Vegetarian Genetic Suicide

DISCLAIMER: I am not a scientist, nor do I have any formal scientific training. However, I am blessed with the ability to read and make non-scientific assumptions.

An interesting discussion has taken place in my home over the last few days. Ever since we read the report GM SOY Sustainable? Responsible? we have been having a very good look at where and how we consume soy in our house. We have done an inventory of the few items that we purchase from stores and found that a vast majority have soy as an ingredient. We have now reduced our purchasing list again, either doing without or making it ourselves.

First a little synopsis on the above report for those that are not inclined to wade through a slightly technical read. (I found it riveting…. but that could be a personality defect) This report is possibly one of the most ground breaking and eye-opening reports that has come out about the disastrous and long term debilitating effects caused by GM infected food in years.

The report covers two things. GM (infected) Soy and Roundup (Glyphosate) from Monsanto. The two go hand in hand as one cannot consume any GM Roundup ready crop without consuming both components, the GM infected portion or the chemical Glyphosate. Soy is the ubiquitous add-in, filler, bulker and general protein supplement for food producers to add to their food. In addition there is a host of other by-products like Soy Lecithin and Soy flour that get added to most products.

Everything that we have been told to as to how bad GM foods are for us is probably only the tip of the iceberg. This Soy Report lists a host of results from tests on hamsters, mice and rats that were fed a diet of GM Soy or tests with concentrations of Roundup that were far below levels used in typical field applications as recommended by the manufacturer.

Here goes.

1)      Dilutions of Roundup corresponding to what would remain on crops after harvest (and on your plate) caused total human cell death in 24 hrs.

2)      Roundup residues at 800 times lower than what was found in typical animal feed caused human DNA damage.

3)      Roundup in concentrations far below agricultural use causes placental and embryonic damage.

4)      The study’s authors conclude that human reproduction and embryonic growth could be adversely affected by Roundup.

5)      Roundup is toxic and lethal to amphibians in concentration far below those typically used in agriculture.

6)      Roundup and AMPA (the stuff that Roundup beaks down to in the environment) causes irreversible DNA damage increasing the risk of human cancer. (As if we don’t have enough cancer causing issues already)

7)      Glyphosate (The main ingredient in Roundup) alters hormone levels and reduces the egg production in catfish.

8)      Glyphosate negatively affects many enzymes in the liver and intestines of rats.

9)      AMPA causes irreversible DNA damage.

10)   Glyphosate causes skin cancer.

11)   Glyphosate caused a 36% decrease in bird densities in area sprayed with Roundup.

12)   Mice fed GM infected Soy for 24 months developed ‘significant’ changes in their liver, pancreas and testes.

13)   Mice fed GM infected Soy showed increase aging of their liver.

14)   Several proteins (involved in liver function, stress response and calcium signalling) in the same GM fed mice were expressed differently to normal mice.

15)   Rabbits fed GM soy showed disturbance in how enzymes functioned in the heart and kidneys.

16)   Female rats fed GM infected Soy showed changes in the uterus and ovaries.

17)   In a multigenerational study using hamsters fed GM infected Soy, the hamsters had lost the ability to reproduce by the third generation.

18)   In the same study, the GM fed hamsters had slower growth and a higher mortality rate.

19)   GM infected DNA can be identified in the by-products of animals fed on GM infected foods. This includes meat and milk. The GM infected DNA is not destroyed by pasteurisation.

20)   GM infected DNA is transferred from mother to offspring.

21)   Live and viable GM infected DNA can survive passage through the human small intestine.

22)   GM infected DNA had transferred from food into the intestinal bacteria of humans (THIS IS SO WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS)

23)   GM Infected soy is less nutritious than normal soy.

24)   GM infected Soy had at least 12% less isoflavones (Cancer fighting compounds) than normal soy.

25)   GM infected soy has 27% more allergens than normal soy.

26)   GM infected soy crop yields are on average yields 9% less than conventional soy.

Quite a list isn’t it?

My personal opinion is that the people that peddle this stuff need to be personally subjected to a multigenerational test with GM infected foods. After 3 generations we will see if they have any interest in continuing with selling the stuff they so blatantly claim is no different from regular food.

