Alafair

in all my infinite wisdom

Pesticides Are Killing the Organisms That Keep Our Soils Healthy

By Nathan Donley, Tari Gunstone on June 1, 2021
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They harm worms, beetles and thousands of other subterranean species that are vital to agriculture

Pesticides Are Killing the Organisms That Keep Our Soils Healthy
Credit: Qian Ling

Scoop up a shovelful of healthy soil, and you’ll likely be holding more living organisms than there are people on Earth. Like citizens of an underground city that never sleeps, tens of thousands of subterranean species of invertebrates, nematodes, bacteria and fungi are constantly filtering our water, recycling nutrients and helping to regulate the planet’s temperature.

But under fields covered in tightly knit rows of corn, soybeans, wheat and other monoculture crops, a toxic soup of insecticides, herbicides and fungicides is wreaking havoc, according to our recent analysis in the journal Frontiers in Environmental Science. The study—to our knowledge the most comprehensive review ever conducted on how pesticides affect soil health—should trigger immediate and substantive changes in how the Environmental Protection Agency assesses the risks posed by the nearly 850 pesticide ingredients approved for use in the U.S.

Regulations currently ignore pesticides’ harm to soil species. Our study leaves no doubt that this disregard must change. For our analysis, conducted by researchers at the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and the University of Maryland, we looked at nearly 400 published studies comprising more than 2,800 experiments on how pesticides affect soil organisms. Our review encompassed 275 unique species or types of soil organisms and 284 different pesticides or pesticide mixtures.

In just over 70 percent of those experiments, pesticides were found to harm organisms critical to maintaining healthy soils—harms that have never been considered in the EPA’s safety reviews. Pesticide-intensive agriculture and pollution are driving factors in the precipitous decline of many soil organisms, such as ground beetles and ground-nesting bees. They have been identified as the most significant driver of soil biodiversity loss in the past decade.

Yet pesticide companies and our pesticide regulators have ignored that research. The EPA, which is responsible for pesticide oversight in the U.S., openly acknowledges that somewhere between 50 and 100 percent of all agriculturally applied pesticides end up on the soil. Yet to assess pesticides’ harms to soil species, the agency still uses a single test species—one that spends its entire life aboveground in artificial boxes—to estimate risk to all soil organisms: the European honeybee.

The fact that the EPA relies on a species that literally may never touch soil in its entire life to represent the thousands of species that live or develop underground offers a disturbing glimpse of how the U.S. pesticide regulatory system is set up to protect the pesticide industry instead of species and their ecosystems. What this ultimately means is that pesticide approvals happen without any regard for how those chemicals can harm soil organisms.

To add to this, as principles of regenerative agriculture and soil health gain popularity around the world, pesticide companies have jumped on the bandwagon to greenwash their products. Every major company now has Web materials touting its role in promoting soil health, often advocating for reducing tilling and planting cover crops.

As general tenets, both these practices are indeed good for soil health and, if adopted responsibly, are great steps to take. But companies know that these practices are often accompanied by increased pesticide use. When fields are not tilled, herbicides are frequently used to kill weeds, and cover crops are often killed with chemicals before crop planting. This “one step forward, one step back” approach is preventing meaningful progress to protect our soils. Pesticide companies have so far been successful in coopting “healthy soil” messaging because our regulators have shown no willingness to protect soil organisms from pesticides.

The long-term environmental cost of that failure can no longer be ignored. Soils are some of the most complex ecosystems on Earth, containing nearly a quarter of the planet’s biodiversity. Protecting them should be a priority, not an afterthought. Our research indicates that achieving this will require that we reduce the world’s growing and unsustainable reliance on pesticide-intensive agriculture. And it will require that the EPA take aggressive steps to protect soil health.

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Let’s eliminate systemic speciesism

By JOEL FREEDMAN Jul 24, 2021

Three members of Compassionate Consumers, a vegan activist group in Rochester, surreptitiously entered a large commercial egg farm in Wayne County three times during the summer of 2004. A year later, after the activists were unsuccessful in their efforts to get animal cruelty charges against the company, Compassionate Consumers released a graphic video of conditions at the 700,000-hen facility. The activists took several injured hens from the facility and found homes for them.

The release of the video did not result in cruelty charges against the commercial farm. Instead, Adam Durand and the two others were indicted for burglary, petit larceny, and criminal trespass. The egg farm did not press charges against them until after the video was made public.

The video depicts birds packed in wire cages so small that they cannot spread their wings. They had been subjected to painful beak trimmings. Many birds were found dead in their cages. Many live birds were submerged in manure piles under their cages. Some of the hens were observed with their heads stuck between the cage bars.

The activists recorded everything they saw and did during their unauthorized visits to the egg farm. They gave this evidence to law enforcement officials in hopes the farm would be held accountable.

When they were arrested for their endeavors, I thought about the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Cowardice asks the question, Is it safe? Expediency asks the question, Is it all right? And there comes a point when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor polite, nor popular, but one must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.”

I believe the three activists acted conscientiously and courageously to expose the cruelties that existed — and still do — in the egg production industry.

Two of the activists pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of petit larceny and criminal trespass and were sentenced to probation and community service. Durand went to trial. A jury acquitted him of burglary and larceny. He was convicted of three misdemeanor criminal trespass charges. The trial and the cruelty to animals at the egg farm were reported in the Finger Lakes Times and throughout America and the world, including coverage by The New York Times, the Associated Press and ABC’s “Prime Time.”

A Wayne County judge disregarded a pre-sentence probation department recommendation for leniency. He imposed the harshest penalty ever imposed in New York on an individual who, with no prior arrests, had been convicted only of misdemeanor trespass. Durand was sentenced to six months in the Wayne County Jail with a $1,500 fine, a year of probation, and 100 hours of community service.

The Appellate Division released Durand after 35 days of incarceration while the court considered his appeal. The appellate judges found that the Wayne County judge had erred because he had considered the burglary and larceny charges when passing sentence, even though Durand had been acquitted of those charges. The Wayne County judge then re-sentenced Durand only to the time he had already served in jail.

This large egg farm eventually sold its facility to another large-scale egg producer.

I recently phoned Durand, who told me he “learned a heck of a lot about the criminal justice system” during his ordeal. His fellow inmates treated him with respect, but a few corrections officers ridiculed him for taking a stand on behalf of the birds. Durand has no regrets about what he did and remains committed to the cause of animal rights.

