Olivia, Jenna and DAWGS

Much of our run through California was a bone dry desert. So was Arizona. The same for New Mexico.

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And then, almost magically, within a span of 40 miles or so inside the Texas/New Mexico border, we found ourselves running through the irrigated agricultural lands of Texas, complete with foul smelling finishing lots designed to fatten up cattle before “finishing” them. Seeing the cows further reinforced my commitment to abstain from store-bought meat, a commitment I made in 2002.

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But today’s blog is less about cows destined for slaughter and more about dogs destined for adoption.

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First the backstory. Running across the USA was David’s idea. And now that we’re actually running, Kris, Olivia, and I are spending every waking moment to help David fulfill his dream. Helping kids fulfill their dreams is what parents do, but it’s not usually what 13-year old sisters do for their 15-year old brothers. Suffice it to say, Olivia does not find it fulfilling to work day and night to fulfill David’s dream. Olivia was miserable. She spent her days texting her Alaskan friends about her California, Arizona, and New Mexico misery.

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When David and I were running way back in Leupp, Arizona, on the Navajo reservation, Olivia befriended and named a wild pack of rez puppies. In a matter of minutes she had given her heart to them. Long after we had left Leupp, Olivia pined for her puppies. “Let’s go back to Leupp,” she’d say, day after day.

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David recognized and saw a solution to Olivia’s misery. “Dad. Mom,” he said, “Olivia needs a puppy.” We initially resisted. While we’re running across the country, the four of us live in a tiny trailer with Angel, our 15-year old deaf and arthritic wonder dog. The timing couldn’t be worse.

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“Okay,” we said. We shared David’s idea with Olivia while we were still in New Mexico. We watched Olivia’s eyes light up with the news. We watched her energy level skyrocket. Olivia now had her own mission—a mission of love. Puppy love, if you will.

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From that moment forward, Olivia had her eye on every dog she saw on the street. She searched and researched on-line. Finally, while attending church in Dalhart, Texas, we were informed of a dog sanctuary outside of Dalhart. DAWGS (Dalhart Animal Wellness Group and Sanctuary, Inc) was the name of the place. When I heard about DAWGS, I envisioned acres and acres of dogs romping free in the grass. Just before dusk that evening, Kris, Olivia, Angel, and I jumped in the truck and drove the 10 or so miles to the sanctuary. Yikes! No grass! No romping dogs!

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The dogs were lined up in long rows of cages. And when they saw us drive up, they went crazy with barking—barking, jumping, wagging. I’ve never seen so many dogs that were absolutely dying for attention and affection, dying to join our pack. I was sick at the sight. So much love locked up in such tiny cages. I felt almost as hopeless for the dogs as I did for the cows in the finishing lots. Kris and Olivia got out of the truck and walked in front of the cages, looking for the puppy Olivia would take home.

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The caretakers weren’t there so we left and made arrangements to return the next morning. And so we did. On Monday, we returned and met Becca. She told us that DAWGS was started back in 2003 by an inspirational teacher and her school kids. She told us that 100 dogs had been adopted in February, and they were almost there for March as well. Wow! Hundreds of other families like ours (maybe not as crazy as ours) had driven out to DAWGS and returned home with a new member of the family. Not only that, DAWGS had rescued over 7,000 dogs since its start. Amazing! The hopelessness I felt the previous night was replaced with hope and happiness.

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Becca took us to a building filled with smaller dogs. As we entered, the dogs went wild with barking. Olivia looked at each dog, searching for her puppy soul mate. She selected first one puppy named Suki. Suki met Angel out where our truck was parked. Suki shook with fear. Not a good fit.

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Olivia said she had her eye on one other puppy. She went in with a caretaker and they emerged with a young female black lab/border collie mix named Jonah. Jonah’s energy, love, and cute levels blasted through the roof. Olivia said, “I want Jonah.”

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It would take a bit of time to make the arrangements so we left without Jonah with the plan to pick her up Tuesday morning. That night, Olivia announced that Jonah was to be known as Jenna.

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And the rest is history.

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We took Jenna to the vet in Dalhart on Thursday to have her spayed. I have long understood the need to spay and neuter pets, but after seeing so many dogs locked up, thrown away, and longing for homes, my understanding has increased a thousand fold. But they’re the lucky ones. According to the Humane Society, “About 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs—about one every 11 seconds—are put down in U.S. shelters each year.” http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/pet_overpopulation/

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DAWGS rescued Jenna and made it possible for Olivia we rescued Jenna from DAWGS. But Jenna rescued Olivia from her misery. And she’s providing all of us, including grumpy old Angel, a ton of laughs, love, and companionship.

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It takes a lot of love to keep DAWGS open, but it takes more than love. Donate to DAWGS at the DAWGS website.

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Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Brett wrote this blog in the green town of Greensburg, Kansas, nearly halfway into their 3,000 mile run. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.

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14 Reasons Our Family Boycotts Kellogg’s

Diana Reeves lost her son to cancer before creating GMO Free USA, an activist organization dedicated to exposing the multiple problems associated with genetically modified organisms and pressuring companies to stop sourcing their products with GMOs. Among other achievements, Diana initiated the Kellogg’s Boycott campaign in July of 2012.

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We are proud to join with Diana, GMO Free USA, and thousands of other families in the Boycott Kellogg’s campaign. Our family has been boycotting Kellogg’s (and several other major purveyors of GMOs) for a few years now. And we certainly boycott Kellogg’s as we Run For a GMO Free USA. Why Kellogg’s? Following is a list of 14 reasons. Any one reason is sufficient to justify a boycott. All of them together make it impossible to justify NOT boycotting Kellogg’s.

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1. Kellogg’s uses 100% poison-saturated, poison-producing GMO corn. GMO corn is registered by the EPA as a pesticide. (If GMO corn were sold in a hardware store, it would be most appropriately placed next to the other bug killers like Black Flag and Raid.) In addition to GMO corn, Kellogg’s products also include Round Up drenched GMO soy, GMO sugar, GMO canola and GMO cottonseed oil.

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2. Perhaps more than any other breakfast cereal brand, Kellogg’s symbolizes quality American agriculture. Poison saturated GMOs are the product of modern chemical intensive agribusiness, not American agriculture. Boycotting Kellogg’s will help Kellogg’s return to its roots as a healthy food company.

3. GMO corn is America’s largest monoculture crop. Monocultures destroy natural plant biodiversity. Poison saturated GMO corn monoculture plays a large part in the recent precipitous decline in the numbers of Monarch butterflies and other pollinators.

4. GMO agriculture kills soil. One early soil scientist, Charles E. Kellogg, stated, “Essentially, all life depends upon the soil … There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” ~ Charles E. Kellogg, USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, 1939 (http://www.academia.edu/3419876/Global_Economic_Impact_of_GMOs)

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5. Poison saturated GMO corn is implicated in a host of modern illnesses . . . including cancer. Some researchers believe that Glyphosate (the active ingredient in Round Up) is the cause of these illnesses. Independent scientists now tell us that Glyphosate is multiple times more toxic when combined with the adjuvants found in Round Up. In addition, Glyphosate’s toxicity multiplies when it binds with metals in the soil. Sri Lanka recently banned the use of Round Up in certain regions due to an epidemic of kidney disease in agricultural workers.

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6. Increasing numbers of scientific studies suggest that poison saturated GMO corn and soy are no more healthy for laboratory and agricultural animals than they are for humans. And most GMO corn and soy are fed to agricultural animals. Numerous farmers document that animals refuse to eat GMOs when given a choice. We recognize and honor the wisdom of the animals when we say no to Kellogg’s GMOs.

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7. Kellogg’s markets toxic GMOs directly to children. Contrary to what Tony the Tiger says, That’s not “GRRRRRREAT!!!” When our kids tell us they’ll die if we don’t buy them a box of Fruit Loops, we get to show them the truth about deceptive and dangerous advertising. We show them our purchasing decisions matter and that we value their health over glitzy advertising.

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8. Kellogg’s boasts the following on its website: “To further our commitment to people, Kellogg became one of the first companies to proudly display our cereals’ recipes and nutritional info on our boxes — so our consumers knew exactly what they were eating.” How then does Kellogg’s justify the nearly $800,000 it contributed to the propaganda campaign that defeated Proposition 37 to label genetically engineered foods in California? Any company that actively fights GMO labeling deserves to be boycotted.

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9. Kellogg’s already sources its ingredients from non-GMO sources . . . in other countries. We will boycott Kellogg’s products until Kellogg’s provides the same GMO Free products it already sells in other countries.

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10. Once a major company like Kellogg’s removes GMOs, its sales will increase and other major players will have to follow Kellogg’s lead to remain competitive.

11. We buy and eat a ton of organic cereal, thus showing our support for organic agriculture. Organic farmers face huge economic challenges in our pro-GMO agribusiness culture. One major risk they face is contamination from GMO crops and subsequent lawsuits for alleged patent infringement from the likes of Monsanto. The U.S. Supreme Court may be okay with such absurd lawsuits, but we are not. As more people buy organic, more farmers will take the risk to grow organic crops.

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12. By boycotting Kellogg’s, we keep our money out of the hands of Monsanto millionaires and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. Thus, we can rest assured that Monsanto and the GMA are not using our money to buy out politicians and deceptively (and sometimes illegally) influence voters to vote against their own best interest.

13. By boycotting Kellogg’s, we are joining with thousands of other families who are actively taking charge of their health and purchasing decisions. Diana writes, “For the last 3 quarters – that’s 9 months, Kellogg’s sales in the US have been down. Breakfast foods were down by 4% in the 4th quarter of 2013.” Together, we are making a difference.

14. We boycott Kellogg’s because we can! People often ask, “But what can we do, the system is so corrupt?” We can all boycott Kellogg’s. It’s easy to do. Kellogg’s needs us more than we need Kellogg’s. If everyone boycotted Kellogg’s, Kellogg’s would change its ingredients overnight. Other food manufacturers would follow. Boycotting Kellogg’s is not the only thing we can do, but it’s one thing we can all do.

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This is a call to action! Boycott Kellogg’s now. Let’s boycott Kellogg’s until Kellogg’s returns to its roots as a partner in healthy agricultural practices and a provider of healthy products. We look forward to purchasing Kellogg’s breakfast cereals in the future, but until Kellogg’s removes GMOs and stops funding anti-labeling propaganda, we will continue to boycott Kellogg’s. Join with Diana and join with thousands of other families in our boycott of Kellogg’s products. And then when the day Kellogg’s finally goes GMO Free, we can all join with Tony and shout, “They’re Grrrreat!”


Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Brett wrote this blog in Dalhart, Texas, some 1,200 miles into their run. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.

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Women Ecowarriors by Vandana Shiva

Women Ecowarriors
by Dr. Vandana Shiva

Source: http://www.asianage.com/columnists/women-ecowarriors-670

Over the last four decades, I have served the Earth and grassroots ecological movements, beginning with the historic Chipko Movement (Hug the Tree Movement), in the Central Himalaya.

Every movement in which I participated, I noticed that women were the decision-makers — they decided the course of action and even were unrelenting in protecting the land and the sources of their sustenance and livelihoods.

Women who were a part of the Chipko movement were protecting forests because deforestation and logging in Uttarakhand led to floods, draughts, landslides and other such natural disasters. It led to scarcity of fuel and fodder. It led to the disappearance of springs and streams, forcing women to walk longer and further for water.

The dominant paradigm of forestry is based on monocultures of commercial species where forests are seen as timber mines that produce timber and generate revenue and leads to profits. The women of the Chipko Movement taught the world and me that timber, revenue and profits were not the real products of the forest; the real products were soil, water and pure air.