Looking at the above list of conditions, disruptions, genetic damage and associated complications that are caused by GM infected food and the herbicide Glyphosate two things spring to mind. Firstly we are on a road to self destruction and secondly there is a pretty good case for a class action suit against the GM houses for genetic disruption to people.

OK, so now onto the title of my post. Vegetarian Genetic Suicide.

Vegetarians are an unusual bunch of eaters, They pose their particular brand of eating as the healthy option reciting reams of scientific fact as to why their form of eating is better for their health, environment and animals in particular. Now I don’t disagree at all with the above points. I will however propose a concern with ONE portion of the vegetarian diet, and it’s possibly the biggest concern and largest portion of their diets.

The impact of GMO on their diets, as well as the long-term impacts to their own genetics and that of their descendants. Now, I’m not a veggie basher, as I’m of the particular belief that people should have the right to decide how they live their lives. But please take the time to hear this argument because it’s not just directed at vegetarians but anyone that eats GM infected food. I also don’t believe this conclusion (presumption) has been raised before.

I believe that vegetarians are the one group of individuals that will suffer the most from GM Soy and GM infected food as they use soy, and soy derived products in a large part of their diets. Soy is the answer to the vegetarian’s protein needs, their milk needs, their TVP (Textured vegetable protein) hell almost anything can, and is made from soy. The biggest problem is that over 95% of the soy produced in South Africa is GM infected. This may not hurt the current generation of vegetarians, but their children and grandchildren are in for some very hard times.

Vegetarians aside, every one of us eats GM infected food every day. Every day you will be contributing to your own DNA disruption (or should that read destruction). Destroying your children’s future, reducing the chances of your children or grandchildren having a normal productive life and/or shortening their lifespan and quality of life.

There is another group of people especially in South Africa that are particularly susceptible to the effects of GM infected foods, they are low income earners that subsist mainly on maize meal (Pap) which forms over 50% of their daily diets. If all of the above is true (and I have no doubt it is) then what of the over 80% GM infected maize crop that we harvest annually to feed our nation. Are we going to start seeing health problems in the next few years that can only be attributed to GM infected foods?

What will the politicians say then? Eish… I don’t know…. But look at my nice car and house in Sandton.

As an aside, we had a bumper crop of GM infected maize last year, but neither the farmers nor the government can sell it anywhere in Africa because African nations won’t accept GM infected food, Saudi Arabia said thanks but no-tanks, and so did China, that leaves us with a white elephant that we can’t sell.

You as a consumer needs to take action! Speak to your store manager every time you go to the shop and demand GM labelling of food. Phone suppliers and demand GM labelling. Get onto the phone and bug your local political representatives, write to parliament and contact SAFeAGE to see where you can assist in the fight against GM infected food. If you can contact one person a week you can make a difference.


Organic GMO’s and Perpetual Poison

It’s been a while and I do apologize. There have been many things going on over the last month and it’s been pretty non-stop, both in the garden and on the work front. Which is great, but hectic.

Over the last month I have seen two articles that have concerned me. The first one is that the GMO organizations are now making rumblings about organic genetically modified organisms. In my last post I said that they would love this. Well it looks like it’s started. Can you imagine the problems that this would cause in the industry, we already have government ominously silent about the labeling of GM foods, the potential now is that we could have GM seeds labeled as “organic”. What a way to destroy and industry.

Just thinking about the implications makes me rile and I want to scream out that this cannot be done, however that just wont work. The GM industry at this point will use every trick in the book to ensure that they get the generally dumb public (GDP) to accept without a second thought that what they are peddling in good for them. They have had a bad but limited exposure in the general media. Mainly I believe due to the fact that they have paid “scientists’ to help promote their wares to anyone that will listen.

It’s the simple case of people (the GDP) wanting to believe that “they” would never do anything bad for our (and the planets) health.

