To Sustainable Environment Action Task Force home page (a committee of HPKCC)
Green Hyde Park page (includes many outside links)

Documents and Recommendations on moving toward sustainability from the HPKCC Sustainable Environment Action Task Force

Presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, its Sustainability Task Force, and Chairman Vicki Suchovsky. Join us.

Environmental Sustainability in our community is our goal. Presented here are several articles and links passed along by the founding chairman Vijayarani Fedson and by others, ranging from rising costs of food and how to change the supply chins for everything to becoming more sustainable to how /why interests, trends and inertia militate against achieving sustainability.

Papers by Keynoters featured in the University of Chicago's Earth Week:

Sadhu Johnston, City of Chicago Chief Environmental Officer, on the citys' Climate Action Plan:
Activist Vandana Shiva (speech cancelled) (Book: Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace.
Doug Farr, on sustainable urbanism and construction (LEED)

Moving beyond carbon footprints, water footprints et al: Lifecycle Assessment-- and you can do it from intersntet based tweeters and phones even when you go to the store:

Nathaniel McClin's interview with Wangari Maatthai:

Things are indeed complex. Do some try to hide the complexity? Do others cite "complexity" to get others to just "go away"? A take from a conservative side:

Environ Sust 1 May 09

"To try to predict the future based on just one variable (CO2) in extraordinarily complex natural systems is folly. ..These climate models exaggerate the effects of human CO 2 emissions into the atmosphere because few of the natural variables are considered. Natural systems are far more complex than computer models. " Perhaps. Measurement and models are becoming more inclusive and sophistocated, but are far from perfect... And there are lots of interests alternatively pooh-poohing and cherry picking.

" NASA: Clean-air regs, not CO2, are melting the ice cap"

An article that shows why "cheap food" may be coming to an end (also a topic of a recent feature in the Chicago Tribune) and how these changes might be turned to advantage of more and of a more sustainable planet. This tells what's happening with one beginning point in the global supply stream we all live in. See more articles on how to change these streams and ourselves practically live more sustainably and green, in the Green Hyde Park page.

April 17 2009, EPA put out for comment a ruling that greenhouse gases emissions including from cars are a danger to public health. This is a follow up to a Supreme Court ruling 2 years previously that such gases are regulatable and must be regulated under the Clean Air Act if found to be a danger to public health. Teh Fed. govt also annoucned an $8 billion initiative for high speed rail.

Please check out report for the UN by MIT Urban Studies & Planning Dept.

Enabling Environmental Justice: Assessment of Participatory Tools
Background Report Prepared for: Environmental Department, United Nations Institute for Training and Research
Prepared by: Manjula Amerasinghe, Leanne Farrell, SheeShee Jin, Nah-yoon Shin, Kristen Stelljes
Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Here's the Executive Summary:

A growing body of literature points to the importance of public participation in enabling
procedural justice in public decision making. Procedural justice, in turn, is a prerequisite
for distributive justice, which in environmental decision-making contexts, is the
underlying tenet of environmental justice. Without the meaningful inclusion of those who
will be impacted by the outcomes of environmental decision-making, fair distribution of
environmental benefits and harms is unlikely to result.
This report sets out to test the extent to which various participatory tools have the
potential to enable procedural justice in the environmental arena. The report synthesizes
the findings of 59 case studies applying seven diffferent participatory tools to
environmental decision-making contexts in developed and developing countries. Tools
analyzed are: notice and comment, public hearings, focus groups, participatory
workshops, citizen advisory committees, citizen juries and referenda.
Findings show that different participatory techniques can, indeed, play an important role
in improving decision making and enabling procedural justice, a fundamental component
of environmental justice. Of the tools analyzed, participatory workshops have the greatest
potential to be inclusive, interactive and empowering to participants. Yet, even for this
tool and others that demonstrate high potential along these dimensions, several key
capacity requirements must be first fulfilled. Participatory tools in general were found to
be time consuming, financial and human resource intensive, and requiring of specialized
skills and knowledge from their sponsors. Furthermore, the adequate inclusion of
marginalized groups – a fundamental component of procedural justice – requires special
attention on the part of governments to make sure participatory processes serve to level
the playing field among stakeholders rather than perpetuating imbalances in access to power.

