Digesting Regulations–I’m a Pet Store…or a Dealer, or a Breeder, or Not, or What???!!!

USDA’s APHIS, the same illustrious service that brought us the NAIS which morphed into the ADT, has blessed us all with the distinction of being regulated as a pet store if we aren’t already regulated as licensed breeders. The way the regulations read is confusing at absolute best. The number of breeding females is an aggregate number of all animals covered under the Animal Welfare Act of 1966. That’s virtually every thing that is warm blooded and referred to as a “pet” or used for exhibition. Dogs, cats, farm animals sometimes, rabbits, etc. They say you can have four or less breeding females and not be licensed, but if you sell them online then you are a retail pet store. They also give you the capacity to earn up to $500 gross annually and be exempted from being either a pet store or a breeder.

Now there are exceptions that are astonishing. For one, if the animals are sold as breeding animals, then you are exempt. So every dog could be sold as breeding stock with hybrid vigor and they would be exempt. Or if the animal is a working animal, you’re ok as well. So you could sell poodles as watch dogs and be exempt. But if they are pets, you are not exempt. Basically, if they want to they can deem anyone selling any of the covered animals as under their regulatory authority.

I try really hard not to curse, but after reading the final rule (which you can read here if you have the stamina) I find that I have to quote my husband, I don’t know whether to shit or go blind.

Thankfully there is a lawsuit that has been filed. I hope there is an injunction against the USDA on this insanity. You can read about it below:

Dog and Cat Clubs Tell Uncle Sam to Scat
           (CN) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture illegally and arbitrarily is requiring “tens of thousands of dog and cat breeders” to get licenses and submit to unannounced inspections and the costs of complying with “new structural and sanitation standards,” dozens of dog and cat clubs claim in court.

     Forty dog clubs – and two cat clubs – led by the Associated Dog Clubs of New York State, sued the USDA in District of Columbia Federal Court.
More cats than dogs are kept as pets in the United States, according to the Humane Society: 95.6 million cats and 83.3 million dogs.
Forty-seven percent of U.S. households have at least one dog, and 46 percent have at least one cat, according to the Humane Society.
Why 40 of the 42 plaintiff clubs are dog breeders, and only two represent cats, is a poser. Possibly it’s because dogs and dog owners are clubbier than cats and cat people.
Whatever the reason, the clubs challenge “The Retail Pet Store Rule,” 9 CFR Parts 1-3, which took effect on Nov. 18. The regulation was promulgated under the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. § 2131 et seq.
The rule originally was aimed at large breeders who sell over the Internet, but was expanded to include all breeders, including “small-scale breeders,” i.e., the members of the plaintiff clubs, “without any support for doing do,” according to the complaint.
According to the dog clubs’ lawsuit: “The Rule radically changes, without justification, 47 years of USDA’s regulatory oversight of retail pet stores. Specifically, the Rule redefines ‘retail pet store’ to potentially require tens of thousands of dog and cat breeders throughout the United States, including members of plaintiffs, to obtain licenses, to subject their residences to unannounced, on-site inspections, to incur substantial costs to comply with new structural and sanitation standards, to risk the health and lives of their dogs and cats from exposure to the deadly Parvovirus, Panleukopenia, and other diseases, and to place their personal safety at risk by opening their residences to strangers.”
The clubs claim that when Congress passed the Animal Welfare Act in 1966, it “specifically exempted retail pet stores” from the Act’s licensing and inspection requirements.
“Although Congress has amended the AWA several times since its passage, Congress has not changed or narrowed the AWA’s exemption of retail pet stores,” the complaint states. “By promulgating a regulation instead of seeking a statutory solution in Congress, the USDA has circumvented congressional intent. Moreover, the Rule’s redefinition of ‘retail pet store’ is inconsistent with the required record that was developed to justify the Rule.”
The USDA estimated that the rule would affect 2,600 to 4,640 breeders, the dog clubs say – an estimate that is way off base.
“In fact, as was noted in the comments, the Rule potentially affects tens of thousands of breeders, including the almost 19,000 members of the 42 plaintiffs, located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Significantly, the clubs and registries comprised by plaintiffs represent less than 1 percent of the dog and cat clubs and registries in the United States, yet the cumulative number of plaintiff members alone is four times the maximum number of breeders that APHIS [the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service] estimated would be potentially affected.”
The dog clubs want the rule declared invalid and enjoined as arbitrary and capricious, inconsistent with the AWA, exceeding the jurisdiction of the USDA, and a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
The clubs are represented by Philip Hecht.
The Humane Society criticized the lawsuit in a statement, and said it plans to “intervene in the lawsuit and join the government in defending the common-sense regulation.”
The Humane Society said that the rule was enacted to crack down on “large-scale puppy mills.” The statement said that the rule “closed the regulatory loophole” that let puppy mills sells abused dogs online without oversight.
The Humane Society statement did not address the dog clubs’ objection that the rule indiscriminately affects back-yard breeders.
Here are the plaintiffs: Associated Dog Clubs of New York State, Inc; Australian Shepherd Club of America; American Dog Breeders Association, Inc.; Virginia Federation of Dog Clubs and Breeders; California Federation of Dog Clubs; Albany Kennel Club, Inc.; Albany Obedience Club, Inc.; Allpurrs Cattery; American Fox Terrier Club; American Pomeranian Club; American Russell Terrier Club; Belgian Sheepdog Club of America; Cat Fanciers Legislative Group; Charlottesville-Albemarle Kennel Club; Chattanooga Kennel Club;; Chihuahua Club of America; Cleveland Collie Club; Colonial Newfoundland Club; Columbia Poodle Club of Oregon and Southwest Washington; Dachshund Club of Greater Buffalo; Dachshund Fanciers of Central Virginia; Eagle Rock Kennel Club, Inc.; Erie Canal Schipperke Club; Goldendoodle Association of North America;; Huron Valley Australian Shepherd Association; International Bengal Cat Society; International Shiloh Shepherd Dog Club; Kennel Club of Palm Springs; Miniature Australian Shepherd Club of America; Minuteman Samoyed Club, Inc.; Mississippi Canine Coalition, Inc.; Northland Newfoundland Club; Potomac Bassett Hound Club; Saratoga (NY) Kennel Club, Inc.; Schenectady Dog Training Club; Shawangunk Kennel Club, Inc.; Shetland Sheepdog Club of Western New York; Society for the Perpetuation of Desert Bred Salukis; Syracuse Obedience Training Club; Tri Valley Shetland Sheepdog Club of Northwest Los Angeles; Weimaraner Club of the Washington DC Area; and the Working Australian Shepherd Club of Upstate New York.

New Virus in Transgenic Creations Raises Concerns

The following is probably a difficult read for a lot of folks, but it is very worthwhile. I’ve taken the liberty of putting in bold issues revealed that I feel need the most attention, but please, read it all the way through. It’s terribly important.

Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops

Written By:

Jonathan Latham, PhD and Allison Wilson, PhD

Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops

Cauliflower Mosaic Virus

Originally published on Independent Science News

How should a regulatory agency announce they have discovered something potentially very important about the safety of products they have been approving for over twenty years?

In the course of analysis to identify potential allergens in GMO crops, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has belatedly discovered that the most common genetic regulatory sequence in commercial GMOs also encodes a significant fragment of a viral gene (Podevin and du Jardin 2012). This finding has serious ramifications for crop biotechnology and its regulation, but possibly even greater ones for consumers and farmers. This is because there are clear indications that this viral gene (called Gene VI) might not be safe for human consumption. It also may disturb the normal functioning of crops, including their natural pest resistance.

What Podevin and du Jardin discovered is that of the 86 different transgenic events (unique insertions of foreign DNA) commercialized to-date in the United States 54 contain portions of Gene VI within them. They include any with a widely used gene regulatory sequence called the CaMV 35S promoter (from the cauliflower mosaic virus; CaMV). Among the affected transgenic events are some of the most widely grown GMOs, including Roundup Ready soybeans (40-3-2) and MON810 maize. They include the controversial NK603 maize recently reported as causing tumors in rats (Seralini et al. 2012).

The researchers themselves concluded that the presence of segments of Gene VI “might result in unintended phenotypic changes”. They reached this conclusion because similar fragments of Gene VI have already been shown to be active on their own (e.g. De Tapia et al. 1993). In other words, the EFSA researchers were unable to rule out a hazard to public health or the environment.

In general, viral genes expressed in plants raise both agronomic and human health concerns (reviewed in Latham and Wilson 2008). This is because many viral genes function to disable their host in order to facilitate pathogen invasion. Often, this is achieved by incapacitating specific anti-pathogen defenses. Incorporating such genes could clearly lead to undesirable and unexpected outcomes in agriculture. Furthermore, viruses that infect plants are often not that different from viruses that infect humans. For example, sometimes the genes of human and plant viruses are interchangeable, while on other occasions inserting plant viral fragments as transgenes has caused the genetically altered plant to become susceptible to an animal virus (Dasgupta et al. 2001). Thus, in various ways, inserting viral genes accidentally into crop plants and the food supply confers a significant potential for harm.

The Choices for Regulators

The original discovery by Podevin and du Jardin (at EFSA) of Gene VI in commercial GMO crops must have presented regulators with sharply divergent procedural alternatives. They could 1) recall all CaMV Gene VI-containing crops (in Europe that would mean revoking importation and planting approvals) or, 2) undertake a retrospective risk assessment of the CaMV promoter and its Gene VI sequences and hope to give it a clean bill of health.

