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Climate news gets worse every day. The eye slides away; the heart falters. There seems little hope when we consider that if the world could, by some political miracle, reduce carbon emissions to zero, the Earth’s temperature will continue to rise into dangerous zones for the next thirty years.

Crowd at the Benton Food Freedom event
Last Thursday evening that changed for a roomful of people who had come to hear Kristin Ohlson, award-winning journalist and New York Times bestseller author of The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet, speak about the promise of soil as our agent for climate recovery.

Einstein has said that we can never hope to solve a problem with the same thinking that caused that problem. It was a chance conversation with a chef, who cared deeply about how the food he prepared was grown, which sparked Ms. Ohlson’s curiosity about soil management and led her across three continents to gather innovative ideas from farmers, soil scientists, ranchers, landscapers and foodies. Treading the crossroads between science, farming, food and environmentalism, she brought us the new kind of thinking—what she calls our “great green hope”--that Einstein meant when he spoke of what is needed to solve our problems and change the conversation from one of inevitable climate catastrophe to one of climate recovery.

Author, Kristin Ohlson, speaking about her book The Soil Will Save Us at the event Soil: Our Agent for Climate Recovery
What Ms. Ohlson learned was that a vast kingdom of microorganisms exists in the soil—fungi, protozoa, bacteria, nematodes and microarthropods—which number around six billion in one tablespoon of healthy soil. These microarchitects use carbon exudates fed to them from plant roots to glue together grains of sand and soil, creating microchannels which allow rain to penetrate and be stored in the soil. Tilling destroys this tiny world and makes the difference between rain that only soaks into one inch of soil then runs off and rain that can be penetrate down to eight inches or more. In a world of mega-droughts, this is miraculous.

Our childhood science experiments in which we planted bean seeds in two milk cartons and denied sun to one demonstrated the relationship of the plant to sunlight but left out the most important part of photosynthesis—the living soil in those milk cartons. This mini-herd creates a small community around plant roots which eats the carbon and releases micronutrients from soil minerals for the plant to absorb. If left undisturbed, these will condense and store carbon. It is estimated that humankind’s plowing has released around 80 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Our industrial agricultural practices continue to release stored carbon from the soil, contributing around 30% to total CO2 emissions globally.

These “tiny heroes of the underground”, as Ohlson calls them, thrive around plant roots which is why the time-honored farming practice of cover cropping increases soil fertility. After reading The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies Are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet, I changed the way I managed my own small yard. Instead of pulling the spent plants out by the roots, I cut the plants off at soil level and left the debris to decompose. I planted a legume (Crimson Clover) to cover the soil and keep my mini-herd happy during the cold winter rains. I revel in not turning my soil over this spring, always my job since my husband has an allergy to shovels. I topped off my beds with compost, mixed with good stuff like worm castings and rabbit manure. When I plant my seeds, I will plant them carefully with my mini-herd in mind.

My county in Oregon has a May ballot measure to give legal standing to a local food system for which I am campaigning. One of the provisions to protect this system is acknowledgment of the rights of natural communities to exist, flourish and maintain themselves similar to the recent Constitutional Amendment of Ecuador which fights Chevron and Texaco in the Amazon. Not “human rights for individual trees”, this provision specifically mentions soil. With this ordinance, citizens could approach the city councils and county commission to alter the soil management of our public land by cover cropping and avoiding tillage. With legal standing to empower citizens to protect our natural communities, we would not be in the powerless position of petitioning.

Theresa Griffith singing her newest song, REMEMBER, composed for the YES on 2-89 campaign.
After Kristin Ohlson's talk, singer/songwriter and recording artist, Theresa Griffith, debuted her newest song, written in tribute to the YES on Measure 2-89 campaign. Entitled REMEMBER, her song calls us back to remember a time when we all lived more gently upon the Earth with local food systems rather than fossil-fuel-dependent industrial agriculture. (Will update with the song once I get it on audio)

The reason we are doing this on the county level is because we see our governments from the international to the municipal level not meeting even their modest goals. When our wonderful Senator Jeff Merkley held his recent town hall here, I asked him if Washington was aware that people felt strongly that Climate Change was an overwhelming crisis which the citizens were mounting grassroots efforts to fight. He responded that citizens were a decade ahead of the politicians.

Frankly, we do not have time to wait for them to catch up.  

