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Millions Of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Set To Be Released: This Is Why It’s A Problem

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Millions of genetically modified mosquitoes might soon be released in Florida. The biotech company Oxitec and the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District (FKMCD) are moving ahead with their plan to introduce these insects into the area to, according to them, help stop the spread of multiple tropical diseases.

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One of the diseases is called Chikungunya, another is dengue, and both are spread by Aedes mosquitoes. An infection with Chikungunya can lead to fever and joint pain which is sometimes severe, but rarely causes death. In 2014, only 11 individuals actually contracted this disease in Florida, so it makes one wonder if this type of “tinkering with nature” is really necessary? (source)

When it comes to the dengue virus, severe cases may progress into dengue hemorrhagic fever, complications from which may eventually result in death. Over 100 million cases of dengue occur every year, but according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is rare to find a case of it in the United States.

The mosquitoes released would all be male, and are genetically modified to carry a “genetic kill switch.” This means that when they mate with wild female mosquitoes, the “kill switch” gene is passed on to the offspring and therefore cannot survive.

Millions Of Genetically Modified Insects Have Already Been Released

Oxitec has already released a large number of GM olive flies that were used to kill off wild pests that damage crops. In the Cayman Islands, 3 million GM mosquitoes were released, and in this case over 90 percent of the original natural native mosquito population was suppressed. The same results were also seen in Brazil. (source)

Supporters of the GM insects, like Oxitec, claim that those who oppose the idea are simply fear mongering. This is currently the same response from the big biotech giants to opposers of genetically modified foods.

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Concerns With This Approach

There are various concerns, such as, what happens if someone receives a bite from one of these mosquitoes?

“Will their GM DNA be injected into your arm or leg? Oxitec has counteracted this objection by stating they only plan to release male mosquitoes, which don’t bite. This again sounds good in theory… but in reality, sorting millions of insects according to sex is no small feat. And even FKMCD notes that although ‘every effort is made to release only males,’ Oxitec trials show that .03 percent of the mosquitoes released are female.” -Dr. Joseph Mercola (source)

If you think about it, with millions of mosquitoes released, we are still talking about thousands of mosquitoes that can bite. Estimates of genetically modified insects that have been released into the environment are between 50-100 million. What about the environmental health impacts report? Again, what about the synthetic DNA from the bites? Who is tracking all of this stuff, and how exactly do you track it? Why are we just assuming everything is okay, without any evidence to back it up?

The potential exists for these genes, which hop from one place to another, to infect human blood by finding entry through skin lesions or inhaled dust. Such transmission could potentially wreak havoc with the human genome by creating “insertion mutations” and other unpredictable types of DNA damage. (source)

According to Alfred Handler, a geneticist at the Agriculture Department in Hawaii, mosquitoes can develop resistance to the lethal gene and might then be released inadvertently. (source)

Todd Shelly, an entomologist for the Agriculture Department in Hawaii, said 3.5 percent of the insects in a laboratory test survived to adulthood, despite presumably carrying the lethal gene. (source)

Another factor to consider is this:

Tetracycline and other antibiotics are now showing up in the environment, in soil and surface water samples. These GM mosquitoes were designed to die in the absence of tetracycline (which is introduced in the lab in order to keep them alive long enough to breed). They were designed this way assuming they would NOT have access to that drug in the wild. With tetracycline exposure (for example, in a lake) these mutant insects could actually thrive in the wild, potentially creating a nightmarish scenario. (source)

Dr Helen Wallace, director of GeneWatch UK, warned about the GM fruit flies that were released a couple of years ago:

Releasing Oxite’s GM fruit flies is a deeply flawed approach to reducing numbers of these pests, because large numbers of their offspring will die as maggots in the fruit. Not only does this fail to protect the crop, millions of GM fruit fly maggots (most dead, but some alive) will enter the food chain where they could pose risks to human health and the environment. Oxitec’s experiments should not go ahead until rules for safety testing and plans for labelling and segregation of contaminated fruits have been thoroughly debated and assessed. If these issues are ignored, growers could suffer serious impacts on the market for their crops. (source)

It’s also important to note that there is there is no specific regulatory process for GM insects anywhere in the world.

