Billions of Locusts Pose an “Unprecedented Threat” to Africa, UN Warns

By Aaron Kesel

Desert locusts are invading and feasting on crops across Africa, and those affected are calling for international help, a new report states.

The outbreak of desert locusts is reportedly the worst that Kenya has seen in 70 years, according to the Associated Press. The insects have been flooding the country from Ethiopia and Somalia, leaving destroyed farmland in their wake in a part of the world that already suffers from hunger, drought, and flooding warned the UN.

“We must act immediately,” David Phiri of the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said.

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“This has become a situation of international dimensions that threatens the food security of the entire subregion. FAO is activating fast-track mechanisms that will allow us to move swiftly to support governments in mounting a collective campaign to deal with this crisis,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in a statement earlier this week.

Phiri called for aid to “avert any threats to food security, livelihoods, malnutrition.”

According to an FAO fact sheet, a swarm of locusts the size of Paris could eat the same amount of food as half the population of France in just a single day. The UN states that even a small swarm of locusts can eat through enough food for 35,000 people in a single day and can travel more than 90 miles.

The FAO estimates one swarm in Kenya to be around 930 square miles, suggesting it could contain up to as many as 200 billion locusts.

Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are all struggling with “unprecedented” and “devastating” swarms of the insects, the FAO has said. And the locusts are not only eating crops but disrupting farm animals and basic farming operations, according to the agency.

Beyond that, the locusts can even disrupt passenger planes in the region and may have already done just that. In fact, earlier this month an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Djibouti to Dire Dawa performed an emergency landing after the insects collided with it. A report states that the locusts were trapped in the engine and others hit the aircraft’s windshield.

The UN proposed a six-month emergency action plan estimated to cost $70 million. The cost would include aerial pesticide spraying, which they say is the only effective way to combat the insects. However, that task won’t be an easy effort especially in Somalia, where parts of the country are controlled by the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab extremist group.

The United Nations said that the problem could increase in March when rainfall picks up in the region.

FAO expressed fears that if the problem is left uncontained when new vegetation grows, the swarms could grow 500 times by June of this year. If the infestation is not controlled, the agency warns that South Sudan and Uganda are also at risk.

Ethiopia and Somalia have not faced an infestation on this scale for 25 years while Kenya has not seen a locust threat this size for 70 years, the FAO said earlier this week.

In November of last year, Ethiopia issued a call for “immediate action” to deal with the problem affecting four of the country’s nine states.

In northern Amhara state some farmers have lost “nearly 100%” of their crop of the staple grain teff, the FAO said. The FAO estimate that the insects were eating 1.8 million tons of vegetation a day across 135 square miles of Ethiopia.

“The speed of the pests’ spread and the size of the infestations are so far beyond the norm that they have stretched the capacities of local and national authorities to the limit,” the FAO said.

Besides locusts in east Africa, the insects have also been breeding in India, Iran, Egypt, Sudan, Eritrea, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Pakistan which could turn into massive swarms in the spring. The locusts in East Africa are believed to have originated from Yemen last August, having traveled across the Red Sea.

The unusually heavy rain that has recently hit the region may also be a factor in the swarms, according to Accuweather. Warmer temperatures can also play a role in desert locust swarms.

A donor conference in Rome next week will be asked to pledge $70 million to deal with the plague of desert locusts that are threatening where tens of millions of people already face extreme hunger. The UN has so far released $10 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to combat the invasion according to to VOA who spoke to Jens Laerke, spokesman for the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

By Aaron Kesel | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Insecticides are Becoming MORE Toxic to Honey Bees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — During the past 20 years, insecticides applied to U.S. agricultural landscapes have become significantly more toxic — over 120-fold in some Midwestern states — to honey bees when ingested, according to a team of researchers, who identified rising neonicotinoid seed treatments in corn and soy as the primary driver of this change. The study is the first to characterize the geographic patterns of insecticide toxicity to bees and reveal specific areas of the country where mitigation and conservation efforts could be focused.

According to Christina Grozinger, Distinguished Professor of Entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Penn State, this toxicity has increased during the same period in which widespread decline in populations of pollinators and other insects have been documented.