Photosynthesis originally produced the life-supporting atmosphere of Earth. This natural process still works. There are more microorganisms in the soil than there are stars in the sky. With some intelligent low-cost changes to our soil management practices, we can harness these powerful soil allies to truly fight back against the ravages of climate change.

Singer/songwriter, Theresa Griffin and Stephanie Hampton at event Soil: Our Agent for Climate Recovery
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Banner of Benton Food Freedom, backers of the May 2015 ballot measure Local Food System Ordinance in Benton County, Oregon.
Monsanto has fallen on evil days recently.

The World Health Organization and its International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reclassified Monsanto’s flagship herbicide Glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”. IARC scientists are not backing down from their scientific review under Monsanto’s demands that they retract their findings. My own modest contribution regarding the revelation by a Monsanto functionary that they have a fulltime department “debunking” science which disagrees with theirs has firmly fixed the phrase “Monsanto Discredit Bureau” in the blogosphere lexicon.

On March 26, the watchdog environmental organization, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), which advocates for scientists and researchers, submitted a petition to USDA Secretary Vilsack calling upon the federal agency to revise its standard for scientific integrity to match the protocol in place in other federal departments in line with President Obama’s memorandum of March 2009 on protections for scientific inquiry.

Background statement from the petition:

The USDA Scientific Integrity Policy actively enables agency managers to suppress and alter scientific work products for their policy implications, regardless of their technical merit. It also appears clear that agribusiness interests, such as Monsanto Corporation, have access to top agency managers and are invited to lodge complaints and concerns about the published work of agency scientists. Significantly, the Policy lacks any mechanism to effectively challenge this political manipulation of science. This gap is compounded by the lack of whistleblower protection for scientists. As a result, scientists whose work raises troublesome implications or who have the temerity to file complaints about inappropriate skewing of science face the prospect of official retaliation. [emphasis mine]

The petition, which is a chilling read, lays out shortcomings of the USDA scientific integrity policy and also lists specific instances of violations of President Obama's memorandum:

In a growing number of cases, USDA managers are interfering, intimidating, harassing, and in some cases punishing civil service scientists for doing work that has inconvenient implications for industry and could have direct policy/regulatory ramifications. For example, in recent months USDA scientists have been subjected to –

•    Directives not to publish data on certain topics of particular sensitivity to industry;

•    Orders to rewrite scientific articles already accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal to remove sections which could provoke industry objections;

•    Summons to meet with Secretary Vilsack in an effort to induce retraction of a paper that drew the ire of industry representatives;

•    Orders to retract a paper after it had been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The paper could only be published if the USDA scientist removed his authorship thus leaving only the names of authors unassociated with USDA;

•    Demotion from supervisory status and a reprimand after the scientist provided testimony before Congress that did not reflect agency preferences;

•    Disruptive and lengthy internal investigations to search out any irregularity that could be used for management leverage against the targeted scientist;

•    Suspensions without pay and other disciplinary actions for petty matters, such as minor irregularities in travel paperwork;

•    Inordinate, sometimes indefinite, delays in approving submission for publication of scientific papers that may be controversial;

•    Restrictions on topics that USDA scientists may address in conference presentations; and

•    Threats by USDA managers to damage of the careers scientists whose work triggers industry complaints.

Reuter's senior journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri, Carey Gillam's excellent report on this developing story includes the reason why these USDA scientists have chosen to petition the Secretary of the Department.

PEER's Executive Director Jeff Ruch said on Friday that at least 10 USDA scientists have been investigated or faced other consequences arising from research that called into question the safety of certain agricultural chemicals.

Ruch said his organization had received mounting complaints over the last year from USDA scientists claiming they have been ordered to retract studies, water down findings, remove their names from authorship and experienced delays in approvals for publication of research papers. The petition does not identify any specific research or scientists.

These ten USDA scientists are laying their careers on the line. Although they are not identified by name in the petition for fear of retaliation, they will be instantly recognizable to Secretary Vilsack from the list of specific complaints. Their bravery characterizes the highest calling of scientific integrity.

Science is not a shining citadel on a hill founded on unassailable objective facts and data. Science is a human endeavor subject to human frailties and failings. Science, increasingly divorced from integrity and accountability, becomes subverted when it is manipulated and orchestrated by multinational corporations whose sole aim is global market share to increase profits.

Addendum: Mike Ludwig at Truthout has also written an excellent article on this development: Monsanto Is in Hot Water - Again

Late last week, companies "such as Monsanto" were implicated in a watchdog group's petition to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on behalf of anonymous scientists within the agency who say their research is suppressed when it upsets powerful agrichemical interests.

