Monday, July 28, 2014
American Farmers Just Love Their GMOs and You Should Too
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has released its latest data on farmers planting of crops genetically enhanced to tolerate herbicides (HT) crops and to resist insect pests (Bt).
HT soybeans went from 17 percent of U.S. soybean acreage to 94 percent in 2014. Plantings of HT cotton expanded from about 10 percent of U.S. acreage in 1997 to 91 percent in 2014. The adoption of HT corn reached 89 percent of U.S. corn acreage in 2014.
Plantings of Bt corn grew from about 8 percent of U.S. corn acreage in 1997 to 80 percent in 2014. Plantings of Bt cotton also expanded rapidly, from 15 percent of U.S. cotton acreage in 1997 to 84 percent in 2014.
Why are modern biotech crops so popular with farmers? Earlier this year, U.S. News reported the views of Illinois farmer Katie Pratt:
According to Pratt, her family uses GMO crops because of the clear value they bring to their family business. They have greatly reduced the amount of insecticide that needs to be sprayed, and they only need to treat the weeds at one point, not several times over a growing season. Her soil has now improved, because she and her family don't have to tromp through the fields as often. The family also uses less fuel, because they spend less time in the tractor. “No one is more aware than the farmer of the impact we have on the environment, in addition to the urgency to feed and fuel a growing population, while reducing our footprint on the planet,” she maintains.
And remember folks, biotech crops are not only good for the environment, eating them as caused not so much as a cough, sniffle, sneeze or bellyache. For example, a statement issued by the Board of Directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the largest scientific organization in the United States, on October 20, 2012 point blank asserted that “contrary to popular misconceptions, GM [genetically modified] crops are the most extensively tested crops ever added to our food supply. There are occasional claims that feeding GM foods to animals causes aberrations ranging from digestive disorders, to sterility, tumors and premature death. Although such claims are often sensationalized and receive a great deal of media attention, none have stood up to rigorous scientific scrutiny.” The AAAS Board concluded, “Indeed, the science is quite clear: crop improvement by the modern molecular techniques of biotechnology is safe.”
GMO's: Scare Mongering at Its Worst!
By Rich Kozlovich
Mike Adams, who publishes Natural News and styles himself as the Health Ranger recently posted an article entitled, The Agricultural Holocaust explained: the 10 worst ways GMOs threaten humanity and our natural world on July 27, 2014.
He claims "genetically modified organisms (GMOs) a serious threat to humanity and the environment? The reasons span the realms of science, social justice, economics and the environment, and once you understand this, you'll readily understand why so many environmentalists, humanitarians, responsible scientists and social justice advocates are strongly opposed to GMOs", and lists ten reasons why?
He starts out with - "Every grain of GM corn contains poison", and goes on to say;
"GM corn is genetically engineered to develop a deadly pesticide in every grain of corn. When this corn is harvested and turned into Corn Flakes, corn tortillas, corn syrup or other corn-based foods, that same poison remains in the corn.
What is the effect of human children eating all the poisons grown in GM corn? Nobody knows for sure because the tests haven't been conducted on human consumption. That's why GMOs remain an untested experiment that exploits humans as guinea pigs."
First of all, this “deadly” pesticide isn’t deadly to anything except the targeted insect pests because it's the dose that makes the poison – basic chemical science! When they use this kind of language it’s a lie of omission, because presence doesn’t mean toxicity, and they know it. Furthermore it’s more likely that cooking will destroy what minute amounts exist in it anyway but even if it didn't just because some chemical is detectable it doesn’t mean it’s harmful. We can test down for parts per quadrillion and even lower in some cases. As a health issue those numbers are meaningless because the molecular load will be so small cells won’t react to it.
As for "no tests being conducted on human beings", there’s a reason for that. We’re not allowed to test human beings, and these eco-activists know it, yet they continue to use this same lie of omission over and over again. In the real world everything - and I mean everything - gets its final testing when its released to the public, and GMO’s have been used for decades in this country without one iota of evidence of harm.