It is easy to see the attraction for EFSA of option two. Recall would be a massive political and financial decision and would also be a huge embarrassment to the regulators themselves. It would leave very few GMO crops on the market and might even mean the end of crop biotechnology.

Regulators, in principle at least, also have a third option to gauge the seriousness of any potential GMO hazard. GMO monitoring, which is required by EU regulations, ought to allow them to find out if deaths, illnesses, or crop failures have been reported by farmers or health officials and can be correlated with the Gene VI sequence. Unfortunately, this particular avenue of enquiry is a scientific dead end. Not one country has carried through on promises to officially and scientifically monitor any hazardous consequences of GMOs (1).

Unsurprisingly, EFSA chose option two. However, their investigation resulted only in the vague and unreassuring conclusion that Gene VI “might result in unintended phenotypic changes” (Podevin and du Jardin 2012). This means literally, that changes of an unknown number, nature, or magnitude may (or may not) occur. It falls well short of the solid scientific reassurance of public safety needed to explain why EFSA has not ordered a recall.

Can the presence of a fragment of virus DNA really be that significant? Below is an independent analysis of Gene VI and its known properties and their safety implications. This analysis clearly illustrates the regulators’ dilemma.

The Many Functions of Gene VI

Gene VI, like most plant viral genes, produces a protein that is multifunctional. It has four (so far) known roles in the viral infection cycle. The first is to participate in the assembly of virus particles. There is no current data to suggest this function has any implications for biosafety. The second known function is to suppress anti-pathogen defenses by inhibiting a general cellular system called RNA silencing (Haas et al. 2008). Thirdly, Gene VI has the highly unusual function of transactivating (described below) the long RNA (the 35S RNA) produced by CaMV (Park et al. 2001). Fourthly, unconnected to these other mechanisms, Gene VI has very recently been shown to make plants highly susceptible to a bacterial pathogen (Love et al. 2012). Gene VI does this by interfering with a common anti-pathogen defense mechanism possessed by plants. These latter three functions of Gene VI (and their risk implications) are explained further below:

1) Gene VI Is an Inhibitor of RNA Silencing
RNA silencing is a mechanism for the control of gene expression at the level of RNA abundance (Bartel 2004). It is also an important antiviral defense mechanism in both plants and animals, and therefore most viruses have evolved genes (like Gene VI) that disable it (Dunoyer and Voinnet 2006).

Cauliflower mosaic virus genome

Gene VI (upper left) precedes the start of the 35S RNA

This attribute of Gene VI raises two obvious biosafety concerns: 1) Gene VI will lead to aberrant gene expression in GMO crop plants, with unknown consequences and, 2) Gene VI will interfere with the ability of plants to defend themselves against viral pathogens. There are numerous experiments showing that, in general, viral proteins that disable gene silencing enhance infection by a wide spectrum of viruses (Latham and Wilson 2008).

2) Gene VI Is a Unique Transactivator of Gene Expression
Multicellular organisms make proteins by a mechanism in which only one protein is produced by each passage of a ribosome along a messenger RNA (mRNA). Once that protein is completed the ribosome dissociates from the mRNA. However, in a CaMV-infected plant cell, or as a transgene, Gene VI intervenes in this process and directs the ribosome to get back on an mRNA (reinitiate) and produce the next protein in line on the mRNA, if there is one. This property of Gene VI enables Cauliflower Mosaic Virus to produce multiple proteins from a single long RNA (the 35S RNA). Importantly, this function of Gene VI (which is called transactivation) is not limited to the 35S RNA. Gene VI seems able to transactivate any cellular mRNA (Futterer and Hohn 1991; Ryabova et al. 2002). There are likely to be thousands of mRNA molecules having a short or long protein coding sequence following the primary one. These secondary coding sequences could be expressed in cells where Gene VI is expressed. The result will presumably be production of numerous random proteins within cells. The biosafety implications of this are difficult to assess. These proteins could be allergens, plant or human toxins, or they could be harmless. Moreover, the answer will differ for each commercial crop species into which Gene VI has been inserted.

3) Gene VI Interferes with Host Defenses
A very recent finding, not known by Podevin and du Jardin, is that Gene VI has a second mechanism by which it interferes with plant anti-pathogen defenses (Love et al. 2012). It is too early to be sure about the mechanistic details, but the result is to make plants carrying Gene VI more susceptible to certain pathogens, and less susceptible to others. Obviously, this could impact farmers, however the discovery of an entirely new function for gene VI while EFSA’s paper was in press, also makes clear that a full appraisal of all the likely effects of Gene VI is not currently achievable.

Is There a Direct Human Toxicity Issue?

When Gene VI is intentionally expressed in transgenic plants, it causes them to become chlorotic (yellow), to have growth deformities, and to have reduced fertility in a dose-dependent manner (Ziljstra et al 1996). Plants expressing Gene VI also show gene expression abnormalities. These results indicate that, not unexpectedly given its known functions, the protein produced by Gene VI is functioning as a toxin and is harmful to plants (Takahashi et al 1989). Since the known targets of Gene VI activity (ribosomes and gene silencing) are also found in human cells, a reasonable concern is that the protein produced by Gene VI might be a human toxin. This is a question that can only be answered by future experiments.

Is Gene VI Protein Produced in GMO Crops?

Given that expression of Gene VI is likely to cause harm, a crucial issue is whether the actual inserted transgene sequences found in commercial GMO crops will produce any functional protein from the fragment of Gene VI present within the CaMV sequence.

There are two aspects to this question. One is the length of Gene VI accidentally introduced by developers. This appears to vary but most of the 54 approved transgenes contain the same 528 base pairs of the CaMV 35S promoter sequence. This corresponds to approximately the final third of Gene VI. Deleted fragments of Gene VI are active when expressed in plant cells and functions of Gene VI are believed to reside in this final third. Therefore, there is clear potential for unintended effects if this fragment is expressed (e.g. De Tapia et al. 1993; Ryabova et al. 2002; Kobayashi and Hohn 2003).

Regulators Discover a Hidden Viral Gene in Commercial GMO Crops

The second aspect of this question is what quantity of Gene VI could be produced in GMO crops? Once again, this can ultimately only be resolved by direct quantitative experiments. Nevertheless, we can theorize that the amount of Gene VI produced will be specific to each independent insertion event. This is because significant Gene VI expression probably would require specific sequences (such as the presence of a gene promoter and an ATG [a protein start codon]) to precede it and so is likely to be heavily dependent on variables such as the details of the inserted transgenic DNA and where in the plant genome the transgene inserted.

Commercial transgenic crop varieties can also contain superfluous copies of the transgene, including those that are incomplete or rearranged (Wilson et al 2006). These could be important additional sources of Gene VI protein. The decision of regulators to allow such multiple and complex insertion events was always highly questionable, but the realization that the CaMV 35S promoter contains Gene VI sequences provides yet another reason to believe that complex insertion events increase the likelihood of a biosafety problem.

Even direct quantitative measurements of Gene VI protein in individual crop authorizations would not fully resolve the scientific questions, however. No-one knows, for example, what quantity, location or timing of protein production would be of significance for risk assessment, and so answers necessary to perform science-based risk assessment are unlikely to emerge soon.

Big Lessons for Biotechnology

It is perhaps the most basic assumption in all of risk assessment that the developer of a new product provides regulators with accurate information about what is being assessed. Perhaps the next most basic assumption is that regulators independently verify this information.  We now know, however, that for over twenty years neither of those simple expectations have been met. Major public universities, biotech multinationals, and government regulators everywhere, seemingly did not appreciate the relatively simple possibility that the DNA constructs they were responsible for encoded a viral gene.

This lapse occurred despite the fact that Gene VI was not truly hidden; the relevant information on the existence of Gene VI has been freely available in the scientific literature since well before the first biotech approval (Franck et al 1980). We ourselves have offered specific warnings that viral sequences could contain unsuspected genes (Latham and Wilson 2008). The inability of risk assessment processes to incorporate longstanding and repeated scientific findings is every bit as worrysome as the failure to intellectually anticipate the possibility of overlapping genes when manipulating viral sequences.

This sense of a generic failure is reinforced by the fact that this is not an isolated event. There exist other examples of commercially approved viral sequences having overlapping genes that were never subjected to risk assessment. These include numerous commercial GMOs containing promoter regions of the closely related virus figwort mosaic virus (FMV) which were not considered by Podevin and du Jardin. Inspection of commercial sequence data shows that the commonly used FMV promoter overlaps its own Gene VI (Richins et al 1987). A third example is the virus-resistant potato NewLeaf Plus (RBMT-22-82). This transgene contains approximately 90% of the P0 gene of potato leaf roll virus. The known function of this gene, whose existence was discovered only after US approval, is to inhibit the anti-pathogen defenses of its host (Pfeffer et al 2002). Fortunately, this potato variety was never actively marketed.

A further key point relates to the biotech industry and their campaign to secure public approval and a permissive regulatory environment. This has led them to repeatedly claim, firstly, that GMO technology is precise and predictable; and secondly, that their own competence and self-interest would prevent them from ever bringing potentially harmful products to the market; and thirdly, to assert that only well studied and fully understood transgenes are commercialized. It is hard to imagine a finding more damaging to these claims than the revelations surrounding Gene VI.

Biotechnology, it is often forgotten, is not just a technology. It is an experiment in the proposition that human institutions can perform adequate risk assessments on novel living organisms. Rather than treat that question as primarily a daunting scientific one, we should for now consider that the primary obstacle will be overcoming the much more mundane trap of human complacency and incompetence. We are not there yet, and therefore this incident will serve to reinforce the demands for GMO labeling in places where it is absent.