The allegations enraged the industry's critics, who have been busy touting recent reports linking popular herbicides often used in tandem with genetically engineered crops, or GMOs, to cancer and antibiotic resistance.

Read the first diary in this series Monsanto "Discredit Bureau" Does Exist

The USDA will...

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I am neck-deep in a local political campaign. Suffice to say, my stress level is over the moon. I generally do not write personal diaries; however, this is an exception.

When I am under stress, my body alerts me by awakening me in the wee hours with severe pain which it did last night. After that resolved, I fell asleep and my unconscious mind took me on a sea voyage.

I am a sailor, not just any polliwog but a crusty old salt who has crewed as a foredeckman aboard a 90’ Sparkman Stephens yawl and sailed across the equator with the proper King Neptune ceremony. Many of my best dreams take me to sea once more, and last night’s dream was no exception.  

Any sailor worth his salt will tell you that their favorite memories, and resultant sea yarns, are not those of calm anchorages in deep protected bays but the times when water tried to kill them and failed. Spend enough time messing around in boats in any body of water, and she will eventually attempt to drown you. One of my favorite yarns involves the time a violent freak thunderstorm caught us in the middle of a shallow lake, turning it into a blender of brown water with rain so thick we breathed it in. Mercifully, it was as short as it was violent or I would not be able to recount it.

I survived last night’s shipwreck; however, the press conference following it was another matter altogether. At one point, I turned to the television reporter and asked the following question:

Is that a 35 millimeter camera you are pointing at me or a 38?
I take comfort from the fact that my innate sense of humor remains intact even when I sleep. I am going to need it as I ply the troubled waters of local politics if I ever hope to reach my destination. And perhaps last night’s shipwreck dream was meant to remind me of my seamanship skills "when the waves turn the minutes to hours".

This is one crusty old salt who means to survive and reach her desired home port.

Roundup at my local store.
Roundup (probably carcinogenic to humans) sold at my local store.
Reuters is reporting that Monsanto is demanding a sit-down with members of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). This international scientific body is being called on the carpet for reporting that Monsanto’s most widely sold herbicide, which is inextricably linked to the majority of their genetically engineered products, is probably carcinogenic to humans.

In a DO-YOU-KNOW-WHO-WE-ARE moment, Monsanto’s vice president of global regulatory affairs Philip Miller said the following in interview:

"We question the quality of the assessment. The WHO has something to explain." [emphasis mine]
Evidence for the carcinogenicity of Glyphosate comes from a peer-reviewed study published in March of 2015 in the respected journal The Lancet Oncology.
Carcinogenicity of tetrachlorvinphos, parathion, malathion, diazinon, and glyphosate

Glyphosate is a broad-spectrum herbicide, currently with the highest production volumes of all herbicides. It is used in more than 750 different products for agriculture, forestry, urban, and home applications. Its use has increased sharply with the development of genetically modified glyphosate-resistant crop varieties. Glyphosate has been detected in air during spraying, in water, and in food. There WAS limited evidence in humans for the carcinogenicity of glyphosate.


Glyphosate has been detected in the blood and urine of agricultural workers, indicating absorption. Soil microbes degrade glyphosate to aminomethylphosphoric acid (AMPA). Blood AMPA detection after poisonings suggests intestinal microbial metabolism in humans. Glyphosate and glyphosate formulations induced DNA and chromosomal damage in mammals, and in human and animal cells in vitro. One study reported increases in blood markers of chromosomal damage (micronuclei) in residents of several communities after spraying of glyphosate formulations.
[emphasis mine]

Recently, I attended a talk by Monsanto’s Dr. William “Bill” Moar who presented the latest project in their product pipeline dealing with RNA. Most notably, he also spoke about Monsanto’s efforts to educate citizens about the scientific certainty of the safety of their genetically engineered products. The audience was mostly agricultural students many of whom were perhaps hoping for the only well-paid internships and jobs in their field.

One student asked what Monsanto was doing to counter the “bad science” around their work. Dr. Moar, perhaps forgetting that this was a public event, then revealed that Monsanto indeed had “an entire department” (waving his arm for emphasis) dedicated to “debunking” science which disagreed with theirs. As far as I know this is the first time that a Monsanto functionary has publically admitted that they have such an entity which brings their immense political and financial weight to bear on scientists who dare to publish against them. The Discredit Bureau will not be found on their official website.

