To Plow or Not to Plow, That is the Question!

By Myron Horst

Note: Whether you garden or farm or not, I believe that you will find this article interesting. The subject “To plow or not to plow” is a much more important subject than what most of us realize. There is a surprising conclusion.

In farming and in gardening there are opposing voices, those saying that the ground should not be plowed or tilled and others saying that the soil should be plowed. Both methods appear to work, but which one is the best? One of the challenges in life is discerning the best solution to take.  There are many things in life that “work” and highly educated people promote them as being the answer, but in the end there are consequences or side effects that outweigh the good. It is also important to ask the question: “It is better as compared to what”. For our family, we are not just interested in producing food to eat, we also want to produce the most nutrient dense food that we can.

No-till farming has been growing in practice here in the U.S. The method used by most farmers today is to spray Roundup to kill the cover crop or weeds that have grown in the stubble of the previous crop. The new crop seeds are planted with a special no-till planter through the dead plant mat that is left on the ground. No-till farming has enabled farmers to be able to farm a considerably larger number of acres because all they have to do is spray and plant. No plowing and no cultivating.

For me, the subject to plow or not to plow came up again this past winter when we watched the video “Back to Eden.” It was a documentary of a man who had an impressive looking garden. The documentary had excellent pictures of beautiful plants. Most of the shots were close up and it looked impressive. He did not plow or till, but used a mulch layer on the ground to suppress the weeds and build a rich black soil. He had been gardening this way for a number of years and was getting good results. The method of gardening was presented as God’s method, and as an almost no work garden. I was convinced enough to try it on some of our vegetables.  A lot of Bible verses were quoted throughout the video. But is he right?

I found a website, called “Farming God’s Way”. It is an organization that is teaching African farmers how to farm and to provide for their families. They too advocate not plowing and putting down a layer of mulch. They call the mulch layer “God’s blanket”. They intersperse the teaching on the farming method with Bible verses. It sounds like a very Biblical method. But are they right?

The voices cautioning that the ground should not be plowed or tilled have been around for a long time. Newman Turner and Ruth Stout from years ago both strongly recommended that the ground should not be plowed.

About six years ago, our family went to visit the Rodale Institute’s organic research farm in Pennsylvania for their farm open house. I was very interested in their no-till system that appeared to be a real answer. They had developed an organic no-till system that did not use chemicals. They invented a large roller that would roll the cover crop and kill it by crimping the plants. The roller was mounted on the front of the tractor and a no-till corn planter was pulled behind the tractor for a one pass planting. The cover crop created a mat, or mulch layer that helped conserve moisture and provided nitrogen for the crop. I was impressed with the system and we went back the next year to learn more. That year I was not as impressed. There were a number of problems that they had not been able to fix and the yields were not as good as conventional tilling.

On the other side of the subject is the teaching of Carey Reams. Reams stressed the importance of plowing to reverse the calcium and phosphates in the soil. Calcium tends to move down in the soil which is evidenced by stalactites and stalagmites in caverns. Phosphates tend to rise to the top where they can be washed into streams and rivers. By turning the soil over, the calcium is kept in the topsoil layer and the phosphates are buried back in the soil. Calcium is an important element in producing nutrient dense, high brix food.

So which method is best, to plow or not to plow? For me as a farmer in researching a farming method, I like to go to the oldest agricultural book, the Bible, and see what it says. On this subject it opened a window into a totally new perspective for me, that enabled me to see the collision course that farming is on today.

About the Garden of Eden it says this: Genesis 2:15 “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”

  • The Hebrew word translated “dress” means to till. Even in the garden of Eden it was necessary to cultivate.

In Ezekiel 36:34-35a it says that plowing and cultivation was an important part in the land becoming like the garden of Eden. “And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by. 35 And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden”;

  • Tilling, or plowing appears to be an important part of creating a fertile and very productive field or garden.

Isaiah 28:23-26 It says this: “Give ye ear, and hear my voice; hearken, and hear my speech. 24 Doth the plowman plow all day to sow? doth he open and break the clods of his ground? 25 When he hath made plain the face thereof, doth he not cast abroad the fitches, and scatter the cummin, and cast in the principal wheat and the appointed barley and the rie in their place? 26 For his God doth instruct him to discretion, and doth teach him.”