What Regulators Should Do Now

This summary of the scientific risk issues shows that a segment of a poorly characterized viral gene never subjected to any risk assessment (until now) was allowed onto the market. This gene is currently present in commercial crops and growing on a large scale. It is also widespread in the food supply.

Even now that EFSA’s own researchers have belatedly considered the risk issues, no one can say whether the public has been harmed, though harm appears a clear scientific possibility. Considered from the perspective of professional and scientific risk assessment, this situation represents a complete and catastrophic system failure.

But the saga of Gene VI is not yet over. There is no certainty that further scientific analysis will resolve the remaining uncertainties, or provide reassurance. Future research may in fact increase the level of concern or uncertainty, and this is a possibility that regulators should weigh heavily in their deliberations.

To return to the original choices before EFSA, these were either to recall all CaMV 35S promoter-containing GMOs, or to perform a retrospective risk assessment. This retrospective risk assessment has now been carried out and the data clearly indicate a potential for significant harm. The only course of action consistent with protecting the public and respecting the science is for EFSA, and other jurisdictions, to order a total recall. This recall should also include GMOs containing the FMV promoter and its own overlapping Gene VI.

 

Rural Cannon Fodder

A very interesting article, from a very interesting food freedom advocate and (ahem) super star, Joel Salatin…..I have put a few things in bold as I felt they really needed emphasis:

USDA: Rural population needed not for farming but for cannon fodder

US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack values rural people less as farmers than as soldiers, says Joel Salatin. Photo: USDAgov/Flickr.

Joel Salatin recently posted this piece on the Polyface Farms Facebook page and we repost it here with Joel’s permission. — Ed

Why do we need more farmers? What is the driving force behind U.S. Department of Agriculture policy?

In an infuriating epiphany I have yet to metabolize, I found out last Wednesday in a private policy-generation meeting with Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. I did and still do consider it a distinct honor for his staff to invite me as one of the 25 dignitaries in Virginia agriculture for this think-tank session in Richmond.

It was a who’s who of Virginia agriculture: Farm Bureau, Va. Agribusiness Council, Va. Forestry Association, Va. Poultry Federation, Va. Cattlemen’s Association., deans from Virginia Tech and Virginia State — you get the picture.

It was the first meeting of this kind I’ve ever attended that offered no water. The only thing to drink were soft drinks. Lunch was served in styrofoam clam shells — Lay’s potato chips, sandwiches, potato salad and chocolate chip cookie. It didn’t look very safe to me, so I didn’t partake. But I’d have liked a drink of water. In another circumstance, I might eat this stuff, but with these folks, felt it important to make a point. Why do they all assume nobody wants water, nobody cares about styrofoam, everybody wants potato chips and we all want industrial meat-like slabs on white bread?

But I digress. The big surprise occurred a few minutes into the meeting: U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack walked in. He was in Terry McAuliffe love-in mode. And here is what he told us: in 2012, for the first time ever — rural America lost population in real numbers — not as a percentage but in real numbers. It’s down to 16 percent of total population.

I’m sitting there thinking he’s going to say that number needs to go up so we have more people to love and steward the landscape. More people to care for earthworms. More people to grow food and fiber.

Are you ready for the shoe to drop? The epiphany? What could the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, at the highest strategic planning sessions of our land, be challenged by other leaders to change this figure, to get more people in rural America, to encourage farming and help more farms get started? What could be the driving reason to have more farmers?

Why does he go to bed at night trying to figure out how to increase farmers? How do the President and other cabinet members view Vilsack’s role as the nation’s farming czar? What could be the most important contribution that increasing farmers could offer to the nation? Better food? Better soil development? Better care for animals? Better care for plants?

Are you ready? Here’s his answer: although rural America only has 16 percent of the population, it gives 40 percent of the personnel to the military. Say what? You mean when it’s all said and done, at the end of the day, the bottom line — you know all the cliches — the whole reason for increasing farms is to provide cannon fodder for American imperial might. He said rural kids grow up with a sense of wanting to give something back, and if we lose that value system, we’ll lose our military might.

So folks, it all boils down to American military muscle. It’s not about food, healing the land, stewarding precious soil and resources; it’s all about making sure we keep a steady stream of youngsters going into the military. This puts an amazing twist on things. You see, I think we should have many more farmers, and have spent a lifetime trying to encourage, empower, and educate young people to go into farming. It never occurred to me that this agenda was the key to American military power.

Lest I be misread, I am not opposed to defending family. I am not opposed to fighting for sacred causes. But I am violently opposed to non-sacred fighting and meddling in foreign countries, and building empires. The Romans already tried that and failed.

But to think that my agenda is key to building the American military — now that’s a cause for pause. I will redouble my efforts to help folks remember why we need more farmers. It’s not to provide cannon fodder for Wall Street imperialistic agendas. It’s to grow food that nourishes, husband land that’s aesthetically and aromatically sensually romantic, build soil, hydrate raped landscapes, and convert more solar energy into biomass than nature would in a static state. I can think of many, many righteous and noble reasons to have more farms. Why couldn’t Secretary Vilsack have mentioned any of these? Any?

No, the reason for more farms is to make sure we get people signing up at the recruitment office. That’s the way he sees me as a farmer. Not a food producer. When the president and his cabinet have their private confabs, they don’t see farmers as food producers, as stewards of the landscape, as resource leveragers. No, they view us as insurance for military muscle, for American empire-building and soldier hubris. Is this outrageous? Do I have a right to be angry? Like me, this raw and bold show of the government’s farming agenda should make us all feel betrayed, belittled, and our great nation besmirched.

Perhaps, just perhaps, really good farms don’t feed this military personnel pipeline. I’d like to think our kind of farming has more righteous goals and sacred objectives. Vilsack did not separate good farmers from bad farmers. Since we have far more bad farmers than good ones, perhaps the statistic would not hold up if we had more farmers who viewed the earth as something to heal instead of hurt, as a partner to caress instead of rape. That America’s farms are viewed by our leaders as just another artery leading into military might is unspeakably demeaning and disheartening.

Tragically, I don’t think this view would change with a different Democrat or Republican. It’s entrenched in the establishment fraternity. Thomas Jefferson, that iconic and quintessential agrarian intellectual, said we should have a revolution about every half century just to keep the government on its toes. I’d say we’re long overdue.

Now when you see those great presidentially appointed cabinet members talking, I just want you to think about how despicable it is that behind the facade, behind the hand shaking and white papers, in the private by-invitation-only inner circles of our country, movers and shakers know axiomatically that farms are really important to germinate more military personnel. That no one in that room with Terry McAuliffe, none of those Virginia farm leaders, even blinked when Vilsack said that is still hard for me to grasp. They accepted it as truth, probably saying “Amen, brother” in their hearts. True patriots, indeed.

It’ll take me awhile to get over this, and believe me, I intend to shout this from the housetops. I’ll incorporate in as many public speeches as I can because I think it speaks to the heart of food and farming. It speaks to the heart of strength and security; which according to our leaders comes from the end of a gun, not from the alimentary canal of an earthworm. Here’s to more healthy worms.

– Joel Salatin, Transition Voice

– See more at: http://transitionvoice.com/2013/08/rural-population-not-needed-for-farming-but-for-cannon-fodder/#sthash.ayiixhIX.dpuf

Don’t Hold Your Breath – Monsanto May Be in Trouble

Knowing how Monsanto controls the “regulatory” agencies at the Federal level, I deeply doubt that anything will come of this. Also, since Senator Roy Blunt got the Monsanto Protection Act passed, there may be little that can be legally done against one of the most evil corporations on the face of the planet. Nonetheless, here is a story that we should be making a ruckus about:

Monsanto Panics as Oregon GM Wheat Scandal Spreads Worldwide

GM Wheat

May 30, 2013 in Sustainable Agriculture, by AdminShare with

USDA INVESTIGATING DETECTION OF GENETICALLY ENGINEERED (GE) GLYPHOSATE-RESISTANT WHEAT IN OREGON

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced Wednesday that test results of plant samples from an Oregon farm indicate the presence of genetically engineered (GE) glyphosate-resistant wheat plants. Further testing by USDA laboratories indicates the presence of the same GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety that Monsanto was authorized to field test in 16 states from 1998 to 2005. APHIS launched a formal investigation after being notified by an Oregon State University scientist that initial tests of wheat samples from an Oregon farm indicated the possible presence of GE glyphosate-resistant wheat plants. There are no GE wheat varieties approved for sale or in commercial production in the United States or elsewhere at this time.

As a result of the USDA announcement Japanese authorities have canceled a tender offer to buy wheat from the US and other governments worldwide have threatened to stop all US wheat imports.

The EU Commission has asked the United States how to test for unapproved GM Wheat, a spokesman said, adding that incoming shipments would be tested and blocked if they contained the strain.

The detection of this wheat variety does not pose a food safety concern. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a voluntary consultation on the safety of food and feed derived from this GE glyphosate-resistant wheat variety in 2004. For the consultation, the developer provided information to FDA to support the safety of this wheat variety. FDA completed the voluntary consultation with no further questions concerning the safety of grain and forage derived from this wheat, meaning that this variety is as safe as non-GE wheat currently on the market.“We are taking this situation very seriously and have launched a formal investigation,” said Michael Firko, Acting Deputy Administrator for APHIS’ Biotechnology Regulatory Services, “Our first priority is to as quickly as possible determine the circumstances and extent of the situation and how it happened. We are collaborating with state, industry, and trading partners on this situation and are committed to providing timely information about our findings. This situation is unacceptable and USDA will put all necessary resources towards this investigation.”

