Category Archives: Health/Medical

Lab Rats for Corporate Profit: Pesticide Industry’s Poisoned Platter 

Newly released pesticide usage statistics for 2018 confirm that the British people are being used as lab rats. That’s the message environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has sent to Dave Bench, senior scientist at the UK Chemicals, Health and Safety Executive and director of the agency’s EU exit plan. In her open letter to Bench, Mason warns that things could get much worse.

In 2016, the UK farming minister said that the nation could develop a more flexible approach to environmental protection free of “spirit-crushing” Brussels directives if it votes to leave the EU. George Eustice, the minister in question, said that the EU’s precautionary principle needed to be reformed in favour of a US-style ‘risk-based’ system that would allow for faster approvals.

There is little doubt that Eustice had GM crops in mind: the Department of Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) says that the most promising crops suitable for introducing to England would be Roundup Ready GA21 glyphosate-tolerant crops as they synergise well with herbicides already widely used in the UK.

Similarly, Boris Johnson said in his first speech as prime minister in July 2019:

Let’s start now to liberate the UK’s extraordinary bioscience sector from anti-genetic modification rules and let’s develop the blight-resistant crops that will feed the world.

However, the ‘GM will feed the world mantra’ is pure industry spin. The technology has a questionable record and, anyhow, there is already enough food being produced to feed the global population, yet around 830 million are classed as hungry and two billion experience micronutrient deficiency. If Johnson wants to ‘feed the world’, he would do better by looking of the inbuilt injustices of the global food regime which is driven by the very corporations he seems to be in bed with.

Conservative politicians’ positive spin about GM is little more than an attempt to justify a post-Brexit trade deal with Washington that will effectively incorporate the UK into the US’s regulatory food regime. The type of ‘liberation’ Johnson really means is the UK adopting unassessed GM crops, using more glyphosate (or similar agrochemicals) and a gutting of food safety and environmental standards. It is no secret that various Conservative-led administrations have wanted to ditch the EU regulatory framework on GM for some time.

Unregulated chemical cocktail

Mason asks Bench why Defra and the Chemicals Regulation Division refuse to ban glyphosate-based herbicides in Swansea between 2014-2017 when she told them that it was poisoning her nature reserve:

Analysis of local tap water in August 2014 revealed a 10-fold increase since August 2013: from 30 ppt to 300 ppt.  I told them that these were of the order of concentrations found in a laboratory study in 2013 that showed that breast cancer cell proliferation is accelerated by glyphosate in extremely low concentrations. We had several neighbours who have recently developed breast cancer. Now, in 2019, with many scientific papers reporting apocalyptic insect declines around the world, we are facing a global Armageddon; yet the public has no idea, because the press has concealed it from them.

Bench is also asked:

Have you seen the pesticides usage statistics for 2018? They confirm what a European NGO said in 2013, that the British citizens are being used as lab rats!

Mason continues:

Dave Bench, you presented a paper at the Soil Association meeting on 20 November 2017… [it] showed that pesticide active ingredients applied to three British crops had increased between 6-18 fold between 1974 and 2016, rather than halved as farmers and industry had claimed!! As well as hearing this new evidence of increased pesticide use in the UK, the conference heard new scientific evidence from around the world showing that very low doses of pesticides, well below official ‘safety’ levels, pose a significant risk to public health via our food supply.

Were you shocked? Presumably you weren’t because you described the regulatory system for pesticides as robust and as balancing the risks of pesticides against the benefits to society. That statement is rubbish. It is for the benefit of the agrochemical industry. The industry (for it is the industry that does the testing, on behalf of regulators) only tests one pesticide at a time, whereas farmers spray a cocktail of pesticides, including over children and babies, without warning.

Ian Boyd, the former Chief Scientific Adviser to Defra, says pesticides, once they have been authorised, are never reviewed.

Mason adds there is consistent denial by the National Farmers Union (NFU), Defra and the agrochemical industry about the massive amounts of pesticides used on farmland and herbicides used in towns and cities on weeds; and there is silence from the UK corporate media.

She informs Bench that although glyphosate was relicensed in Europe by a “corrupt” group of individuals, it is distributed to every organ of the body and has multiple actions: it is an herbicide, an antibiotic, a fungicide, an antiprotozoal, an organic phosphonate, a growth regulator, a toxicant, a virulence enhancer and is persistent in the soil. It chelates (captures) and washes out the following minerals: boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, nickel and zinc.

In her previous reports, as in her letter to Bench, Mason has documented the consequences of this for human health.

Just as concerning is the UN Global Chemicals Outlook II report that indicates large quantities of hazardous chemicals and pollutants continue to leak into the environment, contaminating food chains and accumulating in our bodies, where they do serious damage. Estimates by the European Environment Agency suggest that 62 per cent of the volume of chemicals consumed in Europe are hazardous to health. The World Health Organization estimates the burden of disease from selected chemicals at 1.6 million lives. The lives of many more are negatively impacted.

Business as usual: public health crisis

Mason goes on to highlight numerous disturbing aspects of the revolving door between the pesticide industry and public bodies/government in the UK. She also notes that David Cameron appointed Michael Pragnell, founder of Syngenta, to Cancer Research UK’s (CRUK) board and awarded him a CBE in 2017 for services to cancer research.

Mason explains that the British government’s UK life sciences strategy is dependent on funding from the pharmaceutical sector which has links with the pesticide industry. In 2011, CRUK started donating money (£450 million/year) to the government’s ‘Strategy for UK Life Sciences’ while AstraZeneca (Syngenta’s parent company) was providing 22 compounds to academic research to develop medicines in the UK. She argues that Syngenta’s products cause diseases, while its parent company tries to cure them with synthetic chemicals. And CRUK is a willing enabler.

In 2014, the NFU, the Crop Protection Association (CPA) and Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC) launched ‘Healthy Harvest’ to safeguard the crop protection pesticide toolbox. The NFU and the agrochemical companies have continually defended the use of pesticides for economic reasons and complain about any attempt to restrict the 320-odd at their disposal. CPA, AIC and the NFU commissioned Andersons to write a report: ‘The effect of the loss of plant protection products on UK Agriculture and Horticulture’. Conveniently for the report’s commissioners, Andersons predicted dire economic effects on UK farming if pesticides were to be restricted.

And it is not that these powerful interests do not have the government’s full attention. Between May 2010 and the end of 2013, the Department of Health alone had 130 meetings with representatives of industry. According to Mason, it is business as usual and patently clear that the pesticides industry is being protected.

While continuing to ignore and side-line important scientific research findings which highlight inconvenient truths for government and the pesticide industry, prominent public officials and scientists as well as the media attempt to explain away all the diseases now affecting the UK as a result of individual behaviour: bad lifestyle choices.

In her various reports, Mason has discussed the importance of the gut microbiome and the deleterious effects of glyphosate which result in various health issues, such as obesity and depression. By 2018, CRUK was claiming that obesity caused 13 different cancers, but Mason argues that contamination by residues from 123 different pesticides on the fruit and vegetables supplied to schools by the Department of Health is the real reason for childhood obesity – not biscuits or poor choices.

Each year, there are steady increases in the numbers of new cancers in the UK and increases in deaths from the same cancers with no treatments making any difference to the numbers. While certain prestigious research centres are lavished with funding, Mason argues their work merely serves to strengthen the pesticide and pharmaceutical industries and implies the entire process is little more than a profitable racket at the expense of public health.

In finishing, let us remind ourselves of what the UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, said in 2017:

The power of the corporations over governments and over the scientific community is extremely important. If you want to deal with pesticides, you have to deal with the companies…

Baskut Tuncak, the UN’s special rapporteur on toxics, added:

While scientific research confirms the adverse effects of pesticides, proving a definitive link between exposure and human diseases or conditions or harm to the ecosystem presents a considerable challenge. This challenge has been exacerbated by a systematic denial, fuelled by the pesticide and agro-industry, of the magnitude of the damage inflicted by these chemicals, and aggressive, unethical marketing tactics.

There is a lot more valuable information in Rosemary Mason’s 10,000-word open letter to David Bench, including many references and citations in support of her claims. Readers are urged to access ‘Pesticides usage statistics for 2018 prove that the British people are being used as lab rats’ via the academia.edu website.

The Killing Fields of American Health Care

And all the devils are here.
Hell is empty,

The Tempest (I.ii.)

American health care is being crushed under the iron heel of a cabal of ruthless and merciless robber barons. Indeed, this primitive and backward system continues to be a source of horrendous suffering, as the health insurance companies, hospital executives, and pharmaceutical companies repeatedly place their insatiable lust for profit over the lives of their fellow Americans. And the health care oligarchs should be proud of what they have achieved: For they have created a health care system that is unrivaled in the industrialized world for its degradation and barbarity.

As economic inequality grows in America, so too does inequality of health care. Writing for The Harvard Gazette, David Cecere points out that tens of thousands of Americans die each year due to a lack of health insurance. Unsurprisingly, life expectancy is directly proportional to income in the United States, as evidenced by the fact that Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota has a life expectancy of 47 for men and 52 for women. This inequality continues unabated as pharmaceutical CEOs rake in unprecedented profits.

According to a Johns Hopkins study, more than 250,000 Americans die each year due to medical errors. This is inextricably linked with the fact that hospitals prioritize profit-making over patient care. Consequently, administrators are forcing physicians, and residents in particular, to work extremely exploitative and unsafe hours. Obamacare, which should really be called the Unaffordable Care Act, caused premiums and deductibles to go up, and failed to address the problem of health care either being tied to one’s job or to a fluctuating salary if the patient is an independent contractor.

Two thirds of all bankruptcies filed in the United States are medical bankruptcies, and over half a million American families file for bankruptcy each year as a result of medical bills they cannot pay. Indeed, this vitally important institution is in thrall to the forces of privatization, and this has transformed what was once a healing profession into a machinery of oppression and mass murder.

Pharmaceutical Totalitarianism

While unnecessary drugs and medical procedures are sometimes prescribed so that a doctor can milk a good insurance plan, vitally important drugs and procedures are even more likely to be inaccessible should a patient’s insurance be inadequate. For example, the cost of insulin has become prohibitively expensive for a growing number of Americans, leading many diabetics to resort to rationing which has resulted in premature death. As Ralph Nader writes in “Big Pharma: Gouges, Casualties, and the Congressional Remedy:”

In 2017, the U.S. consumers spent $333.4 billion on prescription drugs.

There are no price controls on drugs in the U.S. as there are in most countries in the world. Senator Bernie Sanders just took a bus tour to a Canadian pharmacy where insulin cost patients one tenth of what it costs them in the U.S.

The price of an EpiPen, made by Mylan, has also skyrocketed, and EpiPens are indispensable in warding off severe allergic reactions that can lead to anaphylactic shock and death. In “Life-Saving Allergy Treatment is Becoming Too Expensive for Families to Afford,” published in 2016, Laurel Raymond points out that “Over the past nine years, since Mylan bought the rights to the EpiPen, the price for the easy-to-use injectors has quintupled — increasing about 450 percent, from around $50 for one injector to $600 for a pack of two.”

The growing unaffordability of the device has resulted in patients carrying around expired EpiPens and resorting to dangerous jerry-rigged alternatives. The prices for anti-epileptic drugs have likewise soared, also putting patients’ lives at risk.

Prior authorizations (PAs), where health insurance companies place significant obstacles in place to get a drug or procedure approved, have led to needless suffering and death. Discussing the results of a survey where 1,000 physicians were asked about their experience with PA, Andis Robeznieks writes in “1 in 4 Doctors Say Prior Authorization Has Led to a Serious Adverse Event:”

More than nine in 10 respondents said PA had a significant or somewhat negative clinical impact, with 28 percent reporting that prior authorization had led to a serious adverse event such as a death, hospitalization, disability or permanent bodily damage, or other life-threatening event for a patient in their care.

Few realize that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not engaged in impartial third party testing of drugs, and that the pharmaceutical companies are simply supplying the FDA with their invariably fudged statistics. Incredibly, the FDA admits this on their own website, stating that the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) “doesn’t actually test drugs itself, although it does conduct limited research in the areas of drug quality, safety, and effectiveness standards.”

There are growing conflicts of interests, where MDs that sit on FDA panels receive monetary payments from the companies that make the very drugs they are charged with evaluating. The payments are doled out after the drugs are approved, allowing the officials to get away with not disclosing conflicts of interest before the drug is placed under review.

Acknowledging the disastrous consequences that have ensued due to the absence of a responsible regulatory body, Donald W. Light writes in Risky Drugs: Why The FDA Cannot be Trusted, published with Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics:

Every week, about 53,000 excess hospitalizations and about 2400 excess deaths occur in the United States among people taking properly prescribed drugs to be healthier. One in every five drugs approved ends up causing serious harm, while one in ten provide substantial benefit compared to existing, established drugs. This is the opposite of what people want or expect from the FDA.

Prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death.

Physicians are increasingly being fed manipulated data, and duped into believing that new drugs always do what their manufacturers claim that they do. This degradation of regulatory constraints imposed on industry is rooted in the fact that the firefighter has become a pyromaniac.

This corruption has had a deleterious impact on the doctor-patient relationship. In “Institutional Corruption of Pharmaceuticals and the Myth of Safe and Effective Drugs,” published with The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, the authors caution that “industry has commercialized the role of physicians and undermined their position as independent, trusted advisers to patients.” The pharmaceutical companies are also frequently testing new drugs against placebos, which is unethical as it leaves clinicians with no meaningful benchmarks.

There is competition between the different drug companies to be the first to get their drugs to market, and the FDA is expected to dutifully rubber-stamp new drugs of which very little is known. Commenting on the FDA’s new role as a poodle for the pharmaceutical companies, Caroline Chen writes in “FDA Repays Industry by Rushing Risky Drugs to Market:”

The FDA is increasingly green-lighting expensive drugs despite dangerous or little-known side effects and inconclusive evidence that they curb or cure disease. Once widely assailed for moving slowly, today the FDA reviews and approves drugs faster than any other regulatory agency in the world.

