Are C-Sections Contributing to Autism?

By Dr. Mercola

A well-respected natural-birth pioneer, Dr. Michel Odent, has a theory about what might be behind our rising autism rates: C-sections. While C-sections and autism may initially seem completely unrelated, there is in fact an intriguing connection between the two — a connection that lead back to the gut.

We now know that C-sections alter the microbiome in the child, and a number of studies, as well as clinical observations, suggest a disrupted gut flora may act as a trigger for autism. Recent research linking folate deficiency to autism supports this theory, as folate has been shown to aid in the detoxification of pesticides — chemicals known to increase the risk of autism by destroying beneficial gut bacteria.

Might C-Sections Increase a Child’s Risk of Autism?

As reported by The Guardian:1 “[Odent] has interpreted epidemiological studies that show that a high number of children born by cesarean section or induction go on to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder in support of his theories …

He is also fascinated by current research into epigenetics … and studies that investigate how the maternal microbiome … might affect a baby’s development in pregnancy, delivery and infancy. He is most passionate about advancing his theory that altering the way women conceive and give birth is changing humanity at an evolutionary level.” Odent believes the following three factors may be partly responsible for rising autism rates by triggering a genetic predisposition for autism:

  • The use of synthetic oxytocin to induce labor
  • Changing environmental conditions in the womb
  • The increasing trend of elective C-sections

He bases his theory on C-sections as a contributing factor to autism on two large longitudinal studies that show an association between the two. One study, which had a cohort of nearly 2.7 million children, found that those born by C-section were 21 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism.2,3

Proposed reasons for this link include exposure to anesthesia drugs, preterm delivery and elevated stress responses. It’s a controversial position, to say the least, and many disagree with his interpretations and theories. As noted in the featured article:4

“Dr. Carole Buckley, the Royal College of General Practitioners’ clinical representative on autism, is disturbed by the hypothesis: ‘There is no evidence to support the claims in this book and it is extremely unhelpful of Dr. Odent to make them. Suggesting that inducing labor or delivering a baby via caesarean may lead to autism is irresponsible. It will only increase anxiety and feelings of guilt or inadequacy that women often feel when they need intervention to give birth to their babies.'”

Odent defends his position saying his book, “The Birth of Homo, the Marine Chimpanzee: When the Tool Becomes the Master,” is not geared toward pregnant women. In fact, he urges them not to read it. Rather, the audience he’s trying to capture are “people interested in thinking in terms of the future and the future of the species.”

In other words, while medical advances such as C-sections are a blessing for individuals whose lives can be saved by them, from a long-term societal perspective, radical alterations from nature’s ways has a price, and increased prevalence of autism may be one.

The Importance of Gut Microbiome in Autism Highlighted Yet Again

The study showing C-section raised the risk of autism by 21 percent was careful to note that the procedure was not causative. Rather, the researchers speculate that “some unknown genetic or environmental factors may lead to both.”5 The question is what? It’s also interesting to note that while the global rate of autism is 0.62 percent, the U.S. reports a rate of nearly 1.5 percent.6 What might account for this significant discrepancy in prevalence?

Again, a factor that might explain the association between C-section and autism is the disruption of the gut microbiome. The importance of gut microbes was again highlighted in research showing folate (vitamin B9, the synthetic version of which is folic acid) helps mitigate pesticide-related autism. Low folate has been shown to play a role in a number of neurological disorders.

Folate is naturally produced by certain gut microbes, and since glyphosate disrupts the gut microbiome, it may lead to a decreased ability to produce folate, thereby inducing folate deficiency and related health problems, including autism. Two recent studies support this hypothesis. In one,7,8 women who took prenatal vitamins — which include folic acid — lowered their child’s risk of autism by as much as 30 percent.

In the other,9,10,11 they found that taking the recommended amount of folic acid at the time of conception lowered the child’s risk of pesticide-related autism specifically. A reason for this appears to be because a lack of this vitamin inhibits detoxification of pesticides. Pesticides are not only toxic to the developing brain,12 like C-section, pesticides also have an adverse effect on the microbiome.

Women whose folic acid intake was less than 800 micrograms [mcg] per day (the amount in most prenatal vitamins)and were exposed to pesticides had a much higher estimated risk of having a child who developed an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared to those who took the recommended amount (800 mcg/day) and had no pesticide exposure.

Not surprisingly, repeated pesticide exposures resulted in increasingly higher risk of having a child with ASD. Those at greatest risk were mothers with the greatest exposure to pesticide and the lowest folic acid intake. While this study did not establish a causal link, Rebecca J. Schmidt, assistant professor in the department of public health sciences and lead author of the paper noted that:

“Folate plays a critical role in DNA methylation (a process by which genes are turned off or on), as well as in DNA repair and synthesis. These are all really important during periods of rapid growth when there are lots of cells dividing, as in a developing fetus. Adding folic acid might be helping out in a number of these genomic functions.”

