Bold Scientists, the trailer, now on YouTube.

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“Tremendously hopeful and profoundly disturbing.”

Great minds don’t think alike. They think differently.  Here.

Bold Scientists trailer, screen shot

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New GM Crops: fields of insanity

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A definition of insanity: If something clearly doesn’t work, do it again.  And again…

TRAUDT AERIAL SERVICEPhoto: Aurora Cooperative

The corporate leviathans that brought us GM crops promised no pollen spread. Fact: Any place these invasive crops are planted they spread pollen as far as wind and bugs can carry it, making it impossible to grow non-genetically manipulated crops for miles around.

The industry promised that GM herbicide-tolerant crops would need less chemicals to suppress competing weeds. Nature laughed. Fact: Very quickly, weeds developed tolerance to the most widely used herbicide, glyphosate. The resulting ‘superweeds’ already infest an estimated 70 million acres of US farmland, and they’re spreading rapidly.  It’s being called an agricultural crisis.  Another one.

The corporate solution to the new problem: Throw more chemicals at it. No surprise, chemicals induce dependency and generate enormous profits. The pushers are pushing hard – not that it takes much pressure – to get US government approval to sell the highly toxic 2,4-D herbicide/defoliant, infamous as a weapon of mass destruction in the US war on Viet Nam.

At the same time, the industry plans to release GM crops.2, corn and soybeans genetically manipulated to tolerate repeated dousing with multiple herbicides, including 2,4-D. Details here, in Wired: http://www.wired.com/2014/09/new-gm-crops/.

For a saner path, stop in for a visit with Ann Clark, plant physiologist and post-oil farmer, in Bold Scientists, chapter 2, Digging thistles. Read an excerpt here.

Bold Scientists on Green Majority Radio

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A feature interview on Green Majority Radio:  Fresh from the New York City climate march, host Daryn Caister chats with Michael Riordon about Bold Scientists.

MR and BS, Green Majority MediaWe range far and wide: science and scientists – bold and not, knowing our place (in nature), who owns knowledge, hubris and humility, power and resistance… Far and wide.

Hear it here: http://greenmajoritymedia.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/419-bold-scientists/.

 

 

Good news from Chile!

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From the newly elected government of Chile, an inspiring initiative on the genetic manipulation front:

Chile Derails ‘Monsanto Law’ That Would Privatize Seeds.

Chile protests GMOsPhoto: International Business Times

The bold move followed years of public protest against GMOs throughout Chile.

Alicia Muñoz, of the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (Anamuri) explains: “All of the resistance that rural organizations, principally indigenous communities, led during these past years was a success.  We were able to convey to the parliament how harmful the law would be for the indigenous communities and farmers who feed us all.  Big agriculture, or agro-business, is just that, a business.  It doesn’t feed our country.”

Meanwhile in Canada, the US and the EU, governments beholden to the agri-corps rush to do their profit-driven bidding.

The new government in Chile sets an example of what responsible governments can do when they attend to the needs of their people, rather than serve the grey ghosts that stalk the corridors of power.

Follow the international GMO battle in Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, coming from Between the Lines, autumn 2014.

Monarch butterfly in ‘grave danger’

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In late summer 2013, we saw only three or four of these beautiful butterflies in our eastern Ontario garden, a stunning loss that many other people have confirmed.  Here’s why.  It’s a sad, infuriating story of nature, science and power abused.  Deeply entwined with our own, the story of the Monarchs is bleak, but not finished.

From Andrea Germanos at the independent news site Common Dreams, on January 29, 2014:

A new report from the World Wildlife Fund and Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas found that the number of monarch butterflies hibernating in Mexico dropped to its lowest level since records began in 1993.

The insects make an epic journey of thousands of miles each year from Canada and the U.S. to spend November through March hibernating in Mexico’s temperate forests.

Clues that this year’s numbers would be the continuation of a troubling trend have been in for months, with the new study bringing more grim proof that the monarch is in trouble.

Using satellite and aerial photographs, the new study documented that 1.65 acres of forest were inhabited by monarchs during December of 2013, marking a 44% drop from the same time in 2012.

“Twenty years after the signing of NAFTA, the monarch butterfly migration – a symbol of cooperation between our three countries – is in grave danger,” stated Omar Vidal, WWF-Mexico Director General.

While the study focused on deforestation and forest degradation in monarch reserves that serve as their winter habitat, it points to a trio of perils contributing to declining numbers of monarchs.

There are 3 primary threats to the monarch butterfly in its range in North America: deforestation and degradation of forest by illegal logging of overwintering sites in Mexico; widespread reduction of breeding habitat in the United States due to land-use changes and the decrease of this butterfly’s main larval food plant (common milkweed [Asclepias syriaca]) associated with the use of glyphosate herbicide to kill weeds growing in genetically engineered, herbicide-resistant crops; and periodic extreme weather conditions throughout its range during the year, such as severe cold or cold summer or winter temperatures.

Other butterfly experts have pointed to these three factors as well, though Lincoln Brower, a professor of biology at Sweet Briar College who has studied the monarch migrations for decades, told the Washington Post‘s Brad Plumer that “The most catastrophic thing from the point of view of the monarch butterfly has been the expansion of crops that are planted on an unbelievably wide scale throughout the Midwest and have been genetically manipulated to be resistant to the powerful herbicide Roundup.”

Another leading scientist who has spent three decades studying the monarch, Karen Oberhauser, professor at the University of Minnesota, added to this point, saying “Numerous lines of evidence demonstrate that the Corn Belt in the U.S. Midwest is the primary source for monarchs hibernating in Mexico,” and the region has been hit by the explosive use of Roundup-resistant crops.

This has meant that milkweed, the host plant for the monarch caterpillar, is being wiped out from fields, something that Chip Ward, Director of Monarch Watch, has been documenting.

“These genetically modified crops have resulted in the extermination of milkweed from many agricultural habitats,” added Oberhauser.

Dr. Phil Schappert, a Canadian butterfly conservationist, added in a statement that “‘the economy first’ practices, instead of sustainable land use practices, threaten monarch habitat” in Canada, and urges his country and the United States to “implement measures that protect the reproductive habitat and feeding grounds of this butterfly.  Otherwise, this spiral of population decline will continue,” Schappert added.

Monarch Watch’s Ward adds, “Let’s plant milkweed – lots and lots of it.”

More on GMOs vs conservation biology in Pesky Facts: unspun science for dangerous times, from Between the Lines, autumn 2014.

(Monarch photo: Michael Riordon)