Clinicians have also been bribed into prescribing drugs which they might otherwise not have prescribed, as transpired with Nuplazid, manufactured by Acadia Pharmaceuticals. Chen writes, “The top five prescribers of Nuplazid in Medicare, the government’s health program for the elderly, all received payments from Acadia.” Nuplazid, a drug designed to treat Parkinson’s, has been associated with thousands of adverse side effects and over eight hundred deaths.

Vioxx is a particularly chilling example of the horrors that can unfold amidst the growing collusion between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry. Whistleblower David Graham, MD, who is a senior researcher within the FDA’s Office of Drug Safety, has confirmed that Merck knew that Vioxx posed a significant risk of heart disease. Testifying before the US Senate Committee on Finance on November 18, 2004, he said:

Prior to approval of Vioxx, a study was performed by Merck named 090. This study found nearly a 7-fold increase in heart attack risk with low dose Vioxx. The labeling at approval said nothing about heart attack risks.

In an article published with The New England Journal of Medicine, Eric Topol, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic posits that 160,000 heart attacks and strokes were caused by Vioxx. Internal Merck memos reveal that the company sought to conceal these dangers from physicians. Vioxx led to the deaths of around 55,000 Americans and netted $11 billion for Merck, which spent over a hundred million a year marketing the drug. Interviewed on PBS, Dr. Graham said that “FDA is an institution that has become a factory for the approval of new drugs and safety is not a consideration.”

The New Opium Wars

Along with suicides, a significant factor contributing to the decline of American life expectancy has been the opioid crisis, and it is likely that the history of opioid addiction was deliberately withheld from medical students and trainees, thereby making them malleable to the machinations of industry. Many have forgotten that there was a terrible opioid epidemic that ravaged the US in the later part of the 19th century, and which began with the Civil War, as doctors had little knowledge of how to treat pain aside from opioids and amputation, and the military technologies of the day far surpassed 19th century medical knowledge. Yet even before the birth of Christ, there were physicians that understood the dangers of opium-based drugs. Diagoras of Cyprus (3rd century BC) and the Greek physician Erasistratus (304 BC-250 BC) both understood that opium use was fraught with danger. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “On average, 130 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.”

There is also a connection between the overprescribing of opioids, illicit opioid use, and heroin, as four out of five heroin users used prescription opioids prior to starting heroin. Under the spell of the pharmaceutical companies, American doctors wrote over 240 million opioid prescriptions each year from 2009 to 2014. Even in 2017, after the carnage was obvious to all but the most insouciant, American physicians still wrote over 190 million opioid prescriptions.

Health insurance companies have also contributed to the crisis. As Linda Girgis, MD, points out in “Calling Responsible Parties to Task for their Role in the Opioid Epidemic,” insurance companies often refuse to cover alternative treatments for pain, such as massage, acupuncture, chiropractics and Lidoderm patches.

The breakdown in checks and balances has been total and absolute, and the regulator and the regulated are now intertwined like two knavish devils waltzing in hell. Dr. Curtis Wright, the FDA official that oversaw the testing of OxyContin, a drug manufactured by Purdue Pharma and which played a significant role in the opioid crisis, later went on to work for that very company.

Taking absurdity to new heights, drug companies are even permitted to fund continuing medical education courses that teach doctors how to prescribe opioids. Indeed, this is emblematic of how the American oligarchy has developed a hostility, not only to the humanities, but also towards science.

The complete degradation of credibility within the FDA has its roots in the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA), which was passed in 1992, and authorized the FDA to collect fees directly from pharmaceutical companies for the purpose of financing the review process for new drugs. Cognizant of the fact that there is presently no impartial political body that can curb their unscrupulous designs, drug companies have vigorously lobbied Congress to protect their interests. Groups such as the Pain Care Forum receive funding and support from pharmaceutical companies, and spend millions of dollars lobbying congress to keep opioid regulatory measures lax.

So corrupt has the FDA become, that the FDA approved the Sanofi-Aventis drug Ketek, even when the FDA was aware of the fact that the data supplied by Sanofi-Aventis was fraudulent and based on a study that never even happened. The FDA was later forced to remove the drug after four cases of death due to Ketek-induced liver failure. Accutane, Rezulin, Selacryn, Diethylstilbestrol (DES), and Meridia are some of the other “wonder drugs” that the FDA has shamelessly unleashed on an unsuspecting public, and which later had to be recalled after inflicting grievous bodily harm and death.

Psychiatry and the War on Thoughtcrime

Another source of obscene profits for the pharmaceutical industry has been psychotropic drugs, and the complicity of the FDA and mainstream psychiatry with the push to enslave Americans to these dangerous and highly addictive substances is irrefutable. This is yet another example of how science is being degraded by the quackery of the drug companies and their paid “experts.”

The fondness of mainstream psychiatry for pseudoscience is matched only by its hostility towards informed consent, and this has resulted in a forging of alliances with deeply reactionary and anti-democratic forces. Speaking at the annual meeting of the National Council for Mental Hygiene on June 18th, 1940, British military psychiatrist J. R. Rees openly espoused totalitarian tactics, and called for psychiatrists to infiltrate every aspect of society. Undoubtedly, he would be pleased with the reign of terror unleashed by psychotropic drugs on Americans today, and the particularly devastating toll these drugs have taken on children, soldiers and veterans.

In “Psychiatric Drugs are False Prophets with Big Profits: Psychiatry Has Been Hijacked,” by psychiatrist Robert Berezin, the author bemoans the demise of ethics in his profession:

The real source of human suffering is not, nor ever has been, the brain. The issues are in the person, the human being, in the context of damage to the play of consciousness, created by deprivation and abuse in the formation of our character. My life’s work has taught me that the art, the science, the discipline, and the wisdom of psychotherapy attends to this damage. There are no miracles and no shortcuts, as drugs, like the other somatic therapies, always promise. Never mind the harm done. We have repeated the same mistakes over and over again, and we are doing so today. It doesn’t seem to matter that the chemical imbalance theory has been discredited. It doesn’t seem to matter that the multibillion dollar pharmaceutical industry and its influence peddling in academic psychiatry has been exposed as financially and scientifically corrupted and manipulated. The drug companies have engaged in study suppression, falsification, strategic marketing, and financial incentives.

In “10 Reasons Why Psychiatry Lives On—Obvious, Dark, and Darkest,” psychologist Bruce Levine writes that the demonic power of psychiatry continues to grow despite the fact that “numerous studies have found that so-called ‘antipsychotics’—especially in the long-term—are essentially pro-psychotics; and that so-called ‘antidepressants’—especially in the long-term—are essentially pro-depressants.” Levine also warns that psychiatry has become a tool which can be used to suppress dissent:

Psychiatry maintains the societal status quo by its attributions that emotional suffering is caused by defects in individual biochemistry and genetics rather than by trauma and societal defects created by the ruling elite. Psychiatry covers up the reality that the root of much of what is commonly labeled as “mental illness” is a dehumanizing society—one orchestrated to meet only the needs of the wealthy and powerful and not designed to meet the needs of everybody else for autonomy, meaningfulness, and genuine community.

While the mass media has been unable to conceal the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans have died from the opioid epidemic, they are less enthusiastic about covering psychosis, homicidal ideation, and suicidality triggered by Prozac, Paxil, and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Indeed, dozens of school shootings have been carried out by young people, either on, or suffering withdrawal from, psychiatric drugs.

Ominously, the virus of privatized health care is spreading to Europe, and in 2018 English doctors wrote over 70 million prescriptions for antidepressants. Andreas Lubitz, the German pilot who on March 24, 2015, intentionally crashed his airplane en route from Barcelona to Düsseldorf into the Alps killing everyone on board, was taking mirtazapine along with a number of other psychotropic drugs. Geert Michels, the driver of the vehicle in the Sierre bus tragedy, who drove his bus into a wall in a tunnel in Switzerland killing 28 people, 22 of whom were children, had traces of Paxil in his system.

Pharmaceutical chemist and whistleblower Shane Ellison, who has worked for Eli Lilly, has acknowledged that psychiatrists are inventing diseases so as to expand the clientele of the drug companies. In a 1993 letter to the editor of the New York Times, distinguished psychiatrist Peter Breggin wrote, “Since most antidepressants are highly toxic and frequently used in successful suicide attempts, their widespread availability probably increases the overall suicide rate, much as the availability of guns increases the murder rate.” According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), there are over seven million American children (from toddler to the age of 17) on psychiatric drugs.

There used to be a time when we gave American youth literature, history, math, science, music, art and a sense of community. Now we tell our sons and daughters that they have “learning disabilities” and get them addicted to drugs that can cause brain damage. Every child’s mind is sacred. It is our duty to protect the liberty, sanctity, and inviolability of their souls.

There is a distinct possibility that the most intelligent and creative children are frequently the ones being medicated. As the brightest students are often the ones who shout out the answer before raising their hand, there is a real danger that these students will be diagnosed with ADD, ADHD, or any number of imaginary diseases and placed on mind-altering drugs. Many of these vulnerable patients, betrayed by their doctors in the cruelest possible manner, go on to take their own lives.

Even dermatologists, who delight in arm-twisting patients with inferior insurance into being medical models without their consent, are still engaged in the legitimate science of studying and treating skin cancers. What would possess a physician to abandon, not only science, but all traces of human morality and ethics? As Voltaire once wrote in Questions sur les miracles: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

Once a child has been labeled as “mentally ill” it is difficult to escape the crosshairs of the inquisitors. Indeed, it is not unusual for such a youth to be seized by Child Protective Services should their parents resist having their son or daughter placed on psychotropic drugs. This underscores the authoritarianism that is inseparable from the cult of psychiatry. Moreover, the technology now exists through the use of a digital pill for psychiatrists to easily coerce patients to take their “medication.”

Allied with a gang of zealots who are more than happy to peddle their poisons, the pharmaceutical companies have long since abandoned all considerations except that of profit-making. Harriet Fraad writes in The Guardian that “Every major company selling anti-psychotics – Bristol Meyers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson and AstraZeneca – has either settled investigations for healthcare fraud or is currently being investigated for it.” Should a patient attempt to stop their psychoactive drugs and suffer terrible withdrawal symptoms, Iago, now armed with a white coat and a stethoscope, will simply whisper in their victim’s ear that this is because their disease has returned.

In addition to fomenting totalitarianization, the psychiatrization of the culture is inextricably linked with the hysteria of liberal fundamentalists who believe that their ideological adversaries are not only “racist,” “homophobic,” and “sexist” – but also mentally ill. Hence, a dubious love triangle has formed between avaricious drug companies, whose lust for profit is insatiable; psychiatrists, who have autocratic tendencies and are hostile to both due process and habeas corpus; and liberals, who believe that we are living in a utopia, and who take offense with those that do not share this worldview.

In a passage that could have been taken from a government edict issued by the totalitarian regime in Orwell’s 1984, the Australian mental health organization, WayAhead, states on their website that “It is not uncommon for a person with a mental illness to deny they are ill or that they need help.” We are also informed that someone may have a serious mental illness if they “have thoughts which are not in tune with reality.” And whose reality would that be?

As the late Thomas Szasz, who authored over thirty books on psychiatry, wrote in the introduction to Psychiatry: The Science of Lies:

Because there are no objective methods for detecting the presence or establishing the absence of mental diseases, and because psychiatric diagnoses are stigmatizing labels with the potential for causing far-reaching personal injury to the stigmatized person, the “mental patient’s” inability to prove his “psychiatric innocence” makes psychiatry one of the greatest dangers to liberty and responsibility in the modern world.

Prescribing medicines that aren’t real medicines, to treat diseases which aren’t real diseases, the thought police thrive precisely in this environment of lawlessness and unaccountable government that has emerged following the attacks of September 11th. Indeed, the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the National Defense Authorization Act, the revival of the Espionage Act, and the RESPONSE Act all serve to empower the cult of psychiatry.

Gog and Magog: Barbarism Abroad and Barbarism at Home

As a child I used to think of drug dealers as vampires that would strike suddenly, waylaying innocent passersby in the dead of night. It is no small irony that the most diabolical drug dealers would turn out to be psychiatrists that prescribe psychotropic drugs and physicians that overprescribe opioids. This scourge of amorality is tied to the dismantling of the humanities, without which medical ethics cannot survive.

Overspecialization, a military-style hierarchy, and subjecting residents to such exploitative working conditions that they frequently suffer from sleep deprivation over prolonged periods of time, also contribute to inculcating these impressionable young minds with blind obedience. In this way are sentient human beings transformed into mindless unthinking automatons.

Like its cousin, the military industrial complex, the medical industrial complex has repeatedly demonstrated a total disregard for human life, and makes tens of billions of dollars off of death, misery and suffering. This slow motion coup d’état which has been unfolding inexorably since the 1980s, and which has resulted in the health care oligarchs being able to acquire a stranglehold over our health care system, has transformed a once respectable profession into a cruel and brutal machine that repeatedly harms instead of heals. As American health care has degenerated into a depraved and wicked business, it would seem that primum non nocere has been usurped by caveat emptor.

Casualties of War: Military Veterans Have Become America’s Walking Wounded

Come you masters of war / You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes / You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls / You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know / I can see through your masks….
You fasten all the triggers / For the others to fire
Then you sit back and watch / When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion / While the young people’s blood
Flows out of their bodies / And is buried in the mud.

— Bob Dylan, “Masters of War”, from The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, spring of 1963

War drives the American police state.

The military-industrial complex is the world’s largest employer.

War sustains our way of life while killing us at the same time. As Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Chris Hedges observes:

War is like a poison. And just as a cancer patient must at times ingest a poison to fight off a disease, so there are times in a society when we must ingest the poison of war to survive. But what we must understand is that just as the disease can kill us, so can the poison. If we don’t understand what war is, how it perverts us, how it corrupts us, how it dehumanizes us, how it ultimately invites us to our own self-annihilation, then we can become the victim of war itself.

War also entertains us with its carnage, its killing fields, its thrills and chills and bloodied battles set to music and memorialized in books, on television, in video games, and in superhero films and blockbuster Hollywood movies financed in part by the military.

Americans are fed a steady diet of pro-war propaganda that keeps them content to wave flags with patriotic fervor and less inclined to look too closely at the mounting body counts, the ruined lives, the ravaged countries, the blowback arising from ill-advised targeted-drone killings and bombing campaigns in foreign lands, or the transformation of our own homeland into a war zone.