I decided to write this essay because although the video was made in 2004, the horrifying conditions that were exposed then still exist at large-scale egg production facilities. A common practice by the egg industry is induced molting — prolonged starvation to shock the hens into laying more eggs. And horrific cruelty also continues at animal research labs, puppy mills, pigeon shoots, slaughterhouses, live lobster tanks, factory farms, live animal auctions, roadside zoos, rodeos and other violent spectacles, and countless other places.

Speciesism is the misguided belief that animals are inherently inferior to humans, exist only to be exploited by humans, and are unworthy of moral consideration. I believe speciesism is systemic and widespread in America and throughout our world.

Speciesism is seen in everyday conversations that include “cruelty clichés” such as “killing two birds with one stone … more than one way to skin a cat … You’re a dead duck … beating a dead horse to death … bleeding like a stuck pig.” False and negative images of animals are evident when people insult other people by referring to them as an animal (a brute), a pig (a slob), a turkey (a stupid person), a dog (lazy, worthless or ugly), a snake in the grass (deceptive, sleazy).

My wish is for the kind of world Rev. King envisioned in which “We shall overcome” not only racial divides but also other evils that have caused so much unnecessary suffering for humans and for other sentient beings who share the world with us.

According to the Gospel of The Holy Twelve (GH12), Jesus frequently healed and rescued animals. He was their savior too. This is why on many occasions “the birds gathered around him, and welcomed him with their song, and other living creatures came unto his feet, and they ate out of his hands.”

Yes, I am among the few who accept the authenticity of this gospel, but mainstream Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and other world religions also share a recognition for kindness to animals. Whatever our religious/spiritual differences may be, and whether we pray in private or pray in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other places of worship, I believe the worship God appreciates the most is when we treat others — including non-human sentient beings — in a manner in which we would want others to treat us.

Canandaigua resident Joel Freedman contributes essays and book reviews to the Finger Lakes Times frequently.
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Why No One Should Ever Support a Dog Breeder

source: PETA

Why does PETA work so hard to take down dog breeders and puppy mills? Simple—breeding animals is killing them. Every time a breeder brings another puppy into the world, a dog sitting in a shelter loses a chance at finding a loving home.

What’s a dog breeder?

Anyone who uses dogs’ reproduction to make a profit is a breeder. Some may be small-time “backyard” operations, while others could be filthy industrial-sized puppy mills. Regardless of size, every breeder is responsible for exacerbating the overpopulation crisis.

Two small dogs in wire crate at puppy mill

In a time of extreme companion animal overpopulation, breeding dogs is always irresponsible and cruel. Dog breeders treat living individuals as commodities to be genetically manipulated for profit. In this industry, many dogs are kept in crates and cages, where they live alone, never experiencing the affection of a loving family.

How are dog breeders worsening the overpopulation crisis?

There’s no excuse for bringing more puppies into the world. More than 6 million animals end up homeless every year, and half of them must be euthanized because there simply aren’t enough proper homes for them. Every time a dog is bred, more dogs lose the opportunity to have a good life.

Few breeders require the puppies they sell to be spayed or neutered, so they can soon have litters of their own, further exacerbating the overpopulation crisis. Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years.

Breeders don’t see dogs as individuals with personalities and specific needs—they just see dollar signs. When fleeting trends arise around particular breeds, such as the craze for huskies fueled by HBO’s Game of Thrones, dog breeders pump out dogs just to satisfy humans’ most recent whim. The pet trade encourages the public to view animals as impulse purchases, no different from fashion accessories or home decor, rather than as thinking, feeling beings who deserve love, respect, and a lifetime commitment.

Many other unwanted animals—who are abandoned but never make it into a shelter—suffer and die after being hit by cars or attacked by other animals, succumbing to disease or the elements, or enduring other awful fates.

Are dog breeders always bad news?

When millions of dogs must die every year because no one will adopt them, breeding a dog even once is unethical. Instead, guardians should be having their animal companions spayed or neutered.

The dog-breeding industry includes puppy mills—hellish mass-breeding facilities in which dogs are treated like puppy-producing machines and never given any love or attention or even the opportunity to stretch their legs.

Filthy, broken-down enclosures at puppy mill

In numerous investigations, PETA has exposed puppy-mill breeders who keep dogs confined to filthy cages that are barely any larger than their own bodies, causing them extreme suffering and distress. Kept in cramped wooden hutches with wire flooring or chained to trees with little to no shelter from the elements, they suffer from illnesses and injuries. Dogs coming from these horrific compounds are often denied proper veterinary care and socialization. Imagine being forced to live amid your own waste, with pus-filled wounds, agonizing ear infections, and deadly parasites. This is the reality of life in a puppy mill.

Collie in small cage at puppy mill

Puppy-mill breeders force dogs to reproduce repeatedly until their bodies wear out from the strain of being continually pregnant in such impoverished, harsh conditions. At that point, female dogs are worthless to a breeder and are often taken to a shelter, auctioned off, or even killed.

Bigotry begins when categories such as race, age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or species are used to justify discrimination.

JOIN THE MOVEMENT

Do puppy mills and breeders really sell sick dogs?

Genetic defects are rampant in any breeding scenario. These can include physical problems that require costly veterinary treatment as well as personality disorders that often frustrate people who buy them, leading them to abandon their dogs.

Boston terrier in small dirty enclosure

Reckless breeding and the infatuation with “pure” bloodlines lead to inbreeding. This causes painful and life-threatening disabilities in “purebred” dogs, including crippling hip dysplasia, blindness, deafness, heart defects, skin problems, and epilepsy. Dogs don’t care whether their physical appearance conforms to a judge’s standards, but they are the ones who suffer the consequences of genetic manipulation.

IF YOU BOUGHT AN AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB-REGISTERED DOG AND THEY BECAME ILL OR VIOLENT OR DIED PREMATURELY, LET US KNOW.

What’s the difference between buying a dog from a breeder and adopting from a shelter?

Any socially conscious animal shelter will ensure that dogs have all recommended vaccinations, are spayed or neutered, and have been socialized well enough to become part of a loving family. They screen families thoroughly and require an adoption fee to ensure that the potential adopter is ready for a lifetime commitment.

What if I want a specific breed?

If you’re determined to have a dog of a specific breed, there are many waiting to be adopted—one in four dogs in shelters is a “purebred.” Additionally, there are rescue groups looking for homes for dogs of just about every breed. Petfinder.com is a great resource. If everyone were to stop buying puppies from pet stores, there would be no market for mass-produced puppies, puppy mills would go out of business, and a lot fewer dogs would suffer.

Why are backyard breeders bad?

