Article Video – This One Was So Good, I Have to Re-Post in Full May 16, 2020 By Anna Von Reitz

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Weekly Health Quiz: COVID-19, Ketones and Privacy

1 Which of the following supplements has been shown to alleviate cytokine storms and acute lung injury, making it a potential adjunct to other COVID-19 treatments?

  • St. John’s wort
  • Astaxanthin

    Studies have shown astaxanthin alleviates cytokine storm, acute lung injury, acute respiratory syndrome and sepsis, all of which are common in cases of serious COVID-19 infection. As such, researchers suggest it may be a beneficial adjunct to other COVID-19 treatments. Learn more.

  • Echinacea
  • Ginseng

2 The Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989:

  • Only provides general guidelines for the safe use of biological agents that could be used as bioweapons
  • Specifies which pathogens are considered bioweapons
  • Calls for fines and/or up to life in prison for anyone involved in the creation of a bioweapon

    The Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 calls for fines and/or up to life in prison for anyone involved in the creation of a bioweapon. Learn more.

  • Calls for cease and desist letters to be sent to anyone found to be involved in the creation of a bioweapon

3 Which of the following are funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation?

  • World Health Organization
  • Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance
  • GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab
  • All of the above

    The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds the World Health Organization; Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; and GSMA Inclusive Tech Lab, the aim of which is to promote access to digital and biometric identity services and systems. Learn more.

4 Why are privacy protections so important?

  • They protect people from interference, intervention and manipulation

    Privacy protects people from interference, intervention and manipulation, and must therefore be protected at all costs. Learn more.

  • They protect people from unnecessary advertising of things they don’t need
  • They save people time and money by ensuring only relevant information gets through, based on personal preferences
  • There’s no valid reason to protect privacy unless you’re doing something illegal

5 Which of the following is currently being studied as a COVID-19 treatment by NYU Langone Health?

  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy

    NYU Langone Health is recruiting 40 COVID-19 patients for a study using hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). Opelousas General Hospital in Louisiana is already using HBOT for all COVID-19 patients with oxygen-resistant hypoxemia. Learn more.

  • Fish oil and vitamin D supplementation
  • Phototherapy

6 Which of the following will raise your ketone level?

  • Taking ketone esters
  • Time-restricted eating
  • Drinking one to two small cups of black coffee
  • All of the above

    You can raise your ketones by taking ketone esters, or naturally by implementing time-restricted eating, fasting and/or going on a very low-carb, high-fat, moderate protein diet. Drinking two small cups of black coffee can also double your ketone level. Learn more.

Can Licorice Reduce the Severity of Coronavirus Infection?

Medicinal plants have been a part of human history since the beginning of recorded time. Many pharmaceutical drugs are the result of isolating a plant compound and replicating it in the lab.1 Through many years of fighting illness and disease, people from all over have learned to rely on medicinal plants for healing.

The World Health Organization reports that many nations are continuing to use and rely on herbal treatments to help provide for health care needs. In 133 nations surveyed, 110 reported using herbal medicines.2 In one U.S. survey in 2007 it was reported that 40% of adults used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies.3

The resurgence of herbal medicine treatments may be driven by an increasing rate of death from all viruses, including influenza4 and SARS-CoV-2.5 Scientists have historically observed medicinal plant use and sought to understand their mechanisms of action. Licorice root offers more than one compound with effects against COVID-19.

Computer Reveals Liquiritin May Be an Effective Antiviral

Liquiritin is a flavanone glycoside6 found in licorice root. Chinese licorice is a flowering plant commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in combination with other herbs. The root has been used to improve the results of the other ingredients in medicine,7 help reduce the harmful effects and improve the flavor.

But, researchers from Peking University and the Academy of Military Science in China have discovered a compound in licorice root that can do more than just boost the effectiveness of other herbs. They analyzed liquiritin, which they found could help prevent SARS-CoV-2 from rapidly reproducing in the lab.

In search of an antiviral treatment against COVID-19, the researchers found licorice root. The study8 has not yet been peer-reviewed, but has been made public in a preprint paper.9

They noticed that past searches for antiviral therapies appeared to focus mainly on blocking the virus and considered searching for a method that boosted the host’s protective function. The study began with scientists analyzing natural products and FDA-approved drugs.

