15 July 2012


30 MAY 2012

From NationofChange:

First Super Weeds, Now Super Insects -- Thanks to Monsanto

By Dr. Mercola

Organic Consumers Association / News Report

Published: Wednesday 30 May 2012

“Not only are we seeing rapid emergence of super-weeds resistant to glyphosate, courtesy of Roundup Ready crops, we now also have evidence of emerging Bt-resistant insects.”

A new generation of insect larvae is eating the roots of genetically engineered corn intended to be resistant to such pests. The failure of Monsanto's genetically modified Bt corn could be the most serious threat ever to a genetically modified crop in the U.S.

And the economic impact could be huge. Billions of dollars are at stake, as Bt corn accounts for 65 percent of all corn grown in the US.

The strain of corn, engineered to kill the larvae of beetles, such as the corn rootworm, contains a gene copied from an insect-killing bacterium called Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt.

But even though a scientific advisory panel warned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the threat of insects developing resistance was high, Monsanto argued that the steps necessary to prevent such an occurrence -- which would have entailed less of the corn being planted -- were an unnecessary precaution, and the EPA naively agreed.

According to a recent NPR report:

"The scientists who called for caution now are saying 'I told you so,' because there are signs that a new strain of resistant rootworms is emerging...[A] committee of experts at the EPA is now recommending that biotech companies put into action, for the first time, a 'remedial action plan' aimed at stopping the spread of such resistant insects ...

The EPA's experts also are suggesting that the agency reconsider its approval of a new kind of rootworm-killing corn, which Monsanto calls SmartStax. This new version of Bt corn includes two different Bt genes that are supposed to kill the rootworm in different ways. This should help prevent resistance from emerging, and the EPA is allowing farmers to plant it on up to 95 percent of their corn acres. But if one of those genes is already compromised… such a high percentage of Bt corn could rapidly produce insects that are resistant to the second one, too."

There can be little doubt that genetically engineered crops are the most dangerous aspect of modern agriculture. Not only are we seeing rapid emergence of super-weeds resistant to glyphosate, courtesy of Roundup Ready crops, we now also have evidence of emerging Bt-resistant insects. Add to that the emergence of a brand new organism capable of producing disease and infertility in both plants and animals, and a wide variety of evidence showing harm to human health, and the only reasonable expectation one can glean is that humanity as a whole is being seriously threatened by this foolhardy technology.

Bt Corn—a Most Dangerous Failure

Monsanto's genetically modified "Bt corn" has been equipped with a gene from soil bacteria called Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis), which produces the Bt-toxin. It's a pesticide that breaks open the stomach of certain insects and kills them.

This pesticide-producing corn entered the food supply in the late 1990's, and over the past decade, the horror stories have started piling up. And the problem with Bt crops go far beyond the creation of Bt-resistant insects.

Monsanto and the EPA swore that the genetically engineered corn would only harm insects. The Bt-toxin produced inside the plant would be completely destroyed in the human digestive system and would not have any impact at all on consumers, they claimed. Alas, they've been proven wrong on that account as well, because not only is Bt corn producing resistant "super-pests," researchers have also found that the Bt-toxin can indeed wreak havoc on human health.

Bt-Toxin Now Found in Many People's Blood!

Last year, doctors at Sherbrooke University Hospital in Quebec found Bt-toxin in the blood of:

• 93 percent of pregnant women tested

• 80 percent of umbilical blood in their babies, and

• 67 percent of non-pregnant women

The study authors speculate that the Bt toxin was likely consumed in the normal diet of the Canadian middle class—which makes sense when you consider that genetically engineered corn is present in the vast majority of all processed foods and drinks in the form of high fructose corn syrup. They also suggest that the toxin may have come from eating meat from animals fed Bt corn, which most livestock raised in confined animal feeding operations (CAFO, or so-called "factory farms") are.

These shocking results raise the frightening possibility that eating Bt corn might actually turn your intestinal flora into a sort of "living pesticide factory"… essentially manufacturing Bt-toxin from within your digestive system on a continuing basis.