  • Plowing produces clods of earth. Cultivation breaks up the clods.
  • This passage says that God’s method is to plow the soil – the opposite of what the Back to Eden film said, and the Farming God’s Way states. In my research, on almost every subject, I have found Christians saying and believing opposite things to be true. It can be confusing and misleading if you take what one person says without checking things out yourself.

The oldest agricultural book has some strong words about no-till farming and this is what opens the window to a bigger perspective of the subject.

Proverbs 12:11 He that tills his land shall be satisfied with bread: but he that follows vain person is void of understanding.

Proverbs 28:19 He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that follows after vain persons shall have poverty enough.

  • Plowing and cultivation are important for success in farming and in gardening to produce an abundant crop.
  • “No-till” is following “vain” persons who think that they know and have the answers, but in the end it results in poverty.

So, is the old agricultural book right? Is no-till following vain persons? Does no-till result in poverty? There are some interesting things that have come out recently.

Rodale Institute, about a month ago, released the yield data for their 2011 yield trials of conventional tillage and their no-till system. The conventional tillage system yielded 95 bushels of corn per acre and 39 bushels of soybeans per acre. The no-till system yielded less than half the yield of corn even though more seeds had been planted per acre – only 40 bushels of corn per acre. The no-till soybeans only yielded 20 bushels per acre. Only half the yield with no-till is a sure way to poverty. http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/20120627_challenging-yields-challenging-weather

In conventional farming, no-till comes in a package. It requires the use of lots of chemicals – Roundup to kill the grasses and weeds, GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) seeds to resist the Roundup, pesticides and fungicides to kill the bugs and fungus because the crops are so low brix that the bugs and fungus try to eat it up to return it to the soil. No-till is a method that is promoted by the Monsanto Corporation who gives huge donations to many of the big university agricultural departments. So, of course, the no-till trials show the no-till advantage. But one thing to remember is to ask the question: “No-till is better as compared to what?”. They are not comparing no-till to properly remineralized, plowed, and cultivated soil, and they are not looking at the long term effects of the whole no-till system. They are looking primarily at short term crop yield comparisions.

The no-till revolution has resulted in a very high percentage of conventional soybeans and corn being genetically modified to resist Roundup. A New York Times article talking about GMO Roundup Ready crops says: “Those crops made it so easy for farmers to control weeds by spraying glyphosate [Roundup] that Roundup Ready crops now account for about 90 percent of soybeans and around 70 percent of the corn and cotton grown in the United States. And use of glyphosate skyrocketed, at the expense of rival herbicides.” They go on to say how super weeds are becoming resistant to Roundup, and Dow Corning is looking for approval for their GMO corn that is resistant to 2,4, D (an ingredient in Agent Orange) so that 2,4,D can be sprayed after the corn comes up, instead of Roundup to control the Roundup resistant super weeds.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/26/business/energy-environment/dow-weed-killer-runs-into-opposition.html?pagewanted=all

We can see, that at the heart of the GMO controversy is actually the question, “To plow or not to plow?” No-till has resulted in GMO seeds being used in a high percentage of our crops. What is the effect of GMO grain? Does it improve health or destroy it? Just released this fall is a French study on the long term feeding of GMO grains to rats. The rats grew huge tumors and 70% of the females died. If you have not seen the pictures of the rats, the pictures are worth a thousand words. You can see the pictures at:
http://www.naturalnews.com/037249_GMO_study_cancer_tumors_organ_damage.html

Last week Russia halted all imports of GMO grain after the French study came out. http://rt.com/business/news/russia-monsanto-corn-ban-005/

We see a progression of following “vain” persons promoting no-till. No-till requires the use of herbicides, such as Roundup. The use of Roundup results in the need for GMO crops. GMO grains have the potential of resulting in cancer. But that is not all. There are more consequences of following “vain” persons:

The United Nations in a report states that the suicide rate for farmers worldwide is higher than for non-farmers. In the Midwest of the U.S. where most of the corn, wheat, and soybeans are grown, suicide rates among male farmers are two times higher than the general population! This is a sad and telling statistic. No-till farming has not resulted in grain farmers becoming more successful. They have become more dependent on the big corporations and the chemicals and seeds that they sell. The more dependent that they have become, the more it drains their wallet. Finally, in despair and financial hopelessness they commit suicide.
http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/csd/csd16/PF/presentations/farmers_relief.pdf