Folate Deficiency Must Be Avoided During Pregnancy

Toxic exposures from multiple sources, including the mother, while in utero,13 have been cited as a risk for autism on numerous occasions. One source in particular that has been repeatedly pointed out is pesticides, glyphosate in particular, and the U.S. is a leading user of this chemical. Nearly 300 million pounds of glyphosate are sprayed on food crops each year in the U.S. Since its introduction in 1974, over 3.5 billion pounds of glyphosate have been applied to American fields.14,15

Glyphosate is widely used on genetically engineered crops, and the pesticide cannot be washed off, as it’s taken up into every cell of the plant. As a result, nonorganic foods are proving to be a significant source of glyphosate exposure. Aside from increasing a child’s autism risk in the ways already mentioned, mothers exposed to pesticides during pregnancy are also at increased risk of premature delivery,16 which just so happens to be yet another risk factor for autism.17

Monsanto, which manufactures and sells the best-selling glyphosate-based herbicide Roundup, has maintained that Roundup and glyphosate (the active ingredient) are harmless, but Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Anthony Samsel, Ph.D., a research scientist and environmental and public health consultant, have discovered and published papers explaining the mechanisms by which glyphosate contributes to chronic disease and brain disorders such as autism, and it all goes back to the adverse effects the chemical has on the gut microbiome.

Glyphosate Kills Folate-Producing Gut Bacteria

Last year, Seneff wrote an article18 in which she pointed out that a few years after the introduction of Roundup Ready corn and soy in the U.S., incidence of spina bifida started to increase — a birth defect associated with folate deficiency. This increase was in fact what alerted the U.S. government to the fact that this vitamin deficiency was becoming a widespread problem again.

As a result, federal regulations were enacted in 1998, requiring fortified wheat products to contain folic acid. Interestingly enough, Seneff and Samsel’s work shows that by disrupting gut microbes, glyphosate may actually induce folate deficiency (as certain gut bacteria produce B9).

She believes that by requiring foods to be fortified with folic acid and encouraging pregnant women to take supplemental folic acid, the fact that glyphosate is causing birth defects and neurodevelopmental problems — by way of destroying gut bacteria — remains hidden. She writes:19

“In fact, it is a direct hit: folate is produced from products of the shikimate pathway, and this is the pathway that even Monsanto admits is disrupted in plants and microbes by glyphosate. Furthermore, the microbes that synthesize folate for the host, lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, are the ones that glyphosate preferentially kills.

A continued rise in spina bifida would raise public awareness of a hidden environmental toxicant that might be causing this rise. Making sure that pregnant women were well supplied with external folic acid might mask the problem.”

Folate Versus Folic Acid

An important distinction needs to be made here. Although many scientists refer to folate and folic acid as if they were interchangeable, they are not actually the same. The active form is technically called methyltetrahydrofolate. Folic acid, the synthetic version of B9, is missing the methyl group and is already oxidized. As a result, few of the health benefits ascribed to folate actually hold true for folic acid. Overall, folic acid may do more harm than good.

Whereas folate plays a critical role in DNA methylation and prevents DNA mutations, thereby helping protect against breast and uterine cancer, folic acid has been linked to an increase in colorectal cancer.20

Studies have also confirmed that inactive folic acid remains present in the blood of postmenopausal women who take daily folic acid supplements, and that natural killer cells are diminished in the presence of elevated folic acid levels. Seneff believes the inactive folic acid increases the risk for cancer by binding to folate receptors, effectively preventing access by methyltetrahydrofolate.

Folic acid is also not metabolized in the same way as folate.21 Naturally-occurring folate is metabolized to tetrahydrofolate (THF) in your small intestine. Synthetic folic acid, meanwhile, is initially reduced and methylated in your liver, where the enzyme dihydrofolate reductase is required for the conversion of the folic acid into the active THF form your body can use (THF can even cross the blood brain barrier, which helps explain folate’s usefulness against neurological disorders).

If you have low activity of this enzyme in your liver (which many do), and take high amounts of folic acid, you may end up with excessive levels of unmetabolized folic acid. Should you happen to have a methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene mutation, problems may be further exacerbated.

MTHFR is an enzyme that converts folic acid into the active form of folate. Mutations in the gene that provides instructions for making MTHFR22 results in a reduced ability to properly process folate and folic acid, and has been linked to a decreased ability to detoxify and a wide range of chronic health problems, including neurological diseases, birth defects and cancers.23 I recommend avoiding folic acid for all of these reasons.