Today, science refers to these as ecological functions of ecosystems. Illiterate women of the Garhwal Himalaya were four decades ahead of the scientists of the world. By 1981, the government was compelled to stop logging in the Central Himalaya.

On April 22, 2002, which is recognised as Earth Day, I was invited by women from a small hamlet named Plachimada in Palghat, Kerala, to join their struggle against Coca Cola which was mining 1.5 million litres of water a day and polluting the water that remained in their wells.

Women were forced to walk 10 kilometres every day in search for clean drinking water. Mylamma, a tribal woman leading the movement, said they would not walk further for water. Coca Cola must stop stealing their water. These women decided to set up a satyagraha (struggle for truth) camp opposite the Coca Cola factory. I too joined them in solidarity and over the years supported them. In 2004, Coca Cola was forced to shut down.

In 1984, a terrible disaster caused by a leak from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal killed 3,000 people immediately. Still thousands of children are born with disabilities. Union Carbide is now owned by Dow, which refuses to take ownership of responsibility for justice. In 1984, as a response to the Bhopal disaster, I started a campaign, “No more Bhopals, plant a Neem”.

The women of Bhopal were also victims of the disaster. But they did not let their hopes and fight for justice wane. For example, Rashidabi and Champadevi Shukla continued their struggle for justice. They also provide rehabilitation to the children born with disabilities. They have set up a Chingari Trust to honour women fighting corporate injustice. In 2012, they invited me to give the Chingari award to the women fighting against the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam, Tamil Nadu.

In 1994, I came to know that the use of neem to control pests and diseases in agriculture has been patented by US department of agriculture and multinational WR Grace. We launched a neem campaign to challenge the biopiracy. More than 100,000 Indians signed to initiate a case in the European Patent Office. I joined hands with Magda Alvoet, the president of the European Greens and Linda Bullard, president of International Foundation for Organic Agriculture to fight the case for 11 years. On March 8, 2005, on International Women’s Day, the European patent office struck down the biopiracy patent.
Why there’s a trend of women leading ecology movements against deforestation and pollution of water, against toxic and nuclear hazards? I partly believe that in the division of labour, it is women who have been left to look after sustenance — providing food, water, health and care.

When it comes to the sustenance of the economy, women act as both experts and providers. Even though women’s work in providing sustenance is the most vital human activity, a patriarchal economy which defines the economy only as the economy of the marketplace, treats it as non work.

The patriarchal model of the economy is dominated by one figure, the gross domestic product, which is measured on the basis of an artificially created production boundary (if you produce what you consume, you do not produce).

When the ecological crisis created by an ecologically blind economic paradigm leads to the disappearance of forests and water, spread of diseases because of toxics and poisons, and the consequent threat to life and survival, it is women who rise to wake up the society to the crisis, and to defend the Earth and lives. Women are leading the paradigm shift to align the economy with ecology. After all, both are rooted in the word “oikos” — our home.

Not only are women experts in the sustenance economy. They are experts in ecological science through their daily participation in processes that provide sustenance. Their expertise is rooted in lived experience and not in abstract and fragmented knowledge, which cannot see through the connectedness of the web of life.

The rise of masculinist science with Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, Bacon led to the domination of reductionist mechanistic science and a subjugation of knowledge systems based on interconnections and relationships. This includes all indigenous knowledge systems and women’s knowledge.

The most violent display of mechanistic science is in the promotion of industrial agriculture, including genetically modified organisms as a solution to hunger and malnutrition.

Industrial agriculture uses chemicals developed for warfare as inputs. Genetic engineering is based on the idea of genes as “master molecules” giving unidirectional commands to the rest of the organism. The reality is that living systems are self-organised, interactive and dynamic. The genome is fluid.
As these issues move centrestage in every society, it is women who bring the alternatives through biodiversity and agroecology that offer real solutions to the food and nutrition crisis.

As I have learnt over 30 years of building the Navdanya movement, biodiversity produces more than monocultures. Small family farms based on women’s participation provide 75 per cent of the food eaten in the world. Industrial agriculture only produces 25 per cent, while using and destroying 75 per cent of the Earth’s resources.

When it comes to real solutions to real problems faced by the planet and people, it is the subjugated knowledge and invisible work of women based on co-creation and co-production with nature that will show the way to human survival and well being in the future.

Vandana Shiva is the executive director of the Navdanya Trust

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Tucumcari Marks One Third of Our Run for a GMO Free USA

Kris, David, Olivia, and I have been talking about running from coast to American coast for well over a year now. And believe us, Kris and I have known more than anyone that talking about running the country and doing it are two very different things. Prior to our run launch, every time we mentioned our cross-country run, the look of disbelief we saw in people’s faces reflected the disbelief we felt in our own hearts.

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The thought is just too big, too long, too uncertain, too expensive, and too crazy.

But here we are in Tucumcari, New Mexico. To be exact, it’s about 2:00 am and I’m reclining in bed in our travel trailer. Kris has finally come to bed after shopping on-line for needed items to be sent to post offices in Texas and Oklahoma. I’m wide awake, feeling the wind gusts rock our trailer around like a toy. David, Olivia, and Angel are asleep and will likely sleep through the night without stirring.

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Tucumcari is significant for us. It marks one third of our run. Google says the distance from Huntington Beach, California, to Tucumcari is 1021 miles. Our Garmin watch says the distance is 1053.61 miles, give or take a hundredth of a mile.

We ran into Tucumcari on March 26th with the help of an epic tail wind, the same tail wind that’s now rocking our trailer. Tail wind or not, we’re two days behind schedule. David is anxious to finish our cross-country run ASAP so he can get back to training for the cross-country season with his running friends in our home of Sitka, Alaska. Yes, I know that sounds a bit strange, but if you’re a runner, it makes sense.

Because we’re a bit behind, we won’t be running through Amarillo, Texas. Instead we’re running directly to Wichita, Kansas, then on to Mansfield, Missouri. We recently learned that Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company is sponsoring their 14th Annual Spring Planting Festival on May 4th and 5th, and from what we’ve read on Baker Creek’s website, WE NEED TO BE THERE! May 4th is a few days ahead of our scheduled run to Baker Creek, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.

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One thousand miles over the past two months is a lot of miles, but we’ve still got some two thousand miles to go. And two thousand miles sounds almost as crazy as three thousand miles. So many things could happen between Tucumcari and Atlantic City, New Jersey. There’s no guarantee we’re going to make it.

But as Kris said in the Indiegogo campaign video, “We’re doing it.” One mile at a time, one day at a time, one massive meal at a time, one blister at a time (for David, at least, I haven’t seen a blister yet), and one wind storm at a time.

We’ve talked to hundreds of people over the miles and we’ve yet to talk to a real person who goes to the grocery store specifically to buy GMOs. Those who know what GMOs are unanimously agree they don’t want to eat poison-saturated GMOs, neither do they want to feed them to their children.

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We find ourselves in such a bizarre situation today: GMO farmers are now growing GMO crops that consumers neither need nor want–crops that provide no benefit to consumers, animals, or the environment, but provide a host of harmful consequences to human, social, political, animal, and environmental health.

Sometimes I feel a bit crazy, caring so much about an issue that most people have never heard of. But then I realize for the thousandth time that the situation is crazy, not me. GMOs aren’t safe. Round Up is toxic. Neonicotinoids are toxic. Atrazine is toxic. They are poisons. Farmers use these poisons because they kill living creatures. The chemical companies repeatedly tell us that their pet poisons somehow magically kill only “bad insects,” and don’t harm pollinators, cattle, pigs, people, soil or water.

If I poisoned my neighbor, I’d rightfully go to jail, but if I’m a poison-spraying farmer, I’m just part of a system where poisoning is not only condoned, it’s actually seen by some as the only way “to feed the world.” And the “science” that backs such practices is the science that’s been hijacked by the chemical giants. Dr. Joseph Mercola says it this way:

Chemical technology companies like Monsanto are “buying” increasingly more friends by funding colleges and universities, where they can gain control over research, science, policy and public opinion. Last year, Monsanto gave a $250,000 grant to the University of Illinois, creating an endowed chair for its Agricultural Communications Program, securing help in disseminating its pro-GMO message. This means that a good deal of science is now corrupt even before the study is performed, with only one goal in mind: the advancement of an agenda. Gone are the days where scientific studies coming from institutes of higher learning really meant something!

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My grandpa used to say, “Strange how there are more horses asses in this world than there are horses.” He wasn’t referring specifically to today’s purveyors of poisons, but as a farmer, he definitely would have included them in the ass category.

Enough is enough. It’s long past time to reclaim agriculture from agribusiness. It’s long past time to return to local, organic gardening and farming, performed by our neighbor gardeners and farmers. It’s long past time to stop subsidizing the least healthy crops, subsidies that make junk food cheap and healthy fruits and vegetables expensive. It’s long past time to stop the monarch-butterfly-killing monocultures and return to farms rich with biodiversity.

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In a few short hours, the sun will rise. David and I will consume another massive bowl of organic granola, bananas, nuts, seeds, berries, flax seed and almond, soy, or coconut milk. Then, tail wind or not, we’ll continue running and we’ll continue telling everyone we meet about the dangers associated with genetically modified organisms. And while we’re running, Kris and Olivia will take care of all the logistics and details that keep us running down the road.

Our family is honored to be part of this food revolution, and we are honored to enjoy your support and encouragement.

We’ll see you on the road!


Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.

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Mike and Susan To The Rescue

As far as David’s concerned, the best part of Albuquerque was leaving it. But that’s to be expected from a true blue Sitkan. David’s opinion aside, Albuquerque’s got a lot of great stuff, most of which we didn’t get to see.

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Was great catching up with former SEARHC colleagues, Melody and Anita, at Sweet Tomatoes restaurant.

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And was also great visiting Los Poblanos, an organic lavender farm. We interviewed Kyle, the lead farmer, and a few of his co-workers, regarding their work and thoughts on GMOs. Kudos to the people of Los Poblanos for the important work they’re doing.

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We didn’t get to our starting point for the day’s run until 3:20 pm, a record late start. A few miles into our run, a man stopped and said he had a bunch of GMO food in the back of his car if we were interested. (Mike was joking with us. He later told David beer and pizza was on the dinner menu.) The man’s name is Mike and, as good fortune would have it, Mike and his wife, Susan, were hosting us at their home for the evening outside of Sedillo. Mike offered to pick up David and me after our run. Wonderful offer because Kris had so much to do in Albuquerque that she and Olivia did not arrive at Mike and Susan’s home until nearly 10 pm.

After our run, Mike drove us home and we met Susan and enjoyed an awesome vegan “goulash.” Mike and Susan were gracious with our late arrival and supportive of our run and mission. The next morning, they gave us a tour of their place and shared more stories they’ve accumulated over the years. As if that wasn’t enough, they also made a generous donation! We enjoyed our time so much with them that driving away was difficult.

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Now we’re either running the frontage road beside I-40 or, when there isn’t a frontage road, we’re running I-40. Not necessarily “fun” but it’s a straight shot toward our goal of running across the USA.

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I picked up new shoes at ABQ Running Shop in Albuquerque which helps, and David’s got new blisters which doesn’t.

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We completed our final mile today—mile 23—with a 7:12 pace. Not smart to risk injury, but wow! It felt good to pick up the pace and run after putting in so many miles at putt-putt pace.


Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.

