We need to decolonize our food cultures and our minds of food imperialism, writes Vandana Shiva.
By Vandana Shiva
Independent Science News
Food is not a commodity, it is not “stuff” put together mechanically and artificially in labs and factories. Food is life. Food holds the contributions of all beings that make the food web, and it holds the potential of maintaining and regenerating the web of life. Food also holds the potential for health and disease, depending on how it was grown and processed. Food is therefore the living currency of the web of life.
As an ancient Upanishad reminds us “Everything is food, everything is something else’s food.”
Good food and real food are the basis of health.
Bad food, industrial food, fake food is the basis of disease.
Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine.” In Ayurveda, India’s ancient science of life, food is called “sarvausadha” the medicine that cures all disease.
Industrial food systems have reduced food to a commodity, to “stuff” that can then be constituted in the lab. In the process both the planet’s health and our health has been nearly destroyed.
Seventy five percent of the planetary destruction of soil, water, biodiversity, and 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial agriculture, which also contributes to 75 percent of food-related chronic diseases. It contributes 50 percent of the greenhouse gases driving climate change. Chemical agriculture does not return organic matter and fertility to the soil. Instead it is contributing to desertification and land degradation. It also demands more water since it destroys the soil’s natural water-holding capacity. Industrial food systems have destroyed the biodiversity of the planet both through the spread of monocultures, and through the use of toxics and poisons which are killing bees, butterflies, insects, birds, leading to the sixth mass extinction.
Biodiversity-intensive and poison-free agriculture, on the other hand, produces more nutrition per acre while rejuvenating the planet. It shows the path to “zero hunger” in times of climate change.
The industrial agriculture and toxic food model has been promoted as the only answer to economic and food security. However, globally, more than 1 billion people are hungry. More than 3 billion suffer from food-related chronic diseases.
It uses 75 percent of the land yet industrial agriculture based on fossil fuel intensive, chemical intensive monocultures produce only 30 percent of the food we eat. Meanwhile, small, biodiverse farms using 25 percent of the land provide 70 percent of the food. At this rate, if the share of industrial agriculture and industrial food in our diet is increased to 45 percent, we will have a dead planet. One with no life and no food.
The mad rush for fake food and fake meat, ignorant of the diversity of our foods and food cultures, and the role of biodiversity in maintaining our health, is a recipe for accelerating the destruction of the planet and our health.
GMO Soya is Unsafe
In a recent article “How our commitment to consumers and our planet led us to use GM soy,” Pat Brown, CEO & founder of Impossible Foods, says: “We sought the safest and most environmentally responsible option that would allow us to scale our production and provide the Impossible Burger to consumers at a reasonable cost.”
Given the fact that 90 percent of the monarch butterflies have disappeared due to Roundup ready crops, and we are living through what scientists have called an “insectageddon,” using GMO soya is hardly an “environmentally responsible option.”
In writing this, Pat Brown reveals his ignorance about weeds evolving to resist Roundup and becoming “superweeds” now requiring more and more lethal herbicides. Bill Gates and DARPA are even calling for the use of gene drives to exterminate amaranth, a sacred and nutritious food in India, because the Palmer Amaranth has become a superweed in the Roundup Ready soya fields of the U.S.
At a time when across the world the movement to ban GMOs and Roundup is growing, promoting GMO soya as “fake meat” is misleading the eater both in terms of the ontology of the burger, and on claims of safety.
The “Impossible Burger” based on GMO, Roundup sprayed soya is not a “safe” option.
Zen Honeycutt and Moms across America just announced that the Impossible Burger tested positive for glyphosate. “The levels of glyphosate detected in the Impossible Burger by Health Research Institute Laboratories were 11 X higher than the Beyond Meat Burger. The total result (glyphosate and its break down AMPA) was 11.3 ppb. Moms Across America also tested the Beyond Meat Burger and the results were 1 ppb.
“We are shocked to find that the Impossible Burger can have up to 11X higher levels of glyphosate residues than the Beyond Meat Burger according to these samples tested. This new product is being marketed as a solution for ‘healthy’ eating, when in fact 11 ppb of glyphosate herbicide consumption can be highly dangerous. Only 0.1 ppb of glyphosate has been shown to destroy gut bacteria, which is where the stronghold of the immune system lies.”
Recent court cases have showcased the links of Roundup to cancer. With the build up of liabilities related to cancer cases, the investments in Roundup Ready GMO soya is blindness to the market.
Or the hope that fooling consumers can rescue Bayer/Monsanto.
There is another ontological confusion related to fake food. While claiming to get away from meat, “fake meat” is about selling meat-like products.
Pat Brown declares “we use genetically engineered yeast to produce heme, the “magic” molecule that makes meat taste like meat — and makes the Impossible Burger the only plant-based product to deliver the delicious explosion of flavor and aroma that meat-eating consumers crave.”