Recommended Folate Sources

Your best source of folate is food: leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli, asparagus, spinach and turnip greens.24 If you need a supplement, I recommend using L-methylfolate (5-MTHF), a biologically active form of B9.25 Carefully read the label though, as this biologically active form has a name that is hard to distinguish from a nonactive form, so, pay attention to each letter in the name:

  • L-methylfolate and 6(S)-methylfolate are both biologically active forms of vitamin B9. Other names of these active forms include metafolin and quatrefolic
  • D-methylfolate and 6(R)-methylfolate are biologically INACTIVE and should be avoided

Tackling Autism, One Pregnant Woman at a Time


In the lecture above, Dr. Suruchi Chandra discusses research findings showing how environmental toxins can influence ASD and reviews a number of safe, gentle natural treatment options that can be helpful.

Chandra also believes that the microbiome is likely key in understanding ASD, similar to the views of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, whom I’ve interviewed in the past about her Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) Diet. Campbell-McBride’s basic thesis is that the autistic child’s microbiome was disrupted, either by:

  • The mother’s poor diet
  • The mother’s use of antibiotics or birth control pills
  • Being delivered via C-section

In the first two cases, the mother transfers her impoverished microbiome to the child. In the case of C-sections, the child does not even have that benefit, as the mother’s microbiome is transferred to the child as it passes through the birth canal. This early disruption in the microflora, combined with other environmental variables, ends up wreaking both physical and neurological havoc. Chandra, like Campbell-McBride, finds the greatest improvements are typically seen once strategies that help heal the microbiome are implemented.

Chandra relies on a wide variety of diagnostic tools that most conventional psychiatrists would never think to use. If you have a child with autism or suspect any type of neurological condition, don’t wait to start treatment, as early intervention is important. Seek the guidance of a knowledgeable integrative physician and/or psychiatrist who can address the following variables and any others that need attention. For example, Chandra’s protocol includes the following:

Gastrointestinal (GI) function: To assess the child’s GI tract, she begins by taking a family history and doing a physical examination. She also performs tests to assess the child’s gut bacteria, level of inflammation and digestive function. If it’s determined that the child cannot digest carbs, for example, she will recommend reducing or avoiding grains and using a digestive enzyme.

Immune function and chronic infections: Many autistic children have evidence of immune dysfunction, such as autoimmune problems and/or excess inflammation, so she will also assess and prescribe support for the child’s immune function. Diagnosing and treating chronic infections is a related component.

Mitochondrial health: Mitochondria are organelles inside nearly every one of your cells. “They are, we now know, kind of the canaries in the coal mine. When there’s some danger or stress, they’re the first things that respond to the damage,” Chandra says. Studies suggest 60 percent of children with autism have mitochondrial dysfunction, so this is a significant factor.

There are tests that can indicate whether your child’s mitochondria are affected. For example, low carnitine, coenzyme Q10 and certain amino acid ratios can signify mitochondrial dysfunction. If mitochondrial dysfunction is found to be part of the problem, adding more healthy fats to the diet, “healing and sealing” the gut and addressing any infections may help.

Family Farms Attacked While Criminal CAFOs Protected

By Dr. Mercola

Few would argue that an FBI raid on two small farm animal sanctuaries — in search of two piglets named Lucy and Ethel — makes good use of the U.S. Department of Justice’s time or money. But when you learn the backstory — that the pigs were found near death at Circle Four Farm in Utah, which is owned by the world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, and brought to a sanctuary to recover — the raid seems not only nonsensical but also barbaric.1

It’s the latest demonstration of intimidation by the federal government against those who dare speak out against industrial agriculture. Animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) was behind the undercover rescue, which also involved filming the deplorable conditions at the concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), as Circle Four “Farm” is not a farm by most people’s definition of the word.

Instead, it’s a CAFO where more than 1 million pigs are slaughtered every year, and a prime example of all that is wrong with modern-day livestock rearing. What is both incredulous and sad is that, rather than call out the cruel and public health-endangering practices at these CAFOs, the U.S. government goes to great lengths to protect and conceal them. In a comprehensive expose on the case, The Intercept wrote:2

“The Justice Department’s grave attention to a case of two missing piglets reflects how vigilantly the U.S. government uses extreme measures to protect the agricultural industry — not from unjust economic loss, violent crime, or theft, but from political embarrassment and accurate reporting that damages the industry’s reputation.”

