At a farmer’s fair in Krakow, South Poland, in early May, I spoke to a Romanian peasant. He was demonstrating clay pot making using a foot treadle to spin the plate upon which the pots were being formed by his deft hands.
I remarked how attractive I found this technology due to its lack of reliance upon any electrical power source. He nodded, saying “No other power required.” The conversation swung to the need to remain independent; independent of state and industry controlled sources of power. Because being dependent upon centralised power, be it energetic or political, means always owing something to someone or something; whereas to be free of such a burden enables one to form strategic relations where one pleases. This form of sharing creates a natural form of interdependence with fellow humans, rather than dependence on governments and corporations. He nodded again.
A colourful troupe of Gorale (Polish mountain farmers) were stamping their feet to the rousing notes of a merry fiddle while weaving a circular pattern through and amongst each other, shouting out in occasional bravura. My Romanian friend was looking-on, his non-treadle foot tapping out the folk song’s rhythms. After a little he turned towards me and said “The farmer is the future.”
Now this struck me as a very profound statement. Many may well cynically laugh at such an idea. In those peoples’ minds is the notion that food will always magically appear from … well … somewhere – and that farmers, that is ‘real farmers’ like the Romanian and Polish peasants, are an anachronism, a romantic back-drop, a picture postcard of a time gone by.
The majority of people in Westernised societies have long since abandoned any attempt to source their foods from anything other than the most convenient and/or cheapest supermarket stores that carefully screen-out any correlation between the end product and the grower. That, after all, might shock the buyer into realising that there still are some human hands involved in the process whereby they acquire their daily meals. It’s much more comforting for them to imagine that their beloved supermarket somehow spirits their daily needs out of some super hygienic, sanitized, forever sunny, manicured Astroturf garden.
The Eastern European peasant family farmer does not know much about what goes on in the corporate run, European Union subsidised, monocultural deserts that churn-out and almost endless supply of nitrate induced, vitamin depleted and pesticide protected – so called ‘foods’. He will not know what the majority of Westernised consumers dump into their trolleys on the way to the check-out desk, car boot and home freezer chest.
This farmer does know, however, that a very strange thing has happened to people over the past few decades. Something that seems to have taken them away from values which, to the good farmer, are pretty much sacrosanct. Values like never wasting valuable resources and living from the fruits of one’s labours. About independence and love of a way of life in the open fields, open air, one that somehow keeps one always close to God. Read the rest of this entry »
Mosquitoes engineered with a jumping gene vector to express a DNA-cutting enzyme produce >95 % male offspring; unfortunately both enzyme and vector target genomes of diverse species from slime moulds to humans.
Dr. Mae Wan Ho
This commentary has been sent to the editors of the journal Nature Communications, inviting them and the researchers who have reported the creation of the new transgenic mosquitoes in the journal to reply.
A good trick but no consideration of risks
A team led by Andrea Crisanti at Imperial College London in the UK was widely reported to have made a breakthrough or even a ‘quantum leap’ in creating transgenic mosquitoes that could eradicate malaria . Unfortunately, it is potentially the most hazardous genetically modified organism (GMO) to have been created, and should go no further from the laboratory. The researchers have not considered the risks involved, which would have been obvious from a casual review of existing literature.
Their fast-tracked online report in Nature Communications stated : “Here we generate a synthetic sex distortion system by exploiting the specificity of the homing endonuclease I-PpoI, which is able to selectively cleave ribosomal gene sequences of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae that are located exclusively on the mosquito’s X-chromosome. We combine structure-based protein engineering and molecular genetics to restrict the activity of the potentially toxic endonuclease to spermatogenesis. Shredding of the paternal X-chromosome prevents it from being transmitted to the next generation resulting in fully fertile mosquito strains that produce >95 % male offspring.”
Simply considered as a genetic trick, it is ingenious. Shredding the X chromosome of the male will make all of its offspring males. That is because female mosquitoes (like female humans) have two X chromosomes, one from the male parent and the other from the female parent, so without the contribution of the X chromosome from the male parent, only male offspring will result. A completely sterile male mosquito is useless, as it just dies out without affecting the population. But a fully fertile one that breeds exclusively males and pass on the sex-distorter trait would be ideal, as it would indeed wipe out the natural population, provided the trait is stably inherited. It would have been the perfect solution to destroying the natural populations of mosquitoes that transmit malaria; except that the DNA-cutting enzyme is by not means “specific” to “ribosomal gene sequences located exclusively on the mosquito’s X-chromosome” as stated. On the contrary, it cuts at a target sequence in ribosomal RNA (rRNA) genes – numerous copies of which are present in all eukaryote genomes – plus other sites as well, and the transgenic mosquitoes have been created using a jumping gene (transposon) vector that promiscuously invades all genomes. It is the female mosquitoes that bite people and transmit disease; so any transgenic female mosquitoes among the offspring would inject GM DNA containing the vector and I-PpoI transgene for horizontal transfer into people’s cells to shred their genomes. Read the rest of this entry »
RE-PUBLICATION of the Séralini et al. study on the “Long-term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize”
ENSSER welcomes the re-publication of the data from the long-term rat feeding study with herbicide-tolerant NK603 maize and the associated Roundup herbicide plus the publication of the raw data by the researchers of Professor Séralini’s group. This study follows up on the Monsanto study submitted to the European regulator in support of its safety declaration for commercial approval. The study used the same type of rats as used by Monsanto. They were fed with Roundup-tolerant NK603 genetically modified (GM) maize (11% of the diet), cultivated with or without the application of Roundup together with Roundup alone (0.1 ppb of the full pesticide containing glyphosate and adjuvants) in drinking water for 2 years. EFSA accepts rat-feeding studies that are terminated after only 90 days, which constitutes a fraction of the entire lifespan of rats and, thus, addresses only short-term toxicity. Séralini and colleagues extended this period to a full lifespan in order to study chronic long term effects. Read the rest of this entry »
Rosemary Mason MB ChB FRCA
Compiled with information from a global network of beekeepers, independent scientists and environmentalists
We Are What We Eat – The poisoning of our food supply
“We now live in a world where it is considered beneficial and necessary to spray poison over all our food and to add more poison (dye, preservatives, flavor enhancers, etc) in processing our food. Then we take more poison to counteract the poisons. Beam me up Scotty, the inmates are insane.” Read the rest of this entry »
Barbara H. Peterson
America, the land of the free… or is it?
Home of the brave, land of the free. That is what we are supposed to believe. What we are conditioned to believe. Consider this: A rat born in captivity doesn’t know anything else. We could label that captivity “freedom” and the rat would know no difference.
We who were born in America have been told time and time again that we are free and that other countries hate us for our freedom and that we must spread that freedom throughout the world. We are taught to believe that our troops are sent to kill and die to protect us from those that hate us, and that if they didn’t, we would live in captivity, slavery, and authoritarian rule.
But what if it’s all a lie? What if the freedom that we cherish is actually a carefully constructed mask designed to fool those within and without the nation, disguising the true nature of the beast system that we live under? A system created by those who would be king? A system of slavery so complete that we, like the rat, cannot tell the difference because the cage is all we know? What if the freedom that we imagine ourselves to have is all an illusion? Poof! Gone like the wind. Out the door like yesterday’s trash. Read the rest of this entry »