The suicide rate among farmers dependent on Monsanto is highlighted by the suicide problem among farmers in India. The Infowars.com website reports that in India every 30 minutes another farmer commits suicide. Over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India alone in the last 16 years! They often committed the act by drinking the same insecticide that Monsanto supplied them with. http://www.infowars.com/monsantos-gmo-seeds-contributing-to-farmer-suicides-every-30-minutes/

The Hindustan Times reports: “India’s Bt cotton dream is going terribly wrong. For the first time, farmer suicides, including those in 2011-12, have been linked to the declining performance of the much hyped genetically modified (GM) variety adopted by 90% of the country’s cotton-growers since being allowed a decade ago. Policymakers have hailed Bt cotton as a success story but a January 9 internal advisory, a copy of which is with HT, sent out to cotton-growing states by the agriculture ministry presents a grim scenario. ‘Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton. The state of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers,’ says the advisory.  Bt cotton’s success, it appears, lasted merely five years. Since then, yields have been falling and pest attacks going up.” http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/Business/Ministry-blames-Bt-cotton-for-farmer-suicides/Article1-830798.aspx

As I reflect on the above information, I realize that what that old agricultural book said: “He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread: but he that follows after vain persons shall have poverty enough.” is more accurate and not as radical as what it first sounds. The long term results of no-till is not sustainable because of its heavy dependance on chemicals and GMO seeds and the poverty that they bring with them, not only to the farmer, but also to those who eat the GMO grains. Healthcare costs have skyrocketed in recent years and are draining the wallets of the consumer, bringing them poverty and dependance on the government to supply healthcare.

It is helpful to be able to step back and see the bigger picture. In the end, the big corporations such as Monsanto and Dow Corning will fail because their products are not sustainable and end in poverty. It all goes back to a subject that at first appears to be relatively unimportant – To Plow or Not to Plow — That is the Question!

From the “Evil” Scientist Lab: Killer Corn

Another reason to eat organic food.

The seed treatment on corn seeds is much more deadly than what we realized.

I was shocked the other week when we received an email exposing how the pesticide and fungicide usage on most of our country’s corn crop is killing honey bees. In the early part of May of this year, beekeepers reported staggering losses of honey bees in Minnesota, Nebraska and Ohio, after their hives foraged near pesticide-treated corn fields. The seed corn is treated with pesticides and fungicides. The neonicotinoid pesticides are very deadly to honey bees. Just one gram can kill 11 million to 22 million honey bees. When combined with fungicides, they are 10 times more deadly than when used alone! The coated corn seeds are sticky, so talc is added to the seeds to make them flow better in the corn planter. However, the powdery talc is readily carried by the wind to plants and areas beside the corn fields where bees are foraging. The talc is contaminated with these neonicotinoids and fungicides and the dead bees test positive for these chemicals. The source for this information is a new report released by Purdue University this year –
http://www.panna.org/sites/default/files/Krupke_journal.pone_.0029268.pdf

We are used to change in technology and society. But what we are not used to is rapid change behind our backs in our food. Everything appears to be the same as before, but it is not. In the last 15 years there have been significant changes in the way corn and other crops are grown that we are unaware of. Genetically modified plants are only one part of the problem.

From the Huffington Post – “Bee Kills in the Corn Belt: What’s GE Got to Do With It?” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/heather-pilatic/bee-kills-in-the-corn-bel_b_1520757.html

“Over the last 15 years, U.S. corn cultivation has gone from a crop requiring little-to-no insecticides and negligible amounts of fungicides, to a crop where the average acre is grown from seeds treated or genetically engineered to express three different insecticides (as well as a fungicide or two) before being sprayed prophylactically with RoundUp (an herbicide) and a new class of fungicides that farmers didn’t know they “needed” before the mid-2000s.
A series of marketing ploys by the pesticide industry undergird this story. It’s about time to start telling it, if for no other reason than to give lie to the oft-repeated notion that there is no alternative to farming corn in a way that poisons pollinators. We were once — not so long ago — on a very different path.

