Did you catch MSNBC’s piece titled, “Why Congress is having a food fight over GMO labeling”? If you missed it, you didn’t miss much. It pretty much toes the big ag industry and biotech company line. However, a lively discussion has developed in the comments section, including this gem from Philip L Bereano, Professor Emeritus at University of Washington. The views of well-credentialed folks like Bereano are seemingly ignored by media outlets wholly subscribed to the narrative that GMOs are inarguably good and any opposing view comes from a place of emotionality and ignorance. Read on:
The author of this article appears ignorant that over 300 scientists have signed a statement, published in the peer-reviewed literature that there is “No scientific consensus on GMO safety” (see http://www.enveurope.com/content/pdf/s12302-014-0034-1.pdf) I am a co-author of this piece (and am on the UN’s Roster of Experts for conducting risk assessment of GMOs, BTW).
As detailed in this article, most of the scientific groups which “support” GMOs (actually, many of their positions are highly conditioned) have conducted no risk research whatever. Indeed, the “research” conducted by the industry is usually very truncated (eg, experiments terminated before negative impacts are likely to show), are proprietary secrets unavailable for examination, and are not replicated by the FDA (which merely acknowledges that the industry has not found any problems!)
We have many labels about the process of production of the items we buy: “made in the USA,” union-made,” country of origin, “kosher,” etc. Since over 90% of consumers routinely surveyed (over several decades) state that they want GE foods to be labelled, why is the House of Representatives trying to deny us this info? Other than being beholden to the ag industry (like the chair of the House Ag Committee who has received sizable donations from Monsanto)?
Philip L. Bereano
University of Washington
By Guest Author Stephanie Rearick
July 29, 2015
Stephanie Rearick is founder and project coordinator of Mutual Aid Networks. She is also founding co-director of the Dane County [Wisconsin] TimeBank, and former co-chair and former interim co-director of TimeBanks USA.
A timebank is a system of mutual credit, where a member provides a service to someone else in the timebank and gets credit, which they can redeem for that same amount of time to get something they need from another person in the network. Timebanks capture our imaginations and allow us to replace some of our financial pressures with community supports. Engaging in timebanking lets us enhance our social ties, stretch our budgets in this money-based economy, and free up our time. Timebanking works beautifully for growing informal community economies, where people used to meet their basic needs before they were swallowed up by the monetary economy.
But timebanking can’t do everything. It’s great for exchanging the abundant resources of caregiving, creativity, civic engagement, and community building – many of the things that tend to stay in the informal community economy and are often un- or undervalued. But we also need ways to help support local businesses in the face of global competition, and for some things we simply need money. Perhaps even more, we need to rebuild our commons and re-learn how to share.
Now we’re working to redirect competitive economic dynamics by designing and developing a more cooperative, decentralized alternative to help resources flow within and between our communities. We can supplement timebanking and enhance its impact by forming cooperatives around a common purpose, like cooperatively managed pools of money (community savings and investment pools) and other forms of mutual credit and shared resources. We’re calling this cooperative framework Mutual Aid Networks, or MANs.
The mission of MANs is to create the means for everyone to discover and succeed in work they want to do, with the support of their community. We can be the job creators. By redesigning our own work lives and working together, we can make the economy work for us and our needs. Instead of going out and finding a job – working for “the man” – we want to create a situation where you can design your ideal work life, as a whole human being, working for the MAN. With timebanking helping to identify and catalyze the exchange of people’s time and talents toward a common purpose, the additional common resources enable people to save their money together, invest it, and then choose how they allocate funding to accomplish common goals.
We help people in the local network figure out how to rely on each other, pool existing resources, and leverage them to hire their friends and community members to make their own dreams and projects a reality. For example, you could form a MAN for a specific purpose such as food security or a specific issue such as racial disparity or disability inclusion, by connecting with other people who already are working on the issue. A MAN can form at any scale, for any purpose, as long as it upholds our core principles.