The challenge for Monsanto’s Discredit Bureau is steep in attacking the unimpeachably respected Lancet and the international scientific bodies of WHO and IARC. However, they have no choice but to attack since the stakes are so very high for them. Glyphosate is their hallmark product upon which the majority of their profits are based. Make no mistake, this is extremely bad news for Monsanto.

Monsanto holds up the sheer abundance of their own well-funded studies citing the safety of Glyphosate, done over only the past twenty years which is a short period of time in scientific inquiry particularly when dissenting research is actively suppressed.  They also hold up the findings of regulatory bodies, particularly in the United States where the revolving door between agrochemical corporations and government spins at high speed.

Critics of the agrochemical industry have often cited the history of these corporations who rush their products to market with protestations of safety only to discover down the road that they have become persistent ecological and health nightmares. We are seeing the end of that road for Glyphosate.

UPDATE: Read the second diary in what is rapidly turning into a series. USDA Tentacle of Monsanto 'Discredit Bureau'?


After Jackson County banned the open cultivation of genetically engineered crops and three other counties moved forward on similar bans, the Oregon legislature passed 863 which preempted local decisions about agriculture, reserving that privilege to the state. Governor Kitzhaber appointed a stellar taskforce at a cost of more than $100,000 over six months to study the matter, presumably to formulate a state plan to deal with the problems.

News out of Salem indicates that the legislature is prepared to do nothing with the authority they granted to themselves. Two House bills, which grew out of the work of the taskforce, have received an “icy reception” from the House Committee on Rural Communities, Land Use and Water.

Currently, there is no way for Oregon farmers to know if their neighboring farmers are planting genetically engineered crops. These two bills would rectify that situation, carve out GE free areas, and bring the transparency necessary for all farmers to protect their respective market share.

House Bill 2674 would require the State Department of Agriculture to “establish control areas for growing commodities that are genetically engineered agricultural or horticultural plant products.” House Bill 2675 would require “certain merchants to provide State Department of Agriculture with copies of royalty agreements signed by purchasers of propagants of proprietary genetically engineered crops".

Both of these bills are sponsored by Rep. Peter Buckley, D-Eugene. HB 2674 addresses the current problem of the significant risk run by conventional and organic farmers of contamination via genetically engineered pollen or rogue plants which can ruin their respective markets. HB 2675 addresses the secrecy surrounding GE crop cultivation which hampers non-GE farmers in planning for the crops they grow.

Corn is a high value crop and one prized here locally. Corn is wind pollinated and the pollen is small and travels far. Farmers with non-GE markets have to literally “bet their farm” on a guess as to what their neighbors are growing. The 2013 discovery of GMO wheat in a Pacific Northwest wheat field resulted in the collapse of the Asian wheat market for which Monsanto made a $2.4 million settlement--a prime example of the harm just one single GE contamination incident can cause. The damage to trust in the Oregon Brand, as far as wheat goes, is incalculable.

The opposition to these two bills is from both sides of the aisle.

But committee chairman Brian Clem, D-Salem, said he thinks the real problem is with “the illogic of Europe.”

“This is probably mostly about the consumers’ buying behavior and conditions of the European Union and Asia,” Clem said.

Rep. Clem does not address how he plans to change the Asian and EU importation regulations or affect consumer choice which currently ban GE crop importation or why he seems unable to grasp simple marketplace realities.  
Another Democrat on the committee, Rep. Brad Witt, D-Clatskanie, said neighboring farmers should be able to work out conflicts among themselves.

“As a general overall policy, I am extremely concerned when we start down the pathway to what crops does the state of Oregon determine are OK for farmers to grow,” Witt said.

Rep. Witt seems to forget that the legislature took this issue out of the hands of local farmers who wanted to "work something out" on the county level. It should be noted that 863 (coined "Oregon's Monsanto Protection Act") was not passed during the regular session due to public outcry but was attached to an appropriations bill as a bribe to get Republicans to vote for it. (See Daily KOS diary Oregon GMO Sellout for an in depth account of how this played out.)

The response from a Republican committee member offers this clueless gem.

Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte, said he is confused by cross-contamination fears.

“If (cross-contamination) occurred prior to genetically engineered plants, then how did the state survive 156 years of being one of the best agricultural states in the country?” he asked. “What’s broke that needs fixing?”

McLane's answer to "what's broke that needs fixing?" is contained in his previous sentence "prior to genetically engineered plants".  Asian markets readily import BT cotton and animal feed; however, the consumer markets reject any GMO product meant to go directly into their food.