“Insecticides are important for managing insects that damage crops, but they can also affect other insect species, such as bees and other pollinators, in the surrounding landscape,” she said. “It is problematic that there is such a dramatic increase in the total insecticide toxicity at a time when there is also so much concern about declines in populations of pollinating insects, which also play a very critical role in agricultural production.”

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The researchers, led by Maggie Douglas, assistant professor of environmental studies, Dickinson College, and former postdoctoral fellow, Penn State, integrated several public databases — including insecticide use data from the U.S. Geological Survey, toxicity data from the Environmental Protection Agency, and crop acreage data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture — to generate county-level annual estimates of honey bee “toxic load” for insecticides applied between 1997 and 2012. The team defined toxic load as the number of lethal doses to bees from all insecticides applied to cropland in each county.

The researchers generated separate estimates for contact-based toxic loads, such as when a bee is sprayed directly, and oral-based toxic loads, such as when a bee ingests the pollen or nectar of a plant that has recently been treated. They generated a map of predicted insecticide toxic load at the county level. Their results appear today (Jan. 21) in Scientific Reports.

The team found that the pounds of insecticides applied decreased in most counties from 1997 to 2012, while contact-based bee toxic load remained relatively steady. In contrast, oral-based bee toxic load increased by 9-fold, on average, across the U.S. This pattern varied by region, with the greatest increase — 121-fold — seen in the Heartland, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as all of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana; most of Missouri; and part of Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Northern Great Plains had the second highest increase at 53-fold. This region includes all of North Dakota and part of South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Minnesota.

Oral-based bee toxic load increased by 9-fold, on average, across the U.S. This pattern varied by region, with the greatest increase — 121-fold — seen in the Heartland, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as all of Iowa, Illinois and Indiana; most of Missouri; and part of Minnesota, Ohio, Kentucky, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Northern Great Plains had the second highest increase at 53-fold. This region includes all of North Dakota and part of South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana and Minnesota. Credit: Scientific Reports; Margaret Douglas, Dickinson College

“This dramatic increase in oral-based toxic load is connected to a shift toward widespread use of neonicotinoid insecticides, which are unusually toxic to bees when they are ingested,” said Douglas.

The most widely used family of insecticides in the world, neonicotinoids are commonly used as seed coatings in crops, such as corn and soybean. Some of the insecticide is taken up by the growing plants and distributed throughout their tissues, while the rest is lost to the environment.

“Several studies have shown that these seed treatments have negligible benefits for most crops in most regions,” said Grozinger. “Unfortunately, growers often don’t have the option to purchase seeds without these treatments; they don’t have choices in how to manage their crops.”

The researchers suggest that the common method of evaluating insecticide use trends in terms of pounds of insecticides applied does not give an accurate picture of environmental impact.

“The indicator we use — bee toxic load — can be considered as an alternative indicator in cases where impacts to bees and other non-target insects is a concern,” said Douglas. “This is particularly relevant given that many states have recently developed ‘Pollinator Protection Plans’ to monitor and address pollinator declines. Ultimately, our work helps to identify geographic areas where in-depth risk assessment and insecticide mitigation and conservation efforts could be focused.”

“It is important to note that the calculation of bee toxic load provides information about the total toxicity of insecticides applied to a landscape,” said Grozinger. “It does not calculate how much of that insecticide actually comes in contact with bees, or how long the insecticide lasts before it is broken down. Future studies are needed to determine how toxic load associates with changes in populations of bees and other insects.”

This research is part of a larger project to investigate the various stressors impacting pollinator populations across the United States. One tool created within this research project is Beescape, which allows users to explore the stressors affecting bees in their own communities.

Sources:

Penn State

Journal article

Top image: Pixabay

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Bees Absolutely Love Cannabis and It Could Help Restore Their Populations

By Elias Marat

Bees are major fans of hemp and a recent study has found that the taller the hemp plants are the larger the number of bees that will flock to it.

The new research, spearheaded by researchers at Cornell University and published last month in Environmental Entomology, shows that humans aren’t the only fans of weed. The findings also reinforce a study published last year at Colorado State University that discovered the same thing.

The study shows how bees are highly attracted to cannabis due to the plant’s plentiful stores of pollen, and it could pave the way for scientists to figure out new ways to support their struggling population as well as floral populations.

