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It is a life and death struggle. Society must decide whether the people will regain control of our food system or whether greed-driven multinational corporations will continue to consolidate their death grip. Dr. Shiva eloquently argues on behalf on the people’s behalf. Jim

“Industrial agriculture is a product of war, both at the paradigmatic level, and at the level of instruments, tools and technologies. The synthetic nitrogen fertilizers were made in the same factories that made explosives. That is why fertilizer bombs are often used interrorist attacks. The precursors of pesticides were the poison gases used in the war and nerve gases used in gas chambers…

“The so-called Green Revolution is neither “green,” nor ‘revolutionary.’ It was the name given to chemical industrial agriculture when it was imposed on the Third World. The Green Revolution was first introduced in the fertile and prosperous land of Punjab in 1965. It promoted monocultures of rice and wheat varieties bred for taking up more chemicals. The monocultures and chemical varieties were vulnerable to pests. This led to increased use of pesticides. The pesticides have led to a cancer epidemic in Punjab. Today, there is a train that leaves from Punjab to Bikaner, where there is a charitable cancer hospital — a train referred to as the ‘cancer train.'”

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Concise Potato Growing Primer

IRRESISTIBLE PRIMER ON GROWING POTATOES. This fun and valuable article from ‘Organic Authority’ is concise yet comprehensive and covers all the bases one needs to know when growing your own potatoes.
Article links offer some nice recipes plus an impressive and exhaustive chart of potatoes grown in the UK. That chart includes varieties familiar to Americans which we grow in Maine as Organic Certified Seed, such as Yukon Gold and Rose Finn Apple Fingerling.
Don’t worry – we still have a good supply of Certified Seed Potatoes if you have yet to place your order. Jim & Megan (207)429-9765…/certified-organic-seed-potatoes

“Potatoes get a bad rap. Sadly, when many people think of spuds they think of a bland, deep-fried variety contributing to our addiction to bad-for-us fast junk food. But there are many types of potatoes in numerous colors, flavors, and shapes–and they all dazzle in diverse recipes. And yes, potatoes can be a healthy food, too. Read on for tips and tricks for growing potatoes in your own backyard.”

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Hood River OR Defeats Nestle

CONGRATULATIONS TO OREGON FOR MAJOR PEOPLES’ VICTORY IN DEFENDING THEIR WATER FROM NESTLE’. Chalk up one for the people as a massive grassroots effort to protect local water resources defeats Nestle’ in a lopsided referendum victory in Hood River, Oregon. If you are not familiar with Nestle’s’ elitist attitude please watch this You Tube video (6:04) in which detached CEO Peter Brabeck explains why water should be removed from the Commons and be privatized. Jim

“The issue that brought conservatives and progressives together in this way was clear-cut: keeping Nestlé Waters North America from building a water bottling plant and extracting over 118 million gallons annually from a spring in a small, rural community 45 miles east of Portland…

“When Primary Day came, Oregon voters in Hood River County passed a first-of-its-kind ballot measure that bans the production and transportation of large-scale commercial bottled water within the county. The measure succeeded by an overwhelming majority of voters — 68.8 percent voted in favor — and effectively ended Nestlé’s attempts to operate within the community…

“At this point, opponents of Nestlé’s project felt they had no other choice but to put the issue to a vote. The ballot initiative was started by Cascade Locks residents who were fed up with the local and state leaders who seemed impervious to their concerns.

“‘We were frustrated by Nestlé’s tactics such as working on the local and state officials and currying their favor,’ said Aurora del Val, the campaign director for the Local Water Alliance, the community group formed to pass the ballot measure. ‘Meanwhile, the citizens, our questions and our concerns, weren’t listened to in a real meaningful way. That’s what led us to this moment.'”

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GMO Scientist Becomes GMO Opponent.

DR. JONATHAN LATHAM: PROGRESSION FROM GMO RESEARCHER TO ARTICULATE GMO OPPONENT. In this MUST READ essay from last year, a depthful Dr. Latham explains his burgeoning concerns over the impropriety of corporate interests pushing GMOs into dubious commercial applications. Jim

“I was not, at the outset, concerned about the possible effects of GM plants on human health or the environment. One reason for this lack of concern was that I was still a very young scientist, feeling my way in the complex world of biology and of scientific research. Another reason was that we hardly imagined that GMOs like ours would be grown or eaten. So far as I was concerned, all GMOs were for research purposes only.

