Michael Riordon

the view from where I live


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Good news: Scotland to ban growing of GM crops

Scottish Minister for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead: “Banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status.”

Member of the Scottish Parliament Alison Johnstone: “GM is not the answer to food security, and would represent further capture of our food by big business.”

Scotland, landscape 2

Details of the ban are here.

Similarly, in 2014 Russia banned the import and cultivation of GM crops.  Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: “If Americans like to eat GMO products, let them. We don’t need to do that. We have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.”

South of the border, the Conservative government of Britain has thrown open the door to GM crops.

In April, the European Commission reversed an earlier ban and approved the import of 10 new GM crops for human and animal consumption, including corn, soybeans, cotton and canola oil.

Meanwhile in the USA, the House of Representatives has just passed the perversely named “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” which prohibits state and local authorities from requiring safe and accurate GMO labeling. By now it’s clear that when consumers know about GMOs, they tend to be skeptical. But when they don’t know… It’s unlikely the Act will encounter any resistance in the Senate or the White House, both deeply beholden to the agri-chemical leviathans.

There is just one fly in the banning-GMOs ointment, but it’s a big one: Under massive international trade agreements like the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), negotiated in secret by corporate lobbies, corporations can sue any government bold enough to enact sensible, democratic measures meant to protect the public and the earth if there’s a chance they might limit actual or even potential corporate profits. A ban on GM crops is as likely a target as any.

Still, in taking responsible action, governments of countries like Scotland and Russia set an inspiring example of what is possible.

For a sane conversation on genetic manipulation and food security, visit Canadian scientist/farmer Ann Clark in Bold Scientists, here.  Scroll down to chapter 2, Digging for thistles.

 


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Life & death in Monsantoland

monsantoland

Two recent events in Monsanto-land tell it all:

Lobbyist claims Monsanto pesticide safe to drink, bolts when offered a glass. (It’s caught on a gem of a video, embedded in the story). Raw Story, 27 March 2015.

Monsanto demands World Health Organization retract report on Roundup link to cancer.  EcoWatch, 26 March 2015.

For a good dose of sanity on GMOs, hunger, and post-oil farming, check out Ann Clark, plant physiologist and farmer, in Bold ScientistsRead an excerpt here.

Meantime, pass this on.  And have a nice day.

 

 


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Scotland the brave

Good news: Scotland freezes fracking.

Scots protest fracking

Scotland says: Don’t frack.  Photo: the-news-daily.com

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced that the moratorium would stand until “a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction” had been initiated and completed.

A week later, more good news: the Welsh government also voted to block fracking until it is proven safe for the environment and public health.  Note:  It cannot be proved safe, since it is everything but.

Neither of these initiatives is an outright ban, but in New York state, years of citizen campaigning led to a similar moratorium, and finally last month to a ban.

For a close look at the dirty business of fracking, see Bold Scientists.  Scroll down to chapter 10, The unsolved problem.

 


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Google? Use at your own risk.

How did they manage to turn Google into a verb? Here’s a clue:

A longish (10 – 15 minute read), eerily fascinating fragment from Julian Assange’s new book, When Google Met Wikileaks.  In this excerpt Assange documents his bizarre encounter with Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, one of the most powerful managers of information – our information – on the planet.

Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

Eric Schmidt, Google CEO. Photo: Business Insider.

From the excerpt:

“I began to think of Schmidt as a brilliant but politically hapless Californian tech billionaire who had been exploited by the very U.S. foreign-policy types he had collected to act as translators between himself and official Washington.

“I was wrong.”

How wrong Julian Assange was, and how tightly enmeshed Google is in the US national security apparatus, he documents in meticulous, chilling detail. Here. Or here.

But all is not lost. There are alternatives to Googlism, created by people who value freedom – the real thing, not the flags-and-guns kind – over profit and power.

For common sense on options, check out the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s Surveillance Self Defence Index.

For deeper insight into the global shroud of state/corporate surveillance that’s tightening over us even as it seduces us into complicity, meet David Lyon, a world authority on surveillance and population control, in The Cloud, chapter 6 in Bold Scientists, here.  (Scroll down to The Cloud.)