I had thought that the plant-based diet was for vegans and vegetarians, not meat lovers.
Big Food & Big Money Driving Fake Food Goldrush
Indeed, the promotion of fake foods seems to have more to do with giving new life to the failing GMO agriculture and the junk food industry, and the threat to it from the rising of consciousness and awareness everywhere that organic, local, fresh food is real food which regenerates the planet and our health. In consequence, investment in “plant-based food companies” has soared from nearly zero in 2009 to $600 million by 2018. And these companies are looking for more.
Pat Brown declares, “If there’s one thing that we know, it’s that when an ancient unimprovable technology counters a better technology that is continuously improvable, it’s just a matter of time before the game is over.” He added, “I think our investors see this as a $3 trillion opportunity.”
This is about profits and control. He, and those jumping on the fake-food goldrush, have no discernible knowledge, or consciousness about, or compassion for living beings, the web of life, nor the role of living food in weaving that web.
Their sudden awakening to “plant-based diets,” including GMO soya, is an ontological violation of food as a living system that connects us to the ecosystem and other beings, and indicates ignorance of the diversity of cultures that have used a diversity of plants in their diets.
Ecological sciences have been based on the recognition of the interconnections and interrelatedness between humans and nature, between diverse organisms, and within all living systems, including the human body. It has thus evolved as an ecological and a systems science, not a fragmented and reductionist one. Diets have evolved according to climates and the local biodiversity the climate allows. The biodiversity of the soil, of the plants and our gut microbiome is one continuum. In Indian civilization, technologies are tools. Tools need to be assessed on ethical, social and ecological criteria. Tools/technologies have never been viewed as self-referential. They have been assessed in the context of contributing to the wellbeing of all.
Through fake food, evolution, biodiversity, and the web of life is being redefined as an “ancient unimprovable technology.” That ignores sophisticated forms of knowledge that have evolved in diverse agricultural and food cultures in diverse climate and ecosystems to sustain and renew the biodiversity, the ecosystems, the health of people and the planet.
The Eat Forum, which brought out a report that tried to impose a monoculture diet of chemically grown, hyper-industrially-processed food on the world has a partnership through FrESH with the junk food industry, and Big Ag such as Bayer, BASF, Cargill, Pepsico amongst others.
Fake food is thus building on a century and a half of food imperialism and food colonization of our diverse food knowledges and food cultures.
Big Food and Big Money are behind the Fake Food Industry. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos are funding startups.
We need to decolonize our food cultures and our minds of food imperialism
The industrial West has always been arrogant, and ignorant, of the cultures it has colonized. “Fake Food” is just the latest step in a history of food imperialism.
Soya is a gift of East Asia, where it has been a food for millennia. It was only eaten as fermented food to remove its anti-nutritive factors. But recently, GMO soya has created a soya imperialism, destroying plant diversity. It continues the destruction of the diversity of rich edible oils and plant-based proteins of Indian dals that we have documented.
Women from India’s slums called on me to bring our mustard back when GMO soya oil started to be dumped on India, and local oils and cold press units in villages were made illegal.
That is when we started the “sarson (mustard) satyagraha” to defend our healthy cold pressed oils from dumping of hexane-extracted GMO soya oil.
Hexane is a neurotoxin. While Indian peasants knew that pulses, or legumes, fix nitrogen, the West was industrializing agriculture based on synthetic nitrogen, which contributes to greenhouse gases, dead zones in the ocean and dead soils. While we ate a diversity of “dals” in our daily “dal roti” the British colonizers, who had no idea of the richness of the nutrition of pulses, reduced them to animal food. Chana became chick pea, gahat became horse gram, tur became pigeon pea.
We stand at a precipice of a planetary emergency, a health emergency, a crisis of farmers livelihoods. Fake food will accelerate the rush to collapse. Real food gives us a chance to rejuvenate the earth, our food economies, food sovereignty and food cultures. Through real food we can decolonize our food cultures and our consciousness. We can remember that food is living and gives us life.
Boycott GMO Impossible Burger. Make tofu. Cook Dal.
Vandana Shiva is an Indian scholar, environmental activist, food sovereignty advocate, and alter-globalization author.
This article is reprinted from Independent Science News under Creative Commons license.
I so happy to see people challenge the food industry because it is killing everything on the planet. We need to take our food back from the corporate vultures, for the planet and for all sentient creatures and beings on the planet.
As a vegan, I have to say that the idea of eating Beyond Meat or Impossible Burgers really turns my stomach. So bizarre trying to cash in on the trend toward plant-based food when this crap can only be classified as Franken-food.
