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How Genetic Engineering Could Break Down Our Ecosystem


The long-range effects of the alterations genetic scientists are making to our environment cannot be known, and the results can never be recalled or contained. Our plant and animal species have evolved over millions of years in a holistic, interactive context. Suddenly introducing genetically engineered species upsets the intricate balance of our ecosystem, with changes which are unpredictable and would not occur naturally. New genetically altered living organisms are now being released into the environment, and many scientists fear that some could mutate, reproduce, or migrate. They may transfer their new characteristics to other organisms as has unexpectedly already happened in some instances. This type of scenario could make the effects of genetic mistakes irretrievable.

Transfer of inserted genes across species has already occurred, despite experts claiming this could not happen. Genes inserted into canola (oilseed rape) plants to increase their ability to resist herbicides so that even more chemicals can be used to kill agricultural pests, have been shown to transfer these genes to weed relatives, raising the possibility of creating ‘superweeds’ – i.e., those resistant to pesticides. Proponents of genetic engineering claimed these transfers would not happen. Transfer has been noted in other species as well. Marker genes from sunflowers were seen to invade and persist in wild sunflower populations, and in a population of wild strawberries growing within 50 meters of a strawberry field, more than 50% of the wild plants contained marker genes from the cultivated plants. All of these transfers were thought impossible.

Some scientists are concerned that even rare genetic transfers from genetically engineered plants to wild ones could have devastating effects. Even if gene transfer to wild plants happens with less than 1% of the engineered products, some scientists fear that within 10 years, we could have a moderate to large scale catastrophe involving ‘superweeds’ because there would be so many artificial genetic ‘innovations’ being released into the ecosystem.

Ecological Imbalance – Domino Effect

In addition, scientists are concerned that unknown and unpredicted results of genetic engineering may alter essential ecological relationship between soil bacterium, insects, plants and animals, and thus may endanger wildlife and/or their habitat, as well as the ecosystem itself. Some instances of this type of domino effect have already occurred and it is thought that further unintentional genetic modifications of the environment could, in the future, pose a threat to world agriculture and the global food supply.

The widespread and well-documented ill effects of high tech. Farming methods may be added to by the technology of genetic engineering. In one contained experiment, a genetically engineered bacterium developed to aid in the production of ethanol unexpectedly produced residues which rendered the land in which it was planted infertile. New corn crops planted on this soil grew three inches tall and fell over dead. If unpredicted problems occur after a genetically engineered organism has been released, bees, birds, and wind can carry the seeds (and the problem) into neighbouring fields. At least one non-genetically engineered virus, being bred to cut rabbit numbers, has recently escaped from controlled quarantined research facilities in Australia, and spread like wildfire among the rabbit population – with ominous results. Some genetically engineered organisms could do the same with tragic consequences. Mutated seeds, bacteria, and viruses could even piggyback on our international travel and trading system across continents and oceans, creating new unsuitable species (this kind of damaging transfer is already occurring with many normal organisms, and could be greatly compounded by genetic engineering).

In Britain recently, the life span of female ladybird (ladybugs) was reduced to half when they ate aphids, which fed on genetically altered potatoes, in greenhouse tests. The ladybirds also laid 30% fewer eggs. The potatoes were engineered to produce their own pesticide to ward off aphids, succeeding to some extent, but leaving significant number to feed on the potatoes. Because both the ladybird’s lifespan and reproduction capabilities were dramatically reduced, this means at least twice as many ladybirds would be needed to eat the remaining aphids – a quite unmanageable scenario. Yet, others may go undetected as subtle changes occur in the plants, insects, and soils. Anywhere near adequate monitoring of the innumerable entities and interrelationships, even in a local ecosystem is impossible.

As many observers have stated, since we do not know what the consequences will be, (and when we find out it will be too late) it is the responsibility of governments and research institutions to enact the utmost safety precautions, and require, and monitor, strict long-term quarantine and testing.

Genetically Engineered Cotton Fails To Control Pest-Costs Farmers Dearly

Genetically engineered B.t. cotton sold to farmers last year with the promise of pest control has flopped in the fields from Texas to Georgia. Many cotton bollworms survived in the new crop, and farmers had to apply chemical insecticides at extra expense. In addition, the escaping bollworms raised doubts about the bollworm resistance management plan implemented by biotechnology corporation, Monsanto, to prevent the development of B.t.-resistant bollworms. Over the years, bollworms have developed resistance to insecticides farmers have had to apply increasingly, raising the risk of toxins in the plant, soil and water supply. This cotton was developed to make plants resistant to bollworms, and thus reduce the amount of pesticides the farmer has to apply. However, the approach failed, and chemical use is just as necessary. Some farmers face losses of $500,000 to $1,000,000. In addition, because of the complexity of genetic information within the intricacies of the ecosystem, and the known phenomenon of potential gene transfer to other species, the long-term effects of this GE cotton are unknown. Thus, the possible disruptions of the soil-food web occur in ways that may not be easily traceable. Therefore, this release is unscientific and irresponsible.

Neither increased pesticide use nor genetically engineered crops are the answer to agricultural pest problems.

The farmers who are being sold the technology of genetic engineering are not being told of the dangers but are being led into the belief that this will help their business. The over-emphasis on genetic engineering and other high-tech farming techniques is especially regrettable because it is unnecessary. Far safer sustainable agricultural methods are available that can feed all of humanity.

If we learn one thing from the 20th century it should be that, despite their professed advantages, many technologies backfire on us, producing disastrous side effects (e.g., nuclear pollution and waste which nobody wants in their locality, ozone depletion, acid rain, the countless hazards of modern medicine, pollution from factories and motor cars). Much of this leads to the breakdown of the immune system for the individual, and severely weakens the ecosystem at large. In every case, it takes years, even decades, for the dangers to be taken seriously often leading to disastrous results. At this time, we must learn to make careful choices in our use of the knowledge and technology at our command.