FBI Agents Actually Raided Animal Sanctuaries, Traumatizing the Volunteers and Animals

Armed with search warrants and bulletproof vests, FBI agents stormed Ching Farm Rescue in Riverton, Utah, and Luvin Arms in Erie, Colorado, in search of the two piglets rescued by DxE. “Under normal circumstances, a large industrial farming company such as Smithfield Foods would never notice that two sick piglets of the millions it breeds and then slaughters were missing. Nor would they care: A sick and dying piglet has no commercial value to them,” The Intercept reported.3

Indeed. Yet, they came in and took a DNA sample of one small piglet by cutting off nearly 2 inches of her ear. The Intercept described the disturbing scene:4

“The piglet’s pain was so severe, and her screams so piercing, that the sanctuary’s staff members screamed and cried. Even the FBI agents were so sufficiently disturbed by the resulting trauma, that they directed the veterinarians not to subject the second piglet to the procedure. The sanctuary representative recounted that the piglet who had part of her ear removed spent weeks depressed and scared, barely moving or eating, and still has not fully recovered.”

It’s thought that the FBI’s involvement in the case goes even deeper than this. Some of the sanctuary volunteers were questioned by FBI agents in their homes, even though the sanctuaries were not involved in the rescue, and later were informed of a “complaint” that they lacked required legal licenses. The animal rights activists also believe they’re under surveillance, with their private communications being monitored, all in a show of force to deter anyone from trying to expose what’s really going on behind the closed doors of CAFOs.

This case in particular was likely taken up by the FBI because it received a good amount of media attention, especially after The New York Times wrote about the rescue in July 2017. They also featured a virtual reality experience that’s been created to allow people to get a glimpse into the inhumane reality of CAFOs.5 As The Intercept put it:6

“What has vested these two piglets with such importance to the FBI is that their rescue is now part of what has become an increasingly visible public campaign by DxE and other activists to highlight the barbaric suffering and abuse that animals endure on farms like Circle Four. Obviously, the FBI and Smithfield — the nation’s largest industrial farm corporation — don’t really care about the missing piglets they are searching for.

What they care about is the efficacy of a political campaign intent on showing the public how animals are abused at factory farms, and they are determined to intimidate those responsible. Deterring such campaigns and intimidating the activists behind them is, manifestly, the only goal here.”

Gestation Crates Still Used Despite Promises to the Contrary

Gestation crates are 2-feet-wide cages where breeding pigs spend nearly their entire lives, unable to even turn around. Commonly used on CAFOs, the crates are the definition of inhumane and cause severe stress to the animals, who in some cases will resort to chewing the bars of the cages incessantly, causing them to become covered in blood. It was in gestation crates, by the way, that the activists found the near-dead piglets, surrounded by others that had already died.

While several U.S. pork producers, including Smithfield, Cargill and Hormel, have pledged to phase the crates out, and fast-food chains including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s and Subway have promised to stop buying from pork producers who use them, the practice remains widespread in the U.S. Europe, however, banned gestation crates entirely in 2012, as did Canada in 2014. In the U.S., only nine states (those without many CAFOs) have banned gestation crates.

While Smithfield said they would transition from gestation crates to “group housing systems” by the end of 2017, DxE’s undercover video revealed that the crates are still widely used. “[W]hen … DxE visited Circle Four over the summer, they saw no signs whatsoever of any construction or reform efforts to move away from gestational crates … As the videos show, Circle Four had thousands of pigs suffering in such crates,” The Intercept reported.7

Ag-Gag Laws, Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Protect CAFOs

Ag-gag laws are heavily promoted by lobbyists for the meat, egg and dairy industries, as they essentially prevent anyone from exposing animal cruelty and food safety issues at CAFOs by:

  • Making it illegal to take undercover photos or videos
  • Requiring anyone applying for a job at a CAFO to disclose affiliations with animal rights groups
  • Requiring activists to hand over undercover videos immediately
  • Requiring mandatory reporting with extremely short timelines so patterns of abuse cannot be documented

While some courts have ruled ag-gag laws to be unconstitutional, they’re still in place in many states. As a result, undercover videos and revelations by whistleblowers are often the only glimpse that Americans get into the cruel world of CAFOs.

There’s also the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA), a federal law that labels animal rights activists as terrorists if their action “intentionally damages or causes the loss of any real or personal property (including animals or records) used by an animal enterprise … for the purpose of damaging or interfering with its operations” — even if such interference is nonviolent in nature and minimal in terms of economic losses.8

It was already illegal for animal rights activists to damage property, but AETA, passed in 2006, makes property damage caused by animal rights activists an act of domestic terrorism. The factory farm industry and its armies of lobbyists wield great influence in the halls of federal and state power, while animal rights activists wield virtually none, The Intercept reported, adding:9

“This imbalance has produced increasingly oppressive laws, accompanied by massive law enforcement resources devoted to punishing animal activists even for the most inconsequential nonviolent infractions — as the FBI search warrant and raid in search of “Lucy and Ethel” illustrates.”