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Gallup and Albuquerque Recorded GMO Free USA Presentations

We facilitated GMO Free USA discussions in both Gallup and Albuquerque. Following are the recorded videos. Thanks to everyone who arranged and attended these discussions.

** Please note. I incorrectly stated in the Gallup discussion that Steven Marsh’s organic canola crop was contaminated by his neighbor’s GMO canola. Luan Van Le, the Development & Communications Director with GMO Free USA, offered the following correction and information about Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds:

“Steve Marsh is actually an organic oats and wheat farmer. His oats were contaminated by his neighbor’s (Michael Baxter) canola. In Australia, they have a 0% contamination policy for their organic certification. Any contamination of any organic field by any GMO crop is considered contamination. In this case, GMO canola harvested seed heads blew into Marsh’s oat field.

“Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company tests their seeds for genetic purity. Although they’re on a large list of those that have taken the Safe Seed Pledge, they’re the only company that we know of (there could be more, but we don’t know of any others personally) that tests their seeds. That’s also one of the reasons that Baker Creek is always the first company that we recommend when people ask about seed companies.”

Thank you, Luan, and thank you GMO Free USA for your ongoing efforts to share accurate, up-to-date information about the harms associated with GMO agribusiness.

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Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.

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Friends, Winds, and Green Chiles

It’s Sunday. Our day off from running. The skies in Albuquerque are blue. Sandia Mountain has fresh snow on it. The snow is a reminder of yesterday’s storm.

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Kris and Olivia dropped David and me off yesterday at mile 138, near the Route 66 Casino off of I-40. The cross winds were crazy strong but the temps were in the 50s so it was manageable.

We ran down to Exit I-40 and there we met Benjamin “BJ” Timoner, a man who has crossed the USA twice on foot. He drove out from Albuquerque to say hello to us. We crossed an old bridge on Route 66 together, a bridge that’s no longer in use. BJ told us a bit about his crossings. He thanked us for what we’re doing. Was so good to spend a few moments with our new friend BJ.

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Kris and Olivia drove up 66 toward Albuquerque. The wind was blowing so hard I was afraid it might blow Kris off the road. Glad to have the equalizer hitch on the trailer.

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Then the wind hit, I mean it really hit, packing a sandy, gritty punch. Soon David and I were chewing on sand and trying to keep it out of our eyes. We made it to the top of Nine Mile Hill and had our first glimpse of Albuquerque in the distance. The clouds were socked down low on the mountains, typical for Sitka, Alaska, but unusual for Albuquerque.

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The temperature gradually dropped as the clouds lifted revealing new snow on the mountains.

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Kris and Olivia picked us up only 11 or so miles into our run. Not near our goal of 20 miles per day, but even with the short day, we still met our weekly goal of 120 miles.

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We drove into town and set up our trailer on the street outside of Keith’s place. Kris had previously connected with Keith though couchsurfing.org. We got busy helping Keith make dinner and before long we were eating enchiladas spicy enough to melt the polar ice caps. New Mexico green chiles kick hard!

All in all it was a fine day with good conversation, connections, dinner, and friends.


Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett wrote this blog in Albuquerque, New Mexico, enjoying yet another needed day of Sabbath rest. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.

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Running I-40 Don’t Try This At Home

I don’t like traffic. I don’t like traffic. I don’t like traffic.

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I love small towns with few cars. So why would David and I run on I-40 for 25 miles? No choice. No good choice, that is. From Exit 114 to Exit 140 on I-40 in New Mexico, the freeway is the only game in town.

Kris FB messaged a guy who said he walked over 1,000 miles on I-40 to inspire others. I didn’t find it the least bit inspiring, but I talked to a New Mexico police officer back in Grants who told us that the police understand that there is really no other option for people traveling across the country on foot so they’ll look the other way. He gave me the number to the New Mexico state police dispatch. “Call them,” he said. “Tell them what you’re doing and they’ll put the word out to the officers that you’ll be on the road.”

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So I did. The morning of our freeway run, I called dispatch. We saw two police cars all day long and we might just as well have been invisible to them.

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At about mile 137, we jumped the fence onto a frontage road that seemed to pop out of nowhere. Just in time too. Dusk and a big rain storm were approaching. A mile later, a woman named Atch’aa’habaa Bernice Chavez pulled up in her compact car. She said she had seen us from the freeway, drove four miles to offer us a ride. “That storm you see back there is coming your way.”

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We told Bernice about our run and mission and she grew excited with our message. “My name means ‘The woman warrior that takes care of her surroundings,’” she said. My grandparents lived long lives. They told us to stick with our traditions. Don’t eat canned foods. Don’t take aspirin, it’s poison.” She told us about the misunderstanding involving a general’s horse that resulted in The Trail of Sorrow. She thanked us for the seeds we gave her and for reminding her of her grandparents’ words.

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I asked Bernice if she wouldn’t mind me recording a few of her words. She graciously spoke as I recorded.

We ran all day on the freeway and didn’t talk to anyone. Then we got off the freeway and connected with a beautiful person in a beautiful way.

Kris arrived about 10 minutes later. We were soaked.

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Our 25 Mile Run in New Mexico

David and I covered 25 miles on March 13th between Grants and Laguna Pueblo on Route 66. We started out with blue skies and a cool headwind. As we ran Eastward, we saw rain clouds building behind us and coming our way. By mile 18 or so, a gusty tailwind hit us with rain. Not hard enough to freeze us. A second round of rain hit just before we called it a day at the 66 Pit Stop, 40 miles from Albuquerque. Kris and Olivia picked us up with the trailer in tow and we drove back about eight miles and parked in the LDS church parking lot in Budville and enjoyed meeting Elders Sanborn from Layton, Utah and Whitaker from Whichita, Kansas.

I am drawn to images of churches and memorial crosses erected on the side of the road. Each church and memorial portrays a unique personality and tells a unique, but related story.

All the photos in this blog were taken on this 25 mile run.

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Galloping Through Gallup and Running to Albuquerque

Our Gallup, New Mexico, experience started back in the small Navajo town of Leupp, Arizona.

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There we met the Navajo farmer, Tyrone Thompson, who farms at the North Leupp Family Farms. Tyrone invited us to join him and several other people at the STAR school just outside the reservation. Among other things, he said the STAR school is the only U.S. school powered entirely with solar and wind power. He said many people would be there and we’d like what we saw.

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Tyrone was right.

We met and interviewed people and they met and interviewed us. We met a baker named Josh who lives in Gallup. (You can buy his delicious bread at La Montanita Co-op in Gallup.) He told us he had a connection in Gallup who could line up a location for us to talk about our run and mission for a GMO Free USA. Sure enough, he put us in touch with Sydney who arranged for us to meet at the Work In Beauty House. Largely due to an email message Sydney sent out, we met with some 15 folks from Gallup eager to talk about GMOs and the real solutions to the problems caused by GMOs, modern agribusiness and monocultures. We learned that Josh, Sydney, and Michael work at the local Co-op. Michael and Chakra hung around after the discussion and set up a repeat performance at the Work In Beauty House for the following evening.

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If there’s a moral to this story it might be this: Opening our mouths leads to good connections, discussions, and relationships. We’re now connected with good people in Gallup who have paved the way for further connections when we arrive and present in Albuquerque. Speaking of Albuquerque, we are scheduled to present at the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Library (the Main Library) on Wednesday, March 12, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm. We look forward to meeting a good many good people at the library Wednesday evening.

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If you have questions or comments about our run, mission, or the library event, or if you can offer us a place to shower, do laundry, or park our trailer, please call Kris at 907-752-0447.

Thank you so much!!!!

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P.S. The monument to the Navajo Code Talkers at Window Rock, Arizona, deserves its own blog. It’s a beautiful monument commemorating a fascinating piece of history. But, as usual we’re running late with miles awaiting us. So these photos of the monument will have to suffice for now.

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12 Things I’ve Learned and Relearned While Running For a GMO Free USA

“It’s a learning experience.” That phrase has come to be known as our Running For a GMO-Free U.S.A. mantra because so much of what we are doing as David and I run across the U.S.A. is a first time thing for us. Following are a few of the more important things I’ve/we’ve learned and/or relearned.

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1. Kris is a good woman. As the lead support person on a rather grueling GMO Free USA run and mission with Olivia and two stinky guys crammed into a tiny travel trailer, Kris is one busy person! And as always, she takes care of business with grace and beauty.

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2. Olivia is a hard worker with a great personality. While David and I are running, Olivia and Kris get stuck with a lot of the dirty work involving the truck and trailer. Olivia’s a natural at it. What’s more, even though she tells us she’s miserable and she’d rather be elsewhere, she is often humming and singing. Should I be concerned that the 13-year old baby of our family is singing about beer? “I got a little drunk last night.” “Can’t believe you’re really gone. Don’t feel like going home. So I’m gonna set right here. On the edge of this pier. Watch the sunset disappear. And drink a beer.” Or should I just join in with her and sing about Arizona’s and New Mexico’s favorite beverage? Either way, we love her spirit and energy.

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3. David’s got a good heart. Sure David spends his days talking about the weapons and assassins associated with his favorite video games, but he also told me about how it bothered him when I konked a king salmon on the head.

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4. David’s focused. Not necessarily focused on getting the things done that need to get done before running each morning like consuming a massive breakfast, filling water bottles, gathering gear, etc., but—in addition to video games—he’s totally focused on running. Running last year, running this year, running across the U.S.A., running with the cross country team this coming season, running in college, and his running career.

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5. We can do this??? At age 15 and nearly 53, David and I are getting up to our weekly goal of 120 miles. It’s not easy, it’s exhausting, and we’re slow, but we’re getting there. Some days David runs out of gas while I’m still feeling strong and other days I run out of gas while David is still leaping over the shadows of oncoming traffic, but overall we make good running partners and we’re running our way across the U.S.A.

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6. People are good and kind. As a professional counselor, I’m well aware that we humans can be real stinkers with each other, but day after day, we bump into great people who show us all sorts of love and kindness. People often stop on the road to make sure we’re okay. (Some stop to help the baby they think we’ve got in our jogging stroller.)

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7. Pro-GMO activists are mythological creatures. I say that it jest. Of course there are real people out there who sincerely believe that poisonous chemicals and genetic modification are the only thing keeping billions of people alive, but we’ve not met any such creatures on the road yet.

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8. There are two kinds of people: those who know about and oppose GMOs, and those who have never heard of GMOs. Again, this is only a slight exaggeration. After running some 741 miles, we’ve found that nearly everyone we meet knows nothing about GMOs, and those that do know agree that the “s” in “GMOs” stands for “suck” as in Genetically Modified Organisms Suck.

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9. The chemical companies aren’t going away. Corporations exist to make money, even if that money comes from the intentional poisoning of people, communities, and the environment.

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10. The U.S. government and the chemical companies play together in a large, crowded, and dirty bed. If this were not the case, we wouldn’t have to fight for GMO labeling because the government never would have approved the release of GMOs into the environment in the first place.

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11. Faith without works is dead. We can pray and wish and hope until the organic cows come home that government and chemical co-conspirators will clean up their act, but the system won’t change until you and I change it.

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12. Faith without works is dead, part two. We can’t possibly afford to quit our jobs and run for a GMO Free USA. We can’t do it on our own, that is. But we have discovered that a whole lot of people such as yourself support our run and our mission and, because of people like you, we can afford to run for a GMO Free USA. For that, we are eternally grateful!!!

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Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett wrote this blog in Gallup, New Mexico, enjoying a much needed day of Sabbath rest. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.

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Good People and Pain in Ganado Arizona

Today’s run through Ganado, Arizona, started out with some creative wind shield scraping.