Greening and browning the US and the world.

In fall 2008 EPA dropped the maximum spot emission of lead from c 1.5 to 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter and planed lead monitor sby any facgory emitting a half-ton or more lead per year. But the White House raised the threshold to a ton or more, which exempts many of the worst polluters including in Illinois. (which currently has 13 monitors, 3 in Chicago and 5 in the suburbs-- the state EPA may set up its own.) To learn closest and downwind emitters, visit

There is a growing brown cloud over much of Asia, Africa and the Amazon.

The University of Chicago played a major role in documentation of increasing ocean acidity, the role of carbon dioxide growth in that, and effects of increasing acidity on both marine life and the ability of the oceans to absorb more carbon dioxide (negative). December 3 2008 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Wooton et al "Dymamical Patterns and Ecological Impacts of Declining Ocean pH in High-Resolution Multi-Year Data set."

Colorado Trees- why trees matter.

Links to food for thought on Sustainability and going green

Environment Illinois's e-clearinghouse; discussion on compact fluorescent's.

Thanks to all who visited our new Energy Efficiency Headquarters website at

One of the great features of this site is our compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) headquarters section, located at

Did you know that if Illinois residents replaced their most highly used incandescent bulbs with CFLs, our total household lighting energy consumption could be cut in half?

CFL bulbs also last up to 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. And through the energy efficiency programs that Environment Illinois fought hard to pass in 2007, millions of CFL bulbs will be offered at a significant price discount this fall.

Still, many Illinois residents have serious questions about CFLs -- how to recycle CFLs, how to clean up a broken CFL, and questions about mercury content in CFLs.

Environment Illinois set up our CFL Headquarters to deal with these very questions. Visit our CFL Headquarters at for answers on those issues and more.

So visit our CFL Headquarters today, and learn how to save money, save energy, and help save the environment!


Max Muller
Environment Illinois Program Director

More from Environment Illinois:

Top Story
Victory for Lake Michigan, Great Lakes
Environment Illinois helped win two major victories for Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes with the passage of the Great Lakes Compact and the reauthorization of the Great Lakes Legacy Act...

Featured Articles
Repowering America with clean energy

New report: Illinois is heating up

Budget cuts endanger state parks

Recent action
Chicago makes homes more energy efficient

Residents examine global warming, energy use

A suggested time limit for starting turnaround and what the carbon emission level would be; deforestation as a major cause of the warming

""If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment…" "if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted, paleoclimate evidence and ongoing climate change suggest that CO2 will need to be reduced from its current 385 ppm to at most 350 ppm." "

"Deforestation: The hidden cause of global warming"
"No new technology is needed, says the GCP, just the political will and a system of enforcement and incentives that makes the trees worth more to governments and individuals standing than felled."

The finger is often pointed at so-called third world countries, especially China and India as both big polluters and big petrol and energy consumers. It is true that China especially is growing rapidly and car use is going up there fast. Still, in 2008, California alone, for example consumes more petrol for transport at least than any country other than the U.S., 20 billion gallons, which is more than either India or China do.

We need to consider the question of sustainability in demolishing vs recycling buildings, for example with regard to Doctors Hospital. See:

What do the current recycling symbols on plastics mean?

Britain's most green structure:

" IHT, which stands for Interseasonal Heat Transfer, takes heat from the sunshine that falls on the tarmac playground, then stores it and releases it in the winter to heat the school."

See Environ's CO2 map and why drastic action may be called for:

Truth Out gives more reasons action must be taken: (if fails sub _ for - after "issues".)

The tie-in of environmental and personal health and sustainability are set forth in and Alternet article:

Lower cost and reliable LED house lighting is coming on line:

Article on Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs

Change diet

More reasons to switch to organic gardening:

And remember that "organic" in chemistry means "carbon-based" but in agriculture means raised without fertilizers, pesticides, artificial chemicals or soil. Unfortunately, some people in financial straits are abandoning organic for fast food from dollar stores.

Or is the problem control of food supplies rather than supply or natural (market) prices?

