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  • "Our mission is to provide the highest quality scientific information and analysis to enable a healthy food system and a healthy world"

Project News and Views

Latest Fracking Threats to Agriculture and Soil Quality

Unconventional gas and oil extraction (fracking) expose farmers, livestock and consumers to multiple hazards. Two new publications collect scientific research and other documented reports on the harmful impacts of fracking on rural communities, agriculture and food systems.

On November 17, The Concerned Health Professionals of New York  published the 4th edition of the Compendium of scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking (unconventional gas and oil extraction). Like the first edition in 2014, the updated compendium is organized by key topics and written to be intelligible to “public officials, researchers, journalists and the public at large”. It is fully referenced and includes summaries of scientific and medical literature, government and industry reports, and journalistic investigations that document fracking’s harmful impacts.

The 2016 version summarizes some of the threats to agriculture and soil quality, starting on page 131:

“Drilling and fracking take agricultural land out of production and pose risks to the agricultural sector. In California, fracking wastewater illegally injected into aquifers has threatened crucial irrigation supplies to farmers in a time of severe drought. The reuse of fracking wastewater for irrigation in California’s San Joaquin Valley raises questions about contamination of food crops via bioabsorption through roots. Studies and case reports from across the country have highlighted instances of deaths, neurological disorders, aborted pregnancies, and stillbirths in farm animals that have come into contact with wastewater. Potential water and air contamination put soil quality as well as livestock health at risk. Additionally, farmers have expressed concern that nearby fracking operations can hurt the perception of agricultural quality and nullify value-added organic certification. Fracking chemicals in agricultural soils can interact with each other in ways that slow down their biodegradation.”

The second publication is a November 2016 commentary “Health concerns associated with unconventional gas mining in rural Australia” written by M.R. Haswell and A. Bethmont.

The authors discuss the following issues: “Discussions with communities and experts, supported by the expanding research from the USA and Australia, revealed increasing health concerns in six key areas. These are absence of a safe solution to the toxic wastewater management problems, air pollution, land and water competition, mental health and psychosocial wellbeing risks, fugitive methane emissions and lack of proven regulatory regimes. Emerging epidemiological studies suggesting interference with foetal development and birth outcomes, and exacerbation of asthma conditions, are particularly concerning to rural families and livestock.”

For more information fracking’s impacts on food and farming see the Independent Science News book review of: The Real Cost of Fracking: How America’s Shale Gas Boom Is Threatening Our Families, Pets, and Food and the Independent Science News article by the book’s authors Michelle Bamberger and Robert Oswald: Risk and Responsibility: Farming, Food, and Unconventional Gas Drilling.

References:

Concerned Health Professionals of New York. Compendium of scientific, medical and media findings demonstrating risks and harms of fracking (unconventional gas and oil extraction). 4th edition. Available: http://concernedhealthny.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/COMPENDIUM-4.0_FINAL_11_16_16.pdf.

Haswell MR, Bethmont A. Health concerns associated with unconventional gas mining in rural Australia. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2016; 16: 3825. Available: http://www.rrh.org.au/articles/subviewnew.asp?ArticleID=3825 (Accessed 21 December 2016).

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Jonathan Latham Speaks at Organic Conference in Guelph, Ontario on Jan 27, 2017

Jonathan Latham, Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project, is speaking during the Keynote Forum of the 2017 Guelph Organic Conference, along with Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) (Ottawa); Rene Van Acker, PhD – Crop-weed Ecologist and Dean, Ontario Agriculture College (Guelph); and Dianne Dowling – Organic Dairy Farmer and President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) Local 316 (Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox-Addington).

The Forum is entitled: What is the future of genetic engineering? It is being held on

For more information about the Forum go to: http://guelphorganicconf.ca/sessions/keynote-forum-what-is-the-future-of-genetic-engineering/

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Radio Interview with Jonathan Latham: The Food Movement Is Unstoppable

In this one hour interview, Project Executive Director Jonathan Latham discusses the future and the food movement. He discusses how the food movement is becoming the political alternative to neoliberalism. The discussion moves to ask what are the threats to it? How it might be co-opted and by who?

Listen here: https://bioscienceresource.org/the-food-movement-is-unstoppable/

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Overkill: The Effects of GMO Herbicide Tolerance Traits on Human Health and the Environment, talk by Jonathan Latham

Tomorrow is unmissable Wednesday! The latest installment of the student-led class at Cornell: Overkill: The Effects of GMO Herbicide Tolerance Traits on Human Health and the Environment, is a talk by Jonathan Latham, PhD, Executive Director of The Bioscience Resource Project.