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We climbed about 1000 feet and finished at about 7,300 feet elevation. We hitched back to town and as is often the case, hitching provides a good opportunity to talk to people about our run and mission.

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Rita and her dad picked us up and drove us back to the church in Ganado where we parked our trailer. I gave Rita the short version regarding GMOs. Corn and corn pollen are sacred to Navajo people. GMO corn threatens to contaminate Native corn varieties. I gave her a copy of my book, We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie After Lie.

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She thanked me several times saying she was so happy she picked us up, that she and her daughter would definitely be digging into the GMO topic and my book. We thanked Rita several times for the ride. She didn’t know it, but today was one of my hardest runs. Day three of pain on top of the bone that runs from the big toe to the top of the ankle. I cut away parts of my shoe to relieve the pressure on the part that hurts.

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Joyous Cartwheels Thanks To You

Two of our perks in our Indiegogo fundraising campaign included Joyous Cartwheels and a Thank You video. We performed the cartwheels and shot the video in the high country outside of Flagstaff and now that we’re getting ready in enter New Mexico, I’ve FINALLY found the time and Internet speed to upload the video to YouTube.

Deep and sincere thanks to everyone who contributed to our Indiegogo campaign. $7,500 is a lot of money and we deeply appreciate everyone who contributed. The actual costs of our run, however, will top $40,000. If you support our run and our mission to promote a GMO Free USA, please donate.

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If you’d like to host a speaking engagement, pot luck, book signing, please let us know. If you’d like to run a bit with us, let us know. We are also interviewing people regarding GMOs as we run across the country. If you’d like to be interviewed or line up an interview, let us know.

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There is a lot going on right now regarding GMOs. Your contribution will help us help you get the truth out regarding GMOs. We’re running for sustainable agriculture, healthy food, and we’re running for you! We love all the support and love we’re feeling everyday, both on the road and on the Internet.

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Thanks again!!!

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Let Us Give Thanks For Our Food

Have you ever covered one eye while speeding down a highway? The results are frightening and potentially life threatening. Why? Because we lack perspective when viewing the world through only one eye. Likewise, we lack perspective when contemplating the world with only one side of our brain. And we lack perspective when we deny or falsely understand the spiritual nature of life and our relationship with nature and with each other. Sadly and ironically, this final lack of perspective has grown so common in our modern American society that, for the most part, we wander blindly, hypnotized by our sight-giving screens and toys, unaware of our inner blindness.

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In our blindness, we live our lives largely unaware or uncaring of the violence played out in our society and the violence committed by what used to be our government. Much has been written on the subject of interpersonal, intertribal, economic, international and environmental violence. For the purpose of this essay, I will focus on the practice commonly known as “genetic modification” or “genetic engineering.” These are the phrases used to describe the violent combination of unrelated species. They are the phrases of science.

Science is the default language we use to discuss and describe this unnatural process. Both pro-GMO and anti-GMO camps appeal to science for proof of their respective positions. There’s nothing wrong with the language of science, but science, in and of itself, can only take us so far in our understanding of matters relating to life. In order to more fully understand life, we must also include and honor the language of the mystics, the prophets, and the Shaman.

To the Alaska Native Tlingit people of Southeast Alaska as well as other Native peoples, the salmon is a sacred creature playing a large role in oral tradition, art, and clan, as well as the preservation of life. (1) When my Tlingit sisters and brothers learn that scientists have combined three different marine animals to create genetically modified salmon, they know at a spiritual level that no one has the right to alter and patent that which nature has freely provided for millennia.

In Navajo tradition, corn and corn pollen is sacred. Some people believe they are the descendants of corn. Corn pollen is used in various ceremonies and rituals. (2) For those who hold their traditions sacred, as does my Navajo farming friend, the unnatural combination of corn with bacteria and subsequent patenting is wrong. And the inevitable cross-pollination of such contaminated corn with Native corn varieties is also wrong.

And corn is to the Navajo and Hopi what taro is to Hawaiians. Imani Altemus-Williams writes, “Taro holds spiritual significance in the islands’ indigenous culture, in which it is honored as the first Hawaiian ancestor in the creation story.” Walter Ritte explains the relationship as follows in Facing Hawaii’s Future after scientists genetically modified their sacred plant. “It felt like we were being violated by the scientific community …. For the Hawaiian community, taro is not just a plant. It’s a family member. It’s our common ancestor ‘Haloa …. They weren’t satisfied with just taking our land; now they wanted to take our mana, our spirit too.” (3)

From an aboriginal perspective, the spiritually blind European Americans of yesteryear stole land, food, and water while denigrating or killing Native traditions, culture, and people. And now, hundreds of years later, spiritually blind scientists, business people, attorneys, lobbyists and politicians are enacting yet another wave of violence against heritage seeds, crops, and agriculture.

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Like all forms of violence, violence against aboriginal seeds and agricultural traditions is violence against all humanity. What we do to others, we do to ourselves.

We have yet to understand the full extent of the consequences and potential carnage the Earth and her inhabitants will experience from genetic modification. But this we know: Because of genetic modification, natural plants and seeds are endangered. Those who promote the patenting and production of genetically modified organisms are also promoting the extinction of hundreds and thousands of natural species. Modern poison-saturated monocultures may one day make Ireland’s potato famine look like a light meal. When agribusinesses have pumped the Ogallala aquifer dry, the feeding-the-world lie will blow away with the remaining topsoil. And when the bees and other pollinators are dead, our children may not be far behind.

Just because scientists can use guns to shoot DNA from bacteria into our food does not mean that scientists should do so. Genetic modification is violent, imprecise, unpredictable and inherently dangerous. Scientists don’t know and can’t know what life forms their blasts will produce.

Most of us refuse to eat pet food because it is beneath our standards. Yet few of us know that both wild and domesticated animals often refuse to eat genetically modified “food,” not because it is beneath their standards, but apparently because it isn’t food at all. (4) Corporate millionaires don’t care as long as their patented non-food foods increase their profits.

Corporate-based science lacks the ethics to restrain itself. And as long as corporations control U.S. domination-based government policy, CEOs and presidents will push the global spread of genetically modified crops for profit and power as they see fit, whether through war as they did in Iraq with Order 81 or through “Free Trade” agreements as they did in Columbia with Resolution 970 or as they are attempting to do now through the Trans Pacific Partnership. (5) (6) (7)

GMO spinmeisters lies are now known for what they are: lies. GMOs have nothing to do with feeding the world. GMOs are the product of genetic violence and, at the highest levels, violent people use GMOs to increase their wealth and to control other nations regardless of the harm to animals, plants, soil, air, water, and human beings.

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A United Nations report uses the language of science to state that small-scale organic farming will feed the world. (8) And even the pro-GMO USDA is using the language of science to finally question the risks and benefits associated with GMOs. (9)

In spite of the scientific evidence against GM agriculture, corporate-backed scientists continue to speed down nature’s highways scientifically and spiritually blind, blind to the destruction caused by their arrogance and reckless release of unnatural life forms into the environment.

Einstein stated, “Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” In a culture that reveres science, let us have the courage to reclaim and honor our spiritual selves and our spiritual connection to each other, to nature, and to the Earth. Let us temper science with humility and ethics, and let honest science inform our spiritual beliefs.

When we sit down to enjoy our food, let’s ensure first of all that it is indeed food, not a genetically modified imitation that animals refuse to eat. And let’s ensure that our food is not seasoned with Round Up, 2-4-D (half of the chemical composition of Agent Orange), or any other unholy and unnatural concoction the chemical companies insist we eat. Once we’ve done that, we have good reason to give thanks for our sacred salmon, corn, taro, and every other life-enhancing food we eat.

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By doing so, we ensure that our money is used to support organic farmers and farming. We ensure the preservation of honeybees, monarch butterflies, and songbirds. We promote the health of soil, air, and water. And we honor our ancestors, our sisters and our brothers, as well as our posterity.

Let us give thanks for our food.


Brett and his 15-year old son, David, are currently running from coast to America coast promoting a GMO-Free USA. Brett wrote this blog on the Navajo Reservation in Dilkon, Arizona. Brett and David blog at RunningTheCountry.com. Support their run and mission at RunningTheCountry.com/donate.

Notes
1. Xáat – Salmon, http://www.sealaskaheritage.org/programs/CURRICULUM/Tlingit/Salmon/salmonII.pdf

2. Emily Fay Capelin, “Source of the Sacred: Navajo Corn Pollen, Hááne’ Baadahoste’ ígíí (Very Sacred Story),” A THESIS Presented to The Faculty of the Southwest Studies Program, The Colorado College, May, 2009, https://www.coloradocollege.edu/dotAsset/44c82cd0-cbb2-4297-9b40-15bd46552c2a.pdf

3. Imani Altemus-Williams, “The Struggle to Reclaim Paradise,” Waging Nonviolence / News Investigation, April 12, 2013, http://www.nationofchange.org/struggle-reclaim-paradise-1365778092

4. Institute For Responsible Technology, http://www.responsibletechnology.org/faqs

5. Adnan Al-Daini, “Patenting Staple Foods (Bremer’s Order 81) Is Ruinous to Iraq’s Agriculture,” Common Dreams, June 24, 2012, https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/06/24

6. “Colombia farmers’ uprising puts the spotlight on seeds,” GRAIN, September 4, 2013, http://www.grain.org/article/entries/4779-colombia-farmers-uprising-puts-the-spotlight-on-seeds

7. Ellen Brown, “Monsanto, the TPP and global food dominance,” The Ecologist, December 7, 2013, http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2188967/monsanto_the_tpp_and_global_food_dominance.html

8. “UN Report Says Small-Scale Organic Farming Only Way To Feed The World,” Huffington Post, December 17, 2013, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/17/un-report-organic-farming_n_4461577.html

9. Christina Sarich, “Breaking: New USDA Report Proves Environmental Impact of GMO is ‘Questionable’,” Natural News, February 26, 2014,
http://naturalsociety.com/breaking-new-usda-report-proves-environmental-impact-gmo-questionable/

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Thank You, Flagstaff!

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Running into Flagstaff felt like our first major running milestone. And Flagstaff has treated us well. Thanks to Helen Selander, we had a speaking engagement at the East Flagstaff Community Library Saturday morning.

The people of Arizona are doing great things for the GMO Free movement. They’re gathering signatures to put GMO labeling on the ballot this fall. (Carolyn Thompson explains the process in the opening minutes of my presentation.

Thanks to our new friend Debbie Noel who connected with us at the Williams Visitor Center, we enjoyed good food, a beautiful place to stay, and we are now friends with Robert, Zach, Gary, and Barb. We bought a few needed items including new shoes for both David and me. And now we’re back on the road.

Thank you, Flagstaff! Onward we go!

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A War Train, GMO Free Message, and Kiss

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We shoot a lot of video while Running For a GMO Free USA. But we rarely have good Internet connections, so very little makes it to our blog.

Thanks to the generosity of a new good friend, we’ve got good Internet as well as good food, friends and a beautiful place to crash and rest up until tomorrow.

So while we’re in Flagstaff, I uploaded three random videos as follows:

The War Train–We’ve seen hundreds of trains between Huntington Beach and Flagstaff but only two trains that I would call a War Train. Take a look. Does this train outside of Needles, California, look like a War Train to you?

No GMO–There’s a stretch of road near Roy’s legendary gas station on Route 66 where hundreds of people have used rocks to leave their names in the embankment that lines the road. David and I left our own unique message.