The Plant Protection Act (PPA) provides for substantial penalties for serious infractions. Should APHIS determine that this situation was the result of a violation of the PPA, APHIS has the authority to seek penalties for such a violation including civil penalties up to $1,000,000 and has the authority to refer the matter for criminal prosecution, if appropriate.

APHIS, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ FDA work together to regulate the safe use of organisms derived from modern biotechnology. APHIS regulates the introduction (meaning the importation, interstate movement, and environmental release/field testing) of certain GE organisms that may pose a risk to plant health. EPA regulates pesticides, including plants with plant-incorporated protectants (pesticides intended to be produced and used in a living plant), to ensure public safety. EPA also sets limits on pesticide residues on food and animal feed. FDA has primary responsibility for ensuring the safety of human food and animal feed, as well as safety of all plant-derived foods and feeds. (article source)

Killing Us Softly – Glyphosphate, Deadly Convenience

Recently, I posted a link to a study heavily referenced in the following articles. That study actually cinched me up, when not much does any more. The issue I keyed on was the actual change of messenger RNA upon exposure, not limited to ingestion, of the lovely GMO’s that are so prevalent in our food supply now. However, there is a lot more information in the study than just that, and Heidi Stevenson has done a tremendous service to all of mankind by relating the study to us in a three part series on glyphosphate.

Please people, read this. Share it. Give it to mothers who are feeding their babies commercial formula, to farmers growing GMO crops, your local Health Board, doctors, and of course, advocates for real food. I know this is long, but here is a link to a pdf of the three articles so you can print it out and read it at your leisure.

While the truth may be ugly, and unfathomable to those of us who actually love life, it is paramount that we have as much information as possible so we can make decisions based on facts and not simply convenience.

Glyphosphate- Killing Us Softly, Monsanto Style

Glyphosate is assumed to be safe for humans. As a result, it’s become the world’s best-selling herbicide. However, a groundbreaking study documents that it may actually be fueling the plague of chronic & immune diseases, including cancer and autism. This study documents the underlying systemic damage produced by glyphosate, then discusses how that damage leads to specific diseases.

by Heidi Stevenson

This article is split into three parts. This is Part 1, Glyphosate: Chronic Disease Degeneration. It gives an overview and then goes on to discuss the primary findings of a new study about the human effects of Monsanto’s herbicide, glyphosate. Part 2, titled Glyphosate: Disease Creator, discusses specific diseases, applying the basic harms produced by glyphosate and showing how they lead to each disease. Part 3, titled Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery, discusses glyphosate’s use throughout the world and then draws conclusions.

Monsanto’s herbicide, glyphosate, has become virtually ubiquitous based on a presumption of harmlessness in humans.  In spite of noxious and aggressive superweeds that have developed in response and a host of reports citing harm and potential harm to the environment and farm animals, this premise of innocence has resulted in its use nearly everywhere. Because of that same image of innocence, its use has multiplied astronomically.

However, a new report from the journal Entropy turns the proposition of glyphosate’s innocence in human health upside down. An exhaustive review of existing research in which 287 studies were reviewed, coupled with irrefutable logic, produces a frightening picture of the reality: Glyphosate may be the single most devastating substance ever introduced into agribusiness. As the authors, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff, concluded:

Glyphosate is likely to be pervasive in our food supply, and, contrary to being essentially nontoxic, it may in fact be the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.

The range of diseases that can be associated with glyphosate is frightening. Its biological effects are so primary that virtually every bodily system—if not every one—is adversely affected. The authors state:

Our systematic search of the literature has led us to the realization that many of the health problems that appear to be associated with a Western diet could be explained by biological disruptions that have already been attributed to glyphosate. These include digestive issues, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases, and cancer, among others. While many other environmental toxins obviously also contribute to these diseases and conditions, we believe that glyphosate may be the most significant environmental toxin …

Glyphosate’s Metabolic Disruptions

The study documents that glyphosate disrupts several significant basic biological processes in humans with devastating results. Certain primary functions at the most basic levels are disrupted or diverted. These include:

  • Disruption of the shikimate pathway in gut biota.
  • Disruption of sulphate transport
  • Increase in Flavonoid Synthesis
  • Disruption of cytochrome P-450 enzymes

This section will explain and discuss each of these.

Shikimate Pathway Disruption

Glyphosate is believed to operate by disrupting the shikimate (pronounced shə kih mut) pathway in plants, a process for manufacturing a group of amino acids called aromatic (though the term has nothing to do with odor). These include phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. Aromatic amino acids are required for a plant’s survival.

It’s been assumed that glyphosate is harmless in humans because the shikimate pathway does not exist in any animal. However, the shikimate pathway does exist in bacteria, including those in the mammalian gut. Until fairly recently, the importance of gut biota in health has largely been ignored. However, it’s now understood to be key in many aspects of the body’s function.

Gut bacteria are in a symbiotic relationship with the body. They digest food, synthesize vitamins, detoxify foreign substances, and are key in immune system function and gut permeability. Thus, anything that interferes with the shikimate pathway has the potential of causing severe harm.

Disruption of Sulphate Transport

Sulphate transport, the method by which sulphate is moved into and out of cells, is a delicate balance. When glyphosate is present, this balance becomes a tightrope walk. The problem is that both sulphate and glyphosate are kosmotropes, which can have a devastating impact on the blood.

A kosmotrope is a substance that can cause water to become gelled. Too much sulphate in blood can turn it into sludge, so it cannot circulate and bring nutrients and oxygen to cells or remove waste. Therefore, transport of sulphate is always a balancing act between cellular requirements and blood viscosity.

However, when glyphosate is added to the picture, the risk is even greater. Glyphosate is also a kosmotrope, which makes it significantly more difficult for sulphate to be transported where it’s needed. As a result, sulphate transport is disrupted in the presence of glyphosate.

Increase in Flavonoid Synthesis

Glyphosate interferes with synthesis of the aromatic amino acid, tryptophan, instead favoring the production of flavonoids by as much as 20 times normal. While flavonoids are generally believed to be health-inducing,  Samsel & Seneff’s paper presents the likelihood that the picture is far more complex, and they propose a role for them in sulphate transport in the presence of glyphosate.

It’s known that, in both plants and microbes, glyphosate induces synthesis of two kinds of phenols: monophenolic compounds and polyphenolic flavonoids. Although monophenols are known to be toxic, flavonoids are generally thought to be beneficial for heath. However, their metabolic mechanisms are unknown.

Carbon rings are part of the molecular structure of phenols. Molecules with carbon rings have a special capability. They can diffuse the effects of kosmotropes. Therefore, phenols, including monophenols and flavonoids, are able to diffuse the effects of sulphate by binding to it and escorting it through the bloodstream.

Sulphate transport comes under pressure in the face of glysophate’s kosmotropic gelling effect on the blood. Therefore, aromatic amino acids may be oxidized into phenolic compounds to compensate, that is, to provide more phenols for sulphate transport.

However, once a phenol has delivered its sulphate, it becomes highly toxic. Sulphate-free phenols are destructive to phospholipids and DNA.

Therefore, to fulfill the more pressing need of sulphate transport, authors Samsel & Seneff propose that flavonoids are synthesized instead of tryptophan. That is, because of flavonoids’ ability to counter the kosmotropic effects of glyphosate, they are produced at the expense of tryptophan.

They propose that, in the presence of glyphosate, flavonoids and phenols can transport sulphur from the gut to the liver, and then return to the gut by way of the hepatic portal vein to repeat the process. However, once a phenol has given up the sulphate anion in the liver, it becomes toxic, over time causing damage to the liver and the digestive system.

While the immediate problem of sulphate transport is resolved by overproducing flavonoids, there’s a distinct downside in the long term. First, of course, is underproduction of tryptophan, with resultant harmful effects on tryptophan-associated processes. It also results in loss of sulphates from the gut, resulting in development of chronic disorders.

Disruption of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes

Glyphosate causes an excess build-up of shikimate by inhibiting EPSP synthase, a critical enzyme in the process that leads to the aromatic amino acids.  As a consequence, the precursors are sent down other pathways that produce toxic compounds. For example, activity of the enzyme PAL is substantially increased, leading to the release of ammonia.

This appears to be a significant factor in glyphosate’s damaging effects.

At the same time that PAL activity is increased, a side branch of the tryptophan synthesis pathway is opened to synthesize flavonoids. As noted before, flavonoids’ metabolic function is not yet understood, so their benefits may not be the whole story.

Cytochrome P450 (CYP) is a large family of enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances and is critical for detoxing xenobiotics. It’s been established since 1998 that glyphosate inhibits CYP in plants. Therefore, it follows that their detoxing function is disrupted.

Retinoic acid is catabolized (destroyed) by a CYP enzyme called CYP26A1. Though retinoic acid is required for the process of developing neural differentiation, the neuron cannot mature until retinoic acid is removed by CYP26A1. Therefore, glyphosate’s inhibition of the CYP enzyme prevents the neuron from maturing.

CYP enzymes function throughout the body, both inside cells and through the bloodstream. Glyphosate is also carried in the blood. Thus, by inhibiting their function, glyphosate can disrupt any activity in which CYP enzymes are active. This is of particular concern in blood clotting, where two CYP enzymes are involved. Thromboxane A2 synthase (CYP5A1) regulates clotting and prostacyclin synthase (CYP8A1) regulates hemorraging. Glyphosate in the blood can inhibit these enzymes, thus disturbing the delicate balance of blood clotting and dissolution.

Endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) is a member of the CYP family. It’s important for production of nitric oxide (NO), which is needed to relax blood vessels to ease blood flow.

Though not yet documented, it’s predicted that glyphosate disrupts the production of sulphate by eNOS in the endothelium, further exacerbating the sulphate transport concern.

Evidence of CYP Enzyme Inhibition

Multiple evidence from several areas demonstrates that glyphosate inhibits CYP enzyme activity. It inhibits aromatase, which is a CYP enzyme that’s key in converting testosterone to estrogen. Retinoic acid activity is enhanced, which can be explained by suppression of the CYP enzyme that breaks it down. Studies document that glyphosate suppresses certain detoxifyng CYP enzymes.

Two studies demonstrate that activity of CYP19, aromatase, is inhibited by glyphosate. It takes only 10 parts per thousand to disrupt aromatase’s activity in a human liver cell line. At concentrations just one-hundredth the recommended agricultural use, aromatase is inhibited in human placental cells. Worse, when glyphosate is combined with chemicals in RoundUp, these effects happen with just 1/20 as much glyphosate.

In another study, a 15 micromoles concentration of glyphosate resulted in cutting the activity of benzene-detoxing CYP enzymes to one-fourth of normal. When the concentration was increased to 35 micromoles of glyphosate, the CYP activity was completely stopped.

A compelling study documented that rats given glyphosate intragastrically for two weeks suffer a reduction of CYP activity in the liver. This result is not surprising, since glyphosate is an organophosphate, and it’s well established that this class of pesticides inhibits CYP enzyme function in human liver cells. Therefore, it would be unsurprising to find that glyphosate’s inhibition of CYP liver enzymes that detox benzene could lead to severe adverse effects, since it’s known to cause cancer.

Glyphosate may also be an indirect factor in the ongoing die-off of bees. The class of insecticides called neonicotinoids is known to kill bees. One study has found reduced pollination in genetically modified Roundup-Ready canola compared to organic canola. The authors suspect that a synergistic effect between glyphosate and neonicotinoids is worsening bee die-off.

Pathology Induction by Glyphosate

Gyphosate causes disruption of the shikimate pathway in gut bacteria, which results in a domino effect of pathology. It causes formation of excess shikimate, along with deficiencies of aromatic amino acids in plants.

Aromatic amino acids include phenylalanine, tryptophan, and tyrosine, among others. All three can be in short supply as a result of glyphosate’s enzymatic suppression. Phenylalanine cannot be synthesized in the body and is required for synthesis of tyrosine. Its suppression results in a cascade of adverse effects, including of course, reduction in tyrosine.

Excess ammonia is observed in the cells of plants treated with glyphosate. This is true for both natural and Roundup Ready plants. A likely cause of the excess ammonia is glyphosate-induced increase in the activity of phenylalanine ammonia lyase (PAL), an enzyme found in both plants and microbes that catalyzes release of ammonia. Most of glyphosate’s ability to retard plant growth is probably a result of PAL activity, which produces both toxic ammonia and phenolic compounds.

Glyphosate Effects on Gut Bacteria

Evidence of glyphosate’s disruption of gut bacteria is found in cattle and poultry. Over the last ten to fifteen years, Clostridium botulinum infection has increased in German cattle. Glyphosate is toxic to Enterococcus, a friendly bacterium. This leads to a gut imbalance that favors overgrowth of Clostridium.

Research documents that glyphosate reduces beneficial bacteria and increases pathological bacteria in the gut. Particularly pathogenic strains of drug-resistant Salmonella and Clostridium were found, while beneficial Enterococcus, Bacillus, and Lactobacillus are susceptible to glyphosate. The result is overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria at the expense of beneficial bacteria.

In one instance, pathogenic bacteria do a good turn—but in the end, negate it with a particularly nasty by-product. Antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas are opportunistic pathogens that can break glyphosate down into metabolically-safe and usable phosphate and carbon. Unfortunately, a by-product of the process is neurotoxic formaldehyde, which can cause amyloid-like misfolding of tau protein in neurons, much like those found in Alzheimer’s brains, among other mischief.

Escherichia coli (E. coli) suffers starvation, energy drain, and shut-down of the shikimate pathway in the presence of glyphosate. A switch to anaerobic fermentation occurs instead of oxidizing glucose (sugar), which is a less efficient method of producing energy. It is reminiscent of changes in soil microbes with glyphosate application.

Frogs and Embryonic Development

In research comparing the effects of pesticides on frogs, glyphosate was unique in being able to destroy tadpoles. Out of four species, two had no survivors, one had almost none, and the overall survival of the four species was 70 percent.

Glyphosate had a synergistic effect with a fungal pathogen, Batrachochotrium dendrobatidis, which reduced survival of tadpoles.

It is probable that glyphosate is a factor in the worldwide disappearance of frogs, and also that embryonic development is disrupted.

Slow Effects in Mammals

Samsel & Seneff state:

An insidious issue with glyphosate is that its toxic effects on mammals take considerable time to be overtly manifested.

Nonetheless, evidence is building in mammalian studies. Research on rats given glyphosate in quantities equivalent to the highest legally-allowed doses demonstrated that they suffered oxidative stress in only 30-90 days.

A long term study examined rats fed genetically modified (GM) maize, nonGM maize without glyphosate, or GM maize with glyphosate. The experiment ran for the rats’ lifetimes, about two years. Unlike previous short-term research that had ended at 3 months. The results were dramatic. Rats fed the genetically-modified glyphosate-treated maize suffered multiple pathologies, including enormous mammary tumors in females, and gastrointestinal, liver, and kidney pathologies in males, which also developed skin and liver carcinomas. Male rats tended to die prematurely of liver and kidney deficiencies.

Roundup is a compound that includes both glyphosate and a surfactant called TN-20. Studies have found that the combination greatly increases glyphosate’s toxicity, resulting in mitochondrial damage, and both apoptic and necrotic cell death. It’s suspected that TN-10 disrupts the integrity of the cell barrier, which allows entry by glyphosate.

The synergistic effects of TN-20 with glyphosate were demonstrated in a study showing that dairy product starter microorganisms were inhibited by Roundup, but not by glyphosate alone. That study’s authors wondered if a recent loss in the biodiversity of raw milk might be caused by Roundup.

Part 1, Glyphosate: Chronic Disease Degeneration
Part 2, Glyphosate: Disease Creator
Part 3, Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery

Source:

Samsel, Anthony; Seneff, Stephanie. 2013. “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.” Entropy 15, no. 4: 1416-1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416

A new study has demonstrated glyphosate’s ability to interfere with gut biota and underlying metabolic functions. The conclusion that glyphosate is a major factor in nearly all modern chronic diseases is inescapable. Here’s how those disturbed metabolic functions are associated with conditions like autism, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

by Heidi Stevenson

This is Part 2 of a three-part series:

Part 1, Glyphosate: Chronic Disease Degeneration
Part 2, Glyphosate: Disease Creator
Part 3, Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery

With the damage done to primary cellular function, it should not be a surprise that glyphosate is implicated in the modern health plague, chronic diseases. It seems likely that virtually all are, at the least, exacerbated by it. Following are discussions of a wide array of these condtions and likely associations with glyphosate.

Please note that the interrelationships among glyphosate’s effects are very complex. Therefore, as much as possible, health conditions are arranged so that associations with glyphosate’s effects can be best understood and repetition is minimized. Nonetheless, some points may seem a bit out of context, while others may appear to be repetitious—though I’ve attempted to reduce such irritations. It should also be noted that this is not a complete listing of diseases and conditions discussed by Samsel & Seneff’s report.

Most important of all, though, are the chilling effects that glyphosate and its symbiotic partner, Roundup, have on the human body.

Cholesterol and Vitamin D Deficiencies

Synthesis and breakdown of both cholesterol and vitamin D (which refers solely to vitamin D3 here) are affected by glyphosate’s effects on CYP enzymes. Though there’s certainly an association between sun avoidance and sunscreen use, it’s likely that part of this epidemic is associated with glyphosate.

The importance of glyphosate’s interference in synthesis of cholesterol cannot be overestimated. Cholesterol provides a wide array of functions throughout the body:

  • Cholesterol is a precursor for synthesis of vitamin D, bile acids, and every steroid.
  • Cholesterol is required to build and maintain membranes and membrane fluidity.
  • Cholesterol is involved in cellular transport.
  • Cholesterol is involved in cell signalling.
  • Cholesterol is involved in nerve conduction.
  • Cholesterol is part of the myelin sheath around nerves.
  • Cholesterol may act as an antioxident.

It’s not difficult to see that glyphosate’s interruption in cholesterol synthesis can have domino effects throughout the body.

Obesity

Obesity is at the base of much modern ill health. However, a strong argument can be made that the obesity epidemic itself is caused by Agribusiness use of glyphosate. It’s already been proposed that synthetic chemicals in general are behind the obesity epidemic. However, high levels of them are better noted for causing anorexia. Samsel & Seneff, though, argue that glyphosate can be behind both problems.

Tryptophan supply is curtailed by glyphosate. Serotonin is derived from tryptophan. Therefore, it follows that depletion of tryptophan leads to deficiency in serotonin.

But the tryptophan tale is even worse. When inflammation is present, after glyphosate redirects production to flavonoids, the limited tryptophan that is produced faces another glyphosate-induced problem. Gut inflammation causes tryptophan to be converted to kynurenine by lymphoid tissues at the inflamed site. So it’s engulfed by two types of white blood cells, macrophages and neutrophils, for self-protection. Immune cells hoard kynurenine so they can defend themselves against DNA damage.

