-term, the moral compass of the industry would have put the brakes on release for respect for the lives that aren’t hungry as well as those who are – your life my life and the life of the hungry on this planet.

Penn ends his rant by saying, “Unless you are starving, you need to shut the fuck up.” I laughed at this, it’s like the large well fed American actor is talking to himself.

For more information please check out this link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-holt-gimenez/world-hunger_b_1463429.html

Act Naturally!

Advertisements

Two new films about GM in India, Lakshmi devi dasi

 May 2012 by

video: Bitter Seeds Trailer

GMWatch.org

1.”Bitter Seeds: The Plight of India’s Farmers”
2.”Bitter Seeds” at the San Francisco Film Festival
3.Telling suppressed stories: “Cotton For My Shroud”NOTE: You can see the trailer for “Bitter Seeds” here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QZtKB_KuASc
For films available in full online
http://www.gmwatch.org/gm-videosb/27-gm-in-india


1.”Bitter Seeds: The Plight of India’s Farmers”
by grtv
http://tv.globalresearch.ca/2012/04/bitter-seeds-plight-indias-farmers-trailer“Bitter Seeds” explores the future of how we grow things, weighing in on the worldwide debate over the changes created by industrial agriculture. Companies like the U.S.-based Monsanto claim that their genetically modified (GM) seeds offer the most effective solution to feeding the world’s growing population, but on the ground, many small-scale farmers are losing their land. Nowhere is the situation more desperate than in India, where an epidemic of farmer suicides has claimed over a quarter million lives. Every 30 minutes one farmer in India, deep in debt and unable to provide for his family, commits suicide.Following a U.S. complaint to the World Trade Organization, India had to open its doors to foreign seed companies. Within a few years, multinational corporations had taken over India’s seed market in a number of major crops. Now only GM seeds are available at the shops, requiring India’s farmers to pay an annual royalty. The GM seeds are much more expensive; they need additional fertilizers and insecticides and must be re-purchased every season. While large farms have prospered, the majority of farmers find it increasingly more difficult to make a living off their land.“Bitter Seeds” follows a season in a village at the epicenter of the crisis, from sowing to harvest. Like most of his neighbors, cotton-farmer Ram Krishna must borrow heavily in order to afford the mounting costs of modern farming. Required by a money-lender to put up his land as collateral, he gambles on everything he has.

When his crop is attacked by pests, Ram Krishna must do whatever he can to avoid losing the family land. Adding to his burden is another duty – his daughter has reached marrying age, and he must find the money for an expensive dowry. Ram Krishna has just become a candidate for joining the ranks of the farmers who commit suicide in despair.

Weaving in and out of Ram Krishna’s story is that of his neighbor’s daughter. Manjusha, a college student, is determined to become a journalist and tell the world about the farmers’ predicament. Her family opposes her plans, which go against village traditions. Manjusha’s ambition is also fueled by her personal history – her father was one of the suicide victims. When a newspaper reporter agrees to look at her writing, Manjusha takes on Ram Krishna’s plight as her first reporting project. Armed with a small camera from the production team, her video becomes part of the film.

The film follows the seeds salesmen from the remote village in the state of Maharashtra to their company’s headquarters. Interviews with seed industry executives (including Monsanto’s) and their critic, Vandana Shiva, flesh out the debate.

“Bitter Seeds” features compelling characters to tell a deeply moving story from the heart of the worldwide controversy about the future of farming.

“Films like this can change the world.” – Alice Waters

“A tragedy for our times, beautifully told, deeply disturbing.” – Michael Pollan

“Better than a Batman movie…with real villains making up their own lines.” — Peter Sellars


2.“Bitter Seeds” at the San Francisco Film Festival
http://www.sfbg.com/pixel_vision/2012/04/18/your-consideration-short-takes-sfiff-week-one

The gargantuan San Francisco Film Festival opens this week… SFIFF is still tops, and we’re here to guide you through it:

“Bitter Seeds” (Micha X. Peled, U.S., 2011) Just what we all needed: more incontrovertible evidence of the bald-faced evil of Monsanto. This documentary on destitute Indian cotton farmers follows an 18-year-old girl named Manjusha, a budding journalist who investigates the vast numbers of farmer suicides since the introduction (and market stranglehold) of “BT” cotton — which uses the corporation’s proprietary GMO technology — in the region of Vidarbha. Before BT took over in 2004, these cotton farmers relied on cheap heritage seed fertilized only by cow dung, but the largely illiterate population fell prey to Monsanto’s marketing blitz and false claims, purchasing biotech seed that resulted in pesticide reliance, failing crops, and spiraling debt. It’s a truly heartbreaking and infuriating story, but much of the action feels stagey and false. Should Indian formality be blamed? Considering the same fate befell Peled’s 2005 documentary China Blue, probably not. Still, eff Monsanto.
Sat/21, 3:45pm, FSC. Tues/24, 8:50pm, PFA. April 26, 6:15pm, Kabuki. (Devereaux)


3.Telling suppressed stories
SRAVASTI DATTA
The Hindu, April 18 2012
http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/metroplus/article3328007.ece

Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl’s “Cotton For My Shroud” is an honest and heart-wrenching account of the hapless condition of Vidarbha’s farmers

The husband-wife duo Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl, armed with a camera and “an iron soul”, set forth to Vidarbha to film the stories of farmer families who had lost their sons, brothers and husbands to suicides due to mounting debts, to render visible the issues of the marginalised small farmer and bring back into focus the forgotten stories of Vidarbha’s farmer suicides. Their film “Cotton for my Shroud” was screened last week at Suchitra Film Society. “Since 1995, a quarter of a million Indian farmers have committed suicide, most of whom were cotton farmers from Vidarbha in Maharashtra,” inform the filmmakers.

The couple began filming “Cotton For My Shroud” in 2006 when Vidarbha had recorded the highest number of suicides. They were supported in their endeavour by Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, an NGO actively involved in advocacy on farmers’ issues.

The suicide of a farmer wasn’t just another statistic for them, but a precious life lost due to faulty government paradigms. It took them almost five-and-a-half years to put the film together. “It was difficult to bury the ghosts and sweep the film under the carpet, as if nothing had ever goaded us to visit Vidarbha. We owed a lot to the people who had opened their hearts and hearths to two outsiders in their moment of grief. We could not betray their trust. As we previewed and digitised the footage, we re-lived the horror that had unfolded before our eyes in 2006,” write the former journalists in an email interview.

In “Cotton…”, the line “If one farmer kills himself, we can call it a suicide. But when a quarter of a million kill themselves, how can the government call it suicide? It is genocide,” reveals that justice delayed is no less a crime. “Torn between aggressive marketing of supposedly ‘better varieties’ of transgenic crops by the State and his traditional wisdom of low-cost and eco-friendly agriculture, the farmer is forced to buy BT cotton, which results in an unending cycle of debt.”

The couple hold the government, multinational corporations and even certain sections of the media responsible for the condition of the cotton farmers in Vidarbha. “The farmers felt betrayed by the government extension agencies that are supposed to guide the farmers, they feel violated by the multinational corporations that are poisoning their land with chemicals, and genetically modified cotton seeds that do not live up to the tall claims made by Monsanto. They have lost respect for the media too for they feel that most of the media has been bought over by powerful politicians and multinationals.”

“Cotton…” won the Rajat Kamal for the Best Investigative Film at the 59th National Film Awards. But the government-funded Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF), the couple inform, chose not to show it. They had even organised a special screening for parliamentarians at the Constitution Club, for which they had invited the parliamentary standing committees on agriculture and rural development.

“Only Basudev Acharya had attended the screening; the other MPs were too busy to watch it.” Nandan and Kavita faced many daunting challenges while filming “Cotton…”. “The shopkeepers and agents of Monsanto-Mahyco were hostile but could not do much to stop us. The police and the Guardian Minister of Yavatmaal district did their best to stop us from going to film the funeral of Dinesh Gugul at Village Mendoli. He was killed when the police opened fire at the farmers at the Cotton Mandi at Wani, on 6 December 2006. We argued with the police officers, but the seasoned, shrewd police-wallahs sent us to the Mandi where an angry mob of farmers charged at us and almost smashed our camera. We were asked to meet the Guardian Minister at the Circuit House. As soon as we entered the Circuit House, a curfew was clamped at Wani. We finally reached Mendoli, defying the curfew.”

The couple has contacted schools and colleges to screen the film and attempts are being made at translating “Cotton…” into other regional languages. “We are trying to raise some contributions for making the Marathi and Hindi versions of the film to take it to the villages where we filmed. There is a demand for Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Odiya versions as well.”

India files biopiracy lawsuit against Monsanto, says biotech giant is stealing nature for corporate gain more

Wednesday, September 28, 2011 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer

Learn more:http://www.naturalnews.com/033714_biopiracy_Monsanto.html#ixzz1aOtGwLiB

(NaturalNews) Representing one of the most agriculturally bio-diverse nations in the world, India has become a primary target for biotechnology companies like Monsanto and Cargill to spread their genetically-modified (GM) crops into new markets. However, a recentFrance 24report explains that the Indian government has decided to take an offensive approach against this attempted agricultural takeover by suing Monsanto for “biopiracy,” accusing the company of stealing India’s indigenous plants in order to re-engineer them into patented varieties.

Brinjal, also known in Western nations as eggplant, is a native Indian crop for which there are roughly 2,500 different unique varieties. Millions of Indian farmers grow brinjal, which is used in a variety of Indian food dishes, and the country grows more than a quarter of the world’s overall supply of the vegetable.