An amateur dog breeder is just as unethical as any puppy mill but on a smaller scale. Using an individual’s reproductive ability to make a quick buck isn’t just creepy, it also adds to the overpopulation crisis, just as puppy mills do.

And just like puppy mills, amateur breeders can breed dogs with health problems, passing along genes that cause suffering in litter after litter. These types of breeders may also cut costs by failing to provide proper veterinary care. Everything from parasites to bone defects to the deadly parvovirus could very well be overlooked by backyard breeders.

Is breeding your own dog a bad idea, too?

It’s irresponsible to bring more dogs into the world when millions are killed every day because no one wants them. Animal companions can live longer, healthier lives by being spayed or neutered.

Guardians may feel that their animal companion should experience motherhood, but having babies is by no means vital to living a fulfilling life. And while the intentions of adopters may be good, there’s no way of knowing what will happen to the puppies once they’ve been adopted.

Does breeding shorten a dog’s life?

Pregnancy and birth in any species comes with inherent risks to the mother and the fetus. Spaying eliminates the stress and discomfort that females endure during heat periods, eliminates the risk of uterine cancer, and greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Neutering makes males far less likely to roam and fight, prevents testicular cancer, and reduces the risk of prostate cancer.

How many litters can a dog legally be bred to have?

There have been some efforts to limit the number of litters a breeder can register with larger institutions such as the American Kennel Club. But currently, there are no laws that regulate the extent to which a breeder can breed an animal for profit.

PETA supports legislative measures that mandate spaying and neutering.

Is PETA against owning pets?

Domestic animals are incapable of surviving on their own, so it’s our responsibility to take the best possible care of them. PETA fully supports sharing our lives and homes with animal companions who are loved, treated well, and given proper care.

How can I help take down dog breeders and puppy mills?

Never buy animals from puppy mills, breeders, or pet stores. If you have the time, money, and patience to care for a companion animal properly and for a lifetime, adopt from a shelter. Consider adopting two, so that they can keep each other company when you’re not home. And be sure to make a spay or neuter appointment right away.

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They Even Rape Insects

Honey is not vegan. As the honey industry moves slowly towards obsolescence its undeniable cruelty becomes clear, but the 10 billion dollars it pulls in each year the leaders and members of this industry will say and deny anything to keep it going.

video

Honey is probably the product most frequently mistaken as harmless. There is a common misconception that honeybees make their honey especially for us, but this could not be much further from the truth.

Because they are insects and because they are seen flying free, bees are considered free of the usual cruelties of the animal farming industry. However, bees undergo treatments similar to those endured by other farm animals. They go through routine examination and handling, artificial feeding regimes, drug and pesticide treatment, genetic manipulation, rape, artificial insemination, transportation (by air, rail, and road), and slaughter.

Like cows and chickens, bees are used as bio-machines to make a product for human consumption. Like all forms of slavery in the modern world, bees are seized as production units, fit the “how to benefit their owner” method.

Honey Bees are slaves

Bees consume sucrose, found in flower nectar, hold it in their primary stomach, and then convert it to glucose and fructose – that is what we call honey. When the bees get back to their hive, they regurgitate the semi-digested material, and the other bees feed on it. Honey is essential to feed their young.  In the winter, pollen is less widespread; therefore, they work continually through the other months to hoard their supply.

As opposed to the common conception, bees can feel pain. Bees have brains and central nervous systems with which they comprehend their surroundings. Bees have a unique and complex form of communication based on sight, motion, and scent that scientists and scholars are working to understand. Bees alert other members of their hive to food, new hive locations, and conditions within their hive (such as nectar supply) through intricate “dance” movements.

Studies have shown that bees are capable of abstract thinking as well as distinguishing their family members from other bees in the hive, using visual cues to map their travels, and finding a previously used food supply, even when their home has been moved. And similar to the way that smells can invoke powerful memories in humans, they can also trigger memories in bees, such as memories of where the best food can be found.

For humans to consume honey first it must be stolen. The act of taking away food produced for the bee’s young is plain and simple theft. Humans steal the bees’ sole source of nutrition and replace it with sugar syrups. These syrups are usually made of refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup, the cheapest substitutes available and most contain the poisonous weed killer Glyphosate, so they are inferior and poisonous for bees’ health. These sweeteners harm the bees’ immune systems and can cause genetic changes that reduce their defenses against pesticides. Both of these effects can ultimately damage a beehive. If we are trying to protect these animals, it is logical not to deprive them of their ideal source of nutrition. While some beekeepers claim to only take ‘surplus’ honey, it is not possible to judge how much the hive requires to function optimally and humans will almost always defend profit-making activities.

During the process of taking the food they worked so hard to make, the bees are then violently evacuated from their home. This is done by shaking the hives, using chemical repellents, smoking the bees out, or using forced air to blast them out. Bees are quick to defend their hive when it is disturbed. They do not willingly “give” their honey, they fight for it and many are injured, squashed, or otherwise killed during the conquest of their home.

Bees can only gather a tiny amount of pollen from the flowers in each trip, 75,000 miles of travel and pollen from 2 million flowers are needed to gather just one pound of honey. The honeybee will fly about 800 km in her working life and produce just half a teaspoon of honey. A queen produces 150,000 eggs per year during her 2 years of life in commercial hives.

In cold countries, it is not profitable to keep bees throughout the winter. If there is an unproductive gap ‘Beekeepers’ starve the bees or burn the hives to avoid maintenance. ‘Beekeepers’ douse the hive with petroleum, then burn it with the bees inside. In other times, the bees are simply left to starve to death after the honey is taken.

Bees cannot escape from captivity. Lone bees will rarely make it on their own; they need the support of a colony. If a lone bee does leave her colony, occasionally a new colony may accept her, but most of them will kill her.

The most important reason why bees cannot just fly away is that the ‘beekeepers’ will not let them. ‘Beekeepers’ do their best to prevent swarming (when bees congregate and fly away en-masse), because not only would they lose about half of “their” bees, but bees do not produce honey during the intense preparation of swarming. Beekeepers often kill the old queen and replace her with a new one (older queens are much more likely to swarm than younger ones). Since swarming requires a queen, the queen’s wings are cut off. 

The queen's wings are cut off
They pull off the queen bees wings

When the ‘keeper wants to move a queen to a new colony, she is carried with “bodyguard bees, all of whom, if they survive the transport, will be killed by bees in the new colony. Artificial insemination involving the death of the male is the norm for the new generation of queen bees. The favored method of obtaining bee sperm is to pull off the bee’s head: decapitation sends an electrical impulse to the nervous system, causing sexual arousal. The lower half of the headless bee is then squeezed to make it ejaculate, and the resulting liquid is collected in a hypodermic syringe to be inserted into the female. The queen is being raped. 