A real-world example from Dane County in Madison, WI, involves a neighborhood called Allied Drive that has been dealing with many challenges, including poverty, food scarcity, and incarceration. Several activities in this neighborhood are linked to the Dane County TimeBank. Different timebank projects have been addressing a variety of these needs, including poverty and diverting youth out of the school-to-prison pipeline. A local cooperative and the very first local MAN, called the Allied Community Co-op, has been created by residents and neighborhood organizations in partnership with the timebank. It has organized community wellness activities, a small store, and garden projects.
The co-op also began a project called PowerTime, where we partnered with our local utility company to train a number of neighborhood people to do energy consulting, for which they earned timebank hours. These energy consultants worked with neighborhood families to make small, energy-saving changes. On average, households participating in the energy consultations reduced energy use by 10%.
The vision for PowerTime was to build participation in the co-op and energy project and have the participating families track the dollars they saved on their utility bills. A percentage of these savings would be pooled for cooperatively managed projects. In the case of the Allied Drive neighborhood, the goal was to generate a mutual savings pool to get better transportation for youth and people with medical needs, and obtain good food in an area with no grocery stores. Everyone in the neighborhood benefits when local assets are pooled and leveraged for the common good.
Allied Co-op has since shifted gears to respond to a growing shortage of food resources, but the energy project will continue. The next step for the Allied Co-op is to create a neighborhood resource center, which includes our timebank store, space for all the community organizations and projects, shared computers and sewing machines, joint working space, and a buying club for food. It will also include a neighborhood college where neighbors propose and teach the classes, earning timebank hours.
We’re currently working with people around the world to establish 15 MAN pilot projects, sharing all of our learning so we can determine what works best under varying local conditions. Most pilot sites are starting from an existing initiative like a timebank, a local currency, or a co-op – whose members want to add another piece of the MAN framework and experiment with how these collaborative exchange strategies can support each other to address a specific community goal.
In service to this learning and sharing, we have established an umbrella cooperative with global membership, called the Main MAN. The Main MAN, incorporated here in Wisconsin where we have excellent cooperative law and history, connects local projects and global supporters. We are experimenting with member dues and rebates. We are also creating an egalitarian and inclusive decision-making process to determine how money gets allocated.
It’s actually a way to play with the community savings pool model. In a co-op, you collect member dues and you can provide member rebates. But in our global co-op, we will base rebates on many different kinds of contributions, not just monetary. Ours will be based on such things as work on local projects and training initiatives. This mechanism for distributing resources helps get them where they are most needed.
Please join us! We’re offering a web summit, an online learning series. We’re also inviting people here to Madison, Wisconsin, on August 20-28 for a MAN Up Summit. We’ll host trainings, collaboration sessions, work sprints, learning games, and a launch party. Come be with us and/or help us fund others to get here!
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The Triumph and Tragedy exhibit of photographs were taken by GJEP Executive Director Anne Petermann. The exhibit documents movements, activists, indigenous peoples and organizations around the world working to stop social and ecological devastation and rebuild a just world. The exhibit is closed now, but will be uploaded to the buenvivirgallery.org website in October.
Here’s a less commonly seen legal perspective on the GMO debate from Dean Seman and Richard Ranieri with The Legal Intelligencer. Will GMOs and herbicides be at the root of the next crop of bodily injury claims?
While the recent glyphosate exposure toxic-tort cases failed to flourish due to the lack of medical causation, one has to question whether medical research advances will change the landscape. We anticipate that similar claims will continue to be filed and will evolve. For instance, the heavy use of glyphosate with GM crops has spawned glyphosate-resistant “super weeds.” In an effort to address this problem, certain manufacturers are producing a new herbicide that combines glyphosate with 2,4-D (one of the main ingredients in Agent Orange). Significantly, on June 23, the IARC classified 2,4-D as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
The government of New Zealand are being accused of legislating by stealth by tearing down local protections that prohibit GMOs and GE Trees.
The proposed National Environment Standard on Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) would loosen restrictions on genetically modified pine trees and force councils to remove wording around genetically engineered trees from their policies and plan changes.
Whangarei District Council team leader of futures planning Kerry Grundy said the GMO
provisions seemed to have come “all of a sudden”.
“People are saying: why have you slipped this in? It’s overriding what councils want to do. If we have provisions around GM pine trees – which we do at the moment – we will have to take them out,” he said.