An artificial intelligence platform called InfinityPhenotype was used to predict the efficacy of 3,682 drugs and natural products against the gene set of SARS-CoV-2, as reported in previous research. During the analysis liquiritin was revealed to have the top score.

Then, results verified in the lab and showed that liquiritin had the ability to obstruct the growth of SARS-CoV-2 in monkey cells10 by mimicking type I interferon. They moved on to test toxicity in mice and found there were no deaths when the animals were treated with high doses for one week. They also acknowledged that liquiritin:11

“… acts as an antioxidant and has antidepressant, neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory and therapeutic effects on heart system diseases. Liquiritin plays a strong protective effect on vascular endothelial cells in myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury model. It can also protect smoking-induced lung epithelial cell injury.”

In conclusion, the researchers wrote:

“Since liquiritin is also one of the main ingredients of compound licorice tablets, we speculate that it is safe. Indeed, it didn’t show toxicity and side effects in two independent experiments. In summary, we suggest that liquiritin should be assessed in human patients suffering from the COVID-19 …

Because type I interferon is responsive to most viruses that infect vertebrate, we expect liquiritin having a broad and potent antiviral function to other viral pathogens, like HBV, HIV and etc.”

Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Licorice Root Compounds

The compounds in licorice root have demonstrated an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and the ability to modulate the immune system. In addition to fighting viral infections, it is also important to support the body’s defenses and reduce respiratory system effects.

For instance, in one literature review of 29 studies, scientists evaluated herbal preparations in the treatment of asthma to improve lung function.12 They found that when the herbal therapies, including licorice root, were used in conjunction with medications, the participants’ asthma outcomes were more improved than when the medications were used alone. Researchers have also studied the anti-inflammatory effects of licorice root extract and wrote:13

“Furthermore, licorice extract inhibited the expression levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-?, IL-1? and IL-6) in the livers of t-BHP-treated mice models.

This result suggested that mechanistic-based evidence substantiating the traditional claims of licorice extract and its three bioactive components can be applied for the treatment of inflammation-related disorders, such as oxidative liver damage and inflammation diseases.”

The inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines may be an important effect as early studies have demonstrated an increased number of cytokines IL1B, IL6, IL12, IFN?, IP10, and MCP1 in those with COVID-19.14 Two (IL1B, IL6) are the same cytokines researchers found were inhibited when licorice extract is used.

In an animal study from 2008 liquiritin showed an antidepressant-type effect.15 The research team said the mechanism of action was an increase in norepinephrine and 5-Hydroxytryptamine (serotonin).16 This is interesting since norepinephrine plays an important function in enhancing the expression of COX-2.17 Researchers believe their findings demonstrated:

“… the role of NE [norepinephrine] in CNS inflammation. NE via COX-2 and PGE-2 [prostaglandin] induction may have a protective physiological function rather than being purely detrimental.”

Serotonin is also enhanced with licorice root18 and plays a role in mediating immune cell function.19 For example, it modulates cytokine secretion and can suppress TNF? and IL1B, both important cytokines released in a COVID-19 infection.

Glycyrrhizin: Another Compound With Antiviral Effects

A second compound in licorice root that has demonstrated an effect against SARS-CoV-1 in 2003 is glycyrrhizin. The active compound was discovered in a search for antiviral therapies that may reduce the severity and mortality from the SARS coronavirus infection.

In a study20 published in the Lancet, scientists evaluated antiviral activity in patients with SARS-CoV-1 admitted to Frankfurt University in Germany. After evaluating the result of each of the compounds, they found that glycyrrhizin was the most active in stopping the reproduction of the SARS-CoV-1 virus. They concluded:

“However, although high doses of glycyrrhizin have been used in clinical trials, this compound had few toxic effects compared with the other regimens, and the drug was reported to be clinically effective.”