If this hypothesis is correct, is it then also possible that the Bt-toxin might damage the integrity of your digestive tract in the same way it damages insects? Remember, the toxin actually ruptures the stomach of insects, causing them to die. The biotech industry has insisted that the Bt-toxin doesn't bind or interact with the intestinal walls of mammals (which would include humans). But again, there are peer-reviewed published research showing that Bt-toxin does bind with mouse small intestines and with intestinal tissue from rhesus monkeys.

Bt-Toxin Linked to Allergies, Auto-Immune Disease, and More

If Bt genes are indeed capable of colonizing the bacteria living in the human digestive tract, scientists believe it could reasonably result in:

• Gastrointestinal problems

• Autoimmune diseases

• Food allergies

• Childhood learning disorders

And lo and behold, all of these health problems are indeed on the rise… The discovery of Bt-toxin in human blood is not proof positive of this link, but it certainly raises a warning flag. And there's plenty of other evidence showing that the Bt-toxin produced in GM corn and cotton plants is toxic to humans and mammals and triggers immune system responses. For example, in government-sponsored research in Italy, mice fed Monsanto's Bt corn showed a wide range of immune responses, such as:

• Elevated IgE and IgG antibodies, which are typically associated with allergies and infections

• An increase in cytokines, which are associated with allergic and inflammatory responses. The specific cytokines (interleukins) that were found to be elevated are also higher in humans who suffer from a wide range of disorders, from arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease, to MS and cancer

• Elevated T cells (gamma delta), which are increased in people with asthma, and in children with food allergies, juvenile arthritis, and connective tissue diseases.

Rats fed another of Monsanto's Bt corn varieties called MON 863, also experienced an activation of their immune systems, showing higher numbers of basophils, lymphocytes, and white blood cells. These can indicate possible allergies, infections, toxins, and various disease states including cancer. There were also signs of liver- and kidney toxicity.

Topical versus Internal Toxins

Farmers have used Bt-toxin from soil bacteria as a natural pesticide for years, and biotech companies have therefore claimed that Bt-toxin has a "history of safe use in agriculture." But there's a huge difference between spraying it on plants, where it biodegrades in sunlight and can be carefully washed off, and genetically altering the plant to produce it internally.

Bt crops have the Bt-toxin gene built-in, so the toxin cannot be washed off. You simply cannot avoid consuming it. Furthermore, the plant-produced version of the poison is thousands of times more concentrated than the spray.

There are also peer-reviewed studies showing that natural Bt-toxin from soil bacteria is not a safe pesticide either:

• When natural Bt-toxin was fed to mice, they had tissue damage, immune responses as powerful as cholera toxin , and even started reacting to other foods that were formerly harmless.

Farm workers exposed to Bt also showed immune responses .

The EPA's Bt Plant-Pesticides Risk and Benefits Assessment, created by their expert Scientific Advisory Panel, states that "Bt proteins could act as antigenic and allergenic sources."

Do You Know what You're Eating?

Did you know that two years ago, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on all physicians to prescribe diets without genetically modified (GM) foods to all patients?

They sure did, although few doctors seem to have gotten the memo. They also called for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs), long-term independent studies, and labeling, stating:

"Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food, including infertility, immune problems, accelerated aging, insulin regulation, and changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system. …There is more than a casual association between GM foods and adverse health effects. There is causation…"

I couldn't agree more. Avoiding genetically engineered foods should be at the top of everyone's list—at least if you want a decent shot at optimal health.

The simplest way to avoid genetically engineered (GE) foods is to buy whole, certified organic foods. By definition, foods that are certified organic must never intentionally use GE ingredients, and must be produced without artificial pesticides or fertilizers. Animals must also be reared without the routine use of antibiotics, growth promoters or other drugs. Additionally, grass-fed beef will not have been fed GE corn feed.