The Queen being raped
The Bee version of The Rape Rack

Queen Bees are purchased from commercial ‘queen suppliers. Hundreds of queens are kept in cages waiting to be shipped around the country. After arrival at the post office or shipping depot, they suffer from overheating, cold, being banged around, and exposed to insecticides. Queens can live for five years but most beekeepers kill and replace them about every two years. There are several reasons for doing that, all of which resort to exerting control over the colony, mostly to keep honey production at a maximum. Artificial pheromones are also used to keep the colonies under control.

Bees are also victims of vivisection. Unfortunately, their quiet nature makes the honeybees easily manipulated and it has been claimed that they make an ideal laboratory animal. Many experiments are conducted to develop colonies that will produce more honey and thus make more money.

As is the “norm” with animal agribusiness, humans mercilessly squeeze profit from the creatures they hold captive. To this end, many ‘beekeepers’ widen their evil business beyond honey to include many other products.

Bee pollen is collected from flowers and brought back to the hive as a load on the hind legs. It is a food source for the bee and is stored in the hive. A colony requires approximately 60lbs of pollen per year to survive. The collection of pollen involves fitting special traps in the hive, to scrape the pollen from the bees’ backs. The artificial passage created by humans is just big enough to allow the bee through so the traps scrape the pollen off.

As the bee unknowingly enters through the pollen trap all its hard work
is scraped off the bee’s hind legs. Everything about the bee is stolen and exploited completely

Bee venom is the sting of the bee. Its collection involves the stretching of an electrically charged membrane in front of the hive. When the bees fly into it, they receive an electric shock and sting the membrane, thus depositing the venom. Bee venom is valued by some for its supposed medicinal qualities but there is no scientific evidence of this.

These are not vegan

Royal jelly is a creamy-white sticky fluid, which is made from a blend of two secretions from the glands of the worker bees. Royal jelly is the sole source of nourishment for the queen bee throughout her life. Since royal jelly enables the bee to become a queen, some people foolishly believe they can recapture their lost youth by eating it

Beeswax is secreted by bees to build their hives. The grayish-brown wax is secreted by the bee to construct honeycombs. Beeswax is used in some candles and many “natural” cosmetics. Those cosmetics products are falsely marked as “no animal products”.

Propolis is a resinous substance gathered by bees from trees. It is used to fill holes and varnish, and strengthen the hive. Bees also use it as a natural antibiotic, antiviral, and antifungal agent. It is gathered by humans either by scraping it off the hive or by collecting it on specially made frames. It is used as a medicine and food supplement. It is sometimes called ‘bee glue’ antiseptic.

Humans commercially steal bees’ winter food sources, merely to sweeten their own food. Factory farmed bees are made to endure genetic manipulation, artificial insemination, pesticide poisoning, artificial food, rough handling, smoke, chemical repellents, air blasts, transportation by air, rail, road, and even by mail, and slaughter.

It is so common for humans to steal from bees who have sweeter “sugar”. It is so natural for humans to steal from the weak something so basic to provide something so marginal to the strong. Humans fail to understand what they are doing is stealing from the bee. For them, they falsely believe the bees are giving humans the honey, this is the same mindset with chickens and eggs, cows and milk, sheep, etc. that they exist to give, happily, their body, skin, fur, and secretions to humans!

Humans can thrive without honey in their diets. Several plant-based options can replace honey. The most common vegan alternatives are:
Maple syrup, Blackstrap molasses, Barley malt syrup, Brown rice syrup, Date syrup, Bee Free Honee

The honey industry, like many other commercial industries, is profit-driven where the welfare of the bees is secondary to commercial gain.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

Mahatma Gandhi.

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The Perils of Politicizing a Plague

politicalpandemic

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Live Export is Cruel and Heinous

#BANLIVEEXPORT

Blogger opinion: I always use root cause analysis for every problem/issue and if you could read this post in its entirety and continue in what is the root of this, eating meat and being part of the supply and demand for animals flesh there is something very wrong within your soul.

most of the information on this post borrowed from animalsaustralia.org Please support them.

What’s it like on board a live export ship?

What's it like on board a live export ship?

An experienced live export vet has given ABC’s 7.30 a glimpse into the conditions endured by animals on live export ships — and it’s not a pretty picture.

Animals at this stocking density are not able to all lie down at onceIn addition to the stress of the unfamiliar environment, noise, and constant ship movement, at the typical high stocking density of a long haul voyage, it is not usually possible for all animals to lie down naturally at the same time. Stocking densities allowed by Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL) are much higher than any land-based feedlot or intensive housing system.

BEDDING

Not enough sawdust is provided for all animals to have soft bedding to lie on

Adequate sawdust or other soft bedding to rest on is not available to cattle on board a live export ship. Some sawdust provisions are required but they are not nearly sufficient, leaving animals traveling on hard, non-slip surfaces which can often result in painful abrasions, lameness, and injury. Australian standards only indicate that bedding should be replaced “as necessary” leaving this decision in the hands of exporters.

FECES
Animals are often coated with faeces by the end of the journey

The build-up of wet feces on live export ships can lead to cattle becoming coated in excrement. Apart from being distressing and unhygienic, fecal coated cattle cannot dispel heat through their body surface and are at greater risk of heat stress.

HEAT

Changes in temperature can cause suffering and death for animals

Heat stress is a constant risk on live export ships. Animals suffering from heat stress literally cook from the inside out — they can suffer for days as their organs shut down one by one. In 2013, more than 4,000 Australian sheep died on board the Bader III as temperatures in the Gulf soared — turning the ship they were traveling on into a floating oven. 

DISCOMFORT

Non-slip cleating makes for an uncomfortable surface for animals to lie on
Ship floors are often covered in non-slip ‘cleating’ (as pictured) which doesn’t allow sheep and cattle to rest comfortably. This can cause abrasions and lameness which may lead to septicemia.

INJURIES

Non-slip cleating makes for an uncomfortable surface for animals to lie on
This animal has slipped and is unable to rise. His hind legs are covered in abrasions and left hoof appears to be bloodied. Hoof damage, painful skin abrasions, and lameness are common onboard live export vessels due to the abrasive deck surface and inadequate drainage.

Not enough sawdust is provided for all animals to have soft bedding to lie on
Cattle are also at risk of injury from slipping into open drain holes in the ship’s deck which drain water and fecal matter into the deck below.

