Friday, July 29, 2011

"Organic" wackos obstructing the battle to feed the world

Monsanto is the heroic Sherman tank leading the battle but it is widely hated by the food romantics. The recent worldwide hike in the price of corn has heavily impacted the poor of the world so the battle is an ongoing one. As analyses have repeatedly shown, the only difference between "organically" grown crops and GM crops is that the organic crops produce much less food per acre. The organic delusion is a murderous superstition but the delusion is strong. See below

More than 270,000 organic farmers are taking on corporate agriculture giant Monsanto in a lawsuit filed March 30. Led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, the family farmers are fighting for the right to keep a portion of the world food supply organic—and preemptively protecting themselves from accusations of stealing genetically modified seeds that drift on to their pristine crop fields.

Consumers are powerful. For more than a decade, a cultural shift has seen shoppers renounce the faster-fatter-bigger-cheaper mindset of factory farms, exposéd in the 2008 documentary Food, Inc. From heirloom tomatoes to heritage chickens, we want our food slow, sustainable, and local—healthy for the earth, healthy for animals, and healthy for our bodies.

But with patented seeds infiltrating the environment so fully, organic itself is at risk. Monsanto’s widely used Genuity® Roundup Ready® canola seed has already turned heirloom canola oil into an extinct species. The suing farmers are seeking to prevent similar contamination of organic corn, soybeans, and a host of other crops. What’s more, they’re seeking to prevent Monsanto from accusing them of unlawfully using the very seeds they’re trying to avoid.

“It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement,” says Public Patent Foundation director Dan Ravicher in a Cornucopia Institutearticle about the farmers’ lawsuit (May 30, 2011), “but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement.”

Even as the megacorporation enjoys soaring stock, the U.S. justice department continues to look into allegations of its fraudulent antitrust practices (The Street, June 29, 2011):

Monsanto, which has acquired more than 20 of the nation’s biggest seed producers and sellers over the last decade, has long pursued a strict policy with its customers, obligating them to buy its bioengineered seeds every year rather than use them in multiple planting seasons. Farmers who disobey are blacklisted forever.

It’s a wide net Monsanto has cast over the agricultural landscape. As Ravicher points out, “it’s actually in Monsanto’s financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply.” Imagine a world devoid of naturally vigorous traditional crops and controlled by a single business with a appetite for intellectual property. Did anyone else feel a cold wind pass through them? Now imagine a world where thousands of family farmers fight the good fight to continue giving consumers a choice in their food—and win.


Thalidomide approved for use across the NHS half a century after it was banned

A victory for sanity after many years. It was always an interesting and useful molecule but its grievous side-effects in one particular application has until now largely stopped its use

Thalidomide has been approved for use on the NHS - half a century after it caused one of the biggest medical scandals in history. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence have recommended that the drug can be used to treat myeloma - a cancer which hits the bone marrow.

An estimated 10,000 children had defects at birth after pregnant women were prescribed the drug to prevent morning sickness.

After the government finally apologised last year, the drug is today again approved for use across the NHS, the Independent revealed.

Thalidomide was withdrawn from sale in 1961 after it was revealed that it was causing birth defects. It led to wholesale reforms in the drug licensing process, with much tighter regulations put in place.

A component of the drug prevents the growth of new blood vessels in developing embryos, stunting limb growth, researchers discovered.

The drug's UK manufacturer, Distillers Biochemicals, paid around £28million compensation in the 1970s following a legal battle by the families of those affected. Last year Health Minister Mike O'Brien said there were 466 thalidomiders - as victims of the drug are known - supported by the Thalidomide Trust.

As thalidomide makes its return half a century after it was banned, another drug, Velcade, has also been approved for use in treating myeloma. Drugs like thalidomide which are approved by Nice should be made available to patients across the UK.

Eric Low, Myeloma UK chief executive, said: 'It is vital that doctors have various effective treatment options in their toolbox to treat myeloma patients. 'Today’s recommendation confirms the significant role that both thalidomide and Velcade have to play as initial treatment options.'

Thalidomide has been used on the NHS in recent years to treat brain cancer in a limited number of cases, although it is the first time it's use has been formally recommended by Nice.

In the 1990s the drug began to make a return after [Israeli] research showed that it could be used to treat leprosy. There have been suggestions it could also be used to halt the development of prostate cancer.

Prescribing thalidomide is expected to cost £2,100 per treatment cycle and up to 2,000 patients each year could be given it now it has been recommended for use. Myeloma cannot be cured but drugs can be used to reduce the symptoms and stop the spread of cancerous cells.


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