You can also avoid genetically modified (GM) ingredients in processed foods, if you know what to look for. There are currently eight genetically modified food crops on the market:


Sugar from sugar beets


Hawaiian papaya

Cottonseed (used in vegetable cooking oils)

Some varieties of zucchini

Canola (canola oil)

Crookneck squash

This means you should avoid products with corn, soy, canola, and any of their derivatives listed as an ingredient, unless it's labeled USDA 100% Organic. As of late last year, this also includes sweet corn, as Monsanto introduced a brand new genetically engineered sweet corn called Seminis®, which contains not just one but TWO types of Bt-toxin, PLUS the Roundup Ready gene for weed control! So besides containing the insecticide, their toxic Roundup herbicide will also accumulate in the kernels.

For a helpful, straightforward guide to shopping Non-GMO, see the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology.

Why We MUST Insist on Mandatory Labeling of GM Foods

Mandatory labeling may be the only way to stop the proliferation of GM foods in the U.S. because while GM seeds are banned in several European countries, in the U.S., certain states are actually passing legislation that protects the use of GM seeds and allows for unabated expansion! At present, no less than 14 states have passed such legislation.

Michigan's Senate Bill 777i, if passed, would make that 15. The Michigan bill would prevent anti-GMO laws, and would remove "any authority local governments may have to adopt and enforce ordinances that prohibit or regulate the labeling, sale, storage, transportation, distribution, use, or planting of agricultural, vegetable, flower or forest tree seeds."

While legislation like this sounds like crazy nonsense to normal people, such bills are essentially bought and paid for through the millions of dollars Monsanto and other biotech companies spend lobbying the US government each year. In the first quarter of 2011 alone, Monsanto spent $1.4 million on lobbying the federal government -- a drop from a year earlier, when they spent $2.5 million during the same quarter.

Their efforts of persuasion are also made infinitely easier by the fact that an ever growing list of former Monsanto employees are now in positions of power within the federal government.

Proof Positive that GMO Labeling WILL Change the Food Industry

Many don't fully appreciate the strategy of seeking to have genetically engineered foods labeled in California. The belief is that large companies would refuse to have dual labeling; one for California and another for the rest of the country. It would be very expensive and a logistical nightmare. So rather than have two labels, they would simply not carry the product, especially if the new label would be the equivalent of a skull and crossbones. This is why we are so committed to this initiative as victory here will likely eliminate genetically engineered foods from the US.

Powerful confirmation of this belief occurred in early 2012 when both Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo Inc. chose to alter one of their soda ingredients as a result of California's labeling requirements for carcinogens ii:

"Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are changing the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas as a result of a California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label. The companies said the changes will be expanded nationally to streamline their manufacturing processes. They've already been made for drinks sold in California."

This is a PERFECT example of the national impact a California GMO labeling mandate can, and no doubt WILL, have. While California is the only state requiring the label to state that the product contains the offending ingredient, these companies are switching their formula for the entire US market, rather than have two different labels. According to USA Today:

"A representative for Coca-Cola, Diana Garza Ciarlante, said the company directed its caramel suppliers to modify their manufacturing processes to reduce the levels of the chemical 4-methylimidazole, which can be formed during the cooking process and as a result may be found in trace amounts in many foods. "While we believe that there is no public health risk that justifies any such change, we did ask our caramel suppliers to take this step so that our products would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning," Garza-Giarlante said in an email."

Educational Sources

To learn more about GM foods, I highly recommend the following films and lectures:

• Hidden Dangers in Kid's Meals

• Your Milk on Drugs - Just Say No!

• Everything You Have to Know About Dangerous Genetically Modified Foods
Important Action Item: Support California's Ballot Initiative to Label GMO's!

In 2007, then-Presidential candidate Obama promised to "immediately" require GM labeling if elected. So far, nothing of the sort has transpired.

Fortunately, 24 U.S. states have (as part of their state governance) something called the Initiative Process, where residents can bring to ballot any law they want enacted, as long as it has sufficient support. California has been busy organizing just such a ballot initiative to get mandatory labeling for genetically engineered foods sold in their state. The proposed law will be on the 2012 ballot.