And in an attempt to capitalize on this popular crop, Monsanto has repeatedly tried to commercially market its own GM variety of brinjal called Bt brinjal. But massive public outcry against planned commercial approval of Monsanto’s “frankencrop” variety in 2010 led to the government banning it for an indefinite period of time.

But Monsanto is still stealing native crops, including brinjal, and quietly working on GM varieties of them in test fields, which is a clear violation of India’s Biological Diversity Act (BDA). So at the prompting of various farmers and activists in India, the Indian government, representing the first time in history a nation that has taken such action, has decided to sue Monsanto.

“This can send a different message to the big companies for violating the laws of the nation,” said K.S. Sugara, Member Secretary of the Karnataka Biodiversity Board, toFrance 24concerning the lawsuit. “It is not acceptable … that the farmers in our communities are robbed of the advantage they should get from the indigenous varieties.”

You can watch the fullFrance 24video report of India’s lawsuit against Monsanto here:
http://www.france24.com/en/20110921…

Farmers and active members of the public in India have been some of the world’s most outspoken opponents of Monsanto’s attempted GM takeover of agriculture. Besides successfully overturning the attempted approval of Bt brinjal, these freedom fighters have also successfully destroyed several attempted Monsanto GM test fields.

Learn more:http://www.naturalnews.com/033714_biopiracy_Monsanto.html#ixzz1aOsxr8h6

Manufacturing Consent – India’s Block to an Organic Future

By Jamie Rutherford
John Maynard Keynes cautioned that we live our lives under the illusion of freedom, but likely to be slaves to some defunct economist. Even that description understates the problem. The world may be caged by a defect of the entire economic profession, namely the idea that we can asses value in banknotes, or that we can understand our relationship to the material world using an abstract metric rather than a biological one. The extraordinary advances made by Western societies will , in the end, be subservient to the land and what it can provide and teach.

Admittedly, this started off as a Facebook rant serving the dual purpose of allowing me to write out my ideas for Act Naturally’s documentary project synopsis. I had quoted Paul Hawken’s book Blessed Unrest, and edited it for status update size:

“To calculate the geometrical quickening of our footprint on the planet, consider that the population is 1,000 x greater today than it was 7000 years ago. People use 100 to 100,000 x more resources and energy than their ancestors did. The earth today withstands at least 100,000 x the impact than did in 5000 b.c.e… We have the same impact in 5 minutes than our ancestors had in a year. It is not merely a question of overdrawing our natural capital account; it is also a matter of destroying the currency.”

I like to coin the phenomena he’s talking about as Industrial Catabolism. The worldwide mantra for business is “growth” stated in so many mindless ways as we need to grow the economy”, or “economic growth”, “unprecedented growth” etc. But this concept unchecked is self-defeating on a finite planet. Nothing in life grows and grows in a linear fashion without some kind of recycling. A tumor that grows beyond carrying capacity destroys its host. Nature shows us, there are limits, which is not a popular concept among those in speculative industries.

I found it interesting to read the Wikipedia definition of economic growth. It is “defined as the increasing capacity of the economy to satisfy the wants of its members.”

To satisfy the wants of its members is the key phrase. This is actually quite an empowering definition to read considering unchecked growth in the economy is a driving factor for ecological and social devastation. It means that it is not inevitable, and that we- as in you, me, and everyone, casts our votes with our participation in the system. Wants are tenable, not fixed, and not absolute. Wants can change to slow down the industrial catabolism if we can take personal responsibility over what we want. But we have to know what to take responsibility for, and advertising and public relations campaigns, “experts” and daily editorializing and gossiping, has made this task very confusing.

TRANSMITTERS

Alot of energy is spent to manufacture, manipulate, and engineer these wants for us. Wants are like chains on our freedom, chains on our planet and polarizing chains to each other. A long time ago, before we were born, the fabric of our enslavement was promoted by those who understood that wants were manipulable. Consider master public relations propagandist Edward Bernays. If you’ve never heard of him you should watch the Century of the Self.

In his book History as a Weapon (1928) he writes, “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Again, alot of energy is spent to socially engineer these wants for us.

Can any who reads this prove this man wrong through your own experience? From my experience, habits and even beliefs have their root in an unconscious ignorance that so few explore.  We crave and avoid the pleasurable and painful and to my surprise what we find pleasurable and painful emotionally is seeded in the subconscious.  Once we think about our pleasures an pains long enough, they embed in our bodies – even in the patterns of neural connections in our brain. 

Liberation from the control of the senses requires discipline. Yoga, or some internalized practice, where one begins to investigate “who/what” operates the body/mind/sense complex is a way to distance oneself from this manipulation.

We must take personal responsibility for our perceptions which bind us to systems of control that are hiding in the minds shadows. These subconscious desires and fears as Bernays would put them, are easily preyed upon through advertising; the shape and color of a logo, the language spin of an article, the fast flickering visuals of the television.

Then, we repeat this blather to others, in idle chit-chat, in our educational institutions, gossip and self righteous proselytizing; repeating and amplifying the failed narratives which become teachings for the next generation.

Let’s consider something. People in “developed and developing” countries, which actually means, countries who promote consumerism as the driving social value, commonly have a television in their home or business. In the United States, television has been commercially available since the 1920s! As Wikipedia states, “a television set has become commonplace in homes, businesses and institutions, particularly as a vehicle for advertising, a source of entertainment, and news.”

“And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed-if all records told the same tale-then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.'” — George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 3

Advertising funds the programs you watch, the radio you listen to and the articles you read. Search algorithms serve you customized content based on previous searches. And those search terms where inspired by group dynamics influenced by subconscious programming.  Surely, neither you nor me has an original though in our head.

It’s all unsubstantiated information, served in such vasts and confusing amounts that you couldn’t possibly prove or disprove the constant onslaught of contradiction.

THE METHOD OF TRANSMISSION

In Journal of Cognitive Liberties, Vol.2. Issue No.2 Pages 59-66, Wes More, describes in his article Opiate for the Masses,

“When you watch TV, brain activity switches from the left to the right hemisphere. In fact, experiments conducted by researcher Herbert Krugman showed that while viewers are watching television, the right hemisphere is twice as active as the left, a neurological anomaly.1 The crossover from left to right releases a surge of the body’s natural opiates: endorphins, which include beta-endorphins and enkephalins. Endorphins are structurally identical to opium and its derivatives (morphine, codeine, heroin, etc.). Activities that release endorphins (also called opioid peptides) are usually habit-forming (we rarely call them addictive). These include cracking knuckles, strenuous exercise, and orgasm. External opiates act on the same receptor sites (opioid receptors) as endorphins, so there is little difference between the two………..

First of all, when you’re watching television the higher brain regions (like the midbrain and the neo-cortex) are shut down, and most activity shifts to the lower brain regions (like the limbic system). The neurological processes that take place in these regions cannot accurately be called “cognitive.” The lower or reptile brain simply stands poised to react to the environment using deeply embedded “fight or flight” response programs. Moreover, these lower brain regions cannot distinguish reality from fabricated images (a job performed by the neo-cortex), so they react to television content as though it were real, releasing appropriate hormones and so on. Studies have proven that, in the long run, too much activity in the lower brain leads to atrophy in the higher brain regions………….

It is interesting to note that the lower/reptile/limbic brain correlates to the bio-survival circuit of the Leary/Wilson 8 Circuit Model of Consciousness. This is our primal circuit, the base “presence” that we normally associate with consciousness. This is the circuit where we receive our first neurological imprint (the oral imprint), which conditions us to advance toward anything warm, pleasurable and/or protective in the environment. The bio-survival circuit is our most infantile, our most primal way of dealing with reality…………..

Levels of brain activity are measured by an electroencenograph (EEG) machine. While watching television, the brain appears to slow to a halt, registering low alpha wave readings on the EEG. This is caused by the radiant light produced by cathode ray technology within the television set. Even if you’re reading text on a television screen the brain registers low levels of activity. Once again, regardless of the content being presented, television essentially turns off your nervous system.

In other words, we are activated on a subconsious and emotional level, generally beyond the control of our neo cortex that judges real from unreal all the while being bathed in pleasure/reward habit forming endorphins that keep us peering at the images.

Psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland found that after just 30 seconds of watching television the brain begins to produce alpha waves, which indicates torpid (almost comatose) rates of activity. Alpha brain waves are associated with unfocused, overly receptive states of consciousness. A high frequency alpha waves does not occur normally when the eyes are open. In fact, Mulholland’s research implies that watching television is neurologically analogous to staring at a blank wall.

I should note that the goal of hypnotists is to induce slow brain wave states. Alpha waves are present during the “light hypnotic” state used by hypno-therapists for suggestion therapy.

When Mulholland’s research was published it greatly impacted the television industry, at least in the marketing and advertising sector. Understanding that viewers automatically enter a trance state while watching television which made them more susceptible to suggestion, advertisers began designing commercials that produce unconscious emotional states or moods within the viewer. The aim of commercials is not to appeal to the rational or conscious mind (which usually dismisses advertisements) but rather to implant moods that the consumer will associate with the product when it is encountered in real life.  What do we sell to those moods? Food, pharmaceuticals, and things.  Self-definition through things and the infantile obsessions of the marketplace could be our ruin. 

When we see product displays at a store, for instance, those positive emotions are triggered. Endorsements from beloved athletes and other celebrities evoke the same associations. If you’ve ever doubted the power of television advertising, bear this in mind: commercials work better if you’re not paying attention to them! Don’t think of the pink elephant. Whatever your do. Don’t imagine the pink elephant. See how quickly this works? 