Organic Farms, Raw Milk Farmers Also Targeted

The FBI raids on animal sanctuaries are but one display of overzealous power against the wrong “enemies.” In 2015, a SWAT team raided “Garden of Eden” organic farm in Arlington, Texas, because they believed the commune was growing marijuana. It turned out there was no marijuana, only tomato plants.10 It’s similar to the raids that have occurred against raw milk farmers. On CAFOs, milk can be produced in filthy conditions, then heated until all the pathogens are gone.

Never mind that, along with killing “germs,” pasteurization kills off beneficial organisms in the milk and prevents natural souring (while naturally soured milk can still be consumed, pasteurized milk past its prime will quickly go bad).11

Rather than forcing dirty and dangerous CAFOs to clean up their acts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has waged a war against raw milk producers — those who are typically producing milk using far healthier, more humane and more sustainable methods than the industrial dairy industry ever could.

As more Americans demand the right to purchase and consume locally sourced food of their own choosing, increasing numbers of states are introducing legislation to loosen restrictions regarding intrastate sales of raw milk. Raw milk, by the way, is the only food banned from interstate commerce.

Small Farmer Raising Heritage-Breed Pigs Targeted by State of Michigan

The trend of targeting small farmers who threaten the CAFO status quo knows no boundaries. In 2010, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued an Invasive Species Order (ISO) to a small family-run farm, Bakers Green Acres, raising heritage-breed pigs. The ISO was intended to “help stop the spread of feral swine and the disease risk they pose to humans, domestic pigs and wildlife, as well as their potential for extensive agricultural and ecosystem damage.”12

But hybrid or heritage swine, such as those raised by Bakers Green Acres, are not feral in the sense that they run around in the wild. Many hog farmers destroyed their heritage swine herds once the ISO was issued, but Bakers Green Acres sued the DNR for loss of livelihood instead. After a legal battle, the DNR reversed its decision, saying the pigs were legal after all.

Owner Mark Baker has, however, since been targeted with suspicious “routine” inspections, including one over a complaint that Baker was not licensed to sell prosciutto ham to restaurants, in which the inspectors were accompanied by Michigan state police. The Inquisitr reported, “Baker’s supporters allege that he was targeted after his legal battle with the DNR over the invasive species regulations. ‘This is complete and utter retribution,’ Baker told Mlive, ‘for the stance we took on the feral swine issue.'”13

Smithfield Is Owned by a Chinese Company, Undermining Local Food Production

The federal protection of CAFOs at the expense of small family farms is undermining local food production systems. Chinese companies, for instance, are increasingly buying up American farmland and U.S. food producers. In 2013, Smithfield was bought by Shaunghui, the largest meat processing company in China.14 At $7.1 billion — 30 percent above its estimated market value — it was the largest-ever Chinese buyout of an American company.

Also included in the deal was $480 million worth of American farmland. With this buyout, the Chinese now own 1 out of every 4 pigs raised in the U.S. It should be noted, too, that Smithfield CAFOs in the U.S. are responsible for tremendous environmental pollution. North Carolina is the second biggest pork-producing state, which means it’s home to more pig CAFOs than average.

Smithfield owns most of them in the state.15 Some CAFOs treat animal feces in open-air lagoons and dispose of the waste by spraying it onto nearby fields.

The creation of new CAFO lagoons, and the spray systems, were banned in 2007, but older farms were allowed to continue their use. The term “lagoon” is a misnomer, by the way. Cesspool would be more accurate, as CAFOs do not treat the animal feces in any way. They simply add it to the often-unlined lagoons until they figure out where they can spray it.

In the meantime, the liquefied waste often leaches into groundwater and wells, poisoning drinking water. When it’s sprayed onto fields, it often runs off into waterways, where the excess nutrients lead to algae overgrowth that depletes the water of oxygen and kills fish and other marine life.16

It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of waste being produced by Smithfield’s North Carolina CAFOs, but this may help — the state’s pig CAFOs alone produce nearly 10 billion gallons of fecal waste annually, which is enough to fill more than 15,000 Olympic-size swimming pools, according to an analysis of maps and data of the state’s CAFOs by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).17

Carefully Consider Where Your Food Comes From

If you want to take a stand against industrialized agriculture in favor of locally, humanely and sustainably produced food, consciously consider where your next meal will come from. You vote three times a day when you choose the foods for your meals. Will you vote for the system that is systematically destroying your health, animal welfare and the planet — or will you support those who are changing the world for the better, one meal at a time?

There are basically two different models of food production today, and there’s growing conflict between them. The first, and most prevalent, is the CAFO model that takes a very mechanistic view toward life, whereas the other — the local, sustainable farm model — has a biological and holistic view.