The dog and pony show of Oregon's Monsanto Protection Act with the state "taking charge" of the problem was greeted with dismay by those farmer's daily affected by this conflict. However, it was barely a speed bump to efforts in the counties which were working on local solutions:

Jackson County's GMO cultivation ban passed by 66%.

Josephine placed their initiative on the ballot and won by 57%.

Lane County is persevering with their own local food system ordinance.

Benton County's Local Food Ordinance is on the May ballot, and backers are expecting an even higher percentage of yes votes. See the Yes on 2-89 website for more information or to donate to this grassroots campaign.

See below the orange legislative run around for the summary of both bills.

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Kelsey Juliana, Our Children's Trust
Extended childhood is a relatively modern invention of western culture. In ages past, teenaged children were considered to be full adults possessing a mature sense of responsibility and reasoning powers.  In our culture, parents shelter their children from inconvenient truths thereby denying them the opportunity to engage in the future and act on their own behalf. With an only child, I must admit that I have been as guilty as the next one in this regard.

Out of the wide range of issues that my 29-year-old daughter and I discuss, one thing I never bring up is Climate Change. We raised her essentially outdoors in Oregon’s mountains, forests and rivers which she regularly seeks out for spiritual sustenance. How can I speak of Climate Change in the face of predictions that her beloved forests will be gone during her lifetime? In my helplessness, I am struck silent. Yet, I know that she is aware of these terrible things coming. We try to shelter our children, yet they listen at the door and fear.

Last night, my feelings of utter hopelessness were dispelled by two words: climate recovery. Nick Caleb, Local Climate Law Fellow with Our Children’s Trust, spoke to a small crowd at an event sponsored by our local chapter of the Sierra Club. Caleb outlined how organizers are working with local facilitators to educate and empower local youth who then lead their own campaigns right into their town councils, legislative chambers, and the courts.

Our Children’s Trust Mission Statement

The mission of OUR CHILDREN'S TRUST is to establish the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate for all present and future generations.

By supporting youth plaintiffs in strategic atmospheric trust litigation, OUR CHILDREN'S TRUST empowers youth to lead a game-changing effort to hold the ruling generation accountable and to compel governments in the United States and abroad to adopt and implement enforceable science-based Climate Recovery Plans.

The doctrine of public trusts is ancient, first articulated in Rome. Fifteen hundred years ago, the Emperor Justinian wrote, "The things which are naturally everybody's are: the air, flowing water, the sea, and the seashore”.  

If adults walk into the halls of power demanding action, politicians find it quite easy to turn us away with false reassurances. It is much harder to turn away passionate youth who are educated, articulate and empowered by mentoring adults and who have the most to lose in an altered world. And it is working.

In Oregon, a nationally significant case was brought by two teenagers, Kelsey Juliana and Olivia Chernaik, fifteen and eleven respectively when they filed. The suit is against the state and Governor Kitzhaber (now Brown) asking for a “declaration of law that the State has a fiduciary obligation to manage the atmosphere, water resources, coastal areas, wildlife and fish as public trust assets and to protect them from substantial impairment resulting from the emissions of greenhouse gases in Oregon and the resulting adverse effects of climate change and ocean acidification”. They are asking for science-based climate recovery planning. The circuit court dismissed it under the judgment that the legislative and executive branches should be alone in making such decisions. This judgment was overruled by the Oregon Appeals Court and oral arguments will be heard on April 7, in Eugene.  (The case had been postponed from February at the request of our new Governor, Kate Brown, who wanted to review the state’s brief.)

The Oregon-based non-profit operates in all fifty states and internationally.  For more information, please see Our Children’s Trust website, including Bill Moyers’ interviews with Kelsey Juliana, about being a teen activist, and legal scholar Mary Christina Wood, about the trust doctrine.

These are truly crazy times in which we live. Scientists have warned humanity of impending environmental catastrophe, yet our governments squabble over blame and neglect to take steps not only to stop contributing to it but to make meaningful recovery efforts. These times call for “crazy ideas” such as public trust litigation brought by youth who are most at risk.


Thu Feb 05, 2015 at 11:18 AM PST

Check Your Amazon Bill

by occupystephanie

No corporation is so well off that they can’t come up with new ways to improve their cash flow.