Results from another study21 showed the antiviral capacity of glycyrrhizin against coxsackievirus A16 and enterovirus 71 responsible for hand, foot and mouth disease. This is a contagious viral infection that children are susceptible to. The extract was used in the lab and showed a dose-dependent ability to block the reproduction of enterovirus 71 and coxsackievirus A16.

Historically, glycyrrhizin was a valuable asset in the treatment of coughs and viral respiratory tract infections in China, India and Greece.22 Current research has shown it to be a formidable antiviral with demonstrated effects against herpes, HIV, hepatitis, influenza and pneumonia. In animal studies glycyrrhizin reduced mortality from herpes encephalitis and influenza A pneumonia.

Licorice Root Has a Long History of Medicinal Use

Licorice is also known as “sweet root” because it’s about 50 times sweeter than regular sugar.23 Topical preparations have been used to treat eczema and other skin conditions. In Eastern and Western medicine, it has been used as an expectorant and to treat common colds.

When the Greek historian Herodotus was in the Black Sea area, after being exiled from Athens,24 he observed how licorice root was used in the Scythian Empire. He suggested it may be useful to the Greeks. Theophrastus advocated use in the 3rd century B.C. in asthma and respiratory diseases. In combination with honey, he suggested it for topical uses on wounds and ulcers.

Between 1400 and 1650, herbalists noted licorice had positive effects in the mouth and discovered different extracts had different potencies. To ensure the same benefits with each plant or extract, it would be necessary to standardize the growth and use of the plant.

Reduce Infection Potential and Support Your Immune System

While it is encouraging that licorice root has demonstrated the potential to positively affect the SARS-CoV-2 virus, you may also seek ways to reduce your potential for getting sick and the severity of the illness if you do get infected. Here are some suggestions:

Hand-washing — Using proper hand-washing techniques can help reduce your risk of a respiratory infection, as proven by the military. They were able to reduce the number of upper respiratory infections by 45% in a class of new recruits.25

Humidity and Hydration — Keeping the room humidity between 40% and 60% can reduce the transmission of viruses and may support your immune system.26 Thomas Pietschmann from the Center for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research explains it this way:27

“Viruses have greater stability at low temperatures. This is similar to food that keeps longest in the refrigerator. On cold and usually dry winter days, the small droplets, together with the viruses, float in the air longer than when the air humidity is high.”

Keeping your body hydrated is another way of protecting your mucus membranes. It has additional benefits as well as I discussed in “This Could Prevent 3 Million Cases of Degenerative Disease.”

Vitamin D — An increasing number of analyses of the data is showing people with adequate levels of vitamin D are experiencing infections with less severity and have lower mortality. You don’t have to go to a lab, but can easily test your vitamin D levels at home.

Vitamin C — This vitamin has a history of reducing the damaging effects of respiratory viruses and is being used by doctors in New York to reduce the mortality rates in people with COVID-19.28

Sleep — Sleep plays an integral role in your immune system and has a curious bidirectional link to your gut microbiome. If you need help getting quality sleep each night, here are my Top 33 tips to optimize your sleep routine.

USA Today Smears Mercola Over Vitamin C and D Information

The fact that there is an information war going on is quite evident at this point. Mainstream media, supported by monopoly tech platforms like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, are going to great lengths to control the narrative of what you see and read about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Videos questioning the narrative — even when done by health professionals and scientists — are taken down faster than you can share them. Social media accounts of well-respected health professionals are being suppressed and removed. Twitter is even trialing a moderator tool that warns users when they’re about to post “harmful” language, although it’s unclear what the company might deem harmful.1

Fact-Checking at Its Worst

“Fact-checking” is also in overdrive, with journalists who are clueless about health and choose to side with the authoritarians writing articles “debunking” clear and provable facts without any counterevidence whatsoever.

Case in point: May 2, 2020, USA Today published “Fact Check: Vitamins C and D Are Not Used in ‘Conventional Treatment’ of Coronavirus,”2 an article aimed at debunking my April 7, 2020, article, “Vitamins C and D Finally Adopted as Coronavirus Treatment,” which has more than 816,000 views. USA Today writes, in part:3

“Mercola’s claim about vitamins and the coronavirus cites a New York Post article from March 24 that describes the use of vitamin C by Northwell Health, a New York hospital system, to treat patients with coronavirus.