I encourage you to support the small family farms in your area that respect the laws of nature and use the relationships between animals, plants, insects, soil, water and habitat to create synergistic, self-supporting, nonpolluting and GMO-free ecosystems. Whereas industrial agriculturists want to hide their practices from you, traditional farmers will welcome you onto their land, as they have nothing to hide.

Whether you do so for ethical, environmental or health reasons — or all of the above — the closer you can get to nature the better. You’ll want to get your meat, chickens and eggs from smaller community farms with free-ranging, pastured animals, organically fed and locally marketed. This is the way food has been raised and distributed for centuries, before it was corrupted by politics, corporate greed and the blaring arrogance of the industrial food industry.

You can do this not only by visiting the farm directly, if you have one nearby, but also by taking part in farmers markets and community-supported agriculture programs. The following organizations can also help you locate farm-fresh foods in your local area, raised in a humane, sustainable manner.

where to buy locally grown food

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Latest Major Threat to Bees and Trees

By Dr. Mercola

Systemic neonicotinoid pesticides have made recent headlines for their association with bee deaths, while glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup, has also been the topic of much debate following the International Agency for Research on Cancer’s (IARC) 2015 declaration that the chemical is a probable human carcinogen. A relative newcomer to the scene is dicamba, but it’s quickly earning a similarly ominous reputation as the former two.

Dicamba has been used by farmers for decades, but the release of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Xtend cotton and soybeans — genetically engineered (GE) plants designed to tolerate both glyphosate and dicamba — prompted its use to become more widespread, as well as used in a different way, now sprayed over the top of the GE cotton and soy, where it could easily volatilize and drift onto nearby fields.1

Monsanto sold dicamba-tolerant cotton and soybean seeds to farmers before the herbicide designed to go with them (which is supposedly less prone to drifting) had gotten federal approval. In 2016, when farmers sprayed their new GE crops with older, illegal formulas of dicamba, and it drifted over onto their neighbors’ non-dicamba-resistant crops, devastating crop damage was reported in 10 states.2

Newer dicamba formulations are supposedly less prone to drifting, but this hasn’t stopped the onslaught of reports of dicamba damage. As of August 2017, an estimated 3.1 million acres across the eastern half of the United States had been damaged by dicamba drift,3 and there’s also disturbing information that the chemical is harming trees.

Dicamba Causing Widespread Damage to Oak Trees, Pitting Farmers Against Each Other

Three states — Iowa, Illinois and Tennessee — have received complaints that dicamba may be damaging oak trees. According to the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting:4

  • Iowa’s Department of Natural Resources has received more than 1,000 complaints that oak trees have been damaged by pesticides, including dicamba
  • Retired biologist and former researcher at the University of Illinois, Lou Nelms, has made numerous complaints with the Illinois Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources that dicamba is damaging oak trees throughout the state
  • Oak trees and bald cypress near Tennessee’s Reelfoot Lake, a state park, have also shown signs of dicamba damage

Both Monsanto and BASF manufacture dicamba. Monsanto has blamed crop damage on misapplication and has attempted to skirt the blame for oak-tree damage by blaming other pesticides, according to internal company emails.5 Meanwhile, dicamba use is turning farmers against one another, as those experiencing damaged crops blame neighboring farms that sprayed dicamba.

In November 2016, a dispute over dicamba drift turned deadly, when Arkansas soybean and cotton farmer Mike Wallace was allegedly fatally shot by another farmer.

“The damaged crops have pitted farmer against farmer and strained relationships in the region, especially in light of the fact that insurance companies won’t compensate farmers for losses caused by wrongful or ‘off label’ herbicide applications due to drift,” Modern Farmer reported.6 Typically, farmers spraying dicamba claim they used the chemical according to label instructions and will not accept responsibility for neighboring damage.

How Dicamba-Resistant Crops Could Devastate Bees

Arkansas grower Tom Burnham reported to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he estimates about half of the region’s dicamba-resistant crops were planted solely by farmers hoping to prevent the damage they suffered last year among their nonresistant crops. In a letter to the state plant board, he continued, “I feel that the need to plant a technology to protect your crop from off-target movement is tantamount to extortion.”7

With increasing numbers of farmers adopting dicamba-resistant crops, there is concern that it could seriously impact bees and other pollinators in the area. If nearly all farmers in any given area plant dicamba-resistant crops, NPR reported:8

“[T]he resulting free-fire zone for dicamba could be bad news for other vegetation, such as wildflowers and trees. The wider ecological impact of dicamba drift received little attention at first. Richard Coy, whose family-run company manages 13,000 beehives in Arkansas, Mississippi and Missouri, was one of the few people who noticed it. ‘If I were not a beekeeper, I would pay no attention to the vegetation in the ditches and the fence rows,’ he says. But his bees feed on that vegetation.”