How corn farming went off the rails

“In the early 1990s, we were really good at growing corn using bio-intensive integrated pest management (bio-IPM). In practice, that meant crop rotations, supporting natural predators, using biocontrol agents like ladybugs and as a last resort, using chemical controls only after pests had been scouted for and found. During this time of peak bio-IPM adoption, today’s common practice of blanketing corn acreage with “insurance” applications of various pesticides without having established the need to do so would have been unthinkable. It’s expensive to use inputs you don’t need, and was once the mark of bad farming.

“Then, in the mid-to-late 1990s, GE corn and neonicotinoid (imidacloprid) seed treatments both entered the market — the two go hand-in-hand, partly by design and partly by accident…

“Then, as if on cue, Monsanto introduced three different strains of patented, GE corn between 1997 and 2003 (RoundUp Ready, and two Bt-expressing variants aimed at controlling the European Corn Borer and corn root worm). Clothianidin entered the U.S. market under conditional registration in 2003, and in 2004 corn seed companies began marketing seeds treated with a 5X level of neonicotinoids (1.25 mg/seed vs. .25). [Each seed has enough to kill 9,000 – 18,000 bees. – Myron]

“… and in the space of a decade, U.S. corn acreage undergoes a ten-fold increase in average insecticide use. By 2007, the average acre of corn has more than three systemic insecticides — both Bt traits and a neonicotinoid. Compare this to the early 1990s, when only an estimated 30-35 percent of all corn acreage were treated with insecticides at all.”

“When I spoke with one Iowa corn farmer in January and told him about the upcoming release of a Purdue study confirming corn as a major pesticide exposure route for bees, his face dropped with worn exasperation. He looked down for a moment, sighed and said, ‘You know, I held out for years on buying them GE seeds, but now I can’t get conventional seeds anymore. They just don’t carry ’em.'”

It used to be that pesticide sprays were sprayed on the surface of plants, fruits and vegetables to kill bugs. But in more recent years, systemic insecticides have been developed and are being widely used. Systemic insecticides and fungicides work by going into the plant and traveling through the entire plant and fruit or vegetable. Any bug that eats the plant is killed. It also keeps insects from eating the fruit or vegetable. There is no way to wash off a systemic insecticide or fungicide from a fruit or vegetable the way it was possible in the past. The insecticide and fungicide has become part of the food.

We found out about the killer corn one day after we had planted some sweet corn we purchased from Southern States. We had planted three different varieties of organic sweet corn seed that we purchased from Fedco.com. The Honey Select variety had basically 0% germination. Being ignorant of what was on the seed coating of sweet corn,  we purchased a pound of the Incredible variety sweet corn and planted eight, 80 foot rows of Incredible sweet corn where the Honey Select had been planted. I thought that the pink seed coating was just something bad tasting to keep the birds from eating it.  I could not read on the package what the seed treatment on the sweet corn seed was, so I went to Southern States to find out. I was concerned that we might have planted something that would kill our bees. It had five different fungicides! – Apron, Captan, Dividend, Thiram, and Vitavax! Apron is a systemic fungicide. I felt disgusted and betrayed. We waited until the corn started coming up and we dug it all up. The picture above shows the pink fungicide loaded seed still there, putting its chemicals into the plant.

One of the things that farmers across the US are complaining about is that they cannot buy bee friendly corn seed. Almost everything is genetically modified and treated with pesticides and fungicides. About the only way to get untreated seeds is to buy organic seeds or for a farmer to save his own seeds.

What this means is that the “All Natural” label on chicken, eggs, and other foods with corn ingredients is probably a bogus or misleading claim on most products. Non-GMO corn is not safe if the seeds have been treated with systemic fungicides and neonicotinoid pesticides.

I wish farmers knew how to grow high brix, nutrient dense corn. They could eliminate the chemicals, lower their production costs and provide a far superior food for their fellow human beings. It can be done. Last year we produced high brix sweet corn that had very few bugs. Instead, legal bio-terrorism on the farm is killing our honey bees, poisoning our food, and giving us poor quality food that is making us sick. Sick Care (Health Care) in America is the #1 industry. We are what we eat. Health begins in the soil and in the seed.

