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It takes incredible and uncommon courage to act out of conscience and to place the common good ahead of one’s own self interest. Dr. Rommerns is such a remarkable man.
In an effort to preserve humanity, he has renounced as false the conventional beliefs shared by former colleagues in the biotech industry. In battling for truth, he has sacrificed his professional career and his livelihood.
Dr. Rommens is the rare sort of individual whose commitment to good deserves a Nobel prize. Jim

“Of all the genetic engineers who have renounced the technology—Arpad Pusztai, Belinda Martineau, Thierry Vrain and John Fagan, among others—because of its shortsighted approach and ability to produce unintended and potentially toxic consequences, Caius Rommens’ story may be the most compelling.

“Rommens was director of research at Simplot Plant Sciences from 2000 to 2013 where he led development of the company’s genetically engineered Innate potato. But over time, Rommens started to have serious doubts about his work and worried about potential health risks from eating the GMO potatoes, which are now sold in 4,000 supermarkets in the U.S.

“Rommens’ concerns about the GMO potato led him to write a book, ‘Pandora’s Potatoes,’ which was recently published. The book is a case study on how a scientist’s initial enthusiasm about genetic engineering turns to doubt and fear as he realizes the hazards the technology can create…

“‘Silencing is not gene-specific. Any gene with a similar structure to the silencing construct may be silenced as well. It is even possible that the silencing that takes place inside the GM potatoes affects the genes of animals eating these GM potatoes. I am most concerned about bees that don’t eat GM potatoes but may use GM potato pollen to feed their larvae. Based on my assessment of the literature, it appears that the silencing constructs are active in pollen’…

“‘It is my experience that genetic engineers are biased and narrow-minded. They may not be able to critically assess their own creations’…

“‘My concern about genetic engineering is that the absence of unintentional effects can never be guaranteed. It may take dozens of years before these effects reveal themselves, and we should be extremely cautious applying the technology’…

“‘CRISPR has the same problems as genetic engineering. In my book, I explain that it requires manipulations in tissue culture that cause mutations. These mutations have a negative effect on crop performance and cannot be removed from certain crops including apple and potato’…

“‘Genetic engineering is meant to increase crop uniformity. I believe the opposite approach—to increase crop diversity—will be more effective in increasing the sustainability of farming.’

“‘I am most hopeful in the efforts of small companies such as Solynta (A Dutch company that has developed an innovative non-GMO technology for targeted breeding of potatoes). The main benefit of Soylnta’s approach is that it breeds potatoes that have a simpler genetic structure than cultivated potatoes—more like that of wild potatoes—so that genetic traits can be combined much more effectively.'”

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Sikkum is a small Indian State in the Himalayas.
For 25 years, Vandana Shiva’s organization, ‘Navdanya International,’ worked in tandem with visionary local government leaders. Together, they shepherded a remarkable agricultural transition which dedicated itself to converting Sikkum to 100% organic production.
Now, that quarter-century conversion to 100% organic production has come to fruition. What’s more, the Sikkum model has been designed to be exportable to help other regions.
Recently, a delegation from Sikkum traveled to Italy to share their success with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The Sikkum story is related here, including a good video (1:47) by Vandana herself. Jim

“Vandana Shiva: ‘Join hands with Sikkum. Sikkum leads the way to 100% organic work that is Pesticide-Free, Poison-Free, Plastic-Free. Free of conflicts, free of violence, free of crime.'”

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Asserting warming ocean waters – caused by climate change – have damaged fisheries and thus their livelihoods, West coast crabfisherman are turning to the courts for protection. Jim

“Crab fishing on the West Coast has become so threatened by warming oceans that a coalition of commercial fishers has now joined the climate litigation fray with a lawsuit filed Wednesday to hold 30 fossil fuel companies accountable for losses caused by climate change.

“The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court by the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, seeks damages on behalf of crab fishers, their businesses and families, and local communities in California and Oregon.

“It describes losses caused by the closing of crab fishing waters over the past four years because of algae blooms in the warming Pacific waters, and warns that these closures will keep happening as warming continues.

“‘These changes threaten both the productivity of commercial fisheries and safety of commercially harvested seafood products,’ the lawsuit says. ‘In so doing, they also threaten those that rely on ocean fisheries and ecosystems for their livelihoods, by rendering it at times impossible to ply their trade.’

“At the heart of the 91-page lawsuit are claims similar to those being used by several California cities that are suing the fossil fuel industry over sea level rise. It accuses some of the world’s largest oil and gas producers, including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and BP, of negligence, defective-product liability, creating a nuisance, and failing to warn about the dangers of fossil fuel products that the companies knew would result in warming of the oceans and atmosphere”…

“‘We’re out fishing all the time, and it’s obvious the oceans are getting warmer,’ said John Beardon, who fishes for Dungeness crab out of Crescent City, California. ‘That’s bad for crabs and other fish, and it’s bad for those of us who make a living on the water'”…

“The federation’s lawsuit adds to a growing list of municipalities that have turned to the courts in the last two years seeking to hold fossil fuel companies financially responsible for the threat posed by climate change.”