Edward Bernays was in the business of “manufacturing consent”. He was highly successful because he understood a few things about the human condition; in general humans trust organized systems of information (media), they are conditioned to submit their consciousness to authority and hierarchal structures, they are social creatures, and are emotionally manipulatable. In this regard, the age old debate whether human nature is good or bad, doesn’t matter. Human nature is malleable and the more unaware an individual is of his/her own thoughts and desires , the more manipulatable he/she is.

Being unaware is profitable and being profitable in a expansion paradigm is exploits something from a distance. Here, we do the work of the man for the man through the power of an unquestioned purchase where seldom see the consequences in the rain forest, in a village far far away, or with a family we will never meet.

Belief systems and politically motivated narratives all  have an origination agenda, and are maintained through social engineering and replication of values and assumptions.

THE STORY BEGINS

For example, in the 19th century the United States, people and politicians had a mainstream attitude of expansionism and nationalism. This belief was labeled “Manifest Destiny”.  Manifest Destiny was an accepted “general notion” rather than an official policy. This allowed America to expand its borders, adding Oregon, California, and Texas, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Philippines, through military and diplomatic maneuvers aimed at continental expansion.

Historian, William E. Weeks has noted that three key themes were usually touched upon by advocates of Manifest Destiny, 1. virtue of the American people and their institutions. The belief that the American way is superior. 2. The mission to spread these institutions thereby redeeming and making the world in the image of the U.S; and 3. a mandate from God to do this work. In other words, the killing and relocation of the native population is justified because the American way was mandated by God to reform those perceived as needing an image upgrade.

The voting public, military men, housewives, etc. upheld these values in their social interactions, from the pulpit, in the street and through laws that were passed. The inhabitants of America, there long before the  Manifest Destiny or Columbus infact, suffered a ruthless genocide and uprooting because of the “power of ideas” – the power of a social narrative and the inability for the common mind to resist consensus programming. What followed was forcible resettling of Native Americans as the citizenry of the United States forged westward.

In 1830, the Indian Removal Act was passed by then president Andrew Jackson, to expand the Presidents power to conduct treaties, to exchange Native American land east of Mississippi river for lands west of the river. It took until 1924, when Native Americas were finally recognized by the U.S government as “citizens.”

Many Native cultures were matrilineal. This meant people occupied lands for use by the entire community, for growing food and hunting. The Manifest Destiny was inherently patriarchal, stemming from ideas of European patriarchy that used ideas of individual property rights, and ownership over nature. The flag of Manifest Destiny did not recognize native lands as “legal”, nor the stewardship of these lands by the inhabitants. The inhabitants were unquestionably externalities to the physical expression of ideas.

AND ONE STORY CREATES ANOTHER

Another politically motivated story, or what I like to call “engineered myth” is that India can’t feed her people without foreign intervention and philanthropy that purport the use of subsidized wheat and rice, GM seeds and chemicals. This myth takes hold in times of crisis such as during a drought or famine, as it relies on the fear of starvation and death to work the minds of the public. This myth has three parts,:

1. Those promoting the myth do so because they stand to profit from the GM seeds and chemicals. In other words, market access is guaranteed if the general population plays along with the story- thus ensuring the idea will not be met with resistance. Politicians are also rewarded by enforcing the myth through responsive legislation;

2. The second part is that the myth plays on emotion, particularly the primal fear of starvation rooted in cultural imprints of past famines, food shortages, etc.;

3. The third part is that the myth must be seeded, until it saturates the media, which saturates the commons, and replicates on its own. Once this occurs it is detached from its original creators. A meme, which represent a thoughtform or belief, acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices. Memes self-replicate through various modes of transmission, from one person to the next, through gesture, writing. etc.

The second part of the myth, the primal fear of starvation is maintained by the first (laws and legislation) and second (advertising) parts. Brilliant.

Edward Bernays in History as a Weapon writes,

“The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion. It is composed of inherited prejudices and symbols and cliches and verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders.

Fortunately, the sincere and gifted politician is able, by the instrument of propaganda, to mold and form the will of the people. “

Mr. Bernays is talking about meme transmission.

PHIILANTHROCAPITALISM AND THE STORY TELLERS 

The Rockefeller and Ford Foundations entered the market of philanthropy in India, to lay the groundwork for an agricultural shift that would use chemical inputs, special seeds, and western agricultural techniques to improve food production, inspired still byManifest Destiny style nationalism. To do this they had to convince the country of India that it couldn’t feed it’s people, and thus needed assistance. In other words, to access the Indian market, there would have to be a reason why Indians would widely adopt American agricultural techniques. The perfect sales pitch was hunger and famine, starvation and drought. The assumption is that rural peasants aren’t smart enough to manage their problem, and the elite class must intervene. India, simply couldn’t feed her people without their help.

Fredrick Gates, a wealthy baptist minister, became Rockefeller’s key philanthropic and business adviser. He helped him set up well-funded foundations that were run by experts who decided what topics of reform were relevant and profitable, actualizing Rockefellers idea that for every dollar given away in philanthropy you ought to be able to make at least a hundred back. The foundation operating as a tax free entity, would identify problems, (or create them), then provide the solution. When there was no problem, they would find one to solve. This is the beginning of  philanthrocapitalism.

The Rockefeller and Ford foundation come requisite with a mindset that the rich are the best qualified to determine what the poor needs, eats, lives and what kind of work they can do. Read on.

In 1902 John. D Rockefeller met with a group of southern educators to establish The General Education Board for educating other “races”, starting with “negros” but not limited only to them. To get a peak inside the motivation behind the boards outreach we have only to read a letter from one of its founders. In the Board’s Occasional Letter No. 1, Fredrick Gates  writes,

In our dreams, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions fade from our minds, and unhampered by traditions, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk!

We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into Philosophers or men of learning, or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, editors, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply.”

There is a inherent belief encapsulated in his writings and that is, that the general public should yield to the agendas of those who “know better.” This is not all together different than the mindset of the Manifest Destiny.

In 1925 public relations specialist, Edward Bernays was hired to make Standard Oil, founder and tycon family the Rockefellers to improve their public image. Standard Oil was widely criticized as a monopoly, and polluter, though it made John D. Rockefeller the richest man in modern history. After Ida Tarbell’s muckraking book, The History of the Standard Oil Company, came out, Bernays stepped in to spin the Rockefeller “image”. Bernays was quoted as saying, “it is possible to regiment the public mind every bit as much as an army regiments their bodies.”

He said these” new techniques of regmintation of minds, had to be used by the intelligent miniorities in order to make sure that the Slobs stay on the right course.”(From Chomsky’s “What Makes Mainstream Media Mainstream”: A talk at Z Media Institute, June 1997). The slobs he is referring to is the general public, me and you, because we are not smart enough, empowered enough or strong enough to rule ourselves. How does that make you feel?

As a side note, Bernays was not the main PR representative to the Rockefellers. A contemporary and competitor of Edward Bernays, was Ivy Lee. He was retained by John D. Rockefeller to manage the public image of his family and Standard Oil. Shortly before his death, the U.S. Congress had been investigating Lee’s work for the controversial IG Farben company in Nazi Germany.

The Ford Foundation focused originally on setting up educational television and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Like the Rockefeller Foundation, public relations was a major part of their outreach to the American people, though that will be covered in a later article.

“In 1935, the Rockefeller Foundation set up an office in New Delhi to oversee all of its activities in India. This center was in operation for more than 30 years. It was the headquarters from which the foundation implemented its expanded activities in medicine, agriculture, and the humanities in the golden age of American involvement during the 1950s and 1960s.”

“During the golden age of the foundation’s work in India, roughly 1948 to 1973, it expanded its operations in India. By 1966, it had 15 of its personnel in India helping to oversee numerous proposals and grants in medicine, agriculture, the social sciences, and the humanities.” (Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)………

“The first president of this new Ford Foundation, who eventually detached from the Ford Motor Company, was Paul Hoffman. He decided that India, one of the two Asian giants, and the non-Communist one, was to be a focus of serious investment by the Ford Foundation for the good of the future of India and the good of the free worldAssistance to India would demonstrate what free men with wealth and wisdom could do to help other men to follow them down the same or a similar path of development.”

“Although Hoffman’s vision cannot be explored here, he seemed to think that alleviating poverty in India would put Indians firmly in the Western camp and further democratic rights.” (Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)

“Hoffman recruited an agricultural sociologist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Douglas Ensminger, to be the foundation’s representative in India. The latter visited India in 1951 and took up his job in 1952. He became, in time,the most powerful and longest-lasting representative of the foundation abroad. Not only did Ensminger develop a unique tie to the government of India through Nehru and other top officials, but he formed unusual ties to the trustees of the foundation in the United States that allowed him occasionally to go around administrators including the foundation’s presidents in New York, who were supposedly supervising him.”

“Ensminger, in his lengthy topical [*112] and repetitious memoir of his India days, described himself as a “change agent” loosed in a society tied up in tradition, static, going nowhere, but desperately needing changes. He was going to help to show them the way and he had considerable resources to utilize. n17″ (Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)

“Ensminger and the Ford Foundation more generally stressed the importance of American technical assistance to so-called developing, or Third World, areas during the 1950s and 1960s. Technical assistance in practice meant that a substantial part of the grants was spent on bringing foreign experts to show the Indians the way. These were most often Americans but included a smattering of Europeans, Canadians, and others as well. Although elaborate orientation programs were worked out for these visiting foreigners who were to teach Indians about a variety of subjects….”(Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)

“Technical assistance in practice meant that a substantial part of the grants was spent on bringing foreign experts to show the Indians the way.”