Over time, every technology becomes more accessible to more people in more countries. A case in point is the use of DDT pesticide. DDT was greatly hyped at its introduction but is now banned in the U.S. and other industrial countries. Yet, it is still manufactured in the U.S. (or by U.S. companies abroad) and other countries, and sold abroad, where it is widely used. Another more dramatic example are the dangerous nuclear and biological weapons (some of which could be genetically engineered) now known to be in the hands of unstable countries around the world.

The wider accessibility of genetic engineering technology statistically increases the chance of mistakes even by careful researchers, not to mention less careful scientists who lack complete education, or harbour ill intent. Widespread availability of genetic engineering technology could create a very dangerous scenario for the world.

Genetic engineering poses the greatest danger of any technology yet introduced, safety testing will never be adequate, because organisms once introduced can never be recalled from the environment, and their effect will spread without limit. If action is not taken now, virtually everyone in the world could soon be eating genetically engineered food and farmers and consumers will reap the negative results.

Is It Necessary?

Through proper coherent management we already have the ability to feed the world’s population without the risks posed by genetic engineering. As has been common practice in the past, commercial and political motives are taking precedence, with little regard to the possible dangers.

With so many farming practices having been discredited in the past, we should be alert to the dangers of radical interference with nature. The system of taking everything out and giving nothing back in intensive agriculture, including the use of hybrid plants and pesticides, has already damaged public health and the environment, and has resulted, worldwide, in widespread malnutrition and loss of biodiversity. Compounded to this, according to the British Royal commission on Environment Pollution, 10% of the world’s soil has already been lost this century. This is due, in part, to unsustainable and unnatural large-scale farming, and is a major problem in countries, such as the U.S., which rely on these intensive techniques.

Genetic engineering is being hyped in the same way all these other failed practices were but is even more dangerous by far. It will make the environmental situation worse, not better. The agriculture that we rely on today cannot be counted on to sustain future generations. Genetic engineering will perpetuate the reliance on high tech, unnatural farming practices, and, in the long run, could damage the farmer’s business and the ability of the land to produce.

The chemical and biotechnology industries, as well as some in the medical establishment, would have us believe that we are at war with nature. Such beliefs and attitudes are unnecessary. We have learned that it is more sensible and rewarding to find ways to operate in harmony with nature’s laws, rather than against them, and to understand and utilize what nature provides, rather than attempt to defeat the larger ecosystem in order to further small gains.

Computer Survival Tips

Meir Schneider

A major occupational hazard of office work, computer vision syndrome (CVS) afflicts some 17 million Americans. CVS sufferers get near-sighted, and existing near-sighted gets worse. Symptoms include eyestrain, fatigue, headache, neck and shoulder pain, dry eyes, and difficulties in focusing.

In CVS, the ciliary, a small muscle in the eye that adjusts the shape of the lens of near vision, undergoes chronic strain as it tries to focus on the fuzzy, flickering pixels of the computer screen. At the computer, we tend to ignore the periphery until it shrinks, and our central vision becomes strained. We sit at the computer with hunched, rounded shoulders and a forward head. Many bifocal wearers tilt the head upward to aim the bifocal inserts at the screen. Often, ergonomics are terrible. Worst of all, we suppress the pain of hours of eyestrain and bad posture.

To stay alive and well at the computer, every hour, take a five-minute break for these exercise:

Palming: Sit comfortably with elbows supported, warm your hands by rubbing them together, lightly cover your eyes with them, breathe deeply and visualise blackness-an ocean at night, a black object moving on a black background, a dark cave, etc.

Flexible Focusing: Walk over to the window, breathe deeply, and stretch. Spend a few minutes looking into the far distance; notice how restful it feels. Then let your eyes sweep back to nearby objects, then back into the distance again.

Wiggles and Circles: See how many ways you can wiggle and undulate your back. Make a few big, smooth circles with each arm, imagining that your fingertips are leading the motion. Rotate your arm, forearms and hands in both directions.

While working at the computer, try to remember to blink. Waggle your hands at both sides of your face to stimulate peripheral vision; then keep that awareness as you work. Change positions in your chair often.

Cleansed; Baptized, Recovery from cancer

Robin Pan

Dale Figtree, Ph.D., an artist, is also a dietician. She has been named as the most popular nutritionist of a district in Santa Barbara. She became a nutritionist all because of her personal experience with fighting cancer. Her experience serves as an eye opener for us, showing that it is possible to have one’s healing potential being stimulate once the toxin in the body had been eliminated. The body would then start to heal itself from degenerative diseases (like, blocked artilleries, arthritis, and even cancer), and rebuild its damaged organs, paving the way for a possible full recovery. In other words, healing energy, which has long been disregarded by the traditional medical profession, is now proven by the personal experiences of many, to be a possible cure.

Healing power is generated physically (through diet, exercise, rest), psychologically and spiritually (removing stress, changing one’s attitude, practicing visualization and meditation). According to Dale, there are three important basic aspects:

  • Detoxification

In the highly polluted environment of today, all the energy of the body is used to combat external toxin and not much is left to stimulate healing. Toxin refers to caffeine, alcohol, food additives, indigestible processed food, low value food (that which requires excessive energy to digest), pesticides, toxic washing chemicals, etc. Thus, in order for healing energy to work freely, we must first and foremost stop depleting our energies.

  • Provide the body with the most efficient raw material

Efficient raw material refers to food that is nearly primitive and nutritionally complete. Today’s food is mostly high in calories, low in vitamins and low in minerals. For instance, bread, noodle and sugar are processed food which have their vitamins and minerals depleted. They are meant to satisfy hunger without providing enough nutrition. Fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, grains, beans are high-energy food. They provide the body with surplus of energy. It is this surplus energy that stimulates healing (a basic skill of the healthy body). We only need to allow the body complete freedom to exercise its basic ability by providing the extra energy. Today’s diet is not right, and people are low in energy levels resulting in an increase in degenerative diseases.

