Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Give up organic food as your 2016 resolution

Stephan Neidenbach - welovegv@gmail.com


“ Environmental protection was not the original motive for advocating organic methods a century ago, so these environmental limitations embedded in the organic standard today should not be surprising.”

1. Protecting the monarch butterfly

Can I let you in on a dirty little secret? Organic farmers use pesticides too. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone. Weeds reduce yield, can harm livestock, compete for water, use valuable nutrients, and steal sunlight. [1] Glyphosate is currently being blamed for a decline in the monarch population because it just happens to be the most commonly used herbicide, and an easy target by anti-GMO activists because of its connection with one of the most common genetically modified crops. But even if we had a worldwide ban on glyphosate today, farmers would just use something else to kill weeds. The glyphosate tolerant pest management system just happens to reduce the amount of herbicide needed.

What about that pollen drift from bt crops? Studies have shown that monarch larvae exposed to pollen from bt crops does harm them. Only the caterpillars on milkweed in close proximity to the fields are at risk. One solution in the works is to move the gene into the chloroplast genome, which should remove it from the pollen.[2] The fact remains though that bt is deadly to the caterpillars. Organic farming uses bt as well, they just have to be even more careful because they are spraying it[3] rather than having it already built inside the plants they are seeking to protect. If conventional farmers gave up bt crops monarch butterflies would be at even more risk with increased spraying.

2. Reducing fertilizer runoff

Living in Maryland I am fully aware of mankind’s impact on water. I grew up in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. My children are growing up spending many summer days playing on its shores. Baltimore, Annapolis, and Norfolk are three of the largest cities found on it. I still remember being in elementary school and spray painting “No Dumping” with my class on storm drains all over the area. With all of the urban pollution, it is agriculture that is causing the most damage to the Chesapeake Bay. But contrary to what the organic and anti GMO activists are screaming, I never hear about pesticide run off being much of a problem. The leading contributor to pollution in the Chesapeake Bay is fertilizer, both synthetic and natural.

Fertilizer is a necessity in farming. The lack of it created the Dust Bowl. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are needed for plants to grow. Plants do not create these nutrients themselves and rely on the soil.[4] Synthetic fertilizers are needed because we don’t have enough animals producing manure. Replacing synthetic fertilizers with manure would require countless more acres of farmland for the animals, and even more farmland to feed those animals.

Fertilizer runoff creates excess phosphorus and nitrogen, upsetting the natural balance in bodies of water like my own Chesapeake Bay. Algae loves to snack on that stuff. This creates algal blooms which then blocks sunlight from reaching underwater plant life. This upsets an entire food chain resulting in dead zones.[5] So once we recognize that synthetic fertilizer is not going anywhere out of necessity to feed seven billion people, what can be done to limit it? Cover crops, fencing animals away from streams, forest/grass buffers, and no-till farming are all methods organic and conventional farmers can practice to limit fertilizer use and runoff.

No-till farming is the key here. Tilling has been used since the beginning of human history to control weeds. Unfortunately tilling the soil promotes erosion, runoff, and the release of greenhouse gasses. Sixty-three percent of farmers surveyed between 1996 and 2001 stated that the herbicide tolerant crop system was a key factor in reducing tillage or going to a no-till system.[6]

Farmers are going to till the soil, use herbicides, or use flame weeding. Farmers are going to use fertilizers. Tilling the soil promotes fertilizer runoff which is a much greater threat to the environment than glyphosate. Flame weeding is not meant to be a standalone method and is going to require tillage or herbicides anyways.[7] Organic farmers are not allowed to use any synthetic herbicides, making no-till farming almost impossible for them.

3. Fighting climate change

A further advantage of no-till farming that biotechnology has given us is the reduction of greenhouse gasses produced by agriculture. This system stores more carbon in the ground, which helps both the soil and the atmosphere. Reducing tillage also means less fuel being used by farmers.[8] Organic herbicides themselves only kill the part of the plant that comes in to contact with the herbicide, requiring more to be sprayed and more trips into the field to spray them.[9] Farmers using glyphosate do not need to cover the entire plant because it attacks an enzyme only found in plants. They can spray less herbicide, and use less fuel by using a more effective herbicide.