What they fail to tell you – making another lie of omission – are the benefits of GMO’s, including less total land needed to plant the needed food to feed a growing world population, less pesticide use (including herbicides) because they’re now more resistant to insect pests and weeds, and can even allow for planting in soil that has high levels of salt, expanding usable acreage numbers substantially. Since the plants are healthier because they're disease resistant, all of this allows for higher better quality yields.
Without modern agricultural tools, including GMO’s, according to Norman Borlaug 25 years ago, we would need all the land east of the Mississippi with the exclusion of three states to generate the same level of crop production they had then. With the world's growing population how much more land would be needed. Picture that as a worldwide dilemma.
Lawsuit Seeks Damages From EPA, ‘A Toxic Waste Dump of Lawlessness’
A conservative legal group is asking a federal judge to punish the Environmental Protection Agency for destroying or failing to preserve emails and text messages requested in August 2012 under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Landmark Legal Foundation believes the requested -- but never delivered -- messages to outside groups would have revealed EPA attempts to influence the 2012 presidential election.
"The EPA is a toxic waste dump for lawlessness and disdain for the Constitution,” said Landmark Legal President Mark Levin.
His legal group wants the federal court to fine the EPA “in an amount sufficient to deter future wrongdoing.”
Landmark Legal also is asking the judge to appoint an independent monitor to ensure that EPA is properly preserving and searching for all records that fall under Landmark’s original FOIA request.
“EPA cannot be trusted,” the lawsuit states. “The appointment of an independent monitor is essential to ensure that EPA complies fully with its obligation to preserve documents…”
And finally, the lawsuit asks the judge to direct the EPA to inform parties in other lawsuits that it may have destroyed or failed to preserve records they had a legal right to receive in their litigation.
“When any federal agency receives a FOIA request, the statute says it must preserve every significant repository of records, both paper and electronic, that may contain materials that could be responsive to that request,” Levin said. “When an agency gets sued it must also notify everyone who might be involved in the suit to preserve everything in their possession that could be discoverable in the litigation.
"But the people at the EPA, from the Administrator on down, think they’re above the law, that no one has the right to question what or how they do their jobs. Well, they’re wrong. The laws apply to everyone, even federal bureaucrats.”
The lawsuit says EPA should have searched the personal emails and text messages used by top EPA officials, including then-Administrator Lisa Jackson, to conduct official business, but it failed to do so.
"EPA didn’t and doesn’t care, an attitude that it has carried into every aspect of its dealings with Landmark," the lawsuit says. "EPA has treated Landmark as an adversary from the receipt of its FOIA request, not as a rightful participant in a FOIA regime as enforcing principles of open government subject to oversight by its citizens."
This is the second time Landmark Legal has sought sanctions against the EPA in FOIA litigation.
In 2003, the Agency was held in contempt by a federal judge for destroying email backup tapes in a similar suit over “midnight” regulations hurried into law in the final days of the Clinton Administration. In that case, the EPA was fined nearly $300,000.
"The EPA has to learn that you can’t save the planet by destroying the rule of law,” Levin said. “It also must understand that some of our most precious resources are the principles of limited government and official accountability enumerated in the Constitution. If we don’t protect those, saving the snail darter or the spotted owl won’t mean a thing.”
Landmark Legal isn’t the only information-seeker to be frustrated by EPA stonewalling: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently informed Congress that EPA was unable to obtain requested records because of a computer crash.
According to Landmark Legal’s current lawsuit, “Imposition of these sanctions will also deliver a larger message to the EPA and the entire federal bureaucracy to take its data preservations obligations seriously.”
Landmark Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public interest law firm with offices in Kansas City, MO. and Leesburg, Va.
Gov't Spends $156,493 to Identify Species Vulnerable to Climate Change -- in Maine
The National Park Service is awarding $156,493 to the Schoodic Education and Research Center (SERC) Institute to fund an award to “identify species vulnerable to climate change at Acadia National Park.”