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According to the study, the greater the area covered by the hemp plant the greater the chance that bees will swarm to the area. Additionally, those hemp plants that are taller have a much greater likelihood of attracting bees with the tallest plants attracting a stunning 17 times more bees than the shortest plants.

The study also found that as time went on greater amounts of bees visited the hemp plots on a more frequent basis. It sounds almost like the word-of-mouth effect among humans who hear about great deals at a dispensary, no?

The researchers also discovered that hemp, a major cash crop with multiple applications, can support no less than 16 different varieties of bees in the northeastern United States.

The findings may seem strange considering that cannabis doesn’t produce the sweet, sugary nectar that your typical floral varieties produce to attract insects. Nor does hemp flower come in the dazzling array of bright colors that likewise attract bugs. However, the pollen produced by male flowers is highly attractive to the 16 bee subspecies in the study for reasons that remain unknown.

Female flowers—the kind that humans like to smoke for its intoxicating and soothing effects—are basically ignored by bees since they don’t produce any actual flowers.

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The study’s author’s wrote:

The rapid expansion of hemp production in the United States… may have significant implications for agroecosystem-wide pollination dynamics.

As a late-season crop flowering during a period of seasonal floral dearth, hemp may have a particularly strong potential to enhance pollinator populations and subsequent pollination services for crops in the following year by filling gaps in late-season resource scarcity.

What makes the findings so compelling is the crucial impact it could have on suffering bee populations across the United States.

Bees are perhaps one of the most important managed pollinators in U.S. agriculture. Spreading the male sex cells of flowers to their female counterparts in a natural process that is highly crucial to plant reproduction.

According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization, pollinators are worth anywhere from $235 and $577 billion worldwide owing to their pivotal role in the production of global crops. In the U.S. alone this means that bees are responsible for $20 billion of domestic crop production. Without bees we can kiss almonds, blueberries, watermelon, and other crops goodbye.

The authors of the study made clear that the combination of bees plus hemp won’t mean that folks should worry about cannabinoid-rich pollen sneaking it into their diets nor will the bees start producing honey enriched with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—as nice as that sounds.

Likewise, the presence of cannabinoids like THC in hemp pollen is “not likely to have an impact on bee development due to the loss of cannabinoid receptors in insects.”

So while we often like to focus on the recreational or medicinal use of marijuana—in its edible, smokeable, and vape-able forms—this new research shows that the plant can in fact help nature and agriculture in amazingly important ways.

By Elias Marat | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

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Willie Nelson Joins the Fight Against a Corporate Takeover of the Cannabis Industry

By Phillip Schneider

As marijuana becomes legal across the country, a select few companies have come to dominate the market with some bad business practices. But Willie Nelson is trying to stop them.

Thirty-five years ago, as Willie was playing his music at Live Aid, a benefit concert for those affected by the famine in Ethiopia, he had the idea for a benefit concert that supports local farmers.

But Bob Geldof, the organizer of Live Aid at the time, thought that his proposal was a “crass, stupid, and nationalistic” conflation of the two issues. As Willie listened to him downplay the importance of farmers affected by a drought, bankruptcy, and a corporate takeover of the industry, it only solidified his desire to start his own concert, thus Farm Aid was born.

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In their first year, Farm Aid included artists such as Johnny Cash and B.B. King and raised over $9 million for down-and-out American farmers.

“We were losing like 300 farmers a week” to suicide, Nelson recalls. “[But] things are a little better now. People have started thinking about buying and growing sustainably.”

Since Farm Aid began, a paradigm shift has occurred. People are now talking about sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and organic food, and the likes of Big Tobacco, Big Agriculture, and Big Biotech have become stains on American identity.

Willie Nelson was as much a player in this cultural shift as anybody, but he knows that the battle isn’t over yet. In recent years, Willie has set his sights on something very near and dear to him: marijuana.

As a life-long marijuana smoker, Willie Nelson has a deep concern about the way that cannabis is grown and distributed. Out of this passion for weed came the start-up company Willie’s Reserve, a company started by Willie and investor Andrew Davison that seeks to bring social responsibility into the pot market.