GMO Free USA Kiss–Our daughter, Erika, and her hubby, Russell, spent the weekend with us recently near Arizona’s Grand Canyon Caverns. Erika ran with David and me and presented a GMO Free USA seed packet and message with a not-so-unsuspecting passerby. That’s not all she shared.

Our message to you is this: Thanks for your friendship and support!
See you on the road!

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Route 66, Burma Shave, and GMO Free Billy Williams

Running Route 66 has its ups and downs. On some days the miles come easy, and on others they never seem to end. Sometimes the road signs provide some unique photo opps. Believe me, I was less than pleased to discover that Flagstaff remained 89 miles away between two signs placed ten miles apart. As it turns out, both signs were wrong in our case because we took a long detour to keep us off Interstate 40. (Two or three different locals said we can legally run on freeways in Arizona, but I have an aversion to semi trucks, VWs, and every other projectile traveling at 75 MPH.)

I also have an aversion to GMOs, Turns out that I’m in good company. Bill Williams, the founder of Williams, Arizona, posed for a great GMO Free USA pic.

I’m no poet, but here’s my attempt at a Burma Shave type of poem:

Running Route 66
Takes some time
Enjoy the photos
And don’t fret the rhyme

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A Day in the Life of a Family Transcontinental Running Team

Prior to the run, I naively believed David and I might be able to finish each day’s run by 10 am or so. Now, nearly four weeks into the run, we’ve found our feet usually haven’t hit the pavement until 10 am at the earliest. Yesterday was probably out fastest mileage at about 10 minute miles. That lasted for 16 miles or so. The 9 miles that followed were considerably slower. We were glad to see Kris and Olivia at when they pulled into the parking lot at dusk at the Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in Valentine, Arizona.

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Speaking of Valentine, today is Valentine’s Day so it’s fitting that I thank Kris for the endless work she performs to keep us going. She’s got far more on her plate than any one person can or should be expected to do. In addition to taking care of our needs on the run, she’s working with folks back in Sitka to make sure things get done there and she’s phoning ahead trying to figure out where we’re staying each night down the road.

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Recently, my cousin, Helen, volunteered to set up GMO free events in the towns we’re running through. Thank you, Helen!!! Looks like we’re speaking at a library in Flagstaff and we’re available for additional presentations, seed swaps, book signings, pot lucks, media interviews, etc.

As the youngest living person to run across the country, I’m convinced David’s got a future as a motivational speaker. David’s not as convinced as I. What do you think? Would you like to hear David talk about his love for running and lessons learned from tackling such an enormous undertaking?

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In the mean time, we’ll continue to “Watch For Ice” as we run in balmy shirtless Arizona weather. We’ll take in the legend of historic Route 66, and we’ll take side trips like Hoover Dam when possible.

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If you’d like to be part of our team, either from your home or with us on the road, please let us know and we’ll put you to work.

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If you’d like to donate, PLEASE DO SO! Donations continue to trickle in on our website and we’re in need of mucho mas dinero. Thanks to everyone who has contributed thus far!

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So as usual, we’re getting a late start this morning from Valentine. But off we go with GMO Free USA seeds in our pockets and books in our seed stroller. The number one question we get when we talk to people about GMOs is this: “What’s a GMO?” We love the conversations, love sharing the seeds, and spreading some knowledge as we Run For a GMO Free USA.

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See you on the road!

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Photo Shoot at Roy’s Gas Station on Route 66

Recently, we’ve had the rather cool experience of running on historic Route 66. Until now, I had no idea how much Route 66 means to some people. The attendant at Roy’s gas station in Amboy told us that Roy’s–the last remaining original building on Route 66–is swamped with people–mostly of foreign origin–who have traveled from around the world to experience the legend and lore of Route 66. Among other things, the site is often used for photo shoots and movie sets for which people pay several pretty pennies. We parked our trailer and stayed for a couple of nights across the street from Roy’s. Kris woke up on the morning of our departure inspired to do a photo shoot before we hit the road. Historic setting, brilliant morning light, beautiful model and click, click, click. Was good to get some kicks while David’s kicking butt and I’m getting my butt kicked on Route 66.

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Running For a GMO Free USA Schedule

After being on the road for over two weeks,we are excited to–finally!!!–announce our run schedule. We are now fairly confident that–knock on wood–we can maintain a 20 miles/day, 6 days/week running schedule from now forward. If–knock on some more wood–that turns out to be true, then the following schedule should be fairly accurate. Keep in mind that we can travel off the run path–north, south, forward or backward in our trusty 1998 Ford truck to participate in GMO Free events as needed. We are available for GMO Free presentations, book signings, seed swaps, pot lucks, etc. We welcome opportunities to speak with the media, and we are actively seeking opportunities to interview farmers, scientists, etc. who have strong GMO related positions, whatever those positions might be. We love vegetarian home cooked meals and welcome the opportunity to stay with people when possible. We regret that we can’t meet with everyone, but we look forward to meeting with as many people as possible as we run for a GMO Free USA.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our run and mission. If you feel inspired to make a tax-deductible donation, please do so here. Thank you so much!

Run Schedule

Huntington Beach, CA, Jan 18, 0 miles

Riverside, CA, Jan 23, 48 miles

Twentynine Palms, CA, Feb 1, 144 miles

Needles, CA, Feb 8, 273 miles

Kingman, AZ, Feb 11, 320 miles

Flagstaff, AZ, Feb 21, 487 miles

Gallup, NM, Mar 3, 673 miles

Albuquerque, NM, Mar 12, 821 miles

Tucumcari, NM, Mar 24, 1021 miles

Amarillo, TX, Mar 31, 1148 miles

Borger, TX, Apr 3, 1197 miles

Wichita, KS, Apr 22, 1523 miles

Mansfield, MO, May 9, 1810 miles

St. Louis, MO, May 20, 2011 miles

Springfield, IL, May 26, 2106 miles

Indianapolis, IN, Jun 6, 2298 miles

Columbus, OH, Jun 16, 2466 miles

Washington DC, Jul 10, 2864 miles

Philadelphia, PA, Jul 18, 3000 miles

Atlantic City, NJ, Jul 21, 3061 miles

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Sweaty, Tired, Broke and Having a Blast as We Run For a GMO Free USA

We started our Run For a GMO Free USA just over a week ago at Huntington Beach Pier. Thanks to everyone who showed up, introduced yourselves and cheered us on.

DSC05597(David and I are joined by GMO Free Girl Scout cookie crusader, Alicia Serratos, and the ever passionate activist, John Diaz.)

Since that time, Kris and I keep repeating the phrase, “Well, it’s a learning experience.” That’s because virtually everything we’re doing is a first time experience.

David and I have never run 18 miles a day . . . day after day. And who knows if I’m going to be able to keep up with David.

DSC01312Kris and I have never owned a truck and trailer. If you saw us trying to back up the trailer, you’d call the police to report our mid-day DUIs! And speaking of trailers, did it take anyone else 3 days to figure out how to get hot water out of the faucet on their maiden trailer voyage?

I’ve never been so tired at the end of yet another big mileage, big activity day that I skipped the shower (yes, cold) and just crashed onto the bed.

David and I have never been interviewed by a super athlete like Rich Roll.

And believe it or not, I’ve never owned a cell phone before . . . until now. Let alone a top-of-the-line sucky sounding Samsung. So sucky, in fact, that I had to reschedule a radio interview because Kris, David, Olivia and their non-sucky phones weren’t available at the interview time.

IMG_7201(Kathleen Hallal with Moms Across America joins Kris and Brett for a photo.)

Needless to say, Kris and I have never walked away from our jobs to help one of our kids—David— fulfill his dream to run across the USA.

And we’ve never committed ourselves fully to the GMO issue until now, trusting that like-minded people—many of whom we may never meet—will share of their means because they’re inspired by our run and mission, or more likely, they recognize just how desperately we need the cash.

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We’re meeting with and talking to people everyday. On Saturday’s run to Banning, California, David and I stopped at a strawberry stand at the side of the road. The farmers—South Koreans—didn’t speak much English and at first they had no idea what GMOs stand for. But after they googled GMOs on their phones, they quickly understood. They gave us thumbs up and smiles in support of our run and mission.

Later that evening, long after dark, after we had finally completed the day’s run, we met a guy named Michael in a store parking lot. He told us that he manages an orange grove. From the way he spoke it was obvious he loved that grove. And he hated watching honey bees do the dizzy dance before dying the last time the grove owner sprayed the grove with RoundUp. He’s sick to his stomach that the owner is talking about spraying the place again to kill off the ground cover. I passed along a DVD copy of Howard Vlieger’s presentation regarding GMOs, RoundUp, inflamed pig intestines, etc.

IMG_7167(This guy’s face reminds me of GMO-fed pig intestines!)

I also gave him a couple of copies of my book, We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie After Lie. He’s hopeful that the DVD and the book will persuade the orange grove owner to show a little more love to her orange trees, soil and the environment.

Running everyday is the easy part of this experience. Kris and Olivia have the much harder job making sure that a million different details are taken care of while David and I are pounding the pavement. If Kris were getting paid for her work, she’d clock in 16-hour days for at least three different people.

IMG_7196(Life-time farmer Howard Vlieger joins David for a photo.)

Yes, our run is amazing and our mission is crucial. And we’ve sacrificed a ton to make it happen, including our full-time jobs. Our Indiegogo campaign is drawing to a close on January 31st. It will take a small miracle to reach our campaign goal. But we’re used to miracles. We’ve experienced miracles everyday in connection with our run and mission. And we’ve got faith that many miracles will yet appear as we run our way across the country. We’re asking you to be a part of another much-needed miracle right now. Join us! Run with us now by contributing to our fundraising campaign.

Let’s run together for a GMO Free USA!

Posted in Blog, GMOs, Monsanto, Running, Running The Country | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Rich Roll Interviews David and Brett Wilcox

How many 15-year old kids can say they’ve been interviewed by Rich Roll, one of the fittest men on the planet? (Listen to the podcast here.)

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As of January 20, 2014, David can say it. David and I had to stop our run at nine miles so we could be on time for our interview with Rich in Thousand Oaks—85 L.A. miles away from our run location on the Santa Ana River Trail.

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Rich has a business relationship with someone working at Sideshow Collectibles and he records his Internet podcasts in the Sideshow building. Unless you have a life-size museum quality collectable Darth Vader statue in your living room, you’ve probably never heard of Sideshow Collectibles. Whether you’re teen-agers like David and Olivia or parents of teens, being surrounded by realistic statues and gorgeous posters is a pretty awesome experience.

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Our one and a half hour interview with Rich flew by like it was nothing. Maybe that’s because we share similar interests like running and health or maybe it’s because Rich is just plain cool. Not cool because he can complete five Ironmans in eight days, but because he adores his wife and kids and he cares about other people and the environment.

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(Thank you, Rich, for the interview and thanks for the inspiring words your shared regarding our run and mission. We really appreciate it!!!)

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After we finished the interview, we turned our camera on Rich. I couldn’t help but smile when Rich said he doesn’t know too much about GMOs, then, in three or four minutes, he summarized the bulk of the problems associated with GMOs.

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One more point about Rich that, as a mental health and substance abuse counselor, I really appreciate. Not so very long ago, Rich was an active alcoholic. That’s not the part I appreciate. I appreciate that in his book, Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself, he openly shares his story so that other people have the opportunity to grow from his growth as he left alcohol behind. But even after Rich had his last drink, he continued with his addiction to the standard American diet until he woke up to the fact that he was on the road to an early demise. Long story short: Rich replaced the junky food with a plant-based diet and his junky lifestyle with feats of endurance that boggle the minds of even serious athletes.