Time and place: 7pm in The Chapel, Anabel Taylor Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY (note the new venue).

Free and Open to All, with Free Parking near Anabel Taylor Hall.

Link to last week’s fabulous discussion with the unique and incomparable Michael Hansen of the Consumers Union: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HHsVupnT0kY&feature=youtu.be

More about GMO debate and GMO course and link to past talks: http://www.gmowtf.com/

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Cornell Faculty Refuse to Defend GMO Crops

Published today (Tues. 4th Oct 2016) on Independent Science News, “Cornell Faculty Refuse to Defend GMO Crops,” was written by Jonathan Latham, PhD.

Despite a long list of invitations: to Cornell faculty, to Dean of Agriculture Kathryn Boor, to the Cornell Alliance for Science, to various academic GMO boosters, and to the chief technology officer of Monsanto, no one can be found to debate Michael Hansen of Consumers Union and myself at Cornell this coming Wednesday night (Oct 5th, 7pm). Why, we can ask, will no one openly debate the science of GMOs? Are GMO crops that indefensible?

Read the full article at: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/un-sustainable-farming/cornell-faculty-refuse-to-defend-gmo-crops/

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PRESS RELEASE: NY FARMERS CALL FOR CORNELL TO EVICT “THE ALLIANCE FOR SCIENCE”:

Read More »

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Why the Food Movement is Unstoppable

Published on Tuesday, Sept 20th 2016 by Independent Science News,
“Why the Food Movement is Unstoppable” was written by By Jonathan Latham, PhD.

Synopsis: The food movement is increasingly a powerful force all over the globe. This article identifies the key social and political components that define it and distinguish it from other social movements. These features include a low barrier to entry and broad social inclusiveness as well as synergisms between previously disparate strands of social thought, such as animal welfare and environmentalism. This unification of ideas—and the coherence of the food movement in general—is explained as the result of its adoption of a radical philosophy that rejects the major principles of ‘enlightenment’ thought. This rejection sets the scene for a major clash of ideas with governments and commerce.

The essence of this philosophy is that the food movement conceives the proper relations between organisms (including among humans) as being synergistic rather than adversarial and as being largely mediated through food (i.e. chemical energy). Importantly, it is no coincidence that a philosophy which rejects divisiveness, violence, and oppression (and in fact rejects all ideology) originates from the grassroots. The food movement therefore conceptualizes our ecological and social and climate crises as all aspects of a larger piece and from this follow solutions that are rational and coherent. Since neither governments nor the traditional alternatives are seen as having much apparently to offer, this now places the food movement in pole position. Its rapid progress and some impressive victories are thus early evidence of how opposition to the status quo is coalescing around food…..

To read the full Independent Science News article go to: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/why-the-food-movement-is-unstoppable/

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Announcement: GMO WTF, an Independent Course on GMOs at Cornell University

My name is Robert, and I’m a Cornell undergraduate who is hosting an independent course on GMO agriculture, in protest of blatant corporate sponsorship and academic corruption at Cornell University.

Course speakers will include Dr. Vandana Shiva; Frances Moore Lappé (Small Planet Institute and author of World Hunger:10 Myths and Diet for a Small Planet); Claire Robinson (GM Watch); Michael Hansen, PhD (Consumers Union); Stephen Druker (author of Altered Genes, Twisted Truth); Dr Belinda Martineau (formerly of Calgene); Dr. T. Colin Campbell (Prof. Emeritus, Cornell University, author of The China Study); Dr Allison Wilson (Science Director of the Bioscience Resource Project); and Dr Jonathan Latham (Executive Director of the Bioscience Resource Project).

The full course schedule can be found here: http://www.gmowtf.com/gmo-course/

This free course will be held at 7pm EST (weekly) at:

Upstairs Auditorium
Anabel Taylor Hall
Cornell University
548 College Ave
Ithaca, NY. 14850

First lecture: Sept 7th, Bob Schooler with Frances Moore Lappé is available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zojmgpLuVKU

All lectures will be live-streamed and also available on u-tube after the talks.

A year ago, I witnessed the pro-GMO propaganda that is Cornell’s “GMO Debate” course. This course is backed by the Gates Foundation-Funded “Alliance for Science”, and all of its professors were copied in emails with Monsanto, in addition to the head of the Alliance for Science, and the dean of the college of agriculture (CALS). Despite the actual lack of scientific consensus on GMO safety, in this class there was zero authentic debate, merely fallacious pro-GMO arguments constructed by each of the four professors. Several guest lecturers contributed, all of them pro-GMO, and many of them implicated in emailing Monsanto as well.

