Friday, May 23, 2014

Give consumers a choice to opt out of GMO foods

More than 30 new crops are being developed, including apples and salmon

There is an ongoing debate about the use of genetically engineered ingredients in foods. Are there negative health risks or environmental impacts? Should our kids be eating them? While the debate ensues, shouldn’t we have a clear choice whether or not we want to purchase these products? Today we do not.

Genetically modified organisms can be found throughout our grocery stores and homes. At least 75 percent of processed foods contain GMOs, including nearly every major baby formula brand. As do many other common food items, such as salad dressing, breakfast cereals, and cooking oil. Indeed, while there are currently only nine commercial GMO crops — including corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, and sugar beets — more than 30 new engineered crops are currently being developed, such as apples, coffee, and salmon. Chances are, whether we know it or not, we could soon see them on store selves and our dinner tables.

Yet, despite the rapid growth in the use of GMOs in our food supply, there remains a lack of transparency for consumers. Unless a shopper researches individual brands before going to the grocery store, they currently can’t know by looking at the packaging if it contains genetically engineered ingredients. That’s because companies are not required to label GMO foods as such.

Opponents of GMO labeling include the chemical manufacturers and junk foods companies, which have spent millions to keep us in the dark about what’s in the foods we eat. They suggest that there is no evidence of harm from GMO foods. But, without labeling and tracking, scientists are unable to look for possible links between GMO food intake and many of the unexplained health problems facing Americans today. Nearly 300 scientists and doctors, including the developer of the first commercialized GMO crop, signed on to a recent statement citing serious safety concerns about GMOs. Independent studies have linked the consumption of GMO foods to digestive disorders, infertility, allergies, and even cancer. These studies warrant further research.

Ultimately, however, whether it’s for environmental, health, religious, or ethical concerns, the free market is supposed to give consumers the products they want. Without GMO labeling, the food economy is not able to do that.

In recent months, the effort to label GMO foods has received unprecedented attention across the United States. In the past year Connecticut and Maine both passed legislation requiring the labeling of GMO ingredients, both contingent upon other states passing similar legislation. Earlier this month, Vermont passed the nation’s first-ever no-strings-attached GMO labeling bill. Now 26 other states, including Massachusetts, are considering labeling legislation.

Under these laws, food producers — not retailers — are responsible for labeling foods that contain GMO ingredients. Dozens of countries have managed to achieve this standard without increasing food costs. In fact, the United States and Canada are the only two industrialized countries whose citizens cannot easily determine if their food is genetically engineered.

Here in Massachusetts, with the help of legislative champions, representatives Ellen Story of Amherst and Todd Smola of Palmer, the GMO labeling bill is quickly gaining support and momentum at the state house. According to a poll by the New York Times, 93 percent of Americans favor GMO labeling. More than 20,000 Massachusetts residents have signed a petition in support of the legislation, as have some 150 Massachusetts farms and more than 200 consumer, health, and community organizations.

At the end of the day, while ambiguity clouds the debate around GMO foods, we should give consumers the choice to opt out of this experiment. And all that it takes is a simple label on the side of a package.


Rosaryville and The Chimes- A Great Day

We had a very pleasant day on Wednesday.  We took the Corvette out and cruised country roads.

Our first stop was Rosaryville in Pontchatoula, LA.  A gorgeous property, loaded with HUGE pines and Live Oaks.

We strolled around the 2 cemeteries.  One was for nuns of the Dominican Order, and the other, for Dominican Friars.

Also stopped at the stations of the cross.  Very serene!

Hopped back in the car and took back roads to Covington and stopped at The Chimes for a late lunch.  LOVE that place!

Had to put the top up and the air conditioning on as it hit 92 degrees!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


 In 2013, Tami Monroe Canal founded March Against Monsanto because she believed it would protect her daughters’ health. Monsanto is an agricultural company that produces seed brands and herbicides (most famously, Roundup), some of which have been scientifically proven to cause health risks, such as birth defects, cancer, organ damage and auto-immune conditions. Monsanto is also one of the world’s leading producers of genetically modified organisms (better known as GMOs).