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After the interview, we faced death in the eye once again by driving the L.A. freeways back to Mother’s Market in Costa Mesa where Howard Vlieger shared his GMO-related experience as a life-long farmer and researcher.

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John Diaz introduced us to the audience. (Wow! John is passionate about the GMO issue!) We said a few words, made new friends and shared some books. Beautiful event!

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In summary, our nine mile run, 265 L.A. mile drive, big events, and 16 hours out and about made for a great day and finally ended with much needed sleep.

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And We’re Off

Getting together and speaking in front of an unorganized crowd that I did not know was a new experience for me. It was also pretty amazing that we were even able to make it. The first thing was that we were going to set out in our car on Thursday so we could have a bit more time to rest, but I got sick and later infected my sister so we had to stay in Utah a whole day.

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The day to rest and sleep felt really good and it was very needed but because of it my whole family ended up struggling to get sleep. Then when we finally made it to Huntington Beach Pier exhausted hungry and thirsty. So after our speeches and farewells we were off, fueled just by adrenaline. It only took 7 or 8 miles to realize that it is almost impossible to run with only a few pieces of bread as fuel.

After the first run I felt like I could finally rest, but I was so wrong. After the run my family struggled to get to a hydroponic farm, then squeezed in a presentation with Howard Vlieger all with little food or rest. Getting home for a whole day of rest was one of the best feeling things that ever happened to us.

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The Run Launch at Huntington Beach Pier

Writing about the first day of our GMO Free USA Run feels like squeezing a week’s worth of activities into one day because that’s just about what we did.

And the week leading up to the first day of the run was no less packed. Among a gazillion other purchases, Kris and I are now first-time owners of a new truck and trailer (new to us anyway). Until now, I’ve never had an interest in or need for big toys.

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Our running team (Kris, Brett, David, Olivia and Angel) left Bountiful, Utah on Friday, January 17th at 10:40 am. We had originally planned to leave as early as Tuesday and as late as Thursday. David—the running inspiration of our team—woke up on Thursday feeling sick. And a new and needed camera (new to us anyway) that I had purchased on eBay more than two weeks previously, still had not arrived. Besides that, we just weren’t ready. So we put off our 709 mile drive yet another day, putting us at risk of missing our own run launch if we had experienced so much as a mechanical hiccup.

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Our trusty 1998 Ford F-150 four-wheel-drive-gas-guzzling-monster-pulling-machine performed like a champ—and since it’s my first truck I can say it performed like no other truck I’ve ever owned. We stopped in Provo to grab a few last minute items, visit with our daughter Erika and her hubby extraordinaire, Russell, and to do the 4th or 5th radio interview in the last week. My brother Rob, his wife Stacey, daughter Madison and friend caught up with us in New Harmony just as we were leaving one of numerous gas stations on our drive. We hung out with Kevin and Laurie Smedley in Las Vegas. We stopped in Henderson and visited with former Sitkans Brad and Denalee Chapman. We loved their fresh homemade bread, home ground peanut butter and conversation. Denalee read from her soon-to-be-published book, Conquered, in which she shares her story of being healed from multiple sclerosis. I crashed for three hours while Kris stayed up and caught up with Denalee.

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We got up at 2:00 AM with the naïve belief that we would arrive at Huntington Beach Pier by 7 AM where I could catch a bit of a nap before our big event got started. We made it to a beautiful RV park in Riverside, California where we parked our trailer, and then we drove the final 55 miles to Huntington Beach Pier arriving there at 10:30 am. Waaaay toooo close for our scheduled event launch time of 11:00 am!

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There we met John Diaz, one of several people who have gone out of their way to make our launch and run a success. John had worked with other GMO free activists coordinating crucial details including getting banners made for us. Thanks, John!

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People we had never met before presented us with gifts and well wishes. After getting to know each other for a bit, we stood with a beautiful banner in front of us and said a few words honoring the people who have been fighting the GMO battle for so long and talking about the purpose of our run. Then David, Alicia Serratos, (a 7 year old girl who wants to get GMOs out of Girl Scout cookies “because GMOs make bugs’ stomachs explode”) and I waded barefoot into the surf to officially start our coast-to-coast run. We ran back to the pier, put on our shoes, and, amid cheers from our supporters, ran down the bike path toward the Santa Ana River Trail accompanied by Alicia, her grandmother, and other supporters.

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We then ran nine miles under a hot Southern California January sun. By the day’s end we had also managed to squeeze in interviews at Alegria Fresh, a hydroponic farm located in the Orange County Great Park and a presentation by Howard Vlieger (rhymes with trigger) in the city of Tustin. We didn’t make it back to the trailer until nearly 11:00 pm.

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Lessons learned:
1. Running while recovering from a sickness is no way to start a 3000-mile run.
2. Running on three hours of sleep and chronic sleep deprivation is no way to start a 3000-mile run.
3. We’re not running alone. People and organizations have committed time and resources to ensure our success and our exhaustion does not further our cause for the long run. We need to take better care of ourselves (as I write this blog in the wee hours of the morning prior to today’s run) so we can actually run for a GMO Free USA today, tomorrow, and for many tomorrows into the future.

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Thanks to everyone who is working to make it happen!!!

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We still have a few more days before our on-line crowd funding campaign–Running For a GMO Free USA–crosses the finish line. If you’ve already contributed, we thank you! If not, now’s your chance. Your contribution will lighten our load and help us focus on our run and mission as we Run For a GMO Free USA.

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Come On, Let’s Celebrate!

We’re still a week and a half away from starting our transcontinental run at Huntington Beach, but I consider today, January 8th, 2014, a transformative day. When our clock chimed in the new day at midnight, I had already been up nearly 24 hours. 24 hours of packing, cleaning, organizing and de-cluttering. I realize now that those physical activities symbolize the packing, cleaning, organizing and de-cluttering I am nurturing within in my heart, mind and soul. And as I sweep away doubt, fear and negativity, I am left with the nearly forgotten taste of freedom. I remember that taste from long ago when, as a child, I played and breathed in the scent of Dad’s clean garden dirt.

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Researchers have finally figured out what we all knew as children: sitting at desks all day is a pain in the butt. Our bodies are designed to run, play and explore, to climb mountains, to bear loads, to carry us far and to serve others. Play, purpose-honoring work and service produce love, joy, satisfaction and fun.

David and Olivia pulled Kris and me away from our packing just after midnight. “Come on, you guys,” they said. “Let’s go light fireworks.” Yes! let’s go celebrate! Today we step—no, we run forward—as a family. Prior to lighting the fireworks, we met at our fire pit where I struck the match that ignited years of ancient IRS baloney. Yes! Another celebration! While the time-peace-and-space-sucking torture devices burned, we moved to the driveway and set off several fireworks, including a final one that included blasts of sound, color, light and speed.

And thus begins our journey—our celebration. We can’t predict the full impact our run might have, but this we know: today, in this moment, we have grabbed life and are living it.

We are buoyed up and carried with the love and support we’ve received from long-time friends and new friends alike. Thank you! We run for you and your families just as much as we run for our own.

Come on, let’s celebrate!

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Running For a GMO Free USA Route

Where exactly does one (or two, in our case) run when Running For a GMO Free USA?

Exactly? We have no idea.

Approximately? Thanks to Google Maps and a few suggestions from knowledgeable friends, we’ve come up with a solid projected route. (Click on this link to see the route exactly as we see it on Google Maps, complete with different views and photos along the way.)

Run Route

We’ll meet at Huntington Beach Pier on January 18th at 11 am. We’ll run the Santa Ana River trail for some 23 miles. A few of the major stops between the West and the East coast include: Corona CA, Yucca Valley CA, Flagstaff AZ, Albuquerque NM, Amarillo TX, Lake Meredith TZ, Borger TX, Wichita KS, Mansfield MO (the home of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, the seed company that is graciously supplying us with seed packets labeled “GMO Free USA”), St. Louis MO (the home of Monsanto, the chemical company that is not so graciously supplying our food with unwanted genetic pollution and toxic chemicals), Springfield IL, Indianapolis IN, Columbus OH, Washington DC, Philadelphia PA, and Atlantic City NJ.

Kris, Olivia, David, Angel and I are flying to Salt Lake City on January 8th where we will prepare for our run. Our two biggest purchases will include a truck and trailer. *We will gratefully accept a suitable donated or loaned truck and/or trailer.* We are also looking for a jogging stroller that we can covert into a dog/Seed Stroller. (At the age of 14, Angel is too old to run with us anymore.)

We will then leave for Huntington Beach on about January 14th. (We are open to GMO Free events in Salt Lake City, Saint George, Las Vegas, and the LA area.)

We plan on running an average of about 18 miles per day, six days per week, reaching the Atlantic Ocean near the end of July. We are truly a Mom and Pop and family operation. If you want to visit or run with us, we’re going to put you to work. The short list of your potential duties includes: PR, fundraiser, logistics, school teacher, shopper, massage therapist, marital and family counselor, storyteller, clothes and dish washer, cleaner, vegetarian chef extraordinaire, mechanic, coach, cheerleader, doctor, nurse, dog groomer, photographer, editor, interviewer, interviewee, blogger, tweeter, giver and receiver of hugs, musician, poet, singer, dancer, and of course, fun-loving friend.

We plan on parking the trailer in one location for two or three or four nights at a time, leaving us free to travel away from the run route as needed.

Because we’re Running For a GMO Free USA, we are actively seeking opportunities to coordinate and schedule events with local GMO Free folks. Some possibilities include: seed swaps and presentations at book stores, schools, churches, libraries, book clubs, etc., potlucks, fundraisers, hikes, group runs, planting, weeding, watering, mucking, harvesting, swimming, and family-friendly partying, etc.

And of course we want to meet with farmers and record their experiences and various stories. If you’re a farmer and you think Roundup is the greatest thing since genetically modified apple pie, we want to meet with you. If your farming operation has been hurt by patented GMOs, lawsuits, and chemical-based agribusiness, we want to meet with you as well.

If you want to stage an event within driving distance of our run route, please give us a call. Kris’ cell phone is our main contact number: 907-752-0447. We’ll do whatever we can to help make it happen.

We’d love to leave several copies of my book, We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie After Lie, at every event and in every bookstore along the way. Books can be purchased directly from us or, if you’d prefer, you can buy the paperback or electronic version at Amazon or the paperback from Barnes & Noble.

We welcome and are actively seeking media and big-name interviews. (Yes, this includes you, Oprah!)

Our on-line fundraising campaign runs through the end of January. To date, more than 6,400 people have “liked” our campaign page, that’s tons more than any of the other popular Indiegogo Health related campaigns. As much as we love the “likes,” we still need A TON MORE MONEY to help us cover the costs of this run. If you’ve already contributed, WE THANK YOU!!! If you haven’t yet contributed, NOW IS THE TIME!!! If you can contribute $10, please do so. If you can contribute $100, $1000, or $10,000, please do so. Yes, our family-based USA run is a cool thing, but our cause and mission goes way beyond cool! When you donate, you’re donating to protect honeybees, monarch butterflies, song birds, living soil, clean air and water. You’re donating to protect the health and future of our children and life on this planet. THIS IS A VERY BIG DEAL!!! DONATE NOW!!!

The tide is turning! People are waking up, but there’s still so much to do! Let’s make 2014 a year a truth and a year of victories. Let’s run together for a GMO Free USA and world!