Nowhere is this double-edged irony more apparent than during military holidays, when we get treated to a generous serving of praise and grandstanding by politicians, corporations and others with similarly self-serving motives eager to go on record as being pro-military.

Yet war is a grisly business, a horror of epic proportions.

In terms of human carnage alone, war’s devastation is staggering. For example, it is estimated that approximately 231 million people died worldwide during the wars of the 20th century. This figure does not take into account the walking wounded—both physically and psychologically—who “survive” war.

Many of those who have served in the military are among America’s walking wounded.

Despite the fact that the U.S. boasts more than 20 million veterans who have served in World War II through the present day, the plight of veterans today has become America’s badge of shame, with large numbers of veterans impoverished, unemployed, traumatized mentally and physically, struggling with depression, suicide, and marital stress, homeless, subjected to sub-par treatment at clinics and hospitals, and left to molder while their paperwork piles up within Veterans Administration offices.

According to a recent report by the Department of Veterans Affairs, at least 60,000 veterans died by suicide between 2008 and 2017.

On average, 6,000 veterans kill themselves every year, and the numbers are on the rise.

As Brené Brown, research professor at the University of Houston, observed, “For soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, coming home is more lethal than being in combat.”

Unfortunately, it’s the U.S. government that poses the greater threat to America’s military veterans, especially if they are among that portion of the population that exercises their First Amendment right to speak out against government wrongdoing.

Consider: we raise our young people on a steady diet of militarism and war, sell them on the idea that defending freedom abroad by serving in the military is their patriotic duty, then when they return home, bruised and battle-scarred and committed to defending their freedoms at home, we often treat them like criminals merely for exercising those rights they risked their lives to defend.

The government even has a name for its war on America’s veterans: Operation Vigilant Eagle.

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal, this Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program tracks military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and characterizes them as extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be “disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of war.”

Coupled with the DHS’ dual reports on Right-wing and Left-wing “Extremism” which broadly define extremists as individuals, military veterans and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely,” these tactics bode ill for anyone seen as opposing the government.

Yet the government is not merely targeting individuals who are voicing their discontent so much as it is taking aim at individuals trained in military warfare.

Don’t be fooled by the fact that the DHS has gone extremely quiet about Operation Vigilant Eagle.

Where there’s smoke, there’s bound to be fire.

And the government’s efforts to target military veterans whose views may be perceived as “anti-government” make clear that something is afoot.

In recent years, military servicemen and women have found themselves increasingly targeted for surveillance, censorship, threatened with incarceration or involuntary commitment, labeled as extremists and/or mentally ill, and stripped of their Second Amendment rights.

An important point to consider, however, is that under the guise of mental health treatment and with the complicity of government psychiatrists and law enforcement officials, these veterans are increasingly being portrayed as threats to national security.

In light of the government’s efforts to lay the groundwork to weaponize the public’s biomedical data and predict who might pose a threat to public safety based on mental health sensor data (a convenient means by which to penalize certain “unacceptable” social behaviors), encounters with the police could get even more deadly, especially if those involved have a mental illness or disability coupled with a military background.

Incredibly, as part of a proposal being considered by the Trump Administration, a new government agency HARPA (a healthcare counterpart to the Pentagon’s research and development arm DARPA) will take the lead in identifying and targeting “signs” of mental illness or violent inclinations among the populace by using artificial intelligence to collect data from Apple Watches, Fitbits, Amazon Echo and Google Home.

These tactics are not really new.

Many times throughout history in totalitarian regimes, such governments have declared dissidents mentally ill and unfit for society as a means of disempowering them.

As Pulitzer Prize-winning author Anne Applebaum observes in Gulag: A History:

The exile of prisoners to a distant place, where they can ‘pay their debt to society,’ make themselves useful, and not contaminate others with their ideas or their criminal acts, is a practice as old as civilization itself. The rulers of ancient Rome and Greece sent their dissidents off to distant colonies. Socrates chose death over the torment of exile from Athens. The poet Ovid was exiled to a fetid port on the Black Sea.

For example, government officials in the Cold War-era Soviet Union often used psychiatric hospitals as prisons in order to isolate political prisoners from the rest of society, discredit their ideas, and break them physically and mentally through the use of electric shocks, drugs and various medical procedures.

Insisting that “ideas about a struggle for truth and justice are formed by personalities with a paranoid structure,” the psychiatric community actually went so far as to provide the government with a diagnosis suitable for locking up such freedom-oriented activists.

In addition to declaring political dissidents mentally unsound, Russian officials also made use of an administrative process for dealing with individuals who were considered a bad influence on others or troublemakers.

Author George Kennan describes a process in which:

The obnoxious person may not be guilty of any crime . . . but if, in the opinion of the local authorities, his presence in a particular place is “prejudicial to public order” or “incompatible with public tranquility,” he may be arrested without warrant, may be held from two weeks to two years in prison, and may then be removed by force to any other place within the limits of the empire and there be put under police surveillance for a period of from one to ten years. Administrative exile–which required no trial and no sentencing procedure–was an ideal punishment not only for troublemakers as such, but also for political opponents of the regime.

Sound familiar?

This age-old practice by which despotic regimes eliminate their critics or potential adversaries by declaring them mentally ill and locking them up in psychiatric wards for extended periods of time is a common practice in present-day China.

What is particularly unnerving, however, is how this practice of eliminating or undermining potential critics, including military veterans, is happening with increasing frequency in the United States.

Remember, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) opened the door for the government to detain as a threat to national security anyone viewed as a troublemaker. According to government guidelines for identifying domestic extremists—a word used interchangeably with terrorists—technically, anyone exercising their First Amendment rights in order to criticize the government qualifies.

It doesn’t take much anymore to be flagged as potentially anti-government in a government database somewhere—Main Core, for example—that identifies and tracks individuals who aren’t inclined to march in lockstep to the government’s dictates.

In fact, as the Washington Post reports, communities are being mapped and residents assigned a color-coded threat score—green, yellow or red—so police are forewarned about a person’s potential inclination to be a troublemaker depending on whether they’ve had a career in the military, posted a comment perceived as threatening on Facebook, suffer from a particular medical condition, or know someone who knows someone who might have committed a crime.

The case of Brandon Raub is a prime example of Operation Vigilant Eagle in action.

Raub, a 26-year-old decorated Marine, actually found himself interrogated by government agents about his views on government corruption, arrested with no warning, labeled mentally ill for subscribing to so-called “conspiratorial” views about the government, detained against his will in a psych ward for standing by his views, and isolated from his family, friends and attorneys.

On August 16, 2012, a swarm of local police, Secret Service and FBI agents arrived at Raub’s Virginia home, asking to speak with him about posts he had made on his Facebook page made up of song lyrics, political opinions and dialogue used in a political thriller virtual card game.

Among the posts cited as troublesome were lyrics to a song by a rap group and Raub’s views, shared increasingly by a number of Americans, that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were an inside job.

After a brief conversation and without providing any explanation, levying any charges against Raub or reading him his rights, Raub was then handcuffed and transported to police headquarters, then to a medical center, where he was held against his will due to alleged concerns that his Facebook posts were “terrorist in nature.”

Outraged onlookers filmed the arrest and posted the footage to YouTube, where it quickly went viral. Meanwhile, in a kangaroo court hearing that turned a deaf ear to Raub’s explanations about the fact that his Facebook posts were being read out of context, Raub was sentenced to up to 30 days’ further confinement in a psychiatric ward.

Thankfully, The Rutherford Institute came to Raub’s assistance, which combined with heightened media attention, brought about his release and may have helped prevent Raub from being successfully “disappeared” by the government.

Even so, within days of Raub being seized and forcibly held in a VA psych ward, news reports started surfacing of other veterans having similar experiences.

“Oppositional defiance disorder” (ODD) is another diagnosis being used against veterans who challenge the status quo. As journalist Anthony Martin explains, an ODD diagnosis

denotes that the person exhibits ‘symptoms’ such as the questioning of authority, the refusal to follow directions, stubbornness, the unwillingness to go along with the crowd, and the practice of disobeying or ignoring orders. Persons may also receive such a label if they are considered free thinkers, nonconformists, or individuals who are suspicious of large, centralized government… At one time the accepted protocol among mental health professionals was to reserve the diagnosis of oppositional defiance disorder for children or adolescents who exhibited uncontrollable defiance toward their parents and teachers.

Frankly, based on how well my personality and my military service in the U.S. Armed Forces fit with this description of “oppositional defiance disorder,” I’m sure there’s a file somewhere with my name on it.

That the government is using the charge of mental illness as the means by which to immobilize (and disarm) these veterans is diabolical. With one stroke of a magistrate’s pen, these veterans are being declared mentally ill, locked away against their will, and stripped of their constitutional rights.

If it were just being classified as “anti-government,” that would be one thing.

Unfortunately, anyone with a military background and training is also now being viewed as a heightened security threat by police who are trained to shoot first and ask questions later.

Feeding this perception of veterans as ticking time bombs in need of intervention, the Justice Department launched a pilot program in 2012 aimed at training SWAT teams to deal with confrontations involving highly trained and often heavily armed combat veterans.

The result?

Police encounters with military veterans often escalate very quickly into an explosive and deadly situation, especially when SWAT teams are involved.

For example, Jose Guerena, a Marine who served in two tours in Iraq, was killed after an Arizona SWAT team kicked open the door of his home during a mistaken drug raid and opened fire. Thinking his home was being invaded by criminals, Guerena told his wife and child to hide in a closet, grabbed a gun and waited in the hallway to confront the intruders. He never fired his weapon. In fact, the safety was still on his gun when he was killed. The SWAT officers, however, not as restrained, fired 70 rounds of ammunition at Guerena—23 of those bullets made contact. Apart from his military background, Guerena had had no prior criminal record, and the police found nothing illegal in his home.

John Edward Chesney, a 62-year-old Vietnam veteran, was killed by a SWAT team allegedly responding to a call that the Army veteran was standing in his San Diego apartment window waving what looked like a semi-automatic rifle. SWAT officers locked down Chesney’s street, took up positions around his home, and fired 12 rounds into Chesney’s apartment window. It turned out that the gun Chesney reportedly pointed at police from three stories up was a “realistic-looking mock assault rifle.”

Ramon Hooks’ encounter with a Houston SWAT team did not end as tragically, but it very easily could have. Hooks, a 25-year-old Iraq war veteran, was using an air rifle gun for target practice outside when a Homeland Security Agent, allegedly house shopping in the area, reported him as an active shooter. It wasn’t long before the quiet neighborhood was transformed into a war zone, with dozens of cop cars, an armored vehicle and heavily armed police. Hooks was arrested, his air rifle pellets and toy gun confiscated, and charges filed against him for “criminal mischief.”

Given the government’s increasing view of veterans as potential domestic terrorists, it makes one think twice about government programs encouraging veterans to include a veterans designation on their drivers’ licenses and ID cards.

Hailed by politicians as a way to “make it easier for military veterans to access discounts from retailers, restaurants, hotels and vendors across the state,” it will also make it that much easier for the government to identify and target veterans who dare to challenge the status quo.

After all, no one is spared in a police state.

Eventually, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we all suffer the same fate.

It stands to reason that if the government can’t be bothered to abide by its constitutional mandate to respect the citizenry’s rights—whether it’s the right to be free from government surveillance and censorship, the right to due process and fair hearings, the right to be free from roadside strip searches and militarized police, or the right to peacefully assemble and protest and exercise our right to free speech—then why should anyone expect the government to treat our nation’s veterans with respect and dignity?

Here’s a suggestion: if you really want to do something to show your respect and appreciation for the nation’s veterans, why not skip the parades and the flag-waving and instead go exercise your rights—the freedoms that those veterans swore to protect—by pushing back against the government’s tyranny.

It’s time the rest of the nation did its part to safeguard the freedoms we too often take for granted.

Freedom is not free.

Agrarian Crisis and Malnutrition: GM Agriculture Is Not the Answer

Efficacy of GM Bt cotton challenged, Daily Nation

MS Swaminathan is often referred to as the ‘father’ of India’s Green Revolution. In 2009, he said that  no scientific evidence had emerged to justify concerns about genetically modified (GM) crops, often regarded as stage two of the Green Revolution.

In a December 2018 paper in the journal Current Science, however, it was argued that Bt insecticidal cotton (India’s only officially approved commercial GM crop) is a failure and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.

The paper attracted a good deal of attention because, along with scientist PC Kesavan, Swaminathan was the co-author.

They concluded that globally both Bt crops and herbicide-tolerant crops are unsustainable and have not decreased the need for toxic chemical pesticides, the reason for these GM crops in the first place. Attention was also drawn to evidence that indicates Bt toxins are toxic to all organisms.

Kesavan and Swaminathan mounted a general critique of the GM paradigm. They noted that glyphosate-based herbicides, used on most GM crops in the world, and their active ingredient glyphosate, are genotoxic, cause birth defects and are carcinogenic. They also asserted that GM crop yields are no better than that of non-GM crops.

The authors concluded that genetic engineering technology is supplementary and must be need based. In more than 99% of cases, they said that time-honoured conventional breeding is sufficient.

In fact, Kesavan and Swaminathan argued that a sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’ based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’ would guarantee equitable food security by ensuring access of rural communities to food.

Part of the pushback against Kevasan and Swaminathan has come from Dr Deepak Pental, developer and promoter of GM mustard at Delhi University. He responded to their piece with an article in September 2019, again in Current Science.

He argued that Kesavan and Swaminathan have unequivocally aligned themselves with overzealous environmentalists and ideologues, who have mindlessly attacked the use of GM technology to improve crops required for meeting the food and nutritional needs of a global population that is predicted to peak out at 11.2 billion. Pental added that the two authors’ analysis of modern breeding technologies is a reflection of their ideological proclivities.

By resorting to such statements, Pental was drawing on industry-inspired spin: criticisms of GM are driven by ideology, not fact, and GM is required to ‘feed the world’. Both assertions are baseless but are employed time and again across the globe by the pro-GM lobby in an attempt to discredit inconvenient scientific findings and campaigners who forward valid criticisms.