“However, this was the heyday of American overseas aid and institution building in the new nations of South Asia and confidence started high–both as to what the foreigners could give and how India and also Pakistan could progress rapidly.”

“In the period from 1951 to 1995, the Ford Foundation made about 2500 grants to India; it expended $ 128 million by one account and $ 275 million by another. In any case, the number of grants and diverse projects to which they have been applied is staggering. Much early attention was given to the community development area, a special interest of Nehru and one which appealed to Ensminger and the foundation as well. ….in the Ensminger period, technical aid to agriculture was stressed rather than holistic community development.”(Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)

“Ensminger recruited F. Champion Ward from the University of Chicago to serve as educational specialist for the foundation in India. Inter alia, Ward hoped that [*113] by giving grants for general education to a number of Indian universities, he would help them to provide the kind of wide view that he thought students at America’s best universities were getting.” ‘ (Source: Lexin Nexis database: The Annals of The American Academy of Political and Social Science. November, 1997 554 Annals 104.)

It is important to understand that what was taught in the agricultural and medical universities in India during those times were technologies that had already existed in industrialized nations. Those technologies were largely based on oil based solutions – from synthetic fertilizers, to motorized pumps and tractors, to pesticides, because those technologies were introduced by a few select billionaire families, notably Standard Oil and its offshoots (Exxon, Mobil, Amaco, Chevron). I think one can assume without it being fallacious that when a oil tycoon and not a farmer creates the solution of how India will feed her people, that solution will include oil. Certainly history has prooved this to be true.

The energy for increasing production “did not come from an increase in incipient sunlight, nor did it result from introducing agriculture to new vistas of land. The energy for the Green Revolution was provided by fossil fuels in the form of fertilizers (natural gas), pesticides (oil), and hydrocarbon fueled irrigation. ” Since fertilizers are largely what made the Green Revolution possible, they forever changed agricultural practices because the high yield varieties developed during this time cannot grow successfully without the help of fertilizers. “(About.com)

What was taught in the Rockefeller/Ford sponsored curriculum in India’s universities were new techniques in mono cropping, irrigation, use of pesticides, and synthetic nitrogen based fertilizer as well as using two high yielding crop varieties that worked well with industrial techniques.

Prior to the Green Revolution,  India was growing food and did feed her people, and when she didn’t it wasn’t the farming techniques that were at fault. India, including now Pakistan and Bangledesh, has had 90 famines in the last 2500 years. It is difficult to estimate the total number of deaths, a conservative estimate puts it near 60 million. I challenge my readers to find me an example where subsequent starvation wasn’t because of one of the following:

Government inaction, devaluation of farming, inadequate transportation of food, routing of food to specialized projects -such as to the military, export of food is not rerouted back into the country, lowered feasibility of migrate do to cultural tensions,  failure in Colonial leadership to respond quickly to food shortages, lack of reduction in the price of food, and finally, the loss of employment of agricultural labors and artisans.

Dying from malnutrition, happens regardless of natural catastrophe, even though the likelihood is expanded.  If we are foolish enough to believe, however that subsidized wheat and rice given to the poor will meet the nutritional challenges of a hard working life, we are fooling ourselves and not comprehending the actual intent of foreign aid programs in time of “need”.  The United States never gives away something for nothing.  (This too is another article I will attempt to write in the coming months)

 Before the Green Revolution India grew polycultures of native and sometimes hybridized seed, planting in relation to the monsoon. People and land were at the mercy of natural boundaries. Population could not grow beyond the capacity of the land and weather patterns to support food production. It was  common that India was subject to famine and flood just like she is today, and nowhere in the world, not even in the mighty west, can people stave off natural disasters.

India had adapted her agriculture to meet climactic challenges the best she could.  India has a wealth of  time honored techniques, the were not barcodable. Take for instance the commentary by Zero Budget Natural Farming. This was written by Subhash Palekar, a farmer who grew up using traditional methods, then was educated in an agricultural university to use chemicals and after observing their destruction, returned to traditional agriculture. He writes,

“Since thousands of years, our farmers were treating their seeds by local cow urine, cow dung and little soil from the bund of the farm or land of the farm. This was the traditional method and also a totally scientific method. But, after the arrival of Agricultural Universities, all good things in Agricultural sector were destroyed and all unnatural and so unscientific techniques were imposed on the farmers and indirectly on the urban consumers. Agricultural Universities propose you now all dangerous poisons for seed treatment. When you apply any poisonous fungicides or medicines to the seed, all useful effective (our friends) microorganisms are destroyed in the soil. When these poisonous chemicals treated seeds germinate and grow, these poisons are also sucked by the roots with the soil water solution and are deposited in the body organs of the plant i.e. vegetables, grains, fruits, tubers etc. When we eat these produce, these poisons are transmitted to our body and causes T. B., Diabetes, Cancer, Heart problems to the eater consumers. As well as, when farmers purchase these fungicides & medicines for seed treatment, a big exploitation of the farmers occurs.”

 It is true that after the Green Revolution, the production of wheat and rice soared. To credit the numeric rise to the miracle seeds and pesticides is to fail at the exercise of critical thinking. Poly means many. So simply put farmers were growing many things on one piece  of land or in cooperation with other farmers to meet their nutritional needs.  If you replace every varied crop they were growing with just one, the numbers of that one crop is going to rise. If you give that one thing a veritable “growth hormone booster” a synthetic fertilizer, it will yield higher results but for how long? Every short cut comes with a cost.

 The charts and graphs used for proof of the Green Revolutions success are smoke and mirrors to make us believe that somehow the Green Revolution was a miracle that fed the world. Meanwhile the charts and graphs, by their very nature, distance us from the socio-ecological impact of what was thought up by foundations started by an oil tycoon and automobile manufacturer…not a farmer.

What is interesting about the drift away from traditional agriculture is that it the profit, monetarily and nutritionally drifted into the pockets of the philanthropists. Take a look:

Oxen drawn plows /REPLACED WITH / Oil/gas powered tractors and machinery (ideology set up by Standard Oil/Ford Motor Company founders, profits guaranteed by Rockefeller/Ford global enterprises, industry offshoots)

Fertilizer from cows, preparations from cow urine/dung and other plants /REPLACED WITH/Nitrogen based synthetic fertilizer which are typically synthesized using fossil fuels such as natural gas and coal. Profits guaranteed by Rockefeller/Ford global enterprises, industry offshoots.)

Natural pesticides, using ferments of cow urine/dung/ and other plants, ash, safe pest levels maintained through companion planting and polyculture, and other biological solutions /REPLACED WITH/ Methyl iodide, glycosphosphate (Monsanto), endosulphan (originator Bayer Crop Science), organophosphate pesticides, Malathion (originated in America now manufactured in India Atrazine (Sygenta -GM Seeds, Monsanto competitor) Sandoz ( Ciba Geigy (chemicals, gm,) Sandoz, and Geigy now called Novaris (pharmaceutical) )Diazinon, Chloropyrifos, Chlordane, Lindane, Pemethrin, Cypermethrin. These are regulated by government control agencies, made of fossil fuels and higher chemisty and owned by pharmaceutical, biotech and agrobusiness giants. (list names a few only)

Seed Saving. Farmers saved seeds year by year, created their own farm level characteration of traits /REPLACED WITH/ Genetically modified and hybrid seeds patented as intellectual property and sold through Monsanto, Sygenta, Bayer, Dow, Dupont (see seed industry structure)

This structure moved the control of India’s food supply out of farmers hands and into corporate interest, nationally and abroad.

You might be scratching your head and thinking I thought you were talking about the Rockefeller and Ford Foundation and a socially engineered myth? True, and every story has its initial motivation, in this case, it’s a world view , much like the Manifest Destiny, that promotes the rich and powerful solving problems for the “underprivledged”. In other words, problems they attempt to solve are ultimately spun by foundations who lay the framework of the problems the Corporations must solve through their world view. 

Knowingly or unknowingly, they also create the problem, or an axillary problem from the solutions. In the meantime, foundations, corporations, and governments all share members, and missions. Because of the reach and power of a few, the “myth” permeates government and universities, then the general population follow in-step via massive public relations campaigns.

Take for instance this speach given by Gordon Conway, from the Rockefeller Foundation on June 24, 1999.

“The Rockefeller Foundation has funded over $100 million dollars of plant biotechnology research and trained over four hundred scientists from Asia, Africa and Latin America. While this may not sound like much by Monsanto standards, our grantees have made significant progress. At several locations in Asia there is now a critical mass of talent applying the new tools of biotechnology to rice improvement.”

…”Trying to ensure a future that includes the poor and excluded is not only a huge job, it is, you may say, not Monsanto’s job. Monsanto’s job is to provide a decent return to your shareholders by running a sustainable, innovative and responsible enterprise.”

The intention is so blatant it’s astounding.

This article is admittedly focused on the myth and story. Presenting the scientific evidence against or for genetically modified foods is another article. Outside of the lab result slinging, expert testimony, and political endorsements, is the broader issue – who profits from our basic necessity to eat? When  investigation turns up that it’s not the farmers but chemical companies with appalling environmental records, oil empires that have drug the world into war, and pharmaceutical companies whose profits increase when a population gets sicker and sicker, one has to question if the creator of such technology has our best interest in mind or is deluded by their own ideology. When we do consider the adoption of such technology on a global scale, as Monsanto advises, we must consider the implications. Long -term testing would seem like the only ethical solution, to appease both sides of the debate.  However, as we have seen through the manipulation of government, including the United States F.D.A, and India through the recent push for the BRAI bill,  the exact opposite is happening.  Technology with no long term broad spectrum world wide studies is being pushed on all of us, without labeling or conscious.