Posted in Blog, GMOs, Monsanto, Running The Country | Tagged , , , , , | 17 Comments

17 Points The Chemical Giants Don’t Want You To Know About Golden Rice

“Golden rice will be good for everybody, but some people need it more. Our job is to make sure that [those] people have access to it, understand the value of it, and ask for it.” 1 – Dr. Gerard Barry

Golden rice is a genetically modified rice variety designed to produce beta-carotene, the precursor to Vitamin A. As of 2011, “The leader of the Golden Rice project is Gerald Barry, previously director of research at Monsanto.” 2 Sounding more like Monsanto marketer than scientist, Barry stated, “Golden rice will be good for everybody, but some people need it more. Our job is to make sure that [those] people have access to it, understand the value of it, and ask for it.” 1

Proponents of golden rice like Barry claim Golden Rice is the solution to blindness for chronically malnourished people. Chemical giant spinmeisters, political figures, and the media have claimed that every month we delay the commercial production of golden rice, 50,000 malnourished children go blind. The truth is this: golden rice doesn’t exist, or at least it doesn’t exist in the form that the industry would have us believe. Greenpeace reported in 2001 that golden rice provides so little vitamin A that “a two-year-old child would need to eat 7 pounds per day.” Adults would need nearly 20 pounds a day to meet current recommended minimums. Gordon Conway, the former president of the Rockefeller Foundation, which funded development of golden rice, said, “the public-relations uses of golden rice have gone too far.” Conway adds, “The industry’s advertisements and the media in general seem to forget that it is a research product that needs considerable further development before it will be available to farmers and consumers.” 3

Industry and media talking heads are not the only bodies that have gone to far. In 2013, Tufts University Daily reported that Tufts affiliated research on golden rice involving Chinese children was shut down after officials discovered that researchers had neglected to inform parents that Golden Rice is, in fact, genetically modified rice. Why would researchers violate the principle and practice of informed consent? Because they knew that telling people their yellow rice is genetically modified was considered “too sensitive.” 4

Ethics aside, the researchers claim their latest attempt to create golden rice meets half the daily minimum for beta-carotene. They further state that their findings remain valid in spite of their unethical research. If researchers have to lie in order to exploit children and their parents, isn’t it logical to assume they might also lie about their purported findings?

Regardless, let’s pretend as the industry pretends that golden rice actually exists and is ready for commercialization. What could possibly be wrong with it? Consider the following:

Brett Wilcox-We're Monsanto

1. Rice, like all other life forms on Earth, is part of the collective commons of the Earth. In spite of U.S. patent laws, rice belongs to no one. No private entity has the right to claim it as its own. No private entity has the right to infect it with foreign DNA, even if the infection is allegedly for a good cause.

2. Like all other genetically infected plants, under current law Golden rice belongs to and is patented by stakeholders in the biotech industry. Some seventy different processes, all of them patented, are needed to increase carotene levels in rice. 5 Privately owned and patented crops are the antithesis to seed freedom and food sovereignty. Farmers won’t be free to save their seeds from season to season. They won’t be free to share their seeds from farmer to farmer. They’ll be required to buy new seeds every season. Current considerations would make exceptions to small-scale farmers, but limiting trade at all demonstrates that Golden rice is about ownership and profit, not about nourishing the people of the world who have the least ability to pay.

3. Rice and all other living organisms have defenses in place to protect against invasion and infection from foreign entities. In other words, plants and animals don’t want their DNA to be infected. Rice resists genetic infection just as our own DNA resists genetic infection. Inserting foreign genes into our DNA changes the very essence of who we are. Intentionally inserting genes from one species into another entirely unrelated species is an act of warfare against the natural order of life.

4. Biotech spinmeisters have successfully propagated the lie that Golden rice is nothing more than rice plus Vitamin A. Not true. As with other genetically infected plants, scientists use a gene promoter, as well as the Califlower mosaic virus and antibiotic resistant bacteria to ensure that the foreign beta-carotene successfully infects the rice. 5 In our age of antibiotic resistant bacteria, is it responsible to infect one of the Earth’s largest staple crops with antibiotic resistant bacteria?

5. In spite of assurances to the contrary, the process of genetic engineering itself is imprecise and the results are unpredictable. And the results are unstable and non-uniform from generation to generation. 5 Results from other crops have included novel proteins that have never existed in the history of the Earth. Genes up and down the DNA are switched on or off. We now know that genetically modified corn and soy poorly absorb nutrients. Canadian researches report that sampled non-GMO corn had 437 times more calcium, 56 times more magnesium, and 7 times more manganese than GMO corn. 6 Thus, Golden rice may eventually successfully increase levels of beta-carotene, but may also result in decreased levels of other essential nutrients. In addition, we have witnessed an increase in serious animal and human medical issues that highly correlates with the introduction and increased use of GM crops and associated poisons. Unintended human side effects of GM crops likely include novel toxins, increased allergies, gastrointestinal, reproductive, and endocrine disorders, as well as increased rates of behavioral disorders, diabetes, obesity and cancer. 7

6. The chemical giants and government regulators have fought GMO-related, informed consent for decades. They can’t provide accurate information about the risks and benefits of their products because 1. They don’t know the risks and benefits because they haven’t done the research, and 2. What research they’ve done is often corrupted by fraud, conflicts of interest and slick public relations campaigns. 8

7. Like all other GM agricultural crops, one variety of government and industry promoted Golden Rice would result in vast monocultures of GM rice fields. Native and heirloom rice varieties would be lost as a result. Monocultures have and always will be susceptible to widespread crop failure. Crop failure results in famine. Famine results in more malnourished people. Thus Golden rice has the potential to increase the very problem it purports to solve.

8. Like other GM agricultural crops, native and heirloom rice varieties as well as other plant life would be at risk of genetic contamination from golden rice. It could be argued that contaminating rice with beta-carotene is not really contamination at all, because beta-carotene is the solution to blindness and other physical ailments. But as previously discussed, golden rice is more than rice plus beta-carotene. It includes foreign viruses and antibiotic resistant bacteria. Regardless of the exact nature of the contamination, neither government nor privately owned corporations have the right to contaminate Earth’s commons. And once the contamination process has started, it can never be controlled, contained, nor recalled.

9. Like with other GM agricultural crops, genetic contamination would result in absurd claims of patent infringement. Thus, farmers who have been victimized by genetic contamination would be at risk of further victimization in courts of law.

10. Like all other GM crops, Golden rice would be worth less than traditional and organic rice varieties. How much less? “The 2000 release of Aventis SA’s StarLink corn cost as much as $288 million in lost revenue and a yearlong drop in the grain’s price . . . . The 2006 release of Bayer AG’s Liberty Link rice cost as much as $1.29 billion in lost exports, food recalls and other expenses . . . . Bayer in 2011 agreed to pay $750 million to about 11,000 U.S. rice farmers who sued the company.” 9 In November, 2013, China rejected 60,000 tons of US corn after they discovered it was genetically modified. 10 Golden Rice would simply be the latest and greatest GM crop responsible for the latest and greatest agribusiness financial disaster.

11. Malnourished people lack a variety of micro and macronutrients in their diets, including zinc, protein and fats. According to a Golden Rice case study from Iowa State University, these micronutrients are essential for the absorption of beta-carotene. In addition, “Those with diarrhea – common in developing countries – are also unable to obtain vitamin A from golden rice.” 11 So even if Golden Rice were a reality, malnourished people would absorb it poorly.

12. Many of the world’s impoverished people in Africa, do not eat rice at all, let alone Golden Rice. If poor Africans adopted Golden Rice as a food staple, it would have to be subsidized and imported making entire countries dependent upon outside governments and agribusinesses to feed them. We already know that when the U.S. government floods developing nations with subsidized cheap GMO commodities crops, it drives millions of local, small-scale farmers from their farms to urban slums and shantytowns. 12 These formerly productive and self-sufficient people would then join the ranks of the world’s undernourished people, and would not even be able to afford Golden Rice, let alone a balanced, nourishing food supply.

13. Our food choices are deeply engrained in our food cultures. We all know how difficult it is to change food choices even among educated people of means. Imagine how those difficulties might multiply among the less educated. In the USA, we know that the poorest people often make the poorest food choices. In Asian countries, the color white is associated with beauty and prosperity. Brown is associated with opposite characteristics. Many Asian people may be no more inclined to eat yellow rice than you and I would be inclined to eat yellow snow. Even more unsavory than its yellow hue, Golden Rice is unsavory because it is genetically modified—so unsavory, in fact, that researchers knew their research and rice would be dead in the water if they actually informed subjects what they were eating. 4 But of course, denying consumers’ the right to know that they’re eating GMOs is the foundational principle upon which Monsanto and gang prosper.

14. Golden rice is a high tech multi-million dollar pie in the sky solution that pushes aside the reality of viable and inexpensive solutions available right now. If biotech companies sincerely wanted to prevent blindness today, they would have invested in currently available solutions.

15. The real gold in golden rice would be found in the profits Syngenta would reap from its patented golden rice sales. And like other GE crops, the environmental, political, legal, economic and medical costs would be passed along to the world. Greater profit produces greater power and greater ability to increase the scope, scale, and lethality of the chemical agro giants’ worldwide poisoning campaigns.

16. Golden rice is a Trojan horse that exploits humanity’s collective will to provide for the less fortunate among us. When countries open their hearts and doors to Golden rice, they leave themselves unprotected against the onslaught of other dangerous GMOs and accompanying poisons. We’ve already seen this scenario play out in Africa. When Kenya adopted GE-friendly regulations and introduced Bill Gates’ genetically modified sweet potato under the guise of humanitarian aid, the chemical giants followed with their poisons and commercial, patented GE crops. 2

17. Modifying rice creates the false impression that rice, one of the world’s largest staple crops, is deficient and in need of genetic modification. Not true. Malnourished people are not suffering diseases associated with malnourishment because rice has no beta-carotene, they are suffering because political and economic systems are deficient and in need of modification. Golden rice will not reduce poverty. Golden rice is not the magic bullet solution to poverty or blindness. The solution lies in the creation of just and humane political, economic, and agricultural systems. These systems must honor biodiversity, Agroecology and food sovereignty.