I really believe in the environmental aspect of this. It’s a great way to revitalize small farms, and I want to make sure that any product we grow is as clean as we can make it and that, wherever possible, we’re trying to lower the environmental impact of our operations. – Andrew Davidson on Willie Nelson’s response to his proposal.

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The legalization movement was founded on the values of justice, liberty, and health. Many people, often disproportionately black, have been thrown in jail for victimless crimes relating to cannabis. Although marijuana is now legal to smoke in many places, it is not always legal to grow or sell. In order to do so, you must get a medical permit, or a cannabis business license respectively, in which the government is handing out very few.

It looks a lot like the concentration of capital that we have seen with Big Alcohol and Big Tobacco. I think that’s problematic for cannabis-law reformers, because it plays into our opposition’s strongest argument. – Alison Holcomb, drafter of the original cannabis legalization law in Washington State

Big Pot has also begun using harmful pesticides, none of which cannabis activists and consumers ever desired to smoke. Prior to legalization, black market growers typically would not use any pesticides because the quantity of plants tended to be low.

But when you’re investing millions of dollars in a large cultivation center, you can bet they are not going to take the risk of their crop getting wiped out by mold or mildew or insects. – Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Oddly enough, there are no chemicals approved for use on the cannabis plant. This tends to mean, however, that companies are using whichever chemicals they want without much oversight. These chemicals include Avid, Floramite, myclobutanil, and imidacloprid, which professor of entomology at Colorado State University Whitney Cranshaw claims actually develops more mites on the plants.

To make matters worse, labels such as “clean” and “natural” have a striking resemblance to the Big Food term “all natural,” in that there are few regulatory requirements, resulting in meaningless labeling used solely to market products as less dangerous than they actually are.

Although Willie Nelson has recently announced his retirement as a weed smoker, he is still in charge of his company and is rumored to take edibles frequently. However, he has stated before that he “[doesn’t] like edibles that much.”

I had a bad experience the first time I did it. This was 50 years ago. I ate a bunch of cookies, and I lay there all night thinking the flesh was falling off my bones. – Willie Nelson

Willie’s Reserve empowers local farmers by allowing them the Willie Nelson branding in exchange for particular rules they must follow, such as restrictions on pesticide use and that they must be small companies. This ensures quality weed and empowers small businesses seeking to compete with the big names like Privateer Holdings and Diego Pellicer.

They [consumers] want to know where the product comes from, they want to know it’s clean and cared for, they want to know it was local grown and that it has a connection to their community. – Andrew Davidson

Willie has another enemy in the pot industry:  GMO Marijuana. In one of the biggest moves to consolidate power in the cannabis industry to date, Bayer and Monsanto are maneuvering to take over the cannabis industry with genetically modified strains, which you can only grow if you have a license from the company.

These problems could have been fixed on the first day, but you have a lot of bureaucracy and bullshit, a lot of big corporations. So that’s what we’re up against. They’re trying to monopolize it all. That’s horseshit. That ain’t right, and we’ll do everything we can to keep that from happening. – Willie Nelson


Read more articles from Phillip Schneider.

Phillip Schneider is a student as well as a staff writer and assistant editor for Waking Times. If you would like to see more of his work, you can visit his website, or follow him on the free speech social network Minds.

This article (Willie Nelson Joins the Fight Against a Corporate Takeover of the Cannabis Industry) as originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Phillip Schneider and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.

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Rural Water Wells in High Plains Aquifer Show Large Increase in Nitrate Levels

Private well owners should test water quality annually, according to a recent Kansas State University study that revealed nitrate levels in shallow wells above U.S. Environment Protection Act standards.

“The changes we measured in the Great Bend Prairie Aquifer appear to be large relative to changes observed in a national study by the U.S. Geological Survey,” said Matthew Kirk, Kansas State University associate professor of geology and the study’s principal investigator.

The Great Bend Prairie Aquifer, a part of High Plains Aquifer, was the focus of a 40-year comparison study of rural water wells recently published in the Hydrogeology Journal. Kirk and Alexandria “Allie” Richard Lane, Kansas State University 2018 master’s degree graduate in geology, published the study along with Donald Whittemore, Kansas Geological Survey; Randy Stotler, University of Kansas Department of Geology; and John Hildebrand and Orrin Feril, both with Big Bend Groundwater Management District No. 5.