“The conscious choice of a few genes for mobilization and widespread replication substitutes human judgement for natural selection. From a theological viewpoint it is questionable that the agribusiness scientific staff have the collective wisdom to determine what constitutes the good when it comes to desirable genes. The fact that their choice could be self-sustaining (e.g., if the gene escaped into the wild) is cause for further concern. Initially, this and other adverse impacts potentially resulting from mass scale transgenic operations are likely to be invisible.” (Marc Lappe and Britt Baily, Against the Grain: Biotechnology and the Corporate Takeover of Your Food [Monroe, Me.:Common Courage, 1998], 114 )

“Why should the rich and famous decide how schools are going to be reformed, or what drugs will be supplied at prices affordable to the poor, or which civil society groups will get funding for their work?”

THE NEW FOUNDATION OF THE PUSH FOR A 2nd GREEN REVOLUTION – THE STORY REPEATS

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private foundation in the world, is now partnering with The Rockefeller Foundation to launch a Green Revolution in sub-Saharan Africa to “revolutionize food production and reduce hunger and poverty and to enhance agricultural science.”

That sounds great, but who gets to participate. Let’s look at the foundation’s connections. The Gates Foundation has holdings in

  • Walmart (9.2 million shares)
  • McDonald’s (9.4 million shares)
  • ExxonMobil (6.3 million shares) : Exxon Mobil Corporation was formed in 1999 by the merger of two major oil companies, Exxon and Mobil. Both Exxon and Mobil were descendants of Standard Oil started by John D. Rockefeller which was established in 1870. Sound familiar?
  • Berkshire Hathaway (76.4 million Class B shares)
  • Monsanto (500,000 shares)

On the board of the foundation is also pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, banks and Dupont Pioneer Hybrid. The Rockefeller foundation has contributed $50 million. Critics, including myself think that the foundation has a preference to make grants which benefit who the foundation holds stocks with, such as Monsanto. As a side note, recently Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet both visited India to encourage the billionaires to invest in social programs, like the Gates Foundation. All of this is a matter of public record, available for any of my readers to find

Something less obvious is happening here. The word Corporation and Multinational is getting linked as culpable co-creators in the ecological and social devastation on the earth.   The Gates Foundation, can now hide behind its billions while making billions by using the powerful public relations spin and oxymoron of philanthrocapitalism. Meanwhile, all those attached to the Gates Foundation can declare to the public that they are supporting a good cause!

“The term was coined by Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, the British authors of Philanthrocapitalism: How the Rich Can Save the World, which identified an emerging trend towards blending charitable giving with market disciplines. The great benefactors of the past tended to operate through cumbersome, if well-meaning, foundations over which they retained relatively little control, beyond an insistence on having their names slapped upon municipal parks, museums and hospitals. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businesslatestnews/7932127/The-billionaire-boys-Beware-of-geeks-bearing-gifts.html)

But all that has changed:

“In other words, as a long critique in the American magazine Foreign Affairs puts it, the foundation gives with one hand and takes away with the other. In his book Small Change: Why Business Won’t Change the World, Michael Edwards, a former World Bank adviser, asks: “Why should the rich and famous decide how schools are going to be reformed, or what drugs will be supplied at prices affordable to the poor, or which civil society groups will get funding for their work?” In this sense, say opponents of the new philanthropy, the needy are being written out of their own story, with the world’s attention focused instead on the people doing the giving. “

(http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/businesslatestnews/7932127/The-billionaire-boys-Beware-of-geeks-bearing-gifts.html)

This is a question India needs to ask her self? “Why should the rich and famous decide how schools are going to be reformed, or what drugs will be supplied at prices affordable to the poor, or which civil society groups will get funding for their work?”

How much foreign involvement, nepotism, corruption and farmer cleansing will the Indian population take before it revolts against the silly myth of the market place?

THE STORY BEGINS TO UNRAVEL

A critical eye will easily find that the bylines of successes presented in ad campaigns, official company reports, and the nightly news, are contradictory. The  World Health Organization, (WHO) which is by no means a neutral or anti-globalization organization states that in India:

“At the other end of the malnutrition scale, obesity is one of today’s most blatantly visible – yet most neglected – public health problems. Paradoxically coexisting with undernutrition, an escalating global epidemic of overweight and obesity – “globesity” – is taking over many parts of the world”

But wait wasn’t the wheat and rice of the Green Revolution a success?

The WHO shows a chart that says that 37% of India’s lower middle class suffer from nutritional, communicable, and perinatal deaths, and the likelihood of cancer is 6%. Systolic blood pressure and glucose is also rising. They go on to say that,

“Over the last few decades, traditional societies in many developing countries have experienced rapid and unplanned urbanization, which has led to lifestyles characterized by unhealthy nutrition, reduced physical activity and tobacco consumption.1 These unhealthy lifestyles are associated with common modifiable risk factors for chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidaemia and obesity.2

So the World Health Organization admits that in India,  urbanization – which is the forcing of  peasants and farmers off their land due to market forces, such as debt and unemployment, is causing health problems. But urbanization is caused by trade liberalization, and a devaluing of the agricultural sector. Urbanization has happened because high agricultural input costs for pesticides, fertilizers, tractors, patented seeds, etc. have creating spiraling indebtedness and land has been reprocessed -water tables have lowered, or water is unavailable -once fertile land is now ruined – soaked in chemicals and stripped of life and finally billboards blasting the youth with images of urban sexy-sleek living is luring able bodies from the fields. And, why would they want to stay? The government has cut back subsidies and support to the agriculture sector, and international competition has lowered the price the farmer can get for their food to demeaning levels.

Ultimately, this means there is a problem with the glowing promises of the foundations who state they are solving the  problem of an imagined future of starvation, but in truth the solution is creating more problems, so the corporations still have to solve the problem. There appears to be an endless supply of future profit!  Yet, to a lay person, their also appears to be crack in the facade!

The World Health Organization continues:

“It is expected that by 2020 in developing countries, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) will account for 69% of all deaths, with cardiovascular diseases in the lead.3 The prevalence of diabetes mellitus will almost double in the next 25 years and at least 75% of those affected will be in developing countries. The burden of disease will be worse in these countries, as the majority of sufferers are expected to be relatively young, of lower socioeconomic status and to suffer from severe disease of premature onset.4

OBSERVATION REVEALS A STORY IS A STORY

If one observes the last 45 years since the Green Revolution began, and drops the ideology taught through the media, and through biotechnology and agricultural university curriculum, one can piece together the truth of what has happened.  Observe and remember.

In the book Blessed Unrest, Paul Hawken’s explains the differences between observation and ideology. He explains it in the context of a new movement that has sprung up in response to what its observed. This movement includes millions of N.G.Os and non-profits springing up around the globe to combat the ravages of globalization, human rights atrocities, environmental destruction etc.  Included in this movement is the organic, sustainable, non-gmo, natural farming groups.

“One of the differences between the bottom-up movement now erupting around the world and established ideologies is that the movement develops its ideas based on observation, where as ideologies act on the basis of belief or theory, the same distinction that separated evolution from creationism.”

“The movement doesn’t attempt to disprove capitalism, globalization or religion fundamentalism, but tries to make sense of what it discovers in forest, favalas, farms rivers, and cities. Are ideologues in the movement? To be sure, but fundamentally the movement is from the part of humanity which has assumed the task of protecting and saving itself. If we accept that the metaphor of an organism can be applied to humankind, we can image in a collective movement that would protect repair and restore that organisms capacity to endure when threatened. If so, that capacity to respond would function like an immune system, which operates independently of an individual persons intent.”

“Specifically the shared activity of hundreds of thousands of nonprofit organizations can be seen as humanities immune response to toxins like political corruption, economic disease and ecological degradation.”

Try some observation yourself.  Ask yourself   the following: Am I healthier now than I was ten years ago? Is any member of my family on prescriptions or overweight? How many people do I know who have cancer or have died from a heart attack? Is there more environmental pollution? Are there more homeless in the cities? Am I fulfilled with the work that I do? Is my water safe to drink? Does my food have chemicals? preservatives? What are the brands of food I eat? Where does my food come from? Does anyone I know smoke? Is someone in my family addicted to drugs or alcohol?   Are there more birds? Is there more trash in the streets?

As mentioned before, the selling of a social myth, on a wide-scale is possible through the advent of the television. Television does not make for watchful observers! Why does pharmaceutical companies advertise on television when its your doctor who can decide your access to such medicine? Simple, it’s auto suggesting a disease, that you might think you have. Repeat the story long enough and you will manifest it.  Are you depressed? having trouble sleeping? Stressed out? Television repeats ideologies, with no room for us to insert our experience or opinion. The felt sense of immediate experience, our experience – our direct observation, is the only way to really know, is it true? If we operated from this informing our choices, how would the world look?

Dr. Vinod Verma,  who has written eighteen books on Ayurveda, Yoga and is a neurobiologist from Paris University. She  has also worked in a pharmaceutical company in Germany.  She writes regarding the western influence of Indian agriculture,

“Until about fifteen yeas after the independence of India, the above-described wisdom (cyclical crops, natural pesticides, planting with astrological cycles) was part of the school curriculum. However the policy makers of independent India ignored the indigenous wisdom and followed the West blindly. Many centuries of foreign rule was enough to make the English speaking Indian elite slavish in their mentality.  However, the Indian farmer was very wise and it is well known that the farmers always kept a piece of land for themselves where they did not use urea or chemical pesticides.  They used the traditional Indian methods to grow food for themselves. Not that they knew the destructive effects of the chemicals they were cajoled into using, it was simple a question of taste and flavor for them.”