Coy has noticed that dicamba drift has stopped vegetation from blooming, which means bees and other pollinators have access to less pollen. Honey production in regions where dicamba is sprayed is down about one-third, and Coy expects to have to move his beehives if dicamba spraying continues, he told NPR.9

US EPA Votes to Allow Dicamba Spraying, Use Expected to Double

While Arkansas, which has received hundreds of complaints from farmers whose crops were damaged by dicamba drifting over from neighboring farms,10 has voted to ban most dicamba spraying in the state in 2018 (although it still hasn’t been finalized), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it will continue to allow its use on Monsanto’s dicamba-tolerant soy and corn.

It added a few new restrictions, such as requiring special training to apply the herbicide, restricting its application when wind speeds are greater than 10 mph and asking farmers to assess the risk that spraying could have on nearby crops; however, the decision will amount to an economic windfall for Monsanto and a major blow to the environment.

It’s expected that, as a result of the EPA’s green light, planting of dicamba-tolerant soy will double in 2018, reaching about 40 million acres in the U.S.11 While Monsanto was thrilled about the news, saying they were “very excited” about it, “The new restrictions on dicamba use … do not appear to address the problem of ‘volatilization,'” NPR reported, continuing:12

“Many independent scientists say that this vapor drift was a major cause of damage to neighboring fields this summer. Last year, Missouri did impose most of the restrictions that the EPA is set to require, and farmers in the state still saw widespread damage from drifting dicamba.”

Monsanto, meanwhile, is already facing a slew of lawsuits over their dicamba-tolerant crops and resulting dicamba-damaged crops nearby, but is still set to enjoy the profits not only of farmers buying their GE seeds because they want to, but also those buying them out of fear of what will happen if they don’t. NPR quoted Arkansas farmer Brent Henderson, who is among the latter:13

“If it’s going to be legal to use and neighbors are planting it, I’m going to have to plant [dicamba-tolerant soybeans] to protect myself … It’s very annoying. It’s a property rights issue. My neighbor should not dictate what I do on my farm.”

Even in the fourth quarter, which falls between planting seasons and therefore typically may show a small loss for Monsanto, the company reported a profit, thanks to “some nice licensing deals,” an Edward Jones analyst reported.14

Monsanto CEO Touts Doing Good in the World While Studies About Glyphosate Toxicity Roll In

This all makes Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant’s statement to Fortune all the more egregious. When asked whether he thought it was possible to make profits and still do the right thing and do good in the world, Grant said his answer is “an unquestionable yes” and doing business this way would become “a norm rather than the exception” in the future.15 Yet, Monsanto’s products continue to threaten the very future of humanity.

One of the latest studies, from the European Commission’s Joint Research Center and two Dutch laboratories, revealed that 45 percent of Europe’s topsoil contains glyphosate residue.16 Twenty-one percent of soil samples contained glyphosate while 42 percent contained aminomethylphosphonic acid (AMPA), glyphosate’s main metabolite. Eighteen percent of the samples contained both.

In a press release, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Europe explained that concentrations of glyphosate and AMPA found in the study have been shown to harm earthworms, beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil, while weakening plant defenses and increasing their vulnerability to pathogens. PAN Europe’s ecotoxicologist Angeliki Lyssimachou further explained:17

“This study clearly contradicts the predictions of European Authorities that glyphosate does not persist in the environment. In fact, European agriculture is highly reliant on a toxic substance that is not even properly regulated in the EU, putting everyone at risk. Policy makers must stop the use of these harmful chemicals in the production of our food. It is more than time to implement all existing non-chemical alternatives to herbicides.”

Cornell University researchers also recently revealed that glyphosate damages Pseudomonas, a type of beneficial bacteria in soil that stimulates plant growth and antifungals to help protect plants.18

In particular, Pseudomonas putida, which some farmers use to help control soil fungus, exposure to glyphosate led to stunted growth. “[I]f the farmer uses Pseudomonas putida to control the fungus in the soil,” Ludmilla Aristilde, assistant professor of biological and environmental engineering, told Sustainable Pulse, “then glyphosate is more likely to prevent the bacteria from doing its job.”19

Monsanto Manipulation Mirrors Big Tobacco’s

Former Reuters reporter Carey Gillam has written a revealing book on Monsanto’s long-term and continuing corruption of science, titled “Whitewash: The Story of a Weed Killer, Cancer and the Corruption of Science.”