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“The Great Bend Prairie Aquifer is very vulnerable to contamination and if rural well owners don’t know there is a problem, they obviously can’t do anything about it,” Kirk said. “Municipalities are required to test and provide safe drinking water for city residents but private rural well owners should take responsibility to test their wells at least every year.”

According to Lane, who now works for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, there are many kits that can be purchased online for under $40 that test for bacteria, pesticides, lead, copper, iron, nitrate and water hardness in water wells.

“Those kits are good to use for basic readings and if anything is concerning, then residents can send a sample to a lab for further testing,” Lane said. “At KDHE, we try to inform private water well communities that it’s important to test their wells annually.”

Kirk and Lane’s 2016 study measured water chemistries and compared them with 1970s measurements at the same sites. Twenty of 21 wells had increases of nitrate concentrations, or NO3-, compared to the 1970s samples. Seven wells exceeded the nitrate concentrations allowed by the EPA standard for drinking water. In the 1970s study, only one of the wells was above the current EPA standard.

“There hasn’t been as much work on water quality as water quantity in the High Plains Aquifer,” Kirk said. “Groundwater storage in the Great Bend Prairie Aquifer is relatively stable, but if the water is there and the quality degrades, that’s also bad.”

According to Kirk, high nitrate levels in drinking water can cause human and livestock health issues by interfering with transport of oxygen by blood and possibly causing a higher risk of cancer. Too much nitrate in groundwater can also stimulate a release of uranium and selenium from the sediment into the water. While water quantity may be a top concern for many rural areas currently, Kirk said water quality issues may soon rise to the top of the list of rural water problems.

“Other parts of the High Plains Aquifer are most likely going to see changes too but it’s just taking it longer to show up because of transport time between the surface and the water table,” Kirk said.

That transport time is fairly quick in the study area since the soil is sandy and the water table is closer to the surface, Kirk said. In addition, the aquifer and sandy soil are not ideal living environments for the microbes that help clean the water by consuming nitrate.

“Groundwater in the Great Bend Prairie Aquifer often has oxygen and where that is the case, microorganisms typically respire the oxygen instead of nitrate,” Kirk said.

According to the study results, the wells with the highest contamination were those in fields used for crops, and the isotopic evidence — like a chemical signature — show that the nitrate in the aquifer is from fertilizer. Kirk said that fertilizers help farmers increase crop yields but excess fertilizer can contaminate water supplies.

“I don’t know what the future looks like or how we balance these issues — growing food for the world and maintaining health of natural resources to grow that food — but we need to find ways to slow down nitrate accumulation and better manage nitrate into the future,” Kirk said.

Kirk advocates for precision agriculture to apply fertilizer and planting cover crops — which use excess nitrate in the soil when planted in between the harvest of one food crop and the planting of the next. Kirk said these two practices help reduce runoff of excess fertilizer and are becoming more common with irrigated agriculture in the region. He also said that more studies are needed to evaluate if the drastic increase between the two time periods of the study is leveling off or if it has just ramped up in recent years.

“We need more data about the seasonal variation in nitrate levels and multiple years of data to really understand the trend of the increase,” Kirk said. “We also hope to sample additional wells to evaluate change over more of the aquifer. We wanted to document this finding and try to spread the word because, at the end in the day, it’s a big increase of nitrate and could affect people’s health.”

Sources:

Kansas State University

Journal article

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This Is How Lay’s $177 Billion Owner Tried To Sue Local Indian Farmers For Growing Their Patented Potatoes and Failed

By Mayukh Saha

In a twist in the classic David vs Goliath story, the Goliath has rallied against David here. We are talking about the potential lawsuit with which PepsiCo has threatened small-time farmers in a small village near Ahmedabad, Gujarat in India.

But why?

The multi-billion dollar industry has alleged that four farmers of this particular village have been growing a special variety of potatoes whose rights have been bought by the industry. This means that what they have been doing has been a classic case of infringement on one’s patented property. And while they have threatened the small farmers with a lawsuit containing reparations of almost $143,000 each, they have decided to first try to settle amicably.

The potatoes in question are FL-2027, a variety that PepsiCo has exclusive rights over, since 2016 as submitted in the district court, and verified by CNN.