We need to help each other in these changing times and keep each other informed so that things do not unknowingly get changed behind our backs. Ignorance is not bliss when it affects our health or the health of our family and friends. Most people are ignorant about their food. I am amazed at how little most people know. They assume that all food is basically the same and that cheapest is best. The other day, I was getting gas in Pennsylvania, and the man at the pump next to me wondered what I was hauling on my trailer. I told him it was organic protein concentrate for our chicken feed. He asked, “What is organic?” in a way that showed he was clueless to what organic really is and as if organic was just something unimportant and more expensive. I was surprised that a 60-year-old man was so clueless about his food. Times have changed and he is still assuming that they are the same.

Other articles about corn and honey bees:
http://www.panna.org/press-release/farmers-press-access-bee-friendly-corn-seeds
http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/mysteriously-disappearance-honeybees-video

Cathy’s Cooking Corner

In our family we eat lots of eggs for breakfast. Broth poached eggs are a favorite of ours.

Broth Poached Eggs

Pour chicken or beef broth into a kettle or skillet to a one inch depth. Bring to a boil. Crack each egg gently into the broth. Simmer till they are the done to your preference.


Broth poached eggs have rich flavor.

Barbeque Chicken
After selling fresh chickens in May, all the chickens that were left were on the smaller size. So we cut them into split halves. We sell them as grilling halves for $5.29/lb. We think they are fabulous grilled with the following recipe.

2 cups vinegar
2 cups water
1 stick butter
8 tsp. salt
4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Bring to a boil. Marinate the chicken in this sauce for one hour before grilling. Brown both sides of the chicken well on the grill. I recommend grilling each side twice. Put into a hot crockpot on high for two to three hours, until the meat is very soft. You can also bake the chicken in the oven in a tightly closed casserole dish at 300 degrees for one to two hours instead of in the crockpot.

Have a wonderful Spring!

Myron and Cathy Horst and Family

Jehovah-Jireh Farm
http://www.jehovahjirehfarm.com/

Federal Government Seized South Mountain Creamery’s Bank Account

South Mountain Creamery is a farm here in Frederick County that sells pasteurized milk products and other produce at farmers markets. It recently had $70,000 dollars seized in its bank account because they made regular cash deposits from their farmer’s market sales last year that were just under $10,000. The Federal government is suing to keep $63,000, even though no charges were made.

Taylor’s Produce Stand on the Eastern Shore had a similar thing happen to them last year. They had $90,000 seized. In December, they received half of the seized money back. There were no criminal charges made. They will not see the rest of their money!

For articles on South Mountain Creamery:
http://citypaper.com/news/cashed-out-1.1301518
http://blogs.citypaper.com/index.php/2012/04/feds-sue-to-keep-south-mountain-creamerys-structured-cash-deposits/

Pasture Raised Broilers — Dial-a-size with…

by Myron Horst

When you prepare meals for yourself and those who will be eating with you, do you use your computer to carefully formulate the percentage of protein, calcium, sodium, fiber, available phosphorous, metabolizable energy, vitamin A, C, D, etc, and select the right foods and quantity of each food to fit the nutritional requirements for each person? Unfortunately, for humans we do not know what the optimum amounts or percentages should be for each of those nutrients. When we eat, we focus on what tastes good and what we think is “good for us”. The health care industry basically ignores nutrition and focuses on drugs.

What we eat is very important for our health, strength, and vitality. What we eat has a significant effect on who we are and what we look like. That point was driven home for me this year as we discovered the reason why our broilers had been smaller last year and also the first batch this year. Being a small farm, we do not have a professional poultry nutritionist to carefully formulate our chicken feed. Unfortunately, those who are advising small farmers are basing their advice on the advice of others, who are basing their advice on old research.

What I found is that in the 12 years since we started farming, the poultry industry has been improving the genetics of the broiler chicken each year. They have been shortening the time it takes to grow out a chicken by one day each year. That means that the market weight of a broiler chicken at eight weeks of age 12 years ago can now be reached at a little over six weeks! To achieve proper growth, these chickens need more protein.