My husband is a very 20th century man. I had just convinced him that it was perfectly safe to order goods online with a large reputable company such as Amazon. As he tells it, I misled him into having “his pocket picked”. My credibility in his eyes, as far as online matters is concerned, is irreparably damaged.

Back in November, my husband’s bank account took a $99 hit for Amazon Prime membership. He had not ordered it. He did not even know what it was. He found a customer service phone number and used familiar 20th century technology to call them. They apologized and removed the charge.

Flash forward to January when I get a call from my credit union’s fraud department. They called me when a similar charge was entered on my account and a few days before it was actually posted. When I talked to someone at the credit union, I was told that I should call them and, if they refused to rescind the charge, then I could fill out a fraud form.

When the charge appeared on my account, I called Amazon. The customer service agent reimbursed my card. She explained the charge this way: I had taken the one-month trial prime membership (I had not) and, when the free month was up, they automatically charged me for the second month. (We rarely order online, preferring to support our local economy so we have no use for a prime membership.) At my request, I was passed to a supervisor. I mentioned that this mistake had happened twice to us. I mentioned the fraud department alert. She promised to forward this to the billing department and that it would never happen again, to us or any other customer.

Perhaps it was an honest mistake or at least a billing error. To Amazon's credit, there was no problem with the reimbursement and no sales pitch about the benefits of the prime membership. Once I called them, the problem was taken care of immediately with courtesy.

However, it happened to both of us with separate accounts and computers. I'd never received notice from them when the charge was made. Frankly, the credit union fraud call disquieted me to say the least. I am curious if anyone else has had this problem.

I am passing this along in the event that people may not notice a similar charge. In our bank accounts, it is very noticeable but may not be in everyone’s.

I am never storing my card information online again. Never.


Great pertinent information we could all use with a Big Hat Tip to Grubber:

If it's not a card you use on Amazon (1+ / 0-)

It may be a fraudster testing your card info. Signing up for a 'free trial' is a common way to test if a card number is valid and the account is active. I work with debit cards and we see Amazon Prime disputes all the time. Many are self-inflicted, but in a large number of cases it is clearly not the cardholder's doing.

If carders have actual cards to test, Redbox is the volume leader.

And everybody should stop what they are doing and file their taxes ASAP so a fraudster doesn't file some made up income numbers with your SSN to get a refund. The Anthem breach announced today has made many millions of additional SSN available, and it's not like they were hard to get before.

I recommend as a great blog to learn about the card fraud industry and other security matters. Here's a post on the tax problem.

"It's the (expletive) 21st century man. Get over it." - David Ortiz

by grubber


Yesterday I visited with a mom who had made the personal choice of signing a waiver for vaccinations for her two school-aged children. She cited the lack of these childhood diseases and her assertion that she supported her children's immune systems. I pointed out to her that these diseases had only been held in check because my mom, me and other moms had gotten shots for their kids.

I had the sudden insight that this mom and others who eschew immunizations are operating on the self same personal risk assessment that motivated the immunizing moms years ago. It is the context of public health that has changed. When my mom got shots for us, death and disability stalked the land. It made perfect sense to seek protection for your children. Now that risk is but a distant memory.

My second insight was on how to change the equation of personal risk. I suggested to her that she have their doctor do a titer on her children to assess their immunity. She loved the idea, thinking that it would show how well she was supporting their immunity. A laboratory report with AT RISK OF scrawled all over it would be a compelling piece of real evidence that she was putting her children at personal risk.

Taking the idea further, I feel that any parent who submits a waiver be required to have a titer done on their child. Ideally, this titer would be forwarded to the state and county public health departments which could require that their unimmunized children be excluded from school if there were any cases of these diseases in their state.

Our public health agencies need to be granted greater authority to protect the population against contagion. A case in point is the resurgence of Whooping Cough.(If you have ever heard the characteristic cough of infants who are struck with this often fatal disease as they struggle for breath, you never forget it.) The Oregon State Public Health Department issued a proviso for adults who are exposed to infants to get booster shots. Who among us is not exposed to infants? If you go out in public at all, you are exposing infants. I felt that the proviso ought to have had more muscle.

It is clear that our public health is at risk and authorities need to act intelligently and quickly to prevent these diseases from stalking the land yet again with death and disability of our most vulnerable members.



Are you and your children's immunizations up-to-date?