Environ 14 May 2008
This will _not_ be reported on the NYT , CNN, WSJ, or other mainstream
media, for obvious reasons. "According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, enough food is produced in the world to provide over 2800 calories a day to everyone ? substantially more than the minimum required for good health, and about 18% more calories per person than in the 1960s, despite a significant increase in total population.[1]...As the editors of /Hungry for Profit/ write, "The enormous power exerted by the largest agribusiness/food corporations allows them essentially to control the
cost of their raw materials purchased from farmers while at the same time keeping prices of food to the general public at high enough levels to ensure large profits."[8]"

Unless we work for a ban on chemical pollution and genetically modified crops which are making huge profits for big business, there will be severe biocide - flora and fauna, including humans and fish - and birth defects across the planet. A reduction in human population is necessary, though, better achieved through lowering births no.

" Nor were the farmers told that these seeds require double the amount of water. This has proved a matter of life and death."

"The disappearing male"

"Eating is a political act"

This site marshals eveidence against biotechnology and biofuels: Responsible Technology

Environ Sust 10 July 08; 'World Bank Secret Report confirms Biofuel Cause of World Food Crisis'

Note: 'corn' in this article, means wheat, the usage in other parts of the world. What is called 'corn' in the US, is called 'maize' everywhere else.

HD TV gas worse than CO2 (but others say more a thing to watch--especially the as-yet not counted in problem with methane which is up to 20 times more an effect that CO2--especially as permafrost melts and the biomass there lets off megatons of methane. Effects of animals and humans in methane production is enough to be a factor already.

Non-petro fertilizers home-made fermented fertiliser

Most corn and soybeans grown here are gm

Agricultural revolution endorsed

Forget carbon, check your water footprint

Global Warming Cafe/Low Carb Diet from Empowerment Institute- getting neighbors together for seminars, practice in going green. Bill Morissette is working on this for Hyde Park.

Environ 5 May 2008 "the current extinction crisis, with species vanishing every day, is a serious threat to humanity equal to, if not greater than, climate change."

Civic and community organizations have to take a stand against multinationals and globalisation. There have been several reports that the growing middle classes in India and China have increased the demand for food, especially since they are eating more meat, and grain is used as food for the animals killed for meat. I don't know about China, but in South India, cattle are fed on hay and grass, with some occasional millet. They're not fed on maize as in the west, or on wheat, or rice. " Spiraling food prices are in large part the result of market manipulation...In the present context, a freeze of speculative trade in food staples, taken as a political decision, would immediately contribute to lower food prices.

Environ 10 May 08.Important articles.
This article draws a parallel to the 12-Step programme of Alcoholics Anonymous plastics to avoid

A group to join:

"Allen Young's book, "Priority One," says that if we increased the organic matter in soil by 1.6 percent in all our cropping lands, we would sequester all the excess CO2 in the atmosphere."
Preparing for Permaculture

By Kelpie Wilson
t r u t h o u t | Environmental Editor
Monday 02 July

An interview with permaculture expert Robyn Francis in New South Wales, Australia.
While in Australia for the International Agrichar Initiative conference in April, I got a chance to visit Djanbung Gardens, a farm and learning center founded by permaculture expert Robyn Francis in the alternative community of Nimbin, New South Wales. After a wonderful hour touring the garden with students from Canada, South Africa and France, I sat down with Robyn for a chat about permaculture and the future of Australia's and the world's agricultural systems.

KW: Robyn, please tell me - what got you interested in permaculture?
RF: In the early 1970s, I was part of the whole counterculture movement and not very happy with the way society was going. I traveled overseas for five years and saw a lot of things good and a lot of things wrong, and one of the things I found that really fascinated me in my travels was the sustainable traditional systems of farming and village culture. Then I lived in Europe, in southern Germany, in a small farming hamlet, for three and a half years, just out of Munich, where I got to see the traditional European farming systems. There were still old farmers who were doing their crop rotations, and the only input to the farm was diesel fuel to put into the tractor and the Mercedes Benz. It was all mixed cropping, and they had their cows and their pigs, and they would use the manures and compost them and put them out in the fields. These types of farms would have a little forest that was managed over 200-year rotations, from generation to generation, and it was just
such a stark contrast to the mono-thinking, monoculture, broad-acre agriculture that I grew up with here in Australia.