Local production, contrary to to what most believe, is not even beneficial to the environment. Steven Sexton estimates that corn acreage would increase by 27 percent, soybean acres by 18 percent, fertilizer use by 35 - 54%, and fuel use would increase by between 23 percent and 34 percent.  A localized production system would dramatically increase greenhouse gasses, destroy biodiversity, and significantly increase pollution. [10] Busses may get less gas mileage, but they are the most efficient means of travel because of how many people can fit on one bus.[11] The same is true of food. Per pound of food, bulk transportation from the other side of the planet actually has a smaller carbon footprint than a pickup truck traveling a short distance.[12] The increase of costs due to this inefficiency would even impact human health by making fruits and vegetables more expensive. There is a reason why fruits and vegetables are currently cheaper than at any other point in human history.[13]

4. Land conservation

By using more efficient inputs conventional farmers are able to produce more food on less land. Organic methods of production in Europe and the United States are only able to yield a fraction of what conventional methods are able to yield. More land would need to be cultivated for organic farms to match conventional farms in production potential. Land equivalent to all of the remaining forests in France, Germany, Denmark, and Britain would need to be converted to agriculture for Europe to feed itself using organic production methods. The land required for organic production is the single greatest risk to the environment it carries.[14] Genetically modified trees in South America are even promising to protect the rainforest by reducing the amount of land needed to grow eucalyptus trees. These new trees produce 20% more wood and come to harvest much quicker. [15]

5. Increased biodiversity

Under the old way of thinking a growing population would require more cultivated land to feed it. This would result in more forests cut down, the destruction of entire food chains, and a resulting loss of biodiversity. My friends, that is what organic farming on any massive scale would bring us. With increased yields from modern farming, we can feed a growing population using less land. This means biodiversity being saved off of the farm, where it matters most. Organic activists like to cite studies where organic farms have more weeds and insects as evidence that they promote biodiversity. All those weeds and insects just mean that even more land needs to be cleared for production. Some studies have even shown that bt crops, because of their precision, have a direct benefit over organic farming for aquatic ecosystems.[16]

My family will avoid organic food in 2016. Yours should as well. It costs more, offers no nutritional benefit, and is worse for the environment. There is nothing organic farmers can do for the environment that conventional farmers can’t, and many things conventional farmers can do that organic farmers can’t. If you have the disposable income and want to support those local organic farmers, go for it. Everyone needs a hobby. Just don’t bother giving yourself a pat on the back.



[1] http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/invasive/weeds/weeds/why/impact.html
[2] http://bsp.med.harvard.edu/node/79
[3] http://www.todayshomeowner.com/using-bt-for-organic-caterpillar-control-in-your-garden/
[4] http://home.howstuffworks.com/question181.htm
[5] http://www.cbf.org/about-the-bay/issues/dead-zones/nitrogen-phosphorus
[6] https://soygrowers.com/asa-study-confirms-environmental-benefits-of-biotech-soybeans/
[7] http://cropwatch.unl.edu/archive/-/asset_publisher/VHeSpfv0Agju/content/4963643
[8] http://www.ctic.org/media/pdf/Biotech2003.pdf
[9] http://westernfarmpress.com/management/do-organic-herbicides-work
[10] http://freakonomics.com/2011/11/14/the-inefficiency-of-local-food/
[11] http://www.theicct.org/blogs/staff/planes-trains-and-automobiles-counting-carbon
[13] http://www.ers.usda.gov/media/224301/err55.pdf
[15] http://www.nature.com/news/brazil-considers-transgenic-trees-1.15769
[16] http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0104270

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Labeling Inconsistencies: How Do You Actually Define a GMO?