“Gradually, we lost the great tradition of our natural way of farming an took to the unnatural and harsh ways from the West. Of course it was the vested interest of the West to find a market for their products in our big and highly populated country. we cannot blame the est but our own foolishness to ignore our indigenous wisdom, which is now sought after by the whole world. Humanity as a whole has realized that destroying nature means destroying life on our globe.”

Activist, and an analyst of the impact of the global economy on cultures and agriculture worldwide, Helena Norberg Hodge describes the changes she witnessed in Ladkhi people in India from 1970 to present day. Ladakh is a present day example of  what happens when you push -industrial consumerism on top of natural conservation. A similar situation plays out in all native, indigenous, pantheistic, subsistence, first peoples nations globally.

“When I first arrived in Leh, the capital of 5,000 inhabitants, cows were the most likely cause of congestion and the air was crystal clear. Within five minutes’ walk in any direction from the town centre were barley fields, dotted with large farmhouses. For the next twenty years I watched Leh turn into an urban sprawl. The streets became choked with traffic, and the air tasted of diesel fumes. ‘Housing colonies’ of soulless, cement boxes spread into the dusty desert. The once pristine streams became polluted, the water undrinkable. For the first time, there were homeless people. The increased economic pressures led to unemployment and competition. Within a few years, friction between different communities appeared. All of these things had not existed for the previous 500 years.”

If we are willing to apply the ideology that India can’t feed her people without the help of GMO and chemical agriculture, perhaps to be objective we should also  look at the consequences of what has happened since the implementation of that ideology. On a state by state macro level, these changes range from lowering yeilds after the initial peak, fallow lands, polluted water ways, loss of biodiversity, displacement of the small farm from the center of the community, loss of holistic nutrition, escalating debt, privatization of resources and the list continues.  If we rely on observation, we have only to look at examples like Ladakh to see that India has been able to feed her people.

The changes in Ladakh pre 1970s to now gives us an excellent example of how the problem of feeding India is not actually an issue of adopting new technologies, rather, it is an example of the negative side effects of industrial development in relationship to agricultural self-sufficiency and a political failure to respond to the negatives. Who gets the profit and who is exploited? In the case of Leh, self-sufficiency was replaced with Tata transports carrying branded and packaged foods, Coca Cola and cigarettes, denatured wheat, and a slew of consumerables, soon to be followed by tourists.

One can argue that Ladakh has a very sparse population in relationship to Mumbai, so therefore another system will have to be put in place to meet this challenge. As it is true that 21,000 people per square kilometer such as the case in Mumbai presents extreme challenges, the principles remain the same.  If urbanization is failing, encouraging the agricultural sector on the outsides to be vibrant, self-sustaining, environmentally friendly and productive for the long term makes more sense than increasing the urban population, displacing the farmers, and ignoring the fact that the population is going to grow.  Urban gardening initiatives, roof top gardening, school and kitchen gardens, natueco methods, seed saving, community supported agriculture, city planning that includes arable land for farming at its center,  hydroponics, public community gardens instead of another high rise for foreign investors, the introduction of microlivestock, verticle gardening, and the list goes on and on are all apossiblity if the blockage created by the story of how India can’t feed her people without chemicals and gmo, is removed.

The story  and those believing it,  is the only thing keeping the patriarchial Manifest Destiny domination paradigm in power. We, you and me, are the ones we’ve been waiting for. There is more power in our choices than you could ever imagine. There is more intelligence in a seed, and more energy  in the free gift of the sun than ever can be replicated in a laboratory. All that is nature, was given to us for FREE, as a natural right. Believing otherwise makes nature and ourselves exploitable.

If   a community is confused and lacking a far reaching vision,  look to success stories like Auroville, Kodaikanal farm in Tamil Nadu, the Khet Virasat Mission in Fardikot,  Navdanya,  Timbuktu Organics,  Shri S.A. Dabholkar,  the Biogas plant at Srirangapatna in Karnataka, and thousands more.  The answers to can India feed her people are there, and repeatable.

“John Maynard Keynes cautioned that we live our lives under the illusion of freedom, but likely to be slaves to some defunct economist. Even that description understates the problem. The world may be caged by a defect of the entire economic profession, namely the idea that we can asses value in banknotes, or that we can understand our relationship to the material world using an abstract metric rather than a biological one. The extraordinary advances made by Western societies will , in the end, be subservient to the land and what it can provide and teach. There are no economies of scale; there is only natures economy. We cannot turn back the clock, or return to any prior state on the planet, but we will never know ourselves until we know where we are on this land. There is no reason that we cannot build an exquisitely designed economy that matches biology in its diversity and integrates complexity rather than extinguishing it. In accomplishing this, there is much to be gained from those who have not forgotten the land. ” (Paul Hawken,  Blessed Unrest pg. 100)

None of these changes can occur under the amensia of the present myth. A new story must be told, one that includes a future, – a future free of any style of Manifest Destiny, where a priveldged few rule an overpowering mass of people

Indian rural reporter P. Sainath wrote,

“Every freedom fighter of repute doubled as a journalist, informing the public. Speaking for myself, I will not cede this high ground; it is extremely important that mainstream journalism include the true stories of India.”

Inshallah,
Act Naturally

Farmer Suicides: Why?

By Lua Cheia

Farmer Suicides: Why?

India is home to 1.25 billion people 722% of which live in villages. As much as 60% of the work force works in agriculture in some capacity. Over the last two decades however, more and more people have been seeking non-agricultural work in cities, and urban townships. Mass migration from rural to urban areas has increased rapidly since 1991. An estimated 70-73 million people have migrated away from rural India because of a myriad of problems, such as lack of education, jobs, farming support, and opportunity and a lack of infrastructure for things like clean water and health care.

 In 1991 an exchange rate crisis caused by fiscal and balance of payment deficits, pushed India near bankruptcy. As part of a bailout deal with India, the International Monetary Fund directed India to sell 67 tons of gold to the IMF, which was transferred to London as collateral. Also, India had to devalue the rupee and restructure economically to make the country more open to foreign trade. Since independence from the British in 1947, India had operated a state-controlled economy called the License Raj system. As part of the deal with the IMF, India got rid of the License Raj system and liberalized the economy.

A key player in the economic restructuring was Indian Prime Minister Manmohan. Singh. He moved India from a socialist economy into a capitalist one. He opened international trade and investment, initiated privatization of certain public sector companies, enacted inflation control measures, broke up state monopolies, and removed obstacles standing in the way of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). At this time, India entered into an era of globalization.

 Trade liberalization, and globalization has forced India to compete with more developed countries, when only a percentage of her people were of the mind or education level to do so. There is no doubt however that economic reforms have brought with it many opportunities and chances for education, greater access to health care and public utilities, and an international competitor and contributor to many technological fields, among other things. Act Naturally acknowledges that there have been positive changes. Our work however, focuses on those who have been left behind as India heralds a new age of prosperity.

 Not everyone in the world, and certainly not in India’s rural expanse, participated in the machine of money exchange and consumerism to the scale that would make India attractive to foreign investment. At the time of these vast economic changes some villages still bartered wheat for haircuts and shoe repair, saved seeds, and used cow manure to grow their crops. Over the next two decades, generations of people; their values, culture, customs, means of producing food, relationship to land, and way of relating to wants and needs would have a new system, one that required money at its core to be successful, overlaid on top of their day to day challenges.

 “With an influx of new money, products, and advertising these “poor people,” became overnight poster children for modernization by the developers. They all were  potential markets. Tantalizing ads selling everything from new cellphones, to Coke, to diapers, to Himalayan shampoo, sparked conversation, then desire for a disposable world of stuff that has/had no real relevance to  their practical day to day reality but never the less, with enough exposure, had tantalizing appeal . It was as if these new products could do something that nothing else had done – improve their social standing. The older generation was skeptical, but the younger generation craved it immediately.

The self definition through things fetish was engineered long ago by advertising agencies, and has had immense success in  America. India patterns its success off of western business models. It’s a carrot on a stick that the farmer is chasing right off of his field.” — Kamla Vishvas

 The promise of money in more urban areas to carve out a better life, has become the mantra that moves the young and old away from their family plots and often into cramped urban conditions. But that is not the only reason. The introduction of chemical agriculture since India’s Green Revolution began in 1966, has created more input costs to the farmer and these prices too have risen. The lack of government support for farming, because of an uneven focus on the IT, Biotech and Pharmaceutical industry, has left many farmers to the agendas of agribusiness giants like Monsanto, Carghil and ADM all American made.

 As reported in PRAXIS: The Fletcher Journal of Human Security,  in an article entitled, “The Paradox of Indias Bread Basket: Farmer Suicides in Punjab” written  by Mallika Kaur;

 “During the Green Revolution, production was improved with the use of modified seeds that increased yield only when combined with expensive chemical fertilizers and irrigation. Unable to afford sufficient amounts of these expensive inputs, small farmers found their holdings becoming progressively less profitable. Meanwhile, grain prices remained comparatively low even as input costs increased. Now, three decades later, the small and marginal farmers of Punjab, in trying to pursue environmentally and economically unsustainable agrarian practices, are accumulating high debt while lacking alternative sources of income. As a result, farmers, their unions, concerned NGOs, and several academics conclude that agriculture has become a losing proposition in Indian Punjab, the farming heartland of South Asia for generations.”