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Tue Jul 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM PDT

OR Right to Know Petition

by occupystephanie

The Oregon Right to Know campaign is preparing for the huge onslaught of out-of-state money from giant Biotech corporations in opposition to GMO labeling Ballot Measure 92. As a grassroots organization, the campaign is counting heavily on Oregonian-to-Oregonian interactions to dispel well-financed misinformation. To that end, they are seeking citizen and business endorsements.

If you are an Oregonian and support Ballot Measure 92, please sign to stand with your neighbors.

Petition: We Have a Right to Know What’s In Our Food

Genetically engineered foods are everywhere in grocery stores, but you'd never know it. That's because in the United States, the big chemical companies that manufacture genetically engineered ingredients aren't required to label the foods that contain them. That puts us at odds with 64 countries that do require labeling; countries including Japan, Australia and the European Union.

Now, Oregon is on the verge of becoming the first state to pass an initiative requiring transparency in genetically engineered food labeling. But big chemical companies like Monsanto are spending whatever it takes to deceive the public, just as they did when they told us Agent Orange and DDT were safe.

Add your name if you agree that we have a right to know what's in the food we eat and feed our families.


Here is a link to join the 1,100 private citizens who have already donated to the Right to Know Campaign.

Oregonians will have the opportunity to vote this November on the consumer's right to know what is in their food thanks to the Oregon Right to Know campaign which gathered 156,390 signatures, 118,780 of which were certified on Wednesday by the Oregon Secretary of State to place the GMO Labeling initiative on the ballot.

"In only six weeks, we were able to collect more than 31,500 signatures more than the number needed to qualify," said Sandeep Kaushik, campaign spokesman for Oregon Right to Know. "That is a powerful indication that Oregonians understand that protecting the profits of chemical conglomerates and agribusiness giants should not take precedence over the public's right to know what is in the food they eat and feed their families."
                                                                               ~ The Statesman Journal
Oregon campaign organizers expect big money in opposition to flood the state as it did in Washington and California; however, they are also confident that their measure will pass and become law. Organizers cite a two-and-a-half year grassroots effort resulting in a strong base of public support for the GMO labeling bill and also a greater awareness of the GMO issue by Oregonians due to the recent successful Jackson County ban on GMO cultivation and last year's wheat GMO contamination which threatened Oregon's Asian markets.

Learning from its neighbors, the framers of the Oregon Right to Know initiative strengthened the language to remove any ambiguities, such as specifically naming human food so that misinformation passed by opponents in the Washington campaign about pet food would not confuse the issue. The initiative is carefully crafted to integrate with existing labeling standards and would require no new regulatory bureaus since the Oregon Department of Agriculture currently has a food labeling department.  Only food that currently requires labeling would fall under the Act and would apply to all raw and processed food, requiring a small informational label on packaging or a sign near produce. The initiative gives the state the right to take action against violations; however, it does not mandate it.

A recent Oregon Public Broadcasting poll of Oregonians revealed that a full 77% of Oregonians agreed that GMO labeling is necessary.  Similar polls done in Washington state prior to their GMO labeling campaign showed similar levels of support. The power of big money from Biotech Giants Monsanto and Syngenta to spread seeds of doubt through misinformation is such that the Washington polls showed a precipitous drop to 45% of those Washington state voters supporting GMO labeling just prior to the election. Oregon Right to Know organizers believe they will be able to sustain the current level of support for the GMO labeling initiative despite the tsunami of well-financed and powerful opposition.

[Sandeep] Kaushik [Oregon Right to Know Communication Director] said his side has heard the farm bureau’s anti-labeling talking points before – and this time they’ll keep the support of voters as the campaign plays out.

“We really think we’re going to win this race by Oregonians talking one-on-one with other Oregonians about why this issue is so important,” he said. “And having those folks counteract the false claims that are coming from the other side.”
                                                                                 ~ Oregon Public Broadcasting

Ironically, Monsanto supported GMO labeling in the U. K. during the late 1990s. An excerpt from Monsanto advertisements during that time included the following quote which could have come from any state's labeling campaign:
“Recently you may have noticed a label appearing on some of the food in your supermarket,” one advertisement said. “This is to inform you about the use of biotechnology in food.

Monsanto fully supports UK food manufacturers and retailers in their introduction of these labels. We believe you should be aware of all the facts before making a purchase.”
                                                                                                  ~ Seattle Times

There is a wide diversity of opinion concerning genetically modified organisms. Each of the 156,390 Oregonians who signed the petition to place this initiative on the ballot had their own personal reasons for doing so; however, all of them agreed with this one simple statement: The right of Oregonians to know what is in their food outweighs any manufacturer's right to withhold that information.