  • Guiding the already initiated healing energy

Once the healing energy is being initiated, some discomfort such as excessive discharge from the eye, nose or mouth, appearance of acne, diarrhea, rashes, headache, fever, etc. may appear. Most people do not understand that these are symptoms of detoxification and attempted treatment by consulting Western medicine thus unknowingly hampering the process of cleansing and repairing undertaken by the body. This may give rise to serious side effects. Therefore, we must allow the healing energy to continue working once it is awakened. However, we must be aware of the body condition and be in control. That is to say, we must monitor the condition (e.g., headache or fever) closely such that it does not get serious; and consulting the doctor when necessary. In general, the patient is aware of his/her condition by being more conscious of the symptoms being experienced and is able to contain the illness sensibly. The patient should not ignore the illness altogether, instead he/she should exercise more common sense so as not to allow the condition to get worse. When a person is not well, it is obvious that he/she needs plenty of rest. Therefore, it is sensible to ‘take a break’ especially appointments that requires entertainment so that the stomach can also take a rest. For a speedy recovery, the patient should eat less so that energy is used to heal the body and not on digesting complicated food. The allocation of energy used for various functions in the body can be understood by observing a simple illness such as flu. When one is down with flu, one feels very tired. This is because energy is being channeled to ‘fight’ the illness and is not enough is being channeled to the muscles. Once the battle is over, the patient would no longer be tired. As for eating less, when the patient feels nausea, he/she should not eat; instead take plenty of water and rests. If the illness is not serious, the patient can try fasting with fresh vegetable or fruit juice, taking one different kind of (vegetable or fruit) juice at every three-hour interval thus providing all the necessary elements (vitamin, minerals and enzymes) for recovery. Fresh vegetable/fruit juice is highly nutritional and easily absorbed by the body without requiring much energy in its digestion. This allows the body to concentrate all its energy to rebuild a healthier body. Needless to say, in the process of supplying energy for healing, there may be some ‘bonuses’ and they need not be frightening. For instance, many patients experience swollen ankle, which is usually related to an old injury. When there is excess of energy in the body, it would naturally be directed to areas that require healing, some of which may have long been overdue. Therefore, we need to change our outlook in assessing an illness. We may look upon any illness as a means of helping the body to detoxify. Our body harbor excessively large amounts of ‘rubbish’ and toxin which depends on bacteria to help break down so that they can be voided from the body. Therefore, bacteria are attracted into the body for this purpose, and we embark on the process of so called ‘illnesses.

In short, if we allow the body a chance, and providing energy, to heal, it will. Dale drew upon her personal experience to explain the phenomena.

Twenty-two years ago, she was stricken with cancer and immediately underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Four months after the treatment, she accidentally came across a book about the ineffectiveness of cancer treatment by chemotherapy and radiotherapy; also explaining that the damages caused by such destructive treatment far surpassed those raved by the disease itself. She was then nearing the end of the radiotherapy course. She considered canceling the chemotherapy course that was supposed to follow. Coincidentally, her doctor suggested to her not to proceed with chemotherapy. Finally, result of the radiotherapy showed that the tumor in the chest has shrunk but not completely disappeared. The doctor declared that he couldn’t help anymore. Unfortunately, the outcomes of the treatment were as described by the book – ineffective! At that moment in time, she realized that to survive, she had only herself to depend on. Through some recommendations, she found herself a naturopath and started treatment through dieting, visualization and meditation simultaneously. The later two items being detrimental in her recovery process. At that time, she was completely focused on being well again. During the first few months, there were detoxification symptoms such as discharge, nausea, diarrhea, facial eruption, excessive perspiration, and excessive loss of weight and becoming very weak. She was very scared because these were symptoms of cancer advancing rapidly. However, the naturopath told her that they were signs of recovery. Weakness is an indication for the body to rest so that energy can be conserved for the purpose of overcoming the sickness. With correct eating, weight loss is a result of ‘wastes disposal’ by the body. Should such a phenomenon happen to an overweight person, it would have been a happy event; but it certainly was very scary to one who is grossly underweight and suffering from cancer.

She was frightened, yet her naturopath rejoiced sighting this is an indication of deep cleansing and thorough detoxification. Anyway, Dale was already at her wit’s end and could only believe his words. The condition persisted for four months; thereafter she gained weight and finally weighted slightly heavier than before. Then she went for a medical examination. The results surprised the doctor.

The tumor which was diagnosed to be extremely fast growing previously showed up in the X-ray to be about the same size as before after all these months. Although he did not understand the phenomenon, the doctor suggested that Dale should carry on with the treatment since it seemed effective.

Dale was overjoyed to be able to start life anew. She continued with her diet therapy. Suddenly, three years later, her condition seemed to turn for the worse. She felt sever pain at the location of the tumor, fever, pains in the joints, large quantities of discharge and frequent diarrhea. This went on for four months. Initially, Dale thought that she would surely die; but x-ray and blood tests results were normal. Her naturopath assured her that this was the indication of the most complete recovery in health that he has been waiting for. In this episode, the pain was stopped after she learnt to massage and apply pressure to the acupuncture points. However, she lost 30 pounds (about 14kg) in three months and had a persistent fever. Friends and relatives thought that she was going to die; only her naturopath was sure that she would live. Finally, after four months, Dale focused all her strength and told her body thus, “It’s enough, stop it!” In the end the fever subsided within the week; on top of that, she gained ten pounds, and all her discomforts disappeared one by one. Instead, symptoms that she experienced during her chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments showed up again; these included aches all over the body, rashes, after taste of chemotherapy, lightening of hair color, etc. It was then that her naturopath told her that she was completely void of toxin, which was more lethal than that of cancer. After going through all these, Dale’s physique, hair texture and skin became better than before she got cancer; even her menstruation became regular for the first time in her life. It was like acquiring a new physical body to continue life with. Dale now thoroughly understood the complete change in her body and its possibility. Later, she did a scan and results showed that there was no trace of cancer in her body anymore. After so many years of diet therapy, the eating habit became part of her. She is very grateful to this simple and nutritious diet.