A spokesperson for the company told that they were looking at a lawsuit only because they wanted to safeguard the rights of several thousand farmers who were under a contract with PepsiCo. This would ensure that their privileges and rights aren’t infringed.

Interestingly, PepsiCo is India’s largest potato buyer, and this particular potato has been used to make its uber-famous Lays. PepsiCo is also one of the first international companies in India that went for localization and employed several thousand farmers to grow a variety of these protected potatoes.

PepsiCo mentions how there were many farmers who were given the legal right to grow these potatoes, but not Fulchand Kachchawa and Suresh Kachchawa living near Deesa, north of Ahmedabad, Gujarat.

But as we would have it, the small farmers have found themselves being supported by a number of activists and lawyers. Around 190 activists have written to the Indian Ministry of Agriculture, stating how these claims were not only false but could also be an attack on the sovereignty of the nation itself. India Today, a big-time media company writes how the activists believe that these claims are untenable and go against the spirit of a true business transaction.

Now, unless the matter is taken to court or dealt with amicably, we wouldn’t know who is in the wrong.

But if the words of Kapil Shah, head of the law group Janta is to be believed, the behemoth has made a big mistake by accusing these farmers. It will go against their rights to practice free agriculture.

On the 2nd of May 2019 Pepsico announced that they have withdrawn the Indian potato farmer lawsuits after political pressure.

In the end it’s awesome to hear that justice finally prevailed.

IMAGE CREDIT: Twitter

This article was sourced from Truth Theory.

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Smirnoff Vodka Switches to Non-GMO Corn, Upsets Big Ag

By Jeffrey Green

Smirnoff vodka is now made with non-GMO corn. Apparently, they made the announcement a few months ago but didn’t get much exposure in the corporate or independent media.

“While Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka has always been gluten-free, 10-times filtered and triple-distilled, now the brand has made a substantial investment in transitioning to using non-GMO corn during distillation,” Smirnoff said in the announcement.

“By using non-GMO corn for Smirnoff No. 21 Vodka, we’re ensuring that anyone who avoids gluten and GMO ingredients in their everyday life still has the option to enjoy a delicious Smirnoff cocktail,” said Jay Sethi, Vice President, Smirnoff, Diageo North America.

They released a short commercial promoting the new GMO-free vodka recipe.



Previously, Smirnoff used genetically-modified corn which many people prefer not to consume.

According to Organic Consumers Association,

GMOs are created in a lab, by inserting a gene from one organism into another unrelated organism, producing plants and animals that would never occur in nature. No long-term safety studies have been done on humans, but animal studies link the consumption of GMOs to an increase in allergies, kidney and liver disease, ADHD, cancer, infertility, chronic immune disorders and more.

Popular GMO corn strains like Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Corn are designed to withstand being heavily sprayed with glyphosate, which has been determined to be “probably carcinogenenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2015.

It’s still unclear if GMOs themselves are the cause of illness in lab tests, or whether the chemical herbicide glyphosate is the primary cause.

Yet, it grows increasingly certain that glyphosate is indeed detrimental to human health. Monsanto-Bayer is neck-deep in lawsuits by sick farmers and others. And nearly all processed food has harmful glyphosate in them.

And, of course, the move by Smirnoff was roundly attacked by Big Ag sources as “farmer smearing,” “a marketing gimmick” and “anti-science.”

Others opined that since alcohol is already considered a carcinogen, who cares if it’s made with GMOs?

Shouldn’t we have a higher standard for any product we consume? Shouldn’t we support products that use the absolute best ingredients available to them?

Bravo to Smirnoff!

Jeffrey Green writes for Natural Blaze where this article first appeared.

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Signed by the Governor: Arkansas Decriminalizes CBD Despite Ongoing Federal Prohibition

By Mike Maharrey

Last week, Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill into law that decriminalizes hemp-derived cannabidiol. This will not only open up markets in Arkansas, but it is also a crucial step given the FDA’s continued regulation of CBD.

Rep. Justin Boyd (R-Fort Smith) introduced House Bill 1518 (HB1518) on Feb. 19. The new law removes hemp-derived cannabidiol that is not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for marketing as medication from the state’s list of controlled substances. This effectively removes all criminal and civil penalties for possessing hemp-derived CBD products in Arkansas.