In response to Pental, Andrew Paul Gutierrez, Peter E. Kenmore and Aruna Rodrigues hit back with a piece in a November 2019 edition of the same journal, ‘When biotechnologists lack objectivity’. In it, they argue:

The need to counter Pental is critical because of his influence as part of a lobbying force for unbridled legislation for GE technologies and as a purveyor of scare tactics that food security in India will be compromised without them.

They continue:

We question his failure to consider whether genetically modified crops (GMOs) are safe for human and ecological health, increase yield and quality, are rigorously tested using proper risk assessment biosafety protocols, and whether biosafety research level (BRL) mechanisms for GMOs field testing under various programmes are being implemented? These are the major themes of our rebuttal.

The authors indicate the adverse impacts on human health of GMOs and associated agrochemical inputs and the very real risk of gene flow and other ways by which non-GM crops and seeds can be contaminated by their GM counterparts:

Genetic contamination is of special concern in India which has rich genetic diversity of crops/plants, and yet there are ongoing efforts to release GMO herbicide tolerant mustard (Brassica juncea) in India, which is a centre of diversity and domestication of over 5,000 wild and domesticated varieties of mustard and the wider ‘family’ of brassicas that includes 9,720 accessions… We must question why regulators would ever consider approval of GMOs of native species (e.g. of Desi cottons, brinjal eggplant, mustard, rice, among others).

As alluded to in the above extract, India has a wealth of plant species that have evolved and been adapted over millennia. The country has good-quality traditional seeds which are ideally suited for local soils, climates and pests. And these seeds are less resource intensive. We must therefore question why Pental’s GM mustard is being pushed so hard when it does not out-yield certain mustard species that India has already.

While touching on serious conflicts of interest within regulatory bodies, the authors also discuss Bt cotton and GM mustard, the commercialisation of which is currently held up due to a public litigation case with Aruna Rodrigues acting as lead petitioner.

They provide data to highlight the myth of Bt cotton success in India. However, GM promoters continue to peddle the story of Bt cotton success and aim to drive the full-scale introduction of GM crops into Indian agriculture on the back of this false narrative.

The authors explain that the current GM Bt cotton hybrids in India were indeed developed as a ‘value capture’ mechanism that enabled the seed industry to side-step intractable legal intellectual property rights: the interests of poor farmers were sacrificed for corporate commercial benefit.

In the article, data is also presented for GM mustard and the authors argue that it shows no yield advantage and its testing and evaluation have involved protocol violations.

In India, various high-level reports have advised against the adoption of GM crops. Appointed by the Supreme Court, the ‘Technical Expert Committee (TEC) Final Report’ (2013) was scathing about the prevailing regulatory system and highlighted its inadequacies and serious inherent conflicts of interest. The TEC recommended a 10-year moratorium on the commercial release of all GM crops.

Kesavan and Swaminathan, in their piece. also criticised India’s GM regulating bodies due to a lack of competency and endemic conflicts of interest and a lack of expertise in GM risk assessment protocols, including food safety assessment and the assessment of environmental impacts. They also questioned regulators’ failure to carry out a socio-economic assessment of GM impacts on resource-poor small and marginal farmers and called for “able economists who are familiar with and will prioritize rural livelihoods, and the interests of resource-poor small and marginal farmers rather than serve corporate interests and their profits.”

As we have seen with the push to get GM mustard commercialised, the problems described by the TEC persist. Through her numerous submissions to the Supreme Court, Rodrigues has asserted that GM mustard is being pushed for commercialisation based on flawed tests (or no tests) and a lack of public scrutiny. In effect, she argues, there has been unremitting scientific fraud and outright regulatory delinquency. It must also be noted that this crop is herbicide-tolerant (HT), which, as stated by the TEC, is wholly inappropriate for India with its small biodiverse, multi-cropping farms.

Rodrigues has for a long time contended that GM ‘regulation’ in India occurs in a system dogged by serious conflicts of interest: funders, promoters and regulators are basically one and the same. She argues that agricultural institutions and numerous public sector scientists working within these bodies along with a powerful lobbying force are joined at the hip in pushing for GM.

GM Silver bullet misses the target

If the pro-GM lobby is genuinely concerned about ‘feeding the world’, it should really be questioning why the world already produces enough to feed 10 million people but over two billion are experiencing micronutrient deficiencies (of which over 800 million are classed as chronically undernourished); why we are seeing rising rates of obesity, diabetes and a range of other health-related conditions; and why, post-Green Revolution, the range of crops grown has narrowed and the nutrient content of food and diets has diminished.

The answers lie with the practices, processes and toxic inputs that are integral to the prevailing model of chemical-intensive, industrial agriculture and the dynamics of the globalised capitalist food system. Throughout the world, this model has become tied to agro-export mono-cropping (often with non-food commodities taking up prime agricultural land), sovereign debt repayment and World Bank/IMF ‘structural adjustment’ directives, the outcomes of which have included a displacement of a food-producing peasantry, the consolidation of rapacious global agri-food oligopolies and the transformation of many countries into food deficit areas.

Global food insecurity and malnutrition are therefore not the result of a lack of productivity.

As for India, although it fares poorly in world hunger assessments, the country has more than enough food to feed its 1.3 billion-plus population and with appropriate policy support measures could draw on its own indigenous agroecological know-how to do so.

Where farmers’ livelihoods are concerned, the pro-GM lobby says GM will boost productivity and help secure cultivators a better income. This too is misleading and again ignores crucial political and economic contexts. For instance, to gain brief insight into the nature of India’s agrarian crisis and why farmers are leaving the sector, let us turn to renowned journalist P Sainath who says:

“The agrarian crises in five words is: hijack of agriculture by corporations. The process by which it is done in five words: predatory commercialisation of the countryside. When your cultivation costs have risen 500 per cent over a decade, the result of that crisis, that process in five words: biggest displacement in our history.”

Little surprise, therefore, that even with bumper harvests, Indian farmers still find themselves in financial distress.

India’s farmers are not experiencing financial hardship due to low productivity. They are reeling under the effects of neoliberal policies, years of neglect and a deliberate strategy to displace smallholder agriculture at the behest of the World Bank and global agri-food corporations. And people are not hungry in India because its farmers do not produce enough food. Hunger and malnutrition result from various factors, not least poor food distribution, lack of infrastructure, (gender) inequality and poverty.

However, aside from putting a positive spin on the questionable performance of GM agriculture, the pro-GM lobby, both outside of India and within, has wasted no time in wrenching these issues from their political contexts to use the notions of ‘helping farmers’ and ‘feeding the world’ as lynchpins of its promotional strategy.

Now Is The Time To Win National Improved Medicare For All

National improved Medicare for all is making tremendous progress during the 2020 election cycle. Democratic presidential candidates, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who advocate for it, are achieving record numbers of contributions and performing strongly in the polls. Candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden, who opposes Medicare for all, and Senator Kamala Harris, who came out with a phony plan she called Medicare for all, are losing ground.

This is happening because of the decades of work by the single-payer movement to educate people, organize and build consensus for National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). The opposition is gearing up too but the Medicare for All movement is responding to their false claims, which are repeated in the corporate media and by insurance-funded candidates. If the movement continues to build support and keeps Medicare for all a central issue in the 2020 election, we can win National Improved Medicare for All in the early 2020s.

To learn more about NIMA, sign up for the HOPE campaign and join the national calls. The next call will be on Monday night, November 4 at 9:00 pm Eastern/6:00 pm Pacific. Wendell Potter will speak about the opposition’s tactics and how to counter them. Register here.

People want health care, not health insurance

A whistleblower for the insurance industry tells the truth:

The business model of for-profit health insurance depends on denying care to people who need it. These corporations can’t be reasoned with, only defeated.

One of the false talking points of opponents of NIMA is that people want to keep their private insurance. In reality, the employer-based healthcare system is not working for employers or employees. The current system is resulting in very high costs to individuals, now surpassing $20,000 annually for the average family. The cost of insurance is rising faster than incomes, making insurance impossible to afford. This is one reason why the number of uninsured, now 27.5 million, is growing.  The soaring cost of healthcare is one reason why 58 percent of small business owners support Medicare for all.

A recent poll found that pollsters can manipulate the outcome by using anti-Medicare talking points, but when voters are told the truth they prefer Medicare for all. For example, this survey found that when people hear that under Medicare for All you can keep your preferred doctors and hospitals, support climbs to a clear majority of 55 percent. Support among Democrats gets to 78 percent. For independents, 56 percent support Medicare for all. People also said they trust the federal government over private insurers to control healthcare costs, by 20 points. Kaiser, which has been tracking public opinion of the issue, finds a majority of the public supports Medicare for all.

Polls actually find that what people hate is instability in their health insurance. Instability is inherent in private health plans as employers will change insurance, shrink coverage or increase prices. They will even cut-off insurance due to the cost or when there is a labor conflict. Medicare for all is the most stable option — from birth to death people would be fully covered by NIMA. This allows people to change jobs or stop working to take care of children or elderly parents and still keep their health coverage.

NIMA means real choices for people as they can go to any doctor, hospital, clinic or other providers they prefer while with private insurance, patients are limited to narrow insurance networks of providers and limited choices of care. People believe in universal access and only Medicare for all can accomplish that. And, people understand that healthcare should be treated as a right, not as a commodity. Healthcare is a human right, not something employees should have to bargain for.

The truth is that people don’t love their insurance, they love having access to health care and put up with insurance companies because that is how the current healthcare system is financed. Health insurers use their media connections and the politicians they fund to put forward the false message that private insurance is essential. We do not need private insurance as it is an expensive middleman that adds nothing to health care except tremendous administrative costs and bureaucracy accounting for one-third of total healthcare spending.

Bogus Argument: We can’t afford it

One of the most senseless arguments against NIMA is that we can’t afford it. In reality, the current system is the most wasteful, inefficient and costly in the world. The spectre of high costs is a bogeyman promulgated by industry astroturf groups. Medicare for all will save money by cutting the bureaucracy and negotiating for fair prices for goods and services. We can’t afford NOT to move to a Medicare for All single-payer healthcare system.

Currently, nearly one third the cost of healthcare is due to the complex for-profit health insurance industry. About half of that is insurance company costs; e.g., advertising, executive salaries, dividends, real estate. The other half is the administrative cost they create for providers. Many hospitals have more staff working on billing to deal with the insurance industry than they have nurses. Healthcare is approaching 20 percent of GDP. Under NIMA, it will gradually go down to about 12 percent, similar to other wealthy countries with single-payer or national health service systems.

There is a lot of fearmongering about Medicare for all but the reality is people will pay less, have better care and more choice. Groups that oppose single-payer, like the Urban Institute, use false assumptions to heighten the cost of Medicare for all. Unfortunately, the false information on cost is likely to continue as the Congressional Budget Office has packed its 19-member panel that advises them on health policy with insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital interests.

One way to confuse people on cost is by claiming federal spending on healthcare will go up.  Of course, it would because Medicare for all is a federally-funded program. While total spending will decrease and costs for people and businesses will go down, federal spending will go up.

When the media reports on the cost of NIMA, it often seems like they have lost the ability to do the math. They do not report that over a decade the cost would be $2.1 trillion less than projections of spending under the current US healthcare system. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting finds that the Washington Post does not want voters to know that Medicare will save money. This is part of an effort by the media to make it seem like Medicare for all is impossible to afford.

Sanders has not put forward a specific plan for paying for improved Medicare for all because there are many ways to pay for improved Medicare for all. This week, Elizbeth Warren released her plan to pay for Medicare for all. She described it as the biggest tax cut in history because she does so without adding taxes on working people.

A major cost problem is the high price charged by hospitals. The current system allows them to charge just about whatever they like, prices vary wildly, and they fleece the poor. Some hospitals even sue people over their medical bills, though some have stopped collecting medical bills because of exposure and public pressure.  Other hospitals are closing, leaving towns without access to healthcare and creating a crisis in many rural and poor urban areas.  Medicare for all would control hospital pricing and ameliorate the problem of hospitals closing.

Pushing False Alternatives to Medicare

As Medicare for all becomes more popular, opponents put forward false solutions. The medical industry gives tens of millions of dollars to House candidates who oppose Medicare for all. The movement has exposed these false approaches. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the lead sponsor of the health bill in the House, has criticized Democrats for using the Medicare label for policies that are not Medicare for all.

Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the biggest recipient of health care dollars, is pushing a false approach, Medicare for Some, which is merely a public option and cannot solve the health crisis. Biden, who urges fixing the Affordable Care Act, puts out false information about Medicare for all. The ACA is fundamentally flawed as it is based on the inefficient private health insurance industry. Harris has waffled on her support for Medicare for all. Her bad policy was also bad politics as it coincided with her drop in the polls.

The Republicans don’t have a realistic solution to the healthcare crisis. When they sought to shrink health insurance coverage in the 2018 elections, there were massive protests. Trump’s actions to further privatize Medicare are also counterproductive. The insurance industry’s Medicare Advantage, which the industry is pushing because they profit from it, is more expensive and provides less coverage than traditional Medicare.

Real Solutions to the Healthcare Crisis

The US is in a healthcare crisis. This is a snapshot of the gravity of that crisis.

  • 28,300,000 – People uninsured in the United States in the first quarter of 2018.
  • 530,000 – Estimated number of families who file bankruptcy each year due to medical issues and bills.
  • 44% – People who didn’t go to a doctor when they were sick or injured because of the cost.
  • 34% – Cancer patients who borrowed money from friends or family to pay for care in 2016.
  • 79% – Increased death rate for cancer patients who filed for bankruptcy in 2016.
  • $75,375 – Cost of a heart bypass operation in 2016 in the U.S.
  • $15,742 – Cost of a heart bypass operation in 2016 in the Netherlands.
  • $1,443 – US per capita spending on pharmaceutical costs in 2016, the highest in the world.
  • 840% – Increase in spending for insulin from 2007 to 2017 on Medicare Part D (Medicare’s prescription drug plan).
  • $5,110,000,000,000 – Estimated 10-year cost savings of a single-payer healthcare system

Medicare for all would be transformative in many ways.  It would not only solve the healthcare crisis but would also cut poverty by more than 20 percent and would be a big tax cut for workers.