Northwell spokesperson Jason Molinet confirmed to USA TODAY that ‘vitamin C was one of many therapies employed at the discretion of physicians in our health system.’

Molinet declined to answer follow-up questions about how widespread the use of vitamin C was, what the results of the treatment were and what studies or data Northwell relied on when deciding whether to use vitamin C as part of COVID-19 treatment. He declined to make a doctor available to speak about the treatment, saying, ‘That’s the extent of our statement on this.’

Our Ruling: False.

Though vitamin C is used, at least in one New York hospital system, to help treat some patients on a case-by-case basis, there is no known evidence to suggest it is effective.

Occasional use of vitamins C or D in COVID-19 treatment at the discretion of a patient and doctor is not the same as saying they are being adopted ‘in the conventional treatment’ of the coronavirus, as Mercola’s article says.”

This is beyond a shoddy “debunking” attempt. What does “adopted in conventional treatment” actually mean? The fact that vitamin C is being used in a conventional hospital setting to treat COVID-19 patients means it is in fact being adopted in conventional treatment.

I never stated or implied vitamin C is being used as “the standard of care” everywhere, but the fact is, it has been adopted as part of COVID-19 treatment by New York state’s largest hospital system.

My article also clearly states Northwell hospital system is using vitamin C “in conjunction with the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin.” I never stated or implied vitamin C is being used in isolation as the sole treatment, or that it could be (it probably shouldn’t).

So, essentially, USA Today confirmed my report, then slapped a “fake news” label on it after falsely asserting “there is no known evidence to suggest [vitamin C] is effective.”

My article, meanwhile, detailed the scientific evidence — with scientific references — underpinning the suggestion to use vitamin C and vitamin D to boost your immune system, which in turn can help protect against COVID-19, seeing how it protects against most other viral illnesses.

USA Today presents no such counterevidence. Instead, it cites an opinion expressed by the founder of in 2012 — eight years ago — and directs readers to information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, which states “the only way to minimize the chances of contracting the virus is to take preventive steps such as social distancing … frequent hand-washing and cleaning of often-used surfaces.”

Information Combat Is the New Warfare

Why do USA Today, CDC and WHO want the public to believe that there’s absolutely nothing they can do to protect themselves against SARS-CoV-2? Why do they want us to think our immune system is irrelevant when it comes to preventing and/or surviving COVID-19? Could it be because they want you to feel helpless enough to want a vaccine?

Rule 101 of debunking is that you have to present counterevidence. There’s clear evidence showing vitamin C’s usefulness against infectious disease, including sepsis, which is a major cause of death from COVID-19. If you’re going to claim that there’s “no known evidence to suggest vitamin C is effective,” then that means you have to produce studies showing vitamin C is useless against infections and sepsis.

So, why did USA Today not bother digging up those scientific references rather than quoting Quackwatch and directing readers to the CDC and WHO websites, where, again, no actual scientific evidence is cited? Could it be because their shoddy journalists are counting on people to not think critically?

Unfortunately, we’re bound to see more and more of this kind of irrational censoring of valuable health information as mainstream media pushes the WHO/CDC/Bill Gates narrative that our only hope for a return to normalcy is to vaccinate and digitally track, trace and surveil the global population.

In other words, their answer to the COVID-19 pandemic is the rapid rollout of a global totalitarian regime under which you can be placed in house arrest at any moment and be banned from travel, work, education, leisure and social activities simply because you’ve been infected or not infected/have or do not have antibodies/have or have not been vaccinated.

This strategy stands to make drug and tech companies untold billions of dollars, and the drug industry is undoubtedly a key player behind the media messages you see. The drug industry spent roughly $6 billon on drug ads to consumers in 2016,4,5 and drug ads (sometimes disguised as content through the use of something called advertorials) make up a fair share of the advertising dollars that media corporations depend on for their survival. 