INFECTION

Open wounds are at risk of infection
Untreated, open wounds are at risk of infection and septic cellulitis from exposure to feces and urine. Skin abrasions often go unnoticed as they are covered by fecal matter. Infections can be so painful that an animal will refuse to rise, which in turn stops them from feeding and drinking and leaves them lying in their own feces.

DISEASE

Animals are at high risk of disease

High stocking densities, high levels of ammonia, and the stressful and unfamiliar conditions onboard ships can result in animals failing to eat (resulting in death), eye infections, heat stress, salmonellosis, and pneumonia.

FOOD AND WATER CONTAMINATION

Contaminated food and water can lead to animals not eating and drinking properly
Dirty pens filled with dirty cattle unsurprisingly lead to dirty water and feed troughs, contaminated with urine and feces. This can result in animals suffering from dehydration and not getting enough food.

ROUGH SEAS

Rough seas increase risk of injury and sickness
Rough seas and unexpected weather put animals at increased risk of injury and seasickness.


Anything could go wrongMechanical failure In 2014, the livestock ship Ocean Drover caught fire.

Live export has a history of disasters that have been devastating for animals – ventilation problems, engine failure and even fire have caused suffering and fatalities. Every journey runs the risk of something going wrong and animals are the ones to pay the price.

FATIGUE

Animals are at risk of being smothered when they fall asleep
Cattle have been known to lie down for long periods of time when the decks are cleaned and new sawdust is laid. Dr. Simpson states this is a result of exhaustion and fatigue from animals reluctant to lie down in their own feces not getting sufficient respite. Due to the lack of space onboard, animals are at risk of being smothered, injured, or repeatedly disturbed by others as they attempt to rest.

BIRTHING

Animals born at sea are generally euthanised
This calf’s mother was pregnant when she boarded a ship to Mauritius. She was killed immediately after she was born.

Animals are often not properly tested for pregnancy before boarding and that has led to cows and ewes giving birth at sea. Animals who go into labour on live export ships are not often given the additional space and care that they need, and their young may be trampled or injured. As the calves or lambs will likely be killed (usually for commercial reasons) the new mothers’ risk of mastitis is significantly increased.

DEATH

Mortalities on board can be in the hundreds
This animal weighed more than 700 kg and should never have been loaded on a live export vessel. He wore down his toes, knees and joints so much that he eventually refused to stand and was euthanised.

Australian standards specify that no animal weighing more than 650 kg should be loaded on board a live export vessel. But some exporters have ignored these guidelines and loaded heavier animals, like the bull pictured, risking their lives. In Dr Simpson’s report to the government, she warned that any animal over 500 kg has an increased risk of injury. 

Incredibly, government regulations allow a mortality rate of 2% of sheep and 1% of cattle on every voyage — which means hundreds, if not thousands, of animals can die at sea without any investigation into the cause.

shadow

This industry entails unnecessary pain and suffering for all the animals involved within it. Anyone who tells you different is either ill-informed, they’re a liar or they’re staying silent for fear of losing their job.

Dr Lynn Simpson, veterinarian

For as long as this cruel trade in living beings exists — we remain as committed as ever to sparing animals from falling victim to it. Will you join us?

Please spare 1 minute now to lend your voice to the animals — and help create a world free from the horror of live export.

Take action now »

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Dear Trump Supporters

Written by Lachlan

Trump’s taxes have finally been leaked. And wouldn’t you know it, he’s a total fake. He’s not a billionaire. He’s 421 million dollars in debt and is about to get foreclosed on. I pay more taxes than Donald Trump and so do you. Because he’s losing so much money, he’s paid zero in federal taxes 10 of the last 15 years. Two of the years he did pay it was less than 1,000 bucks. He’s been living off credit and hot air. It was all a scam. Just like his college, just like is charity, and just like his political career.

You were so easy for him to scam. He knew you’d be impressed with of all of his boasting. He knew you’d never spot the difference. He knew he’d win you over by taking advantage of your ignorance, your fears, your insecurity, your racism, and your ethnocentrism. You were like shooting fish in a barrel for him. He’s convinced you the real news is fake, and the fake news is real. He has you cheering for authoritarianism over democracy. He has you scared and fearful of your neighbors but not of COVID-19. He actually convinced you that he is a Christian.

As a former top aide to Vice President Pence just revealed, he thinks you are “disgusting”. He’s not just a fraud, he’s a criminal. He’s everything he convinced you that Hillary Clinton was four years ago. He’s the one who deserves to be in prison and soon he likely will be. He’s not a Republican and he’s not a Democrat. He’s not a conservative and he’s not a liberal. He’s human trash looking for suckers to take advantage of. And my goodness did he ever find a willing group of suckers. You should be ashamed of yourself. I know people who voted for him in 2016 and quickly realized they made a mistake. But not you, not you. You dug in. You doubled down.

You embraced Russian style propaganda over the American free press. You embraced conspiracy theories over science and reality. He’s lied to you over 22,000 times since taking office and you never batted an eye. He’s made a fool of this nation. I imagine Trump and his propaganda news outlets will attempt to continue the scam, at least for another six weeks.

I also imagine some of you, through some unimaginable mental gymnastics, will continue to allow yourself to get scammed. But Trump is going down on November 3 and the American justice system will come after him and his cronies. I may be nice to you on the street but do know that you absolutely let this country down. You allowed our republic to get damaged in ways never seen. In the process you exposed some incredibly ugly things about yourself I just can’t forget. Thanks for reading!

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QAnon is a prank started by a couple of 4Chan guys as a social experiment.

The target; baby boomer Trump supporters. The prank has worked and most of those taken in are deluded, gullible, weak-minded, lack common sense, and look ridiculous.

QAnon Is A Fake, Decoy Imitation Of A Healthy Revolutionary Impulse

Thursday, 20 August 2020, 4:25 pm
Opinion: Caitlin Johnstone via www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1905/S00134/how-you-can-be-100-certain-that-qanon-is-bullshit.htm

Today the US president moved from tacit endorsement and evading questions on the toxic QAnon psyop to directly endorsing and supporting it, telling reporters “I don’t know much about the movement other than I understand they like me very much, which I appreciate,” and saying they’re just people who love their country and don’t like seeing what’s happening in places like Portland, Chicago, and New York City.

Asked about the driving theory behind QAnon that Trump is waging a covert war against a satanic pedopheliac baby-eating deep state, Trump endorsed the idea but reframed it by saying that he’s leading a fight against “a radical left philosophy”.