In her opinion, Dale feels that today’s polluted environment in which we live does not spare anyone from degenerative diseases. Ordinarily, it is not noticeable as it takes ten to twenty years to become apparent (it is like a hidden bomb). The good news is that each and every one of us possesses this tremendous healing energy in ourselves to overcome such degenerative diseases. This is true healing, the best health insurance. Dale also suggested that the general public should use fresh fruits and vegetable juice to maintain and protect good health. For those who are already sick, they should pay particular attention to the combinations of fresh vegetable and fruit juices. For instance, diabetic patients should use carrot and apple only occasionally, bearing in mind that they contain high levels of sugar. In addition, she also cautioned against taking refined sugar, as it is a product of chemical process whereby its vitamins and minerals have been depleted thus losing its natural balance in food value. Sugar enters the blood stream quickly causing the pancreas to produce insulin instantly. If this condition persists, the pancreas would be under stress permanently and this is one cause of diabetes.

The road to recovery to good health was a long one for Dale. Along the way, through meditation, she realized that throughout her life she was fearful, and it was one of the reasons for her cancer as well as delay in the recovery from it. Only by overcoming this fear did she regain true health. She felt that during her period of healing, many supportive friends have given her great spiritual and psychological help. One very special friend is Joya who was the first to enlighten Dale on the relationship between cancer and life. Joya said, “If you do not fight cancer with everything you have, you’ll die; part of this war is to allow you to understand yourself and to be responsible for the occurrence of cancer.” When she encountered difficulties during the healing process, Dale asked Joya how she could strengthen her healing energy. Joya replied, “You have to tell yourself, ‘I want to live not because I’m afraid to die, but because I’m not afraid of death.”’

Thus, through Dale, we learn of another way of looking at sickness. Sickness not only give us an opportunity to eradicate toxin in our body and mind, but it also led us to examine the cause. It may even lead us to spiritual enlightenment, healing us of all injuries during the battle for survival. All sicknesses are not disasters in life, but a sober, great baptism.

Pesticides, Children & Aggression

Peter Montague

For the past 25 years, tens of millions of Americans in hundreds of cities and towns have been drinking tap water that is contaminated with low levels of insecticides, weed killers, and artificial fertilizer. They not only drink it, but they also bathe and shower in it, thus inhaling small quantities of farm chemicals and absorbing them through the skin. Naturally, the problem is at its worst in agricultural areas of the country.

The most common contaminants are carbamate insecticides (aldicarb and others), and triazine herbicides (atrazine and others), and nitrate nitrogen. For years government scientists have tested each of these chemicals individually at low levels in laboratory animals – searching mainly for signs of cancer – and have declared each of them an “acceptable risk” at the levels typically found in groundwater.

Now a group of biologists and medical researchers at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, led by Warren P. Porter, has completed a five-year experiment putting mixtures of low levels of these chemicals into the drinking water of male mice and carefully measuring the results. They reported recently that combinations of these chemicals – at levels similar to those found in the groundwater of agricultural areas of the U.S. – have measurable detrimental effects on the nervous, immune and endocrine (hormone) systems. Furthermore, they say their research has direct implications for humans.

Dr. Porter and his colleagues point out that the nervous system, the immune system, and the endocrine (hormone) system are all closely related an in constant communication with each other. If any one of the three systems is damaged or degraded the other two may be adversely affected. The Wisconsin researchers therefore designed their experiments to examine the effects of agricultural chemicals on each of the three systems simultaneously. To access immune system function, they measured the ability of mice to make antibodies in response to foreign proteins. To access endocrine system function, the measured thyroid hormone levels in the blood. And to access nervous system function they measured aggressive behaviour in the presence of intruder mice introduced into the cages. They also looked for effects on growth by measuring total body weight and the weight of each animal’s spleen.

The experiments were replicated many times, to make sure the results were reproducible. The found effects on the endocrine system (thyroid hormone levels) and the immune system, and reduced body weight, from mixtures of low levels of aldicarb and nitrate, atrazine and nitrate, and atrazine, aldicarb and nitrate together. They observed increased aggression from exposure to atrazine and nitrate, and from atrazine, aldicarb and nitrate together.

In the five-year experiment, thyroid hormone levels rose or fell depending upon the mixture of farm chemicals put into the drinking water. Dr Porter and his colleagues present evidence from other studies showing that numerous farm chemicals can affect the thyroid hormone levels of wildlife and humans. PCBs and dioxins can have similar effects, they note. Proper levels of thyroid hormone are essential for brain development of humans prior to birth. Some, though not all, studies have shown that attention deficit and/or hyperactivity disorders in children are linked to changes in the levels of thyroid hormone in the blood. Children with multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) have abnormal thyroid levels. Furthermore, irritability and aggressive behaviour are linked to thyroid hormone levels.

Interviewed recently by Keith Hamm of the Santa Barbara Independent, Dr. Porter explained. “Earlier work had shown that thyroid hormone typically changed when exposure to these pesticides occurred. Thyroid hormone not only affects and controls your metabolic rate, that is, how fast you burn food, it also controls your irritability level. For example, Type A personalities are more assertive, more aggressive, more hyper. These people tend to have higher levels of thyroid hormone. Type B personalities – people that are really laid back, really take things very easily – have lower levels of thyroid hormone. We expected that changes in thyroid [would] change in irritability levels. This was a concern because there was information that kids are getting more hyper and [that their] learning abilities are going down,” Dr. Porter said.

In the interview with Keith Hamm, Dr. Porter expressed concern for the overall effect of pesticides on the nation’s children:

Hamm: “I would assume that most people in this country are eating conventionally grown food. If that’s the case, wouldn’t the problems be more apparent? Why are there not more hyperaggressive dim-witted people with poor immune systems?”

Porter: “If we really looked carefully at what’s been happening in this county, you might find exactly that happening.”