KW: How did we end up abandoning those kinds of systems?
RF: Post WWII; that's when society went on the most incredibly manic fossil-fuel binge. From the end of the Second World War you can track this corporatization of Western culture and commoditization of land. And all the chemical weapons that they created for war, well, those chemicals then went into chemical-based agriculture, so they could continue manufacturing and have a new market. We really see those major changes in agricultural systems occurring then.

KW: It hasn't been that long, really, has it?
RF: It hasn't, and I think places that didn't have really strong traditions, like Australia and the US, were just the perfect breeding ground for this kind of phenomenon to take off, whereas in Europe, people were a lot more grounded in their long-term traditions. There have been big changes since I lived there. I felt particularly blessed to be living there at the tail end of that old generation. I went back ten years later, and the landscape had changed. The sons who had gone to agricultural college and had done their agribiz science had come back, and all these patchwork rotational fields were turned into monocultures for feedlot cattle. So, yeah, it's amazing how things can change in a generation, and what we need is a very big generational change right now. Basically going back, with more intelligence, into the future.

KW: Well, isn't that what you're doing with the students you have here? I just asked them when we were walking around, "Do you think more people are going to be farmers in the future?" They looked at me and simply said, "Yes."
RF: You have to look at the phenomenon of Cuba. What an amazing example that is of a country that just suddenly had its fossil fuels, its fertilizers - all of those taps - turned off, including its market for its exports, when the USSR collapsed. I don't know if you've seen the video "Power of Community." It shows how now the farmers are the most revered and respected people in the community. They are the ones who have the most money.

KW: Does that amaze you?
RF: It is how it should be, because it is a struggle in every society. I've worked a lot in the Third World too, where this global cutthroat market is pitting country against country to get stuff cheap. And the people who are missing out are the farmers. They're getting screwed with their prices right across the board; farmers just can't make ends meet operating a farm, be it Third World or First World. The First-World farmers have got to compete with Third-World farmers in terms of wages and try to deliver a crop at similar cost, so farming's not worth anything, anywhere. In the Third World, you don't see young people working on the farms. It's the old people out in the fields, and they're dying off. None of them are encouraging their kids to become farmers, because it doesn't pay. You can't survive as a farmer because prices are so suppressed. David Suzuki, for years, has been saying that we're only paying 20 percent of the true cost of our food. There are all these
hidden subsidies.
KW: Remember, it used to be that, in the US anyway, people expected to spend about 25 percent of their income on food, and 25 percent on housing, and 50 percent for everything else, and now it's more like about 50 percent for housing and maybe 10 percent on food.
RF: You know, oil has now hit peak. This is not going to last. We've been talking about global warming since the early '80s and sustainability for longer than that. And we haven't just been talking about it. That's what I like about permaculture - permaculture has actually been doing it, and it has grown rapidly, and mainly through training, empowering people through education. That has been at the heart of permaculture's success, training people to be trainers. I don't know how many hundreds of thousands of trained permaculturists there are around the planet. It's being practiced in 80, maybe, even over 100 different countries around the world.
KW: Could you just give me a quick definition of permaculture?
RF: Well, the word itself means permanent culture, and it's really a holistic or interdisciplinary or metadisciplinary approach to how we sustain our environment. It looks at how human beings can provide their needs while treading lightly on the earth, how we can do it by still respecting the life around us and the life-supporting systems on this planet, and, as such, it's got to embrace all aspects of our society and how we meet our needs. Food, of course, is a primary need. You don't live long without food, and then when we look at the history of food production, we find that traditionally, agriculture has been one of the most destructive enterprises. It has desertified [and] salinated more land, destroyed more forests, and polluted more landscapes than any other human enterprise. There are estimates that 70 percent of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere are actually caused through food production, because it's not just the farmer growing the food, it's all the inputs
into that. It's all those big corporations. It's all the energy used for making these soluble fertilizers that are killing the soil microflora and breaking down the structure of carbon in the soil. Allen Young's book, "Priority One," says that if we increased the organic matter in soil by 1.6 percent in all our cropping lands, we would sequester all the excess CO2 in the atmosphere.
KW: We've been hearing a lot about global warming, the drying of Australia and losing the irrigation water from the major river system in the country - the Murray-Darling. Who's going to feed Australia in the future? How will you put bread on the table?
RF: In most bioregions, it actually takes very little land to produce grain to feed people. Probably 90 percent of the grain that's grown in Australia is for international trade. And it's only a small amount that we actually need locally, so if those precious resources are put into providing our need - if we focus on import replacement instead of international marketing - you know, exporting rice to Thailand and importing rice back ...
KW: Economic theory calls that comparative advantage. It's actually kind of nuts isn't it?
RF: Yes it is. Trucking coals to Newcastle and back again, just to generate a profit. We have to stop and look at self-reliance on the national as well as the local level. It's got to work all the way through, and there's just got to be a huge contraction. There's got to be very large areas that are allowed to go back to some kind of very, very hardy vegetation, and some of these areas that have been growing annual grains will be much better off going into, say, bush-food production. Acacia tree, what we call wattle, produces high yields of a good quality grain that can be used for bread. It can be roasted as a coffee substitute. It is things like this that can cope with that low rainfall. We also won't need all that fossil fuel for plowing, and harvesters and so on. We've just got to design different types of harvesting systems to harvest the seeds of things like this.
KW: Are those ideas coming up, bubbling up to the top of government at this time?
RF: Not yet. But I think things like this are going to trigger that shift to where we start to look at native crops and things that can cope with no irrigation and look very carefully at what irrigation we do use and how we use the resources that we do have. There's going to be a shift on all levels of society.
KW: There just is. There's no way around it.
RF: Yes. Exactly.
KW: I want to ask you one more question, but I think ...
(A man walks up to us here)