I was able to find a broiler manual for the breed of broilers that we raise and discovered that our feed was lower in protein than what was recommended. We got a computer program for formulating our chicken feed and can now accurately adjust our chicken and turkey feeds for the needs of the poultry. We increased the percentage of protein and increased the average size of the broilers by about 1 3/4 pounds.

Going back to the title, I realized that it is possible in raising chickens to “dial-a-size” to a certain extent with — protein! If you want an average of 3 lb chickens, feed them a low protein diet. If you want 7 lb chickens in the same amount of time, feed them a very high protein diet. It is amazing what 3 to 5 percentage points can make on the size of a broiler chicken. Earlier this year, another pastured poultry farmer was having a problem with getting too many 7 lb chickens in eight weeks. She was feeding them an incredible 29% protein the first three weeks (the recommended is 22-25% protein). She was feeding a mixture of something like two scoops of feed and one scoop of fish meal.

Protein is not the only factor in the size and growth of chickens. There are many other challenges for pasture poultry farms – hot weather, cold weather, too wet, too dry, stress from predators, etc. At our first farm, we had to set up “tents” over the feeders that were outside so that the broiler chickens would not be afraid of the huge “birds” (airplanes) that flew over our farm on their way to Dulles Airport.

With the hens, we found that they were getting too much calcium and it was reducing the percentage of protein in their diet. We reduced the calcium and increased the protein slightly. The hens have been laying well and have not dropped off as much in production with the hot weather like they have other summers.

Protein is necessary for new cells to develop and growth to occur. Protein and the growth of chickens is an important object lesson for each of us in understanding the role of protein in human health. It is important that children get the proper protein so that their bodies grow and develop properly. Protein is important when our bodies are repairing from an injury. Protein is important so that the cells in our bodies can be replaced to reduce aging and degeneration and to increase strength and longevity.

We started raising chickens twelve years ago, not because I liked chickens—I had said, “I’ll never raise chickens”—but because God had directed us to raise chickens. A number of years ago, I realized that our farm was a protein farm. Most small farms are vegetable farms, but we don’t sell any vegetables, just protein – eggs, chicken, turkey, and lamb. I thought that having a farm producing protein was interesting, but did not see the significance of it. Now with the example of the chickens, I see the importance of having a protein farm for human health and strength.

Chickens and eggs are an important protein source. Chickens are the best fed farm animal. Because of their short life span and rapid growth, scientists have been able to pinpoint week by week the nutrients that a chicken needs. Our chicken feed is formulated with many vitamins and minerals. Add to that the benefits of pasture-raising chickens and eggs and you get a superb protein source for your dietary needs. So now I know the rest of the story — why we were led to have a protein farm!

Why Organic?

We feed our chickens organic feed. With prices of organic feed close to double that of conventional feed, it is easy to wonder, "Is it really worth it?" Nutrient-density tests of organic produce have often shown that "organic" does not equal "nutrient-dense". Sometimes, organic produce will be as bad as—or worse than—conventional produce. Some, therefore, with good reason, start the chorus: "Why pay more for organic if it’s not higher in minerals?" Of course, we all know that organic has not been sprayed with pesticides, and eating food sprayed with substances whose names end in "cide" (from the Latin, meaning "death") does not seem like a good idea. But another, just as important reason is that organic produce must not be genetically engineered.

Companies like Monsanto engineer corn, soybeans and other plants to make them resistant to herbicides (so you can spray Monsanto’s Roundup on the corn field and kill the weeds, but not the corn) or produce their own pesticide (as with Bt corn). Really? Corn with a built-in pesticide? These genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) seem to be everywhere in our food supply. Much of the corn grown in this country is genetically modified (GM). Due to the use of corn for making high fructose corn syrup, many foods that contain corn syrup (from soda pop to ketchup to fruit cocktail to ice cream to "honey" graham crackers) therefore contain genetically modified ingredients.  So how do they modify plant genetics, and what are the results?