Wallace went on to state that:

Regulatory decisions on GM insects in Europe and around the world are being biased by corporate interests as the UK biotech company Oxitec has infiltrated decision-making processes around the world. The company has close links to the multinational pesticide and seed company, Syngenta. Oxitec has already made large-scale open releases of GM mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands, Malaysia and Brazil and is developing GM agricultural pests, jointly with Syngenta. (source)(source)

“The public will be shocked to learn that GM insects can be released into the environment without any proper oversight. Conflicts of interest should be removed from all decision making processes to ensure the public have a proper say about these plans.” – Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK (source)

Environmental NGOs like Greenpeace suggest that GM insects could have unintended and wide ranging impacts on the environment and human health due to the complexity of ecosystems and the high number of unknown factors which make risk assessment difficult. These companies have raised a number of concerns which include: (source)

  • New insects or diseases may fill ecological niche left by the insects suppressed or replaced, possibly resulting in new public health or agricultural problems
  • The new genes engineered into the insects may jump into other species, a process called horizontal transfer, causing unintended consequences to the ecosystem
  • Releases would be impossible to monitor and irreversible, as would any damage done to the environment

A briefing done by these organizations also shows that Oxitec is trying to influence regulatory processes for GM insects, that they: (source)

  • Don’t want to be liable for any complications
  • Try to avoid any regulation of GM agricultural pests on crops appearing in the food chain
  • Exclude important issues from risk assessments, like the impact on human health
  • Release of large amounts of GM insects prior to regulations
  • Undermining the requirement to obtain informed consent for experiments involving insect species which transmit disease

What are your thoughts on these developments? You would think this would be big news, but it has gone largely unreported thus far. There are so many concerns and questions that have been left unanswered. Feel free to share your opinion in the comments section below.

Source:

(All sources are embedded throughout the article)

 

 

 

 

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A Jury’s $289 Million Verdict Against Monsanto Might Be Overturned By The Judge

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit alleging glyphosate causes cancer to go to trial. He ended up winning and was awarded nearly $300 million. Now, the judge is threatening to overall the decision made by the Jury.

  • Reflect On:

    How can corporations like Monsanto and government regulatory agencies constantly approve products that an uncountable amount of research and science has shown is harmful to human health as well as the environment.

Not long ago, school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson became involved in the very first lawsuit to go to trial alleging glyphosate causes cancer. The case made global headlines when the jury at San Francisco’s Superior Court of California deliberated for three days before finding that Monsanto had failed to warn Johnson and other consumers of the cancer risks posed by its weed killers. We’ve seen the same issue with similar substances like DDT, which was sprayed for years before it was finally banned decades ago. The unfortunate thing is that DDT is still highly present in the environment and in our soil, and is a catalyst for many diseases. Are we seeing the same thing with Glyphosate?

The court ended up awarding $39 million in compensation and $250 million in punitive damages. It’s also vital to mention that Monsanto, now a unit of Bayer AG following a $62.5 billion acquisition by the German conglomerate, faces more than 5,000 similar lawsuits across the United States.

Grounds For Reversal?

Now, just two months after jurors made the decision in favor of Johnson, who is dying of cancer, the judge suddenly has an issue with the amount and might overrule the decision. Again, Johnson is one of the thousands of cancer patients that are taking Monsanto to trial. The judge is apparently calling for a new trial, and she has now granted Monsanto a request for a JNOW on a tentative basis. A JNOW is a judgement notwithstanding the verdict. This is basically when a judge in a civil case overrules the jury’s decision.

This is extremely confusing, isn’t it? What prompted the judge to do this, and did Monsanto have anything to do with it? And even if the judge denies Monsanto’s request to drop the $250 million fine, the Court would grant a new trial on the grounds of ‘insufficiency of evidence’ to justify the award for punitive damages–this after the evidence was found to be quite sufficient at the time.

Even the jurors are speaking out, according to CTV news:

Jurors who found that agribusiness giant Monsanto’s Roundup weed killer contributed to a school groundskeeper’s cancer are urging a San Francisco judge not to throw out the bulk of their $289 million award in his favour, a newspaper reported Monday.

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Stock Drop

Shares in Bayer, which bought Monsanto as mentioned earlier, dropped immediately after the original decision and hasn’t risen since. It’s still trading at approximately 30 percent below its pre-verdict value. The statement given by Bayer after the initial decision does its best to restore confidence in their product:

The jury’s decision is wholly at odds with over 40 years of real-world use, an extensive body of scientific data and analysis…which support the conclusion that glyphosate-based herbicides are safe for use and do not cause cancer in humans. (source)

This statement strongly goes against the statements made by thousands of scientists across the world.