The first step to solve the US health crisis is National Improved Medicare for All. A majority of House Democrats have signed on to the Medicare for all bill, HR 1384. They need to be pushed to be more active in their advocacy for it. Presidential candidate, Howie Hawkins, has a plan that goes beyond NIMA to a fully public, community-controlled healthcare system. Hawkins’ system would prevent the healthcare profiteers from being able to game the system.

We have come a long way in the past ten years from single-payer healthcare being “off the table” to it being a major topic in the 2020 presidential election. We have the opportunity to win this if we keep educating, organizing and pushing candidates and elected officials. Visit our HOPE campaign for the tools and information you need to be an effective advocate for National Improved Medicare for All.

Take Your Thiamine and Eat Your Cake Too?

So the presumption was that you really just need your basic macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc., and the mitochondria will take care of everything. What is ignored is that to get from those macronutrients to ATP you actually need functional enzymes and you need micronutrients – vitamins and minerals at each step and there’s 22 of them you need. Thiamine happens to be the most important because of its geographic position, if you will, and because of its great limiting step along the various pathways.

No matter what other deficiency you may or may not have, if you do not address thiamine you will never heal. It’s not the only vitamin you need, but it’s the one you absolutely must address before you deal with everything else. I think that’s the most difficult thing for people to realize and why folks will go on these things with folate and B12 and this, that and the other thing, forgetting entirely that that’s so much further down the pathway than thiamine. So they wonder why they don’t heal and they seem to think, “Well it must not be the nutrients. It’s not the vitamins. I’ve done the vitamin thing and it’s not working.” But they haven’t done the right ones yet.

— Chandler Marrs, PhD. and editor of Hormones Matter April 2019 interview

In so many deceptive and not so deceptive ways, Western Medicine has failed a great many hundreds of millions of people. Anything tagged “Western” under this penury and punitive parasitic-reactionary-zombie-shock-to-the-system capitalism is more than just suspect when one looks at the project of finance and command and control the financiers of the world have unleashed for several hundred years.

Western Agriculture (the so-called greening of farming with former Nazi chemists retrofitting war tools into farmers’ nerve agents, hormone disrupters, brain scrambling toxins into the war against nature; i.e., the so-called green revolution) we can ask, how is that working out for humankind? It doesn’t take a Michael Pollan to understand that just the Western diet and the loads of preservatives, emulsifiers, anti-caking tricks, nanoparticles and fake, cheap, trickster ingredients —  thanks to Western Life Goes Better with Chemicals paradigm – are killing Americans and others tied to these crack cocaine delivery systems supplying the West with “nutritional” and “farming” beasts of a nation.

We can’t mix apples and oranges, can we, as we are told by Western Mass Media, et al, when we couple the war on human food with the war on ecology and nature, which is what agriculture has unleashed and continues to supercharge this highly industrialized, mono-culture focused, scaled-up version of a Brave New Farm New Order consumer pipeline. Water polluted, aquifers drained, rivers clogged, dams the old-new normal, most wild systems destroyed, fractured and quickly endangered, and, well you have a system that is sick under any person’s definition of the word or concept of “illness.”

However, hand in hand goes the medical and pharma communities lavishly gaining trillions in profits from this pipeline of cancer-causing, heart-disease tripping, stroke-inducing, diabetes-setting high fat-salt-sugar-meat-dairy diet. In part, the medical community has facilitated reinforcing that death pipeline through co-option of the “normalcy” of capital and profits ruling the market — ruling citizens by flipping us into consumers, perennial patients, targets, marks, victims, Guinea pigs, and then chucking any sense of the precautionary principle in lieu of our so called better angels (actual devils of GMOs, HFCS, hyphenated carcinogens).

Every doctor making a cool five million bucks a year on gastric by-passes, heart surgeries, diabetes maintenance programs and cancer-treatments is part of the problem.

Doctors invest in Pizza Hut, Coca Cola, Merck, Monsanto, and whatever bulks up their investment portfolios. Their well-being and their families’ well-being and their rich status in our New Gilded Age society are dependent/interdependent on disease treatment, disease maintenance, disease-embracing medicine, and disease as the new normal.

What goes into Johnny’s gullet-lungs-brain comes back to the rich and Western elite in literal gold reserves and hedge fund derivatives.

So, Western Industrialization – in agriculture, in medicine, in food, in education, in production lines – greased vis-à-vis those economy of scales that aid and abet putting out of business any sane (AKA alternative) treatment modality (naturopathic, holistic, Eastern “medicine” steeped in health care preventative models), or holistic food system (agroecological, organic, scaled to human size farming), or education program (the whole person, intergenerational, creative, hands on, sans core curriculum and standardized test model kind) –is not just the bane of humanity, big or small communities, but also the bane of civilization as we know it.

Any veterinarian looking at an over-sized, arthritis-prone, pre-diabetic, sluggish, tired, itchy skin, anxious, stinky mouthed youngish Labrador Retriever will prescribe more veggies, no commercial dog food (of the rendered roadkill variety) lean chicken, rice, carrots, corn, squash, err, a vegetarian diet.

The human patient doctors really are glad the advertisement says, “Things deep-fried, refined, greasy, meat-centric do go better with Coca Cola.” Money, money, money, guaranteed job security, great gobs of power in our society as sickness and disease come to younger and younger cohorts with each passing year.

Johnny, Juanita, Quyen, Ahmed are Dining on Death

It goes without saying that anyone following my polemics and non-polemical writing know that I am solidly anti-corporation, anti-top down government, and for peace colleges, for an entirely new and different educational system, and that’s not just for PK12, but lifelong education. I am for scaling down, localizing, and working bio-regionally and globally on these systems of pain, oppression, subjugation, and disease.

We are only going to get out of this plundering, and end these enslaved systems of oppression, pollution, and lobotomy through ecosocialism and a true people’s contract through a people’s direct democracy, and strong collective engagement and education.

The revolution will not happen here in the USA, as we know, and when I say revolution, I am speaking about all of those systems of penury and oppression tied to the Military-Prison-Chemical-Pharmacological-Fossil Fuel-Finance-Banking-Insurance-Medical-IT-Real Estate-Education-Legal-AI Complex going down down gone!

While I parachute into jobs tied to the social services, homeless citizen services, PK12 education, environmental activism, localized community rights building, art, literature, politics, media, journalism, anti-poverty programs, I get more than a bird’s eye view of the systems of oppression in this white supremacist patriarchal society.

Just three days ago, I was the teacher of record (substitute) with seven para-educators (women who not only assist that special ed classroom, but who are also teachers, aides, psychologists, so to speak) as I worked an elementary school’s special education self-contained classroom.

First, the parents of these children are amazing, but they are hobbled not only by poverty, by their working class struggle, and by the vagaries of paying so much to live in poverty, but also by these special needs children.

These children are mostly honored and loved.

Then those seven hours, five days a week, in a school, these youth are then shepherded by caring people working under systems of oppression and penury and disappearing funding, until alas, these educational frameworks become failures.

And to what end? Young kids I taught Monday were 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years old. Where will they be when they hit 18 or 21? The society is not planning for their adulthood, for their needs, for their pathway to some sense of independence. Think living on the streets or staying at home until parents die.

This is the problem, now, is it not? Youth who need one-on-one, sometimes two staff-to-one child attention. The funding isn’t there, and when localities face budget constraints, they go after the “lower rung,” to include firing/laying off para-educators. No teacher in her right mind would have a classroom of a dozen or more youth with behavioral, developmental, intellectual disabilities under her wing WITHOUT the support of paraeducators.

A million people have a million “ideas” and “opinions” about what is wrong and needs fixing with education, but in the end, the American hating, trolling, everyone’s  opinion is sacrosanct citizen is more than out to lunch when it comes to almost every armchair prognostication made.

We put young and old immigrants in cages, or these wire boxes where most anyone in this society would not dare put their pet dogs in, and yet we let children die, force children away from family, and, well, a society that accepts that (and by it happening, we all accept that sort of Gestapo Nazi style of punishment), will easily accept the broken and breaking systems of education we have come to see in thousands of communities across the land.

Is it any wonder that the food we feed these special education students is one hot mess of triple fat, triple salt, triple carbs, triple sugar?

Children – either deemed special ed or behaviorally challenged, or gifted and talented – are being fed the most perverse diets on earth. Flooded with empty calories and dead-end oils that are toxic and inflammatory, but also chemicals that make up the ingredient list on a box of crackers that hardly any college educated person can pronounce, let alone understand the origins and consequences on the human physiology, the food (sic) served is deadly. Daily deadly dose of cafeteria (they don’t cook in school cafeterias anymore, but microwave prepacked junk) slop.

Pollution Starts with the Polluting of the Mind

Polluting people with propaganda, with bad food, bad air, bad soil, bad water, bad culture, and, alas, these children in special education are dealing with a multitude of issues they will never fully or even partially get out from under.

Chronic disease, chronic fatigue, chronic brain fog, chronic pain, chronic anxiety, chronic addiction, chronic confusion, chronic anger, chronic discombobulation, all of it have their origins right smack in the center of the gooey nougat of death-inducing capitalism.

I’m interested in people thinking outside of the box, and pushing against the paradigms of oppression, in any arena, whether it’s industry, big oil, big finance, or, in this article’s case, medicine.

How many times does a guy who is pugnacious and pugilistic get to interview a doctor whose pedigree goes way back – he’s alive and well, age 95, living in England?

Old school – mandatory (national service) in the RAF (7 years) in England, and working for the national health service in the UK (10 years).

I have been tracking the work of people like Derrick Lonsdale around naturopathy, the foods-vitamins-lifestyles-vaccinations connection for decades. I have looked at the value of Vitamin and Herbal Supplemental enrichment in our lives for years —  lifestyles broken by the chemical exposures, the pesticides exposures, the drug exposures, the pollution exposures, the GMO exposures, the electrical magnetic frequency (WiFi, cellular phone, etc) exposures, the heavy metal exposures.

Add to that the magical thinking, the lobotomizing education systems, the consumer-droning mass media mush, and we have some really hard times in Western Society that is so hobbled by fear, falling in line (in a goosestep sometimes) with the corporate-government narrative, etc.

Autoimmune Disease Goes to the Mitochondria 

There are so many maladies tied to autoimmune diseases, bowel conditions, blood issues, and complete endocrine and hormone discombobulation.

In many cases, women especially are deemed hysterical, psychologically-motivated, insane when they come to Western Medicine with such issues listed above:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus
  • Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy
  • Guillian-Barre
  • Psoriasis
  • Graves’ disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Myasthenia gravis
  • Vasculitis

I’ve been lucky to have written for Hormones Matter – tied to my mistreatment by social services non-profits and Planned Parenthood for a simple sex ed training class in Seattle where I dared to ask the facilitators with PP that the Gardasil debate was not yet settled.

Here I was as a foster youth social worker, and you can imagine the foster parents that have children in their charge – many are tied to homeschooling and are skeptical of vaccinations. You just need to go to Hormones Matter or just do the Google (if Google hasn’t scrubbed all the evidence against Gardasil) and put in “ Merck and Gardasil and criticism and lawsuits.” What have you.

Derrick, along with Hormones Matter editor, Chandler Marrs, have written an amazing book, Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High Calorie Malnutrition.

Go to Hormonesmatter (dot) com and check out the depth of the articles, depth of the outside the Western Medicine Paradigm the articles address. Writers who are PhD’s, MDs, or experts through their own trials and tribulations suffering under myriad of diseases.

Here’s my interview:

Paul Haeder: So you are 95 years old, and have seen many changes in Western Society and innovative arenas of thought and knowledge around disease and human health. What are some of the biggest impacts you believe from your learning have greatly changed the way you see health?  What are some of the most troubling aspects of medicine and health you can discuss after, what, more than 50 years in medicine?

Derrick Lonsdale: I started my medical career, after National Service as a medical officer in the RAF, in family practice for 7 years under the NHS. Not liking the bureaucracy I immigrated to Canada with a short service commission in the RCAF. I did residency in pediatrics at Cleveland Clinic and in 1962 I was invited to join the staff.

I was on the pediatric staff at the Cleveland Clinic from 1962 to 1982. I headed a section on biochemical genetics. A six year old boy who had repeated episodes of brain disease had every conventional test normal. He proved to be the first case of vitamin B1 dependency, a mutation in the gene that enabled glucose to fuel energy metabolism. It changed my professional life. With the extensive library research required, I learned the details of energy metabolism and began to be aware that it was the core issue of disease. I began to realize that the present medical model, dependent on the Flexner report of 1910, is inadequate. I found that so many of the children referred to the Clinic were emotionally sick from diet rather than from poor parenting. I published a suggested new medical model, based on a combination of genetics/environmental stress/and energy, represented as three interlocking circles. The body is an electrochemical “machine” and if the genetic code is perfect (it never is) all it requires is energy.

Genetic mutations seldom act by themselves. Another factor comes into play, giving rise to the gene expression. Diabetes sometimes makes its first appearance after a cold or an injury, strongly indicating that energy deficiency affects the gene(s) at root. The troublesome aspects of modern medicine are far reaching. The profession has been taken over by the insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry. Drugs only treat symptoms and do not address cause. Surgery to remove a sick organ is tacitly an admission of medical failure.

PH:  Great scientists like Robert Sapolsky have looked at the diseases of Homo sapiens as they are tied to stress, as in his book, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers.

DL:  Hans Selye was the great interpreter of the physiologic and pathophysiogic effects of stress. He was able to show that the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) in experimental animals required energy for the animal to adapt to the many forms of stress that he used in his experiments. Lab data obtained from stressed animals imitated the lab data from sick humans and he formulated the idea that human diseases were “the diseases of adaptation”. One of his students was able to produce the GAS by making the animal thiamine deficient, thus showing the importance of energy metabolism. The only way that we can help the body in synthesizing the required energy is by providing the right fuel and the catalysts that enable oxidation to occur efficiently. Pharmaceuticals only address symptoms but do nothing for their underlying cause.

PH:  Discuss your work and knowledge around just the real and perceived stress of our Western Culture (not tied to our Western diets — that’s for a later question) and how that plays havoc on the human biological system?