She details the approximately 3,000 plaintiffs in the U.S. who believe exposure to glyphosate caused their, or a loved one’s, cancer, while Monsanto knew it was toxic and covered up the evidence. Court-ordered unsealed documents have revealed that Monsanto scientists ghost-wrote studies to clear glyphosate’s name and even hired a scientist to persuade the EPA to change its cancer classification decision on the chemical.20

Gillam also told Corporate Crime Reporter that Monsanto would bully journalists who dared to go against the “corporate narrative” 21 and describes the company’s ongoing manipulation of science and the press, and the revolving door that keeps Monsanto in control of government regulations.

With the manipulation that continues to come to the surface, it echoes the tactics used by Big Tobacco. “Attorneys and activists have accused Monsanto of manipulating the science around glyphosate’s health impacts — in essence, of following the playbook written by Big Tobacco,” The Nation noted.22

Slashing Pesticide Use Is Necessary to Save the Environment, Feed the World

“The reduction of pesticide use is one of the critical drivers to preserve the environment and human health,” according to recent research published in Nature Plants,23 and I couldn’t agree more. What many people don’t realize is that research shows 59 percent of farmers could cut pesticide usage by 42 percent without harming their production. Forty percent of these farms would even improve their production as a result.24

The findings are eye-opening, especially since the pesticide industry has long maintained that their products are necessary to feed the world. Worldwide, an estimated 7.7 billion pounds of pesticides are applied to crops each year, and that number is steadily increasing.25 Yet, the problems are becoming too big to ignore.

Glyphosate-resistant superweeds like pigweed are now driving farmers to seek out dicamba-resistant crops, but dicamba-resistant weeds have already sprouted in Kansas and Nebraska, raising serious doubts that piling more pesticides on crops will help farmers.

Crop rotation, mechanical weeding, planting of cover crops and other nonchemical forms of pest control were mentioned as ways that farmers could successfully lessen pesticide use. The major barrier at this time appears to be education. Fortunately, some farmers are moving toward regenerative, soil-friendly agriculture anyway, with promising results.

Planting a variety of crops is key toward restoring soil health and ultimately feeding the world, as is reducing pesticide usage. You can play your own part by reducing the use of chemical pesticides in your home and garden and supporting organic farmers. Eating organic as much as possible and investing in a good water filtration system for your home are also important and are among the best ways to lower your exposure to glyphosate and other pesticides.

Twitter Says It Will Finally Do Something About Those Hordes of Nazis

By Tom McKay | 14 October 2017

GIZMODO — Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey admitted on Friday that the company’s minimalist approach to moderation was not working, saying the site is committed to taking a “more aggressive stance in our rules and how to enforce them” in the wake of numerous high-profile public relations nightmares.

“We see voices being silenced on Twitter every day,” Dorsey wrote. “We’ve been working to counteract this for the past 2 years.”

“… Today we saw voices silencing themselves and voices speaking out because we’re *still* not doing enough,” he continued. “We’ve been working intensely over the past few months and focused today on making some critical decisions.”

Dorsey added that the new rules will target “unwanted sexual advances, non-consensual nudity, hate symbols, violent groups, and tweets that glorifies violence”—meaning that perhaps yes, someone is finally going to ban all those swastika-posting Pepes on the site. […]

High Voltage N-Machine (demo) ESTC 2017


N-Machine High Voltage N-Machine (demo) ESTC 2017

NOW AVAILABLE!

High Voltage N-Machine by Aaron Murakami

Presentation: HIGH VOLTAGE FARADAY GENERATOR will show you how to charge a capacitor higher than what a 12 volt battery needs to be charged. This is done by simply contacting the perimeter and shaft of a spinning neodymium iron boron magnet. Since Faraday, only ultra low voltage with high current has been obtained by the Faraday Generator, but you will see for the first time how to have usable voltage. Aaron has charged a capacitor to 14.8 volts with a 1.5 inch diameter spinning neodymium magnet that is only 1/4 of an inch thick at a speed of only 1-2000 RPM. This sets a world’s record in usable voltage from a Faraday Generator. You will also learn how to create AC from a Faraday Generator, which was proven by Peter Lindemann and Michael Knox back in the 80’s and 90’s. This is an added BONUS presentation, which was not originally planned. Watch demo below. Learn more: High Voltage N-Machine

 

Aaron Murakami has open sourced many gigabytes of his work in Energetic Forum for many years – that includes his work on the plasma ignition, the “Gray Tube”, the water fuel cell technology, the Ainslie inductive resistor circuits and others. He is also a founder of Energetic Forum and Energy Science Forum, which has a combined membership of over 130,000 and is the primary organizer for the Energy Science & Technology Conference. Aaron is committed to the development and distribution of highly disruptive information. He is a former health food store owner and has spearheaded many ventures. He is a consultant to several technology groups. His books include The Quantum Key and A Course in Mind Power. His invention of the world’s most efficient plasma ignition system that actually ignites water in an engine has been awarded a U.S. Patent.