Dr. Arden Andersen, speaking at the Weston A. Price Foundation 2006 Conference, tells, in a nutshell, the GMO story:

(BEGIN TRANSCRIPT)
"Now here’s the big issue, really, that you have to understand, it’s even more severe, or as severe, as the immune reaction, that is that absolutely they have proven horizontal gene transfer into our gut bacteria. Horizontal gene transfer. And the problem is, is part of that horizontal gene is an antibiotic resistant gene. An antibiotic resistant gene. So automatically, we become antibiotic resistant to whatever antibiotic that company is using in that genetic technology, because that’s part of the genetic engineering technology…

"So, how is this process happening? Well, what happens is that they have to take cells of this GM crop and they have to culture them, and then somehow they have to get that gene into that cell. But how do they know if it’s in there? They can’t wait for it to grow out and then determine that. So they have to somehow evaluate those cells in culture for the presence of the gene they have randomly shot in. By the way, this is not an absolute technology. It’s very random. They take a plasma gun and they literally just shoot in this plasma into the cells. It’s a random process. And they hope some of them get into the nucleus of the cell. So what they do is they take, for example, the Roundup Ready gene, and they have to attach to that an antibiotic resistant gene, because they have to have some way of identifying whether or not this gene was implanted. Well, then the other thing is  you have to understand is this is a foreign gene. In our body we have switches that turn on our genes, turn off our genes, all right? And they do that at the appropriate times in our development, embryonic development. But this is a foreign gene, so there’s nothing there to turn it on or off, so what they have to do is put an on switch. So they put an activator gene in there. What is that activator gene? Typically that is a virus that they put in there. A virus that our body has never seen before. Great!

"So then what they do is they shoot that in, and then they have to figure out, "How are we going to identify this?" So since they have the antibiotic resistant gene, they then coat all of these cells in culture with that antibiotic, and typically it’s ampicillin — penicillin. So any cell that survives that antibiotic treatment — "Ah, that tells us that gene, then, was accepted. We got that gene into those cells." But the thing about it is, you have an activator gene there. So every cell in that soybean plant is also going to have ampicillin resistance. And as soon as you eat that? Direct horizontal gene transfer to the biology in your gut. So now all of the gut in your body also has ampicillin resistance. Great! We don’t have enough resistance to antibiotics in this country, so I know we need to increase that.

"So think about it a moment. Take identical twins, and let’s say that one donates a kidney to the other one that has kidney failure. Identical twins! Does the recipient automatically accept that kidney from its identical twin? Absolutely not! We still have to give that person anti-rejection drugs, okay? And those are human to human transfer of identical twin tissue. So think for a moment: so you think that an absolute foreign protein, put into a plant and then into our body, is not going to have an immune response?

"The Swiss Federal Research Station–so remember now, all these organizations, these are not fly by night organizations, these are government organizations–the Swiss Federal Station found out that when you take green lacewings and they eat corn borer caterpillars that are feeding on GM corn, 50% more lacewings die than if you actually hit those lacewings with Bt directly. "Ah, but it’s essentially the same." Ladybugs, the same thing. They looked at ladybugs eating aphids that are feeding on genetically engineered potatoes. What did they find? 30% fewer progeny and lived half the normal life expectancy. And then they tell me that there is no issue with genetically engineered food? There’s no such thing as genetically engineered food. It is not food at all. It is poison. Every level of nature tells us that it’s poison. Tell me that we have a placebo effect with ladybugs and green lacewings. Amazing!"
(END TRANSCRIPT)

Does this sound like something that we should consume every day? It more sounds like a wonder that it hasn’t killed us all. I agree with Dr. Andersen. It is poison!

And so, I support organics, if for no other reason than to avoid GMO’s. I cannot believe that I should put antibiotic resistant bacteria and viruses (implanted into the very genetics of the "food") down my throat. It seems risky, if not downright dangerous!

A very good documentary discussing GMO’s is The Future of Food (http://www.thefutureoffood.com/). It goes into detail about just what Monsanto and friends are doing to our food supply. You can see the introduction to it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNezTsrCY0Q

Global Warming and Climate Change

Last month I shared with you a perspective of fossil fuels and carbon sequestering from my perspective as an organic farmer. One of the things that I stated is that "It is important for us to try to be independent thinkers, to research facts for ourselves, and to step back and try to look outside the ‘box’ that everyone is looking in." We hear a lot about global warming and climate change. Billions of dollars are being spent to correct the stated problem. However, one of the things that I noticed when I heard things on the news about global warming and climate change is that they did not state how many degrees that the earth has warmed up. This made me curious to find out the facts. I will share with you what I found.