Man: We've got a calf in the garden. Anyway, answer the question, and then....
RF: In the garden? In the actual vegetable garden?
Man: No.
RF: Oh, okay.
KW: Do you need to go?
RF: That's alright.
KW: The neighbor's cow ...
RF: He probably came through from the eco-village land. There's a gate that's on the corner down there. One of these guys should know where it is. Anyway, it'll still be there in five minutes. Last question.
KW: The perils of being on a farm - calves on the loose! Well, I wanted to ask you about biochar, the Amazonian black earth, and what kind of potential you think that has. Do you think it has a great potential here in this part of the country for revitalizing soils? You were talking earlier about getting carbon back into soils, and I see a lot of interest in this idea.
RF: I think it's a multi-pronged approach that we need to take, and no one system is going to be the ultimate solution, because every system we use will have a cost in terms of where we're getting resources. So, I think it's a matter of looking strategically at the individual soil types and production systems. What is actually wrong with the soil? What does it need? For some soils and some situations, things like black soil ... charcoal ... may be the answer. For other situations, it may be a matter of just getting the beneficial organisms back with the right kind of bacteria-based or fungal-based compost teas. In other situations, biodynamic preparations may be the best tool. In many ways, I really like these, sort of, homeopathic approaches, because they don't require huge resources to revitalize the land.
KW: So, you like the compost teas and things like that?
RF: Yes, and the results are pretty amazing.
KW: So when you bring the health back to the soil, does that automatically start the process of incorporating carbon into it then?
RF: Yes. Once you've got the soil biota working, you are healing the land and the organic matter in the soil can hold together and not break apart. And, of course, that needs to be combined with cover crops and returning crop residues and so on back to the soil and building up the organic matter. You don't just put compost tea on and ...
KW: Walk away ...
RF: Right. It's got to be a fully strategic approach. Every farm needs a redesign, because you have to integrate the tree crops in with it, and the wildlife areas need to be restored. You have the windbreaks and the hedgerows and so on that need to be restored. There are the water-management systems like swales and ponds that need to be put in. It's got to be a multi-pronged approach. It's not just some new additive you put into the soil and business as usual. What I think is important is that, when these things are done, that they are done very carefully, in terms of where is the charcoal going to come from, because there is a great potential to be very irresponsible about getting the sources of timber to turn into charcoal.
KW: Well, in a lot of cases, they're using ag-waste, like rice hulls and things like that. It's not all timber.
RF: Yeah, but, even looking at the ag-wastes, on every resource we've got to look at what is the best way to use this, and how can we maximize everything that we get out of each resource along the process. So, in the process of actually turning a crop residue or something or other into charcoal, is there some other product that we can harness from this, or is there a byproduct that can become an input for something else, and we've got to get away from these linear systems.
KW: Right.
RF: Because that's when we screw up, every time. It's when we only think in linear systems and we miss all of the opportunities along the way. See, when we maximize every resource, we look at every byproduct, every waste is a new resource for something else, so that everything is recycled within the system. It is only through a very radical slowdown of entropy that we can design systems that are going to be sustainable.
KW: It seems like exciting work. Don't you feel now is the time where you're finally being called upon to share all this wonderful knowledge and experience you've been accumulating?
RF: Yes.
KW: Well, congratulations for all you've done, and for seeing the fruits of your work.
RF: Yep, and more to come.