Wonderful essay, I liked it so much. Here in Brazil we have this matter too. The big companies are killing our soil, air and water.
Apr 19, 2017 Saving Lives Through Education
Recently Dr. Bergman spoke at a conference for chiropractors on the importance of education. The more we educate those around us about the body’s ability to heal, the more lives we can save!
OCTOBER 26, 2018 “Hugely Important Breakthrough For Human And Animal Health” As EU Approves Antibiotic Restrictions For Livestock To Battle Superbugs
“This is a hugely important breakthrough for human and animal health and is by far the more serious attempt that Europe has ever made to achieve responsible antibiotic use in farming.”—Cóilín Nunan, Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics
If you want to help the monarchs plant some milkweed, preferably a kind native to your area. They have several at https://www.prairiemoon.com/
If you live in the Great Lakes region plant some wild lupines too, they are the only food source for the endangered Karner Blue butterfly. https://www.fws.gov/midwest/endangered/insects/kbb/kbb_fact.html
At some point we are going to have to return to the land.
I was upset by your omission of the fact that the 75% of land used for monocrops is food that is used to feed animals. Animal agriculture is the number one cause for lack of biodiversity. In addition to the gross appropriation of water and land required for animal products, Dr. Essylstein has proved that a whole foods, low-fat, plant based (vegan) diet is the only diet proven to cure heart disease- the number one killer in America and in many other countries. Human beings arent designed to process cholesterol and millions are thus dying every year from completely preventable causes.
Firstly, do not be upset by Vandana Shiva. She is one of the most courageous voices in sustainable food production in the world.
Dr. Essylstein has promotes a reasonable plant based diet. And, you are absolutely correct, that industrial agriculture and factory meat farming are killing the environment and humans that over-consume these products. However, “human beings are not designed to process cholesterol” is absolutely wrong. Healthy fat profiles (including cholesterol) are absolutely necessary brain, nerve, and endocrine health. Also, humans ARE designed to eat meat and fish, and have been doing so without heart disease for millennia. The difference being wild harvested or sustainably grazed… and much smaller portion sizes.
You are absolutely right, the soy beans area used mainly for giving food for animals….
Hey, bub, I eat meat, quite a lot of it actually, mostly local grass-fed beef and organic pork raised on whey and pasture. Despite the medical profession’s best efforts to kill me through gross medical neglect or at least kill my gut, I am still here and have an extremely healthy gut and a strong heart at age 65. People have been eating meat for millennia; what they have not been eating is what masquerades as food in our supermarkets. And I hate to tell you this, but your brain runs on cholesterol. The one predictor they have been able to determine regarding dementia is low lipid levels, in other words low cholesterol levels. And I have listened to a number of health experts discuss curing heart disease by getting people off processed foods, especially processed carbohydrates, and eating a whole foods diet including healthy fats which provide satiation.
There are 25 billion chickens on earth.
Humans and livestock are 98% of all land vertebrate biomass.
10,000 years ago, humans and livestock were 0.03% of all land vertebrate biomass.
If you are 15 years old, emissions rose 30% in your lifetime.
If you are 30 years old, emissions rose 60% in your lifetime.
In the next 10 years, emissions will rise 10% at least.
After 30 years of trying, solar and wind are 2% of total world energy use.
To avoid 2 C, emissions must drop 50% in 10 years, and 100% in 20 years.
5 of 13 major tipping points are triggered like dominos below 2 C.
When these 5 tipping points begin, they reinforce each other and trigger the other 8.
Runaway hothouse earth cannot be stopped or reversed once started.
The earth will take many, many thousands of years to recover.
Runaway mass extinction cannot be stopped or reversed once started.
The earth will take many millions of years to recover.
Nobody wants to admit it.
All male vertebrates are being biologically emasculated, feminized, sterilized and stupified.
If you want tons of data on how and why, go to Loki’s Revenge Blog and read: The Withering Bones of Humanity
Thanks CN, Vandana… Great intro2 issue not InMyFace… But… Important! Also thanks2 comments below which filled in some blanks
Now besides label reading (2 avoid hfcs) stop “krab”. Avoid beef so fake burgers no factor.
Interesting2 think soy (+corn, beets) only compromised since late 90’s… & Not2 Impressed w/ FReSH (#3Continued Roundup
& frankenfood) nor PBrown
Beyond says they’ve had their products tested by Eurofins and the results said they were glyphosate-free.
Has the testing claimed by Moms Across America been verified?
Two very different claims make it difficult to assess which is accurate.
Impossible acknowledged glyphosate in their product but also stated that it 1/1000 of the limit set by the EPA. Stories like this are just hit pieces. glyphosate is in almost every food we eat including beef and milk.