Although the popular press ties serotonin only to depression, it’s highly significant in obesity. It is the hormone that indicates satiety so that hunger stops. Confirmation of the tryptophan-serotonin connection is confirmed by studies documenting low tryptophan and serotonin levels in obese people.

Sadly, trytophan levels remain low after weight reduction, so it should not be surprising that maintaining weight loss can be so difficult. Obesity is a genuinely pathological condition—a genuine disease, not a character defect.

In an experiment, a strain of endotoxin-producing bacteria was transferred from a human gut to the guts of mice with neither beneficial nor harmful bacteria. During a 16-week period, these mice became obese on a high-fat diet. Lest you think that it was the high-fat aspect that made them obese, the same diet was also fed to normal mice, which didn’t gain weight.

Glyphosate changes the balance of gut bacteria to endotoxin-producers. That fact, in conjunction with the fact that the obesity epidemic has increased along with glyphosate’s increased use, provides a strong prima facie case for glyphosate as a factor in obesity. This same trajectory of obesity has also happened in conjunction with glyphosate introduction in other areas of the world. South Africa, which started using glyphosate in the 1970s, along with Roundup Ready genetically modified crops, has the highest obesity rate in Africa.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

C. difficile is a known causative agent of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The incidence of C. difficile has increased a great deal in North America over the last few years. A study in Wisconsin showed that, although C. difficile was almost unknown in people with IBDs prior to 2003, it was found in 3% of cases in 2003, 7% in 2004, and 16% in 2005.

It is likely that glyphosate is fueling the growth in people with IBDs infected with C. difficile.

Glyphosate can also lead to IBD through its disturbances of tryptophan production. Normally, tryptophan is taken up by the liver primarily for production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is the chemical produced by cells for energy. Any that isn’t taken up circulates in the blood, making it available to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) into the brain, where it’s used to make serotonin and melatonin. As already noted, low serotonin levels can lead to obesity.

Obesity does provide some limited protection against inflammatory disease in the gut. There are two factors providing such protection. One is that adipose (fat storing) tissues can store endotoxin produced by gut bacteria, so the lining is spared inflammatory damage. The other reason may be even more significant. Adipose tissue can supply sulphated steroids.

Unfortunately, though, obesity’s protection against inflammation can be overcome by the disturbance in tryptophan creation and processing. The process is not yet well understood. However, experiments on mice have shown the protective effect of obesity does break down, leading to severe inflammatory bowel disease, bleeding, and diarrhea.

Anorexia/Cachexia

The term anorexia nervosa in this study is better understood to mean simply anorexia, which does not involve the psychological condition of refusing to eat. Anorexia, in this context, refers to an inability to eat instead of refusal, and is more closely related to cachexia, which refers to weakness and wasting of the body. It is an end stage of much disease, including tuberculosis, cancer, and aids.

A typical aspect of IBS is weight loss that results from loss of ability to transport nutrients across a damaged gut barrier. Thus, the processes that can lead to obesity are, paradoxically, the same ones that, when taken to greater extremes, can also lead to anorexia and cachexia.

Glyphosate triggers inflammation in a variety of ways, including tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), which promotes muscle breakdown, thus likely being a factor in the cachexia of some chronic diseases.

Autism

It’s now well accepted that gut disease is associated with autism.

As noted earlier, glyphosate’s interference with the shikimate pathway results in overactivity of the enzyme PAL, which leads to excessive ammonia, which plays a toxic role in autistic brains.

The synthesis of ammonia is a byproduct of anaerobic fermentation, and anaerobic Clostridia bacteria are found in excess in the feces of children with autism. In general, by-products of anaerobic bacteria, which include phenols, amines, ammonia, and hydrogen sulphide, are toxic to the bowel.

Hepatic encephalitis—confusion, personality changes, reduced consciousness, and coma resulting from liver failure—is related to autism. The connection is ammonia. Impaired liver function prevents detoxification of ammonia, leading to symptoms of both autism and hepatic encephalitis.

Reduction of serotonin in the brain, which is indirectly caused by glyphosate’s redirection of tryptophan synthesis into flavonoids, is associated with autism:

  • One study comparing 40 autistic children with normal controls found that 35% of the autistic children had a far lower serum ratio of tryptophan to large neutral amino acids.
  •  Inadequate dietary tryptophan is known to exacerbate autistic children’s anxiety and repetitive behaviors.
  • Mice genetically designed with a defective gene that reduces availability of serotonin in the brain exhibited autistic-like behaviors.

Methylation impairment is seen in both autism and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s caused by an inadequate supply of methionine. An experiment on carrot cell lines demonstrated several pathologies resulting from glyphosate exposure. They were short of phenylalanine, tryptophan, and tyrosine. On top of that, levels of three other amino acids, serine, glycine, and methionine, are cut by 50-65 percent.

Glyphosate interferes with synthesis of methionine, which is necessary for methylation, clearly indicating a link between glyphosate and both autism and Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Ammonia, which is synthesized by gut bacteria as a result of glyphosate, plays a toxic role in Alzheimer brains.

Glyphosate fuels the growth of antibiotic-resistant Pseudomonas, which breaks it down into safe chemicals. Unfortunately, a byproduct of the process is formaldehyde, which can induce amyloid-like misfolding of proteins in the brain, a key trait of Alzheimer’s disease.

Lysosomes, structures in cells that break down waste materials, depend on sulphate—but glyphosate disrupts sulphate transfer. Liposomal dysfunction is a major factor in Alzheimer’s disease.

Excess ammonia, already demonstrated to be a problem caused by glyphosate, is a known issue in Alzheimer’s disease.

Glyphosate is a potent chelator of divalent cations, and zinc is one of them. Therefore, it’s likely that zinc is chelated and removed from the system, leading to zinc deficiency, which is noted for causing diarrhea and increasing risk of pneumonia and malaria. Glyphosate also reduces the number of friendly gut bacteria that help absorption of minerals, including iron and zinc.

Zinc is used in the brain in the process of degrading amyloid-β plaques. However, as a result of glyphosate, zinc can be in short order, so these plaques don’t get removed. The result is continued buildup of Alzheimer’s characteristic plaques, thus worsening, or possibly even causing, the condition.

Deficiencies of zinc and copper have been noted as likely factors in Alzheimer’s disease. A South Africa study found that supplementing zinc in Alzheimer’s patients known to be low in zinc did not help. However, when vitamins D and A were also supplemented at the same time, improvements were noted. This ties back to glyphosate’s impairment of CYP enzymes, which are required to synthesize vitamin D.

Parkinson’s Disease

Dopamine is synthesized from tyrosine, which is synthesized from phenylalanine—and phenyalanine is inhibited by glyphosate. Reducing tyrosine and phenylalanine in the diet reduces dopamine concentrations in the brain, so it’s reasonable to assume that reduction of tyrosine by glyphosate’s inhibition of phenylalanine will result in reduction of dopamine.

Parkinson’s disease is characterized by impaired dopamine signaling in the brain, and it has also been associated with several pesticides. Though glyphosate has not been named as one, that may be a result of preconceptions about its safety.

Sulphate deficiency has been noted in the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease, as well as Alzheimer’s and amytrophic lateral sclerosis, which though generally considered hereditary, has been increasing over the last few years. Thus, there is good reason to suspect glyphosate’s complicity in all three of these devastating brain conditions.

Multiple Sclerosis

Molecular mimicry is a theory of some autoimmune disorders. It suggests that abnormal entry into the body of a molecule that is similar to ones found in the body can result in an immune response that identifies normal tissues for attack and destruction because of the resemblance.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the myelin sheath around nerves is attacked and destroyed by the immune system. MS sufferers often have inflammatory bowel disease. A search of the scientific literature found matching mimics in gut bacteria. Coupled with glyphosate’s ability to cause gut inflammation and leaky gut syndrome, a case can be made that the increasing rate of MS is related to the herbicide.

Liver Disease

Fatty liver disease is a growing threat to health. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease leads to cirrhosis and liver failure. Several glyphosate-related factors may be involved.

TNF-α and other cytokines, which are triggered by glyphosate, induce liver-damaging inflammation. TNF-α inhibits insulin signaling, which is a factor in metabolic syndrome. Cytokines can induce fibrosis and lipid overloading in the liver.

Of course, obesity is associated with liver disease, and glyphosate can induce obesity.

Sleep Disorders

Typtophan is a precursor of melatonin, which is excreted from the pineal gland, and it’s a major factor in sleep cycle regulation. Glysophate’s disruption of tryptophan production may be a factor in sleep disorders.

Fertility

Zinc, which has been shown in the discussion on Alzheimer’s disease to be diminished by glyphosate, is necessary for male reproduction.

Cholesterol sulphate is essential in fertilization, so glyphosate-induced CYP inhibition, which can interfere with cholesterol production, can interfere with fertilization, helping to explain falling fertility rates.

In 1978, Argentina’s birthrate peaked, and has been in decline since then, but the rate of decline accelerated in the last five years of the 20th century. Roundup Ready soybeans were introduced there in 1996 and spread at an unprecedented rate. Argentina is now the leading soybean producer in the world.

The second largest soybean producer is Brazil, where the fertility rate has dropped from more than 6 per woman to under 2. Like Argentina, in the mid-90s they took to to Roundup Ready soybeans with the associated use of glyphosate. A plague of glyphosate-resistant superweeds has developed, which has resulted in massively increased usage of the herbicide. Since starting to grow genetically modified crops, both a rapid decrease in the birth rate and increase in still births have been noted.