“If I can help save the world from problems, I’m willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there,” Trump said in response to the query. “And we are actually. We’re saving the world from a radical left philosophy that will destroy this country, and when this country is gone, the rest of the world would follow.”

Of course Trump did not claim to be fighting any satanic pedovores, because he is doing nothing of the sort. Nor is he fighting the deep state; despite all the virulent narrative spin he’s been a fairly conventional Republican president in terms of policy and behavior in all the usual depraved and disgusting ways, and has done nothing of note to stand against the unelected power establishment known as the deep state. He absolutely has been brutalizing protesters in places like Portland and attacking socialism in places like Venezuela and Bolivia, though, so he can indeed safely admit to that.

The disingenuous nature of Trump’s endorsement hasn’t done anything to dampen the excitement and enthusiasm of QAnoners online, though.

He basically confirmed the movement. We, together with the US military, are the saviors of mankind.

What an incredible time to be alive. pic.twitter.com/O5O6rt5TAE

— Sokrates (@Sokrates_17) August 19, 2020

I write against QAnon periodically for the exact same reason I write against the plutocratic media: it’s an obvious propaganda construct designed to manufacture support for the status quo among people who otherwise would not support it. It presents itself as an exciting movement where the little guy is finally rising up and throwing off the chains of the tyrannical forces which have been exploiting and oppressing us, yet in reality all it’s doing is telling a discontented sector of the population to relax and “trust the plan” and put all their faith in the leader of the US government.

And that’s exactly what makes QAnon so uniquely toxic. It’s not just that it gets people believing false things which confuse and alienate them, it’s that it’s a fake, decoy imitation of what a healthy revolutionary impulse would look like. It sells people on important truths that they already intuitively know on some level, like the untrustworthiness of the mass media, that the official elected US government aren’t really the ones calling the shots, and we need a great awakening. It takes those vital, truthful, healthy revolutionary impulses, then twists them around into support for the United States president and the agendas of the Republican Party.

And now literally any time I speak out against Trump doing something self-evidently horrible like orchestrating the extradition of Julian Assange or assassinating Iran’s top military official, I get QAnon adherents in the comments section telling me to “relax” and “trust the plan” because this is actually a brilliant strategic maneuver against the deep state. Any argument against any longstanding evil Fox News Republican agenda that Trump advances has a widely promulgated explanation for why it’s actually good and beneficial among the QAnon crowd.

A healthy impulse to fight the power is twisted into support for the most unconscionable aspects of the ruling power establishment. You see healthy impulses twisted and corrupted like this all the time, all across the political spectrum. The healthy impulse to fight racism and bigotry is twisted into support for the warmongering, oppressive and exploitative Democratic Party which is nothing but destructive toward the populations it pretends to protect. The healthy impulse to defend the helpless and fight tyranny is railroaded into support for acts of regime change “humanitarian” interventionism.

How You Can Be 100% Certain That QAnon Is Bullshit

“Here are three reasons you can be absolute, 100 percent certain that it’s bullshit:” #QAnon#WWG1WGA#Q#MAGAhttps://t.co/qAxdiItXFO

(@caitoz) May 26, 2019

Caitlin Johnstone

The fact that people need to be deceived by their healthy impulses in this way is a good sign; it means we’re generally good people with a generally healthy sense of which way to push. If we were intrinsically wicked and unwise their propaganda wouldn’t hook us by telling us to fight tyranny, defend children and tell the truth–it would hook us using our cowardice, our hatred, our greed, our sadism. People are basically good, and propagandists use that goodness to trick us.

But good will and good intentions aren’t enough, unfortunately. Even intelligence, by itself, isn’t enough to save us from being propagandized; some fairly intelligent people have fallen for propaganda operations like QAnon and Russiagate. If you want to have a clear perspective on what’s really going on in the world you’ve got to have an unwavering devotion to knowing what’s true that goes right down into your guts.

Most people don’t have this. Most people do not have truth as a foremost priority. They probably think they do, but they don’t. When it comes right down to it, most people are more invested in finding ways to defend their preexisting biases than in learning what’s objectively true. If they’ve got a special hatred for Democrats, the confirmation biases that will give them leave them susceptible to the QAnon psyop. If they’ve got a special hatred for Trump, they’re susceptible to believing he’s controlled by some kind of Russian government conspiracy. There are any number of other directions such biases can carry someone.

Only by a humble devotion to truth that is willing to sacrifice any worldview or ideology to the uncompromising fire of objective reality can skillfully navigate through a world that is saturated with disinformation and propaganda. Sincerely put truth first in all things while doing your best to find out what’s actually going on in our world, and eventually, you’re guaranteed to free yourself from any perceptual distortion.

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Trump has repeatedly claimed he’s “the least racist person.” His history suggests otherwise.

Donald Trump’s long history of racism, from the 1970s to 2020

Trump has repeatedly claimed he’s “the least racist person.” His history suggests otherwise.

By German Lopez 

If you ask President Donald Trump, he isn’t racist. To the contrary, he’s repeatedly said that he’s “the least racist person that you’ve ever encountered.”

Trump’s actual record, however, tells a very different story.
On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly made explicitly racist and otherwise bigoted remarks, from calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists, to proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the US, to suggesting a judge should recuse himself from a case solely because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.
The trend has continued into his presidency. From stereotyping a Black reporter to pandering to white supremacists after they held a violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, to making a joke about the Trail of Tears, Trump hasn’t stopped with racist acts after his 2016 election.
Most recently, Trump has called the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu” — racist terms that tap into the kind of xenophobia that he latched onto during his 2016 presidential campaign; Trump’s own adviser, Kellyanne Conway, previously called “kung flu” a “highly offensive” term. And Trump insinuated that Sen. Kamala Harris, who’s Black, “doesn’t meet the requirements” to run for vice president — a repeat of the birther conspiracy theory that he perpetuated about former President Barack Obama.

This is nothing new for Trump. In fact, the very first time Trump appeared in the pages of the New York Times, back in the 1970s, was when the US Department of Justice sued him for racial discrimination. Since then, he has repeatedly appeared in newspaper pages across the world as he inspired more similar controversies.
This long history is important. It would be one thing if Trump misspoke one or two times. But when you take all of his actions and comments together, a clear pattern emerges — one that suggests that bigotry is not just political opportunism on Trump’s part but a real element of his personality, character, and career.