GMOs have been partially banned in several countries and foods containing GMO ingredients are currently labeled in 64 countries. Monsanto has spent millions in lobbying efforts opposing such laws in the United States. (Anti-labeling groups spent $22 million in an attempt to beat down labeling legislation in the state of Washington alone). The company has failed to make nice with independent farmers; early this year it won a lawsuit that allows the agri-giant to sue farmers whose fields are found to contain patent-protected Monsanto biotechnology, even if the farmers did not knowingly use such matter.

Despite the insistence from Monsanto that their company helps, not hurts, farmers, and the lack of credible scientific evidence proving that GMOs harm health and environment, Canal’s anti-Monsanto message is increasingly popular, evidenced by the 54 GMO labeling bills currently being discussed in 26 states, including Vermont’s signing such a bill into state law in early May.

March Against Monsanto (MAM) will gather on May 24 across “six continents, in 52 countries, with events in over 400 cities.” Participants demand Monsanto halt GMO use and the production of pesticides they believe are hazardous to human health and the environment, and support GMO labeling legislation as well. Locally, the march is organized by Cynthia Rose Kurkowski.

From the Farmers’ Perspective

OSGATA (Organic Seed Growers Association) v. Monsanto was filed by farmers and farm organizations in March 2011 to “invalidate Monsanto’s patents and protect organic and non-GMO family farmers from unwanted genetic contamination of their crops.” Monsanto sees it differently though, according to its website: “We understand the importance of planting and harvesting and always seek to minimize interfering with farmers’ normal activities.” However, unwanted seeds can blow into farmers’ crops, cross-pollinating with traditional crops, which ruins organic farms.

Since the GMO seeds are patented, this gives Monsanto the power to enforce their legal patents. Supporters of OSGATA argue that Monsanto harms independent farmers’ livelihoods worldwide with ruthless patent infringement legislation and its giant status as a near-monopoly means some crops, like corn and soybeans, are virtually impossible to guarantee as organic and GMO-free.

Agent Orange

Monsanto was the largest producer of agent orange during the Vietnam War and “half of agent orange’s chemical compound (2,4-D) and pesticides like Roundup are chemicals being sprayed on GMO crops,” allege The Children of Vietnam Veterans Health Alliance and March Against Monsanto. The groups insinuate that this could negatively impact health, with CVVHA pointing to its members’ own myriad defects and chronic diseases; however, the EPA has said 2,4-D and Roundup are safe for farming.

Halting Influence on Government

Many MAM marchers are also concerned about Monsanto’s influence in government circles. There’s the ability to invest millions in lobbying efforts (as in Washington State) for one, but there’s also a more insidious dynamic at play, according to anti-GMO activists. In 1998, writing for progressive British journal The Ecologist, Jennifer Ferrera noted that several former Monsanto employees held key positions in the U.S.’ Food and Drug Administration. To the activists this creates a troubling conflict of interest in Monsanto and other biotech giants’ favor. Monsanto brushes this off as a logical progression for industry specialists.

MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO ON MAY 24th in a city near you!


Agent Orange: Have you or someone you know been affected by it?

FILE - This September 1965 file photo provided by the U.S. Air Force, shows four "Ranch Hand" C-123 aircraft spraying liquid defoliant on a suspected Viet Cong position in South Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, Air Force C-123 planes sprayed millions of gallons of herbicides over the jungles of Southeast Asia to destroy enemy crops and tree cover. The military stopped the spraying by early 1971, but some Air Force Reserve units continued to fly the former spray planes until the early 1980s. Some veterans who flew in those planes after the war have been getting sick, and like many Vietnam veterans, they€'™re blaming the herbicides they say still coated the planes for decades. Their crusade has been led by a former Oregon resident and Air Force veteran. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, file) (Anonymous)

Between 1962 and 1975, the U.S. deployed millions of tons of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The powerful herbicide was used to defoliate forests, a hiding place for the Viet Cong, as well as a food source.

In the aftermath of the war, millions of veterans faced profound and debilitating medical complications as a result of exposure with the toxic substance. And even though in 1991 the government established broad and full compensation for veterans who had "boots on the ground," millions of others have continued to struggle to secure compensation for their medical needs as a result of Agent Orange.