According to the grant, “Climate change is a serious threat to national areas. SERC Institute will develop and communicate stories describing local impacts of climate change on well-known species in Acadia National Park. The results from this project will provide valuable tools to communicate to the public and interested audiences how species are responding to climate change and which species might be most vulnerable to climate change.”
Acadia National Park is on the coast of Maine, about halfway up the length of the state next to Bar Harbor.
As part of the grant, SERC will develop and communicate stories describing impacts of climate change on well-known species; develop a curriculum for a training course that will provide an introduction to citizen science and include lesson plans; organize and hold a climate change workshop that includes a discussion of stories on the impacts of climate change; and work with the National Park Service staff to hold a workshop on the vulnerability of archaeological resources to climate change, as well as many other initiatives.
The National Park Service lists research and education activities as some of the SERC Institute’s qualifications. (See Park Service Grant (1).doc)
“Much of SERC Institute’s work has specifically focused on supporting research and education related to long-term changes in Acadia National Park and the surrounding area,” the grant states. “They have developed innovative methods, such as citizen science and data literacy, inquiry-based learning, and storytelling techniques to support these activities and integrate science and education.”
“This expertise makes SERC Institute uniquely qualified to lead and work with NPS on the project described in this Task Agreement,” reads the grant. “Their qualifications exceed those of any other potential partners.”
The grant was posted on July 10, 2014 and had a closing date for applications of July 15, 2014.
CNSNews.com contacted Jennifer Fleming, the National Park Service’s NER Agreements Officer to question whether the grant was a good use of taxpayer dollars, but Fleming did not respond by press time
Green Group Under Scrutiny for Trespassing, Harassment at Woman’s Farm
Robert Marmet knew he was supposed to inspect Martha Boneta’s farm, but he didn’t know exactly what for. He knew there were limits on what he could inspect, but he had no idea where they were.
So when Marmet, a senior energy policy analyst with the Piedmont Environmental Council, and his partner Mike Kane, a conservation officer with the group, turned up June 12 to inspect Boneta’s Liberty Farm in Paris, Va., they more or less inspected what they wanted to inspect.
They walked through the upstairs and downstairs portion of the barn that sits on the property. They inspected every room within—bathrooms, closets, storage rooms and offices. They looked over the farmer’s personal effects and even toured the basement area of the barn that housed some of the animals. They inspected “The Smithy,” an historical structure on the property that was once a blacksmith shop. They stood on chairs to peer into the loft area.
What were they looking for? They were there on behalf of the PEC to enforce an easement on Boneta’s property. Easements are documents property owners sign that compensate them for agreeing to withhold land from commercial development. In Boneta’s case, the PEC accused her in a previous lawsuit of violating the agreement in a number of ways, the main one of which was to operate apartments on the property.
An agreement to settle that suit required PEC to acknowledge the accusation was false and Boneta did not have apartments on the property, but it permitted PEC to “measure for the size of an apartment.” This inspection obviously went far beyond that.
Boneta claims in a lawsuit filed last month in Fauquier County Circuit Court the inspections are part of a pattern of harassment. Her case accuses Peter Schwartz, a member of the elected Fauquier County Board of Supervisors and former member of the PEC board of directors, of, among other things, telling zoning officials he wants the rules “aggressively enforced” with regard to the farm.
She also claims PEC should not be allowed to be involved in the enforcement of the easement. She said before the PEC sold her the farm in 2006, it owned both the property and the easement, which is illegal under Virginia law.
Almost all property owners with easements must endure routine inspections by the land conservancies or other organizations that enforce the easements. Usually, they are low-key and friendly. Landowners are apprised of violations, and the sides work together to address them.
This is not the case with Martha Boneta.
She told Marmet and Kane when they entered her property in June they could inspect only what the easement language allows. “It’s very clear,” she said. And if they “exceed what the language says, it is considered trespassing. In the past, you have demanded to inspect my closets and have photographed my personal private possessions, and this exceeds your authority.”