HB1518 passed the House by a 91-1 vote and was approved by the Senate 32-2. With Gov. Hutchinson’s signature, the law goes into effect 90 days after the legislature adjourns.

Passage of HB1518 ensures the state will not regulate CBD and CBD products. This is crucial because despite removing the plant from the list of controlled substances late last year, the federal government still bans the sale of CBD products under FDA rules.

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2018 Farm Bill and CBD

With the passage of the farm bill, the federal government now treats industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity instead of a controlled substance. While the DEA will no longer have the authority to regulate hemp, the provisions of the farm bill have no bearing on FDA rules and regulations regarding CBD. In fact, a section in the farm bill makes this explicit.

Section 297D, paragraph (c)(1) “Regulations and Guidelines; Effect on Other Law” states “nothing in this subtitle shall affect or modify the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.”

Practically speaking, the passage of the farm bill does not mean CBD will now be federally-legal in all 50 states, as some hemp supporters claim. In fact, the FDA still maintains a strict prohibition on the sale of CBD in the U.S.

To date, the FDA has only approved one medication with cannabidiol as an active ingredient – Epidiolex for the treatment of seizures. But the FDA classifies CBD as “a drug for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted.” Under federal law, that designation means the FDA maintains full control over the substance and it cannot be marketed as a “dietary supplement.” The agency maintains that the sale of CBD or any food products containing the substance is illegal.

To date, the agency hasn’t changed its position on CBD. In a recent congressional hearing, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said he understands that Congress wants a pathway to CBD availability, but said “it is not a straightforward issue” due to the fact that the agency has approved CBD for treatment of epilepsy and it is ““subject of substantial clinical investigation.” Both of these factors prohibit CBD from being sold as a “health supplement” and from being added to food.

Gottlieb said, “the law does allow us to go through a regulatory process and go through a notice and comment rule-making to establish a framework to allow it to be put into the food supply.” He said the first step would be a public meeting “sometime in April”

In effect, the agency can continue to enforce these same rules even with the passage of the 2018 farm bill. While farmers can now legally grow hemp for commercial purposes, including the production of fiber, biofuel, building products, paper, clothes and even food products that don’t contain CBD, the sale of cannabinol or food products containing CBD remain federally-illegal, as it has been all along, unless the FDA changes its policy or Congress passes legislation specifically legalizing CBD.

IN EFFECT

With the passage of HB1518, Arkansas will not interfere with the sale of CBD products regardless of continued federal prohibition. And without state cooperation, the FDA will likely have trouble regulating it in Arkansas.

Despite past and ongoing federal prohibition, CBD is everywhere. A New York Times article asserted that “with CBD popping up in nearly everything — bath bombs, ice cream, dog treats — it is hard to overstate the speed at which CBD has moved from the Burning Man margins to the cultural center.”

This was happening when both the DEA and FDA prohibited CBD. It will undoubtedly continue as long as market demand remains and states don’t interfere. The FDA can’t effectively enforce prohibition without the assistance of state and local officials.

According to the FDA, the agency prioritizes enforcement based on a number of factors, including “agency resources and the threat to public health. FDA also may consult with its federal and state partners in making decisions about whether to initiate a federal enforcement action.”

Even with both the FDA and DEA theoretically enforcing federal laws and regulations banning CBD, state and local action have already nullified federal prohibition in practice and effect. There’s no reason to think that won’t continue as long as states maintain the same stance on CBD as they did under the 2014 farm bill. Simply put, the federal government lacks the personnel and resources to crack down on CBD – even if the FDA wants to.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE

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Study Shows that Bees Love Hemp, Which is Wonderful News for the Environment and the World

By Vic Bishop

Just under the radar of public concern is the fact that bees and pollinator insects are dying off in catastrophic numbers; and if we are unable to reverse this trend, we face a very different kind of future.  Bees in particular appear to be acutely affected by neonicotinoid pesticides along with other fungicides and herbicides. They are losing their habitats.