To Campbell: What interest does Beyond have in declaring their products glyphosate-free? What interest does Moms Across America have in testing and declaring Beyond’s products NOT glyphosate-free? I don’t know why it has become so difficult for people to apply this equation to basically everything they hear and read. I see a clear financial advantage to Beyond in their declaration and I see NO financial advantage whatsoever to Moms Across America. I, for some odd reason, am always suspicious of those who have something to gain financially from the trash (edible and nonedible) they are peddling.
One of the intentions of the “Green New Deal” is to tell people that meat is bad (so presumably only the wealthy will be able to eat it). Please check out Dissident Voice’s article on the GND. It is very tiresome to read people who know virtually nothing about agriculture write about how bad animal husbandry is. If you want to specifically target factory farming, I am with you 100%, but there is a lot more to animal-based agriculture than factory farming. Cattle, sheep, and goats can live on grass (and leaves, another realm of fodder) and turn it into milk and meat, while also fertilizing the land. If one uses proper rotational grazing techniques, there is no methane pollution and animals will sequester carbon (and consequently build the soil).
I’ve been reading about consumers of Impossible Meat growing sick quite quickly. And who can be surprised, considering what it is made of. I have ZERO sympathy for GMO apologists (who never fail to bring up that GMO rice which is hilariously unusable), having lived next to GMO cornfields for many years. Roundup is not a fast-disappearing herbicide — it remains in the soil for many years and essentially acts as an antibiotic, killing all life within the soil. And if you know anything about soil, soil IS life. I would suspect anyone commenting on this website and being supportive of GMOs to be an industrial troll. With luck, perhaps all of Monsanto’s evil gains will go toward settling the 12,000+ lawsuits it currently faces.
Almost everything you said is wrong. By the way, the #1 killer in America is heart disease.
Arg, Shawn… you’ve been on Dr. Gregor’s website. A shame. He is a fanatic for animal “rights” and believes that eating meat is “murder.” This is the radicalism that drives his extreme view of nutrition. Susan speaks with experience in organic sustainable agriculture, of which you obviously have none (you’re a young guy that lives in the city, right?). Like it or not, humans have to eat, and GMO soy fake meat is not the answer.
Your comment, Matt, reminds me of the poster in the health food store in Manhattan featuring Tyrannosaurus Rex suggesting the species was extinct due to meat eating! I think we can be pretty certain dinosaurs managed to survive a helluva lot longer than Homo sapiens sapiens will. Comments by people who know NOTHING about organic, sustainable agriculture, and the strong role animals play in it, are always amusing, and, yes, I assume they come from people who live in a human-created environment of concrete and steel far away from my grassy fields and diverse woodlands. I mentioned leaves in my original comment because there is a local woman who is working on returning to the old tradition of feeding animals over the winter with leaves harvested and stored for the purpose. She also raises goats who continue to give milk without being bred.
That’s a little vague!
How right you are! The vegan diet is a horrible diet for humans which is why no ancient culture was ever vegan. Even today, cultures that are vegetarian eat cheese (like paneer), or drink milk. Doctor Agstatin created the South Beach Diet to provide optimum cardiovascular health for his patients which is a low CARB and sugar diet, a natural diet for early humans.
“No ancient culture was ever vegan” lol so foragers never existed? Bonus points for mentioning a fad diet as counterpoint…lmao.
One of the things I have observed over many years is vegetarians’ tendency to eat a lot of sugar in one form or another. I see sugar as a substitute for animal protein, having had this problem myself when I was largely vegetarian. I had a friend who was a yoga instructor and strict vegetarian, and she confessed to me she had been a horrible sugar addict. I don’t think it was accidental that she ended up with polysythemia vera (not quite sure of spelling), a cancer of the bone marrow where you don’t stop making red blood cells. Then someone else told me of her friend, also a yoga instructor and a strict vegetarian with the same relatively rare disease.
What do people know of vegans? I would imagine they have the same issues with sweets. And how do they manage to take in Vitamin B12, a vitamin only bioavailable through animal products?
Corporate greed on display, operating against the common good of the planet and its inhabitants.
Bad food, industrial food, fake food is the basis of disease…but look at the huge profits in can garner and those profiting not caring less.
As the article indicates, Soybeans, more genetically modified than probably any other foodstuff, are dangerous. The way to torpedo this major commercial effort to sell this crap is to label it “Soylent Green” after the ’70s movie, which was set in 2022, now only a couple of years from now.
I hasten to add this is another example of information excluded from your average MSN. Any important report such as this that is good for the masses to know is ignored. Once we have talleyed up our score, then we have to act!
I agree that spraying roundup on vegetable crops was not the original intention. It was originally considered a less toxic shorter lived general herbicide.
I guess that that became the accepted fact and when roundup ready crops were introduced everyone was already programmed with the feeling that roundup was safe. I don’t think anyone really even objected and the levels found then must have been lower since there were no resistant weeds that required higher doses.