“It is commonly believed that Roundup is among the safest pesticides… Despite its reputation, Roundup was by far the most toxic among the herbicides and insecticides tested. This inconsistency between scientific fact and industrial claim may be attributed to huge economic interests, which have been found to falsify health risk assessments and delay health policy decisions.” – R. Mesnage et al., Biomed Research International, Volume 2014 (2014) article ID 179691

Keep in mind that the use of glyphosate rose 1500% from 1995 to 2005, and that 100 million pounds of glyphosate is used every year on more than a billion acres. (Cherry, B., “GM crops increase herbicide use in the United States,” Science in Society 45, 44-46, 2010) (source)

Years Of Activism

The alarming thing is that for decades, scientists, activist groups and environmental/health awareness groups have been creating awareness and presenting the science explaining how and why Monsanto’s glyphosate (the main ingredient in their Roundup herbicide) causes cancer, among other diseases. Despite the fact that this has been happening for years, the political stranglehold these corporations have on governmental regulatory agencies has prevented this information from being taken seriously.

If the truth was widely known it would result in an unfathomable drop in profit for Monsanto’s products which contain glyphosate, but mostly in North America. Many countries have completely banned the ingredient and other Monsanto products, due to clear links to diseases like cancer and kidney disease, for example. In fact, most of the products manufactured by Monsanto and other giant North American biotech companies are completely banned and illegal in many other countries.

It makes you wonder how such a substance can go through the review process, whatever it is, and still be approved for use. Monsanto has been sued many times; in fact one lawsuit unearthed documents showing how Monsanto misled regulators and scientists to speed up approval for the development of genetically modified foods. You can read more about that here. So, the science itself becomes subject to fraud when power and money are applied. Roundup herbicide is over one hundred times more toxic than regulators claim. And a new study published in the journal Biomedical Research International showed how Roundup herbicide is 125 times more toxic than its active ingredient glyphosate studied in isolation. You can read more about that here.

We are talking about clear hormone disrupters and clear catalysts for cancer. Decades of science and scientific fraud that’s been exposed has forced the World Health Organisation, a major hub of the establishment that seems to regulate the shady industry of health, to finally admit that glyphosate, like cigarettes, processed foods and meats, is carcinogenic.

Clear Injustice

This judge’s reversal will end up having enormous financial and reputational repercussions for the corporation, and it seems obvious that she has been influenced by power and money. The truth is, if you take the scientific evidence, as well as clear evidence of scientific fraud and corruption by these corporate and government agencies (who are constantly in collusion with one another), there is no jury on the planet that would not reach a guilty verdict. That’s because the evidence is quite clear, which is why if this decision was going to be reversed, it would have to be the Judge over-ruling the jury’s decision.

This verdict proves that when ordinary citizens, in this case a jury of 12, hear the facts about Monsanto’s products, and the lengths to which this company has gone to buy off scientists, deceive the public and influence government regulatory agencies, there is no confusion.”  Ronnie Cummins, International Director of the organic consumers association

At the end of the day, we are the ones using these products and we are the ones voting with our dollar. That being said, it completely goes against our free will and interests for products to be approved that are obviously completely unsafe. It’s unfortunate that those who choose not to use these products or be near them, still end up with it in our system. The fact that Monsanto can still somehow fight this and provide evidence means our work is not yet done.

The Takeaway

The work of many brave activists has brought awareness to the severe health risks of glyphosate and Roundup, but to honor all their efforts we must continue to spread awareness about these corporate crimes until the time comes when these chemicals have been removed from all corners of the Earth.

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The Man The CIA Wants You To Forget

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Former LAPD Narcotics Detective and whistleblower Michael Ruppert spent years speaking out against the CIA for allegedly running drugs throughout the USA. He was found dead in 2014 by an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head.

  • Reflect On:

    Why do we continue to give credibility to agencies like the CIA who have been caught abusing their power time and time again? Who's watching the watchers? What can we do to better protect whistleblowers when they come forward?

Michael C. Ruppert was an ex-LAPD Narcotics Detective and whistleblower who came out against the CIA in the late 70’s. He claimed they tried to enlist him in protecting and helping to facilitate their drug running practices. When Ruppert declined involvement and came forward he said he was threatened, wrongly discredited, and even shot at, but that didn’t stop him from speaking up.

“I will tell you, director Deutch, that as a former LosAngeles police narcotics detective that the agency has dealt drugs throughout this country for a long time.” – Michael C. Ruppert

At a now infamous town hall hearing in LA, he faced off against the chief of the CIA with a packed room of people from the South-Central area cheering him on from the crowd. It was not only the unlawful behavior Ruppert wanted to expose, but also the incredible hypocrisy of the CIA and the LAPD for bringing cocaine and other drugs into the community, and then locking up small-time drug dealers and users.