Farmers go into more and more debt year after year since signing initial contracts for “crop packages” – genetically modified seeds like BT-Cotton, that require companion herbicide for best results. These expensive seeds require the farmer to buy them year after year as it is a breach of contract with Monsanto to save seed. Every year he must take out a loan from someone or somewhere. Most rural farmers do not have official documentation of their land. This means credit and collateral is questionable, so they choose to deal with private money lenders even though private money lending is officially illegal. When a farmer can no longer pay their debt, two common scenarios play out. 1. They commit suicide or; 2.  Their  family land is seized by debt collectors.

These pressures, coupled with land grabs by foreign interests made possible by the SEZ or Special Economic Zones Act passed in 2005, and the Land Acquisition Act, has meant that more and more agricultural lands are abandoned, sold to foreign interests for nonagricultural purposes, seized by private money lenders cashing in on their debts, and/or turned fallow do to exhaustion of the ecosystem with chemicals.

It is not coincidence that the issue of farmer suicides was brought to the attention of the government in the early 90s just as India was liberalizing trade, by a journalist who focused on rural reporting named P. Sainath. Palagummi Sainath was the rural Affairs editor of the Hindu at that time. Although the numbers have a margin of error do to difficulties with official reporting, it is estimated by the NCRB that over 200, 000 farmers have committed suicide in the last 15 years. The NCRB is the National Crime Records Bureau, part of the Ministry of Home Affairs,  is responsible for collecting and analyzing crime data in India. Some reporters say the number is as high as one suicide every half hour!

Summary of Causes

There are many causes for the stress in the farming community that leads some farmers take their own lives. They are dominantly related to public policy and economic strategy. Act Naturally has identified 22!:

  • Lack of support from a government that is focused more on India’s  technological future
  • Legal tender system forced through majority rule on communities that bartered
  • No advice from the government on how to conduct agricultural operations or adjust to changes in climate
  • Income from farming is not enough to meet the minimum needs of the family
  • Widening gap “price scissors” between industrial and agricultural prices
  • World Trade Organization and developed nations’ subsidies that make India’s products uncompetitive in world markets thus lowering demand and price. This is particularly true in the case of cotton farmers in Vidarbha whose cotton competes against subsidized U.S. cotton
  • Corruption at every level of government siphons off certain relief monies before they reach the intended
  • Absence of adequate social support infrastructure at the level of village. No counselors. Issue is taboo.
  • Rising prices of dowry causing huge hardships on family. The price of everything in the open economy is more, and the husbands families are demanding more as they seen grander lives advertised
  • Relief packages organized by the central government did not take in account farmer’s demands, or those of civil society organizations, local government bodies or panchayats as reported by an audit of the state done by Green Earth Social Development Consulting.
  • The same open market policy followed by India which has been a boon to foreign investors coming into the IT industry and benefiting Indian IT Engineers is causing an ever widening price gap between the food the farmers must eat to survive and the price the farmers get for their food in the market.
  • Rising cost of cultivation
  • Lowering water tables and lack of irrigation facilities. Expensive bore wells are now needed in some states. Poorer farmers can’t afford, and their lands are  bought out by larger more successful farms.
  • Reduction in agricultural subsidies
  • Environmental pollution
  • A push for cash cropping and mono cropping means a total loss of income when crop fails
  • Pressure to use genetically modified  seeds that are not acclimated to the fluxes in India’s climate. Pests are adapting.
  • Subdivision of land through successive generations of sons in certain areas make the size of land too small to grow enough food to sell
  • Compensation for acquired lands are often mismanaged by farmers who have not had experience or education on money management. Money is spent quickly. After it’s gone there is no land to produce a livelihood
  • Compensation for lands acquired under the Land Acquisition Act and SEZ are often under the fair market price
  • Threat of violence to farmer and family from illegal debt collectors

 In the next blog article, I’ll introduce the solutions. There are many ways  in which NGOs, non-profits, farming educators,  local governments, cooperatives, unions, members of independent media, activists, volunteers and philanthropists  can come together, bypassing culturally tolerated systems of corruption, to direct efforts that fortify the stability of India’s farmers. These are outlined  in the next issue.

NPR covers the Green Revolution, “Green Revolution’ Trapping India’s Farmers In Debt” Part 2

Listen to NRP radio coverage here:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102944731

‘Green Revolution’ Trapping India’s Farmers In Debt

As the world’s population surges, the international community faces a pressing problem: How will it feed everybody?

Until recently, people thought India had an answer.

Farmers in the state of Punjab abandoned traditional farming methods in the 1960s and 1970s as part of the national program called the “Green Revolution,” backed by advisers from the U.S. and other countries.

Indian farmers started growing crops the American way — with chemicals, high-yield seeds and irrigation.

Since then, India has gone from importing grain like a beggar, to often exporting it.

But studies show the Green Revolution is heading for collapse.

A Thirst For Water

On a recent morning, a drilling rig is pounding away in the middle of a wheat field near the village of Chotia Khurd. The sound, part jackhammer and part pile driver, is becoming increasingly common in the farm fields of northern India’s Punjab region.

The farmer, Sandeep Singh, is supervising and looking unhappy as the rig hammers away, driving deeper and deeper under his field in search of water.

When India’s government launched the Green Revolution more than 40 years ago, it pressured farmers to grow only high-yield wheat, rice and cotton instead of their traditional mix of crops.

The new miracle seeds could produce far bigger yields than farmers had ever seen, but they came with a catch: The thirsty crops needed much more water than natural rainfall could provide, so farmers had to dig wells and irrigate with groundwater.

The system worked well for years, but government studies show that farmers have pumped so much groundwater to irrigate their crops that the water table is dropping dramatically, as much as 3 feet every year.

So farmers like Sandeep keep hiring the drilling company to come back to their fields, to bore the wells ever deeper — on this day, to more than 200 feet.

Farmers In Debt

The groundwater problem has touched off an economic chain reaction. As the farmers dig deeper to find groundwater, they have to install ever more powerful and more expensive pumps to send it gushing up to their fields.

Sandeep says his new pump costs more than $4,000. He and most other farmers have to borrow that kind of cash, but they are already so deep in debt that conventional banks often turn them away.

So Sandeep and his neighbors have turned to “unofficial” lenders — local businessmen who charge at least double the banks’ interest rate. The district agriculture director, Palwinder Singh, says farmers can end up paying a whopping 24 percent.

Another side effect of the groundwater crisis is evident at the edge of the fields — thin straggly rows of wheat and a whitish powder scattered across the soil.

The white substance is salt residue. Drilling deep wells to find fresh water often taps brackish underground pools, and the salty water poisons the crops.

“The salt causes root injuries,” Palwinder says. “The root cannot take the nutrients from the soil.”

Destroying The Soil

In the village of Chotia Khurd, farmers agree that the Green Revolution used to work miracles for many of them. But now, it’s like financial quicksand.

Studies show that their intensive farming methods, which government policies subsidize, are destroying the soil. The high-yield crops gobble up nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous, iron and manganese, making the soil anemic.

The farmers say they must use three times as much fertilizer as they used to, to produce the same amount of crops — yet another drain on their finances.

A farmer named Suba Singh has seen the good and bad effects of the Green Revolution.

Clad in a bright blue turban and his face furrowed like a field, he opens a squeaky wooden gate to his compound. He points to a small building made of mud and straw, with faded green doors.

“That’s where my family used to live,” he says.

During the profitable years of the Green Revolution, he saw that everyone else in the village was building brick houses.

“So I took out a loan,” he says, “and built a brick house for my family, too.”

He turned the old mud house into his cattle shed. But now he is in debt.

A study by the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology calls it a “vicious cycle of debt.”

Suba and the other farmers say they’ve had to borrow money to buy just about everything that makes them look prosperous — their brick homes, tractors, cattle, even their plastic chairs.

The farmers have also built their Green Revolution farms and lifestyle on another unstable source of money: Family members have moved overseas to find jobs, because they couldn’t make a living farming, and now they send part of their income back to Chotia Khurd to support their relatives.

“It’s like a disease that is catching on in the world,” says Suba, “building a life that is like a house of cards.”

A System About To Collapse?

Some leading officials in the farming industry wonder when this house of cards might collapse.

“The state and farmers are now faced with a crisis,” warns a report by the Punjab State Farmers Commission.

India’s population is growing faster than any country on Earth, and domestic food production is vital.

But the commission’s director, G.S. Kalkat, says Punjab’s farmers are committing ecological and economic “suicide.”

If he is correct, suicide is coming through national policies that reward farmers for the very practices that destroy the environment and trap them in debt.

Kalkat says only one thing can save Punjab: India has to launch a brand new Green Revolution. But he says this one has to be sustainable.

The problem is, nobody has yet perfected a farming system that produces high yields, makes a good living for farm families, protects and enhances the environment — and still produces good, affordable food.

Annam Brahma: Organic Food in India (Part 1)

By Kamala Das

The following are excerpts from an amazing book called Annan Brahma: Organic Food in India by Anjali Pathak.

The perspective and scope is familiar and prophetic. I have always, intuitively and as a matter of “vicara” deep discernment, understood that what we consume and how we consume energy for each body, is directly mirrored to the health and vitality of the earth as a living breathing “body” of relationships.  Naturally Intelligence works efficiently; stepping away from this free way, into a world of man-made systems ultimately impacts our body and the earth with no exception.

The writers of Act Naturally have written articles with similar sentiment shared in Anjali’s work, however this book knits together the problems and solutions in a brief and accessible way. I hope you enjoy this summary.  Annam means Mother Nature’s food, specific to the fulfillment of each of her species. And Brahma is Ishvara, ever pervasive consciousness- God. So literally, The Food of God. –KV

We re going to present this material several parts, the first, this article covering the books Preface;  second article on Ayurvedic Farming and third on Natueco farming method as taught by Professor S.A. Dabholkar.