So soy is one bad example of GMO. I really think we need to move past GMO vs. Non GMO. GMO can potentially be good. Golden Rice which produces vitamin A precursors could save the eyesight of millions of children but if the GMO bashers coalition has their way these children must become the unfortunate collateral damage in that war. Talk about the blind leading the blind!
The real question to ask is what is the aim of the GMO crop. Obvious in hindsight we might have been a little bit smarter if we really thought about how it would enable farmers to saturate our vegetables with herbicides, a thing that had never been done before.
As for the Heme in The Impossible Burger I read it was extracted from the roots of soy and the gene was inserted into yeast which produces the heme at around 10,000 times the concentrations found in the plant itself which would be prohibitively costly to extract.
There is no magic line in the sand that separates safe natural products from dangerous artificial ones. There are many naturally prepared foods that contain potentially carcinogenic compounds that are in the fermented food because the organisms that ferment the foods produce them. Fungal fermentations are the most suspect. Blue Cheese is a fungal fermentation by Penicillium roqueforti which produces the chemical Roquefortine which is a mycotoxin and is also mutagenic meaning it may cause cancer.
Natural foods may also harbor carcinogens with the worst example being foods contaminated with aflatoxins. Aflatoxins are among the most powerful mutagenic substances known and they are produced by funguses chiefly Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus. Foods prepared with plant based foods contaminated with this fungus have been shown to cause cancer outbreaks in animals have strong linkages to cancer rates in humans that regularly eat foods known to be commonly contaminated with this carcinogenic compound. The government has set limits for foods that might contain aflatoxins or animal based foods that are likely to be contaminated such as cows milk that can happen is livestock is fed feed stocks that contain aflatoxins. It is true that milk is tested for aflatoxins as a precautionary measure to ensure we are not drinking contaminated milk.
Patulin is another probable carcinogen produced by fungus that grows on rotten vegetables like apples and apple juice is considered a likely source of Patulin contamination since B and C grade apples often slightly rotten are used for apple juice concentrate production where the major producer of apple juice concentrate is coming from China. Read the label next time you see apple juice concentrate listed on the ingredients.
Naturally fermented foods or foods containing vegetables or fruits contaminated with fermentation byproducts or secondary metabolites may also contain compounds produced by the organisms that ferment the food that are mutagenic and potentially carcinogenic.
Populations that consume large dietary intakes of fermented foods have been shown to have higher incidences of gastrointestinal cancer.
By the way, none of these foods are produced via genetic modification or GMO technology. They are naturally dangerous.
The natural world is filled with millions of species that produce toxic chemicals some of which are poisonous and some of which are neurotoxic, mutagenic, carcinogenic even lethal in small amounts. There is a whole other class of foods that are contaminated via bio concentration such as the neurotoxins sometimes found in seafood that have ingested toxins from algal blooms which then are concentrated in the seafood we eat.
These chemical hazards found in natural foods cause human disease and are responsible for millions of cases of illness every year.
So it is not accurate to focus on the limited number of cases where genetic engineering that does not adequately examine possible negative health consequences are the only source of dietary trouble. There are plenty of naturally occurring threats that contribute to human illness and disease.
So the complete picture is we need to more fully understand all of the threats to public health in the food chain both man made and naturally occurring if we are going to really address the healthy or unhealthy food choices out there.
The equation that states that the only dangerous food is food that has the hand of man on it is really ignoring all the other naturally occurring health threats in food that exist.
Wrong, its original intention was to kill jungles in Vietnam when it was called agent orange.
Glyphosate is NOT dioxin (Agent Orange), though these evil companies are now plotting to combine the two agents. Where do you get your information?
Agent Orange is not Dioxin. Agent Orange is a 2-4-d weed killer. To put it in a currently available form Agent Orange is Weed-Be-Gone for lawns. It is sold in Walmart and all over even today. It is true that the production of 2-4-d weed killers has as breakdown products dioxin but that impurity is a small fraction in the tens of ppm. 2-4-d weed killers are on the shelves of every store in America and have been a mainstay of lawn care applications to control broad leaf weeds for decades.
But to your point Roundup or Glyphosate was not even commercialized after its discovery in 1970 until 1974 when the Vietnam war was all but over.
I agree with you that the comment that Roundup is Agent Orange begs the question, Where do you get your information from? For that matter where do so many commenters who clearly have no clue get their information from?
Perhaps that is the wrong question to ask. Perhaps the question might be asked why are you spreading disinformation in order to obfuscate and confuse people?
To that end I would like to engage in some ridiculous obfuscation about Agent Orange and Roundup in an exaggerated way to illustrate the nonsense.