These imported drugs were ripping apart communities with widespread effects like addiction, increased crime and gang activity, overdose deaths, and many incarcerations that broke up families leading to cycles of crime that spanned generations. You can see the video of the emotional town hall meeting below.

He Didn’t Stop There

Michael Ruppert spent most of his life trying to expose criminality at the highest levels. Tackling everything from the peak oil crisis to the military industrial complex. He also believed that 9/11 was allowed to happen by the Bush administration.

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” 9-11 was a predictable event and it was motivated precisely and solely by Peak Oil and nothing else.” – Michael C. Ruppert (source)

Ruppert became a published author and gained more notoriety for his controversial book “Confronting Collapse: The Crisis of Energy and Money in a Post Peak Oil World.”  That ended up inspiring the eye-opening documentary “Collapse”, which is a worthwhile watch to start understanding the deep levels of corruption and cover-up that has been taking place around the globe.

No matter your thoughts on the legitimacy of Ruppert’s claims, it’s clear he wasn’t afraid of taking on the Goliaths of the world but for doing so was branded by many throughout the mainstream media as a wild conspiracy theorist.

“All corporate-owned and publicly-traded media is our first and foremost immediate enemy.” Michael C. Ruppert

Redemption?

It’s 1996 and in comes Gary Webb. A very well respected Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who begins investigating the ties between leaders of the Nicaraguan Contra Rebel organizations and the CIA. Webb wrote a 3 part investigative series that got published in the San Jose Mercury News. This caused a public uproar, especially from people in poorer communities where the crack-cocaine epidemic was destroying families.

The publicity from Webb’s scathing piece of journalism against the CIA is what allowed Ruppert the chance to finally be heard on a larger scale, and Webb’s conclusions even launched a federal investigation into the issue. While many people believed him, Gary Webb ended up losing his publisher, getting smeared all over the mainstream news for exaggerating and was even called an outright liar. Alongside Ruppert, Webb was outspoken in saying there was massive media manipulation around the issue.

“The government side of the story is coming through the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post. They use the giant corporate press rather than saying anything directly. If you work through friendly reporters on major newspapers, it comes off as The New York Times saying it and not a mouthpiece of the CIA.” – Gary Webb (source)

Tragic Ending

Gary Webb was found dead in his home in 2004 with two gunshot wounds to the head. His death was ruled a suicide but there is still some speculation considering the fact that it’s uncommon for a person to pull the trigger twice in a suicide but to be fair it has happened in the past. There was a suicide note and his wife has stated he was depressed for a while about no longer being able to get a job at any major newspaper.

An eerily similar fate was met by Michael Ruppert. He was found dead in his home in 2014 with one gunshot wound to the head. He also left a note and his death was ruled a suicide. Just like Webb there was mystery around Ruppert’s official story, some believe it was a hit for saying too much or that maybe he was onto another big story, some believe the suicide was staged and he went off the map to get a fresh start, and others take the story at face value and think that maybe he’d just had enough of fighting, of always looking over his shoulder. As a man that spent his life questioning the mainstream narrative, it seems fitting that many conspiracy theories have formed around his death.

The Takeaway

If you check out the video above you can hear from Michael Ruppert himself about some of his story and see him in action at the town hall meeting where he challenged the CIA. His question to the chief is a powerful one, asking if he comes across information of illegal activity but it’s classified, will he report it?

Are these organizations we give the power to enforce the law and/or to protect us above the law? Are there circumstances where illegal activity by some organizations is justified, say if the information is a threat to public safety? Why could none of the CIA’s internal investigations find any hard evidence of the claims against them? Who’s watching the watchers? One of the final sentences of Ruppert’s suicide note reads:

“I do this for the children, may it bring love and light into the world.” – Michael C. Ruppert (source)

That seems like a cause that we can all get behind. Working together to build a world worth leaving to future generations. Let’s leave it better than we found it, I know we’re capable of it. Whether you agree with Michael Ruppert’s beliefs or not we can learn from him because I feel that he was trying to do just that, leave the world a better place. Love and light!

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Consider This Before Indulging In Legal Cannabis In Canada

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Cannabis is now legal in Canada for recreational and medicinal use.

  • Reflect On:

    Will the legalization of cannabis change our relationship and habits with cannabis? Should it?

For some Canadians, October 17th is a day they have been anticipating for a long time. For others, it may pass by without much notice. Yet, one thing is for sure. Eventually, virtually all Canadians will be impacted in one way or another by Canada’s decision to legalize cannabis. Parents. Children. Regular Users. Non-users. Teenagers. The Elderly. Those of all ages suffering from illnesses of all kinds.