Because of recent violence in small cities and towns (such as Littleton, Colorade, Laramie, Wyoming, and Jasper, Texas), this is a time when Americans are searching for the causes of violence in their society. Some are blaming a decline in religious upbringing. Others are blaming households with the parents working and no one minding the kids. Some say the cause is violent movies, violent TV, and extremist internet sites, combined with the ready availability of cheap guns. Still others point to a government that has often sanctioned the violence of “gunboat diplomacy” to open foreign markets for U.S. corporations.

No one seems to be asking whether pesticides, fertilisers, and toxic metals are affecting our young people’s mental capacity, emotional balance, and social adjustment.

From the work of Warren Porter, Elizabeth Guillette [see below], and others, it is apparent that these are valid questions.

Pesticides and Children: A Case Study

A recent study 4- and 5-year-old children in Mexico specifically noted a decrease in mental ability and an increase in aggressive behaviour among children exposed to pesticides (“An Anthropological Approach to the Evaluation of Preschool Children Exposed to Pesticides in Mexico,” Environmental Health Perspectives, June 1998). Elizabeth A. Guillette and colleagues studied two groups of Yaqui Indian children living in the Yaqui Valley in northern Sonora, Mexico. One group of children lives in the lowlands dominated by pesticide-intensive agriculture (45 or more spraying each year) and the other group lives in the nearby upland foothills where their parents make a living by ranching without the use of pesticides. The pesticide-exposed children had far less physical endurance in a test to see how long they could keep jumping up and down; they had inferior hand-eye coordination; and they could not draw a simple stick figure of a human being, which the upland children could readily do.

Notably, in the Guillette study we find this description of the behaviour of pesticide-expose children: “Some valley children were observed hitting their siblings when they passed by, and they became easily upset or angry with minor corrective comment by a parent. These aggressive behaviours were not noted in the [pesticide-free] foothills [children].” – P. Montague

Biotech Corn and the Deaths of Butterflies

Brian Tokar

Genetically engineered crops threaten monarch butterflies. The headlines spread worldwide this past May, after three research at Cornell University published a study confirming what critics of biotechnology have been saying for a decade: that the environmental consequences of genetic engineering would prove to be widespread and very damaging.

This was far from the first study of its kind. After 25 years of research in genetic engineering, over a decade of open-air field tests, and three years of aggressive promotion of genetically engineered crops in the commercial marketplace, research on the health and environmental effects of engineered crops is finally beginning to catch up with the industry juggernaut. But while biotech companies pour billions of dollars every year into developing and marketing new-tech crop varieties, researchers concerned about the health and environmental consequences of these technologies face scarce research funds, unrealistic burdens of proof, and sometimes even professional ostracism. For more than two decades, assertions about the likely ill effects of genetic engineering have been dismissed as mere speculation. As fast-merging “life-science” conglomerates seek to control all aspects of seed production, agricultural chemicals, and pharmaceutical manufacture, their reach is having an ever more chilling effect on many areas of science.

In this setting, it is quite remarkable that the monarch study was done at all. It is even more remarkable that it was done at Cornell University, home to the National Agricultural Biotechnology Council, the biotech-centred Boyce Thompson Institute, and numerous individual research who are focused on everything from bovine growth hormone to developing new biotech crop varieties. This may explain why Cornell entomologist Dr John Losey was so quick to downplay the real-world consequences of his experiment.

What Dr Losey and his two colleagues did was quite straightforward in scientific terms. They collected pollen from one of the “pest-resistant” corn varieties that are now being aggressively promoted by Monsanto and other biotech companies. The corn plant are genetically engineered to secrete very high doses of a toxin naturally produced by the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, commonly known as Bt. While short-lived Bt bacteria normally produce this toxin in an inactive form, which becomes activated only when absorbed into the highly alkaline digestive systems of organisms such as the corn rootworm, genetically engineered Bt crops produced up to 20 times as much toxin in its activated form in every plant tissue throughout the plant’s entire life cycle.

The Cornell researchers used a simple spatula to apply Bt corn pollen to the leaves of common milkweed, which is the sole food source for monarch butterflies in their early larval stages throughout much of North American. Three-day-old butterfly larvae were exposed to the treated milkweed, and others were placed on milkweed leaves that either had no pollen on them, or only pollen from non-genetically engineered corn. After only four days, 44 percent of the larvae that were exposed to the Bt pollen died, while both control groups had a 100 percent survival rate. The surviving Bt-exposed larvae were also reduced in weight by more than 60 percent. “These results have potentially profound implications for the conservation of monarch butterflies”, the three researchers wrote in the prestigious British scientific journal Nature. In subsequent public statements, the researchers instead emphasised the differences between the laboratory and the field.

Polite requests to label genetically engineered foods won’t save a single monarch butterfly. They won’t protect a single farmer or journalist from Monsanto’s incessant threats and lawsuits.

Still, the worldwide response to these findings was unusually swift. The New York Times published the story on page one, assigning the story to a reporter who is very knowledgeable about wildlife ecology. Even USA Today gave the story front-page coverage. In Brussels, Belgium, the European Union’s Environment Commissioner announced that the EU would withhold the permit process for all new genetically engineered Bt corn varieties. In Mexico, the environmental Group of 100 joined with Greenpeace to demand an immediate ban on Bt corn, whether imported or grown domestically. In Britain, supermarket chains and fast-food restaurants stepped up their efforts to end their use of genetically engineered ingredients; just a week earlier, Europe’s two largest food companies and the world’s first and third largest), Nestle and Unilever, announced that such ingredients would no longer be used in any of their products.

Consumers, farmers, and others in Europe and much of Asia are closely following the growing evidence for the health and environmental consequences of genetically engineered plants, animals and bacteria (known collectively as genetically modified organisms or GMOs). In the last two years, European researchers have documented the ill effects of Bt crops on the lifespan and egg production of ladybugs, the survival of green lacewing larvae, and the behaviour of honeybees. Ladybugs and lacewings are considered important natural pest controls, and few flowering plants would thrive without pollination by honeybees.