Notes
1. Dan Charles, In A Grain Of Golden Rice, A World Of Controversy Over GMO Foods, NPR, March 7, 2013, http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/03/07/173611461/in-a-grain-of-golden-rice-a-world-of-controversy-over-gmo-foods
2. “Genetically Engineered Rice is a Trojan Horse: Misled by Bill Gates and Monsanto,” Mercola.com, June 21, 2011, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/06/21/genetically-engineered-rice-is-a-trojan-horse–misled-by-bill-gates-and-monsanto.aspx
3. “GE ‘Golden Rice’ Propaganda Denounced as a Hoax,” Organic Consumers Association, February 10, 2001, http://www.organicconsumers.org/corp/gericetoofar.cfm
4. Sarah Zheng, University admits Golden Rice ethics violation, The Tufts Daily, October 1, 2013, http://www.tuftsdaily.com/news/university-admits-golden-rice-ethics-violation-1.2838537
5. “The ‘Golden Rice’ – An Exercise in How Not to Do Science,” Institute of Science in Science, http://www.i-sis.org.uk/rice.php
6. “Analysis Finds Monsanto’s GE Corn Nutritionally Inferior and High in Toxins,” Mercola.com, April 30, 2013, http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/04/30/monsanto-gmo-corn.aspx
7. N.L. Swanson, “Genetically Modified Organisms and the deterioration of health in the United States,” April 24, 2013, http://people.csail.mit.edu/seneff/glyphosate/NancySwanson.pdf
8. “FDA/Monsanto Fraud: No labels for Genetic Engineered (GMO) Foods,” Examiner.com, August 11, 2012, http://www.examiner.com/article/fda-monsanto-fraud-no-labels-for-genetic-engineered-gmo-foods
9. “Monsanto Legal Risks Linger With Suit as Wheat Futures Rebound,” AgWeb, http://www.agweb.com/mobile/newsdetail.aspx?ArticleId=336468
10. “China rejects 60,000 tons of genetically modified U.S. corn,” UPI, November 29, 2013, http://www.upi.com/Business_News/2013/11/29/China-rejects-60000-tons-of-genetically-modified-US-corn/UPI-62341385749613/
11. “CASE STUDY: GOLDEN RICE,” The Biotechnology Outreach Education Center At Iowa State University, http://www.public.iastate.edu/~ethics/GoldenRiceCaseStudy.pdf
12. (Colin Todhunter, “Mass Poverty and Social Inequality in India: The Devastating Impacts of the Neoliberal Economic Development Model,” GlobalResearch, October 30, 2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/mass-poverty-and-social-inequality-in-india-the-devastating-impacts-of-the-neoliberal-economic-development-model/5356153

More information:
http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_28251.cfm

http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2013/08/31/golden-rice-and-gmos-the-best-solution-to-world-hunger/

http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/project_syndicate0/2013/02/gm_food_golden_rice_will_save_millions_of_people_from_vitamin_a_deficiency.html

http://www.foodrenegade.com/gmo-golden-rice-panacea-or-hoax/

http://www.gmwatch.org/index.php/news/archive/2013/15078-editorial-in-science-promotes-golden-rice-myths

http://www.gmwatch.org/latest-listing/49-2010/11843

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/sunday-review/golden-rice-lifesaver.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-202_162-221973.html

http://farmwars.info/?p=11503

http://www.grain.org/article/entries/10-grains-of-delusion-golden-rice-seen-from-the-ground

http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Scientific_American_Disinformation_on_GMOs.php

http://www.public.iastate.edu/~ethics/GoldenRiceCaseStudy.pdf

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Weekend GMO-Free Activities in Sitka

GMO Free USA Talk Is Cheap

GMO-Free Events
Dear Editor: Our family officially launches our transcontinental run on Jan. 18 from Huntington Beach, Calif. David and I (Brett) will run while Kris and Olivia crew for the runners. We’re running for a GMO-free USA. GMO stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. We’ve got four run-related activities planned for this weekend:
1. Fund Run. Join us on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Moller field anytime between 9 a.m.-3 p.m. David and I plan to run some 100 laps. Join us for a lap or two! Kris and Olivia will serve non-GMO snacks, share info, and offer good cheer to all soggy runners. Donations are welcome.
2. Info booth at the Elvis Grind. If Elvis were alive (we’re not saying he’s not), this is what he’d say about GMOs: “T-R-O-U-B-L-E, Double Trouble, Hurt, A Mess of Blues, Don’t, I Feel So Bad, I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry, Don’t Be Cruel, All Shook Up, Devil In Disguise, and Return To Sender.” Like Elvis, we all believe “It’s a Wonderful World.” See you at the Grind.
3. Library Presentation. Sunday, Dec. 15, at 5 p.m. I will read from my book, “We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie After Lie.” Discussion will follow. We extend a special invitation to any and all people who take issue with our run and mission. Come and share your concerns. Books will be available upon donation.
4. Online fundraising campaign. If we don’t see you this weekend, we welcome your contribution online. Go to Indiegogo.com and search for “GMO Free USA” in the search box. Then click on and be amazed by our promo video produced by Owen Kindig. Thank you, Owen! Our campaign is off to a strong start. Your contribution will make it even stronger. Our success is your success because we’re Running For a GMO-Free USA. Call Kris for further information: 752-0447.
Brett Wilcox, Sitka

Sitka Sentinel, December 12, 2013 Letters to the Editor

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297 scientists and experts agree GMOs not proven safe

Source: European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility

*EU chief scientist Anne Glover’s backing for GM condemned as “irresponsible”

*Independent researchers work double shift to address “red flags” on GMO safety

Press release, European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility, 10 Dec 2013

The number of scientists and experts who have signed a joint statement[1] saying that GM foods have not been proven safe and that existing research raises concerns has climbed to 297 since the statement was released on 21 October.

Dr Angelika Hilbeck, chair of the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), which published the statement, said, “We’re surprised and pleased by the strong support for the statement. It seems to have tapped into a deep concern in the global scientific community that the name of science is being misused to make misleading claims about the safety of GM technology.”

The statement indirectly challenges claims by EU chief science adviser Anne Glover that there is no evidence that GM foods are no riskier than non-GM foods.[2]

Dr Rosa Binimelis Adell, board member of ENSSER, said, “It seems that Anne Glover chooses to listen to one side of the scientific community only – the circle of GMO producers and their allied scientists – and ignores the other. Thus she is giving biased advice to the EU Commission. For a science adviser, this is irresponsible and unethical.”

New signatories to the statement include Dr Sheldon Krimsky, professor of urban and environmental policy and planning at Tufts University and adjunct professor in the department of public health and family medicine at the Tufts School of Medicine. Dr Krimsky said:

“As a GMO crop skeptic, I have a more nuanced view of adverse consequences than uncritical proponents. Adverse consequences of GMO crops are not restricted to keeling over dead after eating genetically adulterated unlabelled food (GAUF). My concerns include subtle changes in nutritional quality or mycotoxins, increasing food allergens, unsustainable farming practices, dependency on chemical inputs, lack of transparency in evaluating food quality and safety, and the transformation of farming practices into a modern form of serfdom, where the seed is intellectual property leased by the farmer.

“To demonstrate the safety of GMO products, one must begin by assuming that they can be harmful, and carry out sensitive tests that are capable of detecting harm. As with other technologies like aeronautics and nuclear power, those who manufacture the products must not be the definitive source of safety data. Because rigorous safety testing has not happened with GMO crops, I remain skeptical.”

Another signatory, Dr Margarida Silva, biologist and professor at the Portuguese Catholic University, said, “Even if researchers did largely agree on GMO safety, that doesn’t make them correct. To paraphrase Albert Einstein, it only takes one study to prove a whole theory wrong – no matter how many scientists believed in it.

“In addition, research has been mostly financed by the very companies that depend on positive outcomes for their business, and we now know that where money flows, influence grows. The few independent academics left must work double shift to address the vast array of unanswered questions and red flags that keep piling up.”

A third signatory, Dr Raul Montenegro, biologist at the University of Cordoba, Argentina, said:

“Usually, analysis of GMO safety fails to consider four main issues. One: GMO plants, seeds and byproducts contain not only residues of commercial chemical pesticides, but also insecticidal proteins produced by the plant, like the Bt toxin Cry1Ab. Two: each commercial pesticide contains a cocktail of chemicals that undergo chemical changes within pesticide containers, when mixed with other pesticides, and when released in the environment. Three: In GMO agriculture each crop cycle begins with a higher background level of commercial pesticides and insecticidal proteins accumulated in agricultural soil, people’s homes and gardens, and exposed people. Four: GMO agriculture adds unwanted biodiversity (GMO genes) in countries having less and less natural biodiversity as a consequence of deforestation, pesticides, GMO insecticidal proteins and uncontrolled flux of engineered genomes.

“Countries as Argentina and Brazil are paradises for GMO agriculture because their governments have not established monitoring systems for disease and deaths from all causes, along with monitoring of the accumulation of residues of pesticides and GMO insecticidal proteins in exposed people and the environment, and variation of natural biodiversity indexes. If these monitoring systems were in place, it would be possible to measure the effects of GMO agriculture. As things stand, the governments of these countries deny that there is a problem even in the face of numerous reports from the people who are affected and the doctors who must treat them.”

ENDS

Notes

[1] http://www.ensser.org/increasing-public-information/no-scientific-consensus-on-gmo-safety/

[2] http://www.euractiv.com/science-policymaking/eu-chief-scientist-unethical-use-interview-530692

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Sitka Family to Run with Message Across U.S.

kbwilcoxwsPhoto Credit: James Poulson

Source: Sitka Sentinel, http://sitkasentinel.com/7/2012-05-10-22-08-10/local-news/6587-sitka-family-to-run-with-message-across-u-s
By SHANNON HAUGLAND
Sentinel Staff Writer
A Sitka family is hoping that a long run – and a new, self-published book – will make at least a small difference in the health of Americans.
David Wilcox, a 15-year-old Southeast champion runner, and his father, Brett, plan to leave in January for a run across the country from California to New Jersey.
Mom Kris and David’s sister Olivia are providing support for the 3,000-mile journey as the family carries a warning message about genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and the corporate giant Monsanto.
The trip was borne out of David’s stated desire to run across the country, becoming one of the youngest people ever to accomplish that feat.
His parents said the family was supportive of his dream.
“If one of us is doing it, we’re all doing it,” Kris said, but noted, “Olivia and I have no desire to run the whole thing.”
The Wilcoxes plan to stop along the way to meet with people, give public talks and give media interviews to spread their message and sell Brett’s book.
“While we’re on the road, we’re going to visit farms and farmers and document their stories,” Brett writes on his Indiegogo fundraising site, which launched today. “What do they think of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), patented seeds, Roundup and other poisons? We’re going to hold meetings, give presentations, and talk to the media.”
He adds: “We’re not going to tell people that they have a right to know what’s in their food. We’re going to show them why they need to know what’s in their food. We’re going to expose the fraudulent stories pumped out by the corrupt chemical giants.”
Running sends an additional message of the importance of exercise in a healthy lifestyle. “For us, it’s all one and the same,” Brett said.
If David successfully completes the trip, he will be the second youngest person to run the entire way across the United States on foot. (The Wilcoxes learned recently that a young man accomplished the feat in 1928.)
But before the family departs Sitka in January, there is still a lot of work to do, Brett said. That includes fundraising to cover the costs of their trip, and publicizing Brett’s new book, “We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie after Lie.”
The family kicks off its efforts today with an online crowd-source fundraiser through Indiegogo.com. Under the name “Running for a GMO Free USA,” the Wilcoxes hope to raise at least part of the estimated $50,000 they will need for the seven-month journey. Brett said at press time today that he was pleased with the strong start to the campaign.
The second event is a book signing 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 7 at Old Harbor Books.
“We’re Monsanto: Feeding the World, Lie after Lie,” is about the contradictions Brett has found between what the corporate giant claims and what he has found to be the truth. He plans to follow up with a second book.
A “Fund Run” is planned for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 14 at Moller Field, where David will run a “marathon” (100 laps) around the Moller track. Sponsors are invited to sponsor David with donations per lap or with lump sum contributions.
“Or you can stop by and run,” Brett said. He added that there will be an information booth there as well.
Kris said the family sees the cross-country run – and effort to share information about GMOs – as both an individual and collective endeavor.
“People are supporting an individual, but hopefully supporting something that will affect everyone in a positive way,” she said.
“We feel it’s a critical mission,” Brett said. “It’s the future of agriculture in America and the world.”
The Wilcoxes will host an information booth at the Dec. 14 Monthly Grind, and Brett will give a reading from his new book 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at Kettleson Memorial Library.
The Wilcox run across the country will start in Huntington Beach, Calif., and proceed along Route 66 then along the American Discovery Trail. There will be stops in St. Louis, Mo., the home of Monsanto, and Washington, D.C., before ending at Cape May, N.J.
The website for the run itself is www.runningthecountry.com

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