And not only will this impact the everyday lives of people in Canada, most Canadian institutions will be going through a learning curve and devoting attention to this new phenomenon. The government. Law Enforcement Agencies. Growers and farms. Wholesalers and retailers. Advertisers and marketers. Who in Canada will be able to say they have not been touched by this one way or another, once the intoxicating and healing powers of cannabis become more accessible even than alcohol?

What Will Change

Some changes will happen immediately, some changes will evolve over time. Some people argue that Canada is not yet ready for all the implications of legalizing cannabis at this point, but the prevailing attitude is that things will sort themselves out in an orderly fashion over the next 1-3 years.

Law enforcement: The change in the criminal code means that limited possession of cannabis is no longer a crime, though people who are currently in jail for possession of cannabis are not being automatically let out of jail. Much of law enforcement rhetoric focuses on preventing youth from indulging in cannabis, in a fashion similar to the restrictions on alcohol. More likely, the majority of funds and manpower will be diverted to combating black market enterprises, given that the government now stands to gain $675 million per year in tax revenues from the sale of legal cannabis. Regulations for impaired driving as a result of cannabis consumption look to evolve over time as technologies for measuring impairment like alcohol ‘breathalizers’ improve.

Home Growing: Individuals will be permitted to grow up to four plants for their own use. While the sale of edibles (baked goods, drinks, etc) will not be allowed initially, individuals can make edibles at home for their own use.

Marketing and Retail: The way in which legal cannabis is promoted and sold to the public will likely go through a push-pull transition between advertising regulations and the way wholesalers and retailers will try to get around those regulations to sell their products. The same can probably be said for the business chain as a whole from growth to consumption.

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Usage in General: Usage in Canada is bound to increase, simply due to an increase in the availability for those who have not actively sought it out in the past, and the removal of the stigma of its illegality, as well as the social acceptance of the consumption of cannabis which is bound to grow over the next couple of years.

What Will Not Change

There are two things that will not change when cannabis is made legal in Canada on October 17th: cannabis and you.

Cannabis itself is not suddenly safer or better for you than it was before just because it has become legalized. The same decisions you were making on whether or not to indulge in the past still pretty much apply, so ubiquitous was its use despite being illegal. Will regulation make the quality of cannabis you receive better? Not necessarily. It may become more consistent, if less potent, if the quality controls in place are reliable. But remember, black market dealers and sellers had an intrinsic investment in the quality of their product if they were to hope to have regular customers.

By ‘you,’ I am referring to your deepest, truest sense of self, the person you are and who you want to be in the highest vision of yourself. This does not change with any change of regulation in the outer world, and certainly you have to be wary if this change of regulation arbitrarily changes the choices you make and impacts your habits, goals, and dreams.

What To Watch Out For

You may be one who will be inclined to be more open to the personal recreational use of cannabis once it becomes legal. With this comes the possibility of gradually developing a dependence, facilitated by a greater legal and social acceptability. It is important to take notice if recreational use begins to devolve into a catch-all means of escaping from the stress and discomfort of real-life problems, in ways that you get out of the habit of confronting problems and discomfort at their source.

The same can be said about the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. No doubt, cannabis and CBD oil will be marketed as the healthy sedative for physical ailments and will also be touted as a curative agent for certain types of diseases. While this may be true in some particular cases, you have to be cautious about the claims made by sellers and marketers of the product, whose job is to sell rather than research and diagnose exactly what conditions will benefit from cannabis treatment, and even more particularly what strains of cannabis will work for given conditions.

There is a body of research about the curative effects of cannabis made from an Eastern holistic perspective, which treats each individual case not based on outward symptoms, as Western medicine does, but in terms the particular physiological, emotional and spiritual conditions an individual is in which seen to be at the root of the individual’s ailment. Hence, being wary of marketing practices does not mean avoid cannabis or CBD oil as medicinal treatment for a particular condition, but try to do so in consultation with an unbiased and trusted practitioner/researcher whose motives are healing your particular condition rather than making profits selling cannabis.

The Takeaway

The consumption of cannabis has the potential to be both consciousness-expanding and consciousness-numbing. It does have healing properties but you really have to do your due diligence and use it in a very disciplined way in order to truly gain healing benefits from it rather than getting into the habit of simply escaping from pains and difficulties that are part of a normal life. It is an exciting time for Canadians in that we are now more free to choose something that never should have been illegal to begin with. Let’s make sure this newfound freedom serves us in the best ways as individuals and as a community.

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