USA Today Is Part of Media Monopoly

In November 2019, Gannett, the parent company of USA Today, merged with GateHouse Media, owned by New Media Investment Group.6,7,8 Together, they now form the largest media monopoly in the U.S., with more than 260 dailies under their umbrella.9

The management of this vast news network is done by Fortress Investment Group, a private equity firm, which in turn is owned by Tokyo’s SoftBank.10 According to CNBC,11 SoftBank’s CEO, the Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son, also has “a wide network of relationships” in the tech industry and is said to be “one of the technology industry’s most influential investors.”

In 2018, Son funded EarthNow, a project involving 500 satellites equipped with machine learning technology to surveil the entire planet with real-time video. Another funder of this project was Bill Gates.12 (Incidentally, this project sounds like it could find a purpose in Gates’ proposed surveillance plan, and not be relegated to catching illegal fishing and tracking animal migration.)

My point, though, is this: The majority of mainstream media in the U.S. are owned, funded (through advertising) — and therefore easily controlled — by powerful corporate entities and industries, some of which are overseas and may not even have American interests at heart.

Media’s ties to Big Pharma and Big Tech run deep. Is it any wonder then that so often, so many news outlets use the same exact talking points on health, drugs, pesticides, GMOs and 5G, just to name a few? How is it that they’re using the identical language, as if they’re all reading and copying a single script?

Trust in Mainstream Media Is Rapidly Eroding

Fortunately, many are starting to see through the bias. The censorship has gotten so ridiculously blatant, it’s hard to miss. As a result, mainstream media are losing what little credibility they had left. Their machinations have simply become too obvious.

As of September 2019, American’s trust in mass media had dipped to 41%; only 13% trusted the media “a great deal.” Interestingly, 69% of Democrats and only 15% of Republicans said they trusted the media.13

March 19, 2020, Publishers Daily reported14 the results from a February 2020 Axios/Ipsos poll15 showing only 51% of American adults trust newspapers to provide them with accurate information about COVID-19 — the same ratio saying they track the pandemic “very closely.”

Only 47% trust mainstream digital publishers to report accurate information about COVID-19. In the Axios poll, the political gap is again unmistakable, with 66% of Democrats trusting what they’re told compared to just 33% of Republicans. Still, 85% trust the CDC and 77% trust WHO, both of which have the same conflicts of interest as most mainstream media.16

In the EU, the average net trust in the media as a whole is in the negative — minus 9% — when you include all forms, including radio, television, press, digital publishers and other online sources, including social media.17

Nutrition Is Essential to Protect Against Viral Illnesses

Regardless of what the mainstream media want you to think, many are starting to realize the truth, which is that both vitamin C and D have an enormous amount of evidence showing they provide important immune function benefits, and that your immune function is your front-line defense against all illness, including COVID-19.

As reported in the paper18 “Optimal Nutritional Status for a Well-Functioning Immune System Is an Important Factor to Protect Against Viral Infections,” published April 23, 2020:

“The role nutrition plays in supporting the immune system is well-established. A wealth of mechanistic and clinical data show that vitamins, including vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, E, and folate; trace elements, including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium, and copper; and the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid play important and complementary roles in supporting the immune system.

Inadequate intake and status of these nutrients are widespread, leading to a decrease in resistance to infections and as a consequence an increase in disease burden. Against this background the following conclusions are made:

(1) supplementation with the above micronutrients and omega-3 fatty acids is a safe, effective, and low-cost strategy to help support optimal immune function

(2) supplementation above the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), but within recommended upper safety limits, for specific nutrients such as vitamins C and D is warranted; and

(3) public health officials are encouraged to include nutritional strategies in their recommendations to improve public health.”

In related news, Finnish researchers have identified specific immune health-related genes that are regulated by vitamin D.19 In vitro tests show vitamin D targets genes that support immune function in response to acute infection, infection in general, and autoimmunity. According to the authors, “15 genes were identified as major mediators of the action of vitamin D in innate and adaptive immunity.”

Low Vitamin D Levels Linked to Increased COVID-19 Mortality

Irish researchers recently published an editorial20 highlighting the role of vitamin D deficiency in severe COVID-19 infections specifically. According to the authors:

“… the evidence supporting a protective effect of vitamin D against severe COVID?19 disease is very suggestive, a substantial proportion of the population in the Northern Hemisphere will currently be vitamin D deficient, and supplements, for example, 1,000 international units (25 micrograms) per day are very safe.