PennLive is looking for veterans who may have been exposed to Agent Orange, whether or not they deal with health complications as a result. We are also looking for relatives of men and women who may were exposed to the defoliant.

If your father or grandfather - or even uncle or cousin or good friend - was a veteran who was exposed to the toxin, we would love to hear your story.

Share your story by filling out the form below, emailing us at or writing in the comments section below.

We will keep your story confidential unless you tell us you want to share it with others.

Are you dealing with the effects of Agent Orange?


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Russia puts GMO genie back in the bottle (BRAVO, Mr. Putin!!!!!)

William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages.

Russia has some of the most precious uncontaminated top soil on the planet and if it is rigorously controlled to stay GMO-free and free from chemicals its productivity would increase as Europe declines, geopolitical analyst William Engdahl told RT.

Russian PMs have pondered a draft bill outlawing GMOs. A draft bill submitted to the Russian parliament likens GMO production and distribution to terrorism. After entering the World Trade Organization, Russia was expected to allow GM food production and distribution within its market. However, in March Russia’s President Putin said the country would stay GM-free without violating its obligations to the WTO.

RT: What do you think about this latest bill in Russia's parliament, which equates GM producers who flout the rules with terrorists. Is that a bit over the top?

William Engdahl: The language on Russian media blogs is [that] punishment for knowingly introducing GMO crops into Russia illegally should have a punishment comparable to that given to terrorists for knowingly hurting people. The direction of this is anything that stops, and puts the genie back in the bottle called genetic manipulation of plants and organisms is to the good for the future of the mankind. The comment about 20 percent of harvest increase in some GMOs is absolute rubbish. There is no long-term harvest gain that has been proven for GMO crops anywhere in the world because they are not modified to get harvest increases. So this is just soap bubbles that Monsanto, Syngenta and GMO giants are putting out to loll the public into thinking it is something good.

RT: Will this measure, if adopted, reduce the number of GM products on the market?

WE: I hope it does. I haven’t got access to the paragraphs of legislation but I think the direction that Prime Minister Medvedev indicated two-three months ago in terms of making this U-turn against GMO that seemed to have a green light after WTO. A year ago it was looking like GMO was a common thing in Russia which would be a catastrophe. I think the point is Russia has some of the most precious non-destroyed top soil on this planet and the richness of this top soil, if it is rigorously controlled to be GMO-free, to be free from chemicals, from Roundup or Atrazyne which is Syngenta's favorite poison, and is marketed on the world markets as certified organic. Russia has a huge export market in Germany, in Western Europe, the European Union and elsewhere because there is a tremendous lack of it. So anything that Russia does to block GMO, keep in mind, the EU has not certified for commercial planting any GMO for years. There is such a great popular opposition in the EU that Monsanto, despite all the proclivities of the corrupt European Commission in Brussels to go with it, or even some people in the German government. The population is absolutely adamant here, they do not want this in their food.

RT: How can consumers be better protected from inadvertently buying genetically modified food?

WE: They can quite easily. First of all, they can do what the State of California tried, and Monsanto spent millions of dollars to block it and will try again. The State of Washington tried it and the same thing with Monsanto spending millions of dollars to create false lobbying campaigns [ensued]. The State of Vermont tried and succeeded in getting labeling on products that contain above 0.9 percent of GMO, which is similar to the EU. That is labeled on the shelves, when you buy this box of Kellogg’s Cornflakes you make sure to look and see if this is not GMO corn in my Cornflakes that my child is going to eat or is it this GMO garbage that Kellogg’s would so lovingly like to get rid of. That is one step. The other thing is for people to become informed about what we eat. Support local farmers, it is not against technology. I have seen it directly in Germany and elsewhere in Europe that properly done organic farming creates greater harvest yields than industrialized agriculture. The productivity is better, the quality is finer. The animals that are range fed, grass fed cows, chickens, they are real cows and chickens, they are not these synthetic pseudo-meat that we buy on the supermarket shelves in the big chains in Europe and in the US. So that is something that Russia has a great positive contribution to make.


Researcher's Guide to Multiple Myeloma: From the Real World to the Lab **FREE E BOOK*

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Vietnam War Was Monsanto’s First Herbicidal Operation

The Vietnam War was the Monsanto Company’s first herbicidal operation. Monsanto and Dow Chemical were the two companies that manufactured Agent Orange, the deadly dioxin based herbicide.  The March Against Monsanto (MAM) is scheduled to host global protests at more than 100 sites on May 24. MAM is very vocal about moving beyond a genetically modified organism (GMO ) labeling centered discourse when it comes to exposing Monsanto’s negative impact on the world.

The protest network sponsors projects like Agent Orange Awareness (AOA). Founder of the AOA Kelly L. Derricks comments, “If we fail to realize that March Against Monsanto is not about GMOs alone, then we have already lost the battle.”

Organizers want to inform the public that Monsanto’s devastation stretches across the board. The media often simplifies protesters’ demands against Monsanto’s domination of food resources by not covering Monsanto’s history as a major manufacturer of Agent Orange.

Even though Monsanto was not the only Agent Orange producer, MAM confirms that Monsanto manufactured the chemical at 1,000 times its original potency making them the most deadly contributor to the herbicidal weapons used in the Vietnam War. Agent Orange was used in Operation Ranch Hand which began Monsanto’s role in destroying the global environment and harming the health of millions.

The Organic Consumers Association gives the history of how the toxic chemical was used in the Vietnam War. Approximately 72 million liters of herbicides, a majority Agent Orange, were sprayed by the United States military from 1962 to 1970. More than a million Vietnamese citizens and over 100,000 allied troops came into contact with the toxin. Since then, Monsanto has falsified several studies about the toxic effects of Agent Orange.

Studies that show Agent Orange’s toxic effects exist, but this research has done little to implicate Monsanto’s role in poisoning humans. Studies in the 1970s found that Agent Orange exposure caused, “a very significant, multi-system illness affecting all parts of the nervous system, and causing fatigue and muscle aches.” Groups like AOA and MAM are working to draw attention to the countless studies and life experiences that prove the damaging effects of Agent Orange.

Monsanto  was neither the first nor the only company to create Agent Orange used in the herbicidal operation in the Vietnam War. Dow Chemical also made large quantities of  dioxin, the main ingredient in Agent Orange. Agent Orange victims have spoken out about the dangers of allowing Monsanto and Dow Chemical to continue patenting agricultural products.

Dow AgroSciences will follow Monsanto and release their own version of herbicide resistant GMO corn and soybean seeds in 2015. The Dow herbicide called, Enlist Duo, contains traces of Agent Orange’s dioxin in a mixture of  2,4-D and glyphosate. Many demand that the EPA should prevent Enlist products from being sold in the market because of decades of scientific research that link dioxin toxicity to severe health issues.

Concerns about Monsanto’s role in facilitating the deregulation of the agricultural industry stem from Monsanto’s influence in the federal government. The Food and Drug Administration as well as the Environmental Protection Agency have employed former Monsanto attorneys in their organizations.

On May 24, the world will witness thousands of people protesting the use of toxic chemicals in agriculture. Monsanto’s Agent Orange operation in the Vietnam War was the first insight into the biotech corporation’s future in herbicidal warfare. The protests will expose this connection. Media coverage of last year’s protests was very slim. However, this year is promising to gain greater attention as long as more people become concerned about where their food comes from.


(Dom's Multiple Myeloma was caused by his exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Measles vaccine attacks cancer in landmark study (MULTIPLE MYELOMA)

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Mayo Clinic researchers announced a landmark study where a massive dose of the measles vaccine, enough to inoculate ten million people, wiped out a Minnesota woman's incurable blood cancer.

The Mayo Clinic conducted the clinical trial last year using virotherapy. The method discovered the measles virus wiped out multiple myeloma cancer calls. Researchers engineered the measles virus (MV-NIS) in a single intravenous dose, making it selectively toxic to cancer cells.

Stacy Erholtz, 49, of Pequot Lakes, was one of two patients in the study who received the dose last year, and after ten years with multiple myeloma has been clear of the disease for over six months.

"My mindset was I didn't have any other options available, so why wouldn't I do it? I had to have failed all conventional treatment to do that trial. That actually happened last March," said Erholtz to KARE. "It was the easiest treatment by far with very few side effects. I hope it's the future of treating cancer infusion."

Dr. Steven Russell, a Mayo Clinic hematologist, spearheaded the study and said the concept was previously tested in mice, but never in humans until now.
"It's a huge milestone in that regard," said Russell. "We have known for some time viruses act like a vaccine. If you inject a virus into a tumor you can provoke the immune system to destroy that cancer and other cancers. This is different, it puts the virus into bloodstream, it infects and destroys the cancer, debulks it, and then the immune system can come and mop up the residue."

Two multiple myeloma patients were chosen because they are immune-compromised, and can't fight off the measles before it has time to attack cancer. Both had limited previous exposure to measles, and therefore fewer antibodies to the virus, and essentially had no remaining treatment options. Of the two subjects in the study, Stacy was the only to reach full remission. The other patient's cancer returned after nine months.

Dr. Russell believes it's still a medical milestone, and he hopes his team can one day transform this research into a single shot cure.

"It's like a call to action. It's not just good for our virus. It's good for every virus everybody's developing as a cancer therapy. We know this can happen," said Dr. Russell.

Mayo researchers are also testing the measles virus's effectiveness at fighting ovarian, brain, head and neck cancers and mesothelioma. They are also developing other viruses that seem to have potential to kill cancer cells.

"I think it's just remarkable. Who would have thought?" said Erholtz, who said she returns to the Mayo in June for a check up.

The Mayo is moving immediately into a phase two clinical trial involving more patients with a goal of FDA approval within four years.

Patients interested in the upcoming clinic trial using measles vaccines to treat cancer can inquire here.


Connie and Nan Busted a Move to the Beach

Dear friend Connie and I spent a week at the condo.  Had an absolute blast.

Lauren and Keith came over on Sunday to spend the night.  2 full days of beach sun and fun.  Played ladder golf, played in a hot tub, had great fun.

Connie and I frequented the joint across the street, went out to dinner 4 times.  Twice at Dee's Hangout, (EVERYONE's FAVORITE, including Connie!), once at Pineapple Willie's (yummy ribs and a great pier on the beach), and once at Los Rancheros.  (I need to get my fix of handsome Edguardo whenever I'm in town!).

Connie's 2 daughters sent her a lovely package from Shari's Berries for Mother's Day....  OMG!  12 chocolate dipped HUGE strawberries and 3 miniature cheesecakes.  I'm hooked.  I had given up on strawberries, as they always look gorgeous and red in the supermarket.  Get 'em home and they have no taste.  (GMOs, no doubt).  These were as sweet as could be.

Another night, we had lobster tails, sweet corn, new potatoes and asparagus at the condo.

It was a grand time!  (other than ending up with some type of eye infection as is apparent in pics..... making a call to an Ophthalmologist tomorrow morning)

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New combination therapy developed for multiple myeloma

Each year, more than 25,000 Americans are diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer that often develops resistance to therapies. However, researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center are reporting promising results from laboratory experiments testing a new combination therapy that could potentially overcome the resistance hurdle.

While several drugs are effective against multiple myeloma, including the proteasome inhibitor bortezomib, multiple myeloma cells are often able to survive by increasing the production of a protein known as Mcl-1. Mcl-1 regulates a number of processes that promote cell survival and has been implicated in resistance to anti-myeloma drugs that were initially effective. However, a team of researchers led by Xin-Yan Pei, M.D., Ph.D., and Steven Grant, M.D., recently published the findings of a study in the journal PLoS ONE demonstrating that a novel drug combination both reduces Mcl-1 expression and disrupts its interactions with other proteins to effectively kill multiple myeloma cells. The therapy combines a type of drug known as a Chk1 inhibitor with another called a MEK inhibitor. Chk1 inhibitors prevent cells from arresting in stages of the cell cycle that facilitate the repair of DNA damage, while MEK inhibitors prevent cells from activating a variety of proteins that regulate DNA repair processes while promoting the accumulation of pro-death proteins.

Hard Rock Casino- Biloxi, MS

We had a blast on Sunday.  Got an early start and drove to the Hard Rock Casino in Biloxi.  (About 75 miles away)

Tried to get an early check-in with no luck, so changed into our bathing suits and hung out at the pool for a couple of hours.

Changed back into our clothes and headed to a video poker bar.  Spent 2 hours there.

Finally checked into our room at 4 pm.  Lovely.  Nice room and nice view of the Gulf and the pool.

I'd requested a King bed, but ended up with 2 Queens.  No big deal.

Relaxed for awhile, then headed down to the buffet.  Ate our weight in crab legs, to the point of being uncomfortable.

Went back to our video poker bar for another couple of hours.  

Perhaps I'm naive, but Dom said that the place (pool and casino) was crawling with hookers.  I didn't notice.

I think that we'll start doing our casino nights on Sundays.... no line at the buffet, no problem finding an open poker machine in the bar.  A nice change!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Is Monsanto’s Roundup linked to a deadly kidney disease?

Entire communities of sugar-farm laborers in Central America are being crippled by a sometimes deadly kidney malady — and nobody knows why. But some think the herbicide glyphosate, sold by Monsanto under the name Roundup, may be connected to the epidemic.

NPR reports on the rash of illnesses:

The first reports of this disease date back at least 20 years. At first the clusters of men dying of kidney failure was dismissed as a fluke. Then it was written off as diabetes or some other underlying health problem that hadn’t been correctly diagnosed.

Despite years of research all over the world, scientists still can’t definitively pinpoint the cause.

“We don’t know. That’s the unfortunate part, and we do desperately need to find some answers,” says Reina Turcios-Ruiz, a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s office in Guatemala City.

This form of kidney failure, known as insuficiencia renal cronica in Spanish (or chronic kidney disease of unknown origin in English), is now found from southern Mexico to Panama, Turcios-Ruiz says. But it occurs only along the Pacific coast.

The disease is killing relatively young men, sometimes while they’re still in their early 20s. Researchers at Boston University have attributed about 20,000 deaths to this form of kidney failure over the past two decades in Central America.

Chronic kidney disease has also shown up in rice-farming communities of Sri Lanka, leading the country’s government to restrict the use of Roundup and similar herbicides earlier this year.

Shortly before the Sri Lankan restrictions were imposed, a study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health hypothesized a link between glyphosate and the kidney disease in areas with hard ground water that contains certain metals. “Although glyphosate alone does not cause an epidemic of chronic kidney disease, it seems to have acquired the ability to destroy the renal tissues of thousands of farmers when it forms complexes with a localized geo environmental factor (hardness) and nephrotoxic metals,” the researchers concluded.

The NPR reporter interviewed a victim of the mystery disease who is convinced that agricultural chemicals are to blame. “It was the chemicals, the chemicals at the plantation,” sickened Nicaragua sugar worker Manuel Antonio Tejarino said. “I feel like I’m burning. My blood pressure goes down. I get dizzy. Someone has to help me walk. If I’m alone I’ll fall down.”


The 5 Things Killing 63 Percent of Americans

Are Two-Thirds of Deaths in America Preventable?

Heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke and unintentional injuries are to blame for nearly two-thirds of American deaths every year, according to new data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.​ Together, these five preventable causes of death claim the lives of more than 900,000 Americans every year.

Unsurprisingly, many of the states with the highest rate of deaths from these causes are also ranked in the top when it comes to obesity rate,​ according to CDC director Tom Frieden, indicating that many of these deaths could be prevented simply by eating healthy and exercising.

“We know even if you don't lose any weight, being physically active is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug,” Frieden said in a press conference. “It reduces blood pressure,​ it reduces cholesterol, it reduces your risk of arthritis, it improves mood and improves independence, it improves mobility, obviously. So there are things that can be done that really do make a big difference.”

Colorado and Utah had the lowest rates of deaths, while the Southeastern United States had the highest.

A Word to the Wise