Organically Grown CBD Oil and Products Available (Ad)

At the same time, another crisis is converging. Fossil fuels. We need a new, natural, sustainable material to use for construction, packaging, fuel, clothing, and so much more. Fossil fuel extraction is a disaster that could be corrected with a massive global investment in hemp. This may well come to pass, as Congress recently legalized hemp farming in the U.S. for the first time since the last legal hemp fields were planted in 1957 in Wisconsin.

An interesting new scientific study connects theses two burgeoning crises, showing the bees absolutely love hemp plants. Hemp crops apparently attract an array of different bee species, offering them a plentiful source of pollen for foraging.

For the study, published this month in the journal Biomass and Bioenergy, researchers at Colorado State University set up 10 traps at industrial hemp fields in northern Colorado and collected bees over the course of five days during peak flowering season.

There are few other crops that pollinate in the region during the same timeframe, so the team wanted to know whether the non-psychoactive cannabis cousin of marijuana represented “a potentially valuable source of pollen for foraging bees,” which play a critical role in maintaining “sustainable productivity in natural and agricultural ecosystems.”

When the researchers looked at their collection, they found almost 2,000 bees from 23 different bee genera. Most of those (38 percent) were classic honeybees, but there were also specialized genera such as Melissodes bimaculata and Peponapis pruinosa that turned up in surprisingly “high proportions.” [Source]

The scientists involved in this study did have one word of concern, noting that as hemp production expands, so will the temptation and practice of using, and overusing, chemical pesticides, which would turn this opportunity into another disaster.


Vic Bishop is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com. He is an observer of people, animals, nature, and he loves to ponder the connection and relationship between them all. A believer in always striving to becoming self-sufficient and free from the matrix, please track him down on Facebook.

This article (Study Shows that Bees Love Hemp, Which is Wonderful News for the Environment and the World) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Vic Bishop and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio and internal links. 

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The Cornucopia Institute Issued A Guide To Organic Certifiers: Information Consumers Ought To Know

By Catherine J. Frompovich

In March 2019, The Cornucopia Institute produced a 22-page online report “The Gatekeepers of Organic Integrity.”

On page 5, they discuss “hydroponics” as being incompatible with organic principles. Then, on page 7 “Container Hydroponics” is discussed along with the certifiers allowing them. Livestock management projects are covered starting at page 9 through 15. Certifiers and imported goods are covered on page 16. Personally, I find the report’s Conclusion somewhat inconclusive, pardon my saying.

Here is where consumers will find a “Guide to Domestic USDA Accredited Certifiers.”

March 14, 2019, Cornucopia issued a press release wherein this appeared:

[….] the USDA’s poor oversight of federally accredited third-party certifiers has paved the way for illegal output from “factory farms” that now dominate the $50 billion organic market basket.

[….]

“You can run but you can’t hide,” said Kastel. “Congress intended this to be a transparent process and we aim to shed sunlight on the cozy relationship between organic scofflaws and the certifiers they are paying.

The graphic below is taken from Cornucopia’s online report.

The Cornucopia Institute does an excellent job of keeping tabs on the organic food growing industry for which I, for one, am truly grateful. They are at the forefront of making certain the “organic” label means what it says.

Congratulations and kudos to The Cornucopia Institute, and thank you for what you do.

Image credit: Pixabay

Catherine J Frompovich (website) is a retired natural nutritionist who earned advanced degrees in Nutrition and Holistic Health Sciences, Certification in Orthomolecular Theory and Practice plus Paralegal Studies. Her work has been published in national and airline magazines since the early 1980s. Catherine authored numerous books on health issues along with co-authoring papers and monographs with physicians, nurses, and holistic healthcare professionals. She has been a consumer healthcare researcher 35 years and counting.

Catherine’s latest book, published October 4, 2013, is Vaccination Voodoo, What YOU Don’t Know About Vaccines, available on Amazon.com.

Her 2012 book A Cancer Answer, Holistic BREAST Cancer Management, A Guide to Effective & Non-Toxic Treatments, is available on Amazon.com and as a Kindle eBook.

Two of Catherine’s more recent books on Amazon.com are Our Chemical Lives And The Hijacking Of Our DNA, A Probe Into What’s Probably Making Us Sick (2009) and Lord, How Can I Make It Through Grieving My Loss, An Inspirational Guide Through the Grieving Process (2008)

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