The birth rates in both western Europe and the US have declined for several years. While other factors are certainly at play, it seems probable that glyphosate is also a culprit.

Glyphosate has been shown to interfere with testosterone production. In men, the steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR) is required in the process to synthesize the hormone testosterone. A study on a rat cell line found that very low doses of Roundup interfere with StAR function, and higher doses cause necrosis and apoptosis of rat testicular cells. StAR protein levels were reduced by 90 percent.

Aside from StAR, another enzyme called the side chain cleavage enzyme (P450scc) is required to produce steroids. The research just described also found that Roundup inhibits P450scc activity by 71%.

Interestingly, glyphosate alone did not have this effect. Samsel & Seneff surmise that it was a combination of glyphosate and surfactants acting in synergy that had the effect. Significantly, StAR and P450scc are involved in producing several hormones, not only testosterone. Therefore, Roundup is also likely to have adverse effects not only on fertility, but also on the adrenal glands, which produce the glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids steroids.

An in vitro study on synthesis of progesterone in testicular Leydig cells compared the effects of several pesticides: Ammo, Banvel, Cotoran, Cyclone, Dual, Fusilade, and Roundup. Only Roundup had an effect, and that effect was significant. It reduced progesterone synthesis as much as 94% in a dose-dependent manner.

Birth Defects

Glyphosate is known to cross the placental barrier, and it has been associated with birth defects. A study of a farming population in Ontario, Canada showed a statistically significant increase in spontaneous late-term abortions associated with exposure to glyphosate at any time during pregnancy.

Glyphosate’s inhibition of CYP enzymes causes an increase in retinoic acid. African clawed frog and chick embryos were exposed to low doses of glyphosate, 1/5,000 of the standard. The result was frog embryos that developed into tadpoles with cranial deformities and chick embryos with microcephaly, abnormally small heads. These defects were traced back to an increase in retinoic acid.

Glyphosate leads to inflammation and inflammation leads to excess reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). Both ROS and RNS can damage DNA during replication, thus disrupting embryo development.

Cell cycle checkpoints exist in the life cycle of cells to verify whether there is any DNA damage before allowing progression to the next stage. This is of great importance in mitosis (cell division) to assure that defects are not passed on. Sea urchins, a very simple form of animal life, are used to study mitosis. Cyclin dependent protein kinases (CDKs) help verify whether cells should progress past checkpoints. A live sea urchin study found that Roundup delays activation of a CDK by dephosphorylation of tyrosine. This indicates a means by which glyphosate can cause birth defects and stillbirths.

Preeclampsia, a life threatening condition of pregnancy, may be caused by inadequate sulphate supply, which is caused by glyphosate. Preeclampsia is becoming a much more common problem in pregnant women.

Cancer

The last thing that glyphosate is generally accused of causing is cancer. That, though, may be far from true. Glysophate’s association with breast cancer is implicated as a result of glyphosate-exposed mice that developed massive breast tumors in a recent study. Breast cancer has recently skyrocketed in the US, with one in three women now expected to develop it.

The fact is that professional pesticide operators who are exposed to glyphosate through their jobs have been found to suffer an increased risk of myeloma, bone marrow tumors known to be associated with disease-causing agents. Glyphosate causes chronic inflammation, which is known to damage DNA. Depleted tryptophan is also linked to DNA impairment.

Multiple myeloma accounts for 15% of all lymphatohematopoietic cancers (cancers of blood and lymph production) and 2% of all cancer deaths in the United States. Glyphosate’s ability to trigger obesity is a likely factor in myeloma incidents.

Impaired sulphation is suggested as a cause of breast cancer because it could lead to slower metabolization of sex hormones, leading to increased breast density, which is associated with cancer. The CYP enzyme, CYP1A2, could be a factor as a result of inhibition by glyphosate, as well as its interference with sulphate transport.

Obesity is associated with breast cancer, which again leads to culpability of glyphosate. Inflammation has also been linked to it, so glyphosate’s ability to trigger inflammation implicates it again.

With so many aspects of glyphosate’s effects coming into play, it certainly shouldn’t be surprising that we’re seeing enormous increases in cancer rates.

Part 1, Glyphosate: Chronic Disease Degeneration
Part 2, Glyphosate: Disease Creator
Part 3, Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery

Source:

Samsel, Anthony; Seneff, Stephanie. 2013. “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.” Entropy 15, no. 4: 1416-1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416

Glyphosate has likely caused more damage to human health than any other chemical ever produced. Indeed, it is probably a cause of the explosion in chronic diseases. Surely civilization cannot be maintained when the average person is irrevocably ill. This trajectory of human misery must come to an end.

by Heidi Stevenson

This is Part 3 of a three-part series:

Part 1, Glyphosate: Chronic Disease Degeneration
Part 2, Glyphosate: Disease Creator
Part 3, Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery

Ubiquity of Glyphosate

Glyphosate was first introduced in 1974 and has become the world’s most dominant herbicide. It’s now generic, so there are many brands and formulations. As a result, it’s virtually ubiquitous, found nearly everywhere on earth. Further driving its use are genetically modified (GM) crops, which were first developed for the purpose of creating glyphosate-tolerant plants, usually known as Roundup Ready. These have resulted in ever-more blatant and free use, especially in the wake of glyphosate-resistant superweeds. Estimates put glyphosate-tolerant GM crops at 90% of all transgene crops.

In the United States alone, the amount and increase in glyphosate’s use is stunning. The following table gives estimated figures in millions of pounds of glyphosate for one year:

Year

2001

2003

2005

2007

Range

85-90

128-133

155-160

180-185

Notice that the amount of use has doubled in just six years.

Exposure to Glyphosate

Samsel & Seneff state:

The Western diet is a delivery system for toxic chemicals used in industrial agriculture. It consists primarily of processed foods based on corn, wheat, soy and sugar, and they’re consumed in high quantities. Chemical residues of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides like glyphosate contaminate the entire diet.

Roundup Ready GM crops have become the mainstay of Agribusiness. These include soy, beet sugar, and corn—which supply the bulk of the processed food industry. High fructose corn syrup, implicated in the diabetes epidemic, is produced mostly with GM corn. Cotton is genetically engineered and its oil has entered the food supply.

Glyphosate is systemic in plants, so it cannot be washed off. If it’s used on a crop, it will be in the food produced from it. All the soy, sugar, cotton, and corn that ends up in packaged foods is carrying glyphosate into our bodies.

Food and dairy animals are raised in concentrated animal feed operations (CAFOs). The bulk of their diets consists of GM grain crops. Grain and sugar crops take up higher levels of glyphosate than other crops. Therefore, the flesh, eggs, and milk of CAFO-raised animals are contaminated with glyphosate, which enters the food pipeline.

Glyphosate is used not only on Roundup Ready crops, but also on glyphosate-sensitive sugar cane and wheat shortly before harvest, when it acts as a dessicant. It’s also used as a dessicant on Roundup Ready sugar beets, canola, and cottonseed for oils, among others.

The perception that glyphosate is not toxic in humans results in difficulty obtaining figures on how much glyphosate ends up in the food supply. The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Pesticide Data Program is voluntary. Searching for information on residues for the year 2010, the most recent year for which data is provided, shows residue levels for all pesticides except glyphosate and another organophosphate, glufosinate. The USDA has simply not monitored residue levels for either of these herbicides, though they will this year (2013), but only for a small sampling of glyphosate residues in soy.

Increasing Limits on Glyphosate Use

Governments have failed to control use of glyphosate. The precautionary principle has not been in evidence anywhere. The drive to use it has increased as the use of glyphosate on Roundup Ready crops, which has driven development of noxious superweeds. Therefore, Agribusiness in the forms of chemical and biotech industries have demanded increased limits on glyphosate residue.

In 1999, the EU and UK, where no GM crops are currently grown for human consumption, increased the limit for soy from 0.1 parts per million to 20 ppm—a 200-fold increase! The US limit for soy is currently the same.

Pressure is now on to increase levels even more. In the EU, industry is pressing for an increase of at least 100 times current residue levels in lentils from 0.1 ppm to 10 ppm, or even 15 ppm. Safety isn’t factored in. Approval levels are based solely on anticipated use, and glyphosate use is being driven massively higher by the noxious superweeds that exist only because of it.

The residue limits for food animals are even worse, and by a huge amount. Animal-feed grass is allowed glyphosate residues of 300 ppm, and animal-feed corn can have glyphosate residues of 400 ppm!

Glyphosate’s Toxicity

It should come as no surprise that sickness is becoming the normal state of health. Chronic diseases, once fairly rare, are now how we live and die. Diseases once seen almost exclusively in the elderly are now being seen in children. Autoimmune and neurological disorders are becoming common.

There are many potentially causative and contributory factors, but glyphosate has generally gotten a pass because it was considered “generally recognized as safe”—GRAS—for its apparently low toxicity. Indeed, short term studies appeared to confirm its innocence. However, long term studies of its effects on health weren’t done until recently. The most insidious factor in glyphosate’s toxicity has been the slow expression of harmful effects. Because of it, studies demonstrating glyphosate’s insidious action inside the body—like those Samsel & Seneff reviewed—have been systematically ignored.

So glyphosate is now the most popular herbicide on earth, and that factor is driving the extent of harm it produces. It isn’t just the fact of its toxicity that’s at issue, it’s the sheer volume of usage.

