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Today, 400 protests in over 50 nations will join a grassroots effort called March Against Monsanto. But who is Monsanto and why should you know about them?

You may not think you’re familiar with Monsanto, but you probably eat Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) created by them every day. Monsanto created the first GMO in 1985 but only in the past few years has their use become widespread in our food supply. (How are GMOs created?)

The most common way Monsanto uses GMOs is to artificially manipulate a crop so that it can withstand a specific type of all-purpose poison. They sells both the genetically modified seed as well as the poison. The engineering allows the farmer to blanket the crops in pesticides and while the GMO is unaffected everything else is killed. While there are GMOs for a wide variety of crops Monsanto has focused its attention on several strategic markets, for example 93% of soybeans and 86% of corn are now GMO—and these numbers continue to rise.

What are the long term effects of consuming GMOs? No one knows definitively. On the company website Monsanto directs critics to a 2009 study by the United Kingdom that found nutritional content to be roughly equal between GMO and natural foods—but that is where their defense ends. The logic is that if a GMO orange has roughly the same vitamin C content as a non-GMO orange then there is nothing to worry about. The same study that Monsanto uses to defend itself explicitly states that it does not address the impact of the blanket application of herbicides and pesticides on human health or the environment. It also states that only one third of studies cited fit quality standards.

Meanwhile, researchers have claimed that the GMO giant has thwarted attempts to pursue research that may show ill effects. Other studies have shown links between GMO food and Celiac disease and that GMO corn causes tumors, organ failure, cancer and premature death in rats. Additional research has shown the widespread adoption of Monsanto’s products has also been linked with significant nitrogen run-off which is creating dead zones in the oceans and an alarming mass die off of bees.

(Even more studies.)

There are other bio-tech companies profiting from GMOs but Monsanto has been particularly aggressive. They own patents on second generation seeds produced from their GMO crops as well as GMOs that produce infertile seeds known as “suicide seeds.” They sue farmers for patent infringement, and also pour huge amounts of money into defeating efforts to legislate any labeling of GMO foods. They have been accused of using tactics pioneered by big tobaccoto influence the public's perception about their products safety.

A revolving door exists between Monsanto and US regulatory and judicial bodies. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto lawyer, wrote the majority opinion on a key Monsanto case. Michael Taylor once represented Monsanto, and is now the current FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy.

There is a growing global resistance against Monsanto. Farmers and activists have been burning fields of GMO crops, and a growing list of nations have banned GMOs all together. But it is still an uphill battle. Monsanto has become particularly entrenched in the United States where is has its headquarters but even there progress is being made. Whole Foods and Chipotle have announced plans to phase out all GMO ingredients. In April Vermont became the first state to require GMO labelson food. And just this week, two Oregon counties voted to ban GMOs all together.

These are just the basics. There is an enormous amount of information out there and a growing number of organizations working to create change. Read the links here, share this story, do your own research and get involved.

Read the original post, with more links, on Truth In A Foreign Language.

Discuss

Marking World Food Day this year is a grassroots effort called March Against Monsanto with protests planned in more than 400 cities in over 50 nations. But who is Monsanto, and why should you know about them?

Monsanto has been around over a hundred years, and while it has a history of questionable ethics and practice—including helping to create and hide health risks associated with DDT and Agent Orange—its more recent trend toward pushing unregulated and unlabeled Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into our food supply is what's really alarming. For this Monsanto has earned the dubious distinction as the most “Evil Corporation of the Year” by NaturalNews readers.

The hardest thing about writing what’s wrong with Monsanto is knowing where to start. You may not think you are familiar with them, but you are. You probably eat Monsanto created GMOs every day. The company creates harsh pesticides that are designed to kill everything natural they touch, the most popular of which is called “Roundup.”  The company then creates GMOs that are unaffected by this specific poison (in the case of Roundup these are called “Roundup Ready”) so that farmers can blanket their fields and kill weeds, pests and everything else. The company has pushed hard to monopolize strategic markets and now controls 93% of the soybean, canola seed, and cotton crops, as well as 86% of corn crops. Monstanto has consolidated its position by creating ‘suicide seeds’ which do not reproduce and forces the farmers to return to Monsanto each year. The GMO suicide crops also cross pollinate with non GMO crops, forcing more farmers who may have initially held out to also rely on Monsanto.

What are the long term effects of consuming GMOs? Truthfully, no one knows. Monsanto created the first GMO in 1985 and only within the past few years has their use become widespread in our food supply. In essence we are all unwittingly participating in the trial of long-term health effects. Monsanto argues that because their GMO corn has been manufactured to have roughly the same amount of vitamins and minerals as natural corn then it must be safe. Meanwhile, scientific studies done over an entire lifespan of rats have shown that GMO corn causes tumors, organ failure, cancer and premature death. The widespread adoption of Monsanto's products has also been linked with significant nitrogen run-off which is creating dead zones in the oceans and an alarming mass die off of bees.