Monsanto proudly labels all of their GMOs.
Stephan Neidenbach - welovegv@gmail.com (edited by Emilia Raszkiewicz)
Labeling genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in the food supply has become a hot-button issue for farmers, consumers, and brands. On the surface, labeling seems like such a simple and reasonable request. If GMOs are safe, why label them? Or why not label them? More importantly, how do you define GMOs to weigh the real benefits of labeling or not labeling these foods?

The same question about labeling could be asked about the consumer’s right to know about any production tool used in agriculture. In the case of the International Dairy Foods Association’s, the court decision addressed the consumer’s wish to know about their foods’ production methods: “Were consumer interest alone sufficient, there is no end to the information that states could require manufacturers to disclose about their production methods.  For instance, with respect to cattle, consumers might reasonably evince an interest in knowing which grains herds were fed, with which medicines they were treated, or the age at which they were slaughtered. Absent, however, is some indication that this information bears on a reasonable concern for human health or safety or some other sufficiently substantial governmental concern, the manufacturers cannot be compelled to disclose it. Instead, those consumers interested in such information should exercise the power of their purses by buying products from manufacturers who voluntarily reveal it.”

Clearly, on both sides of the aisle, parties are heavily invested on the outcome of labeling GMOs. The conventional food industry will tell you that labeling will increase costs. The organic food industry will try to show a substantial difference between GMOs and their counterparts bred through artificial selection or mutagenesis. How should GMOs be defined? Would a crop variety bred by mutagenesis or farmers’ selection not be a GMO, too? As a history teacher, I prefer to look at the past and how other breeding methods have been and are regulated.

Pesticide-inferring traits are currently the most common traits found in genetically modified crops. But, this can lead to the question:  if herbicide tolerance in plants and bt corn crops are chief concerns among GMO-labeling activists, shouldn’t they be concerned about labeling specific traits? Some genetically modified traits in plants include those for better taste, better nutrition, better yields, storage longevity, disease resistance, and more. The disease- resistant papaya introduced in Hawaii was one of the greatest success stories involving genetically modified crops, and it has nothing to do with pesticide- related traits. The Arctic Apple has been modified to confer a non-browning trait to increase storage times and reduce food waste, and Simplot’s new potato actually reduces the risk of a known carcinogen.

Labeled GMO crops are not the only types that are bred for specific traits; a plant can be a GMO even if not created in the laboratory and/or not containing genes from different organisms (transgenic). Seven crops are currently being produced by BASF for tolerance to their imazamox-based herbicide, “Beyond. Foods such as these crops are unlabeled and unregulated because they were created through mutagenesis, where chemicals and/or radiation are applied to speed up artificial selection. The herbicide-resistant sunflower, for example, was created after a farmer had discovered a crop of wild sunflowers that had developed a resistance to his herbicide treatments. Ethyl methanesulfonate and sodium azide were applied to the seeds of domesticated sunflowers to bring about the same resistance. These sunflowers are used in the oil Chipotle switched to when they decided GM soybeans were too dangerous because of herbicide tolerance…..  If they were not created in the laboratory, are they not GMOs, or not as potentially harmful?

Can An Organism Bred by Artificial Selection Outside of the Laboratory be Labeled a GMO, too?

Should we label foods for artificial selection, the products of which have cultivated, consumed, and marketed without labels? Artificial selection has been used for decades to select for pesticide- related and other traits. While the labeled, genetically-modified “GMO” bt corn crops express a protein that has been tested as harmless to humans, traits naturally occurring in unlabeled, artificially-selected plants can be harmful, especially when bred to increase their yields. 99% of the pesticides we consume in our diet are naturally occurring in the crops themselves, many of which are carcinogenic at high enough doses. By no means does this imply that we should fear these natural pesticides, but they should be considered when looking at risk assessments for novel traits—and labeling.