“Gradually, however, it became clear that certain companies thought differently. Some of my older colleagues shared their skepticism with me that commercial interests were running far ahead of scientific knowledge. I listened carefully and I didn’t disagree. Today, over twenty years later, GMO crops, especially soybeans, corn, papaya, canola and cotton, are commercially grown in numerous parts of the world…

“I now believe, as a much more experienced scientist, that GMO crops still run far ahead of our understanding of their risks. In broad outline, the reasons for this belief are quite simple. I have become much more appreciative of the complexity of biological organisms and their capacity for benefits and harms. As a scientist I have become much more humble about the capacity of science to do more than scratch the surface in its understanding of the deep complexity and diversity of the natural world. To paraphrase a cliché, I more and more appreciate that as scientists we understand less and less…

“Criticism of science and technology remains very difficult. Even though many academics benefit from tenure and a large salary, the skeptical process in much of science is largely lacking. This is why risk assessment of GMOs has been short-circuited and public concerns about them are growing. Until the damaged scientific ethos is rectified, both scientists and the public are correct to doubt that GMOs should ever have been let out of any lab.”

Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs

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Monsanto Takeover?

FROM “WILD SPECULATION” TO VERIFICATION IN VERY SAME DAY: MONSANTO CONFIRMS TAKEOVER BID BY BAYER. Yet some things never change: Monsanto’s pathological inability to tell the truth remains intact.
As a refresher, the “Big 6” pesticide and GMO corporations – Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, Dupont, BASF and Bayer – are notorious for having orchestrated aggressive monopolisitc control of farm inputs worldwide.
Mega-mergers involving the Big 6 are accelerating. Time will tell whether anti-trust regulators will actually remember what they were hired to do and restrain the Big 6, preventing further consolidation in an already radically over-concentrated industry.
Now, after initial denial earlier in the day, Monsanto admitted it is contemplating a buy-out by “competitor” Bayer. Jim

“Putting the two companies together would yield a giant whose products encompass antibiotics, genetically modified crop seeds and pesticides. It would have a combined annual revenue that would surpass $67 billion.

“News of Bayer’s interest in Monsanto has percolated over the last several weeks, stirring speculation that the agricultural sector could see another big deal after Dow Chemical and DuPont agreed last year to merge…

“Syngenta, which is based in Switzerland, eventually agreed, early this year, to sell itself to the China National Chemical Corporation.

“Afterward, Monsanto said that it was no longer interested in striking huge mergers, instead pursuing what would largely be a self-help strategy.”

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No One Knows Exactly How Much Herbicide Is in Your Breakfast.

“Glyphosate is the most commonly used broad-spectrum herbicide in the world. Its use rose globally from 112.6 million pounds in 1995 to 1.65 billion pounds in 2014. This spike coincides with the introduction of “Roundup Ready” GMO crops.

And given the findings so far, scientists who study environmental chemicals strongly disagree with the idea that low levels of glyphosate are harmless. Fourteen of these experts recently published a consensus statement expressing concern that the herbicide may be an endocrine disrupting chemical (EDC), which means it has the potential to be biologically active even in extremely low doses.

Given the research on endocrine disruption, the levels allowed by the EPA are too high, and have no basis in science, Bruce Blumberg, professor of developmental and cell biology and pharmaceutical sciences at UC Irvine, told VICE. “This is a political decision rather than one based on reasonable, peer-reviewed science.” Blumberg is especially concerned about desiccation, which could mean there are potentially even greater amounts of glyphosate residue on our foods than previously accounted for. “Glyphosate and other herbicides were never intended to be used [as desiccants], and I am truly astonished that the EPA allows it absent a showing of how much glyphosate or other herbicides are present on the final product.”

Another concern is that Roundup is actually a mixture of glyphosate and other potentially harmful chemicals—a combination that has never been tested. Tests are performed on glyphosate alone, a fact several scientists VICE spoke to pointed to as being a major and often overlooked concern.”

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Justifiably indignant Vandana Shiva has written a scorching rebuke aimed at notorious multinational chemical and biotech corporate misanthrope Monsanto.
At issue is Monsanto’s blatant misuse of its position as a dominant supplier of GE cotton seeds in India and Monsanto’s charging of astronomical royalty fees to farmers. In its quest to establish monopoly control, Monsanto has flagrantly violated Indian laws, pushed farmers into economic crisis and caused the suicides of hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers. Jim

“Fact is that Monsanto has viewed the laws of our land as mere hurdles in its way to swindle India and our farmers. On March 10, 1995, Mahyco (Monsanto-Mahyco) brought 100 grams of cotton seeds, containing the MON531-Bt gene, into India without the approval of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC).

“Eager to establish a monopoly in India based on the smuggled MON531 gene, Monsanto-Mahyco started large scale, multi-centric, open field trials of Bt cotton in 40 locations spread across nine states, again without GEAC approval.