DL:  Well, I guess that comes under the heading of stress. Just like Selye’s animals, we require energy to adapt b . . . meaning that our brain/body complex defense mechanisms go into action. We live in a world that takes little notice of our biology. The further we get away from it the greater the risk. There are thousands of toxic chemicals that increase the stress load. The relatively new science of epigenetics has yet to emerge in clinical medicine. This, as you know, is the science of how nutrition and lifestyle influence our genes. Epigenetics is even emerging in the complex field of cancer.

PH: On Hormones Matter, you have many articles tied to thiamine deficiency, but also other areas:

October 14, 2019, Sleep Requires Energy

September 30, 2019, A New Medical Model to Prevent Physician Burnout

September 17, 2019, SIDS and Vaccination

September 12, 2019, Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Unusual Treatment

August 22, 2019, When Glaucoma Is More Than an Eye Disease

July 1, 2019, Energy Loss as a Cause of Disease

DL:  Yes, but they are all tied to our capacity to synthesize energy. I did sabbatical in Australia after David Read published thiamine deficiency as a cause of SIDS. My colleagues and I published abnormal auditory brain-stem evoked potentials in threatened SIDS and showed that megadose thiamine stopped the apnea alarms from ringing. We also published our work.  Thiamine deficiency disease gives us the prototype for dysautonomia. Interestingly, many case reports of dysautonomia have been published in association with an assortment of diseases, without recognizing the importance of the association. I have suggested that it hallmarks the association as evidence that each disease is caused by oxidative inefficiency. The dysautonomia is really very much part of the disease expression.

PH:  So, Dr. Lonsdale, there seems a sense of urgency in these pieces, and the thread to each of them goes to deficiency in nutrition. Why is it in 2019, we have Western medicine treated disease rather than preventing disease?

DL:  A good question. The medical profession as a whole has rejected the deficiency of non caloric nutrients as a common cause of disease. They claim that vitamin enrichment has abolished them and that these diseases are only of historical interest. Hence they are not familiar with the symptoms that would have been recognized 70-80 years ago. Many of these patients are diagnosed as “psychosomatic” and there are probably millions of Americans affected. Any physician who claims that a patient’s symptoms are due to (e.g.) beriberi is considered to be “off his head” and is exactly what happened to me at Cleveland Clinic. I actually saw beriberi in CCH patients and nobody would believe me. I have outlined their cases in our book that needs to be read by every physician, since laboratory proof is used.

PH:  We have in the USA more than 150 million people with at least chronic illness, many with co-occurring. We have an obesity epidemic. We have a society that is fed the propaganda of Madison Avenue. How do you see this logjam getting broken when so much of Western Medicine “depends” on the food industries of high salt, fat, sugar?

DL:  Chandler [Marrs] and I are more than convinced that thiamine deficiency is widespread because this deficiency is easily induced by inordinate ingestion of sugar in many different forms. The last statistics that I saw for the U.S. was 150 pounds of sugar per capitum per annum. We have suggested that the early symptoms, if recognized at onset, are easily treated. We believe that if there is failure to recognize them, chronic disease follows later, giving rise to an assortment of neurodegenerative diseases. Each is named by the first individual to recognize the repeated appearance of a constellation of symptoms and signs (Parkinson, Alzheimer etc). Not acknowledging the overlap of these symptoms in patients with a diagnosis of one disease versus another, each is thought to have a separate cause that must be specifically identified as a “cure”. We regard that as trying to shut the stable door after the horse has gone.

In 1936 Sir Rudolph Peters opened the studies of oxidative metabolism by the discovery of the catatorulin effect. He showed that there was no difference in the respiration of thiamine deficient pigeon brain cells compared with cells from a thiamine replete pigeon until glucose was added to the preparation. The thiamine sufficient cells immediately began to respire, whereas the TD cells did not. I have seen hundreds of patients whose extremely variable symptoms were due to mild to moderate thiamine deficiency and proved it via lab testing.

PH: Where do you see the work you and Chandler have accomplished going? Most people I see and work with as a teacher and social worker just can’t understand the axiom – You are what you eat. I could take that further, of course, by saying “you are what you read, do, say, believe, hold dear, don’t believe, hope for, dream of, observe, watch, hear, listen to.”

DL:  We believe that we must try to address both physicians and patients, hence our reports on Hormones Matter. It has led to a great deal of correspondence between patients and us. What appalls us is the many years of suffering expressed by many of them and their rejection by their physicians as “problem patients”. One young woman discovered from reading our book that her Flagyl toxicity symptoms were due to TD. Not only did her physician insist that her symptoms were “psychological”, she was rejected from that multi-doctor clinic “ because she would not accept the psychology  diagnosis”. Her physician denied Flagyl toxicity even though the symptoms are published.

PH:  Is it a matter of hormones in most cases you have experienced in both medicine and in communicating with individuals with major physical health concerns?

DL: Hormones enter the picture because they are under the control of the limbic brain with the autonomic system. Energy deficiency in the brain affects their synthesis and their distribution.

PH:  What could med schools be doing to really help the health of a community, the country?

DL:  Med schools have produced research to show that a lot of disease in America is biochemical in origin. Even if these common symptoms are correctly found to be biochemical in origin, they then assume that a drug must be found to correct them. The whole climate of medicine is based on pharmaceutical “genius”.

PH: Talk about the violence-hormone-vitamin deficiency connection in more depth, if you will?

DL: Our emotional sensations arise from the lower brain and are tied to the perceived event. They can be modified by the cortex but it implies brain communication. TD is equivalent to a mild degree of hypoxia and is thought of as causing pseudohypoxia. Because this is dangerous to the organism, either of them will excite the tendency to initiate the fight-or-flight reflex behavior. Hence, I see a boy who has had a mild redress in school, nursing it with a sense of human injustice, bursting into nonsensical violence. Nobody has ever questioned a perpetrator as to the quality of his diet. Nobody has reported a physical exam that might show the imprint of dysautonomia. Some years ago a probation officer in Cuyahoga Falls managed to get a judge to bind over juvenile criminals to her for dietary supervision. The recidivity rate fell to virtually zero.

PH: What do you attribute your longevity to?

DL: I don‘t know. I do take a lot of supplements.

PH: What role does epigenetics play in your research around energy and Vitamin B?

DL: I think that my use of megadoses of thiamine is epigenetic.

PH: Diseases of adaptation v. diseases of maladaptation is what you allude to when speaking of Seyle. Give a connotation and denotation of what this is saying for the average reader to understand.

DL: Stress is defined as a mental or physical environmental  force acting on an organism, including humans. Like Selye’s experimental animals such a person first must perceive the form of the stress and adapt to it. Infection excites a defensive response that is organized automatically by the brain. A deadline, a business problem, a divorce etc requires a thought process conducted by the brain. Both physical and mental stress require energy expenditure. It explains why a divorce  might result in sickness in one person and not in  another, depending  on the energy status.  In other words, the ability to meet life stresses depends on the combination of adequate nutrition and genetics.

PH: Industrial agriculture and industrial food and industrial everything have come from the industrial revolution, from then to now. What can we do to reverse this turbo charged world of turbo charged living, eating, consuming and surviving? Your message is clear, smart and elegant, but in Capitalism, we always want to blame the victim, the patient, the person. It’s our fault if we are in constant fatigue, or if we are fat and can’t lose weight, or if we have difficulty dealing with the everyday “norms” of modern society.

DL: I don’t think that we can do anything about altering the cause. All we can do is to repeat and repeat what IS  the cause, pointing out HOW it affects us. If a person will not change diet, he/she may well accept supplements because they are trained to taking pills for health correction. Perhaps, artificial as that may be, clinical improvement will enhance the perceived importance of nutrition and lifestyle, acting as a learning process.

PH: Where is the new frontier in medicine, in your estimation?

DL: I think that it is in the hands of ACAM [ACAM is the pioneer integrative organization and advocate of education for dedicated professionals who set out to make a difference in the standards of healthcare. Our membership includes MD, DO, ND, ARNP, NP, DC, DDS, scientists, medical students/residents, dietitians, nutritionists, researchers, and more.] and ICIM [The International College of Integrative Medicine is a community of dedicated physicians who advance innovative therapies in integrative medicine by conducting educational conferences, supporting research, and cooperating with other scientific organizations, while always promoting the highest standards of practice.]

PH: I have friends and others researching the chemical-human disease connection, to include Dr. Rosemary Mason, looking at the unbelievable amounts of chemicals – poisons – in our ecosystems, food systems, and bodies.

 Campaigner and environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has written an open letter to the Chief Medical Officer of England, Sally Davies. In it, Mason states that none of the more than 400 pesticides that have been authorised in the UK have been tested for long-term actions on the brain: in the foetus, in children or in adults.

The UK Department of Health (DoH) has previously stated that pesticides are not its concern. But, according to Mason, they should be. She says that Theo Colborn’s crucial research in the early 1990s showed that endocrine disrupters (EDCs) were changing humans and the environment, but this research was ignored by officials. Glyphosate, the most widespread herbicide in the world, is an EDC and a nervous system disrupting chemical.

Speak to these concerns, too, Dr. Lonsdale.

DL:  I totally agree but this kind of common sense usually falls on deaf ears. I have entered my posts on the metronidazole toxicity group and sent a letter to the FDA in regard to the nature of its toxicity. It hasn’t changed a thing but a lot of people have been helped. A paper I wrote in 1980 reporting 20 adolescents who had proved thiamine deficiency disease caused my phone to light up but it has long been forgotten. We can only just keep plugging on!!!

Agrochemical Apocalypse: Interview with Environmental Campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason  

The renowned author and whistleblower Evaggelos Vallianatos describes British environmentalist and campaigner Dr Rosemary Mason as a “defender of the natural world and public health.” I first came across her work a few years ago. It was in the form of an open letter she had sent to an official about the devastating environmental and human health impacts of glyphosate-based weed killers. What had impressed me was the document she had sent to accompany the letter. It was over 20 pages long and contained official data and referred to a plethora of scientific papers to support the case she was making.

For almost a decade, Rosemary Mason has been writing open letters and sending reports she has compiled to media outlets and prominent officials and agencies in the US, the UK and Europe to question their decisions and/or to inform them of the dangers of pesticides. She has been relentless in exposing conflicts of interest, fraudulent science and institutionalised corruption in regulatory processes surrounding glyphosate and other agrochemicals. Her quest has been fired by a passion to protect the natural world and the public but there is also a personal aspect: she is affected by a serious health condition which she attributes directly to the reckless use of pesticides in South Wales where she resides. And her assertion here is not based on idle speculation. In her reports, she has presented a great deal of evidence about the deterioration of the health of the British public and how agrochemicals play a major contributory role.

She recently sent me a report ‘How glyphosate-based herbicides poisoned our nature reserve and the world‘. It focuses on how she had set up a nature reserve in South Wales. What she and her husband (who has a professional background in conservation and nature) had achieved on that reserve was impressive. But thanks to the local council’s indiscriminate spraying of glyphosate-based herbicides, it was subsequently transformed from a piece of land teeming with flora and fauna into a barren wasteland.

What follows is an interview I conducted with Rosemary Mason about her nature reserve and her campaigning. We discussed her motivation, the support she has received and her feelings after almost a decade of campaigning.

Colin Todhunter:  Have you always had a passion for the natural environment?

Rosemary Mason:  I was born in the countryside during the war and my mother took us on walks and taught us about wildflowers, which was her passion. My brothers and I fished in the stream for minnows and sticklebacks and set nightlines for pike and chub (we never caught any). When I was a junior doctor, I became interested in bird watching and I am former chair of the West Area, Glamorgan Wildlife Trust. At that time, unlike today, farmland was full of lapwing, oystercatcher and redshank displaying and protecting their nests.

CT: Why did you decide to set up your nature reserve?

RM: In 2006, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust was launched in response to the massive declines in bumblebees, butterflies and insects in general, with the demise of traditional hedgerows, hay meadows, chalk grassland and wildflowers and the intensification of farming and the widening use of pesticides. At the same time, the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council perversely announced the closure of its wildlife research centres for ‘financial reasons’, a decision opposed by 99% of 1,327 stakeholders. Monks Wood centre, which hosted BBC’s Spring Watch, pioneered work on DDT and pesticides in the 1960s and more recently revealed how climate change is affecting wildlife, with spring arriving three weeks earlier. More significantly, the research centres were also involved in assessing the impacts of GM (genetically modified) crops on wildlife, with findings contradicting industry claims that no harm would be caused.

In response, in March 2006, my husband and I decided to establish our own small pesticide-free wildlife reserve after attending a joint meeting of the Welsh Ornithological Society and the British Trust for Ornithology in Aberystwyth.

CT: I have read your new report about your nature reserve. I would certainly encourage everyone to read it. It describes in some detail how you and your husband set about attracting an impressively wide array of bird, insect and plant species to the reserve, many of which had virtually disappeared from the British countryside, mainly as a result of intensive farming practices. What I found impressive is your knowledge of these species and how you were able to identify them. From the narrative provided (which at times reads almost like a novel) and the enthusiasm conveyed, you put in a lot of hard work developing the reserve and what you achieved there was impressive.

RM: In brief, it was a miracle. I think the next five years from 2006 were the most exciting and fulfilling of my life. At the end of 2009, I wrote an account of speckled bush crickets. Judith Marshall, working at the Natural History Museum, is a world expert on grasshoppers and bush crickets. She said it was the first monograph to be written on a single species.

CT: Can you say something about the demise of the nature reserve?

RM: We published a second photo-journal in 2010, ‘The year of the bumblebee: observations in a small nature reserve.’ But in 2011, I knew something was wrong. The moths were disappearing from the area and the orb web spider had gone from the hedge. We were aware that the local council was spraying glyphosate-based herbicides on Japanese knotweed in the valley below and close to our reserve. But we had to be sure.

So, in August 2013 and August 2014, we sent samples of river water and tap water to Leipzig to Prof Dr Monika Kreuger for analysis. Between August 2013 and August 2014, the levels of glyphosate in tap water had increased ten-fold, from 30 ppt to 300 ppt. These were of the order of concentrations that stimulated the growth of breast cancer cells in a laboratory setting.