Kelpie Wilson is Truthout's environment editor. Trained as a mechanical engineer, she embarked on a career as a forest protection activist, then returned to engineering as a technical writer for the solar power industry.


Plastics matter, too! From the chairman:

Indirectly, plastics are also involved in global warming. They do not decompose, so 10,000 years from now, they will still be polluting the planet.

" One shop in north London has already placed itself on the front line of the plastic bag revolution.
As well as banishing non-biodegradable carriers from behind the till, it has taken away almost all of its packaging, leaving shoppers to bring in their own jars, pots and bags to be filled with their day's groceries."

" The enormous stew of trash - which consists of 80 percent plastics and weighs some 3.5 million tons, say oceanographers - floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man's land between San Francisco and Hawaii.
The enormous stew of trash - which consists of 80 percent plastics and weighs some 3.5 million tons, say oceanographers - floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man's land between San Francisco and Hawaii. "

"Ireland imposed a modest plastic bag tax in 2002, which has reduced their use by 90 per cent."

A distressing review article

If only a part of it is true about the lineup of corporate structures in different economic sectors, the road for sustainability is hard indeed. Note, Republican/Libertarian candidate Ron Paul said nearly the same as in this article on Bill Moyer's Journal. Swipe and paste the internal links to learn more. Gary Ossewaarde

From Rani Fedson:

Affecting the very basis of sustainability.
Reviewing F. William Engdahl's
"Seeds of Destruction"
By Stephen Lendman
02 January, 2008
Part I
Bill Engdahl is a leading researcher, economist and analyst of the New World Order who's written on issues of energy, politics and economics for over 30 years. He contributes regularly to publications like Japan's Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Foresight magazine, Grant's, European Banker and Business Banker International. He's also a frequent speaker at geopolitical, economic and energy related international conferences and is a distinguished Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization where he's a regular contributor.
Engdahl also wrote two important books - "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order" in 2004. It's an essential history of geopolitics and the importance of oil. Engdahl explains that America's post-WW II dominance rests on two pillars and one commodity - unchallengeable military power and the dollar as the world's reserve currency combined with the quest to control global oil and other energy resources.
Engdahl's newest book is just out from the Centre for Research on Globalization. It's a sequel to his first one called "Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation" and subject of this review. It's the diabolical story of how Washington and four Anglo-American agribusiness giants plan world domination by patenting life forms to gain worldwide control of our food supply and why that prospect is chilling. The book's compelling contents are reviewed below in-depth so readers will know the type future Henry Kissinger had in mind in 1970 when he said: "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control the people."
Remember also, this cabal is one of many interconnected ones with fearsome power and ruthless intent to use it - Big Banks controlling the Federal Reserve and our money, Big Oil our world energy resources, Big Media our information, Big Pharma our health, Big Technology our state-of-the-art everything and watching us, Big Defense our wars, Big Pentagon waging them, and other corporate predators exploiting our lives for profit. Engdahl's book focuses brilliantly on one of them. To fully cover its vital contents, this review will be in three parts for more detail and to make it easily digestible.
Part I of "Seeds of Destruction"
In 2003, Jeffrey Smith's "Seeds of Deception" was published. It exposed the dangers of untested and unregulated genetically engineered foods most people eat every day with no knowledge of the potential health risks. Efforts to inform the public have been quashed, reliable science has been buried, and consider what happened to two distinguished scientists.
One was Ignatio Chapela, a microbial ecologist at the University of California, Berkeley. In September, 2001, he was invited to a carefully staged meeting with Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, Mexico's Director of the Commission of Biosafety in Mexico City. The experience left Chapela shaken and angry as he explained. Monasterio attacked him for over an hour. "First he trashed me. He let me know how damaging to the country and how problematic my information was to be."
Chapela referred to what he and a UC Berkeley graduate student, David Quist, discovered in 2000 about genetically engineered contamination of Mexican corn in violation of a government ban on these crops in 1998. Corn is sacred in Mexico, the country is home to hundreds of indigenous varieties that crossbreed naturally, and GM contamination is permanent and unthinkable - but it happened by design.
Chapela and Quist tested corn varieties in more than a dozen state of Oaxaca communities and discovered 6% of the plants contaminated with GM corn. Oaxaca is in the country's far South so Chapela knew if contamination spread there, it was widespread throughout Mexico. It's unavoidable because NAFTA allows imported US corn with 30% of it at the time genetically modified. Now it's heading for nearly double that amount, and if not contained, it soon could be all of it.
The prestigious journal Nature agreed to publish Chapela's findings, Monasterio wanted them quashed, but Chapela refused to comply. As a result, he was intimidated not to do it and threatened with being held responsible for all damages to Mexican agriculture and its economy.
He went ahead, nonetheless, and when his article appeared in the publication on November 29, 2001 the smear campaign against him began and intensified. It was later learned that Monsanto was behind it, and the Washington-based Bivings Group PR firm was hired to discredit his findings and get them retracted.
It worked because the campaign didn't focus on Chapela's contamination discovery, but on a second research conclusion even more serious. He learned the contaminated GM corn had as many as eight fragments of the CaMV promoter that creates an unstable "hotspot." It can cause plant genes to fragment, scatter throughout the plant's genome, and, if proved conclusively, would wreck efforts to introduce GM crops in the country. Without further evidence, there was still room for doubt if the second finding was valid, however, and the anti-Chapela campaign hammered him on it.
Because of the pressure, Nature took an unprecedented action in its 133 year history. It upheld Chapela's central finding but retracted the other one. That was all it took, and the major media pounced on it. They denounced Chapela's incompetence and tried to discredit everything he learned including his verified findings. They weren't reported, his vilification was highlighted, and Monsanto and the Mexican government scored a big victory.
Ironically, on April 18, 2002, two weeks after Nature's partial retraction, the Mexican government announced there was massive genetic contamination of traditional corn varieties in Oaxaca and the neighboring state of Puebla. It was horrifying as up to 95% of tested crops were genetically polluted and "at a speed never before predicted." The news made headlines in Europe and Mexico. It was ignored in the US and Canada.
The fallout for Chapela was UC Berkeley denied him tenure in 2003 because of his article and for criticizing university ties to the biotech industry. He then filed suit in April, 2004 asking remuneration for lost wages, earnings and benefits, compensatory damages for humiliation, mental anguish, emotional distress and coverage of attorney fees and costs for his action. He won in May, 2005 but not in court when the university reversed its decision, granted him tenure and agreed to include retroactive pay back to 2003. The damage, however, was done and is an example of what's at stake when anyone dares challenge a powerful company like Monsanto.