Potato breeders have used artificial selection to express disease and pest resistant traits for decades. High solanine potato varieties were found to be dangerous after commercial release in both the United States and Sweden. Celery was found have have elevated levels of psoralens, causing skin irritation, and even an organic zucchini variety caused harm from elevated levels of cucurbitacins, caused by an unusually wet summer bringing additional insects and fungi. Had the organic farmer used a fungicide, the zucchini probably would not have activated that trait, and would not have caused the risk of harm to his consumers. Compare that with outwardly-labeled genetically modified crops, where only one has shown the potential to harm consumers. Specifically, wWhen the allergen from the Brazil nut was transferred to a soybean through genetic engineering, it was detected by the researchers in the early stages, long before entering the market.

Ongoing ,Worldwide Inconsistency in Labeling

Europe is an excellent example of the inconsistency seen in labeling products that contain GMOs. The 1990s created a perfect storm in the EU, allowing fear mongering from governments to dictate a policy of precaution. Poor decision making by the UK led to the mad cow disease scare and a distrust of government regulation. Standardized organic labels were not regulated by the governments of Europe, leading to consumers who did wish to avoid GMOs to be unsure if they actually could trust the labeling. On the other hand, the United States created the National Organic Production Act of 1990 prior to GMOs coming on to the market, giving consumers this option.

In 1991,  European corporations held 55% of the global market share for agricultural chemicals. By the end of the 1990s, that market share fell to to 47% as US corporations gained market share with their transgenic crops, offering appealing products that reduced the need for applying chemicals. Inconsistencies with labeling GMOs and fear mongering discouraged many European farmers, who sought to avoid losing their farming subsidies after the WTO began to crack down. As a result, they stuck with labeled non-GMO crops so they can claim their product is “different” enough to keep receiving those subsidies. Allowing fear of GMOs to create public policy was an easy economic decision for Europe to make. As another example of inconsistency, the EU is circumventing its own GMO labeling policy by using genetic editing techniques to create herbicide tolerance to sulfonylurea. What is the argument, then? Does Europe fear GMOs because they are plants that are bred with genes allowing them to resist pesticides and herbicides? Does it matter how a GMO is created? In this case, would not GMOs be the safer alternative for the environment? Some European countries are using more than twice as many agricultural chemicals per acre as the United States. By making unwarranted claims about health and the environment, Europe is simply able to get around trade agreements and benefit their own chemical and seed companies.
Misinformation about Patents and Mandatory Labels: Not Only GMOs are Patented

Labeling proponents argue that because transgenic crops are patented, the government, by granting these patents, views these crops as inherently different from crops bred by alternative methods. However, patented crops exist that have been created using other breeding methods. The Ruby pink grapefruit, a result of mutagenesis, was patented decades ago, and even the organic Goose creek tomato variety was patented in 2004. Patents on living organisms are a topic worthy of discussion, but it is not a discussion solely involving genetically modified crops. Genetically, there is a much greater difference between all the different varieties of sweet corn than there is between GMO-labeled bt sweet corn and the varieties the trait was added to.

“At the very least, we should demand consistency.”

Mandatory labels are meant to give consumers information about a product. A label that reads, “this product contains genetically modified ingredients” tells the consumer nothing about selection method was used to create the imparted trait. It also does not explain the benefit of the genetically-modified trait, how the trait was used, how the trait is regulated, and ultimately, a shopper is left with no new information about the environmental or health impacts of the product. Voluntary dietary labels, like kosher and halal, already exist for consumers who wish to avoid GMOs for their own reasons, in the form of organic and non-GMO labels. There are no arguments against GMOs that cannot also be applied to mutagenesis and artificial selection. We should either label all methods of breeding, or label no methods of breeding. At the very least, we should demand consistency.

(Author's note: Emilia asked me to, as a layman, write an article about labeling for scientists on a web page she was an editor for. I was not paid a dime, and was just honored to have a professional editor work with me. She left that job before it got published. Any poor writing is a reflection on me, not her, as we never finished our collaboration.) Creative Commons License
This work by Stephan Neidenbach is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Your anti GMO argument is, "We already have enough food to feed the world".