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For the last 15 years talented Paul Cyr has captured the sheer beauty of natural and working Northern Maine with his stunning photography…/).
Now, Paul has released his new book which contains 450 of his best shots (
Subject areas covered in the new book include Amish Life, Aroostook County, Bald Eagles, Fall Foliage, Farming, Moose, Northern Lights, Potato Fields, Snow, Tractors and Wildlife. Jim

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Who could have imagined voluntarily wrapping a stylized rope around your neck might have a downside?
In a new study, researchers in Germany have documented necktie-wearers have reduced blood flow to the brain capable of causing decreased and lackluster mental performance.
Who will be the first to make the connection between unstable decision-making in our wayward capitols of political and economic power – spelled Washington and Wall Street – where use of tight neckties is uncontrollably epidemic? Jim

“A study published in the journal Neuroradiology used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to demonstrate what happened to cerebral blood flow when men wore neckties. If you are wearing a necktie and don’t understand what cerebral flow blood is, it is the amount of blood that is flowing through your brain at a given time. Blood is important because it brings oxygen and nutrients to your brain and removes waste materials so that you can think and stuff…

“Among the necktiers, the MRI scans revealed that cerebral blood flow dropped by an average of 7.5% after the neckties were tightened and continued to remain decreased by an average of 5.7% after the necktie was loosed. All but 2 of the necktie wearing subjects had a drop in cerebral blood flow with 5 having a greater than 10% decrease. The control group did not experience such as decrease but instead on average cerebral blood flow actually increased slightly during the second MRI. Maybe they were excited about not having to wear a necktie. Gee, who would have thought that wearing something around your neck would actually reduce blood flow to your brain?”

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Over the past weeks we’ve seen this yearling Black Bear hanging out in a distant corner of this year’s clover hay field. Recently, when Caleb was mowing the field to make hay, he had to get off the tractor in order to clear away a fallen branch. While on the ground he could hear rustling nearby in the bushes and concluded it was this same bear moving around.
We cut that clover field right before the 4th of July, and baled the hay up the first of last week. Caleb, Jim & Megan



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Answer: colossal culpability.
The fact is, from both a public health AND national security standpoint, the United States would be MUCH MUCH better off if it were fed by local family farmers. By definition, small-scale production has small-scale impact should there be a problem which surfaces.
One might say Industrial Ag is the beneficiary of the consolidation-landslide created by our Federal Cheap Food Policy. HOWEVER, it would be much closer to the truth to say Industrial Ag AUTHORED the Cheap Food Policy.
The disastrous reality is that concentration of food production increases by gargantuan magnitudes risks to our nation’s food supply.
Author Michael Pollan has written that one facility in California processes a jaw-dropping 100 MILLION SERVINGS of leafy greens per week. So it follows, when Industrial Ag has a food safety problem, its risky scale of massive concentration GUARANTEES IT WILL BECOME AN ENORMOUS PROBLEM. Jim

“The CDC’s green light to eat romaine again may have marked the end of the lettuce crisis in consumers’ minds, but the situation is far from over. The agency and the FDA are still investigating why and how a dangerous strand of E. coli wound up contaminating lettuce in Yuma. No single grower, harvester, processor, or distributor has been blamed, and investigators are still unsure whether contamination happened during the growing, washing, chopping, or bagging process. So far, the agencies have only released one finding: That the same E. coli strain found in sickened people across the country was also in Arizona’s canal water, which is used to irrigate crops.”

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The labor shortage faced by American farmers is not new but it is becoming acute.
The trend of steadily increased mechanization on farms is even older than the labor shortage. Many are predicting robotics will provide long term relief to large and corporate farms.
Will the Big Boys be the only farms able to afford robots when costs approach or exceed a million dollars?
Where will the growing labor shortage and high cost of robotics leave smaller family farms? Yes, between a rock and a hard place.
‘Mother Jones’ offers insight into the challenge by looking into California’s wine grape harvest. Jim

“It’s Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, but any barbecues died down hours ago, and the rural back roads of this southern Napa County neighborhood are a dark and silent maze. Around midnight, the lights of the Robert Sinskey Vineyards’ shop blink on. In the center of its gravel driveway, workers coax tractors to life and assemble large plastic bins that will soon brim with clusters of pale green pinot blanc grapes. Picked in the cool hours of the early morning, before their sugars can develop in the sunlight, the grapes will then be whisked off to the winery and prepared for fermentation.