Trump has a long history of racist controversies

Here’s a breakdown of Trump’s history, taken largely from Dara Lind’s list for Vox and an op-ed by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times:

1973: The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to Black tenants and lied to Black applicants about whether apartments were available, among other accusations. Trump said the federal government was trying to get him to rent to welfare recipients. In the aftermath, he signed an agreement in 1975 agreeing not to discriminate to renters of color without admitting to previous discrimination.

1980s: Kip Brown, a former employee at Trump’s Castle, accused another one of Trump’s businesses of discrimination. “When Donald and Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor,” Brown said. “It was the eighties, I was a teenager, but I remember it: They put us all in the back.”

1989: In a controversial case that’s been characterized as a modern-day lynching, four Black teenagers and one Latino teenager — the “Central Park Five” — were accused of attacking and raping a jogger in New York City. Trump immediately took charge in the case, running an ad in local papers demanding, “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK OUR POLICE!” The teens’ convictions were later vacated after they spent seven to 13 years in prison, and the city paid $41 million in a settlement to the teens. But Trump in October 2016 said he still believes they’re guilty, despite the DNA evidence to the contrary.

1991: A book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a Black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”

1992: The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred Black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.

1993: In congressional testimony, Trump said that some Native American reservations operating casinos shouldn’t be allowed because “they don’t look like Indians to me.”

2000: In opposition to a casino proposed by the St. Regis Mohawk tribe, which he saw as a financial threat to his casinos in Atlantic City, Trump secretly ran a series of ads suggesting the tribe had a “record of criminal activity [that] is well documented.”

2004: In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a Black contestant, for being overeducated. “You’re an unbelievably talented guy in terms of education, and you haven’t done anything,” Trump said on the show. “At some point you have to say, ‘That’s enough.’”

2005: Trump publicly pitched what was essentially The Apprentice: White People vs. Black People. He said he “wasn’t particularly happy” with the most recent season of his show, so he was considering “an idea that is fairly controversial — creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites. Whether people like that idea or not, it is somewhat reflective of our very vicious world.”

2010: In 2010, there was a huge national controversy over the “Ground Zero Mosque” — a proposal to build a Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, near the site of the 9/11 attacks. Trump opposed the project, calling it “insensitive,” and offered to buy out one of the investors in the project. On The Late Show With David Letterman, Trump argued, referring to Muslims, “Well, somebody’s blowing us up. Somebody’s blowing up buildings, and somebody’s doing lots of bad stuff.”

2011: Trump played a big role in pushing false rumors that Obama — the country’s first Black president — was not born in the US. He claimed to send investigators to Hawaii to look into Obama’s birth certificate. Obama later released his birth certificate, calling Trump a “carnival barker.” The research has found a strong correlation between birtherism, as the conspiracy theory is called, and racism. But Trump has reportedly continued pushing this conspiracy theory in private.

2011: While Trump suggested that Obama wasn’t born in the US, he also argued that maybe Obama wasn’t a good enough student to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School, and demanded Obama release his university transcripts. Trump claimed, “I heard he was a terrible student. Terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”

For many people, none of these incidents, individually, may be damning: One of these alone might suggest that Trump is simply a bad speaker and perhaps racially insensitive (“politically incorrect,” as he would put it), but not overtly racist.

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These Ingredients are Banned in Almost Every Country in the World BUT the United States WHY?

reblogged from https://foodrevolution.org/blog/banned-ingredients-in-other-countries

Below are some of the most commonly used food ingredients and practices that are allowed in the United States, but banned elsewhere.

Banned Ingredients #1 — Dough Conditioners

Dough conditioners, such as potassium bromate and azodicarbonamide are chemicals used to improve the strength and texture of bread dough. Dough conditioners are often found in white breads, rolls, and “egg breads.” However, they are possible human carcinogens (potassium bromate is classified as a category 2B carcinogen). And exposure to them is known to cause respiratory sensitivity, such as asthma or other breathing difficulty. As such, potassium bromate is banned in China, India, Brazil, the European Union, and Canada. And azodicarbonamide is banned in Australia and Europe.

Banned Ingredients #2 — Brominated Vegetable Oil (BVO)

Brominated vegetable oil (BVO) was originally patented by chemical companies as a flame retardant. But now, BVO can be found in certain colorful sports drinks and citrus-flavored sodas as an emulsifier. Studies have shown that BVO isn’t harmless. It actually accumulates in human tissue, as well as breast milk, and can cause memory loss over time. Bromine toxicity can lead to skin rashes, appetite loss, and heart problems, as well as major organ damage and birth defects. Bromine also competes with iodine for receptor sites in the body, which can increase risk for iodine deficiency, autoimmune disease, and even certain cancers. And although BVO has been banned in countries like Japan, it’s been used in food and beverages in American since 1977 when it was approved by the FDA.

Banned Ingredients #3 — Propylparaben

In the United States, propylparaben is used as a preservative in tortillas, muffins, trail mix, pies, sausage rolls, and more. Research has found that it can affect sex hormones and sperm counts in young rats. Cornell University research had also indicated that exposure to parabens may be linked to breast cancer. Environmental Working Group senior scientist Johanna Congleton, Ph.D., tells us, “It is of great concern to us that the use of an endocrine-disrupting chemical in our food is considered safe by our own government… Studies show that chemicals that disrupt hormone signaling can lead to developmental and reproductive problems.” Propylparaben is totally legal in the U.S., but in 2006 the European Food Safety Authority banned the use of propylparaben in food. And in 2015, the EU went further – also banning propylparaben from cosmetic products.

Banned Ingredients #4 — BHA and BHT

BHA and BHT are popular man-made antioxidants used in dry mixes, cereals, and dehydrated potato products to preserve them and increase shelf life. They’re also found in product packaging. These are possible carcinogens and endocrine disruptors — meaning that they can alter the normal function of your hormones and lead to disease. BHA and BHT are banned for use in food and beverages by the United Kingdom, European Union, Japan, and other countries.

Banned Ingredients #5 — Synthetic Food Dyes

Food manufacturers use synthetic food dyes, such as blue 2, yellow 5, and red 40, to enhance the coloring of certain foods and ingredients to make them more appealing to consumers. Some foods that contain food dyes include beverages (like juices, sports drinks, and sodas), candy, and glazes used in baked goods and sweets. They’re even used in silly things like making mustard more yellow, salmon more pink, and jarred pickles the perfect shade of yellow-green. And don’t even get me started on maraschino cherries!

Research has linked consumption of synthetic dyes to an increased risk for numerous conditions, like tumors and hyperactivity in children. What’s even more infuriating is that the U.S. used to use natural food dyes until the mid-19th century. But then, food manufacturers realized it was much cheaper to use chemicals, which turned food even brighter colors.