Stephan Neidenbach - welovegv@gmail.com

Congratulations! You would rather give a man a fish rather than teach him to fish. It is more worthwhile to teach modern farming techniques than it is to have developing nations rely on developed nations for food. Are you really the person that just said you are worried about who controls the world’s food supply? The Arctic Granny apple keeping you up at night is an example of how GMOs can directly help prevent food waste, and it isn’t even transgenic. 

GMOS ONLY HELP CORPORATIONS!!!!!!!!$$$$$!!!!!!!!!!

GMOs can be used to reduce poverty in the developing world. An independent meta-analysis from Germany (a country with a cultural fear of biotechnology) shows how GMO crop adoption in developing nations has increased crop yields by 14% more than in developed nations, “especially smallholder farmers in the tropics and subtropics suffer from considerable pest damage that can be reduced through GM crop adoption.” The report also shows that the profit gains from these crops increase profits by 60% more than in developed nations due to this increase of yield, lower pesticide usage, and because many of these countries do not have patents on seed making the seed cheaper.

EVIL AND GREEDY BANKS KEEPING AFRICA IN DEBT IS THE CAUSE OF POVERTY!!!!!!!!%^&*%

I have to give Ned McFlanders some credit for making me look into that one. I also saw that great debate episode of West Wing where the topic of debt relief came up. Those foreign loans actually come mostly from foreign governments, not from private banks. Europe is a large source of that debt, and they also happen to be the ones telling Africa not to use GMOs. So good job trying to keep Africa under the thumb of their old colonial rulers, give yourself a pat on the back. History may have played out a little differently if the Monroe Doctrine had extended to Africa.

FOOD WASTE!!!!!!!!####!!!!!!!!!

Developed nations produce and consume a lot of food. So much so that a lot of it is wasted. This is a problem that we agree on. Climate change might be eased by a reduction in food waste, malnutrition and famine would probably not. True famine is only occurring in countries where food aid is being prevented from entering areas where it is needed such as North Korea where food aid from the United States is turned down. The Famine Early Warning System is now in place saving lives around the globe. Better access to agricultural technology could actually help reduce food waste, rather than increase it. Better infrastructure in developing nations would help food get to the consumers faster and increase shelf life through refrigeration. Food waste campaigns often have little impact on the developing world because they are based on food waste in rich countries. A recent report from the Copenhagen Consensus Center estimates that for every $1 spent to invest in developing world agriculture to reduce post harvest losses would return $13.

BUT IF WE STOPPED EATING SO MUCH MEAT WE COULD FEED EVERYONE!@#$%!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Your argument assumes it would be easy to just send our extra food to other countries. How much is Big Shipping paying you to post here?  The shipping industry has been working with the agriculture industry in the United States to keep pressure on Congress to continue shipping food produced in the United States for food aid. An estimated $140 million dollars is spent annually just to move that food aid from the United States to those countries in need. Most countries have started to use food vouchers or even cash transfers that would allow developing countries to buy food locally. That is a high cost to give fish to countries that could be learning how to fish.

You are also making an assumption that without the demand for animal feed farmers in developed nations would have a reason to just keep growing grain. What incentive would they have? Who would pay them? That argument goes against the very basics of supply and demand. Robert Paarlberg raises these excellent points in two of his books:


“If meat consumption declined, international meat and animal feed prices would also decline, but this would matter little for the vast proportion of hungry people, because they do not consume much that comes from the world market, and particularly not meat or animal feed. What these poor people need is more income to purchase rice, white maize, sorghum, millet, yams, cassava, or banana in their own local markets, not a lower international price for meat and feed. Most of the effects of lower meat consumption in rich countries would be confined to those same rich countries. Fewer cattle would be grazed on rangelands in Texas or Australia, but since these lands are too dry for growing crops, they would simply go unused. Less corn and soy would be produced for animal feed, and this would free up some more land for wheat and rice production, but the impact on international wheat and rice prices would be small. The International Food Policy Research Institute has used a computer model of global agricultural markets to estimate the reduction in hunger that would result from a 50 percent reduction in per capita meat consumption in all high-income countries, from current levels. Under this extreme and unlikely assumption, there would be 700,000 fewer chronically malnourished children in the developing world by the year 2030, compared to a “business as usual”scenario. This is a measurable gain, but very small relative to the size of the problem. Under the “business as usual”scenario, there will be 134 million cases of child malnutrition in 2030, so the payoff from a 50 percent cut in meat consumption in rich countries is only a one-half of 1 percent reduction in child hunger. Reducing meat consumption in rich countries remains an excellent idea for the purpose of improving health and moderating environmental damage in those same rich countries, but not for getting more food to the hungry.”

“If rich countries stopped eating meat, their land, no longer needed to grow grain for livestock, would not be used to feed poor Africans. Nobody would step forward to pay farmers to plant for that new purpose or pay grain companies to export for that purpose. Grain is not a natural resource; if commercial demand goes away, supply goes away. Moreover, any kind of widespread spread vegetarianism in Africa itself would be a food-security nightmare. Meat animals in Africa are not a burden on the human food system but frequently the only way to secure adequate human foods from dry grazing lands that are useless for crop production.”

The politics of food is a lot more complicated than most people realize. We truly do have the food and the technology to feed the planet without even increasing the land needed for farming. The same organizations, such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, are not just fighting GMOs. The oppose all forms of modern agriculture needed by developing nations. They fight against irrigation, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, and even conventional hybrids. Organizations like The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are trying to bring the very methods developed nations are using to increase yield and help reduce poverty. Norman Borlaug, the man who saved over one billion lives, said it best:

"I now say that the world has the technology – either available or well advanced in the research pipeline – to feed on a sustainable basis a population of 10 billion people. The more pertinent question today is whether farmers and ranchers will be permitted to use this new technology? While the affluent nations can certainly afford to adopt ultra low-risk positions, and pay more for food produced by the so-called “organic” methods, the one billion chronically undernourished people of the low income, food-deficit nations cannot."
Creative Commons License
This work by Stephan Neidenbach is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Another abuse of cherry picking FOIA to manufacture a story.


Written by Vavilov

Alison Vuchnich from Global News Canada used the emails from the US-RTK sweep, that showed no evidence of wrong doing, to manufacture a false narrative that targeted Kevin Folta, a public scientist that teaches public audiences the science of genetic engineering. 

Alison lifted words from a conversation between Dr. Folta and the person that runs the GMOAnswers.com website, where he frequently answers questions for the public. He suggested that GMOAnswers set up a site parallel to Rachel Parent’s site, Kids Right to Know, calling it Kids Right to Truth.  Parent is a 14 year old with no scientific training that makes frequent pronouncements on the dangers of genetically engineered foods.  Her family owns a large health-food company, and her statements represent common non-scientific tropes and not actual science. The website was never established.  It was an idea that Folta never bothered to pursue.  Neither did the folks at GMO Answers.  Nobody cared.  It was just an idea. And Rachel Parent’s family owns the URL, not Folta or GMO Answers. 

However, Vuchnich used the mention of this possibility, obtained from private emails confiscated from Folta under Freedom of Information Act, to claim this as an attack on Parent by the “GMO Lobby”.  A piece littered with well debunked cherry-picked claims was presented in the Dec 21 issue of Global News. 

She interviewed US-RTKs Gary Ruskin who referred to Folta as “Monsanto’s attack dog”.  Folta simply teaches science and has never advocated on behalf of Monsanto or for that company. 

The other US-RTK executive, Stacy Malkin, took to Twitter and again indicated that Monsanto had Ketchum (GMO Answers) persuade Folta to create a critical piece about Parent.  In reality, someone asked GMOAnswers about her and he answered with a  very complimentary commentary, suggesting she (and all young women) sharpen critical thinking skills and immerse themselves in STEM disciplines.  It was a very positive message

But Ruskin, Malkan and Vuchnich conspire to paint this discussion as an attack, and one funded by 
Monsanto.  Folta’s scientific research has never been sponsored by Monsanto and never received any compensation from them personally.  Monsanto did contribute to a science literacy program where Folta taught scientists how to engage the public, but those funds were not used after Folta and his family received threats.