As you may know, if rigor, integrity, and the precautionary principle were applied to our current GMO paradigm, it likely would have been tabled long ago.

Yet Cornell turns a blind eye to academic and scientific integrity, in favor of classic biotech industry talking points (“we need GMOs to feed the world!”).

I’ve started a project in response to Cornell’s approach, entitled GMO WTF (dot com). It will manifest as an independent, expert-backed course on GMOs that I will host this fall, every Wednesday night (7pm, doors open 6:45pm) from September 7th to November 16th, held in the upstairs auditorium in Anabel Taylor Hall, on the Cornell Campus. It will also be recorded and available for free via the GMO WTF website.

For more information, please read my article on Independent Science News and share it with your friends. I feel that people are ready for this information to be presented far and wide.

Please, sign up via email on my website (gmowtf.com) for any updates on location, time, etc. and to receive all the lectures and future material for free!

P.S. You may have gotten an email from Cornell about a GMO online MOOC starting September 13th. This is not my project, and is something totally different! Cornell’s online MOOC is an online version of the pro-GMO propaganda that I witnessed as the “GMO debate” that I am protesting with my independent course. Several of the same people are involved, including the head of the Alliance for Science.

I encourage everyone, especially students, to sign up for both my independent course, and Cornell’s online MOOC. Ours will be a great lesson in critical thinking, and we can see a side-by-side comparison of pro-GMO industry talking points with our independent and scientific evaluation of GMOs.

Reach out at contact ( at ) gmowtf.com with any questions or comments. Together we can defeat corporate control of our university!

Thank you,

Robert Schooler

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How the GE Food Venture Has Been Chronically Dependent on Deception

Published Sunday August 21st 2016, by Independent Science News, “How the GE Food Venture Has Been Chronically Dependent on Deception” was written by Steven Druker, J.D.

Synopsis: The first examples of GE products investigated by the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) were a disaster. A GE tryptophan supplement unexpectedly contained a toxic byproduct that permanently maimed hundreds of people and killed others, while the Flavr Savr tomato produced stomach lesions and unexplained mortality in mice. In both cases, the responsible agency, FDA, covered up the evidence and officially proclaimed there was no evidence of harm due to genetic engineering. The safety of GMOs is not a certitude argues attorney Steven Druker, instead, problems have been covered up and the scientific consensus has been misrepresented. Largely ignored in this deception has been the role of public officials.

The author: Steven M. Druker is a public interest attorney and the executive director of the Alliance for Bio-Integrity. He is the author of the recent book, Altered Genes, Twisted Truth, and the Independent Science News article “The GMO Dark Act Cannot Survive the Light

Read the entire article at: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/health/how-the-ge-food-venture-has-been-chronically-dependent-on-deception/

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Cashing in on Cellulosic Ethanol: Subsidy Loophole Set to Rescue Corn Biofuel Profits

Published Monday 8th August on Independent Science News:
Cashing in on Cellulosic Ethanol: Subsidy Loophole Set to Rescue Corn Biofuel Profits
by Almuth Ernsting.

Synopsis: Essentially all US bioethanol comes from starch originating from food crops. The use of starch and food crops has always been portrayed as ‘transitional’, however, and the stated goal of biofuels has always been to use the whole plant since the starch component is essentially the low hanging fruit. This would mean using cell walls as the primary feedstock since these are the major structural component of all plants. Plant cell walls are much more difficult to turn into ethanol or any liquid feedstock, however, and negligible progress towards the goal of ‘cellulosic ethanol’ has been achieved. Now, by changing the definition of ‘cellulosic ethanol’, the EPA is set to allow corn refineries to benefit from the much larger subsidies available for cellulosic ethanol without them actually making cellulosic ethanol, or even making progress towards it. The definition change will also result in an illusion of biofuel progress.

Almuth Ernsting is Co-Director of Biofuelwatch.

Read the full story on: https://www.independentsciencenews.org/environment/cashing-in-on-cellulosic-ethanol-subsidy-corn-biofuel/

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    The Bioscience Resource Project provides scientific and intellectual resources for a healthy future. It publishes Independent Science News, a media service devoted to food and agriculture, and their impacts on health and the environment. It also offers resources for scientists and educators and internships and training for students. Through its innovative scientific journalism and original biosafety review articles, the project provides unique and revealing perspectives on issues that are fundamental to the survival of people and the planet. The project does not accept advertising or corporate funding and is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. It is completely dependent on individual donations.

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