“Article (7) of the Environment Protection Act, 1986, states: ‘No person shall import, export, transport, manufacture, process, use or sell any hazardous microorganisms or genetically engineered organisms/substances or cells except with the approval of the GEAC.’ GMO traits, once released into the environment, cannot be contained or recalled…

“India’s laws, rightly, do not permit patents on seeds and in agriculture. This has always been a problem for Monsanto and, through the US administration, it has attempted to pressure India into changing her robust intellectual property regime since the World Trade Organisation came into existence, and continues to do so today…

“In 2006, out of the Rs 1,600 per 450 gram package of Bt cotton seed (Rs 3,555.55/kg), almost 80 per cent (Rs 1,250) was charged by MMB as “trait fee”. In stark contrast, before Monsanto destroyed alternative sources of seed (including local hybrid seed supply) through unfair business practices, local seeds used to cost farmers Rs 5-9/kg..

“Monsanto’s ruthlessness is central to the crisis Indian farmers are facing. Farmers leveraged their land holdings to buy Bt cotton seeds and the chemicals it demanded, but the golden promise of higher yield and reduced pesticide use failed to deliver.

“Of the 300,000 farmer suicides in India since Monsanto smuggled the Bt gene into India in 1995, 84 per cent, almost 252,000, are directly attributed to Monsanto’s Bt cotton.”

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“Life in Syntropy” is a beautiful and powerful film (15:29) and very much worth watching.
Ernst is a farmer and researcher who has devoted his life to creating a form of food production he calls ‘Successional Agro-Forestry.’ He began this pioneering work in his native Switzerland, then Costa Rica, and now for the last three decades in the southern Bahia region of Brazil. Ernst incorporates forest dynamics into a unique form of regenerative agriculture. The resilience and health of his soil – not to mention the bountious crops of food – under this system is truly remarkable. Jim

“‘At the time of harvest, the soil will be better than it was when we started.”

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We have really enjoyed Huckleberry Gold because of its GREAT TASTE, smooth-melting texture and strong yield. Now Montana researchers have identified this brand new variety – out of hundreds tested – as having an especially low-glycemic index.
We’ve been growing Huckleberry Gold as “Certified Seed” for several years in our Organic Wood Prairie Experimental Trials. We have them available – RIGHT NOW – as both Organic “Certified Seed” ( to plant in your garden or field; and as Organic “Tablestock,” eating-potatoes (…/1119/organic-maine-potatoes) you may immediately prepare in your kitchen. Jim & Megan

“Researchers in the Sands’ Research Lab at MSU’s Plant Science Department have found low glycemic index potatoes that do not cause the rapid spike in blood sugar that comes with eating starchy foods. Sugar spikes can be dangerous for diabetics who lack the insulin to handle it and have been linked to cancer, heart disease and other conditions.

“Although potatoes provide valuable carbohydrates and vitamins with minimal fat, most varieties have a high glycemic index, which means they are rapidly digested and boost blood sugar dangerously fast. MSU currently has six varieties that have a lower glycemic index than Russet Burbank or Yukon Gold potatoes, which are rated high on the glycemic index.

“The potatoes are not genetically modified. Rather, researchers analyzed existing varieties and used traditional breeding methods to select for desirable traits…

“Huckleberry Gold, released by the Tri-State Potato Commission, is a nutritious variety that produces round to oval tubers more resistant to growth cracks, secondary growth and hollow heart than Yukon Gold and with high antioxidant concentrations and good resistance to common scab and Verticillium wilt

“’It’s a beautiful potato with purple skin and yellow flesh,’ Pilgeram said.”

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Further documentation of the revolutionary effect organic farming is having across all of agriculture and society.
In step with strong, growing interest in food and the environment, articles like this one from the NY Times, which promotes organic-centric soil-building cover crops, are no longer merely delegated to the pages of ag publications like the Farm Journal. Forward-thinking, organic-based, good-farming content – as reflected by our recent series of Agrarian Elder Primers – is increasingly finding its way into general interest broadsheet publications as varied as Harpers, LA Times and Elle. Jim

“Before cultivation, Indiana was blanketed in prairie grasses and forest, and the carbon content of the soil was as high as 10 percent in places. Today, after decades of tillage, which moves carbon from the soil into the atmosphere, and monocropping, the level on many farms is below 2 percent, Mr. Fisher said. Cover crops restore organic matter back into the soil, at a rate of about 1 percent every five years.

“‘As we put carbon back into the soil, it gives us a bigger tank to store water naturally,’ Mr. DeSutter said. ‘This is one way we build resilience into the system.'”