It is time for governments to strengthen recommendations for vitamin D intake and supplementation, particularly when under lock?down.”

You can learn more about this in “Vitamin D Level Is Directly Correlated to COVID-19 Outcome.” Similarly, a May 6, 2020, report21 published in Aging Clinical and Experimental Research (its prepublication featured in the Daily Mail May 122), found that countries with lower vitamin D levels have higher death rates from COVID-19. According to the authors:23

“The Seneca study showed a mean serum vitamin D level of 26 nmol/L in Spain, 28 nmol/L in Italy and 45 nmol/L in the Nordic countries, in older people. In Switzerland, mean vitamin D level is 23 nmol/L in nursing homes and in Italy 76% of women over 70 years of age have been found to have circulating levels below 30 nmol/L.

These are the countries with high number of cases of COVID-19 and the aging people is the group with the highest risk for morbidity and mortality with SARS-CoV2.”

In the preprint version24 of this paper, the authors concluded: “We believe that we can advise vitamin D supplementation to protect against SARS-CoV2 infection.” In the final version,25 they toned down the recommendation to: “We hypothesize that vitamin D may play a protective role for COVID-19.”

Gannett-owned USA Today is clearly, knowingly, publishing health news aimed at preventing people from effectively protecting themselves against severe COVID-19 infection. So, what’s their excuse for not sticking to scientifically verifiable facts?

Dr. Mercola Coproduces an Important Short Film

I recently had the pleasure of coproducing a short film called “Biodynamic Agriculture: Farming in Service of Life,” in partnership with 12 organizations practicing or supporting biodynamic agriculture. Beginning with the tenets of organic farming such as no use of toxic pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers, biodynamics takes farming one step further.1

As the title of the film portrays, biodynamic agriculture is farming in the service of life. It views the whole farm as an organism and leaves the land better than when biodynamic farming began, with lush land and animals big and small.

Biodynamic Agriculture Is Farming in the Service of Life

Biodynamic farming “is not easily understood and flies in the face of certainly the agriculture I had exposed to me as a young farmer,” says Rudy Marchesi, a biodynamic farming expert who appears in the film. Marchesi has been termed “Oregon’s beloved biodynamic mentor” and serves as chairman of Demeter Association Inc., a not-for-profit dedicated to healing the planet through agriculture,2 and a film sponsor.3

Other film sponsors include Crofter’s Organic, White Leaf Provisions, Montinore Estate, Bonterra, Frey Vineyards, Truett Hurst Winery, Brooks Wine, Soter Vineyards, Biodynamic Association, Summerfield Waldorf School and Nekoosa Cranberry. Zepher Visuals is also a partner.4

“The moment a farm transitions into biodynamic agriculture, biodiversity improves, the quality of the food improves and also the quality of the life of the farmers,” says Appachanda Thimmaiah, an expert on climate smart agriculture, food security, rural poverty reduction and sustainable development and agriculture who also appears in the film.

Thimmaiah, a board director of Demeter, has advised governments, international organizations and agribusiness corporations in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Italy, Holland, Costa Rica and Bhutan. He developed the National Organic Standards of Bhutan, which empower poor farmers and the nation as they move toward carbon neutrality and producing 100% organic food.5

The Need for Biodynamic Farming Grew Out of World War I

The philosophy of biodynamic farming is simple but radical. According to Rudolph Steiner, widely credited with first conceptualizing the farming philosophy in the 1920s, “You need to stop thinking of your farms as factories and envision them as living organisms — self-contained, self-sustaining, following the cycles of nature, and able to create their own health and vitality out of the living dynamics of the farm.”

Many people think of nontoxic and organic farming as a relatively recent phenomenon, but it was first envisioned in the 1920s for a specific reason, says Elizabeth Candelario, former6 managing director for Demeter, which certifies biodynamic farming operations. She says:7

“After World War I, chemical companies got very crafty repurposing nitrogen that had been used to make bombs as fertilizer, and nerve gas as synthetic pesticides. They had stockpiles of these chemicals and realized they had application on farms …

We accept the notion of these synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and think, ‘Huh. Synthetic fertilizer pesticides. It’s nerve gas. It was materials used to make bombs.'”