Researchers at the University of Chicago reported last fall that genetically engineered plants (in this case, an herbicide-tolerant variety of a common mustard) may be far more likely to cross-pollinate with other related plants than their non-engineered counterparts. This means that exotic, laboratory-created combinations of genes are much more likely to contaminate related plants with their pollen than was previously realized. Imagine the consequences of herbicide-tolerance genes spreading to weedy varieties of mustard, for example, from fields of herbicide-resistant canola. With a third of last year’s Canadian canola (oilseed rape) crop having been genetically engineered, this is no longer an unlikely prospect.

A Saskatchewan farmer named Percy Schmeiser found out the hard way, when Monsanto labelled him a “seed pirate”, and sued him for allegedly growing its patented variety of genetically engineered canola without a licence. Schmeiser retorted that he never planted any genetically engineered canola, and that samples of Monsanto’s variety were found in his fields due to genetic contamination from a neighbour’s crop. This case is being watched closely by everyone concerned about the effects of genetic engineering on agriculture. In Holland, a U.S. brand of organic corn chips was pulled from the shelves after it was found to contain traces of genetically engineered corn. The Wisconsin-based organic food manufacturer, Prima Terra, traced the corn to an organic grower in Texas whose neighbour grew genetically engineered Bt corn. Not even our organic crops are safe from genetic contamination.

Recent studies of the health effects of genetically engineered foods also confirm what biotech critics have been saying for a very long time. In February, Britain was rocked by the news of an experiment that was almost successfully suppressed. Last summer, Dr. Arpad Pusztai, a Senior Research Fellow at Scotland’s Rowett Research Institute; was fired for going public with his findings that genetic engineered potatoes damaged the internal organs of laboratory rats. The Institute refused to release any of Pusztai’s data and locked him out of his own laboratory. Pressure from scientists across Europe led to the eventual release of Pusztai’s findings: rates fed with genetically engineered potatoes had significantly smaller (by weight) intestines, pancreases, kidneys, livers, lungs, and brains, and enlarged thymus and prostate glands. The potatoes had 20 percent less protein than normal and the rats’ immune systems were depressed. Another British study suggests that soy allergies may have increased by as much as 30 percent over the years that genetically engineered herbicide-tolerant varieties have become widely available.

These findings have not been taken lightly by a British public that is still reeling from the Mad Cow disaster, in which almost all the nation’s cattle were ordered destroyed to prevent the spread of this severe form of highly infectious brain damage. Protests have escalated to the point where every major supermarket chain in Britain had agreed to stop using genetically engineered ingredients in its store brands. U.S grain suppliers have been backed down from their earlier claims that it is impossible to segregate genetically engineered varieties of soybeans and corn from conventional varieties. They are pledging to send only non-genetically engineered grain to their European customers or, as in the case of Archer Daniels Midland, to only include engineered varieties that the European Union has already approved.

What this means, however, is that corn and soybeans being sold for food processing and animal feeds in the U.S. are likely to include even higher proportions of engineered varieties. Nearly 40 percent of last year’s U.S. soybean crop was genetically engineered, 25 percent of the field corn, and a third of Canada’s oilseed rape (canola). With 60 percent of processed food containing at least one of these three ingredient. American consumers have become the guinea pigs in yet another involuntary experiment, with potentially severe consequences for our health and the environment.

Here in the U.S., the movement against genetically engineered food is just beginning to be noticed by the media. An international gathering of biotechnology opponents in St. Louis last summer sparked the development of new activist networks across the country. This past May, over 100 outraged citizens protested at the annual convention of the Biotechnology Industry Organization in Seattle. In June, half a million signatures on a petition for the labelling of a genetically engineered foods were presented to Congressman David Bonior of Michigan. But labelling represents a halfway measure at best. While some well-informed consumers will be able to avoid genetically engineered products – and are already doing so – few families are in the position to simply avoid almost all processed food products. The biotechnology industry, which has thus far avoided widespread publicity in the U.S. – while telling people in Europe and Asia that American consumers support the genetically engineering of food – is reportedly gearing up for a huge advertising campaign to convince the public of what it has already decided we believe. A campaign focusing solely on labelling might easily backfire, allowing the food industry to convey the message that if our food is already full of engineered ingredients, and then they must be perfectly safe to eat.

Genetic engineering is more than just a matter of consumer “choice”. It has profoundly damaging implications for our health, the environment, and the future of agriculture, as we know it. Activists and other concerned people in Europe and Asia have no illusions about this. They have been pulling up test plots of engineered crops, petitioning the courts and their governments, and creating a climate where it is simply politically unacceptable to support genetic engineering in agriculture. In Britain, the Labour Party government has been thrown into crisis, with even many of the Party’s long-term supporters attaching Prime Minister Tony Blair for supporting the biotechnology industry.

Polite requests to label genetically engineered foods won’t save a single monarch butterfly. They won’t protect a single farmer or a single journalist from Monsanto’s incessant threats and lawsuits. They won’t protect the vast majority of people, whose food choices are far more limited than we often realize from unknown health hazards. They won’t begin to address the wider ethical problems of genetic engineering and other biotechnology’s that threaten to transform our health care system and usher in a new era of human cloning and eugenics.

We can no longer settle for halfway measures. Recent corporate mergers in the growing “life sciences” industry promise a future in which genetic manipulation will rapidly become the technology of choice in every area of food, medicine, and seed production. We need to learn from our sisters and brothers in Europe and Asia and develop a people’s movement against biotechnology that can meaningfully resist all aspects of this industry’s mounting assaults on the integrity of life on earth.

What the Hummingbird and the Flowers tell us – on Energy Massage

Robin Pan

Scott Taylor, a professional Energy Massage Therapist, possesses a unique ability to see the energy field surrounding the human body. As such, he is able to massage an individual according to his needs.