Since California is the 8th largest economy in the world, a win for the California Initiative would be a huge step forward, and would affect ingredients and labeling nation-wide. A coalition of consumer, public health and environmental organizations, food companies, and individuals has submitted the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act to the State Attorney General. Now, they need 800,000 signatures to get the Act on this year's ballot.

I urge you to get involved and help in any way you can. Be assured that what happens in California will affect the remainder of the U.S. states, so please support this important state initiative, even if you do not live there!

• Whether you live in California or not, please donate money to this historic effort

• Talk to organic producers and stores and ask them to actively support the California Ballot. It may be the only chance we have to label genetically engineered foods.

• Distribute WIDELY the Non-GMO Shopping Guide to help you identify and avoid foods with GMOs. Look for products (including organic products) that feature the Non-GMO Project Verified Seal to be sure that at-risk ingredients have been tested for GMO content. You can also download the free iPhone application that is available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications.


Dr. Mercola has made significant milestones in his mission to bring people practical solutions to their health problems. A New York Times Best Selling Author, Dr. Mercola was also voted the 2009 Ultimate Wellness Game Changer by the Huffington Post, and has been featured in TIME magazine, LA Times, CNN, Fox News, ABC News, Today Show, CBS’s Washington Unplugged with Sharyl Attkisson, and other major media resources.



37th Sydney Park AIDS Memorial Groves Tree Planting -SPAIDS

Linocut of SPAIDS REFLECTION AREA presented to SPAIDS by Lenore Bassan in 2006

11:00am Sunday 29 JULY 2012

Contact: Mannie De Saxe, SPAIDS (03) 9471 4878



Sydney Park, St Peters

Transport: 422 Tempe bus to St Peters station, Princes Highway; train to St Peters Station; car to car park in Barwon Park Road on west side of Park.

Sydney City Council has advised SPAIDS that the 37th tree planting will be at Sydney Park on Sunday 29th JULY 2012.

The 37th SPAIDS planting between 11am and 2.30pm will be in the dedicated AIDS Memorial Groves, signposted, in the park in Sydney adjacent to Barwon Park Road off Princes Highway. Look for the Old Brickworks Chimneys entrance, opposite St Peters Station.

SPAIDS invites you to plant a young Australian tree provided by Sydney City Council's tree nursery to commemorate the life of someone who has died from HIV/AIDS. SPAIDS plantings also include commemorating lesbians, gay men and transgender people who have died as the result of violence, the Nazi Holocaust and as another memorial alternative to the Quilt Project and Candlelight.

SPAIDS advises that plantings are also to commemorate friends, relatives and people known to you who you may wish to remember by planting a tree in a memorial grove area.

Food and drinks should be available from the Kiosk in the Park, but should it be closed, nearby King Street, Newtown has many cafes.

SPAIDS has a complete listing of all names commemorated since the first plantings on 15 May 1994. The list has about 1200 names after 36 plantings, and is available for viewing at each planting day. To date over 8000 trees have been planted in the Groves.

Join us for our 37th planting and visit the Reflection Area in remembrance of those we have lost in our communities. Plant more trees and help to enhance the growing beauty of the SPAIDS Groves.

12 July 2012


This letter has been sent to two seniors newspapers: Victorian Senior and Fifty~Plus. We hope that one or both will publish it as it is an issue that will not go away!


7 July 2012

Elder abuse takes many forms and the one to consider at the moment is the abuse metered out to the Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and HIV (GLTH) members of the community.

Consider that for many years of their lives GLTH people were considered pariahs by society, were treated with contempt, derision, homophobia, discrimination, bigotry, hatred and exclusion.

On 1 July 2009 the federal government became one of the biggest perpetrators of GLTH elder abuse. On that day, after GLTH people aged over 60, 70, 80 and more were suddenly outed and made into married couples (if living in partnerships), called de factos, and those who were single pensioners suddenly became “married pensioners” and each in a partnership received “married” rates thus losing some few hundred dollars each per fortnight of Centrelink payment.