“Agent Orange was invented as a first wave of communist concoctions to poison our brains and infect us with a burning desire to replace the stars and bars with the hammer and sickle. The second wave of communist infiltration was the invention of Roundup which was introduced in order to genetically modify our genes into pinko commie sympathizer genes so we and our offspring would evolve genetically into super pinko commie monsters in order to raise the army of American pinko commie farmers to attack the US flag and the US Constitution in order to deliver us into the hands of Putin and Trump who is the Manchurian candidate raised on a diet of contaminated food laced with 2-4-d and Roundup to deliver the USA into the hands of the Communist Red Menace.”
There you have it. This is an exaggeration but it illustrates the “logic” of the right wingnuts who spread disinformation everywhere they post such nonsense.
I’m sure that someone will believe it too. It is the sad state of our education system that people are susceptible to nonsense because they have not had an education that enables them to discern right wingnut “theories” as nonsense.
Holy Goodness, you cannot equivocate the “natural” toxins you mentioned with glyphosates. Unlike toxins in peanut butter, kimchi or shellfish, glyphosates are accumulating in the entire food supply, soil, and tissues of all humans.
You are correct. Mycotoxins like Aflatoxin which are natural fungal toxins are way worse than Glyphosate. Aflatoxin is one of the most potent mutagenic, carcinogenic compounds known. It was responsible for mass outbreaks of cancer in farm animals which was how it was discovered as an investigation into what was called Turkey X disease in the 1960s. From Wikipedia: “This disease was the turning point for the use of the term mycotoxin. In the 1960s, about 100,000 turkey poults died near London, England due to peanut meal that was contaminated by Mycotoxins produced by Aspergillus flavus. Studies showed that the age group that was most affected was turkeys from two to twenty weeks old. Some of the first signs of Turkey X were neurological symptoms and coma, which would result in death.”
From Encyclopedia Britannica: “Humans are exposed to aflatoxins by consuming foods contaminated with products of fungal growth. Such exposure is difficult to avoid because fungal growth in foods is not easy to prevent. Even though heavily contaminated food supplies are not permitted in the market place in developed countries, concern still remains for the possible adverse effects resulting from long-term exposure to low levels of aflatoxins in the food supply.
Evidence of acute aflatoxicosis in humans has been reported from many parts of the world, namely the Third World Countries, like Taiwan, Ouganda, India, and many others. The syndrome is characterized by vomiting, abdominal pain, pulmonary edema, convulsions, coma, and death with cerebral edema and fatty involvement of the liver, kidneys, and heart.”
Aflatoxin, the natural carcinogen, produced by God’s own creation the fungi has a higher risk of causing disease in humans than Roundup. To say otherwise is not accurate. Aflatoxin has been studied due to its toxic effects including cancer since the 1960s. It is but one of dozens of fungal toxins that have serious detrimental effects on human health.
This is not an argument trivializing the health concerns of Roundup. It is not attempting to downplay the potential adverse effects of Roundup for humans who ingest Roundup laced crops.
It is a response to the author of the article which equivocates man made genetically altered crops with an ontological view that these crops are super highly dangerous to the very being of mankind and have other ontological threats for our existence as we are facing an emerging market of genetically modified foods by industrialized farming practices led by high technology and a corporate profit strategy that will ultimately displace traditional crops with genetically modified Frankenstein Food.
It is an argument that genetic engineering of food alone is not sufficient to condemn the practice of genetic engineering as it has the potential to revolutionize agriculture and has clearly developed foods with the potential to benefit mankind.
It is an argument that we need to see past genetic engineering as universally bad acknowledging that it has the potential to do good just as the modern era of pharmaceuticals has benefited mankind.
Penicillin is also a fungal secondary metabolite that has saved countless lives. We fed it to our children to help kill infections. Yet the World is full of mycotoxins which can make people sick and even cause cancer.
As I stated there is no clear line in the sand that neatly places all things man made as bad and all things natural as good. There are plenty of examples of naturally occurring dangerous compounds in our food that we need to guard against as well as the man made ones which we also need to guard against. Only a scientifically sound risk based approach to all potential hazards in the food supply will effectively address both man made and natural hazards. Focusing on one or the other means we will miss out on our opportunity to make all of the foods we eat safe.
From his shitty time wasting operating system to his advocacy for charter schools, fracking, is there no evil in the world that Bill Gates does not embrace?
Chris Hedges did an interview with her back in March. They go into a lot more about what’s happening in our food industry and the effects it has in many aspects.
Thank you for posting this. I am a big fan of Shiva.
It’s not just that 75% of land globally is used for agriculture, it’s that 83% of global agricultural land is used to produce crops and house animals for *animal* agriculture.