At this point you may be wondering how this can be allowed. A revolving door exists between Monsanto and US regulatory and judicial bodies making key decisions. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto lawyer, was the one who wrote the majority opinion on a key Monsanto case. Michael Taylor once worked for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), later represented Monsanto as a lawyer, and is now the current FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy.

There is a growing global resistance. Farmers and activists have been burning fields of GMO crops and a growing list of nations have banned GMOs all together. But while there has been progress it is still an uphill battle. In the US state of Washington a ballot initiative for November 2013 to institute GMO labeling—which would be the first of its kind in the country—is being outspent 3 to 1 because of large donations by Monsanto and its allies.

These are just the basics. There is an enormous amount of information out there and a growing number of organizations working to create change. Read the links here, share this story, do your own research and get involved.

First published on TRUTH IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Discuss

Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 07:44 AM PDT

Revolutions: Paris Commune

by JohnAloysius

The city of lights; the city of love—Paris is most famous for being in flames.

The infamous Paris Commune burned so bright that upwards of thirty thousand Parisians died during the government siege of the city in La Semaine ensanglantei—the bloody week.

Paris has a long history of capturing the world’s attention with romantic idealism and blood. Decorating the walls of the French capital you can find graffiti declaring Soyez réaliste, demandez l’impossible—Be realistic, demand the impossible.

The idealism and blood was thick in Paris in the spring of 1871. France had just lost a war against Prussia and much of the city’s wealthy class had fled the city and was replaced with poor refugees from the surrounding countryside. The National Guard, a local militia formed to defend the city during the war, became increasingly radical. The federal government sent in its own demoralized troops to seize the cannons from the Guard but the Guard resisted and many troops mutinied rather than fight. The rebellion spread so quickly that the government ordered a complete withdrawal.  Every solider, every police, every administrator and every specialist of any kind were ordered to evacuate the city. Paris, with a population of two million at the time was the world’s third largest city—and the government literally walked away from it.

Elections were immediately organized by the rebels and the Paris Commune was formed. The Commune has been celebrated by anarchists and Marxists ever since, due to the variety of political undercurrents, the high degree of workers’ control, and the remarkable co-operation among different revolutionists. But it was not to last.

The French government had only retreated a few miles to the wealthy suburb of Versailles. Skirmishes between government troops and Parisians at hastily built barricades around the cities edge began almost immediately, climaxing in La Semaine ensanglantei, just two months after the rebellion began.

The government quickly reasserted control, imprisoning or executing tens of thousands of the Communes sympathizers and declared martial law for a period of five years.

Published on Truth In A Foreign Language

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Full disclosure: I was deported from Ecuador shortly after Rafeal Correa was elected president and have been following his political career closely ever since. I also met him when he was president-elect.

Last week Ecuador’s president, Rafeal Correa, was once more in the news for his courageous aid of a whistleblower. With the help of travel documents from Ecuador, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden made it safely out of Hong Kong and into Moscow. Yesterday Rafael Correa renounced his government’s involvement at all and left Snowden hanging in the transit zone of Moscow airport.

One year ago, as Correa was making global headlines for granting asylym to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange he was simultaneously crushing free speech in his own nation, but the focus always remained on Assange. This time the fickle nature of Correa’s principles are much more transparent.

"I must express my deep respect for your principles and sincere thanks for your government's action in considering my request for political asylum," Snowden said, according to a letter obtained yesterday by the Press Association news agency, based in London. "There are few world leaders who would risk standing for the human rights of an individual against the most powerful government on earth, and the bravery of Ecuador and its people is an example to the world." Mere hours later, Correa was renouncing the relationship. But why the sudden change of heart? The image presented in Snowden’s letter is just the type Correa has worked hard to cultivate.

Correa has acknowledged that he had a very friendly conversation with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden about the issue over the weekend, so it’s reasonable to assume the U.S. offered him something more attractive than more media attention.

Another possibility being reported is that Correa is upset that he has to share the spotlight with Julian Assange. Ecuador’s president has a history of throwing hissy fits when things don’t go his way.  There are numerous examples, including one such temper tantrum caught on video.

In September 2010, when police officers protested salary cuts, Correa made a surprise appearance at Police Headquarters and chastised the police. He quickly lost his cool and began shouting at them. “You want to kill the president? Here I am!” he yelled into the microphone and ripped his shirt open. “Kill me if you like, kill me if you’re brave, instead of being cowards, hiding like cowards!”

Watch the video:

(Originally published on TRUTH IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

Discuss

Sun Jun 23, 2013 at 09:13 AM PDT

World On Fire

by JohnAloysius

In Turkey protesters took over a broad downtown section of the nation’s largest city for two weeks. In Italy the fastest growing political party is actually a protest movement that wants to radically transform government. In Brazil millions are in the streets, blockading highways and disrupting international soccer games. All over the world people are not only rejecting the established political order, they are rejecting the mechanisms for creating change.