Below find the complete text of the proposed measure. Here is a link to donate to Oregon Right to Know.

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Welcome to Wednesday Street Prophets open thread. Come in, pull up a lawn chair and tell us how your garden grows!

Front porch entry.
In my post last month (Kill Your Lawn), I described how I occupied my front yard with five large raised beds to turn it into my own family food system. This year, my yard has been chosen by the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition for the Edible Front Yard Walking Tour, so I have been busy getting ready for that. As my husband says, weeks of hard labor for a 15 minute event!

Ordinarily, I ignore the esthetics of my front porch; however, the impending tour led me to paint my wicker. It is an evening tour, so the nicotiana will be perfuming the air.

The tomatoes are the queens of the garden as always. The north bed gets the most sun. I cover crop this bed in crimson clover during the winter, so the soil is excellent.
This bed is new this year. The original strawberries became shot through with weeds, so I removed the soil and replaced it.
New bed this year, planted with peppers, summer squash and cantaloupes.
I was very happy to find pepper plants which look like I planted them weeks ago.
Sweet bell peppers.
I love cucumbers so I have a lot of them. I planted them behind the tomatoes and have trained them vertically so they can seek the sun.
We love beans, so I have both pole and bush beans, yellow, green and purple. I discovered I have a deer problem and have covered them with bird netting which will be easy to lift to harvest and yet deter any grazing.
I have them strung up in free form fashion like a spider on LSD.
I have about two dozen different vegetables planted this year. In this bed, I will have my fall/winter/spring garden. I've planted overwintering carrots and will plant collards as the lettuce comes out. I've planted broccoli which should overwinter. I also planted some ground cherries (tomato family) in honor of my mother who always planted them.
Lemongrass, basil, broccoli, ground cherries and little cabbages.
We have two Asian Pear trees out front which have given us over twenty years of fruit.
I need to get out here and thin the fruit!
The asparagus bed is doing well!
My daughter's first truck which I use as a greenhouse, tool storage area and heat sink for blueberries and tomatoes.
So, how does your garden grow?

Mon Jul 07, 2014 at 01:01 PM PDT

Redeemed by Dog

by occupystephanie

You see them every day beside the road--a man in dirty fatigues begging with a hand-drawn sign and, beside him, a dog. In passing, you might wonder why a person who cannot take care of himself subjects a dog to such a hard life. You might even condemn the man for selfishness and pity the dog.

Darin and his dog at the Street Dawgs & Cats Care Fair.
People who are homeless have pets for many of the same reasons the housed do; however, sometimes they have reasons that transcend those of companionship.

During the early days of Occupy, we engaged with the homeless community where I met Kathy and her dachshund, Happy. That friendship gave me to a deeper understanding of the special relationship between those without shelter and their pets and led me to do something for this special population.

Happy with his new toy from the Free Store.
I organized the first Street Dawgs & Cats Care Fair three years ago. The Shelter Medicine Student Club at the Veterinary School loved the idea. I found another group, Advocates for Pets of the Homeless, which advocated for these pet owners and arranged for mentoring relationships. I found a grant online with the national Pets of the Homeless organization. We have these fairs twice a year--Spring and Fall--and just had our fifth one this past May.

That is where I met Darin and his Pit Bull. An Iraq veteran, Darin retains a military bearing and alertness. Like many of our veterans, he struggles with PTSD and credits his dog with helping him heal. His dream now is to train dogs to help other veterans as he has been helped.

Another man I met had a life changing event centered on his dog, also a Pit Bull. He had been arrested, cuffed and put in a police car--all in front of his dog. He vividly recalled his feelings of deep shame, realizing that he was the only person whom his dog depended upon and he had let him down. He resolved to clean himself up for the sake of his dog and has since secured full-time employment and is staying on someone's couch.

This is an open thread so write about your own dog or whatever you want. I will close out this diary with a few photos from our event. (Sorry about the size. Am having trouble resizing them.)

A new coat from the Free Store deserves a kiss!
UPDATE: DocDawg has made the suggestion that I offer readers an opportunity to donate to this work. The national non-profit organization from which we receive a grant to fund this work is the Pets of the Homeless. It is a reputable organization and has guidelines to giving our grants. Their website has a wealth of information for those wishing to do this work in their own communities. We are lucky to have a Veterinarian College in town but volunteer vets would work just the same. Private message me if you want more information on how our local clinic works.
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