Scott’s introduction to energy massage at the Lapis Lazuli Light Total Health Workshop in U.S.A. made us realize that every kind of work has its own significance and meanings. The crux of it lies in whether and how we can find or create that special meaning in our daily. He also encouraged us not to be afraid of changes. When we feel that we should not be continuing with our present job, or that we no longer like our job, we should perhaps take a break and consider. This may be the time to set new goals for ourselves and for everybody else; the time to create a better future.

Let us first take a look at Scott’s theory on how the human body heals itself. Physical substances as well as energy flows throughout the human body. When either of these is obstructed in the body, pain, aches or other illness surface. Every organ in our body requires space to function properly. Whenever necessary, they make use of  this space to self-heal. Obstruction in the flow of energy causes the organs to tighten and contract, thereby affecting the mobility of the physical substances in the body. For example, if our brain shrinks in size, there will not be sufficient space for it to function properly. In turn, it cannot exert control on other body organs to ensure their normal functioning. Excitement, mental pressure and anger are all factors that block this flow of energy. Whenever energy or other substance in the body flow too slowly or too quickly, it affects the condition of the body. Whereever these substances gather and concentrate, there will be pain.

If a person met with an accident when under stress or in anger, these negative energy freeze on the bones or other parts of the body. To “unfreeze” these situations, the therapist has to understand the energy space and mentality of the patient at the time of the accident. With this, he can proceed with more effective treatment.

Next is the role energy massage plays in helping the body to heal. When energy contacts body tissues, human consciousness usually rises above normal. Let’s call it the paranormal conscious state of mind. (Author thinks that this is identical to the “equipoise state of mind during meditation”) While in this paranormal state of consciousness, the body starts its process of self-healing. In similarity to the body needing space to heal, any change or adjustment in the physical substance requires space. The job of the therapist is to gain effective contact with the human body, and in turn dispense the energy cramped negatively in parts of the body, and to promote a balanced flow of energy to all parts of the body. This allows the body tissue to contact with the energy and hence propel one into the paranormal state of consciousness. Under this state of mind, a “para-space” is created. This is equivalent to having created a huge receptacle (of space), allowing energy to flow freely. Having the space to move, the confined and concentrated particles in the body re-starts their activity and returns the body structure to normal. In turn, mental and physical pain lessen and disappear eventually.

Of course, energy massage is not the only way to allow one to enter the paranormal state of consciousness. Music and meditation have a similar effect. Eating right, being healthy and regular meditation can lead one toward this paranormal state of consciousness.

Scott says that treatment by energy massage cannot be expressed by words alone. The difference between energy massage and traditional Chinese treatment is that in energy massage, it is the patient who treats himself, and not the therapist. Scott said that everyone can do energy massage. The crux of it is to stay calm and relaxed while massaging someone. The massager has to be conscious of the massagee’s reaction to the therapy. By and by, both therapist and patient will start to feel the flow of energy between them.

What the therapist contact are normally muscles and bones. Bones are the most dense or concentrated parts of the body, and energy flows fastest in them. At the same time, the bones themselves carry memories that stretches beyond our present lives. In the process of treatment, para-space is created, and the patient enters into a state of paranormal consciousness, his memory will not remain at a fixed point. Perhaps scenes from his childhood will flash through his mind.

Energy massage is different from traditional massage in that, instead of applying pressure on the body, the therapist tries to raise or stretch the patient’s energy level, which promotes better flow. On different people, this will have different healing effects. For individuals who are seriously injured, they will need to undergo therapy early. Delay will cause the injury to fixate itself in the body.

Scott says that one accumulates vast physiological and psychological hurt in his life. One session of therapy can perhaps only get rid of the tip of an iceberg, or it can propel the iceberg to emerge from the water slightly, which may result in pain. As such, one session may not be able to bring about the desired effect. We can draw a comparison at the inability to really taste water until we have drunk plenty. In addition, complementing a positive level of energy with other forms of therapy such as eating healthy, regularly exercising can reap high rewards i.e., speedy healing and recovery.

The query that may arise is, why then, can’t we treat ourselves, and have to rely on someone else to help us? Scott explains that the human body is structured in such a way that “mutual reliance” is required in the healing process. In this fast-paced society, where tension is everywhere and in everyone, a professional therapist can do wonders in the healing of our bodies. However, it is important to note that in energy massage, the therapist does not transfer energy to the patient. He is also not to pursue a one-minded track of seeking positive result. The original purpose of energy massage is to help one activate the healing potential within oneself. Scott says that he cares for people, and not for the events that happen to people. He releases anything that comes to him, be it mental or physical, after he is done with the therapy, and takes break whenever he feels tired. The crux is not to force himself to exceed what he can achieve for one patient. It took him five years to realize this, and he will not hesitate to advise others to slow down and step back when they are tired.

To Scott, it is important to maintain a satisfactory level of energy level, as energy is food for the body. When having a high level of energy, the body is able to attract positive forces, just like a full-bloom flower is able to draw a beautiful Hummingbird. We are better able to create our own future, to fulfil our wishes and accomplish what we want to. This is similar in concept to the spiritual way of living of the aborigines described in the book ‘Mutual Message Down Under’.

According to Scott, ideally, everyone should have a taste of such unhurried and spiritual life at least once in his lifetime. He explains that pain is not to be feared too, as it can be a force propelling one towards never-before realization.

Scott encourages us to affect and think of other people positively. This attitude lends a good hand in the creation of our own future. For example, if we think that someone cannot help in alleviating our pain and heal us, then he most certainly will not be able to, as whatever he attempts will not be able to shake that earlier mindset. Trust, love and support are the forces behind Scott’s ability to help others heal. Therefore, we should make use of activated energy to affect the people around us positively.

We can increase our energy field through massage, meditation and healthy eating, and one day we may find ourselves able to help others to heal too. Of course, our energy field may be different from that of Scott’s, as he explains that everyone is unique in the universe. Increasing our energy field allows us to open our eyes and see the mission we are to accomplish in this life.