This is how it works. Government is looking at a new crop type, this one just happens to be GM. So they set up a committee to investigate this new crop and if it would benefit South Africa as a whole. On the other side, you have your interest groups (let’s say a Pro-GM interest Group and a Anti-GM Group) these will speak and submit information to this committee about the pro’s and con’s of this new technology.  The Pro-GM group will throw everything in their considerable arsenal at this committee, from International “Fact Finding Missions” where the only facts are made up by themselves, to lavish hosted breakfasts and dinners with all of the trappings of caring for the environment and nature, with “top scientists” that will give promises and more facts about how good this poison is for the poor people it’s supposed to help, this  can go on and on ad nausea.  On the flip side we have a few small Anti-GM organizations that are supported by a miniscule fraction of the willing public who now have to go up against a monstrous corporate that will do everything to shut the up and shut them down.

If you were looking for advice, who would you listen to? The guy that is successful with a big house and flashy car and private jet, that can show his success. Or the guy in the average middle class home and a volla that although is 100% paid up is still driving a volla!

What is not seen is that the guy in the middle class home is not looking for your money, he is looking to show you how to get out of debt. The guy in the big house and flashy car NEEDS your money to keep his lifestyle going.

This is the GMO industry, they want to trap you into buying their poison every year, and if you don’t buy it you will starve. The OP and Heirloom seed industry is 100% behind you growing and saving your own seed every year. We hope to never sell you the same seed again, strange but true. The idea is for you to save your own seed and pass it on to the next person and for them to do the same. This is the best way that we can fight these guys.

The next article is one that is very scary for anyone that buys-in any compost or mulching material. Have a look at this article where gardeners are seeing plant die-offs for years after and application of infected compost. My advice is for you to make your own compost from scratch. If your garden is contaminated with one of the chemicals listed in the above article you probably will have to wait close to ten years before you can be sure of no unnatural die-offs. This is a very worrying scenario, especially when one believes that their source of compost should be “clean”


A seed is often not what it seems……

I’ve had a number of discussions in the last while with people over the difference between organic, heirloom, open pollinated, hybrid and GMO seeds. The belief that most people have is that organic seeds are all heirloom or open pollinated. This is not the case, in fact the opposite is true. So here is a small piece on what the differences are. This is not cast in stone and you guys are more than welcome to wade in with an opinion.

Firstly I’d like to cover the seeds that most people encounter on the supermarket or nursery shelves. Generally all of these seeds used to be open pollinated and there were quite a few heirlooms available on the shelves in South Africa. Sadly this has slowly been reduced as the large seed houses remove the Open Pollinated seed and replace them with Hybrids. The main reason behind this is to ensure that customers keep coming back and buy more seed every year. There is a nice conspiracy theory that goes with this, here are two examples here and here. Just think of what happens when someone says that you cannot plant anything but their vegetable seed on your own property and more importantly, that by law you cannot even save the seed.

So from being able to buy real seed, many consumers have unknowingly been reduced to a limited selection of seeds that are purposefully hybrid varieties. This has been done without your knowledge, as the old varieties just disappear from the stores. It does not mean to say that you can’t save the seed, you can. The only problem is that the seed you save will not breed true to type and you will never be able to grow the variety that you originally bought from this seed, without going back and buying that seed again.

But anyway, who wants to eat or grow something that barely tastes like it should. I’d rather plant something that is heirloom or OP, has real flavour, and an interesting history to share at the dinner table. While at the same time still being able to save the seed from my own harvest, so that I can plant them free of charge the following year, and the next and the next etc.

Here’s a quick terminology breakdown for those that are still learning about Heirlooms and OP Vegetables.

Heirloom Seeds. (Can be Organic and are always and OP variety)

These are seeds that have a history in certain areas and have developed a name for outstanding production, flavour or some other desirable characteristic for the home gardener. Many heirlooms have in fact been commercial leaders in the past and have provided small farmers or market gardeners with a profitable income, without having to buy new seed every year. Typically Heirloom seeds are now pretty rare and are described as OP seeds that were well know in the market before the 1950’s. However it is entirely possible to find heirloom seeds that are of a newer ‘heritage’. Heirloom seeds are typically handed down through a family or with a close knit community and as such have developed a following that is generally regional with a strong identity to that region. There is a thin line between heirloom and OP varieties. ALL heirloom seeds are OP. That is a given, one cannot have an heirloom variety that is a hybrid, however one can have a heirloom that was developed from a hybrid (The Mortgage Lifter Tomato) is one case in point. The breed however has been stabilized and is now considered by all experts as an heirloom variety.