In August 2013, we asked our then Welsh Assembly Member to request the council to stop spraying glyphosate-based herbicides on Japanese knotweed. The council said they would only stop if they were authorised by the Health and Safety Executive. So, I wrote to the HSE at the beginning of 2014 telling them about measuring increasing glyphosate levels in water and that we had had many cases of breast cancer in our area. They refused to do it because they said that glyphosate-based herbicides were still legal. I begged them to do it on several occasions, as we saw the biodiversity in our reserve plummeting. Finally, they said if I asked the same question again, they wouldn’t reply to me.

CT: You have engaged in a long struggle for many years, trying to get officials at local, national and European levels to act on pesticides. You have written many open letters to policy makers and key officials and have usually attached lengthy reports referring to data and scientific papers in support of your case. I think you began doing this in late 2010. Whose work have you taken inspiration from along the way?

RM: The work of Dr Henk Tennekes, the independent Dutch toxicologist, was a real eye opener for me. In 2010, he published a paper and wrote a book ‘The Systemic Insecticides: a disaster in the making’. It is about the loss of insects and insect-feeding birds in Europe, caused by neonicotinoid insecticides. The RSPB and the IUCN Charities refused to help fund the book because it ‘wasn’t scientific enough’.  We subsequently discovered that Syngenta had funded neonicotinoid seeds for the RSPB Hope Farm Reserve. Systemic neonicotinoid insecticides are still on the market in the UK and the US nine years later.

I found Henk’s work to be shattering. It actually changed the course of my life. The fact was that he’d worked out that the effect on the brains of insects was irreversible, cumulative and there was no safe level of exposure. What was worse was that the Chemical Regulation Directorate didn’t seem to take it seriously. So, I wrote to Europe and the US EPA and the response was the same: ‘there is no evidence that the neonics are harmful to honeybees.’ Henk had written this book with amazing pictures and artwork showing the impact on insect-feeding birds throughout Europe. Humans had the same receptors; so, imagine the effects on humans if there are lots of neonics around. By March 2011, Henk and I decided that there would be a chemical apocalypse. So here we are, eight years later and bingo, our predictions were spot on!

Francisco Sanchez-Bayo, a toxicologist living in Australia, wrote papers with Henk agreeing that neonicotinoids insecticides irreversibly damaged the brains of insects and that levels built up over time. In 2019, he wrote a paper with a colleague in China, which proved that insect losses were global and due to pesticides.

Then there was the late Dr Maewan Ho of the former Institute of Science in Society who helped me to publish an article in the ISiS magazine in September 2014: ‘How Roundup poisoned my nature reserve’. She sadly died on 16 March 2016 from advanced cancer. She was an amazing woman and gave me much encouragement.

Finally, Polly Higgins, a Scottish barrister and environmentalist, gave up her practice and set up an organisation to end ecocide (destruction of the environment). Polly Higgins was an inspiration and campaigned tirelessly against ecocide. She died from cancer aged 50.

CT: Given all the open letters you have written to officials over the years, I cannot but feel you have by and large been stonewalled. Where does the buck stop?

RM: With David Cameron, the Health and Safety Executive and Defra (Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs) . A ‘Letter from America’ was sent from nearly 60 million US citizens warning Europe not to authorise GM crops and Roundup because of the disastrous effects on human health and biodiversity. Wales and Scotland took that advice. David Cameron received it on 11 November 2014, but he and Defra ignored it on behalf of England and kept it secret from the public. Cameron also appointed Michael Pragnell, Founder of Syngenta, to be Chairman of Cancer Research UK, which I’ve written about.

The HSE refused to ask the Council to stop spraying GBH on our reserve because it was ‘still legal’. The European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority ignored the Letter from America too and kept on authorising GM crops for feed and food in the EU.

Of course, there are many others who should be held responsible too, such as Bernhard Url, chief executive of EFSA, and the recently retired Chief Medical Officer for England, Dame Sally Davies.

CT: How do you feel about the destruction of your reserve, the pesticides issue, the state of nature and those officials who have effectively ignored much of what you have said to them? Disappointed? Frustrated?

RM: Those are such inadequate words to express my feelings. I am devastated about the global losses of biodiversity and I weep for our reserve. Sometimes, I dream that it is all reversible, but I know it is not. I read books about nature as ‘comfort food’. I feel sorry for the children who may never see a butterfly or a bumblebee. Indeed, I am a bit disappointed about the lack of support I have had from certain environmental groups and media outlets that report on environmental issues. I would like the mainstream media to acknowledge the role of the pesticides industry, but I don’t suppose they ever will.

However, I have gained some satisfaction from receiving expressions of gratitude and praise via the academia.edu site where my work is archived. And at least Jon Snow (Channel 4 broadcast journalist in the UK) has revealed the chief cause of losses of biodiversity to be poisoning the land, not global warming.

How do I feel? Maybe ‘resigned’ would be the right word to use.

• All of Rosemary Mason’s work can be accessed on the academia.edu website here.

Genetically Engineered Golden Rice: A Silver Bullet that Misses the Target

Promoters of genetic modification (GM) in agriculture have long argued that genetically engineered Golden Rice is a practical way to provide poor farmers in remote areas with a subsistence crop capable of adding much-needed vitamin A to local diets. Vitamin A deficiency is a problem in many poor countries in the Global South and leaves millions at high risk for infection, diseases and other maladies, such as blindness.

Some scientists believe that Golden Rice, which has been developed with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, could help save the lives of around 670,000 children who die each year from Vitamin A deficiency and another 350,000 who go blind.

Meanwhile, critics say there are serious issues with Golden Rice and that alternative approaches to tackling vitamin A deficiency should be implemented. Greenpeace and other environmental groups say the claims being made by the pro-Golden Rice lobby are misleading and are oversimplifying the actual problems in combating vitamin A deficiency.

Many critics regard Golden Rice as an over-hyped Trojan horse that biotechnology corporations and their allies hope will pave the way for the global approval of other more profitable GM crops. The Rockefeller Foundation might be regarded as a ‘philanthropic’ entity but its track record indicates it has been very much part of an agenda which facilitates commercial and geopolitical interests to the detriment of indigenous agriculture and local and national economies.

Smears and baseless attacks

As Britain’s Environment Secretary in 2013, Owen Paterson claimed that opponents of GM were “casting a dark shadow over attempts to feed the world”. He called for the rapid roll-out of vitamin A-enhanced rice to help prevent the cause of up to a third of the world’s child deaths:

“It’s just disgusting that little children are allowed to go blind and die because of a hang-up by a small number of people about this technology. I feel really strongly about it. I think what they do is absolutely wicked.”

Just recently, Robin McKie, science writer for The Observer, wrote a piece on Golden Rice that uncritically presented all the usual industry talking points. On Twitter, The Observer’s Nick Cohen chimed in with his support by tweeting: “There is no greater example of ignorant Western privilege causing needless misery than the campaign against genetically modified golden rice.”

Yes, that Nick Cohen; the one who cheer-led for the illegal invasion of Iraq and who remains unrepentant.

Whether it comes from the likes of corporate lobbyist Patrick Moore, Owen Paterson, biotech spin-merchant Mark Lynas, well-remunerated journalists or from the lobbyist CS Prakash who engages more in spin that fact, the rhetoric takes the well-worn cynically devised PR line that anti-GM activists and environmentalists are little more than privileged, affluent people residing in rich countries and are denying the poor the supposed benefits of GM crops.

Golden Rice does not work and opponents are not to blame

Despite the smears and emotional blackmail employed by supporters of Golden Rice, in a 2016 article in the journal Agriculture& Human Values Glenn Stone and Dominic Glover found little evidence that anti-GM activists are to blame for Golden Rice’s unfulfilled promises. Golden rice was still years away from field introduction and may fall far short of lofty health benefits claimed by its supporters.

Professor Glenn Stone from Washington University in St. Louis stated that:

Golden Rice is still not ready for the market, but we find little support for the common claim that environmental activists are responsible for stalling its introduction. GMO opponents have not been the problem.

Stone added that the rice simply has not been successful in test plots of the rice breeding institutes in the Philippines, where the leading research is being done. While activists did destroy one Golden Rice test plot in a 2013 protest, it is unlikely that this action had any significant impact on the approval of Golden Rice.

Stone said:

Destroying test plots is a dubious way to express opposition, but this was only one small plot out of many plots in multiple locations over many years. Moreover, they have been calling Golden Rice critics ‘murderers’ for over a decade.

Believing that Golden Rice was originally a promising idea backed by good intentions, Stone argued:

But if we are actually interested in the welfare of poor children – instead of just fighting over GMOs – then we have to make unbiased assessments of possible solutions. The simple fact is that after 24 years of research and breeding, Golden Rice is still years away from being ready for release.

Researchers continue to have problems developing beta carotene-enriched strains that yield as well as non-GM strains already being grown by farmers. Stone and Glover point out that it is still unknown if the beta carotene in Golden Rice can even be converted to vitamin A in the bodies of badly undernourished children. There also has been little research on how well the beta carotene in Golden Rice will hold up when stored for long periods between harvest seasons or when cooked using traditional methods common in remote rural locations.

Claire Robinson, an editor at GMWatch, has argued that the rapid degradation of beta-carotene in the rice during storage and cooking means it’s not a solution to vitamin A deficiency in the developing world. There are also various other problems, including absorption in the gut, the low and varying levels of beta-carotene that may be delivered by Golden Rice in the first place and the rapid degradation of beta-carotene when stored.

In the meantime, Glenn Stone says that, as the development of Golden Rice creeps along, the Philippines has managed to slash the incidence of Vitamin A deficiency by non-GM methods.

In whose interest?

The evidence presented here might lead us to question why supporters of Golden Rice continue to smear critics and engage in abuse and emotional blackmail when they are not to blame for the failure of Golden Rice to reach the commercial market. Whose interests are they really serving in pushing so hard for this technology?

In 2011, Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, a senior scientist with a background in insect ecology and pest management, asked a similar question: 

“Who oversees this ambitious project, which its advocates claim will end the suffering of millions?”

She answered her question by stating:

An elite, so-called “Humanitarian Board” where Syngenta sits – along with the inventors of Golden Rice, Rockefeller Foundation, USAID and public relations and marketing experts, among a handful of others. Not a single farmer, indigenous person or even an ecologist, or sociologist to assess the huge political, social, and ecological implications of this massive experiment. And the leader of IRRI’s Golden Rice project is none other than Gerald Barry, previously Director of Research at Monsanto.

Sarojeni V. Rengam, executive director of Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, has called on the donors and scientists involved to wake up and do the right thing:

Golden Rice is really a ‘Trojan horse’; a public relations stunt pulled by the agri-business corporations to garner acceptance of GE crops and food. The whole idea of GE seeds is to make money… we want to send out a strong message to all those supporting the promotion of Golden Rice, especially donor organizations, that their money and efforts would be better spent on restoring natural and agricultural biodiversity rather than destroying it by promoting monoculture plantations and genetically engineered (GE) food crops.

And she makes a valid point. To tackle disease, malnutrition and poverty, you have to first understand the underlying causes – or indeed want to understand them. Walden Bello notes that the complex of policies that pushed the Philippines into an economic quagmire over the past 30 years is due to ‘structural adjustment’, involving prioritizing debt repayment, conservative macroeconomic management, huge cutbacks in government spending, trade and financial liberalization, privatization and deregulation, the restructuring of agriculture and export-oriented production.

And that restructuring of the agrarian economy is something touched on by Claire Robinson who notes that leafy green vegetables used to be grown in backyards as well as in rice (paddy) fields on the banks between the flooded ditches in which the rice grew. She argues that the ditches also contained fish, which ate pests. People thus had access to rice, green leafy veg, and fish – a balanced diet that gave them a healthy mix of nutrients, including plenty of beta-carotene.

But indigenous crops and farming systems have been replaced by monocultures dependent on chemical inputs. Robinson says that green leafy veg were killed off with pesticides, artificial fertilizers were introduced and the fish could not live in the resulting chemically contaminated water. Moreover, decreased access to land meant that many people no longer had backyards containing leafy green veg. People only had access to an impoverished diet of rice alone, laying the foundation for the supposed Golden Rice ‘solution’.

Whether it concerns The Philippines, EthiopiaSomalia or Africa as a whole, the effects of IMF/World Bank ‘structural adjustments’ have devastated agrarian economies and made them dependent on Western agribusiness, manipulated markets and unfair trade rules. And GM is now offered as the ‘solution’ for tackling poverty-related diseases. The very corporations which gained from restructuring agrarian economies now want to profit from the havoc caused.

Genuine solutions

In finishing, let us turn to what the Soil Association argued in 2013: the poor are suffering from broader malnourishment than just vitamin A deficiency; the best solution to vitamin A deficiency is to use supplementation and fortification as emergency sticking-plasters and then for implementing measures which tackle the broader issues of poverty and malnutrition.

Tackling the wider issues includes providing farmers with a range of seeds, tools and skills necessary for growing more diverse crops to target broader issues of malnutrition. Part of this entails breeding crops high in nutrients; for instance, the creation of sweet potatoes that grow in tropical conditions, cross-bred with vitamin A rich orange sweet potatoes, which grow in the USA. There are successful campaigns providing these potatoes, a staggering five times higher in vitamin A than Golden Rice, to farmers in Uganda and Mozambique.

The Soil Association says, despite the fanfare, Golden Rice has not yet actually helped a single person and if commercialised it will not be helping to reduce people’s reliance on a rice-based diet. It believes that we could have gone further in curing blindness in developing countries years ago if only the money, research, and publicity that have gone into Golden Rice over the last 15 years had gone into proven ways of curing the Vitamin A deficiency that causes blindness.

However, instead of pursuing genuine solutions, we continue to get smears and pro-GM spin in an attempt to close down debate.

Excluding the Civic Community Excludes Life-Savers

The lawmakers are doing it. The candidates are doing it. The mass media are doing it. All are excluding from their arenas the leading citizen groups as never before, since the early nineteen sixties. The nonprofit national advocacy/research organizations that led the way for social reforms are being shut out of the political process. These groups were pioneers in consumer rights, environmental protections, labor rights, and whistle-blower protections. These groups fought for freedom of information laws and practices and access to justice in ways that have made our country better in so many ways.