Yet animal agriculture only produces 18% of global calories, the vast majority of which go to rich westerners. This is one of the biggest drivers of climate change, hunger, and species extinction. Yes, it would be great if these people all switched straight from eating class-1 and 2a carcinogens in the form of processed meat, red meat, etc. But according to predictions, most people won’t do that.
Instead of trying to scare people away from products that reduce harm to humans, animals, and the environment (including by using far less crops like soya and thus less Roundup than the amount that it takes to grow cows) by calling them ‘fake meat’, maybe we should not be more honest and less alarmist. Maybe call them ‘plant based meat alternatives’ and allow the people who are addicted to cruel, destructive, harmful Western diets to use them as the equivalent to nicotine replacement therapy?
Would it be the best if everyone went plant-based immediately? Of course. But but these plant-based meat alternatives are a way of softening that transition and ideally making it occur faster. This is key, as we are so close to global environmental collapse.
Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth
Biggest analysis to date reveals huge footprint of livestock – it provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of farmland
Most ‘meat’ in 2040 will not come from dead animals, says report
Consultants say 60% will be grown in vats or plant-based products that taste like meat
And make yourself sick or dead.
Local, Sustainable, Organic farming & hunting… is how humans survived for thousands of years.
How can highly processed food products filled with artificial flavors, stabilizers, preservatives, etc – still made from industrially farmed plants loaded with pesticides- solve anything?
“…local oils and cold press units in villages were made illegal.” It is this systematic (and long running) attack on anything small and local that has devastated small farmers and their communities around the world. What do we subsidize in this country? Monoculture commodities of empty carbohydrates that have gifted the world with the chronic diseases Ms. Shiva notes.
She doesn’t mention the role of grasslands and ruminants. Twenty-five percent of the earth’s land is pasture and forest and inherently ruminant friendly. Only 4% is arable, highly depleted already and being paved over at an alarming rate. True accounting needs to take into account how these depleted plots of land are going to be healed to produce the plant based diet so strongly advocated by the money changers and big solution crowd. Conveniently left out of the equation is the irrigation, fertilization and transportation required to ramp up the plant based diet model as well as the expense of supplements needed for nutritional health. She is right to point out the residual glyphosate in our foods. Bill Gates who is held up as some benevolent icon and his 1% club are hardened to the notion that their solution is the only solution.
As the Chinese learned from Mao’s collectivization of farmers, millions can starve to death when large hasty solutions are applied to food supplies. Whatever is done, we need to observe and learn from the earth’s free gifts and apply care thereto. Care requires four things: love, patience, awareness of our ignorance and action informed by the first three. With such care, peace is possible as well as the well being of our planetary home.
Eliminating animal agriculture would free up the vast majority of the agricultural land that is now being used so that elite rich people can eat animals and destroy the environment. Pasture animals are the very most inefficient, destructive, and elitist form of agriculture, according to the biggest studies of global agriculture. They take up the most space, produce the lowest amount of calories, and the highest amount of environmental destruction via acidification, eutrophication, carbon emissions, and more.
Currently, humans could *reduce* the amount of global agricultural land that they use by 75% (the part that is used to feed animals for elite American carnists) and still feed everyone in the world.
Going plant-based may thus be the single biggest thing individuals can do to reduce their environmental impact. At least according to top peer reviewed researchers. And, if you know anything about how agriculture works, this is plain common sense. Obviously, most people don’t. But this has actually been discussed and noted in best-selling books for decades, with some prominent ones being released in 1948, such as Our Plundered Planet, by Fairfield Osborn.
Not to mention that if tax is applied to the kind of diet that Tom is advocating, it would save hundreds of thousands of lives and billions in healthcare costs. Red meat is considered most likely carcinogenic for humans and linked to heart disease and premature mortality. People who simply can’t imagine living without slaughtering animals like dogs or cows (or smarter animals like pigs) for the sake of palate pleasure are the reason why plant-based meat alternatives will be necessary, at least for a few more years until killing other animals is viewed the same way as killing and eating dogs and cats.
Meat Tax Would Prevent 220,000 Deaths
Meat taxes global health. So why not tax meat? New research shows that a tax on red and processed meat—such as hot dogs, bacon, and deli meat—could save millions of lives and billions of dollars in health care costs.