Industrial agriculture’s love affair with nitrogen fertilizer is one of the most widespread and destructive aspects of “modern” farming. When nitrogen-based fertilizers are added to the soil, the amount of sequestered carbon is reduced and the soil microbiome is disrupted — reducing the soil’s ability to support plant growth.

The soil’s microbiome, like your own, teems with billions of important microbes that are essential to health. As a spokesperson in “Biodynamic Agriculture: Farming in Service of Life” says, if you have healthy soil you can grow anything well.

In addition to its degradation of soil, runoff of nitrogen-based fertilizers is one of the largest contributors to ocean pollution and dead zones where oxygen has been annihilated and marine life cannot live. When the fertilizers break down, ammonia is produced, which combines with fossil fuel combustion to create microparticles in the air.

Nitrogen-based fertilizers are not like the nitrogen naturally found in air, water and soil. They are “reactive,” relying on fossil fuel-burning engines for production and contributing to industrial pollution.

Biodynamic Practices Produce Healthy Farms and Crops

For a farm to be certified as biodynamic, it cannot import outside, synthetic materials like industrial farms do, but must use what it already has. According to Candelario:

“If a farmer is having a fertility issue, in conventional farming, a conventional farmer might say, ‘Let’s just bring in those synthetic fertilizers.’ An organic farmer might say, ‘Let me look and see what organic fertilizers I can bring into the farm.’ That’s a step better, but you’re still mining a natural resource and importing it to the farm.

A biodynamic farmer’s going to say, ‘What is it about my farm system that isn’t capable of delivering the fertility that my crops need?'”

The answer, found within the biodynamic farm itself, may be the use of green manures, composting, adding crop coverage or adding livestock, says Candelario. The goal is to allow the agricultural ingredients that are already present on the farm to create the finished product so it ends up having minimal processing. It is assumed since the biodynamic farm is a living system, it has access to all it needs.

Biodynamic preparations might include burying cow manure in a cow horn over the winter, then vortexting it and spreading it in compost tea over the property. This practice, using what the farm already has, will produce increased microbial life in the soil, says Candelario. Other preparations used on a biodynamic farm might be a foliar spray made from silica and the use of the plants chamomile and valerian.

Biodynamic farming is really farming the soil, not the crops, according to “Biodynamic Agriculture: Farming in Service of Life,” and healthy soil will lack the problems that are seen with conventional and industrial farms. According to the late Jerry Brunetti,8 whom I had the pleasure of interviewing in 2013, biodynamic agriculture represents:9

“… the marriage of biology, chemistry, geology, and the physical structure of those soils translated into not just quantity, but it also translated into what we call nutrient-dense foods these days, foods that are loaded with minerals, vitamins, all the plant secondary metabolites (… like lycopene, lutein, indole-3-carbinol), or whatever it might be that’s in a plant.

These plants, we’re finding out that when they’re nourished this way from the soil up, they have a tremendous resistance against fungal outbreaks and insect attack, and they’re just as productive if not more productive than the conventionally chemically-grown produce.

There’s a myth that you can’t grow the quantities of produce — forages, grains, fruits, and vegetables — that you can grow with conventional agriculture. That’s a myth, because we’ve seen it in the last 30 years with farmers who make these practices an actual ongoing, never-ending kind of process, where these particular outcomes are almost predictable.”

Brunetti, an expert on soil fertility, animal nutrition and livestock health, was a passionate believer in the strong link between healthy soil and healthful food. He founded Agri-Dynamics, a company providing holistic animal remedies for farm, livestock and pets and was a cofounder of EarthWorks Natural Organic Products.