Synthetic food dyes are banned in Europe and Australia, where more natural coloring compounds are used. For example, in most of the world, Fanta contains actual fruit juice and is dyed naturally. But Americans enjoy Fanta colored with petroleum-derived artificial dyes like red 40 and yellow 6.

Banned Ingredients #6 — GMOs

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have been around since the 1980s. But they have become a controversial topic — and for good reason. While they’re widespread in the U.S. — with most U.S. soy, sugar beets, corn, canola, cotton, and alfalfa being GMO crops — many European countries have banned or regulated them due to public safety concerns.

One common genetic manipulation involves altering DNA in certain crops to make them resistant to herbicides. One of the most common herbicides used in conjunction with these GMOs is glyphosate, the primary active ingredient in the weedkiller Roundup. Glyphosate consumption is linked to cancer. In fact, several people have won cases that allege glyphosate caused their cancer. Bayer, the manufacturer of Roundup, is currently fighting cancer lawsuits that involve over 13,000 people. As of June 2019, there were bans or major restrictions on use of glyphosate in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the United Kingdom. 

Banned Ingredients #7 — Roxarsone

The arsenic-based drug roxarsone, was routinely used in chicken in the U.S. until July 2011, when Pfizer decided to stop selling it. However, there is no actual ban on the use of arsenic in the raising of chickens for food. Roxarsone was used to increase the pink coloring of raw chicken meat, to speed the growth of the birds before slaughter, and to prevent parasites in the chicken’s stomach. Research shows chronic exposure to arsenic can lead to anemia, skin lesions, kidney damage. It can also increase the risk for certain cancers, miscarriage, and birth defects. The European Union banned the use of arsenic-based drugs, while many chicken products in the U.S. still contain it.

Banned Ingredients #8 — Ractopamine

In the U.S., ractopamine is a muscle enhancer for pigs, cows, and turkeys. And, like other harmful substances used during the raising of animals, it doesn’t just go away when the animal is slaughtered. Some of it is still left in the meat you buy. Ractopamine is banned in 122 countries including Russia, mainland China, Taiwan, and many countries across Europe. This is because it’s been linked to reproductive and cardiovascular damage in humans, as well as chromosomal and behavioral changes.

Banned Ingredients #9 — Herbicides, Insecticides, Fungicides

Herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides are widely used on crops in the U.S. food system to keep them free of bugs and diseases. Meanwhile, other countries see (and act on) the danger they pose to humans. Of the 374 active ingredients authorized for agricultural use in the U.S. in 2016, the European Union banned 72 of them. Wow.

Banned Ingredients #10 — Olestra

Olestra, or Olean, is a cholesterol-free fat substitute created by Procter & Gamble. The FDA approved it for use in foods in the 1990s and it’s still used in certain potato chips and french fries. But Olestra may cause extremely unpleasant digestive reactions, like diarrhea and leaky bowels. Consuming a lot of it can also lead to deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, as well as carotenoids. Both Canada and the United Kingdom have banned the ingredient.

Banned Ingredients #11 — Synthetic Hormones

Synthetic hormones, such as rBGH and rBST, are widely used in the U.S. dairy industry. The primary reason for this is to increase milk production in dairy cows. However, rBGH increases IGF-1 levels in humans and may increase the risk of developing cancer. Additionally, cows treated with rBGH are more likely to develop mastitis, an udder infection, requiring treatment with antibiotics. Canadathe EU, and other countries have banned these compounds.

What You Can Do

The question you might be asking right now is, what can I do to protect myself from these banned ingredients? While we can’t immediately control what food companies put in their products, we don’t have to eat them. And there are steps you can take to make healthier, safer food choices, wherever you live.

Here are some things you can do to make sure the food you eat is as safe as possible:

  • Read all food labels carefully. Get familiar with these banned ingredients and their alternative names, and look for them on packaged foods.
  • Eat minimally processed or, even better, whole, organic foods as much as possible. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains won’t have the long list of ingredients that packaged and processed foods often do.
  • Cook at home as much as you can. This way, you have more control over the food you’re eating. You know exactly what ingredients are being used, and can decide to eat foods that best align with your values as much as possible.
  • Say no to GMOs and to the products of factory farms.
  • Sign petitions. This is a great way to get involved in public policy, and you don’t even have to leave your house. One of my favorite places to find and sign petitions is the Center for Food Safety website.

The good news is, you don’t have to wait for the U.S. FDA or USDA to change policy for you to make informed choices about what you eat and feed to your family. Every bite you take is a chance to take a stand for a safer and healthier life.

As much as we would like to believe that everything on store shelves is delicious, good for us, and safe, the truth is not always so reassuring. In fact, the food supply in the U.S. (and many other nations, too) is full of chemical flavorings, additives, colorings, and other ingredients that you may not want to put in your body. Before we start naming names, let’s explore how the U.S. government could let this happen. 

For starters, the FDA states that food companies can market new chemicals and food additives WITHOUT FDA oversight or approval, so long as “the substance is generally recognized, among qualified experts, as having been adequately shown to be safe… ” 

This is known as the GRAS system, and it might sound all well and good. But what makes someone a “qualified expert”? And how are they able to determine which chemicals food companies can add to the food we feed our children? It turns out that these companies often convene their own “expert” panels to decide whether the ingredient will pose harm. And many of these panels contain scientists with financial ties to all manner of industries – even including the tobacco industry (“experts” who may have, at one time, recommended that cigarettes were safe!). Based on the panel’s recommendations, companies then decide whether or not to share the results of the assessment with the FDA. They don’t even have to do so! 

Most of the chemicals on the GRAS list have never had long-term testing on humans, and therefore can’t possibly be guaranteed safe. And some of them don’t stand up to the test of time, either. For example, BHA is “generally recognized as safe” – despite the fact that the National Institutes of Health’s National Toxicology Program concluded that BHA can be “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” 

And then there are artificial trans fats, which have historically been on the GRAS list and added to foods like frozen pizza, peanut butter, packaged snack foods, vegetable shortenings, and ready-to-use frostings to improve their flavor, texture, and shelf life. Unfortunately, we later learned that trans fats were causing upwards of 500,000 deaths per year from associated heart disease.

In 2015, the FDA finally decided that trans fats, or partially hydrogenated oils, were unsafe, giving food manufacturers a few years to remove them from the food supply. Since the ban took place, many food companies have replaced trans fats with ingredients like palm oil instead, which comes with its own set of concerns.

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