Television anchors like Judy Woodruff (The News Hour, PBS) and Chuck Todd (Meet the Press, NBC) prefer to interview reporters, political consultants or tired columnists, instead of knowledgeable civic leaders who use facts and speak truth to power.

One result of this marginalization is that the public discussion of key services and safeguards for the people is often vapid and fact-starved. For starters, the talking heads who are invited on news shows rarely, if ever, speak of the corporate crime wave, the corporate welfare scandals, or many preventable mass casualties that flow from corporate negligence and cover-ups. The few news articles on such subjects are often thin and untimely because reporters are not in regular touch with citizen groups, instead choosing to rely on irregular official leaks and occasional insider information.

Take, for example, the current discussion on Medicare-for-All or single-payer health insurance. The Democratic presidential candidates and other progressive lawmakers who support catching up with dozens of other industrial nations are not making the strongest case for this basic human right. They say that all Americans should have access to health care, referring to the unaffordable price of care.

The corporatists and some of these Democratic presidential hopefuls attack Medicare-for-All, asserting that the program would be prohibitively expensive by citing wild projections from biased think tanks. Bernie Sanders rebuts by proposing overdue restoration of higher taxes on the wealthy and big business. He asserts that whatever increases there are on the middle class would more than be made up by no longer having to pay health insurance premiums and out of pocket costs.

Moreover, most advocates of single payer do not stress the millions of ailments and injuries which persist because people cannot afford health insurance to get diagnosed and treated in a timely manner. According to the Wall Street Journal, roughly 30 million Americans are uninsured and 86 million Americans are underinsured. And about 40,000 of them die from that same deprivation each year. Such casualties due to lack of insurance do not happen in countries with universal insurance.

Furthermore, little mention is made of Canada’s far more efficient single-payer (public insurance, private delivery of care) that covers every Canadian at half the average per capita cost of that in the U.S. Canada also has free choice of doctor and hospital, in contrast to the cruel, narrow networks in the U.S.

Canada has better outcomes, less billing fraud by far and fewer casualties due to “medical error and negligence.” This is because the U.S. has a serious problem of over-diagnosis and over treatment, due to profit motives built into our chaotic, wasteful, corrupt, and profiteering system.

Single payer means one billing agent in Canada, not inscrutable bills from 1500 insurance companies with manipulated codes and discriminatory fees (for example, many hospitals charge the uninsured more in the U.S.).

In Canada, there is far less anxiety, dread, and fear about medical bills than in the U.S. Imagine what that is worth!

In the U.S. people worry that if they change jobs, they’ll lose their insurance. In Canada, physicians practice medicine, not complex bookkeeping. In the U.S., physicians plead for permission to treat their patients, while slow-paying insurance companies look out for their corporate bottom line.

The sheer administrative costs in the U.S. are, as a percentage of overall costs, more than double the administrative costs in Canada. Health care in Canada is on average less than $5000 average per capita per year; in the U.S. it has just soared over $10,000 per capita per year. Canada spends 10% of its GDP on health care and covers everyone; the U.S. is reaching 18% of GDP while leaving out tens of millions of people.

No one in Canada has to go bankrupt due to medical bills, as is the case half a million times a year in the U.S. Drug prices for the same drugs are lower in Canada than in the U.S. due to the bargaining power of Canadian single-payer system. Just in terms of correlating health care data, single payer detects what works and what doesn’t far better than the secret proprietary data of many U.S. insurance companies (which excessively compensate their executives). For example, in 2017, Aetna paid its CEO, Mark Bertolini, nearly $59 million as compensation (see the Hartford Courant article published on April 7, 2018). These salaries and compensation packages come out of your pockets, as do the co-pays, deductibles. The maddeningly complex fine-print exclusions add insult to injury.

In the U.S. people resort to GoFundMe campaigns to collect money for major operations that cost far more than they would in Canada.  After all, to get the same procedures all Canadians have to do is show their Medicare card which is given to them at birth.

At the extreme, people in the U.S. commit minor crimes just to go to jail to get health insurance. Recently, a couple in their seventies in Washington state took their lives due to being so overwhelmed by their soaring medical bills.

These and other examples further illustrate the advantages of a single-payer system. These numerous points were conveyed in a printed pamphlet personally delivered to dozens of members of Congress (see “25 Ways the Canadian Health Care System is Better than Obamacare for the 2020 Elections” and singlepayeraction.org). Some of these deliveries were followed by my personal calls. To date, not one office, other than Congressman Jamie Raskin’s, acknowledged receipt. Nor have any of these lawmakers or the presidential candidates used such obvious arguments in this pamphlet or other available materials to rebut or to explain. Rarely do any media outlets present the overwhelming advantages of a single-payer health care system.

Recently, liberal columnist, Mark Shields appeared on the PBS News Hour and mindlessly characterized single payer as being too expensive.

When Medicare was established in 1965, the elderly had no trouble giving up their private health insurance plans that could at any time have been weakened, dropped, or not renewed. Just as today, workers with private company plans can be forced to accept less coverage or be laid off without any coverage. Mr. Shields seemed to have forgotten the fear that workers have about the unilateral power of companies to change the rules and delay or limit the benefits.

The foregoing case for a single-payer health insurance system is just one example of how corporate power prevails when there is media and political exclusion of the informed and experienced civic community. Speak up, people!

Bayer Shareholders: Put Health and Nature First and Stop Funding This Company!


Campaigner and environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written an open letter to Bayer Crop Science shareholders and Chairman of the Board Werner Wenning. She has also sent them a 13,000-word report. Mason is appealing to shareholders to put human health and nature ahead of profit and to stop funding Bayer. In her report, she sets out why shareholders should take this course of action.

Mason outlines how the gradual onset of the global extinction of many species is largely the result of chemical-intensive industrial agriculture. For instance, she argues that Monsanto’s (now Bayer) glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide and Bayer’s clothianidin are largely responsible for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef and that the use of glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides are wiping out wildlife species across the globe. Mason also argues that the science behind (chemical-dependent) GMOs is fraudulent and that the devastating effects of pesticides on human health can no longer be ignored.

She begins by addressing some of her concerns directly to Werner Wenning and Bayer shareholders. The following is a slightly edited (for clarity) version Mason’s letter to Wenning (and shareholders) and sets the scene for what is in her report.

Dear Mr Wenning,

I have taken the liberty of writing an Open Letter to Bayer Crop Science Shareholders for your next meeting. I apologise because I can’t find the email address of Paul Singer, Founder of Elliott Management Corporation but could you please pass it on. I understand that Elliott disclosed in June that it has a $1.3 billion stake in Bayer and Paul Singer was anxious for a settlement (glyphosate litigation cases in the US).

US District Judge Vince Chhabria in San Francisco suggested a high-profile mediator, Ken Feinberg to lead settlement talks over the herbicide litigation. Has he resolved anything?

I understand that the Monsanto lobbyist organisation Genetic Literacy Project (Founding Director Jon Entine) has suggested that you might take the European Union to Court if they ban glyphosate in 2022. Liam Condon for Bayer Crop Science said: If we feel a scientific process, an established regulatory pathway, is being completely ignored, then of course we’ve got to look at all our options.

As you must be aware, Cancer Research UK protects the agrochemical industry: the CRUK website claims “there is little evidence that pesticides cause cancer.”

Michael Pragnell former Chairman of Cancer Research UK (2010-2017), founder of Syngenta and former Chairman of CropLife International, was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to cancer research. CropLife International was founded in 2001. As of 2015, CropLife International´s member list included the following eight companies: BASF, Bayer CropScience, Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, FMC Corp, Monsanto, Sumitomo and Syngenta. Many of these corporations make their own formulated glyphosate. CRUK said that there was little evidence that pesticides caused cancer. CRUK, the CMO England and PHE, linked cancer to alcohol, obesity and smoking. They blamed the people for ‘lifestyle choices’.

But I have warned Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Under-Secretary of State for Defra, that when the British people wake up to the fact that pesticides are responsible for their reduced life expectancy (and the fact that they spend the last 16-20 years or so in poor health), Defra may be taken to court for re-registering Roundup when they knew it not only caused cancer but a host of other problems that have been outlined in my document.

The 2019 UK State of Nature revealed shocking declines in the natural world 04/10/2019.

Jon Snow, in the Channel 4 Report ‘Extinction Britain: Wildlife survey shows shocking declines in animals’, noted that 14% of UK wildlife faces extinction. Jon Snow has finally told the truth: “We all thought it was climate change. Now we are told we are actually poisoning the land with our agriculture.”

Most UK farmers who manage ‘75% of UK land’ are drowning their crops in pesticides and lobbied to continue this.

The National Farmers’ Union, the Crop Protection Association and the Agricultural Industries Confederation combined to lobby the EU not to restrict the 320+ pesticides available to them.

Global Chemicals Outlook II – From Legacies to Innovative Solutions: Implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development March 2019.

Mandated by the UN Environment Assembly in 2016, this agenda seeks to alert policymakers and other stakeholders to the critical role of the sound management of chemicals and waste in sustainable development. It takes stock of global trends as well as progress made and gaps in achieving the global goal to minimize the adverse impacts from chemicals and waste by 2020.

However, there is Continued growth in the pesticide/crop protection industry.

“Pesticides include herbicides, insecticides, termiticides, nematicides, rodenticides and fungicides. These products are largely used for crop protection in agriculture. Today the industry is valued at over US dollars 50 billion and there are around 600 active ingredients. Herbicides account for approximately 80 per cent of all pesticide use (Phillips McDougal 2018).”

Top 10 products used on major crops in the United States by volume, 1968 – 2016 (Phillips McDougal 2018, p. 4).

No 1 Glyphosate (an herbicide, an antibiotic, a fungicide, an antiprotozoal, an organic phosphonate, a growth regulator, a toxicant, a virulence enhancer and is persistent in the soil. It chelates (captures) and washes out the following minerals: boron, calcium, cobalt, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, manganese, nickel and zinc. (Monsanto/Bayer),

No 2 metolaclor, an organochlorine, selective herbicide
No 3 pyraclostrobin, a fungicide (Sigma-Aldrich)
No 4 mesotrione, a herbicide (Syngenta)
No 5 thiamethoxam, a systemic neonicotinoid insecticide (Syngenta)
No 6 acetochlor, a herbicide (Monsanto and Zeneca)
No 7 azoxystrobin, a fungicide (Syngenta)
No 8 atrazine, an herbicide and endocrine-disrupting chemical (Syngenta)
No 9 abamectin, an insecticide, an acaricide
No 10 clothianidin, a long acting systemic neonicotinoid insecticide (Bayer)

Bayer Crop Science shareholders, please read the attached document

Do you really want to put your money into two corporations that lied about the safety of their products for more than 40 years and continue to produce BIOCIDES for agriculture; chemicals that are weapons of war and kill all life?

Bayer Crop Science, the former IG Farben, a private chemical company allied with the Nazis in WW2, built a factory and a concentration camp at Auschwitz. IG Farben was probably the most well-known corporate participant in the Holocaust, and the company’s history sheds a chilling light on how genocide became tied in with economics and business.

Rosemary Mason 09/10/2019

Key points for Bayer shareholders to consider

The following lists just some of the key bullet points from Mason’s report. A wide range of peer-reviewed studies are listed in support of the claims made. Readers are strongly urged to access it in full via the acadameia.edu site.

  • Monsanto and pesticide regulators claim that Roundup only affects plants, fungi and bacteria because they have the shikimate pathway which is absent in humans and animals. Their assertion displays considerable ignorance of human physiology. Alternatively, it is deliberately fraudulent. Humans and animals have trillions of bacteria in their gut: the gut microbiome.
  • The gut microbiome is the collective genome of organisms inhabiting our body. Obesity is associated with low bacterial richness in the gut. Glyphosate, the controversial main ingredient in Monsanto‘s Roundup and other herbicides, disrupts the shikimate pathway within these gut bacteria, without which we cannot survive. Glyphosate is a strong chelator of essential minerals. In addition, it kills off beneficial gut bacteria and allows toxic bacteria such as Clostridium difficile to flourish. Two key problems caused by glyphosate residues in our diet are nutritional deficiencies, especially minerals and essential amino-acids, and systemic toxicity.
  • The richness of the human gut microbiome correlates with metabolic markers: we are facing a global metabolic health crisis provoked by an obesity epidemic. Britain and the US are in the midst of a barely reported public health crisis.They are experiencing not merely a slowdown in life expectancy, which in many other rich countries is continuing to lengthen, but the start of an alarming increase in death rates across all our populations, men and women alike. We are needlessly allowing our people to die early.
  • There is a gradual onset of the global extinction of trees and crops. Moreover, the fungicidal action of Roundup is destroying the means by which trees communicate. It would be irresponsible to release genetically engineered trees into the environment.
  • Glyphosateis being connected to Lake Erie’s troubling algae blooms, which has fouled drinking water and suffocated and killed marine life in recent years. Roundup and clothianidin are largely responsible for the destruction of the Great Barrier Reef because the APVMA did not read the instructions.
  • Massive kills of wildlife during flooding now make sense with glyphosate and clothianidin having been found to be toxic to aquatic invertebrates, biocides and immune suppressants.
  • Emerging pathogens are wiping out wildlife species across the globe partly due to immune suppression by glyphosate and neonicotinoid insecticides.
  • The science behind GMOs is fraudulent. US Attorney Steven Druker says that governments and leading scientific institutions have systematically misrepresented the facts about GMOs.
  • In the UK, each year there are steady increases in the numbers of new cancers and increases in deaths from the same cancers, with no treatments making any difference to the numbers.
  • Roundup/glyphosate causes birth defects at low doses.
  • Neurotransmitter changes in the brain derive from exposure to glyphosate-based herbicides.
  • The global legacy of aspartame, Monsanto’s neurotoxic sweetener: Erik Millstone has just analysed EFSA Panel decisions on Aspartame and finds they are biased towards industry (2019 paper).

All of Rosemary Mason’s reports and open letters to officials can be accessed here.