Samsel & Seneff’s research is blowing away the smokescreen around the harmful effects of this monstrous product. They have provided specifics for how glyphosate can destroy health and produce the modern plague of chronic diseases.

Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery

The proven and probable effects of glyphosate are manifold. The meteoric rise in chronic diseases and metabolic disorders has occurred during the same time period that glyphosate was introduced, and has followed a trajectory much like that of the herbicide’s massive increase in use.

At some point, officials in power must take their heads out of the sand and address the evidence that ties glyphosate to the epidemic of chronic diseases. Samsel and Seneff have now collected, sorted, and logicially extrapolated on evidence from studies, and they leave little question that there must be an association between the herbicide and the phenomenom of mass ill health.

Samsel and Seneff do not oversell their findings. They clarify that glyphosate is not the only toxin in today’s world. Nonetheless, its known effects on some of the human body’s most basic functions—disruption of gut bacteria, impairment of sulphate transport, and interference with CYP enzyme activity—indicate that, at the very least, glyphosate must have a synergistic effect with other environmental toxins.

It is, therefore, imperative that—at the very least—a moratorium be declared on the use of glyphosate until and unless it can be demonstrated to be safe. Surely it’s long past time to apply the precautionary principle to glyphosate and its partner in synergy, Roundup. The toll in human suffering, not to mention costs to society and economic losses, cannot be allowed to continue.

Surely civilization cannot be maintained when the average person is irrevocably ill. This trajectory of human misery must come to an end.

Part 1, Glyphosate: Chronic Disease Degeneration
Part 2, Glyphosate: Disease Creator
Part 3, Glyphosate: A Trajectory of Human Misery

Source:

Samsel, Anthony; Seneff, Stephanie. 2013. “Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases.” Entropy 15, no. 4: 1416-1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416

 

Concentration in Agriculture Continues to Rise

This is a great article that helps to illustrate issues that truly affect family farmers. The USDA fails to enforce the anti-trust acts on the books that are supposed to protect the most vital part of our economy from control in the hands of a few. Now people might argue that it is against capitalism to protect the economy from concentration, but the truth is that it is impossible to have a healthy economy with excessive consolidation.

When access to market, seeds to plant, fertilizer to use, and prices received are all controlled, there IS no free market. Such is the case in the vast majority of agriculture. This scenario leads to the proliferation of biotech as they are the ones with the most money in their pockets and, as evidenced by the Monsanto Protection Act insertion into the Ag appropriations extension and Blunt admitting he “did it for Monsanto”, it should be clear that this topic is extremely important for our health and well being.

The “Missouri Monsanto Protection Act” will lead to even more concentration in this State. Representative Jason Smith, the sponsor of HJR 11 and 7, is insisting that the bill will save farmers from undo regulation at the hands of HSUS. However, the group that evidently pushed him to sponsor this tripe has some pretty obvious issues with their listed members. That group is Missouri Farmers Care. Not all of their members are in the column of the nasty and nefarious, but enough of them are that it certainly implicates the group as being a shill for the biotech industry while running under a deceptive title pretending they “care” about small family farms. Just have a look at their membership page.

Currently, Monsatan (Monsanto) owns the lion’s share of the global seed market. In the US, it is even more concentrated than in other nations. The question for the Missouri legislators (and Montana, Delaware, Indiana and Oklahoma, by the way) is who do they represent? Are they wholly owned subsidiaries of Monsanto, or do they represent the people? Their vote on this purported “Right to Farm” act will tell.

Without further adieu, here’s a look at the reality of concentration in the agricultural arena from the Daily Yonder:

With the rising concentration of companies that provide “inputs” for farmers — seeds, farm machinery, fertilizer — the prices for these goods have been rising faster than the cost of what farmers produce. Monsanto has a near monopoly on some kinds of seeds

Editor’s Note: One of the primary concerns of The Daily Yonder over the past six years has been the increasing concentration of businesses in the business of agriculture. Simply, fewer firms are providing us everything from fertilizer to groceries. 

Big business is getting bigger when it comes to growing our food.

Below is a summary of a recent report that looks at what this increasing concentration means for ag research and development. It was written by researchers at the Economic Research Service, an invaluable part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

To see the full report, go here

Since the 1990s, global market concentration (the share of global industry sales earned by the largest firms) has increased in the crop seed/biotechnology, agricultural chemical, animal health, animal breeding, and farm machinery industries – all of which invest heavily in agricultural research.

By 2009, the largest four firms in each of these industries accounted for at least 50 percent of global market sales. Market concentration was particularly high in animal genetics and breeding, where the four-firm concentration ratio reached 56 percent in 2006/07 (the latest year for which data are available).

Growth in global market concentration over 1994-2009 was most rapid in the crop seed industry, where the market share of the four largest firms more than doubled from 21 to 54 percent. The top eight firms in all five input sectors had between a 61 and 75 percent share of global market sales by 2009.

Firms increase their market share either by expanding their sales faster than the industry average or by acquiring or merging with other firms in the industry. Firms can expand their sales faster than others in the industry by offering better products or services (often an outgrowth of larger R&D investments), improving their marketing ability, or offering lower prices (often through economies of scale). The leading input firms in 2010 had faster sales growth than the industry average, but a significant amount of that growth came from acquisitions of other firms.

Reasons for Concentration

Reasons for mergers and acquisitions vary by industry and firm circumstances but include market forces and the emergence of new technologies. Government policies can also affect the ability of firms to compete in markets and their incentives to merge with or acquire other firms.

In the crop seed and animal breeding sectors, the emergence of biotechnology was a major driver of consolidation. Companies sought to acquire relevant technological capacities and serve larger markets to share the large fixed costs associated with meeting regulatory approval for new biotechnology innovations.

In the animal breeding sector, vertical integration in the poultry and livestock industries enabled some large firms to acquire capacity in animal breeding as part of their integrated structure.

In the farm machinery industry, many of the major mergers and acquisitions can be traced to large financial losses sustained by some leading firms during periods when the farm sector was in prolonged recession, which substantially reduced demand for farm machinery as farmers delayed major capital purchases. Firms experiencing large financial losses are often vulnerable to acquisition.

The agricultural chemical sector has been heavily affected by changes in government regulations governing the health, safety, and environmental impacts of new and existing pesticide formulations: larger firms appear better able to address these stricter regulatory requirements.

Consolidation in the animal health sector appears to be largely a byproduct of mergers and acquisitions in the pharmaceutical industry, as most of the leading animal health companies are subsidiaries of large pharmaceutical companies.(full article here)

Lots of Questions….USDA Census

Recently, I have received a great number of questions from people regarding whether or not they are required to actually answer the overly invasive USDA Census of Agriculture. Mary Zanoni wrote about this in 2007 and spoke with a USDA representative who stated that although they “have the power” to fine people, they had never actually fined anyone for failing to answer the census.

My contention is that there is no Constitutional provision whatsoever to require you to enumerate your farm products and/or livestock and equipment to the Federal government. If you don’t take their “grants” or subsidies, they truly have no standing to require that you answer their “census”….But that isn’t how they see it.

Here is an excerpt from a rather lengthy article that Natural News did on this issue. Please educate yourself and make your own decision about whether or not you can be legally compelled to answer their “survey”.

“People have good reason not to trust the government with their private data and personal farm details. In an age when the DHS is arming to the teeth while refusing to answer questions about why it’s buying enough ammunition to wage a 20-year war with the American people, we are wise to distrust government promises from any federal agency, including the USDA which routinely conspires with Monsanto.

It’s nobody’s business how many chickens or goats I’m raising

I raise chickens and goats, and it’s nobody’s business how many I care for. The USDA says that everybody with backyard chickens is a “farmer” under their control and therefore must fill out this form or face fines and a possible personal visit by government agents.

The USDA itself admits all this, saying:

Even if you do not believe you qualify as a farmer. You may be surprised to learn that a farm is defined as any place that produced and sold, or normally would have sold, $1,000 or more of agricultural products during the Census year. Many people who do not think of themselves as farmer actually meet the definition according to the Census. If you own horses, backyard chickens, large urban gardens, etc., you may qualify as a farmer.

Thus, by their own admission, even if you do not produce any food whatsoever, the mere act of living on a piece of land that COULD produce food makes you a farmer! If you have a “large urban garden” you must spy on yourself for the government!

If you refuse to fill out the form, the USDA will send government spies to your property to confront you in person. In their own words:

“For those who do not respond by April 5, NASS will begin following up by telephone and personal visits.”

Add yet, even though you are threatened with being visited by government agents for failing to fill out the form, the USDA admits their own website doesn’t even work much of the time and loses the information you’re trying to fill out:

We are experiencing intermittent connection issues and are working to resolve them as soon as possible. We understand that some respondents have lost their connection or received an error screen that does not allow them to return to the information they already entered. We greatly apologize for this inconvenience and we hope to have the problems resolved very soon. (SOURCE)

Furthermore, you are not allowed to answer any question with, “I don’t know.” As the USDA explains:

NASS does not provide an option for respondents to select “don’t know” because your best estimate is always better than “don’t know.”

Of course, the government can always imprison you for providing inaccurate information, so the mere act of attempting to fill out the form automatically makes you a criminal for reporting inaccurate financial data. It’s a catch-22: Refuse to fill out the form, and you earn a visit from government agents along with possible fines. Choose to fill out the form, and you incriminate yourself with possible felony violations for “lying to the government.” This is the crime that sent Martha Stewart to prison, by the way.”

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/039652_USDA_agriculture_census_government_surveillance.html#ixzz2OlJYCMZf

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