There were campaigns around the country for some months before the legislation came into effect asking the government to “grandfather” the legislation, because many GLTH retired elders had had to make provision as best they were able, to plan for old age without the benefits of relationship recognition because of ongoing homophobia and discrimination.

The campaigns being waged requested the government to consider doing away with the “couple” pension rates and providing single pensions for all pensioners receiving benefits from Centrelink. The campaigns were not supported by any of the Seniors organizations such as Council on the Ageing (COTA), Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association (CPSA), National Seniors Australia.

Amongst the points raised in the discussion were those that pointed out that “married” pensioner rates had been introduced when pensions were introduced because in those early days, many women had not worked in paid employment and governments still considered women to be “looked after” by their husbands who had direct control of the household income.

Those days vanished some several decades ago as women achieved changes in employment situations and became independent from having to rely on men for their handouts.

The government ignored the proposals because it was obviously going to save them millions of dollars for GLTH couples to be treated as married couples without providing the other securities which marriage would provide, legally and in other social ways.

So elder abuse of the GLTH communities writ large by a homophobic government and other ageing institutions came into force on 1 July 2009 and not a word of protest about this ongoing abuse.

How many of these organizations will take up the call to have this abuse stopped now?

Don’t hold your breath!

Mannie De Saxe, Lesbian and Gay Solidarity, Melbourne; InterSection

02 July 2012


Donald McRae's autobiography "UNDER OUR SKIN" is subtitled "A White Family's Journey through South Africa's Darkest Years."

As a South African who left in 1978 during some of the darker years which became progressively darker in the decade and a half which followed my departure, I read McRae's story with increasing absorption and horror as his story unfolded.

Of course one of the more horrific parts of his story was the saga of the two white doctors, Neil Aggett and Liz Floyd. Apparently Neil Aggett was the only white person to die in police custody during the whole criminal activity of the apartheid years.

Much of McRae's story paralleled my life in South Africa, and I was acquainted with the work of Ian McRae, Donald's father, as I had two periods of working with the Electricity Supply Commission (ESCOM) of South Africa, from 1952 to 1954 and again from 1974 to 1978, during which time Ian McRae went from strength to strength at ESCOM.

It is a flaw in Donald's story that he persists in referring to the organisation where his father worked as ESKOM, because after the organisation was changed from the Victoria Falls Power Company to the Electricity Supply Commission some time between the 1930s and 1950s, the Afrikaans version of the Commission's name was EVKOM, a translation of the English version, and it was only in the late 1980s that ESCOM became ESKOM.

Proof-reading and editing are also a problem in the book because a very serious mistake was letting Sidney Kentridge's name be printed once as Stanley Kentridge, and another was calling the Great Hall at the University of the Witwatersrand the Grand Hall.

Maybe these are small quibbles in a book which tells such a graphic story of life in apartheid South Africa with its abominable army and police and criminal history such as the murders of Steve Biko and so many countless thousands of others before Nelson Mandela's release from his 27 years of incarceration, and even for the 4 following years before the election of 1994 when he became South Africa's first black president with a new constitution introduced for the governments of South Africa to be governing for all its people.

To me the book would have been greatly enhanced if it had had an index, because there are so many issues which it would have been useful to have looked at more often without having to search through the book to find where the particular reference was, but again, maybe these are small issues in relation to the story of apartheid South Africa through the eyes of one family member and relating to the rest of his family, his friends and those around him, both black and white in the context of apartheid South Africa.

Strangely enough, the more I read of the brutality of the police and the army, the more I thought of apartheid South Africa and its offspring apartheid Israel.

However, Donald McRae has produced a biography which is absorbing as well as horrifying as events unfold, and he holds the reader's interest until the very last pages.

We all have stories to tell about our lives in apartheid South Africa, but not many of us would be able to tell them as well as McRae has in his book. Hopefully he has more tales of his life in South Africa to relate to a wider audience.


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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm