Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Readers write - How GMO's are made - Second article in a series explaining GMO's.

REFERENCES are available on the web: “GMO Myths and Truths” and “Physicians and Scientists for Responsible Application of Science and Technology”.

Making GMO's consists of 3 main steps:

1.     First, genetic material from various organisms is isolated, cut and rejoined with viruses or bacteria as “gene carriers” because viruses and bacteria are very good at getting into cells.

2.     This new “recombinant DNA” is stitched with antibiotic “marker genes” to make it easy to identify which cells have taken up the foreign genetic material and survived.
3.     The vectors inside the cells that have survived are then mechanically injected into the target organism using a fine glass pipette in the case of animal embryos, or fired into the cells of plants using a “gene gun”.

This process is imprecise and unpredictable. It is based on an obsolete understanding of genetics. Recent findings show there are no simple one-to-one relationships between genes and traits, but that the expression of a gene is the result of its interaction within the whole organism. 

So using viruses and bacteria stitched with antibiotic to insert a cold-resistance fish gene into a plant can have disastrous results, such as creating new disease-causing viruses and bacteria, and spreading antibiotic resistance genes to the pathogens to make the diseases untreatable.

Next week: Who makes GMO's and why?

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Readers write - What to know about GMO! - Bee SAFE

Do you know about GMO?

This is the first of a series of articles that explain GMO based on “GMO Myths and Truths” freely available  at

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) are plants and animals that have had their genetic material altered in a way that cannot occur in nature.  It is completely different from natural breeding or hybridization.

Natural and selective breeding can only take place between closely related life forms, such as cats with cats, not dogs, and corn with corn, not fish. Genetic Modification (GM) or Genetic Engineering (GE) does not respect species boundaries. It splices fish genes into plants and spider genes into goats.

Natural breeding succeeds when the resulting plant or animal is better adapted to its environment. Selective breeding is done in order to encourage desirable traits in crops, such as resistance to drought. GMO are created to withstand drenching with herbicides, such as Roundup Ready crops, or to produce their own pesticides, such as Bt corn.  When whole fields of GM crops are sprayed, everything dies while GMO plants survive.

In Canada GMO corn, soy, canola and sugar beet are grown. Non organic animal feed contains GMO, which means milk and meat from the animals contains GMO.

Next article: How GMO are made.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Readers write - UN calls for Fundamental Shift in Farming - Bee SAFE

Privatizing Profits and Socializing Deficits.

People who grow food are the most needed people in the world. While professionals, artisans and artists make our lives easier, farmers are needed daily to keep us alive. However, since corporations have persuaded governments to turn farming into an industry that benefits multinational corporations, farming has also become a health hazard.

As multinationals profit from the sale of machines and fossil fuel, seeds, chemicals and pharmaceuticals needed to raise animals in factories, the environment, the animals and all of us suffer negative consequences. While the profits are privatized, the deficits are socialized. Every part of nature suffers from the air, soil and water pollution caused by industrial farming and its chemicals, as well as from the lack of nutrients industrial crops produce.

Emotional impacts of farming.

However, the industrial farmers themselves may be the most harmed, for they suffer huge emotional deficits. While farmers develop bonds with their animals, factory farm workers learn to think of their animals as “production units” that must be replaced as soon as productivity drops. While farmers can enjoy the sight of a mother hen outside with her chicks, the industrialist cannot stand to be among the stench produced by thousands of hens crowded in a windowless building.

While farmers enjoy the yearly rituals of sowing seeds in and reaping crops from soil enriched with cover crops, compost and manure, industrial farmers must cover themselves from the toxic chemicals they spray on ever increasingly arid land. They must learn to raise crops or/and animals for profit, in an environment they know to be toxic and one they eventually hate.

Farmers profit from learning how to collaborate with an integrated natural system whereas industrial farmers are made to profit from fighting the natural system every step of the way. How tiring. It is easy to imagine how the former feels at the end of the day compared to the latter. Perhaps the shift in farming called for by the United Nations will change this.

Agro-Ecological Farming.

A few months ago I wrote about Olivier de Schutter, United Nations right-to-food envoy, blasting Canada for its “self-righteous” attitude about how great a country it is, saying that instead Canada should start dealing with its widespread problem of food insecurity.  Prime Minister Harper declined to set up any meetings between cabinet ministers and De Schutter, something highly unusual for UN special rapporteur missions.

Now Monsieur de Schutter has gone much farther in his statements about what every country has to do if we are to avoid mass starvation. In an eloquent presentation to the United Nations, Mr. de Schutter called for a fundamental shift in farming methods, saying that “conventional farming simply is not the best choice anymore” and that agro-ecological farming aka Eco Farming, must replace industrial farming. “We won't solve hunger and stop climate change with industrial farming on large plantations. The solution lies in supporting small-scale farmers' knowledge and experimentation ...”

Eco-farming means growing food using no or very few imported resources, water and fuel, reducing GhG emissions by using few mechanized tools and having diversified crops enrich the soil. It can be used for millennia on the same lands without undermining the resources on which it depends.

Creating local jobs and developing skills.

It is more work and thought intensive than conventional farming, which means it creates more local jobs. “In the UK, farms under 100 acres provide five times more jobs per acre than those over 500 acres. Moreover, wages paid to farm workers benefit local economies and communities far more than money paid for heavy equipment and the fuel to run it.” (Bringing the Food Economy Home). And wouldn't you agree that growing food in a healthy environment with people one learns from, is a lot more pleasurable than working on an assembly line or with toxic chemicals?

Farmers gain in wisdom since they are constantly learning about the land and nature around it. To transition to eco farming means embarking on a captivating and enriching learning experience. It means learning the skills necessary to grow food without depending on corporations. It means experimenting and failing at times, but because crops are diversified, each failure is not drastic but increases understanding of the whole system. The very opposite occurs with monocultures.

Can Industrial farmers transition to Eco-Farming?

There can be many stages to transitioning from conventional farming to eco farming and although each of them requires thought, knowledge and work, the most important component is the willingness to learn how nature works and to want to work with it instead of against it.

The burgeoning soil sciences taught by permaculture and soil experts are proving to save money for industrial farmers. As the price of GMO seeds and their necessary chemicals increase, many industrial farmers are transitioning to more natural crop growing techniques and finding that their work satisfaction increases along with their profits.

Developing a plan to help industrial farmers transition to Eco-farming seems a  perfect opportunity for the newly formed RDNO Agricultural Advisory Committee to help make agriculture profitable for everyone.


Sunday, February 17, 2013

House Science Committee Questions Existence of Meteors - Borowitz report.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology said today that the committee would hold hearings next week “to settle the question, once and for all, of whether meteors exist.”
“The media has been in something of a frenzy recently on this whole topic of meteors,” said chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas). “I think it’s irresponsible of them to frighten the public about something that, at the end of the day, may be about as real as unicorns.”

Rep. Smith said that he had seen recent reports of the “so-called Russian meteor” of last week, but added, “Maybe it’s the scientific skeptic in me, but this ‘meteor’ may just have been a bunch of fireworks that some Siberian fellow set off after drinking a little too much Stoli. It is winter, after all, and that’s how those folks keep warm.”

The Texas congressman said that he and other meteor doubters are worried that scientists had “a vested interest” in convincing people that meteors are real: “They want the government to spend more money on science, and, let me tell you, that is the last thing the Science Committee is going to do.”

As for the scientific theory that meteors may have killed the dinosaurs, Rep. Smith chuckled, “That theory would also have us believe that there were dinosaurs.”


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Could not pass it up!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

This actually happened in Vancouver Canada

They dressed the truck up with the guy tied down on the roof.

The driver and passengers put on Moose heads.

Then they went down the toll road Interstate, causing 16 near accidents.

Who says Canadians don't have a sense of humor?

"Yes, they went to jail...
Yes, alcohol was involved..."   

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About Me

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I have been a resident of Coldstream since 1976. I have had 15 years of experience on Council, 3 years as Mayor. As a current Councillor I am working to achieve fair water and sewer rates and to ensure that taxpayers get fair treatment. The current direction regarding water supply is unsustainable and I am doing all I can to get the most cost effective water supply possible.