Open Pollinated Seeds. (Can be Organic, the term OP or OPV is often used.)

Open Pollinated Seed or OP for short are any seeds that are genetically stable and will breed true to type from generation to generation. They were and are often commercial varieties. One can have a ‘patent’ or Plant Breeders Rights (PBR) on an open pollinated variety, but that does not stop farmers in South Africa from legally saving the seed from year to year and re-using the seed on their own farm. You just cannot sell the seed to someone else. OP Commercial varieties are going out of fashion as the astute gardener/farmer is able to save seed from the crop every year and replant without the need to go back to the original PBR holder for more seed. And this is where the Hybrid and GMO varieties step in to create a secure income for the seed houses.

Hybrid Seeds (Can be Organic, and will not breed true to type)

Hybrids are a whole discussion on their own and I’ll try and keep it short and sweet. Many Hybrids have been bred to create a plant with desirable characteristics, often disease resistance, higher yield, fruit size, shape, colour or a combination of a number of these factors. Generally the hybrid will have a higher yield than an OP variety and naturally so as they have something called hybrid vigor. This is something that can make the plant ‘better’ than a standard Op variety. One of the first things to fall by the wayside in hybrids is flavour, this you will very quickly learn when you taste you first heirloom vegetable. As flavour in fruit and vegetables is not linked to a single specific gene that can turned on or off, it’s a complex mix of many genes that is incredibly hard to select for.

The main problem for a dedicated seed saver is that one will need to buy new hybrid seed every year to grow a new crop, as the seed cannot reliably be saved. On the flip side this is one of the main benefits to the large seed houses, as you need to keep going back for more seed every year. Hybrids as a rule are not ‘bad’ vegetables it’s just not possible to become self-sustainable using hybrid seeds, in addition you lose a lot of the wonderful flavours and aromas that are present in unique and historical heirloom vegetables.

Most Organic seeds on the market are typically hybrid seed. The main reason for this is that organic growers do not use any chemical control for disease or pest management so they need seed that has been bred to resist as much as possible pests and diseases. It must be mentioned that a lot of these problems, even in an organic environment are exacerbated with mono-culture practices and poor crop rotations. The same problem occurs here, the organic grower cannot save this hybrid seed from generation to generation.

Indicators like F1 or F2 in the variety name are often a sure sign that the variety is a hybrid. However this is not the case as I have seen many hybrids on the shelves this year that are not clearly identified as hybrids.

GMO Seeds (CANNOT be Organic)

Well, there is not much that needs to be said about “Genetically Modified Organisms” as these seeds are called. These are seeds that you want to steer far far away from. I not going to go GMO bashing in this post but any thinking person should be able to understand the dangers of GMO seed and what it can spell for the future of food production in the world. Even a small amount of contamination will destroy the purity of any Heirloom, Open Pollinated or Hybrid variety and something that people should actively stand up against. Almost every food product in South Africa has been contaminated with GMO food. Do some research and make you own decisions here.

So, now that we have run through a brief overview of the different seed types, where does this whole ‘organic’ thing fit in? I’m going to do this “broadly speaking”, ‘cos someone is bound to come after me with a pruning shear.

Growing food organically is a specific methodology used in the cultivation of plants, environment and soil, including additives that are variously put onto or into the soils, fertilization methods and the propagation of vegetables or food crops under specific controlled circumstances.  Generally a certification is required by a national or regional body to confirm that you are indeed complying to their statutes. Organic seed (which is the whole point of this post) is seed that is produced on specific farms that are certified as organic. Organic seed can be Open Pollinated, Heirloom or Hybrid seed but GMO can never be organic seed, as much as the large GMO houses would love.

Now the next question, what is the difference between the seed that Livingseeds supplies and organic seed? The answer is quite simple. The only difference is that we do not have a piece of paper saying we are organically certified.