Not Conquering Life on Earth but Part of Life on Earth

According to a narrator in “Biodynamic Agriculture: Farming in Service of Life,” biodynamic farmers want to be “part of life on Earth not conquer life on Earth.” That means not waging chemical war on insects and weeds, which is the hallmark of industrial farming. Animals are also a big part of the biodiversity of biodynamic agriculture, said natural health expert Kristin Ohlson when I interviewed her in 2015.10

“[O]n a lot of these farms, they understand the importance of animal impact. Animals — cattle, sheep or goats — are going through and their hooves are breaking up the surface of the soil a little bit so that water and plant material get in contact with the soil microorganisms. The animals are leaving their dung, which is rich in microorganisms.

They’re chewing down the plant material and stomping it down. They have a beneficial impact there. All of those things are really helping the richness of the soil.”

Brunetti praised the biodiversity of biodynamic agriculture and lamented the loss and even extinction of plant species as industrial monocropping becomes the rule in farming:11

“The prairies used to have 253,000 species of plants. We’ve plowed it all up when we have one species growing instead of those. How does that translate into ecosystem health? How does that translate into animal health? How does that translate into human health?

… how many varieties of fruits and vegetables did we eat in 1900 compared to today? It was many, many times more than what we’re consuming today. Most of what we eat today is like corn, soybeans or wheat in the Western side … that’s not a good idea …

We’re creating maybe one of the largest extinctions, a wholesale annihilation of species and ecosystems at large. We have an opportunity to either stop it and reverse it or pretend that it’s not happening and end up with the consequences.”

The Importance of Carbon in the Soil

Environmentally, there is a lot of talk about carbon emissions from burning of fossil fuels. There is much less talk about a bigger issue, which is the need to sequester carbon into the soil. Photosynthesis itself accomplishes this important function by taking carbon out of the air and pushing it down into the soil. This carbon sequestering makes both the soil and the food it produces more healthful.

The more carbon that is put in the soil, the more a resilient and water-conservative soil is being built. As the film says, when it comes to putting carbon back into the soil, plants themselves are the “pump.” However, industrial farming inhibits the vital action of carbon drawdown because synthetic fertilizers kill the microbiota in the soil. The interplay between soil and plants was described by Kristin Ohlson in our interview:12

“… science now tells us is that an amazing 40 percent, up to 40 percent of that carbon fuel, the plant doesn’t just use for its own growth. Up to 40 percent of that goes down to the roots, where it’s leaked out into the soil.

What’s happening when it’s leaked out into the soil is that the plants are feeding this very, very huge population of soil microorganisms … That’s the plants’ part of the partnership. The plant is providing food for these soil microorganisms.

What are the soil microorganisms doing with that carbon fuel? They’re using it to build their own growth, to support their own lifestyle … They are feeding themselves. They’re creating habitats. They’re [making] a carbon glue to make themselves a habitat, either to protect themselves against other microorganisms, to hold moisture, or to hold air in the soil.”

Biodynamic farming forbids tilling the soil, a practice that also removes carbon from the soil and destroys its valuable microbial balance. Depending on the slope of the land and type of machinery used, tilling can also cause severe soil erosion. Exposing the soil also makes it much more susceptible to wind and water erosion.

Biodynamic farming includes other practices such as planting cover crops and plant rotation that protect the soil and reduce erosion. Farms that plant the same crop every year lose soil biodiversity and soil health.

Moreover, crop rotation between cash crop seasons, which is practiced on biodynamic farms, reduces the loss of specific nutrients in the soil that result from growing only one crop and improves organic material. Microbes are also insulated from the soil surface during weather extremes and can thrive longer.

Another Benefit to Biodynamic Agriculture

As expressed in “Biodynamic Agriculture: Farming in Service of Life,” biodynamic agriculture improves biodiversity, and the quality of the food improves, as does the quality of the life of the farmers. It reduces air and water pollution and the loss of topsoil. There is another benefit to biodynamic agriculture, which is its effect on climate change. According to Candelario, agriculture specialists developing an initiative that began in France:13

“… did the math and they found that if we increased the carbon, in other words the organic matter in soil, in all the agricultural land around the world by just 0.4 percent, four-tenths percent, climate change or global warming would stop, because so much carbon would be drawn out.”

Clearly the adoption of biodynamic agriculture could not come soon enough.

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