 


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Bold Scientists on Green Majority Radio

A feature interview on Green Majority Radio:  Fresh from the New York City climate march, host Daryn Caister chats with Michael Riordon about Bold Scientists.

MR and BS, Green Majority MediaWe range far and wide: science and scientists – bold and not, knowing our place (in nature), who owns knowledge, hubris and humility, power and resistance… Far and wide.

Hear it here: http://greenmajoritymedia.wordpress.com/2014/09/26/419-bold-scientists/.

 

 


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Whole food for free-range minds

Available September 4, 2014

Bold Scientists, front coverCritical comment:

“A gripping tale of heroic scientists working in the public interest despite powerful
opposition.  At once, both tremendously hopeful and profoundly disturbing.  The world
needs more bold authors like Michael Riordon.”

 Thomas Duck, Associate Professor, Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science,Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada

“Silence is consent, my fellow scientists. Riordon’s profiles in courage encourage us to take our data and our voices into the gladiator’s arena and engage in the great moral and political battles of our time.  As Bold Scientists so clearly shows, it’s where we belong.”

Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., author of Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment; co-founder, Concerned Health Professionals of New York

The menu/chapters:

When the river roared.   First Nations, a long view.
Digging thistles.   An experimental post-oil farm.
A dialogue with the world.   Biology, from the ground up.
Blood on my hands.   Life and death in the garden.
Stolen children.   In El Salvador, war, genes and human rights.
The Cloud.   Watching Big Brother.
ODD.   Psychology and power
Awe.   The wisdom of a spider web.
Pesky data.   Under lakes, dark truths.
The unsolved problem.   Fracking: homeland insecurity.
When the lights go out.   Awakening in an ice storm.
No time for cowardice.   An elemental fight for science and democracy.

Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science

Now:

  • Pre-order it from independent bookstores and Chapters/Indigo stores across Canada.

After September 4th:

    • Purchase or order Bold Scientists from local retailers or libraries across Canada.
    • Purchase it directly from the publisher, Between the Lines, online (within Canada) at http://btlbooks.com/book/bold-scientists, or by phone toll-free at 1-800-718-7201.
    • Purchase online through Amazon.
    • Internationally, the book will also be available via Central Books Ltd:  orders@centralbooks.com / centralbooks.com. (Tel) +44 20 8986 4854.

Unspun science for dangerous times


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Google: a slippery slope

“Who’s to say, now that Google has become an arm of law enforcement, how long that arm will reach?  I mean, can we really trust a giant transnational corporation to have our best interests at heart?”  Thom Hartmann, The Daily Take, via Truthout, August 06 2014.

Good questions.

Google spies

Bloomberg News, a US business paper, August 2013: “The government uses corporations to circumvent its prohibitions against eavesdropping domestically on its citizens. Corporations rely on the government to ensure that they have unfettered use of the data they collect.”

As Thom Hartman notes, “we can all agree that child porn is a bad thing.”  But then who’s next?  Recent exposures of NSA tactics by Edward Snowden and others have made clear that the surveillance state and its corporate partners will grab everything they can, then they decide later who and what is good or bad.

In Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, I asked David Lyon about the comforting mantra that if we’ve done nothing wrong, we have nothing to fear.  Director of the Surveillance Studies Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada, Lyon replied:  “The idea that I’m innocent until proven guilty is seriously compromised if I’m placed arbitrarily in a category of suspicion, and the reassuring notion that if I have nothing to hide I have nothing to fear is completely falsified when my name is put on a list about which I know nothing.”

Take this blog, for example.  Its purpose is to share news and questions about how science is done, and what impacts it has on nature and humanity.  But what’s to stop Google from deciding that a blog critical of Google should be shut down?

There are alternatives to the giant trawler called Google.  None of them is 100% secure, but at least some browsers are less inclined to sell us all to the highest bidder.  One example: DuckDuckGo.  And others.

So who cares, some say.

David Lyon again:  “Indifference is appropriate only for those who think that efficiency, convenience and speed qualify as values to be placed over openness, fairness, and the accountability of those whose task it is to process personal data.”

Join David Lyon in tracking the trackers.  Bold Scientists: dispatches from the battle for honest science, coming September 4, 2014 from Between the Lines.