In the 3 years that we have been on this property we have used only natural principles in our gardens. None of our manure is sourced from outside our community so we understand exactly where our compost/soil additives come from. We produce our own compost and vermicompost. We do not use chemicals on our plants nor do we use synthetic fertilizers. So, for all intents and purposes the seed we grow is 100% natural and organically grown. We just don’t have a sticker that says ‘Organically Produced’, because we have not gone through the certification process. Some of our seed we order in and hopefully that will change by the end of this growing season. My biggest complaint about ‘Going Organic’ is the cost of the ongoing annual certifications. All of this will need to be transferred onto someone. Personally I don’t see the benefit of paying more so that I can charge more, at the end of the day you will be the only loser. But then it’s entirely possible that I’m just one of those non-conformists that likes to buck the system.

Think about it like this. You have your own garden and like most gardeners that I speak to, you manage your garden on an ‘organic’ basis. So for all intents and purposes your vegetables are ‘organic’. If you plant an heirloom vegetable and harvest the seed, would you consider the seed to be organic? I would and I do……. I just can’t sell it as such.


Seed Saving and GMO

Seed saving is possibly one of the oldest gardening pastimes. Before industrialization took over the world, farmers the world over would plant a crop, lovingly tend this crop and harvest it. A portion of the harvest was always set aside for the following years planting. In doing this year after year, plant varieties would adapt to the specific microclimate that it was planted in. This process created unique and robust varieties that were able to withstand the environmental and pest pressures that were annually exerted on them.

With the advent of modern agriculture (Post 1950) what has happened is that factory farms, and large scale monoculture has lead to a decrease in the abundant food crop varieties that used to be planted. Now, where there used to be hundreds of smaller family run farms, planting hundreds if not thousands of different crop varieties. Factory farms literally plant only one or at most a few varieties of a single crop. The devastation to the environment is apparent with large scale soil erosion and reduction in topsoil as well as the loss of critical soil biodiversity.

With the advent of genetically modified organisms (GMO), the plight of the farmer has gotten even worse. Now farmers will need to sign a contract with seed houses promising not to save seed and replant it. Even worse, a ‘Terminator’ gene has been developed that will ensure that harvested seed has no genetic viability. What does that say for the health ‘benefits’ of supposedly superior GMO varieties? Living food is the healthiest food.

One of the side effects of GMO is a problem called pollen drift. In mielie (corn) fields pollen drift can take pollen from a GMO variety onto a traditional open pollinated variety and thus ‘infect’ the traditional variety with GMO genes. What then happens (and it has) is that the GMO Seed House can then take the owner of the traditional variety to court for infringing on their patent rights. The same can apply to any crop where insects, or wind pollination can easily transfer pollen from GMO to traditional open pollinated crop varieties. What happens is that the seed saving farmer is prejudiced by the large GMO seed house, as he is no longer able to save a portion of his crop for the following years planting. He now has to go and buy new seed, but guess what? Traditional varieties are no longer stocked by the seeds houses, he can only buy hybrid and GMO varieties.

An additional problem with GMO in South Africa is that there is no transparency that gives you the consumer prior knowledge of what food stuffs are contaminated with GMO. A very good wager that can be taken is that every person in South Africa consumes a GMO derived food group on at least a weekly basis, for some it is literally a daily occurrence. We as South Africans are not being given a choice as to what we would like to eat.

Whats in my Garden?

This week we have had some lovely rain, what a blessing. Last sunday a neighbour helps us to cut firebreaks on our property and on tuesday we found that the tractor had broken the tap off the gate-valve that switches the water flow from the water tank (for household water) to the big vegetable patch. Fortunately it was broken in the open to the tank position. However, we were unable to water the big garden, until the rain came. YES!!!

This weekend I’ll fix the tap, but at least the wheat has had a good watering.

As for the rest of the garden, we are slowly clearing out the finished veggies, and the pigs are getting them. We added a whole lot of heirloom tomato seeds to our collection this week from a heirloom veggie growing friend in Somerset West, as well as some stunning Blue Inca Corn from another friend in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Most of the varieties will only be available for the 2010 growing season, however there are enough seeds of some of the varieties for this coming season.

The Edible Quote

The seed waits for its garden or ground where it will be sown.

Zulu Proverb