That was the plan by Vuchnich, et al.   A look at the comments in the article and by the notes on Twitter show the true intent—to harm a scientist by making him appear to be a bully, when he did nothing of the sort. This is the latest round in the Organic Consumer’s Association attack on Folta, orchestrated by US-RTK and facilitated by complicit journalists that manufacture false narratives from cherry-picked information.  And just look how their willing disciples run with that false information---

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Are we going to allow a dangerous mind control cult to manipulate our food supply?


Stephan Neidenbach - welovegv@gmail.com

A lot has been written about Kevin Folta in recent months by both the pro science and the anti science crowds. One organization, though, has taken their obsession of Professor Folta to a whole different level. GM Watch has so far published four blog posts so full of conjecture and misinformation that it makes one question the sanity of the people running their nonprofit. The most recent one featured myself. I don't know what they were hoping to accomplish with it, other than proving the point of one of the graphics they actually linked to.

The article did get me to take a closer look at GM Watch. They appear to currently be run by Claire Robinson and Jonathan Matthews. While not a lot is known about Jonathan Matthews, Claire Robinson we do know a lot about. She is heavily involved with Earth Open Source and GMO Free USA (count the Europeans involved with GMO Free "USA"). All of these organizations have strong ties to Transcendental Meditation, described as practicing "destructive mind control techniques" by leading cult expert Steve Hassan.

Ex-cult member, Gina Catena, describes her experiences with TM:

"Believing with my well-intentioned loved ones, I watched devotees donate entire trust funds, become psychotic, and decline needed medical treatment in favor of Maharishi Ayur-Ved (R) medicinals. A few committed suicide. Our leaders taught us that hardships were brought upon ourselves."

Does Ayurveda sound familiar? It is the pseudoscience promoted by Fran Drescher's husband, Shiva Ayyadurai, who recently made news by creating software that modeled formaldehyde in biotech soy. Are some of these connections starting to come together?

As part of this cult's search for "invincibility", they appear to believe in the consumption of their definition of "pure food". John Fagan, also of GMO Free USA, appears to have been assigned the task of creating "invincibility laboratories" around the world with the goals of testing food for biotech crops and glyphosate. It makes sense then that Fagan has close ties to the Non-GMO Project.

Many huge names in the anti-GMO movement appear to be connected to this destructive mind control cult. Dr. Oz describes his interest. Author of the Altered Genes book, lawyer Steven Druker is part of this group. Jeffrey Smith, of the Institute for Responsible Technology, can be seen practicing their art of flying yoga. Even Dr. Joseph Mercola himself is a practitioner, and his girlfriend appears to be an administrator of the March Against Monsanto Facebook page. Through the David Lynch Foundation, they are attempting to recruit public school students. One member who recently left Earth Open Source to work for Seattle Public Schools should frighten anyone living in that area. Even Center For Food Safety's director, Andrew Kimbrell, appears to have strong ties. The list goes on.

Cults attempting to shape public policy is nothing new. The Unification Church (Moonies) in their attempt to fight communism owns News World Communications (The Washington Times) and was linked to the South Korean government as members were found working in Congressional offices.

TM has been connected to the death of John Lennon, accused of covering up events leading to the murder of one of their students, and created a measles outbreak leading to a tax bill of $142,000. Considering organic farming was created by practitioners of pseudoscience, it shouldn't surprise anyone that it has been embraced and promoted by such a cult. We need to work to make sure their influence on our food supply comes to an end.

Edit: Mercola and Smith are both involved in a coalition of consumer pseudoscience organizations, including the Organic Consumer's Association which funded USRTK (responsible for the FOIA requests).