Riot police will likely clear away all the protesters and pragmatic legislation will dull the idealism of fringe political parties but these moments are not just hiccups in global power, they are early symptoms of its downfall. This has been going on for years, notably in 2011 with the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street but it has picked up speed this month. Did I mention that there is also an occupation outside of the parliament of Lebanon right now? And mass protests in Bulgaria?

This is still the beginning. A lot of these movements that have burst into being have faded as quickly as they began, though all of the conditions that created them still exist. In fact, the pile of kindling is growing higher.

The status quo still has three huge advantages, but each one is becoming weaker. First, they have a monopoly on violence, meaning that aggression on their part is seen as justified. The catalyst for many of the movements has actually been a mass rejection of that. When police used force against small groups of protesters the public did not support them and in fact its images served as a catalyst for growth. Second, they control the media. Big media owners are ether national governments or large corporations, both of which benefit from the status quo and thus have a bias toward its defense. New technologies have dramatically altered the landscape and allow less established groups or individuals to disseminate information widely. Third, the world’s power brokers and dominant institutions are mature while the dissidents do not have much experience. That is still very much true, but there is a steep learning curve as ripples from various movements splash against each other and share best practices.

A new, global, hyper-connected participatory system is emerging. This is an exciting time to be alive.

I’ll be writing a column titled “Revolutions” this summer for Nowhere Magazine. Expect a new post about once a week, so stay tuned.

(This was originally published on TRUTH IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

Discuss

Monsanto has been around over a hundred years, and while it has a history of questionable ethics and practice—including helping to create and hide health risks associated with DDT and Agent Orange—its more recent trend toward pushing unregulated and unlabeled Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) into our food supply is what's really alarming. The corporation was voted overwhelmingly as the most “Evil Corporation of the Year” by NaturalNews readers, and today hundreds of thousands will March Against Monsanto yet most people have never heard of this corporation. If you’re marching and already well informed this is not for you, but if not hopefully this will help lead you there.

The hardest thing about writing what’s wrong with Monsanto is knowing where to start. You may not think you are familiar with them, but you are. You probably eat Monsanto created GMOs every day. The company creates harsh pesticides that are designed to kill everything natural they touch, the most popular of which is called “Roundup.”  The company then creates GMOs that are unaffected by this specific poison (in the case of Roundup these are called “Roundup Ready”) so that farmers can blanket their fields and kill weeds, pests and everything else. The company has pushed hard to monopolize strategic markets and now controls 93% of the soybean, canola seed, and cotton crops, as well as 86% of corn crops. Monstanto has consolidated its position by creating ‘suicide seeds’ which do not reproduce and forces the farmers to return to Monsanto each year. The GMO suicide crops also cross pollinate with non GMO crops, forcing more farmers who may have initially held out to also rely on Monsanto.

What are the long term effects of consuming GMOs? Truthfully, no one knows. Monsanto created the first GMO in 1985 and only within the past few years has their use become widespread in our food supply. Monsanto argues that because their GMO corn has been manufactured to have roughly the same amount of vitamins and minerals as natural corn then it must be safe. Meanwhile, scientific studies on rats have shown that GMO corn causes tumors, organ failure, cancer and premature death.

At this point you may be wondering how this can be allowed. A revolving door exists between Monsanto and US regulatory and judicial bodies making key decisions. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a former Monsanto lawyer, was the one who wrote the majority opinion on a key Monsanto case. Michael Taylor once worked for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), later represented Monsanto as a lawyer, and is now the current FDA Deputy Commissioner for Policy.

There is a growing global resistance. Farmers have been burning fields of GMO crops and a growing list of nations have banned GMO food outright. In the U.S. where there is the greatest collusion with government, it has been much slower and just a few days ago the US Senate voted that even labeling foods as GMO would be illegal.

This is just the basics. There is an enormous amount of information out there and a growing number of organizations working to change this. Read the links here, share this story, do your own research and get involved.

(originally published on Truth In A Foreign Language)

Discuss

Fri May 17, 2013 at 05:02 PM PDT

Occupy is Dead; Long Live Occupy

by JohnAloysius

Occupy Wall Street may be dead, but it has infected our collective consciousness in a way that continues to evolve.

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Tue Apr 09, 2013 at 08:49 AM PDT

An Insider’s Critique of FEMA

by JohnAloysius

For three months I have worked 60 hours a week for FEMA, witnessing first-hand the inner-workings and organizational mentality from a wide range of inside perspectives. My initial placement was on a mobile, language-needs strike team that was based out of the Joint Field Office (JFO) in Forest Hills, Queens. I was later reassigned to a base in the field, visiting damaged homes and assisting with recovery efforts on the Rockaway Peninsula. Throughout it all I was shocked at what seemed to be an intentional inefficiency that aggressively discouraged questioning aimed at improving the speed and effectiveness of the relief effort.

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