All That Glitters Is Not Silver – The Heavy-Metal Menace In Your Mouth

Jerome Mittleman, D.D.S.

Since it was founded over 130 years ago, the American Dental Association (ADA) has continued to insist that amalgam fillings (composed of a combination of these metals: silver, nickel, mercury, copper, tin, zinc) are a treatment of choice for filling tooth cavities. However, there is more and more evidence showing that the highly toxic heavy metal mercury, which can comprise anywhere from 45 to 56 percent of the filling, is implicated in a wide range of health disorders and should be banned for use in the mouth.

I stopped using amalgam fillings in 1968, though they have been used in the field of dentistry for over 150 years. Mercury leaches out of the filling, reappearing in many different areas of the body – including the brain. Research has shown a correlation between the number of amalgam fillings in the mouth and the level of mercury in the brain upon autopsy. Mercury has also been implicated in cases of immune failure, and autoimmune diseases.

Over the past 30 years the controversy has resurfaced, while the ADA sticks to its guns: “I do mercury fillings for my children… I would treat members of the family the same way I treat the public.” Said one spokesman on ABC’s nightly news in New York.

ABC also interviewed me. I reminded viewers that we also used asbestos for 150 years until it literally “blew up” on us – I predict the same for mercury.

The ADA newsletter tells dentists, “Handling amalgams requires extreme caution … a ‘no-touch’ technique should be employed.” (ADA News, September 1981). I ask, “How do you keep the patient’s mouth from touching it?”

Dentists are also told to salvage the scrap from the fillings and store it in a tightly closed container under liquid for 1 hr. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has warned dentists not to release scrap mercury material in sewers. The mouth hardly qualifies as a “tightly closed container and if it isn’t safe for discharge in the sewers, why would anyone want it in their mouth.

Mercury can cause irreversible damage to the central nervous system and metabolic damage which affects the genes. “It is not possible to overemphasize the seriousness of the situation,” reports Dr. B. Hellewell, a metallurgist from England. “Reports of genetic damage caused by methyl mercury have been received from Japan, Sweden, Iraq, Canada and the U.S. In the face of mounting evidence of danger and the absence of evidence of safety, the use of mercury dental amalgam tooth fillings in women who are pregnant should discontinued.”

Hellewell noted that metallic mercury can be converted into the toxic methyl mercury, which has been found in the urine and blood cells after amalgam have been inserted in teeth.

Dr Hal Huggins of Colorado Springs notes that white blood cell counts change after amalgam has been removed from a patient’s mouth, indicating changes in the immune system.

According to an article in the Journal of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine in 1972: “Considering that the finished amalgam restoration (filling) contains an average of 45 to 50 percent of mercury, we can understand how chronic poisoning may occur as corrosion takes place.” Corrosion occurs with chewing and temperature changes in the mouth. Sensitive instruments can now measure mercury vapor released during eating, or when a filling is removed.

On CBS News’s 60 Minutes December 16, 1990, Morley Safer reported: “Last summer, the EPA banned mercury from indoor latex paint because of mercury vapor. The vapor level in this patient’s mouth after chewing for 10 minutes is 92 times higher than that in a newly painted room, three times higher than the U.S. Government allows in the workplace.”

How dangerous is mercury? Take a look at this list of adverse effects and symptoms of mercury poisoning, from an ACA report on dental material:

  • Tremor in fine muscle movements, eventually progressing to convulsions
  • Loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhoea
  • Depression, fatigue, and insomnia
  • Swollen glands and tongue
  • Ulceration of the mouth, loose teeth
  • Nephritis
  • Birth defects in offspring … and more.

Magnus Nylander. D.D.S. of Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute found that autopsies of dentists showed an 800 times increase over the control level of mercury in the pituitary gland. Fredrik Berlund, M.D., Ph.D noted a “significant improvement in health” after removal of amalgam fillings in some patients.

Dentists in Japan have already stopped using amalgam fillings, according to Nobumasa Imura, a professor at Kitasito University in Tokyo. Sweden, Germany and Japan are considering a full ban.

At the University of Calgary Medical School in Alberia, researchers put 12 amalgam fillings in the mouths of six sheep. A control group received fillings made from an inert material. In one mouth, the sheep that received the amalgam each lost half of their kidney function. After 60 days, kidney function deteriorated further. Skeptics noted that most people don’t get 12 fillings at a time and sheep may be particularly sensitive to mercury. But Professors Murray Vimy and Fritz Lorscheider concluded: “We know that mercury is highly toxic and that it concentrates in certain parts of the body. We know it can alter kidney function in animals. That should be enough to ban it.”

Thomas Clarkson of the University of Rochester Medical School in New York and Lars Fhiberg of the Kamlinska Institute in Stockholm both insist, “There is no safe level of mercury exposure.”

The FDA is now examining the use of amalgam fillings in the U.S.

High Energy Porridge


Millet           }

Quinoa         } 1 cup soak overnight

Buckwheat  }


  • Drain soaked grains and set aside
  • Then add 3 times volume of water to soaked grains and cook for 5 minutes
  • Serve porridge and add seasoning to taste with optional addition of lecithin. Brewers’ yeast powder, raisins, molasses and walnuts.

Burdock and Pumpkin Salad


1 cup/bowl Shredded Burdock

½ cup/bowl Shredded Carrots

½ cup/bowl Shredded Pumpkin

A little Shredded Ginger

A dash Shredded Red Bell Pepper

Chinese Parsley } Chopped

Basil                     } Fine

Apple Cider Vinegar


½ tsp Lecithin

1 tbsp Liquid Amino or Shoyu

1 tbsp Walnut oil

A little Dulse and Sesame powder


  • Soak shredded burdock root immediately in apple cider vinegar water (dilute of vinegar to water 1:3) and allow to marinate for twenty minutes.
  • Drain shredded burdock root and add all other ingredients and seasoning.
  • Mix well and serve chilled