May the universe never abuse food. Breath is food. The body eats foods. The body rests on breath. Breath rests on the body. Food is resting on food. The one who knows this becomes rich in food and great in spirit.

(Taittiriya Upanishad 11.7)

“Having served many years spreading the work of Ayurveda, it is overwhelming to witness America’s rapid movement toward impending health, economic, environmental, social, familial and individual crisis. The rampant violence, disease, and despair across the American landscape have prompted endless scientific research costing trillions of dollars, especially in the areas of food, diet and health; yet the fight against disease and the denigration of life is failing. This predicament arises in great part from the popularized killer diet that has replaced a diet consisting of wholesome foods. A fact that prompts a multitude of questions: Why is the population deliberately imbibing polluted products and poisoned foods? Obviously, billions of people the world over are now doing precisely that. Does this malady arise from personal choice of by designed addiction? Certainly, even the lease education person would realized that consuming polluted “fast foods,” commercially grown “poisoned foods,” or genetically engineered “mutated foods” would negatively impact one’s health and well being. But that appears NOT to be the case. Many seem to be unaware that these so-called “food” products create potentially lethal forms of addiction, habit-forming behaviors that do not nourish nature and heal. One of the most significant questions we can ask is: Why is there so little education that these poisonous foods are linked to disease, despair, and disharmony not only in the human population but in all species and the planet itself?” (p.5)

“India is a land crammed with manifold layers of contradictions; ancient and yet modern, at one end of the spectrum she is on the verge of massive technological and scientific growth aligned with material prosperity , and at the other extreme she teeters on the brink of devastating human poverty with progressive drought and the potential death of the land looming. Somewhere in the center of it all, she has a spirit of stoicism, which has helped her survive many waves of barbaric incursions. However too successfully ward off the killer diet, aware of a very different nature, India must reconcile her profound extremes. The issue of nutritional safety and food security must be addressed as one of the nation’s highest priorities. For this, we need to educate our people about organic, wholesome ways to care for ourselves and by extension, create health for families and communities. In so doing, we must examine the native stock of India’s vast ancestral wealth of knowledge. To promote health and inner harmony for all, we must inform our youths about the necessity for healthful, conscientious behaviors and inspire them with authentically packaged knowledge that fosters awareness and self-respect. And we must do so because of our spiritual beliefs regardless of our cultural differences.” (p.6)

“As in Mother Nature’s cosmos, there is an intricate balance between trillions of interactions with the body. This vital knowledge is conveyed in the ancient Ayurveda, yet remains virtually unknown, undiscovered by modern science. Evidently the education on how to attain wholesome physical, emotional and spiritual health is particularly lacking in at-risk communities who are largely unaware that the hidden price they are paying for convenience foods comes from the irreplaceable fold of their health, memory, fertility, spirituality and their future.” (p.7)

“Let’s examine another grotesque myth: The idea that through bioengineering transgenic foods we can produce more foods, shape them the way we want, enhance their tastes and have their shelf-lives last forever. What bio-engineers do not recognize is that by tampering with the DNA codes of a species, they are in fact plunking ones species’ unique set of memory imprints into that of another, and creating massive mutation by melding energetically dissonant memory forms together, the effects of which are far more devastating than humanity can imagine. This desacralized methodology is a harbinger for progressive havoc and disease among all life on the planet. “ (p.7)

“Perhaps because it is our primal human nature to mindlessly grasp for prosperity, and, more importantly, to want to be a part of the commonality that binds us together, we buy into illusory ideals of wealth and progress.” (p.8)

“In short, commercial food producers have largely decimated the imperative balance of nutrients carefully and cosmically designed by Mother Nature for each of her creates. The proliferation of rubbish, poisons, and empty fillers we now call “food” is not a result of individual choice alone, but shockingly a progressive trend toward communal loss of memory. In short, it is the disorientation of collective amnesia following the greediness of corporate profitability.” (p.9)

The food shopping list for the average householder in India is now glaringly similar to that of a householder in the U.S. frozen pre-cooked foods; packaged foods like pasta, cheese, noodles, biscuits, cookies; and frozen concentrate fruit juices, reinforced with an armament of additives, sugars and preservatives. The greasy burgers and pizza, lifeless breads, grains stripped of their bran layers, exported foods, transported unseasonable foods, hydrogenated and refined cooking coils, refined flours, refined white sugars, and packaged curd are now staples on the Indian householder’s shopping list. Ultimately when we lose our health, sanity, community and family to disease, poverty and violence – joining the general malaise of humanity – we are apt to discover the glaring truth: that we have been victims of prosperity, robbed of our most precious human right, the right to free will.” (p.9)”

Thousands of years ago Vedic seers advocated the cosmic education of annam – Mother Nature’s food – specific to the fulfillment of each of her species. They tell us that what grows on the earth – plant and mineral life (with the exception of some animal milk) – is annam, and that this food is the only means for nourishing the human body. Each and every physical thing in the universe is composed of the same five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. Thus we are formed from the same ingredients as the trees, sky, sun and grains of sand or drops of rain. The five elements in our food feed the five elements in our bodies. Essentially, the tanmatras (subtle energies), panchabhutas(subtle elements) and rasas (subtle tastes) of Mother Nature’s food are energetically and nutritionally designed to feed, nourish, and heal each an d every one of the dhatus (vital tissues) of the body, mind and sense complex I accord with its innate requirements, both divine and mundane. (p.10)

“…The seven stages of a fruitful plant are identical to the seven stages of a fruitful human life. The life cycle of a plant begins with a good seed, one that retains its essential nature from the ell of universal memory and has not been tampered with or genetically manipulated. The seed successively transforms to sprout, young plant, mature plant, flowering plant, fruitful plant, and then returns back to the earth as seed. At every state, the plant maybe harvested and prepared as food. After it has been ingested and a human being is physically and spiritually nourished, the waste and roughage are restored to the earth. “ (p.11)

“In Ayurveda, we learn that within the unique construction of each and every person are vital clues to the quantity, and nature of food an individual body requires; that intake must be balanced with the size, shape and gender of the human prakriti, metabolic constitution. …For instance did you know that when you cup your hands together (open in anjali mudra), you can measure the exact quantity of food that your stomach is designed to hold? And when you close your hands with palms touching (anjali or prayer mudra), you send a signal to your digestive system that you are filled and satisfied, prompting it to close out its operations.  Food is the only matter that connects you to the memory of your karmas: past, present, and future; it is the only substance that can progress your cosmic nature into discovering who you truly are. IN short, it reveals your unique package of personal karma.” (p.11)

(Above selections are audited from the Preface to Annam Brahma: Organic Food in India. Preface written by Sri Swamini Mayatitananda, Wise Earth School of Ayurveda).

Click the link to read an interview with the writer Anjali Pathak.

Next post on Ayurvedic Farming. Kamla is attending a conference at the Swami Dayananda Ashram in Rishikesh on Ayurveda, Yoga and Nutrition for the next eleven days. Posts will be slow in coming. If you would like to post something, or have ideas for future posts, please write us at actnaturallyworldwide@gmail.com

Ohm Shanti Ohm

New Delhi Organic/No-GMO food outlets. Vegetables, yes!

I had a tough time sorting out where to find Organic vegetables, grains, sweetner, pulses, ghee during my stay in New Delhi. I was able to finally find several very good resources.

VEGETABLES AND FRUIT

Navdanya food delivery: Once a week you can call 011-2685-4069 and order vegetables from Navdanya’s farm in Dehradun. On Friday they will deliver them to E-52 Hauz Khas Market, New Delhi 110016. For 1000 INR. you can have it delivered anywhere in Delhi. I got two huge bags of vegetables, including carrots, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, garlic, turnips, onions, green chillies, ginger, corriander leaves and beans.  (500 INR large bag!) You can also order guavas and mushrooms. Seasonal food.

DRY FOODS, OILS, PULSES, SUGAR

Organic Cafe and Dilli Haat Navdanya Organic food outletNavdanya has a Slow Food cafe at Dillie Haat. You can buy seeds, pulses, sugar, legumes, wheat, rajma, nuts, and other dry foods. There location is at Dillie Hatt (Opp. INA Market) New Delhi Ph: 65343067

Navdanya Hauz Khas: also has a location at E-52, Hauz Khas Market, New Delhi where you can buy antibiotic free honey, shukar, spices, pulses, wheat ground and whole, channa, plantable seeds and aloe vera juice,

Down To Earth Organic Food @ SUREKA STORE: A total surprise in Noida. Amazing prices on 5kg of Organic Atta from Rajastan, Jaggery with lots of minerals, spices, coconut oil, dehydrated poders, herbs, snacks, cereals, beans, ghee, honey and pulses. Other flours also available. This is the only place I have been able to find Organic coconut oil!!! Located at:

SUREKA STORE Shop No. 7 Opp. F-51, Indra Market (Behind Rama Tent) Sector-27 NOIDA 201301 Mob: 9873222137. Other locations available and http://www.morakaorganic.com  and http://www.downtoearthorganic.com

The only downside is that it is all sourced from Rajastan and not locally. The quality is amazing and they are certified Organic by USDA,  EU Standards for Organic Certification, NPOP (Government of India), and OneCert Asia Agri. Certification Pvt. Ltd. Claims GMO-Free. Upside: Competatively priced with conventional foods.

ORGANIC FOOD BARS

Nourish Organics: Many outlets http://www.nourishorganicfoods.com

Expensive!

I will post more as I am directly able to access the products and prices. I am currently eating from all these sources. Yum!