Marmet replied that, yes, he is an attorney—and a former judge, according to his bio on the PEC website—but he is not licensed to practice law in Virginia and is not familiar with the terms of the easement. If he was about to violate any of its terms, he told Boneta, “I ask that you give me notice.”
At which point, Mark Fitzgibbons, an attorney and neighbor who has supported legislation to protect traditional farming practices from intrusive zoning rules, stepped in. “The PEC has been placed on notice,” Fitzgibbons told Marmet. “The obligation is on you, not Martha Boneta, to know what the easement terms are.”
Fitzgibbons told The Daily Signal the inspections have gotten out of hand. “From what I’ve observed, these inspections are being conducted with an agenda greater than ensuring fidelity to the easement,” he said.
It does seem to me the PEC has crossed a line. They are going anywhere and everywhere across Martha’s property, and it does seem excessive. So, either they do not know what the easement terms really say, or they do know and are pushing boundaries of their easement authority. Also, if the terms of easement are vague, they are to be construed against the inspector, which opens the issue of trespassing.
Fitzgibbons is not alone in thinking the PEC has gone too far with its handling of Boneta. Several recent events suggest frustration with the organization and what many view as its heavy-handed tactics may be reaching critical mass.
There is Boneta’s lawsuit, in which she claims the PEC “attempted to convince the [county] zoning administrator and other local government officials” to issue zoning citations against her farm—and plenty of email and written correspondence obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests to support her version.
There is something called the Boneta Bill, signed into law by Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s Democratic governor, and effective July 1. The legislation, which prevents local authorities from requiring special-use permits for conventional farming activities outlined in the law, proves members of Virginia’s General Assembly recognize the problem and have sympathy for Boneta.
And there is the audit of Boneta’s 2010 and 2011 tax records that some suggest may amount to using the IRS against Boneta. A former IRS director sits on PEC’s board.
Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center, a non-profit, free-enterprise group based in Virginia, is circulating a petition that calls on House Speaker John Boehner and other congressional leaders to investigate the PEC, its relationship with the county government and the actions the group has taken against Liberty Farm.
DeWeese said the documents reveal Schwartz, the county supervisor, knew about Boneta’s audit before she received the notice in the mail, and Fitzgibbons said he learned of the audit during a meeting with Schwartz in the supervisor’s private home on July 21, 2012—a few days before Boneta received her IRS letter.
“Martha [Boneta] stood up and resisted, and so now she is being targeted,” DeWeese said in an interview. “But this is not just Fauquier County. We see this happening all over the country. The PEC is one of many quasi groups operating behind the scenes. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of green groups just like the PEC pulling the strings of government.”
DeWeese also said he is talking to state lawmakers about placing a “five-year opt out” provision on easements that would give property owners some flexibility.
“Right now the easements exist in perpetuity, and this is a problem because there is no real oversight for how they are managed,” DeWeese said. “The PEC can move the easements around to the government and other land trusts, and it’s a profit for them. But the landowner is stuck forever with the easement.”
If there is a congressional investigation, DeWeese would like to see the PEC’s non-profit 501(c)(3) status come under scrutiny.
“The PEC was given an IRS designation as a non-profit educational institution and this comes with restrictions,” he said. “Given how they have interacted with the Fauquier County government and how they have treated Martha, I think this calls out for an investigation. If you cut off the PEC’s 501(c )(3) status, you can cut off PEC at the knees.”
The PEC has moved to dismiss Boneta’s suit in its entirety because it “has failed to set forth valid claims,” said Heather Richards, vice-president of conservation and rural programs, wrote in an email.
The group also released a detailed post on its website that presents its side of the story.
“PEC and other land trusts across the country take our responsibility to uphold conservation easements in perpetuity seriously, and work hard to maintain positive relationships with landowners,” the post says. “We are saddened by the public misrepresentations about both the terms of this conservation easement and the facts surrounding the court case and its ensuing settlement, which was agreed to by all parties.”