Physicians Committee: https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/meat-tax-would-prevent-220000-deaths
Tax meat and dairy to cut emissions and save lives, study urges
Surcharges of 40% on beef and 20% on milk would compensate for climate damage and deter people from consuming as much unhealthy food
I’m reluctant to respond given my feeling it will only fall on deaf ears. You state 220,000 lives can be saved by imposing a meat tax. Well, 100 million people, just in the US, are type 2 or pre-type 2 diabetics. Rates are even worse in India and China. My spouse was diabetic and I was pre-diabetic. Our GP asked us to watch “The Magic Pill.” In the past couple years he has abandoned his whole grain, more veg diet recommendations to his patients because he only saw ever-more pharma solutions needed and weight gain from the same prescriptions compounding the problem. Within 6 months of Keto/IF, A1C was back to normal with no meds. Blood pressure meds have been cut in half and continue to be decreased. This week the Indian cardiologist told my spouse, “Keto and intermittent fasting work.” She had zero concerns about the diet as regards cardio health–yes, even eating eggs, bacon and salt. The improvements to joint health, headaches, energy, memory recall, and weight loss confirm our bodies are healing.
According to Vegetarian Times, 0.5% of Americans are vegan. Only 3.2% consider themselves vegetarian. Rates of people who were vegan and go back to eating meat is somewhere in the 70-84% range. I’m absolutely fine with anyone that wants to go vegan. And I certainly know there is vast improvement needed in the American meat industry. But annuals do not sequester carbon and perennial plants do. Pasture is abundant and as soils improve so does water absorption. I have to look at nature and ask, what is she doing that we are not? And I see ruminants on pasture in a wheel of life where life supports life and death starts the cycle again.
If you want to save billions on health care costs then find common ground, vegan and keto/IF, in ridding the diets of high carbohydrate foods, eating healthy fats and proteins and in doing so stop the chronic diseases that are making pharma giants rich.
TomG is right. Ruminants are vital part of the ecosystem and consuming sustainably grazed animals is actually healthy for the environment. I live in SW Wisconsin among hundreds and hundreds of grazing cows and beef cattle. Here, the land can sustain them. I agree, that Americans need to limit consumption of meat and processed foods… and that grazing animals on deforested land (as in South America) is extremely detrimental to the planet… as are CAFO’s. But I am tired of radicalized vegans who anthropomorphize animals and fail to see that there is a better and healthy way to produce both plant and animal food products.
Eliminating INDUSTRIAL animal agriculture would free up the vast majority of the agricultural land that is now being used so that elite rich people can eat animals and destroy the environment.
Pasture animals are the very most inefficient, destructive, and elitist form of agriculture,
no they are not if you put them on land not suited for farming like they do in switzerland and bison was mostly grazing on land suited for farming
farming on land not suited for it created the big dustbowl
So you would describe the 60 million bison that roamed the Great Plains as inefficient and destructive? The grasses they trampled sequestered HUGE amounts of carbon and created the incredibly deep topsoils that Europeans have been ruining ever since their mass ecocide of the indigenous people’s way of life. Through thoughtful rotational grazing, sustainably raised cattle can sequester carbon by the same process of trampling and decomposition.
As shown in this article, glyphosate is also showing up in popular adult beverages:
Even those consumers that choose organic products assuming that they are getting a “clean” food may find that they are eating more glyphosate than they thought.
I absolutely agree, Vandana Shiva, that industrial agriculture – whether of other living creatures or of plant crops is utterly destructive of all ecological systems and, ultimately, of human life too. I grew up in the late 1940s-1960s as a daughter of a cowman who refused to work on any dairy farm which had more than 80 cows because, my father held, you could not *know* the individual cows when you worked with more. (I became a vegan slowly via vegetarianism in the 1970s-80s.)
The business with “weeds” is generally doublespeak because, in the case, for instance of Palmer’s Amaranth in the USA – it is a *native* plant species, while wheat, soy, oats and so on are not. In fact, if weeds are “plants growing out of place” as I have heard them described, then it is the agricultural crops in many countries which are, in fact, the *weeds.*
Who understands better, the potential for catastrophic outcomes for humanities continuing ability to survive and thrive than Vandana Shiva?
Who else could have so lucidly, and succinctly, laid bare the complex issues of the toxicities and aberrations in thinking about what we eat, and ingest into our systems; the deleterious effects on general health, these issues pose – in a nutshell than Vandana Shiva!
Facing the truths of what is being carried out, in the name of humanity’s sustainable prolongation on the Planet, it is quite apparent we, in the so-called educated and civilized world, don’t yet even have the capacity to recognize, or are psychologically incapable of connecting the dots being highlighted by Vandana Shiva and a growing number of other prescient visionaries in diverse ‘fields’.
All of humankind is at risk. Categorically there are no exceptions, not even for Americans’.
And the idea that we can ignorantly and blithely spray these toxins, spread the artificial fertilizers willy nilly (damaging water *and* the soil) and still grow the food crops we need, let alone want, is insane. Without the insects – all of them, even those we do not like – we shall not survive: they pollinate, they are “nature’s clean crews,” they provide food for birds and other creatures, they help ensure the soil’s fertility, aeration and so on.
Frankly, we as a species are idiots. And that’s putting it politely.