The National Climatic Data Center of the US Department of Commerce has a chart listing the global temperatures from 1880 to the present. The temperatures listed are in hundredths of a degree Celsius. Note that in the past 107 years the global temperature has changed a little over one half a degree Celsius which is less than the statistical margin of error. According to the statistics, global temperatures have remained stable for the last 10 years. The following is an excerpt from that chart:

1900   -0.0281
1901   -0.0974

1997    0.4615
1998    0.5763
1999    0.3947
2000    0.3629
2001    0.4934
2002    0.5573
2003    0.5565
2004    0.5336
2005    0.6044
2006    0.5428
2007    0.5458
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/anomalies.html#anomalies

A similar chart can be found at NASA’s website. Please note, this is the first chart I looked at. At first I thought that there were very significant increases in global temperatures until I realized that the temperatures listed on this chart were not in degrees but in .01 degrees Celsius!

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/tabledata/ZonAnn.Ts.txt

I never gave it much thought about how difficult it is to measure the actual global earth temperature until I read the following article on NASA’s website. Note, there is no standardized procedure for measuring the temperatures at various locations around the world. I had assumed that there was a standardized procedure. The following article describes how inaccurate a non-standardized procedure for recording the global air temperature can be. Remember, this is on NASA’s website.

The Elusive Absolute Surface Air Temperature (SAT)

Q. What exactly do we mean by SAT ?

A. I doubt that there is a general agreement how to answer this question. Even at the same location, the temperature near the ground may be very different from the temperature 5 ft above the ground and different again from 10 ft or 50 ft above the ground. Particularly in the presence of vegetation (say in a rain forest), the temperature above the vegetation may be very different from the temperature below the top of the vegetation. A reasonable suggestion might be to use the average temperature of the first 50 ft of air either above ground or above the top of the vegetation. To measure SAT we have to agree on what it is and, as far as I know, no such standard has been suggested or generally adopted. Even if the 50 ft standard were adopted, I cannot imagine that a weather station would build a 50 ft stack of thermometers to be able to find the true SAT at its location.

Q. What do we mean by daily mean SAT ?

A. Again, there is no universally accepted correct answer. Should we note the temperature every 6 hours and report the mean, should we do it every 2 hours, hourly, have a machine record it every second, or simply take the average of the highest and lowest temperature of the day ? On some days the various methods may lead to drastically different results.

Q. What SAT do the local media report ?

A. The media report the reading of 1 particular thermometer of a nearby weather station. This temperature may be very different from the true SAT even at that location and has certainly nothing to do with the true regional SAT. To measure the true regional SAT, we would have to use many 50 ft stacks of thermometers distributed evenly over the whole region, an obvious practical impossibility.

Q. If SATs cannot be measured, how are SAT maps created ?

A. This can only be done with the help of computer models, the same models that are used to create the daily weather forecasts. We may start out the model with the few observed data that are available and fill in the rest with guesses (also called extrapolations) and then let the model run long enough so that the initial guesses no longer matter, but not too long in order to avoid that the inaccuracies of the model become relevant. This may be done starting from conditions from many years, so that the average (called a ‘climatology’) hopefully represents a typical map for the particular month or day of the year.

To read the rest of the page go to:

http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/abs_temp.html

After reading the above information, I had to wonder if the children’s story of "Chicken Little" has more relevance than just a story for children. Often one of our hens will get excited and alarmed about a perceived threat and get all the other hens squawking about it too. They make a huge racket. It is amusing to watch. After a while they realize that the perceived threat was nothing and they go on about their business.

Are we destroying the global climate as fast as some would lead us to believe? From the actual statistics it does not appear so. However, that doesn’t mean we can pollute the air, spray chemicals on our ground and pollute our water. We do have a responsibility to be stewards of the earth and care for it. As I pointed out last month, sequestering carbon is important, not to correct global warming, but to build the fertility and nutrient density of our soils so that we can be healthy and live productive lives. Farmers have been depleting the soils for generations and it is important that we change that direction. Organic farming is moving in the right direction. Thanks for your support.