But questions remain.
Why was Boneta singled out for an audit, and how did Schwartz and others know about it beforehand? What does it say about the relationship between the PEC and Fauquier County government that a supervisor can encourage “aggressive enforcement?” How much inspection is needed to determine whether there are apartments in the barn?
Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, has studied conservation easements for decades. He said what began as a laudable effort to provide financially stressed landowner with tax breaks in exchange for setting aside land for conservation has been converted into a vehicle for government land grabs. The actions taken against Liberty Farm appear to bolster these concerns, he said.
“Mr. Marmet showed an appalling ignorance of the terms of the conservation easement he, representing the PEC, was on Martha Boneta’s property to enforce,” said Cohen, who witnessed the inspection in June. “One is left with the impression that the inspection was little more than a fishing expedition to find out how much he could get away with. That’s not right.”
EPA Chief: 'This Is Not About Pollution Control...It's an Investment Strategy'
She wouldn't know an investment if she fell over one
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told Congress on Wednesday that the EPA's sweeping carbon-regulation plan "really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control."
Spouting warnings about "climate change" ("The science is clear. The risks are clear...We must act."), McCarthy described and defended the EPA's plan to reduce pollution from existing power plants by setting various carbon-reduction goals for each state to meet by the year 2030.
"And the great thing about this proposal is it really is an investment opportunity. This is not about pollution control. It's about increased efficiency at our plants...It's about investments in renewables and clean energy. It's about investments in people's ability to lower their electricity bills by getting good, clean, efficient appliances, homes, rental units," McCarthy told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
"This is an investment strategy that will really not just reduce carbon pollution but will position the United States to continue to grow economically in every state, based on their own design," McCarthy added.
In her opening statement, McCarthy said the Clean Power Plan "paves a more certain path for conventional fuels in a clean energy economy." But in the course of her testimony, it became clear that the EPA actually is paving a more certain path for clean energy in what is now a fossil-fuel economy.
Under the plan, it's up to each state to figure out how to arrive at the federally prescribed carbon-reduction goals by 2030. But "clean" energy and "efficiency" (reducing demand for fossil-fuel sources) would certainly have to be part of the mix.
Sen. John Barroso (R-Wyo.) said the proposed regulation may cause Americans pain by raising electricity prices, but it "can't make a dent" in terms of global pollution.
"Sir, what I know about this rule is that I know it will leave the United States in 2030 with a more efficient and cleaner energy supply system -- and more jobs in clean energy, which are the jobs of the future," McCarthy responded.
McCarthy said the EPA, whenever it issues a new rule, "always" hears criticism from "some small groups" about harm to the economy.
But she said she doesn't expect any adverse impact from this rule -- "other than to have jobs grow, the economy to grow, the U.S. to become more stable, the U.S. to take advantage of new technology, innovation and investments that will make us stronger over time."
The EPA says it derives its authority to steer the economy toward "clean" energy from Section 111 of the Clean Air Act.
But Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions argued that the agency has "not been given explicit statutory power to do what you're doing. You've achieved it by, I guess, a 5-4 ruling some years ago by the Supreme Court. And it ought to be viewed with skepticism."
Asked to explain what consumers can expect from the new rule, McCarthy said EPA expects people to see lower energy bills "because we're getting waste out of the system." In other words, if electricity costs more, people will use less of it.
Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat who supports the proposed rule, asked McCarthy is she is considering stricter carbon reduction targets for states that already have achieved the levels set out in the proposed rules.
"Well, Senator, we are looking at all comments that we receive. We have a very long coment period, 120 days. We're looking forward to four public hearings next week. So we will be certainly listening to those and making appropriate changes, one way or another," McCarthy replied.
The public comment period on the proposed rule runs through October 16, 2014.
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Posted by JR at 6:08 PM