“As 1 a.m. nears, a white van pulls up and a crew of about nine pickers, contracted by Rios Farming Co., clamber out to don neon-­colored vests and headlamps. They’ve traveled two hours from Stockton, California, to be here, and for the next 10 hours or so they will together pick 25 tons of fruit…

“Napa and Sonoma counties produce most of the state’s high-end grapes in their combined 1,000 wineries. Like the rest of the state’s agriculture, the industry has long relied on immigrant workers for its heaviest labor. As of 2016, according to a federal survey, 9 out of 10 California farmworkers were born abroad, mostly in Mexico, and half were here without citizenship or legal work permits. But employers often have no way of knowing the immigration status of workers…

“Couldn’t Rios just recruit American workers? Not likely, according to the economists I interviewed. Because of low wages and grueling conditions, vineyard jobs don’t attract people born in the United States. California growers boast their pay has gone up steadily for years—Napa has the highest average farmworker wages in the state. Yet economist Martin doubts farmers will ever pay enough to lure US-born workers into the fields. ‘I think there is some wage at which Americans would do some work, but suppose it’s $25 an hour,’ he says. Before we hit that amount, he explains, robots or cheaper imports will swoop in.”

California’s Vineyard Workers Already Faced Long Hours, Low Pay, and Harsh Conditions. Then Came Trump’s Immigration Crackdown.

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Recent Iowa Congressional candidate Austin Frewick is a brave man. He blows the whistle on the Iowa Farm Bureau in this interesting, concise and eye-opening piece. Upsetting the apple cart may be hazardous to one’s health when there are billions of blood dollars at stake.
Farm Bureau loves to fib and represent itself to gullible listeners – like members of Congress – as the ‘voice of American family farmers.’ NOTHING could be further from the truth. Their close working relationships with the likes of Monsanto clearly announce their real self-serving agenda.
Clearly, Iowa Farm Bureau’s “non-profit” status is a big whopper of gigantic proportions and sure needs fixing. Jim

“Although the Iowa Farm Bureau was created to advocate for Iowa’s farmers and rural communities, it now receives 84% of its revenue from its for-profit insurance arm, the FBL Financial Group, which controlled $10.1 billion in assets in 2017 alone. Its holdings include millions of dollars of investments in large agribusiness conglomerates like Monsanto and Tyson. As a result, the Iowa Farm Bureau has an operating budget of $89 million, more than twice that of its national counterpart: the American Farm Bureau Federation.

“Those revenue sources have given the Iowa Farm Bureau significant power both in Iowa and in the national agricultural space. In the 1970s, the Iowa Farm Bureau’s lobbying efforts, in conjunction with Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, led to significant changes to the New Deal agricultural policies that sought to manage supply and protect farmers from the big agribusiness companies. The Iowa Farm Bureau successfully fought to replace this system with one that forced farmers to get big or get out, and pushed them to plant crops fencerow to fencerow. Its mantra was simple: volume, volume and more volume…

“It’s time to recognize what many farmers already know: The Iowa Farm Bureau is a suburban insurance company pretending to be the voice of farmers.”

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The system of soil-reverent farming, known as “Organic Farming” had its origins 125 years ago. Back then, organic farming started out as a protest movement firmly dedicated to the importance of maintaining soil health. Organic farming rejected the then burgeoning – and dubious – “modern farming” production practices which disassociated itself from the soil and instead relied on purchased inputs in a bag.
That organic farming has had an outsized impact on all of agriculture is becoming increasingly apparent as its priciples become adpted by mainstream Ag. That “soil health” is now a buzzword covered by the likes of ‘USA Today’ is a sign of the times. It is also proof that organic farming’s insistence that the soil must come first was the correct concept all along. Jim

“There it sits — in all its green glory — in the produce section of your local grocery store.

“Broccoli. One of the most nutritious vegetables on the planet.

“But 70 years ago, it contained twice the calcium, on average, and more than five times the amount of vitamin A. The same could be said for a lot of our fruits and vegetables.

“Why? How?

“The answers lie in the soil and how Americans farm it.

“Over the past two centuries, U.S. population growth and food production methods have stressed and degraded our dirt. Our farming soil is not as alive as it once was, and experts say that’s a problem.

“It’s a complex issue, and there are various factors at play, but studies through the years draw a direct line back to American farms…

“Mary Jo Forbord feels as if she’s doing her part to farm responsibly.

“She and her husband run an organic beef, fruit and vegetable farm on the slopes of a glacial moraine in Minnesota. They plant cover crops, don’t use any chemicals and have reconstructed 380 acres of prairie, replacing what farmers before had wiped out.

“But Forbord says the cards are stacked against farmers like her and America’s food system in general.

“She’s looking at the big picture.”