The other man attacked was the world's leading lectins and plant genetic modification expert, UK-based Arpad Pusztai. He was vilified and fired from his research position at Scotland's Rowett Research Institute for publishing industry-unfriendly data he was commissioned to produce on the safety of GMO foods.
His Rowett Research study was the first ever independent one conducted on them anywhere. He undertook it believing in their promise but became alarmed by his findings. The Clinton and Blair governments were determined to suppress them because Washington was spending billions promoting GMO crops and a future biotech revolution. It wasn't about to let even the world's foremost expert in the field derail the effort. His results were startling and consider the implications for humans eating genetically engineered foods.
Rats fed GMO potatoes had smaller livers, hearts, testicles and brains, damaged immune systems, and showed structural changes in their white blood cells making them more vulnerable to infection and disease compared to other rats fed non-GMO potatoes. It got worse. Thymus and spleen damage showed up; enlarged tissues, including the pancreas and intestines; and there were cases of liver atrophy as well as significant proliferation of stomach and intestines cells that could be a sign of greater future risk of cancer. Equally alarming - this all happened after 10 days of testing, and the changes persisted after 110 days that's the human equivalent of 10 years.
GM foods today saturate our diet. Over 80% of all supermarket processed foods contain them. Others include grains like rice, corn and wheat; legumes like soybeans and soy products; vegetable oils; soft drinks; salad dressings; vegetables and fruits; dairy products including eggs; meat and other animal products; and even infant formula plus a vast array of hidden additives and ingredients in processed foods (like in tomato sauce, ice cream and peanut butter). They're unrevealed to consumers because labeling is prohibited yet the more of them we eat, the greater the potential threat to our health.
Today, we're all lab rats in an uncontrolled, unregulated mass human experiment the results of which are unknown. The risks from it are beyond measure, it will take many years to learn them, and when they're finally revealed it will be too late to reverse the damage if it's proved GM products harm human health as independent experts strongly believe. Once GM seeds are introduced to an area, the genie is out of the bottle for keeps.
Despite the enormous risks, however, Washington and growing numbers of governments around the world in parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa now allow these products to be grown in their soil or imported. They're produced and sold to consumers because agribusiness giants like Monsanto, DuPont, Dow AgriSciences and Cargill have enormous clout to demand it and a potent partner supporting them - the US government and its agencies, including the Departments of Agriculture and State, FDA, EPA and even the defense establishment. World Trade Organization (WTO) Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) patent rules also back them along with industry-friendly WTO rulings like the February 7, 2006 one.
It favored a US challenge against European GMO regulatory policies in spite of strong consumer sentiment against these foods and ingredients on the continent. It also violated the Biosafety Protocol that should let nations regulate these products in the public interest, but it doesn't because WTO trade rules sabotaged it. Nonetheless, anti-GMO activism persists, consumers still have a say, and there are hundreds of GMO-free zones around the world, including in the US. That and more is needed to take on the agribusiness giants that so far have everything going their way.
In "Seeds of Deception," Jeffrey Smith did a masterful job explaining the dangers of GM foods and ingredients. Engdahl explains them as well but goes much further brilliantly in his blockbuster book on this topic. It's the story of a powerful family and a "small socio-political American elite (that) seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival" - future life through the food we eat. The book's introduction says it "reads (like) a crime story." It's also a nightmare but one that's very real and threatening.
This review covers the book in-depth because of its importance. It's an extraordinary work that "reveals a diabolical World of profit-driven political intrigue (and) government corruption and coercion" that's part of a decades-long global scheme for total world dominance. The book deserves vast exposure and must be read in full for the whole disturbing story. It's hoped the material below will encourage readers to do it in their own self-interest and to marshal mass consumer actions to place food safety above corporate profits.
Engdahl's book supplies the ammunition to do it and is also a sequel to his earlier one on war, oil politics and The New World Order and follows naturally from it. It covers the roots of the strategy to control "global food security" that goes back to the 1930s and the plans of a handful of American families to preserve their wealth and power. But it centers on one in particular that above the others "came to symbolize the hubris and arrogance of the emerging American century" that blossomed post-WW II. Its patriarch began in oil and then dominated it in his powerful Oil Trust. It was only the beginning as the family expanded into "education of youth, medicine and psychology," US foreign policy, and "the very science of life itself, biology, and its applications" in plants and agriculture.
The family's name is Rockefeller. The patriarch was John D., and four powerful later-generation brothers followed him - David, Nelson, Laurance, and John D. III. Engdahl says the GMO story covers "the evolution of power in the hands of an elite (led by this family), determined (above all) to bring the entire world under their sway." They and other elites already control most of it, including the nation's energy, the US Federal Reserve, and other key world central banks. Today, three brothers are gone, David alone remains, and he's still a force at age 92 although he no longer runs the family bank, JP Morgan Chase. He's active in family enterprises, however, including the Rockefeller Foundation to be discussed in Part II of this review.
F. William Engdahl is the author of Seeds of Destruction, the Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation just released by Global Research. He is also the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, Pluto Press Ltd.. To contact him by e-mail:
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
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